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Hardy har, what a card. August 22, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in spinning.
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1 comment so far

I finally gave in and got myself a set of hand cards – I’ve been needing something forever and a day. I also got some fiber, of course.

Fiber goodies

Who knew hand cards were also an art project? Sigh. I want to USE them NOW!
Fiber goodies

This is some washed Romney, a blue ribbon fleece from the 2007 Fiber Frolic. It’s really soft and has a nice staple, I wanted to practice carding the VM out.
Fiber goodies

I also picked up ten ounces of this 80% wool/20% cashmere mill waste, it’s very light and fluffy and poofy. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet but it’s SO soft that I couldn’t resist it – maybe I’ll blend it with some fiber or spin a funky art yarn with it, who knows, it’s just such a gorgeous color. I can’t wait to experiment!
Fiber goodies

Let them eat cake! August 9, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in food, kidlet.
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6 comments

Whew. I baked a cake. I was going to make another pirate ship cake as kidlet had specifically requested it – that would have been three in three years, egads! The other day I mentioned the pirate ship and he said, “Actually, I changed my mind. I don’t want a pirate ship. I want a castle!”

So I racked my brain a little and came up with a design I thought might work, and here are some exhaustive photos for your enjoyment. I made a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting from scratch. The recipes I used were from my trusty old Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book, the binder-style one that I got from my Dad when I started college. I was a little bummed that I didn’t have any black food coloring to make the castle grey, the best I could do was light blue.

I started out making a double batch of batter and baking one 9 x 12″ cake and one 8 x 10″ cake in glass Pyrex cake pans. I cut the 9 x 12″ cake in half and trimmed it down a little, then stuck those together and frosted the whole thing. Don’t tell but the frosting between the layers is white as I had forgotten to add the food coloring until after I’d already stuck it together, heh. I used a stiffer frosting that called for a cup of butter and 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar, but only 2-3 tbs of milk. It made a big difference.

Kidlet's birthday cake

The amazing machine that made it all possible:

Kidlet's birthday cake

Some of my other favoritest things – my totally retro coffee flask and my super 70s teapot. I <3 Goodwill.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Here’s the smaller layer:

Kidlet's birthday cake

I cut it into equal pieces, thinking I’d make four towers of two layers each. This left me with a lot of leftovers. Leftover cake is never a bad thing.

Kidlet's birthday cake

While frosting the first two layers of the main cake, I’d scrape any frosting that got crumbs in it into a bowl and then use that frosting for parts that weren’t on the outside, like sticking these layers together. Waste not, want not!

Kidlet's birthday cake

Okso…I started putting the towers on the cake and quickly realized it was madness as I was looking at four towers with four raw, crumbly sides each. Logistical nightmare. Shitty looking logistical nightmare.

Kidlet's birthday cake

…fortunately easily reversible.

My cardinal rule with cake making is thus: Since I am not a professional, I make a double batch of frosting to make sure I have enough after I screw the cake up three to ten times.

Kidlet's birthday cake

If I’d had my brain engaged to start with I would have just cut two layers to go in the middle instead of cobbling together like I did. Shh. Don’t tell.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Sticking it together wasn’t too bad. I discovered when working with raw (crumby) edges it’s a good idea to just slap a layer on any way you can, as long as it’s all covered in frosting, because you can always go back afterward and cover it up.

I also had a brainchild and put strips of parchment paper over the rest of the top so as not to get crumbs all over it.

Kidlet's birthday cake

It’s ugly, but the frosting is on. Then I stuck it in the fridge for a while to let it all harden so I could clean it up. I love buttercream frosting as you can just hit the reset button by chilling it.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Once it came out I was able to straighten out the frosting and add more to cover the crumby parts.

Kidlet's birthday cake

About halfway through this cake it occurred to me that my son is spoiled.

After removing the parchment paper there was a little scarring, but this was easy enough to fix…

Kidlet's birthday cake

There. Not bad! I piped some icing along the bottom of the tower to cover up the gaps. It sort of resembled a stucco house in Atlantis but hey, whatever.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Rolos used for crenelations. I applied a little too much frosting to stick them on, I adjusted the amount when I moved to the ground floor.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Lots of Rolos. I think any five-year-old would flip over the amount of shiny candy alone, especially a kid like mine who only gets candy at Hallowe’en and Easter.

Kidlet's birthday cake

I don’t own an icing bag but you can jury-rig your own with a piece of parchment paper. Make a cone and drop your decorating tip (you can buy these at the grocery store) into the end.

Cheaper and more eco-friendly than a plastic icing bag – whenever I’ve used a plastic bag I always ended up splitting it along the seam within five minutes and making a huge mess.

Kidlet's birthday cake

The finished cake! My husband suggested the door. Of course the second rainbow sequence isn’t quite right but please don’t point it out.

Kidlet's birthday cake

Kidlet's birthday cake

There, don’t you feel enlightened?