Tuesday 31 May 2011

we can be heroes

My children have the following superhero powers:
  • The ability to know when you're eating chocolate, even if you're behind a closed door in another part of the house.
  • Total clothing removal in less than 5 seconds, particularly in public places.
  • Constant and persistent "I'm screaming like my arms are being chewed off by lions/I'm perfectly happy now" oscillation.
  • Camel Stomach: the ability to drink 50 litres of liquid without having to go to the toilet once, and requesting more liquids every 3 minutes. And conversely...
  • The Tardis Bladder: the ability to expel incredible amounts of wee, despite just having been to the toilet and insisting that there is no further need to wee (i.e. during toilet training.)
  • The ability to start crying the moment a parent begins to eat/fall asleep, or more impressively, when the adult merely considers these concepts. (This power seems to be present in under 2s only.)
  • Stealthy Depositing and Spreading of Sticky Things
  • Complete Green Removal From Anything Edible AKA The Meticulous Search and Removal of Every Speck of Chopped Basil From Spaghetti Sauce
My children adhere to the following rules:
  • I'm not hungry, unless it's food on someone else's plate.
  • As soon as the adult steps out of the room, start beating the crap out of each other. Deny existence of conflict as soon as the adult returns.
  • When in doubt, blame the baby.
  • Alternatively, blame the dog. Or dinosaurs. (True story.)
  • There is always an excuse not to sleep. For example, "I can still hear [the baby] crying in my mind."
  • Everyone wants to see your bum/willy/belly. 
  • When eating dip, use your finger to scoop it up and lick it off. Repeat until an adult tells you the tub is all yours.

Thursday 26 May 2011

pop goes the cake: part deux

After my trial run this morning, I have come to quite a few conclusions about this cake pop business:
  • It's tricky to make them all the same size, or to even make them spherical. Mine look like meatballs. Meatballs that have been whacked with squash racquets by very uncoordinated people.
  • They keep falling off the stick when you dip them and tap off the excess. I suspect my cake crumble mix has too much icing in it. I've dipped the sticks in chocolate and popped the balls in the freezer before dipping (as suggested here: http://veronicascornucopia.com/2011/05/12/cake-pops-balls-truffles-troubleshooting-faq/), to no avail. Which leads me to...
  • The chocolate coating has cracked. Apparently this is from either overheating the chocolate (which I don't think is the case) or keeping the balls in the freezer for too long.
  • When using candy melts, you've got to get your sprinkles on very quickly after dipping as it hardens fast.
  • If you don't have a styrofoam block and lollipop sticks (e.g. for testing purposes), you can use a colander and bamboo skewers cut to length. The pointy ends of the skewers don't work well though, as the balls slip off the ends more easily.
My rather sad attempt at cake pops.
 Cake pops are a cute idea and if you've got the knack for it, they'd be fun to make for parties. For me, they're far too fiddly and temperamental (especially with small children in the house who constantly need to be fed, watered, and pried away from breakable things). I'd happily make these in a small batch and do a little more practicing to fix all of the issues I mentioned, but I'm planning on doing something for roughly 70 people in just over 2 weeks, and I will lose the will to live if I carry on with the cake pops.

I do have an alternative plan (supplies pending) that may save me a lot of time and headaches that will hopefully still have that itty bitty cakey cuteness factor. In the meantime, I've got two little girls who are very eager to taste test the cake pops, cracks and all.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

pop goes the cake

I've embarked on yet another "That Looks Easy; I Bet I Could Do That" project this week: cake pops. For those not in the know, cake pops are little balls of cake that are put on to lollipop sticks, then dipped and decorated in some sort of creative manner. The plan is to do the pops for the kids attending Isla's naming ceremony, so this week the test kitchen is in full swing as I attempt to fashion something resembling tiny cakey cuteness. On a stick.

Now look, I know cake pops are the latest fad and even Starbucks have started peddling them to the public, but I don't care much about being behind the times. I still make meatloaf. With ketchup on it. I have no culinary shame. To further induce horror amongst the foody elite, most cake pop instructions call for the cake to be made from a mix with prepackaged icing to help bind it together (the argument being that they take so long to decorate, time shouldn't be wasted making a cake and icing from scratch.) I'm no food snob (witness my love of Kraft Dinner and Denny's), but despite having grown up on the stuff, I don't like the taste of cake mixes. For testing purposes though, I am using a mix to save on time and effort. And these things do take a lot of time, even before you get to the decorating.

After baking, the cake supposedly needs to cool overnight before you crumble it with the icing. Why? No clue - I can't imagine that a cake gets progressively cooler beyond a couple of hours out of the oven, but it may have something to do with needing to use slightly staler cake to help hold its shape. After cooling, the cake needs to be blitzed into crumbs then mixed with whatever icing or binding agent you want to use to form a truffle-like substance. This then needs to go in the fridge for another day or so to firm up, and THEN you're reading for dipping n' decorating.

So today, I'm merely at the baking and cooling stage. Mostly this involves explaining to your crying, screaming children why they can't eat the cake that's sitting there, tantalising them from the cooling rack. Tomorrow, I roll.