Sunday, November 25, 2012

 Happy Sunday and to those in America, Happy Thanksgiving! We have had a lovely time celebrating up lots of birthdays in our family and friends circle. This past week was my husbands birthday so I made him a very special cake. 

Our family is definitely a Disney Family. Both of my guys love the Mickey Sorcerer part of Fantasia so I figured it was a pretty safe bet to make this into a cake. I wouldn't say easy, but a safe choice. Here is how I did it.

I started out with two 6x3 inch cakes. I split them and froze them. It's easier to carve a frozen cake and easier to torte, or split, the layers while they are just out of the oven. When I was ready to work on the cake I took them out of the freezer, filled the almond cake with apricot filling and stacked them on top of each other. Normally you want to put a cake board and dowels every 4 inches but, in this case, I knew that most of the top tier would be carved away. 

I used an upside down sugar cone that I stuck into some buttercream I smeared on top. Once it was set I used the cone as a guide and angled the carving out so it gently sloped to the bottom tier which I left whole. I broke off the end of the cone and placed a skewer down inside the cone all the way to the cake board to hold it steady. Once it looked like a cone I crumbcoated it and then let it settle for 3 hours.  I will admit that at this point I was worried that it looked a bit too narrow and pointed at the top but had faith that I could even it out with fondant.

For the next step I rolled out the dark blue fondant till it was a 12x12 square. I then trimmed the corners off the upper part of the square and then gently lifted the triangle up onto the cake. This almost covered the entire cake but I rolled a smaller square, trimmed it, and placed the triangle on the back. I let this set up for an hour so the fondant surface would be a bit more firm for placing the stars and moons on it. 

I used more blue fondant and cut out the stars and moons using cookie cutters. The moons were cut out with circle cutters, one large and then one smaller one to make the half moon shape. I adhered these to the cake with water and let them set up while I rolled out the hat brim. 

To paint the shapes I used a gold luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka (which burns off as the paint dries) and hand painted the shapes on the cake. This takes a steady hand but if they are painted before placement then the paint cracks when you put the shapes on the cake so it works better to paint them after placement. I also used the same paint to write the wording onto the hat brim at this time. It took two coats so I worked on the ears while waiting.

The ears are just two large chocolate chip cookies. I trimmed one side of each to make the flat side that sits on the hat and then I covered them with a thick sheet of black fondant. I put a skewer through the cake where I wanted the ears to be and then stuck toothpicks into the ears and finally put that into the cake once the two coats of gold paint were dry. While placing the ears onto the cake I gently pressed in the toothpicks to see where the ears would set and then trimmed the shapes that fell under where the ears would sit. I used a bit of water to help hold the ears and then sat there holding the ears until they set up solidly onto the cake.

Looking at the cake at this point I was "happy" with it but not thrilled. I finally decided to use a bit of the luster dust to add a dash of sparkle and, just like that, it turned the cake from good into great. It took me awhile to figure out why but I finally decided that it made the cake look like it was ceramic and no longer cake. At that point I was really really happy with it. 

Happy to say my husband was very happy with it too! The great thing is that at his birthday we were able to celebrate two more birthdays at the same time so this special cake was even more special! 

Now this week I didn't make a cake, I made Pumpkin Pies in a Jar! I have made cupcakes in a jar but never a pie in a jar so I went for help...and, of course, found it online!
Here is how you do it! Take your regular crust and roll it out. Now cut that into fourths. You can use the type of crust from the store that comes in sheets and just cut that into fourths. Press and mold that fourth of a sheet into the jar. These are half pint jars. Fill with your normal recipe of pumpkin pie filling. I follow the Libby's recipe on the side of the can and double the spices for mine. Fill to the place where the lip rings begin and then freeze them for 10 minutes. Bake on a cookie sheet or stoneware slab at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes. Set the jars out on a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour before you put the lids on top. While the jars were in the freezer I took the left over crust dough and cut out the little leaves and pumpkins and then let them brown up in the oven. Once the jars were totally cool I placed 3 on top of each one and then put on the lid, the ribbon and the wired fuzzy ribbon. We gave these out to the other guests at the Thanksgiving Dinner we attended. They were a big hit!

