Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Choosing what to make/decorate

How's that for rhyming? Well, I didn't mean to make it rhyme, but it did anyway. Oh well. So I am a really funny story. And this post will be in a way kind of short. And picture-less.


So, as I sit at my computer, trying to decide what I will make today, I have on my mind about a trillion other things. I, unfortunately, feel like I've made all I can with my limited resources and I currently can't go and replenish my resources since I have no income. I attempt to still find something I can make, even though I probably won't be able to make it. One of my favorite Firefox add-ons I like to use is Stumbleupon which is a simple toolbar add-on that has a simple button that says Stumble! The function of this button, when you click it, is that it will take you to a random website according to what your Stumbleupon account says interests you. You may come across blogs, websites, videos, photographs, etc. You can also specify exactly what types of sites you want to stumble at a time. I frequently choose to stumble the food/cooking websites, especially when I am brainstorming for a blog post.

Today, I had an idea of what to make but I don't have one thing, which is yeast. I have actually decided that I will wait to make this item until Friday, when I am home. Also, unfortunately, I am running out of flour (I didn't realize I would use as much flour as I have in the past two weeks). Well, Friday is still long way off. I have today, Wednesday, and Thursday, when I need to make something, or write about something. I have something planned for Thursday, because I will most likely be working on it after my midterm (another reason why I'm not making anything these next two days, more on that later). So that now leaves me to have to come up with something for today, Tuesday, and tomorrow, Wednesday. So today I decided to take you through my deciding process, as well as how to decorate a dessert, considering that is a simple topic to write about and doesn't take much effort to make the post look super nice (you know with pictures, etc.)

Quick info: I have a midterm coming up for one of my summer classes, as well as another one next week for my other class, and well I need to do well in both so I need to go a little easy on the baking right now as I study. But, I didn't want to skip posting days, because that leads me to not post, which would defeat one of the goals I have set for myself. But anyway.

Choosing what to make/write about in a post:

Generally, I have an idea of what I want to make, and will occasionally just "google" what I am thinkin of to find recipes and such. Other times, as I said before, I will "stumbleupon" a recipe. It's a great way to explore the internet and learn about lesser known sites or even just sites that google won't give you. You don't even need to have Firefox to use stumbleupon, if you just go to their website (here), then it will give a simple toolbar to your web browser which is just temporary as long as you have the specific url preceding the actual website url. (Actually I lied about the no pictures part, I should make it easier for you all.) The link will look something like this: http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2p71ER/www.cookingbynumbers.com/frames.html

As long as you keep that stumbleupon.com etc. stuff in front of the actual link, you will have your stumbleupon "toolbar" in any browser other than Firefox.

The site I "stumbleupon" give me ideas or sometimes even the actual recipes that I use. I will obviously edit the recipe to my liking, but I do try to give credit where's its due.

Another great way to find recipes are my cookbooks. If you follow my dailybooth account (here) then you may notice, a whole bunch of pictures of just baking cookbooks, ranging from cupcakes to cakes to just plain desserts. They are kind of my weak spot, and considering that all of last year I had to walk by the book store to get to class and then to go home, I would make occasional stops and look at the cookbook section to see what they had and I would buy one whenever I felt that the book was well designed and had good recipes according to my liking. A good cookbook according to me is one with lots of pictures. And I don't mean pictures of the steps, I mean pictures of the finished products. The reason I have for that is that when I go through the cookbook, I don't want just the name to seem appetizing but I like to judge by the picture how appetizing something looks. Of course, I know that those pictures are staged and made to make everything look like it's perfect, but honestly, it doesn't really matter. I also use the pictures to judge what kind of mood I'm in and what I am feeling on eating. If I see chocolate in the picture, but I don't feel like having chocolate, I know that I shouldn't make that dessert, nor read the recipe at the moment. It makes sense in my head.

That's the basic process I use for choosing what to make/write about. Other posts are about places I went to eat and what dessert I had, but I just choose the dessert that has the most appetizing name.

Now decorating desserts is a whole other story. I haven't personally done any intricate decorations yet because I haven't had the proper tools for it, nor supplies, but I have attempted to do so as well as I know how to prepare it.

Decorating has two forms: first there is decorating to make something look pretty, that's your whipped cream, powdered sugar, etc. Then there's decorating to make a design/drawing, that's your fondant, icing, buttercream, etc. Let's talk about form 1 shall we?

In the first style of decorating, the decorating is used to add appeal to the dessert. A dash of whipped cream is added on the side. Or a puddle of coulis is spooned below the slice of cake. Or chocolate is drizzled over the dessert and plate to make a fun pattern. All of these are simple ways to increase the appeal of your dessert. How to choose how to decorate your dessert: It really all depends on what you are feeling at the moment. You want raspberries? Add some raspberry coulis. You want chocolate? Drizzle chocolate. You get the idea.

The second style of decorating is a little more complicated. When decorating with fondant, always remember to put a crumble coat (a thin layer of frosting that will harden and keep all the crumbles inside because fondant will show all imperfections) of buttercream onto your cake. To choose how to decorate with the fondant, plan before you make the cake. Take a sketchbook and draw, draw, draw. You want sketches of the sides, of the front, the back, the top, the bottom, and so on... Ok, I'm exaggerating. You really want just sketches of where you will be decorating. So most likely that will be the top of the cake in most cases, sometimes the sides if you plan to make the sides different. To choose what to make the cake into, you can take requests from the person for whom you are making the cake, or find pictures online, or both, or make something up. If you use a picture off the internet, make sure you label what each part will be exactly and how you will go about putting it all together. You need to have a plan, because doing stuff on a whim will not always bode so well nor will it work too well.

If you plan on decorating with frosting, that's a little easier, but still needs practice. And that is what I recommend the most. Decorating with frosting doesn't need all that much planning, but you can sketch as well if you want. To frost, you mostly need to have a steady hand, and probably practice the design somewhere on the side first until you get your desired look several times in a row, which would mean you know exactly how you did it when you first got it. If it turns out great once and then you decide that you know how to do it, will result in disaster, because it's not all the time that you will actually know how to do it after doing it once. Everything takes practice, and as the saying goes, practice does make perfect.

I am still in planning my boyfriend's birthday cake. He requested a specific cake last year, but I didn't know how to go about in making it. After a year of experience in baking and self-training, I think I know how to plan for it, and hopefully I will have enough time to make it. So wish me luck, and I will post about it when the time comes in making it.

Keep eating sweetly! :)

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