Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beautiful Cake, Beautiful Bride

What is it about a really great wedding?  It makes you weep and laugh and by the end you are thoroughly exhausted if you had anything to do with the months of prep leading up to it.

I so appreciate the confidence a bride puts in me.  It's not some thing I take lightly, and I do everything I can to make her special cake a true centerpiece at the reception.  When that bride is a friend, you do even more. 

This very special cake took me through every skill set I need in this buisness - fondant (for the ribbon at the base of each tier), gum paste (for the originial topper and flowers), piping...and piping and piping, and of course from-scratch baking and butter-cream making.

Turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself:).

Original cake topper, gum paste, hand painted, 100% edible!

Red Velvet (the kind you actually want to EAT!)
with cream cheese butter cream and Chocolate Fudge
with vanilla buttercream, fondant accent.

The center food table - there were red roses everywhere!

Back of the topper - I love the silver swirls.

From the back...

My beautiful friend and her new husband, cutting their cake!

Ready to eat - mmmmmm

Thursday, July 19, 2012

(Spoiler Alert!) Here's to the Bride

Yes, don't look if you don't want to know what I've been working on this week!

I just can't leave this one alone. 

I've had these lovelies on my drying rack for a while now...still a bit of wet "paint" before their final dusting of color.

Bake Lore sugar flowers drying...just a small peek at the
original topper debuting on Saturday
This is a sneek peek of one really unique, gorgeous cake topper.  Can you tell I'm excited about this one?

Let me tell you, though, it's not just about the flowers.  It's about the bride.

I met this amazing woman when I moved home from a few years of east-coast insanity.  Talk about beautiful, inside and out.  You become fast friends with the people who are walking with you through times of extreme change, and this lady was part of the whirlwind of life that surrounded me when I got married. 

Partnered with her equally awesome best friend (who I hope will get her own Bake Lore post one of these days), she threw me a beautiful wedding shower and helped make my wedding invitations.  She was a charter member of a briefly convened group we called "The Hot Mammas Club," and she helped me, on more than one occasion, survive my incredible propensity to get lost WHEREVER I GO. 

She's gonna marry a hunk of Latino preacher this weekend, and I couldn't be happier for her.  She's made me wait a long time to enjoy blessing her a little bit in the same way she has blessed me.

Here's to you and all the Hot Mammas out there - love and miss you all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Baking Matters: The Rant Part Two

Pausing from another marathon of cake baking, building and beautifying, your friendly neighborhood cake maker returns to finish her long-overdue discourse on why baking matters.

Did you feel yucky after reading about the grocery store S.O.P.? 

I did. 

But I don't feel yucky anymore...because I've got a house full of fresh, flavorful, baked-from-scratch cake that I'm about to turn into a gorgeous wedding confection. 

In case you were wondering about the life and times of a Bake Lore is your window into the oven.

First...I collect the best possible ingredients.  I use dry goods almost exclusively from the Dutch Pantry in Odon, throwing some love to my local shop-keeps.  Thier cake flour is fantastic, and they have all the hard to find things - in bulk! - any time I need them.

Clearly prepping for a cake for the husband
The man can't get enough PB and cocoa:).
I spend a day or two baking from scratch - I use Fat Daddio pans (awesome!) and I don't rely on timers very much.  Once my cakes have been in the oven for about 30 minutes, I check them constantly to make sure they are never over-baked.

Using a great technique for level cakes:
soaking long strips of linen in cold water,
wrapping around the pan, securing with pins.

When they cool, I level the layers - each Bake Lore cake has 4 layers.  They call that torting, I do believe, and for me, it's part of the inner beauty of the cake.  It's pretty inside and out. 

Four layers...minus a bite...who can wait when there's cake to be eaten?

For a wedding cake - yes, I freeze the layers!  But never for longer than a day or two.  These cakes have to travel, they have to hold up all through a wedding and a reception, and the colder they are on delivery, the prettier they are in your pictures.  They are always completely thawed and ready for action when served.  They also spend some quality time in the fridge, aclimating to the perfect temperature for travel and eating. 

The butter cream is next - this gorgeous stuff lasts weeks in the fridge, so it can be made well in advance.  I use an Italian merangue butter cream - starts with stiffly beaten egg whites, then I add molten sugar and loads of real butter and vanilla...or whatever the taste-du-jour may be.

