Friday, October 31, 2008

november rain

wow! it's amazing how time flies.  it's already november....  fall is finally here in the bay area. around the same time last year, i was still one of the newbies at PCI, trying to adjust my work/school schedule.  now... i'm done with that step and trying to figure out the next step to take.

i didn't make any treat nor did i dress up for halloween this year.  instead i made a wedding cake on thursday for my co-worker, Brad. the wedding was supposed to be a small civil union between him and his now-husband, Brett.  i figured that it was gonna be for about 20-30 guests. but then he corrected me and told me that it was gonna be for 60-100ppl! i guess people's perception of a small wedding can vary widely...hehehe

it was my first time delivering a wedding cake by myself.  i failed to realize until the very last minute that it was in the middle of a work-week, during the highest commute hours (reception starts at 7pm, and i had to take the most congested highway to get to the venue), and on the first day of rain.

i left my apartment early to make sure that i had enough time.... i put all the cakes in boxes secured with plastic bag and masking tape. i had to make 5 trips from my apartment to my car, carrying one box at a time (3 boxes of cakes and 2 tool boxes). it was actually kinda nice that it's raining, so the temperature in my car stayed cool without having to use AC. 

i got to the venue quite early. i started assembling... all went well.... UNTIL i had to put the two groom figurines. *sigh* i hate plastic figurines now.  **note to myself: no more plastic figurines in future cakes**

so the cake was assembled... nice and pretty:


then i put the two figurines in the icing...   they wouldn't stand straight!!! (the two grooms wouldn't stay straight, you get it?? :-p) OMG. i guess the surface of the cake was not level enough and the icing was too soft to give them support. they kept wobbling left and right and front and back. i had to take them off the cake, leaving imprints of two sets of feet on the very front of the cake *grrr*. good thing i brought some extra buttercream, just in case. i was so tempted to just leave the figurines off the cake. but then again, it was requested and purchased by the groom himself the day before the wedding. so i think it's only right that i put them on the cake. i ended up cutting a piece of cardboard that i used to carry the flowers, and used it as a platform for the figurines. i secured the figurines with some double-sided tape, pushed it into the cake, and voila!


if you look really closely, you can see the icing in the front of the cake was not that smooth. but i'm just glad that i was able to put the figurines there ^_^.

here are a few details of the flowers (roses, carnations, and some spray flowers):


per the request of the groom, i used the american buttercream to ice this cake (consists of mostly butter, shortening, and powdered sugar). it is also sometimes called the crusting buttercream, because if you let it sits in room temperature for a while, it will create a crust in the surface. i'm never too crazy about using this type of buttercream because of the overwhelmingly sweet taste and the amount of shortening it usually uses.

i didn't realize that the cream can also be a good barrier for air.  the cake looks fine at the beginning of the night. i went to mingle with the other guests.  a few minutes later i went back to look at it and i noticed a bump on the top tier!!! i was like WTH!!?!?! i guess there must've been some air trapped inside the cake, and the weight of the flowers on the top just slowly pushed the air to find a weak spot in the icing. *sigh* it looks like a musquito bite that's about to explode!  i was contemplating for a few minutes on whether i should try to fix that or not... in the end i decided to just let it be.... i was done being the cake lady and just want to be a guest at that time ^_^.  

so the moral of this story is:
- NEVER EVER again use plastic figurines
- NEVER put topper without any support, no matter how light you think the topper is
- make sure there's no gap between the filling and the frosting
- make sure to cover yourself from the rain and not just the cake ^_^

it's raining outside now.  i'm never a big fan of fall/winter.  but i have to admit that it actually feels kinda nice right now.  the air feels clean and crisp, and the weather is not too cold either.  i'm gonna enjoy the rest of my weekend and just unwind.....  

Monday, October 20, 2008

celebrating 28 years of zung

what better time to splurge than on your birthdays (or your spouse's bday)? ^__^

we had an excellent dinner at kappo nami nami to celebrate zung's bday on friday. keisuke-san (the owner) used to be my boss back when i was working at hanamaru restaurant. the dishes we ordered were so delicious. i think it was well worth every pennies.


it's zung's first time there and i think he had a good time. he had the sampler sake... which he couldn't really tell the difference between one and another...hehehe.





at the end of our meal, keisuke-san gave us some free desserts. by the time we're done with dinner, we were so full we couldn't eat the cake i made for him. (see side story about the cake below)

the next day, we went for dimsum with our friends & family.


then... (i think this is zung's favorite part).... we went to the mall!! hahaha it's only zung's favorite part because we went to the apple store to get him a brand-spanking new iphone ^_^.

i know he's been wanting one for a while, so i decided to get him one for his bday present. he hasn't stopped playing with it ever since.

and guess what? i've got one for myself too!!! yay! i'm finally up-to-date with technology!


(cake story: i was originally planning to make a nice fancy cake for zung. being sick really threw things off!! i didn't make enuf cake to do a full-12'cake and didn't have time to bake more. i was quite upset. but then i came up with the idea of just making him a small cake. it's the thoughts that counts, right? i thought making a small cake would just take a few minutes. who knows that frosting a heart shape cake could be that difficult?? pfftt! anyway, it is the thoughts that matters. zung loves it. it tastes good! and i'm happy.)

the fight of the century...

