Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Proud Mama

We are very fortunate to have children who makes us proud on a regular basis (also, they make us tear our hair out on a regular basis, but some things are best left unblogged). Right now, we are enoying the fact that all four have thrown themselves into academics and are working hard - and succeeding beautifully. And sometimes, just sometimes, they even act like resonable human beings.

But this brag is non-academic and non-behavioral. This brag is "where did she get the creativity and the talent?" Shana recently returned from a trip to Poland with her class. She saw and experienced a lot, and it seems to have made an impact. But, again, that is not this brag. What I am so proud of is the design for the girls' sweatshirts and t-shirts that Shana came up with and drew.

I truly believe (in addition to all the other reasons I blogged about months ago) that it is absolutely necessary to visit the places where the atrocities of the Shoah occurred so that they are maintained and not turned into parks or mere symbols. When Shana drew this, the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign, the barbed wire, they were just ideas to her. Now she has seen them for herself and can answer to anyone who claims it was not real. And when she returned, the flag of the State was more than a symbol - it was a reality she is grateful to be living. So it's a t-shirt, yes, but it represents so much more. And we couldn't be prouder.


Is it wrong to have this much fun at work?

I know that it is a good thing to enjoy what you do - in fact, it is a blessing. But the amount of fun I had making this next cake should be illegal. And at the risk of getting myself in trouble with my eldest, I made it all by myself!! I guess her abilities are rubbing off on me, at least a little bit. And with all the school and work she has these day, it's probably a good thing I stand on my own two (less creative and talented than her) feet.

This cake was for a birthday for a client's step-mother, who was celebrating her 62nd birthday with a big shebang. She is a phamacist, so the that was the theme for the cake, along with various shades of pink. I spent a lot of time making little fondant pills of various sizes and colors (as a mom, I have probably violated one of the cardinal rules of parenting in making candy that looks just like medicine, thus confusing the two, but we must sacrifice for our art, non?). Then I formed various pharmacy related shapes, and only then began the baking and assembling. I am telling you, it was more fun than play-doh, which BTW does not taste so good, if I recall correctly from my youth. Fondant is far tastier.

So let's take a look!

This is a top view of the finished cake, and here is a side view, so you can appreciate all the time I spent on the pills!

The client for this cake was a pleasue to work with - she sent me a number of inspiration pictures and a general color scheme, which gave me great direction, but also creative freedom. Did I mention I enjoyed making this cake?

One of the most traditional tools associated with a pharmacist is the mortar and pestle. It took a couple of tries to get it right, but I was really pleased with how it worked out.

The top view is even more fun - I crushed up white jimmies and "glued" them inside (which is the mortar and which is the pestle; I can never remember). I like the realistic look it gave. I also "glued" the two pieces together to protect it in transit. Not to worry, it really is all edible.

I included a bottle of liquid medicine and a spoonful of the stuff, along with a little spill out of the bottle. I used a new technique to make the "liquid" in the spoon shiny - I am really pleased with how it came out.
The pill bottle was also a great challenge. I really worked a number of techniques that I had not really used before, and even made up some of my own. It is filled with some capsules that expanded the color pallette a bit, though I held back on using a couple that I felt were way too out of range.

Here is a view from the other side:

Finally, a prescription with a suitably illegible doctor's signature.

By the way, there really is cake in there! Chocolate chip layer cake (tastes so much like a chocolate chip cookie that it's a little weird!), fudge filling, and vanilla buttercream. The fondant is just the icing on the cake - wait, that make no sense...
Hope you enjoyed, and I hope the birthday girl and her family did too! Mazal tov - Ad meah v'esrim!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On last week's episode...

I think this may be flavor #90 - not entirely certain if that number is 100% accurate, but it's pretty darn close. Chai shortbread sandwiches - tender spiced cookies, sandwiched with chai cream (so good, hard to resist eating straight up from a spoon), sprinkled with lightly sweetened cocoa. They were tasty - and here's how they looked posing with some friends:

After the chai sandwiches, we have Mexican brownies, chocolate thumbprints, whoopie pies, honey pecan squares, and glazed lemon cookies.

Also fun for dessert (we are not all cookies all the time) - mini chocolate trifles, AKA Death by Chocolate.

Kahlua drizzled chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream, topped with chocoalte sprinkles. How pretty on a dessert table, or YOUR table!

Think you can eat just one?

