Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ruffled Skirt Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! Ok, so some of you may be looking at this and saying "It's Saturday" but due to events tomorrow I know I won't have time to post the blog and, well, it's Sunday in other parts of the world! LOL!

This week I get to share a small wedding cake that was so much fun to do that I hope to get a chance to do a larger version of it someday. This cake is enough to feed about 20 people at a small family wedding. Covered in pure white vanilla marshmallow fondant and decorated with royal icing swirls, candy pearls and sugar roses. The only non edible part of this cake is the jewel in the center of the main rose. That is a rhinestone.

For those who work with fondant or are new to fondant you will find that making a "skirt" is actually very easy to do. Just roll your fondant out, trim in an even circle and then adhere it to your cake making sure to give ruffles and folds like a real skirt would have and not smooth it down to the edge like you normally would. Now the ruffled part of the skirt is an advanced technique called frilling and you can find a tutorial on youtube how to do it. It's not really hard. Basically you roll fondant out till it is very thin, cut circles out of it, then cut a hole in the middle of the circle. Then, using a toothpick, holding it flat on the table, you roll the ruffles around the edge of the circle. When you have the entire circle ruffled then you cut it at one point and use that to add ruffles to your piece. that is how I made this ruffled skirt. I used several lines of ruffles, beginning at the bottom of the cake and moving my way up. After putting on the "over-skirt" of fondant I cut away enough to show the lace and tucked the edges under to make it look like a skirt that had been gathered up and "pinned" with a jeweled rose.

The top tier is decorated with royal icing as well in a pattern called Cornelli Lace. Someone once described it as drawing cursive lowercase r's all over the cake. I have found this easier to do on a square cake or hexagon cake than round ones just because you have well defined edges and can work in sections. But it's a relatively simple technique and always looks so beautiful on a wedding cake!

I really wanted to do this little cake to show that you can have an ornate wedding cake even if it's not 4 feet high and needing to feed 400. Even a small family wedding of 20 can have a beautiful wedding cake to top off their wedding day.

Close up of the rose

Candy pearls are one of my favorite embellishments but they do take a steady hand. I would recommend cake tweazers to help place them. But they are an inexpensive way of adding beauty and elegance to any cake. Royal icing is relatively easy to make and takes almost no time at all. The one thing you do have to remember is that it dries out very quickly so you will need to keep cleaning the tip of your piping tip and keep the extras stored in an airtight container. With a little practice, learning what consistancy works best for what you want to do with the icing, you will be able to add quick drying details to any cake. Since it does dry quickly it is perfect for painting over as well.

Next weekend brings a very special wedding cake. Have a great week!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pink and Brown theme Cupcakes

Happy Sunday! This week was a very very busy one for me. Being all by myself in this business means there is only me to rely on when the week gets busy and, for me, this means anytime I have more than 2 cakes or one wedding cake. Well, this week I had a wedding cake, 48 cupcakes AND a birthday cake! Today I'm sharing the cupcakes and birthday cake so I can share those techniques with you. Next week I'll share the wedding cake!

So the chocolate cupcakes in the photo are just regular cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and chocolate sprinkles but the pink and white cupcakes are strawberry cupcakes with swirled pink and white vanilla buttercream and there's a fun trick I'd like to share with you so you can do this same design on your next dozen cupcakes!

First pick out which cupcake tip you'd like to use in your piping bag. Now these are those large tips you see at the store that don't use a coupler in your bag. I prefer the large star tip for something like this. Put it into your large piping bag and set aside laying it flat on the counter. Now take some vanilla buttercream and color it any color you would like. Put that into a small piping bag with no tip or coupler and slide that inside your large piping bag which is still flat on the counter. Now do the same with some white vanilla buttercream and slide that bag in so it lines up with the colored icing bag. Carefully pick up your large piping bag so that, hopefully, your two smaller bags inside will slide down to the large piping tip inside the big bag. Pipe a little of your icing out into a bowl until you can see the twin colors coming out. Then pipe onto your cupcakes like you normally would! You will see the two colors swirl out on top! The fun thing is that you can do this with 3 colors if you'd like a more rainbow effect...just add another small bag of colored icing to your large bag. It's fun to see it pipe out onto your cupcakes and your guests will love, and marvel, over the effect!

