Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gumpaste Roses

Back to the basics this week.
I took an order for a red, white & black anniversary cake. Thinking in traditional terms, that's red roses, white icing, and black ....something.
I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

To make simple roses and buds I use part Wilton method, part mine...

First I make a teardrop of fondant / gumpaste mix and stick a toothpick, or thick piece of spaghetti in it.

With an exacto knife I cut a little " swirl ".

Roll out a thin piece of gumpaste / fondant. ~ I roll to 1/8 inch thick.

With a 5 petal cutter cut out 5 pieces.

Make slits as shown between each petal.

Place fondant on a thin pad

With the ball tool , lift and gently roll over the edges of each petal to frill. The majority of your ball tool will be on the mat, only the edge will run across the petal.

Once al of the petals are frilled, wrap around the teardrop on the toothpick, alternating petals. I use a little gum glue to seal them in place.

I stop here when I make rosebuds.

For full roses I repeat the steps until I use all 5 cutouts.

and I let set until dry in flower formers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Princess Castle Cake

It's inevitable, as a cake artist the day will come when you are asked to do a Princess Castle Cake ( if it hasn't come 100 times already ) . I have to admit, I do not like the look of the Wilton Castle cakes so I refuse to go out and buy the kit. I also don't want to have to chase down the pieces following the birthday party. Weddings, I'll hunt down my "props" , but a small , relatively inexpensive birthday cake just isn't worth the inconvenience for all parties involved. So my mission is to make a 100% edible castle cake, fit for a princess. This princess was born on Valentine's Day and her mother wanted me to incorporate that into the cake.

A week in advance I made the turrets, I used the Ateco micro heart cutter and made a zillion ( literally ) hearts out of pink, purple, yellow, blue, and white.

Then I wrapped the Wilton Calla Lily former with some wax paper and gum glued the hearts around it to look like shingles.

I made others by wrapping the Calla Lilly former with white gum paste/fondant using some gum glue to attach the hearts in 3 layers around the bottom.

For the tower I used  the cardboard insert from a roll of wrapping paper, cut to the heights I wanted the turrets to be, and  covered with wax paper.

I rolled out a mix of pink fondant and gum paste to 1/16th thick,  imprinted it with my cobblestone impression mat to get the detail. Then I rolled the fondant around my insert, gum glued the seam and let dry.
Once it is dry and slip it off the cardboard and attach the tops to the turrets with gum glue.

For the castle walls I rolled out more of the pink gum paste / fondant mix, used my cobblestone impression mat again for texture and a template I printed from this website and cut out. For this cake I made  12, 10 , and 8 inch square layers so I had to make 4 ~12 inch long walls, 4 ~10 inch long walls and 4 ~8 inch walls. My iced and stacked layers would be 4.5 inches tall so I made my fondant walls 5 inches tall.

In the peaks of the castle wall I used my Ateco micro cutters to cut hearts.
Let the walls dry completely before placing them on the cake.
While these were drying I made my cakes and iced them in pink buttercream.
When it was time to attach the walls I just roughed up the buttercream a little and stuck the fondant wall panels to the sides of the cake.
Set the turrets in place and attach with a bit of gum glue.

Decorate with Ivy and flowers and apply  "front doors". I also cut out some heart shaped windows and sprinkled them with blue sprinkles, made a Happy Birthday banner and used my Funky Tappits for her name. I also added some flags at the last minute.

Fit for a Princess...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Heart Cupcakes

Cupcakes are becoming my new favorite thing.
I cake bake a lot of them at one time, and only require some simple icing and maybe a fondant cut out or 2 and they are done.
I sent Brandon to work on Monday with left over Super Bowl cupcakes ( Oreo ) and everyone devoured them. Now he thinks it would be a good idea to send cupcakes with him once a week , or so. ( pretty sure he was put up to that suggestion. )
I figured  with Valentine's Day approaching I'd send him in with some Valentine cupcakes. Only thing is...I am new to cupcakes and have no idea what to make.
I googled and googled and nothing really caught my eye. Then I came across a blog, Bake it in a Cake.
I fell in love with a cupcake with a heart in it, that were surprisingly easy to make.

First I whipped up a batch of vanilla cupcake batter, took about 2 cups out of that and added red food coloring.

I baked this in an 8 inch square pan lined with parchment for 15 minutes ( when the edges started to pull away from the side of the pan.)
Let cool completely.
I used a 1 inch heart cookie cutter and cut out 24 red hearts for my 2 dozen cupcakes.

Line your cupcake pans with liners, and scoop out 1/3 of a cup of the vanilla batter. Pour 1/2 into the bottom of the cupcake liner, stick one of the read hearts in and press into the batter gently.

