Monday, July 29, 2013

Brides and Grooms

This post is dedicated to you and anyone else planning the day they have dreamed of since childhood.
Getting married is an expensive adventure but you can cut costs.
I have been to weddings where the couple made their own center pieces, wedding favors, chair covers, even weddings where the Mother of the Bride had sewn the bridesmaid's gowns and the Sister of the Bride picked flowers from her garden for the bridesmaid's bouquets.
All have looked great and were a great way to shave some money off the wedding tab.

Two things that people cut corners on that should never be cut, the photographer and the wedding cake.
Sure, as a cake designer you would expect me to advise you not to cut corners on the cake, but when it comes to the cake, you get what you pay for.
The cake is a very important element of the wedding.
It's photographed, it's ceremoniously  cut and smashed in the bride and groom's face, it's your guests dessert after a 5 star meal for goodness sake.
Would you serve prime rib with a Twinkie for dessert?

The cake is also a great way for the bride and groom to express themselves, it can be customized to reflect their taste, interests, sense of humor...anything!

When shopping for your cake always ask to see cakes similar to what you are interested in made by that designer.
They probably have not made your exact design before but if your cake is to be iced in fondant and covered in gumpaste flowers ask to see something the designer has done that is similar.

Last weekend I rescued a cake that was collapsing, come to find out the designer had never done a tiered cake and did not use any kind of support.
But the bride got a great deal....

This is what a wedding cake looks like without support ( this is just an example, not the cake I fixed. The one I fixed had collapsed by the time I arrived, but I was able to save it )

Every baker who gets into cake design will make mistakes. We learn from them, but trust me you don't want the lesson to be learned on your wedding day, at your expense.

Too often home bakers will undercut the professional , they will even undercut other experienced home bakers who are operating legally.

The going rate for the average wedding cake ( not a Ron Ben Israel cake ) is anywhere from $3.50 to $7.00 per serving depending on where you are located and the design.
If you are being quoted less it's buyer beware.
Trust me!

I have fixed two wedding cakes recently for friends of friends.
Both cakes were done by home bakers who had charged around $1.50 ( or less! ) per serving and were clearly still in the " beginner" level.
The bride and groom cut wedding costs by ordering cheap cake.

Here are a few of my favorite what a bride wanted and what the bride got photos from Cake Wrecks.
Inspiration cake made by Lisa's Creative Cakes

I see a resemblence...kinda.

Here is one of my favorite food safety fails, also from Cake Wrecks.

 The inspiration cake.

What she received.

Close, but instead of gumpaste flowers the decorator used real flower petals stuck all over the buttercream. ( real flowers should never be placed on a cake without flower spikes for food safety. They contain dyes, pesticides, and sometimes even the pests. )

I understand that weddings can be outrageously expensive and many people are on a very tight budget. In that case even some advanced designers will work with you to create a cake in your price range.
Taking your elaborate design to a cheap ' cake lady'  usually won't get you THAT cake anyways.
Better to design a cake in your price range with an experienced designer that will still look great and taste excellent as well.

Even seasoned designers have " oops' moments, but the chance of that happening is considerably less than if you go with a " cheap cake lady".

Please save yourself the aggravation and budget a little extra money for your wedding cake and a little less for your horse drawn carriage or helicopter grand entrance.
Your guests don't have to eat those.

...oh yeah, the photographer.
It's one of the most important days of your life, you want this documented. Every important step needs to be captured.
I have talked to brides whose photographer missed the wedding kiss, missed the grand entrance because he was texting, missed the cutting of the cake because they were outside having a cigarette, and missed the wedding completely because their phone crashed and thats where all their bookings were stored.
You do not want to end up with cell phone photos of your $20,000+  day.
You want photos you will be proud to have passed down through generations that capture the magic of the moment.
NOT photo's like these from the Daily Mail

Good thing she has her dress on so I can identify the bride in this photo.
Here is a photo of...huum, not sure.

Ooops, just missed the bride.

Your photographer and cake designer are very important as you can see, please don't skimp on them.
You get what you pay for.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Princesses...all of them!

I FINALLY have my first request for a Disney princess cake.
This is one I have been waiting for, so many ideas, so many princesses, so much fun!
I thought I was ready...
No way was I prepared for this cake.
It is for a 21 year old girl and her father requested all of the princesses be on it. 
The catch, it's only supposed to be a 2 tier, 8 and 6 inch cake.
Do you have any idea how many princesses Disney has?! Well let's just say I didn't.

