Monday, February 27, 2012

Stand-Up Electric Guitar Cake

I am so excited to share with you all my new favorite cake! :)  I am so happy with how this cake turned out...it was better than my expectations and I am thrilled that even though there were plenty of challenges, the Lord was faithful and gave me the wisdom to move forward at every road block!!  Praise be to His name!
For instructions on the internal structure, click HERE

 
 It all began when I got the invitation to put a cake up for auction again at my husband's school's grand auction that happens yearly.  They raise a ridiculous amount of money for their school because of all the generous parents and supporters...we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars!  It's truly amazing!  So, I was happy to be  included in the event!  Here's a peak at the cover of the auction book...
The theme was "Rock the Red Carpet & Celebrate our Stars" - the stars being the teachers and kiddos!  I immediately thought an electric guitar cake would be fantastic!!  The only trick was that it needed to be viewed by 250-300 people...and that meant it needed to stand up!  I thought, no problem! :) - haha!  So, I did a little research months ago on guitars and saw that most of them said they served 25 people.  However, they were all laying flat...I could only find two that were standing up.  I didn't think there would be a difference and went ahead and filled out the paperwork and sent it into the auction office.  A few weeks ago I started the planning phase.  If you want to read the story and see how the internal structure of the cake came together, see this post: Click HERE.  That's when I realized it wouldn't serve 25 people because of all the internal structure!!  I was luck if it served 12!  That's when I decided to add the Amp sitting off to the side of the cake to make up the extra servings I needed.  I had been thinking of doing it anyway, but this gave me an "excuse"!  My poor husband! :) - one more cake on top of the giant one I was already making!  He thought cupcakes would have been better!  I agree...it would have kept me from staying up till midnight a few nights! - but not as cool! :)

Here are some close ups of the guitar
 I just love this cake! :)  The invitation to the event was all white, red and black and had a big silver glitter star on the front.  There were lots of stars at the event, so I wanted to make sure to include some of those on the cake.  Plus, in the auction book, they called it a "Star-Studded Electric Guitar"!

Click here to see the construction.
 The neck part was 1/2" plywood wood covered in fondant and modeling chocolate.  I built up the back with fondant so it had a curved look like a real guitar.  The strings were the same material I used on the violin cake...silver craft string!  It looked so realistic!

A funny challenge came up while covering the cake in fondant.  I ran out of red fondant!!!!!!!!!!!!  After I had covered the neck and the back, I flipped the cake over and went to roll out the fondant for the front.  That's when I realized there wasn't enough to cover the sides.  I almost started to cry because it was 10pm the night before the auction!!  I couldn't make more and didn't want to wait until the next morning.  My husband said, "Cover the front in black!"  But, I didn't want to do that.  However, his comment gave me the idea to cover the sides in black and then add the white detail edge.  I had just enough for the front, so I knew it would work!  Whew! - thank you Lord!!  It took a lot longer than if I would have had enough red, but I actually thought the guitar looked so much better!!  I liked it with the black edges and the white trim!!  So, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes our challenges actually work out to be a blessing!! - like this one did!!

I used a new recipe to make the black and red fondant.  Click here to see it.  The recipe is a bit misleading...I used a 10oz bag of marshmallows, and needed to add almost two pounds of powdered sugar to get the right consistency.  To make red fondant, I added red candy melts and red coloring...and it worked the same way.  This recipe made almost 3 lbs of fondant.  It was great!  Although, I probably would just add red or black coloring to my marshmallows next time and not do the chocolate.  But, I didn't have any issues with it...so, that was great!  MUCH cheaper than buying red and black fondant! - so I'll be doing that again!

