Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dark Chocolate Cupcake topped with Vanilla Buttercream,
drizzled with melted chocolate and topped with a peanut buttercup!

This week brought two new tests for me. One was playing with a new look for cupcakes and the other was learning how to photograph the results. When you think about it, there's not much you can do with a cupcake. It's basically a really small cake that you add frosting to and hope it's a good balance for whoever gets to eat it. Fondant, while great for the larger cake, is really hard to eat on a cupcake so it's not a favorite of mine to use. But buttercream lends itself quite well to such a small slice of cake. But decorating can get a bit boring..swirl on frosting, sprinkle with something and pack it away....over and over again. But just like my big cakes I want my little cakes to look beautiful and tasty at the same time...make you WANT to take a big bite of it. So, being a huge chocolate fan, I thought what a better way to celebrate chocolate in a little form but to make my dark chocolate cake, top it with more chocolate and then add candy to push it right over the top! Of course, you have to cut the chocolate a teeny bit so I used vanilla buttercream just so it's not chocolate on chocolate topped with more chocolate...although as a chocolate freak that doesn't sound so bad to me! BUT this order was for a Breast Cancer Fundraising Event and I wanted everyone in the room to enjoy their afternoon treat so I held back a teeny bit of chocolate and went with the vanilla buttercream instead. They were a huge hit with the group too!

Now the second challenge...photographing them so they would look as yummy to everyone who would not get to see them in person as they did in real life. For years I worked as a Nature/Wildlife photographer, took a spin as a wedding photographer and thought photogaphing food wouldn't be too hard. But as anyone who has ever tried to photograph food knows, it's REALLY hard to do! So Google and YouTube came to my rescue again. I swear you can find anything there, really you can! And after an afternoon of education I used my new found tips and techniques and took the shot. I'm pretty proud of how the cupcake looks and that it looks as yummy as it did in person!

Next week brings a whole bunch of prep time for a new Demo cake. I'm learning how to make poured sugar tiles as well as water lilies so I'll share with you my results next Sunday!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gift Box Birthday Cake. Lemon Chiffon Cake filled with Lemon Curd Buttercream and covered with Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant and topped with a sugarpaste Magnolia Blossom.

Happy Sunday! This week's cake was a gift to a special friend so it was a special joy to spend the time I did making it look like a gift wrapped box. Lemon Chiffon seems to be a favorite of my clients. I, personally, think it's less about the cake and more about the lemon curd buttercream filling! This slightly tart filling sets off the sweet lemon cake perfectly. A combo that's worth the extra effort in order to create. Coloring fondant can be a tricky bit of work. Gel food colors are added to the fondant a teeny bit at time until the right color is achieved. However when it comes to bright colors or dark colors this becomes a more tricky proposition. Food coloring does have a taste to it and since you have to add a lot of it to get some of the bright or dark colors you have to be careful not to disturb the taste too much. Otherwise you end up with a pretty covering that doesn't taste good. And, for good reason, a lot of fondant already has the bad reputation of not tasting good. Fortunately, fresh marshmallow fondant tastes wonderful and with a little flavoring manipulation it still tastes great even when it's been colored! With a layered fondant design such as this one, that is one important detail. I always want my cake to taste at least as good as it looks so taste is a very important detail to me.

If you've been reading this blog then you know this flower has been in progress for about a month now. Working on the individual petals as well as the handpainting and drying times in order to make it look like the real deal takes time. Mainly it's drying time. The petals dry fairly quickly but each layer has to be glued together and fully dry before adding the next layer and that takes about a week with each layer. If you were to glue all the petals together at once the center of your flower would be very wet and soft which would not support the petals. They would fold over and break, not stand up and look the way the real petals do. So it takes time and patience but the end result is always worth it. The more time you take to make it look real the more it does look real and creates the perfect topper for the cake. The fact that the person of honor gets this as a keepsake is a bonus. These pieces last for forever so they can, indeed, be saved as decoration after the event.

This upcoming week just brings a cupcake order but those are always fun. It's a challenge to come up with something pretty and creative for such a small "canvas".

