Sunday, March 27, 2011

Critter Cupcakes

Happy Sunday! The rains in Northern California have been impressive over the past few weeks. Torential downpours, hail, flooding, the whole 9 yards. It has made outdoor activities almost impossible but our local CubScouts weathered the rain for a trip to the fish hatchery (and the rain held off for a couple of hours for them too!) and needed a bit of a treat for the trip.

I have made this type of cupcake before but with pretty butterflies on top. Somehow I don't think the boys would have been too happy with butterflies! LOL! So spiders and ladybugs (for those who couldn't make themselves chomp into a spider) became the "critters" for this go-round. Those were piped out of royal icing. The kids were delighted. And they are Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes so the parents were pretty happy too!

The "secret" this week is that you can easily do something very close to this yourself in your own home kitchen without needing a piping bag or tips or much skill. All you have to do is color icing in two colors of green, one a few shades darker than the other. Put those into ziplock bags and cut a small bit of a bottom corner off on each. Now, using the lighter green first, "pipe" dots on to the cupcakes in a random order. Then, using the darker color, fill in the leftover spaces. Finally, you just use a fork and dip it into the icing in a straight up and down manner to create your grass "spikes". After that you just need to put candy bugs or worms on top!

This week I learned a new technique that I will share with you all in the week to come. This one is so easy and beautiful that you will be happily using it for your Easter cakes this year!

And speaking of April! Many of us are watching the preparations for the Royal Wedding which is coming up on April 29th of this year. Well, today they announced who the cake designer will be and what she will be creating! The lucky designer is Fiona Cairns and she will be using the Joseph Lambeth technique on several fruitcakes to create the wedding cake. The Lambeth technique is where they use intricate piping to decorate the cakes. English wedding cakes are not like ours. They don't stack the cakes and the cake inside the fondant or Marzipan covering is a heavy fruitcake. Yup, similar to that stuff your Grandmother has been trying to get you to eat for years. They are not fluffy chiffon type cakes like we have here in the US and while our current trend is clean lines and just a hint of decoration here or there, the Lambeth method . So it's fun to watch the Royal Website for the preparations and see how differently it's done on the other side of "The Pond".

For those interested:

The Royal Website:

Fiona Cairns Website:

Have a great week, I'll see you next Sunday!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baby Ballcap

Happy Sunday! This week has been a challenge. If you take a look at the photo above you will notice that cap has many pieces that make up the whole. Well, the rain this week, and it's been pouring in Northern California all week, has made for a rough journey to completion for this cap. I have earned my money on this one!LOL!

Step one was to make the bowl of the cap. To get the right "newborn" size I actually covered my son's magic 8 ball with plastic wrap, then crisco and then smoothed the circle of sugarpaste over that, trimmed it and let it set up for 24 hours. Normally this would only take an hour or two but the humidity was making everything dry at a much slower rate. Once that was set up enough I could add the ribbing and letter and then let it set up again for 24 hours. At that point I could attach the blue section of the bill and it took the full 24 hours to set up and allow the "glue" to dry enough to hold it onto the bowl of the cap. At that point I could put on the trim around the bowl/bill and let it set up. Finally, 24 hours later, I was able to add the red piece to the bill of the cap and 48 hours after that I could pick up the cap and hold it in my hands. I'm very happy this cake isn't due for 3 more weeks since it needs to get rock hard before I can place it on the cake and with the rain that is still predicted for around here I think it's going to take every second of those 3 weeks to dry as solid as I need it to be.

But, as with all patience trying aspects of caking, the end result is so worth the time and effort it took to get it from powdered sugar, tylose and marshmallows to the finished product that could just fit a newborns teeny head. I can't wait for the Mama-to-be to see the cap and shoes, both personalized with a B for the baby's first name, on her baby shower cake!

There is no "secret" this week. Decorating a baby shower cake can be as complicated or as simple as you'd wish it to be. But if you are hiring a cake artist to do something really special for your shower, or a friends shower, then going for a "realism" look with the embellishments might be the way to go. In this case it's the baseball cap and teeny sneakers but on your cake it could be a realistic looking stork with a baby bundle as a topper or a cake shaped like a crib or bassinette. Giving you the wow factor for your party is why we cake artists do what we do!

I also did cupcakes today for our CubScouts but I'm going to save those for next Sunday so I can give you lots of tips and tricks that you can use to make your own Springtime cupcakes for your next outing!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Baby Converse Sneakers

Happy March! Spring is beginning to poke out here and there in Northern California. It's a bit confused with it going from warm to freezing to warm again but it looks like warm is currently winning and the flowers and trees are beginning to bloom everywhere. With the Spring comes the Spring babies and the Baby Showers for the new Mom-to-be's. This weeks project is for an upcoming shower cake for a first time Mom.

They chose a Sports theme for this shower and it's for an expected baby boy so everything is very athletic and very blue and very very small! Since the embellishments for this cake need time to dry hard as a rock I needed to take some time and get that done now so they would be ready to set on the cake in a few weeks.

First up are these adorable newborn sized sneakers. The challenges in doing this type of work is that the items are so very small but also you are working with fondant that has tylose added to it which helps it to dry quickly. So you cut out the pieces, just like you would if you were making real shoes, and then assemble as quickly as possible before they get too dry and start to crack. The other challenge is to add the details needed to make them look like real shoes. For these I added the baby's first initial to make it even more personalized.

This weeks' secret is for those who want to add embellishements to their own cakes without having to spend the time or money to make the sugarpaste pieces. Look for a local cake supply store in your area. Inside you will find all sorts of plastic and sugarpaste embellishments to help you to take your simply iced cake and make it something really special. From there you can add a bit of color to a white iced cake or even to a store bought cake and make it more personalized for your party.

Next week I'll share with you another embellishment for this cake which is presently drying enough so I can take photographs of it! See you next weekend!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Hippo Themed Baby Shower Cake

The beauty of this business is that when you have a special family occassion for your own family you have the opportunity to create your art for the ones you love and pour your heart into your work. This week's cake was for my younger daughter's baby shower. It's their first baby so this was a special cake for a truly special occassion!

I started work on this cake over a month ago. Starting with the sculptures, which are all hand molded out of fondant, and working my way to the palm leaves and then the boulders, each piece had to be molded, painted and left to dry. More detail painting was added then another drying period. All leading up to three days before when the actual cake was baked, then wrapped, frozen and finally two days before the construction of the cake began. Since this was for my baby girl, I wanted to add as much detail as I could so this was a project that took several more hours than an average baby shower cake but when the trees were finally set into place the cake was just perfect.

From the baby hippo sleeping on the top of the cake under the palms and next to the water...

to the Daddy Hippo tubin his way down the waterfall...

to the Mama Hippo lounging in the pond on the cake board, this cake was perfect for my daughter and her vision of her Hippo Themed Baby Shower. Right down to the cup of tea next to the Mama Hippo since the shower was held in a Tea Room!

Inside the cake was also tailored to the Mama to Be. Lemon pound cake filled with lemon curd buttercream is my daughters favorite cake so there was no doubt what the shower cake needed to be!

As I've mentioned before, my younger daughter and I also run an event company so this was a fun way to combine both businesses on one day...with a twist. My oldest daughter is who threw this party for her sister so I got to work with her for a nice change to help her bring our Mama to Be's vision to life. What a wonderful day it was too!

The next few weeks brings me some detail work for yet another shower cake so I'll be sharing with you the bits and pieces as they come together! See you next Sunday!