Tag Archives: wedding cake

My Very Own Mixing Method: Dead Easy PMAT Method

8 Jun
Using a scale to weigh your ingredients makes life So Much Easier.

Using a scale to weigh your ingredients makes life So Much Easier.

I think I may have discovered a new and easy mixing method, friends.  As Spelled Out in the title up there, I’m calling it Dead Easy PMAT Method.  You could call it DEPMAT, I guess, although that sounds kind of like some Governmental Agency that is headquartered Deep Underground in Nevada.  Credit where credit is due:  it is based on the Two-Stage Mixing Method, popularized by Queen Rose Levy Beranbaum.  If you’ve not been to her blog, go there.  She is, arguably, one of the most accessible of the Big Dog Bakers out there.

Anyway, this came about during the Wedding Cake Extravaganza.  I had to bake a billion (ten) cake layers and just couldn’t be bothered with all the mix-the-eggs-with-1/4-of-the-milk goings on, so here’s what I did:

  1. In the bowl of your trusty stand mixer, whisk all the dry ingredients (flour, leaveners, salt, sugar, cocoa [if making chocolate cake], any dry spices) together Very Very Well.
  2. Whisk all of the wet ingredients (eggs, milk/water/coffee/whatever, vanilla, other liquid flavorings) together in a large pitcher.  Whisk them really well so the eggs don’t just hang out down at the bottom of the pitcher.
  3. Make sure your butter coolish and soft-but-not-greasy.
  4. Throw the butter in with the dry ingredients and mix until Somewhat Crumbly.  This gives you the tender portion of your cake–coating a lot of the flour with straight-up fat will prohibit Undue Gluten Formation.  You actually have a little room to play here.  More mixing at the stage will give you a Very Tender Cake.  If you want to maintain structural integrity, mix until butter is well incorporated but the mixture hasn’t gotten clumpy and cookie dough-looking.
  5. Pour in 1/3 of the wet ingredients.  Start on low, and then mix and mix on medium for about 1 minute.  Scrape bowl as necessary.  The addition of the liquid (milk/water/whatever) in addition to the water in the egg whites and Serious Agitation allows for some gluten to form, making sure your cake doesn’t Fall Apart from Too Much Tenderness.
  6. Add the next 1/3 on low and mix until just blended.  Ditto with the last 1/3.  Scrape the bowl, then crank the mixer up to medium for about 3 seconds to make sure everything is Homogeneous.

Although it looks like six steps, I don’t count the measuring part, so it’s really just three steps, like this:

  1. Mix in the butter.
  2. Mix in 1/3 of the wet and beat for a minute or so.
  3. Mix in the rest of the wet in two additions.

Oh, I measured all the dry ingredients into my mixer bowl by standing the bowl on my trusty scale and hitting tare (zeroing out) in between each measurement.  I did the same for the wet ingredients.  Seriously, if you aren’t weighing your ingredients, just do it.  It’s so much easier than all that spooning and scraping and rustling-about-in-the-gadget-drawer-to-find-the-2/3-cup-measure Nonsense.  I’m just saying…

By the way, Rose’s chocolate cake mixing method has you boiling water and stirring in cocoa and cooling it and Futzing About.  I’ve done it that way, and I’ve done it my easy way.  Results?  Pretty much identical.  So, if you’re wondering if you really have to Boil Water and Stir and Wait when really all you want to do is to put cake in your face, the answer is No, you don’t.  You’re welcome.

Should I have experimented with an Unknown (to me, anyway) mixing method while making a wedding cake?  I say Yes, since I had Science to back me up.  I wasn’t just shooting in the dark, so I felt confident that I would get the results I was aiming for.  And I did, so yay me.  And now I’m telling you guys, so Yay Everyone!

Quoth the Beloved: Never Again! We Shall See….

26 May
Here it is.  That's my flash in the window, not Glinda the Good Witch of the North, although I got a little excited when I first looked at the picture.

Here it is. That's my flash in the window, not Glinda the Good Witch of the North, although I got a little excited when I first looked at the picture.

First, just in case you were starting to think that I eat nothing but healthy food, I was just squirting leftover cream cheese frosting from a pastry bag directly into my mouth.  And I loved it.  Also, I seriously considered purchasing some Philadelphia Brand Cheesecake Filling to eat with some jam.  Sick, huh?  I resisted.  Barely.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the wedding cake, shall we?  Here’s the rundown:  the top two tiers were yellow butter cake with chocolate cinnamon Italian buttercream filling.  The two bottom tiers were chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling.  The whole deal was iced in the afore-mentioned cream cheese frosting.   I had to wash dishes about 47 times, mop the floor three times and drive to the cake supply store three times to get stuff.   One time, I stopped moving for a moment, and my foot stuck to the floor.  There was some cursing and a bit of sweating.  In the end, it all turned out beautifully, and the bride and groom seemed very happy, so that’s all good.  Although I’ve done wedding cakes before, each one has its own challenges.  Here’s some stuff I learned along the way.  Some stuff is stuff that you should do, too.  Some stuff is stuff that you Should Not Do.  I’m here to help, even if I have to explain that I am Not Perfect.

