Saturday, May 7, 2011

Labor of Love

HA!  I used the word labor in my title and I bet some of you thought I had something to announce. :)  Not yet...

Let me start of by saying that my cake decorating experience consists of frosting a 9X13 inch cake in a glass pan and frosting cupcakes with a butter knife.  I have never even used a bag and piped frosting onto cupcakes or anything like that.  I have NO experience.  Madison's 4th birthday party is today and I had planned on making cupcakes... I love making cupcakes, easy to make, easy to serve, what's not to like?  I don't particularly like cake and until now I have never had a desire to labor over a cake for hours just to achieve a certain look when the cake is going to taste the same (or actually worse from sitting out and all of the decorating) either way.  3 or 4 days ago everything was going just fine, when all of the sudden I was struck by the realization that if ever there was a time that I was going to make a "barbie" cake for Madison, it was now.  She is having a princess party.  So, I made her a princess cake.  And not only did I attempt a cake shape that I have never made, but it had to be gluten free.  And I decided that I would use fondant.  I researched (as I do with everything) for a few hours on best techniques, making marshmallow fondant, etc.  Betty Crocker sells gluten-free cake mix, so even though it is nearly $5 a box I didn't think the actually cake making was going to be the issue.  I was definitely wrong.  I forgot to take into consideration that a gluten-free box of cake mix yields 1/2 of what a normal cake box does.  Instead of 24 cupcakes it makes 12.  Instead of 2 9inch round pans, it makes 1.  So when I baked the first layer of the two layer cake in my the Pampered Chef batter bowl, it came out only 3 inches high, instead of 7 1/2 (and gluten-free cake takes about twice as long to bake).  So now I had to decide if I wanted to buy 3 or 4 more boxes of cake mix or not...at $5 a box it didn't seem like a great option for a boxed cake that probably doesn't take amazing, plus gluten-free cake is more crumbly  (the gluten is what holds it together) and since I have never stacked a cake before I wasn't sure I wanted to attempt it with gluten-free cake with 4 layers.  So I decided I would do one more layer of gluten free cake and then 2 layers of regular cake mix.  So I made my first 4 layer cake...1/2 gluten free and 1/2 regular.  After letting all of those layers cool I assembled it, fashioned it into a "dress-like" shape and did my first crumb coat.  Initially I thought the actual cake baking process was going to be the easiest but it ended up taking over 6 hours...including cooling time, an extra trip to the store, gluten-free doll cake research, etc.  Now it was time to use the fondant.  I was really nervous about this part, especially considering that I had 6 hours into this cake already...exactly the reason I make cupcakes!  Everyone I talked to said fondant was really hard to work with.  I rolled it out and had it positioned on the cake in a matter of minutes.  I cannot  believe how easy it was...and that I was actually satisfied with the result.  It is not perfect and maybe I am just willing myself to like it because of all of the time invested...  But I am happy with the result.  I still need to add a few finishing touches today and I will post pictures after the party. 

Madison, I want you to know that spending all afternoon and evening in the kitchen at 37 1/2 weeks pregnant was worth it for you!  I love you! 

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