I'm making a sourdough starter (squeal!) She's just a little seed right now, but I've named her Adelaide...maybe that's a premature move, but hopefully it will send good vibes her way. I started with this recipe from the New York Times*. However, I decided to drive home (about 2.5 hours), so I obviously had to bring my one-day-old starter with me. After a day here, my dear Adelaide began to separate. After some e-sleuthing I found out that this liquid is called "hooch" - how appropriate, it does smell boozy - and that it is the starters' way of telling you that it needs to be fed. Whew. OK. So, The Fresh Loaf helped me out from there. I think I get to turn it into a real starter tomorrow - if it survives the drive back that is!
*I got the link to the NYT recipe from this article about pizza. It suggests that you leave out your dough for at least 24 hours. Like out, on the counter. I left mine out for a bit over 24 hours, then put it in the fridge, used some of it the next day and then froze the rest. The pizza** that I made was the. best. pizza. I've. ever. made. PERIOD. It was so good. **I used this pizza recipe from Annie's Eats by the way - which is the wettest pizza dough ever, but very very tasty, even if you don't leave it out for a day. It may actually be mis-written; I usually end up adding a ton of flour when I'm kneading it.
My mother has a masters degree in home ec., so I know a thing or two about baking and the whatnot, but that is nothing compared to the amount of knowledge I've amassed in the past few weeks. I am endlessly indebted to the following (and many more I'm sure) websites:
Wilton is a long standing cake/decorating company. If you have a cake pan, especially if it's in a fun shape, it's probably a Wilton. They have classes and recipes and so many things. They also have really helpful charts like this one that tells you how many servings a cake will yield, how much batter should go in each pan, how much icing you need to cover each tier, etc. I used their lemon cake and buttercream recipes, both of which were delicious.
Martha - what can I say, the woman knows what she's doing. I didn't use any of the recipes from her site, but I started there and I learned a lot. This page taught me how to assembly my cake; I never would've figured out to put the dam around the edges for the filling...and that would have been a cake wreck!
This page saved my butt! I was confused about the freezing/thawing/icing process - when? how? etc. This cleared it all up. Can you freeze cake? Yes. Can you freeze it with a crumb coat? Yes. Can you crumb coat it while it's frozen? Yes. Can you ice it while it's frozen? NO. (VERY good to know).
What a delightful page - full of tutorials and goodness. This one gave me all the information I needed to make these cute little wedding cake toppers. I first got the idea, though, from these - which are truly works of art! They also cost a fortune!
What to do with all of that leftover cake? Cake balls - obviously! Hers are way cuter than mine, because I did them last minute and had run out of patience for perfectly shaped adorableness, but mine were just as delicious. This is a great thing to do if you have leftover cake - or if you have a disaster that can't be remedied... The only problem is the name. Cake balls? Really? With all the linguists at this party - you'd better believe we tried to come up with a better name. We tried French...but it wasn't much better. The little girls called them "mini cupcakes" which is better than "cake balls" ... although Bakerella has mini cupcakes, so we'll have to think of something else!
Like I said, I know there are myriad more websites that I've visited, but these are the ones that I went back to over and over again. A big thank you to all of their creators! Couldn't have done it without you!
Of course - I also have to give a huge shout out to my mother, grandmother and my aunt's friend Cindy. I called all of them several times with random baking questions. And my mother and grandmother taught me everything I know about cooking - thank you! I love you!!
My dear professor/friend just got married and I boldly volunteered to make her cake. The whole thing was very low-key - in fact they got married over a month ago, but had their reception/party yesterday. Yesterday - one week after graduation day. I figured...I have a free week, I would LOVE to make a wedding cake. And I did love it. But wow. It is a. lot. of. work! I'm going to publish several posts with pictures, as I can't seem to easily get them all into one!
I discovered something while researching cake making...
if you bake a cake that is really deep or over 10 inches wide, you need a "heating core". This helps the cake cook all the way through, because hate radiates out from the center and in from the edges of the pan.
I did not have a heating core, but I McGuyvered it with a (very thoroughly washed and lined with parchment paper) tomato paste can. Worked like a charm!