Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cookie Groom's Cake

Weddings are huge productions where many tiny (or not-so-tiny) pieces all fit together seamlessly to make one huge elegant event.  Weddings are all about collaboration and coordination.

Recently, I met with a couple and the groom was a bonafide cookie connoisseur - he loved them and wanted them to be a big part of his groom's cake.

But how do you do that and still keep things classy?  Enter Mama Wilson from Mama Wilson's Cookies.  She made these delicious, deep dish cookies to act as tier separators between each cake tier.

Initially I was just a little nervous about this collaboration.  I know my cake and my icing.  I know how it reacts when it's carved, it's like my baby.  I made it and I know it's strengths and it's weaknesses..  But I'm so glad I agreed to do it and I was very pleased with the outcome.  I did use a small cake board beneath each cookie just in case it needed some extra support.  And this cake fit in just fine at the venue, Mason's Farm a River's Edge.

I think the "worst" thing about this whole collaboration was that I didn't get to eat any of that delicious cookie, so I'll just have to imagine how that cookie tasted with the chocolate butercream and dark chocolate ganache! I hope they had plenty of milk on hand!! ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Workout Weights Groom's Cake

This workout inspired groom's cake was finally a chance to do a little something different!  The actual working out does not interest me in the least, but a cake about it? Heck yeah!

There are a few things that I still can't do well and spheres is one of them.  I try and try, but they come out "wonky" in shape and the fondant coverings are terrible.  What I have learned is that making the bottom half of the rounds out of pre-made half spheres is the way to go.   Cake does not like being upside down so gravity is not your friend.  Dallas Foam  has all kinds of sizes and I always keep a few on hand for sphere "emergencies". 

I've really noticed this year that black fondant can fade really fast.  In a day it can go from dark black to dark gray.  My first advice is to work extra black color into it before you get going.  Someone mentioned adding baking soda or baking powder and that would help, but I can't find the actual instructions, so please let me know if you have a clue what that tip is all about!  The weights are all covered with modeling chocolate.  I did not have any problem with it fading.   The medicine ball is fondant and I had to paint it with petal dust just to get it back to black. 

The other "new" technique that I am trying to use is painting with cocoa butter.  I've had super bad luck using edible markers on modeling chocolate.  It totally runs when it gets condensation on it.  For the weights, I marked the letter with cutters and then painted in the lines with white cocoa butter.  You have to keep it warm as you are working, but that is the only "tricky" thing. 

I used the jump rope as a "border" to hide the yucky bottoms of the top tiers.  Also on the three weights, I wanted a "lip" but when stacking them, I had to cut away the areas that would have been squished from the tier above it.  All my technical cake talk is so complicated :)  Hope you enjoy looking and learned something from my experience.  If you have any tips on spheres or fading fondant, please share with us all in the comment section. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gray Tux Groom's Cake

When I have a consultation with a couple, I never know how involved the groom will be.  I have had grooms come in with their own sketches and I have had groom's that put their head on the table to take a nap.  No matter how involved they get, sometimes they just can't come up with a good idea for the groom's cake.

This tuxedo themed groom's cake is a great option for that groom that is having trouble coming up with a great idea for his cake.

This 2-tiered cake was buttercream with minimal fondant accents and made to coordinate with the wedding party's colors.

Isn't that little bow tie the cutest?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Grill Master Cake w/ Coal Mini Tutorial

Happy Labor Day!  We hope everyone had some down time to relax and grill some yummy foods.  Segue into a grill cake! See what I did there? So subtle....

A sweet bride gave us some artistic freedom and the basics that she wanted:  gray, grill master on front, and meats on the grill.  The easy part is the simple gray buttercream round with two fondant ribbons on top and bottom.  If you don't have to use fondant, people will love just buttercream. Remember that with a cake like this, you don't have to put any effort is smoothing the top since you're just covering it up.  We added a gray THICK (1/2" ish) piece all around the top.  It's what the grate is sitting on.  This way, like the cigar box we did a few weeks ago, we didn't have to carve into the cake to get the inset look.  We needed a place for our coals and 1/2" was plenty.

We used these new flat Jet-Puffed Chocolate Brownie Marshmallows for the coals.  We airbrushed the marshmallows black.  It didn't take much color.  If you don't have an airbrush, buy a Preval Sprayer or buy a Wilton can of black spray.  We then mixed about one cup of powdered sugar with about a tablespoon of cocoa powder and teaspoon of black powdered food coloring.  Once mixed, these will give you  good looking "charcoal and ashes"!  We all want that!

We arranged the coals all flat and added heavy ash in the middle fading out to just a little on the outside.  We then added a little yellow, orange and red disco dust/edible glitter.  I wasn't crazy about the glitter, but time was ticking and there was no time for experimentation.  We did not have time/money in the budget for an edible grate, so we used Wooden dowels, hot glued all the pieces and painted them with silver spray paint.  A small saw would be best to get pretty, not squished ends. We used wire cutters and it made them ugly.  Next time we will know better.

Lastly we made no-bake oatmeal/ peanut butter / chocolate cookies for the hamburgers.  We used the most popular recipe on Food Network.com for ours.  We pressed in a skewer and airbrushed the black lines since we already had it out.  The could be painted on with a brush just as easily.  The hot dogs are modeling chocolate with the same technique for the lines.  We used a toothpick to make the details on the sides.   I hope this project seems easy enough for anyone to give it a try.  I promise it's not hard and is lots of fun!

If you want to see a few in-process of the marshmallow coals, hit Read More.

