Tuesday, January 27, 2015

3D Acoustic Guitar Groom's Cake

     We have made three musical instruments to date.  A simple acoustic guitar, a fantastic banjo, and this cake.  The bride was limited on her budget, so to cut costs/labor we didn't make any type of armature for this cake.  The neck is entirely made out of cereal treats and then "faked out" by using black fondant to represent the underside of the neck.  I like the look of it, especially since I didn't have to do a bunch of woodworking that isn't much fun to me.  The sides of the guitar are buttercream.  The top and neck are all covered in modeling chocolate.

     For the cake board, I did use a power tool and cut 1" thick Gatorboard with a rotozip tool.  Gatorboard is a lot like foamboard, but instead of paper on the outside, it's this really hard surface.  You can't cut it with a box cutter.  I used to use it all the time when I was in visual merchandising.  Look at the letters in a department store and you will see this material.   It was not my most brilliant plan :(  It was messy, bumpy, and not a good structural idea.  I was moving the cake from the cooler to the table and hit the neck cake board on the side of the table.  It was heavier than I expected and I was just trying to hurry too much.  My accident caused the neck of the cake board to break but not come off.  At this point, the cake was carved and iced smooth so moving it to another board would have turned it into a pile of crumbs.  For a solution, we cut a 1/4" piece of plywood about the size of the cake and glued it underneath to brace the original cake board.  It gave me a lot more structural integrity. 

For the strings, well my husband is a damn genius!  We were so running out of time to finish this cake and I was going to do something that would not have been so pretty.  I'll give you the short version and we can follow it up with a little tutorial.  Since the Gatorboard cake board we could stab wooden skewers into it and they would hold in tight.  Chad drilled the tiniest of holes in the skewer and tied fishing line in a knot.  Then with both of us holding it so as to not damage my fancy paint job (heaven forbid we try this before the cake is otherwise done-silly baker).  We used a tall piece of modeling chocolate at the top of the neck to hold the string up so they didn't lay flat on the neck and it held them in the proper order without wiggling around.   We then put the line through another tiny hole in a wooden skewer and hammered it into the cake and board.  The tension was good and the line didn't move.  We then put some trim pieces over the top skewer to hide the skewers. We ran out of time to figure out camouflage for the bottom skewers.  We used real guitar string on the banjo, but know that we have figured this out, it will be our go to method.  I will say that when we moved the cake the strings got looser because the flex of the very long cake board but then got tight again as soon as we laid it on the display table.  I'm lucky the saggy, traveling strings didn't mess up my paint. 

Lastly, my lesson of the day is to paint with colored cocoa butter onto modeling chocolate.  Chef Rubber (http://www.shopchefrubber.com/Cocoa-Butter-Painting-Kit/) has a great kit that will last for a while.  ANYTIME I use an edible marker on modeling chocolate, once the cake comes out of the fridge and has a little condensation, all the details run like Alice Coopers mascara!  Cocoa butter painting takes a little practice, which is what I'm still doing, but once it firms up, the details won't move or get smudged by anything.  I hope you take something helpful away from this because one day you may have to figure out guitar strings on a cake!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Facebook Rant over Illegal Bakers

Graphic via KeepCalm-o-matic
I joined a few Facebook "yard sale" groups in my area.  It seems like every other day someone asks for recommendations for a cake person.  One lady just said she "didn't want to pay as much as her wedding dress costs".  All of these people start stepping up and throwing names out there.  Maybe my hormones are crazy today, but I just had to say something.  It could make me very sorry, but I hope the ones that are running an illegal operation don't take it as bashing.  The people with nasty kitchens are the ones that will be upset.  Please read my post and tell me what you think...
" My wedding cake business is Cup a Dee Cakes LLC.  I don't make birthday cakes and start my prices at a $250 minimum so I don't post here looking for sales.  I have a business license, health department inspection every 6 months, Serve Safe certification, insurance, contracts and glowing reviews from brides as well as vendors.  I also pay sales tax, business tax, licenses, and advertising.  We spent about $40,000 building a legal kitchen onto our home.  All those things add to a businesses overhead.  I start my round tiered cakes at $3.75/serving for an all butter-NO Crisco buttercream.  You will get what you pay for in all things.  I have not tried ANYONE'S cake that posts on this board or checked to see if they are "legal".  It's not my place.  This is not against them personally, I'm just trying to give some advice.  A contract is there to protect both parties involved.  Often if a cake is great in taste and quality, they would/could charge more.  Cheap cakes cost less because the bakers don't have the same overhead, skill set, quality of ingredients or they haven't figured out how to charge in order to make a living.

