Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Mini Cupcakes. Dark chocolate cake filled with raspberry buttercream or yellow cake filled with lemoncurd buttercream and topped with either vanilla or chocolate buttercream and fondant decorations.

This week brings Halloween! This is a major holiday in our house and we are big party people so Halloween is the perfect excuse to have a big party! As an event planner as well as a caker I always feel the pressure to make the party even better than the one before so when it came time for dessert I knew we had to have some form of cake but we were also going to have a chocolate fountain so it couldn't be alot of cake. This is what makes the mini cupcake so perfect. You can have just a bite of cake on the plate along with the other treats on a dessert table or for a dessert bar.

The secret this week is the little decorations that go on the cupcakes. Every year you see the mini cookie cutter sets. These are perfect for tiny decor like these little fondant bats, skulls, pumkins and ghosts. All you do is cut the shapes from different colored fondant and then add the tiny details such as eyes or stems with edible markers! This is especially easy to do with the new cupcake wrappers that are popping up everywhere. No longer are you stuck with blue, pink, green, yellow or you can have bats or spiders or Christmas trees and holly for cupcake wrappers! When you pair the fancy wrappers with the little edible cutout shapes on top you get a wonderfully special effect.

This upcoming week brings more sugar flowers. I will be making a few very large peonies for a wedding cake due mid month. I'll share the results next Sunday. Happy Halloween!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Disco Birthday Cake. Disco ball is lemon chiffon cake filled with lemoncurd
buttercream. Green tier is white cake filled with lemoncurd buttercream and blue tier is chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream. All is covered with colored vanilla marshmallow fondant.

This week's cake was a challenge. Humidity can make fondant very hard to work with so with the rain in Northern California this week I was challenged to the point of frustration. Add in the fact that the can of silver food coloring spray malfunctioned and suddenly I had to handpaint all those tiles..well, it was a frustrating day. BUT, if you keep with it, keep your patience, take needed breaks and come back to the project then you will be able to finish it and have it make you happy.

The secret of this week's cake was supposed to be the silver spray on food coloring but since it didn't work and I had to handpaint them all I don't really have a "secret" to share. So I'll share a tip instead. When working with fondant that you want to stand up, like the stars and numbers, you want to make sure you assemble the pieces a few days ahead of time so that the fondant has time to set up. If you try to do this last minute the stars would just flop right over. So I cut out two of everything using cookie cutters and, using water to adhere the pieces together, I sandwiched the two pieces together with a stir stick in between. Then I let them dry for two days. The stars are grey fondant that I then painted silver after they were totally dry. The numbers were painted with white sparkly luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka to a paint like consistancy. So there you go...if you want to make cute little pieces to stand up on your cakes or cupcakes it just takes a little planning ahead!

Speaking of cupcakes! This week is our annual Halloween Party and I have cupcakes to design and make..wish me luck! I have made cupcakes before for our Halloween Party so I have to come up with something completely new for this year. Cupcakes are always a challenge for me since you have this tiny canvas to work on. I'm making mini cupcakes this year so the canvas is even smaller!LOL! So, yes, wish me luck and I'll post the results next week!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fern Wedding Cake. Top tier dark chocolate cake with fudge filling.
Middle tier yellow cake with fudge filling. Bottom tier lemon chiffon cake
with lemon curd buttercream. Covered in vanilla marshmallow fondant
with handcut and placed fern leaves with a fondant waterlily cake topper.

This week's cake is a wedding cake for two dear friends of ours. Working out the design for a wedding cake that didn't really look like a wedding cake was challenging for both me and the bride. In the end she wanted a modern look without a frilly feel so the Fern cake seemed to fit the bill perfectly. For a change the sugar flower cake topper was not the hard part of this cake. It was the handcutting of each fern leaf and then placing them onto the cake that was painstaking work and worth every minute I put into it for the final look.

The secret about this weeks cake is actually the cutters I used to make the fern leaves. Gumpaste cutters often look pretty much like cookie cutters. Often they are just the shape you want them to be but more often than that they are parts of a whole puzzle that you must cut out, shape and piece together. This is a fortunate thing for those of us who look for shapes that will fit what we want to do rather than always completing the "puzzle" the way it's meant to be. I had seen fern molds and just didn't like the way that they looked so I went on a hunt for cutters that I thought would make the shapes I needed in order to make the fern leaves look the way I wanted for the final look. So in the end I ignored what the cutter are supposed to be used to make and just started to look for the shapes I wanted and was able to find them at one of my favorite websites:
The other secret of this cake is the filling for the top two tiers. I often make a chocolate fudge buttercream filling but the Groom loves fudge so I actually made the candy fudge as a filling. Very firm it made for a wonderfully rich filling. Sometimes a non-traditional filling is the right fit for a non-traditional wedding cake.

The last part of this story ends with some luck. Wedding cakes, or tiered cakes of any sort, are a construction project using wooden dowels and cardboard rounds to provide the structure. In other words, your cakes are not really sitting on eachother, they are sitting on the cardboard which is sitting on small wooden dowels. One of these dowels slipped inside the cake somewhere along the way and, thanks to my cake safe, the cake held together all the way to the venue over 2 hours away. Once we set the cake on the cake table we saw that one part of the structure had begun to lean but were lucky enough for it to hold all the way to the cutting of the cake looking like it was tilting just a bit but it did not collapse. I was very thankful for that! Once I dismantled the cake I quickly found the tilted dowel and realized that it was only because the other dowels held up that my cake didn't collapse. But when dealing with cake you have to remember that it's not a solid medium, things move and shift and sometimes it's luck that sees you through to the finish line. The Bride and Groom loved the cake so at the end of the day it was worth everything.

This week brings a Disco Fever Birthday cake for a 10 year old girl. I'll share it with you next Sunday!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dark Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Well, once again this week didn't turn out quite like I thought it was going to work out but that's ok, I got to do something new and make someone very happy at the same time! The cutters for the demo cakes water lily flower didn't show up till late in the week which is ok since it's for a demo cake and not for a clients cake but it was still disappointing. BUT fate stepped in and gave me a cupcake order instead! And I was given full reign with it as long as it was chocolate and had some sort of caramel decoration. The photo above shows the outcome and the client was blown away.

The best part of cupcake orders is that there are always a few left over for the rest of us after packaging up the client order. Most of the time with a cake I get to taste the components that go into it but not all together. With cupcakes you always get to sample! YUMMMM! So my family always enjoys it when I get a cupcake order. It's not often since cakes are the focus of my business so it's a sweet treat for us all when I get one!

The secret about these cupcakes is the caramel. Not only is it drizzled on top but it's actually inside the cupcake too! I have a tool that allows me to inject the filling right into the cupcake so when you bite into the cupcake you come away with a gooey yummy center surprise! So for these I injected the caramel sauce into the cupcake and then drizzled more caramel sauce on top and then decorated it with handpiped chocolate candy. The cool thing is that you don't need the tool in order to get the same effect. You just take a teaspoon, scoop a little of the cupcake out of the center, pour in the sauce or filling of your choice, and then replace the scooped out cupcake. Then frost to cover the area you dug out and just like that you make your cupcakes even more special!

The demo cake keeps on getting to wait because I have a very special wedding cake coming up next week! See you Sunday!


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poured Sugar Tiles

Happy Sunday! Due to the fact that I was off this weekend photographing a friends wedding (got into the wedding biz this way) I knew I wouldn't have much "cake" time between the day job and the time spent away at the wedding. I have a demo cake coming up next weekend and I wanted to use sugar tiles to decorate it. Now, as explained with the sea horse cake, I really haven't worked in sugar much. Anyone who DOES work in sugar can take one look at these tiles and agree very quickly that I still don't really know what I'm doing! LOL! If I DID know what I was doing these tiles would be completely translucent and look like clear glass, not have a million champagne like bubbles in them. However, this is a happy mistake as far as I'm concerned since I think the bubbles make the tiles look sparkly...perfect for a wedding cake!

As with all of cake making there is a steep learning curve. As an artist I want to push my skills with each cake that I make. Trying new stuff all the time is one of the fun perks of the job. However these are learned skills and you don't really learn to do those things overnight. They take practice and lots of it. So I'll keep working on my sugar. I'll find out why there are bubbles (especially if I want to repeat this "mistake") and learn how to make them clear as glass but I'm sure I'll have to spend many more times hunched over the stove melting sugar. And, really, as "dreary" as I'm trying to make that sound, working with poured sugar is actually a lot of fun. Sort of like magic how you can put together sugar, corn syrup and water along with some gel color and come up with something so beautiful when it sets up. Oh, and you can add flavoring so it tastes yummy too!

I had mentioned last week that I was going to learn how to make a water lily. Well, that was held up because I found out I couldn't purchase the sugar paste cutters locally and had to order them online. So this week I will get the cutters and you will see the finished product on the sugar tile decorated cake next Sunday. Have a great week!