Friday, October 31, 2014

Poker Dessert Table + Dr's House Call

When a Doctor turns 60, loves the game of poker, and has more than 200 family and friends who want to celebrate with him......what do you do?  Order up a decadent, over-the-top dessert table full of royal flush edible playing cards, a sculpted lab coat cake, Towers of French Macarons, sparkling sugar cookies, and platters of fresh fruit surrounded by lush flowers and beautiful linens.

 As I said in my previous post about Life Lessons Learned through Cake.......every cake experience renders a life lesson.  This order was quite an adventure.  Delivered to Prescott, about an hour and a half North of Phoenix, this order included an 8' table, linen, flowers, props and stands, as well as all of the desserts.  A storm was brewing as we left the Valley and headed into the mountains of Prescott.  The storm reached it's full capacity as we entered the center of town with large hail, torrential rain, wind, mud slides, rock slides and cats and dogs.  Oops, sorry, no cats and dogs, just my imagination and overall panic!  I am so glad that my husband decided to accompany me.  We reserved a local hotel room for the night, as I was scheduled to return the next morning to pick up all of my rentals.

When we arrived at the top of the tallest mountain in the area, it was still pouring, and the host was frantically moving furniture, band equipment, and serving equipment into the house.  The storm was unrelenting and predicted to continue throughout the evening.  We moved all of our containers into the house, got soaked, and  waited for room and instructions to set up.  The host was in an amazingly good mood, dealing with all of the changes with laughter and good humor.  By the time guests started to arrive, the storm offered a little reprieve and I shot this photo on our way out.

Back to the lessons.....

Preparation is the key to success!  I had packed all of the desserts for travel.  Securing the cake well with a dowel through the center of the cake and into the board kept it from sliding all over the box as we went VERTICAL!  Honestly, the incline was ridiculous as we got closer to the house.

Edible transfers may seem like an easy-out, but are actually very time consuming.  I made 100 gum paste blank playing cards, let them dry for a week, and then transferred the edible playing card images onto them. they didn't fit perfectly, so I had to trim each one individually (four sides) of each card. Then, I stored them in flat boxes to be applied on site.

On a more personal level, I learned that the Persian Culture is amazing!  The food, the hospitality, and most incredibly, the love that they show for family and new friends (me and my husband) is nothing less than heartwarming.  In a world of mistrust, fear and judgement, it's hard to go to a set up like this at a personal residence, feel comfortable, and not be nervous that what you have orchestrated for the party will not be admired.  Well.....this group of family, friends and vendors was nothing short of AMAZING.  They even invited us to stay for the party, which we politely declined as I was exhausted, my clothes were still wet form the rain, and I was starving.  So, we retired to our hotel and enjoyed a hot dinner, a glass of wine and a warm bed for the evening.

The next morning was sunny and warm, we went early to the house for pickup and they greeted us with open arms...literally and big thank yous!

A great adventure, new friends and a lesson in hospitality even in the face of a terrible storm!

Love this job!  and special thanks to Shervin Photography for the phenomenal photos.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Custom Cakes+ Life Lessons Learned

Can you learn "Life Lessons" from baking?  I have come to believe that every single thing we do, with passion, has an underlying lesson, or message for us.  And, the sooner we learn it, the sooner we can move on to the next lesson,  using what we've learned.
I LOVE decorating and baking cakes and desserts, but making the same cake over and over has never been my idea of ...well fun.  So, I try to design a new cake for every client, and this means that every cake is a new challenge, a new adventure, and a new opportunity to learn a lesson.
Sometimes this lesson is just, well, a CAKE lesson.  A particular technique, method, or something I've been wanting to try.  Sometimes the lesson comes as a new "challenging client", patience through the process, listening to someone's difficult situation, or maybe the story of the loved one that they are honoring with a celebration.
I think this is my favorite, seeing the other person's love and caring for someone and wanting to honor them with a cake or dessert that just "thrills" them, and makes them feel so special.
But sometimes, the lesson is private.  Learning my limitations, mostly physical.  Learning not to be surprised when something turns out great, I am deserving. Learning to be grateful, even when I am beyond exhausted.


Lessons learned....strategy is important, once you cut the supporting structure a certain size, there's no going back.  When you think things are simple, they might take longer than you think, so be prepared.  And, it's  NOT ABOUT ME.    I had become very used to my clients ranting and raving over their cake when I deliver right before the party, but in this case, no ranting, no raving, just a lot of busy people preparing for a very large party, for a very blessed little boy.
In other words, a gift which is given in true love is given with no anticipation of reward, gratitude or recognition.  This was a large, tall, heavy, time consuming cake, and I actually want to make another one, just to see if I can do better.