Bordeaux and Gold Birthday Cake

Onto the birthday cake! This is a little 6 inch cake feeds 12. Since it is 4 inches high you don't want to cut more than a small slice for each person so you cut it in half then cut six slices from each side. Inside is luscious lemon chiffon cake with lemoncurd buttercream. Recipe secret here...I either use jarred lemoncurd or fresh, when I can get it, to make this. It's about a half jar of lemoncurd to 1 cup buttercream to make this filling. Then I mix in enough powdered sugar to make it stiff enough that it doesn't all run out. It's so good I could eat it like pudding!

Outside I used rose, navy blue and burgundy gell colors to create this dark wine colored, or "bordeaux" colored, buttercream. For such a dark color it actually took very little gell to make it this dark and vibrant! This means you don't end up with that chemical dye taste in your frosting. I did the normal fairly smooth crumbcoat and final coat of buttercream in this color. Then piped the edge. I let that set up for a few minutes while I colored royal icing with Buttercup yellow gell till it was a dark gold color. I had to add in more powdered sugar to make the royal icing stiff enough for piping. You can test the firmness by piping a bit onto a plastic lid then tilting it up for a few seconds..if your icing slides then you need to firm it up some more with powdered sugar. I started with the center of the cake and just started freehand swirls and create a "river" off the side of the cake knowing my rose would be at the top of that "river". You can use a patter maker to make swirls for you to follow if you wish. Any cookie cutter very gently pressed into the buttercream will give you a pattern you can pipe over easily! Some of the top pattern went over the sides but I carefully left out a bit of room on the side for the "L" inital of the birthday girl. When I started piping the sides the inital was the first thing I did. Once the piping was done it looked like a wine colored cake with dark yellow squiggles on it. So I took old gold luster dust and mixed in some clear alcohol (I use vodka but you can use clear vanilla extract as well) to make it into a thick paint consistancy. You do not want it watery otherwise it will drip off your royal icing onto your dark buttercream and show. Then, using a detail brush, about the same width as my piped lines, I handpainted the gold onto the royal icing. Because I had colored my royal icing this was a quick process. If I had left my royal icing white I would have had to paint and repaint the lines over and over again to get the true gold I wanted. Once I had all the lines covered and looking shiny gold, I took candy pearls and dumped them into the paint. Rolled them around in the paint and then onto parchment where I rolled them around with my paintbrush until the excess paint had been rolled off. Then I allowed them to dry before adding them to the cake and then did a final touch up with more gold.

Now that last tip is mainly for Californians. Some lawyer upstate decided that if you ate 10 pounds of these metallic colored pearls you might get cancer so he sued the state over it. Never mind that most people never eat more than 5 pearls at a time much less 10 pounds of's still in litigation so none of the cake companies here will ship the gold or silver balls into the state and we are forced to paint our own when we need them. If you don't live in California you can probably go to any supermarket or cake or craft supply store and buy a jar of gold or silver balls. I envy you! For now, I have to either color my own or beg out of state friends to bring them to me when they visit!

The rose on top of the cake is just a white sugarpaste rose that I used some of the gold paint to paint the edges. You can buy these roses already made at any cake supply store or even order them online for you to color however you wish if you don't want to make one like I did.

See you next Sunday! I'll share with you the wedding cake and some of the techniques used to make it!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Haywoods Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brings a wedding cake. Summer is my busiest season for weddings, bridal showers and baby showers so the next three weeks I have this type of wonderful celebration cake to share with you.

This cake is covered in fresh vanilla buttercream and then decorated with handrolled black fondant and free form hot pink royal icing flowers. Buttercream is hard to use in the summer. Heat melts it, humidity makes it harder to spread on smooth. But I use what is called a "high temp" buttercream recipe that, fortunately, tastes wonderful and stands up to heat. So far I've tested it up to 104 degrees! If any of you would like this recipe just let me know and I'll be happy to share it! Fortunately it wasn't that hot this weekend. We are enjoying a cooler summer this year and it was only 85 yesterday. That is wonderful weather for a backyard wedding!

