I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon lately so I have quite a back log of bento photos to share! This one was another from Valentines week with a heart theme. Ww pita pizzas, berries and pineapples, carrots, and heart shaped gummies from Trader Joe’s (color free, of course).
This weekend I made cakes for my 10 year old nephew and my Brother’s Birthday parties. It’s a little pathetic to admit this, but I’m just now getting the hang of my oven!
Joe’s cake had to be ‘awesome’ because he was so sure I couldn’t make anything besides that. Such pressure! I racked my brain over what a 10 year old would think was cool that I could actually make. I landed on an Angry Bird cake. The only problem was that I still don’t own any natural coloring for icing. Last year I tried to color his cake with blue berry juice and it was a failure! So I cut myself a break and just bought a black tube, yellow tube, and I used some red icing spray paint that I’ve had for years. The cake and the buttercream I made from scratch and color free. I tried to justify the colors because at least the bulk of the cake was natural! I tend to stress about cakes and overestimate my abilities with complicated designs so my goal was ‘awesome but stress free’. Which this was, so I’m happy about it.
To create the red bird I made a template on paper and cut out the negative. After the icing had set-up, I laid the paper on top and sprayed the color on. This is basically aerosolized food coloring which is easier by far than mixing color into a batch of frosting and gave me a nice block of solid color. After this stage I was so relieved! Imagine if my template hadn’t worked and I had just turned the top of the cake blotchy red? The rest was easy, I outlined the shape in the black icing and filled in the beak with the yellow gel. Over all, a design simple enough for even a cake doofus like me!
The kids were sufficiently pleased and hopefully my nephew still thinks I’m a cake super hero!
My Brother’s cake was from the Joy of Cooking, the Lightning Torte with a light lemon flavor. I love this recipe and someday I’ll share it here.
It’s quick and easy and the light flavor barely needs any frosting to make it better. I love to frost it in whip cream. Right before I serve the cake I mix up some cream with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and sugar. It’s so light and fluffy and just yum.
A few slices of lemon complete the picture of a perfect cake for a spring day and an awesome brother! Korbin thought it looked pretty ok anyway (picture above).
Kind of a mishmash of a cake. Gum paste accents (including mask). SUPER blue icing with cereal borders.
So, if you’ve talked to me recently you have probably heard more than you ever wanted to know about cake. I have a cakesession. This is my latest
catastrophe cake, made for my little Sister’s 26th birthday. Em is a member of the “put pink on my cake and die” association so I played it safe, using only her favorite color, purple. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. The color in fondant seems to dull or lighten as it dries and becomes room temperature (or in this case summer in AZ with humidity-and-swamp-cooler temperature). My purple became sort of a charcoal blueish color. I tried impressing stars into the ivory fondant, the result was not quite what I had envisioned. It just made the fondant look lumpy. One of these days I will buy an impression mat… I free hand cut the ‘E’ as I did with Ara’s cake, once again my lack of actual cake tools forces some creativity! Although I didn’t think that turned out to badly. The white balls were supposed to be whimsical and fun but after they were done I kept thinking of pimples on a cake!
The cake is plain vanilla with vanilla butter cream… it was supposed to be chocolate but..
Quick baking bloopers story:
I was filling 3 different sized pans with chocolate cake batter and thinking to myself, “I am getting really fast at this!” Since I was short on time but still wanted the look of double layers I gave each pan a tad more batter than is recommended. And by “a tad” I mean I pretty much topped each one off. After about 15 minutes in the oven the kitchen filled with the unmistakable smells of burning chocolate and black smoke. The cake was bubbling over the sides of the pans and burning on the bottom of the oven. Unsure of how to proceed, I turned off the heat and tried to take one pan out. I burned my hand doing this of course. Finally I decided to catch the still bubbling batter on a piece of foil and to let the smoke out through the window. This is not a situation a master caker would find themselves in! After things cooled down, I cleaned the oven and pans and started over with vanilla. I had a student coming and the house smelled gross. Before she came I went to close the door to my room and shoved my toe under the door so hard I think I broke it (still hurts when I move it). All of my actions on this day were so obviously logical… When A got home I told him about my horrific day and he took us out to one of my favorite places, Olive Garden! When my steaming chicken parmesan arrived I felt the stress of the day melting away. I picked up my condensation covered glass of refreshing iced tea… and dropped it into my plate. What a fitting end to a disastrous day!
And that is how Em’s 3 tiered chocolate cake ended up a one layer vanilla affair!
A quick update on how Ara’s birthday cake went:
1) Covered in fondant, yay it looks decent!
2) Calling it done and going to sleep even though I don’t like the lettering and the lack of a 3rd color bugs me.
3) Thought about it all night, got up early, added pink, and changed the lettering!
4) Ara loved it, and she ate her letters!
Big girl check-up! Turning four means you can run faster, jump higher, wear big girl underwear at night, and it means you are due for 3 more shots. Ara asked her Daddy so sweetly if he would come with her. He could not refuse, so he took the morning off of work and we went all together. We plied her with bribes before and after in a mostly vain attempt to make her associate good things with the doctor. They want us to come back in a month to get the brand new swine flu shot and the regular flu shot. I’m not so sure about that..
I actually wrote a whole post on the birthday party last Saturday, but then I closed my program without saving and I am too mad at myself to re-write it so far! I think I will make a little slide show video instead. So look for that next week.
Tomorrow, Ara and I are double play dating. In the morning we are meeting Renee and Cloe at the zoo. Cloe came to the birthday party and both girls had so much fun. Ara has been looking forward to seeing her again! After the zoo, we are going swimming with Kathleen and Michelle! That’s a lot of fun for one day! I just hope we don’t get sun stroke or something. After swimming we race across town to pick up A-man and then cram some quick and easy dinner down. Then I have a Harry Potter date with Megan. Woo hoo. I can’t wait to see it again and discuss it with Megan. I already have my rant about the scene with Bellatrix at the burrow half composed in my head… My one concern is that we managed to leave both Ara’s swimming suits at other houses so she has nothing to swim in tomorrow. Both suits were getting to be too small so I could justify buying another, but when? We have zero time to shop tomorrow! Let’s try wishing for that to work out and see if that is effective… k? Oh yeah, I need some time management skills! Friday, I teach and make a birthday cake for Emily (and clean the house because it’s a disaster!). Saturday, I have been asked to teach a 3 hour master class for a local middle school in the morning. I have students that day, so I am going to try to reschedule them. Possibly before the master class at 9am. I am so not a morning person. Teaching lessons at 7:30am on a Saturday sounds a little like torture. After teaching, driving, teaching some more I will pick up the fam and go to my Dad’s for a quick birthday party for Em. Then (yes there is more) we have a play date at a park with a splash pad. Renee is putting together a big group for the evening to play in the park. The problem with tomorrow and Saturday is that I WANT to do all the things I have planned, if only they could spread themselves apart a little. Life comes when it comes I guess. It’s time to have some very organized fun! Line up single file and no talking or superfluous glancing around!
And now for pictures of crazy zoo/swimming day lunches: