Saturday, December 31, 2011

 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012! This weeks cake is for a small dinner party. The "theme" is silver and blue shimmer so I had to come up with a cake I thought would match the look of the theme. The cake is a strawberry and white marble cake and it's covered in a cream cheese frosting and then vanilla marshmallow fondant! The "bubbles" are actually candy pearls and the numbers are rolled blue fondant that's been covered in blue sanding sugar. Only the curly ribbon (which is part of the party decor) is non edible. 

The ruffles of this cake are just strips of fondant that have been cut using a ruffled wheel cutter then folded in wavy ruffles around the cake. The "bubbles" were added by lightly brushing the fondant with water and then letting that act as glue for the candy. I used an extruder (handy little device that looks like a garlic press but with screens that have different cut outs) for the numbers but you could just roll out fondant snakes. The extruder just makes the process faster. Like the bubbles, I used a thin coat of water on the numbers and then added the sanding sugar. The ribbon is actually tied to a toothpick and then set into the cake so it can be easily removed for service.  

You will be able to see more photos of the party set up on Facebook tomorrow. Just go to: to see how the cake fit into the party decor.
This week I was able to play with a few recipes as well. Making anything vegan taste as good as the regular version is a challenge but every now and then I come up with a new version that is lower in fat, calories but tastes really good too! Most of the time this requires the removal of the oil and eggs. Unfortunately it can also change the texture of the baked good and that can effect the way it tastes. This week I made a change to my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe. I took out the eggs and butter and replaced them with pumpkin puree instead! And they are SO yummy! The bonus here is that they are vegan too. So here is your recipe of the week...lower in fat, lower in calories and a great trade off for a chocolate chip cookie!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

15oz can pumpkin
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 bag chocolate chips
Mix all wet ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients, except chips, together well. Then mix in dry ingredients with the wet ingredients will well combined. Add chips. Scoop out onto a heated baking stone by 1 TBS scoops. Bake 15-20 mins till golden brown. These are cake like cookies so they don't flatten out, they stay round and puffed up.

I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating tonight and ringing in 2012! Hope the next year finds you happier than the last one with more of your dreams coming true. I'll see you next week!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

 MERRY CHRISTMAS! This week was FILLED with Christmas Treats going out to everyone from my family to a Dojo to a Senior Center. And it's been so much fun making them and then presenting them to everyone. 

We start out with a Dessert Tray filled with all sorts of Treats. The crystal bowl holds the salty sweet treat of Rolo Bites. These are simply mini pretzels that have had a Rolo melted on top for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees and then a M&M smooshed right on top. (yes, that IS a technical term! LOL!) These are so good you really have to watch yourself so you don't eat the entire bowl! Next up are Marshmallow Pops and Marshmallow Bites. These are dipped in Dark and White chocolate and then either rolled in nuts or sprinkled with sanding sugar and some even got some M&M's added on top. YUM! Last, but certainly not least, are the Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks. These are also rolled in Dark and White Chocolate and then rolled in nuts or sprinkled with sanding sugar. All in all this has something for just about everyone!
 Next up are these adorable little Reindeer Cupcakes. With Mini Nilla Wafers for muzzles, broken Mini Pretzels for antlers and M&M's for eyes and Mini M&M's for noses, these delicious yellow cupcakes are SO good. The client simply adored them and these are grown men who gushed over them! Of course Christmas Treats bring out the little kid in all of us so it's totally understandable!
Finally the same type of cupcake was simply decorated with "light strings" and Mini M&M's as the light bulbs. This set was for the Seniors and they were simply delighted. Christmas Treats are not something they get every day so we make sure that they do get some at least one day every single year. Just a little community service and a lot of Christmas Cheer for some truly wonderful people.

For my family I also added in some fudge so everyone will have plenty of chocolate to snack on over the next three days! I hope you find yourself surrounded by family and friends whether you celebrate Christmas or not. I hope you find lots of love and generosity in your life and can welcome in the New Year with the hope of new beginnings and lots of really good times to come!

As for me...well, I'll see you next Sunday...we still have New Year's Eve to come!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

 Holiday Marshmallow Pops

Happy Sunday! This week brought me one of many parties that required non cake like treats. So I started surfing the web to find something that caught my eye and found my answer on TV instead! LOL! I was watching Regis & Kelly one morning and they featured a woman who did marshmallow pops. Now she was designing for Halloween (yes, planning for Christmas starts in October) but it got my head thinking about what I could do for Christmas. 

The only "trick" to doing marshmallow pops is to allow the chocolate to set up a bit before adding anything to it. Anything sugar based will melt if the chocolate is still too warm and it melts right into the chocolate and you can't see it. Yes, this was trial and error and I "disappeared" the ones I messed up on....yup, yummy!
 First thing I did was put all my marshmallows onto the candy sticks and then put those through the spaces of a wire rack to keep them upright. Then I dipped all the chocolate pieces and while they were setting up I dipped all the white chocolate pieces. As I finished decorating the dark chocolate pops I moved them to another wire rack to allow them to dry and give myself some decorating space. 

The snowmen were three marshmallows all dipped at the same time. I let them sit up for a couple of minutes then sprinkled them with very light blue sanding sugar so they would sparkle. Then I used pieces of candy corn, cut into triangles, for the noses and black tinted butter cream and a fine tip to make the pieces of "coal" for the face and buttons. Finally, using a toothpick dipped into the white chocolate, I attached the M&M's like little caps on the top. Once all that was done I broke mini pretzels into separate little curved pieces and dipped the ends into the white chocolate and then placed them onto the snowmen and they were done!
The reindeer I actually saw on a website called Pinterest. They were a bit more tricky. I had to let the chocolate set up before attaching the mini pretzels but found out that if you wait too long the chocolate won't hold and you then have to dip the pretzel into the chocolate and then hold the reindeer upside down while the chocolate sets...otherwise your antlers sadly slip down the head and onto the floor and you get to start over again. After the antlers were in place I just used chocolate mini M&M's for the eyes and nose. I let the logo face up for the eyes to help create a little character but hid it for the Rudolph nose. Too cute!

