Baking

An Artistic Endeavor

I really didn’t want to do anything this past week. I just felt rough. I had a cold that seemed like it had been coming on for weeks. And I was completely exhausted. Like the kind where you have to work up the will to take a shower. On top of that, we’ve been doing this step challenge at work for our insurance. I have to get an average of 8500 steps a day. This may not seem like a lot, but when your job is mostly sitting still for eight hours, it’s hard to suddenly walk miles a day. So I didn’t bake the cake I had intended to bake on Wednesday. And I didn’t bake it on Thursday. Friday I stayed home from work, and thought, maybe if I was bored enough, I could bake the cake that day. But I didn’t.

FullSizeRender (4)Then Saturday night rolled around and I managed to coerce myself into baking. I’d told myself I was going to do a blog post at least twice a month, and frankly, I needed something to write about. Plus, I wanted to try out a paleo cake recipe. After being diagnosed with Lyme disease, my doctor recommended trying a gluten-free, sugar-free diet. I managed for awhile but baking is one of my favorite hobbies and not being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor was kind of a buzzkill. So I switched to a modified paleo diet: gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and mostly dairy-free, but this meant finding completely new recipes. I’ve tried a couple that were pretty good, but wanted to find some cake recipes that would be comparable to what I typically use. After some searching I found Jenni Hulet’s book, My Paleo Patisserie. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for, but I’ve been burned by cookbooks before, so I decided to check out some of the recipes listed on Jenni’s blog, The Urban Poser, first. I used the Cherry Chocolate Naked Cake recipe for the chocolate cake, and the Egg and Dairy Free Whipped Frosting in vanilla. I substituted butter for the palm shortening in both because I don’t have any issues with butter, so I can’t speak to what the recipe would be like in its original form, but both the cake and the frosting were easy enough to make. The only issue I had was the result of user error. I accidentally put 4 tablespoons of coconut flour in the frosting instead of 4 teaspoons. Kind of big mistake, but I already had a lot of money in the mixing bowl in the form of maple syrup at that point, so I kind of just scooped out a bit of coconut flour where I could and figured I’d give it a shot anyway. I know, really showing my technical prowess. It was a tad grittier with the extra amount I’d added, but it didn’t really seem to affect the overall taste, and I noticed after sitting overnight, it got a lot smoother. I’m no rocket scientist, but I think the particles of coconut flour became more saturated over time, which helped eliminate any grit. 

Both recipes were delicious, but the biggest win for me was the fact that they did exactly what I needed them to do in terms of decorating. The cakes baked up flat, which I loved because I didn’t need to trim off the tops. And I was able to freeze them ahead of time and thaw them right before decorating, just as I usually do. The frosting consistency was perfect for what I needed. I have been eager to try a cake design inspired by the artwork of Sonal Nathwani. I’ve been following her on Instagram for awhile and her work is absolutely gorgeous. Her pieces have such depth to them, I thought it would be interesting to recreate some of her work with frosting and a palette knife.

IMG_4641I started with a crumb coat and then an even layer of frosting, then I used the palette knife to apply some frosting flowers and leaves. I took a silicone brush and brushed down the side of the cake in places to create a washed effect, then added another layer of flowers and leaves. As the final touch, I used some Sweet Sticks Edible Art Paint in black, to paint on some finer line work.

Of course, just as I was finishing up my final touches (and feeling rather pleased with myself), I noticed my boyfriend staring at the bottom of my foot. I leaned over to see what he was looking at and saw a large dark blue splotch of frosting smooshed into the bottom of my sock. My first thought was, “Oh no! My sock!” And then, as I realized how many different areas of the house I’d walked through since starting the cake, I thought, “Oh no! The carpet! And the couch! And the stairs!” I’d like to say I jumped up and started running around the house with carpet cleaner, but in reality, I finished the cake first.

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