Friday, December 30, 2011

Black Bow Wedding with Brooch

2012 will be here in just a few short days, and some of you may be planning on wearing a simple bow tie or a gem encrusted brooch as you make your way to parties on New Year's Eve.

This little buttercream beauty could ride right along with you.  This was made for a wedding, but it's so elegant it could show up at any upscale New Year's Eve party and fit right in!

What do you do on New Year's Eve?  Do you get out and ring in the New Year while partying?  Do you watch Dick Clark and the ball drop from the comfort and safety of your own home?  Or will you just go to bed and catch up with 2012 the next morning when you wake up?

Chaddy and I usually spend the night at home with a fancy meal and stay up until midnight.  Sometimes we watch the TV specials, but sometimes we'll just cuddle up with a good movie.

Until next year, keep on baking!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

World of Warcraft Stein Cake

We made this cake a couple of weekends ago and this was the first cake where I applied the techniques I learned in Mike McCarey's cake structure class.

 This was a fairly large cake, coming in at almost 2 feet tall, so it was going to need some support.  Once the structure was completed (you'll get to see it at the end!) I started stacking cakes up around the center support.  Once the cakes were all stacked, the stein got a nice coat of butter cream and I then wrapped the whole thing in a thin later of modeling chocolate.  The top (gold) pieces of the stein were made from modeling chocolate as was the handle.  I made all the handle pieces in half and then connected them around the copper structure underneath.  The great thing about modeling chocolate is that it really will fuse back together and with just a little work will look very seamless.

The graphics around the stein was taken from an image sent to us by the groom.  We thought just printing it out on edible image paper an wrapping it around the cake would be SO easy. It wasn't THAT easy.  For starters, the make the image large enough, we had to print it across 6 pieces of paper and then piece it together.  That went pretty good, but things in the back didn't come together so great at first.  The graphics just didn't match up well at all.  We printed another sheet physically big enough to fill in the gap and then I channeled my best Bob Ross and painted in a cave and some trees to bring the scene together.  It looked good, especially for the "back" of the cake.

OK, so here's a picture of the structure we used on this cake.  It's just a center wooden dowel rod with a length of copper tubing to act as a support for the handle.  We just drilled a hole through the dowel and fed the copper tubing through it.  Easy peasy, right?

I can say that when we started this cake we took a photo of the stein and blew it up to our dimensions.  And yes, I looked a little crazy at our local Home Depot with my HUGE stein picture.  But an employee named Neil (who is a big Cake Boss fan) spotted me and we had a great time figuring out some options for the structure.  We could just lay the picture down on a counter and lay everything out.  It worked out very nicely.

And if this post weren't long enough already I got the sweetest e-mail from the bride on Christmas day.  It read:

"Both of the cakes you made were AMAZING!!! We got sooooo many compliments on both and are even sending in photos of the groom's cake to World of Warcraft to put in their gallery. We had done so much searching to find a cake like what Clay wanted, but could never really find one that met up to what we wanted. Well you totally blew that out of the water and then some LOL. Some of the guests thought it was a sculpture at first and were in shock to find out it was a cake :D You truly did an over the top job. And then on top of the cakes being so beautiful and intricate, they tasted even better. We took some of the wedding cake with us on the honeymoon and even the Disney people were impressed by how amazing it looked and tasted. You made our dreams come to life in the most wonderful way. We can not thank you enough."

I couldn't have asked for a better gift on Christmas day!  Be sure to stop back in on Friday for more adventures!!

UPDATE:  As well as being featured on WOW Insider, This cake has been entered into InkEdibles February 2012 monthly edible image contest.  Since you're already here I would certainly appreciate your vote.  Simply click here and the click the "Like" button next to my cake.  It uses Facebook so there's no signup or registration - Easy Peasy! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holly Days

Well here we sit on Christmas Eve-Eve, and while Santa is just beginning to pack up his sleigh, things are winding down here at the bakery as we take a few days off to celebrate.

We already know we're on Santa's "NICE" list, I mean, with cake like this one how could we NOT be on the nice list!!

We made this wedding cake last weekend for a very sweet couple.  We delivered it to the Dent House in Chattanooga, TN.  The Dent House is a very nice venue, especially considering it's been around since 1854!  They don't make them like that any more!!

