Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Baker Who Plans...Bakes Longest.

I am beginning to understand why so many bakeries fail.
This is not just about beautiful cakes or sugar flowers that look real.
My first gum paste iris
This is about business.  It’s about money.  It’s about time and energy and research and planning and counseling. 
There is no way you can just jump into a full fledged bakery.  Well, I mean there is.  It’s like my English teacher used to say – the paper is due on Friday.  You don’t HAVE to turn it in on Friday, but if you want the points, if you want to pass the class, you’d best bust your butt and get that paper in her hand ON Friday.  But it’s up to you.  Because there is such a thing as free will.
I have the freedom to be a total idiot and put the cart before the horse.  I have the freedom to take my time and make wise decisions.  After all, a bakery risks far more than my grade in Classic Literature.  It risks my emotional well-being, my reputation, my time, my dream, and most importantly, the livelihood of my family.


 


Make no mistake, I love to create beautiful cakes.  But I’m not doing this for my own amusement.  I’m doing it to hone a marketable skill, one that will possibly pay for braces, cars and universities.  I’m doing this because I love my family and I am compelled to reach for something more than I can grasp.
That is why I am researching FDA regulations, Health Department codes, forcing my introverted self to network and  in the meantime doing everything I can to keep my skills fresh and my butter cream smooth.
If I don’t plan, I will fail.  If I do plan…I still might fail.  But I am compelled to try. 
Now…where was I in that ISDH code book…appendix B?  Subarticle 28…ah yes…

Friday, April 15, 2011

Over the Hill...and Moving on Up!

I have had a GREAT cake week!

I'm making progress on legitimizing my would-be bakery.  I have a spot reserved for ServSafe food handling certification in May, and I'm working on finding some rental kitchen space somewhere.  Slap a tax ID on that and you have yourself a business baby!  Yeeeeah!

Losing that iris cake was a bummer, but it got me on the right track.  I know what has to be done to keep this going, and I'm gonna do it.  It feels like I'm laying the foundation for my future...and in the meantime, I'm still making cakes for friends and friends of friends.

Here's my latest...a classic "over the hill" theme for my friend Heather.

video

I know, I know...another video!  I flatter myself I'm quite the technological genius, aha....

So, this one is an 8" white cake...vanilla, with real vanilla buttercream and the little dude is of course a gum paste original.  (The top is actually styrofoam, since the party this cake is going to won't have millions of people.)  I love working with this stuff.  And the best part is, it's not a trinket you have to keep and dust forever.  It's art...then it's food. 

No clutter, no obligation to save it.  But there's a definite obligation to EAT it.  Cuz...it's cake.  And it's awesome.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nourishing Cake - Say WHAT?!

I realize it's hardly been the focus of this blog to share the nutritional content of my baking.  I will be honest, most of my creations are made of the best and most processed ingredients modern America has to offer.  And I don't think there's anything especially bad about indulging in such treats every once and a while - especially on one's wedding day.

But I've turned over a new leaf with my personal, for-the-fam baking, and I've discovered many, many new ways to turn what would normally be a nutritional wash into something I can feel good about feeding to my toddler.

Here's a coffee cake I made yesterday.  It's from the Sue Gregg Introduction to Whole Foods Cooking - and sorry, but I can't share the recipe.  You'll have to go check her out for yourself!  (And DO check her out.  She'll blow your processed-food mind, man!)

Spelt berry coffee cake with walnut oat topping
My belly has never spelt so good!  Aha...sorry.


It's made with whole spelt berries - that's right, not flour, just the actual GRAIN - in a blender.  I kid you not, you fill up your blender with spelt berries and buttermilk, whip it to death and let it sit, on the counter overnight.  Then in the A.M., you just add the leavening and eggs and presto, cook-o, you got yourself a yummy, nourishing breakfast/snack/dessert for the whole fam damily.

