Friday, October 18, 2013

Humid & Rainy Fall Wedding and then some

Late last month I had a fall themed Destination Wedding at Lake Anna. It was an outdoor wedding and   unfortunately that particular fall day was warm, humid and drizzly. When I drove up to the venue all the gloominess and darkness disappeared. The views and setting were absolutely beautiful making it hard to notice the less than ideal weather. Being right on the lake in an intimate setting really set the mood for fun laughter and love. 

All that being said, this cake did come with it's challenge; very common in the baking world. Luckily the challenge this time did not come in the cake or structure, albeit the humidity is it's own beast and is mucho annoying to deal with "cake sweat". Unfortunately the custom toppers ordered online never made it to me. I was not satisfied, how could a cake have a whole tree on it without adorable birds on it. The awesomeness of a cake to me is not only in the taste but in the details as well. With only a couple of hours left before I delivered the cake I drove to hobby lobby looking for something I could throw together as a replacement. 

By pure luck I found something that could work.

I never have used rub on letters before but was relieved that I did not have to attempt cursive (something I am not so good at). I fortunate to find the wooden birds similar to what was ordered. I rushed back to my studio and took out my hot glue gun, markers and toothpicks. I gave the edges of the birds a distressed look, rubbed on the "We Do" and hot glued the toothpicks to the back. I think Martha  would have been proud.

Before Delivery  
When I arrived at the venue there were two tents, one for the chefs cooking and preparing the delicious dishes on site and the other for the guests and the party. The staff were so kind and helped me walk the cake under their umbrella to the party tent. I was so pleased to see the table set up so beautifully. I quickly dropped off the cake admired the setup enough to take a few shots and left. 

The cake was OUTSTANDING.  Loved by all.  Thank you so much for going out of your way to make sure we had the cake topper.  It really meant a lot.
Again, thank you so much for helping to make our day so special.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bonn Boni Introduces Manooshe to Fredericksburg

October 5th was the last Farmers Market of the season for Bonn Boni and I wanted to make it special. Not only did we bake up our normal customer favorites such as our marble loaves, baklava, scones, & paleo bars we also included some new creations such as our nutella stuffed chocolate chip cookies, tomato tartletts and red velvet trifle. We baked up a storm and also introduced a brand new food item to the region. Manooshe was made fresh to order on an oven called a Saj. Mariam, the expert on manooshe rolled out the dough like a pro and added Zatar (wild thyme, sesame, sumac, olive oil mixture) mozzarella or both.

Manooshe is a Lebanese flatbread that is made on a Saj, an oven that dates back thousands of years and is common in the area of the Levant (Eastern turkey down to Israel). You can call it Lebanese fast food as people eat this every day for breakfast, lunch or really anytime. This is a very versatile and healthy meal or snack.

Here is a preview of how it is made.

This was such great fun as always. I loved seeing my usual customers as well as new faces. The use of the Saj with the Manooshe being made fresh to order really generated a buzz throughout the market!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Feliz Cumplianos a Mi, Tartine Bakery Style

A few months back on Netflix I was able to watch a Best Bakeries show. They were the top 10 in the country. One bakery in particular had me pausing to get a paper and pen so I could take notes. It was Tartine Bakery in San Fran. The cake was a Tres leches. Watching chef Prueitt assemble the cake on the show was magical. Layer after layer of cake, moistened with coconut milk, followed with cajeta and filled with a Bavarian cream. I was in awe &  I was inspired. What made it even better was the puff pastry she used for the bottom of the cake to give it not only support but a flaky crunchy element. This is what a dessert should be, different flavors and textures coming together. Not only did it look elegant it was delicious, and I decided that before I even had a bite. 
Look at this beauty (Image from Yelp)

Unfortunately my brief time in San Fran did not take me to Tartine and I do not have any plans for cross country travel in the immediate future so I had no choice but to make it myself. The elements consisted of;
  • Cajeta, a Mexican caramel made from goats milk. Thank goodness for Wegmans on that one. 
  • Chiffon cake
  • Coconut milk to drench the layers
  • Bavarian filling, but doing research online a lightened pastry cream is used. 
  • Crunchy element, puff pastry. I found that Tartine uses a flaky pie crust for the base. I may need to watch again because she said puff pastry on the show. The darkness of the crust indicates to me puff pastry. I decided to make Tartines flaky pie crust, recipe.
  • Whipped cream topping. Simply whipped cream and confectioners sugar. 
  • Time, Time, Time 
Cajeta: I started with this first a few weeks before I even made the cake. It is worth the effort. The taste from homemade caramel is like reading a book rather then watching the movie if that makes sense. 
The only issue I had was that I was simmering the milk sugar combo for about 5 hours before I got the color development. I used the recipe of trusted WETA personality Rick Bayless.  

Chiffon Cake: I just went with my trusted sponge.


Coconut Milk: Simply coconut milk sweetened with sugar. I used this recipe MINUS 1 Tablespoon of sugar. I'm highly sensitive to overly sugary sweets. 

Bavarian  Filling: I used a pastry cream I had on hand with whipped cream folded in. Thanks to Baketard on that one as well. I use beef gelatin if anyone is curious it can be found on amazon.

