Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Sunday! And Happy Memorial Day Weekend to our US fans! This weekend brought me an Ocean Themed Wedding Cake. With only 30 people on the guest list, including the wedding party, the Bride needed a small cake but didn't want to give up the big concept of Under the Sea. She requested the cake frosting be white, the shells look real and hot pink coral. This is what I came up with and I'll share with you how I made each part!

The cake is lemon chiffon with lemoncurd buttercream and it's vanilla buttercream as the final coat of frosting. That was smoothed on and then lines were added by taking the offset spatula and, beginning at the bottom of the cake, I used the tip to form a line up to the top edge. I continued all the way around the cake until it had vertical lines all the way around it. Then I used the same technique to continue the lines into the center of the top of the cake. I used an open star tip to make the "waves" around the bottom edge. I started with an upside down closed U shape and then followed that shape to make two more U shapes and the wavy scalloped design. Finally I used the same open star tip to make the shell border around the top of the cake. A shell border is such a common technique that I rarely use it and actually had to take a minute to practice it again before adding it to the cake! But this border was obviously needed for this cake...why not use a shell border on a shell themed cake???

The shells took several days to make. They are made from fondant that was hand moulded. I love making figures like this because it's like working in play dough! So on Monday I formed the shells and put them into the forms, for those that needed a rounded appearance like the scallop shaped shells to dry overnight. The next day I started handpainting them. Each shell, including the sand dollars, are layers of color. Some of the layers had to dry overnight before adding on another layer and some had to dry just a short time before blending on another color. The starfish was one of those that needed an overnight drying time before adding on the next color. So the final coats of color went on Wednesday and by Thursday they were all dry but still drying out so I left them on the forms to continue drying as I made the cake. 

The coral is another subject. Working with melted sugar is not an easy thing to do. It's actually dangerous and I have never worked with it without ending up with a burn. This time was no different but it was only a very minor burn. To make the coral you use 2 cups of white cane sugar and 3/4 cups water. Bring that to a boil, stirring constantly, and then, using a candy thermometer, bring it up to 300 degrees. Once it reaches 250 it will go quickly so watch it carefully at that point. While the sugar is boiling you want to get another deep pan and fill it with cracked ice. When the sugar gets to 300 degrees add a teeny bit of whatever gell color you want to use, stir well, then remove the pot from the heat and submerge the bottom of the pot into cold water for about 15 seconds. This brings down the temp of the sugar before you pour it over the ice so it won't steam or splatter. Pour it in jagged lines over the ice and let it cool completely. Drain off the melted ice and then melt the left over ice with cool water. Drain off the water and break out which sugar pieces you want to use. Let that dry the rest of the day. It will be sticky for a few hours but as it dries it will go from clear to opaque and from sticky to smooth. I let mine dry for a bit and then added it to the cake. By morning it was completely opaque.

So I wish Laura and Eric a very Happy Wedding Day tomorrow! I'm so happy you loved your cake and that it was everything and more than you dreamed! That's a reward for all of my hard work like no other!

See ya'll next week!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

 Happy Sunday! We are getting really close to those End of the School Year parties, summer picnics and BBq parties. Having friends and family over for an evening starts to sound like a really good idea when you can have it outside and enjoy the weather as each day cools off. This doesn't mean dessert has to be complicated...or boring.

Several times a year I get "Dinner Party Cupcake" orders. These are small orders of fancy cupcakes for a dinner, bbq or picnic party that I make for the client and make them just a bit more special that the typical swirl of frosting. This doesn't mean they are hard to do. It just means you take the time to add a bit more detail to the cupcake. 

The cupcakes this week are vanilla bean cupcakes topped with lemoncurd buttercream icing and then sprinkled with a bit of gold colored sugar. I just chose bright yellow liners, and there are LOTS of fun liners right in your grocery store these days, because of the lemon frosting, and then sprinkled the gold sugar on top. This I ordered online at of my favorite product distributors!
 Now these Mexican Hot Chocolate Caramel stuffed cupcakes were a bit more complicated but not by much. All I did was use a round cutter to cut out a ring of cake in the center of each cupcake, filled it with caramel and then topped it with the buttercream and drizzled it with caramel.  If you don't want the caramel to soak into the cake then mix it with a bit of buttercream first before filling up the hole. 
 These Dark Chocolate cupcakes are meant to look like chocolate starfish for a clients ocean themed party. I used the gold sugar on top of these as well to give the seastars a bit more texture!
 Of course I'm not saying they are all "easy". These Family Reunion BBq Picnic cupcakes took plenty of time and work making all the little pieces. So you CAN get very complicated with the cupcake for your event. These took several days moulding and hand painting of the small pieces that set on top. One thing to remember will see some cupcakes with towering toppers. Most of that stuff will NOT be eaten. It will be cast aside and the rest eaten. At a picnic this is ok since most people will be dressed casually but with something more formal like a dinner party you really don't want your guests to have to make piles of food on their plates just to eat dessert. 
 One easy fun thing to do is to add candy to your cupcakes! These vanilla bean cupcakes are caramel filled, drizzled with chocolate and, for an extra treat, have a bit of Hersheys on top. Easy to pick off and eat for your guests.
Finally...if you like to play with piping tips, check online how to make easy piped on flowers. Make larger versions of these and you end up with a sunny little plate of flower cupcakes to serve at your BBq! What a cute way to say goodbye to Spring and hello to Summer!

