Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Korean Birthday Cake

One of my sweetest, most beautiful mommy friends turned 40 this past week.  It's crazy that I'm nearing 40 too...what's happened!  I thought I just turned 25 last year!! :) LOL!!!  I guess 40 isn't old at all...because we're not getting old...just classically wise and beautiful...right?! :)  40 must be the new 30 because I remember when my dad turned 40 I thought he was so old! - my 40 is not as old as his 40 was!! :)

A few friends of ours threw her a fun party last night and I offered to make some "cupcakes" or something for the party a few weeks ago.  But, to me...after thinking about it...cupcakes just weren't enough for Alice!  I wanted something more "her"...sophisticated, beautiful and personal.  Alice is Korean and her culture is very important to her.  So, I knew I wanted to use that as my inspiration for her cake.  I also wanted to do some kind of geometric pattern because Alice perfers the modern to the frilly.  I found this pattern online and my wheels got to turning!

I started making sketches and then decided to up the personal aspect by writing in the Korean language little sayings that describe what an amazing woman Alice is.  Here's what I came up with thanks to Google!!

신뢰할 있는 친구: Trusted Friend
헌신적인 아내: Devoted Wife
축복받은: Blessed
그리스도의 추종자: Follower of Christ
미인: Beautiful Woman
어머니를 사랑하는: Loving Mother
마흔: 40
I also wanted to put a single flower on the cake because I remember seeing a beautiful picture of Alice in Hawaii with a big flower in her hair...she looked stunning! I looked up Korean's national flower and it's the Rose of Sharon...which was a coincidence because it's also a symbol of the Jewish people and of our Lord in the Bible...something we both believe strongly in.  I later found out that she had the Rose of Sharon flowers in her wedding!!  God is soo good! :)  I love those little touches!
I then turned all these ideas into the following sketch and based the colors on her 3 favorite colors: turquoise, red and black.

 It truly came out exactly as I had imagined it!  When I showed up to the party and placed the cake, Alice literally froze in place, stunned and speechless!!  Seriously that is why I make these cakes for my friends...for those watch their face and their eyes fill up with tears of joy and a full heart of love!  Yes, they're an enormous amount of work and I'm always so glad they're over and I can finally put my feet up! - but it's such a huge blessing for me to be able to HUGELY bless them as much as they have blessed me!  And what better way to do it than in a scrumptious piece of edible art!! :)  She started to tear up and began reading the inscriptions on the cake.  She could hardly talk she was so blown away at the personal beauty of the cake.  It was probably one of my favorite cake experiences to date!  We were both overflowing with joy! :)

Here's my gorgeous friend with her little cake (it's an 8:6:4).

 I had to post this picture of Alice because she's STUNNING!  I'm soo blessed and inspired by this amazing woman and so glad the Lord has placed her in my life!  She is such a sweet, dedicated wife and mommy of four beautiful kids that love the Lord with their whole heart!  She radiates God's love and beauty!  Thank you Alice for your friendship!  I'm SO glad the cake blessed your heart because you have blessed mine!

Now, one thing you crazy cake people might have noticed is the black pearl/bead border at the bottom and on the bottom of the top tier was not in the drawing.  I really wanted the cake to be clean with clean lines and everything was going beautifully until I began sticking the tiers together!!  This red cake plate I used has a recessed center that was BARELY smaller than my bottom tier.  So, I had to stick another cardboard cake board on it to raise it up enough to stick the bottom tier on.  Well, the glue dried before I realized when I put the bottom tier on it was crooked!!  UGH!  So, I tried "popping" it off and the cake popped off it's actual board taking the fondant with it!  It tore the fondant and wrinkled it in other places...and the board was still stuck to the cake plate!!  AH! ;)  So, I put it back and adjusted the second tier with a wedge to make sure it went on straight, but the damaged had been done to the bottom tier.  SO, I had to use a border to hide the damage.  I actually liked how it turned out made the cake a bit more feminine with the pearls.  So, I guess it all worked it always does...despite being more work! :) LOL!!!

