Friday, December 31, 2010

What are All the Words a 2 Year Old Can Say?

We have many great customers, but the ones that are "in the industry" are some of my favorites.  Many times, they let you "do whatever you want" or at the very least they understand the time involved so they don't take issue when they know you give them a fair quote.

This mommy goes all out for her sweet little man.  She designs 90% of the cake and then decorates the entire party to match the cake, which I have no problem with of course!  Her idea in this design was to do each tier with something primary and familiar to a two year old.  There are several animals on the other side of the cake because it was to be displayed in the middle of the room.  My favorite is the penguins because I have been watching a lot of "Penguins of Madagascar" on Nickelodeon lately.

The cake is iced in butercream and all the decorations are fondant.  The greens on the monkey tier are very different, but it didn't show up well in this picture.  The "2" is "busting out of the top" with the fondant peeling back.  I quoted 12 hours of art on this cake and between carving the cake, mixing colors, and 14 animals, I used every bit of that time and then some.  I HAD to have all four penguins in the cartoon!

After six years of making cake, I think I'm starting to get the artwork estimates down pat.  This is what you do.....estimate how much time the cake will take you after it's all smooth and stacked THEN DOUBLE IT!  I have given a little money back when I have over estimated, but that is a rarity.  Anyone have a better idea?  Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fairyland Club Bow Wedding Cake

The design of this wedding cake was inspired by the holiday decor of the venue, the Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain.

The bride wanted a bow motif, but wanted it to be more relaxed, or "droopy" looking.  I was using Wedding White Fondarific for the loops, and I added tylose.  Guess what?  Tylose and Fondarific doesn't get "gumpaste hard" like when you add it to regular fondant!  Worked out well for me this time, but something to keep in mind in the future.


The loops and tails also needed a gold edge.  To achieve this effect, I first tried rolling the fondant in a tight coil and painting the edges, but I had too much seepage.  I then rolled out the strips and while they were still semi-stuck to my work surface, I painted the edges gold.  Worked out very well!

Lastly, this bride wanted a "no border" border.  I used a #6 tip to pipe a small buttercream rope where the 2 cakes meet. Then, while the cake is still very cold, I run my finger along the edge sealing the gap and wiping away any excess.  Just like caulking around your sink!!

Hope you all had a happy holiday and we'll see you back here on New Year's Eve!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa Claus Holiday Cake

So it's Christmas Eve, and this festive fella will be popping down our chimneys in just a few hours!

This is the last Christmas cake that I donated to the "Nutcracker Sweets" charity event.  Again, I found a sweet little Santa face online and printed it out.  I then hand cut several pieces out of fondant to give ol' Saint Nick a little more dimension.  Then I got out the glitter and gave Santa's hat a nice dusting!

Again, these pics didn't turn out so great, but it looks better when it's larger (just click on the picture).

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tree Holiday Cake

Here is another cake I donated to the "Nutcracker Sweets" charity event.

For this cake, I found a cute Christmas tree graphic online and printed it out.  I cut the entire tree out of green fondant and then painted each of the elements (trunk, star, tinsel, and ornaments) using luster and petal dusts.  Otherwise, it's just a simple buttercream cake!

Stop back in on Friday and see the last cake in the Christmas trilogy!  Maybe we'll even have some eggnog - well, I'll be having eggnog anyway!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snowflake Holiday Cake

About a week ago, I donated a few small 9 inch holiday cakes to the Partnership for Family, Children, and Adults annual "Nutcracker Sweets" charity event.

On this snowflake cake I used my Cricut Cake to cut out this snowflake from modeling chocolate.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize until after the cake was gone that my camera was on night mode - sorry!!

Check back on Tuesday for another Christmas themed cake!  Next Friday is Christmas Eve!  Don't get on Santa's naughty list!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whimsical Pink Wedding Cake

Believe it or not, this is a wedding cake!  This whimsical cake was another wedding cake I delivered to Trevitt Hall in Dalton, GA.  They have a quaint little reception space and they're always ready for a party!

As you can see, my bride here wasn't afraid to think outside the box and leave "traditional" wedding cakes in the dust!  This fun little number is decorated with fun fondant swirls, fantasy flowers, and a snazzy monogram.  Notice the bling on the bows?  That's some clip-on earrings the bride provided to give the cake a little extra sparkle.  I don't think I could have created as sparkly that was still edible!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  If you haven't finished up your Christmas shopping, there's only 11 more days until Christmas!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

West Virginia Groom's Cake

Any Mountaineers in the house?  How about peanut butter fans?  If so, you are in for a real treat!

I started with a 16 inch square cake and carved away a lot of excess using a template I made by printing out the logo to the appropriate size.  Then I used that same template to cut out the the yellow and blur top from fondant.

I then cut up an entire case of Reese's Peanut Butter cups to fill the cake board.

This groom's cake was delivered to Trevitt Hall in Dalton, GA.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lace Recreation Wedding Cake

I did this cake a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed doing it.  So much so that I am planning on doing a display cake in a similar fashion.

This bride wanted the ornate lacework on her dress recreated on her cake. She provided me with a scan of the lace pattern.  We printed it out and then traced it on copy paper.  From that black and white drawing, we could scan it in and resize it to fit the cake.

Once it was the right size, I went to work with my Sugar Veil icing tracing that lacework over and over.

My brother even made a new custom cake stand to place this cake on!  The bride liked it so much, she just decided that she would purchase it as a keepsake.  How sweet is that?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chattanooga Read House Swirly Wedding Cake

This wedding cake went to the Sheraton Read House in Chattanooga, TN.  I had a lot of fun making all of those swirly "S" curves over the cake.  Other than that, this cake is just your simple, four tiered, buttercream cake.

Helen from Humphrey's Flowers was on-site when I arrived with the cake and she got right to adding all those beautiful fresh flowers between each tier.

The fine folks from Sound Force Entertainment were also there, setting up a classy and cool "tent" area for the bride and groom to relax in during the reception.  Some other DJs were there setting up the music for the event, it was like we were at a party!  LOL!! I guess we were, duh!

I'm usually in and out before (or after) these vendors come and go, so it was nice to chat with them and enjoy the fruits of their craft.  I guess we don't get out much!! LOL!!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chattanooga Outdoor Camping Groom's Cake

A lot of you are much better at sugar figurines than I am, so when I got this order for a "less cartoony" representation of the bride and groom, I was visiting lots of places on the web and printing out tons of examples.

Our couple here loved the great outdoors and were very specific that the cake include a black bear, a tent, a canoe, and some fallen tree logs.

This was a one of those cakes where I got the hubby involved, and as usual, he came up with some neat (unusual) ways of doing things.  He made the rocks by tearing some hunks off some modeling chocolate that was still hard and had not yet been kneaded smooth.  I was very surprised at how "rock-like" the crumbly modeling chocolate looked.  He also made the hollow logs.  He started with a piece of rolled brown modeling chocolate.  He made some "bark" lines and then flipped it over.  He then took a log of modeling chocolate (think big Tootsie Roll) and then rolled the thin bark piece around it, letting the thin bark hang over the tootsie log and ripped the ends to make it look jagged and natural.  Again, I was impressed by my little hubby.  I guess watching all those cake shows and keeping me company in the kitchen really paid off!!

Have a great week!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Autumn Flowers Wedding

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving and are resting comfortably instead of fighting the masses for those Black Friday deals.

This wedding cake reminds me of Thanksgiving and fall.  The cake gallery on my website is full of wedding cakes, but there's not a lot of fall themed weddings on there.

This cake, is fairly simple, but getting the separators just right to allow space for the flowers was a bit of a challenge.  It was just a matter of measuring.  Like the old carpenters say, "Measure twice, cut once"!

I did use my Cricut Cake to cut my monogram letters (as always).

The flowers were provided by the always amazing Amanda of Divine Designs by Amanda.  Her florals are always SO beautiful!

Have a great weekend and enjoy some leftover turkey!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Haul-idays with Chronicle Books!

I first became aware of Chronicle Books when I purchased Bakerella's Cake Pops book.  I thought they put a lot of thought into the little details, like the page binding.  I can't tell you how many times I have been cooking one recipe, turn around to add an ingredient and then look back only to find that the page has turned itself and now I'm reading a completely different recipe.  But I digress...

So I was checking out Chronicle's site when I find they're inviting bloggers to a "Celebrate the Haul-idays with Chronicle Books" contest.  Sounds fun, right?  Well it is, and it's very easy, and best of all, we could BOTH win!  I have selected a nice collection of Chronicle Books and if my name is chosen from all the entries, I win all those books!  If I am the winner, Chronicle will also choose one person that commented on this post to also win that same set of books!  So make sure you leave a comment, OK?  Here's the list of books that I (and you) could win!!

Bird Song Bible by Les Beletsky

Cake Pops by Angie Dudley/Bakerella

Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsly

Wookie Cookies - A Star Wars Cookbook by Robin Davis

Sky High by Alisa Hunjtsman, Peter Wynne

The Big Book of Appetizers by Meredith Deeds, Carla Snyder

Advertising Next by Tom Himpe

Skinny Dips by Diane Morgan

Highballs, High Heels by Karen Brooks

Curious Cats by Mitsuaki Iwago

Creative Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco

And how about this?  In your comment, tell me which book out of this list you would most like to have/read, OK?  Thanks for playing and wish "us" luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Captain America Shield Cake


I did this groom's cake for a very neat couple last weekend.  They had their reception on the Delta Queen Riverboat.  In case you're not a fan of the comics, this is Captain America's shield.

For this cake we started, as we do with a lot of cakes, with some images from Google image search.  Chad then took one of those images and used a freeware program, PosteRazor, to enlarge the image to the appropriate size.

From there we took an 18 inch round cake and began carving.  I wound up making the shield a little rounder than I wanted because I still had to account for everyone getting an full serving of cake in their slice.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Do I Get My Cakes Smooth? - A Buttercream Tutorial

Since the day I started doing cakes, I have always wanted my cakes to look perfect.  I worked with many different icings and techniques to get them really close, but I always used fondant when I wanted a really smooth finish.  Then I started doing cakes professionally and found out quickly that paying customers don't like the taste or the added expense of fondant.   So I went back to the drawing board and I worked harder and got better with my butter cream skills.  I thought I had finally achieved what everyone else knew.

And then I started blogging and when I began to gain some sort of readership, I started getting comments like "Is that buttercream or fondant?" and "How do you get your buttercream so smooth?".  I was so flattered, and I even promised some of you that I would work on a buttercream tutorial.  And I truly started writing one on several occasions, and it just seemed too hard to capture with words alone.  If only technology provided some way of capturing video and audio in a format that could be played back!

So we cashed in some reward points for a little Sony HandyCam.  And this past week I worked with my husband on my very first video cake tutorial.  It was very scary and while I'm not entirely happy with the results, I do think the results were worthy enough to share with you, my community of cake blogging friends. I would appreciate it if you watched and gave me your feedback.  I would love to know if your cakes get smoother as a result.


This technique works best with an all butter icing.  Feel free to try it with your own recipe, but I am providing my "kids" butter cream recipe if you want to try it.  It's a little on the sweet side, but I find it very workable!

Cup a Dee Cakes Kid's Buttercream Recipe

2 lbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 Cups powdered sugar (4 lbs)
1 TBL plus 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 Cup heavy cream OR light corn syrup (not nearly as good, but works)

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add all butter, salt and vanilla to 5 Quart bowl and blend.  Scrape down bowl.  Add ½ of the powdered sugar in stages (put a clean dish towel over the mixer and bowl to keep sugar dust down).  Add all of the whipping cream and blend.  Scrape down bowl.  Add the rest of the powdered sugar in stages until it is blended in.  Scrape down bowl.  Now whip the fool out of it on super high for about 2-4 minutes depending on the strength of your mixer.  The icing will go much lighter in color, fluffier and a good spreading consistency.  You should notice the icing begin to increase in volume (it will fill the mixer bowl).

Note:  This icing is too thick and heavy to spread until you whip the daylight out of it.  Don’t skimp on the final beating.

You can leave the icing out of the fridge for a few days, it will be fine.  Re-whip it when it’s been sitting for the best results.

Icing will not be a bright white due to the color of the butter.  Your can purchase some white food coloring to add to the final layer of icing if needed.  Most people won’t notice that it’s not white and it will photograph better.

Variations

Peanut Butter: Add one 18 oz jar of reduced fat peanut butter for entire batch of icing
Mocha:  Dilute 2 TBL of instant coffee granules in TBL hot water-then add to 2 lbs of icing
Chocolate:  4-6 oz melted chocolate per lb of icing (will be a light brown).
Strawberry or Raspberry:  Add preserves.

Also, as an extra special bonus, here is the icing recipe that Mike McCarey gave us during his modeling chocolate class!

Mike's Buttercream Recipe

1 lb 4 oz powdered sugar
½ cup pasteurized egg whites
2 TBL vanilla
2 lbs (8 sticks) softened butter (unsalted)

In an electric mixer, combine sugar, egg whites and vanilla.  Mix on low to combine.  Increase speed to high and mix for 10 minutes to build volume.  Reduce speed to medium, slowly add softened butter and beat an additional 10 minutes until full volume is reached.  



 If you've enjoyed the tutorial, consider making your next Amazon purchase using my affiliate link.  That way we BOTH win!

