Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sweet Sushi Cake!

I get so excited when we get to make something new and different, even when I don't know how to do it. The table/tray didn't require anything new and different.  I made it easy on myself which is how I priced the cake, so not everything was edible.  I covered two pieces of cardboard for the two layers of cake (9"x 13"). For the "legs" I used several strips on cardboard hot glued together and then covered in black contact paper.  I combined several shades of modeling chocolate to get the marble/woodgrain look.  I cut panels to fit all the sides and the legs (except the inside pieces-I just left them black).

Now for the fun part!  The only real plan I had was to use a new product called Deco Gel for the orange roe eggs.  I was going to buy orange, but they only carry a bronze (with glitter) color so I bought clear.  I used a little of the product and added one drop of orange food coloring.  I used a syringe to fill up some pearl border molds.  They came right out after they set up, super easy.

Cut an indentation into marshmallows for the "goodies"
I did a little research and found a few tips for making sugar sushi, but most didn't really apply.  Using grape fruit roll ups as the nori (dark seaweed paper used on most rolls) was one suggestion.  That was a good idea but they don't seem to make grape roll ups anymore.  Many people just used black fondant and that's what I was planning to do, but Chad had a better idea!  He suggested coloring the deco get black and just poring it out onto a Silpat mat.  I should have used the bumpy side for more authenic texture, but I had time for one trial.  I just poured it out and tilted the gel until it was all spread super thin.  When the Deco-Gel is heated, it's a pretty thin consistency.  When it set up, I just used a pizza cutter to make strips in the width I needed.  You will want to give yourself a little overhang (1/2" or more) because it sticks best to itself.

You can see some of the Deco Gel on Silpat. 
You can make it nice and thin
I bought some jumbo marshmallows and cut a big hole out of the middle for all the "goodie" to fit into.  I tried placing them on top of the marshmallow and trying to make the "seaweed" higher than the marshmallow and filling in with buttercream and rice, put it just didn't look good.  Recessing the fillings looks way better.  I made some fake wasabi, cucumber, crabmeat and tuna and glued them in with buttercream.  For the rice, I used white sprinkles and not as many as I thought.  I only used a bit more than one small containers worth.

My second attempt (back row) is much better
than my first attempt (front row).
The more I made, the better the sushi looked.  I kept the first three in case of a sushi emergency.  One of those pieces I used a piece of black gel on the outside of the marshmallow, then added a thin layer of buttercream and rolled it in the sprinkles.  It looked fine, but the next day the black color bled a little bit and it was not pretty anymore.  I think everything else is pretty easy and doesn't require more explanation.  I saw a tutorial that used a mold for a California roll.  I would not waste your money, this is too easy not to give it a try on your own! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gold Sequin Wedding Cake

I'm so glad to make a cake that is new and not made from someone else's design.  I can't even tell you how this design came about.  I think the bride liked so many popular wedding cake trends that we just used them all.  All tiers were buttercream and about 5" high except for the gold tier which was about 3.5". We used an Evil Cake Genius lace cake stencil and outlined each piece with a #2 tip.  We then added some pearls and silver dragees on top.  The bottom tier was buttercream with fondant "fabric ruffle" look.  We didn't want to  cover the entire tier because it would have been too heavy looking.  It was a 20" tier, so it took a long time!  We made the fantasy flowers with gold button centers and the fondant teardrop shapes. 

I'm sure you have seen lots of tutorials on how to do a tier with a sequin-like look.  There are so many ways of doing this and since I've only done it once, I can't speak to the other techniques.  I used some very large quins.  I highly recommend buying them from  cakedeco.com because the 5 lb carton is a LOT and cheap!  These were 1/2" big and I tried to push a handful into the buttercream covered cake and it was just a mess!  I ended up having to put them on one at a time and that was big fun......not!!  So I then chilled the cake really well.  Some people use a paint brush to get these completely covered.   I then airbrushed this old gold and bronze over the entire tier.  I had to cover the neon colors and it took a while.  You want to do this is several coats and not in a couple because you will have drips.  Now, my complaints.  It looks a bit like scales, probably somewhat because I'd been looking at it a long time.  I may do it in smaller quins next time, but I've got 4 lbs of the giant ones left!   I was happy with the look of the cake, but I couldn't stop wondering what people must have thought of "the baker" if the were served a piece of the gold tier.   The quins were NEON COLORED on the backsides!  They aren't very tasty either.  I'm just saying, the more I thought about it, the more embarrassed I was.  I am not judging anyone that does this technique.  I am not saying I won't do it again if time is a factor.  Next time  I really want to make my own sequins out of fondant or something else.  I just don't want the wedding guests to think that the baker is crazy when they bite into the cake :) 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Naked Cakes

We were asked to make a "naked"cake last year.  I was pretty excited until we actually did it.  So I had a culinary student as an intern for 11 weeks.  The cake was a 6/8/10/12" combination.  The first time it was baked, I think the oven was opened way too much, cakes were jiggled and batter wasn't whipped enough.  So Friday afternoon, I decided to bake it again, only doing it myself this time.  The picture above is the exact same size cakes and number of layers, they were just fluffier on the cake I baked.  I thinkshe learned a big lesson that day!

