Friday, May 28, 2010

Gift Box Cakes

High school graduation ceremonies are quickly approaching for the class of 2010! A few of the little kiddos I've known almost my whole life are now all grown up. *Sigh* You really start to feel old when you think back and remember when the person now graduating high school was born and then called herself "Toot" for the first few years of her life (Tracie, the one in pink).

Or when you used to play soccer with her in the backyard and she was a little tomboy (Jennifer).

What gorgeous girls! I wish I could make them both amazing graduation cakes...but it's just not meant to be.

In honor of all the 2010 graduates, here is a cake we made recently for a girl soon to be attending the University of Florida:

The cake was iced in buttercream and trimmed with fondant ribbons.

The topper was a hand-modeled gum paste gator and bow.

And for those preferring a more girly gift cake:

This cake was covered with white fondant and topped with a pink gum paste bow. Then, pearl dragees were randomly attached to the package for some extra "bling."

Congrats, Class of 2010!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Incredible Beat Box Girl!

I saw the link to this video on the Fail Blog (funny blog, but not kiddo friendly) and had to share it. Don't worry, the video is totally kiddo friendly...and it'll blow your mind!

Pool Party Cake & Happy Birthday Dad!

"Hello mudda, hello fadda...
Here I am at
Camp Grananda..."*

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yup, today is my Dad's birthday! So in honor of his special day, I'm posting photos of a cake I did last week. It was for a 10-year-old girl, but I'm asking you to look past that fact. I know you can do it.

The point is that it's a pool party cake! This summer, Adam & I are cruising around the Caribbean with my parents, and we're really looking forward to it. So in anticipation of the abundance of food, the tropical ports of call, the ship pool, the poolside scrabble and poker games, and the inevitable sunburns...

This cake was iced in sky blue buttercream. The bubbles on the top tier were made ahead of time with melted white chocolate, and the waves on the bottom tier are just long fondant snakes.

And the umbrella and chairs were made of gum paste a few days in advance so they had plenty of time to dry.

Just a very clean, colorful cake. And, best of all, Cassidy loved it!

And, one more time... Happy Birthday, Dad!

*Dad & I have been singing this song since I was little...who knows's just something goofy we do. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Butterfly Cakes - 2 Ways

I guess we've got trucks out of our system for a while...the theme this week was butterflies! We had 2 very different butterfly cakes, but I loved the colors on both!

The first one was for a baby shower. The shower was going to be decorated with bright colors, frogs, butterflies, ladybugs, and dragonflies.

I covered the square cakes in sky blue fondant, and put a green vine-like border around the base of each tier.

The butterflies and flowers had all been made earlier in the week (out of gum paste) so they could dry. So when it came time to decorate the cake, it was a simple as "gluing" the bugs on with a little buttercream.

I had a little fun with the ladybug and butterfly trails. They remind me of little bug families - appropriate for a baby shower.

The second cake was for a bridal shower. They gave us a napkin that they were going to use at the shower so we based the cake on that.

The cake was iced in ivory buttercream, and then I piped the ferns on using tip 4.

Again, the butterflies, flowers, and dragonflies were all made earlier in the week so I could just stick them on!

Two very different cakes but both covered with cute bugs and flowers! I can't decide which one I like?

The first is fun, colorful, and very sun shine-y! The second is mature, feminine, and calming. I just don't know...

Do you have a favorite?

Pomegranate Creativity - POM Wonderful

One of the perks of writing a blog like this is that generous people sometimes send you free stuff in exchange for a review. My most recent freebie was from Ryan at POM Wonderful. He sent me a whole case of their delicious pomegranate juice!

Now, I could go into details about how good pomegranate juice is for you. Like how it's got more antioxidants than orange juice, green tea, cranberry juice, and red wine.

Or I could tell you how the POM Wonderful company is trying to minimize all wastes and protect our planet. Like how they use every part of the pomegranate (leftovers are used to feed cattle) or how they use the latest drip-irrigation system to preserve water.

But you can get all that information from their website so I won't bore you any further. On to the good part - the tasting!

The first thing I did was bust out a bottle and drink it, straight up. Phew! It's tart! It reminds me of tart cranberry juice. It was yummy though! And I'm not much of a drinker, but I imagine it'd make some mean cocktails.

But being the baker I am, I had to try some recipes with the pomegranate juice. I made white cupcakes with POM Cream Cheese Frosting and topped them with little fondant flowers. It was a fresh, fruity flavor but definitely not tart! Quite tasty! One of my friends actually said that was one of the best cupcakes she'd ever had!

Then, I made some cookies using a Martha Stewart recipe. Her recipe calls for pink grapefruit juice so I simply substituted the POM Wonderful! Again, the cookies were yummy. And it's nice to have something different than the classic, sometimes boring sugar cookie for a change.

Adam surprised me with his cleverness in the kitchen and made Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze for dinner one night. Way to go, honey! The pomegranate glaze added a really nice flavor to the pork - definitely a recipe we'll repeat.

And tonight for dessert? We'll be having POM Gelato. I know, I'm already looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Wedding Cake

I'm a huge fan of cakes that are iced in chocolate buttercream or covered with chocolate fondant because the colors that are used to decorate the cake really pop! Well, that and you can never go wrong with chocolate!

Recently, a bride requested that her cake be iced in chocolate ganache and decorated with fresh flowers. The wedding was at Sweetwater Branch Inn, and the light coming through the windows was just gorgeous!

The wedding flowers were pink Gerbera daisies, peach roses, and little lime green buds.

