Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Favourites ver. 28

This post was almost ready to go last Friday and then we had an ice storm on Thursday night. We woke up on Friday well past our alarm because our power had gone out. The lack of power lasted 9 hours and included many frantic trips to co-worker PK's house to get work done and pack home to bail the sump pump pit. Needless to say blogging wasn't on my radar!! Moving on...

1. IT'S FINALLY SPRING.
(besides the aforementioned ice storm)
I had to restrain myself every day from tweeting about how it's still winter. There were days when I thought for sure we were in a Groundhog Day sequence of winter-slush-winter-slush. Not funny.

BUT NOW! NOW! The birds! They sing! The rabbits! They shit in my backyard! The dog! He sheds! and eats the shit! Ah yes, Spring, she has sprung.

Compost Cookies from How Sweet Eats - crazy and delicious. Yes, those are sprinkles you see. 

2. We have basically decided on a honeymoon. We're going to ... everywhere! Sort of... we're going to drive down the West coast of the US. The plan is to drive from Seattle to LA. It's going to be a big crazy trip and I would LOVE if you could share any must-sees etc. More to come...

This dog has become insanely snuggly of late... after he wiggled out of the pile of sheets he came and leaned against me as I read my book in the doorway.  It's becoming a nightly ritual. 

3. The closer we get to the wedding the more obsessed I've become with "A Practical Wedding". It just makes sense. I love 90% of what's posted and the other 10% isn't so bad either. Specifically, THIS POST sang beautiful sweet angel baby voices to me. I sometimes feel like I'm being judged that my life is too simple or that I spend too much time at home. These things make me happy and you can't argue with happiness.

4. After making the same shitty recipe on 3 separate occasions I've added an action to my Pinterest boards - COMMENTS. Now I'm trying to comment on my pins once I've made them. I'm not deleting bad recipes because chances are I'll find it again, re-pin it, and be back at square one; just adding little review notes for next time. My 'What's For Dinner?' board is the most active these days.

5. Favourite food blog these days: Pinch of Yum. Her recipes are wonderful and she lives in the Philippines so you get a good dose of what her everyday life is like, too! Lovin' it.

 Can I just say what we're all thinking? Those spoons are ridiculous and adorable. 

6. Finally tried this fro-yo craze by going to Menchie's this week. The staff were super friendly! We tried most of the yogurt flavours and I wasn't in love with most of them. A few of them were extremely sweet but I settled on pistachio, chocolate, and mixed berry. The toppings were awesome, love the fresh fruit!

7. Now that the weather has turned for the better ("who can say I've been changed for the better... I have been channnnnnged for good" - name that song!!)... I've started running again. Specifically, Rob and I have been running together - it sure makes a difference to have company! A friend sent me this article the other way, what do you think?

8. Les Links:
Rob is gone for a whole week so it's up to me to keep the fort down here with minimal help from Boomer, wish me luck!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Wedding cake: a really long post about a really special cake

This past weekend I had the pleasure of making a wedding cake for our dear friends Cam & Caitlin. Their wedding was so beautiful and our whole group was fighting back tears during the ceremony. I well up just thinking about it! It was such a beautiful day. 

So that cake...

I've made several cupcakes in my lifetime. In fact, this past weekend I opened a box of 500 cupcake liners... the 3rd box of that size in less than a year. It's Monday morning so I'll do that math for you: that's 1000 cupcakes in 10 months. 100 cupcakes per month. More than 3 cupcakes per day. 20 pounds of butter for the icing alone. At least 80 eggs. 200 cups of icing sugar/25 kg/55 lbs.

This weekend marked the first time that I've prepared a cake for a wedding. Specifically I made 72 cupcakes (24 oreo, 24 red velvet, 24 raspberry-lemon) and one 4 layer, 6 inch cake. As it was my first time doing this there were a few lessons to be learned and so here comes a really thorough (read: wordy) detailing of the process. 

Wednesday (3 days before wedding): shop. 
I made my master grocery and supply list and picked up everything I needed so that I could get to baking right away on Thursday and Friday. 

Thursday (2 days before wedding): bake cakes. 
The cake was going to be two chocolate layers and two Italian cream layers. As the cake was small (only 6") I used half recipes for each type of cake, divided into two layers. I used these 6"x3" round cake pans from Wilton. They have straight sides and bake evenly. I used this chocolate cake recipe and this Italian Cream cake recipe (omitting the coconut). After both cakes were complete I wrapped them and placed them in the freezer. Baking these cakes took about 3 hours as I prepared and baked them separately (and did dishes in between). 

4 layers of cake... ready for freezer!

Friday (1 day before wedding): bake cupcakes. 
This was the part I was least worried about. I'd made these cupcakes countless times and wasn't expecting any issues (which I thankfully didn't have). The worst part was washing my mixer bowl too many times. I had a small hiccup when I realized I had forgotten to purchase the lemon and raspberries for the lemon-raspberry cupcakes... d'oh. Superstar Rob to the rescue! Total baking time was 5 hours for 72 cupcakes. I saved time by trying to streamline as much as possible... reusing dishes when appropriate and keeping all ingredients readily available. It was a regular assembly line in my kitchen. Can you tell I'm an engineer? All cupcakes were put in their boxes and into the fridge for the night. By 11pm I was done and ready for bed. 

Cupcake prep

4 dozen cupcakes complete (Oreo on top)

Final cupcakes complete. 

Saturday (wedding day!): decorate, transport, and set-up.
Decorate: This was the most stressful part and included the most 'firsts' for me. At the last minute I decided to change the icing I was using on the cake to an icing I'd never used before. After reading this article regarding the very technique I was going to use I changed my icing from standard butter-based 'American Buttercream' to a shortening based icing. I estimated that the cake would be sitting out from 4pm until 10pm and was concerned about the icing melting. The shortening based icing 'crusts' at room temperature and holds up better to heat and humidity. It also produces a much whiter icing compared to butter. I took the cakes out of the freezer, leveled them (easier to level when slightly stiff) and started on my icing. My plan was to crumb coat in white and then do the rose design with three rose layers in varying colours (dark purple, light purple, and white). 

The icing came together well and the piping was also really easy. The whole process of making the icing and piping the cake took 1.5 hours. I was done by 10:30am!

The cake! 

Transportation: Transporting cupcakes is NBD. they are all in boxes and travel well. Transporting that cake... not so simple. I MacGyver'd a shoe box into a cake box with one side open which I held in my lap in the back seat of the car. The worst part was making turns as I had to hold the cake plate still to avoid disaster. My fingers were seriously cramped after the 40 minute drive... but we made it! 

Set-up: upon arrival all the groomsmen lent a hand and we got the 6 cupcake boxes, 2 cake stands, and the cake down the (many flights of) stairs. I brought flat shoes to avoid tripping! I was happy to see that the cake table was not near a window so no threat of hot sun beating down. 

The whole set-up... including the precariously balanced cake... (I was so nervous it would get knocked down)

Post-cut (sorry for shitty phone pics)

Lessons & Tips:
- I kept the kitchen clean through the whole process and I'm so glad I did this. I find my work starts to get sloppy the messier my kitchen gets. 
- Planning out the days beforehand made a big difference - being prepared FTW!
- I could have made the cakes at any time during the week and frozen until Saturday. I wouldn't have frozen for longer than a week. 
- Seeing pictures of the cake I wish I'd make the icing a bit smoother. Add more milk next time!
- Transportation was the worst part. I'm not sure how to make it any easier... 

And that's it! For my first time doing this whole thing it went really smoothly and I'm happy with the results. I get to do it all over again in 5 weeks! 

Thanks Cam & Caitlin for letting me take part in your special day!!