Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm So Over You, Martha


Last month, for Alex's teacher's birthday, I decided to make the Gingerbread Town-Square Cake from Martha Stewart.

I thought it looked so pretty, and it would definitely be different from anything I've brought in previously.

Oh, what a fool was I.

This cake...this whole recipe? Made me want to bang my head against any hard surface available. Wall, table, stack of cookbooks; didn't matter.

This may have been the most labor-intensive, draw-out affair I've ever made.

There's the gingerbread, which on it's own, was quite easy. But, you were supposed to make templates for the 'houses', and I just didn't have the means at the time. So, Matt did some math, and I approximated and hand-drew my forms.

They came out too big.

Then there's the Walnut-Meringue layers; three squares of meringue baked low & long. Based on the size, I almost had a melt-down. See, three sheet pans with nine-inch squares of meringue. But three sheet pans won't fit in my 50+ year old oven. I had to carefully lift one sheet of parchment and squeeze it onto another pan (just barely).

Then there's the genoise, which fortunately is a piece of...well, you know. Martha's recipe was for a brandy-cointreau syrup, but since I was giving this to a preschool teacher and her class? Skipped the alcohol.
Of course, something had to wrong on this step, since making the cake was so easy. While brushing the syrup onto the cake, I realized my pastry brush was shedding.


Naturally, the brush I used had clear bristles, so I had to squat and look at the cake's surface at an angle, to catch light reflecting off the offending bits. More time wasted.

I've never liked decorating cookies, which is one reason I rarely do sugar cookies for Christmas. My mom is disturbingly talented, and I'm happy to leave it to her.

Oh, look...I get to pipe all those windows, doors and trims!

It got monotonous after a while...

Martha's recipe called for a seven-minute frosting, but by now I'd used more eggs than can possibly be healthy, and I didn't want to deal with a cooked frosting. So, while I worked on other parts of the cake, Matt whipped up my mom's decorating icing. Worked just fine, and no eggs were harmed in the process.

Then there was the Gingerbread buttercream. This used enormous quantities of butter, but smelled fantastic. Loads of it spread over the various layers of cake, and again on top. A bit of decorator's sugar on top to give it that 'snowy' effect.

I hated this cake. It made me want to cry. I should have done a better job of reading through the recipe before I decided to make it, true, but good grief: this was just a heck of a lot of work.

That said, Alex's teacher loved it, and according to various moms, the kids did, too. Not just the cookies, but the cake!

Next year, though, I think I'll go with something a bit simpler.

Uh-huh. Feel free to point me back to this post after I've spent a week assembling next year's spectacle!

This month, Blog Party's skipping to the good stuff: Dessert! Your favorite virtual cocktail party is all about the last course this time around. Cakes, cookies, pudding...as long as it's miniaturized, it counts!
And don't forget the drinks---it wouldn't be a cocktail party without them. Alcoholic or no, it's up to you. But we need something to wash down all that sugar, right?

Any time between now and Thursday, 20 December, send your bite-sized dessert and sweet drinks entries to thehappysorceress at gmail dot com, or leave a link here in the comments.

Don't miss the party...get on the guest list by sending your entries in early. And I hope to see you there!

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8 Thoughts for food:

At 8:34 AM, Blogger April said...

well, it looks and sounds fantastic!

At 9:12 AM, Blogger Bellini Valli said...

This cake sounds like a bit of a challenge to put it mildly. The results are spectacular though and if everyone enjoyed it then that's what it is all about. Will you make this exact cake again??I think I know the answer!

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Cakelaw said...

Hi Stephanie, Despite the pain involved (and I'm with you on that!), it looks terrific. Congrats on a job well done.

At 2:14 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, April!

At 2:16 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Bellini Valli; oh, to say it was a challenge? Ugh.

I think it's mostly because she seemed to construct the thing from the most complicated recipes possible.

An easier frosting, buttercream, etc...and I may not have added those couple new silver hairs to my head!

At 2:17 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Cakelaw!

And doggone it, didn't I go and renew my subscription the other day???

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

She made this on her show this morning. I scowled at her for you...

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

And for that, I thank you!


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