Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Cake-Decorating Angst: Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa . . .

Okay, so I know I whined to you about cake decorating mishaps in another post just this past August, but now I think I've pretty well topped myself. The cake-wreck you see here is not the stuff of nightmares. No, my friends, it is all too real. Yes, it really happened. To me. Today. In my cake decorating class, more or less in front of all my fellow students (though I hope they were all so concerned with their own cakes that they paid no attention to what I was doing).

The disaster in a nutshell . . . We were all required to frost a tall, round layer-cake with the "basketweave" piping technique (very pretty, normally). And, we had to use a whole bunch of royal icing flowers we'd made in class last week--thus the excessive amount of decoration you see on the cake. It was not the stuff on top of the cake, though, that caused this project of mine to be a complete debacle. It was the consistency of the frosting on the sides. The worst part is that it was a frosting situation was of my own doing. Mea culpa! I am guilty. Oh woe is me.

(Note the lower left side of the cake in the picture above. . . I think its tectonic plates had pretty well shifted by the time I took this. Where's a Richter scale when you need one?)

I wrote all about the disaster an hour or two ago in my latest "Diary of a 48-Year Old Rookie Culinary Student" entry, a regularly updated sidebar that can be found on the right side of my blog (just look for the photo of the white chef's hat and click on it, if you ever want to read the details of this latest tragedy, along with any past diary entries).

I know full well that a cake catastrophe has no significance in contrast to most of our problems, but I didn't want to hide it from my fellow bakers. Afterall, it's yet another cautionary baking-tale, is it not? Another one for me, at least, to add to my arsenal of hubris and folly. Maybe, though, somebody will learn from my folly . . . I know already have.

The moral of the story is this . . . Always keep in mind how long your mostly-butter-based frosting is going to have to sit around in an overcrowded room with no refrigeration before you embark on a cake decorating project, and if you think there's any cause for concern, for heaven's sake just bite the bullet--use a reliably stable frosting. Don't function as if you know more than your current teacher, and more than your past teachers. (Luckily for me, my teacher couldn't have been nicer or more understanding. She did what she could to help me avert complete humiliation, bless her heart, but she's not a magician.)

Aesthetic Disclaimer . . .
Please note that the color palate you see here is not of my own choosing. I feel compelled to explain that because I'm more of a subdued-frosting girl. We were all required to use these same bright and autumnal colors. And, that butterfly was just our class's first attempt at using the technique called color-flow. I think his less-than-Monarch-like color scheme is pretty unattractive myself, but it was fun learning how to make him. It was very fun, in fact, learning to make all of the flowers. Despite today's uncomfortable setback, I still love cake decorating. Nothing will ever change that, I'm sure.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or read any existing comments, click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Bunny said...

I have to say you did a better job than I would have done! That looks HARD!!

Allison said...

Everyone has a tendancy to be harder on themselves. While I know for a fact that I would have the same reaction if it happened to me, its natural to have a few 'oh crap' moments while learning new and amazing things. And at the very least, you realized where you went wrong and won't make the same mistake in the future.

And besides, the flowers are beautiful!

Arlene said...

It still looks pretty though. Nicer than what mine would of looked like, although, by the time I would have to ice a cake, I may not of had any left after eating it...LOL

Jane said...

Hi Bunny,
You're sweet to say that. The flowers really aren't too hard to make at all, once you know what you're supposed to do, and even the basketweave is way easier than it may seem (and the way it looks on my cake in this post is so NOT the way it's supposed to look!).
Thanks, always, for your warm-hearted support! :) -- Jane

Hello Allison,
I like the way you put that, about how it is when you're "learning new and amazing things." You're so right, and I guess it's a good thing that at least I wasn't mystified by why the disaster occurred. Thank you for complimenting the flowers! I liked the way most of them turned out too, and I'm eager to try making more of them at home, but I'd like to try them in some different shades this time!


Hi there Arlene,
You always say things like that! ;) Someday I'm going to bake up a huge fancy cake and mail it to you, special delivery, and you're going to have to take a video of yourself eating the whole thing. Only then will I believe you are such a record-breaking, heavy-duty cake-consumer!

:) Thanks so much, Jane

cindy your cake teacher said...

Janey your cake looks good! You always were too hard on yourself! It looks like the basketweave was done with a thin consistency frosting -- you need medium consistency. And any time you want to come over and practice with me I'm more than happy to help you! The flowers look good and I personally like the color scheme. Don't sweat it babydoll! You're one of my most talented students! :D

Jane said...

Hi Cindy-- I have to tell you that lately I find myself to be repeatedly grateful for having already had some exposure to cake decorating basics through your community education classes a couple of years ago! I think I'd have a hard time keeping up now, in my culinary school cake deco class, if it were all completely 100% new to me. About the frosting, yes, it was indeed too thin, too warm, too buttery . . . not all all appropriate for the task at hand that day. But live and learn, right? (Remember how you used to tell your students, "It's not the end of the world ladies! It's only sugar!" I try to keep that always in mind now, whenever these minor cake tragedies threaten to occur! ;)
Your pal in cake,