Monday, March 26, 2007

The dragon plays poker

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Oh my, so many things to say about this cake, so little time. I think out of all my efforts, this is my least favorite. The sloppiness alone is reason for tears. Of course, frame of mind did not help matters in the least, but I had honest intentions of making this one kick butt cake.
It all started off well-enough. The original intent was that this would be a Wednesday cake. Meaning I would accomplish the decorations and fondant ahead of time. The cake layers would be made on Sunday. Buttercream on Monday. Decorated Tuesday night.

Saturday I made the dice and poker chips out of gum paste. I felt like quite the artist sitting there with my little food coloring palette, adding the details. I thought they were quite nice thank you very much.

The more and more I thought about it the more and more I realized that trying to accomplish a cake like this on a weeknight would be foolish. So I made an even more foolish decision. At 11AM on Sunday I started this cake with the intention of completing it by 9pm. OK, first off, when in a hurry, things will go wrong; so try to never be in a hurry if you can help it. Second of all, even my minimal experience has taught me that I need a full weekend to do cakes because I can’t devote every single second to them.

I discovered very quickly that I did not have enough corn syrup to complete the two batches of fondant that I’m supposed to let sit for 24 hours so I did one batch and went to the store for the corn syrup. On a side note: Corn products are supposed to be pricey right now, but at least corn syrup was on sale for 1.99! Hmmm, wasn’t there some hulaballoo about corn ethanol for fuel or something? Wowsa, that could get pricey!

I have duplicates of all of my round pans, but none of my squares. So, each layer had to be baked separately. I realize that a 10” square cake is child’s play to those more experienced than I; but a 10” square cake is a monstrosity to me. Each layer took an entire recipe of Toba Garrett’s oh so yummy Chocolate Fudge Cake.

First layer came out of the oven looking nice enough. After about five minutes out of the oven the middle started sinking. What the? I dropped my pans on the counter to combat the air bubbles before baking, what happened? The normal “problem” is that the middle rises too much. But nothing about this cake was typical. I don’t mind rising, In fact, I like having the extra top that I have to cut off to make level as a sample of my fantastic baking. Instead, I had a flat middle section that made the cake about half as tall as it should be. Ok, well, I can deal with that, I’m not a professional and I don’t guarantee cake height. Now let’s flip it out of the pan before it’s ready because you are in a hurry. Now let’s watch as said cake becomes about 50 little cakes. Oops.

Oh well, I sort of have the ingredients to make an extra layer, finished second layer and decided to work on the top portion of the cake which was White Almond Sour Cream cake. Time constraints be darned! But really, can you make a Chocolate Fudge Cake without eggs? Yes, that’s right, the remaining 8 eggs all went to the big monstrosity on top of the cake. AH HA! Hatch plan to get two things done at once. I haven’t got my exercise in for the day, so to save time I will run to the store with a backpack. No worries. I have it all planned out. I will ensure the eggs get a nice comfy little spot where they will jostle minimally. I came out of the grocery store with a few more items than intended, but that’s ok, they’ll help keep the eggs in place.

I began my jaunt back cautiously. I decided to jog very slowly at first and then check the eggs. Ummm…within a quarter mile there were six eggs cracked in my son’s Car’s backpack. Rut Roh Raggie! Oh but it gets better folks. What do you think was also carelessly placed in the same compartment of the backpack and promptly forgotten about until the egg incident? What is the WORST thing that you typically carry with you that could be in the bottom of that backpack?

That’s right. I egged my cell phone. CRAP! It wasn’t just a little eggy, it was submersed in a sea of yellow yolk and goopy gunk. OK, deep breaths. Egg does not seep like water, right? Right, but it also doesn’t dry like water and just go away. Nope. I HATE THIS CAKE!!!!!

Really, all I could do was giggle. This is so typically Natalie when I’m having a rough go of things. I cleaned off the cell phone as best I could with the parchment paper I had just bought and wrapped it up. Finished the job when I got home but am discovering today that egg is very crumby when it dries. I wonder if salmonella dries with the egg?

So I finally finished all of the cakes. At 8pm. Hmmm, cutting it rather close aren’t we? I went to work on the top part first, as I was anxious to try the Satin Ice fondant I had purchased. Not being a fan of the texture of fondant, I had heard this was fabulous and would change my mind. Not so, but it’s not bad. It’s not the taste, it’s the texture. Sort of like I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.

OF COURSE the stuff cracked where it shouldn’t. It’s really my fault, I was feeling very rushed at this point. No biggie, will cover up with the white circles and the worst will be placed in the back of the cake.

Boy did I have a fun time stacking the two layers for the bottom portion of the cake. My top bottom layer was not fully cooled because it was the last one I made, so getting it on the cake (mostly) in one piece deserves a gold medal.

I quickly rolled out the homemade white fondant, crossed my fingers and toes and flipped it onto the cake. Mmm hmmm. Of course I came up short on one side. OK, that side will also go in back. I do want to point out that while I had problems with the fondant, this time I added glycerin, and it made a world of difference as far as handling!
Let’s see, it was about 9:30 at that point. My original plan was to have a black and white diamond pattern on the sides, with the card cut outs (club, heart, diamond, spade) in the white portions of the diamonds. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I threw those puppies on there in no apparent order, stuck the top of the cake on and called it good. Nope, didn’t even work on smoothing out the awful bottom edges. Dispersed poker chips and dice (the only thing I am pleased with on this cake!); and stuck it in the fridge.

The good news is, the cake is delicious. Quite a chunk of the bottom portion is gone and I told the birthday girl to take the top part home to her family. The bad news is I’ve had three pieces. Hey, I think I’ve already worked it off!

Oh, and here is my newest dragon who has unfortunately already met an untimely demise, due to my very own clumsiness. Go figure.

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I think I’ll go make a fruitcake now.

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