Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sadly the weekend is officially over in 10 minutes, and I need to give a quick update.

The good in the title is referring to a lemon curd recipe from our textbook. I attempted the curd for the first time yesterday and was pleasantly surprised when I liked it. There is something about (the way you look tonight) the word 'curd' that simply doesn't sound good. A friend who was nearby while the stuff was being made kept hearing and thinking of a word sounding like and rhyming with but very different from curd when she or someone else asked what I was making. (I won't share it in writing. We have standards to maintain here at the cake whiskerer.) Lemon just hasn't ever been my favorite flavor. I mean I dig the smell in cleaning products, and they look nice in a bowl (or apothecary jar), but I've never been a fan of consuming them aside from drinking their juice in beverages. The lemon curd may be one of my new favorites though. It was made yesterday to be used in fruit tarts that were being donated to a baked goods auction (Sold to the lady in the second row, she's an eight, she's a nine, she's a 10, I know...) at the church house. There were six three-inch tarts and one 10-inch tart, and if my memory serves me correctly, they sold for just over $150. They were made of a from scratch sweet pastry dough crust, a thin layer of white chocolate to provide a moisture barrier for said crust, the lemon curd, random pieces of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry and kiwi and a glaze made of white wine and apricot preserves. (Yes, I went back to the liquor store for the wine, and yes, I used alcohol in the food for the church auction. Needless to say we had some good church tonight!)

One of the smaller tarts before glazing.

The bad news is that my main oven stopped working last night. I say 'main' as though I have multiples. Unfortunately I don't. What I have is a normal household oven that happens to be split into two - a smaller one atop the bigger bottom one. The bottom oven is the one that I prefer for baking, but last night it decided to put on a small fireworks display and then stop warming properly. I'm not sure if it's a lost cause yet. I'll hopefully be able to find something out from Maytag in the next few days. I'm holding out hope (to you even when this world breaks your heart in two) that it will be an inexpensive fix. Though it was of the 'scratch and dent' variety when I bought it, the stove isn't very old, and I'm not ready to replace it. Until it's fixed or repaired, I'll be making do with the smaller oven. One good thing is that I don't have any cake orders for a week and a half. Between the water leak last week and the stove acting out this week, I'm beginning to wonder why I'm a homeowner. An apartment with maintenance workers and lawn care sounds pretty good some days.

And now for the ugly. This weekend's cake was a small double layer 12-inch round cake. This was for an old co-worker/friend who is aware of my situation. She understands that I'm still in training. She was gracious enough to be practiced upon. The only stipulations given were that the cake needed to be marbled, and it needed to say, "Happy Birthday." Well, marbling isn't something that I've done much of. I know it's a simple concept, but I ended up not getting a very good marble effect. I'm thinking of using piping bags or dueling funnels to marble the cake batter next time. The other issue with the cake was that it was unattractive. The writing was small, sloppy and off center, but it was in melted chocolate and there was no erasing it. If I had known the name of the birthday person (it was an in-law of the friend), it possibly could have been added to help correct the spacing issue, but I didn't know the name, and the cake wasn't made at a time of day conducive to calling folks and retaining their friendship. In the end I delivered the cake on a complimentary basis. I can't accept money for something that I wouldn't want to serve or pay for myself. So the client got a free less than pretty cake, and I got a few more lessons and things to try differently next time.

The cake is pictured below, but it isn't without some level of consternation that I share it. I don't like it when stuff doesn't turn out as it should, and I like even less letting other people see my mistakes. I believe that presentation makes a huge difference (Use the linen over the plastic. Use the china over the styrofoam. Sit in every chair in the classroom and adjust the height before the new trainees arrive so that the chairs are uniform). I realize that this blog was intended to chronicle the journey 'from baking mediocrity to wherever it is that I'm headed' and that there are already other pictures of far less than perfect projects posted, but piping errors simply shouldn't be happening at this stage of the game. But the error did happen, and so I'll swallow my pride (and bite my tongue, pretend I'm okay with it all, act like there's nothing wrong. Is it over yet?) and post the pic. If nothing else it will serve as a reminder to do better next time.

Finally and on an unrelated note, I want to send a message to any readers who were affected by the corporate FEP move on Friday. You know who you are. While it may seem like your world is in shambles, try to think positively. Try to enjoy your first normal business day of unemployment. Get some rest. Have a nice lunch. Take a nap. Visit the zoo. Do something that you've been too busy to do. (Ooh, that rhymes!) Sure, you may need to find another job soon, but don't stress yet. You've been on a roller coaster of emotions for nearly eight months and working hard for much longer, and you could use some rest. I'm not suggesting you become a junkie or let those around you support you forever, but take a minute to breathe. Doors of opportunity are bound to open soon, and when they do you'll be off and running on new tasks and responsibilities - and you'll be wishing you could take a break (You're gonna miss this, you're gonna want this back, you're gonna wish these days...), so take one while you can. That's all.

Happy Grubbing.


  1. I did enjoy my first day of unemployment, AND got some things accomplished...the zoo is a good idea D. FEP was a special place with a lot of special people, which you are one of, just remember to go to bed at a decent hour every so often. The cake is beautiful inspite of its flaws. :D Miss ya!!

  2. Give me a call when you get your dueling funnels going and I'll bring over my dueling banjos and we can have a party!