As festive as this cake is, it was an easy cake to make, technique-wise.  Rough-iced, to give it lots of texture, and bordered with gumpaste holly leaves and berries.  The holly leaves got a smattering of gold luster dust,  and I rolled the holly berries in red glitter disco dust.  You know I HAVE to glam it up somehow, right?!!!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and happy and prosperous 2012!  We'll be back next week with more cakey goodness so be sure to stop back in!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Ornament Cupcakes

Christmas is almost upon us, and even though cakes have been light this month, I ave still been busy making tons of coconut macaroons for some of my seasonal corporate customers.

It's also allowed me some extra time to make home holiday goodies for friends and family.  In fact, when one of my regular customers called last minute just knowing I couldn't make Christmas cupcakes for her I was able to surprise her by saying "I can make them no problem!"  She left the design totally up to me, which is always nice.  I decided I wanted to make some rounded ornament cakes, because I love the look of the rounded fondant toppers on cupcakes, but as usual, I didn't want to use fondant.

So I started playing with mounding buttercream and smoothing it out and honestly, it went easier and quicker than I expected.  I did make the ornament stems from fondant, but those can be picked off easily enough.

When I finished I was so happy that I took a couple of the extras into the house for a mini photo shoot in front of our Christmas tree.  I just love the look of the Christmas lights all blurred out in the background.

Have a great week; I hope Santa is packing up something nice for each and every one of you!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cupcake Themed 1st Birthday Cake

I stay so booked up with wedding cakes that it's a rare occasion that I get to do a birthday cake anymore.  There are times when I'm under booked, or I owe a favor to one of the many wedding vendors that help me from time to time and I get to do one.

I had fun making this little birthday cake for one year old Wynn!  I iced the cake nice and smooth with pink buttercream and then went to town with the fondant accents.  I cut out the cupcake shapes and the polka dots, and even made a gumpaste plaque and #1 for the second tier / smash cake!

And it was the first time in a while I have had the chance to make "doomies" for the cake.  That's the fondant balls on the wire for those of you new to my blog.  I;m sure they have a real life bakery term, but we've just always called them "doomies".  I don't know why!

Have a great weekend!  I hope you have all your Christmas / Holiday shopping done by now!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Present Cake

Christmas is getting so CLOSE I can hardly stand it!  And when I get to make Christmas themed present cakes like the one above it really gets my Christmas spirit flowing!

I did a couple of new things with the cake above.  First of all, this was the first time I added an extruded gumpaste rope to the edges of my ribbon.  It really made for a finished and realistic looking fabric bow feel.  I will definitely use that again on future cakes!  And a few weeks back I saw some molds on clearance.  On the website, they looked spherical and they were so cheap on clearance that I thought I could use them as flower formers.  When they finally get in I realized they were indeed ball molds.  I'll still use them to form my gumpaste flowers, but they'll also serve double duty for making these cute Christmas ornaments.  A real multitasker - Alton Brown would be SO proud!!

OK, so back to Christmas... do you like surprises for Christmas or not?  While I do like to be surprised, I feel like I'm dying inside to know what's in that package for me!!  Chad used to wrap and store all my presents in his trunk so I couldn't peek!  I'm much better than that now, but I still want to know what I'm getting.  Chaddy would wrap his own presents blindfolded if it meant he was surprised on Christmas morning.

Speaking of... he told me that he bought me a present from one of my "cake blog friends".  I don't know exactly what that means. Did he buy something from someone who reads my blog, or someone's blog I read, or maybe he got something from someone I have met through Food Blog Forum?  You see, I drive myself crazy wanting to know what it is!!

Well, all will be revealed in 12 days, so I guess I can wait impatiently - or I can go shake all the presents again!  Have a great week!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wedding at Barnsley Gardens

We delivered this cake to Barnsley Gardens recently, and even though I'm not a huge fan of the turned stack square cakes, but this was was really pretty.

The standouts on this cake are the swirly border on the bottom and the gathered "fabric" fondant band around the top tier.

I have been to Cake Wrecks enough to know that any cake that contains decorations with a head and a trailing tail could be confused as something... unseemly and certainly un-wedding like.

So as soon as Chad arrived home from work I asked him to look in the cooler at this cake and tell me what he thought.  He looked at it and said it looked great.  He said my borders didn't look like little swimmers at all.  Whew!  Thank goodness!

Do you ever find yourself working on a cake and thinking about some of the Cake Wrecks style pitfalls you should avoid?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Glitter Monogram Wedding

This is one of those cakes where I curse at my lack of photography skills.  This cake was SO pretty and elegant, but the picture just don't do it justice.  Let's start with the bottom tier!