... is between TRICERATOPS and THE DARK KNIGHT!

ehm... yeah...
this is a birthday cake i made for my cousin-in-law. he's celebrating his "big three-oh" with some softball game with his family & friends. the two teams competing are the triceratops and the dark knight. hence, the theme of the cake.

when i first got a message asking if i can make a "dinosaur playing baseball", i have to admit, i was quite intrigued. my brain started to create different imagery... would it be like yoshi from super mario? green and cute? or would it be realistic like? rough and scary looking? well... that was about two months ago. then i sorta forgot about it for a while....

until three weeks ago when hubby received an evite to this party! that's when i found out that the other team would be the dark knight. with hubby feeding me with all his game/comic expertise, we came up with some weird, crazy ideas..... a gotham-like-building, with batman throwing multiple baseballs at the triceratops, while the triceratops is blowing fire out of its mouth...... or triceratops doing a massive attack godzilla-like to a building with batman standing atop of the building....yeah... crazy ideas.

one week before the bday and i still got no concrete ideas. no drawing. no sketch. i started freakin out. i still don't know how to use my airbrush yet! how am i going to make a building? and i didn't even know what triceratops look like!

good thing Delaney (wife of the bday boy) is a super cool woman. she gave me complete freedom to do whatever i want with the cake. with only one week left, and not being 100% healthy, i decided to do what i know i can accomplish. a nice friendly game between batman and triceratops on a baseball field....

not too shabby eh?


i like the way the triceratops turned out. he's a cutey ^_^.


batman on the other hand, looks a bit fat. but eh, who cares, it's my version of batman... and that's why he's playing softball, he's trying to lose some weight! he he he


someday, i will make a big fancy cake with tall buildings and flying superheroes.
someday, i will figure out how to use my freakin' airbrush.

someday ... he he he

meanwhile, i'll be eating yummy jam that Delaney gave me! yay!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

meeting chef ewald notter

i met Chef Ewald Notter!! ^___^


i was very fortunate to get a chance to see him in a chocolate presentation that was hosted by Albert Uster Imports. Chef Ewald is the founder and owner of the Notter School of Pastry Arts and Chocolate Studio in Florida. this demo is supposed to be for "professionals" in the industry, but my teacher (thanks Chef Doug!) hooked me and Tingting up to see this demo. it's amazing to see somebody who's as accomplished as Ewald Notter in person. his work is very meticulous and clean. he did a chocolate showpiece and demo-ed some techniques in making truffles. working with all those chocolates, yet not a spot of on his jacket. he's a world champion after all! (if it were me.... i'm sure it would've been a DISASTER! i'd be covered in chocolate - yum! hahaha)



i'm always so amaze whenever i see talented chefs and cake decorators. they always have this glow in their eyes when they talk about their profession. and however successful they are, they always appear so humble. these are the people i want to be around with. the people who has the ability to inspire others. who love to teach and share their knowledge with other.

when they do the things they do, it looks like they are playing. they know that things might not go perfectly. they know that sometimes they don't get it right the first try. yet they keep at it, and the result of their work... spectacular! that is something that i need to learn myself. i need to learn to be patient, to accept that nothing has to be perfect, and to stop pulling a "Ted" (overthinking stuff - from HIMYM season 1. just finished watching it over the weekend ^_^).

on the baking side of my life, i have been quite unproductive. as a matter a fact, i haven't been baking AT ALL! i did help my teacher last week making a wedding cake for one of her students. and honesty, i did not help that much! he he he the cake is an autumn theme cake, with autumn leaves as the decorations. i helped with making gumpaste leaves for the decoration. it's really fun to do, but i'm not 100% satisfied with my gumpaste leaves. i wished i knew how to use the airbrush i purchased about 4 months ago! the leaves would've looked so much nicer if i had airbrushed them.. hahah oh well. still, the cake turned out great!


what else.... i spent most of my time at work, spending time with family & friends, and of course, catching up with my tv shows!! hahahaha

oh, did i mentioned that the chocolate demo was at the ritz carlton in half moon bay? omg! the view! the hotel! the beach! it's like a mini vacation, just an hour away from home ^_^

Thursday, October 2, 2008

lost

it was just last sunday that i bid farewell to my crazy work hours. according to my "plan" (or the gibberish thoughts inside my head), i should be enjoying myself; not doing too much of anything... just be lazy and relaxed. but to my surprise, instead of feeling relax, i am starting to feel so bored! i guess i've been so used to being so busy all the time, not having enough time to rest, and being in overdrive mode. now that i have all this free time, i really don't know what to do with myself. i've lost the ability to do nothing!

the first few days were bliss. i was loving the fact that i didn't have to work on the weekend anymore. but then as time went on, i began to remember just how much i hate being "stuck" in an office. it's like a de javu (rewind back to the time when i just finished culinary school).

i started to miss the rush of the kitchen (not Satura Cakes' kitchen in particular, just any kitchen). i miss the lovely scent of freshly baked cakes. i miss my spatulas, the big mixer... heck.... i even miss my step-stool.

i shouldn't be contained in an office; sitting on a chair in front of a computer for 8 hours/day. i should be on my feet, making croissant dough or folding meringue into cake batter or assembling a cake. i need to be making finger-licking-yummy-sweets..... and invoices don't taste that sweet.

i feel lost. i need structure. i need a plan.

i wish life has a guide book. one that tells you what to do and where you'd end up if you take one road or the other. you know, like one of those old fairy tales books that makes you choose which page to go and gives you the moral of the story at the end.

so many things to do. so many options. dunno where to start.