Sunday, January 30, 2011

The "Amelia"

Welcome to Shower Season. This is the most popular time of year to hold a Bridal or Baby shower. There are the obvious choices for the cake when it comes to these events and then there are more elegant options. The "Amelia" could be used for a very elegant Bridal Shower cake. The delicate sugar paste bird is so very obviously female and lovely that symbolically she could easily represent a Bride. In fact, inspiration for this cake came from a wedding invitation. This is a very popular thing to do as well...base the cake on the invitations! What a lovely way to color coordinate.

Now, below, you will see another way to present this cake.

With just the small addition of two small speckled fondant eggs this cake becomes an elegant baby shower or Mother's Day cake. In fact, as many, or few, eggs could be added depending on if the Mother-to-be is expecting her first or her third baby. Everything, with the exception of the real ribbon trim, is edible on this cake.

This week's "secret" is to use cookie cutters to cut out the fondant then, using a bit of water as glue, just stack the cut outs on top of each other to create this cute layered look. Even the leaves are cookie cutter cut outs! You could easily coordinate cupcakes to match this cake as favors simply by cutting out more of the flowers and leaves, letting them dry till they were solid then placing them upon whipped buttercream. Put those into the little see through plastic boxes you can find at a craft store such as Michaels and tie them up with a coordinating ribbon and you have a very cute and tasty favor for your guests to take home with them!

I'm currently working on a very large display cake that will take a few weeks to make due to the 36 sugar roses needed for it so next week I will have some birthday cupcakes and I will spotlight a cake from the past with some new tips to help you make your next birthday event special!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby Racing Cupcakes

Happy Sunday! This weekend began with the annual Pinewood Derby. This is a racing derby where the Cub Scouts carve out wooden cars and decorate them then race them for trophys. This was my second year of providing a dessert for the event. Last year was a cake and I found that it was hard for the younger Scouts to eat so this year I thought cupcakes might be more fun. But, of course, I couldn't just do average ordinary cupcakes so these are just a tad different and that's where the "secret" of the day is hidden.

Cupcakes are rather easy to do but because they dry out quickly you have to make them and serve them within 24 hours or they get dry. But it's easy these days to dress them up with colorful wrappers and fun picks to go into the icing. So the cake batter and the icing is where you get a chance to play it up a bit. For these I was trying to please a large group and since some people don't like chocolate (yes, unbelievably, some people do not like chocolate) I made half of them chocolate and half of them vanilla. Then I topped them with creme cheese buttercream. Now this is easier to do than you think and it's something you can even do with canned frosting you get from the store. Just start out with a brick of creme cheese from the store. Full fat creme cheese works the best. Whip that with a mixer till smooth, creamy and fluffy and then start your buttercream recipe as normal. If you are using canned frosting this is where you would use the mixer to beat in the canned frosting into the creme cheese. Because canned frosting is already fairly loose the creme cheese may make it a bit too runny so you may need to add some powdered sugar to your mix to get the icing stiff enough for your cupcakes. My buttercream recipe is already pretty stiff so the addition of the creme cheese made it just the right consistancy for piping onto the cupcakes and still hold it's shape. Then it was just a matter of sticking in the flags and getting them to the venue.

Two more "secrets" for you. When doing a large amount of cupcakes that you will be traveling with it's easier to put the unfrosted cupcakes into the box/carrier and then frost them in place than trying to put them into place after frosting. This way the frosting isn't jostled or messed up as you place them into the box. The other tip for you is presentation. There are many cupcake display stands out there in the stores and online. These make a bigger impact when it comes to serving your cupcakes up in style than a regular plate or platter would. Pictured below are two versions of cupcake stands that help to make a big impact. These are wired stands but there are plenty of disposable cardboard versions out there too.

The final display

Finally I leave you with a small taste of next weeks' cake! I have an auction coming up benefitting our school so I needed a small but elegant display cake. "Miss Amelia", pictured below, is part of the topper for this cake which could be used as a birthday cake or bridal shower cake.

"Miss Amelia"

She is not based on a real bird but is colored to suit the cake she will perch upon. Made entirely of fondant I handpainted her to match the colors on the cake. You will get to see the entire cake next Sunday! Have a great week!


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Jeanette Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! January brings Display Cake design for me and football playoffs for my husband. So while I sculpt, carve, cover and place, he's yelling in the background at his favorite team! Today, of course, it's the Chicago Bears which are, happily for this household anyways, beating up on the Seahawks.

This week's cake is a Display Cake modeled after a Bride who would like a Winter Wedding. This doesn't always mean snowflakes for a wedding cake. In this cake I put the "winter" into it by adding the blue sanding sugar as well as the "bling" of rhinestones and used the color blue. This makes for a very elegant cake to match the Bride and the wedding as well as one appropriate for a gorgeous Winter Wedding. The size of this cake is also something different. Many wedding cakes these days are grand confections that could feed 150 to 300 people. Yet many wedding guest lists don't top 75. So how do you get a "grand" look without wasting cake? You simply take the grand design and make it smaller. This cake has an 8 inch base, 6 inch center tier and 4 inch top tier. Perfect for a wedding of about 50 people. Also, using one big flower will give a small cake a bit of drama without overpowering it like tons of flowers would. This sugar Camellia, pictured below, was also dusted with ivory luster dust to give it a bit of drama as well.

