Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maddie's Fashion Birthday Cake

I have a sweet friend...her name is Summer. She is a little ray of sunshine like her name! :) - and she's my cake buddy. We've only made cakes together a couple of times, but we spend LOTS of time sharing ideas, tips, techniques, dreams and future plans together. She is SO incredibly smart in all things baking and writes the "Bakeology" articles for Cake Central magazine!! Her user name on Cake Central is Summerki...so you can see her work! She's got some serious talent! :) If you haven't checked her articles out, you should...you'll see how smart she is - and you'll learn something new I promise!! :)

Summer's daughter, Maddie, turned 7 today and we had talked a while back about trading cakes for our kid's birthdays. This way, instead of spending sleepless nights working on a cake, we can just decorate for the party and make other yummy treats! - and actually enjoy the day! :) So, today we did! I made her daughter a birthday cake, and she's going to make one for my baby girl in October! It was SO fun!!Another thing about my sweet friend is that they throw THE BEST birthday parties!! They do costumes, decorate the entire house, make tons of treats, goody bags, set out the entire dessert table, etc etc etc!! - it's incredible!! Her family gets on board and helps sew things, decorate things, etc etc etc! - you get the idea...it's amazing! - Truly amazing! The theme for Maddie's party was "Maddie's Fashion Fairytale". The whole house was decorated like a run way fashion cat walk and called "Stone House of Fashion". There was a literal run way, mannequins dressed to the hilt, Paris icons, ribbon wrapped columns, paper topiaries and flag banners everywhere...it was beautiful! Summer's mother-in-law made all the girls their own little t-shirt dress to model on the catwalk. It was SUPER cute! Here's my girl with her "serious model face" taking a stroll! :) She was crack'n me up!!! It took her a bit to warm up to "modeling", but once she put her serious face on and got a few people saying, "Wow, she's good!" I couldn't get her to get off the cat walk! It was hilarious! :)
The other thing Summer designed was the cake. I take NO credit for this sweet cake except actually making it! :) So it was a team effort! She sent me a sketch and I drew it up in my Autocad program...here is the drawing.
I also created the template for the bottom tier using photo paper. That worked really well because it didn't stick! A new idea I had that I will be using again. Instead of card stock, use photo paper to make templates.


Onto the bottom tier:
I created a template again, using photo paper. Here's the template I used:


I then used the fettuccine cutter on my pasta maker to cut out strips of modeling chocolate so I had lots of little stripes exactly the same size. I measured around my cake half way (ended up being about 13") and cut out two pieces of wax paper 6"h x 13" w. I greased them up lightly with Crisco so my stripes would stick on it and began laying out my pattern. Once I was done, I used my template to cut out the design, then flipped the wax paper over onto my cake and peeled it off. That's my "trade secret" for doing horizontal type stripes. Use wax paper greased with crisco to hold it on until you get it up onto the cake...then peel off the wax paper! - don't tell anyone...that's my little secret! :) hehe :)

If you want to know all the ways to use this wax paper technique, check out my new Craftsy class!!  You can read about the class in this post HERE, or jump over to Craftsy and take the class HERE!

Now, the little black ropes gave me a bit of a head ache at first...until I had another brilliant idea...again, thank you Lord! :) I used an extruder gun for the black rope and tried twisting it and getting my loops up on the cake as I went. But I couldn't keep them all the same size!! So, after the third attempt, I sat back and stared at it until the idea hit me...use pins!
 
At the top of every loop, I stuck a pin in the cake. That way, when I looped around with the extruder gun, the fondant rested on the loop until I could come back and press it into the cake. And, that way, all the loops were the same height! Brilliant! - it worked SO good!! I was SUPER happy!

All in all I was really happy with the cake!! It fit in perfectly with the decor and was so yummy! The top tier was vanilla cake with raspberry SMBC. The bottom tier was red velvet with vanilla buttercream. I tried a new fondant (Pettinice/Bakels) It's what the Aussie's use! :) I really liked it! Reminded me a bit of marshmallow fondant, but easier to use. And, it's less expensive than Satin Ice. So, I'll be buying that one now if I need store bought stuff - which isn't very often! :)



I ended up making that bow about 6 times! I was trying to make it like Planet Cake where it sits up instead of laying flat! I just could NOT get it to sit right and had to keep remaking it. Finally I gave up and just laid it flat. What I didn't realize would happen is the batting I was using to fluff up the bow ended up leaving tons of marks behind when I took the batting out of the bow. So, I ended up making a new one and taking it back to the party to replace the other one! Yes, I'm weird...WAY to driven to perfection!! Oh well...it DID look better! :) - and that's what counts! :) Here's the final version!


