The other day, finding myself in a bit of a pinch, I ran over to the cake decorating supply store on 22nd Street. It’s the store where all the pastry chefs, cake decorators, culinary school students and confectionary geeks resign themselves to going to at one time or another. It’s different from all other supply houses in the area in that in addition to selling every baking pan, tool and gizmo available on the market, they also sell edibles, like chocolate, cocoa powder, and fondant. And, their legendary service is fodder for urban folklore.*
As I maneuvered around the young mother intently studying the menu of available edible cartoon images for the top of a cake, I overheard two ladies asking about a particular cakebox that the store didn’t carry. Panic set in. ”OH NO! What will we do? How will we carry the cake?” Before I could even think, I heard the sound of my own voice. ”How big is the cake? How big is the base?” In a few sentences accompanied by sweeping arm gestures usually reserved for a rousing game of Charades, I described to these damsels in distress how to transform the boxes they already owned into one tent-like covering that would shelter the cake during its transport to its final destination.
As I explained the process, I watched the panic on their faces melt away, quickly replaced by relieved smiles. ”Thank you so much”, cooed the younger of the two women. ”You should be online”, said the other lady. I returned the smile, turned away and thought YES! BLOG POST!
If I could help these ladies with their packing dilemma, surely this post will help you, too, right?
Begin with 2 cake boxes the same size as your cake base. 10 inch base? 10 inch cake box. Grab a pair of scissors, too. And, have a roll of cellophane tape handy for sealing the sides as you’re finishing.
Line one box inside the other and cut off the front flaps of both boxes. I save these flaps to work out templates, as well as a bridge for the occasional gap on the finished top of the box.
Separate the two boxes and face them toward each other, their newly cut sides fitting one over the other. I’ve folded one of the box tops down, so I’m not showing a sea of muddy brown.
Turn the box around so you can identify the tabs on the side panels of the box. Insert them into their corresponding slots. Do one side only. You’ll want the other side open so you can slide the cake into the box easily.
You should now have something that resembles this:
Now with that one open side, you can slide your cake right into its temporary home. Yes, it’s a Halloween cake. And, yes, that’s how long I’ve been sitting on this post.
Once the cake is pushed inside the box as far as it can go (See why it’s always good to have a cake base larger than your actual cake? The base behaves like a protective bumper.), you can start closing up the box by inserting the two remaining tabs into their respective slots.
It’s beginning to look like a tent, right?
Now take those big flaps and bring them up together to form the pitched roof of the tent.
Fold the side flaps down and adjust them so the cake is fully shielded, but not so close that the box touches or rests upon the cake. Use a bit of cellophane tape to hold them in place. Swivel the box around and repeat on the other side.
You should have something that looks like this. A tent!!!
There. Snug as a bug in a rug.
Commandeering potholes along the way, of course, is another story entirely.
*Legendary is yours to define.
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By now you must know this story: a few guys sitting around their Harvard dorm rooms, writing computer codes just for fun. They can’t possibly be bothered with emailing or yakking on the phone to each and every one of their friends to say, “Hey, I’m just chillin” or “Dude, I’ll be at Starbucks”, or whatever kids would say waaay back in 2004.
Anyway, one of these dudes basically said “Wouldn’t it be AWE-SOME (said in that sing-songy ‘up’ last syllable said as if it were the end to a question) if we had some kind of site where we can just sit around and with one or two clicks, check in with all our friends AND meet new ones?” By new friends, these guys may have been talking about girls, but that’s just a guess.
And so, after a code here, and a widget there, PRESTO! Facebook was born and we haven’t been the same since. We have more *friends* than ever thought humanly possible. Casual conversations occur as easily between people scattered around the globe as they once occurred with our neighbors across the street. Maybe even more easily since we don’t have to change out of our pajamas and walk across the street. Walking across the street, for purposes of this post, is obviously very overrated.
900,000 users later and it’s come to this. A special day in May when, theoretically, we can all buy a little piece of a revolutionary idea; an idea that birthed what’s now known as social media. Social media that is credited for everything from getting Betty White her “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig to boosting the rise of Arab Spring. Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
So, Facebook, I celebrate you and your IPO the only way I know how.
You want these cookies? Are you kidding? They’re as impossible to get as a few shares of the stock.*
*Cookies made just for fun.
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Call ‘them’ whatever you like, royal icing plaques or run outs are a decorated cookie’s perfect confectionary accessory. They can add dimension to a cookie’s surface, as well as artistic accuracy. And, we’ve all seen many wonderful tutorials instructing us how to create these masterpieces. Let’s face it, making them is so much fun.
Removing them is another story, the story no one really takes the time to describe. The instructions in many of these tutorials say, “peel carefully from the parchment paper”. While that’s absolutely correct, if you haven’t played with this technique, more of your hard work will lie broken into bits and you’ll curse and shake your fists in the air, as you vow silently to yourself that you will never make another cookie as long as you live.
Frankly, I take all this for granted since I learned this trick in culinary school. Until my college roommate (and budding cookie decorator) Debbie messaged me asking just how to go about unsticking these plaques from the parchment, I didn’t give it much thought. But, as I tried to succinctly answer her with the instructions, I thought…”BINGO…BLOG POST!”
So, I printed out a big Times Roman “G” and used some leftover royal icing to pipe out a few on parchment. Then, I resurrected my Flip video camera and got J to video my hands in action.
Nothing to fear here. Just make sure you let your creations dry for at least 8 hours before attempting to remove. Find a flat, smooth surface with a 90 degree edge on it so you can pull the parchment as easily as I have. Gather the released plaques and put them aside so you don’t scatter them hither and yon while you’re doing your victory lap around the kitchen.
And, say thanks to Debbie for giving me a great idea for a blog post.
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