Onto a fun tip!
Getting flat cakes from the oven:
I saw this tip years ago, but have never posted anything about it on my blog (I don't think I have!?)  I hardly ever get flat cakes right from the oven.  I also don't like to waste cake by cutting off that dome.  So, the trick is as soon as you pull your cake from the oven, lay a wet paper towel (double thickness...use 2) or a wet clean dish towel over the pan and press down to flatten out that dome.  Careful because it's really hot and the cake releases steam when you do that so you can burn yourself if you're not ready for it!!  So, use your fingers and press down all around until your cake is totally flat.  Then, let cool for a few minutes and pop that baby out onto a rack to cool the rest of the way.  And, you'll have a flat cake ready to be iced or torted! :)
 Out of the oven (above) with dome
 Pressing carefully with wet paper towels
Flat top cake after squishing! :)  Perfecto!

I've not noticed any change in my far as density is concerned.  Although, I like a dense cake! :)  But I use this technique on ALL my cakes from the oven so I don't waste cake by cutting off that dome!  - saves a step - and my waistline! :)

I guess that's it for now!  Thanks for looking!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Ruffle Cake and A Lesson Learned

Today was my daughter's last day of 1st grade...and her teacher's birthday!   Her teacher has been incredible this year!  Very in tune to the kiddos, open with the parents and especially sweet to my princess!  It was a special day that called for a cake!!  

However, this cake almost didn't come to be.  A few days ago we had my son's birthday and I made him his construction cake, in two days I'm making 4 dozen special cupcakes for a sweet friend's baby shower, and my husband is in his last week of, it's a little crazy around here!  I needed this cake to be easy, quick and yet stylish for my daughter's teacher.  I also knew I couldn't use fondant because I just didn't have the time to cover and decorate a cake (I still take way too long doing fondant cakes!).  SO, buttercream ruffles it was!

Funny side story...when my husband saw these pictures he said, "Hey, it looks like a whole bunch of  fig newtons stacked on top of each other!"  LOL!  Nice honey! ;)  But, then, it does! :)

Anyhoo, moving on!  :)

There are lots of pics of these cakes out and about now.  It's not a new technique and you can see THIS video for a simple how-to.  One thing that really helped me keep things straight was to go around the cake with a ruler and make a vertical line in the crumb coat every inch so I had guides when moving back and forth with the petal icing tip.  I also found that if I sat eye level with the cake I could watch the ruffles and know when to keep moving the icing tip up so the ruffles wouldn't squish too much.  Oh, and one more tip...if you get your cake with the crumb coat nice and cold, then you can put the fat tip of the icing tip right on the cake and slide it up the side of the cake as you move back and forth creating the ruffles.

 For the top I did a back and forth motion to make a large flower looking design.  I started from the outside and worked my way in.
 Here's where you can see my "lesson learned"!  In the pic above, if you zoom in/click on it you can see some streaking in the buttercream.  I used my Swiss-meringue buttercream recipe for the cake and began adding Wilton gel colors to try and get this purple-periwinkle color (what I believed was her favorite color).  This was the first time I'd colored buttercream for the outside of a cake.  What was unexpected was as the buttercream sat (inside the piping bag or inside the mixing bowl) the color started separating.  It was THEN I remembered reading something on Cake Central a few years ago about when you color a meringue based buttercream, it's highly recommended to use candy colors.  The reason is because the color attaches to sugar crystals and when you make a meringue based buttercream, you are dissolving the sugar crystals into a syrup so there aren't any sugar crystals.  And, because it's water based, it doesn't emulsify well with all the butter in it.  So, when you want to color meringue based buttercreams, use candy colors to be sure you won't get streaking!- otherwise you risk having to throw out a big batch of buttercream.  In order to "save" this one, I let the frosting firm up in the fridge, then took a slightly damp brush and brushed in some of the streaking so it wasn't so obvious...although, it didn't fix it all the way...but enough!  It's the thought that counts right?! :)

