Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Golden Inspiration Wedding Cake

Edible sequins are one of the new big trends in cake design, at least with Chattanooga wedding cakes  We shared one a few weeks ago that had "large" sequins but now we have one with tiny sequins.  I'm just going to say it, I used A LOT of gold! But it's SO pretty! We baked and iced a 6/8/10/12" combination in all buttercream.  We created the lines with a little pairing knife dipped in warm water every few minutes.  The borders were fondant and the sequins were colored quinns painted gold.

You can get a five pound container at Pfeil and  Holing.  Don't kid yourself, 5 pounds is a big container; it should last you a while!

We bought a bunch of these flowers to make the cake more economical for the bride.  As usual, my favorite flowers are the big pretty garden roses from Cal-Java.  They are SO big and pretty and they really popped against those gold sequins!  I hope you get a little bit of golden inspiration from this pretty cake!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Our Cross Country Cake Adventures

 A few months ago I was approached with a rather odd request... make my nephew's wedding cake.  Now I know that upon first read that doesn't seem terribly odd, but let me finish... his wedding was going to be in New Hampshire, and I live WAYYY down south in GA.  Yeah, see?  But Sean and his fiance Kirsten were such a cute couple that I just couldn't turn them down.

Delivering a fully decorated wedding cake 17 hours and and little over a 1000 miles away can be a daunting task and honestly one that I didn't feel I (nor my cake) was up to.  So several months ago I started formulating a plan to actually make the cake there.  The venue where the wedding was held was an absolutely gorgeous working orchard named Allyson's Orchard.  I spoke to Fran, the venue manager about my dilemma, and she graciously offered me their kitchen space to work on the cake all week long.  The kitchen had the essentials, oven, sink, and refrigeration, but any other tools I needed I had to bring with me!  GULP!

So I went back to the drawing board, because everything we were bringing (Chaddy and I, a weeks+ supply of clothing, and all the components we needed to make a cake had to fit in our Honda CRV.  It's not a compact car mind you, but it's no stretch limo either!  So I made the decision to bake the cakes and make the icing before we left and freeze them.  That way, the only "major" appliance I would need to bring would be a Kitchenaid mixer to re-whip the icing.  I would place all the wrapped frozen layers in our big marine cooler along with some disposable ice packs (the kind I get when I order chocolate) and we would just stack, fill, ice, and decorate on site.  Theo couple had chosen a mud cake, which is very dense, so I really did feel that the frozen layers would hold up to the drive.  I also began the process of making the gumpaste flowers and wrapping them to thwart the nastiest, kickiest delivery driver.

Well, Sunday morning came and we packed everything up in the cooler, along with our 2 suitcases, and our Rubbermaid tote of kitchen goodies and we left the sweltering Georgia heat on our way to New Hampshire.  We left late because we were up late the night before, so we made it to Frederick, MD (my sister and the groom's Mom's home) really late Sunday night.  I was somewhat worried about the contents of the cooler, but the outside felt cold, so I decided to not risk opening the lid and letting any cold out and just let it ride.  We visited with my sister for a few minutes and hopped in bed.

We awoke (late) the next morning and after a quick shower and breakfast, we were back on the road to New Hampshire.  We drove at a good clip, made a few stops for food anf fuel along the way, and reached our hotel late Monday evening.  I thought I had never been SO tired of being in the car!  We stayed in Keene, NH and was a pleasant surprise it was!  We were within walking distance to downtown and we explored it pretty extensively during our off times.  But I digress...

Tuesday I called Fran at Allyson's orchard and she agreed to meet us and show us the kitchen.  It was a very nice catering space and I knew it would work well, as long as everything had fared well in the cooler (which had STILL not been opened since Sunday morning at this point).  We got the cooler inside, opened it, and believe it or not, everything was still VERY cold.  Those disposable ice packs were still mostly frozen.  The cake gods had indeed smiled upon the work I was trying to do.

I made gumpaste blueberries!
We pulled out the layers and let them thaw a little more while we unpacked our kitchen and got setup for the week.  Over the course of the next few days we worked on the cake a little each day, just like normal, stacking, filling, making the textured bands, and coloring those gumpaste flowers.  When we left the orchard on Thursday the cake was all done and we had the whole day Friday to spend with the rest of the family. who had now joined us at the same hotel in Keene.  It was like a mini family reunion.

I made an extra trip over to the venue on Saturday to set the cake out in the venue space (just a few steps away from the kitchen space I had been using) so that the caterer's would have all the cooler / kitchen space they needed.  A quick trip back to the hotel for a freshen and a change and it was ceremony time!

Now I go to a lot of weddings, but we're there while the linens are going on and the DJ is setting up; We rarely get to see ANY of the wedding, and especially not the ceremony.  It was nice to get to witness all the love and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together so nicely.  Sean and Kirsten had a beautiful ceremony outside by the lake and then the reception with a crazy good BBQ dinner.

When you start adding up gas, mileage, and all the other expenses, this was definitely the "most expensive" wedding cake I have ever made, but I wouldn't have changed it for the world. The new Mr. and Mrs. Seymour loved it, and I loved seeing the smiles on their faces all throughout the night.

And even though I like to preach that other decorators shouldn't take orders they don't know how to do, the lesson to be learned is that it's OK to stretch your wings and go outside your comfort zone on some occasions, just as long as you have a good game plan!

A very special Thanks to Fran and the entire staff at Alyson's Orchard for extending their hospitality, sharing their beautiful facility, and making my task much easier!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Muppet Birthday Cake

We just love a cake where we get to "play"!  This sweet mom gave us lots of freedom for Henry's 2nd birthday.  I know it's nothing earth shattering new, but we do such few birthday cakes, that I really enjoy the ones we do make.  My advice for this type of cake is to make the character first because you will have to redo it a couple of times.  Don't get discouraged if you can't make your famous character the first time.  It's very hard to make these guys look right.  Haven't we all seen those great cake where the character is "off" just enough to look really bad.  If you get a toy for reference it will take a lot of guess work out of the project. You can even use a toy to make a mold if you would like. 

For the "candles" we just took a snake (rolled out long) of fondant and wrapped it around a lollipop stick that had a little sugar glue on it.   The flame was three different colors of fondant, dipped in a little edible glitter and secured on top of the candle with a little piece of wire going in the flame and white fondant.  We made the confetti by wrapping strips of fondant around a dowel and slid them off right onto the cake to keep them curly.  The oversized sprinkles are pieces of fondant as are the balloons.  I know that I should have used white wire instead of the sticks since they look so thick.  It was a late night.  The yellow dripping "icing" on the top tier is best done by covering an upside down cake pan with a piece of fondant (preferably Fondarific so it doesn't dry too fast)  and carve the drips.  Then take the piece off and place on your work table.  You can soften the edges with your finger so they don't have such a cut looking edge.  Place the fine tuned piece on top and adhere it down with a little water.  I hope you all try a fun character cake and heed my warning to allow for lots of time! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wedding Cakes with Fresh Flowers

No matter how much a cake decorator wants to make/sell gumpaste flowers, many brides only want fresh flowers.  I have found that most of the time that it's not about the price, but the a overall look.  Fresh flowers are just soften the entire look of the cake.  

The logistics of fresh flowers on wedding cakes can be tricky.  A wedding cake should not be at a wedding too early.  If the venue is air conditioned, I recommend not delivering a cake earlier than two hours before the reception.  Most often, the florist has already completed their set up by the time you arrive with the cake.  That leaves you at the mercy of the florist.  Did they leave you enough flowers?  Are they the right kind that the bride wanted?  Do you know how to arrange them?  These are all very real world problems that I have experienced MANY times.  In fact, I had a bad feeling once this year and gathered flowers and herbs and brought them with me.  I had plenty for the grooms cake but the bride completely forgot the succulents for her wedding cake and they were the entire decoration on the cake!  They were giving mint julip cups with succulent cuttings as wedding favors.  With permission, we had to take a few apart and wash them really well just to get something on the cake.  Honestly, it was not how I wanted to leave the cake, but that's all we could do.  I should have trusted my spidey senses and brought some succulents too! 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Easy Cake Finishes

