Thursday, July 28, 2011

Betty f-in Crocker.

Soo..  I'm a fighter.  Ask Teh Bear.  Sometimes he says things about to me about me, and I will adamantly argue the opposite.

Teh Bear:  You do snore.
Teh Megan: No, I do not snore.  You're wrong.
(he likes when I say wrong, because I'm Southern and I say it "cute", so sometimes I use it to my advantage.)

tB: You have a shoe fetish.
tM: Fetish would imply that I like being sexual with shoes.
tB: You have a shoe addiction.
tM: No, I have shoe options, you're wrong.

tB: You're a good cook, and you seem to like it.  You're like Betty Crocker.
tM: No.  You're wrong.  Cooking is the devil, and I'm only good at baked goods.
tB: You're wrong (but he says it the "right" way).
tM: I'm not no Betty Crocker (when he's already used wrong, I use other methods of Southern speaking to get him to bend to my wiles, including awful double negatives, which is only ok because I know that I'm doing it, and I know what its called).

It's come to my attention that I may, in fact, be "Betty fuckin' Crocker".

I earned the title when I was in GTMO.  I was the baker of cakes.  I made birthday cakes, although sometimes birthday cupcakes, and often people would request that I make cake for gatherings (going away parties, etc).  But the most special thing about my GTMO bakery was that I used "imported" funfetti cake.

Regular funfetti cake was not available in GTMO, only the seasonal funfetti was sometimes available (halloween, Cmas, spring, 4th of July).  Which was definitely a GTMO fail.  They can import special foods for the detainees to get 3k calorie meals but they didn't have a fun type of cake?  Fail.  I mean, I could have easily just bought some sprinkles and put it in cake batter, but not the same.  It has to be in the box before hand, to be true funfetti cake.

People in GTMO looked forward to receiving funfetti cake for their birthday.  I did have to settle on regular cake/cupcakes for some people (Miss Reflective, Teh Bear), because the funfetti cake had not yet been imported and Cmas funfetti wasn't out yet.  My Chief used to call it "a rainbow explosion of tastiness in my mouth."  Our department would plan an event, and immediately he would look at me and say, "I expect funfetti."
The star funfetti cupcakes were the most amazing thing evar.  <3 fun shapes. (Miss Reflective 's photo)
In GTMO, I put on 2 bake sales (with LOTS of help).  I think this was when the Betty fuckin' Crocker name was first born.  I made Cmas funfetti cupcakes, peanut butter fudge (that was so good it could have replaced cigarettes after sex, not that I condone smoking), and brownies (which I've been a master at for quite a while.  it really is about not over stirring them, and never using a blender).  I realized that I was actually kinda good at this baked goods thing.

This is what happens when you let Wee Teh Megan in the kitchen.
I've been making cakes since I was Little Teh Megan.  That was the one thing Teh Mom trusted I couldn't mess up.  Its a few ingredients, add them all at once, and get out the hand mixer, voila, cake batter.  Yell for Teh Mom to put it in the oven (because my hands were never going near the inferno that is a pre-heated oven), and not too long later, CAKE!  It was like magic.  I had lots of practice, or at least I can recall making lots of cakes or helping Teh Mom make dessert items.  I also helped with peanut butter balls and coconut balls at Cmas.  And I recall sifting something for so long my hand got tired from squeezing the handle to sift, but recently I started dreaming about her sifter.

Teh HP Wizard's bday was recently.  And the GTMO bday cake tradition has continued.  Funfetti is no longer a requirement though.  And generally, I try some experiment for each one.  For my bday this year, I made angel food cupcakes with strawberries in them, I even purchased Cool Whip (not cheap since its imported (literally)).  They were a win, even though I forgot to bring them to my actual birthday dinner.  FAIL.

