Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We're all fancy like now.

The boxes have been opened! They have arrived! The Dessert Tray shirts are officially official. Check out the utter coolness and instant style you achieve by wearing one (and remember black goes with simply Everything!)

What can we say, we are "Fashion Goddesses! (to be stated in a voice like Gozer's when it asks, "Are you a God?")

Anyhow, we will have them available for sale shortly and remember our motto
"Keep Portland Tiered. Eat Cake!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Super Duper Top Ultra Secret Cake Surprise

So, a couple of months ago I was thinking of what to do for the big birthday day of one of the girls at work. (ponder, ponder, ponder)

"hmmm, she's got that...nope, we did that two years ago...wait! that's it...nooooooo, actually that's really silly...or maybe not...no-Definitely too silly.

Then the light bulb went on...
I happen to know she loves to play a certain video game a lot...I mean, really... a lot. I roped in my baker for the project (she actually did most of the actual work) then we set to pla
y...ahem, ahem... I meant -set to WORK! on the Super Duper Top Ultra Secret Cake Surprise.

I give you...

{Trumpet fanfare}

Drumroll please...

Would someone please go catch that rolling drum?! Honestly, people can be so literal sometimes...

The Grand unveiling of...
The Katamari Birthday cake

Taaaaaaaaaa Daaaaaaaaah!!!

and of course, it had to be bakery themed with clowns-she abhors clowns so they were an absolute must to include...

"why yes, my middle name is Sadistic and Subversively Evil, how ever did you guess?"

Okay, for those of you who have never heard of the game the basic premise is, you are a little character who rolls a ball around and stuff sticks to the ball. Sound silly? Simplistic maybe? It is actually a lot of fun. It's also a lot harder and way, way more addictive than you might think.

{The happy cake recepient==>}

You merrily push the ball along, as more stuff sticks to it, the larger the ball grows so bigger stuff will stick to it. I, for one, am quite amused by all of the people running and screaming as the ball rolls over them and then there are the cows or horses with their legs flailing as it rolls around with them stuck on it. {the mini plaintive moos and baaaing of the sheep just kill me}

[snicker-Did you not just notice
my middle name? It amuses me.]

And maybe she's enjoying the cake just a wee much...You be the judge.

The remains of the cake. Who knows, next year maybe Zombies? I think the clowns would be up for it...You know you are so picturing evil zombie clowns right now.
excellent... {again, middle name Subversively Evil or at least it should be sometimes}

Monday, July 19, 2010

We have Summer Classes!

Class #1 Mini Tier cakes
Date: August 23rd
Time: 4pm to 5:30pm
Cost: $40

Learn how to make chocolate ganache and glaze your own mini "tiered" cake. Decorate your cake with buttercream and simple fondant flowers. In this class you will take home two mini "tiered" cakes that you will glaze and decorate: one for you and one for you to share.

Class #2 Birthday Cakes
Date: August 30th
Time: 4pm to 6:30pm
Cost: $75

Learn to decorate a 6" Birthday cake. The main focus will be on learning how to cover a cake in fondant and then decorate with a fun fondant decoration. There will also be a demo on how to fill and frost a cake.

Some general notes:

Limited class size.
Ages : 16 and up.
All classes are hands on unless specified.
All supplies will be provided.
Cancellation notice of 48 hours (business days) notice required for class refund.
Class may be rescheduled/canceled if minimum class requirements are not met.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

second hand stores

A person can go to the fancy/glitzy kitchen gadget stores and they have sooooooo many cool toys there...and I want/need absolutely all of them [drool, drool, drool]...well, most of the toys anyway-just because they are so cool. I can imagine all of the new things I can do, stuff that I can make, hours of labor that I will save myself...

me: "Wow! They carry the Technivorm Coffee maker! That would make the morning coffee absolutely perfect wouldn't it, especially if I had the Jura cup warmer to go with it."
reality: " You don't drink coffee." (However, I am absolutely ensnared by the aroma, it intoxicates my senses. If I could afford to, I would buy bags of coffee beans just to use as potpourri.)

