Friday, September 13, 2013


After making three cakes last night to get one good one, my efforts paid off tonight when I assembled and frosted the chocolate peanut butter cake with chocolate peanut butter ganache. I feel redeemed from the failures of last night! My darling friend, Lisa, said that my mother was smiling! I like that thought. And I think she is right. This is my finished cake...

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In addition, I had the brilliant idea to make a tiny one out of the scraps from one of the failures that I kept. Is about 6" in diameter and so tall that it almost fell over! I cut the rounds out of a large round biscuit cutter which made the sides very in lots of crumbs!! It was a bit difficult to frost in a pretty fashion.

This one is for you, Andrew! Andrew is a darling friend and long time Black-eyed Susan supporter and patron. So much so, I'm sure that if I ran short of inventory at any time, I could call on him to personally replace my inventory with some of the hundreds of dollars worth he has purchased from my store! Andrew is also a loyal blog follower and last year when he read that I had made a cake for the staff luncheon, he showed up for a piece! I loved that he was so in touch with what was going on and was interested in my efforts of baking. So, this one is just for you! It also made me so happy to make something from the multiple failures of the night before! Win, win.

I'm going to bed a lot happier tonight. And I'm pretty sure my sweet mother is smiling.

Hope to see you tomorrow.

Master cake baker...or not.

I consider myself a master cake baker. My darling departed mother taught me from the age of 14 the art of fine baking, her coveted cake recipes being among the repertoire . Sift three times, perfect and precise measuring. Fine ingredients. Room temperature eggs. Don't over mix. Don't over fill the pans. Be aware of the first point of fragrance...then start testing for done ness. I've learned well...mother would be proud.

Until tonight.

The frustration started when the first cake was in the oven and I realized that the oven was not up to temp. The temperature indicator said it was at 350* but the inside thermometer said not! It was not until I checked the cake for the first time at 25 minutes that I realized it was not rising and basically batter. The inside oven temp was at about 200...oh. Dear.

At this point I realized it would mean a trip to the grocery store to restock my ingredient list of sour cream, eggs and chocolate. I tried to overcompensate by turning the temp up to 400...then 450...I finally gave up, headed to the grocery store and resolved myself to another round of measuring, pan prepping and ingredients in hope of the fine result I was used to.

I should have prefaced this by explaining that this bake-off is in reparation for the staff luncheon in conjunction with my annual Paris Flea Market Sale this Saturday. What can I say? I like cake. Tradition for the staff lunch.

Back from the store, I tested I the oven again and came up with a formula I thought would work...setting the temp at slightly over 400 seemed to render me with a fairly appropriate moderate oven. I started the process again after washing and prepping my finest pans, cleaning my trusty Bosch mixer and re measuring to a T. I prefer 9" pans. The recipe called for 8" pans...the last failure was produced with the 9" pans, so I decided I should follow,the suggestion and go with the 8" pans ( three layers).

Into the oven with confidence this time. Bustling away re cleaning the kitchen, I checked the cake 20 minutes later...Oh. My! My cakes were totally sunken in the middle...unusable. What had happened to my 50 years of cake baking success?! I took these out of the oven and had what my mother would call " cake guts". The 8" pans were too small, the batter overflowed and caused them to fall. The faulty oven thermometer was an issue as well.

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I will tell you it tasted pretty fine.

Another try.
Fred thought I was crazy, but I fumed that I was not going to let this get the best of me. The process started again. Cleaning, prepping, measuring, gentle mixing.

A dozen eggs, many ponds of chocolate and cups of sugar later, I had my third cake in the disreputable oven. I had done a cursory google search on sinking cakes and was pretty convinced that a faulty thermostat was to blame. With that knowledge in hand, I made yet additional adjustments to the temperature and tried another angle...lower temp, additional time. I went back to the 9" pans.

12:04 . I'm waiting for the final and last cake to test done. Holy. Smokes.

Three cakes later, it looks like I have a passable cake. Not a prize winner.

...and, a plate of cake guts for the staff and delivery men tomorrow. The real thing, on Saturday. Passable, not gourmet.

It's going to have to be a service call or a new oven before I bake another cake Mom.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday Night's Fall!!

With the help of Sneelock, Matthew, Ann and myself, we made a few great and refreshing changes tonight!

There is a real thrill when the first fall accents come out and we officially start the fast track to forth quarter busy busy days. I couldn't help humming a bit as I arranged the bittersweet and stunning fall leaves and put the summer seashells away. Everyone had dispersed And headed for our cars when I realized that I had not taken one photo to spread the excitement. Ann and I went back in to snap a few really need to stop in and take in the fabulous look of fall. You won't be disappointed. (There's lots of great sale prices on floor samples as well).

Dramatically tall bittersweet vines grace this rustic table.

Fall hydrangeas, aspen leaves and a few log cuts! I added these perfectly colored book volumes and some stunning pottery to complete the look. This great new table also hit the sales floor tonight.

If you need a fall door basket, I have a nice selection of intense hydrangeas and beautiful fillers and berries to put one together for you. They won't last long, so hurry in.

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Spectacular! What can I say?

These beauties made their way out of the stock room as well. Wow. Chartreuse never looked so good...such a great accent color.

When the staff turns the key tomorrow they will feel like summer was way too short. Fall. It's here and there's. a smile on my face. See you soon.