Cakes!

Well, if you have been a faithful reader of my blog, you might remember that last year the hubby and I had a contest to see who could make the best cake for our annual church fundraiser, which takes the form of a Valentine themed cake auction.  We had a lot of fun doing it, and you can read that other post here.  We had every intention of carrying on the tradition this year, but as the time drew near, the hubby simply ran out of time.  He has been more than a little busy lately, building other things besides cakes.

So I was kind of bummed.  But then my boys offered to make a cake instead, and I thought that might be just as fun!  So we flipped through books and internets and each found some inspiration and went on from there- one cake for the boys, and one for the girl.   I’m not going to post recipes here- it would just take too much time, but I did want to document the event with a (largish) photo dump.

Tonight at the auction, I had to reassure several people that the boys (mostly James) really did make the cake, with only the tiniest bits of help from me.  Here’s proof!

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Not one bit of egg shell did he drop.

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Men and power tools….

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They chose a strawberry cake…

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Being super helpful

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Strawberry cake with lemon frosting that is.

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Love this boy

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Learning to frost

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And then the final touches. (which made me cringe a bit- ohhh, so much sugar)

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Very Proud.

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Then it was mama’s turn.

Out of the way boys.

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Then I forgot to take pictures for a few steps. I finished off the day with this.    (there be four layers underneath that there ganache)

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And then had to tackle this…

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But I wasn’t finished yet.

This morning was decoratin’ time, starting with baked raspberry meringue rosettes.

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Dipped in chocolate ganache

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And up into place.

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Then to cover the gaps, I decided on raspberries.

But not just any old raspberries.

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These were amazing- like little chocolate bombs of bliss.  I may have sneaked a few, or ten.

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Then my own final touches.

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I admit, this cake was a little bit over the top ridiculous, (all for a good cause of course) but I had so much fun making it, that I thought I would just throw this out there.  Would anyone out perhaps be interested in purchasing a cake from me, outside of an auction scenario? (now that sewing season has slowed down.)

I’m thinking fancy birthday/anniversary cakes, and of course it would have to be for local people.  But I do make a pretty good cake, if I do say so myself.

Let me know!  If there is enough interest, Climbing Vine might just be branching out!

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The Great Cake Competition

So it’s almost Valentine’s day, and I thought I would change things up a bit in my cooking section, by posting a blow by blow account of the contest my hubby and I had against each other last weekend.  We were having a Valentine’s dinner/fundraiser at our church under the guise of a cake auction.  The hubby and I both decided to donate a cake, and the contest was just between the two of us to see who could get the highest bid- merely to make things a little more interesting for us, and of course, to increase marital harmony at home.

We hunted high and low for good recipes, but in the end, we both chose a cake from the same web-site-  http://www.annies-eats.com/.  I know from experience that her cakes not only look amazing, but taste fabulous as well.  The challenge, of course, would be to imitate them.  I was fairly confident that this contest would be a cake walk (pun intended) since, well, my hubby had never made a layer cake.  But a few minutes into the process, I could see that he meant business.

I mean- look at that towel over his shoulder, and the perfectly greased and floured cake pans.

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I had a few chances to snigger, like when I told him to be careful measuring cocoa powder because it can be very messy-DSCF1190

but once his cakes were in the oven and he started in like a pro on the salted caramel Swiss butter cream, I was starting to sweat.

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I mean, how was I supposed to compete with that much butter?

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I quickly checked my own recipe and was relieved to see that my recipe used just as much butter, if not more.

There were a few more hopeful moments, like when his caramel started to harden too quickly.  But he pulled off a spectacular buttercream and slathered it generously between the layers, ready to set in the fridge all night.
(notice his forethought as well.  He made himself a mini cake for sampling.)
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And ladies, here is an indicator of true marital bliss.  He did all his own dishes.

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The next morning, I was up bright and early.  It was my turn, and this was no longer a light-hearted affair.

I had decided on a chocolate cake as well.

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But I had a secret weapon.

Raspberries baby.

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I melted and mixed and pureed.

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I mean, how can you beat that color?

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And there is just something about the word ganache.

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It was touch and go for a while as I assembled the three layers.  But I remembered what my mother -a cake maker extraordinaire- had taught me at her knee, and I persevered.

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At last, mine was ready to set in the fridge for a bit as well.

Then it was the two of us together, as we neared the end, smoothing and scraping and adding the finishing touches.

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The tension in the room was palpable as I willed my glaze to gloop down the sides just so.

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And then with a final flourish of raspberries on mine and a sprinkling of sea salt on his, we surveyed our handiwork.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera to the auction, and so I was unable to document the thrilling show down between our two cakes.  I have to admit the thing was rigged, since my cake went up last, and who was going to outbid a pink cake made by a lady who had just announced she was having a girl after four boys?  But it was a close thing, and made for a very memorable Valentine’s.  Now maybe this weekend we can go somewhere for cake and actually eat it too.