The others were just decorated with sprinkles of different types but you could use ground nuts or candy of any sort and they would still be completely cute and yummy! I had a lot of fun with this project and will most certainly be pulling this out again soon for all sorts of occasions. I put 3/4 of the order into a piece of styrofoam I had covered with coconut shavings and the other 1/4 were packed up in celophane bags and tied with ribbons to make it easy for some guests to take them home instead of eating them at the party. They were a huge hit! 

Next week you will see more cake and non cake goodies with a Christmas theme! Can't wait to share!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Peppermint Candy Holiday Cake

Happy Sunday! Sorry the blog is so late has gone through some changes and it's made it harder on me to get these posts online. I'm sure they will work out the bugs soon. If you have any issues reading this blog please do comment to let me know!

The cake this week is a "Party Cake". It's a 10 inch by 2 inch  two layer cake. White cake with vanilla bavarian cream filling! Most party cakes are on tier because they are not meant to feed a lot of guests. A 10x4 feeds a little over 45 so a 10x2 feeds about half that many. Perfect for a small party or a large family dinner for the Holidays. 

The "secret" of this cake is layering! I filled and crumbcoated the entire cake then covered the cake with white fondant. Then I layered on the red top pieces as well as the striped "ribbon" on the sides and then added the rope like trim. Last details were the little gold candy pieces and then the "peppermint" wheels on the top and front of the cake. A lot of rope making goes into a cake like this but I really like the effect in the end. 

Some things I learned from this's really hard to make curved triangles all look alike and, if I ever need it someday, I now know how to make the top of a circus tent! LOL! So sometimes working on one cake can give you ideas for a few more that you'd like to make in the future.  I also learned how to put the little gold dragees on the cake without using buttercream or royal frosting as glue. What you do is brush water onto the fondant and then roll the little balls into place. What this does is coat the bead lightly with water and helps it to stick to the fondant AND to the other beads! 

Well, I have a busy weekend coming up this week so I'll be posting next Monday instead. I do hope you have a great week and come up with some of your own Holiday Party Cakes to share with your family and friends!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

 Harry's Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday and for those of us in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving Weekend! For many of us this is the beginning of our Holiday Season but for some of us there are still some family holidays to be celebrated before Christmas or Channuka preparations can begin. I know a special little girl who became a woman this week at her Bat Mitzvah! And my own husband celebrated another birthday. So Mazel Tov to both of them!

I begin this week with my husbands birthday cake and for a very important reason. Not every celebration is a huge one with lots of people filling up the house and wanting to be fed. Sometimes it's just a small family dinner that you want to top off with a special cake or dessert for 4. This Birthday Cake is just a 4 inch Mexican Hot Chocolate cake, filled with vanilla bavarian cream filling and covered in vanilla buttercream then decorated with drizzled chocolate and Reeses candies (his favorite). The fun of making a cake like this is that the surface of the cake is not smooth so you really don't have to work about filling splooshing out a bit (yes, that's a technical term..."splooshing" LOL) and you don't have to worry about your crumbcoating having any bumps in it. I purposely left the dome on the little cake so that it would be easier to make this look like a huge mound of frosting covered in candy. This way the frosting layer can be thinner and there's more cake underneath. The initial was piped out onto parchment and left in the freezer for a few minutes to set up while I used the same tip and bag of melted chocolate to drizzle over the frosting and candy. Then, before the chocolate on the cake could set up, I peeled the initial off the parchment and used the melted chocolate to "glue" the cold initial to the cake. Little cake, HUGE impression for a loved ones birthday.
 Graham Cracker Pumpkin Pie

Next up was Thanksgiving and, by popular demand, my Pumpkin Pie. I make a spicy pumpkin pie that my kids just adore, so while my younger daughter always gets tagged to do the bird, I always get tagged to bring the pie. This year I mixed it up a bit with wonderful results! I decided to try out a graham cracker crust and it was SO good. It brings a bit more sweetness and almost a nutty flavor to the pie which just adds to the spice and makes it even more perfect. There are two secrets I'll share in this week's to make my pie is the first. I use real roasted pumpkin. This is SO easy to do and you end up with roasted pumpkin seeds as a extra reward for your efforts. All you do is get a sugar pumpkin (tho' a regular jackolantern type will work too, you will just end up with much more pumpkin than you would ever want or need unless you are serious baker and a small sugar pumpkin is sweeter naturally) quarter the pumpkin after removing the stem area. Clean it out reserving the seeds to roast with a bit of olive oil. On a lightly grease cookie sheet (you can use spray) place the pumpkin, lightly salt it and then roast at 300 degrees for about 40 minutes. When it's soft, like a baked potato, pull it out and scoop the soft flesh from the skin. Mash it up and it's ready to freeze. Now, I take this one step further and I puree the pumpkin with some water to make sure it's really smooth for my pie. Then I freeze in one cup portions. I AM one of those serious bakers who will make cookies and muffins and cupcakes and pancakes, etc. all month long. Now follow the pie recipe as you always would on the side of the Libby's can (you can find it online if you don't have a copy) only DOUBLE the spices. Yup, I said "double the spices". Do not add any extra sugar, let it be spicy. Poor into your graham cracker crust and bake for 50 mins or till the knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Do not prebake the graham cracker crust...remember it's already cooked. And, yes, I used a prepared crust from the store for this...I find that there is little difference between the homemade one and the packaged one but you can, of course, easily make your own with graham cracker crumbs and butter. Now top with whipped cream. I love fresh whipped cream and how you can decorate with it so beautifully. Here is another use for your piping bags and extra large tips. Just drop one into a bag, fill with whipped cream and decorate your heart out! I just did a little "S" pattern and look how gorgeous it looks! In the end you get a pie that's sweet and yet spicy and Oh So Good!
Nana's Fudge