 The details are what MADE this cake!!  The knobs were mini Reece's Peanut Butter Cups covered in fondant.  The silver bridge piece was hand molded modeling chocolate painted with silver luster dust.  That little silver piece was all cut/formed by hand.  It took me almost two hours to make the bridge!  But, seriously, it looked just like the real thing...almost! :)  I really wanted it to be as close to the real thing as possible!!  The details became really important to me.  
In order to get the strings to stay in the cake and be tight, I triple knotted the ends to some large sewing needles and slid them into the holes on the bridge.  The holes were so little that anything larger would have made the modeling chocolate crack.  For some reason I hadn't thought through that part of the cake well enough.  Instead of using needles (which is obviously dangerous) you could use tiny straws (like stir straws) to tie the string to and insert those into the cake, but I didn't have anything like that here at my house and it was down to crunch time.  Obviously straws would be a safer option than needles, but my husband was going to be there at the auction and continued to tell me that it would be fine and that he would baby-sit the cake when it was being cut to make sure to get all the in-edibles out of it! :) - so, don't worry...it was all good!  But, if you can't be there to baby-sit the cake, then slide the strings into little straws, double knot the ends so it won't come back out of the straws, then insert the straws into the cake.
The other in-edible item I used was push pins at the top to hold the strings onto the cake.  Again, I needed something I could put into the wood that would hold the strings tight.  I made some washers and nuts out of modeling chocolate, then stuck some silver push pins into those, and then into the board.  I then tied the string around the push pins several times just like a real guitar!!  They looked like the real thing...it was amazing!  The tuning pegs were another challenge!  I actually made them too big, but didn't realize it until I was attaching them to the cake.  If you look closely they wouldn't actually work! - they would bump into each other if you tried to turn them!! :)  LOL!  Oh well...I figured only those crazy guitar players would notice!!  In order to make the pegs, I cut out thick circles and impressed a design on them with a cap.  I then rolled out some ropes and used the same circle cutter to cut a little bit from the rope so when I attached my circles, they would have more surface to connect to.  I used melted chocolate to attach the ropes to the circles.  I then inserted a little wire into the rope, added a little melted chocolate, then added the knob part that you would hold onto to turn the tuning pegs.  I hope that makes sense.  So, there was a little wire in each one to get the knob to stay on the rope part.

 The amp ended up being 8 layers of cake and stood 10" tall.  It was huge! :) - not a small cake at all!!  To see the amp cake crumb coated with ganache, click here.  Here are some pictures of the amp.
 In order to get the texture on the front panel, I painted it with silver luster dust and while it was still wet, I pressed on a clean piece of shelf liner paper to the front and pulled it away, thereby pulling away some of the silver paint.  It worked great!
The amp was four layers of chocolate mudcake with vanilla buttercream and 4 layers of vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream.  It was tall - 10"!
The knobs might look familiar! ;)  They are mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups painted with silver luster dust.  I hand cut out the black base for the fender logo, then hand painted the text with silver luster dust.  I LOVED the logo! - sooo fun!!  I chose not to write any text on the top of the amp because I thought I'd ruin it! :)  I wanted it to be really clean and thought less was more.

 The wood grain on the board was all fondant which was embossed, scored and painted to look like wood with a little brown gel food coloring mixed with vodka.  It took almost 3 lbs of fondant to just do the board!!  CRAZY!

When we got down to the hotel, we attached the guitar onto the board before taking it inside and up the elevator.  We had several people stop us on the street to ask if it was a cake! - they were hilarious!  Their mouths wide open in amazement!  It was so fun! :)  I was smiling from ear to ear!  People asked me what company I worked for and when I told them, "OH, I just do this for fun!" - they looked at me like I was talking in a foreign language!  When we got it up to the ballroom, we found out that the cake would be sitting up on the stage front and center until after dinner when the auction started and until it would be removed to be cut for dessert.  I was soo flattered!  Here's a pic of it on the stage...although, you can't really see how big the room was! - I'm SO glad it stood up and was so big!  

We got there pretty early, so not a lot of people were there yet, but everyone that was in the room came over with their phones and cameras and started taking pictures.  My husband was sooooo cute...he was beaming! :)  It was such a fun experience!!  Later on when my husband was with the pastry chef of the incredible hotel, he said everyone in the kitchen was gathering around while they were cutting into the cake and that the pastry chef kept saying, "I've never seen a cake like this before!"  My husband said he made cakes himself but was still so impressed!! :)  I was so happy with how everything turned out and was so glad the cake made such a statement!

Now, you're probably wondering, "So how much did it go for?!"  Well, considering this purse cake from last year went for $1400, and the year before that my first auction cake, the Latin Lady, went for $600, I was expecting this to go for at least $1000 or more.  However, we found out a few days before the auction that this cake would be the very first auction item of the night.  The purse cake last year was auctioned well into the evening (after everyone was "warmed up") ;)  right before they served dessert.  So, once I found out the guitar would be first, I lowered my expectations quite a bit...but of course was still hopeful.  When I chatted with my husband after the cake was auctioned, he said it took 15 min. to get everyone quiet enough after dinner and drinks to start the auction and he wasn't even sure how many understood it was a cake.  So, it was sold for "only" $450.  I know $450 is still a great amount and it is all going to a wonderful school!!! - so it's not that bad at all!! :)  I was a bit disappointed because all the time I spent on it didn't amount to as much as I'd hoped for the school.  However, I was SO happy with the cake that it made up for it.  It really came down to a timing issue...I know if it would have been auctioned off later in the evening, it would have done better.  And, just because it went for $450 doesn't take away for the fact that it was a great cake!!

