Friday, September 26, 2014

What Happened to My Mixer?!!

There it was... my beautiful mixer under some emergency surgical procedures and so close to the very busy wedding month of October!!  Yes I pushed it a little... ok I lied... I pushed it a lot!  Well, how else can you make countless batches of marshmallow fondant without a 20 quart commercial mixer or manually exhaust yourself to pieces?!

Yes, I learned my lesson... but not until after the 6th batch.  Sooo if you EVER go through this yourself read on for how to fix it!

I was pretty happy with myself for getting through 6 batches and I happened to turn on my mixer and to my surprise (shouldn't my mixer be able to handle anything??!:)) it was making a horrible knocking like sounds!  And I pretty much flipped... October it is one of the busiest cake months.. this was NOT a time to plan equipment rebuilds!!  The mixer still turned

but the sound was horrible.  Did I overload the motor? How much longer will it work?  Will it be able to handle batter load but what about buttercream load (and let's just forget about fondant!)?  Did I start the gears down a stripping path?  So this is the part where I was reminded just how *awesome* my husband is for being a millwright (aka equipment mechanic).

But if you are not a millwright... no problem!  Anyone can do this! Especially with the help from ereplacementparts.com and a little YouTube!:)  We bought the spare parts (see list below) and here is their You Tube video to help guide your initial fix (read further for the alignment fix!):




So, after installing our new parts, we closed it up and... to our surprise it still made that horrible noise!!
 Aahhh!!  It turns out that although I had wore the gears out a little I had MOSTLY just got my mixer out of alignment... Which was what was creating that horrible knocking noise.  In this case, and likely in many others where parts are replaced, alignment is critical.  I have heard people say that their mixer makes a lot of noise because 'it has been fixed', however, it turns out that the loud noise has everything to do with alignment not necessarily that it was 'rebuilt' (and don't forget to re-lube as shown in the video).  So how to fix this?...

Realign Your KitchenAid!!

Step 1.  Take your mixer apart and fix according to your needs.

Step 2.  With all of your gearbox parts in place gently place your gearbox cover on top and just flush mount your screws.  DO NOT fully tighten them.

Step 3.  UNSCREW your motor screws so they are just flush mounted.

Step 4.  Turn on your machine to a low setting - this part is resetting your alignment.  You will hear the noise subside as the mixer finds it's comfortable aligned spot.

Step 5.  'Freeze' this aligned spot in place: gently and evenly alternate tightening the screws at the gearbox and then at the motor.

And that is it!!  Test that the awful noise is gone and your KitchenAid re-alignment is done!
Now let's get back to caking!!:)

Christie

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Damask Stenciling




Ok, I will admit it... I have been deadly afraid of this technique for a long time.  Yeah, not just a little afraid... DEADLY afraid.  All those little cavities in a damask stencil and not to mention working with royal icing... or should I say royal icing working with me?  Why does royal icing have to be sooo finicky?  I sure don't know how the cookie makers do it but hey we all have our strengths;-).  Ok so this is my BEGINNERS tutorial on damask stenciling on a fondant cake.  Yes, let's be clear here... this is specifically for fondant and not for buttercream (I told you this was for beginners:)!).  This is specifically for the technique I used on the cake at the left here because, quite frankly I have yet to do it another way (and successfully is another matter:-P).  As an add this is also for use with my marshmallow fondant recipe which you can check out on this link here.  I have not tried this with another fondant type but I assume it should work very similar... however, in all the research I have done about damask stenciling I haven't seen this technique used so alas - here I am again!  Actually from the techniques that I have researched online I have successfully failed at them... sigh.  Ok, so let's get started!!

And for the quick YouTube version of the tutorial below:


Materials

* Damask Stencil (got mine at Stenciland on Etsy *LOVE* their selection and handmade in Canada!:))
* Royal Icing (consistency is tricky here so go for something a little less runny and a little more paste-y)
* Fondant covered Cake (Fondant must be firm to touch - 6 hours or so after the cake is covered to dry at room temp)
Shortening 
* Scrapper 'piece' (rectangular flexible piece - cut from a bowl scrapper if you can)
* Small Tool (to fix the little details after stencil comes off)
* Brush and vodka (to fix any royal messes!!

Step 1

Lay your stencil on a paper towel with the 'wrong' side facing you.  Smear a thin and even layer of shortening on another paper towel and dab the 'wrong' side of the stencil thoroughly.  This shortening will make your stencil adhere to your cake.  Some people use toothpicks at either end but this is exactly what DOESN'T work for me and that might be because fondant is very smooth allowing icing to creep in behind the stencil.  Shortening just does the trick!

Step 2

Position your stencil on your fondant covered cake by pressing by hand or using a fondant smoother

Step 3

Apply your royal icing with your flex 'tool' (I cut mine here into a rectangle from my bowl scrapper).  Apply a medium coat.  If it is real thin it will be slightly opaque (especially with white and I just don't like it like that) and if it is real thick that might compromise the integrity of the finish.  Go with what you like here...

Step 4

After ensuring a good even coat peel off gently.  Fix/adjust any royal icing mishaps with a small tool.  I used a toothpick but you can really use anything small enough to let you work with your pattern.  Let dry to apply next stenciled pattern (approximately 15-30 minutes).  When applying another pattern rinse stencil with warm water and re-apply shortening.

NOTE:  If you don't like what you get after peeling scrap off the royal icing with a spatula or bowl scrapper and clean up the residue using a brush and vodka.  Clean your stencil with warm water only, reapply your shortening and try again!:) (this is why I LOVE marshmallow fondant... sooo forgiving)

Step 5

After pattern has fully dried use a clean brush to brush away the residual shortening.

And that is it!
Have fun with your damask stencil project!!
Send us your questions or comments! 

Happy Caking!
Christie

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Elsa Crown Cake


So you want to make an Frozen cake... and this will likely NOT be your last time making one!!  Here is a super cute, fun, and very *sparkly* Frozen cake with an Elsa crown cake topper.  The topper is a plastic crown toy I picked up at Target, however, you can opt for a sugar one - although with the translucency here I have to say is a pretty cool effect with this theme!:)

This tutorial is all about how to get the silver shimmery look on the snowflakes and little number.

However, as a side note to get the whole cake to shimmer (I know it really doesn't show but if you look at the pix below you can see that the cake kind of has a glow to it) you will want to airbrush it.  Crazy how different cakes look in really life and how difficult it is to really capture that in a pix.  There is just something about the texture that is not too easily captured.

So, how to get the whole cake to glow?  Airbrush with pearl shimmer! Make sure to apply ALL of the details (except the crown!:)) first and airbrush everything before doing the silver sparkly steps.

Also here is our descriptive tutorial on our YouTube channel.
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Sparkly Snowflakes

Materials

* Snowflake cutters (available online)
* Shortening
* Disco Dust in American Silver (made by CK products and available at Every Baking Moment or online)
* Silver Highlighter Dust (or anything else silver looking)
* Vodka (no is is not to drink while you are working!)
* Small brushes for each item



Steps

1.  Place all the details on your cake (snowflakes & number) [if you want to airbrush your cake with pearl shimmer make sure that this step is done and color is dried before continuing]

2.  Put a very small amount of silver dust in a small container and a small amount of Vodka (we're talking drops here!).  Mix to create a paint.  Using a brush paint your desired details with silver and let dry.

3.  Next, paint your snowflakes with a good coat of shortening.  This will act like your sticking agent.

4.  Just dab (really try not to actually brush here or it will get everywhere!) your Disco Dust on the snowflakes and number on top of your shortening coat.  You will see that it will stick very  easily!!

Happy Caking!!
Christie