Remember that cake giveaway I did on Facebook about a month ago? Well, the cakes were baked, decorated, and delivered 2 weeks ago, right before Valentine's Day. I thought you might like to take a look. And I also thought I'd better do this post now before February is over, because, let's face it, everyone is really tired of Valentine's Day once March hits!
Maybe you're tired of Valentine's Day already. If so, keep it to yourself and enjoy this post anyway! :)
Just kidding.... maybe...
I did two versions of the decorations, both red on a white background.
The first was a heart with a cut-out in the middle.
The second was two hearts, one smaller and on top of the other. I'm calling it a "double heart."
Which is your favorite? I just love how the red looks against the white background. And with the red cake stand. So pretty!
This is the first time I've attempted to do so many cakes at once. I wanted to test myself and this certainly was a test! Of stamina, organization, and stress. Overall, I'm glad I did it, but I did learn that at this stage in my life, with young children running around, I can't do quite so much at once. So, for now, I will stick to one cake at a time.
Do you want to see some of the process? There is a lot that goes into making even a small cake. These pictures show some of it.
First, of course, baking the cakes. I ended up making my vanilla recipe 4 times and my chocolate recipe 3 times, though I miscalculated and ended up using one I had made the week before and frozen. Shhh....don't tell! This picture shows about half of the cakes. They are already baked, cooled, and wrapped waiting to be all dressed up in ganache.
After the baking and cooling comes the trimming. I trim any domed tops off carefully to make a nice flat and level surface at the top of the cake. Then I tort the layers, or cut the cakes in half horizontally to make two layers out of one cake. Cakes baked in my 3-inch tall pans sometimes get torted into three layers. I keep the scraps in a big bowl for snacking. Hey - don't judge. I deserve a little of the fruits of my labor! And I have to make sure they taste good, right? The scraps from these cakes filled two large bowls, mostly because I baked some layers in 12-inch pans and cut them down. This left a lot of excess at the edges.
I used to do my torting with a little tool, but to simplify things for myself, I'm training myself to tort and trim with just a large knife. I use a really nice bread knife that my mother-in-law was kind enough to give me a few years ago. It is very long and perfect for trimming and torting cakes. I hold the knife with the blade on the cake where I want to cut. Then, keeping the knife very straight and still, I turn the board the cake is sitting on around and around until the knife goes all the way through. I brace the arm holding the knife against my body so it doesn't move. This way, the knife stays even all the way around and the cut is much more level the first time. I check with an actual level, then trim if necessary.
After the trimming comes the filling and covering with ganache. Here are the cakes all in their ganache undergarments. Look all you want. They won't be embarrassed! :)
They are kind of pretty just like this, aren't they?
Here is one all by it's lonesome. It is almost finished, but I still needed to clean up a few divots and bumps in the ganache.
The smoothness of the ganache layer is everything to how smooth the fondant will be! You would think that the fondant would be a little forgiving and mold on the bottom to any slight bumps in the ganache while maintaining a smooth top. Sadly, it doesn't work that way. The fondant will show everything, and I mean everything. Kind of like a sheer shirt - you want to make sure what you are wearing under it is fit to be seen! The fondant will hide the color (unless it gets rolled too thin, which I have done before too! Oops!) but not the bumps and divots. This is one part of the process that takes a TON of practice.
I let these sit overnight to make sure they are nice and firm. I will usually put a ganached cake in the refrigerator to firm up, but I couldn't with these simply because there were too many to fit in my refrigerator. So, they sat a little longer to ensure a nice firm surface for the fondant.
I put the fondant on one cake at a time until all had the white base. Then I did the decorations.
Wait a second, how did that get in there? Hee Hee. This is my beautiful, er, handsome little nephew Caleb. I got to meet him last weekend and couldn't resist sharing a pic or two so that you can admire him too! He is such a nice baby, too, so sweet and peaceful. I don't think he cried at all while we were visiting. Though I've been told that he doesn't cry much ever, I prefer to think that he was just so enamored by my presence, he was too happy to cry! :)
Take a look at his perfect little face.
Okay, back to the cakes...
It was so much fun to just give these little cakes away and (hopefully) bless some families with a nice treat. I hope they all enjoyed the cakes!