Monday, May 5, 2008

Crisco goes awry

Cake decorating homework assignment - Disaster #1

Don't let that deceiving exterior fool you. Much like its maker, there is trouble lurking within...

As some of you may already know I have signed up for a cake decorating class to feed my addiction, and to say that my first assignment did not go smoothly is an understatement. Not that I had trouble following the directions or that it was complicated. Simply that my constant inclination to improve on the perfect went amiss. Why, oh why, am I constantly plagued with delusions of grandeur regarding my baking skills? Clearly I'm a novice, and have no business imposing my self proclaimed creativity on unsuspecting class projects. This poor cake never stood a chance against my ego.

For starters when I went to the supermarket to buy Crisco for my buttercream, they were all out of regular Crisco and only had butter flavored so I excitedly picked up the butter flavor. In my head I had visions of my class cheering me on about how delicious and flavorful my buttercream was, and what did I use, and how did I think of using butter flavored Crisco. I would be celebrated as a genius! I would be the world renowned buttercream queen! I tell you the ego is tricky, tricky thing. Now keep in mind that for my first class project I had to bring in a layer cake frosted in light blue buttercream frosting, representing a pretty sky (we are going to add a rainbow to it in class), and note the color of my cake. Now onto my buttercream debacle.

I open the infamous butter flavored Crisco and much to my surprise it's yellow. Now a more experience baker would have known this, but being the novice baker that I am I had no idea that meant my pretty white buttercream would in turn be yellow as well. So I plop my shortening in with my butter and I begin adding my sugar and instead of pretty white fluffy buttercream, much to my dismay I start to get pretty yellow butter cream. Now alarm sets in as I realize if I add blue coloring to my yellow cake frosting it will turn green! What's a novice baker to do? I had no idea, so i added some cocoa and made chocolate buttercream. Fast forward to assembling my layer cake...

I began by making a dam to hold in the filling just like they showed us in class. As I start to frost my first layer I realize that my buttercream is unusually stiff, and hard to spread and it hits me that I forgot to add additional milk when I added the cocoa so it was the wrong consistency, and it pretty much ripped my cake layer to shreds when I tried to frost it. After much trial and error of removing crumbs and giant cake pieces and filling in holes my first layer was frosted. Just then my ego starts to take over, and I think to myself Wouldn't it be awesome if I added some fresh strawberries to the filling? It would be so impressive, the instructor and my classmates would say "Wow, you are so creative! You really shouldn't be in this beginner's course you are just too talented!".

Then because I can never leave well enough alone, and my inner baking diva cries to be heard i added coconut...

Now I have a HUGE 2" gap, and I'm clueless as to how to fill it and again panic sets in (aside from the cavernous gap note how level my layers are. Ha! I may be a novice, but I have the heart of pastry chef ).

How the hell am I going to fill in this monstrous gap with the unruly buttercream? Damn my stubborn pride. Also I am a bit nervous that I will not have enough to frost the entire cake. So after an hour and half of ripping the cake to shreds with the unforgiving buttercream I did it (as you can see by the initial picture posted above above), and because I deserved it, I ran a victory lap around my dining room table and cheered myself boisterously because I am a baking diva after all.

I wake up this morning and run to the fridge to check on my cake and what do I find? I find my masterpiece sitting in a pool of gooey strawberry juice mess. What kind of craziness is this? What in the world happened? Can you not refrigerate cake with fresh fruit in it? I have no idea what happened, but I'm taking it to class anyway (if it doesn't collapse first having been drowned in evil, evil strawberry goop) and I can only hope that even if my cake doesn't get the acclaimed accolade it deserves it at least survives the day.

Stay tuned for part two of this disaster when I take it to class and attempt to decorate it...


Stay sweet;)

Devil’s Food Cake (Literally)

· 1 1/2 cup(s) Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
· 2 cup(s) flour
· 1 cup(s) granulated sugar
· 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
· 1/2 teaspoon(s) cream of tartar
· 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt (optional)
· 1 1/2 cup(s) buttermilk
· 1 cup butter, softened
· 4 eggs
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottoms of two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, and line with waxed paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, ground chocolate, granulated sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add 1 cup of the buttermilk and 1 cup of butter. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of buttermilk, the eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake’s center. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans, discard the waxed paper, and transfer them to the wire rack to cool completely.

Unruly buttercream

1/2 c. shortening

1/2 c. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

4 c. sifted powdered sugar

3/4 c. sifted cocoa

3-4 tbsp. milk

1 Tsp. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. Meringue Powder

Cream shortening, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, cocoa, and meringue powder on medium speed, scraping down bowl often. Add milk and corn syrup until light and fluffy.


CB said...

I am so sorry (though I admit to LOL a couple times while reading). I still consider myself a novice and I think the fun part of baking is the trials (even though at the time they probably aren't fun right? haha) The end result looks fabulous, perfectly frosted and thats all that matters. Have fun at your class! :)

Nikita said...

Sorry to hear about the chaos! Baking is soooo wonderful and so frustrating all at the same time! LOL

I have similar delusions of grandeur.

A tip I read in a fancy baking cookbook that recommended wrapping the layers and then freezing them for an hour or two which will help protect them from falling apart when you ice them.

As for the crazy strawberry goo... I have a guess, perhaps the sugar in the icing/coconut caused the strawberries to go all juicy like that. I know if I add any kind of sugar to berries they always get extra juicy and look way riper than they were when I sliced them. :)

Happy baking!

The Kitchen Vixen said...

Nikita thanks so much for the tip! I'll definitely keep that in mind the next time I attempt to mutilate my cake;)

Prudence - Cake Chica said...


Thanks for stopping by! Funny, I was checking out your page ealier! I am orginally from Jersey!!

Looking forward to TWD. I am looking forward to the baking journey!! LOVE your blog! will add you to my blogroll...

Steph said...

Thanks for visit my blog! I can't wait to start baking with you on Tuesdays :) (With Dorie)