CLB Punch : Drink this.

First post from my new(ish at this point) house! Also first post while in law school! I hope not to completely abandon blogging ... I have a great pavlova recipe that I need to get out while peaches are still in season. But this post is about drinking, not eating! Onward!

So, based on a variety of gin concotions I have enjoyed at bars all over Portland, I came up with a refreshing summer punch that seems to be a hit with everyone who tries it, regardless of their gin proclivities. It seems to have appeal regardless of age or gender. I can say this having served it to men and women aged twentysomething to sixtysomething, including visiting parentals, all of whom make the comment, whoa, this is really good!  A gorgeous greenish iced punch, it is named for three of the main ingredients, cucumbers, lime and basil.

This punch sneaks up on you. Prepare yourself with snacks. 

You can make this glass by the glass or in quantity. I have never made more than 4 glasses worth at a time, because that would be a muddling nightmare. But don't let my fears stop you!

Get yourself these items:

Enough limes to squeeze 1/4 cup juice into each glass. If you don't have a juicer yet, stop by your local grocery store and buy one for $5 or less, your hands will thank you.

A fresh bunch of basil, from the farmer's market, your garden, or the store. Pro-tip: store basil in a glass of water, do not refrigerate. It shrivels quickly.

Cucumbers. One large cucumber will make two batches of 4 glasses each. Summer is the time of year for giant cucumbers, so  if you're just making this for one or two, one will probably be fine.

Gin. You need a gin that has an affinity to cucumbers. That gin is not Gordon's or Beefeater. That gin is Aviation (Portland local) or Hendrick's. Really, your tastebuds will thank you. There is a lot of thanking yourself going on in this post today, no?

You also need sugar, soda water, ice, pint glasses, and the very important muddler, which you can get at any kitchen store I'm sure.

In the pictures here, I'm making enough for four pint glasses, which, if math troubles you, equals 1 c of lime juice, 12 1/2 inch quartered cucumber rounds, 24-40 basil leaves, and about 12 Tablespoons (that's about 3/4 cup) of sugar. The directions, trickily enough, are for one glass at a time. I hope you can make these directions work for your needs:

Begin by juicing your limes and cutting your cucumbers into half inch rounds that you then quarter. Two or three quartered rounds are appropriate for each glass.Drop them in the glass (or bowl, if you're making in quantity)

Next, tear off some basil leaves, and drop about 6-10 leaves, depending on size, in each pint glass. Pour some sugar on top of this. Use regular granulated sugar, because it's more abrasive on the basil and cucumber. If you need a measure, I'd say start with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar. 
You can always add more later if it's too tangy. So anyway, muddle your little heart out, crushing the basil, cucumbers, and sugar together.

Once you've sufficiently pulverized these together, pour over your 1/4 cup of lime juice (or cup if in quantity).

Stir. Taste to see if it's too tart. Add in about an ounce and a half of gin, more or less to taste. Stir.

Fill your glass with ice to the top, then top off with soda water, I call this fuzzy water. Add a straw, give it a swirl, and drink up. Your sweaty summer self will thank you. Drink soon, fall approaches.

PS: Got a better name for this drink? Help me name it! There's a treat in there for you if I choose your suggestion, I just haven't decided what yet :)  --T


Strawberry Cupcakes with the *BEST* Rhubarb Buttercream

What is it about sitting at a desk that encourages one to work, to write? I don't know, but I am sitting here at my desk at home, knowing that it is the only way I will get this recipe out to you, and if I did not get this recipe out to you before strawberry and rhubarb season ended, it would be a travesty. 

So, as it happens, it's rather difficult to find a recipe for rhubarb buttercream. In fact, I could not, and had to create my own, but what's great about that is now it exists! And you, dear readers, can create it too. I was at the farmer's market in downtown PDX a few weeks ago, and had a shortbread cookie from Two Tarts Bakery (one of the few in this town that I think consistently turns out great cookies) and it was filled with a rhubarb buttercream - though that was closer in consistency to an Oreo cookie's filling. This deliciousness, tart and sweet, was the inspiration for the buttercream. I purchased the first strawberries of the Oregon season, some local rhubarb, and thought, Strawberry Rhubarb cupcakes it must be!

A long time friend and fellow baker, Nicole, gave me Martha Stewart's Cupcakes for a birthday a couple years ago. In there is a fabulous recipe for strawberry cupcakes, but it makes a ton. Well, if a ton was 30+ cupcakes. I did not need this kind of cupcake craziness, so I made a half batch, which ended up being 16 cupcakes. I will share my proportions below so you don't have to do the math yourself. I did nothing different than the recipe, and they were delicious. However, the icing, as mentioned above, was an entirely different story. So let's start with cake, then move forward, shall we?

