I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Tale of Three Cakes

Before I begin this story, I just need to point out that I really, really, really wish I had taken photos of the cake(s) I am about to describe. Since I only took a picture of the first (completed) version, I've got a whole lot of nothing to show you, so here's hoping I can create a visual picture with words instead.

The background story here is that my new employee required a "come to jesus" talk a few weeks back. She was making me CRAZY with all her complaining and whining and carrying on...worst of all was her many mini-tantrums a day she would have when the smallest thing went wrong. Literally, small disturbance = major emotional upheaval. As if I don't have enough drama, right? So after our talk, she's been heaps better about it all...but today was a BRILLIANT object lesson in how to behave like a professional.


I had a massive cake to do today - to feed 150 people, two tiers, with a corporate logo on top and lots and lots of buttercream icing in red and white stripes. This bastard was also filled with 2 layers of vanilla buttercream for each tier, so it was heavy and enormous. Picture the sides of the cake - I used a small star nozzle in a piping bag and piped perfectly straight edges up and down the sides. So maybe 8 rows of white, then 4 of red, then white and so on. Then a really nice border on top (on the edges of the logo) and what can I tell you, it was fab and gorgeous. (Sidenote: The logo had a grammatical error in it - which was the fault of the client whose graphic designers had made this logo up especially. It annoyed the shit out of me.)*

DH, bless his cotton and wool blend computer socks, picked it up to go and deliver it for me to a restaurant about 20-ish minutes away from the kitchen. He had a whole car full of cakes, though, so he was stopping to drop some others off first.

About 10 minutes after he leaves I get a phone call. "Mich," he says (and I can count on one hand the number of times he's called me "Mich" so I knew it was NO GOOD NEWS), "I'm coming back. There's a problem..the buttercream has just kinda...fallen off ...the cake. It's not sticking to it."

Hmmm. How does buttercream FALL OFF a cake? I'm pretty sure I did not feel a dramatic shift in gravitational pull or anything.

So another 10 minutes goes by and DH brings the cake back - and let's just say he is the master of understatement, because nothing had fallen off...the entire damn thing had melted into several red and white puddles of buttercream. Literally the sides of both tiers had totally melted and slid off the cake. This is the FIRST (and please god, only) time it's ever happened to me. (Although earlier in the week DH managed to wreck a part of another cake by knocking into it with a crate...but we still love him.)

Truth be told, I really did want to break down and cry - BUT - I was already on a tight time deadline with some other cakes to do, and this damn thing needed to be delivered on time. So, I put on my big girl cake disaster panties, and started to scrape it all off and start again. I also noticed I didn't have enough icing, so my poor assistant had to stop mid-baking and start making new icing as well.

Please note, I did not panic. Well, I didn't panic externally. Inside, I died a thousand deaths.

So. I got DH to print a new logo up, made up more red icing, got clean piping bags and tips, and cleaned up my cake disaster as best I could. I then took the entire thing into the cool room, and decorated it while standing in the cool room. My thinking was that because of the temperature, as soon as I piped a line it would solidify and that would effectively 'shore up' the sides of the cake, giving DH more time to get it there in one piece. So I stood in there freezing my tatas off and kept having to go in and out to re-fill the piping bag.

It worked like a dream...so well, in fact, that I called out to my assistant to get her to come into the cool room and see what a freakin' stress free genius I am. I handled it all with total aplomb! I was a legend! I could fix cake disasters in freezing temperatures! I could manage it without a tantrum! I WAS THE QUEEN OF THE CAKE UNIVERSE.

It was the shortest royal reign in history. Me being me, I decided to wipe away a little microscopic spot on the logo. I didn't realise I had some red icing on the tip of my finger...which resulted in a GIANT RED SPLODGE right in the middle of the damn thing. Which, despite my flapping around and trying to fix it, only got bigger and more red and more totally and utterly buggered up. In a case of deja vu, I called out to DH to print yet ANOTHER logo. I dragged this sorry cake's ass into my kitchen, peeled off the logo and piped border (which thanks to refrigeration had solidified so was easy to peel off.) I then took it BACK into the coolroom, affixed the brand-spanking-new logo sheet, and re-piped the border on.


It was a very long afternoon.

Good news - I not only survived it, but the cake made it in one very cool piece to it's destination. Plus I proved to my employee that the best way to solve a cake problem is to fix it, not freak out about it. PLUS I discovered just how long I can stand in a cool room without needing resuscitation.

Bad news - I'm pretty sure there is no actual profit left in said cake....but then who needs money when you've got icing? Icing just about fixes everything. (Really. You should try it sometime.)

*Dear major engineering company - 'thank you' is TWO words, not one.

1 comment:

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

This story had all the excitement and dramatic arc that I needed before 9 in the morning.

Way to go for fixing things Em.