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Fondant Fail

Posted on April 2, 2016 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (11603)

I don't like fondant.  There are numerous bakers who swear by it, and it is undoubtedly a convenient medium for decorators.  I just don't think the taste can compare to a good buttercream frosting.  Buttercream is more unstable, and presents more challenges for decorating, but it's my go to, and I'm up to the challenge.

I did give fondant a try.  Once. I was working hard to complete a cake for entry into our annual cake contest at work.  As the initiator and organizer of the contest, I felt pressured to have an entry.  But the beautiful 3 layer cake I had envisioned wasn't going to happen.  It should have had a marsala colored frosting onto which I would (hopefully skillfully) pipe delicate white designs.  The contrast would have been breath-taking.  I would walk away in the top three, I was sure.  The contest was on Monday, and on Saturday evening, as I struggled to mix the required color, my buttercream was still shades away, and with each additional drop of color the buttercream became more bitter. This was back in the days when i would pull pictures from Pinterest and assume, with my limited skill set, I could replicate it.  Now I spend hours watching tutorial videos shared by wonderful bakers and baking artisans, but back then, I was arrogant and stupid.  Not only was the color elusive, I didn't know I needed to stabilize each layer of cake, so the top layers were slowly sinking into the lower layers. 

Earlier in the week, when I had shared my planned design with a colleague, she had wisely, and perhaps anticipating the challenges I would face, suggested I make a carousel cake.  So as my layers toppled into each other, I scrapped my marsala cake plans, pulled the cakes apart, and raced up to Michael's to find props for a carousel.  And some backup fondant.  

I'm not proud of the cake I submitted, but as a first fondant effort, it humbled me, as well as exposed me to the limitless opportunities fondant presents, if used skillfully.  I didn't do it justice. But someone has to to populate those seriously funny "Pinterest fail" pages! 

The Cake the Baker Rejected

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (16557)

It was supposed to be part of the third layer of the hanging Easter cake.  It was going to be clothed in delicious buttercream frosting, then embelished with colored Peeps to enthrall the children coming in for the Easter egg hunt.  Slicing into it would reveal its secret - the multicolored cake hidden within.

Disaster killed that plan when the cake broke into many pieces as I tried to separate it from the cake pan.  I'd been lazy and hadn't bothered to line the pan with parchment paper.  I was distressed for a moment, but quickly figured out a workaround.  The hanging cake would have two tiers only.  The third cake would stay home as the reject I could patch up for family consumption.

I quickly slathered the top of the broken cake with buttercream, slapped on the other cake layer, and then frosted the whole thing.  The buttercream was able to hold it all together, so the family would never know how close it came to gracing the trash bin. Actually, I'd share it at small group meeting that evening.  The members were my official tasting panel anyway. 

The cake almost missed making it to the table.  When I remembered it, the meeting participants were packing up to head to their respective homes.  Their response upon tasting the cake was unexpected.  They loved it.  It was the best I had offered thus far.  Earlier cakes had been declared pretty delicious, but the reject cake took top honors for flavor, and even for its pretty play of colors inside.

And isn't this a reflection of life itself?  How often do we walk around, feeling totally messed up inside?  Or worse, we just want to hide ourselves away from the world.  But if we give ourselves a chance, interact with others, they always see our true colors shining through (reminds me of that Phil Collins song).  And remind us of how much we are loved.