Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Sunday! This week brought our Cub Scouts Blue & Gold Dinner. I've been doing the cakes for this Pack for the past 5 years and this was my last Blue & Gold. They have grown from a Pack of 22 kids to a Pack of 54 kids so the cake needs have grown as well. This was the perfect time to bring up the subject of using separate cakes to feed a lot of people instead of doing a stacked cake.
These cakes are also an example of how you can do different shapes and add artwork even when you don't have the pans or molds to make them. For the cakes I simply baked 10 inch square cakes and then cut off the corners to make this 8 sided cake. Just a little more style to the cake than a plain square cake would have had. The center piece is simply rolled fondant that was cut into the symbol by using a print out that had been glued to thin cardboard and then cut out. I placed the cardboard on top of the rolled fondant, traced it out, then used an exacto that I use only for food, to cut the shape. After that it was just painting it with the gold luster dust and letting it dry before placing it on the cake.
The last Blue & Gold for us to attend with Pack 335 was a big success. There were about 150 people so I needed 150 servings. For ease of serving in the Hall along with having more surface for printing, I decided to go with the 3 separate cakes instead of making one big, wedding cake style, cake. The wonderful thing is that you can do this for wedding cakes too! It would give you the freedom to go with three coordinating but different looks on your cake table and then you and your groom simply make your pick on the one you wish to cut. We went with a Neapolitan theme for the flavors as well. One was chocolate, one vanilla and one strawberry and all were gone by the end of the night. You could do this with wedding cakes as well. Make one a Boston Creme Pie, one covered in Ganache and one the traditional white wedding cake. Lots of different choices for your guests to enjoy! 
They made for a wonderful presentation for the dinner, everyone enjoyed the way they looked and tasted and I was even given a very nice tribute for all the years I have been the Pack's Cake Lady. It's been a fun run.

Next week I will share a beautiful wedding cake that I also did this week! I'll share it with you along with some sugar flowers that I'm working on for a Bridal Shower cake that is coming up soon.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy Sunday! Hope you had a really wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Unfortunately most of our household got sick this weekend so we've been lying low and have postponed our dinner until Thursday. Fortunately the cake that was due this week was already done and photographed!

This 3 tiered Easter Cake is a demonstration on how you can use packaged decorations and cookie cutters to decorate a cake. Even if you haven't learned how to make and use fondant yet, you can still use some of the same tips and decorations on a buttercream iced cake!

Let's work from the top down. The "egg" topper is actually a egg shaped piece of fondant that I then covered with little cookie cutter flowers that I dusted with pearl dust and then attached with royal icing. Finally I put a dot of royal icing in the center of each one and placed pearl dragees into the icing. Green buttercream made for the perfect bed for the "egg" to rest on for the top of the cake.

The top and bottom tiers just use the same green buttercream and Cadbury Chocolate Eggs for trim. The middle tier uses this same trim along with eggs cut with cookie cutters out of different colored fondant and then mixed and matched with each other to make multi colored eggs for the cake. Finally I used little sprinkles shaped like bunny heads, chicks and sheep in the same colors as the eggs that I nestled into dots of buttercream on the cake. 

Because I only fully decorated the center tier, the cake keeps a clean and uncluttered look to it. If you decorated each tier like the middle tier it would look incredibly busy and over decorated. If you just used the trim with the topper it might look too bare. If I were to use these ideas for a single tier of cake I would make the center tier but leave off the topper and just use a few of the little dusted flowers sprinkled on the plain white top instead.

If you are going to make a multi tiered cake like this one remember that structure is everything in a stacked cake. You want to have at least 5 dowels placed into each tier to support the upper tiers. The cakes do not actually support each others weight, the dowels do that. If you are going to transport your cake you may want to consider a long center dowel placed into the center from the top to the bottom of the cake. Lightly sharpen the tip of the long dowel and it should go right through the cake boards all the way to your bottom board or drum. This will give your cake a lot more stability and save you the time and trouble of having to stack and add your trim at the venue. I, personally, have a Cake Safe ( that uses this same idea for transportation and has been a life saver, and cake saver, since I often have to transport stacked cakes up to 200 miles away. 

If you find yourself in the position of having to travel such a long way to deliver a cake and you don't have a Cake Safe then just individually box each cake tier and stack them at the venue instead. Just make up a small kit with your tools and icing and give yourself at least an extra hour for stacking and trimming of the cake.

This week is our Cub Scouts Blue & Gold dinner so I'll see you next Sunday with photos of those cakes to share!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy Sunday! Thanks to the popularity of shows like Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss as well as shows like Cupcake Wars which has helped make cupcakes a hot ticket these little treasures have gotten to be quite popular for my clients. I have had several orders of "Dinner Party Cupcakes" this past year and I try to make them different each time.

These Mexican Hot Chocolate Dinner Party Cupcakes were ordered by a wonderful repeat client. She had taste tested this flavor during a cake consultation and fell in love. So when the occasion came up where she wanted cupcakes she knew exactly which ones she wanted!

