Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Profusions of sugar flowers burst forth from a buttercream basket heralding spring's imminent arrival.
This is a cake I decorated for a competition at Milwaukee Area Technical School. I am in the baking and pastry arts degree program and have learned so much already. To win would be fun but it doesn't affect the time and effort it took to make and all that I have learned about myself and working with others.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
My Sister's Suitcase: Make Beautiful Custom Cakes (Easily!) With CakeVas...: Going with the baby "theme", today I'm sharing a fantastic product that helped me decorate this gorgeous cake for my cousin...
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I have just added three new videos to my YouTube channel. They don't take long to watch and may be helpful when working with CakeVase® for the first time.
This three minute video shows how quick and easy it is to fill CakeVase® with fresh flowers.
This one minute video explains how to remove CakeVase® from a cake.
CakeVase® leaves small divots on the top of a cake. It is easy enough to fill them in with a knife. This seals out the air and keeps the cake fresh longer.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The cure for the seriously scorched pan
I am taking a specialty baking class and last night we were learning to make a caramel sauce. This is what sugar looks like when it has been heated with water. It is clear and the sugar is dissolved.
The pan on the left is what color the sugar should turn right before adding tempered cream. The pan on the right is what sugar looks like when it has gone past the proper temperature (320-340 Fahrenheit). One minute the pan was a beautiful light caramel color and the next, it was a smoking, seething mess.
Doesn't this look like it would be hard to clean? It is over 300 degrees, smoking and flat out dangerous.
I pulled the pan off of the heat immediately but the damage had been done. I felt terrible that I had ruined a nice stainless steel pan. My teacher Deb, who is a master baker, said it was no problem. We set it aside to cool and then she added a splash of bleach and water.
There were burns on the top edge of the pan and the bottom was a solid mass. I did not think it would work. I put it on the burner to boil and went back to work on a new and improved caramel sauce.
Ten minutes later, when I went to check on the pan, it was completely clean. The burnt sugar had completely dissolved into the water and the rising steam had cleaned the edges and top of the pan.
I poured the tainted water into the sink, cooled down the pot and gave it a light scrub. The pan looked like new. I think it even got rid of some other dried on bits.
So the next time you leave a pan unsupervised and it burns, don't throw it away. Pour a splash of bleach in with some water and bring it to a boil. You don't need to let it soak overnight or buy special cleaning products to solve the problem.
Here is the Napoleon I made using the non-burnt caramel sauce.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Find a fun spot in your house to create a backdrop and frame for drinks and dessert. Often times, there is a spot that is empty or underused that would work perfectly. Look around your home, or borrow something from a friend, for unusual tables, dressers or shelves. Choose a color scheme that reflects the mood you would like to project. I chose red, brown and white and a spot that includes warm wood and cold stainless steel. Use removable picture hangers to create a backdrop out of a blank wall, choose serve ware, and then source the food and drink you wish to serve.
Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting
CakeVase® filled with Hypernicum Berries
Hand Decorated Valentine cookies from patricia o'brien & co.
Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Dark & Milk Chocolate Malt Balls
Mini Coke Bottles
Tissue Paper Pom-Poms
Champagne & Fresh Strawberries
Dessert bars create a buzz at events and elevate the simplest of offerings into something elegant and exciting. CakeVase® turned a basic cake into a focal point and added height and drama to the table. It can be set up hours in advance of the party, as it holds fresh flowers in water, and cut up and served after the party is in full swing.
Collect your favorite chocolate foods and pair them with Red Roses. It's a classic. This table has a CakeVase® topped, Chocolate Torte on a vintage cake stand, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate biscuits and an assortment of chocolate bars. So simple, fast and fun!
I baked a double chocolate bundt cake with a chocolate glaze, sprinkled it with pearlized dragees and topped it with Anemones from the local grocer's floral department. I used the 8" CakeVase® ring and was able to bake, decorate and set out the cake a day before my party, which freed up time the next day to focus on the food and drinks.
Last Minute Dessert
This idea is for all of those times you committed to "bringing something" to a friend's house and ran out of time. Swing by your local grocery store, buy a plain round or sheet cake, a pre-mixed flower bouquet and assemble using CakeVase®. This cake came together in less than 5 minutes and has that, "Wow" factor. The cake cost $14.99 and the flowers were $9.99.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Fun and unique hostess gifts are hard to find. I've seen piles of wine bottles and fresh flowers sitting on stairs and countertops at parties for years. The fun and unique gifts get passed around and talked about during the party. CakeVase® is great because you can give the product alone or a finished cake as the gift.
CakeVase® is a stand alone gift in the under $20 category. It is an indispensable tool for the kitchen. The user does not need to bake or be an expert at floral design to wow at future birthday, anniversary, graduation and holiday parties. One stop at the local full-service grocery store and they have the tools necessary for a beautiful centerpiece.
Bakery cake (basket weave or whimsical design is free)
Pre-arranged flower bouquet
CakeVase® makes an even more impressive gift when it is given in its finished format. Imagine handing a finished cake to the hostess of the party. They will be excited by the fact that it's a ready to go visual centerpiece. It looks great on a counter, buffet or in the center of the table. Beautiful cakes become conversation pieces and add to the overall impact of the party. The final benefit is that the cake serves as dessert for guests or can be served the next day. I like to give the rest of the CakeVase® set and instructions for the hostess to use herself the next time she entertains.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Believe it or not, we have crowded 12 people around this tiny table. I purchased this table from HomeGoods in 2001 for $100. It served us well and when I put it out on the curb it was scooped up, in the rain no less, within a couple of hours.
After scouring farmhouse tables on ebay for four years, I found nothing under $2000. I also found out that ten foot tables are rare and costly to ship. I finally found an affordable table, under $1000, at Restoration Hardware. It was on sale and I had to wait two months to receive it, but at ten feet long, it's perfect.
I wanted a table that was one piece without leaves. This table is reinforced underneath with metal rods. It has a rustic and refined feel.
I grew up using these antique chairs and like the mixture of solid and airy space.
I purchased the Parson Chairs, with slipcovers, at IKEA. Each chair was only $79, which is significantly cheaper than any other chair I found online. They can run $200 to $600 for a basic chair. We had problems with the hardware on one chair but IKEA sent us replacement parts immediately and free of charge.
So far, eight people have sat comfortably together for dinner and brunch, but I bet we can squeeze fourteen, albeit small children, around our new dining room table.