I see cakes services on this board a lot.  I have respect for anyone trying to make a living.  I have not tasted or experienced anyone's cake that they have advertised in this group. Unlike, say handmade jewelry, cake is edible and can make someone ill or ruin a huge event when it falls over. I think it is not out of line to ask if a baker has any kind of license or where they bake and decorate their cakes.  Do they have pets or children in the workplace? If you haven't seen their kitchen, how could you serve the cake to your guests?  Cake can still give someone food poisoning.  If you are looking for a cheap  wedding cake, you may be better to get one from a grocery store or a baker that has a cottage food license.  That way, you can still have food safety standards and a contract. A birthday cake isn't nearly as big of a deal since it's less people and a smaller party.  Check out cakewrecks.com for some examples of how things could go wrong.  I really do wish the best to all those trying to make a living at making cakes.  I hope all cake customers get the cake they have been dreaming of for their special day."

The good thing is that I feel better and got to turn my rant into a blog post :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Minnie Mouse Cake for Icing Smiles

We are a volunteer with the Icing Smiles organization. We just had the opportunity to make a 6th birthday cake for a sweet birthday girl. The family wasn't picky, they just wanted Minnie Mouse on the cake. We aren't exactly Angels when it comes to following copyright law, but we don't dare to mess with Disney. But since this cake was a donation with no charge to the family, we are allowed to recreate copyrighted characters. We checked with the Icing Smiles folks and their lawyers said it was okay to make these cakes.

The Minnie Mouse was the most time consuming part of the cake. I'm not proud to say it took me about eight hours. I don't make figures very well, so I'm slow and sometimes I have to "redo". This Minnie had three sets of ears and two bows. I used Choco-pan modeling chocolate just for the face because it's great for sculpting. I'm sorry, but it's too soft for other things that I use homemade modeling chocolate. I'm happy that she looks like Minnie and not a generic version, but I think I could do better next time. I also forgot to put on her blush.

I found a cool color palette on Pinterest and that was it! NEON AND SNOW LEOPARD. The pink was "sexy pink" from Elite. For both of the greens, I used mostly electric yellow with a touch of electric green for the day glow color and a little more green for the darker shade. Use a lot of yellow!

The 3-D hearts were made from the same concoction that makes cake pops, which in this case is a cooked chocolate cake layer, melted chocolate and a little buttercream. I chilled it, formed the hearts and then popped them in the freezer for about and hour. Once firm, I smeared a little piping gel and covered in fondant. All of the gathering and ugly part of the fondant was in the back.

I really enjoyed making this sweet cake and I hope it helped make the birthday girl's day more special!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Border Knot Wedding Cake

We were asked by a very good friend to make a cake for his employee. The company was buying it and gifting it to the couple.  Wow! That's a nice gift!  They were going for an Art Deco theme and wanted to carry that through with the cake.   The knot fabric effect was the most challenging part of the whole thing.  I've even made a little video about it and posted that on our Instagram page.  I found it a little easier to work on a square cake dummy that was turned on it's side.  That way, the pieces were measured correctly and dry fit perfectly before we attached them. They would have stretched and deformed if we worked with them horizontally for the extended period of time that I needed.   The flower ball separator was styrofoam covered in fondant.  I didn't want to build a structure just for that tier so it was easier that way.

The etched lines and jewels on the top tier were kind of a nod to "The Caketress" and her designs.  The lines are easy to do as long as you use a tool that won't cut the fondant, so a dull wooden clay tool works great.  The jewels were done out of isomalt, which is sugar and that was a mistake.  They did a little bubbling or something due to the moisture of the refrigerator.  Next time I would mold them with melted chocolate and then paint silver as normal.  It takes a bunch of them so the time to apply them all was about two hours for that one area.

For the vertical stripes we just used a texture mat and embossed the fondant, then we cut them.  When doing any stripes and strips of fondant, it's better to chill the fondant a little before applying it so that it won't loose it's shape.  The flowers are basic, meaning we cut them, press in a flower veiner and let dry in a cup shaped form.  Once dry, we used a little royal icing and added a sugar pearl for more opulence.  We enjoyed getting to make a cake with lots of texture and jewels!

See our Flipagram video below!

A video posted by Jenniffer White (@cupadee) on

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monster Truck Birthday Cake

We were asked to make a cake for a vendor's grandson and we were given free reign on the design.  I love that, but sometimes it stresses me out!

Anything I want!?! Oh. I have to consider how
Much the I have left in the week? Well that happens with lots things doesn't it!

