Cake, Wedding

Square Cakes, a.k.a. My Fickle Adversary In the Kitchen (This Week…)

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In the last week and a half I’ve made 3 square wedding cakes at work, and let me just say, they can be a pain in the butt. Don’t get me wrong, I love decorating cakes regardless of the shape or size, but square cakes have so many more obstacles than your ordinary round cake!

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For instance, corners! Do you know how hard it is to cover a sharp, pointy corner with something as soft as fondant? Those 4 corners are basically 4 chances for your fondant to tear. And even if you aren’t using fondant and just covering it in buttercream, it’s hard enough just to make it look like it has a sharp, clean edge.

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This was another cake I made this week. They wanted it under a canopy hanging from the ceiling! The ceiling!! I know that has nothing to do with the cake being square, but I just wanted to point out how crazy wedding trends are getting these days, haha.

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I had so much trouble covering that bottom tier with fondant that I had to do it 3 (3!!!) times before I got it right, without any tearing. It was just really big and it turns out I have tiny arms and/or tiny hands. Who knew? Anyway, in the end, as long as the finished product looks amazing then I know it’s all worth the strain and stress that it was. So far I haven’t had any real disasters decorating (that were my fault, at least), so I’m grateful for that and for all the opportunities I have to just MAKE these things from start to finish and get some good practice in. These are just two of the many cakes that I have done (and will do in the future), and I don’t think they look too terrible! Practice makes perfect, right?

Also, just in case you haven’t noticed, Knitterbakerpateachouxmaker has a new look! Since the ol’ bloggy is almost 2 years old, I decided it’s time to change things up a bit and give it a more simple, minimal look so that I can place more emphasis on the pictures I upload rather than any background images and so forth. Whaddaya think?

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Cake, Chocolate, Custard, fruit, Home

Happy Birthday (To Me)!

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Another year, another birthday cake made by yours truly. Little Lainey is finally 23! Those of you who know me know that I’m not really big on celebrations (for myself, at least), and that what I really like to do on my birthday is use it as a time for reflecting on some of the things I’ve accomplished and mistakes that I’ve made within the last year and within my lifetime; I think for someone as young as myself, there are actually quite a bit of each!

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Because I have to work today, I spent the last couple of days by having dinner with my family, and spending an awesome relaxing day with the hubby. I also went to the beach for a couple of hours to do some of that reflecting I was talking about.

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This cake was kind of a last minute decision, so no recipes for this post (sorry!). For anyone who’s interested, though, it has layers of an almond olive oil sponge cake, dark chocolate, fleur de sel, and olive oil ganache, and a citrus cream. I wasn’t 100% in love with these recipes (maybe more like 85-90%) which is also why I wanted to wait on posting them till I get it right. The overall taste was good though, regardless (:

Anyway, in regards to the things that I’ve accomplished thus far in this short life, according to my husband I’m doing pretty well for someone my age, so I think I’ll take his word for it (:

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Breakfast, Custard, Petit Four, Recipes

Chai Latte Eclairs

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After going through a rough week and a nasty cold, there was nothing I wanted to do more on my day off than just spend it relaxing by myself, watching movie after movie on Netflix while sipping on a hot latte. Yes, I am aware that dairy is bad for a cold, but it’s soothing, okay?! Plus at this point I’m almost all the way through it, and it was time for a little indulgence.

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There’s a little outdoor cafe by the train station here that I absolutely adore, and they happen to make excellent chai lattes. I got to spend my morning chilling on their patio, surrounded by greenery and perfect SoCal weather, all while grubbing on some yummy Greek food and treating myself to a latte (plus or minus some coughing or sneezing here and there, but I choose to forget those parts!). Despite being sick, I also decided to bake on my day off, so why not make an homage to this drink that I wholeheartedly adore?

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A big ol’ bowl of chai pastry cream. I added hints of cinnamon and vanilla, so while the cream itself is cold, the flavor holds a lot of warmth.

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I topped each eclair with a creamy cinnamon icing, and I love that you can see the little flecks of cinnamon floating around there. I kept the decor to a minimum on these guys, because sometimes patience has no place in this kitchen! I made the pastry cream first, then as I was making the eclairs I had my cream chilling in the fridge so that by the time the eclairs were baked, the cream would be cold enough to pipe. These were little 3-inch eclairs, but feel free to make them as big (or as small!) as you desire.

The pate a choux recipe I used wasn’t my own, but can be found here. The only thing I did differently was I baked my eclairs at 325F instead of 375F, and increased the baking time. Enjoy!

Chai Latte Pastry Cream

fills 32 (3-inch) eclairs

276 g milk

203 g heavy cream

6 g loose-leaf chai tea (or 3 tea bags)

2 cinnamon sticks

100 g whole eggs (2 large eggs)

24 g cornstarch

10 g brown sugar

70 g granulated sugar

55 g butter, cold, cut into small cubes

3 g vanilla extract

Combine your milk, cream, chai leaves, and cinnamon sticks in a medium-sized saucepot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let chai and cinnamon sticks steep in cream for at least 10 minutes. Strain tea and cinnamon sticks from cream mixture, then return cream to saucepot and warm up again, just to a scald. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, cornstarch, brown sugar, and granulated sugar just until there are no more lumps. Temper egg mixture into hot cream, then cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until cream thickens to the consistency of pudding. Strain cream through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. While cream is still hot, stir in your butter and vanilla extract. Chill completely before filling eclairs.

Cinnamon Icing

150 g powdered sugar

60 g heavy cream

scant 1/8th tsp. ground cinnamon

Sift powdered sugar to remove lumps, then whisk together with heavy cream and cinnamon until smooth. Mixture will be really thick. Pipe icing over the tops of eclairs after they are filled.

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