Thursday, October 22, 2015

Introducing Sweet Talk!

OK, so I know we've been gone for a few weeks, but we have been SO busy!  Take a look at our new logo!  What do you think of it?

And we have a brand new website to go around the new logo too!  If you haven't stopped by in a while, I welcome you drop by the new website.  The new site is still at the old address:

And with the new site comes a new blog!  Well, it's still the same old blog you know and love, but with a slightly different name and a brand new address!

So visit Sweet Talk to catch up on our latest tutorials and cake adventures.

We'll keep this Blogger blog online, but don't expect any updates.  And you can find all these blog post over on the new site too.

I'm still learning the blogging platform on my new site, so if things look wonky for the next couple of weeks cut me a little slack.  Join me at my new home for some SWEET TALK!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

We're taking a quick break for construction...

We're going to be taking a couple of weeks away from the blog, but it's only because we're working feverishly behind the scenes to bring you something much much cooler.

Stay tuned for more details...

BTW, if you're going to The Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair in Orlando this weekend, keep an eye out for us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bottle Cap Cake Tutorial

A bottle cap is a really good place to start working with carved cake.  You don't have to use a pound cake, but if your cake is not firm then you need to use a buttercream that is all butter or ganache.  Those will firm up nicely and make the carving easy.   For this cake,  we baked three layers, a 14", 16" and 18".  I didn't carve much to get to this point.  I really just filled in with a lot of buttercream (as you can see below).  It's easier this way because you don't have all of the soft cut edges to deal with.

I've used a piece of cardboard that is covered on both sides with packing tape.  This will allow you to wipe it off a keep it from getting soaked with buttercream.  I just make a shape by folding a piece of paper in half and draw a J shape.  When you cut it, it should be a mirror of your J, therefore being even and identical on both sides.  Don't get the "caves" to close together.  The thin piece of cake that will separate them will be weaker the smaller you make it. You can spend hours figuring out the exact space in between each indention so they are all equally spaced or you can wing it and end up with a backside, as we see here.  Just remember where the back is so you don't accidently put it in the front. 

It's a little hard to see, but I've wrapped a piece of masking tape around my knife as a guide so I don't cut too deep. It's not going to stop you from cutting too deep, it's just there as a visual reference. Now this is the deepest you are going to cut only at the bottom layer and then taper up from there. You want the back wall to be straight-ish.

You have some room for boo boos here.  You are going to fill in with a coat of buttercream so if you cut too deep, fill it up with buttercream.  You are going to want to use a bag of buttercream and pipe some icing into these caves.  Your fingers are going to be the best tools here, but you can also cut a small piece of flexible material like stencil plastic.  Don't drive yourself too crazy filling these into be perfect.  Get a crumb coat on and chill.  Then add a second coat so that your fondant has a nice base to go onto.  Icing inside of the caves will take you longer than carving them out.  If you can, use some Elite  or Fondarific fondant for this project.  You need a long time work time to get the fondant into the caves and you need a lot of stretch.

Once you get your fondant applied, you can airbrush or dry brush as darker shade of the fondant inside of the caves to give the illusion of more shadow.  Create a template of your favorite brand of soda or beer.  Print two copies, one to cut up and one for spacing.  Use modeling chocolate and cut out your logo.  Arrange all of the cut pieces on top of a print out of the logo so the spacing is perfect.  Put Crisco on one side of a piece of wax paper and press it to the front (top) of the cut letters.  You should be able to transport the letters from the table onto the top of the bottle cap ensuring the spacing is perfect.   I like to use a wet brush a attach the pieces individually, but you could dampen your top side before you place the cut logo pieces on it.  cover the top of your cap.  Press the pieces down and slowly peal away the wax paper.  Poof!  Bottle cap!

