Mad about Mousselline Buttercream Hat Cake & the Agony of Defeat
Posted: 20 January 2008 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Some of you know that I have been eagerly trying to stay ahead of the curve in an evolving small home cake design & decorating business.  Over the holidays I was able to make some really fun designs including a sculpted re-election fund raiser cake for a county Supervisor, a three-tiered anniversary cake, and a replica of a clock from A Christmas Carol at South Coast Rep in Orange County.  You can see these on my blog at

http://www.letemeatcakebycathy.blogspot.com

However, the cake I made yesterday is the one I want to share with you b/c it was quite an experience!  Do you remember the old Wide World of Sports TV program….the skier tumbling down the mountain and the sinking feeling one felt while watching?....well, this was my experience today.

I got a call from a friend on Tues. about making a cake for her daughter’s sweet 16 party today.  They wanted a Mad Hatter/musical theme Cake and her daughter has some allergies that eliminate any milk or butter in uncooked icings.  The Crisco American buttercream was what she could eat, so I naively said I could do it. 

Now backing up a minute, my favorite buttercream is Mousseline in taste, texture and decorating.  But interestingly enough, most of my customers & friends want the Americanized buttercream.  (I have given many a taste test b/c people seem to feel so strongly one way or another, and most still choose the Crisco/butter buttercream!)  Apparently I run with an unsophisticated crowd rolleyes , and they are unaware of the great trends in pastry arts.

So anyway, I like to do all my baking within 12-24 hours of the event, so I finished that yesterday.  I got 3 hours of sleep and then spent from 1 am to 7 am this morning creating (my favorite part!).  After 25 hour of work in total, I was very pleased with the final result & took pictures.  Well, an hour prior to them picking up the cake, I started noticing that the frosting was “cracking.”  It was mild enough that I wondered what it could be from, but didn’t worry terribly.  But as I waited for him to arrive, the cracking got worse and worse….the tumbling down the mountain began.  sick

When he arrived, I cautioned him that the icing was not what I usually use and that there was some cracking/separating.  He was very laid-back about it and noted that it was their issue regarding allergies and not to worry.  As we were putting it into the back of his SUV, I saw it looking its worse.  I was very concerned he would even be able to get it to the restaurant.

As my family was assuring me over breakfast, we got a call.  The back of the top tier (1/3 of the top cake) had fallen completely off and onto the back of the second (piano tier).  It was everywhere and a total mess (although my friend was trying not to panic and being very gracious).  I was completely sick.

My dear family and I went into high gear to make another top (6” Perfect All-Am Choc cake) tier.  We were racing the clock to try to get it over to the restaurant prior to dessert.  We started at 10:45 and I was out the door with new tier in hand by 12:45 calling my surprised friend to find out where they were.    I did damage control once there with my tool box in hand like a doctor making house calls. 

There is always much to be learned, and this is definitely one of those times.  I have noticed that most bakeries these days do not even offer the Am buttercream, and I may well join the club after this!  My question is, however, what about all those people I would like to sell cakes to that don’t like real Buttercreams?  (Which are many in my case.)  I’d appreciate any of your thoughts or experiences regarding this.  I am expecting my Satin Ice Fondant from Kereks any day now, and look forward to learning how to work with that.  Fondant is sounding really good to me right now!

Anyway, I thought I’d share my horror experience with all of you who may be able to sympathize in some way.  I am finally going to bed now after I started seeing hallucinations from being so tired…of American Buttercream!  Maybe I can sleep it off.

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Posted: 20 January 2008 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I just visited your blog and your cakes are just wonderful!

Hey, even champions do suffer “the agony of defeat” once in a while—and you are definitely a champion cake maker and decorator.

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Posted: 20 January 2008 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I also just visited your blogsite Barbara and I think your cakes are wonderful!  It can be difficult when doing work for others,  I used to be a curtain(drape) maker before retiring, and I always was apprehensive until the curtains were actually up and working right, until then I couldn’t relax, I think it must be part of the creative process! Hiwever, one can only do one’s best, and I think most people appreciate this.

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Posted: 20 January 2008 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Cathy in SoCal - 20 January 2008 08:03 AM

her daughter has some allergies that eliminate any milk or butter in uncooked icings.

So sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience =:-O (Going into engineering mode…) Do you think it was the frosting that gave way, or the structure of the cake?  What (if anything) did you use to support the cake (i.e. dowels or straws)?

I don’t know if you’ve been following my wedding cake odyssey thread, but I just made a batch of mousseline buttercream using Earth Balance spread.  It’s made by the same folks that make Smart Balance, but contains no diary (Smart Balance has milk whey).  Obviously not useful for egg-allergic folks, but it was quite tasty and worked very well (up until I drove off with the container of unused frosting on the roof of my car).

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Posted: 20 January 2008 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks you all!  I really appreciate it.

Dan, I have not seen your posts but look forward to reading all about it.  This is great news for making for anyone suffering from milk allergies—and it seems more and more are these days.

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Posted: 20 January 2008 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Good for you for rising to the occasion and getting it done!  Bravo!

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