Ok, second secret...I'm the "Nana" in Nana's Fudge. But what makes my fudge so much better than most homemade fudge recipes is how I put the ingredients together and what I add to them. Most simple fudge recipes involve chopped up chocolate or chocolate chips along with sweetened condensed milk. 12oz chocolate to one can milk. You are told to put the chocolate with the milk into a double boiler and melt together then put into a buttered pan to cool. Unfortunately this can lead to a really grainy fudge that breaks, cracks or falls apart. Not exactly the rich treat you were hoping for, right? So here is my secret. I melt the chocolate FIRST. All by itself, no company. When it's all melted and smooth I turn of the heat, add the milk and when that is stirred smooth I add a teaspoon of good vanilla. Then I stir that till it's all incorporated and put into a buttered pan. I let that sit overnight in the fridge (at least 3 hours) before cutting into 1 inch pieces. This is treasured by my family because I only make it once a year at Christmas. It was a surprise for my daughters this Thanksgiving and, as you can see by the photo, our grandaughter couldn't wait to dig in! Yup, it's that good!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, enjoyed some time off with your families and are looking forward to the upcoming month. For me and my business, the end of the year is one Christmas creation after another so I'll have plenty to share with you in the upcoming weeks!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Melissa & Jason's Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! Today we spotlight my last wedding cake of the year. This four tier beauty feeds about 170 people and weighs a ton! LOL! The Bride is in love with Anenome flowers but November is not the time of year to have them be your wedding flowers. Fortunately sugar flowers don't have a "season" so she wanted to incorporate them in a big way on her cake.

Wedding cakes are made over days and days before the actual wedding day. This is not to say that your cake has been sitting out for days and days. I started baking on Monday with the largest tiers and ending with the smallest tier on Wednesday. All cakes are wrapped in layers and frozen. Three days before the wedding, in this case Thursday since the wedding was an evening wedding, the cakes are removed and filled and crumbcoated. I did the largest two tiers on Thursday and the smaller two tiers on Friday. Once you crumbcoat a cake the moisture is locked inside. A caker is always worried about a dry cake and this is one way to ensure it stays nice and moist. Later that day, after the cakes had a chance to settle, I covered those two tiers and then filled and crumbcoated the last two. Those were covered on Friday and, at that point, the cakes were ready to stack. Since you are apt to touch the cakes as you stack, to position them, you are likely to leave impressions on your cake if you don't let the fondant set up for a bit. Overnight works quite well. The fondant is still soft to chew but more firm to the touch. The cakes were stacked and flowers added with melted white chocolate on Saturday afternoon then delivered at 5pm for the Bride and Groom, who were thrilled with the cake.

This cake has a different flavor for each tier. Starting from the bottom, there was white cake with raspberry filling, then Mexican Hot Chocolate cake with vanilla bavarian cream filling (the Grooms favorite), then yellow cake with chocolate brownie buttercream filling (the Brides favorite) and finally lemon cake with raspberry filling. The black fondant is Duff's black chocolate fondant and the white is vanilla marshmallow fondant. The flowers are made of vanilla marshmallow fondant with some tylose mixed in and the centers are the chocolate fondant. The only thing not edible on the cake is the topper and the stamen on the flowers.

As I have mentioned before, flowers take a long time to make due to drying time. The petals have to be formed first, then allowed to dry a bit, usually a day or so, before being glued together. Then, depending on the flower, you need more drying time before you add the centers. These took a full week to make due to the fact the glue for the petals needed to be totally dry so that when the centers were glued on the petals would not move.

The really fun part of this cake was that I worked the wedding as well. I got to cut the cake and watch as people not only enjoyed their pieces but came back for more! People who had tasted one flavor came back to try another flavor. Now that's one of the best endorsements of your baking that you can get!

The cake on the Cake Table

The really cute thing is that out of the kids it was the little boys who wanted the flowers! They were fascinated by the fact that you could actually eat them! After saving some for the Bride as keepsakes I handed out the rest to the kids. Hard fondant tastes like vanilla sugar candy and is SO good. No wonder the flowers disappeared quickly!

In the end, the Bride, Groom and their families were thrilled with the cake. They thought it was too pretty to cut but the cake inside was yummy enough to make up for the destruction of the artwork.

And that brings up something that I was asked several times last night as I was cutting the cake. Is it hard for me to cut into something I have spent so much time and put so much work in? A "standard" cake, one that is round or square, isn't as hard for me but the carved cakes are still very hard for me to cut into. When it comes to a shaped cake, like a toolbox, a purse, a TV, etc. I have put even more time and effort into making that item look like a real item and not a cake. So, yes, it's hard for me to dismantle those. But I can understand how someone might balk at cutting into one of my cakes. Years ago we were on a cruise and they had a midnight buffet where the chefs had spent hours creating these wonderful works of edible art. I took tons of photos but didn't have the heart to actually dig into any of them. I saw others hacking away at fruit sculptures that looked like real flowers and my heart hurt. So I can totally understand how it would be really hard for a client to cut into one of my carved cakes and want me to do it instead. Happy to do so.

And here's a secret. I really do like to hang out and cut the cake. I love celebrations. I love cutting and serving the wedding cake while listening to the toasts. Or while watching the Bride and Groom dance their first dance. Or the Birthday Girl open up her gifts. I do charge a nominal cutting fee but my real payment is being able to share a bit of the day with share in your happiness for even that brief amount of time. It's wonderful being surrounded by joy.

Speaking of Joy! This week begins the offical Holidays for us and for my business so lots of holiday cakes and goodies coming your way over the next 6 weeks! With Thanksgiving coming up this week I will have pies to show off instead of a cake! Can't wait!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kali's Halloween Themed Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! Today I bring you the birthday cake and mini cupcakes for Miss Kali. She turns 7 this week and wanted to celebrate Halloween Style. Now I'd heard of this for kids born in October (and yet, never had my own birthday in this theme...hmmmm...maybe something to think about as my 50th approaches next year!) but have never heard of it for November kids until this year...and suddenly I keep hearing about all these kids who had Halloween Themed parties this year! Great way to get one more wearing of that costume!

