Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Back to the Safety Net: Mocha Buttercream

A few weeks ago, I was approached by an old resident about making a cake for her boyfriend's birthday. I accepted the challenge and began planning the full operation in a friend's small kitchen I reserved for the afternoon. Armed with my standmixer and a shopping bag of fresh ingredients I embarked with friends to complete the cake. 

As my business has come along, I've developed my cake philosophy. Namely, that all my cakes be four layers thick, about five inches tall, and composed of high quality ingredients in a timely, fresh, fashion. The process for Heather's wedding cake was so rewarding that I decided I wanted to do it for most of my cakes: the problem with this is my time available. For Heather's cake, I developed flavor composition on a deeper level than I had before - utilizing spices and dominating flavors and coconut - something unusual to me. For Haley's cake this time, I relied on a cake I had done before, with large success.

This cake shines for the buttercream: as it is tasted, the coffee flavor hits right away, and is rounded over with a deep chocolate taste. The buttercream recipe I have is my crown jewel - it accepts flavors of all sorts that can be incorporated at any point in the process for a different outcome. Next is the simple ganache over the top - rich chocolate, slightly bitter, combines with the buttercream for a perfect blend. I have high expectations for the cake element as well, and here the rich chocolate flavor rounds out the flavors of the buttercream and ganache. 
As always, I use Ghirardelli baking chocolate for the ganache. I normally use Baker's chocolate for chocolate cake, but the Ghirardelli was the same price this trip to the super market, so I bought more and swapped it out. As far as I know I don't think the fancier chocolate made much of a difference in the cake. 

Chocolate Cake with Mocha Buttercream, Drizzled with a Ghirardelli Chocolate Ganache. One 6-inch cake and 6 cupcakes made. 

I never know when I'll bake again, but until next time,
Jen :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Update: Etsy, a Kumquat Tree, & Paypal Here

I'm back at school and getting bogged down by my accounting/business classes, plus one philosophy class I still had to take. However I am busy with many other endeavors including my Etsy Crayon Art store, my rearing of a 1-2 year old Meiwa Kumquat tree, and my dealings with Paypal and Paypal's new "Paypal Here".

Etsy is a wonderful website to buy cute, handmade goods straight from the artist. I've been following the site for about a year and have made a few purchases. A few months ago I created my own Etsy store to sell my Crayon Art and, although it has not been a wild success, I have made four sales.

Etsy reintroduced me to Paypal, a service I have been using for about seven years. I've been delving deeper into what Paypal offers and when I saw the new Paypal Here I had to have it.

After I was approved, of course.

Which I was! Within 48 hours, I received an email from Paypal saying I had been approved to use Paypal Here and be shipped a free Paypal Here card reader. It is a little blue plastic triangle card reader that plugs into the headphone jack of my iPhone. I just received it in the mail!! I "tested" it, so I know it works, however I unfortunately only have my own debit card and I can't pay myself. Really, I don't have any use for this at the moment, but having it means that I not only accept check, cash, and paypal transfer for my cakes, I also take plastic.

The last update is my new Meiwa Kumquat tree. I've been wanting a citrus tree for some time now as they can be very fragrant, hearty, and actually produce something useful. (Yes, all plants produce oxygen, but that doesn't satisfy my hungry tummy) I chose a kumquat tree because with kumquats, you eat the peel and the flesh, meaning on my way to class I can grab one off the tree and eat it on the way to class. Because I am rearing the tree, I will know that the fruit is free from pesticides and probably won't wash it like I should.

Someone made a very good point, as I was spreading the news, that I hadn't actually tasted a kumquat before. Nope.

Until next time!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Heather's Blueberry Wedding Cake

The day had finally come to complete my breakthrough cake order: Heather's blueberry wedding cake. Months ago we chose the cake and buttercream flavors and I made Heather a sample cake.

Up until coming home I had been working for the Hannaford Bakery in Wells, ME., which helped considerably with having cake hands. Generally so much time passes between cakes that I lose my cake agility, I forget how much to do with what, and the little things I always relearn along the way. If I did this all the time, I would remember it from the beginning.

We began by picking the blueberries. I meant to get my blueberries from a place in Ashburnham, but apparently they were having an issue and their blueberry patches were closed until Thursday. I couldn't wait to pick them on Thursday so we traveled to the Carlson Orchards in Harvard after reading good reviews online.

