Saturday, November 15, 2008

Epic MacBook Pro Cake Failure

Experiment 081115

After a co-worker saw the cakes I brought in from my Wilton class she wanted to hire me to bake a cake for her husband's 50th birthday. I was feeling pretty proud of myself after the class and decided to break my rule about taking money for my cakes. Big mistake. After sitting down to discuss at work, she asked me to try and make a MacBook Pro cake. "A MacBook Pro cake? Sure! That shouldn't be too hard. I can just bake a normal sheet cake with my Dream-Whip White Cake recipe, then I'll level it and put it on a nice cake-board, frost it with Wilton recipe Buttercream icing, and then use this nifty wax-paper trick I learned in my Wilton class to get really smooth frosting." Pride goeth before a fall.... Or in the case of this experiment it "goeth" before waking up to find a bunch of cracks that appeared in the frosting overnight. Kathy and I tried just about everything short of scrapping the icing off and starting over, which unfortunately we really didn't have time to do. With time getting short Kathy and I went ahead and tried applying the silver dust with both a folded piece of cheese-cloth, and by "painting" the dust on with a small brush. In both cases the silver dust highlighted every crack, bubble, and imperfection. I will note that using a piece of cheese-cloth to "dust" large areas did work very well, and I will use that method again if I can get around or don't have to deal with the cracked icing issue. Once the silver had been applied we added the white chocolate Apple symbol, and started adding the ports, DVD slot, and thumbscoop. I then tried to show a better height match by adding clamshells with royal blue decorating gel dots. Finally I called my co-worker and told her that I would be giving her check back with the cake and warned her that "the cake looks like a ten year old's drawing of a MacBook." Here's what I learned:
  1. "Simple" cakes are harder than cakes where you can hide your mistakes under an extra glob of icing. (Duh. I should know this by now....)
  2. Silver dust highlights every crack, bubble, and imperfection. I just don't think icing is a good choice for a cake like this and need to spend some time to learn how to use fondant.
  3. I'm really not ready to charge for my cakes. Not only are my skills not quite up to the right quality for that, but I'm also apparently completely unable to accurately estimate cost and time. I asked for $30 to create this cake. I used about $15 worth of supplies, I spent about 6 hours of my time, and Kathy also spent about 4 hours helping me. So even if the cake had come out perfectly I would have been charging $1.50/hour for our time....

Additional info: My co-worker Kim met me at my desk first thing Monday morning and insisted that I take her check back. She said she was thrilled with the cake and that it had been the hit of the party. I'm happy she was pleased even if a bit confused....

2 comments:

Sandra said...

The picture looks awesome. Maybe royal icing? I'm not a pastry expert but my hindbrain tells me it is stiffer. My hindbrain could be wrong.

Elizabet said...

I think it looks like an awsome cake! Fondont or white chocolate sheets would give you that smooth finished texture, but I think it came out fine with the frosting. The details are fantastic. :) - Liz