Sunday, August 29, 2010

The "Tory" Seahorse Wedding Cake. Covered with Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant.
Trimmed with sugar crystals and topped with a Sugar candy Cake Topper.

As promised...the Display Cake! This is the first of six I have to have done by the first bridal faire in January. I am very pleased about how this turned out. Most of the time an artist sketches something out and then tries to recreate it in sugar and it doesn't quite turn out the way you imagined. This turned out exactly how I imagined! The topper is my first venture into sugar work. Since then I have played quite a bit with it but this was my first time and I was very nervous about it. It turned out just like I wanted it to on the very first try and I feel like I'm pretty blessed that it did. The seaweed and seahorses are all made of fondant. The seahorses are molded in a candy mold and then after unmolding, trimming and allowing to dry, they are handpainted to look more lifelike. The seahorses and topper are the two reasons this cake takes a bit longer to make, they require the drying time in order to make them look right.

However, with a display cake there is no actual cake there. This makes my family sad since there are also no trimmings, no leftovers, no goodies that Mom is bringing home from the kitchen! So, in order to play with a new technique and give my family cake, I decided to make cupcakes that, I think, would look adorable at any baby shower. They could be used in place of a cake or packaged up to give away as favors!

Lemon Chiffon Baby Shower Cupcakes

The next few weeks brings some special birthday cakes to share with all of you. The only clues I'll give are that one is a more modern girly cake and one is a 3D cake. Hopefully both women will be delightfully surprised!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Buttercream topped
with spun and hard caramel sugar candy as well as chocolate
and graham cracker toffee pieces.

So being on "vacation" is a relative term. While I didn't have to deliver any cakes this week it doesn't mean I didn't find myself in the kitchen or working on any projects. This week brought cupcakes for a Girls Night Out gathering as well as work on a sugar flower for an upcoming project.

The cupcakes were designed with the clients in mind who said that their favorite cake combination is the old fashioned yellow cake and chocolate icing. But just because the taste is old fashioned doesn't mean the presentation can't be a little edgy. Spun sugar is not a new medium for cakes but it is a new medium for me so playing around with it is fun and the learning curve is steep! I knew that one of the girls is a caramel fan so plain spun sugar wouldn't cut it for this project so I made it taste like caramel by adding in brown sugar with the white sugar to add that molasses taste to the candy. Worked like a dream. The spun sugar had that wonderful amber color and the hard candy had the strong caramel taste. Topping the milk chocolate buttercream off with the chocolate and toffee graham cracker pieces just gave another layer of flavor to this old fashioned treat.

Now your secret of the week has to do with the sugar flower I am working on. Most of the cake shows on TV will show the completed flower or will show the artist working on the flower...and usually thats the last step of coloring the flower, but they don't really show how much work goes into these wonderful creations. First you have to study the flower that you want to copy and figure out how to go about breaking down the pieces and how to make those look like the real flower. Then you make the sugarpaste or fondant. I acutally use a combination of the two most of the time because sugarpaste dries very quickly, sometimes too quickly to get the form or impressions you need for the particular flower. By adding in fondant at a 50/50 ratio you buy yourself a little more molding time. So there is the cutting out of the pieces, molding them as I go, the letting them dry and finally paint the pieces that need painting to look like the real flower.

The flower I'm working on now has 9 petals and a very interesting looking stamen in the center of the flower. Now often sugar flowers are assembled using something called gumglue. This is, simply, water and sugarpaste that has been blended to a glue consistancy. Because the 9 petals are at different layers I had to glue one layer together at a time, let it dry for a day before doing the next layer. So, doing that math you can figure out it takes 3 days to have a fully assembled and dry flower for the cake. When finished and completely dry the guest will have a very beautiful keepsake of their special day. Now you understand why sugar flowers add so much cost to a cake. I only need one for the 8 inch birthday cake I am making but a wedding cake could use up to 15 of these large flowers. At a cost of about $15 per flower you could easily add up to an extra $200 for a wedding cake.

Next week I hope to finish my display cake and be able to share it with all of you!.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dirt Bike Helmet Birthday Cake. Yellow Cake filled with LemonCurd Buttercream.

The first cake of the week was quite the challenge for me. A gift to a dirt bike enthusiast husband from his loving wife, I had no idea what one of these helmets actually looked like in real life. Fortunately, for me, Google came to my rescue and I was able to look at several different views of this type of helmet. At least enough to be able to replicate it well enough that the Birthday Guy not only knew what the cake was supposed to be but was fascinated enough to ask me how it was made. Success! Now onto the second cake of the week, my grandaughters 1st Birthday Cake!

Top tier dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate buttercream filling. Bottom tier lemon chiffon cake with lemoncurd buttercream filling. Covered in vanilla marshmallow fondant and decorated with a fondant owl and real ribbon trim.

The theme of the party is Look Whoooo's One! So I decided to sculpt an owl out of fondant to match the owl on the decorator plates. Since this is also a party our event company was working, and my oldest daughter the hostess, I had access to all of the party decorations well ahead of the party so plenty of time to design the perfect cake for the decor. So the secret to this cake is that the owl was made two weeks ahead of time from fondant and then allowed to dry in place before the party. The tiers are covered in pink fondant and then covered again with the white scalloped fondant. This second layer had to be thin since you don't want the amount of icing to effect the taste of the cake inside. It's also a heavy medium, something that the lemon chiffon cake almost couldn't handle and if you look closely you will see that one side of the cake settled after decorating a little bit more than the other side making the cake a little bit crooked. A nice reminder that when decorating cakes you have to remember that you artistic medium is CAKE and it can move and shift and compress way after you are done decorating it. Oddly enough the tiers were level but just not straight up and down on the sides. All in all though, we were all very pleased with the cake. The guests were amazed and it tasted SO good that most of the guests went back for more. Always a good sign that the inside was at least as good as the outside. And that is an important goal for me in my work...not just to look good but to taste fantastic!

Next week is vacation for me after a long summer FILLED with cakes. The week after could also be vacation but I think I'm going to give that demo cake one more try and hope life doesn't step in the way so I can share it with all of you!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

End of the Year Basketball Cake~ Marble cake covered
in vanilla buttercream and topped with handpainted fondant
Court. Figures not edible.
Well, as what happens in everyone's lives, this week didn't quite go as planned. First off I thought it was going to be a kickback week. No clients scheduled on purpose to give us a week after my son's basketball season was over to recouperate and have everyone at home. So I thought I'd work on a demo cake for an upcoming Bridal Faire. Well, it just wasn't to be. I was able to get started on the decorations and then my son's team made it to the Post Season Play Offs. To top it off he came down with a really bad cold so all week I've been home taking care of him and watching my free time drift away. So then came Saturday and our Play Offs became Semi Finals so, of course, all of a sudden a team cake was in order and a celebration, winning or losing, was in order. My Saturday night and Sunday morning became all about getting a cake out of the door for the kids. And it was SO worth it. Our team didn't win but the kids got medals for making it to the Semi's and the cake was a hit.

No real secret this week. Standard sheet cake, and I don't do a lot of those these days, one layer of marble cake covered in vanilla buttercream. The only really fun part of the cake was the court. It's fondant, rolled out and handpainted. No time to make sugarpaste figures so I had to be content with the Decopac variety. These cracked the kids up because of the obvious difference in the size of the players and the size of the hoops. If I'd had time to make them I would have but about 12 hours didn't give me enough time.

This upcoming week brings one small party cake and one Baby's 1st Birthday cake. The latter I'm deeply attached to since it's for my Grandaughter's 1st brithday! I'll be sharing those next week. When the demo cake is going to get done....well, that's up in the air for now.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

1st Anniversary Cake. A copy of the top tier of their wedding cake, this confection features handpainted sugarpaste roses and lilies that match the flowers in the bride's boquet. The cake is a lemon chiffon cake filled with lemon curd buttercream and covered in marshmallow fondant.

This week was a bit lighter than the one's before due to a family Cub Scout commitment. I kept my calendar clear with the exception of this 1st Anniversary Cake for a wonderful couple. Last year I did the Bridal Shower cake for this same bride and she was very happy to have me do up a copy of their wedding cake for them this year.

The secret to this cake is the flowers. Roses are a pretty standard sugar flower but I had never made lilies before so this was a new skill for me to learn. One of the surprises is that it takes a few days to make lilies due to the many parts and painted styles needed to assemble the final flower! The other secret is the brown swiss dots that adorn the outside of the cake. They are actually dark chocolate buttercream but since they are so small you don't even taste them while eating the lemon cake! But the newlyweds wedding theme was leopard colors so we kept it in the same colors for the anniversary cake.

This upcoming week brings only fun. I have a wedding faire coming up in January and have to, during my "free" weeks, make up the faux cakes that will highlight my decorating on our faire tables. So I have BIG plans for the first of these cakes and can NOT wait to share them with you next Sunday!