See you next week!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The "Leslie" Wedding Words Cake. Covered in Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant.
All decorations edible.

Happy Sunday. As promised the second of the six Display Cakes for 2011 Bridal Faires is done! Yellow is a very popular color for this upcoming Spring and Summer Wedding Season so I thought I'd do a more modern take on this theme. The light Canary Yellow is accented with pure white accents as well as the white detailed trim on the bottom of each tier. The middle tier has four sides filled with words you would hear at a wedding like Love, Honor, Cherish, Family, Blessings, Happily Ever After. Each side carries three of these important words. Setting off the yellow and white theme are sugar paste yellow and white handpainted plumeria flowers. A perfect romantic compliment for this very romantic cake.

The "secret" on this one is that all of the pieces that decorate this cake, with the exception of the trim, had to be cut out at least a week earlier in order to have them dried solid before placing them upon the cake. Fondant starts out as a soft dough. Think of the consistancy of rich bread dough or pizza dough and you will know the feel of fresh fondant. When you cut out something like a circle it's very soft and will become oddly shaped the moment you touch it so you have to carefully cut them out, move them to another sheet and reshape then dry them hard so when you go to decorate the cake it's not so hard to have round circles. The words are exactly the same issue. The letters with stretch and break very quickly until they are rock hard so you have to do the same thing with them as you did with the circles. Then you need to just be careful when placing them on the cake. I always cut out two of each letter, thinner letters get three each cut out, in case of breakage...and yes, something always breaks! The trim is another matter. Those layered circles have to be cut out of fresh fondant and then immediately placed upon the cake edge. Layering so many of those circles took, literally, hours but the effect is so worth the time! It makes for an interesting texture without sacrificing a modern look for this cake.

Next week brings another birthday cake! This one is a 3D cake so there is carving involved as well as trying to match an item that exists in real life. Those are always hard because you want the person to walk in and think it's a real tool box, or a real hat, or a real teapot and it takes some planning and work to come up with a design that translates to cake without sacrificing realism. I'll share the results with you next Sunday night!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Double Chocolate Cake with Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream filling
covered in Vanilla Marshmallow Fondant with fondant candy accents
as well as a sugarpaste orchid!

This week brings a birthday cake for a repeat client. This is fun and challenging at the same time. When you have created something original for someone and then they come back and want the same or better, well, it's exciting, flattering and all of a sudden a huge challenge to top what you did the year before! As with the last cake I created for this client I had full autonomy when it came to the creation. This is also a double edged sword. What is fun about that is the freedom to come up with a design that you think will please the client but what is nerve wracking is not knowing you had succeeded till they come to pick up the cake. As with last year, this year's cake was love at first sight for the client and tons of fun for me to make. Definitely a Win-Win senario!

The "secret" this week has to do with all the circles you see surrounding the middle of this cake. They are pure fondant. Usually when making hard decorations for a cake you need to either use sugarpaste or mix sugarpaste or tylose into the fondant so it dries hard and sturdy. This, pretty much, makes them inedible. You "could" eat them but you probably wouldn't want to due to the taste which is a bit like biting into cardboard. Because I didn't want the client to have to remove each and every circle before serving I decided to make the circles out of pure fondant and then let them dry up. This means preparing for it days ahead and then letting them sit out lightly covered to keep out any debris or dust for at least 2 days or longer to get them hard enough to use on the cake. When they are totally dry they become a sort of candy. Very similar to the candy used to make "candy cigarettes". The great thing is that they can then be served with the cake rather than removed before serving.

In the upcoming week I will be using the extra circles and dots to create a completely different look for my next demo cake! The design of this cake actually came to me last night in my dreams. I knew I wanted to use circles and dots for the next demo cake so I cut them out at the same time as the ones I needed for this weeks cake but I had no clue at all what I was going to use them for until this morning. I popped out of bed and grabbed my sketch pad and colored pencils and drew it all out! Inspiration for cake designs often hits like this and I keep a sketch pad of some size with me everywhere I go just in case. You just never know when you will see a pattern that will make a cake design pop into your head!

See you next Sunday!