Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yellow Cake with Raspberry Preserves Buttercream covered in Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant and trimmed with buttercream as well as fondant moulded figurines.

Happy Sunday! This week went very smoothly. The cake I had due this week was for my son's Cub Scout Pack. This time of year is the "Bridging Ceremony" where each boy moves up a level and some of them move up into Boy Scouts. This year I decided to think a bit outside the sheetcake box and give the boys something a little extra special. So I spent some time about a month ago, allowing time for them to dry, moulding figurines for the boys and they were thrilled by them. They couldn't believe that the figures were made of sugar!
The day was VERY hot so as soon as we got out to the park, where they were holding the ceremony, the cake started to melt so cutting it was tricky. But here's a trick for you. Whether it's a round or square cake, if you cut it into strips and then lay the strips down on their sides then cutting and serving will be much easier. And remember that when it's hot, like it was for us, cutting it will make a huge mess so, if possible, have a water bucket and a towel for cleaning and drying your knife and your hands. Both will become a buttercream mess very quickly.
Now here's a secret about the cake. The top tier isn't real. Yup, it's what we call a "cake dummy". It's made out of food grade styrofoam and you decorate it just like you decorate the rest of the cake. This allows for a grander presentation without a whole bunch of left over cake. So if you are having a small wedding but what a grand cake and don't want to waste or deal with a whole bunch of left over cake then a cake dummy or two replacing some of the tiers may be the way for you to go. Warning here...since the same decorating process goes on for the outside of the dummy cakes as it does for the real part of the cake you will not be saving much money on the cost of your cake. On average you will save about 20% on your full bill. But it is a great way not to waste the food and get a grand presentation for your event.
Side note: You may see some advertising for you to have a complete dummy cake on the cake table and sheet cakes for the actual serving. This will NOT save you money. You will still be paying per slice for the sheet cakes as well as 80% of the cost of a real tiered wedding cake. The only time this would make sense is if you "rent" the cake from your caker and buy the sheet cakes from them as well. That can save you money but the caker gets to keep your cake for her advertisement and you may, or may not, have a choice of cake designs. So keeping it small or making it tall by using a dummy tier or two may be a better choice for your event.
This upcoming week brings a 3D music box/jewelry box cake for a clients mom's birthday. I can't wait!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

White Cake will Raspberry Buttercream Filling covered with Vanilla
Marshmallow fondant and Sugar Crystal "bling" and a sugar paste Anenome flower.

This week was a lot of fun. This cake turned out exactly as I had sketched it out and as I saw it in my mind. As I mentioned last week, fondant can be a tricky medium but this week it went onto the cake with no troubles at all. This was also my first time making a sugar paste anenome flower (which is more complicated than I thought) and it turned out beautifully the very first time I tried. But it was the sugar crystals that took the cake over the top and gave it sparkle. It's hard to show you in photos just how much the crystals twinkled in the light on the cake table but the close up below will give you some idea.
During the summer months people often try to take advantage of the weather, hoping that it won't be too hot for an outdoor wedding but warm enough that no one will complain that it's cold outside. Unfortunately for their guest and for the cake, it's usually way too warm, even hot, for an outdoor wedding and reception. For the guests it can be very uncomfortable but for a cake it can be fatal. A cake with buttercream filling and covered in buttercream will begin to melt after just 15 minutes in 85 degree or higher weather. After a half hour this may cause the layers to slide and the cake to soften up allowing the supports to move, and sometimes even allow the cake to fall. Fondant will give you a little leeway but since most cakes are filled with some form of buttercream, the most solid of fillings, or even softer fillings and there is a crumbcoat of buttercream below the fondant, heat will still do damage after 30 minutes in the heat. Normally there is less of a chance of collapse due to the stability of the fondant but the fondant will soften up and the buttercream will melt and then cutting of the cake can be a messy process. So for those brides out there, keep this in mind and find an air conditioned venue for your reception or plan to keep the cake in a refridgerator till the very last minute before pictures and the cutting ceremony. No matter if you pick buttercream or fondant to cover your cake always remember that heat equal disaster for your wedding cake.
Fortunately, for this cake, the venue was air conditioned and the cake looked stunning. I was very proud to show it off and to proudly stand behind it as a cake artist.

This next week brings a cake I've been working on for over a month. It is a cake for the Cub Scouts Bridging Ceremony. This is where all the boys move up to the next level and get all of their awards and achievement badges for the end of the year. For the past month I've been working on all the little fondant pieces such as a canoe and a tent as well as a Pinewood Derby racing car and more. Can't wait to share it with you all next week!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vanilla Butter cake filled with Lemon Curd Buttercream
and covered in Vanilla Buttercream with Fondant accents

Happy Sunday Morning Everyone! This week went so well that at the end of this post you all get a treat! The cake above went like a dream. No issues with the baking, altho the kitchen did smell heavenly with the baking of this cake. It's a 10 inch square cake and is 4 inches tall. A lot of cake but the young man I did this cake for is more than worth it. He enters Boot Camp at the end of the month and is being thrown a family party to celebrate his Bon Voyage.

