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Lessons Learned - Happily Ever After.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Here it is – the “cursed cake” as I called it, since it was baking when my oven broke! All’s well that ends well, but this one posed plenty of problems along the way. Lessons learned are frustrating, yes, but looking back I’m grateful because this is what will make my next cake better. It seems with every project, I learn at least one “what not to do” for next time. Aside from my oven, which was beyond my control, the rest could’ve been avoided with a little more research and effort on my part.
Lesson number one – Always test a recipe before using it for anyone other than yourself. The request was for a marble cake. New one for me. But I felt confident because I used my trusted vanilla cake recipe for the base, so I knew it would be delicious. However, the “marbling” is what I faulted on. The majority of chocolate sat on the surface, even after dragging a knife through the batter. When I started leveling the layers I realized that most of the chocolate was being trimmed off. Next time I’ll layer the vanilla and chocolate batter, rather than just swirling chocolate over the top.
Lesson number two – Don’t skimp on the buttercream when crumb coating! I started running out of buttercream on the large tier about halfway through coating. Rather than going out to buy more powdered sugar and making another batch, I was determined to make it stretch. I ended up with a cake that had the most minimal amount of coating, and therefore resulted in a not so smooth finish. Once I covered it in fondant I could see the imperfections underneath.
I wasn’t given an exact design to follow, and thank goodness, because that allowed me the opportunity to improvise. Originally I planned to do a quilting technique, with some fondant cut-outs, but I knew it wouldn’t look perfect unless I had a smooth base to work with. So after spending some time online looking for a plan B, I decided on fondant swags. (Something I’ve never tried). I found a video and learned how to make them using wooden dowels to create a pleated look. I was so surprised at how easy it was, and guess what? It looked amazing! Once I had the swags on I had to figure out what to use to cover the seams where the swags were adhered to the cake. Saturday night I spent an hour making daisies out of fondant, then went to bed,
Sunday morning I started adding the daisies but it just didn’t look right. The swags were so elegant, and daisies just didn’t seem to fit. I decided on roses instead. So, after two hours spent making 18 fondant roses and white accents, it was time to call it a day. With only 30 minutes to spare before pick up I took a final look, snapped some pictures on my cell, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Gorgeous… Long story short – Although it began with heartache, it ended with happily ever after. Not only did I learn some “what not to do’s” next time and some new techniques too - I also felt good about my improvised cake. Success!

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