Thursday, April 24, 2008

How We Got Here

Sharon with teddy bear cake

When I was young, my mother was a good, but not particularly adventurous cook. One area in which she was willing to stretch a bit was birthday cakes for my brother and me. We had a well-loved copy of Baker's Cut-Up Cake Party Book (1973), and each year we chose a different design to make with Mom. I suspect she gave us our heads on this partly to mute pleas for bakery cakes, which, she said, were expensive and didn't taste very good (as with so many things, she was right). She did set some limits; she had a good eye for which designs were just pretty pictures, not really meant to be made at home. Three dimensional house - no. Fifteen different kinds of candy - no. Colored coconut on every available surface - no.

Charlie with butterfly cake

Now that I'm a grownup, I still love "shaped" cakes, but my tastes have matured (a bit) . When the designs in the Baker's book no longer spoke to me, I induced Matt to design new cakes for me. Finally it dawned on me that I was capable of design, too, and we've teamed up on a number of projects.

This blog is for everyone else looking for new cut-up cake designs, or wanting to create their own, but not quite sure how to proceed. I plan to share some of our designs and recipes, and lots of ideas on techniques and ingredients. We are not experts, by any means, but we love to experiment, and I'll share both the successes and the disasters.

And I hope to hear from you. What cake have you been yearning for and unable to find? How do you pick a cake recipe to go with a design? What design problems have you run into and how have you solved them? If you're not designing, how can we help you get started? And how on earth do you make blue frosting without using food coloring?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting statements... Some of them I'd subscribe to, others, not so much... For one, fondant, while unknown to home bakers (Articles 6 and 7) is becoming very main-stream these days, local craft stores carry the questionable Wilton variety... And while screwing pipes to plywood is not my idea of a cake support system either (Article 4), some boba straws or Lego blocks work wonders; other tall structures – like my Wii you linked to in Article 7, thanks! - can be achieved without a single dowel, and be extremely tasty even in the disguise of a game console.
On my cakes, I used kiwi slices for dragon scales so I wouldn't feed green food coloring to the kiddos (the dragon is a cut-up cake, even though kids' and 3D, with no supports or inedible parts); tried to color red velvet cake with home-made raspberry puree (didn't work!, lol) and I often consider, while in the making, how easy it would be to strip the fondant off the cake before serving it at our parties – fondant is to be pretty, not to eat, though it is technically edible...
Anyway... I'd add a separate note "No Crisco-based buttercream" under Article 4 – shortening is not something edible in my world – it is worse than the fondant, since it cannot be stripped off...
Looking forward to seeing your cut-up designs and natural food coloring options on here!

May 5, 2008 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger sharonmattnadia said...

mycakes - thanks for the kind thoughts! Kiwi is an excellent green idea. I will keep that in mind. I had never thought of fondant as a removable accessory - interesting. I'm sure I will play with fondant someday - it is strangely attractive. I'm with you all the way on "no shortening." I considered adding "no white chocolate" to article 4, but decided that was too inflammatory. I think I've seen a recipe somewhere for making red velvet cake with tomato soup, but I may be making that up. You could certainly try beets. I made a red devil cake with beets recently that was quite tasty.

May 6, 2008 at 8:09 PM  

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