 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Lace Wedding Cake with Wedge Separators

This cake was my first experiment with Sugar Veil icing.  If you don't know, Sugar Veil is a type of icing, similar ot royal icing, that can be piped on parchment paper.  Sugar Veil will "set", but it still remains flexible.  This allows you to pipe intricate lace patterns on a flat surface and then place it on the cake.  I know there's a lot you can do with Sugar Veil, but I was pleased with our first partnership!

This was also my first wedge separator cake.  I used styrofoam wedges for the separators.  I ran my blow torch over r the surface of the styrofoam quickly and it really helped seal the surface.  I still covered them with cake foil, but that little blast of heat really helped it from shedding or pilling.  I then filled them with mini roses once on site.

I used plenty of dowels to make sure everything stayed together.  I had to carry it up the sometimes harrowing Lookout Mountain to the Grandview and it traveled just fine!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Custom Cake Stands Now Available!

For a while now I have been regaling you with tales of the cakes I do and some of the awesome custom cake stands that my awesome brother has been making for me!

And since he made the first one I have been nagging him to start a blog and start selling his wares.  I am so proud to announce that I have infected my brother with the blogging bug!  Not only that, but he also setup an Etsy shop to sell some of his cake stands!!

His Etsy Shop:
My Woodworking Solutions

His Blog:
MyWoodWorkingSolutions Blog

Please check out his site and check out some of his great designs.  I'm SO proud of him!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Retro Circle Wedding Cake

Thank Goodness It's Friday!  I thought I would showcase a fun little wedding cake.  This was another Chattanooga wedding cake - in fact this tall bubbly number went to the Tennessee Aquarium.

This is a pretty simple cake, just a fondant covered cake with blue and green gumpaste circles.

This cake does have a funny story to go with it.  Now I deliver cakes to the Tennessee Aquarium all the time, I even have a special little place to park around back on the loading dock.  But when I go to deliver this cake, there's a huge Bluegrass Festival going on, and the way to my safe, secure little loading dock is completely blocked off by barricades and festival goers.  So what's a girl to do??

I pulled into a little drive area that is in front of the aquarium, but still too far to carry a cake.  I wasn't even supposed to be there - it's for the carriages only.  After speaking with one of the staff, they decided that it would be best if I just popped up on the sidewalk and pull straight to the main entrance!

So I do, and as I'm riding on the sidewalk, I pass a policeman who is also on the sidewalk.  He is giving me a wild look so I roll down the window and say "I'm here with the cake."  Evidently, that was more than enough to satisfy him!!  Being that close to the door I was in and out in a flash!  I don't know if I can ever go back to the loading dock again!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chocolate Panel Grooms Cake

A few weeks ago I did this little groom's cake for a couple celebrating with an autumnal wedding theme.  Why is it that fall and winter weddings get their own "theme", but no spring or summer themed weddings? 

For the chocolate panels, I melted chocolate onto sheet pans and cut the panels just as they were firming up.  You have to catch it at just the right time.  Too soon and the chocolate's still runny, too late and it's hard as a rock.

I garnished the cake with some gumpaste leaves and some real black and red grapes.  A smattering of rose petal leaves completed the look.

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Special Edition - Meringue Cookies

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this post and it was featured on Kathia's Pink Little Cake Blog. Just in case you missed it there, and because I'm in the Halloween spirit, I thought I would share the recipe for my regular readers.

MERINGUE BONES AND GHOSTS COOKIES

Meringue cookies are easy to make, but I think people are afraid of them because they appear complicated.  They are very inexpensive to make, and you can pipe them into almost any shape.  Also, they are gluten and peanut free, so there's a few more people that can enjoy them!

Let's start with the ingredient list.  Better get out your pencils! LOL!

INGREDIENTS
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar

DIRECTIONS
   1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Put egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture feels warm to the touch, about 5 minutes or until the mixture reaches 130 degrees.

   2. Transfer the hot mixture to your mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed until very stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.  The great thing about meringues is unlike plain egg whites or cream, it is almost impossible to overbeat or break it.


   3. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip, I used a Wilton #1A.  You can fill a baggie and snip off a corner for piping too.  Pipe bone shapes, each 5 to 6 inches long, onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  For ghost shapes, start at the base with heavy pressure and lessen the pressure as you near the top of the ghost.  If you are unhappy with your shapes, just scoop them back up and re-pipe them! 



Bake until crisp throughout, about 90 minutes. Test one meringue to see if it is dry throughout.  If not, let it cook a little longer.  One they finish, turn off the oven and place a wooden spoon in the oven door so that it is still cracked a little.  Leave the meringue cookies in the oven.  This will allow the meringue to cool very slowly and prevent them from cracking.  Some of them will probably still crack though!  It will just make them spookier!

Once they are thoroughly cooled, use an edible image marker or gel color and small brush to draw faces on the ghosts.  This is what you end up with!



I hope you enjoy making these as much as I did!  Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Abigail's First Birthday

You all know how much I like making first birthday cakes.  They're like wedding cakes for newborns!

Little miss Abigail's cake was no exception. I was given a picture of Abigail's dress and used it for inspiration.

The colors, the polka dots, even the cupcake came from the dress' design.  I even broke out the Cricut Cake to cut the letters... so easy!  For the zigzag ribbons, I used a new silicone mold I just bought and it turned out beautifully.  Isn't that called rick-rack?  I have no sewing skills whatsoever - LOL!

The cupcake was made so that it could be easily removed to serve double duty as Abigail's smash cake.

Oh, and I almost forgot about the marabou boa around the cake board!  Too cute, huh?  Have a great weekend and a Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nigeria Move Over, There's a "New" Phone Scam in Town!

Warning to all Shop Owners out There!

This weekend I was spending my Saturday catching up on paperwork and quotes with Chaddy in the office when the phone rang.  The Caller ID just read "New York, NY".  Chad immediately thought it was The Food Network calling.  What for?  Who knows what goes through his head - LOL!!

Well, it certainly wasn't Kerry Vincent or Alton Brown, it was a TTY relay operator that deaf people use to communicate via the phone.  The caller wanted to order 300 cupcakes.  I'm pretty booked up this season, so I was not available the date they wanted.  So they picked another date, and another date and another.  The dates ranged from October 29th to December 9th!  My Spidey Senses were already going off so I asked for a name, phone number and e-mail address.  The only info I was given was the name - Kofo Jones and an e-mail address - kofojones@yahoo.com. Kofo!!!  Say Whaaaa?!?  Now, every alarm in my head is going off!  So I say that I need a credit card to secure the order; by the way did I mention that the order was for 100 green, yellow, and pink cupcakes?  That's the most I could get from them regarding the order.  Then they told me that they would wire me $700 via Western Union and I could just send back the change.  GAME OVER!  I told them that I felt this was a scam and I was refusing to do business with them and they hung up.

I had no idea that people had been abusing these TTY lines, but a quick Google search confirmed that people have been doing this phone scam for years!  And FYI, in some instances they will gladly give you a (stolen) credit card number or a (fake) certified check.