Close up of rolled fondant and flowers

The second "secret" this week is the black fondant. Any caker will tell you that black, red, navy blue and purple fondant is the hardest to make. Black can be made with chocolate fondant that you have to add a bunch of black gell food coloring to but it doesn't taste very good and tasting good is as important as looking good! To make any of these vibrant colors you have to add a lot of food coloring which changes the taste as well as the texture of the fondant. Fortunately there are some companies that produce these colors and they taste pretty good too. Duff's (from Ace of Cakes) produces a yummy black fondant. It sort of tastes like a tootsie roll! It rolls out easily, goes onto a cake easily as well but it's not great for doing things like cake toppers. Because it's such a soft fondant you will need to add in a whole bunch of tylose in order to get it to dry up enough for a cake topper or other decorations that stand out from the cake. The other downside to buying your fondant is that it's very expensive. Duff's is available at Michaels and I always use one of their coupons to get it. They had a special 50% off coupon this week so I was able to get this for less than normal. I have another cake coming up soon that is going to need a lot of black so this was great timing for that coupon for me! Fondant, stored properly, can stay fresh up to 2 months and can be used for decorations up to 6 months. So this black fondant, though it was expensive, will be used up before the holidays.

Free form hot pink royal icing flowers

The flowers were pretty fun to do. I don't use a lot of royal icing. One batch will last me a month easily so this was a first for me. I am mostly self taught so off to YouTube I went to see how to make these. Now I get to pass it onto you! First you cover a hard surface, such as really thick cardboard or wood base, with parchment paper. Just tape the edges over to the back of your hard surface. Then mix up your colored royal icing. Put that into your piping bag with the tip you want to use and then cover that tip. Royal icing dries out VERY quickly. If you want to follow a pattern just print it out and place it under the parchment before you tape it down. Then just carefully pipe out the royal icing over the pattern lines. These flowers were supposed to be whimsical so I just jumped in and started piping. Remember to pipe at least double what you think you are going to need...triple if your tip is very small and your pattern delicate. You will have breakage. I piped out 30 knowing I'd need 14 and broke 3 of those. After piping let them sit for overnight to dry hard. Then, using a palette knife, gently lift them up off the parchement. You can attach them to the cake using more royal icing. In fact, if you cover the tip of your piping bag from when you piped your design out onto the parchment, and then seal that up into a ziplock bag, it will still be fresh for you to use for placing your royal icing pieces onto your cake.

Close up of the cake topper

As I mentioned, it's hard to get the black purchased fondant to dry up hard enough for a cake topper. So what I did was mix in a whole bunch of tylose powder, kneaded it well, and then formed my pieces. I made a center post with a dowel and covered it with the black fondant. I stuck that into a styrofoam block and let it dry. Then I rolled out the curli-ques and let those dry up over night. Even then I probably could have let them dry for another day or two to get really hard. I used royal icing that I had tinted black to attach the pieces to the center post and then let those dry for about an hour. Finally I added the royal icing flowers, placed it into the top of the cake and decorated with hot pink buttercream and candy pearls to match the decorations on the side of the cake.

The cake fit the black, white and pink color scheme perfectly and looked beautiful on the cake table for the event! Everyone thought it was just gorgeous. And that's a huge paycheck for a caker!

Next week brings cupcakes again and the two weeks after that bring two very different wedding cakes! Lots to share with you! See you next Sunday!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Picnic Basket Cupcakes

Happy Sunday! This week brings a Family Reunion Picnic that required Picnic themed cupcakes! These are some of the finished cupcakes before they were packaged up and delivered for the picnic. I made both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, all topped with vanilla buttercream as well as the fondant tablecloths, baskets, flowers and royal icing ladybugs I shared with you a couple of weeks ago.

There are two things about cupcakes. One is that they seem like they are easy to make. The other is that they go stale really quickly. Compared to a wedding cake, cupcakes are easy to make. But whenever you try to make any more than a dozen they become a bit more challenging than one would expect. But since they are baked in paper cups that allow air to permeate them and start to dry them out you will find you have a more limited time span in which to make and decorate them and still present a fresh product.

