If there are any aspiring writers out there looking for advice, mine would be: just stinkin’ suck it up and write.
Best advice I’ve given myself, let me tell ya.
Anyhow, yesterday afternoon, we had the worship leader from my new church and his family over for lunch. It was kinda like having a celebrity over. Well, for me at least – because I’m dramatic. Anyway, on Saturday, I started feeling a little better, which was good, because I was supposed to make dessert.
It’s pretty trippy actually, because I had a dream about a lemon cake with cream cheese filling and lemon icing. More like a vision. But somehow I new what kind of cake it was.
So when my mom asked me what I’d like to make, I spouted that “off the top of my head.” She just kind of looked at me.
But I was determined. I hadn’t had drive for a couple days, so I had pent up energy, and motivation from watching Julie and Julia. The best part was that I had my handy dandy kitchen aid. And okay, I made the cakes from boxes. I wasn’t in the best mood to laugh at a catastrophe, or to tackle something I’ve absolutely never done before.
And I knew there was just as much possibility of me screwing up a cake mix as there is with a recipe from scratch.
I don’t know if anyone else does this. And I might have mentioned it before, I don’t know. But I never listen to the baking instructions. If it says bake 20-35 minutes. I’ll put it in at fifteen and then check it. And then I’ll add a few minutes. And check it. And by then, I’ve already lost count of how many minutes I’ve left it in there, and I’ll just check it every five minutes until I shake it and it doesn’t jiggle, and then I do the knife check.
I’m sure I’m making it way too hard on myself. I’m just so paranoid that it’ll burn. And I really don’t understand bake times to begin with. It’s also become a habit. . Eh. Habitual paranoia. Haha, maybe I’ve found my problem *cough*
But oh well. My house isn’t that big. And my bedrooms practically right next to the kitchen. So I just kept pausing Julie and Julia (they didn’t mind) after every five minutes to make sure the cake wasn’t burning.
I got two cake mixes. And was determined to have a two tier lemon cake. So after I got the first cake out of the oven, I washed the kitchen aid paddle and bowl (I didn’t plan on it, I thought I could bust cakes out with production, but the battery bowls had been sitting there for half an hour and looked icky) then whipped up a second cake batter, which consists of me flipping a switch on the KA (new name for kitchen aid) and setting a timer while I grease and flour the cake pan within the time span of two minutes.
I’m usually exhausted after baking. It’s pretty pathetic. I’ll bake, bake, bake, then crash in bed, usually still wearing my apron. But I wasn’t at all, honestly. I really hadn’t done anything by the time they had baked and cooled outside the oven. So I went on to stage two, which is a bit new, since I’m usually swaying on my heels, my eyes half shut, by then. (Slight exaggeration.)
We’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t correctly level your cake before you stack it, it will. .
Look like that. . . Appetizing. .
So, use this weird looking thing, called a cake-leveler. I think.
(Eh, my instant upload isn’t working. . But here’s an advertisement for a “professional” leveler. It’s basically a U-shaped thing, with a wire running across it, pulled taught to be able to cut the cake smoothly. The one advertised is a little freakish, with the three wires cutting at the same time and everything. But it comes with a turn table. I could use one of those, haha.)
Usually, and I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise, I can’t use a cake leveler to save my life. Not only does the cake have slopes, but I end up tugging off chunks from the side of the cake. And it gets all crumbily. And the crumbs get in the icing. . Egh. It’s just nasty looking.
But I managed to find ways around both of those things!
The best way to level, this’ll sound stupid, but have your cake on a leveled surface (unless you’re blessed with a turn table). I put mine straight on the wooden cutting board. Then, make sure you keep the leveler upright (that way, it doesn’t really matter how you go about it, the cake with still cut leveled). Using a sawing motion seems to be the best way to go about it, without tugging on your cake and damaging it. Hold the cake against the sides, when you’re cutting toward it, to keep from hacking off the corner. The cake tends to be a little harder on the sides and corners from being more baked and likes to take chunks with it if you handle it too roughly.
I suppose the best way to do it without creating too many crumbs is cutting it right the first time. But that didn’t happen for me. I summoned my courage and went over it again with the leveler, set at the same height, and taking the gamble that I’ll make it worse than it was. But I fixed it! It’s the best leveled cake I’ve ever done!
Now I wasn’t absolutely sure the cream cheese frosting would taste good with lemon, which wasn’t a big deal. I had all these cake tops from leveling, that I just broke off a piece and spread some cream cheese frosting. I had to taste test a few times to be sure. Then, I decided which cake should be on the bottom, and spread the top of it with half the container of the cream cheese frosting. Then I added just a little more, to make sure you could see the frosting once it’s cut.
I’ve watched quite a few episodes of Cake Boss. And I always see them scoop heaps of icing onto the cake before spreading it out with a knife. This is how to keep crumbs from getting to your frosting. Just spread it from the middle out, always keeping about a quarter of an inch of icing ahead of your knife. Don’t spread it out thin until you touch your cake and then pull up, because the icing sticks to the cake and you’re just pulling up cake crumbs that’ll mix with your icing. I don’t know if this makes any sense. Basically, heap a lot of frosting on and spread it out somewhat thick so you never touch your knife to the cake.
I dropped the top layer on it after I frosted it enough, then I iced the top of that one with the lemon icing. It felt like the best idea to start with the top in case I didn’t have enough icing for the whole cake, but I did, so I smoothed it, albeit a little thinner, over the sides. Then tried adding a rose-y design on the top, and took a million pictures. I was so proud of myself. I was telling my friend, Julie, that I have a crush on this cake. It’s gorgeous.
And! Our worship leader’s wife said it was delicious! MY cake. Delicious. I’ve never heard that before about anything I’ve made. I tried to smile humbly as my mom told her that I baked it. =->