Thursday, April 17, 2014

Consistency is Key.

..when it comes to frosting textures that is. What, did you think I was about to go into a spiel about how consistency is key with your diet and workout plan? I mean, I totally could because I know people. And by "know people," I mean I have a very extensive Jillian Michaels DVD collection. Also, since I am blogging about cake decorating and you may one day be the recipient of one of my cakes, I need you to be less focused on the diet and more focused on the sugary goodness I place in front of your literal cake hole...
Clearly, this is my mantra.
I agree with everything this woman writes, too, @ Hyperbole and a Half.
 I've spent several hours over the course of this week practicing my frosting...yeah, I'm still not even to the point of baking a cake and decorating it yet. Why? Shame? Fear of expanding waistline? Anxiety? All of the above? Anyway, my second and third go round with frosting improved markedly. Because I listened to my course 1 book and realized although he is delightful, the Pillsbury Dough Boy's frosting is not the most appropriate frosting for hardcore decorations (and neither is that hussy Betty Crocker's). So I went with Wilton's...because they own the course book and therefore only recommended their own frosting. Geesh, what a bunch of monopolists. The results WERE SHOCKING! Or as shocking as something cake related can be...
Blue frosting is from the delightful Dough Boy
Purple frosting courtesy of the monopolists at Wilton

 You can see the blue frosting looks a bit...slimy? Not sure if that's the exact term I'm looking for, but it stands for now. The purple frosting is much more controllable out of the bag. It is stiff and waayyyy harder to mix, but the end result is worth it. I won't go into detail how handling the Wilton frosting reminded me of playing with Play Dough because I don't want to ruin frosting for you. It may sound awesome, but if you've ever been force fed accidentally eaten any (oh, you had an older sibling, too?), not so much. Don't worry, I'll get over it by the time I actually make a cake to frost and eat. I am a survivor. It also made piping shells supremely easy in comparison:
Wilton (again, the purple) frosting offered me an extreme amount of control and precision.
Control- one of my favorite words in the English language (yep, that's another red flag if you're keeping count).

The one way Pillsbury wins is that the slimier (again, this is totally not the word I'm looking for) consistency is awesome for writing. I "watered" down Wilton's icing with some piping gel as instructed by my book, and the results made me want to cry:
That icing sad face is the face of true shame, y'all.
I thought because I am a South Paw (read for anyone outside of Texas: lefty) with unusually shaky hands, I was doomed to never be able to properly write in frosting. No one wants a cake whose message appears to have been written by someone on a five day meth bender. I tried again with plain frosting from Pillsbury, and the sobs turned to quiet tears and a realization that the more I practice, the better this will be:
Please tell me you can read that.

I'm feeling really good about myself and the progress I've made in a very brief amount of time. If you know me, you know if I don't pick something up and I'm not immediately awesome at it (looking at you, beer pong, guitar, and manual transmissions), I tend to never want to do it again. I knew I could NOT let that happen here, but learning a few tips and tricks along the way has surely kept my fervor for caking alive. I  am finally ready to bake a couple smaller cakes. I spent last night imaging how I wanted to decorate them and came up with a picture in my head. But true to overachieving (nay, crazy) form, I wanted a "practice cake" to I found something similarly shaped to a cake today and went for it:
Your eyes do not deceive you...that is, in fact, iced Tupperware.
Soooo I frosted a piece of Tupperware. Sane? No. Logical? Probably not. Still somehow brilliant? You betcha. It also really helped me figure out the pressure I'll need to apply on the actual cake to get a shape to turn out properly, and it gave me some practice with my cake turn table (she's shy and asked not to be photographed, so she's hiding under the parchment paper). One cake will be combed and bordered in stars, while the other I am planning on covering in rosettes:
Ya know, the pink thingies.
If you're wondering where the piece of Tupperware I decorated with rosettes is, just know that plan didn't turn out so well because rosettes are super heavy and an empty container just got pushed around like a raver in a mosh pit. I will try like hell to maintain a level head while decorating these two practice cakes tomorrow and avoid having a panic attack at all costs if something goes wrong. Because you know what? When you screw up on a piece of frosting decor, you totally get to scrape it off and eat it. And then try again. But the eating it part, that's where my Jillian DVDs will come in to play later.
I may not be able to paint with all the colors of the wind, but I damn sure can frost with them.
Another update with photos of my ACTUAL practice cake cakes and the tribulations I face with them will be up at some point over the weekend. I'm also going to be sure to buy plenty of wine tomorrow at the store in case this doesn't go over as well as I had intended. Til next time, my fellow eaters!

P.S. Is it normal to have a mild panic attack when you can't find your wine opener? The other night I couldn't find Giuseppe (yes, I have taken to calling my wine opener Giuseppe), and I thought the end was nigh. Or worse, when all I wanted was a nice glass of Pinot Grigio, I was going to have to settle for beer. Maybe Giuseppe needs his own drawer so this doesn't ever happen again.

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