Friday, October 31, 2008

how to make a wedding cake

Step 1: Have your best friend get married to another close friend for the perfect weekend wedding. Have said best friend bake the cake a few days earlier and put it in the freezer (which makes it easier to cut and frost).

Step 2: Arrive on the scene a day early, which is apparently enough time to make a wedding cake. For a 10-inch and 6-inch two tier cake, make two large batches of frosting. You want to have extra frosting, which makes it easier to frost and make the frosting smooth.

Step 3: After you are sufficiently covered in powdered sugar, pull out the two 10-inch layers. Cut the tops off so they are completely flat. Frost the top of one layer, add a little bit of raspberry filling (aka raspberry jam) and then put the second layer on top. Push down so the layers stick together. Now cover this in a TON of frosting; adding a lot of frosting helps you avoid crumbs (which happen when the frosting is too thin and you pull at the cake) and makes it easier to smooth because you can just take off extra frosting. To get really smooth frosting, wipe frosting tool completely clean after each stroke. A damp frosting tool will help the frosting become completely smooth.

Step 4: Repeat with 6-inch cake. You will want to cut a small circle of cardboard (covered in tin foil) to put the smaller cake on while you frost and decorate.

Step 5: Get a friend. Preferably someone who is quick on their feet. Roll out fondant big enough for larger layer and as quickly as possible pick up the fondant (this is where the friend comes in handy). With four hands you can easily pick it up without make any holes in it, center over the cake, and then proceed to work with the fondant to make it perfect. This also involves working incredible fast (fondant gets hard after 10 or more minutes) to make the fondant fit the cake and be completely smooth. You can rub the fondant with the palm of your hand to make it shine. Repeat with remaining fondant to cover smaller cake.

Step 6: Once the fondant is fitting cake and smooth, carefully cut the excess fondant off (whatever is longer than the stand) and let the cakes sit, undisturbed until the wedding. I suggest doing this the night before, because the fondant will harden a little, which makes it easier to transport. If the fondant is really soft, then any kind of tiny touch will leave a mark. If the fondant is a little harder, then you won't end up with little marks in the cake.

Step 7: Transport to the reception location. Cut straws (the normal drinking kind, I got mine at the nearest McDonald's) the exact height of the bottom layer. Stick into the cake below where the smaller layer will be to hold up the cake. If you don't use a support, then the cake will smoosh the bottom layer (I'm not kidding about this). Putting in just 8 straws will easily support a quite heavy 6-inch cake, plus no one can see them! Carefully (again with the help of a friend), place the smaller layer on top of the bottom layer, making sure that it is centered. Decorate with ribbon and flowers, for a perfect cake.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

license to cut

I'm a self taught stylist. I remember giving highlighting a try when I was sixteen on my friend Katie. It wasn't bad, but it sure wasn't even. So the second try I decided to give foiling a try since it seems basic enough: you take small strips, weave, put down some foil, apply bleach, and then fold the foil around the hair. And ta-da, we had just discovered how to give ourselves amazing highlights for about $4.

Once I got to college I realized that I needed to train someone to highlight my hair, so I found a friend (usually a roommate) who also wanted highlights, and I we would exchange services. I would usually do a quick demo to show her the basics and then let her highlight my hair. Over the years I have probably taught at least 8 people how to highlight hair. You would be amazed at how easy it is to learn. I mean, there are some tricks (like doing very crisp folds and working with another person to cut the time in half), but so far I really haven't had any mishaps. Even the "kinky streak" turned out to be one of my favorite hair memories.

I gave my first haircut my junior year in college when my roommate Kim and I were bored one night and both complained we needed a hair cut. And ta-da, we both learned how to cut hair. And I might add, we did an incredible job (Kim in fact remarked that it was the best haircut she had in awhile). After that we started giving friends haircuts. I still cut hair (my husband is my newest client).

When I was cutting my friend Jill's hair a few nights ago (again, we were swapping haircuts), she remarked how frightened stylists are when they hear that she often cuts and highlights hair without any formal training. And Jill is by far the best highlightess I have ever found. Her highlights were so even and subtle that I went six months before I even needed more.

The hilarious part about my self-taught stylist ability is that people stop me all the time on the street/metro/mall to ask who does my hair. And usually I saw, um a friend. They then ask for that person's contact information so they can get their hair done by them, and I have to break the news to them that they are not a trained stylist and usually taught by me. In fact yesterday while going home on the metro a girl behind me tapped my shoulder and asked me where I got my hair done. She is a stylist and wanted to know who did my hair so she could go learn from them. She almost died when I told her that my husband cuts my hair and I taught him how to.

The moral of the story: I believe anyone can learn how to cut hair. As my sister Diedra often says "if you can decorate a cake, you can cut hair." Apparently you just need a little creative urge.