I’m blushing. I really am.
Rachael kindly invited me to guest post over at her wonderful blog La Fuji Mama!!!!!!!
Which really scared the pants off me, since I only started my blog in March of this year.
But, I wouldn’t say no to Rachael, of course.
So, go take a visit and read about Rachael’s incredible background, her marvelous Japanese recipes and learn a few tricks from me about cookie decorating.Read More »
Yesterday I had the pleasure of making my 4th appearance on Sirius Radio’s “Martha Stewart Living Today Show” with the wonderful Mario Bosquez and company. For people like me who are naturally gabby, radio provides an opportunity to really organize and refine teaching skills. Imagine describing a technique without relying on visual aids that illustrate the process. And, doing so in such a way that inspires the listeners to bake a cake, or decorate a cookie. That’s the trick. And, throw call-in questions into the mix and before you know it, 20 minutes flies by in the blink of an eye.
Mario and his team make the whole game so much fun. Naomi, one of the producers, also bakes and loves being part of the conversation. Chris doesn’t bake, but he’s an expert taster. Mario’s no slouch in the kitchen either, and his questions genuinely reflect his own curiousity and knowledge of the subject. All in all, they treat their guests like friends who’ve dropped by for an afternoon coffee klatch. What could be better? Oh, and did I mention that guests wear headsets? I’m ALL ABOUT wearing the headset. Channeling my inner disc jockey, for sure.
The entry wall at Sirius. The many guests of the many shows have signed the walls.
The Fishbowl Studio. This is where bands play live. And, Martha Stewart Living Today broadcast from here when they did their Christmas Holiday Show last year.
Here are Naomi and Chris.
Here’s Mario! That front and center microphone is the one I’m speaking into.
And, here are some of the treats I made for the gang. I always make a special cookie for Mario and this visit was no exception. He’s writing a book, so I made pencil cookies!
I know, I know…you’re thinking “Oh SNAP….I missed the show. I’m DYING to listen to this group rival the Roundtable at the Algonquin.
I’m clairvoyant that way.
Happy Listening. Hear the love.
Read More »
Note: Somehow, the photos disappeared when I migrated my old blog over to this site. And, sadly, I never saved the photos for this post. My apologies.
It happens to the best of us. On the day that the cookies are due to be delivered, when there’s no time to turn back, it happens.
THE BIG UGLY MOTTLED COOKIE
The color’s all weird and spotty and marbled and hideous. Unacceptable.
It happened to me this past weekend.
Yup, these nice dry plaques were leaping off the parchment paper, begging for adherence to their cookie backgrounds so they could proudly flaunt their imperfect selves on the front of my cake.
Quick….what to do? Delivery guy is coming in one hour!!! No cookies have been attached to the cake either!
[cue the MacGyver music...whatever that is]
Luster Dust. It hides a million sins.
I attached the plaque to the cookie. Quickly retrieved a trusty brush from the arsenal and went to work.
End result? A cookie that had a really cool antique look. Accidentally on purpose, too.
Whew. Luster Dust. Better than duct tape.
Read More »
Tell the truth. Don’t you sort of swoon when you lay your eyes o a beautifully frosted monument of cake? Whether it’s a cake that’s been smoothed out to planes of perfection or swirled in billowy clouds of buttercream decadence, the little devil in you is dying to sink a finger deep into the side of that cake to steal a taste of of heaven before the first slice has been cut. I know. I’ve been there more than once.
I treat my buttercreamed cakes as my blank ‘wall’ for the hand-decorated cookies that will adorn them. The sides are smooth and even, all the way up to the top, when the buttercream takes a sharp 90º turn and continues enclosing the whole package in sweet glory. Achieving such cake nirvana can be a bit intimidating and time-consuming, if you let the cake get the best of you. And, if you’re like me, and have numerous cakes that need to be dressed up all in one day, there’s no real time to spend slathering, smoothing and chilling, over and over again. I need to take control of the cake, do it once, and do it right.
I like to frost a cake that’s cold. Not frozen, but cold. It’s the first step I take in cake domination. A cold cake also ‘sheds’ crumbs less.
See how the cake doesn’t come to the edge of the cardboard? That’s where your buttercream’s going to be. See the green frosting ‘dam’ around the fluffy white filling? I always pipe on a dam, no matter what color, no matter what filling I use. The dam’s job is to prevent filling leakage from ruining the final coat. Eeewwww.
Put the second layer of cake on top. Adjust it. Move it, look at it. Make it even. Make sure it’s even.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a level, sturdy cake. More about that in a future post.
Time to crumbcoat the cake. Consider this the primer or the base coat of this project. A good crumbcoat sets the cake up for final coat perfection.
If you don’t have a cake turntable like I do, place your cake on top of an inverted pot to give it some height. It’s not as easy to turn, but it’s better than nothing. Plop a big blob of buttercream on top of your cake. I mean a BIG blob. Now, start spreading it out with your spatula. Spread it out til it’s beyond the edge of the cake.
Start working that excess buttercream around the sides of the cake, adding more when necessary. Don’t be afraid that you’re adding too much. You’ll be smoothing the extra off in no time.
Once the cake is completely slathered, start evening out the frosting. IF there are crumbs coming off the cake, make sure you scrap your spatula off in a separate bowl. Crumbs are not welcome in the finished product. Not one.
Now, what to do with that lip of frosting that’s been built up around the top edge: hold an offset spatula parallel to the top of the cake, slide the spatula across the top and shear off the excess. Repeat around the entire circumference of the cake.
Now, stand back and admire. Chill cake for about 20 minutes. Then it’s on to the final coat.
Start with another big plop of buttercream. Repeat and continue with same steps til the cake is fully covered in frosting.
Once you’ve slathered buttercream all over the cake, it’s time for my secret weapon.
The plastic bowl scraper. Holding the scraper parallel to the cake, with the edge of the cakeboard as my guide, I slowly begin revolving the turntable, removing the excess buttercream (an oxymoron in my book, but that’s another subject) while smoothing the side of the cake. Magic, isn’t it?
After one go around the cake, take a look. Take another swipe, if necessary, angling the scraper so that it removes less of the buttercream, and just smoothes out what’s there.
Shear off excess around the top again, making sure it’s even all the way around. Chill the cake.
WHAT?????? YOU NICKED THE SIDE OF THE CAKE??????????
There. Boo-boo all gone after a careful schmear with the offset.
Take a bow. You deserve it.
And, no fingers dipping in the frosting, okay?Read More »