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.  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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mickey Wedding & Pet Peeves

We will make this week's blog short and a little sour..... Is there something you see in your line of work that bugs the fool out of you? We all do I'm sure. In cake decorating we all start as beginners and I never judge those people. If you charge money, and sometimes a lot of money for a cake then it should be well executed. Piping should be neat and consistent. I'm not the best at piping so I use a small paint brush to even out and blend in my lines. Sometimes, I need to scrape things off and start again . One of the most popular borders are fondant pearls. If you will pay attention some decorators don't use the right product (it needs to be partially modeling chocolate or Fondarific so it will harden in the cooler) and stretch them out when unmoulding or applying them to the cake. It's a minor thing to most, but a pearl border that isn't rounded pearls is not clean work to me.

Last pet peeve is disintegrated dragees. Whether pearl, silver or gold those little balls cannot be applied and then put in the fridge. They break down and loose their sheen all together. This really does stink because you can't apply them ahead of time. I'll give you two things that I do. First, I put them on ahead of time when the icing is a little soft so that they will not just sit on top of the buttercream. If the cake gets room temperature and those dragees aren't pushed in a little, they will slide down the cake. Trust me, we stayed almost until a wedding started just gently pushing those things in before they all slide down. Did you catch that I just told you I do what I said you shouldn't? Well at the last minute, I take the bad dragees out and add fresh ones. Yes it takes more time, but I don't have to measure last minute or get a cake soft before adding the last minute. Oh! Get a gem/rhinestone setter for applying these and not leaving tweezer marks. They are just a little wad of wax on the end of a stick. It is easier to pick them up and apply them (but not removing, stick to tweezers for that). Yeah! I got those things out of my system!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Art Party Birthday

Birthday parties now are fancy! Kids get to have all kinds of parties! Art, laser, pottery, cupcake, bouncy houses, and paint ball just to name a few. We were lucky to have pin the tail on the donkey! We did a little cake to go along with a fun painting party. It was colorful and pretty easy to create. We made a letter template on the computer and just free formed the splatters and drips. The paint tube was a bit more time consuming, but you could skip it to save a little time. I hope we all get a super fun birthday party this year with a matching theme cake!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Walnut Hill Fresh Flower Wedding


How could I ever make flowers this pretty!?!?  I arrive at the venue, Walnut Hill Farm, and the florist has left me the MOST gorgeous bunch of flowers!  Ranunculus, Peonies, perfect roses, hydrangeas and some lambs ear for greenery.   I was in love with all of them!!!  Here are some "professional baker tips" for the week.

1,  Allow yourself PLENTY of time when fresh flowers go on the cake.  If the florist is gone, it's up to you to finish the cake (my opinion and also I agree to this ahead of time).

2.  Allow wiggle room for the type of flowers and their arrangement in your contract.  This cake was supposed to be all hydrangea.  You can see how many I had and I could not have achieved this look with a small amount or with one kind.  I still get sick-at-my-stomach when I knowingly deviate from the contract.  I never want to be the vendor that blames in on another vendor.  "They didn't leave me the right kind or enough".  I should have called the florist and emailed them a sketch/size of the cake they knew what to plan.  I ask the bride to give the extra copy I provide to the florist, but that doesn't seem to happen

3.  If a customer wants to "float their cake on a bed of flowers" this is the easiest way to do it.  Just allow for a bigger board and stick them in the cake.  You could put a smaller piece of Styrofoam under the full cake for the flowers are truly UNDER the cake, but that is not nearly as stable.  Charge extra for that!

4.  Be friendly to everyone at the venue, even when you are stressed out and in a hurry.

It took me a full hour to put all these flowers on the cake, while at the same time fielding questions from the wedding party that was mulling about and grabbing a little girl's hand right before she poked it right into the cake.  I don't want to ever be unfriendly because people remember rude.  But don't you think that very early guests should give a vendor the space to do their job?  They are always on us like we are on a cake show, asking "is that fondant? I hate fondant!" or "how did you do that?".  Like that's an easy questions in the allotted time.  It would be nice if we had nothing else to do but to visit with guests and answer questions, but vendors just don't have that luxury.  Our work, food-flowers-cakes-venue-photography, is very time sensitive and we have to get in and get out.  So please don't think us rude.  We are really sweet :)


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