Wednesday, February 15, 2012

First crack at cake decorating...

Today was the last day of my Intro to Baking class. We took our final test and had our kitchen practicum. For my exam I had to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies (yes, I'm serious), make, roll out and pan pie dough and decorate a cake. I'm pretty confident I aced it.

The last few days we started cakes. I don't think I've ever made a round cake before- I'm usually making cakes in a 9 X 13 in pan, with cake mix and frosting just the top. It is unlikely that I will ever go back to those cake making ways. Still nothing beating a funfetti cake, but you's time to move on!

There is a killer white cake recipe in my baking book. We whipped up two 8 inch round cakes, white one day, chocolate the next. Chef Debi gave us a chocolate cake recipe that called for 1 cup of hot coffee- when I tasted it afterwards though, you couldn't taste a single hint of it and it made the cake super moist! Very delicious!
High-ratio white cake
makes 2 8inch cakes

Sugar-                            14 oz                            
Cake Flour/All Purpose- 13.3oz
Baking powder-              0.5oz
Salt-                               0.3oz
Milk-                              6 fluid oz.
Eggs-                              3.5oz
Egg Whites-                    4.5oz
Vanilla extract-                0.5oz
Butter, soft-                     8 oz

  1. Spray the pans with a light film of cooking butter and line them with parchment circles. Spray parchment paper as well.
  2. Sift together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Separately, combine the milk, eggs, egg whites and vanilla.
  4. Blend the butter with the dry ingredients and half of the milk mixture. Mix on medium speed with the paddle attachment, scraping down the bowl periodically, until smooth, 4 minutes. 
  5. Add the remaining milk mixture in 3 additions, mixing for 2 minutes after each addition.
  6. Scale 1 lb 8 oz batter into each prepared pan. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, about 35 minutes.
  8. Cool the cakes in the pans for a few minutes, then unmold onto racks to cool completely.

This was my first cake. The buttercream frosting was totally awesome. I probably tasted way too much of it that day. You're probably going to want to taste some of it too.


Simple Buttercream Recipe

Butter, Softened-  11 oz
Shortening-           4.5 oz
Vanilla-                 1/2 tablespoon
Heavy Cream-      2.5 fluid ounces
Powdered Sugar- 2 lbs

Cream butter and shortening together with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla until incorporated. Add cream on slow speed until incorporated, scrape bowl thoroughly. Gradually add powdered sugar, scraping periodically. If buttercream is too thick it can be thinned out by added a mixture of 1T of corn syrup to 2T of heavy cream until desired texture is reached.

When frosting our cakes, we placed them on a cake board, on top of a cake turner. You start with the first layer- leveling off the top of the cake to make it even with a serrated knife.When you have a straight cake surface, use an offset spatula to take a big scoop of frosting, and layer the cake. Level off the second cake top, and place the leveled off side face down on the frosting.

Now it's time for the crumb layer. This was a bit of a pain with the chocolate cake, because it was moister and I kept taking off bits and pieces of the cake, but very forgiving, because it was only the crumb layer. But perhaps my frosting could have been a bit thinner to alleviate this. If you've never done this before, the crumb coat is basically just a thin layer of frosting you put on the cake to give a better base for the final frosting. As this Wilton website describes, it is kind of like a paint primer- it helps your final frosting by not having the cake show through, and eliminates crumbs in the frosting. When you're done with the crumb coat, it's best to put it in the fridge/freezer to harden it up to make the final layer easier to spread on the cake.

Time for the final coat! This video here gives a pretty good demo on decorating a cake nice and smooth- this chick basically makes it look like a piece of cake! (no pun intended- waa waa!) Another trick I've seen is keeping a cup of warm water to stick the offset spatula in, to make the frosting smooth while spreading it. 

My first decorated cake! With some simple pipping.

 I'm pretty sure I could do this every single day, for the rest of my life, and be completely happy. One day at a time!


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