This next week I have a wedding cake coming up...can't wait to share that with you next Sunday!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Monday! I do hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day here in the US! I know I did. Of course that doesn't mean I chose to sit back and fact just the opposite. I'd been working on these mini cakes all week and then we had a big family brunch! (more on that later today on our "Cherry" Blog: ) So until the food was on the table I was hoppin' around quite a bit. Then I sat back and pretty much relaxed the rest of the day by going to the movies and seeing The Avengers! 

Ok, so back to the cakes. Mini cakes are SO cute when they are done but SUCH a pain in the rear to make. A mini cake will run you as much as $75 depending on how complicated the cake design ends up being. I went middle of the road complicated for these. The reason a mini cake is harder is because the smaller the cake, the harder you work to ice and cover it smoothly...they don't have the weight of a full size cake to hold them into place...and you do just as much work on the fine detail decorating. Maybe even more since the details have to be mini as well!

Starting from the back left cake. This was for our younger daughter, Tory, who has a 1 yr old little boy. I started out with royal icing and piped lots of little dots and then curly-q's as trim and then hand painted little vines all over the cake and then added tiny blue forget-me-not's as well. Lastly I added little candy pearls to the center of each flower.

The next cake was for our older daughter, Krista, who has a 3 yr old little girl. For this one I started out with piping royal again but this time I went with a "S" configuration for the trim. Then I added more "filigree" to it with purple royal icing and finally finished it off with little purple bell flowers. They also had little candy pearls in the center.

Front right was my mom's cake. She adores yellow roses so it was an easy one to decide to make a yellow rose for the topper. The rest of the cake, however, was not easy to figure out. I finally decided to go as simple as possible using teeny dots as trim and then hand painting on the stem and leaves.

Finally, front left is my own cake. It's funny how this cake design took me the longest to decide upon! LOL! I stared at the blank white cake for the longest time before I decided to ruffle it up and use sweet peas for my flowers. I used a very small star tip for the ruffles and then just used small circles and a ball tool to make the flowers. I hand painted on the stems and vines in the panels and then placed the flowers on the cake.

And speaking of panels. This is how I applied the fondant to the panels! I figured out what size circle cutter fit the space in between the tiers and made a "donut" piece of fondant that I slid over the top tier and onto the top of the bottom tier. Then I used the center of that, cut it down with a smaller cutter, for the top of the cake. Finally I used long rectangles of fondant to wrap around the cakes and join up with the circles. I simply used water to glue the seams together and then covered the seams with royal icing trim which was part of my original designs. This made covering these little cakes much easier. And they are little! 3 inch bottom tiers with a 1 inch top tier. Perfect for 2 slices only.

We did have a huge and beautiful brunch...head on over to the Cherry Blog to see more on how that all came together and get some great ideas for your next Brunch!

See you next Sunday!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy Sunday! Today I'm actually writing to you from Washington while I visit cousins and have a teeny vacation seeing the sights up here. I mention this because this weeks cake was for this trip! An early Happy Mother's Day cake!

Now I know it looks quite complicated but, in fact, it was fairly easy! I started out with a 6 inch vanilla cake that was about 3 inches tall. I then frosted it with a bit of blue buttercream..yup, blue. I didn't want white poking out between the leaves and liked the blue as a background for the green.

Then I started on the leaves while the cake settled out. I used a medium leaf cutter and thinly rolled out fondant that had no tylose added to it. I wanted the leaves to taste really good, like fondant candy, and tylose can change that taste. I then used two different texturing tools to create the "veins" on the leaves. Lastly I put about 30 of them onto a petal drying stand. This stand looks like white plastic waves and is for drying flower petals for cakes. I let those dry overnight. Those were for the crown of the cake and had veins on both sides.

The next day I started out with a ring of flat leaves going around the top rim of the cake. Then I place the crown leaves with royal icing. Then I continued with flat leaves all in rings all the way to the base of the cake. The left over crown leaves were used to make the raised center on the top and I used more flat leaves to trim the bottom, letting them drop over the sides of the cake stand in the process. I used royal for attaching all of it so the leaves would go on solidly and not move. 

The last step was trimming with the royal icing. Just a ring around the top and then the simple addition of the royal icing dot flowers and all I needed to do was add the pearls and the cake was done. I wanted a showpiece type of cake for this early Mother's Day surprise and I think I managed to get it!

We are off to Seattle today but I will have more photos from our Mother's Day at home to share next week...including showing off the new little mini cake stands I just picked up for my collection! See you next Sunday!