Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Sunday! We just finished a series of Christmas Weddings over on the Cherry Party Blog so this week we feature a Christmas Anniversary Cake. This is a very special one...60 years of Happily Ever After for this couple! My mind spins! 

The daughter came to me needing both cake and party help and I was happy to help out. The original wedding was Christmas themed so the kids all wanted the Anniversary party to have the same theme. My client had seen another one of my cakes and thought the sugaring would be that perfect touch of "snow" for their gold and red color palette. 

The cake is Double Chocolate for the top and bottom tiers with chocolate brownie buttercream filling and the extra tall middle tier is Lemon Chiffon with lemoncurd buttercream filling. The construction is pretty much the same as all stacked cakes. Dowels in each level to support the tier above and finished off with a dowel right down the center for stability. This is especially important due to that extra tall middle tier.

Sugaring is actually very easy to do. Once your cake tier is covered with fondant you just spritz the entire cake with water (making sure to then dry the cake stand or plate it is sitting upon with a paper towel so that the sugar only sticks to the cake and not the base). At this point I would recommend moving the cake on whatever base you have it on into a larger sized cake pan. This will catch the sugar that falls down off of the cake. I start by pouring some large crystal sanding sugar on top and gently scooping off a bit down each side, one hand scooping, the other catching and pressing onto the side. You will need to scoop some more into your hand and press it gently to the side of the cake. Even then you will have a few areas that are not covered. Just use a cake paint brush that's been dampend and re-wet the bare spot and then press more sugar there before it dries. I used a wavy trim on this cake to give it the impression of "snow drifts" at the bottom of each tier. 

The middle tier also got a "snow drift" edge and I just used the paint brush to wet the trim only and then pressed the sugar onto that. As you can imagine, this makes quite the sugary mess. This is why you have the stand/base in a cake catch that excess sugar. You can re-use this to cover your cake tiers as you go. 

The top tier got 3 small red sugar roses to fit it into their floral design and those were set into a small "drift" of white buttercream that had a bit of sugar sprinkled on top. The middle tier got the big gold ribbon touch to bring the cake back to the Christmas motif. This was the only non-edible part of this cake and was removed before cutting.

I was fortunate enough to meet the happy couple and find out that they adored their cake as well as the rest of the party design. That is always the best part of this job. Knowing that the person was surprised and very happy with my work.

This Monday, due to New Year's Eve, we will be featuring a NYE party plan over at Cherry but you will be able to see the rest of this party design next Monday. You can always check out what is going on at Cherry here on blogger: and get tips every single day on our Facebook fan site:

See you next week and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Sunday and MERRY CHRISTMAS! In honor of the holiday I thought I'd post something pretty but easy for you to be able to copy and take with you to your family dinner this Christmas.

Cupcakes are great for family gatherings because you can make different flavors as well as eliminate the need for plates or forks, both of which are usually used up with the large family dinner! So cupcakes are an easy way to please everyone and easy to eat and clean up after. 

A word about decorating cupcakes. They have become all the rage in the past few years with everything from full size figurines on top to castles to ships. While very cool looking and definitely a show stopper, these personal sized toppers are very impractical for actually eating. Very rarely do these toppers get eaten so in order to eat the rest of the cupcake they must pick off the topper and do something with it. Suddenly we are back to needing plates so that the topper has somewhere to go and we are back to having to clean something up in the end. So I'm not a huge fan of these spectacular cupcakes with their own toppers. I prefer the type you only have to unpeel the wrapper and just eat. This doesn't even go into the cost of all those man hours needed to create these elaborate mini cakes!  A Caker would have to double or triple the cost just to cover that labor time. This means that the cupcakes are no longer cost effective either.

So now we are onto today's confections! Triple chocolate fudge cake and vanilla cake cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream and little green buttercream "trees". All that is needed to make these are one large star tip and one mini one. Pipe the white buttercream with the large star tip as "flat" as you can beginning with the outside of the cupcake and working your way in, trying not to run over the other line as you work your way into the center. Normally you would be using the outside line to build up the next one and the next one to make an ice cream cone effect but for these you want them as flat as you can. Then you just pipe on the trees starting from a point and working your squiggles a bit wider with each pass till you end with a point in the middle again at the bottom. Top this with a silver dragee or other candy. You can, at this point, if you would like, sprinkle the whole thing with white sanding sugar to give it a bit more sparkle.

And that's it. I used some Christmas cupcake liners but you could use any type that you have on hand or that you feel fit the theme including foil wrappers. The idea is to be able to make something that doesn't take long, isn't complicated, and makes your busy holiday life easier. 

