2012 That Takes the Cake!

With work being so busy (I got the promotion–woo hoo!), and trying to deal with a new health issues (side effect of it taking almost a year to sort out the kidney stone problem), I decided to take it easy and only enter the Buttercream category this year. I thought it would be less stressful since it wouldn’t require much effort on my part to win.

No, I’m not boasting…much. But the two entries from the past few years have been mediocre and not much of a challenge. Of course, that’s when it got a bit more complicated.

As I was getting out of my car to go register for the competition, there was a sudden flash of an idea. I knew that somehow, that mango candy recipe from December would make a great cookie! So I went ahead and signed up for the tasting competition in the Cookie category, along with the Buttercream Only category for the decorating side.

Figuring out how to turn the candy recipe into a cookie recipe took a lot more time than I expected, along with lots and lots of baking. Since Steve and I are trying to make healthy food choices, all my extras went to work where I received some excellent feedback. The resulting cookie is rather rich, but good enough to keep around even if I lose. Since all levels are lumped together in the tasting divisions, I’ll be competing with professional bakers, which is why I won’t be too devastated if I don’t place (I’ll post the recipe after all the obligatory photos from the show are finally up).

As for the buttercream entry, instead of doing the sort of novelty cake that I specialize in, I wanted to do a Lambeth style design instead. Something I’ve never tried. I’m not sure why I was so hung up on it since my piping skills are rather weak, but since I wasn’t too worried about the competition for that category, I figured it would increase the challenge a bit.

It’s lovely how karma sneaks up you when you least expect it. My cake didn’t turn out that great. My piping is still too wobbly, I haven’t had any training on this style of decorating, and I was trying to figure out how to do the different designs based on the finished product rather than building it up correctly since all I had to work with were images of completed cakes. Then when I woke up this morning, part of the top border had fallen.

I fixed the border, drove like a little old lady trying to get it to the show in one piece where it fell apart again while trying to wheel it from my car to the convention center. I fixed it one last time (thankfully I brought all my stuff with me), and located my competitors.

That’s when karma decided to stop trying to get my attention and just started to hit me with a really big stick…

…the entries I expected were not there. But the winner from the beginner’s division last year decided that she needed more of a challenge and moved up to intermediate. She’s good. She’s very, very good. And she’s much better than I am…so much for an easy medal.

You win this time karma.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu Cake – Take Two

This is my second attempt at a Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu-styled Cake. While I had time to get all the ingredients the way I wanted them for this attempt, I had to slap it together right before work and you can see that sloppiness in each layer. While annoying, that's not too much of an issue as this was a test cake to make sure I got the flavors right. Pretty comes later. 

This time I put the Frangelico in the sponge cake instead of the filling to cut some of the taste of  alcohol.  Even though I used the same amount of the liquor, the taste of hazelnuts was stronger this way.  The filling had an additional 8 oz of cream cheese added (the final product will use mascarpone instead.  And yes, I do realize that I'll have to adjust the recipe for that).  There was only one person who preferred the fluffier earlier version of the filling so I think I got that where I want it.  There was twice the amount of the hazelnut chocolate ganache this time, but I think I'll add even more in the next cake.  I'll also let each layer of the ganache set up before adding the filling so that the cross-sections are neater.  I tripled the amount of espresso in the simple syrup, but I'll increase the the entire espresso simple syrup mixture by another 1/2 cup, as well as try to make sure I get an equal amount of the syrup on each layer of cake.  Most thought the espresso amount was better, but several people said that it still needed a little bit more.

Why am I stressing about this stupid cake?  This is my first pastry competition since I graduated from culinary school.  I've entered the Capital Confectioner's Cake & Sugar Art Show & Competition that takes place at the end of the month.  I didn't make the last two shows because of work conflicts and surgery, so I have no idea of what the competition will be like.  But I do know that it's getting larger every year, and this is also the first year with a special Showcake Competition (the theme is Music, which is appropriate for Austin).  I just wish I were good enough for that level of decorating; however, I know that I have a lot of training and practice to go through before I can even think of competing in that category. 

I'm excited about it, but also nervous as I'm no longer working in the culinary field.  In fact, I kinda feel like I've given up hope of ever working in the pastry field as well as letting my family and instructors down.  I'm also terrified of running into any of my classmates, who are probably much more successful than I am.  I'm such a wimp.  But at least I'm a wimp with great tasting cake.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend