Taking on the Unthinkable: Part 1

So, I asked my sister if I could bake her graduation party cake. She agreed, and we sat down to find the right recipe. Unfortunately, there wasn't one single recipe that caught her eye! You see...there were two. Two cakes. For one day.

Cake Number One is William Sonoma's Black Forest Cake, which will be converted to cupcakes and tweaked to hollow out part of the centers for extra frosting and cherries. That one, I'm barely thinking about.

Cake Number Two, however, is this masterpiece, a recipe that I fell in love with upon first sight and have been itching for an excuse to bake it. However, for her graduation? A week after school ending? Two days before summer classes start? I'm only just starting to realize that, no matter how exciting, this is going to be quite a feat. And so I have started research!

Today was my day to practice coloring and decorating with buttercream icing. I had a little leftover from my recent foray into Sugar Cookies, so I softened it from the fridge, added 30 drops of red food dye (to roughly 1/4 C icing), and stuck it into a ziplock bag.

Here are a few things I discovered, either through research or through today's practice session:

1. Buttercream darkens food dye over time, which is why the icing in that picture is a pink. It will (hopefully) be a deep red or even burgundy on the actual cake (taking place of the white squigglies on the original cake photo), but I needed to see just how much it will darken over time. I'll get back to you on that one.

2. Consistency is beyond important - Mine was a little thin today, probably as a result of the flood of red food dye I added.

3. Decorating really isn't so difficult! Writing, on the other hand...well, there's a reason I only posted pictures of the squiggled design, and not the various attempts of "Congrats!" That will require much more practice, I fear...and I may have to abandon writing this time altogether.

4. Although irrelevant to buttercream or cake decorating, I have a sneaking suspicion that my photographs are to blame for my (presumable) rejection from Food Blogs. Look, I know they're nothing spectacular. The lighting in my kitchen is abysmal, and often times I'm either dealing with people who want to eat (and, let's face it, my own phobia of serving cold food), or a quick trip back to my less-than-ideal-for-photographing-food (former) dorm room. I tried adding some pretty props this time, though the lighting is admittedly sub-par. I will continue trying to improve and hopefully resubmit to Food Blogs. I see so many gorgeous photographs on blogs and I would love to be able to present my food so artistically; however, much like my icing writing, I think that this will take much practice.

But bear with me! If you do, you have a lot to expect from me within the next week: the cake and cupcakes (and all of the preparation that goes with those!), and - if I can handle it - a spring vegetable pizza that I'm dying to make almost as much as this cake. Almost.

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