The orchards were beautiful! If only we could have stayed longer. We ended up leaving later than planned because of a fish tank issue at home (Nan almost drained the whole tank all over the floor in an attempt to move the filter. Thankfully that situation was taken care of). We left for the orchards and took two gallon buckets lined with plastic into the patches. I had scheduled two hours for picking, an hour of which was eaten into by the fish tank situation. We powered through, getting two gallons in about an hour.

They were delicious!!! Carlson Orchards has "Over 120 acres of freshly grown apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries. Located 45 minutes west of Boston. Open from mid-July to December for a variety of pick-you-own crops & cider mill tours. Retail store open year round from 9 am - 5 pm. Call (800) 286 - 3916 or visit us at www.carlsonorchards.com"

I checked the blueberries off my list and stuck them in the fridge for later. Meanwhile, Sarah and I had lots to get done. We only left ourselves nine days between ending work in Wells, ME and going back to school. Our to-do list kept growing and time was running out.

I had offered for us to watch my baby brother, so we went and picked him up. He was a joy and we dropped him off a day later and went straight to Hannaford to load up on supplies. That morning, however, I had a dentist appointment for a cleaning and he found an old filling that an xray showed decay below. He asked if he could open it up and take a look since he had the time, and I said yes. He discovered an unhealthy nerve below and gave me a referral for an emergency root canal. I made an appointment for Thursday. It was both lovely and terrible timing: one more thing to get done before school and yet if I had waited I wouldn't have gotten it done for a while.

I picked up my medication at the Hannaford's pharmacy while shopping for supplies and we went home to create a game plan.

The wedding was at Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, NH.

Also, Sarah helped me with A LOT of the cake. I hope she had fun and I am so grateful. All photo credit goes to her.

Anyways, here are the pictures. For photo descriptions, visit my Facebook Page Jen Reardon's Cakes.

Thank you so much for reading :)
Until next time,
Jen Reardon

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Plans for Summer and Testing my New Stuff!

I HAVE A JOB! I'm going to be working in the Hannaford Bakery in Maine and staying with my Gram in her summer trailer. The accommodations are cramped but the weather is beautiful, the people are happy, and life will be swell. My only reservations about the job are baking-related; my favorite part of the game is making the cake and buttercream, and grocery stores can't afford to play that game.

So, IF I get the cake decorating shift, I'll have to clock a 7-minute cake. That's bare cake to completion, maybe a little time extra for personalization. It seems I'll have to collect my creative spare change in a jar for my spare time. I'm thinking of using it for honing my painting skills and painting scenes of the town in Maine I'll be in. Seems like a fun summer project.

But, anyways, onto the fun stuff! I got home and found my beautiful second mixer bowl (which is still in the box because I really have no used for it right now... oops) and the 11 WIRE WHIP! (Yep, that's the name, it seems to me it should be called the "wire whisk") Here is the 'whip' compared to my old one:

I was going to whip up some cupcakes so I could test out the new whisk but decided not to, instead we picked up heavy cream and made some whipped cream. It didn't take any time at all.

Oh! I made a sale on etsy, here is the finished product:

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm Making a WEDDING CAKE!!!

It was luck that I found this opportunity and she found me. This week I worked on developing a cake and buttercream recipe with her unique flavors. I made a small 6-inch tester cake and met with the couple. The wedding is in August, a long ways from now, but I am still excited.

I am also taking this as an opportunity to buy two things I've been desiring for a long time: a second bowl for my KitchenAid and the 11 Wire Whip.
"This stainless steel whip's 11-wire design ensures that you'll get maximum volume in less time, for lighter, fluffier whipped cream, egg whites and cake batters." (Whip description)
 The second bowl will come in handy with nearly all my cake batter recipes. They work on a two part system where the egg yolks are combined with the butter/sugar mixture and the egg whites are whipped separately. Before having the second bowl, I would have to scoop out the batter into another bowl and clean the bowl thoroughly to whip the egg whites. Then I would fold the egg whites into the batter that was set aside. Now I can leave the batter in the bowl and mix the whites in another bowl, which saves time and lets me mix up the batter once more before I incorporate the egg whites.

I would have really loved to invest in a second 6qt KitchenAid, but that's really not necessary.

I dream of the floor bolted Hobart mixers...

Await fun cake to come! 

Baby Shower Cake and Cupcakes

This happened a while ago and it's taken me a few months to remember to put it up! The cake was half chocolate and half vanilla with vanilla meringue buttercream. The cupcakes were the same, and they were decorated in green, lavender, and purple with baby booties.  This cake was delivered March 11, 2012.