Friday, May 22, 2009

Wedding DIY Weekend - Part 1(Cake Bake & Test)

Can I just say how sick I am of cake right now? I normally have the biggest kind of sweet tooth (if it's chocolate and it's near me, it's gone), and now I really feel like I could do without seeing, or eating, cake until the wedding. This is, of course, better for my hips. :-)

My bestest friend Leslie came down from Detroit to help me make cakes, and also to get started on invitations. Leslie is a high school art teacher in Detroit (all together now: Bless her heart!)and we've been friends for 20 years. When I first moved to the US, my high school French teacher introduced us since Leslie had been an exchange student in Sweden. Twenty years later, through life's ups and downs, here we are. Still friends. I love her. Here she is hanging out with Kane :-)

I knew I wanted something with fresh berries - Sean and I both love blueberries, strawberries, raspberries etc. Sean had also indicated a strong hint for angel food cake which he loves. Since he's actually also in the wedding (ha!), angel food cake was one of the cakes we chose to bake. We also picked a recipe for "white cake" and I found a recipe for yellow cake at Bakerella's site here.

Insert HOURS of mixing, whipping, sifting, baking here. This is a quick view of what it all looked like:

The fillings ranged from Wilton icing with fresh strawberries (which made a very sweet mousse), various jams, fresh raspberries, fresh blueberries. We also attempted to make a blueberry mousse and a raspberry mousse, but that didn't work out too well. The mousses never gelled. Hence the pink mousse with the sad face in the picture above.

For frostings we made a cream cheese frosting, a white cake frosting, and we also made a recipe for buttercream frosting from a cookbook, and it didn't gel either. It was made with egg yolks, and turned out runny and yellow - not exactly what anyone wants to see on the wedding cake. That's the picture in the bottom middle.

Here's Kane, supervising as usual. He was also handy for whipped cream testing to ensure maximum quality consistency of course. I usually smear a little on top of his nose so that he has to walk around and lick it off...

Then we cut the cake into pie-pieces, added the various fillings...

Here are the finished angel food cake pieces.

The finished moist yellow cake pieces.

We labeled them with numbers and made a voting sheet for
Sean was called in from the Lakeside garden, he was out in the rain planting corn (and wondering who ordered so much corn.... " did, honey!"):

Sean planting corn in the rain. I decided to not zoom in more.... :-)

It was time to taste. Each piece here is about a spoonful only. We had 3 different kinds of cake, 7 different fillings and 2 different frostings. Can you multiply all that up? 42 spoonfuls of cake. Each.

It was pathetic. I could only make it to 12 or so. Luckily I had already found my
Sean and Leslie persevered. Such troopers.

Here's the aftermath. Crumbles and people full of cake:

We finally decided on this:

Bottom: White cake with fresh raspberries
Middle: White cake with chocolate mousse
Top: Angel food cake with blueberries
It will be a 3-tier cake, all covered in cream-cheese frosting and decorated with all kinds of berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and red currant (if I can find them). I found a gorgeous picture here. This is what I'd like for it to look like. Nice. I'm almost starting to feel like having cake again when I see that picture. Almost.

Coming Soon: The invitation-making session.

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone - I hope you'll have a splendid weekend!
Sleeping Dog Bakery is officially closed for least for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Update & A Surprise

My real job has been quite busy in the past week or so, but luckily my garden is growing without me. As are the weeds. :-) Here's a quick over-greening experience for you all.

The potatoes that I planted with the children are doing great! These first 2 rows are yours, guys!!!

I numbered all 18 of my tomato plants for you, just so that you could tell I really planted eighteen. There's a tray of 5 more sitting in the foreground. And 5 chocolate cherry tomatoes still growing inside. I've given them away to neighbors and co-workers, but there is still more!!!

Here's the mixed area. Notice my lovely square pattern? :-) I'll be adding some cosmos flower seeds, some zinnias and some marigolds to this soon. Just as soon as I get rid of the weeds. Real soon.

We've already had several servings of the lettuce which tasted FANtastic. I'm so excited. I've also picked (well, cut!) the aragula (foreground) once already and I'm going to blanch it and freeze it.
On to the surprises.

I love my camera, and I love taking pictures. Some day soon I'll post about some digital photography and some Photoshop I've been messing around with. Here are a few pictures of surprises around my garden. They make me smile.

The gecko hanging out on the gas can for the grill. We see them every time we take the cover off!
Kane likes to chase them. :-)

The electric-blue pansy! I added some edge burn to this image. It almost glows!

The Amaryllis. Pretty, isn't she?

Except where she decided to grow. I have Amaryllis bulbs for Christmas every year, because that's what I'm used to from Sweden. Sometimes I save the bulbs, but some that look a little shabby, get tossed...

This girl got tossed into the area under the trees where we throw flower scraps and weeds that don't go in the compost pile. She surely did not let the ugly location stop her from putting on a show. Guess she showed me. :-) I'm sure there's a learning experience in all this somewhere.
What do you think?

This weekend my best friend Leslie, who is also going to be my maid of honor, is coming down from Detroit, MI. We are going to start making the invitations for the wedding, and we're also going to make some trial cakes (and filling, and frosting!!!!) to see what we'd like to do for the wedding. Anyone available for taste-testing? lol.
I'm hoping to do as much as possibly by myself, our by ourselves (!). At least I may be able to serve my own tomato-sauce for the wedding reception meal, right?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chocolate Bread


No, no, no.....this post is not about chocolate bread. Although that is a direct translation of the name of these cute little yummy cookies that I make whenever THAT chocolate need comes over me. So, I make these just about every day. Not really. But I wish I had the metabolism (and genes) that I could! :-) So today I had that chocolate need again. Since we're doing the Biggest Loser weight loss club at work, and yes I'm in it, I don't plan on eating too many of these. I'm gonna eat "just enough." I have no willpower. Just wait and see. Although that wedding of ours in October is a pretty strong goal for loosing a few pounds. :-)

Here's the recipe:

100 g of butter or margarine
0.75 dl of sugar (1/3 cup)
2.5 dl of all-purpose flour (1 cup)
1/2 egg (save the other half for later, or do like me,
double the recipe!!!!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cocoa

You may want to bring out your butter in advance to soften it a little.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix until crumbles form.
Take about half the crumbles and squeeze into a ball of dough (yes, with your hands).
Shape the ball into a long cylinder (roll against your counter), and place it on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With your fingers, flatten the cylinder until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Whip up the remaining egg and slather on top of the dough pieces with a brush. I add pearl sugar on mine which is a large crystal version of sugar. You can use regular sugar or sprinkles or whatever you want. Nuts work too. Bake in the over for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Let the cookies cool for a minute (really don't wait too long!!!), then cut on the diagonal, about 1/2 inch wide.
Let them cool completely. Eat. Or as I'd like to do: inhale, chug glass of cold milk. Repeat. :-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Itch

It's on my right shoulder.

Yep, right there. I'm getting it.

Phew. Need a break.

Now it's on my left shoulder.

All the way down the middle of my back...

Another break. Itching is hard work.

Now we do the shake.

Get it off of me!!!

Mom, why are you laughing at me?

Ok, I'm ready now.

So, where are we going? Did you bring the ball?

Happy Weekend Everyone!