The Better Business Bureau offers some tips on their site on what to look for and best practices for doing business with someone using TTY relay lines.  Stay safe and protect yourself, your business, and your money!

And if there is a real Kofo Jones out there... no offense!  I sure couldn't find you on Google!


UPDATE: Not an hour after I finished writing this post, I got a friendly call from eBay.  Seems someone hijacked my eBay account and bid on a bunch of cameras and computers.  Guess where it was all going?  Yep, Nigeria!  They straightened it out pretty quickly, but still!  I guess it's just Scamtastic Saturday around here!  Pretty please, just for me, go right now and change all your important passwords!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Featured on Cake Wrecks Sunday Sweets!



Many of my regular readers remember reading about my Back to the Future DeLorean post, and some may remember the DeLorean in-progress post, but today we were featured on Cake Wrecks as a Sunday Sweet!  Today was a "Back to the Future" post and our little ol' DeLorean cake was featured!

In the 6 years we have been in business, we have won cake decorating contests, voted "Best Dessert" by the local community 2 years running, featured on several other blogs, but this is truly an honor and a red letter day for the entire Cup a Dee Cakes crew!  Thanks Jen and John for selecting us!!!


You all know the Cake Wrecks address, but click here to get directly to their Back to the Future post!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Daisy Turns 100!!

How many times does a baker get to do a cake for someone celebrating their centennial birthday?  Recently, Daisy turned one-hundred and I was asked to do her cake(s).

I was given quite a bit of leeway on this one.  I was told that Daisy loved flowers and gardening, but that the cake should be simple.  Daisy also wanted her children represented on the cake.

With those instructions, I decided make 3 smaller cakes (they were going to be picked up) shaped as the number 100!  I then decorated the cake with gumpaste daisies.  We molded ladybugs to represent each of Daisy's children.  I think Daisy was very pleased with her cake - I hope we get the chance to do her 101st birthday cake too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trees and Leaves... Well it is that time!

I just love it when we get to make a non traditional wedding cake!  My bride was so fantastic and let me take inspiration from another cake, an invitation, and a save the date card.

It was one of those cakes that would have been pretty if I stopped at the first stage, which was the trees.  It would have been prettier if I stopped at the next stage which was the curly vines.  That was by far the most time consuming.  Getting the little chocolate fondant snakes thin enough while staying even.  I still don't know why I didn't get my clay gun out?!  The one thing that made life easier was that after stacking I put the cake in the cooler for several hours while I worked on other projects.  When I brought it out the condensation made it just the right amount of sticky!  The trees and vines stuck on perfectly.  It was a shame when it dried up and I had to go back to attaching with water or piping gel.  I had it good for a while!

Back to the cake, I then added the leaves and it was prettier....and I could have stopped...but no!  The "Save the date" cards had Autumn colored dots so I added a few.  That is what made the cake for me!  Pop pop pop...dot dot dot!  I used the little circle cutter from Polymer Clay Express.  These will be worth every cent!  I love that site!  The impression mats are good, not to mention the extruder guns.  I liked everything about the cake except for the delivery which was 90 minutes one way and the last 2 1/2 miles was all on a gravel road that was not at all cake friendly!  It was called Laurelwood and it was a beautiful location once we got there!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night!

...and Bake Cakes Every Day!!

I delivered this groom's cake recently to The Grandview.  Our groom here is a HUGE KISS fan and Rock And Roll Over is his favorite album.

We started with a small one layer square cake and then a round cake cut at an angle (for optimal viewing).  We printed out the album cover on edible image paper and mounted it to a buzzsaw shaped modeling chocolate plaque.  We also cut "KISS" letters out of fondant.

The bride caught a glimpse of us as we were delivering the cake.  She was SO excited and happy with it!  Rock On!!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TN Aquarium Cake

I did this cake a few weeks ago and delivered it to the Tennessee Aquarium.  The couple wanted a tropical feel, but also wanted to convey a "watery feel" while keeping her white on white color theme.

Our solution was to make fondant rope waves around the cake,  They added the fluidity that the couple wanted, but still maintained the cake's simplicity and elegance.

It was a fun cake to do and I always enjoy bringing cakes to the Aquarium because I get to stop and say "Hi" to all the cutie-patootie penguins they have there!

I have a small family emergency that is almost over, so my time has been very VERY tight for the last week. So I'm keeping this post short... sorry!  Check back on Friday!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rose Seperator Cake with Monogram

Ii set this wedding cake up at the Loose Cannon Art Gallery recently.  I love the venue, but it's always dark in there.  Their one of the reasons I invested in a bounce flash for the camera.  This is one of the pictures with the bounce and I thought it turned out pretty good.  As with all my photography skills, I still have a LOT to learn!!

This cake is mostly buttercream with some fondant accents.  And silver dragees!  Oh the dragees!!  Seriously, I really love the look of the edible pearls and the silver dragees, but I have to put them on JUST before I deliver the cake, which depending on the delivery schedule for the day, can be a real pain.

The florists were setting up as I was delivering the cake.  There is supposed to be a lot of roses below the top tier, but they were running short and had t go back to the shop.  They did let me play with the3 they had left to get a semi-decent shot.

Nothing technically new or terribly difficult going on here.  I did use my Cricut Cake on the monogram (man I LOVE that thing!!)

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Neyland Stadium Vols Cake, Revisited

I have done a Neyland Stadium groom's cake before, but this one is my best to date (until the next one - LOL).

This time around, my brother (the master woodworker) was visiting and watching me very intently.  Before long I could tell he was itching to play in some edible material.  I had a few sheets of white modeling chocolate rolled out, so I had him to glove up and start cutting out my templates.  He's a dog-gone natural I tell ya!!

The weirdest coincidence?  Both of my Neyland Stadium cakes have went to the same place!  The Loose Cannon Art Gallery!  Must be a great place for Vols fans to get married!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big Ruffled Flower

Hello, dear readers!!  TGIF!!!

Remember, Smokey the Dog from Tuesday?  Well, this is the bridal cake that accompanied it. It was delivered to the Doubletree Chattanooga.  It was our first trip there and I was surprised by how nice it was!  The staff told me that the new owners had invested 27 Million to update it.  You could really tell it too!

This is one of those cakes that is elegant because of its simplicity.  Four tiers of buttercream bordered with a buttercream ruffle border.

The only fondant on the cake?  The big ruffled flower on the top!

Well, that's it for this week - come back on Tuesday for more cake-a-dee goodness!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Smokey the Dog Vols Cake

Before we begin today's post, I just wanted to say "Thanks!" to Kathia over at the Pink Little Cake Blog.  A couple of weeks ago she asked me if I would be willing to participate in her "28 Days of Sweet Halloween Ideas" series.  I was so flattered that she asked me to guest blog on her site. Please visit her site and take a look at my post.  I really went all out and even used some of the food styling tips I learned at the Food Blog Forum!!

