Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sophisticated but Fun Polka Dot Cakes

I don't know if you're aware of this, but polka dots are very popular on cakes right now. Big ones, small ones, random ones, perfectly aligned ones...they're all "in."

And there are so many great things about polka dots cakes!

1. They're festive and fun!

2. Yet they are sophisticated at the same time.

2. They're ageless. We've done polka dot cakes for tiny tots, tweens, high school graduates, 40th birthday parties, and even for those who are just "young at heart."

4. They can be multicolored or monochromatic. And they can really add a "splash" of color to a cake!

5. They can be put on buttercream cakes for those of you have that strange fondant-phobia.

Do you love polka dots? Tell me why!

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Heart Faces: Pets

This week, the challenge over at I Heart Faces (www.iheartfaces.com) is Pets! Everyone knows how much we love our little booger Nani so I can't resist entering a photo.

I'm no photographer, but this photo makes me smile. The light coming through the window was soft and vintage-looking.

This was during one of our dog-sitting episodes with Bella. The puppies love each other and are pretty much never separated. Nani is always looking out the front window, and one morning I found Bella imitating her friend. Precious.

If you're a fellow pet-lover, be sure to look at all the other (400+ as I write this) entries this week!

New Blog Button From Button Connection by Tree

Recently, one of the blogs I follow (Simply Stacie) ran a series of giveaways for her Build a Better Blog Week. Surprisingly, I won one of them! I won a free custom blog button design from Tree at Button Connection by Tree.

Last October, I designed my own blog button with some free images I found online. Here it is:

Not too shabby for my first time, I suppose.

But check out Tree's creation:

How awesomely cute is that?!

So, if you have my button on your blog, please replace it with this adorable one (you can "grab" it off the left-hand side bar)! And definitely go check out Simply Stacie and the Button Connection by Tree.

Thanks, Tree!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jilly, the Zhu Zhu Pet, Cake

Some of our good friends moved to Georgia this week! Of course we wish them luck in their new home & jobs, but we'll definitely miss them. They're the ones that own those adorable guinea pigs that Nani befriended. So, in their honor, I'm posting a cake with a little creature on top.

Apparently, this birthday girl was a huge fan of the Zhu Zhu pets, and Jilly was her favorite. Normally, I'd say, "What the heck is a Zhu Zhu pet?" But this time, I decided to keep my mouth shut and just replicate the little bugger in sugar. So if you're curious, you're on your own!

First of all, here's the cake we created:

And this is Jilly:

A furry, pink & white hamster. For this cake, we decided to make her sitting up so that she'd be squashing the gift bow on top.

Jilly and the bow were made of gum paste.

The cake was iced in 2 shades of teal buttercream and decorated with brightly colored fondant accents.

So, coming full circle, this cake reminded me of the Nani's guinea pigs...cute little rodents. Guinea pigs are rodents, right? Anyway, good luck Matt & Nicole! You will be greatly missed in G-ville!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oriental Stringwork - Part 4

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a month since my last stringwork post! Phew! So without further ado, here we go!

If you need a quick review, help on icing consistency, etc., check out these other stringwork tutorials:
Basic Stringwork
Stringwork with a Bridge
Bridgelss Stringwork

I'm using the same cake dummy from the last few tutorials, so just ignore the extra stringwork designs you see in the photos.

Step 1: Initial Drop Strings

Begin by piping basic drop strings along the top edge of your cake. I'll just be doing 2 for this tutorial, but you can do them all the way around your cake if you want! Keep these drop strings relatively short in width and length - it'll be easier for you in the long run.

Step 2: Attach Sugar Pearls

Place a small dot of royal icing at the intersection points of the drop strings. Press a sugar pearl on each royal icing dot. Let these dry completely before continuing. (Sorry, no photos for this step, but you can see the pearls in the next step.)

Step 3: Flip the Cake Upside-Down

Yup, you heard me. Upside-down. Place the flipped cake on a riser of some sort - another Styrofoam cake dummy works really well. Of course if you're working on a Styrofoam dummy, just grab the sucker and flip it over. If it's real cake, you'll need to use more precaution.