You need: either three 6 cup or 1 12 cup and 1 6 cup (what I use) muffin tins. I don't like doing cupcakes in batches if I can avoid it, but if you only have one 6 cupper, as I assume is the case for many people, you can do this in batches, just keep your batter covered in between (damp dish towels are great for retaining moisture in a case like this), and in a cooler, sun-free (not the fridge) place. You need muffin cups too. I just stocked up on some from Cost Plus, very cute, with stripes and bright colors, which blow those pastel numbers from the grocery store out of the proverbial muffin liner water.

Recipe for 16 or so cupcakes

Preheat that oven to 350F.

Chop up your strawberries. 1 cup finely chopped. I used the food processor, because it makes a 15 minute job a 10 second job. Love that.

Sift your flours before measuring. Then sift them with your dries into a bowl:

1 and 1/4 cup (c from here on out) all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons (T from here on out)
1/4 c cake flour
1/2 T baking powder. You may protest that there is no such measure. I just wing this. A pinch difference in baking powder will be okay! Just fill your tablespoon measure halfway! Have faith in your eyeballing!
1/2 t salt (see that little t? that's for teaspoon) - I ground kosher salt very fine and used that. table salt works too, but you want a fine grain for cake. Pro tip, people. Learned it from a chef instructor, sharing it with you.

Set this aside and get out another bowl. These things I decide to bake always seem to use a ridiculous number of bowls and utensils. I am moving in two weeks to a house with a dishwasher, and I am pretty excited. It may lead to excessive baking. Instead of being the new neighbor who people bring pies to, I will be the new neighbor who brings everyone pies. And then, they will love me. But I digress. This is what happens when I try to write a recipe while hopped up on bubble tea. 

Cream together 1 stick room temperature unsalted (important, my friends) butter, 1c + 2T sugar (fine granulated works great in cakes) and 3/4t vanilla extract. I used the rum one from my homemade collection. Get this light and fluffy. The lighter and fluffier the better. You're aerating it, which makes for light cake! 

Okay, here's where dividing the measure gets a tad more complicated. You may want to have this at the ready before you cream together the above.  


Eggs. Room temperature eggs. Really, always do this. Run them under lukewarm water for a while if you have too. The people who eat your cakes will thank you. Dividing the recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 eggs, and 1/2 an egg white. How do you do this? Well, I will tell you. A large egg has about 4 T of stuff in it (stuff being yolk and white, of course). So, you crack one egg open, give it a twirl with a fork, then measure out two tablespoons of stuff. Voila, half an egg! So, math friends, that means 1 T egg white. Woo hoo. Enjoy that. So, after you've made that happen, add the one whole egg first, combine, then add the 1/2 egg + 1/2 egg white, and combine. Make sure everything on the sides of the bowl is incorporated into the mix. 

Next! Another slightly complicated maneuver, adding flour mix and milk, alternating.  Measure 1/2 c milk, room temperature (I just microwave it for 10 seconds to make this happen). You have that bowl of flour, so, while mixing, add in half the flour on low speed, then half the milk, then the rest of the flour, and the rest of the milk, until everything is combined. If it doesn't look like cake batter, keep combining, but on low speed please.

Finally, fold in that cup of strawberries. I have no picture of this. I do not know why. Do this by hand please, with your spatula.

Fill muffin cups slightly more than halfway and bake! I always shoot for the low side of the recommended time first, to ensure I don't over bake. Try 25 minutes. I think I took mine out at 27, and they looked still the slightest bit damp in the very centers, but they were fine. Use a toothpick to test one if you lack confidence in the doneness arena.

Okay, so the cupcakes are made! Woo hoo! But alas, you've only just begun! For the real bear here is that amazing rhubarb buttercream. It isn't easy, but it is SO worth the work. So next up:

 First, you need to roast your rhubarb. Cut it one pound of it into one or so inch chunks, spread it on a pammed baking sheet (I have a piece of silpat, but I senselessly did not use it here. If you do, you should), and lightly sprinkle with sugar (about 1/3 c). This will impact the overall tartness of your buttercream, so keep that in mind as you are sugaring it. Roast at 350 for 25 minutes until it's soft. 

When it comes out of the oven, let it cool just a bit, then puree it in your blender.

