It’s spring. At least it is on the calendar. It’s something else, too.
And, in less than 30 days, we’re going to witness a fairy tale wedding!!! A royal wedding!!
I don’t know about you, but I’m GIDDY with excitement about every single bit of preparation for this affair. And I relish getting up at 4 a.m. to watch royal history in the making. Oh, it’s going to be so grand!
This month every media outlet from hither to yon will be regaling us with royal scoop, from what the grooms’ cake will be to a look inside a London milliner’s workshop! Bring it, ‘BBC in America’! C’mon CNN World News! This Anglophile will be hanging on your every word!!!
Oh sure, I have my own wedding work to do in the next few months. Like engagement ring cookies.
These are just the beginning of what’s to come in the next several weeks.
And while I work very hard to reflect my clients’ personalities in their cookies, don’t be surprised if I inject a little English accent into the final product. Hmmm….I wonder if I can convince the gal ordering the ‘will you be my bridesmaid cookies’ that a Union Jack depiction is an expected portion of that package? The fact that her wedding is taking place in South Beach is a minor detail.
Brew a cuppa Earl Grey, slather some clotted cream on a scone and stay tuned!!!
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You’re familiar with the halo effect, right? The theory that (and I’m paraphrasing) if something is packaged beautifully, its contents will be looked upon more favorably. A term paper, for instance, neatly assembled in a beautiful folder with fancy writing, might be thought to be better than the paper that’s been written in crayon and stuffed into a back pocket before being turned in. Or, that a present wrapped within an inch of its life in gorgeous paper and tied up with an abundance of silk ribbon will contain a similarly spectacular gift, rather than a gift given in a wrinkled brown grocery bag.
This theory can be applied to cake, in my opinion.
Picture if you will, a very special celebration cake, tiers stacked expertly, or carved into a sculpture that would wow Jeff Koons. The fondant or buttercream is as smooth as satin, the gumpaste decorations, the buttercream flowers, have been modeled to a level of perfection that even Kerry Vincent would die for.
Except for one thing.
This beauty is sitting on naked foil cake drum.
Why, oh, why would a cake decorator spend all that time sketching, baking carving, piping, schmearing only to cast a blind eye on how to display this masterpiece?
It’s like wearing a ripped hose with a cocktail dress (that’s IF one wore hose these days.). Scuffed shoes with a tuxedo. Grandma bloomers with a bias cut charmeuse dress (I’m not making this one up. I have seen a MAJOR TV star in the flesh flaunting this glamour don’t).
Cake people, if you do this, in my opinion, you’re devaluing your own work. The presentation is flawed. You want the cake to be a centerpiece that is oohed and aahed over, right? You want ‘the halo effect’!!!
Now, if you’re planning on using a cake pedestal like any one of these, in the words of the great Rosanne Roseannadanna, “never mind”.
If you are not using these and are using a gold or silver topped cake drum for your base, here’s a look at what I do to set up my cakes so they look like this:
I attach my ribbon around the circumference using Magna-Tac. It’s a wonderful adhesive that doesn’t seep through to leave wet dots on the ribbon.
After the ribbon has dried for at least an hour, I shpritz about 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup of royal icing with water so it’s pretty runny and pour it on top of the cake drum, evening it out with a offset spatula. I’m not worrying about spreading it all over the board, just the perimeter that will show. Working like greased lightning is key here; I don’t want the royal to begin to form a crust at all.
Now I heavily sprinkle AA Confectioner’s Sugar onto the wet royal while holding the board over a bowl. AA Confectioner’s Sugar is a very, very coarse sugar that I think is best used for decorating. Then I deftly (I use the term loosely) turn the board over and knock the excess off into the bowl, just so I can scoop it up and resprinkle it again.
This is far from a beauty shot, since I’m holding the camera AND trying to sprinkle the sugar at the same time.
But, you can see the bowl catching the sugar, which is being sprinkled from the container in the upper right corner of the photos.
Now, let the board set up over night and by the next day, you can start building your cake.
Oh, you don’t have to use the sugar, I just like how it looks. I like non-pareils, too. Piped royal decorations, like leaves or grass are also sweet. Use your imagination and explore other options.
If you cover your cakes with fondant, schmear a little piping gel on your board to act as glue, and cover the board with the fondant. Affix the ribbon after it’s dried.
When your cake is the center of the dessert table, believe me, no one will say “Now THAT’S a nice cakedrum!” But that cakeboard will enter their brains in the most subliminal of ways and those guests will think your cake is the most gorgeous creation ever, beg the hostess for your info so they can book you immediately for their next fete. And, you can raise your price now, too, since you’re so in demand.
And you know what that is? That’s the halo effect.
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Choices. We face them every day.
Pancakes or oatmeal? Tuna or grilled cheese? Chocolate or vanilla cookies?
Then, there are the more difficult choices. The ones that have consequences. The ones that really matter.
Last week, our dear friend Ilene called me and asked if she could order some cookies. Ilene told me she was going to Washington on March 1 (today) with her Planned Parenthood colleagues to visit a number of Senate offices. She thought leaving an edible calling card would be a nice idea.
I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t care about how much work was already on the production schedule. You see, for years now, Ilene has devoted her time and energy to Planned Parenthood. Ilene will never sing her own praises, but I will. Recently, Ilene was presented with a prestigious award honoring her almost 20 years of service in various volunteer capacities. I wouldn’t and couldn’t say no.
Sex education and reproductive matters are hot button topics in this country of ours. Congress has recently voted to defund Planned Parenthood. The Senate is expected to vote on the matter shortly, too. Suffice to say, removing federal funding would have a devastating effect on this organization.
I’m not going to preach, I’m not going to filibuster. I have always been a firm believer in freedom of choice. I have always supported Planned Parenthood’s efforts to educate women and men, here and abroad, about disease prevention and family planning. I want to see them continue providing low-cost health care to those with limited resources. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, plain and simple.
I Stand With Planned Parenthood.Read More »