Now, onto techniques and how to's!! There were definitely a few learning experiences with this cake (isn't there always) because there were several new things I hadn't done before!

The first thing that was new for me was the quilting effect on the top tier. It's a common technique, but I just had never done it! :) I tried just using my 60/30 triangle from my drafting days but it didn't work because it was straight plastic and wouldn't curve to the cake. So, I went looking for my card stock to make a template and realized I was out! AH! - What to do!??? Then it hit me...photo paper! It has that nice glossy side that doesn't stick and it was the perfect height - 6"! So, I used that for both the quilting guide and the template for the bottom tier. I love how "bad" things that happen can turn out for good! God is so gracious!!
I also measured down on the angled part of the photo paper the width of each of my stripes and cut into the photo paper with an exacto knife. This way when I laid the paper up onto the cake and pressed on it slightly, that little cut in the photo paper left a tiny mark on the cake to guide me for the next line. It worked perfectly! I then used the Wilton quilting tool (seen here) to make the impressions along the photo paper. The black balls are little black edible sprinkle beads you can buy at Micheal's.
All in all I was really happy with the cake!! It fit in perfectly with the decor and was so yummy! The top tier was vanilla cake with raspberry SMBC. The bottom tier was red velvet with vanilla buttercream. I tried a new fondant (Pettinice/Bakels) It's what the Aussie's use! :) I really liked it! Reminded me a bit of marshmallow fondant, but easier to use. And, it's less expensive than Satin Ice. So, I'll be buying that one now if I need store bought stuff - which isn't very often! :)
OH, one other thing I forgot to mention is the pink fondant I used!! - HUGE new learning lesson! Pink gel colors fade!! I colored the fondant pink (see this first picture above with the pins in it), and by the time it got to the party and set out for a bit, it faded to a peachy-pink (see the pic below). It faded a good 3-4 shades of pink and what was left was much less pink and more fleshy in color...it was really weird!! Summer said she had that happen to her too and was shocked!! I guess if you don't want the pink to fade, you have to air brush it! - but I don't have an airbrush machine! So, if you know of another way to keep pink gel colored fondant from fading (besides working with it in the dark or keeping it in a box), write me a comment...I'd LOVE to know! - for future! :)


Thanks everyone for looking!! Sleep tight! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Aussie Smoooooothing Technique! - LOVE IT!


My sweet friend Deborah sent me this link to a wonderful Australian cake maker - Not Quite Nigella. There was a fabulous article on how to get smooth sides on their cakes. I just have to say the Australians have the most beautiful, flawless cakes I have ever seen!!! Like Planet Cake...Seriously!??? Are they for real!?!! I digress...

Well, this article used a variation of the upside down frosting method...but even better - and easier!! Instead of flipping their cakes (which can be a bit tricky with a big cake), they add a board on top to line everything up so your sides truly are straight!!! Brilliant!! You glob a whole bunch of frosting/ganache on top, add your board, press down/level, and make sure it's lined up with your bottom board. Then, add your crumb coat of frosting and and guide your bench scraper around to smooth the frosting down.

Click HERE for the article

Now, I was a little unsure about this technique for one reason...how do I get the board off the top without ruining the beautiful cake!!????? She doesn't mention it's a problem in the article...so, I thought I'd see for myself. I'm working on a cake for Saturday and had a 8" and 6" cake to try it on...the results?!
Beautiful!!!!! The lid popped right off!! I only had a small little spot to touch up where I put my palate knife in to lift the board off...it was SUPER fast! Amazing!! Totally straight sides...LOVED it! I might have to do another video! :) hehe

So, now you an use the upside down method, or this Aussie method!! I haven't tried this Aussie method with buttercream though...not sure if that top board would "pop" off as easily!? - if you do try it, make sure you chill the cake REAL good before trying to get the board off...and if you try it with buttercream, let me know how it works!!!

Night Night!!


