Monday, January 18, 2010

Countdown to Kelly Ripa, day 22: Cake time

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There are 22 days left before I head to New York to decorate cakes with Kelly Ripa to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, courtesy of Foodbuzz and Electrolux. The other day's frosting experiment was a total failure. I shed a few frustrated tears - yes, really, over frosting! - and then it dawned on me that maybe the problem was the frosting itself. It had been sitting around for a while and had dried out a bit. So maybe it's not me - maybe I just need better frosting.

And thus I am spending today reading The Cake Bible. If you're going to get started on fancy cakes, this is the only book you really need. Find a copy, open it to page 27, and look at the Rose Trellis cake pictured there. You'll see what I mean. I'm also in love with, but way too scared to attempt, the Art Deco cake on page 29. Rolled fondant calla lilies. Sigh.

I find this book intimidating, though. Never mind the 150 pages of cake recipes in Part I. I just paged through Part II, "Complementary Adornments for All Cakes," which includes chapters on buttercream, whipped cream, custard fillings, meringues, candy and nut embellishments, fruit toppings and purees, and special effects. I am overwhelmed. I know if I read carefully I will really understand the difference between a regular buttercream and a "silk meringue" buttercream, but is there really that big a difference in taste? And is it really worth making your own fondant when you can buy it in tubs like Play-Doh at Surfas, our local restaurant supply and gourmet store?

Looking at this book reminds me of Julie & Julia. If I really wanted to learn the art of cake decorating and baking, I would start at the beginning of The Cake Bible and keep going until I hit the end. The book jacket says "More than 200 recipes." I wonder if I could do it in a year? But I think it would end up being a year when I would become diabetic, put on 50 pounds, get ants in the kitchen from all the flour and sugar spilled, and be bored. Unlike Julie Powell, I do not have the patience for such a project. This I know.

Anyway, today I'll read, and maybe make some very basic cupcakes. Which, oh god oh god oh god, I will then have to frost.

4 comments:

Gisele akaLA2LAChef said...

Rose Levy Bernabaum's butterecreams are incredible, but do need extra TLC- especially in keeping the temps workable. Keep at it.

Gisele akaLA2LAChef said...

P.S. also highly recommend "A Piece of Cake" by Susan G. Purdy

Sweet and Savory said...

Hey Erika, just came across your blog, love it! And very jealous, about the whole Kelly Ripa, cake baking/decorating thing...lucky you!

Erika said...

Thanks for the nice words, S&S! I just stopped by your blog and left a comment too!

Gisele, thanks for the recommendation. I'll look for Susan Purdy's book. Meantime, I have a batch of chocolate cupcakes that are just looking at me, waiting for their frosting. Stupid, but I'm nervous just looking at them. What is my problem?

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