September 11, 2007

It All Adds Up


This was my second attempt at working with fondant. I made the Lightning McQueen cake as a warm up for this cake. I wanted to get a feel for working with fondant before I used to it to make a cake for someone else. When I made the Lightning cake, the fondant was tricky and a little sticky, but I survived. This time around my circumstances conspired against me as I was under time pressure and the temperature exceeded 30°C, (over 90°F). To begin I made another Dorie Greenspan cake, (Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday cake with Chocolate Malt Buttercream icing and my own fruit compote in the middle) to build my fondant upon because previous experience told me that the inside had better be good to make up for fondant’s less than desirable taste. The cake making went well but the fondant and I did not enjoy the heat and both felt as though we were melting. What made it even more difficult to work with was that once again I had a lofty, unrealistic vision of what my Batman cake was supposed to look like. I wanted it to be perfect; with a flat, ripple less surface, a little Batmobile, ruler straight edges on the buildings, an elaborate skyline and a happy birthday sign. As you can see, the end result was far from what I had imagined.


However, this is one of those rare situations where I suppose I can live with less than perfect results. I wasn’t asked or paid to make this cake and I wasn’t expected to either. I was making this cake because I wanted to, because I wanted to make someone happy. I don’t want to use the expression “it’s the thought that counts” because I really hate how that sounds, but essentially that’s what it comes down to. Some people are impressed by things that cost a lot of money, (and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t to some extent as well, I mean I wouldn’t turn down a trip to Fiji) but little thoughts and gestures add up in ways that big things rarely do. That’s why we remember the small things that make our day, random stories that other people wouldn’t appreciate nearly as much as we do. In a world that’s increasingly automated, doing things for people that make them feel like an individual means something. Facebook will tell you when someone’s birthday is but it won’t make them a Batman cake. An email can tell a friend you’re thinking of them, but a handwritten letter does it better. Sharing your candy will make someone happy, but picking out their favourite flavour means you’ve been paying attention. Doing things that you haven’t been asked to, these little acts make a world of difference. At least they do for me.


Technorati Tags:

+ + +

23 comments:

K & S said...

you're so nice to make this cake for someone! it looks very cool!

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

I actually *love* working with fondant. Next time you want to attempt this, feel free to email me for some tips. Just by looking at your cakes (which by the way, look really nice) I can offer some hints! :)

- Cut off the dome of the cake and then turn the cake over. Make a fondant 'snake' to go around the bottom edge and use your hand to smooth it so the cake is flat all around the outside edge. THEN roll out and put your fondant layer on top - you'll get a smoother result. Once the layer is on, use your hands, a pastry scraper (thin plastic thing, looks like a half moon shape) to 'buff' the fondant on.

- If you have a small desk fan, set it up in the space you're working in. It will keep your hands cool and your fondant from melting.

- You can ADD flavour to normal fondant, in particular vanilla or other essences. This immediately makes it much nicer to eat! :)

...I could go on and on about this. In any case it looks lovely., and when it comes to cakes it really *is* the thought that matters.

Michelle

Lydia said...

I think anyone who bakes in 90-degree weather deserves a medal for bravery. I would be melting right along with the fondant. But if someone presented me with this cake, I would be thrilled -- what seems imperfect to you is actually the perfect gift, one made with love. And a skyline. And Batman's cape. Really, perfect.

Cindy said...

I tend to agree, Brilynn - it's the small and spontaneous gifts that make life grand! I love the design of this one and must admit to a being a long time Batman fan. :-)

dorie said...

Whoever got the cake is not just lucky to get a great-looking cake (it's impossible to look at that cake and not smile), but super lucky to have you as a friend.

slush said...

My boys would go crazy over that cake! I mean it, they would think thats the coolest cake ever. It looks fantastic and would make any little boy extremely happy.

And your so right, its the little things that matter. I know you made someone's day!

Quellia said...

I have a friend who is amazing with fondant, who was giving me a tip or two last night that might help with the taste. Her biggest one? Don't buy the fondant from Michael's but instead buy the tub from Bulk Barn. It is half the price and apparently actually tastes good!
Great work on the cake!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I think the batman cake is fantastic, totally fun . . . totally fun. And that is what batman is supposed to be. So right Brilynn and that is why we remember those thoughts that count! This will be a wonderful memory!

T.W. Barritt said...

In the words of the 1960's Batman TV show, I would say this cake is ZOWEE-BAM!!! It's spectacular - I love the way the Bat Signal cuts into the night. It's SUPER, as is the love that made it!

Lyra said...

I'm envious of who ever got this cake...You should come to DC and do some baking!

Deborah said...

I'm amazed that this is just your second time working with fondant. I can only imagine what they will look like as you get even better!! And the small things are the best!

Maria said...

Very fun cake!! I am sure it made the birthday extra special!

Cynthia said...

You are so kind.

eatme_delicious said...

Excellent looking cake! I love the buildings on the side.

lynn said...

My little boy was looking over my shoulder as I read your post and he LOVES your cake. He said, "Maybe you could make me a Batman cake, mommy." I think you did an awesome job and I'm especially impressed with the Gotham skyline around the base.

Peabody said...

You are doing great. I definietly am not a fondant fan(okay to work with not so great to eat). I agree with the pp about the small desk fan...very helpful.

Kelly-Jane said...

Wow both your cakes are really well done! I love the skyline on this one especially, so clever =)

SteamyKitchen said...

Both my boys LOVE YOU.
They worship you.
Now they want me to make this cake.
Crap!

Mallow said...

These cakes are positively amazing. I know it is a little sacreligious, but I want to see what their insides look like!

jef said...

Mmm, baking and 90F, makes me think of the time I made chocolates for my wife in the summertime...Brave, stupid, I think *I* was blurring the lines.

Whenever I work with fondant I generously spread powdered sugar around like flour and use that to help keep it from sticking. When you're all set with where it is on the cake, you can easily buff the sugar off with the heel of your hand making it all shiny and smooth in the process.

I'd recommend trying to make your own fondant since it tastes marginally better and is almost infinitely cheaper than buying the store brands. It really isn't all that hard to make and it will keep for a long time in an airtight container. You also have the options of flavoring and coloring while you're making it which tends to be easier, IMO.

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

I think that it looks great and I love the skyline on the sides. The reciever must have been really happy for this lovely cake. I love surprising friends and colleagues with unexpected cookies and cakes.

Jerry said...

I am still waiting for my birthday cake..... and for my tart!

Cake does look good though... even better than the other pictures I saw before... even if they were the same pictures... maybe because I am starving!

cupcaketastic said...

You did a great job, anyone working in heat has trouble. It must be a batman month as I to did a batman cake for someone else.