Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A halfway mistake

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I am writing this post to show you all just how human I am.

Have you ever made a halfway mistake?

Let me explain what this entails. A halfway mistake takes place when a task or a project is done thoroughly, precisely and thoughtfully...until the last second.

Like when I decided at the end of my hair appointment that I wanted bangs. Or that time I thought it would be a good idea to foul out of the CIF championship game after a record-breaking season.

My coach told me how mad he was about in an interview that landed on the front page of the OC Register. He referred to me as "the beef." Not a good day.

Last night was not good, either.

After my last post about the pumpkin cake, I got inspired. I thought, "I can make that cake! I will spend money at the store and dedicate my entire evening to making a cake that I will not eat."

It's the cubicle. When you're sitting in what may as well be a closet all day, you tend to get anxious and over-aim.

I over-aimed.

I've also learned that while I am a good baker, I'm a better cook. I struggle with pastries. I've discovered that I need to treat baking like I treat buying a pair of shoes: if I really want to make it, I need to wait a few days, and if I still really want to, then I can.

Impulse baking births bad results.

So bear with me as I lead you down my path of food coloring, crumbling cakes and homemade frosting. And learn from my mistake.

What you'll need:

Milk, Canola oil, chocolate frosting, orange and green food coloring, 2 chocolate cake mixes, 6 eggs, 1 cupcake paper thingy, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Not pictured: 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup butter, and vanilla.

Phew.

First, make the cake according to the package instructions. Mine called for 3 eggs, 1 1/3 cup water, and 1/2 cup oil.

Yumm.

When working with a bundt pan, make sure to spray it thoroughly. If your cake sticks to the pan, it can really ruin the project.

Pour the mix in evenly.

The package on my cake mix said to bake it at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

So I did it.

When Betty Crocker speaks, I listen.

Now remember, we are going to make 2 bundt cakes. This is just one of them; however, you will be making one solo chocolate cupcake from this mix.

Precious.

So I threw them both in the oven (keep an eye out for the cupcake as it only cooks about 15 minutes) and started on my frosting.

Let's start with the orange glaze.

Take about 2 cups of powdered sugar and throw it in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of corn syrup and 4 teaspoons of milk.

Mix it up.

Now we're going to add some orange food coloring. There really isn't a specific amount, but just for reference, I put in about half a teaspoon.

You're going to do a lot of mixing in this recipe. Just accept it.

That's it for the glaze, so set it aside and let's move on to the vanilla frosting.

Mix together 2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 egg whites, half a cup of butter, and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Mix some more. Now, if you need to thicken it up, just add more powdered sugar.

Now, as much of a failure as the end result of this cake was, this butter vanilla frosting was worth every second of those 3 hours.

Yes, 3 hours. This was a big task.

Now, it's not pictured because my photographer (aka my husband) started taking pictures of himself, but add green food coloring to this, mix and refrigerate.

Nice.

 Don't forget about your cute little cupcake. Make sure it doesn't stay in as long as the bundt cake.


This is where my trouble all began. My first cake was ready. I was anxious, excited, and unexpecting...I wasn't sure what was going to be under that hot bundt pan. Would it be a beautiful cake? Maybe a total mess?

It was just a normal cake. But I could tell there was something wrong.

Do you see how the top of this cake starts a different shape, almost like it's creating a hill?

That was where it truly did go wrong.

And then I made a bad decision.

I started to cut the sides, when what I should have done is gone horizontally and cut off the weird halo tumor on top of the cake.

So just to make sure we're clear, this picture you're looking at...the technique was  huge mistake. The beauty of the pumpkin cake is that the bundt pan creates curves and crevices on the sides of the cake, which make it look like a pumpkin.

I messed up.

But I was so proud of myself. I kept taking pictures.

It's like a dog shaved of its fur. Is there a more pitiful site to behold?

I frosted it (which, regardless of my mistake, you must do).

At this point, your second cake should be in the oven cooking.

Fast forward about 45 minutes.

My second cake was ready, and I was excited. Until I realized that my second cake didn't have the halo tumor and had turned out perfectly. That meant that my top half of the cake was wider than the bottom half (the one pictured).

That means I had one bad foundation, people.

I frosted the top half with the rest of my chocolate frosting and placed it on top of the bottom half. I then poured the orange glaze evening on top of the cake tower pumpkin thingy, stuck the chocolate cupcake (sans the paper thingy) in the middle hole and topped it with green frosting.

I did my best. I truly did. I wanted it to recover, but it was just too far gone.

It looks scary. But Halloween is scary, right? So maybe it's appropriate, right? RIGHT?!?

Who am I kidding. I'm going to take it to Amber at work. She'll eat it.

So here's the lesson: this is a totally doable cake. It's just important to not cut the sides of the cake. If it comes out a little morphed, shave off the top of the bundt cake, not the sides.

Oh, well. There's always next year.

Good luck to all you who plan on conquering this.

Love,
Rachael

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