Pie Crust: 

The trick to flaky pie crust is keeping everything cold so the butter does not melt into the flour. Notice the marbling of the butter before it goes to rest in the fridge. This is what will create pockets in the crust making it flaky. I rolled it out and cut a 10" circle rather than a 9" assuming I would get shrinkage. The dough held up extremely well and there was minimal shrinking. Next time I will cut the dough to size. Recipe found online from Flour & Flowers.

And Now the Assembly 
Unless you start really early in the morning this cake is best when it's allowed to sit overnight. It gives the flavors time to combine and develop as well as allowing the gelatin to set in the pastry cream. 

I brush on the coconut milk rather than pour
Assembly Line Ready, spring form pan ready

Spreading it on thin
Gooey Caramel
Spread it thin
Pastry cream blob
And repeat up to the last layer, almost done!

At this point the cake gets sealed in plastic wrap and allowed to sit for 4 hours or overnight.....

Pie Crust Ready, I added some caramel for adhesion purposes

Whipped cream, the end is near.
Smooth it on

Caramel drizzle just for looks. I thought I was going to pipe some nice intricate design but the caramel had other plans.
Notice how caramel melts into cream

Notice how crust is slightly larger, Tartine would never let that happen.

Although I started this cake on my birthday it was enjoyed the following day. 

Kids asleep and totally enjoying a late night slice and a Japanese flick

This cake holds up extremely well in the fridge. It can be enjoyed for days.

Day 3 of Cake, It tastes as dreamy as it looks. 

  • My husband cut me a slice that was incredibly large. After I complained, his response was that the slice he cut was smaller than the cake. Could not respond to that.   
  • I found the crust difficult to easily cut through with a fork. Either it required more baking time or puff pastry is the way to go. 
  • Cajeta: some crystallization may occur in the fridge, simply reheat in the microwave and stir to dissolve any hardened sugar. 
  • Pastel de Tres Leches: Simply translated to a three milk cake in Spanish. This cake consisted of coconut milk, heavy cream and goats milk. I think traditionalists would argue that condensed milk would be required for it to officially be considered a tres leches. I have made a quatros leche cake in the past that included the condensed milk. It is much more sweeter and can only be enjoyed by people with a real sweet tooth. For the rest of us only a small slice would suffice.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Jabba the Hutt 3D Cake

I a such a poor blogger but I thought I would share some work in progress photos I took during my creation of Jabba. There is no reason to be intimidated from 3D Cakes as long as you understand the process and ensure that the cake support is adequate. Luckily this cake served about 12 so I did not have to devise any crazy supports. It was pretty straight forward so I used bubble tea straws. 

Strawberry Cake ready for action 4 layers of a 6" square and 2 layers of a 4" square.

Stacked and Carved. I just go with the flow. I had some Jabba images next to me on my computer for reference. Rice crispy treats molded for the head.

I crumb coat with swiss merengue. Make sure you chill the cake before adding fondant.

Forgot to take pics before this step. Before I added the fondant I added peices of fondant in places of the head there is movement. Like eyebrows, nose, chin and eyes. After draping the fondant I cover with saran wrap as I work on the head details. This prevents the fondant from drying out.

This guy is ready to be painted. I used a combination of petal dust and liquid food paint for this guy.

Being July fourth and all, I thought this was most appropriate :) 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Old Time Customers

It is so nice when I am able to make a special creation for my clients most important milestones. This particular customer was with me from Day 1 back in 2007. My work was okay but not as polished. At this point my customers give me a theme, colors and leave the design to me. I'm very fortunate to have such trusting loyal customers. Most of my designs I do not sketch out, I just go with the flow. I initially was going to make diamonds on the cake. Instead I took the diamonds to make this geometric design which is a bit more interesting.      

Monday, May 27, 2013

Name that Macaron Contest & Giveaway

My lack of creativity is your gain. Name this torrone filled French Macaron. In order to help you name it here is a description of the flavors. The macaron shell is made with almond flour ground with powdered sugar. A hint of Pure Vanilla has been added. The filling is Honey Nougat with raw pistachios folded in. This creation was an accident as I had different desserts going on at the same time. The winner gets 6 Torrone Macarons with 1 secret flavor currently in R&D. 

Rules are on Facebook. There is no limit on entries. Look forward to the names, and lets have fun.    

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The New Old Me

First ever of it's kind; French Macaron with Torrone filling
Well I am amazed that I have not posted anything since October 2012. I would not call it laziness but there are occasions when I like to do absolutely nothing :) After commuting most of my working life, while attempting to be a halfway decent mother and wife; in addition baking and designing custom cakes for my clients I have made the decision to stop commuting (Big run on sentence but you get the point). Magically, 12 hours of my day has freed up and I can decide what I want to do ! I do consider this a great blessing as I have a extremely supportive husband and family. Every second has not been dedicated to decorating cakes and I am not accomplishing as much as I thought I would or had planned to. I still find my days busy and fulfilling most important I am a present parent in my kids lives. I envisioned staying home I would find myself sipping tea and watching some morning talk show..NOT and no time for that (and they are really bad). I have become selfish and am hitting the gym with my little tike. I have made fitness part of my life and discovered a whole new world of Paleo, which I love. I take a minimum amount of orders a month working on projects that I enjoy doing. So really nothing has changed because I still am who I am, just this whole 9-5 which in my case was 7-7 is now done with and I can really explore endless creative and personal possibilities. Has anyone else made a major positive change in 2013, please share! With that said, here are some of my recent projects.

Lego is in this Spring

Vintage Barbie