Finally, Happy Birthday to Dani's friend Amit. Amit's mom treated him to his favortie whoopie pies, which were topped off by a birthday cake sugar cookie.

And a close-up for the cookie:Hope it was a very happy birthday!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cakes, for a change

I am still playing a little bit of catch-up. Wanted to share a couple of cakes that I made somewhat recently.

This was David's birthday cake - and let's just be very candid: David is not into birthdays. Not one little bit. So this cake was mostly for the kids, in its concept anyway. No one here complains about cake, especially if you can cut off a chunk and pop it into the freezer, to enjoy later. This was a chocolate cake covered in multi-colored buttercream. Super-psychedelic, right?!This cake was for a customer who was celebrating a big birthday in a big way. The party included a musician who sang songs in a number of languages, complementing the stories that were told of the many lands Bernard lived in. His three main homes wee acknowledged on the cake, with French, Israeli, and American flags. The cake itself was chocolate "buttermilk" cake, filled with chocolate mousse, and covered in dark chocolate buttercream. Ad meah v'esrim!

Finally, a less decorative cake: Bubby and Zeidy's honey chiffon cake.

It is a humble tube cake, but full of nostalgia - and yummy flavor. Note the traditional serving platter; this cake would not be complete without a paper plate supporting it. If only there were plain white PAPER paper plates here, like in the old country, 100 plates for 99 cents. That would be truly authentic.

Wishing you a sweet week!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A few of his favorite things

This week I made a cake for a surprise birthday party. The wife of the birthday boy wanted to include some of his favorite things on top. The cake itself was a white cake with lemony undertones, filled with apricot preserves and buttercream, and frosted in more buttercream.

He lives in Crocs, and on his cell phone and computer. The only other favorite that we decided not to include was cholent, as we didn't know how aesthetically pleasing that might be... And now for a few close-ups!

The ubiquitous cell phone:

The uber-important computer (note the awesome silver coloring!):And the footwear, front and back viewPlease take time to notice the word "crocs" carved into the fondant. And yes, did I mention - all edible! This cake was a lot of fun to make; this was really the first time I did a lot of freehand molding of fondant/gumpaste, with the aid, of course, of my trusty in-house artist, Shana. The crocs were me, and the phone and computer mostly her, with a little input from me. It was a fun collaboration. I hope the birthday boy enjoyed it too!


Little bit obsessed with cupcakes

I know I have said it before, but I really like cupcakes, and I really, really like mini-cupcakes, because the littler, the better, right?! I recently made lemon glazed lemon blueberry mini-cupcakes that were absolutely delicious - they even tasted dairy even though they were pareve - for a surprise birthday celebration. The birthday boy is watching himself, hence the mini-size and the glaze in place of the fat-laden frosting that makes cupcakes so tempting. I mean, honestly, not for nothing do several prestigious cupcake bakeries sell frosting shots. But these minis were great without the fluff; who knew?!
Next, I made snickerdoodle mini-cupcakes. Moist cinnamon cake, creamy vanilla frosting, topped with cinnamon sugar.
After that came gingerbread mini-cupcakes, topped with vanilla frosting and crunchy demerara sugar, which countered the spice of the ginger perfectly. These were inspired by Naftali, world's biggest ginger fan, as they were for his sister Yonina's bat mitzvah.
Also for Yonina's bat mitzvah oneg, taking place on Shabbat Parashat B'reishit, were these fourth day of creation cupcakes, featuring the sun, moon, and stars. The cakes nearly had political overtones when I began assembling the cupcakes and did not at first realize that the way I was placing the crescent shaped moon and the stars resembled the flag of a country that has not been too friendly of late. So I swiftly deconstructed and reconstructed. Phew!
If the celebration had not taken place just a day after the end of Simchat Torah, I would have tried to go through all the days of creation, somehow, but that will have to wait for another time.
Finally, keeping with the theme of the weekly sedra, these rainbow cupcakes were in honor of Aliza's bat mitzvah, which took place on Shabbat Parashat Noach. Her mom, Sara, saw these cupcakes on line MONTHS ago and asked me if I would be able to make something like them. I was glad that they came out just the way she wanted them. I made both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes - something for everyone - in standard size, as this design needed the space, and topped them with blue frosting sky, fluffy white clouds, and rainbow sour strips. Let's just hope Hashem remembers not to send a mabul, but some gishmei bracha would be wonderful!
Mazal tov to all the celebrants! Stay tuned to see if we can extend the theme cupcakes any further...
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