The main cake is strawberry cake with raspberry filling covered in dark purple vanilla buttercream and decorated with black fondant bats and a witch flying over green buttercream brew. The original idea was just to have a round purple cake tier with the silhouette of a witch on top and then the rest of the cupcake stand would hold the 100 mini cupcakes. As an artist I wanted so much more for this idea so I contacted my client and asked if I could make this a witches cauldron instead and have the witch flying over the "bubbling" brew. She loved the idea so now Kali had a carved cake tier, not just a plain round one and a bobbling witch flying over green goo!

The mini cupcakes were pumpkin spice for the pumpkin minis, chocolate chocolate chip for the spider minis and white cake for the ghost minis. All together they made for a very cute presentation. I have made cakes for Kali in the past so she was very excited to see me with her birthday baked goods and was SO happy about her witch cake that I got a most enthusiastic hug from her! What a wonderful tip!

The one thing about this order is that the minis, like all cupcakes, have to be done in one day. Hopefully not more than 24 hours before the party so they are still really fresh. So I spent all Friday afternoon baking and decorating these so that they would look and taste great for the Saturday afternoon party. A lot of work all at once but so worth it for the completed look at the party.

This week I have a wedding cake coming up. If it turns out even close to my design it's going to be gorgeous! I'll be able to share that with you next Sunday! Have a great week!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sugar Rose Anniversary Cake

Happy Sunday! Oh, and Happy November and Happy Fall. (Although in many parts of the USA it feels like Winter already!) Today's cake is a special one for a couple celebrating 24 years of marriage. While not a "big" Anniversary they still wanted a very special little cake to share with family and friends. This one is 6 inches by 4 inches and will serve 16 "Wedding Cake" slices. The original colors for their wedding were black, white with touches of pink so that is what the color scheme for this cake ended up being as well.

Close up of Panel

The cake is Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake with Raspberry filling. It's covered in vanilla buttercream because the white buttercream makes for the perfect background for the offwhite flowers. It works as "filler" between the flowers helping to create the look of a full bouquet. The sides are panels of black chocolate fondant that have been marked in a Art Deco type chevron design and then placed on the cake. Now you can measure very carefully and place them one at a time, side by side, onto the cake but this is cake. There is going to be an extra half inch here or quarter inch there that you were not expecting due to cake or crumbcoat thickness, so what I did was to place one chevron panel in the front, then one directly in the back, then one on each side so that the four panels were now fairly equally spaced out. Then I used more chevron panels to fill in the spaces and overlap the panels. Finally the "ribbon" trim went on and bows were attached for added decoration. Then I placed the roses on top. This is much like fresh flower arranging and takes a lot more time than you would think to get the flowers to meet up just how you want them to and look right. You want them to be domed but not too perfect of a half circle. They are supposed to look like real flowers and you can't get a perfect dome from fresh roses.

A word about placing sugar flowers into cakes. Floral wire, often used in the making of sugar flowers, is not food safe. I use those little straw looking coffee stirrers, which are food safe, inserted into the cake first, then slide the wired flowers into the stirrers. This makes sure that the wire is not touching the cake or the frosting.

And finally, these roses are dusted with a sparkly pink luster dust. I didn't try to get the same amount of dust onto each rose but rather dusted them one at a time and let some get a lot of the pink tint and some only get a touch or sparkle. As I mentioned before, these are supposed to look real and the coloring of each rose is never exactly the same as the one it is gathered next to in the bouquet.

Halloween Cupcakes

As I mentioned last Sunday when I posted the other Halloween cupcake order, I had another for Monday, Halloween. These adorable little Jack-o-Lanterns were perfect for the Seniors they were meant to delight! Devils Food Chocolate Cake (perfect for Halloween, right?) topped with lightly tinted orange buttercream and chocolate fondant faces. The green stems are made from tinted vanilla fondant. These were fun to make and even more fun to hand out to the group of Seniors on Halloween Day!

This upcoming week brings mini cupcakes and a mini cake for a little one turning 7 this year. She chose a Halloween theme so I'm not done with the holiday designs quite yet! I'll share those with you next Sunday!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow Leopard Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brought a birthday cake, several appointments for wedding cakes and, of course, time for Halloween Treats! I'll start out with the birthday cake first.

This little 4 inch cake was white cake with raspberry filling covered in black (chocolate) fondant and white (vanilla) fondant and decorated with handpainted fondant dots and details. The Birthday girl just happens to be an upcoming Bride that I'm working with so it was fun to be able to do a mini birthday cake for her as well!

This brings up a topic that I may not have covered before. Fondant. I have heard over and over again "I don't like fondant" or "I don't think I'd like that stuff". What they mean is that they have heard over and over again how awful fondant is or they have tasted old fondant. As with most of food preparation, fresh is best. If you are eating something that has been sitting in a can, jar or tub for months it may not make you ill but it just won't taste as good as freshly made. All of my fondant is either freshly made by me, within the week of your event, or is Duff's fondant. I have no idea how "fresh" his brand is but it tastes fresh. It doesn't taste chemically or like it's had all the flavor leached out of it and all that is left is something that tastes like you'd be better off chomping on the cake box than the cake. Without fail I have been able to make converts out of people once they have tasted my fresh fondant. The Birthday Girl this week is one of my newest converts. We were going to do a buttercream covered cake, now it's being covered in fondant because it's SO yummy! I also make my buttercream fresh each week. So that means not only do you have a freshly baked cake, covered in freshly made buttercream but it's also topped in freshly made fondant! In the food world, fresh is best!

Halloween Alien Cupcakes

Pictured is just one set of many that were made this weekend for a client. These funny little aliens are something you can SO easily make at home. I lightly tinted buttercream after baking the cupcakes and then used prebought sugar candies to make funny faces on top. These were intended to make lions, bears and clowns but I mixed up all the pieces, using eyes for noses, ears for mouths, mouths for ears, etc. to create some funny little Aliens.