To flip a real cake: Cover the cake in fondant, and allow it to harden (overnight is best). Place a piece of cardboard the same size as your cake on top of the cake. For example, if your cake is an 8-inch round, place an 8-inch round cardboard piece on top of the cake. Then carefully flip the cake over so that it's now resting on the 8-inch round cardboard piece.

Step 4: Pipe Inverted Strings

Just like you would on the side of the cake, pipe drop strings from pearl to pearl. You'll quickly realize that these strings break easily. That's why it's important that your original strings in Step 1 were short.

If you're having an overwhelming amount of string breakage, check your icing consistency. It could be too wet (is it really shiny?) or too dry (is it cracking?). Alternatively, your strings may also be too long, and you simply can't defy the laws of gravity.

However, don't be too disappointed with some breakage - that's normal! In fact, in some of these pictures, you'll see my string boneyard (all the broken strings that fall to the cake board).

Once you get the strings to stay in place, let them dry a few minutes before continuing. We'll be flipping the cake back over in the next step so your strings need to be dry enough to hold their shape when the cake is moved.

Step 5: Pipe Your Second Layer of Strings

Flip the cake over again so that its now in its original position. Pipe another set of drop strings from pearl to pearl.

Step 6: Add Pearls and Continue The String Layers

Just like before, "glue" sugar pearls at the string intersection points. Continue to flip and unflip the cake, adding more strings & pearls, until you have the desired dimensions & depth.

Today, I'll be stopping at 2 layers, but you get the point. Of course, the further you go out, the more fragile the set-up will be - but also the more impressive!

The key to creating gorgeous Oriental stringwork is to keep the strings within each layer the same shape and size. However, the shape and size may gradually increase or decrease as you add layers. For example, I started with larger strings and then got smaller as the strings moved away from the side of the cake.

That's an impressive cake profile, isn't it?!

Now, as a bonus, I'll share some more creative Oriental stringwork. I always say this, but think outside the box! Everyone does stringwork like the example shown above! But who said the strings have to be perfect half-circles or sit at the top edge of the cake?

Here, I started with some basic strings up against the side of the cake. Then I attached pearls at the intersection points.

I flipped the cake and piped more basic stringwork against the side of the cake. Note: this step would have been easier if I'd attached the pearls AFTER I'd piped the strings, but I don't always do things the easy way...

Then, after a series of flipping, unflipping, piping, and pearl gluing, I arrived at this finished product:

Have you ever seen THAT in a book? (Seriously, if you have, I'd love to see the book!)

So I can now say that I've shared with you everything I know, to date, about stringwork! People pay lots of money to take stringwork classes, and now you don't have to! If you make any stringwork cakes/sugar art pieces using my tutorials, please send me the photos at phdserts[at]gmail[dot]com. I would LOVE to see the photos and post them here, with permission.

What's next? I'm organizing for a very informative article about how to prepare for and win a cake decorating competition! Oh yea, more insider secrets! And I hope you'll use them at the Florida I.C.E.D. Cake Competition. Yup, that was a shameless plug. *wink*

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cake Walk Featured on Carnival of Shopping #15

Cake Walk was just featured in Issue #15 of Shopaholic's Carnival of Shopping series!

I'm just starting to delve into all this site has to offer, but they've got "how to" articles, great shopping finds, the latest trends in fashion, sports, & decorating, etc, etc, etc. There's so much there! Check out Issue #15 and Shopaholic.com!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ms Debbie's Sugar Art - Cake Decorating Parties!

I constantly hear kids of all ages saying they're going to culinary school when they're older. The Food Network has really paved the way for so many food-related careers! And cake decorating is so hip right now.

Debbie gets inquiries almost every day about hosting cake decorating classes in the bakery. And, while we'd absolutely love to, the bakery isn't quite ready yet (soon though!). Instead, we've been taking the cake decorating parties to the people. It's ingenious really, and I just wish I could take credit.