This is where it gets fun, and by fun, I mean tedious. You have to sieve the puree to make it smooth. You may need a friend's help, I certainly did. Pour the puree into a small holed metal colander (the ones that look like a screen door in a bowl shape), and press it through into a bowl. I used a rubber spatula to help this process along. 

It wants to stay adhered to the outside of the metal, so your friend can use a second spatula to coax it into the bowl. After all this ridicuous work, you'll have about a 1/2 c. rhubarb puree (f you're making a whole batch of cupcakes, instead of a half batch, I'd double this). Good times, good times. Set that aside for the moment. You will be tired. You may want to rest, because this icing isn't exactly a cakewalk either.

You might be wondering how I got this idea for adding rhubarb puree into icing. Well, I was reading the awesome Cake Bible for my icing recipe, and it provides advice on how to make strawberry icing. I figured that if I just made a puree and used that in place of the strawberry measure, it would do the same thing. I was right. 

Okay so the icing. This is an adaptation of the Cake Bible's classic buttercream on p 228. It is without a doubt the best icing I've ever made. I'm not kidding. I will be making it again. And again. And again. So, you're going to need a candy thermometer to be able to make this icing, because it involves boiling sugar water to a specific point. You will also definitely need either a friend holding your mixer, or a KitchenAid Mixer. The latter will make this icing truly magnificent, so you know, get started on your Christmas list. Again, I reduced this to make half the recipe. The whole recipe will ice an entire cake. Pam or butter a heatproof pyrex cup measure, keep it near the stove. 

 Beat three egg yolks in the mixer until they are light. Only the yolks. Surely we've discussed separating eggs before, but if not, just to let you know, I do this with my hands. Just open the cracked egg into your hand and let the egg white slip through your fingers, and be really careful when you pull that little white thing that's on some eggs off, because your yolks may suddenly spill out too. 

In a very small saucepan, combine 1/2 c sugar and 1/4 c water, mix until it dissolves, then bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Stop stirring when it boils, and put the candy thermometer in there until it reads 238F. This is kind of challenging, because you want the temperature of the syrup, not the pan. I have to tilt it to do this. Be careful though, sugar burns are the worst. When that thermometer reads 238, pour the syrup in that waiting measure. Pour a little syrup over the yolks, turn on the mixer, and beat for a few seconds (this is kind of a quick temper). Stop the mixer, add a little more syrup, repeat. Do this a few times until you've poured out all the syrup, using a spatula to get the rest out on the last addition. Be forewarned: I didn't grease my measuring cup, and my syrup starting sticking as it was becoming candy during this process. Then keep beating the sugar egg mixture until it is cool. This is why you're glad you have the KitchenAid. 

Beat in 2 sticks (!!) unsalted room temp butter, add in chunks. Then finally, add in your puree. The reduction would suggest I only add in 1/4 c, but I had just under 1/2 c, and I was loving the color and flavor it was imparting, so I added it all. I tasted it, and it was magnificently tangy! Maybe too tangy. Puckering over icing, not so much. So, I added in a little powdered sugar, and finally added about 1 cup. Now this, this, was magnificent icing. 

I think next time I make this (tomorrow, as I am making icing to teach a special small friend how to decorate cakes on Thursday) I will add in some vanilla, and also play some more with the powdered sugar and see what I can make happen. So really, that's it! These were truly awesome cupcakes. Definitely try this early summer treat, you'll thank yourself for all that effort, and maybe your true love will do the last batch of dishes, as mine did. --T



I made vanilla

And you can too. There is no shortage of posts on the interwebs about making vanilla, probably because it's so easy to do. But in case you've been under a rock and this is the first you've seen of homemade vanilla, I hope it inspires you to make your own. If nothing else, you'll have a pretty picture at the end of it all.

Back in January I read some blogger's post about vanilla and thought, if her, why not me? My lovely friend Nicole had gifted me vanilla beans for my birthday the previous June, and I knew I needed to use these beans up in some way, though as I've recently read, they apparently have a very long shelf life, so long as they are kept in a dark cool place and they aren't left in conditions susceptible to mold production. The fridge, so I read, is one of those places. Mine were in fine condition if a little dried out, so I rehydrated them by microwaving in a damp cloth for about fifteen seconds. I just made this up, and later read that I could just put them in warm water to rehydrate. I would choose that process if doing this again, because it was difficult to split mine open. I had many different kinds of beans, so decided to make three different vanillas, using three different boozes. You can see above what I ended up with. I poured a cup of each booze (buy the swill!) into a mason jar and tucked in two of each bean into the jar, after slicing them open down one side of the bean, so the insides would permeate the alcohol, and vice versa. 