I have had lots of requests lately for pleated fabric look swags, and I am finally getting the hang of them.  The bow and brooch matched the bride's dress.  I really like it when I can incorporate elements from the dress into the cake.

The next tier up looks plain in the picture, but if you click and get a bigger look, you might be able to tell that the whole tier was done in a tone-on-tone hounds tooth pattern.  The bride was a big Alabama fan and we thought this would be a great way to present that element elegantly on her cake.  I used a stencil on the cake and the effect was really nice, but not so much in the pictures!

The next tier up is just fondant stripes.  Not much to see here ;-)

The top tier I was the most proud of.  The bride wanted a glitter monogram.  I again used a buttercream stencil to make the initial monogram and then with the stencil still on, I sprinkled on the glitter dust.  If you can tell in the close-up picture, the glitter did run a little, but the effect was really awesome.

Much more awesome than this picture would lead you to believe  huff! :(

Friday, December 2, 2011

XBOX 360 Groom's Cake

This isn't the first XBOX 360 groom's cake I have done, and I was pretty happy with it, except for those darn air vents on top.  I have always struggled with the best way to reproduce this "vented" look on a cake I am trying to recreate.  Using small fondant circles doesn't look right because they are raised of the cake.  Even the big circular cupcake sprinkles don't look right and they are very thin!  On this attempt I used a small cutter to cut through the fondant and then fill in each hole with black icing.  Yes. it was time consuming and I can't believe it looks as good as it did.  I have to do another XBOX cake before the end of the year and I am brainstorming my options now.

So... have any of you decorators out there made a cake with these type of vent holes before?  If so, what worked best for you?  Let me know in the comments section!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bare Branch Wedding Cake

After the wind and rain this weekend, the branches on this cake look much like the branches on the trees in my yard!  Seriously, we just raked the yard a couple of weeks ago, and after this weekend it needs it again!

Nonetheless, we had a great time making this simple elegant cake.  I iced the cake smooth and made the branches out of modeling chocolate.  The ribbons are also modeling chocolate.

Now that the trees have lost their leaves that means that winter is just around the corner.  In my area at least, wedding business slows down a lot after Thanksgiving and usually until after the New Year.  I still have a few cakes on the books, but nothing major.  I do a few things to generate some extra income, but I honestly appreciate the break.  It give me time to catch up on paperwork and begin preparing my taxes, but it also gives me some time to spend with family and friends.

To the other bakers out there, do you see a holiday slump also?  If so, do you embrace it, or find other ways to generate holiday income?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fall Leaves Wedding Cake

I thought this cake would be a great cake to showcase on the day after Thanksgiving.  Have any of you been out shopping throughout the night?  I will admit that I have done it in the past, but I haven't braved the wild shopping frenzy in many years.  Maybe I'm just getting old; maybe I just love shopping at Amazon too much!  Prime rocks!

For this bridal cake, I used ribbon as a border for each tier.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again... I always do a double wrap of ribbon on my cakes.  It looks better and on buttercream cakes, it keeps the ribbon from getting dark when the buttercream seeps through.

I used modeling chocolate to make the branches, the monogram, and the leaves.  Some of the leaves are on wire so they can come out from the cake a little.  Even bringing them out just a little adds a lot of dimension to the cake.

I'll keep this post short as this is a day off for me and I think I'll snuggle back in bed and catch up on some sleep!  Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baseball Hat with Home Plate Grooms Cake

It may be a little chilly to play a game of baseball outside, but the weather's always fine for some baseball cake!

We made this Boston Red Sox cake recently for a couple and delivered it to the ruins at beautiful Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, GA.  Luckily for us, dimensions for a home plate were pretty easy to Google, although we had to scale it down a little to fit on the board!  For the cap, I used some of the lessons I learned working with Mike McCarey in my "structures" class a few weeks back.  And speaking of that class, I know I still owe all of you guys a recap plus pictures of my Big Bird cake from that class.  I may lock myself in my office over the holiday weekend to get that done... or I may go shopping instead! :)

Any way, for the cap, I carved cake into the shape of the hat and covered in fondant.  The brim was the difficult part.  I wanted it very thin, and I wanted it curved, like a real baseball hat.  I wound up cutting a brim template out of a bakery box.  I bent it to the shape I wanted and wedged it into the proper position on the cake.  I then covered the bill of the cap with fondant to match the hat.  The fondant weighed it down and really flattened the curve I had put into it.  It still has a slight curve, even if the photo above doesn't show it well.