me: "Look at these gorgeous pastel toned, accordian shape decorating bottles for frosting and decorating cakes-I think I need 10 of them."

reality:"Pain to clean and you simply don't doooo pastel colors."

me: "Wait, how about that Dualit toaster, it's on Special for only $300, imagine how good the toast would be..."
Actually, I can't imagine what a $300 toaster would do differently from my $15 toaster...maybe it also procures fresh artisanal butter from the Rogue Creamery, spreads
on "Apricot with Attitude" jam on from Rose City Pepperheads (most excellent jam by the way), and then serves it to you whilst you lounge on your day bed?

Those places are nice to visit but some of my favorite places to shop are Second hand stores. Seriously. For home and especially the bakery.
If a person pays attention and is careful about what is being purchased, there are some rea
lly good deals at those places. There are all sorts of treasures just waiting to be discovered, and that's actually a good way to think about it-as a treasure hunt because you never know what you will come across.

A few years ago, we were again making huge batches of one of our seasonal bundt cakes and the standard day would go something akin to this.

Get the Bundt pans ready, make the batter, bake off 8 Bundts, after a few minutes cooling, pull the cakes out, run the pans through the dishwasher again so we could get the next batch into the ovens-several times a d

It was driving our bakers crazy but heavy cast aluminum Bundt pans are expensive in the retail stores, $40 to $60, ouch! Then one day my business partner and I were wandering through a
Goodwill just for the heck of it and lo and behold! On the shelf, a lonely heavy cast aluminum Bundt pan just pleading to be put to good use and for only $2.99. The Elation! The Thrill! The game was afoot, the hunt was on.
I now have picked up enough of those Bundt pans at local second hand shops that the bakery could actually use an extra oven -also, I've discovered that it's hard to stop buying them once you find them because it is such a good deal. All for around $2 to $5. Score! Besides you never know when you might just need that one extra one...

I have since done the same with mini muffin tins, mixing bowls, and measuring cups amongst other things. Sure, sometimes the things need a little extra cleaning and rarely would they be found on a retail display shelf due to a dent or two but everything is of good quality and they are getting used for the purpose they were designed for rather than just gathering dust.

It's reminds me of going to Garage sales but then not having to travel to them all day long which can get rather wearisome sometimes. One stop treasure hunting is more my speed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I used to work at F.H. Steinbart Co. (hi everyone!), which sells home brewing and wine making equipment and ingredients. Wine, beer, vinegar, cider, kombucha, sake, mead-so much fermentation, so many different ingredients to play with and with a little forethought soooooooo easy to do. I should know, I have over 6 cases of Hard Cider alone that I've made and we won't even start on how many cases of wine I have. Sigh, so easy to make-not nearly enough people to drink it.

The most important factor whether you are brewing, baking, or cooking something is

If you want something you make to turn out somewhat tasty then you had darn well better pay attention to the sanitation side of things otherwise it could all be for naught.

To me-making wine and beer go hand in hand with baking, making your own preserves, pickling (my mouth waters at the thought of homemade sauerkraut-so good), making bread, pretty much any home cooking in general.
For one, you get a real sense of the ingredients that you are working with; how ripe they are, the aroma and colour of them, the weight of them in your hand. Secondly, you're more careful about those ingredients. A lot of home winemakers I know source their own grapes from some of the regional wineries when they can buy it or they grow some of their own. It's a little harder to grown the amount of grain you need for home brewing (just due to lack of space for most people) but I have met some people who have just because they could, though the specialty grains available for home brewing are generally of a pretty high quality.
Tip for home brewers: Growing your own hops can be really nice or if you want some special variety, check for fresh loose leaf hops at your local home brew shop. They also work well as potpourri (at least I think so).

