Monday, October 28, 2013

Luau Baby Shower

 Happy Monday! This past weekend brought a cute little baby shower for a great couple! Congrats again Leslie, Chris and big brother Ben! The theme was "little girl luau" and the need to add in elements from the invitation was a must!

The Mom-to-be loves my Lemon Chiffon cake with lemon curd buttercream but I changed it up a bit by coloring the buttercream pink first and then filling the cake so when we cut into it you get a punch of bright yellow and pink too! 

 The full set up on the cake table included flower leis around the cake plate, colorful plates, cute napkins, flower confetti and the little "message in a bottle" favors on a bright purple tablecloth. If you'd like to see the full party set up just check out the Cherry Party Blog!

To decorate the cake I started with the pink buttercream. I wanted the surface to look like a rough stucco of a California beach building. Now I have no idea if other states have these buildings where you have restrooms, showers and usually a covered patio with picnic tables to hang out at but here in California we do. Ok, they don't always have the covered patio, but the buildings are there. I wanted to mimic that surface so what I did was frost the cake with the pink frosting and then before it could crust up I used the tip of the offset spatula to "swipe" horizontally along the side from top to bottom. About 3 swipes to do a side. This created a wonderful "stucco" texture!
 I then added the brown "sand" frosting and sprinkled on the gold and white "sand" sugar crystals. The trunks on the palm trees are just fondant snakes that I used a pointed fondant tool to make the texture. Those went onto the cake first and then I piped the clothesline from tree to tree. I layered on the leaves and topped those with little balls of brown fondant that I had punched 3 holes for the coconut look. The bib, onesie and socks were all cut out with an exacto knife used just for caking and then I used pink fondant to trim those. The new baby's name begins with an A so I used the onesie to personalize the cake. 

Next came the baby. I didn't make the baby. I know another caker who has the baby mold so I bought an undecorated fondant baby from her. I hand painted blonde hair onto the baby and added a fondant diaper and grass skirt. I used a mini flower punch to make the hibiscus and attached that with a dab of water. The mat is just tan fondant rolled out and scored with a fondant tool and trimmed in darker fondant. I used a bit of frosting to attach the mat to the cake and then brushed the underside of the baby with a bit of water to attach it to the mat.
The leaves on the palm trees had quite a bit of tylose in them to allow them to stand up 3D on the cake so, along with the sea turtle and baby, the trees were removed from the cake before cutting. 
The sea turtle relaxing on the sugar sand beach was hand molded out of fondant with tylose. I kneaded in some extra green into the fondant and then divided in into 8 pieces. One each for the body, head, front flippers, back flippers, tail and shell. I used water to glue it all together and then handpainted the shell with some golden yellow gel food coloring. This went into the shell "cracks" and then I diluted that color with a bit of clear alcohol. This left the cracks defined but then added a more yellow/green look to the entire shell.

This was my last major cake for the Fall. Good thing since I need to let this finger actually heal up. So for the next few weeks I'll share a few smaller items I have coming up as well as feature some really awesome cake artists that I know online. See you next week!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Indian Themed Pre-Birthday Cake Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! Friday was my birthday. Normally I'm over at our grown younger daughter's house and either we are going out to dinner or they are making me dinner there. My birthday cake is usually made by her and is always lovely. Yes, she is a "Caker" too! Being that it's in the middle of October we usually have baseball on the tv in the background and it is always lots of fun. But this year kinda messed up the schedule a bit. I had an order last weekend (the poker table cake) and I have an order next weekend (a baby shower cake) over in their area so we didn't go for my birthday weekend in between. We held off on the family celebration until next weekend. But that didn't mean I wasn't going to celebrate with my husband and 12 year old son. And that meant I got to make my own cake!!!

Now before you think "oh poor woman has to make her own birthday cake" let me be very clear. It is a total treat to be able to make my own cake. I can only think of 3 years since my daughter turned 15 that I have had a chance to make my own cake so it doesn't happen often. And, yes, she is making me one for next weekend too so this is, indeed, a chance to make my own cake, eat it and still have someone make me a cake too! So this is my pre-birthday-cake birthday cake. If you follow me. Ok, it's a good excuse for me to make a cake, play with the piping and eat cake and still get a "real" Birthday Cake next weekend.