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be back next week with a beautiful Anniversary Cake to share!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

 Happy Sunday and, as we say here in our home MERRY CHRISTMAS! As is with many offices, we have a Christmas gathering. We each bring something to share and have a lovely time hanging out all afternoon and catching up. My donation was the cupcake Christmas Tree. I'll go more into that later on but first...
 Let me share what others brought! This is a photo of our "starter" table with just a few treats set out on it. As you can see, it doesn't take much to make the food look yummy! A start shaped plate, a crystal bowl, some wire trees and a red tablecloth set the mood and spotlight the food!
 This wonderful danish was filled with raspberry puree and topped with buttercream glaze and then cut up into little 2-bite pieces. Easy for each person to add to their plate but not too much of any particular item. It's fairly easy to do. Start out with a sweetened dough base, like you would for cinnamon rolls, and roll it out into a HUGE rectangle. Spread with the raspberry puree. Now carefully fold one in to the center and fold the other end so that it just laps over the other edge to create a seal. Now use an eggwash to make the top bake up nice and shiny. Take buttercream frosting and thin with a bit of milk. Once the danish is completely cool, drizzle with this thin frosting. Let set up so that it crusts just a bit then slice with a big knife before setting out onto a plate.
 You do NOT need to know how to bake to make a lovely donation to your potluck dessert bar! Packaged mini candy canes for people to take home and light and dark chocolate covered cherries are wonderful for the whole crowd!
 And there are always cookies! These came out of a tin. That's right, not homemade. But really good cookies all the same. Don't cheap out if you are headed to a holiday party. Yup, it might cost twice as much as those Oreo's but it's the holiday...splurge! 
 But if you do bake then there is nothing like an old fashioned Gingerbread Man! Real homemade gingerbread, rolled thin so that they were a bit crunchy along with the soft centers. They used raisins for the eyes and buttons but you could use dried cranberries or blueberries or even mini chocolate chips. And that delightful grin? A little bit of lemon zest tucked into the unbaked dough and baked right into the cookie face! YUM!
And speaking of YUM! Not every offering needs to be sweet. In fact, with a whole bunch of sweets on the table something to cut that sweetness is not only a good idea but much appreciated. This is homemade Challah bread. She was upset because it was more "dense" than she liked...using a different type of flour to make it healthier...but I have to say it was wonderful. Served with softened butter it was just the right type of bite to offset the sweets.
Of course there was coffee...I mean, I was there so there was coffee...always. LOL! We offered sugar, sugar substitute and creamer for those who wanted it but we started out with a really good coffee to begin with. As hostess you want to make sure you always have the best you can afford for your guests to drink if you are having a potluck type of event. Your drink is your anchor. It can either add a bit more pleasantness to your party or make people wince. My aim is to never make my guests wince. The coffee was a hit, we made several pots of it over the course of the day, but we also had punch. I meant to take a photo of the punch and never, somehow got around to it. Yes, it was a very fun party!

I know that this is a cake blog so just a few moments about that cupcake tree we featured at the beginning. To start out with I didn't have a base big enough to hold the cupcakes in tree formation so I had to "make" one. I used a rectangular stoneware base and covered it in parchment. Now here was the tricky part. I was using parchment, which is nonstick, on a pizza stone, which is nonstick, and trying to cover it with tape...yeah, that didn't work so well. I ended up using duct tape (that stuff really does stick to anything!) to make the parchment cover the stoneware. Then I set out the cupcakes in the tree formation. I picked out which ones I wanted to be the "ornaments" and moved them off to the side. Then I "flat frosted" the green ones and sprinkled them with some white sanding sugar. I then flat frosted the ornaments with white frosting and sprinkled on the different colors of sugar, covering the top of the tree ornament with gold sugar. I tucked the ornaments back into the tree and then flat frosted the two white cupcakes for the "trunk", sprinkled them with mini chocolate chips that I then pressed down into the frosting, and put them into place. The last thing I did, and it wasn't necessary, just something I wanted to do, was to add the dragee garland. Yes, you have to place them one at a time to criss cross the tree but there is another way to do garland...just fill a piping bag that has a small star tip on it with any color, except green, frosting that you'd like your garland to be and then just pipe stars in a criss cross fashion. A much less labor intensive process than what I did but I was out of buttercream at this point and didn't want to make a whole new batch for just garland! 

The next couple of weeks I have off. This doesn't mean I won't be baking, it just means I'm not sure what I'll feature here on the blog yet. We always make cupcakes for the "Seniors" that we know so I have to come up with something...I'll share with you what we do!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

 Happy Sunday! Today's cake is a very special one since it's for my Mom. Friday was her 71st birthday and we did go out and celebrate together but the family couldn't get together until today so I put a hold on the cake! We have a family gathering each year at this time and the "theme" this year is snowmen but instead of doing an average snowman cake I decided it would be much more fun to include the playful penguins!

The cake is Coconut cake with lemoncurd buttercream filling. The frosting is vanilla buttercream topped with white shimmery sanding sugar. This is the easy part of this cake. I just made the cake, filled it and then crumbcoated it as always. Since I wanted it to look like swirled snow I just, pretty much, slapped the buttercream onto the sides and top. But here is a little tip. I used a 1M tip in a bag filled with the frosting and did a swirl on top and a zig zag on the side. Then I used an offset spatula to swirl it. This mean that I had a more even amount of frosting to deal with when it came to texturing. After the swirling I just sprinkled on the sanding sugar around the bottom edge and on top. Keep in mind that sanding sugar IS gritty so you don't want too much of it on top of your cake. Go lightly at first and add a bit more here or there once the figures go on top.
And speaking of the figures! I have to say that making little figurines is one of the most fun things to do. It's like playing with edible clay. I, literally, take a blob of fondant and roll it around in my fingers till I get the shape I want and then use fondant tools and scissors to make the marks I want. 

