Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Violin Cake

This was a first for me...a musical instrument!! A violin - complete with the scroll, the bridge and hand painted curly-ques on the body. What a fun, and challenging cake!

My daughter and I have had the privilege of knowing an incredible woman we call Mrs. A this past year! - she was my daughter's kindergarten teacher. The amount of joy, grace, and love that shines through this woman's eyes is inspiring! She loves Jesus with her whole heart and it shows in how she loves people...and especially children! So, I've been looking forward to her birthday ALL year...but unfortunately it falls in the summer...so, I had to wait all year to make her this cake! I'm so glad it's finally here because it was SUCH a special treat to surprise her!

Mrs. A brought in a very old and very special violin to my daughter's class this past year, and let the children each take a turn playing it. What I didn't know at the time (but learned today) was it was her grandfather's. He took a special interest in Mrs. A when she was growing up and fixed up his violin and gave it to her when she graduated the 8th grade. So, it has a very special place in her heart. That's what gave me inspiration for this cake...because Mrs. A is VERY dear to my daughter's heart!
Everything is edible except the strings. I was going to use wire, but I couldn't keep the wire totally straight. I found this yarn in a craft drawer and thought it would be perfect...and it was. If I was going to do a guitar or any stringed instrument again, I would use a metallic/pewter looking string. It was easy to use and so light weight that I was able to get it nice and tight without ruining the fondant. I didn't really plan for where it would go, so that was a "lessons learned". Next time, I need to "pre drill" the holes and figure out a method for attaching the strings! :) Oh well, by the grace of God, it all worked out!

The scroll/neck part was the absolute hardest thing I've had to figure out to date! I ended up having to re-do it several times because it's all one piece. It has so many features and contours that I couldn't quite figure out how to do it! I ended up taking some modeling chocolate and forming it as a base/resting place for the neck. I formed it to the "empty space" of the neck so I'd have something to help keep the shape of the neck as I molded it. I laid one thick piece of fondant on top of it, rolled up the top edge to get the scroll effect, cut the sides to fit the shape of my template and let it dry. After it was slightly dried, I took it off of the modeling chocolate form and it worked beautifully! Although, I didn't get it as smooth as I would have liked because I had to cut into the fondant when it was so thick...but, next time it'll be even better! :)
Here is a picture I found online that I used for my templates. I scaled it to the size I wanted and cut all the parts out from this in order to cut my fondant to the right size/shapes.

And, here we are delivering the cake and surprising Mrs. A!! The kids were so excited to go to her house and see where she lived! :) I remembered that as a kid...when you'd see your teacher away from school and realize they were a real person...with a life and family! :) So funny!!!

One thing I just have to mention...I was reading this morning during my quiet time about keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on ourselves, and how having this mindset brings us peace and joy. Not to get all spiritual on you all :) but experiencing this first hand today as we totally blessed another person reminded me that the joy that fills my heart by doing something kind for another is truly amazing and overflowing! Whenever you do something outside yourself to bless another, to truly bless them, you are blessed in return. It's the way we were wired! Sometimes it can be so easy to be down/depressed because of the world we live in and the stresses all around us. But when we stop looking inward, and start serving and looking outward, we find joy, peace and fullness like we could never know if we didn't take our eyes off ourselves. So, I encourage everyone...especially if you feel depressed, lonely or sad...look outside yourself and find someone to love on today...to truly bless - because you will be blessed in return and that sadness will leave you as you impact the lives of others! :)

Enjoy your week!! Thanks for looking!

Featured in Style Me Pretty!!

I am so excited this morning! If you haven't heard of Style Me Pretty, you need to go check them out! It's an amazingly beautiful wedding blog that has the most breath taking pictures, ideas and upcoming trends for weddings!
A few months back, I had the privilege to be apart of a wedding shoot here in Portland. You might remember the vintage wedding cake I designed for the shoot. Well, Style Me Pretty caught wind of the shoot designed by Dani with Weddings Fresh and shot by Diana Marie Photography. It's on their blog right now!! Click here to check it out!!! There are some beautiful photos - and some of my cake!! I actually made little individual cakes for each place setting to match the big cake...so you can see those too!!! :) I'm so excited!!
Thanks for checking it out!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Delicious Cupcake Recipes!

