24 March, 2009

Adventures In Cake Decorating

As some of you will be aware, I'm engaged to be married. (Please hold your applause until the end.) My fiancé and I aren't at all interested in an expensive song and dance for the nuptials; as Dooce once related, there are far better things for us to waste invest our money in. Like having floors sanded and relacquered, buying a lounge suite and making sure my children don't freeze in the Finnish winter.

I think he had designs on wearing jeans to the ceremony itself. Since I'm a spoil-sport, I poured cold water on that idea and insisted on him at least dressing up. I will be wearing a wedding dress for the occasion - but it will be made in a sweat shop on a shoestring budget. In fact, I'm recruiting five-year-old sewing experts this week.

In all seriousness, I intend to have A Cake. But there ain't no way I could spend hundreds of dollars on a lump of flour and sugar. You'll have to forgive me if you're someone whose own connubial dessert involved seven layers of confection held up with pseudo-marble plastic pillars topped with a solid gold peace dove. I liked this image that I found somewhere in Internet Land:

I particularly liked it because the "artist" was not a professional cake decorator and had told the bride her cake would not look professional - she calls it a "rustic" look. The series of cakes was her gift to the couple and the bride was apparently thrilled.

The other reason I liked the look of these cakes is that she said they were easy. Awesome! I can SO do this. And so yesterday I embarked on what I expected to be a simple recreation of the cakes in the picture.

In an astounding fluke, mixing an entire large block of cooking chocolate into a Home Brand vanilla cake mix actually tastes awesome. I wasn't aiming for gourmet cake, I just wanted something heavy enough to put icing on, and I was pleasantly surprised. And so the icing. I crumb coated it but was too impatient for it to set properly (of course, it then lifted off the cake and bits of it ended in the final coat - but hey it's a learning experience).

The icing then didn't really look all that smooth. It was rough-looking. Next time, I'll put more milk in it.

Then I decided to have a play around with the piping bag, since I've never used one. Well, that baby is hard to master. I mean, it looks so easy! It's not :(

I now have a chocolate mud cake with chocolate icing, covered with a piping "design" on the top.

The whole concoction looks like a five-year-old slapped the icing on with a spade, and then her three-year-old brother got hold of Mummy's piping bag and added the decoration. The cake strongly resembles runny dog turd.