Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ok, so I took a cake decorating class a couple of years ago at Michaels.

I decorate cakes for my family, but thats as far as it goes, lol. I'm really not very good. This is the cake I made for Sean for Valentine's Day.

I'm also going to give a little lesson in photography. Not that I know much at all, but I do know one thing. Natural lighting beats out flash any day. When you are taking pictures of food, use natural lighting, or your pictures will suffer from an ugly yellowish cast. If you take pictures when natural lighting is simply not available (say, during the winter in Alaska), then I would suggest buying or making a light box. While I have yet to do this, I've read many tutorials about this on the internet, and it seems to work very well.

Now I'm going to tell you a little secret: When photographing my food, I usually put the plate on a dining room chair and scoot it next to the window. High tech, huh? Its just the place that has the best natural lighting. The table is a little too far away to take advantage of the natural light, and I don't want to bother with moving the whole table, then moving it back. So I just move the chair and take the picture there.

So, here are the pictures. See what you think!

A close up of my dandy cake. I placed it on a chair and scooted it next to the window.

This next picture was taken the same way, on a chair next to the window.

This next picture was taken on my dining room table, and the flash was used. As you can see, the window is nearby, but just not near enough. The picture is yellow and ugly. All of these three pictures were taken within minutes of eachother.


This next picture is of some carrot cake that I made some time ago, way back in October, I think. When the cake was ready to eat, it was dark outside, so there was no natural lighting available. So, for comparison, I took one picture with a flash and one without. Then, the next day, I took a picture in the middle of the day, when there was plenty of natural light coming in through the window.

This one was taken inside, with a flash.

This one was taken inside, without a flash.

And this one was taken the next day, with natural lighting and no flash.

So, you can see the difference that lighting makes.

Wasn't that educational?

Carrot Cake Recipe:

1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
3 cups finely grated carrots or zucchini, or a mixture of the two
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the oil, sugar, applesauce, vanilla and eggs until combined.

Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon together in a bowl. Fold gently into egg mixture, until just combined.

Fold walnuts and carrots into batter.

Bake in a greased and floured 9x13 pan at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 lb powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In bowl of electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract.