Sunday, August 29, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
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
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!