I am so excited to share with you all a few new recipes I tried out over the last few days!!! They are amazingly good!!!!! I found them all on www.food.com! - it's a fabulous site for recipe searches because people are great about reviewing the recipes on there. You can search for whatever your hearts desire, sort searches by "most popular" (pull down tab) and you'll get all the highly ranked recipes listed first. I love love love it!

The first cupcake I made was a lemon cupcake, filled with lemon curd and topped with vanilla bean Swiss-meringue buttercream. Woooowzers, it was YUMMY!
Here's the lemon cake recipe: click here
Here's the lemon curd recipe: click here
*Note: I used the microwave method and it was brilliant! Combine everything in one bowl, set the microwave for one minute and stir every minute until the consistency you want. My microwave took about 5 minutes and I might have gone one more even. I also used one additional egg yolk and strained the lemon curd right after it was done so I didn't have any lemon zest in it. SUPER yummy and VERY easy!!!!!
Here's the Swiss-meringue buttercream recipe: click here and scroll down to frostings

Next was a beautiful, very fragrant, carrot cake! Very moist, tender and delicious! I filled it with a no-bake cheesecake filling and topped it with my vanilla bean Swiss-meringue buttercream! I had to go back for seconds, thirds, fourths...you get the point! :)

Here's the carrot cake recipe: click here
Here's the no-bake cheesecake recipe: click here
*Use just the filling recipe. I only used 1/2 cup of sour cream. I also whipped the cream cheese and sugar for a while to get it nice and fluffy before adding the vanilla and sour cream. I poured it into a piping bag and filled my cooled cupcakes before it set. YUM!
Here's the Swiss-meringue buttercream recipe: click here and scroll down to frostings.

I hope you make them yourselves and enjoy them as much as I did!!! Thanks for checking out Jessicakes! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunshine Cake

Happy Birthday JENNY-JEN!!!!

My sweet sweet friend turned 40 today! What's crazy is that I'm getting closer to 40 and realizing that it's such a young number!!!!!!! We've only lived half our lives...and most of it was spent messing up!!!! - and learning what NOT to do! :) Now it feels like we're figuring things out and enjoying life more than ever!! And Jen would know...she is the most active, amazing, high-energy gal I have the privilege to know! I am constantly amazed by her stamina! WHEW! - I feel like I'm 50 when I'm around her!

Two years ago I made Jen my first flower pot cake. So, I decide she was due for a Jessicakes...but what was I going to do!??? When I think of Jen, I think of radiance, beauty, warmth, energy and fire! :) Yes, fire...she is a little spit-fire! So, what more beautifully displays that than the sun. She has a light, an energy, a warmth and a beauty to her that ALL who meet her acknowledge...she exudes love and sincerity. That is why I made her a sun cake! :) And, the little airplane!? - well, we've joked in the past about flying off to Mexico and leaving everything behind because mama needs a break! :) She also has three little ones and squeezed them together closer in age than mine...so, we've had lots of great conversations lately about training up our sweet kids in the ways they should go...and trying to not loose our minds in the process! :)

Jen, I love ya and thank you for all your encouragement, your energy, your warmth, sincerity, radiance and most importantly your love for Jesus and your family! May the Lord richly bless you this year with joy, love and perhaps that trip to Mexico! :) LOL! :)

Now, onto the creation of this little cake! :) There was one thing I would do differently next time...the sun rays! I added a bit of gumtex to my fondant (so that the rays would set up hard) and rolled them really thin so they wouldn't be very bulky and heavy looking. However, they were really hard to attach to the cake...on a radius. I ended up carving out a little slit in the cake for them to fit into, but they still didn't stay upright very well. So, I ended up using a bit of melted chocolate (white chocolate) which wasn't the same color as the yellow (and I didn't have any yellow chocolate coloring around) so you can see it in some areas. It wasn't as clean as I would have liked!!! Next time I do this (if there's a next time) - or if you all try it - I would make the rays a bit thicker, cut the bottoms to match the radius of the cake, and use melted chocolate colored the same as the rays/cake. The thicker bottom would make it easier to attach to the cake. You could even stick a little toothpick in them too?! Anyhow, just think how you're going to mount them. Carving a slice in the cake to insert them wasn't the easiest or cleanest way...in my opinion! :)
Oh, and one more thing...the blue board was white and blue fondant swirled and rolled out together. I was super happy with how that looked...like the sky...or even water if I would have covered it in piping gel. Fun times! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The COOLEST cutter EVER!!!!!!!