 I don't see too many of these cakes with flowers on them, but that's what I wanted to do.  I decided to make a magnolia fantasy flower with my ruffle flower center.  I LOVE modeling chocolate!  I made this flower 2 hours before I put it on the cake and took it over to the school.  I cut out the petals and shaped them in my egg carton then set it in the fridge.  After about 15 min, I took them out, and formed them into the flower shape using melted chocolate to attach the petals to each other.  I then put it back in the fridge for a half hour to set up...and voila, a flower!  Same thing with the center.  It's black modeling chocolate.  You can use THIS post for the how to.  Of course for this center, I used little circle cutters so the ending flower would be small.  To speed up the hardening of it, put it in the fridge.  Go with modeling chocolate whenever possible - no waiting for gumpaste to dry!!  

LOVE it!

I guess that's it for now! :)  Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Construction Birthday Cake

My sweet little guy turned 5 this weekend!!  It's crazy he's 5...time has FLOWN by!  He is SUCH a sweet heart and loves his mama so makes me feel so blessed!
He's still really really into all things trucks and all things construction.  I think every cake I've made for him for the past 3 years has had some car theme to it.  Last year was the monster truck cake, so this year it was all about construction!  We had hard hats for the kids, Home Depot aprons, and bug house projects for them to work on during the party.  We strung up construction tape everywhere like it was looked like a demolition site all around my house!!  It was a fantastic day!!!
 The whole idea of the cake began when I was visiting a sweet friend of mine who has a dedicated room FILLED with all things cake decorating!!  Not only is her place full of the coolest stuff, but she is one of the most sweetest and generous people I know!  She LOVES to share and bless's an amazing gift of hers.  She let me look all around for some fun vehicle and construction molds to use on my cake...and I found lots of fun stuff!  The bulldozer, digger, roller and dump truck used on this cake were made with chocolate molds.  I'd never done any mold work before so it was a new adventure for me.  I definitely learned a bit that I'll share with you towards the end...a little tutorial of sorts is at the bottom of this post.
 There is very little time in my life right now for creating/decorating, I decided to use some paper decorations on the cake to give it a fun feel, but not take a ton of time to create them in fondant.  All the little signs around the cake are images I found online, printed on card stock, and glued to thick toothpicks.  They worked great! - and saved me a ton of time!!  And, something I didn't realize would happen is most of the boys wanted to take some of them home with, they became little take home gifts too! :)

The main cake (with all the decorations on it) was a half sheet pan of mudcake that I cut into four rectangles and stacked together.  The bottom cake (that is covered in oreo cookie crumbs) was a half sheet pan of vanilla cake cut into two pieces...creating a larger rectangle the main cake sat on.  I carved down the edges of the base cake a bit so they weren't squared and more rounded like a cliff.  The cookie crumbs worked great but made SUCH a mess!!  I felt like everything in my kitchen was covered in cookie crumbs! :)  I spread some chocolate buttercream all around the base cake to help the cookie crumbs stick.  I had to put the orange ribbon around the board to keep the cookie crumbs from going all over every time I moved the cake around!! :)  I then stacked the main/decorated cake on top of it and added a little more buttercream and cookie crumbs to make it look like piles of dirt were in front of the trucks.  The mess was worth was a fun (and yummy) part of the cake!!
 The cone was all rice crispy treats, crumb coated in buttercream and covered in orange modeling chocolate.  I formed the cone by hand until it was just the right shape, then let it set up in the fridge before covering it in buttercream.  
A little lesson learned on this one:
I had the cone in the fridge to let the buttercream set up before covering it in modeling chocolate.  The problem with doing that was as soon as I began covering the chilled cone in chocolate, the modeling chocolate wouldn't budge! - it started to harden real fast so that the seam in the back looked terrible.  (See picture below) I couldn't get it to melt together like I'm usually able to do and the more I worked on it, the more buttercream wanted to squirt out!  So, I hid it by sticking the cake up against a wall! :) LOL!  Next time, I'll crumb coat the rice crispy treats in melted chocolate so I can cover it at room will make it much cleaner!  Good thing my little guy could care less about seams! :)  It all tasted good to him! :)