Here are the photos from the most recent party (I had a little fun with Photoshop for this post...sorry!). The girls were playing outside when I got there so had a few minutes to properly set up the party.

We give each party attendee a cake iced in buttercream, a chef's hat, an apron, and some colored fondant. Then we supplement that with more goodies: a rolling pin, cookie cutters, sprinkles, colored buttercream, etc.

And the birthday girl gets a 2-tier cake iced in buttercream!

When the girls came inside, they had to take a few minutes to get all "gussied up" for the cameras. After a quick intro by yours truly, they dove right in and started decorating. I love to watch them decorate. Their personalities really come out in their decorating styles - and every cake is drastically different from the next!

At this party, there were a few extra cakes so Grandma (pictured here), Antie, and Mom joined in on the fun too! Grandma has previous decorating experience and, of course, her cake was gorgeous. Look at her piping form - she's a pro.

The girls always start with the fondant. Then, they tackle borders! I always show them a few "professional" borders, but they seem to prefer their own styles.

And no cake is complete with out a generous sprinkling of edible sugars!

And in case you missed the link earlier in the post. Click here to get more information about Ms Debbie's cake decorating parties!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Toy Story 3 Cake!

It's not often that I get excited about a children's movie being released in theaters, but the release of Toy Story 3 is a different story! Part of the excitement I feel is due to watching the Toy Story 3 Cakes episode on Food Network Challenge. And adding to the anticipation was the fun I had creating this cake for a boy's 4th birthday:

Michael's parents found a photo of a similar cake on the internet and asked us to replicate it. I can't find that photo online, but I did find this one from Dreemkagg's Flickr Photostream:

Obviously, this cake has been done more than once, but I can't figure out who created the original. Super cute idea though!

Anyway, the whole cake was decorated with buttercream, except for the moon. To best create the lunar craters, I covered it with gray fondant.

Michael's mom purchased all the little toy figures especially for this cake, and I think they worked fabulously! He really didn't want to leave the toys with us for the week, but we promised we'd keep them safe and return them on his birthday cake. It was a tough call, but he finally trusted us.

I'll leave you today with a few fun quotes from the Toy Story movies:

Buzz: I've set my laser from stun to kill.
Woody: Oh, great. If anyone attacks we can blink em' to death.

Mr. Potato Head: Oh, really? I'm from Playskool.
Rex: And I'm from Mattel. Well, I'm not really from Mattel, I'm actually from a smaller company that was purchased by Mattel in a leveraged buyout.

Mrs. Potato Head: [to Mr. Potato Head] I'm packing your extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes just in case.
Mr. Potato Head: Prepare to meet
Mr. Potato Head:Mr Angry Eyes! Argh argh!
[he accidentally sticks his extra pair of shoes on his face and runs into a wall]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Buttercream Wedding Cake with Green Accents

Funny little story for ya:

I delivered this cake with Ken, Debbie's hubby. He does the grunt work around the bakery, especially for me because I can't lift these 4-tier cakes.

Anyway, if a couple has a cake topper they want us to place on the cake at the reception, they typically leave it on the cake table so it's there when we arrive with the cake. The cake topper for this cake was cute: a man and woman dancing. But what was cool about it was that each figure was a separate piece. I guess you can mix and match figures if you need to - how modern!

So I fit the pieces together on the table. The groom had his hands on the bride's waist. The bride had her bouquet behind his head. Very sweet. Except the figures were very heavy so I was a little worried.

I put a huge dollop of icing on top of the cake and stuck the figures down into it. Then, I backed up 1 step, took a step to the right to see what they looked like from the side, and the groom literally JUMPED off the top of the cake.

I know what you're thinking...is that an sign? But we won't go there today.

Of course, his dive didn't completely clear the rest of the cake so he managed to damage little parts all the way down to the table. Yay! What should have been an easy delivery has now turned into a small rescue.

No problem. I repaired the cake so no one would ever know what happened, and we put silk hydrangeas on the top instead of the figures.