  1. Cake layers stick to shiny cake boards and need to be pried off with a spatula.  This is a Bad Thing.  Use dull white cardboard.  Larger, heavier layers are harder to move than smaller, lighter layers.  Just so you know.
  2. Save yourself the headache and hours of Math and just use the Guide to Making Large Cakes (or something like that) at the end of The Cake Bible.  Rose has done all the math and has Handy Charts for you.  In my edition, page 490 is critical, although she says several times that the chart is on page 483.  It’s not.
  3. Melting chocolate in a stoneware dinner plate over a pan of simmering vanilla simple syrup works quite well.
  4. Do not bother with cake saws.  Seriously, a long piece of dental floss will torte your layers for you.  I wasn’t sure I could cut an even layer in a 15″ cake with an 8″ knife, so I tried the old dental floss trick.  Worked like a charm–layers came out Even Steven.
  5. Get a 4 layer 15″ tier that weighs about 25 pounds onto a stout board as quickly as possible.   One cardboard cake square isn’t going to keep that cake from cracking a little when you pick it up.  Even if you are Very, Very Careful.  I’m just saying, icing makes Excellent Camouflage.  Excellent.
  6. Do not try to make a Big Ass Wedding Cake if you have a side by side fridge.  Fortunately, we have one of those freezer on the bottom jobbies.  Still, we had to take out the produce drawers, two shelves and two door bins to make sure everyone Fit.
  7. To turn your small station wagon into a Rolling Cooler, layer towels in the back, and then put some of that non-skid rug padding down on top.  Put 20 pounds of ice on either side of the back, and put the cold cakes in the center.  Pull the cover over the back, fold down one seat, aim the AC back there on full blast and on recirculation.  Drive with a beach towel wrapped around you so you don’t freeze to death.  The cake stayed nice and cold for the whole drive.  But, see “8.”
  8. Do not agree to transport a BAWC more than a few miles unless you can be assured by God Himself that it will be overcast and cool that day.  Your AC will not help you if the sun is beating down mercilessly on your creation.   We drove our BAWC three hours to outside-of-Charlotte from outside-of-Raleigh.  Roads seem bumpier when there’s a cake in the back.
  9. If you’re going to put real ribbon around your cake layers, and the cake isn’t covered with fondant, do yourself a favor and attach strips of parchment the same width as the ribbon around the base of the cake.  This will create a Barrier to Fat, and your ribbon will stay beautiful instead of getting all greasy and sad.
  10. If you get dressed for the wedding and stop at a Bad Place to grab a quick bite because you’re starving, the universe will Take Note and make it rain on your head so your hair looks awful.  Lesson learned.  Does anyone have any hair product I can borrow?
  11. Try as hard as you can to make each tier as level as possible.  Then, make sure you cut your dowels accurately so you can keep things level.  Also, check that the table is level.
  12. If the caterer lady says she doesn’t need a tall container of hot water to clean the knife after each cut, and then she proceeds to use the Ceremonial Cate Cutter Thing that is the bride and groom’s keepsake, just take charge and tell her to get a real knife and the hot water.  Sadly, I did not take charge.  I was too stunned.  The result? Well, let’s just say that Italian Buttercream that has Sat Out for a few hours turns into a kind of crazy lubricant upon which cake layers just slide and slide.  Lovely.   Honestly, if you have to cut a square BAWC, use a very thin wire or Ye Olde Dental Floss.  No drag; no mess.

There might be more stuff that I learned.  Prolly there is, so I’ll update if I think of anything else.

If you need to make a smooth and intensely raspberry-y mousse, here’s how you do it:

Smooth and Intensely Raspberry-y Mousse

  • Frozen raspberries
  • salt
  • sugar
  • lemon juice
  • powdered gelatin
  • cold water
  • heavy cream
  • vanilla

Put the frozen raspberries in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until all melty and soft.  Mash the berries a little, measure the depth of the mashed raspberries, and cook over medium heat to reduce by about 1/4.

Pour the cooked berry puree into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl of some sort.  Mash all of the solids through, scraping the bottom of the sieve periodically.  When you’re done, you should just have a bunch of wet red seeds left in the sieve.

Season with a little salt and lemon juice.  Sweeten to taste, but leave it on the tart side.  Chill the raspberry puree until Thoroughly Cold.

For each cup of heavy cream you have, sprinkle 1/2-3/4 teaspoons of powdered gelatin over 1 TBSP cold water.  Let gelatin bloom for about five minutes, and then melt over low heat so the gelatin isn’t gritty.