Click HERE for step by step pics

Monday, July 11, 2011

Giant Cupcake Tutorial

Happy Birthday Kelly!!
One of my sweet friends is having her birthday today!!! So, I made her her very own cupcake!! I took it over and spent a few hours hang'n out with her and her 9 month old identical twin boys this morning! WOW, are they ever CUTE!! I keep telling my baby girl she needs to call dibs on one of them soon!! ;)
I was housebound yesterday because my brother and sister in law took their kids and my two oldest kids to Eugene to meet up with their grandparents, in our van! So, I didn't have a vehicle...my older two kids were gone and my husband was at church...hmmmm, what to do, what to do!? When the mice are away, the cat will play!! And, play I did!! I played "cake lady" for my wonderful friend Kelly!!Like my strawberry!? :) It's made of modeling chocolate. I formed it in my palm, then used a toothpick to make the little seed marks. Fun! :)

I've seen these giant cupcakes and honestly, I totally forgot you can buy a Wilton mold pan to make them...until today when Kelly said, "Oh, those pans are so cool!" Whoops!!! LOL!! - how dumb am I! See blog readers...I'm still learning too! :) So, instead of spending 6-7 hours making this, I could have spent 2! :) Oh well...gave me lots of time to pray over my friend and the new ministry her and her husband are starting! That is one fabulous thing about making cakes...lots of time to think...and pray - especially with no kiddos around! :)

I decided to do a tutorial on this sweet little cupcake...again, before I realized there was a pan! :) If you don't want to carve your own cupcake, buy this: Wilton Giant Cupcake Pan. They sell them at Micheal's too, so with your 50% off coupon you can get one for $10! - and save yourself some time. Although, as with any mold, you are limited to that specific size. If you'd like one bigger/smaller here are some step by step instructions to make your own.

Of course there were many trials along the way, and mainly because of the medium I was using. Let me explain...see below:

First off, here is a little list of the tools I used for this
The circle cutters were used for cutting the cake. The plastic scraper was used to smooth the buttercream along the sides of the cake/swirl. I needed something flexible. If you don't have a flexible scraper, you can fold up wax paper several times and use that over contours. In fact, I did that during the last coat on the swirl part. I used the piping bag filled with buttercream to help add more buttercream along the top/swirl area.


Let's talk the cupcake base. I made the cake in two pieces...the bottom "cup" part, and the top "swirl" part. Here's the bottom how-tos...see pic above.
I used a 6" board to cut two pieces of cake for the top and middle tier of the cup, and a 5" circle cutter for the bottom tier and to cut out a cake board for the base of the cake.


Yum, red velvet! - one of Kelly's favorites! I found an incredible recipe from the Pastry Queen's book...it's Y.U.M.M.Y!!! x's 100!! Click here for the recipe. I baked the cake in a half-sheet pan since I was going to be cutting out lots of different sized circles.


I stacked up my three tiers upside down, with buttercream in between the layers, then leveled it. I put it in the freezer at this point because the buttercream was super soft. After about 30 minutes I took it out of the freezer and carved into what looks like a flower pot! :) I turned it over and gave it a smooth crumb coat.I put it in the fridge again, and got out my modeling chocolate. I made sixteen 4.5" high chocolate sticks for the side of the cake. This is the part I would NOW completely change. I would NOT use modeling chocolate. It hardened up and would not stay stuck to the buttercream. I would use fondant at this point if I did it over again. The other thing about the modeling chocolate that ended up happening is because it was so firm, and the "sticks" stuck out from the cake, it tore the red modeling chocolate I had tried to put around the outside. So, use fondant! :)

I cut a circle of modeling chocolate for the top so it would look like a chocolate cupcake. I actually intended on having the swirl stay inside the cupcake like a real cupcake. I don't ever see frosting overlapping the base of a cupcake so I was trying to make it look realistic. However, it looked horrible seeing the tops of the sticks...I'll explain what I did about that later! :)

After I put the little chocolate sticks on, I rolled my red modeling chocolate out and tried wrapping it around the cake. Even as thin as I rolled it, it was so heavy that it pulled all the sticks off! So, I started over and decided to drape the modeling chocolate over the cake, and that's when it just tore as soon as it touched the chocolate sticks. URGH! So, the third time, I flipped the cake over, rolled the red modeling chocolate into a strip, rolled the strip up and put it on the cake a few inches at a time pressing it into the buttercream as I unrolled it. This worked because it didn't pull the sticks off and it adhered to the buttercream. Whew! - it wasn't as nice as I would have liked it, but after three attempts, this mama was done! D.O.N. Done! :) hehe

Now, the problem was when I flipped it back over, the top looked horrible. You could see the tops of the sticks and I just didn't like that look! So, I made a whole bunch of red modeling chocolate pearls and put a few layers of them along the top of the cake to hide it...as seen here:

But, I didn't really like the look of that after I stared at it for a few hours (yes, I am way TOO much of a perfectionist! - my husband always says, "It looks great...just stop!" hehe). So, I pulled them all off and decided to add another rope of "Buttercream"/fondant to stack my swirl cake on...the final product. Next time, I'll be making my little swirl a bit bigger than the top of the cup, so I won't have those issues again!

