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!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Camera Lens Groom's Cake

We have mentioned in previous posts about finding designs that will meet the needs of you client's vision and budget. This groom wanted a Nikon camera cake but that's a little involved. This camera lens cake was a cool compromise. It's still a cool cake but was six 9" round cakes and required only a tiny bit of carving. To be accurate I should have carved in at the bottom to about an 8" round but I didn't want to lose any structural integrity. This was a soft cake and it doesn't hold up well to a bunch of carving.

We used Fondarific in black for the sides. We rolled out the band and cut the right height. We then embossed a pattern to mimic the real thing and chilled it for a few minutes so the design didn't stretch out when applying it to the sides. Next we just added some bands with other textures on the top and bottom. This also helped give an illusion of a carved cake. Next we added a circle on top to be the "lens". We added some bands around the top lip and side of the lens. That piece was cut to go above the lens and give the appearance of a inset lens. I hope that makes sense, I know it sounds a little crazy. Just make sure all your bands line up the same in the back.

Chad printed the graphics out on edible image paper. My mistake on this cake was a common one. Anytime you apply an edible image, it needs to go onto a white or very light background or the color bleeds through the image. If you can't add a small piece of white fondant behind the graphic, then use a fresh page of edible image as a white background. I didn't and the black color came through. I know better! Bad cake decorator!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calvin & Hobbes First Birthday

We love Calvin and Hobbes, but we can't recreate those sweet characters in 3-D unless we had lots of time and the customer had lots of money to spend.  We have learned over the years to do our level best not to say "no" to a design.  You have to offer options that fit your skill set and their budget.  I don't feel it's right to agree to make a cake that a baker doesn't know IF they can do it.  Almost every cake is unique in my situation, but most aren't made with unfamiliar techniques.  When you are asking a baker to create something you have not seen in their portfolio, offer to pay for a small cake in the same technique before you sign the contract for the larger cake. Please trust me, it will be money well spent, a lot like cake insurance.



 

Part of the awesomeness of the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon is their font, so we made a stencil for the verbiage.  We printed the characters out with edible images and cut them out. For some reason, I wanted the bubble/non flat image so I tried something new. It was not without challenges, mainly trying not to tear or stretch the images. We used the cut images to cut a piece of modeling chocolate out and thinned down the edges.  Then we dry fitted the image again and trimmed again, repeating the process.


“You know, Hobbes, some days even my
lucky rocket ship underpants don't help.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Little World Traveler Birthday Cake

We make very few birthday cakes and those that we do make as never money makers so I am doing them as a favor, gift or for someone very special.  One of our sweetest brides ever adopted a little girl and asked us to make her a special cake.  It had to be driven two hours to Atlanta, GA by the Grandmother so it had to be sturdy. 

One of my requirements for birthday cakes these days is that I get lots of artistic freedom.  They gave me very little instructions other than maps with muted colors and the color palette you see.  I gave them a few ideas and off we went!   Of course we did fondant so it could travel well and we printed the maps with edible images.  Finding a "pretty and girly" map is not easy!  I was teaching my intern some of the basics like making pearl borders, fondant bows, and "fantasy" flowers.  We spent a long time but she learned a lot about taking a basic flower and using the ball tool, textures, and how to dry them so they all fit together later.  We also made the handle, latches and luggage tag by hand.  The "smash" cake was just a little 1/2 globe with the edible images cut out by continent so we could make it pretty, but not accurate :)  There is really nothing technically hard about decorating this cake, but that doesn't mean it's quick either.  I think we had two full days of artwork in this one cake, which is why I say they are not money makers they are really labors of love!  I was really paid by the sweet and wonderful reaction that I got from the family!  I'm so fortunate to be able to make cakes for wonderful people and have an impact on their lives.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Purple Orchid Wedding


I hate purple, well at least purple wedding cakes. It's so hard to match, with some purples having lots of blue and some shades having lots of red.  Not to mention the super dark colors like these orchids.  It takes a lot of food coloring!  Also, you have to have a good photographer or all the purple throughout the wedding decor will photograph as black.  Well  that isn't so bad, right? Well after you kill yourself to get the right shade of purple, any UV or natural light fades the colors!  This fading happens fast! We recommend keeping all your purple covered with something light cannot penetrate like foil.  The one thing I have found that helps in painting your items with petal dust.  You can start with dark purple and just paint over it.  We heard about adding some baking soda to the fondant would keep it from fading, but in our experiments it didn't make a difference.  Stupid purple!

There where some interesting colors on this cake, but as usual when we get it to the venue with all the other decorations, cloths and flowers, it was perfect! It is hard to tell, but the top and third tier has sanding sugar all over it.  It's pretty and adds a little texture and crunch to the cake.  The monogram was done with Fondarific.  We used a stencil to trace the letter with a wooden tool and then really "carved" it in and then painted it with petal dust.  The stencil was done with buttercream and on buttercream.