The final cake only had one tier that was all fondant and that was the tire.  The tan tiers are all buttercream and the "dirt" is graham cracker crumbs.  We striped the bag for the flames and used a leaf tip.  We cheated and used a chocolate mold for the truck and card stock for the flags.  We used part of our cake scraps (the hump we cut off to level the layer) to make a hill for the truck.  I like the way it came out and am glad it didn't get too busy like a lot of cakes.  I think Landon loved it too!

I hope that 2015 brings us all much success and plenty of cakes to decorate!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Millennium Falcon Birthday Cake

If you follow our blog, you will know that each year we get to make a fantastic cake for a sweet little birthday boy named Kaben.  His Mom gives us lots of freedom in terms of design and budget, so the cakes are fun for us to make.  This is the first year that we haven't done a tiered cake, but we spent more hours than ever before.

The biggest challenge making sculpted cakes can be figuring out the structure under the cake that will hold everything up.  It is scary and feels like you are more of a handyman that a baker.  Having a cake with pipes and plywood also cut down the amount of servings in the cake.  Our commercial refrigerator has a 22" wide door opening, so that limits our cake size and cake board.  Most sculpted cakes are built on the board with the armature screwed in and everything secured down.  When a customer needs a lot of servings and wants sculpted cake, you have to know your bakery's limitations.  You may need to add sheet cakes or smaller matching cakes to fill the order.  For this cake, I did need a lot of servings, about 100, and started the cake as large as I could while using my 22" cake board.  To get as many servings possible and avoid making an internal structure, I used a sturdy mud cake and sculpted the cake out of one BIG hunk of cake.  There were no supports, boards, wires or anything non-edible in the cake.  All the rectangles of cakes shown are 11x 14" layers.

This pic shows the cake structure underneath... Barely visible, right?

We've made a little movie to show how the progression of the cake sculpting.  Since the "real" Millennium Falcon is fairly flat and pizza like, we decided to sculpt it at an angle to get more cake servings.  We made the ships "stand" a little smaller and covered it in black Fondarific.  The idea is that it kind of disappears and isn't very noticeable.

A video posted by Jenniffer White (@cupadee) on

I did get distracted and forgot to keep taking pictures once the decorating got started.  I will give you a few words of advice if you decide to tackle a cake like this:

  1. Use a firm cake.  Soft boxed mix type texture will not hold up to the process, even if you keep it cold.
  2. Find templates, blow them up to the correct size, cover in packing tape to laminate, and use them the very best you can.  Cut smaller than the template because when you add buttercream and then modeling chocolate it will "grow" into the template.
  3. Use only modeling chocolate.  These are all panels that are fit together so you can cut sharply and maintain sharp corners.  You also have unlimited working time to go back and add lines and such.
  4. Use icing tips, #0, #00, #1 and #2 to add lots of very little details like "rivet" marks.
  5. Since the add on pieces are so very small and thin, your hands will melt them really fast.  You can put an ice pack under your cookie sheet with the pieces on them.  We applied these tiny pieces by picking them up and positioning them with a pin.  That way you don't melt or distort them.
  6. Print out a piece of edible image paper 1/2 black and 1/2 red.  We used this to add all the little colors.  It looks MUCH sharper than painting the small details.  Those details are not all accurate.  At that point, I was "winging it" just to make it look good.
  7. Dry brushing will get into the scored lines and bring out the details.  It also makes it look more authentic and less showroom new.

Lastly, if you want to make this cake, schedule 40 hours of decorating time.  That's not including baking, making templates, and research.  I've seen a similar cake done in all buttercream and it was nice, but I like sharper look and cleaner details.  If you want a simpler version (I don't mean that ugly), that might be the avenue to take.  If you get it done in 20 hours, send me a picture so I can give you a shout out!

Thanks to all of you that stop in and read my little old blog from time to time.  I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous 2015!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Collection Groom's Cake

Can you believe we've done five book themed wedding or groom's cakes?  Who knew it was such a big thing?  The sweet little couple that wanted this cake knew exactly what they wanted, titles and colors.  All I had to do was make the cake.  The groom wanted raised letters, so no edible images. We cut these out of modeling chocolate.  We used all modeling chocolate in fact. Not only does it taste better, it cuts so nice and clean with no stretching.  Great for sharp edges!  We have a line cutter that we use to mark the "pages".  You kind of go back and forth and all over with it, but it scratches up the surface to look like lots of pages. Way easier than a knife!  You can find it online here.   It was a pretty large and HEAVY cake! I hope the couple loved it!


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