Monday, February 28, 2011

2011 Oscar Night Cake

So this week brought the 83rd Academy Awards and along with that an Oscar Party! The theme was Mann's Chinese Theater so there was Chinese Food, Fortune Cookies and, of course, the Chinese Food Container Cake! This cake is actually 2 tiers, one Gingerbread, one Yellow and serves 20. Everything was edible except the handle and the "fortune".

The "secret" for this cake is to use a non edible item like the paper fortune, instead of and edible one. Most of the time I really try to make everything edible but there are times when going the extra mile is not only not worth the extra work but can also be a dangerous idea when it comes to transporting the cake to the client. In this case, to make the fortune look like a real paper fortune, I would have had to make the fondant very very thin and in transporting it over bumpy roads for 130 miles the chances are overwhelming good that the thin fortune would have snapped in half and destroyed part of the presentation of the cake. So the lesson here is to let yourself off the hook from time to time and learn what is better to use out of the real thing rather than make it's faux edible double.

The other tip has to do with the wire handle. Made from 20 gauge wire, this is not only not edible but it can't touch the cake or icing at all. In order to be able to use it I cut a food grade plastic coffee stir stick in half, put half in one side of the cake and half in the other side, making sure not to slide it all the way into the cake. Then, using royal icing as glue I was able to insert the wire into the stir stick and seal it with the royal icing. So all the wire touches is stir stick and royal icing, both which are removed with the wire when it's time to cut the cake!

Mini Birthday Cake

This tiny 4 inch mini cake was meant to feed just four people. Since it was for my daughter's birthday I wanted to make sure it was really special so I spent the extra time and effort to make this mini cake perfect for her. Lemon Chiffon Cake filled with lemon-lime curd buttercream, her favorite, was decorated all in fondant, also her favorite, and embellished with royal icing swags as well as hundreds of royal icing dots to give the feel of Wedgewood China. It was a big hit.

This next week brings a very special baby shower cake. For the same daughter that was mentioned above, this shower cake is to welcome her first child due mid April. And I can't wait to share it with you all next Monday!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blue & Gold Dinner Cub Scout Cake

Happy Sunday! For some of us this is a three day weekend. From my day job I do get the time off but this only gives me time to work at this job which is quite a treat! I have a few big jobs coming up so the extra time to work on the little details is wonderful.

This week brought the annual Blue & Gold Dinner for Cub Scouts. I try to come up with something new each year and this year I found a wonderful new twist on a very popular combo. My lemon chiffon cake with lemon curd buttercream is always a crowd pleaser but this year I came upon a jar of lemon-lime curd and couldn't wait to try it out! Sure enough it was just outstanding. So don't be afraid of using something new and unusual to pump up the flavor of your cake fillings!

The "secret" of this cake is the logo. I'm a passable artist. I can sketch out a cake well enough that a client will understand what the design is but I can't really draw. In the case of logos there is a work-around that works beautifully. You just need to know the secret of how to use it and make it food safe. I find the logo online, print it out and then laminate it. Now you can't just plop that onto the cake because it's not food safe so all you need to do is put down some wax paper or parchment first then layer on the logo and seal the edges with buttercream piping. Before serving the cake simply lift the logo/paper off and serve!

One of the things I do love about this time of year, my "slow" time of year, is the freedom to take on last minute clients and get fun little projects like the one below.

Pretty Princess Cupcakes

These little lemon cupcakes are topped with fresh buttercream and baby pink sugared fondant crowns and candy pearls. The crowns are easier than you would think but make a big impact. Just cut them out a day or so before, lay them out on a plate or baking sheet, brush with a teeny bit of water and sprinkle the sanding sugar on. Then let them dry for at least 24 hours. 48 is better to get them nice and hard like candy. I have a Cricut, which is a wonderful machine that cuts out multiple items in one pass, but you can easily do this with a cookie cutter in almost no time at all. Then just pipe on the buttercream and stick on the crowns and you are done! I went a little bit farther by piping on curly ribbon like swags and decorating them with candy pearls which added a nice little elegant touch.