These were yellow and white cake cupcakes and they were SO good that I wish there had been more extras of this order! Cupcakes are the one baked item that HAS to be made as close to delivery time as possible. The paper cupcake liners let alot of air into the cake portion of these and, for cake, air is the enemy! An unsealed, by icing, cake is prone to drying out very very quickly. This is why you crumbcoat a cake. It seals in that moisture. But you can't do that with a cupcake since a small bit of icing goes only on the top. So with time and air as your dreaded enemies you have to make sure that you deliver your completed cupcakes within hours of finishing the baking/decorating process or you end up with a dry crumbly cupcake. I actually had the client ask me how I could possibly have such moist cupcakes...aren't cupcakes dry and crumbly? NO! Cupcakes are suppose to be moist little morsels of yummy cake!

The kids thought these funny little critters were just hysterical. Since they were made for kids we were pretty happy to see the smiles and hear the laughs, followed by "these are GOOOOOD!" after they finally ate all the candy off the top and dug into the actual cupcake!

Since Halloween is actually tomorrow I do have have one more order of cupcakes to go. Those will be made fresh tomorrow and delivered soon after. I'll share those with you next week!

Speaking of next week...I have an Anniversary Cake order that I am SO excited to be working on! The design is so romantic and yet so avante guarde, I just can NOT wait to get started on it. I'll share it with you next Sunday!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cat's Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! Yup, you read the title under the cake correctly....that's MY birthday cake! As I've mentioned before, it's fun to make cakes for your loved ones. You have all the freedom in the world to create whatever you want for them. This is even more so when you make your own cake. You have the freedom to try out new techniques without worrying about what to do if it doesn't work out! As you can see, it worked out beautifully! But not without a few hiccups....

I'd been dying to work with chocolate but I wanted it to be different than the types you normally see. Normally the melted chocolate is spread onto acetate strips and then wrapped around the cake to cool. When you remove the acetate you have a very smooth collar of chocolate. I wanted a more textured, free form version of this idea. Having not really worked all that much, outside of ganache, with chocolate I wasn't too terribly sure how this idea would work out. Here is what I did...

First I took out a silicone mat and melted the white chocolate morsels in the microwave. You have to be very careful with this as chocolate burns very easily. So I started with 30 seconds and worked my way to melting point from there. After the white chocolate was melted smooth I put in another bowl of milk chocolate pieces to melt. While that was melting I put the white chocolate into a piping bag with a number 3 tip on it. This is a writing tip. By this time the milk chocolate was melted and I was able to spread it onto the mat with an offset spatula. One of the hiccups, and lesson I learned, is that you really need to spread the chocolate very evenly for clean breaks later...I managed to do this fairly well but not perfectly so I ended up with some jagged bits that I still put to work later (or my husband ended up eating as a snack!LOL!). As soon as I had the milk chocolate spread on the mat I took the white chocolate filled piping bag and started swirling the white chocolate over the surface of the milk chocolate. Since the milk chocolate was cooling but not yet set, the white chocolate settled down into it but held it's shape. Remember to keep your hand moving or the white chocolate will pool in one spot very quickly! I finished off the piping by piping a frame of white chocolate around the edges of the milk chocolate. Then the whole thing went into the freezer for a couple of hours. I'm not sure it really needed hours to set up but we went out for a few hours right after this step.

I had already filled and crumbcoated my cake at this point. It's an Almond Cake with Passionfruit filling. You may remember that combo from last weeks Jersey Cake..well, we got to try the trimmings off that cake and fell in love with the flavors! I just knew this was the combo I wanted for my birthday cake! When we got back to the house I put on the final coating of buttercream at this point so it would still be soft enough and able to act as glue for the chocolate pieces. Enter hiccup number Two!

Working in my own home is a tricky business. Unlike the commercial kitchen I normally use, my home has only one work area...the same one with the oven and the dishwasher. Well, the oven was currently cooking our dinner and the dishwasher was cleaning up the mess from the chocolate and cake baking process. So it was warm AND humid in my decorating area. This is where my inexperience with chocolate made itself well known. Chocolate planks don't do well with any heat and they surely don't like humidity added to the mix. I took the mat of chocolate out of the freezer and it began to melt immdiately. I was able to get some full planks but then the thinner and the melting sections broke up into jagged pieces. Now if this had been for a client I would have started all over again...and that would have been unfortunate. The combo of planks and jagged pieces ended up really working well together and giving me the texture I had been going for all along in this design! So, as you can see, not all mistakes are fatal...some make your design even better.

After I got the planks and pieces onto the cake, which was fun...sort of like putting together a puzzle with the added challenge of the pieces speed puzzle making! LOL! I then topped the cake with fresh raspberries and drizzled on more melted white chocolate. I added the sunflower just for me. I had made it, trying out new cutters I had just gotten as a gift, just for myself and I thought it added a beautiful accent to the cake.

Now here is where we found out a delicious secret. When you combine all of these flavors into one bite...the almond, passionfruit filling, chocolate planks and get one really perfect bite! It's is delectable together! Who knew? I figured that the chocolate and the raspberries would be eaten seperately but when combined with the cake and the filling it was sublime!

This year was a treat for me. My younger daughter, and partner in our business, is a caker as well. She always makes me the most yummy and beautiful cakes each year. But this year they took us out to a fancy dinner including a really fancy dessert the weekend before my birthday. So for my midweek birthday I got the treat of making my own cake. Hope you like the outcome of my little experiment with chocolate! I sure do!

Next week is Halloween!!! So I will get to share with you some Halloween confections next Sunday since the client needs them that day, not actually on Halloween! See you then!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oliver's Baptism Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brings two celebration cakes! The first one is for baby Oliver who was baptised this weekend. Topping this cake was Little Louie the Lamb. We had become quite attached to Louie over his drying time but his new family loves him and thinks he's just as cute as we all do!

Louie is made of fondant mixed with tylose and yes, every single curl is handrolled. I took this photo in the middle of this process so you could see the shape of his head and how his feet are constructed with half toothpics so they fit into the body the next day.

The next morning I continued with the curling and assembling of Louie. I used extra curls for the bottom and to cover the toothpics on the legs and to act as extra glue to hold the feet to the body. The bow was the very last piece to add to the piece and then he was ready to dry for about 2 weeks.