Have a great week and I hope you all have a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Audio Tutorial: Add Sound To Your Cake

Hey gang!  You remember on Tuesday when I mentioned that we had Tow Mater talking on the cake we did for Kaben's birthday?  Well, I asked Chaddy to put together a little tutorial on just how he did it (it was in fact all his idea).  I'm sure every toy is made and put together differently; but this was our first experience with it and it really wasn't too hard!  So I'll let Chaddy finish this from here on!  Enjoy!

As we were designing the cake for Kaben and the Tow Mater element was discussed, we went out shopping for a model to use for sculpting.  Lucikly, Cars is still a big thing and our local Target had plenty of toys to  choose from, including one that said a few phrases each time you pushed a button on his hood.  I thought it would be really cool to add it to the cake design.

I put a lot of time into deciding exactly how it would get implemented, but my first problem was whether or not I could get the module out without breaking it.  This is how I did it.

Tools / Items that came in very helpful during this project:
  • Talking Toy (duh!)
  • Small Screwdriver Set
  • Electrical Tape
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Exacto Knife
  • Small Hobby Hacksaw

Click on any image in this tutorial to see a larger version
OK, now that we have our toy, how do we get into it?  Well, if we want to get to the bottom of things, flip this little guy over and see what's on the bottom.

OK, there's some screws here so that's a good place to start!  I started by opening the middle screw first as I figured that housed the batteries.

Yep!  There's the batteries!!  Now I'm no electrician by any stretch of the imagination, so I'm going to leave this alone for now and remove the screws in the front and back.

With those 2 screws removed, the bottom opens right up.  The little wheels were on a small metal axle and lifted right out.  I saw lots of electronic stuff there inside, and that's what we want!

To my surprise, none of the pieces were really secured at all.  A little gentle tugging and the every came right out!

With everything out, we can set the top of the toy to the side.  From now on, I will refer to the elements of the toy with the letters above:

  • A - Battery / Power
  • B - Voice Module Chip
  • C - Switch
  • D - Speaker
  • E - LED light (we didn't use this as an element in the cake)
OK, so I had everything out... did it still work?  I pressed and button, and it did work, but the sound was very faint.  Had I broken the speaker while removing it?  I looked at it and it appeared to be in tact.  I placed it against the plastic case of my screwdriver kit and hit the button again.  This time it was much louder and it sounded just right.  The speaker needs something to vibrate against which makes it the speaker.  I guess it  works like the talking greeting cards.

I wanted to try and salvage the toy (we still needed it as a model), so at this point I used a small hobby hacksaw to cut out the battery pack (the red/black striped areas) and I was actually able to get the toy completely back together, and I'm not really the mechanical type.

Since I know the speaker needs something plastic or paper to vibrate on, I decide that placing the whole rigging in the underside of the cake drum.  It was at this point that I found that the battery pack I tried so hard to keep together was way too big to fit in the quarter inch space that the cake drum would allow.  I took the batteries out (3 small pill type batteries) and wrapped them together in electrical tape, making sure the positive and negative ends were still exposed.  I then cut the battery pack down until it was just the 2 contact ends with the lead wires on them.  I placed them on the proper ends of the batteries and used a little more electrical tape to hold them in place.  I then pushed the button and made sure I still had sound - yep!  (Sorry I didn't get a picture of that part).

Then I looked at the amount of wire I had between each component and started making small cuts on the underside of my cake drum.  It's just corrugated cardboard on the inside, so you can make a little cut and peel out a layer with your finger.  I did this for each of the components.  The unused LED light?  I just stuck it inside the hole I made for the Voice module (B & E).  I also made a shallow cut between all the boxes so I could run the wires.  If you can make your holes just the right size, everything will fit nice and snug.  If you have some wiggle room, just use a little hot glue to secure things down.

For the switch, I decided that it would look best if it was on the side of the cake board (see "C" above).  I cut a small notch out of the side and it fit in there perfectly.  A little dollop of hot glue held it in place.  At this point I taped a piece of cardboard over the rest of the components, except the speaker.  We later covered the cake board in foil to hide the switch, but you could have just as easily covered it with ribbon, just make sure to keep the speaker opened and the button revealed.

Here's a video of the finished project, with sound!!