I just saw this and HAD to share with all of you! I'm TOTALLY making one of these...I can't wait! I might even do it today! - I'm SO excited! I have the wilton one like this but it doesn't cut as clean of a line...it's a bit "dull" because the plastic is not very sharp. But, this ROCKS!!

Click HERE for the link

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Video Tutorial - Upside Down Frosting Technique

"Hi Friends!" - that's how this video starts! :) As cheeeezy as it may seem, I was nervous doing my first video!! :) - so be nice to me! :) A few of my friends and I had a serious laugh about it!! Oh well...you are all my friends, so it's fitting! :)
Also, sorry for not being able to zoom in closer to the cake so you can see more detail. With my busy life as a mommy, wife and friend, I only had a few moments to video between naps, meals, diaper changing, school drop offs/pick ups, etc! - so I set up the tripod and got 'er done for all of you! Also, sorry for forgetting what an offset spatula is called! - wow, how things escaped my mind when the camera started to roll! :)

A few things I forgot to mention in the video that might be helpful!
1. This technique works with butter based butter creams. So, a Swiss/Italian Meringue butter cream or my other marshmallow based butter cream will work. Click here for the recipes and go down to "What butter cream do you use?". If you're using a shortening based buttercream, you can try freezing the cake a bit. The cake just needs to be solid so you can flip it around and it doesn't loose it's shape.
2. If you don't have a turn table to spare (or if it won't fit your fridge) you can use a large piece of cardboard to flip the cake onto. To do that, you'd cover a sturdy/flat piece of cardboard with the wax paper, and flip the cake onto that instead of directly onto your wax-covered turn table like I show in the video. Because I only make one or two tiers, I just use my turn table...but if you're making several tiers, you'll want to use cardboard so you can keep your turn table for the other cakes. Then, slide the cardboard/cake off the turn table and refrigerate before flipping it over.

Edited to add (7/24/11): If you're uncomfortable flipping the cake there is another technique I've used and really love too! I saw it on an Australian cake maker's website...click HERE. She puts a board on top of her cake, lines it up with the bottom board, crumb coats and wipes the ganache off using a plastic trowel placed up against both boards. Really easy!! - probably easier than the upside down frosting technique! :)

Anyway, I hope you all find this video super useful!!! This video is 15 minutes long...so now you too can ice a cake and get perfectly straight sides/edges in less than 15 minutes!!!

Edited to add: I just found out that "Jeff_Arnett" on Cake Central was the originator of this technique!!! Thanks Jeff! - you rock!!!!


Keyword: upside down icing technique video, how to frost a cake upside down, how to get sharp corners on a cake, how to ice a cake upside down, upside-down frosting technique, upside-down icing technique video

Monster Truck - The completed cake (Part 3 or 3)

Here it is...my son's 4-year monster truck cake!
This cake turned out to be quite fun! I'm happy with the end result!! :) The bottom tier is chocolate cake with Reeses peanut butter cup butter cream. The top tier is vanilla cake with Butterfinger butter cream. Both were SO yummy!

The checkerboard pattern was created with edible images because I wanted it to look clean and graphic. I also had the "Happy Birthday Easton" sign made with edible images too. The mud is chocolate ganache! - YUM!

I loved how the flames turned out...that was my favorite part! To do that, I rolled out long ropes of red and orange modeling chocolate and placed them together on the counter. I used my fingers and rubbed them together up and down a bit so that I wouldn't have a straight line between the two colors. I then rolled it to the thickness I wanted and used the template I created to cut out the flames. I put the strip on some wax paper so I could move it around without it breaking apart, then laid it up onto the cake...voila! - flames!!
Here is the template I created...you can use it! :)

I also did a tutorial for the tires and the truck...click here for the tires, and here for the truck.

