Friday, November 12, 2010

Wedding Cake Delivery

What's the most nerve wracking thing you could do?  Why, deliver a wedding cake, of course!
Here's why...
You spend HOURS making this cake perfect (about 16 for this one)
Someone else has paid you to do it
That someone else is having their big day you don't want to be the one to ruin it
After all the work spent to get it perfect, you have to drive it in your car.  Wha-huh????  Are you crazy???

I was SOOO nervous about delivering this cake that I had trouble sleeping the night before.  This was an all buttercream cake, and takes a bit of touching up after you stack it to make the buttercream look perfect.  So I decided to deliver the cake stacked, because I didn't want to mess with stacking it at the venue.  Better to get it perfect at home when I have the time and when no one is watching me!   I stacked it at home the night before and threw it in the fridge to firm up for delivery in the morning.

I'm happy to report that the delivery went smoothly!  A piece of cake (pun intended)!  I carried the cake down my apartment stairs (yeah, that was fun), then placed the cake in the back of my SUV on a non-skid mat and the thing didn't budge.  Not even a wiggle or a wobble!  The trip was a half hour and I didn't go over 40 mph.  When I got there I was SOOOO happy and relieved!   All I had to do at the venue was add the flowers and it was done!  WHEW!  Here's a little pictorial of my adventure...

Here she is all ready for her trip...

 Gotta have the signs!

 Nervous!  Here I go!

Done!  Success!  :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My First Wedding Cake!

About a month ago I got a facebook message from my friend Erinn who I know from my old church.  She asked if I could make her wedding cake and I of course said YES!  I've been wanting to make a wedding cake, and jumped at the opportunity.  We met up, decided on a design and flavors.  She had an autumn wedding with green, orange, brown, and gold as her decor colors.  This was the inspiration cake that she found on the internet.  She wanted something similar, except done in buttercream instead of fondant.

traditional wedding cakes

This was my first time doing a three tier cake and for the most part it went smoothly.  The only glitch was when I tried to re-position the second tier after I had stacked it.  Yeah, I won't be trying that again!  It caused to cake to lean a little, so I had to do a little fixing to get it straight.  But in the end it turned out ok.  :)  This cake was 10", 8", and 6" and could feed up to 50 peeps.  She had 25 at her wedding, so I'm sure there were lots left over!  It is iced in buttercream and decorated with fondant pearls, piped buttercream swirls, handmade gold gumpaste leaves, and fresh flowers.

Here are a few shots of the finished product...

This was so fun to make and I definitely learned a lot!  This was also my first time delivering a cake this big and I was SOOOOOO nervous!  I'll write about that and how I did it in another entry.  Until then, thanks for looking!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I need a new food!

Every so often I stumble across a new food that makes me think "How did I ever live without this all my life?!".  Then I proceed to try and get it any which way I can.  I've done the following with lots of food...
First it was calamata olives, then salmon, then lentils, goat cheese, polenta, hummus, guacamole, roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, thai red curry, jasmine rice, indian masala.  YUM YUM YUM!

Well, it's been a while since I've found my new "it food" and I need a new one, pronto!  What about you?  What are some of your favorite food finds?  It could be an amazing dish or a lone ingredient.   Come on, help a Stace out!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Focaccia Bread

I saw this recipe from ButterYum's blog and just had to try it!  It's a recipe from Food Network chef Anne Burrell and it's sooo easy.  I made it to go along with some stuffed shells that I planned on making for Sunday dinner.  You can cut it into breadsticks for dipping in pasta sauce, or in larger squares which you can slice in half to make a sandwich.

Here goes!...

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (Chef's Note: This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is soooooooooo delicious!).

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef's Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.)

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

Here's my dough in the pan, risen a second time and ready to go into the oven.  Stuffed Shells waiting in the wings

And the final result.  Yummy!  :)