Yay for chocolate! And lots of it!

I'm on Cake Wrecks?!

I'm still in shock about the whole thing, but one of my cakes has been featured on Cake Wrecks. If you've never heard of Cake Wrecks, you HAVE to go check it out. It's an hilarious blog all about things that go wrong on professionally decorated cakes.

Every Sunday, they post "Sunday Sweets" which are cakes that they actually LIKE and that have been successfully decorated. Today, they made a post all about Lost in honor of the finale tonight! The Lost cake I made for Adam's birthday is there!

Seriously. I'm in shock! That's so cool!

Go check out their Lost post and be sure to watch the Lost finale tonight on ABC!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bridgeless Stringwork - Part 3

You've all been so patient, and I'm pleased to announce that the wait is over! Get ready because here comes Part 3 of your stringwork tutorials!

*Dramatic Pause*

Bridgeless Stringwork!

If you need a catch-up, read the Basic Stringwork and Stringwork with a Bridge tutorials first. Again, I am working on a fondant-covered cake. And as discussed before, it will be much easier for you to work with white fondant and white royal icing. I am using different colors so the photos show up clearly for you.

Step 1: Insert Pins Into Cake

Plan your stringwork design ahead of time so you know where to put the pins. These pins will support your strings until they dry. Once they're dry, you'll remove the pins and have strings that stick out from the cake - like they're defying gravity!

When I get all the pins in place, I gently push them with my finger so they're all lined up nicely. Here's a good view for you:

Step 2: The Drop String Base

Pipe drop strings across your pins using a tip 3. If you need tips on icing consistency, go to the Basic Stringwork tutorial.

Today, my design is divided into 3 sections so I piped 3 drop strings with the middle one being slightly longer than the other two.

Here are the finished strings from the front:

And from above:

So the key here is to let the strings drop on the pins so that they're not touching the cake. The strings should only touch the cake at the ends. This is where the defying gravity thing comes in! Trust me, it'll work and it'll look awesome!

Let these strings dry completely before you go on. If you want to be on the safe side, dry them overnight. If you are pressed for time, an hour should do the trick.

Step 3: Begin the Strings

Just like you did in Stringwork with a Bridge, start piping strings (using tip 0, 1, or 2) from the cake to the drop strings.

Briefly, touch your piping tip to the side of the cake and begin piping.

Keeping consistent pressure, continue piping while you slowly move the tip away from the side of the cake.

Hang out here while you let the string dry a little. If your string is long, hang out here longer. If it's nice and short you might not even need to wait.

Then slowly lower your tip to the drop string. Notice that the pins are still in place under the drop string. These will provide extra support while you're working. Still, you'll need to be gentle because the drop strings can break! And if they do, you get to start back at square one (or Step 2 in our case).

Step 4: Fixing Mistakes

Let's pretend that your string is crooked, imperfect, or just plain ugly. Want to remove it? No problem!

If the string is still wet, you can swipe it off with a dry paintbrush.

If it's dry, I like to use tweezers to carefully extract the bad string.

Step 5: Finish the Strings

Now you need to settle in for the long haul. Pipe all your strings! Try to keep them perfectly vertical and so close together that you can't fit another string in between.

Step 6: Remove the Support Pins

Let your strings dry completely. Then CAREFULLY remove the pins.

I've found that the safest way to remove them is to pull the head of the pin downward as I pull it out of the cake. This way, it doesn't drag against the drop string and break it.

Pins removed; view from the front:

Pins removed; view from above:

Pins removed; view from the side:

See? I told you they'd defy gravity! Don't they look cool?!

As usual, you can embellish your strings with Swiss dots, diagonal strings, etc. For an example, you can look at the bridgeless stringwork I did on this competition piece.

I know what you're thinking: "Sure, it looks great, but what about all those little pin holes in the cake?" Well, can you see them on mine? Aha! The pin holes are so small and they're BEHIND your strings so no one will ever see them. It's like magic.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Girly Party Cake

I love when people are creative with the cake display. We spend hours on each cake so it's a real shame to see it shoved to the back of a table in the corner of the room. But thanks to all the television shows about cake decorating, the cake is starting to take move of a center stage at parties and celebrations!

Last week, we did a cake for a 4-year-old's birthday party, and her Mommy brought us a gorgeous silver platter to place the cake on.

The cake was iced in pink buttercream and decorated with fondant polka dots. Fondant daisies were placed in little bundles randomly around the cake and on the top. A big lime green bow graced the top tier, and the whole cake was crowned with a spray of colorful stars!

But the silver platter takes the whole thing to a new level! Now, I'm sure Elle felt special to get such a fun, huge cake for her 4th birthday. But, I imagine that the silver platter made her feel like a special "big" girl, don't you think?! And what 4-year-old doesn't want to be a "big" girl???

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mudding Truck Cake

For one of our groom's cakes last week, they asked for a replica of the groom's truck after he's gone mud bogging.

What? You're not familiar with mud bogging? I would expect you civilized folks to know about it. Now, out here in the backwoods of Florida, it's considered one of the best things since sliced bread!

Check out the link above for an explanation, but here are a couple of photos from this site to give you a visual image:

Oh yea! Good, old-fashioned fun!

The groom drove a big black truck so I carved it out of cake and covered it with fondant. Then, I mounted the truck on a huge mound of more cake covered with chocolate ganache.

Then came the fun part: spattering the whole truck with more "mud"!

Yup! Nice and muddy. Of course, I left the windshield wiper tracks clean so he could see where he was going - safety first!