To decorate the bottom tier I decided to pick a princess and theme the tier.
I chose Snow White , not only is she one of my favorites, her outfit was the right color.
I wanted a bold color for the bottom tier so I went with yellow.
I iced and smoothed my 8 inch layer in buttercream. 

Next  I rolled out and gently draped yellow fondant over my buttercream. I only smoothed the top 1/4 of the cake and as I did that I allowed the bottom to pleat like a dress.

I used my First Impressions Silicone Drape Mold to make the drapes. Normally I would have just rolled out fondant and made them but I've been pretty curious how this mold would work. 
To finish off this tier I rolled out some 1/2 inch thick fondant and with a 1 inch round cutter ( or the backside of a 1A tip ) cut out some round " buttons" to cover where the drapes connect.

Most important step right! I used 5 trimmed poly dowels in this tier.

For the next tier I iced the cake in pink fondant and then gave it the quilted look.

To do this I use a diamond impression mat to press into the sides to guide me, then I go over the lines with a PME cutter tool. 

I decorated each point with a sugar pearl after stacking on top of my yellow tier.

Next decided to call on my new best friend for this cake, my edible image printer.
I found an image I liked online that included most of the princesses, I'm sure there are a few missing but by the time I came upon this photo my brain was melting from princess overload.

I cut each one out with my exacto knife first, tracing around my oval cutter. Then I placed my edible images on top of some gumpaste I had rolled out and brushed with a little water.
Press images gently onto gumpaste and then use the oval cutter to cut through the gumpaste .

Attach the princess discs evenly around the cake by wetting the back side with some water.
I piped borders around the picture discs with a clay extruder and decorated each with a small bow and flower for some pizazz.

Standing back and looking at this cake I decided it needed something.
It needed some " WOW!" 
Nothing says " WOW!" like another tier and a tiara.
I made the tiara out of gumpaste using my Patchwork Tiara Cutter. It was my first time using the cutter and I LOVE it!
Seeing as this was a last minute accent I used a mixture of 80% gumpaste and 20% fondant so it would firm up really quick.
I allowed it to dry draped over my bottle of Captain Morgan, it was the perfect size to shape the tiara for a 4 inch top tier.

For the top tier I chose another one of my favorite princesses, Cinderella.
I covered it in blue fondant and used the drape mold again to make white drapes.
On this 4 inch cake I used five  4 1/2 inch strips of pleated fondant for each drape.

Attach these to the cake using water or gum glue.

I decided to use bows between these draped instead of buttons to give it the uber feminine Cinderella look.

Last step, attach the tiara to the top tier using a little melted white chocolate.

...and she lived happily ever after.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't Fear the Edible Image

I had never used an edible image until earlier this year.
I was booked for a camouflage wedding cake and this is the picture I was given as inspiration.

It's not the first time I had seen this cake and I have done camouflage before so I agreed to do it.
A few months later I get a message that they no longer want that style of camouflage, they want the winter camouflage.
I do not hunt ... the outdoors to me is the trip I take from my car to the mall entrance, so I had to google it.
This is what I needed to get on the side of a cake.

No way was I going to be able to get that look with fondant. My only option was an edible image. ( If you are looking to make this cake and you do not have access to an edible image printer please contact me and I can add as many sheets as you need of this design to my Etsy store. )
I had purchased an edible image printer , a Cannon iP3600 from Inky Cake, and I LOVE it!

I hear a lot of cakers complaining about the quality of their printer, but mine is great.
I had never used icing sheets and had read horror stories of trying to get them off the backing sheet.
I purchased some Lucks Icing Sheets to print my images on.
These were also great, I literally just peeled them from the backing. No freezing, no rolling on the corner of the counter to get them loose.
They were so easy I was beginning to think I was doing it wrong.

I trimmed them to the height of my cake, wrapped them around my buttercream covered layers and smoothed them on gently with my fondant smoother.
They worked perfect!

Anyone interested in using edible images be aware there are 2 types of paper.
One type is rice paper or wafer paper. I don't care for it as it melts easily and the image quality is not as good as it is on an icing sheet.
The second type is an icing sheet or frosting sheet that will produce a high quality image that will 'somewhat' dissolve into your buttercream.
I highly recommend Lucks icing sheets with the Cannon Pixma printer and edible ink from Inky Cake.

I am hooked on icing sheets and edible images now that I have given them a try.
I made the Avengers cake using them and also the open book cake in my previous tutorial.
They are great when you are short on time or you need a very detailed graphic that would be nearly impossible to reproduce with fondant.