It was a very exciting possibility until I broke my finger. As I mentioned last week, I am ambidextrous so breaking the middle finger of my right hand wasn't as big of an issue for last week's cake as I thought it would have been...until it came to the piping. The piping was murder. And my birthday cake design was all piping. Lots and lots of piping. So I baked the cake, a six inch hex shaped pink lemonade cake, on Tuesday and then kept procrastinating actually decorating it because, well, I knew it would hurt and I knew I didn't "have" to make the cake because it wasn't my "real" cake. It's just for us. Did I mention I knew it would hurt?

But, finally, on Friday morning, I pulled the wrapped frozen cake out of the freezer and filled and crumbcoated it. And let it sit for 5 hours while I procrastinated some more. I went and did some chores, played a bit on the computer, worked at my other job...putting off actually decorating this cake sitting on my table. Finally I filled the piping bags with the colors, assembled the paisley shaped cutters and frosted the cake in a flat white. And then, you guessed it, procrastinated for another half hour or so. 

This was when I decided I needed to figure out a way around my hand issue. I have a client cake next week and, yes, it has piping on it. Not a lot but it does have piping on it. So I used the cutters to gently press into the side of the white frosted cake all the way around. Then I used the dark wine colored frosting to outline where I had pressed. I quickly learned that the only way to pipe without hurting my hand was to hold the bag in such a way it, basically, looked like I was flipping everyone off! I had to hold the bag with my middle finger sticking straight out and the other fingers wrapped around the bag. I was very happy that there was no one around to offend! LOL!

The rest of the pattern I got from the plates and napkins and I just used small bits and pieces of that design to fill in the sides of the cake. A lot of people ask me how I get my ideas of what goes where and, honestly, I think it's the photographer in me that makes this easy for me to do. If I were going to tell someone how to do it themselves though, I would say to find something like the napkins and just copy the whole design. Use cutters for the hard shapes and then just follow the design on the napkins (or pillow, or invite) to fill in the spaces.

The last piece was the fantasy flower topper. I just used white fondant with a lot of tylose mixed in so it would dry up quickly. I rolled it out to the thickness of a dime and then used a circle cutter to cut out rounds. I then just folded the rounds so that there were two points, one point for the center, one to the outside of the flower. I just stuck them together with a mist of water and let them set up for about an hour. After that I painted them with gold luster dust paint. The center of the flower is just a round that I pinched two points onto and then pinched two more points making it into a square. Once the paint had dried I placed the whole flower onto the top of the cake, filled the center box with orange frosting and added a dab of the wine colored frosting.
Once served on the decorative plates you could see the pink inside and the colorful outside along with the bright plates and napkins and get the feel of the whole presentation. Totally yummy and totally pretty. Perfect for my birthday.

As mentioned, next week is a baby shower cake! I'll share next Monday! See you then!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Poker Table Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday! This week brings Vic's Poker Table Cake. It comes with a story behind it, as all cakes do, and a big "hitch in my giddy-up" to get it made.

Ok, so the first part of the story is that I've made Vic's birthday cakes for the past few years and each on is based on what he likes to do. This cake also followed that theme with the Poker idea. Along with the idea comes a bit of pressure to make each years cake better than last years. Even coming up with the idea is a hard one for his wife and is planned out months in advance.

