Friday, July 25, 2014

Basketweave by a basketcase. See what I did there?

I actually bled for my art when crafting the cake for this blog. I'll make this week's edition of "guess which common, everyday item tried to kill Kate" easy on you- it was the foil lid on a can of decorator frosting. You know what's truly evil and reminds you hell is real? Foil paper cuts. Before you shake your head and wonder how that's even remotely possible, just know that when you're as accident prone and talented as I am, it overlaps into some strange Venn Diagram where things like this are not only in the realm of possibilities, but will most likely happen to you at least once a year for the rest of your existence. I have a half-inch, perfect V-shaped foil paper cut on my left thumb. As a left-handed individual, this has made even the smallest of tasks like shampooing my hair or trying to zip up a pair of jeans a rather obnoxious and annoying reminder that I should probably live in a baby-proofed bubble. How that foil lid jumped up and bit my thumb like a rabid bunny or some other wild creature who's acquired a taste for human blood (geese, clearly), I am not sure. But it was a bleeder, and it left a deep gash. Luckily, the end result was worth it (and blood-free, thank you):
Ahh, the tastiest basket of roses ever.
About seventy-five years ago (or a few weeks, who's counting), I blogged about wanting to do a basketweave cake with these awesome vintage tips my mother-in-law mailed to me that have been in the family for quite some time. So thanks to Jan (and my ability to remember to actually bring them on my escape journey from New Mexico up to Michigan), my family is reaping the benefits of her sending them with this scrumptious chocolate cake.
This tip isn't even in production anymore...God I love feeling elite. I also love polka dots, FYI.
Since my parents have retired, they have put their house up on the market and are shuttling things in between here and their final destination (rereading this I realize it sounds like they've decided on a nice mausoleum somewhere, but trust me, they're still very much alive and kicking regardless of the amount of baked goods I've been showering our collective cholesterol levels with). Due to the flux between old home and new home several states over, my mom has packed up any unnecessary kitchen equipment and they've hauled it off to I was without some of the tools of my trade and had to make a couple quick compromises when baking my basketcake (name sticks). I had to use some disposable cake pans that had a scalloped-edge design which I thought would be neat, but turned out to make my cake look sort of like it was baked and then thrown across the room.
It had a slight lean...and this was after trimming the edges to even things out. Oy.
I thought perhaps a quick crumb coat would put me at ease. Know what's not easy to frost? Tiny little nooks and crannies. Know what has lots of tiny little nooks and crannies? Scalloped-edge cakes. I'm happy to say I persevered (obviously, or you wouldn't be reading this), and crumb coated the cake. It looked a little less "leany..."
Thank you chocolate, for making everything look good when you're draped across it.
After the standard freezer cooling time, I removed my cake from the freezer, filled a piping bag with chocolate decorator frosting (this can didn't bite me), and got ready to work. Note- I totally forgot I was even decorating a cake because I was hungry, big surprise, so this actually sat in the freezer for like an hour. Whoops. The basketweave technique itself is not hard, just very time consuming. Which is totally why you should do this on a full stomach. I can pretty much justify anything, and I realize I probably should've become a corporate lawyer.
Straight lines? We don't need no stinkin' straight lines! Well, sort of, anyway.
What you do with this technique is pipe a vertical line down your cake, like above. Then you pipe short horizontal lines over that vertical line from top to bottom. Or bottom to top I suppose if you're one of those people. By those people, I mean the kind that don't listen to me. I'm raising my eyebrow at you at this very moment. The next step is to pipe another vertical line over the very end of your short horizontal lines. This will leave little "spaces" in between your piping:
On your far right, you can note said space. Unless you're still choosing not to listen to me,
in which case, go read the news or something, you weirdo.
Take your piping tip, bury it in the space, and now you will fill the space in with frosting while dragging your piping bag over the outer vertical line. This sounds confusing, but note how happy (for someone with bitchy resting face) I look at the repetitive motions:
Why, yes, I do like to think of myself as the poster child for monotonous tasks.
So I continued to do this while happily thinking how much sense life makes when its drawn out in vertical and horizontal lines. I got the different textures because one side of my tip was grooved, and the other was flat, so I alternated grooved vertical lines with smooth horizontal ones. Not sure if a new tip is being made with double features or if I'm still just supremely elitist. After a few breaks to relieve my hands (if I was a robot, this would be so much easier), I ended up with this:
One basket of cake, coming right up!
You know how I feel about naked cake tops, so I decided my Basketcake TM needed to be filled with roses. Because roses with a 1M tip are the most supremely easy thing in the world to do, and again, not a robot, just act like one, my hand hurt really badly. Little did I know things were about to get much more painful. Ahh, ignorance, you stupid little harlot. After the carnage of opening the new can of decorator frosting left me bloodied and wondering if I could start my foray into robotics with a bionic thumb, I mixed my frosting with purple and pink dye:
Pictured: 1M tip, loads of frosting.
Not pictured: Maimed thumb.
Then I swirled roses on to the top of my cake. My mom didn't believe me when I said roses are truly foolproof until she saw me in action. Nothing like seeing your bandaged child somehow managing to make it through the struggle and come out on the other side, right? I'm not over exaggerating, it really freaking hurt. She wanted to stitch me up. My mom always wants to stitch everything up. God rest her soul (again, I promise she is still alive).
End result: worth the pain.
It was really awesome to get to decorate a cake with my mom rooting me on from the side lines. Should I ever open a cakery, I'm going to hire her on as a full-time cheerleader. Cakeleader? Baked-goods booster? I got nothing for this one. I'll probably also hire my stepdad on as a full-time cake sampler. That man appreciates a good cake with such zest, I have no doubt in my mind I where I got it from. Needless to say, the cake only looked like this for a few minutes before we cut in to it:
Think you're safe in that glass case (of emotion)? Guess again, Basketcake TM.
We're still only halfway through with this cake and I'm already plotting up some pretty cupcakes for next week, so we'll see how that goes for both mind and stomach. Til next time, my fellow eaters!

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