Onto the swirl:
I used my circle cutters to cut out three more circles 5", 3.5" and 2" in diameter. I stacked them with some buttecream and shaved/carved the corners off.

I used my piping bag to add more buttercream to the edges of each layer to emphasize the swirl look. I used some wax paper folded up in several layers to smooth the curves out.
I then stuck it in the fridge to firm up. After about 30 min, I got it out, touched up/smoothed out the buttercream even more, rolled out my fondant and laid it over the cake. I realized because of the contours in the cake, air bubbles gathered in those insets and I had to use a needle at the base of each swirl to get the air out so it would sit tight against the buttercream and give me a nice contour.
One new thing I tried that I LOVED was to use a left over piece of fondant (from the scraps after I trimmed the cake) to smooth the cake. I kneaded it up, put it in my fingers, and used the fondant to smooth the fondant on the cake. It gave it this beautiful satiny look and took all the cornstarch off. LOVED it!

And, here's the final product again...with FOUR swirls, not three! I liked the fourth swirl better than the "pearls"...looked more realistic.
So, if you've got some time and want a truly "custom" giant cupcake, I hope these instructions will help you!! :) Thanks for looking!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Featured on The Cake Blog

If you haven't visited Half Baked - The Cake Blog, you should!! It's a beautiful website full of wonderful inspiration, amazing cake pictures, fun and tasty treats and more!!!

I got an email from Carrie and she had seen my cake over at Style Me Pretty and asked if they could feature my cake! :) I was SO excited because I love their blog!!

Click HERE to check out my feature!

Thanks again Carrie for featuring my work!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Cake

Happy 4th of July!! What an awesome country we live in!! I'm soo thankful for our country (despite the yuckiness that goes on) for we are truly blessed to be free!! I am so thankful for the men and women who have fought for the freedom I enjoy!!
A friend of mine asked if I'd help her out with a cake for a very special fourth of July party she throws every year. Last year I did this cake for her (click here) and so this year, we wanted it to still be a fourth of July cake, but something more funky and fun for this party. The invitations had fireworks on them, so we wanted to incorporate them in some way. I decided to make them a little abstract...almost like a flower, but yet still "firework-ish". After 8-10 designs (I just couldn't decide), we finally agreed on this one just days ago! :)
The final cake looks pretty close to the design - whew!! ;) I was happy about that! Although, as you can see, there was one change. I eliminated the fireworks coming out of the top of the cake. Once the cake was put together and I stood back and thought it just looked a little cheeeeesy. I think because of the silver wire. There wasn't any other silver anywhere on the cake. So, I left it more simple...and I'm happy with it! :)

Here's the back. The cake will be in the center of their serving table, so it has to be viewed from all sides. So, I did a circular design that just waves all the way around with little fireworks and dots all around. The fireworks were something new for me. I ended up making over 50 because I kept breaking them and it took me a while to realize what worked and what didn't! :) They are made from the Wilton chocolate melts. I always want everything to taste sooo yummy and I can't stand the taste of royal icing, so I knew I wanted to try and make these out of chocolate. The problem was the temperature and that they are so fragile. What ended up working was to pipe them on wax paper that I covered in crisco. I then stuck them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up nice and hard. I then used along exacto knife to slide under the whole thing and pick it up. Worked beautifully with the crisco and right from the fridge. It was funny because after sitting out for only 15 min or so, they began breaking when I picked them up...so, back in the fridge they went!

All in all it was a fun cake! It was actually my biggest cake to date! The 10" tier was 6" tall and took me two tries to cover it in fondant! It was crumb coated in chocolate ganache, so I had to scrape off the chocolate, re-work the fondant and go again!! Whew! I'm just glad for decorations on that tier! :) All the red decorations (besides the fireworks) are modeling chocolate. The modeling chocolate makes it a dream to cut and place on the cake! I heart modeling chocolate!

The 6" tier was 5 layers of vanilla butter cake, sliced strawberries and vanilla bean Swiss-meringue buttercream. The 8" tier was the same as the 6". The big 10" tier was 4 layers of a dark chocolate cake with mocha Swiss-meringue buttercream and crumb coated in dark chocolate ganache. It's yuuuummmmy! But soft, so hopefully it'll stay upright at the party! :)

I hope you all have a wonderful fourth of July!!! Happy Independence day!!