Whip the heavy cream with a wee splash of vanilla and a little sugar (to taste).  Once the cream is at soft peaks, pour in the gelatin and whip really well to incorporate.  When the cream is at medium-ish peaks, pour in the chilled puree, whipping all the time, until you are pleased with the color and the flavor.  I figure I used about 1/3 cup of puree for every cup of cream I used.

Use this as a filling for a pie, for cake or just spoon it into pretty bowls and chill it.  Serve with some whole raspberries and maybe some chocolate shavings.

Meet Two Gallons of cream cheese frosting.  And that's not even all of it.

Meet Two Gallons of cream cheese frosting. And that's not even all of it.

This worked beautifully for melting chocolate.  Yay.

This worked beautifully for melting chocolate. Yay.

Crumb coats on the top two layers.  Notice the fridge still has all of its shelves and drawers.  Not for much longer, though.

Crumb coats on the top two layers. Notice the fridge still has all of its shelves and drawers. Not for much longer, though.

What?  You still have all your drawers and shelves?  Well, we can fix that.

What? You still have all your drawers and shelves? Well, we can fix that. Oh, and between the layers: dowel ends poking out by 1/8", a parchment square and a cardboard square. It makes it so much easier to unstack those suckers, even when they're doweled together.

Take that, Amana refrigerator.  Note the beverage there:  Mike's Harder Cranberry Lemonade.  My preferred girly drink of choice is Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade, but The Beloved felt that I should step up to Something Harder during the Cake Episode.

Take that, Amana refrigerator. Note the beverage there: Mike's Harder Cranberry Lemonade. My preferred girly drink of choice is Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade, but The Beloved felt that I should step up to Something Harder during the Cake Episode.

Oh, and about that title up there:  The Beloved said that if I ever said “yes” to a wedding cake again that he would Beat Me Soundly.*  Not because he enjoys it, but because It Is Necessary.  We shall see.  While I do admit to being a bit Snippy with him while standing in the Sticky Kitchen, I am pretty nimble and should be able to stay out of arm’s reach should a cake opportunity again present itself.

So, that’s it.  I have one more Harder Cranberry Lemonade, and it just now turned 5 o’clock.  So I’ll be out on the porch.

Oh, before I go, I wanted to give you a quick review of how the dueling mixers did.  My KA has nylon gearing (I got it before they wisely went back to metal gearing), so it’s more quiet than the Viking.  The Viking is a first generation, so there may have been some tweaks since I got it.  With that in mind, here we go:

  1. The Kitchen Aid did a better job of thoroughly mixing, even in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. The Viking, with its tilt-up head, is WAY easier to add ingredients to and scrape the bowl, beater and such.
  3. The Viking holds more–7 quarts compared to the KA’s 5 (5.5?) quarts.
  4. The Kitchen Aid is heavier, which I like.
  5. The Viking attachments don’t lock in as well as the KA attachments, so a few times the beater dropped out (usually after I’d scraped it and shoved it around a bit).
  6. The Viking mixes more quickly, even on low speed.  It also goes up to 12 (twelve!!).  And that’s one more than 11.

If I were comparing apples to apples, I could Declare a Winner, but since the gearing is different and the Viking is first generation, I have to declare a sort of tie, but I still think I’d choose the Viking, because I love the sound it makes. When you get to 12 (twelve!!) it sounds like a jet engine.  Yay!

*No need for alarm.  The Beloved is all talk when it comes to beatings.

Shameless Wedding Cake Teaser

22 May
Just look at all that potential energy.

Welcome to Appliancedome. Two mixers enter. One mixer leaves.

Here it is.  The calm before the storm.  And here are the players:

See that container of cocoa powder hiding in the back?  I'll be going through TWO of those guys.

See that container of cocoa powder hiding in the back? I'll be going through TWO of those guys. Oh, the onions and garlic aren't actually playing a part in this production. They're just being supportive. Thanks, guys.

I decided to sub one pound of shortening for one pound of butter, just to keep things from getting out-of-hand melty should Something Traumatic occur.

I decided to sub one pound of shortening for one pound of butter, just to keep things from getting out-of-hand melty should Something Traumatic occur.

So, it begins.

Oh, and one last shot, in honor of my American Idol and my best-friend-I’ve-never-met, Linda.  I had toyed with the notion of purchasing and applying black nail polish in honor of The Glambert, but Linda told me I should just use chocolate.  Here’s the compromise:  a dark brown nail polish called Hot for Chocolate.  Besides, Adam is a Winter, and I’m more of a Spring.

Don't worry.  I'll take it off before the baking starts.  Nail polish in the kitchen is sacreligious.  And kind of gross.

Don't worry. I'll take it off before the baking starts. Nail polish in the kitchen is sacreligious. And kind of gross.

And now, I leave you to bake and bake and bake.  I’ll post all about Wedding Cake Wonders (hopefully) on Tuesday.  Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.  And here, listen to my Adam.  Here is the magic of Glambert:  my 75 year old mother and I will be attending the American Idol concert in August in Charlotte because we both think he’s dreamy.

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