Teh HP Wizard requested vanilla cake (apparently white cake isn't the same?) with buttercream icing.  I figured that buttercream icing was going to be my pitfall for that one.  So, I started looking up recipes.  Many had shortening (like Crisco), and I saw lots of comments from people not in the U.S. that indicated that shortening was hard to find in their country.  The NEX here doesn't really carry a large variety of items and I was worried that shortening would be one of the items that they didn't carry.  I mean they only carry one brand of bacon which is $6 a pack.  Its a fair judgement.

Instead, I found one with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and whipping cream.  It was a winner.  SO MUCH WIN.  And I kinda felt like a fatty because of 2 sticks of butter, but, it was easier than scavenging for shortening.  Although, powdered sugar turned out to almost be the trick ingredient, because there was none at the market downstairs (although they did have premade Betty Crocker brand buttercream icing, which I purchased for "just in case this goes badly"), but I did find some at Carrefour when we went to the mall, where I also bought my first electric hand mixer.  Which made Teh Bear say, "Pretty sure I suggested buying a hand mixer when you were in GTMO, but you always had some excuse, like no space or some crap."  Yeah, I don't remember that conversation.  I'm not sure why I didn't get a hand mixer in GTMO, it probably never crossed my mind other than when I was mixing cake batter by hand trying to get all the clumps out.  I also probably feared they wouldn't carry them and I'd be disappointed, which I didn't need any help with in GTMO.

So here's what happened to make amazing  buttercream icing that everyone LOVED.

2 sticks of butter = 1 cup butter.  I had an unsalted stick, so a bought a lightly salted stick, since someone said it could take the edge off the super sweetness of the icing.
3-4 cups of powdered sugar.  I bought a 500 gram bag.  I'm from America and I've used the Imperial system my entire life and I have no idea what the conversions are.  I bought a bag I hoped was big enough, and expected to get some powdered sugar from Mr. Curly Sweatervest and Teh HP Wizard (from when they made gingerbread).
1/2 (ish) tablepoon of vanilla extract.  I already had this, not sure why, but I'm not complaining.
1/2 (ish) tablespood of almond extract.  I read in the various comments on the recipe pages that I looked at, and someone suggested 1/2 vanilla extract, 1/2 almond extract would make it super tasty.  I like amaretto, so I figured, almond, ok.
3-4 tablespoods of whipping cream.  In Bahrain, they don't really have cool whip, so you have to make it via Dream Whip (yum) or with whipping cream, etc.  I've manually whipped cream before.  I was SUPER glad to have the mixer.

This was my combination of several recipes that I read.  I knew I could acquire all these items, which was why I chose these ingredients.  Whipping cream can be substituted for milk, you can use just vanilla extract, you can do 1/2 cup of butter, 1/2 a cup of shortening.  The other reason I was wary of shortening was that people were complaining of the shortening flavor in the icing.  Hrm, not ok.

OMG.  Manually sifting 500 grams of powdered sugar.  
I took the butter out of the fridge and left it out for several hours so it would be soft.  I also sifted all 500 grams of powdered sugar... by hand, with a spoon, a mesh sifter, and patience (which I had less of than powdered sugar).  Luckily, I had right at 4ish cups.  I was very worried, because I went online and converted 500 grams to cups and it said 2.17.  VERY worried, as it was 2am, and less than 24 hours before it was time to eat cake.

Once the sugar was sifted, it was time to put my new blender to work.  And work it did, it started to smell all electric heat-y.  And while it says its 5 speeds, I'm pretty sure its actually one speed that tries to work SUPER hard, but can't because the mix was too thick.
ingredients to make buttercreme icing happen.  
I blended the butter some to soften it even more, then started adding the sugar, slowly.  Once the butter and sugar were mixed, I added the extracts and whipping cream and blended and blended and blended until I was afraid the blender was going to overheat and die.  Since it was brand new, I decided to give it a break.