Just a small birthday cake for this upcoming week but it will be fun to share it with you all next Sunday!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

 Happy Sunday! This weekend brought two birthdays and two very different cakes! Today I'm going to share Kali's 8th Birthday cake! Little Miss picked an "Under the Sea" theme this year. Not really Ariel, not really Nemo...but with that same flavor. I couldn't wait to make the cake!
 First things first...all of the little critters that go on the side of the cake have to be made a little bit ahead of time. I wanted them to still be soft yet firm so I made most of them the day before I worked on the actual cake. When making a "cartoon" cake you don't have to be all so careful about the real natural details about the animal but rather just enough detail that people will know "oh yeah, that's a jellyfish" . All of the little guys on this cake are hand moulded from fondant.
 I started out with two layers in a hexagon shape of vanilla cake filled with apricot filling. Then I covered the entire cake in vanilla buttercream. I made two fondant panels to go on the sides of the cake and leave the top open for the "water" buttercream. I then added a trim strip of fondant for the "sand". I piped on buttercream over the strip and used a paintbrush to swirl the frosting around the cake. Then I used graham cracker crumbs pressed into the buttercream for the seabed.
 After I finished prepping the sides of the cake I piped on the "water". To make the water look more realistic I mixed in blue gel color but didn't mix it very well. I wanted white bits along with the blue. I then used the paintbrush again to swirl and make the water choppy looking.
 Then it was time to add the details. I added the seaweed, the island and the fish on the sides as well as the tube coral then the last touches were placing the starfish and crabs. The eyes on all of the critters are just white fondant with a black food dye dot painted in the center.
Finally I made the umbrella for the island. To do this you just cut a circle out of scrapbook paper, then cut a slit into the center and fold the paper around to create the cone. I put a ball of fondant into the inside center of the cone and pushed a skewer thru it so the tip stuck out of the top. I then secured it into place with a red ball of fondant for the final color touch. Super easy to do.

I was thrilled to, once again, be part of Kali's special day! Happy Birthday Kali!!

Next week I'll share with you my husbands birthday cake since his birthday was also this weekend!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Sunday! Hope November is treating you just fine and that you are enjoying the Fall colors and not suffering from it's many storms. I do know of lots of people last week who got slammed by Hurricane Sandy and just as they got power back got slammed by the Nor'easter snow storm. So I hope that you are doing well, even if you fit into that unfortunate group who has had to weather two storms in two weeks.

This week I get to present to you a Wedding Cake that I'm particularly proud of. This cake proves, again, that you don't have to be big to be gorgeous. The bottom tier is an 8x4 inch round and the top tier is a 6x4 inch round. Just enough to feed 50 people. The theme was an Art Deco black and white with touches of red here or there and I figured a Tuxedo along with an Art Deco designed Wedding Dress would help set the mood of the party. And, yes, that is Mickey and Minnie up there on top in that delicate crystal and blown glass cake topper.

The cake was lemon chiffon with an orange creamsicle filling and covered in vanilla flavored fondant. As always, the black fondant is Duff's brand. I love the way it tastes. The white fondant is freshly made so it tastes wonderfully too. 

The Tuxedo is all angles and not as hard as you would think to do when you break it all down to it's geometric shapes. First I covered the entire cake in the black and then cut out a triangle of white. I scored the white in vertical lines and then applied it to the front of the cake. At that same time I made the little collar triangles and set them aside to dry a bit. Then I made a big rectangle of black and cut it diagonally. I then tipped one of those triangles over onto the other so "fronts" were face to face and then made the angle a bit more severe to create the lapels. After placing those onto the cake I made the little bow tie and placed it at the top of the white "shirt". I backed away at this point and let everything dry for a bit so the sugars could adhere. When that was done I just took little black candy and pressed them into the white. Then, using a damp brush, moistened the indention's with water and placed the candy into them to secure them to the shirt. Then it was time to set the collar on top with a bit more water. Finally I made the tiny Calla Lily boutonniere and placed that onto the lapel with a bit more water. At last I was ready to move the cake over to the stand and add the trim. The trim is just a strip of black fondant that I have scored every 1/8th of an inch or so from end to end. I set all of that to the side and began work on the white tier.

