Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's an Honor Just to be Nominated

In early December, I received an email from The Bride and Bloom magazine regarding my gold-guilded wedding cake -- I couldn't believe it, they wanted to feature it in their spring issue!!!!!!

I was stunned, I was excited, and I was oh so giddy!!! I remember reading the email on my blackberry and jumping for joy. This isn't the first time one of my cakes have appeared in a magazine but it would have been the first time that one appeared on it's own merit. This past December, my masquerade bust cake appeared in the local SacTown magazine but it was included more as part of their coverage of the charity event. While still exciting, it's just not the same as being asked to be featured in a national wedding magazine, a magazine that I had actually read and used to plan my own wedding.

Masquerade bust cake in SacTown Magazine

As January came around, I anxiously waited for my complimentary copy of The Bride and Bloom to arrive in the mail and when it didn't arrive, I went out and bought a copy. I scanned every page of the magazine but sadly, I could not find my cake anywhere. I went back and re-read the email communications to see if maybe I was mistaken about the issue or timing but no, I wasn't. Sadness, disappointment, and more sadness. :-( Below is the page where I think my gold-gilded wedding cake would have been featured:

.....and here's a closeup of the cake (made by The Cake Girls) that was actually featured.
I dreaded telling my friends and family about the news and even more so, I dreaded telling the bride who commissioned the wedding cake itself..........that is, until I watched the Golden Globes last weekend. I was sitting through all the acceptance speeches and was reflecting on the nominees that didn't win and how they must have felt when they heard someone else's name being called. Then somewhere in my head, I remembered the almost cliche phrase, "It's an honor just to be nominated." and that's when it clicked. You know, it really is an honor to be nominated, er, I mean, to be considered for the feature in the magazine.

I think most artists would agree that the most gratifying part about creating art is having people appreciate and acknowledge its' "worth" for lack of a better word. For whatever reason, my cake didn't make it into the magazine - maybe it was the shadows on the cake, or that the gold wasn't bold enough for the spread, or maybe they just simply liked the other one better. Who knows? Whatever the reason, the fact that it caught the eye of a wedding magazine editor is acknowledgement enough for me. It ain't too shabby either to be considered alongside The Cake Girls, who are veterans in this business and whose work I've long admired.

PS. The last two paragraphs are all lies, I'm still completely bitter and resentful.

PPS. Ok, I'm back to being honored again. :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cake-Tasting Guinea Pigs

Being a baker, my friends and family pretty much expect me to bring cake to any gathering they invite me to. And by now, they've also caught onto the fact that they've become my cake-tasting guinea pigs as I usually start every cake cutting with "Ok, this is a new recipe so tell me if you like it or not." The majority of the time, the cakes are made with one recipe through and through (like the ones below), but other times (when I want to compare different recipes for the same type of cake), I'll show up with a Frankenstein cake that uses a different recipe for each layer. Needless to say, the guinea pigs,, I mean my friends and family are all very supportive. They even humor me as I ask them specific questions about the taste, texture, color of the cake.......and then do the same with the filling and frosting, lol.

With all the dinner parties and get-togethers over the holidays, I was practically in taste-testing heaven. And after extensive tasting and tweaking of recipes, below are some of the clear winners:

Devil's Food Cake: I had a pretty kick-a$$ devil's food cake recipe already but I wanted to find one that had a denser texture so I tried one that my sister-in-law recommended. The original recipe was already fantastic but after a tiny tweak in ingredient proportions, it was fantastic-er. Moist, sinfully decadent, with loads of chocolate flavor, this devil's food cake will literally make you sell your soul to the man downstairs. Here, it is iced with a raspberry ganache and raspberry chocolate mousse filling......soooooooooo good.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake: Wedding cakes are traditionally made with a white cake but I've never been a big fan. In my opinion, they're often too sweet, and when they're not too sweet, they're just blah (lacking in taste). I tend to steer towards bold flavors; however, I do understand the desire to serve a flavor-neutral cake at weddings, a cake that will appeal to all taste buds. I do believe that I have found that cake. This vanilla buttermilk cake is moist (a must in my book for all cakes), not too sweet, and has a lovely buttery melt-in-your mouth feel. It's almost like heaven, seriously. And it marries up (pun intended) so well with ALL flavors of fillings and frostings.

Red Velvet Cake: So we've had a bit of heaven and we've also been to the dark side (sorry, my husband's a huge Star Wars fan so I couldn't resist :-). What's in between, you ask? Why, red velvet, of course. Red velvet has long been the misunderstood stepchild of the cake world as most people incorrectly believe that red velvet is simply a really lightly flavored chocolate cake with a buttload of red dye - so, so wrong. When made correctly (because I've found that a lot places don't make it quite right), red velvet has a warm cocoa-malty-like flavor that just feels right, almost like coming home from a long day to a nice bowl of porridge. The flavor is not too strong and not too light; it's just right. (Why do I feel like putting on a little red cape all of a sudden?) And of all the cakes I taste-tested this holiday season, this red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream (lighter than cream cheese frosting) garnered the most fabulous reviews, partially because most have never tried an honest-to-god red velvet cake and was so pleasantly surprised and partially because it's just one crazilicious cake!
**please pardon the coloring of the buttercream, I was in the Christmas spirit and mixed in a few drops of green just for kicks and giggles.

I'd now like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends for all their undying cake-tasting support. Without you........well, without you, I'd have to eat a whole lotta cake......and that is sooooo not good for high school reunions.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gifted Snowmen

A last-minute cookie order sent me back to my beloved sugar cookies this week. This time I was making personalized snowmen cookies. I may be a bit biased but I think personalized cookies make great gifts for any occassion. I mean, who doesn't love a sweet surprise with their name on it.

Below are pictures of some of the snowmen with their different colored scarves

Pets are family too, so we couldn't possibly forget about man's best friend (sorry for the horrible photo)
Gift tag cookie from the sender
And because I'm such a dork, I couldn't resist making a few extra cookies to use as placecards for a lunch my husband and I were hosting the following day. I admit that this was totally unnecessary since there were only the six of us but my love for these cookies knows no bounds. I want to share them with everyone, uh.......I should probably get some help, huh?

Lien Sanchez