OK, now where were we?  Oh yeah!  This weekend I did my first dog cake!  I spent way too much time on it and if I do it again, I will not make the same mistakes I made this time!

I will tell you one thing - I am now in love with Fondarific!!  I have used it in the past to cover small cakes, but nothing as complicated as a carved dog.  I found that I could roll it thinner than regular fondant, which is nice.  It was super stretchy, resisted tearing, tasted great, and didn't get the first wrinkle!  When I really got to checking, it's not even that much more than the fondant I normally use!  I sat down last night and ordered a boatload of the stuff!!


As far as how this bad boy is put together,  there's 80 eggs worth of eggs in the marble pound cake that makes up the body and neck on this guy (he's on a 36 inch board).  The support system was really just a PVC pipe running from the board up through the neck and then a cake board that held on the styrofoam head. Oh yeah, the tail, legs, and feet are all made of crispy rice treats.

I have already heard back from the wedding planner and some of the wedding party... old Smokey was a big hit at the wedding!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Creative Arts Guild Cake

Being an artist (at least I consider myself an artist), I try to do everything I can to support local art programs.  In our town, we have The Creative Arts Guild.  They do a wonderful job of bringing art to our community, as well as teaching classes in art, dance, photography, music, and probably a lot of other stuff I can't even remember right now.

Every year they host Festival, where artisans come from near and far to sale their particular brand of art.  This year there were SO many vendors selling everything from jewelry, to wood crafts, to tie dye T-Shirts.

The night before Festival begins, the Arts Guild hosts The Patron's Party where they invite the best food vendors in town to come in sample their wares.  We were honored to be invited again to provide cake for the event.

This year we really wanted to go all out and really make something special.  We broke out the Cricut Cake machine and cut out lots of dancers ( and the font too).  Then we went to the Guild's website and grabbed some images from local artists and printed them on edible image paper.  I framed these mini masterpieces on modeling chocolate frames (made from a lace mold).

I added the red curtains for a nice splash of color, but also to represent the theatrical and for the dramatic flair it adds.  It's just red fondant, and the pleating gods were with me that day.  They turned out SO nice!  I topped the cake with some musical notes bursting out the top.

It was very well received by the guests and especially by the Guild members.  I think we may have set the bar for future years.  If the folks from the Arts Guild are reading this, we'll try to go bigger and better next year!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Smash, Smush or Baby Cake?

Chaddy and I don't have kids (except furry ones!), so it was perplexing to me the first time someone ordered a small cake just for the one year old.  My mom just cut me a slice and that's all the mess I was allowed to make, but times have changed.  People call these baby cakes all kinds of names but the most popular is smash or smush cake.  I guess it's named after it's purpose in life.  (So why aren't the rest of my cakes called eating cakes or devouring cakes?) I get some of the greatest pictures back from my customers and they always make me smile.  This one is of little Jack and the photo was taken by Houston Photography.  I just love the simple but eye catching balloons in the background, not to mention that adorable baby!
 
If you're looking to make cakes for a living, don't be surprised when you make one cake for a photo session several weeks ahead of the actual party.  The pictures make a great invitation to the big party!  I try really hard to make these cakes mostly buttercream because the fondant covered ones are just not as fun for the pictures.  Also, keep in mind any toothpicks or wire you may normally use in keeping say a fondant monkey together cannot be used for these cakes.  That would not make for a happy baby! More and more customers are asking for smash cakes or just a "personal" cake for older kids.  Sometimes it's to give them their favorite flavor or just to make their birthday more special.  Why didn't my Mommy do that?  I'd love to hear from you guys what your friends and customers are calling these baby cakes! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rose Petal Cake

A long time ago, when I was a "baby learner" as my Mom would say, a bride brought me a picture of a cake that she said was Kevin Costner's wedding cake.  It was the first cake that I said to myself and the bride "Hmmm, so I wonder how they did that?".  So I decided to decorate a two tier cake dummy (Styrofoam) to see if I could make her happy as well as make something that I was proud of presenting.  So I set out and covered the dummy cake in fondant (which you don't have to do on the real cake because it's just too much fondant!).  I made a couple of different patterns, cut them out with an Exacto knife and then "ruffled" the edges with a ball tool (fondant was laying on soft foam).  They didn't really go above the cake line too much so I didn't have a big problem with floppy fondant.  I did add some tylose so that it would hold it's shape better. 

After I repeated that a million times, I cut more petals freehand to make it more organic (I gave up on the pattern, it was too uniform) and then painted the edges with gold luster dust paint mixture.  I tried painting them first on my practice cake, but it made more of a mess and when I had to move them around for function it would leave the dust on other pieces.  Around the top and lip of the cake I used sanding sugar to make a pretty finish.  The one change the bride made that I don't think I would have is that she especially wanted the cake to be one continuous shape without any indentions like a normal tiered cake.  The bottom of this cake was a 20" round.   Normally you would do a 20/16/12/8/6 type combination, but she wanted 20/18/16/14/12/10/8/6.  Extra petals where placed in the 1" brim on all the tiers to help it look more gradual.

To this day, it was the tallest stacked (no space between layers) cake I have made.  I used a step ladder to put it together and it had a little sway to it.  Now I know I should have put more dowels through the center to sturdy it up.  But it was straight and lasted through the reception that went on until 3am!   This was also the first cake that the event staff, at the Chattanoogan Hotel in this case, asked me how to cut it!  My answer was "I guess get the step ladder back out and start at the top!"  

I have seen this style of cake done in a lot of publications since I made this one.  Most are in chocolate that is applied to trasfer sheets and curved to fit the layers.  A lot of people call it a "rose petal" cake.  To me it will always be a "cabbage leaf" cake! 

Thanks to Beasley Photography of Ringgold Georgia for the great picture!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wizard of Oz Birthday Cake

Here's another cake from the way-back machine!  I did this cake a couple of years ago for little Maddy's birthday.  Maddy was a big Wizard of Oz fan and she loved all the girl characters - Glenda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch, and Dorothy of course!

So, the task became how to integrate the spirit of all those characters, but keep it simple and economical for Maddy's Mom!

I used a chocolate mold to make Dorothy's Ruby slippers and coated them with a generous dusting of my edible red disco glitter.  I then designed 2 tiers, a good witch tier and a bad witch tier.  The "good witch" tier is all nice and pink, with Glenda's magic wand.

The "bad witch" tier features a witch's hat and broom stick with the evil witch's stripey stockings sticking out from underneath.

I finished the whole thing off with a sash that reads "Are you a Good Witch... or are you a Bad Witch?"