As with all Wedding Dresses, the construction of one out of fondant is complicated. This is actually a lot of little pieces that have been carefully put together like a puzzle. I started off with covering the entire cake with a thin sheet of white fondant. Then, using 1/2 inch strips, I laid on the draping one strip at a time so that it created a pleated look. Finally I used rounded end strips to create the Art Deco styled emblem on the front. All of these are adhered to the cake with a light brushing of water. I added the trim to match the black trim and then came the real work, the pearls. I have a pair of bead tweezers that are angled just for putting small candies on cakes like these candy pearls. I brushed the surface with water first and laid down a whole bunch of pearls onto the moist surface so they could adhere and then, one by one, filled out the edge and trim. This is tedious work because you have to dip the edge of the pearl into water and then place it onto the cake. This is complicated by the fact that they want to pop right off again if you don't hold it into place long enough for the sugars to adhere. But the effect is stunning, like complicated bead work on a real wedding dress. I let this set up until I knew the pearls were solid onto the cake and then stacked the Wedding Dress onto the Tuxedo. 

When transporting a cake like this always have back up pieces for the candy. The vibration of travel can knock the pearls or candy "studs" right off of the cake and you may have to replace them when you reach the venue. Fortunately that didn't happen with this cake until it came time to cut it and then pearls were rolling everywhere!

So no matter the size of the wedding you are having you can have a stunning cake. This little work of art was $4 a slice and the talk of the event. Even the Groom was Wow'd by it and loved the fact that "he" was part of the cake as well as his wife. 

Next week we begin the Birthday Cakes for this month! Can't wait to share with you next Sunday!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Sunday and Happy November! This month is a hectic one in our family. Lots of birthdays and Anniversaries along with Thanksgiving thrown in there just for fun! This means lots of Pumpkin flavored items so you will see quite a few items featured in the November blogs this month!

But today we focus on a Birthday. Since this is our Anniversary week, I took the week off, but this is a cake I did a couple of weeks ago. It has a bit of an inside joke to it. The client loves boats. Ok, to be clear, the client loves Tall Ships. He turns 40 in a few years and wants an all out cake with masts and rigging, the whole 9 yards. Well, he will wait till he's 40 but really wanted a ship cake this year. His wife and I came up with this kids sail boat for a laugh this year. He got a really good laugh out of it too!

It's really a simple cake to make. Just start out with a square cake. This one is a 10x10x2. Cut it diagonally and then cut off the point of one of those halves. Now you have the big sail, the little sail and the base of the boat. I used vanilla buttercream for the sails and whipped chocolate ganache for the boat. 

Whipped ganache is really really easy. Just make regular ganache and let it sit, covered, overnight in the fridge. Then put that into your mixer and whip. It spreads easily and pipes easily and it just SO good! I used a basketweave tip for the wood "planks" and then a round tip to trim. The "life preserver" is a gummy lifesaver candy with some fondant wrapped over it and then attached with a dot of the ganache.

The sails were just smooth iced. I didn't want to make it too smooth since there is supposed to be wind in those sails. Finally I used the ganache to pipe the mast and stuck a paper flag into the top. The lettering/numbering refers to the clients and their birthdays. A way of personalizing the cake for them both.

So if you have a little one, or a big one, who is in love with ships or you are having a Sailing or Sailor themed party then maybe you could make this cake for your group to enjoy!

See you next week with a new wedding cake!