Ugh...isn't that seam UGLY! - see...I'm not perfect!  I just usually hide it better than that! :)  Instead, I'm actually showing you this picture...instead of pretending "everything went perfect!" :)
 I crumb coated the cake in buttercream...something I haven't done for a long time.  I usually always use ganache because it's so stable and I can cover a cake at room me a lot more time to smooth it and make the edges sharp.  But, again, this cake was for my son and I didn't have a lot of time to make a batch of ganache to crumb coat the cake with when I had plenty of buttercream left over.
Now, when you cover a cake that's been chilled with fondant, you have to work fast so the buttercream doesn't soften under it, so that the fondant doesn't become tacky from the cold cake, and so you can still get your sharp corners.  Well, I realized why I switched to ganache!!!  Working with a buttercream crumb coated cake is much trickier!  I have been rolling my fondant pretty thin lately because it gives me sharper edges.  When you put thin fondant on a chilled cake, you have minutes to smooth it down before it starts to get cold and tacky...which at that point you have to back away from the cake or you'll ruin it!  So, the fondant job isn't great...good thing I had LOTS of decorations! :)  From here on out, it'll be ganache from now on!  Once you go ganache, it's ridiculous to do anything else! :)  Lesson learned!

And here is my sweet boy with a few of his buddies!!  He's the third from the left...the seriously cute one! :)  HAHA...I'm partial...but all moms should be right?! :)
 Blowing out the candles.  The cone was perfect to put one of the candles in...although he couldn't blow them all out together.  Oh well! :) - it looked cool while they were all lit!
 I love you little guy!  Thanks for being an amazing son!  May the Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you and give you peace!

How to add different colors to your chocolate molds:
Here's the one I used.  You can find it here on Amazon.
 I used Wilton candy melts for these molds.  I was told to spray them with some non-stick spray then wipe them out before putting my chocolate in them.  I actually didn't do that on the one pictured below (because I hadn't heard that yet), but did spray the rest of them.  I preferred the one that I didn't put the spray in because I found that I couldn't wipe all the spray out of the tiny details and some of my chocolate ended up running together because the oil got in there and made it hard to get a crisp line.  They popped out of the mold just fine...with or without the spray.  So, just an FYI on that.  I would do a test one to check if they pop out without the spray if you try it.
I melted some black, yellow and orange Wilton melts into three different bowls.  I added just a touch of Crisco to make them a bit smoother.  I then began painting the areas I wanted the color...yes, painting...with a regular brush! :)  I poured a bit of black into the wheels and started painting up the sides.  I went over it a few times so it was nice and coated.  I tried to keep my lines really thick/clean but it's hard to get it perfect.  After the black, I put it in the fridge to harden, then used the orange and painted in the dump truck and some of the buckets.  Once that hardened in the fridge, I poured in the yellow to finish it all.  One thing that happened when I poured in the yellow was the warm yellow chocolate melted some of the thinner areas of black/orange chocolate (like the windows) and the borders became a bit vague...not sharp like I had painted them.  So, next time, I'll let the yellow (or main chocolate color) cool as much as possible to where I can still pour it, but so that it won't bleed/melt into my other colors.  FYI for future!

It was very fun and SUPER easy to make the molds.  It definitely saved me some time...and for a busy mommy, right now, I'm ALL about saving time! :) Thanks again Deborah for letting me raid your cake supply and find such fun stuff to play with! :)  Hugs to you!

I hope you all gained something here you can try on your next construction cake!!  

Blessings to you all!