Also, stay tuned for the upside down frosting technique how-to video I finished!! I'm editing it a bit but will hopefully have it up on the blog by tomorrow! :) :) It's so cheesy...but you'll get the idea! :) LOL!!

For the tires tutorial, click here
For the truck tutorial, click here

Thanks for looking! :)

Monster Truck - How to make the truck (Part 2 of 3)

Hi everyone! Whew...this week was CRAZY!!!!!!!!! I first off have to apologize for the lack of pictures I'm going to show you! I had planned on taking a lot of pics, step by step, to show you all the entire process of making the truck. But time slipped away this week! I had two interior design jobs happening at the same time this week, a 4-year old birthday party to plan and a cake to make. So, as I was finishing the truck and cake at midnight on Wednesday, my goal was to get into bed...not to take tons of pics. But, hopefully with these pics and my "lessons learned" (because there were quite a few on my first vehicle) you'll know exactly how to make your own Monster Truck! :)

The first thing I did was form the rice krispy treats in something that was of similar size to my truck. I used one of my son's trucks as a model and found a loaf pan that was close to the same size. So, I filled it up, mashed it down and refrigerated the treats before I began carving them.

Next, I took a picture of his little truck, scanned it into my computer, printed it and cut it out to get a template to use. I can't just carve something on my own...I need a template or something to copy...just like my baseball hat cake. I placed the picture up against the rice krispy treats and began carving until the shape was right.
Now, at this point, looking back, I missed a step! - Lessons learned #1: Put a board under the cereal treats before carving. The problem I had was after I had carved it, and glued it to the board, it was taller and a little out of scale because of the increased height from the board. So, do that first...then carve!

Then, I used the same truck picture and cut out the fender sides of the truck to use as a template for the modeling chocolate. I cut those out and attached them after I crumb coated the truck with melted chocolate.
I also covered the window section with gray fondant so that when I cut the windows out of the red modeling chocolate, there would be gray under there...to look like windows.
Again, use a model of something to help you carve/size the object you're building out of edible materials. It makes it soo much easier than trying to come up with something from the top of your head. I know there are brilliant artists that can do that...but I'm NOT one of them! :)Here is where I forgot to take more progress pics. I only have the end result...
So, I'll explain what I did next...and the lessons learned! :)

After I crumb coated the caved truck with melted chocolate, I covered it in red modeling chocolate and smoothed all the details with my fingers to bring out the fenders and create dimension in the bed part of the truck. However, before I covered the truck in modeling chocolate, I SHOULD have covered the bottom and wheel wells with black fondant. I ended up doing that after I did the red because I had forgot that you'll see the bottom because the truck sits so high above the tires! If you look at the pic above, you can see the black fondant because it lays on top of the red...If I would have done it first, then I could have cut the red modeling chocolate around the base of the truck and you wouldn't see the black base. So, BEFORE covering the cake in the modeling chocolate, turn it over and cover the bottom and wheel wells...it'll look much cleaner!

Then, I used my son's actual truck to measure out the bumpers, lights, windows, etc. Now, for the windows...I didn't like how "clean" the cut was and decided to paint the windows black. I could see some of the red modeling chocolate left on the gray and I could see small cuts in the gray from the exacto knife. So, I got out my black gel color and vodka and painted in the windows...it looked much better!

Then, I attached it to the cake! To do that, I measured how high off the cake the truck would sit...so, I measured the height of the tires and then the distance I wanted it sitting above the tires. For this truck, I wanted to to float above the cake by 3". So, I inserted my bubble straws into the top tier of the cake so that they stood above the cake by 3". I covered the straws in black fondant, slathered the tops with melted chocolate and placed the truck on top. I then used some melted chocolate on the backs of the tires and placed each tire against the bubble straws. Again, sorry for not having a great progress pic, but you can see how I it looked when all was said and done!
Because my truck was so narrow, the straws ended up right next to each other. So I covered them in one piece of fondant.

And, that's it! :) Again, so sorry for not having progress pictures towards the end! For my first truck, I'm pleased, although I know next time it'll be much cleaner!

Thanks for looking!