The cake is one tier almond cake with raspberry filling and one tier chocolate chocolate chip cake with chocolate brownie buttercream filling. After covering the tiers with vanilla marshmallow fondant I divided and colored the left over fondant. Then I mixed in tylose with a small bit of the blue and rolled out enough to make the bow. After forming the loops around paintbrush handles, I let the bow dry the rest of the day. Then I cut out the thick strip for the top tier and the thinner strips for the bottom tiers and used water to glue those to the white fondant. I stacked the cakes and then started the time consuming part of the cake. Rolling out all of those fondant marbles. After using water to glue them to the cake tiers I added the plaque. The plaque was cut out at the same time I made Louie so it would have time to dry. Since it had to be thick enough to hold the bow on the bottom tier I knew it wouldn't stick to the cake with just royal icing. So I placed the plaque, with royal icing on the back, onto the cake and then I used two toothpics inserted into the cake under the plaque so it held the plaque up. I let this dry for about a half hour then rolled out the green trim for the plaque and glued it to the plaque. I then made the bow and slipped it over the toothpics and glued it to the plaque as well as to the cake. Then, after letting that dry up a few minutes, I pushed in the toothpics just barely enough so that you can't see them and the cake was done!

The client was thrilled with the cake, as were her family that were at the house when I delivered it. Truly a wonderful feeling to have someone appreciate your work that much! And speaking of appreciation....

Vic's 40th Birthday Cake

Here is the second celebration cake this weekend. This was a complete surprise for my clients husband who had no idea at all that she had such a grand gift in mind for his big birthday! When we delivered this cake to the restaraunt he was just shocked and thrilled with this cake.

Meant to resemble the jersey of a certain Bay Area team, this cake was fun to do but a challenge as well. As with all copyrighted items you can't copy a logo exactly without breaking the law but you want people to know what you were after so it has to be close. Well, close enough for this birthday guy!

I baked then froze the almond cake and while still frozen I filled it with passionfruit buttercream filling and then immediately carved the shape out and crumbcoated it. Then I let it set up and thaw out before covering it with the fondant. Put together much like a real jersey, this cake is covered in fondant pieces rather than in one solid sheet. I then covered the "seams" with rolled fondant to give the impression of the raised seams on a real jersey. I used my Cricut Cake to cut out the letters/numbers and made the logo out of ovals of what I hoped was just the right colors. I matched it as close as I could without getting TOO close to the actual team color. I let these dry up over night so that they would be stiff enough to place on the cake. I used very little water to glue the letters/numbers to the cake. You have to be SO careful when you do this. Once you touch the colored fondant to the white fondant you are committed! The colored fondant instantly stains the white fondant so you have to be sure that you are placing the colored fondant in just the right places. It's a little nervewracking until it's done! I then trimmed the cake with flattened snakes of the red fondant to make the jersey really pop off the base.

The last touches were the ones on the cake board with the logo being the very last piece to this cake puzzle. My own husband being a huge fan of this team was my critic and fact checker on this project and he said he'd be thrilled to have this be his cake. I couldn't wait for Vic to see it! And I was not disappointed. The whole table was impressed with the cake but you could tell that the Birthday Guy and his loving wife were thrilled with it. As I said, no better feeling than to know someone loved and appreciated your hard work.

Well, this upcoming week I get to share with you MY birthday cake! Usually my partner, and younger daughter, makes my cake but we went out to dinner this weekend and I had a fantastic dessert there. So I get to make my own creation this week and I have some GRAND ideas! I'll share them with you on Sunday!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hunny Pot Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brought a Baby's 1st Brithday Cake for Joey. His party was decorated Winnie the Pooh but, as I have mentioned before, I can't do a copyrighted piece but I can do a "background cake". To show you how it all ends up on the table I made sure to take this "Before" photo and, below, the "After" photo where all the trimmings have been added to take this Hunny Pot Cake to a Winnie The Pooh Hunny Pot Cake!

Fully Trimmed Cake

Joey's Mom had all these really cute paperwear for me to match the cake color with and help make the cake feel like it was really part of the party. I also added the little "smash" cake on the right so that Joey could have a personal cake to dive into all for himself! I added their figurines to the cake base as well as tied in the dots from the paperwear into the banner for Joey's cake.

Now, the secrets for this cake! The cake is actually baked in Pampered Chef Measuring Cups! Yup, they can be baked right into the bowl and they come out the perfect shape. You have to treat this as a tiered cake so there are actually four layers to it. Two on the bottom, cup side up, and two on the top, cup side down. There are dowels and a cakeboard in between the two layers. However, unlike a typical two tier cake the tiers are stacked before crumbcoating, then they are crumbcoated and then covered with the very long fondant snakes. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the top. There is also a very long skewer right down the middle of the cake and into the cake drum below to keep it steady even though it's tall compared to it's base.

If you look at the cake I featured last week you will see the similarities but also the differences in the two cakes. The original looks more like a bee hive and this one more like a pot. The first has the hive texture all the way up while this one has a "collar" and the first one doesn't have a lid and I truly think the lid on this one makes the cake! They both have bees buzzing around. Remember to NEVER stick wires straight into the cake. They are not food safe so I use coffee stirrers stuck into the cake first and then the wires are placed inside the stirrers. The final touch was the banner. There were adorable dots in all of the paperware for the party and I so wanted to incorporate them into the design. I rolled out a white banner then cut out the dots in the coordinating colors and, laying them down one layer at a time, I rolled them into the white banner to make a multilayered, colored dot banner. Then I used white royal icing to pipe the saying and trimed the whole thing in a very long fondant snake the same color as the pot. As you can see by the "After" photo, it fit right into the decor!

Happy Happy Birthday Joey! You are simply adorable and it was wonderful to be part of your day!