The directions I read said to put in a dark cool place, shake every two weeks, and in two months I'd have vanilla. But in two months I had strong alcohol scented with vanilla. I put the lids back on, and tried again at three months. Still pretty alcohol-y. Finally, about five months in I tried again, and I think it was finally ready. I have used the rum vanilla in french toast batter, and the bourbon vanilla in cookie batter, right out of the mason jar. Yum I say, yum. It's pretty good stuff, and cheap as all get out to make, when you consider what you pay for an ounce or two at the store. I made 24ish ounces, enough for myself and gifts for friends, for about $20, considering mason jars and booze. My beans, of course, were free. My friend got them online I think, and I bet you could too. If you like those bottles you see above, I ordered them from Specialty Bottle and they were lovely to do business with - they missed one dropper in the order and promptly mailed me another one, it arrived within two days. Getting the vanilla in the bottles was a bit of a chore, involving a tiny strainer and a turkey baster, with some spillage. I might suggest trying to find a large dropper for this, or alternately a tiny funnel.

Make your own vanilla, save yourself some money in the long run, and make more interesting types than what you can buy. Plan ahead. Hopefully you'll come across this post in the next month and you'll have gifts ready at Christmas!  

I know this isn't a baking post, but it is baking related, right? Posts to follow, soon! I promise!


Coming this month!

So hello, I'm still here. I'm baking up a storm, and recording lots of it. I'm just not quite blogging it. But I plan to sit down soon and write some of these posts ... so, if you haven't removed me from your feed just yet, prepare yourself for such deliciousness as angel food cake (so much better from scratch than out of a box), my mom's strawberry bread, strawberry cupcakes with rhubarb buttercream (holy goodness, this stuff is amazing - I had to make up the recipe, and you'll be glad I did), tiramisu, and I think that may be it. I promise to get all of these blogged this month! Keep reading, you'll be glad you did! -T


$10? For a piece of Cake? Well, maybe...

My friend Charles tells me this cake should be worth $10 per cupcake - I don't know how that translates to slices. Anyway, that's what he says, but I don't know. I do know, it's some unbelievably delicious cake. Last year for St. Patrick's Day, I made Smitten Kitchen's car bomb cupcakes. Though the cupcakes are based on a drink created in the US, there was a significant discussion in her comments regarding the name's cultural insensitivity. Deb changed the name to Chocolate whiskey & beer cupcakes, which I think was nice of her. I won't use the insensitive term, but find the rename to be a little uneventful. Since this version is adapted to make cake and uses a different ganache recipe, I'll call this Guinness, Jameson, & Bailey's Cake. To Ireland, and all the deliciousness produced there thus enabling this recipe to exist - I salute you. And this cake. I definitely salute this cake. Amazing. Happy belated St. Patrick's Day, the day for a cake like this.

Guinness, Jameson, & Bailey's Cake. Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen

You should know, this cake is not for the faint of heart, either in taste, or in preparation. This cake is a two day ordeal to put together, or a long, long one day ordeal. It takes a lot of time, so be ready to spend some time in the kitchen. When I was finishing the cake on St. Patrick's Day after work, I was in a crabby mood, and I was having some challenges with flying bits of chocolate & sugar. I had to regroup and remember that you can only bake with love, or your baked goods will turn out terrible. So I took deep breaths, and baked with love, and it turned out awesome. Remember this, it really does matter.

I made this with two 8" rounds, and had enough for a baby cake too, so I'd say this recipe is perfect for two 9" rounds. Above, the fun of adapting.

Preheat that oven to 350 degrees. Pam or butter your 9" rounds, then lay a piece of parchment paper in the bottom. Why, you might ask? To prevent the cake from sticking for one, and to prevent it from burning or getting crispy on the bottom. I think parchment makes for beautiful cake bottoms myself. To make these, trace the bottom of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out, and place in the bottom of the pan. Pam or butter the bottom & sides before you do this. I like Pam, it's quick and easy, and it works.

Next make your cake. Here's your recipe: 

1 and 1/3 cup Guinness. Allow the beer to defoam and fill to the top of the measuring cup. If you have a 12 oz bottle of Guinness, as I did, you end up with about 2 oz left in the bottle, maybe slightly less.

