Sunday, June 09, 2013

Holy Orange!

Natalie and Josh are the type of bride and groom that anyone in the wedding industry dreams of working with: laid back and open to suggestions. While it can be a nightmare working with someone who has no idea what they want, this was different. The little details just didn't matter. All they wanted was a great party with friends and family. 

I've known Natalie for 3 or so years now, being a long time friend of my fella, so I was very excited to find out she was getting married. Then I was a little hurt when I found out they weren't going to have cake; what's a wedding without cake!?! (It's Jen out of business... that's what!)

She said they weren't cake people, and I respect that.  Not everyone is, I just try to convert them ;)  Being the amazing girl she is, she said 'If it will help you out, make that our gift'.  I can work with that. 

I had grandiose plans of making a giant airplane; they are both pilots and were getting hitched at a warplane museum, so it seemed only fitting.  But after making the Dash-8 cake a few months back, I knew I wasn't ready for that to be featured in a wedding.  Instead I just went for fun and whimsical to match the happy couple. They chose orange for their colour. Not just orange...ORANGE.  Think highlighter, or that tux from Dumb and Dumber. Orange. 

I decided to try to do the ganache method for covering cakes before fondanting, and so far... Not a fan. Unless my recipe was off, I have never had so many issues with sagging fondant.  I'm actually a little disappointed with the final product. It wasn't as crisp and clean as I was expecting from all I've read about ganache.   Live and learn. I'll stick to what I know. 

On to the bake!

Happily, I discovered my oven handles double rack baking, so baking 9 layers of cake was done very quickly. My old oven would have taken 3 times as long.  And that was a much bigger oven.

I was also making 250 sugar cookies for the wedding, so time this week was limited and very valuable. As it was, I was up late every night for a week with those, so not needing 3 days to bake the cakes was fantastic. (It's not easy having a job outside of cakes.)

Easy to fill, but the frosting with ganache proved to be more difficult that I had hoped. I had heard such great things, but  I don't think it's for me. I followed the recipe to the letter, watched the video as I did each step, but it just wouldn't set up. Maybe it was too runny, maybe I put it on to thick... I'll try it again for a family cake and see if I can make it work.  The results look astounding. Perfect corners, crisp lines. It's my style. 

The fondant decorations posed another challenge. Think back to your Play-dough days... I needed to make ropes - 3 feet long and perfectly cylindrical. I spent a week researching tools to make it work.  There was no way I could roll out 'snakes' and get them that long and even.  Some sites recommend a clay extruder that is used for clay craft, but it was impossible to find in my area, and couldn't be ordered to get here in time.  I had a back up plan using a very large sterile syringe from my day job, but I forgot to bring it home to practice.  While out shopping for real life, we were in a mall with a well known kitchen supply store.  I asked the nice gentleman if they had anything like an extruder, and he actually recommended a heavy duty cookie gun... the one with all the disks you use for shortbread.  I can't believe I didn't think of that!

I had to use a combination of disks to get a single hole, but it worked!  It hurt my forearm something fierce with all the squeezing, but it worked, and in much less time than I was expecting.

As mentioned, I'm not happy with the finished product.  I maintain that the ganache was too soft and with the weight of the fondant it kept sliding down.  I attempted to patch it up on site, but the damage was too far gone.  Parents of the bride and the happy couple them selves loved it and didn't notice any damage but it's all I could see - that's always the case.  I am glad that this was a free cake.  I would have felt bad if someone paid full price and had it turn out like this, even with how little I charge.  I would have given a partial refund for sure.

Nevertheless, its an adorable cake.

Jen Bakes Cakes
Non symmetrical lines... this drove me crazy!

Jen Bakes Cakes
Cake, cookies and a hangar door.  Spot on for this couple.

Jen Bakes Cakes
Cookies in formation.  I think that's a formation anyway...

Jen Bakes Cakes
And the reason we were there... Planes!
As usual:  Lessons learned:

1.  Don't try anything new on a customer cake.  That's what family and friends are for.  "Hey, I tried something out... want a free cake?'  Who's going to say no to that?
Make sure it works first.

2.  Time management.  This order took a huge chunk of time.  I worked my day job everyday that I had to be doing something for the cake.  Even if I were making a profit on this, it wouldn't have been enough to warrant not working the day job, but I should have spend time the week before making the cookies and froze them.

3. Research.  I know this, yet I still assume.  I had never done a technique like this before, and I knew months in advance that I was doing it, so there was no excuse for not knowing how I was going to pull it off.

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