Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oscar Bat Mitzvah Party Cake

We love a good Bat Mitzvah!  We were lucky enough to make a Hollywood style cake for this great birthday event.  We decided to make a simple cake stand just to make the cake a little more festive.  We used a couple of  24" covered cake drums.  We spray painted the area that were going to show with silver spray paint to cover some of the embossed print.  We would have recovered them but there isn't a material that I know that is 26" wide, so we would have had a seam and I thought that was worse than the little bit of a pattern.  The cake was on another board, so it never touched the spray paint.  We used a large circle punch from the scrapbook department and cut black contact paper.   We used a 5" tall Styrofoam cake dummy and covered it with a printed film strip (on cardstock, but paper would have worked).  We used spray adhesive to attach this to the dummy.  We hot glued a couple of strips of rhinestones to the top and bottom cake boards and the boards to the dummy.  Be sure to line up the back sides (where things start/stop) all together like you would a tiered cake.  

Enough about the stand, look at this cake! We love the way it came out.  Lots of dripping sparkles, glitter and lights!  We did use a few more rhinestone on the cake for the borders here and there because you can't get to much sparkle!  We attach ours with acrylic/diamond topped pins. 

Lastly, I did want to share how we did the "spotlights".  Very simply, we used those lights that twist to turn on and made a large hunk of modeling chocolate that would house them.  We then cut off a piece on the bottom so they would angle in the right direction.  Lastly we made a square frame to make them look more finished.  We did not twist on and insert the lights until the last minute as they are hard to get out once they are inserted.  Make sure to leave enough wiggle room to get them in but not enough that they are loose. 

The "best" part of this cake?  We found out later that they never cut it!!!!  We did have some kitchen cakes for the back of house, so there was cake served along with every other dessert know to man.  The family had the cake moved to the hotel's restaurant for Sunday brunch with their family.  They ate a little of it and gave the rest away to the hotel staff (that love us now!). 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tip Toe Through the Trees TUTORIAL

Why is making really pretty trees out of sugar so hard?  I'm not judging others efforts at all because it's hard!  My advice is to make evergreens/Christmas trees!  They are really easy!  Our friends were making a cake for a charity and they needed trees of  a tall variety.  This is a picture tutorial of our efforts.  Some were better than others but I hope you can take something away from my experiments.

We always started with a center support and heavy floral wire from Wal-Mart.  We twisted them all around and then hot glued the crap out of the joints so they are secured and won't slide down and have more stability.

We added lots of brown modeling chocolate for the trunks and branches.  You can score lines with a knife to get some texture. For the tree above we piped tiny leaves all over the branches.   Don't try to pipe all the leaves on a particular branch at one time.  Do a couple of rows and let them dry before the next bunch.  This will keep all the icing from just falling off the wire due to the weight.  

We have a lot of branches to begin with but once we covered them all with leaves, the tree still looked very sparse.  We decided to try to make some additional branches and attach them, once dried, by inserting into the modeling chocolate.  This didn't work very well :(  We did add some of them once the trees were in place and weren't going to move around at all. 

Next we attempted a weeping willow type tree.  We learned on the first tree that it's best to cover the wire branches with brown floral tape.  This was good to give the leaves a thicker branch to hold on to and also if some brown shows through the leaves that's way better than silver wire. 
Same leaf application as before, just pipe a lot of leaves over and over.....an over.  There is still a really weird trunk ending up top.  I should figure a better trunk structure going forward for this odd look.
This tree reminded me of the twisting tree called "the womping willow" in the Harry Potter movies.  Here I tried to fix the weird top trunk problem by tapering the tree into large branches.  I also added a few more since adding branches after doesn't work so well.
Believe it or not, this is a tiny leaf cutter I used here.  I did not like the look so I gave up pretty quickly.
So in the interest of not loosing my mind, I tried this "look".  If I made large balls of fondant instead of these flat blobs, they would have been much to heavy for the structure I built.  I could make the structure much heavier and try that look next time.  For texture, I banded several toothpicks together with the floral tape and twisted it all over for lots of leaf fluff!

These trees took me hours to make and I want to emphasize that in case you decide to make a forest!  I hope you have picked up a trick or two for your trees!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fairyland Club Wedding

This is such a simple, elegant cake that there isn't much to say but it's pretty eye candy. The texture was done just with a small offset spatula. It's not hard but not easy, so practice ahead of time. We delivered this cake to the Fairlyland Club on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga TN. The florist was The Clay Pot, and they did some WONDERFUL arrangements for this wedding. He gave me these roses, ranunculus, peonies and some rosemary and I arranged them. He was so busy and I was very happy to help. I asked him to check my work and I got a thumbs up which meant a bunch considering the source!
Great florals from The Clay Pot
Now, enjoy more awesome cake photos!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Custom Cake Pricing

How easy is this cake?  Well of course that depends on your skill level.  I've been at it for about ten years and it takes me about four hours to do a cake like this.  I find getting a cake smooth tends to be the hardest part to learn for most people.  All you need to make the rest of this cake is some small circle cutters and a knife.  Well some colors, fondant and an owl template helps a lot.  We charge $3.75/per serving for a round buttercream cake and the. $30/hour for artwork and extra supplies.  This is a 6" and 9" and feeds 34.  34 x 3.75 = 127.50.  I would add another 1-2 hours for extra time.  You would need to account for all the time it takes you to mix all these colors and it adds up.  If I only add one hour/$30 that would make the total cake cost $157.50.  Would you pay that much?  Do you think it is too much?  Think about it for a minute before you read on.  I know if you make cakes your opinion will be skewed a bit.  

Now, I don't know how much a cake similar from a big box store would cost.  Said store probably has all their cake layers arrive baked and frozen and their icing is shortening based and comes in 5 gallons buckets.  I'm not trying to be a "snob" about it, I'm just pointing out some of the reasons those stores are cheaper.  The cost of  the ingredients are of course vastly different.  When you buy butter in four pound packs instead of 1,000 pounds at a time, prices are worlds apart.  Lastly, let's consider labor costs.  I don't know how much big box store bakery employes make, but I'm going to be generous and say $10/hour.  I know that after my years of experience, training and education entitles me to more than that.   I would say if you made this cake from buying supplies, baking, washing dishes, making icing,washing more dishes, and such you would have at least eight hours of time in the one cake.  If you subtract $20 for the supplies (a general guess) $20 for overhead (electricity, rent, licenses, insurance, gas,water trash removal etc) it leaves $117 (157.50-20-20=117). Now $117 divided by 8 hours = $14.63/hour.  Now do you still think we charge too much?  If you were a cake business person, how would you do it different?

Accompanying Smash Cake


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