There are a few tips that will help you out in a case like this where 3 doz of these were needed. First off, as you noticed from my previous blog, the decorations were made a couple of weeks in advance so it was more assembling the pieces to the cupcakes after baking than decorating them. You can bake the cupcakes in foil wrappers which will help with drying out but, in most cases, the wrappers will be paper. So the best thing to do is bake them at the last moment possible. I aim for less than 24 hours before they will be served if possible. So I bake them, cool them and then place them into the carriers. You can get these at any Michaels or cake decorating store or even just save the plastic carriers from the muffins you buy at the grocery store and, after cleaning and drying well, use those for transportation and to help your cupcakes stay nice and moist. After placing inside the carrier then top with icing and any decorations you may want to use. This leads to less handling of the cupcakes, less air that gets into the sides where you touch the wrappers and less of a chance that you will mess one up after the icing and decorations are placed on top. To place this type of decoration I used royal icing as "glue" between the pieces. The tablecloths stuck to the fresh buttercream but then to adhere the baskets and flowers I used royal icing. It dries hard and fast so you take less of a chance of the decorations getting broken during transportation. Even if that transportation is from the counter of your kitchen to your kitchen table.

Close up

But, in the end, it's fun when a client sees something like these adorable Picnic Basket Cupcakes and thinks they are the cutest things she's ever seen. That's big payment for a caker and she gets to be proud of what she is serving all day long.

This upcoming week brings a wedding cake! Lots of work to get it done but I'll share the finished product next Sunday!


Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Pinwheel Cake


I hope everyone out there has a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends, fun and fireworks! We sure are!

In order to celebrate this holiday for our family I decided a special cake was in order. And, as always, I decided to try to extend my caking knowledge at the same time by learning a new technique and pushing myself a bit more!

Since I had to learn a new technique to make the pinwheel design I had decided upon I thought I'd share all of those steps with you! Step One is pictured below:

Step One: Blue square and stripes

First I had to make a square of colored fondant that was mixed with tylose so it would dry faster. I made it a bit smaller than I wanted to end up with since I knew I'd have to roll it out again after I added the stripes. The stripes were cut from white fondant with a ruler. Then I brushed just a bit of water on the back of each stripe and laid them out on the blue fondant. I let this set up for a minute then carefully rolled the piece out again. You have to be very careful to roll it out a bit in each direction, horizontally, vertically as well as corner to corner in order to preserve your white fondant design and not distort it too much. You also do not want to roll hard enough that you press the white design all the way through your colored fondant. You want the back of the piece to be one solid color.

Step Two: Trimming and cutting

The cake I made is a 6x4 so I knew I wanted the pinwheel to hang over just a teeny bit so I trimmed the final square to 6x6 then cut in the fold lines for the pinwheel. These are cut all the way through for folding later on when it sets up enough to do that. Then the piece is left to dry for a few hours. The trick is to let it set up enough that it will roll without collapsing right away but not so set up that it cracks. So check it about once an hour till you reach that stage.

Step Three: Folding and Supporting

The final step before allowing it to dry completely is folding the pinwheel into it's final shape. If you have ever done this with paper then you already know how to fold it up. The only difference is that you are not hooking the fondant onto the fondant but rather, folding the tips down so they can be used to adhere the rolled pieces to the flat pieces with a bit of water. If you don't know how to fold a pinwheel you can do what I did and find a video on Google. They are easy to learn how to make. Once the rolls where adhered to the flat corners (I could let go and they didn't come back up again) I used rolled up plastic wrap (I use Press and Seal) to make round supports for the rolls so that they wouldn't collapse before dry. Then I let it dry for 24 hours. I then removed the supports and let it dry for another 12 hours before placing it on the cake.

Step Fou: Placing the Pinwheel on the Cake

To place the pinwheel onto the fully decorated cake I made a base out of the same color of fondant with tylose that I used to make the pinwheel out of in step one. I made the circle a bit smaller than the center of the pinwheel, about 1-1/2 inch, stuck a small dowel into it to look like the "stick" of the pinwheel and then set it onto the center of the cake. I then brushed the top with a bit of water and placed the pinwheel on top. I gave it a few minutes to set up then used red frosting to make the "button" in the center.

This was so much fun that I'm now planning a cake with lots of mini pinwheels on it for Easter next year! Lots of different colors and decorations, of course!LOL!

I hope you all have a great week. Those cupcakes I told you about last week are up for me this week. I'll post final photos of how those turn out on Sunday! Have a very Happy 4th of July!