Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Going Gold!!

I love the Olympics! My husband commented this past week that he has never seen me watch so many sports before. Although I don't really consider the olympics "sports".. I mean the athletes are athletes so sure it's all sports, but I think it's more enjoying the excitement of USA taking on the world, waiting/hoping to see the history changing moments of greatness, and the fact that everyone watching probably has the same inspiring thoughts to take up running, or swimming, or trampolining (maybe ) to achieve their own golden moment.
So with our anthem in the background I pushed myself to the mental and physical limits towards my own Olympic event... Caking! (too dramatic??) and Baking!

Olympic"cake" might be a stretch since there was not any actual cake in it.  I've done some research and came across a company that sold pretty reasonably priced "cake dummies" or styrofoam cakes used for decorating practice, or store displays. Since my ultimate goal is to prefect the wedding and tiered cake I thought this might be a good way to practice decorating without having to eat 1000lbs of cake over the next year.  Although to satisfy me and my husbands ever present sugar craving for a little less than 1000lbs of cake, I made cupcakes too! (The recipe is at the bottom of this post)

I started with the stryrofoam pieces,
covering them with plastic wrap and icing the "cakes".
After disassembling the finished cake the plastic wrap was a wonderful decision, just peel it off and perfectly clean styrofoam underneath for the next fake cake.

I used a combo of shortening and powdered sugar.  The biggest issue I had was trying to smooth out the frosting.  Since stryofoam is very light the whole cake kept sliding around when I applied any kind of pressure.

After fighting with the cake for awhile I  finally gave up and left the frosting un-smoothed. 
It was very bumpy and lumpy, but that's what practice is for. I'm sure some blogger somewhere has tips for smoothing out fake cake frosting.. I'll tell you when I find it.

Next flowers, lots of little flowers. I was going for a top tier completely covered in little hydrangea flowers

92 later I had just enough to cover about 1/3 of the cake top.

I cheated a bit, and just covered the front half.
Lesson learned. To cover the entire tier I need more like 200 flowers.

Add some Olympic rings, a little red, white, and blue and it's Gold...
Silver and Bronze in this year's event! Its good to be the only qualifier!

 Fresh Raspberry Filled Cupcakes

I followed my standard white cake recipe here for the cupcakes, but any cupcake will do.
The filling was a combo of pastry cream and whipped cream ( I took a short cut and used cool whip)
The pastry cream recipe came from my Baking Illustrated book:

2 cups Half and Half
1/2 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
5 large Egg Yolks
3 tbl Cornstarch
4 Tbl Cold Butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat half and half, 6 tbl of the sugar, and the salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
2.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until combined.  Whisk in the remaining 2 tbl sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in the cornstarch.
3.  When the half and half mixture reaches a  full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering half and half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula; return to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds.  Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. 
(Makes enough for about 3 dozen cupcakes)

Once the cream is cold, I mixed about half of it with equal parts whipped topping and piped it into the middle of each cupcake. (I took the middles out with an apple corer) I stuffed in a few fresh raspberries into the center and topped with frosting...any kind will work.  Any left over cream is a great dessert by itself or with fresh fruit, or as a gourmet pancake topping.


1 comment:

  1. Styrofoam cakes--very clever! I love the hydrangeas. They are really beautiful. Also, I can personally attest to the tastiness of the raspberry cupcakes. I was lucky enough to sample one, and it was maybe the best cupcake I've ever had. Gold all the way!!!!