We later learned that once the cake was on the board that the sound did get a little muffled again.  Luckily, we were able to have Jenniffer's brother make a couple of support legs to keep the board off of the stand at the last minute.  I would like to experiment again and find better placement for the speaker that would be less prone to the muffling problems.  I also learned that it wasn't nearly as hard as we had it made up in our minds.

I know this post was long and rather text heavy, but I appreciate you sticking around and reading through it.  If I missed anything or you have questions, please leave a comment and I will answer you (if I can)!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kaben's 3rd Birthday Cake and Stand

Kaben's cake at The Car Barn
To date, we have made all of  Kaben's birthday cakes.  The day I first met his Mom, she described Kaben as a "rock star" and truer words have not been spoken.  Plus, he's a little cutie-patootie to boot!

This year, Kaben wanted a a candy themed birthday party so we set out to design his cake.  But at some point Kaben decided that his favorite toy Tow Mater also needed to make an appearance.

Our instructions here were to make it big and make it busy, but Kaben's Mom trusted us and gave us some flexibility on the design.  I decided right away that the cake needed to have some wonky elements on it, plus I wanted it to have plenty of candy and candy themed elements.

I made lollipops out of fondant and used candy like gummy worms and suckers to make the design fuller and busier.  Oh, and the gummy bears!!  Not only did I use regular gummy bears, but I found these HUGE gummy bears on Amazon!  I placed them just underneath the top tier and used crystal columns and a LED light to back light them!  It's hard to tell in this picture, but they lit up really nicely!!

And speaking of extreme elements, we made a Tow Mater bursting out of the side of the cake and HE TALKED!  How did we do that??  Well, you'll just have to drop back in on Friday and Chaddy will tell you all about it (TEASE!!)

And if that wasn't enough, I even got my Bubbee from My Wood Working Solutions to help out with the cake stand.  He made a custom cake stand for Kaben's cake.  He bought lollipops and encased them in resin for the feet on the stand!  Isn't he brilliant!  You can read more about the stand on his blog, but I did get a closeup of it (below).  Yes, it has lights too!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure you come back on Friday for our Cake sound tutorial!  You're going to love it!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Groom's Cake with Antlers

I have to admit that anytime I start hearing the term "antlers" discussed in a cake meeting, I tend to get a little nervous.  There's just so many ways you can go wrong with antlers.  I definitely like the rustic look, but I guess antlers just freak me out a little.  I guess it's that they come from little baby deer (OK, so I know that "little baby deer" don't have antlers, but they do in my mind!)

I delivered this cake to The Farm in Dalton and when I brought it in it was just a plain chocolate cake.  The florist took over while I was putting together the ginormous wedding cake and when I finally looked over this is what he had done!  I really thought it looked amazing.  The moss near the stump base, the roses, even the pheasant feathers looked great.  And the antlers even looked pretty cool around the base, although I was still a little iffy on the on on top of the cake.  Is there such a thing as artificial antlers?  Is there something you can coat them with or do to them that makes them food safe?  Boil them maybe?

Have a great weekend, and be sure to stop back in next week as we have a really great cake to showcase on Tuesday and a tutorial for you on Friday that you're just going to love!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Haulidays from Chronicle Books 2011

This special Wednesday post is to let you know that  Chronicle Books is once again sponsoring their Happy Haul-idays giveaway/contest.  I have picked $500 worth of Chronicle Books (listed below) and registered at the Chronicle Books website.  If I am the lucky blogger selected, I will win $500 worth of books.

Now if that wasn't great enough, if YOU comment on my blog and I am chosen as the winner, then you could also win $500 worth of Chronicle Books if you are chosen as the lucky commenter!

And if THAT wasn't enough, Chronicle Books will also give $500 to the charity of the winner's choosing.  If I win, I would love to donate $500 worth of books to Kids Need to Read, an organization that brings books to underprivileged children throughout the US.  $500 worth of Chronicle Books would certainly make a huge impact on their organization and their goals.

So without further ado, here's my list of books that I would pick if I win.  Leave me a comment and let me know which book you would like best and you may actually win it too!!
Good luck to us all!  Don't forget to comment so you have a chance to win if I win!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Alabamas Bryant Denny Stadium Cake

Even though Chad and I had a great time making this stadium cake, it was still one of those cakes that I could have worked on for weeks.  There's just so much detail that you could just keep adding, ad adding, and adding!

