Sunday, April 17, 2011

Flashback to high school home ec

And not in a good way!

So folks, I have now completed 2 of my cake decorating classes.  I really thought that I was going to practise on styrafoam cake models.  Turns out I am required to bake my own cake.

First night it was mainly learning tricks for good cake baking and practising on pieces of plastic.  My homework was to go home, bake a cake and decorate it using all the tips in my kit to different effects.  Good thing it was my son-in-law's birthday last Sunday.  He was to be the first recipient of my new found skills. 

It turns out cake decorating is very expensive.  For that first cake, I used 3 pounds of butter, 2 pounds of icing sugar and two tablespoons of something called merangue powder (at $13 for 4 ounces).  Now, don't get all excited - I didn't put the whole thing on the cake.  I had to make two batches of icing.  Not sure what I did wrong with the first batch but when I tasted it, my eyeballs rolled back in my head and my teeth hurt.

I presented my "designer" cake to my son-in-law in pride.  I then called their house twice to see if he liked it or if I had to pay for an emergency room visit.  Turns out he liked it and ate most of it.  I heard this morning from my grandson that "it was really really sweet."  Apparently he asked for a glass of milk to go with it after just two bites.  Hmm, not sure if that is a good thing or not.

I felt that first week was not so bad.  I was full of confidence heading into week 2.  Bad things happen to people with excess confidence.  I didn't notice the first week, but it turns out I have two different size cake pans.  How did I discover this fact you ask?  Well, it seems that if you put a larger cake on top of a smaller cake, the bigger cake on top will crack and slide off to the side causing the baker to take some radical steps to correct and hide the flaw.  This will not work

Wednesday night, the night before class found me in the kitchen until after midnight trying to bake and ice a cake for class on Thursday.  This took three tries (that's also 9 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of vegtable oil).  So, like I said, the first cake cracked in half because I put a larger cake on top of a smaller cake and made like an inverted space ship.    I tried everything to fix it to no avail.  Nothing to do but to start again.  So, back to the kitchen and a second cake.  Not sure what happened with this one but they came out like pancakes.  I had to try again.  Viola!  I had success - mostly.  I tried and tried to make that smooth top and sides that I had been taught.  I think my eyes are crooked.  I was not very successful.  However, it was acceptable - to me.  Not so much to my teacher.  This brings me back to my original thought - flashback to high school home economics class.

I remember my mother's presence being requested at school about 3 months into the school year.  This first term was dedicated to sewing.  It was suggested to mother that I might do better in the cooking portion of the class to begin in a couple of weeks.  They were going to give me a pass in sewing anyway because I tried so hard.  Three months into the cooking portion of the class, mother was again called in and it was suggested that perhaps art was more my thing (suffice to say, the art teached moved me to drama class).

At class, we were given instruction on decorating our cakes using new tips and tricks.  We were to draw a fish and decorate the sides.  I made air bubbles coming out of my fish's mouth.  I looked closely at it this morning on my way to my daughters house to present them with this weeks homework.  I made a slightly X-rated cake.  Upon closer examination, turns out the air bubbles looked like nipples.  Wonder if the kids will notice.

I really am not sure what I keep doing wrong in the kitchen.  It's not like I don't try.  I really do.  However, my friends and family are all familiar with my kitchen mishaps.  They go a long way back.  I think my problem might actually be that I have no imagination in the kitchen.  I come from a long line of truly fabulous cooks who can create wonderful things right out of the fridge.  My mother would open the fridge and pull out a 7 course meal.  I would open that same fridge and see only condiments.  When I am invited to a social gathering, my friends very kindly always assign me the 'chips and dip' course.  This came about after a weekend when I really tried to be a domestic goddess and spent all afternoon baking.  I brought my masterpieces into work on Monday - banana chocolate chip muffins.  Good right?  I wandered around the office offering my goodies and expectantly watched for the elation that comes from a tasty treat - at the very least a "wow - these are fantastic."  Instead, a little while later, I noticed a bunch of half-eaten -well that might be overly optomistic - generally there was only one bite taken - muffins in various garbage cans around the office.  Did you know there is a real difference between baking powder and baking soda and that they expire? 

My granddaughter Rae called me last night and requested that I bake her and her sister's birthday cakes for their party this coming saturday.  I love that fact that they will love me no matter what.  I am a little more concerned about the parents in attendance.  On the upside, the garbage can at the park (where the party will be) is large and comes with a lid so if they throw theirs out, I will not have to see the evidence.

Now, on another topic, what do you do if you see a man you had one of those "dates" with, in Costco after you told him you couldn't see him again because you are moving to Toronto?  I ended up stammering out that my company was sold so everything was in a holding pattern but I was still moving.  Now I have to find a different Costco to shop at.

This week's class is cupcakes.  Perhaps I will have better luck.  I will keep you posted.  By the way, anyone know where I can buy butter by the gross?

Keep you posted.

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