This weeks "secret" is the sanding sugar. You can find this wonderful cake decoration in any craft store that carries cake supplies. Once you have frosted your cake with buttercream you can just sprinkle it on to add a bit of glitter to your cake. If you are working with fondant all you do is either mist on a fine layer of water with a spray bottle or use a new paint brush and lightly paint on a bit of water and then sprinkle on the sugar. Make sure you have something under the cake to catch the excess that will fall off as you sprinkle or this can make quite the mess. But it's an easy touch and one that makes a big impact on any cake. The second "secret" is the "bling". It's very easy to bring a small bit of glitz or a large touch of glam to a wedding cake just by using rhinestones. These can be purchased seperately or in strands, as on this cake, but you can also you a family broach or necklace or even a barrette to adorn your cake and become a stunning piece of "Cake Jewelry"!

January also brings The Pinewood Derby for Cub Scouts. I always do something for the local pack and this year it's going to be cupcakes! So check out next Sunday to see what I come up with.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Krista Princess Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! As promised here is the Display Cake that I have been working on this week. If you've been following the blog then you know that this is the third in a series of six that I need for a Bridal Faire this upcoming summer. The first was a Seahorse cake, the second the Wedding Words cake and now this one. I have plans for three more and working on those designs now. It's lots of fun being able to design whatever I want but at the same time I'm also designing with particular brides in mind.

Today's cake is based on what I would have liked to do for my daughter Krista's wedding when she married almost 5 years ago in 2006. Her wedding was in Las Vegas so I wasn't able to do the honors of making the cake so I decided to design this one with her in mind. She's my "pink girl" so I thought "pretty, delicate and pink" when coming up with this design of drapes, sparkly light pink roses and pink ribbon to match. The cake is covered in white marshmallow fondant and the "drapes" and their fasteners are also fondant. The roses are sugar dusted with pink luster dust to match the real pink ribbon trim.

This week's "secret" has to do with the tools we cakers use and some of the odd places we find them. The little embossed fastener pieces that hold up the "drapes" on this cake come from a mold I found in the clay/sculpting section of the craft store. Molds made especially for caking can tend to be very expensive but you can find the same type of patterns for about a quarter of the price in the sculpting section if you are lucky.

The Lenox China bowl on the top is actually one from my own wedding. These were also used in our younger daughters wedding so I thought it would be perfect to add that touch to this cake designed for my older daughters wedding cake as well. Using a family heirloom as part of your wedding cake is a very nice sentimental touch so think of using a china piece, a broach, even a bracelet that belongs to your mother or grandmother to add that touch of family into your wedding cake.

This next week brings another Display Cake. This one designed for a Winter Wedding. I've finished the flower for it and am so excited to share it with you all. See you next Sunday!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yellow Chiffon Cupcakes topped with Ivory Buttercream,
sugar confetti and fondant candy!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome 2011! May it be a very good year for us all!

As promised, this week's cake is cupcakes! We celebrate Kwanzaa each year which includes alot of handmade creative projects. This year we made a gingerbread Christmas Tree from a Wilton kit I got at the craft store. These are great for kids because it comes with all the necessary parts, nothing has to be baked and they get a chance to catch a little of the decorating fever! Our baking project this year were these yummy yellow chiffon cupcakes topped with ivory tinted buttercream, sugar confetti and handpainted fondant candy. Jack helps with the actual making of the batter and topping with the decorations while I do the baking and icing. Of course, he's convinced that they taste even better just because he helped to make them! Whatever the reason, they were a big hit at the New Year's Eve dinner party we all attended!

The "secret" this week is the fondant candy. Oddly enough I know how to do this because of another ribbon craft that makes curly hair ribbons. The same concept is used here. Just take strips of fondant, I mix in a little tylose powder to speed up drying time, and curl it around a skewer. Let it dry and then slide it off and stick it right into the buttercream! If you roll the fondant out very thin the curlys will look more like the paper they are supposed to resemble but they will be very fragile. They will dry quickly but also break quickly so make double the amount you think you need. Rolling the fondant a little thicker means it will dry slower but will be more sturdy so you won't have as much breakage. Either way, if you make them the day before they will have plenty of time to dry before you need them.

As a cake artist I am aware of the pace of my business. After the busy summer wedding season there is a small slow time before the holidays begin and then another one after Christmas when people are feeling the monetary pinch of the holidays. This gives me time to work on some fun projects like my flyers and display cakes that I will need for Bridal Faires later this year. I have a few fun designs swirling around in my head I can't wait to get into cake form so I'll be working on those the next three weeks. Then business hits again and I'm busy for a few more weeks. So this is my fun time. My I-get-to-create-what-I-want time. I'll share the first of these fun display cakes next Sunday!