Quality control.
Beaters are my favorite part of having a mixer.  Yay, samples!  MY ICING WAS SO DELICIOUS AND DELIGHTFUL, I WANTED TO EAT THE ENTIRE BOWL.  No jk.  It was a little grainy.  But I was giving my blender a rest and figured it was tasty, who cared.  I left it out, not ready to clean up the disaster area that was my kitchen.  I came to the comupter, and went to FB and Teh Sister was online.  I messaged her.

Teh Megan:  I'm Betty fuckin' Crocker.
Teh Sister: What did you make now?
tM: Homemade buttercream icing.
tS (who knows I used to talk about having to hire a cook when I got married): Wow.
tM: It's grainy though.
tS (who used to want to go to cooking college): You just need to mix it more for the sugar to melt more.
tM: I'm giving my mixer a break.
tS: ah, ok.
<3 my tye-dye spatula.  It's my favorite kitchen tool.
I did return to the icing and mix it for a little longer.  Till I got bored out of my mind of mixing and smelling that hot electronic smell again.  She was right, it was smoother.  I'd read that it melted easily, so to combat this, you put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it.  To the fridge it went.

This mean that I would be getting up early to icing the cake, and decorate it, but I had to be up to go to base to pick up my dress anyways, so it worked out.

Teh HP Wizard requested a sparkly and delicious birthday cake.  Later, she added a dinosaur theme.  Teh HP Wizard and Mr. Curly Sweatervest were with me at Carrefour, so she found some dinosaur cookie cutters and bought some crazy icing colors.  I had ideas of trying to shape the cake into a dinosaur, but I don't have a cake carrier or anything flat other than a cookie sheet, so it was just easier to decorate dinosaurs into the cake.

When I woke up, I immediately tended to the cake.  I mixed the icing again to soften it and spread it on the cake.  Then put the lid on the cake pan and put it in the fridge.  Then, I went to base to pick up my dress.  I also went into the NEX to find sparkles, black gel icing, and/or trick candles (which Teh HP Wizard had expressed interest in).  To my amazement, the NEX had sparkles.  In ONE color.  Green.  SCORE, the color of dinosaurs!  They had a 1.5 foot section of green sparkles, all the way to the back of the shelf.  wtf?  Who needs that many green sparkles?  No gel icing, no surprise.  And they only had one kind of candles on the baking aisle.  But, I knew I had seen other candles somewhere, so I went to the other "party" section, stationary/wrapping.  There were more candles, but no trick candles, but there were some with glitter.  Sparkle = covered, in case the sprinkles weren't sparkly enough.

I got home and had to figure out how to decorate this cake with expediency (as I still had to get ready, and shower the butter smell out of my pores, in under an hour).  I had dinosaur cookie cutters, green tube icing, and sparkles.  Oh, I had this.  I took the cake out of the fridge and took off the lid.. AND A HUGE SECTION OF ICING FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE CAKE CAME OFF WITH THE LID.

It does kinda look like a dinosaur head, right?
  .........Seriously?  I can't handle shit like that, that late in the game, so I worked around it.  I mean, the missing spot had an almost dinosaur head like quality too it.  I'd wing it.  I placed the cookie cutters around the cake, put the sprinkles in the cutters, then pressed them in the icing to get a line to trace.  I then traced the cookie cutter with the green icing.  I considered tracing the huge hole in the middle with the green icing, but figured people could just use their imagination.  The fact that I did nothing actually worked out better that I could have hoped.

Decoration corner.
The final, final product:

What Trader Vic's delivered.  

A cake with no hole in the middle.  Huh.  What a perfect placement for... CANDLES!
The cake was presented to us with no hole in the middle.  I'm not sure if they scraped the icing off the lid and put it back into place and smoothed the edges or if they used the extra icing I brought to spread in, either way, I was most definitely surprised.  I didn't expect them to go out of their way to fix it.  Maybe they thought it was their fault?  heheehehe.  Either way, the birthday cake met all the criteria: sparkly and delicious (french vanilla w/ buttercream icing specifically) with dinosaurs.


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