Saturday, July 9, 2011
Practice Cake Home Stretch
With just over a month to go, many of our Wedding Planning realities are winding down. There may be a sense of panic in some areas but when it comes to the cakes and pies, I'm feeling pretty darn confident. That may have something to do with the fact that in the last six months, we have made dozens of Practice Cakes!
I have to wonder if after the wedding passes, we'll be able to go back to just calling them "cakes"--they've been called practice cakes now for months and that may just be the moniker that sticks. While I have been a fairly confident baker for the past decade or so, I have not been a confident cake decorator. When we decided that we would do our own Wedding baking, I had a sense of panic (as you may remember) and decided that if I just practiced whenever I got the chance, my skills would improve. What I discovered was that in addition to practice, it helps to have great recipes and the right tools. Filtering through our baking pans to find two round sets that never fail and adding a few quality offset spatulas to our arsenal have been good things; as has developing a no-fail buttercream frosting (yes butter and yes cream).
To be fair, we haven't actually eaten all of these cakes--some have been for birthdays, parties and potlucks and while some have been yummy and gorgeous, some have been total disasters. But, my skills are improving. I still don't embark on anything too fancy and while I can make some simple scallops while wielding the decorator tips, that is about it. I've learned how to use just a smidge of the fancy gel tinting colors (I use a toothpick to get the right amount out of the container) to get a lovely pastel or jewel-tone to the frosting instead of the scary neon colors I created early on. I've also learned that the talented folks at Etsy are fabulous resources--instead of trying to create my own royal frosting flowers and shapes, I can buy original ones from experts and they are happy for our business. I've learned how to draw letters and shapes into the frosting with a toothpick lightly before trying to pipe them; I've learned how to crumb-coat and how to get cakes out of the pan in tact every time. All skills I didn't have before embarking on this challenge.
Unlike many months ago, I'm actually looking forward to creating the actual cakes (three or four? Teri and I are still debating) that we'll have at the Wedding. I still couldn't win on an episode of Cake Wars, but that's not really the goal I was going for...