Make sure the hearts are facing you. In the blog she mentions she uses a pen and makes a dot on the front of the cupcake liners. You definitely will want to know which way the heart is facing, if you bite into it from the side you get just a red square. ( of course I know this to be true because the 1st one I made I lost track of the front and ended up with a square inside and not a heart ).

Pour the remaining  batter over the heart.
Repeat , repeat, repeat....
Bake according to your recipes instructions.
Let them cool and ice them how ever you would like.
I used strawberry buttercream and a conversation heart.  I couldn't help but notice the conversation has changed a lot over the past 20 years . I don't remember e-mail me being a choice last time I bought them, then again there was no internet the last time I bought them so ...

Bite , or cut, in and enjoy!

                                                             Happy Valentine's Day !!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

That's too much for cake...

My fellow cake artists will understand my most recent rant.
It comes as a response to not 1, not 2, but 3 potential clients who presented me with a photo of an elaborate cake they wanted me to replicate.
All of theses cakes were done by famous cake artists or large successful cake studios who have minimum orders between $300 and $500.
I do not make a living as a cake artist, it is done out of love at the moment. Once my son starts school it will be a career, but for now it's "practice".
I am insured, which is not free, and I'd like to think my time is worth something also.
In all 3 instances I was told " ohhh that's too much for a cake!"
Often I am given a photo of a 3 tier cake but told, " we only need 20 servings."
Most people don't understand the cake in the photo is 100 servings and the smallest graduated pans were used.
That cake cannot be scaled down to 20 servings.
Many are shocked at how much it costs me to produce a cake.
A 2 tier 8 and 6 inch cake uses $20.00 in butter alone!
The board the board the cake sits on is $5.00.The supports and separator plate for the top tier are another $ 5.00. We haven't even baked the cake yet or figured in the cost of fondant.
A small 2 tier cake costs me approx. $70.00 to make.
When I inquire about a budget, I am usually given a range of $40 - $50.
That doesn't even cover my cost, no less anything for my time and talent.
That will get you a grocery store cake, or possibly a bakery cake, but it won't get you a 2 tier fondant covered custom cake.
I don't let it bother me much because 15 years ago, when I was making cake from a box in my kitchen, I had no idea what a custom cake would cost either. I would be shocked when quoted $100 for a cake.
To put things in perspective, imagine you are celebrating with 20 of your friends at a restaurant. Everyone orders a slice of cake for dessert. Plain, undecorated cake. Most chain restaurants charge around $5.00 per slice. That's $100 for 20 slices of cake.
Not a fondant covered cake, not a customized cake. A commercially prepared and previously frozen cake.

The following words were given to me when I first started making cakes 10 + years ago by a seasoned decorator, it didn't really have an impact on me then, but now I get it and it's time to share!
~If  any one ever asks why you , as a cake artists (or anyone who falls under the artist category) charge "so much" for services advise them that:
We don't get paid vacation.
We don't get paid sick days.
We don't get bonuses for outstanding performances nor for Christmas.
We don't have health insurance plans.
We sacrifice our family on special days so that we can bring fond memories and happiness to others.
Illness or personal affairs are not excuses for a bad performance.
So, next time someone asks or balks at your pricing, kindly bring to their attention that artists are artists because of the love of their craft, but that 'love' doesn't pay our bills.

After finding this paper at the bottom of my old Wilton tool box this morning , and my recent string of  " oooh that's too much for cake" responses, I am taking the bull by it's horns.
First things first,  I have vowed to present my son with a cake fit for a prince this year.  It's not his fault he was born during " wedding season" and for the past 2 years has been presented with " whatever I could whip up fast" so that I could complete my wedding orders and make another persons day special.
I have felt very guilty about that, and now it's time for a change, the week of August 26th is now BOOKED! Indefinately!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Every year I make a resolution to lose weight, along with just about everyone I know ( except my boyfriend who never gains an ounce ) . It's funny how so many people make comments to me along the lines of " but you're a vegan, it's got to be easy for you to lose weight" .
Now please take into account I am a vegan not a VEGAN, I have been a vegetarian most of my life, but about 10 years ago I did away with the animal products after watching countess documentaries on food, the food industry, and so many other food related health topics. I say I am vegan , all lower case letters, because I am not a strict vegan. I slip, often.

So back to the weight loss issue,
Myth :All vegans are skinny.
Fact: Vegan Peanut Butter Cup-cakes do exist.

Save and print jpeg

Save and print jpeg

This icing pipes very well if you add enough sugar to make it stiff.

Enjoy! ~ These don't last long in our house...