Wednesday, 16 July 2008

BIRTHDAY CASTLE CAKE: PART 2...ROYAL ICING IS A PAIN

yes, these castle parts of the birthday cake are plastic. what were you expecting me to do? make everything out of cake? that would be mad mad mad! it's edible...just lick.

here are the fondant flowers finished for now...with lemon yellow centres in royal icing
that's 330 flowers, baby

Now I remember the many reasons why I never want to work as a pastry chef: it's painful.


Making those 330 fondant flowers last night was bad for my neck, my eyes and my patience.

Today, my goal was to make the royal icing (stiff consistency!) and pipe the borders on the castle windows and stuff. I also had to sprinkle the icing with cake sparkles for that glittery (and edible) look that little girls love so much.


To start, I glopped a bit of the royal icing into a bowl (I used Wilton's recipe) and added lemon yellow food colouring. I still had to pipe the centres of those 330 now dried fondant flowers. Since the royal icing was stiff, and I was using a tip 2 (pretty small!), it was quite difficult squeezing. I had to at one point change my squeezing hand because I was getting Carpal Tunnel! And these suckers are so darned small!

The piping of the centres was real grunt work. There's nothing creative about it in my opinion. It just had to be done. Actually, none of the work I find is difficult in this kit. It's just really tedious and can be quite a pain so you ought to make yourself comfortable at a kitchen table with a full glass of wine while you're doing this. While you're at it, pop in some nice jazz. It'll help your stress level. I had to keep reminding myself I was having a lot of fun.

I had a lot of fun.
Really. I did. Mind over matter, right?
I started the flower centres after 9pm and didn't finish until 11pm. So, it actually took me longer to do the centres than it did the cutting and forming of the fondant flowers! This, and the centres were a pain in the neck (and the hand) literally! I suppose I could have thinned the icing, but at this point in the night I was too lazy to squeeze it all out the other end and remix, dirtying yet another bowl. I just wanted to get it over with.
I just went to sleep when it was all done and tightly sealed the remaining icing to save to complete the castle turrets and roof the next morning while the baby was asleep.
refreshed after a night's sleep, i complete the icing & sparkling of the castle parts

If you're a mom or dad, I'm sure you've had a blue tongue at one point in time. You've been to those kiddie birthday parties with the frosting coloured black, blue and red for boys or pink, violet and green for girls.

Ghastly.

The main attraction for the kids are the Disney characters sitting on top of the cake. Unfortunately, I too have bowed to the commercialism here because what Bebe wants for her cake is what she gets. In this case, you'll have to guess the theme. I'm not telling yet. However, here's one hint: I've coloured my icing teal blue! ick!

i know it doesn't look it, but cake sparkles are edible. really! not tasty, but edible.

The next day, to begin, I had to add a touch of water to my royal icing as it sat overnight. I gave it a good re-mixing and used a little spatula to ice the "cones" and I used a Wilton tip 3 for the windows on the turrets, the borders of the doors and the other castle windows. I had to do them individually and then sprinkle the cake sparkles on them quickly; otherwise the royal icing would harden and the sparkles wouldn't stick. I used a medium-sized bowl to catch all the sparkles and spooned them over the icing repeatedly until they stuck well.


All this work and I haven't even begun to bake the chocolate layers yet.

My to-do list:
  • bake double layers for a 6" and 10" cake
  • buttercream icing for both layers
  • prepare for stacking (dowels for structure)
  • add the castle kit parts to the iced cake (more dowels for stability!); try to make it look castle-like
  • decorate with buttercream and the fondant flowers

whew!

Bebe watched me sprinkling sparkles and whispered to me that she really appreciated my making her this cake. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and said she'd help me vacuum up the little icing bits and sparkles on the table and she did this intermittently throughout the hour that it took me to ice the castle parts. Clean-up was a breeze with her assistance! What a good helper for a 4 year old (ahem. excuse me...almost 5 year old). She turned to me with the dust-buster in hand and said, "and mommy, do you appreciate me vacuuming the mess you made?"

I replied the only reason I was making this monstrous cake was because she wanted it. Cue violin music--and canned reassuring parental phrases: "you know I love you and I appreciate what a great job you're doing!" [hug, kiss, smile, pat on back] Sounds corny and insincere but it's true and it's what they need to hear!

And that my friends, is why I go through the bother. Actions speak louder than words. In this case, castle cake speaks volumes of the lengths I'll go to make her happy.

I only hope that Bib doesn't ask for the same thing when she's older! When I'm done, I'm going to hide the kit somewhere where it'll never be found again: in my crafts closet--no-man's land.

12 comments:

Manggy said...

Sending more luck your way!!! It looks good so far, don't fret :) For applying tiny details, just alternate use between the piping bag and parchment triangles-- the difference in grip will give your wrist the partial change of position it needs to avoid stress.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I've just subscribed to your blog so i can keep up with this cake. Can't wait to see it all done!

cakebrain said...

mark,
leave it to a doc to prescribe a better technique for piping! thanks!
c.cookie,
i only hope i can keep it together until the big day. it should be entertaining nonetheless ;)

CollyWolly said...

Looking good cakebrain!! My admiration for you grows with every episode. You are brave and a super mom. Im sure Bebe agrees with me.........looking forward!!

cakebrain said...

colleen,
thanks for the positive words! i'm going to need all that positive energy tonight when i try to figure out how to bake the cakes!

Y said...

What an amazing cake this is going to turn out to be!

Kevin said...

That is shaping up to be a really nice cake!

giz said...

You are such a brave soul. My wrist is hurting just thinking about all the piping. I can't tell you how much I hate royal icing. I can only imagine the sprinkles all over the kitchen. You're a saint - and your daughter is very lucky.

Zen Chef said...

hahaha. I like watching the progress of your 'big production' cake. Looks like it's going to be great. I'm impressed by all the details. Much better than watching a sitcom on TV if you ask me. :-)

Pinky said...

When you're a professional you get use to all the bending over and staring at little things. It can still strain the neck at times, but less so.
Although after making that many tiny flowers I'm sure most people would be feeling it!
By the way, the cake looks fantastic. What a great memory she'll have of her birthday!

Unknown said...

Beautiful cake! I am planning to make this cake for my granddaughter's 3rd birthday. Is there anything in particular I need to be aware of this before I undertake this project? How well does the icing stick to the turrets around the windows? It seems like that would be fragile and perhaps fall off easily during assembly or transporting.

Cakebrain said...

Grandparent,
Hope you have a fun time making the cake! It's a huge undertaking! The icing sticks well to the turrets and I had no problems whatsoever with that part. I had issues with the dowels going into the bottom cake tier for the support. The cake isn't that fragile. The turrets are made of plastic so they're not fragile at all. Royal icing is also as hard as rock when it dries. As long as you bring along extra royal icing and buttercream you'll be fine...to fix anything should it fall. Think ahead about how to transport this cake because that's a huge issue. You need a van or a SUV...it's pretty tall. It's heavy too.

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