Have a wonderful week!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rock'em Sock'em Grooms Cake

This week I met with a couple that were interested in a cake I did a long time ago.  It was a Rock'em Sock'em Robots cake (sorry about the quality of the photos, I don't know what happened to them!),  Looking back through my old photos, I remember having such a good time making this cake.  Even though we technically cheated by using the robots and the ring posts, there was still a lot we had to figure out.

We used hot glue, floral wire, and skewers to create "extenders" on the posts and the robots so that we could seat them in the cake properly.  Now that I think of it, this may have been where I came up with my monogram extension method I mentioned some time ago. 

The most fun part of this cake was making the bride and groom outfits for the robots.  The groom's tux is made from that foamy construction paper stuff and the bride's outfit is made from genuine faux pearls and some netting for the veil.  Here's a closer view:


Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!
If you're at the Atlanta Food Blogger's Forum, look us up!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate Lovebirds Topper

I did this cake a while back and I wasn't as thrilled with it as I wanted to be.  The couple wanted a bird silhouette on top of the cake.  I cut at least 4 different sets of birds out of modeling chocolate, but they all just looked so... FLAT!  I guess that's just how it works with silhouettes, huh?

The rest of the cake is pretty simple - square cake with buttercream, piped vine design on the chocolate layers, and piped dots on the middle tier.

I finished it off with a fondant ribbon border and some gumpaste calla lillies.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Charleston - A Culinary Adventure (Part 2 of 2)

If you're here to see another pretty cake, check back with us on Tuesday.  If you came back to hear about the rest of our culinary adventures in Charleston, then... really?  Wow!  And please! don't think that these are the only or best places to visit.  There were LOTS of places in Charleston where we would have liked to sample the food, we just didn't have the time.  Also, don't think that the only thing we did in Charleston was eat.  We visited lots of other places too!!

More details on our wonderful trip after the jump!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Charleston - A Culinary Adventure (Part 1 of 2)

Recently, I had a weekend with no cakes booked, so that meant it was time for a VACATION!!  Now normally, I'm the structured, organized one, but when it comes to vacation time, I get all willy-nilly.  So late Saturday night Chad and I got online and started looking.  We eventually narrowed down our choices to Memphis or Charleston.  A coin flip later and it was decided... we were going to Charleston!!

The adventures start after the jump!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blue Bow Wedding Cake

I did this wedding cake a while back at Ryman Hall in Dalton, GA.  I always feel a little weird about mixing cake shapes and especially Square-Round-Square-Round.  But I was very happy with how this cake turned out!  I really liked the blue and brown theme that the couple chose for their colors.

Not a lot of difficult cake techniques going on here, just buttercream with some piping and a bow made from gump-  What? 

Contest/giveaway what now???  Oh yeah, I remember now!  You want to know who won that autographed copy of Cake Wrecks for voting for Icing Smiles.

Well, Chad took all the names of people that posted their comments on the Pepsi Refresh page and ran them through the Ran a Dee Mizer.

And the winner is....  Jennifer Murphy Tieman!!.  Jennifer, please contact me with your address so I can ship your book out to you ASAP!

Thanks to all who voted and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pink Pleated Swags

This weekend I delivered a cake to the Cleveland Country Club.  The bride and groom were super great to work with!  They decided to go DIY with their florals; didn't they do the best job?

When I arrived at the venue, they had the flowers for the cake all ready for me.  I arranged them on the cake and then the groom popped in and gave his approval.  And then the photographers ran in and wanted to take pictures of ME placing flowers on the cake.  I relented and let them, as I'm sure such photos won't make it to the final album!!

Well, I'm keeping it short and sweet this week.  Make sure to keep voting for Icing Smiles in the Pepsi Refresh Project so you can win that coveted autographed Cake Wrecks book (see last post)!  The winner will be announced on Friday!!!

Have a great week and good luck!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cake Wrecks Book Giveaway!!

You may not know it, but one my favorite breaks occurs everyday around 9:30am when Cake Wrecks goes live with a new daily blog entry. I stop for a few minutes, have a sip of coffee, and a hearty laugh. Recently they hosted a contest where the people that came up with the best cake one-liner won a free autographed copy of the Cake Wrecks book. And I won!! Well, I already have my own autographed copy, so I thought "Why not pass it along to one of you?"

This brings up one my other favorite daily breaks... spending a few minutes voting for Icing Smiles in the Pepsi Refresh Project. I have blogged about them before, so just to summarize, they are a non-profit organization that brings birthday cakes to critically ill children. They have applied for a grant in the Pepsi Refresh Project. If they are in the top 10 of the popular vote they will receive $25,000 to help their mission. It's something that Chad and I are very, very passionate about.

Yeah, yeah yeah... so what about this giveaway?? OK, the prize is one copy of the Cake Wrecks book, autographed by Jen and John Yates. How do you enter? Do all of the following 3 steps for one entry::
  1. Leave a comment on my blog (this post). Just a quick note to say you are voting. I will use this to match up your Pepsi vote.
  2. Go to Icing Smiles Pepsi Refresh page, and vote for them.
  3. Leave a comment on their Pepsi Refresh page with the wording "Cup a Dee Vote".
You can do the steps above once per day (for up to 7 entries) from now until the contest ends on Thursday August 26th at 5:00pm Eastern. I will randomly pick a winner (OK, Chad will, he's the technical guy) and announce it on on my August 27th blog post.

Have a great weekend and best of luck!

Aug 20 12:30pm UPDATE: Chad says he is seeing people voting on the Pepsi page that are not leaving comments here on my blog. I would still appreciate the comment, but he says he thinks he can work solely off the Pepsi comments page. I just want to make sure that no one loses a vote because of my convoluted rules

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blogging for The Pink Book

A few weeks ago I was contacted by one of the Pink Ladies over at the ThePinkBook.com.  They were looking for "Pink Brides" and "Pink Pros".  Real brides and wedding professionals that can share their experiences and offer their suggestions.  As for the pros, they picked me (yay!!) as well as a photographer and someone that runs a wedding venue (what the heck is the term for that... venuist?)

Well, my duties as "Pink Pro Jen" (as I'm affectionately known over there) is to blog once a week about something cake related that might be helpful to brides.

What will I blog about?  Gee I dunno!  My first post is already up and I wrote about the "tall cake" trend that I'm seeing with the brides during my recent consultations.

Will it affect my blogging here?  Heck no!  You can still find my blog posts here every Tuesday and Friday.  While I initially started blogging to bring information to brides, I suddenly found that I was connecting more and more with other decorators, and frankly, it nice to use this place to blog about what I want, whether that's cake tips or just pretty pictures!.

If you're interested, find my Pink Book post(s) here:

Icing Smiles Update:  Icing Smiles has fallen to #27 in their quest for funding through the Pepsi Refresh Project.  They REALLY need our votes!  http://www.refresheverything.com/icingsmiles

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cute Little Bows

This cake demonstrates something that I have seen quite a lot with a lot of the brides I have met with lately... the double border.