Happy Grilling!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mini Kitchen Tour

I have had many public and private requests from a lot of you asking for a video tour of my baking kitchen.  Well, it's been a long time coming, but I finally had a slow week in the bakery where Chad and I could finish the video.  I hope the extra information I have provided afterward will be worth the delay.


To follow up on our mini kitchen tour video, we are listing some of the main items that we have in our commercial kitchen.  These items are exactly what we have or are as close as possible because things change in eight years :)

We spent quite a bit of time making an Amazon store with categories and descriptions of how we used the item.  There is a commercial kitchen category that lists many items that we will show in the longer video tour later.  Full disclosure, we will make a few pennies if you buy from our pretty pink Amazon shop!  So shop away!



Restaurant Equippers is THE best place online for restaurant supplies.  We found that our local restaurant supply buys some items from these guys, marks them up and sells them! When we bought the giant commercial fridge, they only charged $80 to ship it!  Now, they don't bring it in and set it up, but that's what strong friends are for!

Big Work able with mixers on it
Drawer for 30" wide tables
Two work tables that have custom laminate top over both 
Drawers  for 24"wide tables 
3 Compartment Sink  
Cooling rack (this isn't the one I have, but if I was buying it again this would be the one!
Reach-in Fridge
Icing buckets
Ingredient bins

IKEA can be very inexpensive, if you get the right items.  Buying cabinets is kind of complicated, so it's best if you can take a few hours and go into the store.  The legs, drawers, self closers, and doors are all purchased separately.  The sizes on the cabinets are not exactly what I have, but you will get the idea. This list is so time consuming that I didn't add to it by measuring things too!

Hand sink cabinet (two doors)
Fondant cabinet. One long skinny drawer on top with two big drawers below
Cake box cabinet.  When we used this, we actually turned it upside down so we had a solid top.  Also we bought a bunch of extra shelves.
Hooks that hang on the shelves below and the wire shelves from Lowe's
Wall Shelves
Accessories for the shelves are plentiful  I like this box because it's great for storing washed icing tips and couplers.

Wire shelves which we use in the pantry and for storage in the kitchen

We have made a much longer, more complete,  "sit on the floor and explain our organizing" kind of video.  If there is interest in seeing it, I will bribe Chaddy to get it ready.  Just leave us a comment if you want more!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gumpaste Flowers... Buy or Make?

 Do you buy any of your gumpaste flowers?  Let me guess!  If you are a cake hobbyist, you make your flowers.  It's fun and challenging and your time does not equal money.  If you sell cakes professionally, I will guess that you buy at least some of your flowers.  Why would you not?  Are you some sort of flower purist? Do you think it's cheating? I made some beautiful ranunculus for a magazine shoot and they took me eight hours per flower! 

When I meet with a bride, I ask if they want flowers and then if they want fresh or sugar flowers (they don't know what gumpaste flowers are...yet).  They will often hesitate and I fill in with "I buy most of my flowers and they are often close in price to fresh flowers".  At that point, they are interested.  If I said the flowers would be three times more than fresh, I'd hear "I'll just use fresh".  There is a rare bride in Chattanooga that would not baulk at a handmade flower price, but as I said that is rare.  On some cakes, I really want to use gumpaste flowers so I will make it even more attractive, as in price.  I charge the cost of the flowers plus shipping and the time and supplies it takes me to paint them (if needed).  I include extra flowers in the price to allow for breakage.  If I have to buy a flower that I will never need the extra (5 for the cake and have 4 left) then they pay for the whole box because that is still fair.  If you book a cake in January with gumpaste peonies, order them then because they will be out of stock when you need them.  Just write on the box of flowers so you don't accidentally use them on another project.  We also will make extra petals to add some softness and fill in gaps between flowers. 
The flowers from the pictured cake were bought from Cal-Java and Wholesale Sugar Flowers.  The challenging part was that the cake was ivory/yellow because that is the color of my buttercream (with whitener added) and all the purchased flowers were bright white so they had to be painted.  Luckily, I could paint them with the airbrush so that cut down on my time. 
We entered a contest and won so our cake picture is one the front (and some inside) of the Wholesale Sugar Flowers catalog.  We really like their flowers and the prices! Please let us know how you sell your gumpaste flowers and if you make them, buy them or a mix of the two. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Little Planes First Birthday Cake

It's great when you've created a wedding cake for a great couple and then get the privilege to make a cake for the next most important event. Jude's parents were wonderful enough to give me lots of freedom with the design.  These are always the best cakes I make, no debate.  I make them as big as I need to and spend all the time I want to just for the thrill of being creative. 

This is a buttercream cake that has three different colors of blue.  I used one of Wilton's icing combs for the texture on the top and bottom layers.  I really like the simple texture.  I made homemade marshmallows and piped them into cloud shapes.  I intended to put some clouds on skewers so that they could be coming out the side of the cake but they were too heavy and kept falling off the skewers.  It happens and that is the fun of learning and being self taught.  I like the large border on the middle tier (5 layers), smaller border on the smaller tier, and medium border on the top tier.  Just remember to keep things in scale.  Not everything has to be so "matchy-matchy". 

Lastly, I kinda stole for this cake.  There is a great site for cake decorating product but they are always out of the products I want, so I stole the shape.  I put a piece of parchment over a screen shot on my iPad.  I traced the item, and adjusted the size that I needed (used two different sizes).  I would have bought it, really.

We hope you can "steal" some inspiration from us too!  Happy caking!


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