Then, the wedding planner alerted the groom to the situation. He was cool about it, but he wanted the figures on the cake in some way. I suggested setting them off to the side so they could still "dance" but not mess up the cake again. Nope, this is the set-up he liked:

I thought it was hilarious. The groom has been caught doing the Robot and the bride is off in her own little world doing who knows what with that bouquet!

And that's how we left it. Always please the customer, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Reader Giveaway Winners!

Thank you for everyone who entered the giveaway!

If you're interested, here are the summarized results of "What is your kind of cake?"
27% - includes some sort of flowers
27% - whimsical/playful/stripes/polka dots/pirates
23% - any cake I make (you guys are good at brown nosing!)
14% - anything that's chocolate
9% - varies with mood or them of party

And, now onto the important stuff...

The prize is:

(6- and 10-inch round pans from the new Michael's pan line Celebrate It, cherry vanilla Spun City cotton candy, Wilton Icing Color, a sampler tub of Satin Ice fondant, Betty Crocker Cookie Icing, Betty Crocker Brownie Topping, Cake Mate Peppermint Decors)

And the winner is...Sarah!
Sarah said...

I love the whimsical cakes!

Because I love you guys, and because I have a lot of sugary goodness lying around my house, I'm giving away a second prize too!

The second prize is:

(Grape Spun City cotton candy, Wilton Icing Color, sampler tub of Satin Ice fondant, Betty Crocker Cookie Icing, Betty Crocker Brownie Topping, and Cake Mate Peppermint Decors)

So the second winner is...Julie!
Julie said...

My kind of cake would be anything that you make. You seem to always come up with really neat ideas that I've never seen anywhere else before. Would love a yellow cake with some kind of caramel filling. Growing up my favorite cakes at the family reunions were the yellow cake with homemade caramel icing. Yummy!!

Sarah & Julie, you both have 48 hours to contact me at phdserts[at]gmail[dot]com to claim your prizes since you did not leave your contact information. If I do not hear from you by then, I will choose new winners.
*Baskets not included...just used those for presentation. Sorry, guys!

Give Kids the World Renovation Effort

I'm taking a quick break from cakes today to tell you about something that's very close to my heart. I read about this on Cake Wrecks and had to forward the message on to you guys. Give Kids the World is an amazing, fantastical village in Kissimmee, FL where kids with life-threatening diseases can come live out their dreams.

They work closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and families are fed, housed, and entertained for FREE for an entire week. They spend their days in all of the Orlando theme parks and their nights in this fun, kid-friendly village.

My family has volunteered many, many hours in the dining room and ice cream shop. This place really is a child's wonderland. I mean, the trash cans even talk and joke! Really!

Well, Give Kids the World is participating in the Pepsi Refresh Project. If they get the most votes by June 30th, they are going to renovate and renew the village! PLEASE go vote for them every day! They are currently in 11th place. We just can't something like a weight room or a horror film festival get the renovation funds...we just can't.

So please take a minute out of your day, every day, until June 30th to vote. You can even vote on Facebook and share it with all your friends there.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Purple Cakes!

Today feels like a good day for purple! Purple is a funky color...Fridays should be a little funky...so we're going to have purple cakes this Friday. (Yea, it's a weak excuse...deal with it.)

This cake was covered in purple fondant and then decorated with black fondant accents to look like giraffe print. The "40" topper was made out of gum paste a few days earlier so it had plenty of time to dry.

And this cake really is funky! It was also huge & really heavy! The topsy turvy cake tiers were covered in fondant and decorated with fondant accents.

The customer wanted it really crazy and over-the-top so we made giant bows and ribbon roses to go on the cake too.

There was a LOT going on in that cake! It actually makes me tired just looking at it again. Happy Friday!

*Quick reminder: The readers-only giveaway is ending tonight at midnight! I'll admit, I had no idea what I was giving away when I announced it...but now I've got a really great selection of goodies to give the winner! It's a great bundle of baking stuff! If you haven't already, go enter today! And if you'd like a bonus entry, follow Cake Walk on facebook (if you already follow, leave a comment on the giveaway post saying so).