It's a great way to add an extra splash of color while still maintaining a clean and simple look.

By the way, even though this cake looks small (and it was), it was red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.  Add a layer of fondant to the whole thing and this was one heavy cake!!  It took both of us to carry it!!!

Also, a funny little story while we were setting up this cake:  Chad was finishing the placement on this cake, putting on the topper, and taking photos when another couple approached the cake.  The man commented "Hey, I know what that is!  That's fondue icing!! I saw it on Cake Boss!"  The woman immediately piped in with "No!  It's cream cheese icing!  The lady already said what kind of icing it was!"  A few moments of silence later and they both looked at Chad and said, "Well, who's right?"  Chad came back with, "Well, you are both correct.  There is cream cheese icing, but there's also another icing layer on top of that - and it's actually called fondant icing."  The man replies back with "See, I told you it had FONDUE icing on it - I watch Cake Boss, I know all about FONDUE icing!"

OK, so maybe it wasn't the funniest story you've ever heard, but it was the highlight of our delivery day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twigs and Blossoms

When I met with the bride and groom that got this cake, they wanted a very clean and modern cake.

They wanted the flowers to match their wedding design and they also wanted their cake to have no borders.

The twigs and the flowers were easy peasy to make.  We extruded the twigs using our clay gun and a couple of cutters and some gumpaste took care of the flowers.

The border, however, was probably the most time-intensive part of this cake.  Now, I do "borderless" cakes all the time, but there is an art to it.

First of all, I make sure that the cake board is just big enough to fit the cake, maybe a smidge smaller.  Then I stack the tiers as usual.  I run a small (as small as possible) bead of icing right along crack where each tier meets and then get the cakes nice and cold.  Once everything is cold and firm, use the heat from my finger to melt and smooth the buttercream as I turn the cake on the turner.  Have you ever done any caulking?  Like in a bathroom or kitchen?  Well, if not, its good practice for doing cakes!

As always, thanks for stopping by and have an awesome week!!

Icing Smiles Update:  Thanks to all our votes, Icing Smiles is now (as of this writing) ranked #25 in the Pepsi Refresh grant program!! They are moving up in the rankings everyday, but we need to vote every day to get them to that coveted top 10 position!!  Vote here:  http://www.refresheverything.com/icingsmiles

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bahama Breeze & Pienapple Preserves

I did this cake a few weekends ago for a couple that lived in the Bahamas, but were coming to Chattanooga to celebrate their wedding with family and friends.

They were very laid back and definitely lived the Bahama lifestyle and they wanted that reflected in their bridal cake.  We went with a cool white swirly pattern with some tropical fantasy flowers.  I free-handed the flower template on to a piece of leftover bakery box and Chad cut most of them out of fondant mixed with tylose so they would setup nice and firm.

On the inside, we have white cake, and the couple opted for a pineapple filling.  Now when we did the tasting (about 8 months before the wedding), I had a great local source for pineapple preserves.  Two weeks before the wedding... nada!  I went to all the fanciest stores in Calhoun, Dalton, Chattanooga and NO ONE carried ANY pineapple preserves any more.  I was looking to buy some online (from Hawaii) when Chad popped in the office and asked what I was doing.  When I told him the price of the product and the price of the shipping (almost double), he said "Why don't we just make them?"

So we did! And they were absolutely delicious!  And SO easy to make!!  So as a Friday Freebie to all my readers, here's the recipe for:

Perfectly Pineapple Preserves.

INGREDIENTS

1 14oz can of pineapple in its own juice
2 Cups Sugar
2 TBS corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a nice size pot and cook over medium heat until everything gets very thick and caramelized to a nice golden brown.  On one batch we put in a candy thermometer and it was about 240 degrees when we removed it, which took a little over an hour to achieve.

They still weren't as firm as I would have liked for a normal cake filling, but they were so tasty and delicious.  We ate the leftovers on everything imaginable until they were gone!

Enjoy, have a great weekend, and if you wind up making the preserves, please let me know!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vote for Icing Smiles!

We interrupt the normal flow of levity and cakery for this very important announcement:

Icing Smiles is a relatively new non-profit organization that helps get cakes to children with critical and terminal illnesses.  I found out about the great work Tracy Quisenberry was doing a couple of weeks ago and immediately contacted her to see how I could help.  As I read through the website I was overcome with emotion.  Others have been too... so much in fact that poor Tracy is now having a hard time growing her organization quickly enough to connect all us bakers with all these children fighting for one more birthday.

I have offered my baking services, and I wish the economy and my finances would allow me to offer this organization my financial support as well.  Tracy, not to let a little thing like the lack of a fat stack of cash stand in her way, has submitted her idea to the Pepsi Refresh Project.  The Pepsi Refresh project is where people like us can vote for altruistic projects that we deem worthwhile.  At the end of the month, the top 10 contenders get $25,000 to help get their ideas off the ground.  Icing Smiles desperately needs this money and this is where we can help!

Visit the Icing Smiles page on the Pepsi Refesh Project at:
http://www.refresheverything.com/icingsmiles

We can vote for them once per day, and if you have a Facebook account, you can even vote for them without signing up for a separate account.  If you haven't yet heard about Icing Smiles, please visit their website to read more about the wonderful work Tracy is doing and the stories of the children she has already helped.  As I write this they are ranked 331... lets get her down to the single digits, huh?

Chad even added a voting button to my blog's sidebar to help me and all my visitors remember to vote everyday.  Please help get the word out about this amazing organization!

Thanks,
Jenniffer

UPDATE: Just checked this morning (Aug 5) and their current ranking is 52!!  This is great news but we all have to keep voting to get (and keep) her in the top 10.  Tracy informed us that Pepsi has said it was OK to vote using multiple e-mail accounts, so break out all those old hotmail accounts and vote again!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vertical Stripes are SO Slimming!

When I meet with brides that are fondant-phobic, I like to tell them that most cakes can be done either in fondant or buttercream.  This cake, however, is a fondant only affair.

Now, I'll begin by saying that with most cakes, I decorate each tier (almost) fully and then put the tiers together.  I found that the stripes on this cake went on much better when I put the whole cake together and then started applying the fondant stripes.  Trying to handle those stripes once they were on the cake was not going to be pretty!

I started with the bottom tier, then mixed my leftover chocolate fondant with white to make the graduated coloring for the tiers.  For the monogram, I cut a circle from modeling chocolate and let it dry on a curved flower former.  Then I hand painted the "W" monogram using brown luster dust and the accented it with gold luster dust.

This was a grooms cake, but I have a wedding coming soon using this same stripe design for a wedding cake.  I can't wait to see how this thing looks in white!

