Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design - Class 3

Flowers, flowers everywhere and all so good to eat!

For our third class in the Wilton Flowers and Cake Design we made even more flowers. This time, we continued towards perfection on the Wilton rose, learned the beautiful daffodil, the super tiny violet, and the elegant lily. We rounded things off with stems and talked about cake design as we all started envisioning our final cake.
My favorite flower was the daffodil. Ever since I say a picture of it on the cover of the lesson plan booklet, I was hooked. They require a little more grunt work than other flowers (and three different tips) but they turn out lovely. The violets weren't too hard, just so tiny! Your hand hurts after a while...I'm not sure if I'll be taking any requests for violet filled cakes any time soon. Maybe the lilies - those were the largest flower we learned and perhaps the fastest to make. So many possibilities, so little time!

Next up: my final cake!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oven Baked Chicken

Chicken is my default protein. I have a handful of ways of making it, but after a while, it just gets boring. I'm not going to lie, I started looking at oven baked chicken recipes just so I could get out of the kitchen and watch some TV while dinner cooked itself. I checked out this recipe from and loved the simplicity of it. Throw together some spices, rub on chicken thighs, throw in oven, remove 50 minutes later.

No joke, this is the most flavorful chicken I've had! And some of the fastest to prepare! The spice rub is really basic: ground cumin, paprika, ground tumeric, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and cinnamon with a bit of olive oil. The chicken thighs defrost remarkably well, so there is no reason not to cook a few servings of this and freeze the rest to add with some greens and grains for a healthy meal in no time!

I'm glad I got out of my chicken rut with this recipe! What's your surprise new favorite way of cooking meat?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design - Class 2

The second lesson in the Wilton Flowers and Cake Design class was all about royal icing flowers. I'm an expert at making royal icing - two pound bag of powdered sugar, 6 T meringue powder and 10 T water, put in a stand mixer, walk away for 7-10 minutes. My kind of recipe!

In class, we were only supposed to make rose bases and rose centers, but our instructor taught us how to complete the rose so we have three solid weeks of practice making the Wilton Rose. My rose bases and rose centers leave a little something to be desired - they do not stand up as straight as the instructor's do, but I was able to finish the rose much better than the ribbon rose from Decorating Basics.

We also made apple blossoms (small flower) and primroses (larger flower with yellow star) with our decorating nail. Once I got the hang of the curving motion, these were a breeze to make.

I had the most difficulty with the rosebud - I'm left handed so have to create it essentially backwards and I couldn't wrap my head around it as easily as everything else I was doing. And then the sepals started looking like octopus legs until my instructor pointed out how to correct that.

Afterwards, I had a lot of royal icing flowers that I do not intend to use on my final cake, so I brought them to work on Valentine's Day and shared roses with people in my department and primroses with some of the attorneys. What a nice sugar rush to start the morning!

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design - Class 1

This February, I started the second class in the Wilton cake decorating series: Flowers and Cake Design. New instructor, new classmates, and thankfully a lot less baking than the first course. (In the Decorating Basics, we brought in baked goods for four weeks in a row; this time we only need to bake a cake for the last class.)

What I really like about this class is that it is much more technique based. We only made two flowers in two hours, but now I know how they made the flowers on the cake at the bakery outside my bus stop! (Bonus points for applying my knowledge in the real world!) This was my first time ever working with Gum Paste and Fondant. I was transported back to childhood while working with the fondant - it is just like working with clay. After all the manipulation (kneading it, rolling it out, pressing it), it kind of makes me paranoid about cakes from designer bakeries. (Are you sure they washed their hands?)
The first flower we created was the button flower. The supply list called for the neon fondant multi-pack, but the store was sold out so I went with primary colors. The button flower was really basic - roll the fondant out, place it in the mold, and ever so carefully, remove it and let it dry in a flower forming cup so it does not dry flat. I swear, I had a kit that I used that was very similar to the flower press for paper flowers when I was a kid. I guess I can credit my beautiful flowers with years of practice.

Next up was the pansy. After forming the flower shape with a cookie cut, you mold the petals edges with the ball tool. They turned out really cool, but I am partial to the monochromatic pansies. Oh well, at least I can show my (grade) school pride with my color choices!