So today's project?  Making dark purple flowers for this weekend's wedding! Argh!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Best Deals on Buying Cake Supplies

Photo borrowed from Yelp, because I forgot to take one!
Buying supplies for a small business is a part time job in itself, especially if you are watching your pennies. I have spent hours comparing prices, shipping charges and finding new vendors. For today's blog post I'm going to tell you where I have found the best deals for me. Keep in mind that I live in Georgia so my shipping charges my vary widely from yours.

http://sweetwise.com
FondX, Elite, candy melts, meringue powder, some cake boards and boxes. They have a lot of other tools and such that are equally priced as their competitors. I love "the Mat" and don't think I could cover cakes without it! They also carry Satin Ice but I don't like it so I don't buy it anywhere.

http://www.ckproducts.com
This is for wholesale and you must have a business license but the prices are worth the trouble. There is a $150 minimum but that's pretty easy to spend. I get my cake boards and all sorts of CK products here. My hint, do not get their brand of fondant. It is horrible!

http://www.sugardelites.com
They have so great and unique molds and a nice variety of decorating tools. I also love they special way of wrapping all their packages in a
personal way.

http://www.discountsugarflowers.com. (Wholesale Sugar Flowers)
Cheap and Nice gum paste and royal icing flowers. They have a big selection but sometimes you will need to order ahead a bit. Don't wait to buy peonies you need in June when you need them the next week. They will be out of stock.

Sam's Club and Costco
We buy butter, sugar, eggs, and all the other food staples. We also get aprons and paper towels here. The fresh fruit is so much cheaper than local grocery stores and even wholesale produce companies! Sam's has let me down many times by being out of a staple that I needed. I like having the Costco as a backup.

Local Restaurant Supply Shop
They don't have to see your business license unless you want to be tax exempt. I only buy large quantities of boxes from these guys. They are more expensive until you factor in shipping from the other guys. It's a killer on boxes!

http://caljavaonline.com
Specialty gum paste flowers. These are way more expensive than Wholesale Sugar Flowers, but sometimes that is what you need.

http://www.cakedeco.com  (Pfeil & Holing)
Very lard containers of sanding sugar, jimmies and quinn's. Quinn's are the little circles sprinkles that people are putting a ton on a cake and painting them to look like sequins.

http://sugarartstudio.com
These people have the prettiest gum paste flowers pictured to drool over! They only sell the cutter to make them, but they are great tools! I love all their other cutters for Art Deco, repeating patterns and well everything! Their stuff is great and I don't care how much it costs!

http://www.dallas-foam.com/store/cakedummies.html
Cake styrofoam dummies and separator pieces. They are already cheap, but if you buy $200, you can get a 40% discount, but then you have to buy more!

http://www.polymerclayexpress.com/products/artway-tools
Best and biggest extruded guns and various dies. Love mine!

http://www.globalsugarart.com/index.php
Full disclosure, I used to buy a lot from these guys. I have been finding better prices, shipping and products on the first two sites listed above.

http://www.firstimpressionsmolds.com
Silicone molds with a huge selection! There are sites above that carry these molds, but they don't have the full selection or good sales with nice discounts.

http://www.designerstencils.com
Favorite stencils ever! Just like the molds above, you can get them elsewhere but not with as big of a selection.

Fondarific on Fondarific.com vs. Amazon.com
I use Fondarific for making lots of decorations like bead borders because the chill up hard very quickly so they don't distort when unfolding. A WHOLESALE account with shipping factored in is almost the same price as what I can buy the same thing on Amazon for a few dollars more. I have a Prime membership so I get free two day shipping and that is factored in here. It's kind of a pain buying from Fondarific Wholesale so I'm going to stick with Amazon for this.

I know this was a long post, but we buy from a lot of places. If you have a favorite place to buy supplies, please let us know so we can learn from your experiences too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ruffles and Lace Wedding

My area of the country follows trends, but about two years behind New York.  Currently we have a lot of brides wanting two main colors, but both neutrals.  Shades of ivory with white and shades of grey with cream both seem to be very trendy. Khaki, tan, ivory and champagne are the hardest colors to make in my opinion.  I've had art class, but I see.med to have forgotten that lesson.  if you just use the ivory color, it's too yellow.  Adding a little brown coloring in you icing makes a weird color, but it's not tan.  If you are short on time, know this:  GOLDEN YELLOW + PURPLE = TAN.  You can add some pink for more champagne of green for more of a khaki, but starting out with a nice tan instead of  a weird yellow is key.  I could give you many great articles on coloring, but here is one great one with links to other great ones.  Don't get mad at me if I send you down a wormhole of learning!

This is talking about royal icing, but we all know it's just the same to make fondant.  If you are coloring real butter-buttercream, take in to account that it is already pale yellow.  What I like to do is make a "color concentrate".  In this instance, I made a cup of a really dark khaki.  Then you can make a formula that is more controllable like "1 TBL color concentrate mixed with 1 LB buttercream".  This is handy because we often guess how much colored icing we need for a cake.  If we make too much, we are stuck with a color we may not need again for a long time (mix it into black!) or we run short and can't match the original shade.  You can also freeze leftover concentrate for later uses or just throw it away and you have only wasted a little.

I have been talking about color because there is not much exciting to say about this cake.  Sorry "my bride" if you are reading this but in the cake world this was not new or exciting.  It's classy and pretty just not AWESOME.  I made this cake before, so that was my "inspiration" but we changed the base color and broach color.  The advice for a fellow baker is to let your lace pieces chill before you un-mold them and maybe again before you apply them to the cake.  If you are pressing a soft piece of fondant firmly, you will loose some of the detail due to squishing.  I love Fondarific or these pieces because they get firm very quickly in the cooler.  Also, don't overfill the mold or the lace will be thick and that's just not attractive :)  Now go make some tan icing!



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