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Friday, November 5, 2010

1st post

O.k. I decided to give this blogging thing a try. I have a sneaking suspicion that this venture will end up like my tries at gardening: very excited and hopeful in the beginning, then I'll get lazy and decide the risks of being swarmed by mosquitoes outweigh the benefits of a handful of grape tomatoes.

I'll start things off with a description of the latest cake I did; a pint-shaped cake for my friend Clodagh's birthday. At first I didn't want to do a Guinness shaped cake since I've seen plenty, but when I decided to add modeling chocolate figures of her dogs I got excited about the idea.

For starters I wanted to do a Guinness-flavored cake as the base. I wanted a pound cake recipe for ease of carving; so the search begins. Most of the pound cake recipes I found didn't call for much liquid, so I tried reducing Guinness to use in the cake. I made one "from scratch" recipe, the "Chocolate Bread" recipe from Rose Levy Bernbaum's Cake bible for which I reduced a 14.9 oz Guinness down to 3Tbs; and 2 doctored cake-mix recipes- for one I added sour cream and chocolate pudding to a choc. mix and reduced a 14.9 oz beer to .5cup, and then one where I added batter to a box mix and used a cup of Guinness for the liquid. All 3 produced flavorful, chocolaty cakes, but none had a pronounced stout taste unfortunately.

My original sketch called for a pint shape that was twice the size of a real pint glass, which would end up 12.5" tall, with a 5"diameter base and a 6.25"diameter top. Being worried about stability I decided to try something new and started by sharpening the end of a 1/4" dowel rod and impaling it through the cake drum and base cardboard covered in foil:

Then I frosted the top of my layers with ganache and threaded them on the dowel. After three layers I put in some drinking straws for support, then adding another cardboard and stacking more layers.

When got to the right height it didn't feel very stable, so I sharpened two more dowel sections and hammered them through the cakes and cardboards. The cake still felt wobbly, and looked too skinny, even though the proportions were right.

Since I will be driving over an hour with this cake, I decided to lose a couple layers and, hopefully, up my chances of getting it to the birthday girl in one piece.

I carved a pint shape the best I could, covered the whole thing in ganache and set it in the fridge overnight. I wasn't able to define the shape as well as I wanted since I already had cardboards in between the layers The.  next day I got ready to cover the cake in chocolate fondant by applying a little bit of shortening (I got the inspiration to experiment with using ganache under fondant and the shortening tip from the awesome Sugar Sweet Cakes and Treats blog)
I rolled out a rectangle of chocolate MMF and wrapped it around the cake. I added a strip of white modeling chocolate and covered the top too make the foam.

Then I painted the fondant with a combination of gel colors and 190 proof vodka (which apparently is not legal in all states). I finished by using double-sided duck tape to apply a ribbon to the edge of the cake drum and adding modeling-chocolate figures of my friend's dogs- she is a dog nut like myself.
I changed Guinness to McGuinness (her last name) and the established date to her birth year
Complete with foam shamrock.

Now I just have to see if the cake survives the drive; wish me luck! I'm very happy with this one:)


  1. julie, you are so very talented. i hope one day i can find something like this that i enjoy AND do well. :)
    <3amanda whorley

  2. it looked awesome, and the Lexi-lump was the hit of the night! I wonder if the dogs ate it on the trip home...

  3. love your blog! I'm trying to find cup cake structure inspiration for my friend's wedding. I of course can not bake more than a normal butter cake, although I would love to learn.

    Please keep sharing your amazing creations. Love them!