Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Case of The Droopy Ruffles

I've been slacking with my blog posts lately, for which I apologize...because I do actually have some things to share.  This next post turns out to be more of a what-not-to-do sort of post...
It was time for another birthday party at the office, this time is was Mandy (Happy Birthday Mandy!) and this was her first such office birthday cake, so I wanted to make it pretty.  Here is how it turned out AT FIRST

I went with a golden pound cake with a raspberry filling, and an almond frosting.  So, I made regular cake rounds, and built myself an icing dam to hold in the raspberry filling (you can use regular jam from the grocery store if you like, I happened to buy mine at the cake supply store near my house because I know it's tasty and I like the consistency for spreading).

and then you add your top layer of cake and proceed with a regular crumb coat of frosting.  In retrospect, the FIRST thing I would have done differently is put a little less filling in my dam.  You see where the arrow is pointing...and how there's almost a little spillage?  That's not the best of scenarios when you're about to squish it with more cake and heavy frosting.  I might have been asking for trouble.  But all I was thinking was "mmm, raspberry filling".  D'oh!

Anyway, I completed the cake and decided that I wanted to use this fancy ruffle technique I'd seen on Martha's website (I'm a fan, and I'm not ashamed), so I made my second mistake of the evening.  I thinned my frosting, just a touch, because I wanted it to be a little easier to pipe it out of the bag into the ruffles.  I didn't think they'd be pretty if there were lots of stop and start spots from me struggling.  Initially, it was okay:
although now that I look carefully at the photo, you can see some of the ruffles starting to collapse onto themselves on the last column on the right! 
And then, I let it rest for a bit before I put it in the fridge.  Another BIG mistake.

The ruffles started to slide, and the cake seemed to sink. :(
and was even more pronounced from an aerial view!  So, I decided perhaps it just needed to be chilled I scraped:

and redid that one section
Not quite as pretty, but it was late and I was a little panick-y.  Then this got popped straight into the fridge!
Anyone want to guess what happened next?  I'll give you a's summer :(  It was over 100 degrees that day, so easily 85 or so when I got into my car to drive to work, and I just don't think it cooled off much despite blasting the air conditioning on it the whole way in.  It just melted...and melted...

This last photo was taken at the office, and let me tell you that it was taken at a generous angle (I couldn't bear to do it myself, I was so upset )
Most of the cake looked like it wanted to leave the travel container (the arrow on the left).  When you looked at it dead-on, it appeared to be bleeding because the raspberry filling was starting to come out of the center (you can see a tiny bit of this red syrup pooling at the bottom by the right arrow).  Sigh.  So, lessons learned:

  No ruffles in 100 degree weather.
Don't overfill your filling.
Don't thin your icing because you think it'll help.  Icing is delicate.

Luckily, everything TASTED fine and my workmates were very kind to me while I pouted my way through the cake celebration.  And next year I'll make it up to poor Mandy with something less temperature sensitive! shower cupcakes with owl onesies!  Stay tuned.

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