Assignment Saving Lives

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Interested in saving a life today?

I’m just going to assume that your answer is yes, since you are such a kind and considerate human being. You could save up to two in just under an hour!

This year I am participating in Canadian Blood Services “Assignment Saving Lives” which is a scholarship program that gets students to motivate others to donate blood in the summer months, when donations are typically lower. The student with the most donations under their name will win a $1500 bursary.

All you have to do is sign up online before your donation, and then head off to any Canadian Blood Services location (2571 Broad Street in Regina) and give them a little bit of your time and of course a bit of your blood. It really is one of the easiest things you can do.. all you have to do is sit there, and someone will feed you juice and snacks!

Scared of needles you say? Try to place yourself in the shoes of someone going through chemotherapy, who requires up to 8 bags of blood in just one week. Or perhaps think of a premature baby requiring blood transfusions the moment they enter in to this world. Can you be the braver person and confront your fear of needles in order to help those in desperate need?

 Signing up is pretty simple. Just visit www.blood.ca/partnersforlife and click on “Join Partners for Life”. Click on the “Member” puzzle piece and then follow the link that says “Sign me up to donate with my team”. Fill out the form with your information and use Partner ID# RAND012880. Click yes when asked if you are a Member of the Organization. There. That’s it! You’re now registered with my team. Now all you need to do is call 1-888-2-Donate to book an appointment or book online at blood.ca! All donations in the months of June, July and August will count towards my scholarship. 

I would really appreciate your donations, not only to give me a chance at a scholarship, but to help save the lives of many people in need. If you have any questions regarding Assignment Saving Lives, or would like to know how you can get involved with Canadian Blood Services feel free to contact me at coons11r@uregina.ca

PS… If you donate for me in early June you will be qualified to donate again after 52 days. That means you can donate again in August and I will get a second donation under your name!

Old MacDonald had a farm…

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For my last cake project, I decided to go big. The cake I created was four tiers high and required me to bake 7 cakes.

I decided to go with an animal theme for this cake, each layer being a different type of animal print.

The bottom 3 cakes were made up of two chocolate cakes with a layer of vanilla icing in the middle. The top cake that I made to look like a pig was made of one cake that I baked in a bowl so that it was round. I covered all of the cakes in vanilla icing and covered them in different colours of fondant.

The largest cake I decided to do in a cow print since the majority of the cake would be covered in white and I wouldn’t have to colour that fondant. 

Even though I use gels to dye my fondant instead of liquid food colouring, the process of making black fondant was extremely frustrating. I had to keep working in more and more colouring, and the more I mixed, the stickier the fondant would get. This meant that I had to leave the fondant for a while in the fridge before I could keep mixing it. I also ended up with hands covered in dye. I will definitely think twice before I decide to decorate something with large amounts of black.

The next layer up was the tiger print. I used the remaining black fondant for the stripes, and covered the whole cake in orange fondant.

On top of the tiger layer, I chose to make a giraffe print layer. The base yellow layer was easy enough to mix, but the brown spots gave me a bit of trouble. Since I didn’t have a brown gel, I had to keep mixing until I came up with the colour I wanted. I ran into the same sticky fondant situation that I had when mixing the black fondant, only on a smaller scale. In photos the spots appear kind of green-ish, but I can assure you they are more brown in person. If you don’t believe me, please stop by and check them out… eat one of my 7 cakes while you’re here.

Anybody that knows me well knows that I could not create anything animal themed without including a pig element. I have a severe obsession with pigs, and have every intention of owning a teacup pig some day who will be named Percival or Mr. Pigglesworth.

The top layer of my cake is a little plump pig layer. I decided to go with a simple pink piglet, instead of patterning it. To make it look like a pig, I added a nose and a tail. This layer actually makes me happy when I look at it. I wish the precious little piglet was real…

Due to my extensive Cake Boss and Ace of Cake watching, I knew that I had to add supports when stacking these cakes. I used wooden dowels like many of the instructions I read told me to. Unfortunately I didn’t use enough, and my cake has started to lean because the cow layer is being squished. Luckily though I took all of my photos before this happened.

If I am to make another stacked cake, I will have to put more effort into my doweling. I also found that the bottoms of my cakes looked a little rough. I will need to look in to what you are supposed to do with the bottom edge of the fondant for my next stacked cake.