The cake is strawberry cake with buttercream filling...strawberries and cream! The outside is fresh fondant...all of it. The cards are sugar as are the chips. I started with the covering of the cake with more buttercream and then topping it with the dyed green fondant. After that came the panels along the sides followed by the table "legs". These are just fondant snakes that have been textured with the scalloping tool and then applied along the seams on the sides with a light misting of water. I followed that with the table padding, dying the fondant black. Then I let it rest for a couple of hours so the fondant could set up and not dent so easily when I applied the decorations.
The cards are from real playing cards. I had a sugar transfer sheet made up, the cards just a little smaller than real cards, that I then cut out and adhered to sheets of fondant and let dry till they were solid. I made more than just the Royal Flush so that I could decorate the cake a bit more. All of it is stuck to the cake with a bit of water. The chips took a bit more work. I had to cut out the circles with fondant that had added tylose. The tylose helps the fondant dry out and get solid more quickly. I used a piping tip to make the indent in the center and then used an xacto knife to make the ridges on the top and sides of each chip. At that time I decided how I wanted each chip to be on the board and glued them down and together with water.

The last step, of course is piping the wording on the cake board. Now all of this should have been fairly easy work. A lot of detail, of course, but nothing I was worried about. Until I slammed my hand into a door and broke a finger tip. I did this on the same day I was to make the fondant and fill and crumbcoat the cake. The day before the actual decorating. I have never even considered cancelling a cake on a client before and I certainly didn't want to do that to a regular client! Fortunately, for most of the work, the fact that I am ambidextrous was a huge blessing. I do use my right to write so the piping was the only part that was really painful. The rest I did one handed. Since I'm "ambi" I am use to switching back and forth between hands to work. But for a good deal of this work I couldn't use my right hand at all. It certainly added a level of difficulty to the cake but I didn't have to cancel on my client! 

I'm happy to say the client was very happy with the cake and I'm hoping her husband thinks it is as great as last years cake. Check out last October's posts to see the Mah Jong cake that was his birthday surprise last year!

This week I only have my own cake to make so I can lay off the hand for a few days. I'll share it with you next weekend! (And, yes, I do actually want to make my own cake!). See you then!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy Sunday! No cakes today but another yummy confection to share with you all. With the beginning of the holidays I tend to make little favors to give out or favors for clients to give out to their clients for meetings, mixers or just end of the year gifts. These can be anything from chocolate covered marshmallows to brownies to truffles. 

I had a client come to me and ask me if I could find her a recipe for wine truffles. I'd never heard of them before but went to look up a recipe and found several. When you come upon lots of different recipes for the same titled item then what you want to do is compare those and see what is the most consistent of the group. Which variation pops up more than others. This is the one that is going to be the most reliable. So I emailed her the recipe and a few weeks later she offered me the job of making them and packaging them up for her.

First of all, here is the recipe:

1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, baking bar (Ghirardelli 60%)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup red wine, cabernet sauvignon
cocoa powder

1. Coarsley chop chocolate and place into a medium sized bowl.
2. Bring cream to a simmer, add butter and stir until melted.
3. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is melted.
4. Add the red wine and stir until wine is incorporated.
5. Pour into an 8x8 baking dish and refridgerate for at least 4 hours
6. Use a metal cookie scoop to scoop out a truffle. Coat your hands in cocoa powder and gently roll the chocolate until it forms a ball. Roll in cocoa to coat.
7.Keep refridgerated. 

Ok, so now here is where the learning curve came into play. I thought, why roll them in cocoa when I can dip them into milk chocolate instead? You see the result of my first effort in the photo above. Looks pretty good, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. Then I dipped the second truffle, then the third, and realized they were MELTING into my coating chocolate. Apparently the wine lowers the melting point of the truffles quite a bit. Fortunately this recipe makes about 30 truffles and I only needed 24 so I quickly changed tactics and started following the recipe where it clearly says "roll in cocoa to coat". Sometimes fiddling with a recipe is really not a good idea. 

But here is the upside...because the melting point is much lower for these truffles than the regular type they melt in the mouth almost instantly. The "mouth feel" is incredible! And the wine flavor is just a hint in the background of the chocolate and not overpowering in any way. Because of the lower melting point though, these DO have to be refrigerated.  So keep them in the fridge till presentation and then pass them around. I boxed up two per favor but, really, one is so rich that it is really enough. All of that butter and chocolate and cream is truly decadent!

This upcoming week will bring a fun Poker Cake to share! See you then!