Spelt Berries...from The Dutch Pantry in Odon, IN


Seriously, I can honestly tell my two year old he can have cake for lunch and feel good about it.  It's made with honey, real grains and let me tell you...it's awesome.  Couple that with a smoothie from frozen fruit and plain yogurt...and the kid gets "cake and ice cream" while I can feel good about what he's eating (and that he is, in fact eating SOMETHING!).

Mmmmmmmmmmmm


Someday, I will figure out a way to get this kind of quality food to the masses!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gratituesday

What a day this has been.  I've been all over the map, joy, hope, anger, despair, remorse, relief, grief and now...gratitude.

A blog I frequent, Heavenly Homemakers, does a little something called "Gratituesday."  I'm joining in today, because I need to remember why I'm grateful.

Amidst other tragedies, literal tragedies, in our family today, I lost a big cake order.  The iris cake is a no-go, and all because I have yet to go through the costly process of becoming a certified, state-approved food handler.  I've been working on that particular aspect of my dare-to-dream bakery, but it just hasn't happened yet.  So far, there's been no need.  Every order has been a friend, and my friends have never been serving my cakes at places that require certification.  This was the first time my unofficial status has cost me, and I let it get to me.

After seeing me mope around the house for an hour or so, my husband, dear man, disappeared to his man cave only to re-emerge not long after with a list of reasons for me to stick my chin up and hope.

1.  He called the health department to find out what I needed to do to get my own kitchen up to code.
2.  He put a call in to the inspector at the health department, to set up a meeting for me
3.  He called my parents, asking them for help, and they are generously working with me to get that certification course under my belt.
4.  He called our local business guru to find out where there might be a kitchen already at code with an owner who'd be willing to work with me on rent/bartering.
5.  He filled up my bike tires.  (This is unrelated, but I am nonetheless extremely grateful for it.)

The older I get, the more I am touched by that kind of love...serving love.  I'm grateful for my husband today, for my parents, for the Lord, who saw me crying like a little kid in my living room today and sent me some good news. 

I have felt God's hand pulling me toward this dream for a long time now, and it may be time to make Cake Lore more than a blog and a little word-of-mouth, under-the-table hobby.  I'm grateful for the encouragement I received today - here's to renewed hope and God's sweet love! 
 
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Iris 360!

So, I was patient and waited until the gum paste was completely set before attempting assembly.  (I've learned the hard way that gum paste just will not be rushed.)

And, impressively, I learned to use the video button on my gadget phone, and here for your viewing pleasure, I present Amy's First Iris: The 360 Panoramic Experience of Awesomeness

video 

Did I oversell that just a bit?  ;)

Next time I'm going to be able to get the petals a little closer together, and hopefully have the final color scheme down.  I just added some white luster dust to each petal, but I'd like to do a little more with it.  

Gotta say though, I'm really happy with this as my first try.  I'd be thrilled if there were a swag of these puppies on my wedding cake - or my birthday cake - or my hey-it's-Tuesday cake.  I make all of those by the way, any size ya want;).


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lilies - Check. Roses - Check. Irises - Lookin' Good!

As wedding season approaches, I find myself happily entrenched in new projects.  New cake pans and petal cutters arrive every few days, and my wallet is full of coupons for the cake isle at JoAnn's.

I was absolutely giddy when my iris cutter arrived in the mail the other day.  I've just completed the first step in constructing my iris - cutting, veining and thinning each of the nine petals, and they are drying nicely in my kitchen. 

These are the larger, lower petals.

It's easy to get lost in the details of creating a flower from gum paste.  But when the individual pieces come together and you finally see the finished product, it's delightfully satisfying.  I hope you enjoy these first few snapshots of my petals.  They appear much more blue than they really are...in my hand they are a lovely, rich purple.



I hope to get a more delicate look in future specimens, but I'm very pleased with how these first few have turned out.  Tomorrow I'll be able to dust the petals and bind them up with floral tape for the finished product.  Can't WAIT!

Mine will not be "bearded" - but this is the general idea.