Have a great weekend everybody!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Web site is my Best Friend

Many of you know that I am a "one girl" operation.  I also have a very talented, supportive husband who does all the things I can't do (or don't want to!).  He works for Cup a Dee Cakes every minute he is not at his regular job.  Chad has built my website from scratch and changed it every time I ever wanted it to be "prettier" or more functional.  I hate to say that I don't often take into account how very hard website work is to do.  Much like my customers don't always realize how much work goes into a cake, they just want it "pretty".  (At least I get paid for my work).

My website is my best friend (except for Chad!) because it is like a salesman, an information desk, a photo album, direction giver, price estimator, policy police, availability calendar, etc.  "Webby" (let's call her) does so many things that it frees me up to bake and decorate.  Since the beginning, I have tried to give my customers all the information I could.  I don't feel like hiding my prices, or designs, or the fact the I have a legal commercial kitchen built onto my home (I have posted pictures as well as health department scores in the past).

If a competitor uses my design or knows my prices, so what?  We have worked hard to make our prices and policies fair.  I don't feel like I am competing with anyone in my area.  We all have different styles, personalities, prices and not to mention cakes.  I've looked at my biggest three competitor's websites today and am surprised that the are giving customers very little useful information.  They show some pictures, some cake flavors, and maybe some 'partners'.  No pricing or consultation information. 

Our first presence on the web didn't have pricing.  I spent half of my day answering phone calls about how much a certain pictured cake was or where my prices started.  The minute we posted prices my "how much is it" phone calls stopped and I had more time to make cakes.  I am a frugal person,.  I know that my prices are a lot higher than the local "Super" center.  I started with party cakes about $1/serving and delivered everything for free!  I am now at $3/serving for round cakes because I am staying booked up.  That didn't happen in a year though; it's taken us six years.  I don't want to be the biggest place in town, I want to be the best! I am 110% alright with doing two weddings on a weekend and that's all.  I want to continue to enjoy what I do.

I am soooo off subject here....

We had over 600 pictures on Webby, we narrowed those down to about 275.  There were just some on there that I was NOT proud of anymore.  I had about 150 pictures from the past year that we haven't put on the site because we have been so busy.  We focus on making wedding cakes now, so we narrowed our categories down from things like "animals, first birthday, girly, sports" to "traditional, contemporary, celebration".

When we changed to Go Daddy for web hosting it opened some new ways of doing our site (so I am told :)...)  We now have a formula that computes the price of the cake for us, where before every time I had a price increase/change I had to re figure each cake and Chad has to change it on the site.  Now if I want to go up .25 on a square cake and .25 on fondant the code will do it all for us.  Oh how I love Webby!
 
My point to this rambling is:
  1. I am proud of my husband and the improved website and want you all to know it!  He only gets paid in cupcakes, so your kind words will be welcomed!
  2. Ask someone "If you are looking for a baker, what would you like to see on their website?  What kind of information do you need to help you make a decision?"
  3. Many of us are very small businesses.  Use your website as a tool to take some of the everyday questions off of you.
  4. Know that your website is the first and sometimes the only impression people will get of you.  If it's not good, they won't even pick up the phone.
You may look at Webby and think parts are too wordy or too complicated.  For example, I know I still have too many pictures under "Birthday", but they are all my babies and I can't choose which to get rid of yet.  We have done everything with great thought, trial and error, and for the benefit of customer service.  It suits our business and I don't claim for a minute that it is for everyone.  I am grateful to have such a "pretty" and useful tool that can evolve and grow with our business!  Thanks Chad! 

Now I have to go ice some cakes because Webby hasn't learned to do that yet!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Every Girl Needs a Pair of Little Black Separators

Cake structure is SO important.  I hope to take Mike McCrary's class on it this year!  For a simple, but very tall, round cake it can still be pretty tricky.  This cake was made with :

2 layers of 11" round cake
1" thick 9" circle of Styrofoam
4 layers of 9" round cake (with 9" cardboard circle in the middle)
1" thick 7" circle of Styrofoam
2 layers of 8" round cake
2 layers of 5" round cake

Most all cakes that I make are 3 layers thick and about 5 1/2" tall.  I don't really care for the look of squatty cakes, I like'm nice and tall.  This one was done this way because the bride wanted a tall cake, but didn't need to feed a lot of guests.  Also, it's a very modern look that she really liked.  I am always so proud when a bride is brave enough to do something so different and bold!

The ribbon, bows and black separations are fondant, everything else it buttercream.  I don't know how other bakers do the separators between layers, I guess I could have "Googled it"!  I just covered the styro with piping gel and then fondant.  Please let me know what you use.  I have only done this look twice, so I'm sure I have much to learn.  The silver sparkly things were very pretty hair clips that the bride purchased. 

I like real wood for the base cake board because there isn't any flex to it.  My icing is all butter and when it's hard and  the cake board flexes, it will crack the icing sometimes.  Even when I use wood, I usually put an extra board with a piece of shelf liner under a very heavy cake until I get to the venue and place it on the display table.  For support purposes, I used cardboard, covered top and bottom so they don't get  soaked in butter, for all of the cake boards.  The bottom board is two drums put together so that supports could go through them for even better stability.  95% of the time, I travel with my cakes fully stacked.  This one, I should have left the top two tier off until I got there, but you know what they say about hindsight!

I used a lot of straws, skewers, and one big wooden sharpened dowel through the whole cake.  I held it by the top of the dowel the entire trip, hand cramping and all.  The force of the cake when we were going up or down a hill was so strong that I was really glad that I put a "handle" so I could keep it level.  I put a level on each layer and it was perfect, until it was done :( .  I should have put even more than 12 supports into the bottom layer.  Instead of taking it all apart, I sharpened a wooden dowel in my pencil sharpener, cut it the length to only get to the bottom cake board of the big blue tier.  I tapped this dowel in from underneath and when I got it in, I took it out and replaced it with a non sharpened dowel of the same length.  What this did was give extra support from the bottom up to help out a slightly leaning cake.  Sometimes the answer doesn't always come from the top!   I hope sometime in the future this tidbit of knowledge comes in handy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trevitt Hall Monogram Wedding

I left this little buttercream wedding cake in the very capable hands of the Trevitt Hall staff this weekend.

It looks a bit plain now, but I'm sure that once the florist finished putting some fresh flowers on this it really popped into life!

Bottom tier has a half scroll pattern, the middle tier has some dainty swiss dots, and on the top tier, the couple's monogram with a pearl border.  All tiers are finished with a black ribbon border with a fondant pearl overlay.

The pearls were made from a fondant mold, and I used my incredible Cricut Cake to do that monogram.  It was so thin that I was afraid it might not cut well, but it cut through the chilled Fondarific like nobody's business!

Oh, I almost forgot!!  Chad and I signed up for the Food Blog Forum Seminar in Atlanta in September!  Anyone else going to be there???

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