Oreo, yum!  You know the easiest way to finish a cake?  Smush and smash something yummy all over it!   Oreo's,  chopped nuts, sprinkles, shaved chocolate, coconut or sanding sugar are excellent choices for covering cakes.  When I worked in a production kitchen environment I was shocked to learn how much faster it was to cover the sides of a cake and just add some rosettes on the top.  If you only want to cover the sides, you have to be a little brave and hold the cake that is on a cake board over a sheet pan and start taking handfuls of your yummy side finishing material and press it into the cake.  You want the cake to be chilled so that it doesn't yield too much to your hands pressure or slide around but you need a light fresh coat of icing so there is something sticky to grab your finishing material.  If you want to cover the whole cake, you can put your turntable inside a sheet pans and follow the same instructions above, just start with the top first.  I hope you will try this technique and really impress your friends with a look that is secretly super easy!  Happy decorating!

Pearl Dragee FinishSanding Sugar Finish

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rose Column Wedding Cake

We made a cake recently that the bride wanted the top tier to float on top of flowers. That's a nice way of saying that she wanted a 2" space in between the tiers. In the olden days, seeing white plastic columns was expected, but today it's considered tacky or old fashioned. I have found that the "hidden pillar" system from Wilton is great for this application (only one or two tier separated at the most.). You will need to buy a plastic plate that has stubs on the underside. I hot glue my cake board to the plastic board and flip the cake upside to cover the plastic edge with buttercream. In almost all instances, you want to use a ribbon border to hide the Union of the two boards.

You can still see the columns here
The next teams you need is a set of "hidden pillars". After you put one in you can measure the height of the space you will need. Mark it, remove it and cut the rest all the same height. Learn from me, if your cake is less than 8" in size, install all the pillars BEFORE you decorate the cake. They are so big and can displace so much cake that you might have a blowout. We had that happen at the venue one time. The cake was completely covered in piping and it was hard to fix. Lesson learned.

Extra petals will make the columns disappear
A few more helpful hints for these types of cakes. To transfer the cake that is hot glued to the plate, before you add the cake find a piece of styrofoam (a 1" tall disc that is a couple inches bigger than the cake) works well. Make sure you have plenty of flowers and preferably different sizes. This cake had over two dozen roses. Install all or most of the flowers before you put the next tier on. Also before you install that tier, glue (with buttercream) a few rose petals to the plastic pillars. You have to sacrifice a rose but I means that none of the plastic will be seen. After you install your next tier, you will need use some of those sacrificial petals to fill in black holes. Just fold them and insert them or put on top of flowers to make them bigger. You can really see the difference in the pictures where I've added extra petals.

As an added bonus here is a topper tip. If you need a toppers stub to be longer (always when they are 1" long) then floral tape some skewers to them. It will make it more secure. If you have long stubs but need the topper to NOT sink down (like this one that needs to float above the flowers) we hid a straw under the topper and then his it with flower petals glued with buttercream to a straw. Ha! I'm a wizard!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

McCallie Graduation Cake

Well, it's that time again... summer is just around the corner and millions of high school students across the US are closing one huge chapter in their lives and starting a new one.  Yes, it's graduation time!

This graduation celebration cake was made for a young man who went to The McCallie School in Chattanooga.  He was very into football and baseball and will begin his new chapter in life at Auburn University in the fall.

The bottom tier was all about his high school experience, his school's logo along with their team logo.  The sports memorabilia sits around and atop the first tier, as the great memories he'll carry into college.  The top tier contains the Auburn paw prints along with their battle cry "War Eagle!"  On top of the cake we made an Auburn University topper from modeling chocolate.  The graduate's favorite treat, peanut butter cups, adorn the entire cake.

The footballs, were made using chocolate molds, and I made the baseballs using a cakepop (cake and icing) mixture.  It was pretty firm and I thought it held its shape reasonably well, although after sitting for a while I got a little droopage.  The Tornado logo was printed on edible image, and that was really just because it didn't lend itself well to any other method.  All the other logos and text were cut from modeling chocolate using the cutting machine.


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