Here are some fun stats on the cake:
It took 2 mudcake recipes and 1 vanilla cake recipe to make this cake happen
It took 9+ lbs of fondant (3 recipes) and a pound of modeling chocolate to cover the cakes
It took 2.5 lbs of buttercream to fill the amp
It took 4 lbs of dark chocolate to make the perfect amount of ganache to fill and crumb coat both the amp and guitar
It took 5 mini Reese's peanut butter cups to make the knobs! :) - and lots more that were consumed in the process! :)
It took LOTS of hours of planning and pre-planning and a few great friends to pull this off

Thanks for looking!!  - and happy cake making!

Blessings!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to build a stand-up electric guitar cake

I'm breaking this post up into two parts...How to build the electric guitar cake structure and then I'll post pictures of the finished cake itself.  For the finished results, click HERE.  I didn't want this post to be too long! :)

I had the privilege to put up a cake for auction again this year for my husband's school!  This was my third year participating in their amazing auction that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for his school.  The theme was "Rock the Red Carpet & Celebrate our Stars".  The stars being the kids and teachers.  

When I got the invitation I knew I wanted to do an electric guitar...what could be more "ROCK" worthy than that!! :) - plus, I've been wanting to do a guitar cake for a while...so, this was my chance!  The colors were all red, white and black with lots of glitter stars everywhere.  I knew that the guitar would have to be visible to an entire room of 250-300 people...so that meant I needed it to stand up! - another crazy idea...but worthy of consideration since I had seen it done on the show Amazing Wedding Cakes.  I think the Cake Girls made one for a grooms cake.  After my internet research though, I only found three guitars that stood up...all with hardly any information on how to do it.  About a week before the event, I found a stand up guitar cake by Caran's Creations & Confections and decided to call her and see if I could get some information from her on how she did it.  She was so kind and called me right back and explained how she built hers.  One thing I took away from that conversation was that she had screwed some internal boards onto the backing to keep the cake from sliding down.  She used one layer of cake on her guitar, but I knew I wanted to have filling in mine which meant I needed to stack it differently...not just lay it flat against the board like she did.  I also wanted to figure out another way to get it to stand up...I actually didn't quite understand the way she built hers...it was some kind of hinge system but I couldn't visualize it (I'm so sorry Caran)!  She also had an extra board coming off the back of the neck that I really didn't want to have on my cake....I wanted mine to look free standing...almost floating...so, back to the drawing board I went.  I borrowed an electric guitar from a friend (thanks Shields family) and sat for a day or two just measuring it, staring at it, and trying to visualize how I was going to do it.  I then headed down to Home Depot and started walking the aisles.  I knew I needed a wood backing for the board and also for the neck of the guitar.  So, I picked up some 1/2" plywood.  I then needed some kind of hinge system to get it to stand up.  I kept thinking I would need to build an A-frame to do that when I stumbled down the hinge aisle and the clouds parted, the sun shone brightly and the angels began to sing!! :) - I found the coolest "toy" Home Depot had to offer for a stand up guitar...a GIANT hinge!!! - check it out!

 I opened the hinge up backwards (the opposite direction than you'd usually use it for) and it stopped and stayed open just past 90 degrees...the perfect angle for the board to stand up.  It was SUCH a heavy duty hinge that I knew it would hold the weight of the cake no problem.  I met a great guy named Duane there who helped me sketch it out and feel more confident that this would work! - he even asked me to email him pictures when I got done! - he was so excited! :)  Thanks Duane! - I love our Home Depot!! I knew this was going to be perfect!!!
 So, I picked up my 1/2" sheet of plywood, some wood screws, my beautiful hinge and headed over to a friend's house who has some wood working skillzzz!!  Ian was a giant blessing and cut out my boards in the shape of a guitar (thanks Ian!).  I had previously used a template I found online to draw out the design on the wood, so he routed it all out and voila...an almost guitar!!  
Here's a template you can use that I found online.

