Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amy Butler Inspired Knitting Bag Cake

My mother-in-law called and asked me to do another knitting bag cake for her sister who just retired after working for the railroad for 40 years and is sooo excited to go into all things knitting!!! Inspired by all things Amy Butler, I came up with this design for a more realistic knitting bag cake for her. I loved the last one I did, but wanted the challenge of the wrinkles, buldges and ripples that a real purse has in it. I also wanted to add a little bling to it! :) Aunt Leanne does beautiful work, and always adds a touch of "bling" to her pieces, so I thought a little bling was appropriate here!! Happy Retirement Aunt Leanne - enjoy your next 40 years of living life to the fullest!!!


If you're still reading and interested in the construction of the cake, here you go:

Unfortunately the handle didn't show up well in the picture...but there is one on top. I'm still getting used to lighting a black background...so the lighting isn't quite right yet. And, if you haven't noticed already, yes, I'm SUCH a dunce and totally forgot the knitting needles!!!! Sorry Auntie...they are here...but they didn't get into the cake before I helped your sister pack the cake up in her car!! :( Good thing she is family or I would have been driving to Canby that night!

Now onto the cake...I hand cut out the Amy Butler flower design from black modeling chocolate. All the black designs/elements on the cake are modeling chocolate. I hand carved the cake shape and all the contours from 5 - 9" layers of chocolate mudcake. It's filled with ganache since I needed a stable surface to carve and since it would be traveling around Portland before it's final destination. It was a little difficult to get the crumb coat really smooth since I carved in so many ripples and contours. So, my fondant didn't go on "as smooth" as I wanted. If anyone has any tips/tricks to get a crumb coat really smooth on a "wrinkly" surface, let me know! :) I applied the fondant in two pieces...one on the front and one on the back. I attached the black piping to the fondant before I put it on the cake. That was a learning experience...The front looks much better than the back as the fondant ended up folding over a bit in the back and left me with elephant skin folds. Ben said he thought it looked like the leather lines on a leather purse...that was sweet of him...but not my intention to do! :) I guess I'll know how to achieve that effect - when I want too! :)
One more lesson learned...I actually didn't dowel/support the cake. The cake layers were pretty thin and the cake ended up being about 5" tall (not including the fondant edge). So, I didn't separate out two or three layers and dowel those because it felt pretty secure with four layers of ganache. HOWEVER, what I had forgotten was that I would be putting 8 small balls of yarn (cake balls) on top of the cake and that weight would question the integrity of the cake. So, I got it in the fridge before too much sagging occurred!! But, next time, I'll have to remember to think of all the components that will be on the cake and what the weight of those components will do to the cake. Note to self and all those cake makers out there!! :)
All in all it was a great cake and I'm happy with the END result! Despite the knitting needle whoops, this is one of my favs to date!! Thanks for looking!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

3 Year Old Garden Party Cake

I was delighted to make this sweet garden birthday cake for a little 3 year old girl from Corvallis! Her mom is a friend of mine from college and I remember 3 years ago visiting her at the hospital when Bekah was born very prematurely. She and her mommy had lots of complications and we almost lost them, so it has been amazing to see the Lord's hand in her little life from the very very beginning!! I feel honored to be apart of her special birthday to celebrate these past three years of her miraculous little life...and that her mommy drove from Corvallis to pick up the cake! Thank you Jodi!! I hope Bekah LOVES her garden cake!!

I used the invitations for inspiration for the design of the cake, but then altered it quite a bit to include a bird house, a watering can, the bugs and the "Bekah's Garden" sign. I used a new chocolate cake recipe I found (that is delicious!) and filled it with vanilla ganache since it was traveling down to Corvallis. I had made a whole bunch of butterflies to "fly" in the air on curly wire, but their wings were heavier than their little bodies and they kept flipping over and flying upside down!!! URGH! I tried a few things to get them to stay, but nothing worked! - and when I went to the store to get cloth covered wire they didn't have white...so, the butterflies got stuck to the cake! :) - no flying for you silly butterflies!
The birdhouse was my favorite part of the cake! I used rice cereal treats, stacked them up and covered them in fondant mixed with gumtex to create a gumpaste type material. I then cut each section out, scored it like wood, and then layed it on the rice cereal house. The roof is modeling chocolate, as well as the birds and all the orange decorations! I LOVE modeling chocolate, but next time I make butterflies, it will be in gumpaste! :)
All in all a very sweet cake and lots of fun techniques to practise!!
Happy Birthday sweet Bekah!