The Ombre Inlaw Cake

My in-laws live in Chicago, but once or twice a year they drive to Vermont to visit extended family in the Barre area.  On there way home, they like to swing by and visit us for a weekend.  This time, they were joined by my brother-in-law and his partner.  With a household full of family, the visit was a perfect opportunity to try making one of the ombre cakes I'd been obsessively pinning to my Pinterest cake board for the past few months.

Since I wanted a lot of room for the ombre effect, I chose to make a very tall cake.  Javier helped me make four 9 inch cakes.  We used the old-fashioned chocolate layer cake from Cooks Illustrated.


After the cakes were baked, and stacked, we made a big batch of icing, and using food coloring, we died the icing into three different shades of green.  (Professional cake bakers recommend using Americolor food coloring, and I've really liked using it.)  


I iced the bottom of the cake with the dark green, the middle of the cake with the medium shade, and the top with the lightest green.  

With one hand rotating the cake stand, and the other holding an offset palette knife, I pulled the icing up, blending the three colors.  I think it turned out rather pretty.




The 40th Birthday Cake

One of my dearest friends in the world, Esther Morales, turned 40 this week.  She requested a red velvet cake with vanilla icing.  And, so, with the help of some friends, I set to.  We baked the cakes the Thursday before the party.  We made three 12 inch rounds and three 9 inch rounds.   


We made the cakes in two batches, and you can see we had a hard time matching the color perfectly.  Since the red velvet would be the inside of the cake, it was really unlikely that anyone would notice. 

I triple wrapped the cakes in plastic wrap and froze them so they'd keep fresh for the party.  On Saturday morning, I woke up early and took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost.  That afternoon, I made the buttercream, and frosted the cakes.  For sprinkles I used non pareils; the pink ribbon was something I found at the bottom of my gift wrapping bin.  The ribbon was silk, and I had an issue with grease from the buttercream staining the ribbon.  After a bit of searching, I found that folks on the internet recommend lining the ribbon with wax paper by ironing it onto the back.  I was already running late, so I just scotch taped the cake side of the ribbon.  The scotch tape acted as a barrier and prevented the grease from bleeding through.

Transporting the cake to the party took at least 4 years off my life expectancy.  I called an Uber, and although the poor driver was trying his best to keep the car steady, the non pareils on the bottom layer acted like tiny ball bearings, and the top layer was slipping and sliding all over the place the entire two miles to the party.  I ended up using my fingers to hold the cake in place as we drove.  When I got to the party, I slid the ribbon over the finger marks so you couldn't see where I'd blemished the icing.  I'm going to have to figure out more effective cake transportation in the future. 


Red Velvet Cake

Swiss Buttercream





2014: The Year of Making Cakes

Each year, I have a skill acquisition project.  Kind of like a New Year's resolution, but more fun-- the skill acquisition project provides me the opportunity to devote time to an activity I enjoy but don't practice regularly.

One year I learned to knit (or rather, I attempted to learn to knit).  There was the year of fitness when I hired a trainer to teach me how to lift weights, and I went to different kinds of exercise classes and became familiar with the ins and outs of practicing yoga, taking spinning classes and even Zumba.

This year, I would like to learn how to make fancy cakes.  An honest-to-goodness fancy cake.  With many tiers and everything.  I will make a cake a month, attempting cakes with an increasing level of difficulty as the months go by.  My goal: if there is ever a cake emergency, and by some trick of fate, a dear friend needs a fancy cake for an important event, I would like to be skilled enough to step in and make a cake of professional quality.