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Egg white fun

Posted on April 2, 2016 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (6910)

I like to bake and decorate my cakes from scratch.  I try not to make anything using pre-packaged ingredients.  And this is why I was recently trying to separate egg whites from their yolks.  In the past, before I figured out what it was, I used meringue powder.  But now I was educated, and opted instead for the real deal.  I haven't yet acquired all the fancy gadgets the master bakers use, but there was a time before those gadgets existed.  

I found Alton Brown's royal icing recipe online, which came with a bonus tutorial on easily separating the eggs.  So I was good to go. I used his easy spoon method, and one by one, I was successfully separating yellow from white.  I would crack each egg into my bowl, and then use the spoon to scoop the yolk out.  You probably know where this is going.  By the time I got to the fourth egg, things didn't go so well, and the yolk broke and leaked into my three previously separated egg whites.  Try as I might, I couldn't extract that slimy yellow from all that slimy white.  Not being sure as to the impact yolk would have on my icing, I had to start over.  

Lesson learned.  Which is an obvious lesson, really.  My high school Home Economics teacher had taught us never to crack eggs into each other, in case one is rotten, and you end up with a bowl of good eggs from which you can't extricate the rotten one. So now, it's another step, but it's worth the while.  Every new egg gets cracked into a separate bowl until it can prove its worth, or I can be sure I've succeeded in the separation of church and state.  ;) 

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!