My "inspiration" wall in the background
This was a recreation of Alabama's Bryant Denny Stadium.  It was to serve as a groom's cake at a wedding at the Read House in Chattanooga, TN.  How do you start to make a cake like this?  Well, I'll tell you how I did it.  The best way to make any sculpted cake is to start with a model.  I ordered a model for the cake, but unfortunately it didn't arrive until 2 days before the cake was due.  So what do you do without a model.  Hit the Internet!

We printed out so many pictures of the stadium (see my inspiration wall, above), but the most helpful for making our cutting templates was an aerial view of the stadium we got from Google images.  I used the free program PosterRazor to print the stadium out to my dimensions and then laminated it using packing tape.  Using this template I start cutting on the cake.  The trick to carving cake is to cut a little at a time, but don't be afraid of cutting it!

I made lots of pictures of the cake during it's making and it was my initial intent to place them all here for you to see.  Chad suggested that we put them together in semi time-lapse video... so I let him! ;)

Click below to view...

Thanks, and have an awesome week!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lena's First Birthday Cake

Long, long ago, when I worked in the corporate world, I worked with some really great people.  I have been gone now for almost 10 years (wow!) and I am still very good friends with lots of those people.  Brandon was just a young pup when he worked for me as a visual associate, but we still stay in touch!  When I found out his baby daughter Lena would be celebrating her 1st birthday last weekend, I knew I had to do her cake.

I had complete creative freedom on this cake, unfortunately my schedule for the week did limit me somewhat.  I started with a 2-tier wonky design covered in a lavender butter cream.  I used fondant to create a harlequin pattern and then placed a green fantasy flower at each intersection.

For the top tier, I cut a heart shape and "Lena" using the Cricut.  I put a boatload of glitter on the letters.  I topped with a gumpaste bow and placed a glittery pink "1" on top.  For the borders, I used my pearl mold.

Hopefully, I'll get some pictures of the birthday girl and post them here.  She is such a cutie-pie!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity Cake

When I met with this couple, the groom was quite certain that he wanted his fraternity featured on his groom's cake.  He showed me a picture of this fraternity pin, and my mind started churning.  Chaddy started the process by finding a graphic and blowing it up to my particular proportions.  I used that to carve out the heart shape from a square cake.  We cut the letters and the insignia using the Cricut.  I had Chaddy roll the modeling chocolate super thin because I didn't want them to stick up too much from the black.

Original Inspiration pin
The surrounding pearls are very import to the fraternity.  There must be 20 pearls surrounding the heart and my Googling skills inform me that it represents the 12 founding members of the fraternity as well as the first 8 pledges.  I carved an indention around the cake before I covered it with fondant.  This gave the gigantic pearls a nice resting place and kept them where I wanted them.  I used a cookie dough scoop to scoop out Fonderific so that each pearl would be the same size. I rolled them out and gave them a good dusting of super pearl with the airbrush.

I decided to expand the pearl motif and cover the cake board with dragees.  It gave it a nice, finished look.

I hope you had a safe and fun Halloween and I hope you have a great week!!

UPDATE: As the fates would have it, I just found out that Sigma Phi Epsilon was founded 110 years ago TODAY!  Happy Birthday guys!!  You don't look a day over 80!! ;-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Purple Orchid Wedding Cake

I delivered this cake to a church in downtown Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago.  When we walked in the reception all we were greeted by a man with a huge punk mohawk that was directing some of the other people helping with the wedding with what to do.  He was really cool, but not someone you would expect to run into in a church!

I have said it before and I'll say it again... if you're going to be in the wedding business, you have to stay somewhat flexible.  In my contract, and on my sketches, this cake showed that it was supposed to have a bell topper on it.  But when I get to the reception hall, no one knows anything about a bell topper, but there is a small bucket of orchids labeled "for the cake".  Hmmm, no mention of flowers or orchids on the sketches or contract either.  Oh well, give me something pretty to work with and I'll add it on the cake.  The orchids actually looked really pretty with the purple ribbon on the cake.

There are some things I won't compromise on, but for the most part, staying flexible will make you and the client happy - and it will keep you from pulling your hair out!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dead Blogs and Blogger Outreach

Halloween is almost upon us, but I don't want you to think that it's the holiday spirits that are turning my thoughts to a morbid nature.

There's one thing that really bothers me... seeing dead and forgotten blogs.

Every week I take a little time to read through some of the blogs in my blog roll, but I also try to find at least a couple of new cake or baking blogs.  It always breaks my heart to find one that hasn't been updated in a long time.  I find myself wondering what might have happened... Was blogging just not for them?  Were they discouraged because they never found their audience or never got any feedback from their visitors?

