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).
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:
I was pretty excited to try my hand at fondant icing, I’ve seen it used on the cake shows and it didn’t look any worse than freaking butter cream. After checking prices at Michael’s I ended up making my own. The actual process of making the icing is, in my opinion far more difficult than actually decorating with it. You start by melting marshmallows in the microwave. Sticky. Gooey. Add some Crisco and a ton of powdered sugar. When it turns from sticky to stiff dough you start to actually believe you are making something other than a giant mess. Or at least, in addition to making a giant mess. It took me about an hour per batch of fondant. I made two batches, and got tired! I had originally planned to make three, but that would have been too much! In hind sight I should have split the white batch and colored it pink. The cake needs more color. The consistency reminds me of playdoh with a tad more elasticity. The cake didn’t need to be huge so each tier is only one layer, which made my life a whole heck of a lot easier. Under the fondant is some tasty home made butter cream in case the people at the party don’t like eating sweet playdoh! Haha. A few tips if you are planning to try this for the first time;
1. Sift your sugar. You will end up with a much smoother texture.
2. Slather Crisco on anything that will come in contact with melted marshmallows, including your hands.
3. Use high quality sugar made with sugar cane.
4. The quality of marshmallow matters as well.
My biggest complaint about the cake is that the lettering is so awful. I just plain ran out of steam on that part and I think it takes away from the overall cake. I will set aside more time for lettering next time. The other think is the lack of a 3rd color. That may bother me less tomorrow after I have all the toppers in place. I will put them in place at the party because of transportation concerns.
It was a lot of fun to make and Ara had a blast playing/eating the icing!