Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jilly's 2nd Birthday Cake


Jilly's actual birthday was earlier in the month but since they live in another town we decided to have a 2nd party for family and local friends here this weekend. She's lovin' Mickey Mouse these days so it was easy to come up with a theme and I knew pretty quickly what I wanted her cake to look like!

This chocolate cake is filled and covered in vanilla buttercream and decorated with red and black fondant strips and marbles as well as yellow and black "Mickey Ears" out of royal icing. The Mickey Ears hat is also made of fondant and is not filled with cake but hollow like a real hat. We did get photos of our grandaughter wearing her fondant Mickey Ears after cutting the cake and she just loved them!

The Cake Table

The cake is a simple 3 layer 8x3 chocolate cake. What makes this cake is all the details. From the different width stripes to the handrolled marbles of fondant to the Mickey Ears that spell out her name around the cake base to the Mickey Ears on top. Even the cake base is covered in blue embossed fondant and trimmed in red fondant squares with yellow dots. None of these details are particularly hard. They just take time and planning. The Mickey Ears hat started out in a half ball pan that had been lightly smeared with crisco and then the black fondant smoothed into the pan. I let that set up for a day then popped it into the freezer and gently, using an offset spatula, removed it from the pan and very gently turned it over onto a wire rack to keep drying for several days after. The ears were cut out using a round cookie cutter, flattened along the ball pan on one side and then dried on a slightly concave flower former for several days. I made the red/white/black emblem on the hat using circle cutters stacked on each other and glued together with water. I let them set up that way on a wire rack for several hours the adhered them to the hat while I could still mould it to the shape of the hat. When all the pieces were dry I used black royal icing to "glue" the ears to the hat and then let that dry another two days before it was time to decorate the cake. At the same time as I moulded the hat I cut out the Mickey Ear shapes so I could spell out Jilly's name. I let them dry for 3 days on parchment then piped her name in yellow royal icing onto the shapes and let that dry until cake decorating day. About midweek I covered the cake base with the blue fondant and embossed it using round cutters, making sure not to cut all the way through the fondant to the base. Then cut out little red squares and adhered them with water to the blue fondant and finished it off with yellow royal icing dots. It was important that there be at least two days of drying time for the base so that when I placed the cake upon it there would be no marks left from the spatulas used to place the cake. If the fondant is too soft still it will imprint easily and mess up the look of your base.

When it came time to decorate the cake I smooth iced it and then let that crust up for a couple of hours. Then I cut out the stripes and added them to the cake using water to adhere them to the icing. Then, after rolling out the marbles, I used water to adhere them around the cake. This is easier said than done since, well, being marbles, they want to roll right off so it takes more time than you would think to get these all the way around the cake! Then it was time to add the royal icing black and yellow Mickey Ears between the stripes. Quick and easy! The very last thing I did was to place the Mickey Ears on top and then using water and royal icing, adhered the Mickey Ears shapes that spell out her name to the cake base. I let this dry for a few hours before I even considered moving the cake so that the hanging letters could dry solidly. Obviously the round cake base is on top of another cake stand to give it enough room off the table for the hanging letters. The only nonedible piece is the Mickey Mouse Candle.

So, as I said before, it's not hard to do, it all just takes planning and time. But I simply love how it turned out and so did Jillian. We had a wonderful day today celebrating her turning two. I know I'm getting myself into trouble...making elaborate birthday cakes for her at this age....can you imagine what she'll want for her wedding day!?! But I can't resist...especially for my grandchildren!

This week brings a grown up birthday cake! I'll share that with you next Sunday!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bunny Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brings a birthday cake for a special little girl. I've mentioned before that the really fun cakes for me are the ones I do as gifts for my family. I have so much fun designing them and bringing the joy to my loved ones when I present them with these edible gifts.

This week's cake was for my neice who was turning 5. Miss Sarah LOVES her bunny and when asked what kind of cake she wanted she was very very clear that she wanted a "bunny cake" so I created her this dream cake for a covered in carrots! Sarah is a very girly girl so that meant her bunny needed to be a girly girl too. So she got pretty flirty lashes and a "goin' to Sunday School" hat complete with a little flower on top. The bunny, carrot and the "S" are all fondant with some tylose mixed in. With all figures you have to make the pieces then, after they are dry, assemble them together with some water or "gum glue". Gum glue is simply some gumpaste or tylose that's been disolved into some warm water till it has a glue consistancy. It glues the pieces together fairly quickly making a bond between the sugars.