Mmmm...Bake Lore butter cream, as inspied by the one and only, Sylvia Weinstock

I then layer the cake and butter cream, add a crumb coat and a final perfect finish of butter cream before the decoration begins.  Sometimes it's a flourish of fondant...sometimes a gallery of gum paste...sometimes just piped perfection. 

Then I deliver, set up and (sometimes) serve.

Setting up in the reception hall!

Depending on the size of the cake, it's never longer than a week from start to finish.  It's always in the window of peak freshness, and it's always been met with rave reviews and smiling guests. 

Speaking of which...I have some work to do.  Delivery day is coming!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Why Baking Matters, The Rant Part One

You'll forgive me if I take a moment, as I catch my breath between cakes, to give a little time to a fight that's been going on for quite some time. 

It's  real barnburner.

In this corner, I give you the heavy-weight champ of the modern age, INDUSTRIAL BAKING! 

And in the other, still fighting and scrapping by after years of domination from it's bigger, badder opponent: FROM-SCRATCH BAKING!!!!!

Can I tell you a secret?  I've been in both worlds.  I know what's going on in the bowels of your grocer's bakery department.  Let me tell ya.  Some of it ain't pretty.

I'm a cake guru, so let me just leave the bread and donuts where they lie.  I'm gonna walk you through the life of a typical grocery store cake. 

Mixing, Baking, Cooling and Packaging - happen at a nameless factory somewhere - en masse.

Cakes are delivered to grocery stores across the nation, frozen, and expected to stay frozen until they are pulled for decoration...who knows when that will be?  Also, they come in a variety of sizes ranging from rectangle to extra-rectangle.

In the "bakery," the rack of cakes - in ubiquitous white and chocolate - is rolled in and ot of its freezer home, and depending on when they arrived and how many orders are coming in, the cakes could potentially thaw and freeze every day for a couple of weeks before they're used. 

I'm not saying every grocery store does it that way, but some do.  It's not a health hazard, unfortunately,  But it is definitely a TASTE hazard.  Nothing says "celebrate" like the taste of freezer burn.  Sadly, I speak from experience there as wedding cake was a grocery store cake.  I know...I was before I knew better. 

Even better, if you're in the market for a wedding cake, the industrial baker will supply you with centuries-old round cakes in your choice of white...white...or...wait for it...white cake.  (Disclaimer: Centuries-old may be a conservative age estimate.) 

credit guess...99 years, give or take a few months.
Now, there is only one way to make medicocre cake something people will come back and buy again and again. That is where the tub of "buttercream" icing comes in.  (Quotations used to their fullest grammatical potential.)

Ingredients: Shortening (that's crisco, fyi), high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring (mmm...butter in a bottle!), and few poly-syllabic, hard-to-pronounce items that industrial bakers love to throw into things. 

Slap that on an inch thick, top it with a couple icing roses, and you have yourself 12-18 servings of $14.99 cake that will leave your guests feeling slightly nauseous and heachachey. 

My apologies if this post came off just a smidge caustic.  It's hard to watch good people eat bad cake.  It truly is. 

If you're going to celebrate - make every calorie a party!  It's not an every day food, so don't let it be an every day experience, for you or for your guests. 

Tune in soon when I walk you through the life of a Bake Lore cake.  But bring a might make you drool just a bit.  :) 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It's...shower time!

Oh, dear cake lovers, I am once again, exhausted.  I have just come through a week turned up to 11 in every way possible...cake, Vacation Bible School, major day-job stuffs, major volunteer commitments and a few other things...including but not limited to my husband getting attacked by a deer in our brand new car. 


That said - I delivered a rockin' bridal shower cake this weekend, and the pictures are here for you to feast your eyes on and tell your friends.  

Gorgeous set-up...these ladies have some serious froo-froo talent!

Original gum paste topper - how cute are they?

There's a story behind the sandal.  Kind of like a beach-version of Cinderella...ish.

My beautiful friend, Amy, who gets to call herself "MRS." in another month!

I think she likes it:).

Three tiers of Buttery Yellow Cake and Vanilla Buttercream
Only thing better than sitting with your love on the beach
at sunset would be sitting on CAKE with your love at sunset.  

Congratulations, Amy!