Hey, did you know that all cake ingredients should, as a rule, be at room temp? I suggest it for this cake too. To bring your very cold eggs down to room temp, run them under warm water for a bit. Works like a charm. Your sour cream can come out when you start combining ingredients to let it get a little warmer.

1 and 1/3 cup butter (for that third stick, that's 5 and 1/3 Tbsp, but 1/3 cup is listed on the wrapper)

1 cup cocoa. I use Hershey's. You use whatever you want, and if you want to, buy some Omanhene, which I truly believe is the best cocoa ever in the history of the world. No, really.

2 and 1/3 cups all purpose flour

2 and 1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt 

3 large eggs (size matters people. large.)

1 scant cup sour cream. Just use the entire 8 oz sour cream you get at the store. I use Daisy. I'm sure you could use reduced fat, but I'd suggest you don't, as the cake will have more richness with the full fat sour cream.

Cake prep: In a small pot on the stove, add the butter and Guinness and bring it to a simmer. Add in the cocoa powder, whisk in, and let cool a bit. You should know that this mixture looks a little funky, even after completely mixed. Never fear, it will come completely together later when you combine everything.

While that's cooling, combine your dry ingredients and whisk together - flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar (sometimes a wet, in this case, a dry) in a small bowl. 

In a large bowl, use an electric beater to bring the sour cream and eggs together.

Then add the beer chocolate butter mixture to this. If you're impatient like me, you're going to want to temper this mixture a bit with the chocolate beer mixture before adding it all, to prevent cooking the eggs. So that means, add about a spoonful of the chocolate beer mixture to the bowl with the egg / sour cream mixture, mix, then do that again, then again, then again. What you're doing is slowly raising the temperature of the batter, so you don't cook the eggs. After doing that a few times, add in the rest of the mixture and combine.

Then add in your flour mixture, while mixing. Get a friend (or Alex) to help. Just get that mixture to completely combine, but don't get too crazy and over mix.

Pour into your cake pans, rap on the counter a few times to help air bubbles escape and encourage a denser cake (a win in this situation, though not all) and bake about 32 minutes. This was the perfect time for 8" rounds, so you might need a little more time for 9" rounds. 

 At 32 minutes, you should check your cakes with a cake tester, skewer, toothpick (I've used all of these), and if it comes out clean, they're done. I think that your nose tells you when cakes are done as well, but I think that may in part come with experience. Trust your tester over your nose, maybe. 

When your cakes come out, let them cool for ten minutes on a cooling rack, run a knife around the outside of the cake, flat side to the edge of the pan. Turn out with one hand on the top of the cake and the other hand with a pot holder holding the pan, which will be hot still. Peel off the parchment paper, turn right side up, and cool completely on the racks. After the cakes cool, if you're two daying it like I did, store them under a cake carrier separated by parchment paper. That's part one! And below, that's a piece from the baby cake I made. The cake makes an incredible chocolate cake in and of itself. So moist! It will probably be a new go to. I think it would make an extraordinary black forest cake, but that's another post...

Part two: We're making Jameson Whiskey Ganache!

I went with the Cake Bible ganache recipe for this, modified slightly to use Jameson. p 269 in my copy. Can I just say for two moments, the Cake Bible is awesome. Alex's mom gave it to me, and it is filled to the brim with awesome recipes and excellent explanations and techniques.  

12 oz  bittersweet chocolate. I use 3 of the 4 oz bars from Ghiradelli's at the grocery store. You could get fancier, if you want. 

1 and 2/3 cup heavy cream. Everyone I know and read is very anti ultra-pasteurized, so if you can find some that isn't, use that. Here in Portland, you can find it at New Seasons. 

1/4 c unsalted butter

Jameson, lots. I started with two Tbsp, but that wasn't nearly enough. So I added in another two, and then a little more. The next day, when I was getting ready to fill the cake, I added a little more. I wanted to taste the whiskey, which is difficult over the chocolate. I think a heavy hand in this case is good. I'd say I probably used a 1/3 cup total, just to give you a figure. Buy a small bottle instead of the baby bottles.

Pulverize the chocolate, after breaking it into pieces, in your food processor (you can chop by hand if you don't have a food processor, but it's very tedious). 


Heat the cream to the boiling point on the stove, about a 6 on electric stove. 

With the motor running on the food processor, add the cream in a stream to the chocolate. This will whip out of the top of the processor a bit, so prepare yourself. Keep processing a few seconds until smooth. Again, you could do all this over the stove, then use a whisk to combine, but it's going to take more time. 