I will tell you that the first time I did this I was totally intimidated. I really didn't think I would be able to make much of anything but blobs of fondant which didn't resemble anything. What I found is that it is ridiculously easy to make these little cartoon characters as well as being so much fun. 

For the penguins I made little oblong egg shaped balls of white fondant. Then I rolled out the black fondant, cut circles out with a round cutter and then rolled those out to an oblong shape as well and folded the black around the white. I then stuck half a tooth pick in the top and rolled a smaller black ball of fondant for the head and stuck that on top. Next came the wings. I rolled out little tiny egg shapes from the black fondant and then flattened them, pulling one end to a rounded point. Then I used water to adhere them to the body. At this point I positioned the wings and tips. The eyes are just little white flattened balls with smaller black flattened balls on top then stuck on with water. The beaks are cones of orange that I used scissors to cut apart. Some of the penguins are talking so the beaks are apart and some are not. The feet are just like the wings, egg shapes that have been flattened. I then used scissors to cut the tips and then pulled on the tips to make the claws. Brushing with water to hold the body and feet together was the last thing I needed to do to finish the penguins. You may notice that one of the penguins is on the snow hill on his belly. I just used folded up Press and Seal wrap to hold him at this angle while he dried. 

The snowmen are just white fondant. I was going to use white chocolate but found out that the white chocolate is actually more yellow and we all know we don't want yellow "snow". So I opted for fondant instead. Black fondant for coal and orange for the carrot nose. A strip of red with tassels cut into the ends made the two scarves and I just formed the hat and brims from black fondant pieces. One of the scarves I draped over the penguins wing while it was still soft and the other I curled up on the mat so I could drape it on a wing after it was dry and it would hold it's shape. 

I had originally thought to put an igloo on the cake but found that on this 8x3 inch cake there just wasn't any room. So I opted for a snow block wall instead. It is just a rectangle of white fondant that has had lines scored into it, gently curved and set on the cake then sprinkled with sugar. Some fondant "snow balls" that had been rolled in the sugar completed the cake. 

What is fun is that this cake would work for any age. In this instance it was for a Senior but I happen to know a little girl turning 2 this week who is having a penguin themed birthday party and this cake would fit right in! So Happy Birthday Mom and Lyla! Hope you both had SO much fun celebrating!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Sunday! This week's cake is for a special Mom and knitter, Trish! It wasn't a big birthday for her but her family wanted to get her a cake that reflected her passion and favorite hobby, knitting. 

When meeting with a client some of the questions I ask are "what are their favorite hobbies, colors, things to do with their free time?" Even though this Mom works a full time demanding job and volunteers for everything she still loves making lots of different knitted items for family and friends. Apparently, this time of year, if she isn't working then she's knitting so her family thought it was the perfect theme for her birthday cake.

The cake is lemon pound cake with vanilla buttercream filling, covered in more vanilla buttercream and then colored fondant. The only non-edible part are the knitting needles which are just food skewers with fondant on the ends. More on those later.

This is the tool I used to make the "yarn". It's called a Fondant Extruder. See the plate with the three holes in it, that is the one I used this time. This works like a garlic press. For a large project like this one it is a bit hard on the hands so be aware that you will need to take breaks to rest them from time to time. You will also need your fondant to be softer than normal so it presses through the extruder easily. I break off about a quarter cup size fondant off the larger colored piece and warm it up for just a few seconds to soften it up. I laid out 12 inch lines of three, working my way through the roll of fondant I had colored, until I thought I had enough and then started laying them out onto the cake. 

I started from the ends and laid out a "pad" of lines on each end and then did the same in the middle. Then I began criss crossing them to build up the roll until all of the buttercream had been covered. By pressing the lines together gently I was able to pick up large "pads" of the lines to place onto the cake. A lot easier than trying to place them on line by line. After that was done I rolled out the "wrapper" piece of white fondant and laid that onto the "yarn". Finally I was able to use some lighter blue fondant to trim the wrapper and pipe the wording on with dark blue colored buttercream as well as trim the cake with this color. 

The last touch was the knitting needles. To make them I just used two food skewers. I then took a snake of light blue, white and black fondant and twirled them together. I then cut that into equal halves and rolled the pieces into balls. This makes for the marble type pattern without combining the colors. I gently stuck them onto the ends of the skewers and then pushed the skewers into the cake. 

This little cake feeds 12 easily so it made it perfect for this small family birthday dinner. Happy Birthday Trish! Hope you loved your cake as much as your family loves you!

Next week another birthday cake...this one with a Winter Theme!