Thursday, January 26, 2017

Go Big Or Go Home

I don't know why I get these grandiose ideas in my head, but I do. It's probably where E gets them. I've never minded baking, but my kind of baking is from a mix. People can ruin a mix. I never do. I always have gotten compliments on any baked goods I've brought to a gathering. I can never make anything easy for myself though. I realize I always seem to come up with these grandiose idea when I'm hungry. Or haven't had good cake in awhile.

This is how it happened this time too. I was in Target, hungry, and saw a box of Duff Goldman's tie-dye cake mix. Of course I was getting this. Then I was like- well, if I'm getting that, I don't know how good it tastes, so I need to make layers. I also knew I can never again eat canned icing, after having made my own strawberry buttercream. The cake is just a vehicle for the frosting anyway. When we had the meet & greet for Josh Gottheimer (congressman), I'd also made chocolate buttercream. I wasn't a fan. I don't know why it didn't taste as good as the strawberry, but it decidedly, did not. I thought I should just make a chocolate cake layer instead. Then I thought, but what about me? I don't like chocolate cake, so what if the Duff cake isn't good? I didn't know whether to get white or golden, so I went with "Blue Velvet", which is a teal color. I figured it was colored vanilla for those baby gender reveal cakes.

All of a sudden I'm making a three layer cake? Why? Well, it didn't matter why, I'd bought all the goods. How hard could it be? HAHA.

The Duff cake needs six small bowls to make each color separately. Awesome. I didn't even have six small bowls for such purpose. I used a mix of faux Tupperware and baby bowls I still had. Good thing I got that stand mixer back when there was a Nest frenzy*. Making the mix in the mixer was fine. It was doling out an even two-thirds of a cup to each little bowl. Then, using their tiny food coloring packettes to make the colors was no neat enterprise. I was stained for days. It was also just a huge mess because of pouring the batter into the six bowls. Maybe someone else could do it neater, but that's just not how it worked out.

That was the first cake I did on a Thursday evening. It took like two or three hours from prep to clean-up. I had to do this all piecemeal, was because I also over-committed  myself that week. E's activities, marching in the Womans March, playdate at Cohen's. All important things that couldn't be cancelled or rescheduled. 

I made the chocolate cake and the blue velvet cake the next night. Those were fairly easy. The buttercream I left for Saturday night. I had no choice. I went to the March in NYC by ten o'clock in the morning, was home by four o'clock in the afternoon. I decided I would at least reduce the strawberries in the hour I had before B got home and leaving for dinner. Why reduce? The recipe says if you don't, the frosting will be runny.

It was easier this time because I looked up what a small saucepan looks like. For some reason, the last time I made it, I used a skillet pan? I think that's what it's called. This time I used a saucepan and it turned out to be a better choice. It still took awhile to cut the strawberries, puree them, and reduce them. I did it, that part was over, so I only had to do the rest.

When we got home from dinner around seven-thirty-ish that night, I started the buttercream. I was doing strawberry, then vanilla. I needed to put the strawberry between the layers, then use the vanilla to do the top and outside. Part of the problem is math for me. Doubling recipes is a killer for someone with a learning disability in math. Also, since I'd never made anything like this, I didn't know that I'd need more.

I did need more strawberry, but luckily I could do that sort of easily. I had the ingredients right there. I also felt like I could make another single batch and that would be the perfect amount. It still was messy. Working with powdered sugar is not something for someone with mess phobia. Clouds were everywhere and inevitable. I had to put the cat in the basement and then listen to her meowing through the door while I was navigating sugar clouds and butter flying.

With the vanilla buttercream, I didn't know how much more I would need and I thought making a whole new single batch would be way too much. Plus, I wasn't sure if I had enough sugar and frankly, I was exhausted. The cake wasn't even really FOR anything except E and I. And if I'm totally honest, it was really for ME. I just wanted it done. It wasn't working out like it was supposed to in my head. Ann Marie and Casey, my friends, told me what I had to do to make it look better but I didn't feel like listening. It seemed like too much work and I didn't have the right accoutrements. I think if I'd had more of both flavors of frosting, it would've looked a little better.

By the way, it took an hour just to cut it and wrap it all individually. It freezes well. Now I'm not chomping at the bit to get to Red Bank for Cupcake Magician. Besides, my cousin will bring some of those up in a few weeks. 

So here's the finished product.

FYI- you can freeze just about any cake. Just cut it into individual portions, wrap in cling wrap and then put in freezer bags.

*The stand mixer was normally almost four hundred dollars. Lowes had a typo and it was advertised for one hundred and fifty. They were honoring that price and the deal ripped through the Nest message boards like wildfire.

Strawberry buttercream recipe:

Vanilla buttercream recipe:

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