Pour ganache into a bowl, let cool a bit, then whisk in the butter (room temp butter will make this much easier) and 4 Tbsp whiskey. Let cool completely. At this point for me it was late, so I let it cool enough that it wasn't sweating, then covered it and put in the fridge overnight. Then, I slept.

The next day, when I got home from work, I promptly took the ganache out of the fridge, as it was hard as could be. It also had a couple bits of water damage on top from condensation, so I scooped that out with a spoon. I microwaved it a bit (20 seconds, at most) to make it more pliable, then whipped the ganache with an electric mixer, briefly, which lightened up the color quite a bit. 

Oh yes, I also added more Jameson's at this point, about 3 Tbsp more, beating it in with the mixer. You don't want to whip this too long, because you risk making the ganache get chunky in a bad way - separated because of the cream that's in there - think about what you get when you overwhip cream. Not pretty. So just enough to aerate it. It's not going to be very soft, and it's probably going to go many places in your kitchen. Pro-tip, choose a tall sided bowl. Set this aside for part three!

Bailey's Irish Cream Buttercream

Yum. If you don't have one, as I don't, borrow a Kitchenaid from a friend, or Alex. Makes making buttercream 100 times easier. 

You need: 
two sticks of unsalted butter
about 7 cups powdered sugar
two baby bottles (2oz each) Bailey's - no substitutes! If you do, you'll be sorry.
a little heavy cream to get the icing to your preferred consistency. 

So you definitely cannot do this by hand, but if you don't have a Kitchenaid, you could use an electric mixer, which is how I usually make icing. Cream the butter, then add in the powdered sugar slowly, start with about 4 cups, then add in one of the bottles of Bailey's. Let it keep coming together, turning off the machine and using a spatula to push down the sides if you need to. Add more powdered sugar, then the other Bailey's, then a little cream until you get the consistency you want. I wanted light and fluffy and easy to spread. If you're planning to pipe it, you might want it a bit stiffer. If you want to pipe some and spread it too, remove some of the stiffer icing, then add a little cream to whip the rest into a spreadable consistency. If you add too much cream, never fear, a little more powdered sugar will fix everything. This section is a little under-photoed, no? It's just that combing butter and powdered sugar and Bailey's is not very exciting. However, if you could taste it, that would be an entirely different story...

Okay, so everything is prepped! Time to assemble the cake. Take out those two cake layers, and if you're brave like me, take a bread knife, and cut through the center of each layer, to make 4 total layers. I find that if you turn the cake as you cut through, you can easily keep it level. Remove the cut layers to additional parchment paper. Put the first layer on the cake platter, or whatever you're putting the cake on.

Spoon the ganache into a cake decorating bag, with only the inside attachment fit in the bag to stabilize the tip. You're not using an actual tip, you just want to have something to control the amount of ganache you put on the cake, and it doesn't hurt for it to be in the bag for a bit to help soften it with the heat of your hands. Pipe some onto a layer, then use a spatula to smooth out, making sure you don't go all the way to the edge, or you'll have a disaster when you ice the cake later. So stop the ganache about an 1/2" before the outside edge, although in this photo it's kind of too close to the edge in places. I fixed that. You could avoid piping the ganache, and just spread it right on, but it's not super soft, and you risk ruining your layers. That's why I pipe it on, and use the spatula to push down and spread slightly.

Place another layer on the cake, and repeat, two more times, then top the cake with the last layer, trying to keep everything as even as possible.

Grab your frosting, and pile a giant pile on top of the cake, and start spreading it out to the edge of the top. Add more on top and spread it so it starts falling over the sides of the cake... you're basically pushing it down the sides of the cake. Do this while turning and spreading until the cake is covered, taking care not to get too many crumbs into the icing. This is something that takes practice, so if you're new to this, don't fret if it's a mess. You'll get better at it.

So, once you've iced it, you're done! Unless you want to get fancier, and top it with something. I had leftover icing and ganache, so I quickly combined them in the Kitchenaid, the piped shamrocks on top. 

I wish I had had time to get sugar shamrocks from the Decorette Shop, but alas. At any rate, the cake was a hit. I hope you love the cake too, complex though it is. Let me know if you think it's worth ten bucks a slice. I'd probably need to work on making the look of it a little (or a lot) less rustic. But if you find Charlie's price is right, I'm definitely in the wrong business.

It's worth all the work! Make it for a crowd, a small slice goes a long way. Enjoy! -T