See ya'll next week when I will have two very special cakes to share!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Winnie the Pooh Hunny Pot Cake

Happy Sunday! This is the second week of my vacation so I thought I'd bring an oldie but a favorite cake to share with you! This Winnie The Pooh Hunny Pot Cake was done for a baby shower a few years ago. It was a two tier cake, top tier was lemon cake, bottom tier was marble cake. It was divided in the center of the pot and then sliced from there. The covering is marshmallow fondant as were the bees.

As a cake artist it is illegal for me to sell copyrighted cakes. That means if I make a figure that looks like Winnie or Mickey or Hello Kitty, it has to be a gift, it's can't be sold. The way around this, and what supermarkets have been doing for years, is to make a "background" cake and place the copyrighted figurines on top! In this case, the theme was Winnie and Friends and the favors were little honey pots so making this a Hunny Pot cake was a natural way to take the design. It wasn't the easiest cake I have ever done. I swear it felt like I rolled fondant snakes for hours in order to complete this cake! But it is one of the most popular designs I have ever done. Oh! And the figurines were actually a brand new bath set that the baby was able to play with later on!

And I'm spotlighting this cake because I'm making a mini version of it this upcoming week. That brings up another part of being a cake designer that is very different from working at a bakery or supermarket bakery. Those places make the same designs over and over and over again. But for a cake designer we like our edible "works of art" to be different each and every time. So when designing say a Wedding cake, we ask that the Bride sends or brings in 5 designs that she likes and then I sketch out a new and original design based on those choices. So, in this case, the Mom of the 1st Birthday Boy wanted the Hunny Pot design but we want it to look original just for his party, not a copy of someone else's party cake. So next Sunday I will share with you the new Hunny Pot and you will be able to see the simliarities of the two designs and how the new one fits in with the whole party concept better than the original design would have!

I also have a Memorial coming up this week. A Garden Dedication in the memory of someone we loved. I'm making garden themed cupcakes for that one and can't wait to share them with you. Yup, Fall Cake orders have begun and I'll have tons of new stuff to share with you!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Spider Halloween Cake

Happy Sunday! I'm on vacation this week and next but I'm sharing easy cake ideas for your upcoming parties! This week is Halloween!

You would think this cake would be hard but it wasn't...not at all! The base cake is just a round four inch cake that I didn't level off the dome and covered in fondant "scales" (just round pieces of fondant layered over each other to cover the cake). The face is just a ding dong covered in fondant and attached with dowels and buttercream to the body! The legs are just fondant mixed with tylose then allowed to dry over night after forming them into legs and then attached using water as glue. The hat is a cardboard cone that was covered with colored strips of fondant. The hardest part of the cake was figuring out how to draw the face on so it would show up and not be scary! So if you are thinking about stretching your cake skills with a "carved" or "character" cake then this is the one for you to give a try!

As mentioned before, I do make my own marshmallow fondant and this was no different. I just made it chocolate fondant by using cocoa powder in place of some of the powdered sugar. Learning how to work with fondant is a challenge and can take some time to learn what is the perfect texture and how to correct it if the texture is off in some way. SO for a beginner, who has not learned or is still learning how to make their own fondant, I highly recommend Duff Goldman's brand of fondant at Michaels. It tastes good and is really easy to work with. It is a "soft" fondant which means if you want to make any of your pieces hard to stand up, like the legs on this spider, then you will want to mix in a LOT of tylose and let the pieces set up for at least a week, two weeks if you have the time. But for a beginner this is just the easiest fondant to use for covering a cake. As with any pre-made packaged item, it is expensive. I can make my own chocolate fondant for about $5 and Duff's is priced at $20. So make sure to use that Michaels 40% or, even better, 50% off coupons to help with the cost of this fondant. I use this fondant whenever I need a bright or dark color, other than brown, for a cake. So if you see red or black or navy blue fondant on one of my cakes chances are it's Duffs!

If you are brave, want to learn how to make marshmallow fondant and learn how to work with it just comment here and I'll happily let you know how to make it! Or message me on FaceBook! You can find us at on FaceBook.

Have a great week! See you next Sunday!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jeff & Amy's Anniversary Cake

Happy Sunday! I hope you like my creation for this Fall Flower themed Anniversary Party! The top tier is Choco Choco Chip Cake with Chocolate Brownie filling. The Bottom Tier is Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemoncurd Buttercream filling. It's covered in fresh vanilla buttercream, trimmed in green buttercream grass and stems and the flowers and Monogram are fondant.

The only tip I have this week is to place the flowers onto the buttercream while it's still fresh and has not had a chance to fully crust up yet. The buttercream acts like glue. For something heavier like the monogram I actually hid toothpicks at strategic places to hold it up onto the cake.

The Cake Table

We actually worked the event so I get to share with you some of the fun photos from the set up. A lot of people think the cake table just has to have cake on it. Not true! You can add some of the other coordinating elements to help boost up it's visual appeal. In this case I added the "Favor Cake" to the table to help boost the themes colors and fill up the table. The lanterns you see below started out as regular white lanterns and then I simply added strips of scrapbooking adhesive down the ribs and stuck on squares of tissue paper. Too cute!

Close up of the Favor Cake

The favors were simply boxes of M&M's in the themes colors. To help boost the color palate I took strips of the colored tissue paper, all three colors in the boxes, and laid one strip going one direction, one going another direction and the third sort of crumpled into the bottom. Then I added the candy, folded the strips over, alternating colors, and put the top on. This way when the guests opened their favors they would get a burst of the red, orange and yellow colors from the paper and the candy. The boxes you can get at Michaels as well as the ribbon I used for the trim. These were so simple to do but a big hit with the guests.

Orange Fizzy!

And speaking of easy to do! For the drink table we wanted to put out drinks that were family friendly for this family event and yet easy to make adult if the grownups wanted something a bit stronger. So we set up punch bowls of Orange Fizzy and Lemonaid Fizzy, a hit with the kids, and a bottle of vodka for the adults to make their mixed drinks. Perfect! To continue the flower theme we added slices of lemons and oranges with cherry halves on top. The fruits had been "zested" in strips down the sides so that when they were sliced they would have a "petal" effect to them.