Close up of the Bunny

And what goes with bunnies better than baskets? I have done the basketweave technique on round cakes before but had never tried it on a square cake, much less on the top of one and thought that it would make for a very interesting background texture for the bunny and the carrots. I love the way it turned out. For those who have never done a basketweave before I thought I would attempt to explain it. As with most techniques, you can find video on YouTube.

Start out with a good crumbcoat on your cake. I used tip #48 which has a jagged tooth design on both sides of the opening. There are tips out there that have a smooth side and a jagged side but for basketweave I use the double jagged sided tip. That way, as I work my way around the cake, and as I twist my bag to keep icing in the tip, I don't have to worry about which side of the tip I'm working with, it's the same on both sides! You start from a corner, on a square, with a solid vertical line down the cake. Then you do another small line at the top, the middle and the bottom horizontally over that first straight line.
Here I tried to show how I "tucked" the horizontal lines and brought them over the vertical line. I followed these horizontal lines with a straight verticle line down the cake and then three horizontal lines. It's important there there is some of the horizontal line under the vertical line. This is what gives the woven effect and makes it look bumpy like it's really a basket.

I trimmed the cake with a leaf tip and green icing and then tucked in royal icing carrots I had piped out onto parchment paper and allowed to dry for a few hours. If you are doing small royal icing pieces like this then they will dry in a few hours but if you are doing larger or thicker royal icing pieces you may need to let them dry overnight so they are solid enough to pick up. Use an offset spatula to gently lift them from the parchment and always, always, always make at least double what you think you will need since royal icing breaks easily! I made about 100 carrots and used about 75 of them.

Next week's focus is another family cake! My grandaughter turned 2 recently and we are having a family party in her honor. And, of course, Nana gets to make her cake! I'm so excited to share this one with you all next Sunday night!


Monday, August 15, 2011

Daisy Bridal Shower Cake

Happy Monday! Yup, running a day late for the blog due to a very very busy work and family weekend! Featured today is a Bridal Shower cake that has a lot of techniques that you can use to make your next celebration cake!

Not all cakes are towering masterpieces that require days of work. Some just need a day or two of prep time and then an hour to actually decorate the cake. Since the flowers needed to be very stiff on the cake so they sort of stand up on the sides, they needed to dry for two days before placing on the cake. For this I used fondant with a bit of tylose mixed in to help them dry quickly. If you want to keep the flowers all fondant then allow at least a week drying time for them. I used the Wilton Daisy Cutter Set to cut out the daisies out of fondant I had dyed pink with rose gel dye and green with leaf green gel dye. Then set them out on a piece of styrofoam to let them dry overnight. Then I added the centers, poked those with a fondant tool that looks like a pencil and then dusted them with yellow luster dust to give them a little bit of shimmer. The centers were glued to the flowers by using a bit of water on a paint brush then I allowed them to dry again overnight.

There are several techniques you can use to make the sides of your cake look more interesting. Since I knew the daisies were going to cross the cake diagonally I thought the stripes up the sides would add to that illusion of movement. What you do is ice the cake like you normally would and then, picking what you consider the "back" of the cake, start at the base of the cake and using the back of your offset spatula just lightly drag the icing up to the top at an angle. You can also do this straight up the cake if you don't want the diagonal pattern but do want the stripes. Make sure you drag the icing all the way up past the top of the cake. When you have gone all the way around the cake you can then smooth the icing along the edges onto the top of the cake. This will be covered by the trim design you decide to use. This worked out well in white icing but it's even more dramatic in chocolate!

This cake was made to match the Bridal Shower invites and to fit in with the decor of the Shower. Don't be afraid to try to match the cake to the party. You don't have to be complicated with your design. It can be as simple as daisies travelling up to the top of the cake to encircle the initials of the Bride and Groom! Congrats again to Toni and David!

