Monday, March 7, 2011

Cake-central at the Milne appartment

I worked on my second wedding cake this weekend--primarily the baking part. I'm a little nervous about this cake since this one's not for family and I'm getting paid for it--therefore it really needs to look good. I made a test cake back in December? January? for the bride to taste and see if she liked the flavour. I'd been asked to make a coconut cake, which I just happened to have a recipe for. The cake was given bride-approval. On Friday night I baked the top two layers of the cake (10 inches and 12 inches respectively), then on Saturday morning I finished off the bottom two (14 inches and 16 inches), plus an additional small layer (8 inches) since I had enough ingredients left to do one more half batch.

One of the biggest challenges this time around is that I only have my tiny apartment kitchen to work in. Back in October, I had my parent's giant kitchen, their huge (and much newer stove), plus my mom's industrial strength mixer. My oven is inconsistent at best (and so burning the cake was a concern), and I only have my trusty old hand-mixer to whip together the batter. To my great relief everything worked smoothly. I had to mix up 6 single batches of the cake batter as my equipment couldn't handle more than one at a time, and by carefully monitoring my oven and rotating pans I was able to avoid a charcoal catastrophe. The whole process took around five hours. Now all the cake layers are wrapped in plastic and taking up almost all of the space in my freezer until this Friday when I'll complete the cake.
All the ingredients I required for baking the cake.
The largest cake pan filled with batter.
My trusty mixer, plowing through a batch of batter--this was toward the end of the process where I'm adding in the egg whites.
The freezer filled with 5 layers of coconut cake. I'm sure I could figure out how many square inches of cake that is, but I don't remember all the mathmatical formulas to make the calculation.
Then on Sunday, in an effort to make my life easier come Decoration Day (possibly also judgment day?), I piped out around 3 dozen icing flowers. I used royal icing for this so there won't be any chance of the flowers going droopy on the Wedding Day, and coloured them a dark purple (with a little white to liven them up). I opted to make 'sweet pea' blossoms as they seemed relatively easy, and used instructions from an old (1970s) Wilton book my mom gave me at Christmas. It took less time than I would have expected to pipe the flowers taking me only around an hour (while watching Jane Eyre on YouTube).
Me piping a flower using my flower nail. By this time my icing was getting a touch soft from the heat of my hand, but everything still worked all right.
The spoils of my hour.
Finally, a few things I learned this time around:

1) Alberta Bulk Barns do not rent their large cake pans (even though they do in Ontario). I am now the proud owner of a set of four circular Wilton cake pans.

2) Cake Release is SO worth it. Each cake layer just slid out with next to no effort besides loosening the cake a little on the sides.

3) It's probably not a good idea to look at Cake Wrecks when you're a little nervous about the icing flowers you piped, either on Sunday when amazing cakes are featured, nor the rest of the time when the cakes are terrible.



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