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.


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!


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