Have a great week! A special birthday cake will be spotlighted next week so hope to see you back here on Sunday!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tiffany Box Style Wedding Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brings a new Demo cake to share with you. This is actually the mock-up for a Bride who is getting married next summer. She's a friend and I thought, while I have to do a topsy turvy demo cake I might as well do this one up for her. Yes, she loved the way this turned out!

When you visit a cake designer, verses a bakery or grocery store, you start out with an initial meeting where the designer gets to know you and your expectations for a cake. The basics are covered like: theme, colors, flowers, but also the little details of your life like: hobbies, where you two met, where you are going on your honeymoon. Things like that can really help to refine what the client wants and helps to turn out a more personalized cake in the end. But, with a designer it doesn't end there. Once this initial meeting is done it's time for the designer to get to work. Just like a custom wedding dress, a custom cake needs sketches! I sketch out 4-5 designs and then let the client choose from those or they can tell me what they like from the different designs and then I can give them a sketch that incorporates all of what they liked into one cake. A bakery will give you the first consultation and you will decide what your cake will look like right then and there. A grocery store will tell you the 4-5 different cakes they make and you will choose which one fits your day. But with a cake artist you get a truly personalized cake. In the end I want your cake to be a one of a kind centerpiece for your event whether it's your wedding day, your birthday or just the 4th of July!

Now, you knew there had to be a tip or trick this week, right? Well, there are a couple of tips for those who are learning to work with fondant. In my opinion, and not everyone agrees, square cakes are easier to cover with fondant. When you lay the fondant over the box shape you start at the corners and make those as crisp as you can get them. Then you start to smooth down the sides. As always, trimming your fondant, after laying it over, will help you to smooth it easier because you will have trimmed away the extra weight. Before adding any further details you will want your covered cake to set up for about a half hour. This will help the surface to get a little more mar resistant. For this cake I needed fondant "ribbons" and bows. The bows were made a couple of days in advance and tylose was added to the fondant to help it set up. I used paint brush handles to keep the bow part round until it had dried 12 hours then gently removed them and added the center gathered piece to complete the bow. The ribbons were cut out of very thinly rolled out fondant. This is easy to do on the small box but harder for the larger boxes. The small box, from side to side, is 4+4+4 or 12 inches of ribbon each direction. But the next size box is 4+6+4 or 14 inches and the biggest box is 4+8+4 or 16 inches. I have a 12x12 measuring mat (one of those that has a grid on it for rolling out fondant) so while the first one was easy the others had to be pieced out. Since they would be covered with the bows or other boxes I didn't worry too much about how they met up in the middle of the top of the box. So the second box was actually 4 pieces of 7 inch long "ribbon" and the bottom box was actually 4 pieces of 8 inch long "ribbon". For the larger boxes I started at the center of the box and laid the "ribbon" over the edge down to the bottom of the box. Once it was where I wanted it to be I lifted it from the bottom and used a paint brush to brush on a damp amount of water then laid the ribbon back down and smoothed it to the bottom of the box. Then I trimmed the ribbon and used a fondant tool to tuck the edge under the box.

So you are probably wondering how the topsy turvy effect is achieved. Well, for a demo cake it was really easy. I simply put bows on each box and used those to tip the box above. Secured the box with royal icing to add stability. But, for a real cake it's a bit different because you are dealing with the weight of a cake. For that we use cake boards on the bottom of each tier and dowels of different lengths inserted so that they stick up out of the bottom cake just a little bit higher on one side than the other and tip the cake up just a bit. Royal icing is also used as "cement" to stablize the cake. The final touch is a very long dowel that is inserted into the top cake all the way to the base of the bottom cake. Then the final bow is placed on top to cover where the dowel went in. Sugar roses are added to the design to help cover the structure part of the cake as well as to add a bit more to the cake design.

This upcoming week brings a Bridal Shower cake to share! Bridal and Baby Showers have grown to larger parties than they were back "in the day" where it was 8 women around a coffee table. This shower is for 25 and we have worked showers where there were double that amount of guests. My theory is that, due to the economy and tighter budgets, we have stopped having the smaller gatherings of family and friends and have started making the bigger events in life a bigger celebration that includes all of our family and friends we have missed throughout the year. It certainly makes it more fun for the cake designer who makes a larger cake and thus ends up with a larger canvas on which to create their work of art!

Have a great week! See you next Sunday!