I had a lot of holes and inconsistencies that I wanted to "fill" on the skim coated cake.  Is that a term?  If not, what do you call these different styles of naked cakes?  Maybe the skim coated cake has her undergarments on?  I wanted the look on the left, but I worked with the cake too much and once you have that skim coat of buttercream on, it is on.  After baking the layers again, I put my buttercream in a piping bag with a #12 tip and piped the ooze onto the side of the layers before I stacked the next tier on top.  It wasn't a real "organic" ooze of buttercream, but I was happier than the first attempt and there would not be another!
 We did brush all the layers with simple syrup to try and keep them moist.  The family said it was yummy!  I wouldn't bake it or put in together until as close to the event as you can comfortably stand it to help it not drying out.
Once at the venue, we had to put on the fresh flowers and it took no less than an hour!  I guess it felt so unfinished to me that I needed to keep adding flowers.  The bride wanted lots of flowers and the florist left me a big bucket of gorgeous blooms so I had to use them, right?  I don't know where I stand on this trend yet, but maybe it will be out of style by the time I decide.

Y'all have a great week!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Cakes and Spending Time with Family

When I was very young I knew an older lady that made cute chocolates by painting those plastic molds with colored chocolate and then filling them up. They were so "fancy"!

She got me so interested in it and it really sparked my love of pretty sweets. We have a very sweet niece that came to visit from Portland, Oregon. She wanted to make a cake and I found a simple design that a 14 year old and I could make in a few hours. I baked some layers and made the buttercream early that morning. We tried some different fillings, made fruity pebbles treats for the little stumps, made chocolate icing, filled, iced, and airbrushed. We made some grass, flowers, butterflies, a bunny and a cute fluffy bunny butt!

We had a great time and made a bunch of dishes. This would be a really cute design for someone that is learning and wants to try a cake with lots of wiggle room for error. I hope you are inspired to try even part of this Springtime cake with a special younger family member. You never know what desire you may spark in them!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Our 6th Blogiversary!

I just realized it's been six years since I started my little blog!  Time sure does fly when you're having fun, right?  It's a time I like to look back and see what's happened over the past year and what the next year might bring.

While I've consistently blogged over the past year, I will admit that I have read less blogs over the past year.  And I have seen decent stats as far as readers are concerned, but I've seen less comments over the past year.  I love hearing what you guys have to say, but if you don't comment I certainly won't hold it against you!  Are blogs going by the wayside in favor or Facebook?  Am I missing any good new blogs?  If so, please let me know in the comments.

Remember the Millennium Falcon cake we did last fall?  Well recently it sort of went viral, well at least as viral as anything we've done before.  It was featured on some really cool geek sites like BoingBoing, Wired Italy, Laughing Squid, and a bunch of other sites that I have to use Google Translate to read!  It's been fun to see all the new hits from these other sites, but going viral doesn't put coins the coffers.

As far as my outlook on 2015, I want this year to be all about rebranding.  I have started working on a new and improved website, and today I contacted a designer about creating new logos for the business.  I need something that fits my business better and can double as a watermark.  I really do dislike watermarks, but I've had my photos stolen in the past, and with photo sharing all the rage on sites like Pinterest, I've decided it's become a necessary evil.

So look forward to seeing some new branding here soon, and don't forget to post any cool new cake blogs in the comments that you think I should check out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Libby Swirl Birthday

Every baker is given pictures from their customers and asked to reproduce them and it happen most of the time.  It happens to the most famous cake people!  It's not a knock on your abilities, so don't take it that way.  Customers get on Pintrest and Google to start their wheels turning but get their hearts set on a certain design.  It stinks because if they are willing to give you some freedom they may get a better cake.  All cake designers are sitting on a pile of designs that really want to create.  Sometimes my job is trying to convince someone that I can take their ideas and customize it to fit the event even better.  Some cake designers just say "no, I won't reproduce another bakers work".  I don't get that since almost no design is an "original" and is certainly not copyrighted.  I do try hard to mention the person or company IF I KNOW IT, but often I don't and I don't have hours to research.  

Some customers will not let you change anything from the picture they provide you.  If you were to really push them to change the cake, you may lose the sale.  If you are a baker, my advice is to make sure you advise them, especially on the contract, that anytime two people make the same thing, they will not come out the same.  Even when I am supposed to make a cake that I've already made before it will come out different.  If you are a customer, be sure you understand that we are not "copy machines".  Your baker may not have the same abilities as your picture from a magazine.  It's not wrong to ask your baker to see a picture of a cake similar to the cake you are wanting.  If you want a stadium cake, you should look at other cakes that would require the use of blueprints and need to be to scale.  It's not apples to apples but it's better than blindly trusting.

   As you may have guessed, a customer asked me to make an exact copy of another bakers work.  I did just that but a made a "cleaner" and more finished version of the original.  This design is super simple so if you haven't tried it, Google a tutorial and give it a try!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Safari Animal Birthday Cake

We create so few birthday cakes these days that when we get to make one, we tend to go a little overboard.   The cake is really a basic design to be a backdrop for the real stars, the animals.  I added a small piece of styrofoam to lift the top tier so I could have a place to hang the vines.   It really is best for the sake of stability.

We marbled a little fondant for the waterfall  and disguised the source with fondant rocks.  As a side note, if you want some AWESOME looking candy rocks and boulders that are solid chocolate covered in a candy she'll, check out Nuts.com.  I love these people, their almond flour and their cute packaging.

There are a million animal tutorials out there, so I can't add much new in that department.   The most important thing to remember is to add tylose to your fondant and let it sit up a while. This step will make your animals not  be droopy or melty looking.   Another tip is to add a little "makeup" to your animals. A little touch of blush will make your animals "come to life"!  Also, if you get the basic way of making an animal, you can search Etsy for an "elephant" and take some inspiration from a greeting card, stuffed animal or most anything.  If you are selling a cake with animals, you should allow about two hours to make each animal.  I'm just saying, don't start the animals at 8pm the night before the cake is due.  Happy animal making!


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