So I thought we might try a little experiment.  I thought I could find a few of these defunct blogs and maybe if we visited them, and left them a comment could we get them blogging again?  Call it Blogger Outreach, or maybe Blogger Goodwill.

I'm going to list 3 blogs below.  These are bloggers that showed promise and talent, but for some reason stopped blogging.  I have visited these blogs and left them a comment encouraging their work and telling them that people are interested in their work.  All I ask is that you do the same.

 Let's see if we can coax these bloggers back into baking and blogging.  Thanks for reading and thanks for stopping by.  I'm glad that I found an audience and a voice and I can only hope the same for others!  Have a great week!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Brown Bow Fall Wedding Cake

Wow, Friday is already here already?  This week has been a huge blur!  Two days in class with Mike McCarey, and then back to the bakery to hit the ground running to get these wedding cakes ready for the weekend.  Next week is crazy too, but November eases up a little.  Is October a big month for you also?

Even though this cake is simple, we decided to use a backdrop to give it that fall feeling.  We used burlap as the backdrop to give some texture, and i took a floral pumpkin arrangement from the house and placed it behind the cake to pull in some of those fall colors.

The bow on this one is made from fondant.

Have a great weekend and stop back in on Tuesday for more decorating tales and more pictures from our cake gallery!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Food Blog Forum Nashville Recap

Chaddy and I recently visited Nashville to attend Food Blog Forum,  There were SO many big names there... Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen, Todd Porter and Diane Cu from White On Rice Couple, Alison Lewis from Ingredients Inc., Jenny Flake of Picky Palate, Susan Whetzel of Doughmesstic, Lindsay Landis of Love and Olive Oil, there were seriously just too many big names to name!

There's Leah from So How's it Taste? and Shannon from Family Bites

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe

Fall is here, and nothing says "fall" quite like pumpkin.  And of all the ways you can eat pumpkin, I think cake has to rank right up there!  This recipe is one that I have loved on throughout the years, and tweaked until it was just right!  The cake is dense and moist, and the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg gives it a wonderful spiciness that will leave you feeling like you just stepped off a hay ride!!

I haven't shared a lot of recipes on this blog before, so if you would like to see more, make sure to let me know in the comments section!

As soon as I make my deliveries on Saturday I am off to Atlanta to take a class at the Nicholas Lodge school with Mike McCarey.  Add a recap of his Big Bird class along with my experience at Food Blog Forum Nashville to the growing list of things I owe you guys! Have a great weekend; I know I will!!


8 large eggs
4 cups sugar
2 cups vegetable oil
1 29 oz. can pure pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 2 9-inch round cake pans.

Combine the first four ingredients in a mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium until the mixture is smooth.

Combine the remainder of the ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly incorporate into the pumpkin mixture with your mixer.  Split the batter into the 2 9-inch pre-sprayed cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Frosting Recommendations:  This is super yummy with a cinnamon buttercream.  Simply add a little cinnamon oil to your standard buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guinness Bottlecap Grooms Cake

I have been making some extremely "normal" cakes lately, especially groom's cakes.  With all of the awesome choices out there, couples keep going with plain chocolate with chocolate covered fruit or a Georgia or Tennessee theme.  I hate to blog about something that we are all tired of so at least we have one fairly cool cake for this week, but I can't promise what will come next! 

This grooms cake was a less expensive option for my couple than a bottle of Guinness.  Also, since it's got a low profile and minimum carving I was able to use my normal soft cake instead of pound cake (the bottle would have to be pound for strength).  I baked a 16" and 14" round dark chocolate cakes, filled them with Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream and crumb coated. I made a small cardboard template with a rounded end and just went around the cake and cut out the bottle cap indentions.  Super easy.  The hardest part was figuring out how many sections we were going to have and marking them.  Chaddy and his geometry skills were very helpful. 

I then covered in Elite Ivory fondant.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love Elite fondant for covering a cake?  It's so soft, never cracks, tastes yummy and I can roll it SO thin.  I am also using "The Mat" from Cal-Java for rolling out big pieces of fondant.  I don't have the room in my bakery for a fondant sheeter, so this mat system is perfect.  You can roll fondant, walk away from it for long periods of time and because it's covered it won't dry out.  It's a very inexpensive tool that I really do love!  But, it doesn't work well with Fonderific, go figure!  I decided to use my new fancy airbrush to do some highlights on the edges.  I used a gray after trying a few other colors. 