Most of the work in home brewing and wine making is cleaning and waiting. Once everything is combined, you let it sit and do it's thing (fermenting that is), then your work boils down to waiting to let things clarify (settle down), racking (transferring from one container to another SANITIZED!!! container), and waiting patiently for your brew to be done-NOTE: This is the hardest part by far; think of all of the people from whom you've heard stories of bottles blowing up or corks/caps popping off when the weather warms up just a little. That means that whatever you were making hadn't fermented out enough before you caught the "I must bottle everything in sight" bug. Many times you can leave whatever you are making in bulk after a few rackings and with proper airlock attention just let it hang out until you are in the mood to deal with it. Really, you can.

General time line for home brewing activities: Mead and Sake take forever and a day (or sometimes it just feels that way, maybe you could subtract a day if you are feeling wild and crazy).
Wine can take months up to several years depending on what you are making.
Beer generally takes a few months but again it depends on the type you are brewing.
Soda takes a few weeks and you can use real fruit or there a lot of flavour varieties to choose from and you can even combine flavours to make new ones, example: orange extract and cream extract combined give you Orange Cream soda-mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
Though for some reason, it is really hard to get Root beer to carbonate if you use a mix-still haven't quite figured out why.
Anyhow, happy brewing to all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our cakes in film

Look whose cakes are in the movies and now they are making appearances on the telly as well. (mild preening)
I decided to double check the definition of whose to make sure that I was using the proper context and ended up more confused than when I started so I am leaving it as it is and if it's wrong then so be it.

Okay, technically this first set of cakes were for an actor's birthday so they didn't actually appear in the movie. The cakes were made for Lou Tay
lor Pucci, the main actor in "Thumbsucker" which was directed by Mike Mills.
Sooooooo, again they weren't actually in the movie, but they were eaten by people who were so it sort of semi counts doesn't it?

This next cake actually did make it into a movie. It appeared in the birthday scene from "Into the Wild" which was directed by Sean Penn and partly filmed in Beaverton. It played the part of the strong, silent, sweet type.

Earlier this year, my pastry chef was asked to make a cake for the tv show "Leverage". The cake was a representation of a mythical African nation for the episode titled "
The Scheherazade Job" which just recently aired. The cake appears in the opening scene, and wow, did they cut huge chunks of cake to eat. I swear each slice was about four standard servings (unless one is talking about college age boys and then maybe it was a half serving). Anyhow, we now can say that we know movie and television stars-granted they were all cake but still... ;)

I've been commenting about this last one on on our facebook page a bit but here is the more in depth version-sort of, hmmm, not really that much depth to go into I suppose but here I go anyway.

The chap from "Leverage" contacted us again last week and needed a Gingerbread house by Monday, not Martha Stewart level but not Cake Wrecks level either, I think it turned out just right and I had an absolute blast making it. (more preening)

I now have a hankering to make more, I know it's July but I could make one to cover every holiday, month, day of the week...And now I've realized that really, all things considered, this is the best time of year to make them anyway; there's plenty of time, no last minute mad dash, they have plenty of time to dry, and you can always quickly work up another if something happens to go horribly wrong with the first one. If you think about it for a minute, it's a brilliant idea right? right? hello? Well, I think it has some merit at any rate.

and then what about making a life size one? Can you imagine how huge the gumdrops would have to be? Would you use real christmas trees? The amount of royal icing to make would be insane. Would one have people dress up as Gingerbread people or make cutouts like they did for "Blazing Saddles"? (love Gene Wilder in that by the way)

Hmmmm...there would be a slight issue if it started to rain or snow though, and you'd have to be on constant lookout for Hansel & Gretel...[slap]...thanks I needed that I think but then think of the possibilities-Frank Lloyd Wright style, ranch and bungalow styles, bird houses, dog houses, Baroque mansions (if it isn't Baroque, don't fix it-hehehehehehehehehehe).

Ahem,... at any rate look for G.house to show up around xmas. To finish it all off, the Leverage guy called me a couple of days later and wondered if I could make Egg Nog as well,...why...yes, yes I could. Thanks to Alton Brown (my hero) for that excellent recipe, darn tasty it was although I did tweak it a bit-there can be such a thing as too much Nutmeg sometimes.

and to all a good night.