I know that these will not be the last cakes that I will decorate. I’ve already gotten many birthday cake requests, and I really do enjoy decorating them. Once I find a baker to partner up with, I’ll be ready to go into business….

I wonder if Peeta Mellark is available….

May the Force Be With You

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This week it was both my boss’ and coworkers birthdays. Their birthdays are the same day so they put in a request for a joint birthday cake… their request was lightsabers, something I know SO well. (Kidding, there was excessive googling to get the details right)

I decided that it was going to be easiest if I made the actual glowing part out of jello instead of cake because it would look nicer. That was mistake number one, but I was too far in to the cake when I realized how much of a disaster that was going to be.

For my jello lightsaber, I went to home depot to find some sort of tube that I could set the jello in, but that would be easy to cut or take apart after. I found some pipe insulation made out of a flexible foam-like material.

After cutting the tube to the right lengths, I began my attempt to saran wrap the tubes. Only after saran wrapping them, I realized that I probably should have put the ‘blockers’ on the end so that it wouldn’t leak. I decided just saran wrapping the cardboard and attaching it with excessive amounts of tape would be sufficient. I was wrong. After filling one tube, and having all the jello leak right back out onto the baking sheet, I decided to recover all of my tubes with saran wrap so that there was no chance for leakage. It worked pretty well the second time, and I set the jello outside to set.

The handles of the lightsabers were made out of cake. My ‘crumb coat’ was just that, a crumbly disaster. The cake was so fresh that when I tried to ice it, it would just fall apart. I threw the cake in the freezer for a bit, and decided to ice it later. After its time in the freezer, the cake was a lot more cooperative and I was able to coat it in icing so that I could apply the fondant. 

At least one thing looked nice….

I was feeling good about the handles, and then it came time to put the jello onto my display board.

Now I don’t watch very much Star Wars, but I’m pretty sure that lightsabers aren’t very wobbly…. But knowing that my coworkers aren’t very fussy I decided to just roll with it…

I think this cake was my most “architecturally challenging” and it didn’t turn out so well. Obviously I need to take notes from Duff Goldman.

 

 

tie dye

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This cake came as a request from my friend Alexa. As a fellow pinterest addict, she is often sending me cakes she thinks I should make and I thought the tie dyed cake that she sent me looked pretty cool.

After the salted caramel cheesecake disaster, I chose to play it safe this week and use a boxed cake mix. To create a tie dye cake, I mixed a white cake batter and split it into different bowls to dye the batter.  

The next step for the cake was to mix batter in two cake pans. I layered the first cake starting with red, then using a little less orange, a little less yellow, etc. and finished with just a little bit of purple. The second cake I layered the opposite way starting with purple and ending with a little bit of red.

I worried that baking would cause the cakes colours to run together or to become dull, but luckily this didn’t happen. I let the cakes cool over night before whipping up some buttercream icing to cover them with.

I trimmed the cakes so that they were flattened for stacking, and iced in between the layers. I then covered both cakes in white icing.

Continuing on with the tie dyed theme, I decided to decorate the icing in a similar way to my peacock cake. I mixed my food dye gels with water and painted onto the cake with a paintbrush. It was a little more difficult to do on this cake because I chose not to cover it with fondant. I had to clear the icing out of my brush every once in a while

The icing turned out to look more like realistic t-shirt tie dye than the cake itself… I haven’t quite decided which I like best.

Cutting into the cake was pretty cool… every slice looks different.

 

This cake was certainly more fun to eat than my last experiment, and to add to that it was fun to look at while eating it!

 

Looks can be deceiving

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While I am still very excited about the cake making part of this project, I am falling a little bit behind on the documenting. I am determined to actually write this post before I finish completing another cake that I will have to blog about (look forward to a tie-dye cake everybody).

Last week’s cake was one that I found, yet again, on pinterest. The  Salted Caramel Cheesecake just looked too delicious to pass up. I figured that since the salted caramel drink I got from Starbucks was delicious, this cake had to be as well.

After a quick conversation with my boss about what the heck ‘dulce de leche’ was, I could get started (turns out it is just condensed milk that has sat in boiling water for a couple hours).