I took the pieces home, went out into the garage, got my drill, my wood glue and went to town.  I love to build, so it was SUPER fun for me!  I cut a 2" x 2" piece of 1" thick wood to mount my neck to the board...you can see it in the pictures above.  The neck sits off the back board by a good 1", so that worked beautifully.  It was a piece of decking material! - I love what you can find in a garage! :)  I attached my hinge and was ready to go...it stood up perfectly and was VERY stable.  
Now, there is a little downfall to this hinge - the cake could fall forward.  There was nothing keeping it from doing that except the weight of the cake kept it slanted back.  If however, the cake moved forward suddenly, (past 90 degrees) it would fall forward.  This hinge was really stiff and hard to move so I knew the only way it could do that was if it got really tilted during transportation.  So, at those times, I was careful to just hang on to it.  I never had an issue with that the entire time!!  That's just more of an FYI for ya if you try this out! :)

Now, to make it cake ready!  I bought some double sided carpet tape and put tape ALL over the wood.  I then wrapped everything with aluminum foil making sure the foil was really stuck to the wood.  The carpet tape was a beautiful idea!!!  Worked great!

Once the cake was all wrapped up, I started stacking my cakes in there.  I used my chocolate mudcake recipe because it's very stable and I knew I wouldn't be able to put this cake in the fridge.  Fortunately though it's been really cold here! - so I kept the cake in our sunroom without the heat on so it stayed nice and cool.  I also used a thin layer of chocolate ganache between all the layers and to adhere the cake to the foil.  Chocolate ganache is like glue...it's amazing and honestly I would NEVER build this cake with buttercream.  The ganache made it SO stable and incredible to work with. USE ganache!! :)
 I stacked the layers like a traditional cake so they laid on themselves.  Once the ganache set, it was one big piece of cake.  You'll also notice the very bottom inch is foam.  I of course didn't want to put anything heavy down there or it would have just fallen off.  OH, and I did add a foam core board just under the neck in the above picture that wasn't on the wood form pictures.  I decided I needed another level of support there.
I flipped the hinge open and laid the cake flat and began covering it in a thin layer of ganche.  It took me over an hour to get it like this picture above...but it was perfect! :)  Nice and smooth and straight!!  I was more and more excited as it took shape!  The other wonderful thing about the hinge and the ganache was I could move the guitar all around.  I could even flip it upside down to cover the back with fondant.  I would totally use this technique again!!  

Another challenge presented itself after I got the structure built.  I realized this cake was NOT going to serve 25 people!  When I filled out the auction paper work months ago, I told them it would serve 25 people because that's what I had seen online.  However, none of those cakes were stand up cakes...and because of the internal structure, I knew it wouldn't serve that many!!  I called one of the auction chairpeople and she said everything was out to print and asked if I could make another cake to go with it.  OH sure! :) - I'll just whip something up! :)  haha!!  But, I knew I needed to because that wouldn't be fair.  So, I decided to make a small amp to go with the electric guitar.  The amp ended up being two half-sheet layers of cake that I cut into 8 layers.  It ended up being about 8.5"w x 5.5"d x 10"h.  I used four layer of vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and four layers of mudcake with vanilla buttercream.  I also used almost 3 lbs of ganache on it!!!!  Here's the result...sorry, I didn't get any pictures after I stacked it.

 Again, use ganache!! :)  It sets up so beautifully to where you can keep scraping and building it up.  Notice the board on top! - I used the Aussie Smoothing Technique to get the corners nice and sharp!  Again, I probably spent 45 min to an hour doing this because I made the boards too big (compared to the actual cake) and it took a while to get all the ganache on there!  Once I was happy with how smooth it was, I put it into the fridge and let it harden, then used a hot palette knife to get under that top board and it popped it right off.

Now, to cover it all in fondant and add my decorations...

Stay tuned! :)  
I'll post the final results in the next day or two.  Still going through the pictures and deciding which ones to use.  Be back in a flash! :)

Thanks for looking!!



Saturday, February 18, 2012

SUPER sweet cupcake toppers

 I have a treat for you!
 
Remember my incredibly talented sister in law, Kim, who came up with all the graphics and desserts for the Up Up and Away Hot Air Balloon Shower??  Well, she's at it again!!  Kim just put up some new fun things in her etsy shop and I had to share them with you!! 

 They are original, one-of-a-kind die-cut cupcake toppers!!!
  In some super cute styles!!!
And she can do ANYthing!!  She is able to create whatever design you need for your party.  So, look her up "HERE" and see what else she's got.  She is insanely talented and will make your party truly one-of-a-kind!  If you have something specific you need, send her a message!!
Thanks for looking!! :)