Fondant is an interesting medium to work with. It's become the rage in the past decade being used mainly for wedding cakes to give them that smooth polished professional look but lately, thanks to the TV cake shows, more and more cakers are using it for 3D work like the Vintage TV or the Handbag in my earlier posts. For some, Fondant is like working with a slippery eel...they hate it and it seems like their fondant hates them back. This is my relationship with buttercream! LOL! However, for those of us lucky enough to love working in fondant, it can open up a whole new world of cake possibilities. For me, working in fondant is like playing with clay all day long. Forming the shapes I want and trying to make them look like the real deal is nothing but fun for me. Still, laying out a smooth sheet of fondant to cover a cake is a labor intensive move. To cover the cake above I have to roll out almost 2 pounds of fondant into a 18x18 square and then, somehow, pick it up and lay it over the cake...and that's just where the fun begins! Then comes the smoothing process in order to get those perfectly smooth sides. Most of the time that isn't an issue for me. I grab my fondant smoother and, beginning at the corners, begin the process of slowly working the fondant down the sides of the cake and then trimming the excess so it ends in a smooth edge. For those trying to work with fondant for the first time, here's a wonderful tip. Elevate your cake about 2 inches using a slightly smaller cake pan or something like tuna cans under your cake board and it will make the edge smoothing easier. The excess fondant droops down past the edge of the cake allowing you to trim the excess and smooth easier! Unfortunately you are not off the hook once it's perfectly smooth. If your cake is too cold or has not had enough time to settle before you place the fondant on you can get the dreaded fondant bubble! This bubble will form within the first two hours of covering your cake due to escaping gas or air from your cake coming to room temperature so you have to keep a watch out for it and pop it and smooth again as soon as you see one forming. And if you don't see it in time...well, pop, smooth and Oh Look..that's where the flower goes! LOL!

With this cake I didn't have that problem at all. The fondant went on very smoothly and no bubbles formed. Hey, even the buttercream went on easily! The logo is a laminated print out that's been placed on wax paper to keep it food safe. I had fun with this cake, watching it turn out to be exactly what I had on my sketch pad and am delighted to present it to the young man before he heads off to the Air Force Reserve.

Now...for your treat! I stumbled upon this amazing cookie recipe that is so easy anyone can do it! AND it has only 4 ingrediants!!! So here is the recipe for:

Chocolate Crack

What you need:
1 foil lined PAM sprayed large cookie sheet
1 box of graham crackers
2 sticks of real butter (if using unsalted then add 1/4 tsp salt)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 pkg choco chips

What you do:
Line the sprayed cookie sheet with a single layer of the graham crackers. Just break the crakers into pieces to fill in any empty areas. Set it aside and pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Now put the butter and brown sugar into a pan and over medium heat bring it to a boil. While the butter is melting stir occassionally. When this mix comes to a boil stir continuously for 5 mins. At the end of the 5 mins just pour the mixture over your crackers and spread it out to cover all the cracker surface. Now place the cookie sheet into the oven for 10 minutes. When they come out of the oven pour the choco chips on top as evenly as you can. Wait about 30 seconds for them to melt then spread them out like icing on the top of your crackers. Now move the whole thing into the refridgerator or freezer to allow them to cool and harden. When totally cool and hard just break the cookies up into about 2x2 pieces.

Three reasons these are called Chocolate they are made with crackers, two: you crack them up into pieces at the end, three: they are as addictive as the illegal type crack...I dare you to eat only one!

Enjoy! This next week brings a Wedding Cake that I'm just dying to share with you all!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Vanilla ButterCake covered in Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant
and below
Lemon Cake filled with Lemon Curd Buttercream
covered in vanilla Buttercream icing

Well, the first week is done, as are the first cakes of June. As you can see by the photos there was a lot to be done for the purse cake. The first set of handles I made were done in the wrong direction so there I was on Thursday suddenly realizing I had to remake the handles and pray they dried stiff enough to stay upright for Saturday morning. Also to be made was the tassle, the zipper, zipper pull as well as all the lettering for the handbag and cake board. Having to remake the handles made for a much longer Thursday but in the end they were perfect. I ended up having to support them with plastic wrap so they could actually dry ON the handbag and removed the plastic at the last hour before delivery.

We arrived for the luncheon tea a few minutes before the birthday girl and the staff at Lisa's Tea Treasures in Santana Row in San Jose very kindly took the buttercake filled with vanilla buttercream from me to hide it until presentation time. The tea was, as usual, quite lovely and at the end of it they brought the cake out and presented it for me to the guest of honor. It was fun to hear the buzz in the room of "THAT's a CAKE...NO...that CAN'T be a cake!" LOL! But more fun was to see the look on my daughter's face when she saw it was a small Coach Handbag and PINK! She loved it. The staff took photos of us and then wisked the cake away and served the slices on strawberry drizzled plates adorned with sliced strawberries and tiny mint sprigs. Wonderful!

The Anniversary cake was not so easy. First of all Friday was a VERY humid day and it made the job of icing this cake almost impossible. I wanted a very smooth finish but due to the humidity in the air (what weird weather we are having) I had to wait 3 times the normal amount of time for the icing to crust (stiffen up) so I could smooth it out. That made for a very long Friday and I was much relieved to have it finished at the end of the day and safely in it's cake box.

I have a rule of thumb not to make buttercream iced cakes after May 15th since it can get to way over 80 here in Northern CA but this was a surprise for my daughter's husband. It's a re-creation of their wedding cake two years before, down to the lemon with lemon curd filling, as a gift to him. They married in Las Vegas so there was no way for me to do the cake there and here was my chance to do it for them. Unfortunately part of the cake started to melt on the way there. Even with the A/C on full blast in the car it was still an over 90 degree day and keeping the damage at a minimum was all we could hope for. Thankfully we were able to cover the damaged area and the rest pretty much held up for the over 2 hour car ride and the "groom" was very surprised! It was presented with much fanfare at their anniversary party and was quite the hit. Two cake homeruns in one day, what more can a caker ask for?

This upcoming week brings a Bon Voyage cake for a young father on his way to Boot Camp for the Air Force Reserve. I'm very proud to be making this cake for this new soldier-to-be. I'll post next Sunday how it all went!