But sometimes it's the little touches that mean the most. It takes a very steady hand to do smooth swags but I wanted them to curl a bit so I let the thin line of icing wiggle a bit as I piped it. Then just pressed in the pearls. The two year old recipient was thrilled with her Princess cupcakes and that's just a wonderful payoff for me!

Next week brings an unusual cake and a new day for the blog. Due to work obligations this upcoming weekend I will be posting the blog on Monday instead of fact, this will be the case two weeks in a row. So I'll see you next Monday!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hugs & Kisses Valentine's Cupcakes

Happy Sunday and Happy Valentine's Day! As you can see, my display cake hit a delay for the best of reasons...paying clients such as the one who ordered 2 dozen of these fun little Mexican hot chocolate cupcakes decorated with fresh cream buttercream and adorable little x's, o's and hearts for her office party. Of course I made a few extras for my family to enjoy and they were completely YUMMY!

Once again, presentation is everything when it comes to a cupcake. Being such a tiny slice of cake there's just not much to decorate but you can make a big impact with additions such as the fondant candy (cut out with mini cutters you can find at Michaels Craft Stores) and silver cupcake liners. As I mentioned last week, present these on pretty dessert plates and you have a beautiful little gift for your sweetheart.

This weeks "secret" is what is hidden inside...a Hershey Kiss! What you do is put in a scoop of batter into your cupcake liner. I use a large cookie dough scoop. Then put the unwrapped kiss into the middle and press part of the way down (not all the way to the bottom) and then top with a teeny bit more of the batter. Bake as you normally would. Even when cool the kiss is soft and wonderful to bite into and makes for a very nice sweet surprise for your Valentine to discover!

The next few weeks are booked solid so my display cake will have to wait till I get an opening in March but this next Sunday will bring the Blue and Gold Cubscouts cake for me to share with you all. See you then!


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunshine Lemon Cupcakes. Lemon Chiffon cake topped
with creme cheese buttercream and fondant candy sunflowers.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I'm taking a highly unpopular stand in my neck of the woods and rooting for the Steelers but, in reality, just hoping for a good game and funny commercials!LOL!

Today's cake is actually easy, fun little cupcakes. Cupcakes are a quick and easy way to have cake in your life and an inexpensive gift to a friend for their birthday. Of course I go a bit farther and handmake the flowers but you can buy them easily! So there's "secret" number one....topping your cupcakes with a cute edible flower or sugar piece. They don't cost much, usually come in sets of 12, perfect for that dozen cupcakes you are making, and have begun to taste pretty good. If you want to make your own though, it's still pretty easy. It just takes a bit of preplanning and a teeny bit of work. These were made with a "daisy" cutter. You can find a set of three at Michaels. I cut out two different colors of fondant, dried one flat and one with the curled up edges (just use your fingers and the wooden end of a paint brush to curl them up). I brushed the darker flat pieces with a paint like consistancy of gold luster/pearl dust and clear vanilla extract and dusted the curled pieces with dry gold luster/pearl dust. Stacked them, using a bit of water as glue, with a little dark brown disk of fondant that I'd poked a few times and that was it to make the sunflowers!

The other "secret" to todays cupcakes has to do with presentation. Dessert plates are one of my favorite things to collect but you can just use decorative paper plate saucers to dress up the cupcakes instead. The plate pictured cost a dollar at Michaels in their dollar section...yup, a set of six for $6! And dessert plates are easy to store. I buy in sets of 4 or buy them seperately in sets of 6. That way, whether I'm serving a birthday cake or valentine cupcakes, I have a pretty way to serve them up. It really makes a difference. So no matter what you are serving, give a little thought to what you are serving your cake on and you'll get rave reviews!

I'm working on a large display cake that I hope to show you next weekend. I've finished the roses, now it's just time to actually do the rest! Since I also have the cake for the CubScouts Blue and Gold dinner I may not get the display cake finished but I will have photos of the Scout cake and at least a teaser of the display cake for you all next Sunday!

GO STEELERS! (had to get that in...)