Making the crust seemed to go off without a hitch. I baked graham cracker crumbs and copious amounts of butter in my spring-form pan and then set it aside to cool. The mixing of the cheesecake itself wasn’t all that difficult, but baking it turned into quite the disaster… either I had some holes in my crust, or a seriously leaky cake pan. There was cake dripping out of that pan like nobodies business causing the oven to smoke up the entire kitchen. After opening every door and window, a mild coughing fit, and fanning out smoke with my dishcloth, I took shelter in my bedroom while the cake finished baking. Despite all of the smoke, the cake still looked fine when I took it out of the oven. I placed it in the fridge overnight to await its caramel topping.

Thinking that the caramel would work out on my first try really was silly of me, it was really quite disastrous. My fear of causing the caramel to burn made me take it off the heat too soon which caused me to make more of a caramel soup. My second batch wasn’t quite as thick as I wanted it to be, but I was frustrated enough to make it work. I poured the caramel over the cake and let it set up for a while in the fridge.

I was very excited to finally bite into this cake, it looked great, so would surely taste the same. 

Oh how wrong I was. I’m not sure if I added too much salt, or the person who created this recipe was out to lunch, but this may have been the saltiest thing I have ever consumed. I felt dehydrated after the first bite. Even my father who salts everything before even tasting it said it was a bit much. Turns out this cake was more for the eyes than for the mouth as it sat in the fridge, uneaten.

For my next cake I decided to play it safe, and let Betty Crocker take care of the recipe for me.

Birds of a feather

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Sorry to all of those following my cake decorating journey (Mom) … I’ve been a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to posting about my creations, reading week did in fact get the best of me. But since you have all been patiently waiting (Mom..) you will be rewarded with the gift of two cakes today!

For the first cake, I decided to recreate an owl topped cake that I had found on pinterest. For the actual owl, I decided to cover a rice krispie cake ball in coloured fondant. Simple enough task, right? Wrong. I decided to half the recipe for the rice krispie cake because I didn’t need it all… I don’t know if was doing that or the fact that I used year old marshmallows, but something went very wrong.

The owl base is less of a rice krispie cake and more of a core of melty marshmallows rolled in rice krispies. Though it didn’t turn out as planned, I still managed to cover the bad boy in some feathers I cut out of fondant and spruced him up by adding a beak, feet and two ever-so-large eyes.

Who could say no to a face like that? To spice up the cuties vanilla cake pedestal I threw on some polka dots that I painted on with fondant gel dye.

Apparently I have been going with a bit of a bird theme with my cakes lately. I didn’t even realize it until I started to type out this post, but if any of my cakes were to have been categorized together so far, these two were the best fit.

For my second cake I decided to paint a peacock feather onto a plain white fondant base. I mixed my fondant gels with water so it was kind of like I was doing a watercolour painting but with food colouring. There isn’t too much I have to say about this cake… aside from my struggle to get a smooth fondant base for the painting my biggest worry was that I kept setting my hand into freshly painted dye. After a few touch ups here and there I had myself a cute little feather cake!

 

he did the monster mash…

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I really should have thought a little harder before deciding to take on cake decorating as my learning projects for EAES… Eating healthy and cake decorating really don’t mesh well. If anyone would like to become the official taste-tester seriously let me know. I have consumed way too much cake in the last month.

This weeks cake was a chocolate monster with blue buttercream icing.

Just a word of advice to all of you cake bakers out there… Listen to the instructions… Mine told me to split my batter up between to cake pans, but I wanted a giant monster cake, so I didn’t listen. This led to me having to cook the cake for an extra 20 minutes and it was still gooey in the middle. I eventually gave up on it and took it out of the oven and the middle sunk in a bit.. It wasn’t the prettiest of cakes, but I knew I’d be covering it with icing so I just stuck with it.

I started off decorating my cake by making a mouth for my monster out of fondant and some eyes made from marshmallows and fondant colouring.

After this I whipped up my first batch of buttercream icing (I’m not sure if its supposed to legitimately taste like butter, but mine did… might need to tweak the recipe a bit). I began piping on small dots of icing onto the cake which soon turned into a disaster. Icing started coming out of the wrong end of the icing bag, it was all over my hands, the counter, the wall and the floor. Not to mention, these icing dots were pretty tedious work that led to a few hand cramps.

After what felt like days, I had finally covered all of my little monster… time to put that bad boy in the fridge…. Easier said than done. Its safe to say the about 50% of the items in the fridge are now covered with bits of blue icing… But at least my little monster found a happy little home where he could bide his time until the brain surgery…..