Personalized Water Bottles

As Summer drags out into Fall having water available at an event is always a great idea. But why have it just sitting there not adding to the decor or the theme??? We created these personalized water bottles which looked wonderful on the drink table and made for an extra favor to pass out as our guests were leaving. Set in between the two diffferent punch bowls they extended out the theme and added another punch of color to the table!

Speaking of Fall...I get a bit of a break! After a Summer filled with events I get to take a couple of weeks off. BUT I won't be leaving you guys high and dry. I'm going to post each Sunday with some ideas for Fall cakes and cupcakes so you can start to plan for your Halloween parties. I know, I know, it's still 6 weeks away but it will be here before you know it!

You can see all of the event photos, including the entire drink table and the buffet table, to get more ideas for your next party over at our Facebook page!

And speaking of Facebook! Our Prize here goes to Adrienne Fey! I'll be contacting her to see which book she would like for her prize. We'll have another contest in 6 mos and I hope more of you reading this will participate..Adrienne ran off with this!

See you next Sunday!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Golden Starfish Dinner Party Cupcakes

Happy Monday! Running a day later than normal due to our observance of 9-11. But I have two creations to share with you this week! (Oh, I don't miss the CONTEST at the bottom of this week's blog!)

First up is something that is growing with popularity for my business...Dinner Party Cupcakes! Seem grown ups like the idea of a cupcake but most cupcake designs are for little kids, not adults. So lately I've been tasked with creating grown up versions of these little yummy bites of cake! These cupcakes are Devils Food cake with a brand new version of my chocolate buttercream that we have decided to name Chocolate Brownie Buttercream because of how it wonderful rich brownies in icing form! YUM!

Thankfully, the stores are also beginning to realize that we need grown up versions of wrappers and liners and I was able to find these fun gold petal wrappers. Now a wrapper is different from a liner. The liner is the paper cup that you bake your cupcake in the pan with but the wrapper is for after the cupcake is baked but before it's decorated. There are tricks and tips for using these. First off, whether you make them or buy them, you really need to be sure that the buttercream doesn't touch the sides of the wrapper. Buttercream is made with some sort of oil or oils that will stain through the wrapper and destroy your elegant look. Once your cupcake is totally cool then you can place it in the wrapper and then carefully pipe on the buttercream and add the embellishments. In this case I used gold sugar which looked nicely elegant on top and gave some texture while eating! Last part of this process is presentation. Obviously the clients cupcakes went out in a cupcake package for travel but, since the order was for 15 and the recipe makes 24 I had some leftover for my own girls night out so I set it up as you see it in the photo. I chose a square woven tray to set off the gold and the brown and then, once the cupcakes were in place, sprinkled the tray with the gold sugar. This little bit of dressing up helps the wonderful impression of these gorgeous little desserts!

Jackie's Crocheted Birthday Cake

Our second creation of the week was based on the 1970's panel purses. The panels were crocheted then stitched together with more crochet. Thankfully I actually DO crochet so I was able to copy the stitches...and here is how I did it! The first thing I did was mist the crumbcoat of buttercream to help the panels of fondant stick to the sides of the cake. I used 3 inch squares of fondant and let them set up on the cake for a few minutes. Then, using a flower petal cutter (actually part of an orchid cutting set) I cut out the mint green fondant and placed them into the center of each panel using water as "glue". This was as far as I went before starting the royal icing "stitches". The first thing I did was draw the lines down the panels to "join" them. Then I scalloped sideways "c"s down the line on one side then did the same, meeting the loop together, until I got to the bottom of the cake. Now I tried to just make "o"s and then draw a line over it but it didn't look like a stitch so there's no shortcut here unfortunately. Then I did the same process at the bottom but I piped the first line really close to the bottom of the fondant squares so that when I added the final loops they would actually go from the cake to the plate. That was when I piped the outline for the mint panel pieces and placed the tangerine flowers with the pearl candies in the centers. The last thing I did was place the circle on the top of the cake. I cut out a 7 inch round of fondant for a 6 inch cake and then, using my rotary cutter on the textured wheel, I cut around again about a half inch. I placed it on top of the cake and, using a ball tool, helped it to sort of waffle around the edges. This had to set up for awhile before I could pipe the stitching around the edges so while waiting I made the circle decoration on top. This is easier to do if you use a circle cookie cutter and gently press that into the top of the cake. Then you can follow the impression with your tip and have a nice round design. Once the round of fondant had a bit of stiffness to it I was able to pipe the edging stitches and place the flowers.

Now I know a lot of people, and I use to be one of them, don't like royal icing. Well, here's why. Most royal icing I have tasted has been commercially produced without any added flavorings. So it tastes like powdered sugar, which, unfortunately, tastes a bit like cardboard if you don't add flavoring. Come to think of it, that might be why commerically produced fondant doesn't taste all that good! But when you make your own royal icing, or fondant, you can add any flavoring you want it to taste like and it will be GOOD! I usually use vanilla to flavor mine but you can use almond or lemon or strawberry...anything you would think would go well with your cake! This cake is Mexican Hot Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream filling so the royal icing was flavored with vanilla. Now here is another plus to using royal icing. It dries really hard and crunchy. This turned out to be wonderful texture when eating the soft fluffy cake and soft fondant. Making royal icing is really really easy and you can make yours taste so much better than the commercially produced versions so I hope you will take a chance and give it a try!

This week brings an anniversary cake that I've been working on the pieces for about a month now and just can not wait to see it all come together! We are working this event as well so I'll post lots of photos next Sunday so you can see how it all turned out!

BUT...Before you all go for the week...I have a CONTEST going on with our Facebook site! We are giving away one of three different prizes...YOU get to pick which one you want to win! Just go to and "LIKE" us...then get your friends to "LIKE" us too and post your name on the Wall. The person who gets their name posted the most between now and next Saturday will win the prize of their choice!!! See you on "Cherry"!

Oh...and would you like a second chance to win??? Just post a comment on this week's post telling me which of my cakes is your favorite! I will be drawing one name from this blog to win one of the prizes too! Play here and on Facebook and you could win 2 of the prizes!!