What makes these special is the use of good dark chocolate, that has been grated into the chocolate batter, but also the cinnamon and red pepper added into the mix as well. Somehow the spices make the flavor of the dark chocolate just POP! You have the combination of the sweet vanilla buttercream, the caramel sauce, then the bite of the spices and the richness of the chocolate. It's sheer Heaven in four bites. YUM!

I see a lot of elegant presentations on some of those shows I mentioned before but, more often than not, I see some really interesting looking presentations that, well, to be honest, just wouldn't be all that fun to eat. A lot of elaborate cupcakes seem to focus all on how they look and not how it would actually feel to bite into it. So I thought I'd take a few moments to go over some of the items that are used for those presentations and why they visually work but wouldn't be a whole lotta fun to eat.

The first, and most popular, is sanding sugar. Just like it sounds, sanding sugar is sugar that has the same size and consistency of sand. Very popular for wedding cupcakes this season due to the sparkly "bling" factor that sanding sugar can bring to the finish. However, like sand, this isn't all that wonderful on the teeth to eat. So pretty to look at but not nice to eat. A better way to use sanding sugar, get the bling and not have to worry about how it tastes, is to add it to a fondant decorative piece, like a bow or ribbon, that can be removed before eating. 

And while we are on the subject of fondant. I see quite a few designs that either have a covering of fondant like a "lid" on the cupcake or a large decoration, or several layers of decorations, on top made from fondant. The issue with the "lid" idea is that, again, while very pretty, the fondant tends to all come off in one piece when you bite into the cupcake. You wind up with a mouthful of fondant, a little buttercream and not much cake. When you find a cupcake covered in fondant decorations it's hard to know whether to eat the items or remove the items. I've witnessed this in person and find that the kids eat it all up while the adults end up with a tidy little pile of decorations on their napkins. Neither is great for your guests. A better idea would be to keep the icing simple and add fondant decorations to the tray that the cupcakes are presented upon. They get the same "cute" factor without feeling like they need to eat all of that sugar. 

Last on my list is a little decoration called Candy. This has become very popular for cakes and cupcakes this past year. I've seen cupcakes covered in large pieces of candy, cakes covered completely in M&M's, "sprinkles" so large you would feel the need to pick them off and eat them first before biting into the cupcake. As with the fondant decorations, the kids eat every single sugary bite while the adults tend to pick at their food to get to the simple icing and cake. Having your guests feel the need to pick apart their food may not be the impression you want to leave...especially at a wedding.

My hope has always been to have my cakes look at least half as good as they taste. I never want to sacrifice taste for how pretty something looks...I'd rather sacrifice pretty. Because, in the end, the taste is what is going to have your clients keep coming back each time. If your cake doesn't taste good then the next time they will find another baker. I have a few clients say that I am their "cake lady" and I simply adore that. It makes me feel wonderful knowing that when it comes time to buy another cake, or cupcakes, that I will be the first on their list. 

This upcoming week I will be sharing with you an Easter design along with our St. Paddy's Day dinner and dessert (no, it's not cake!). See you next Sunday!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Happy Sunday! Today was a Baby Shower for a long time client and friend, Tammy! We have worked a few events for her and her family so it was wonderful to see everyone today and treat them to a fun party and a cute cake.

This is their second baby and while having a boy would be nice, since they already have an adorable daughter, they chose not to find out if it is a boy or a girl. This means coming up with a theme that fits either and, of course, is totally cute! We ended up with a Rubber Ducky theme and it did, indeed, turn out to be very cute!
You will be able to see more photos on our Cherry Blog tomorrow afternoon: .

So we decided to make the cake be a laundry basket filled with baby blankets and decorated with Rubber Duckies. The ducks and the handles were the only parts that were non-edibles. The cake was Lemon Chiffon cake with vanilla buttercream filling and then covered with more vanilla buttercream. The blankets were fondant. 

The real challenge for this cake was it's height. At almost 6 inches from top to bottom and with it carved smaller at the base than top, it wasn't the most sturdy of cakes. I had dowels inserted in 6 places to help it make the journey to the venue but, even so, we held our breath all the way there till it was set on the cake table!  Even with the construction of the basket weave, which tends to use more frosting which helps hold the structure together after it crusts, it was still wobbly. Made me really nervous but it made it!

We chose a serving tray so it wouldn't appear to be your "average" cake and I love the way it helps make it look like the basket is set onto grass. And I have to say that the "grass tip" is probably my favorite tip in the world. It's just so much fun to pipe with that I always save that detail for last. That way, even if the rest of the cake was a real challenge to pipe, the grass is just so much fun that it ends everything on a happy note!

Cutting this cake was a challenge as well. We ended up with tall slivers of cake, each about a half inch wide. I started working on a corner and worked my way around the cake which turned out to be a fairly good strategy. With carved cakes, or unusual sized cakes, you have to really think outside the usual cake box when it comes to cutting. 

In the end, the client and her guests were delighted with the cake and the party and I heard several compliments during and after the party which is an extra payment for any caker!

This upcoming week brings Dinner Party Cupcakes! See you next Sunday!