Lastly, but more importantly, Chad got the logo and using modeling chocolate and the Cricut Cake, he magically made me a logo!  Do you know how long that would have taken to do by hand?!  Much longer than I was getting paid for that's for sure!  I hope you like the cake and can make a differnt logo or size for an event in the future.  There's a lot of soda and beer fans out there, so this should be a pretty good generic cake design! 

Happy decorating! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Green & Brown Wedding Cake

As you read this, I'll be traveling to Nashville to attend a food blogger seminar put on by Food Blog Forum.  I guess technically I am a "food blogger" as I do blog about food, but I still feel a little isolated, because I'm certainly not the traditional food blogger.  But I always enjoy meeting new people, and the topics they discuss at the seminar are all very applicable.  I am especially looking forward to the food stylists panel.

Speaking of food styling, take the photo of this cake here.  It was the prettiest shade of green and brown.  I even took it outside to get some of that sweet, sweet natural lighting.  But no matter what I tried, I just couldn't get my colors represented properly in my picture.  It seems like any chocolate accents on my cake always come out very black looking.

It's something I hope I can ask at Food Blog Forum this weekend.  Hopefully I'll give you all the lowdown on Tuesday (or maybe Friday)!

Have  great weekend!!  You can follow the action real-time on Twitter with hashtag #FBFNash!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gathered Fabric Autumn Wedding

This cake was the first cake I have done this season in more traditional autumn colors.  I really like cakes with varying tier heights, and this one's got it all; half-height, regular height, and double-height tiers.  There's even a couple of styrofoam risers thrown in there for good effect.

I did learn an important decorating lesson with this cake.  I was having trouble finding styrofoam circles in the right size, so I got one closed cell and one open cell.  Closed cell is the really smooth sytrofoam; open cell has a rough surface and is scratchy (like sandpaper).  The open cell styrofoam is NOT good for covering in fondant.  The fondant wanted to droop very badly.  I don't know if it was the piping gel or the fondant, but from now on I will get the right styrofoam for my risers!

And another quick tip I learned on this cake.  The bride wanted a dot border on most of the tiers.  I was sitting in the kitchen with my tape measure pondering just how to make these dots not only straight, but equally spaced as well.  Chad then mentioned my dot impression mat, but that is a whole page of dots.  I only needed one row.  Then he said, "Well, why don't we just cut one row off the mat and use that?"  Now that's my Sweet Genius!!  Well, we cut a strip off and it worked like a charm!  It certainly made quick work of those dot borders!

Are any of my readers going to Food Blog Forum Nashville this weekend?  If so, make sure we meet, OK?  Chaddy will be there too!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Ultimate Fighting Grooms Cake

I make a lot of cakes, and almost every weekend I take my iPad and show my in-laws pictures of the cakes I have made during the past week.  Most of time, my father-in-law looks over them and says "Those are some pretty cakes".  He's the fisherman/hunter type and certainly not into baking, so I don't expect a lot of "oohs" and "ahhs" from him.  But when he saw this cake, he immediately perked up and said "Wow, now that's an awesome cake!  What did you charge for that, $1000?"

Unfortunately, I charged a lot less for it, but I definitely appreciated the sentiment.

Of course, this cake was for a groom and his favorite thing was Ultimate Fighting.  While it was no UFC fight, this cake presented a few challenges.

I started with a square cake and used a paper template to cut it into an octagon.  The cake was covered in blue fondant and then modeling chocolate panels around the sides made things nice and clean.  Chad broke out the Cricut and cut some UFC logos.  But what about the posts.  We sat down and did some brainstorming on that little bit.

We finally decided on extruding the posts from modeling chocolate.  We could skewer through the middle of the post and all the way to the base of the cake.  I used gelatin sheets and an edible black marker to make the fencing and cut slits in the sides of the modeling chocolate.  These slits would hold the edges of the gelatin panels.  We were certainly in untested waters, and luckily for us, it turned out great and held up just fine.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  I appreciate your comments, your readership, and especially your friendship.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cash Box Grooms Cake

This cake was super fun to make, and is a great example of  how little it takes to take a plain square (OK, rectangle) cake and make something special out of it.

This groom's cake was for a concert promoter.  His life revolves around flyers and cash boxes.  But our groom is also a diabetic, so we had some dietary concerns as well.

We made the cake a cash box by simply cutting a lid line into the rectangular cake and then fashioning a lid and a latch out of modeling chocolate.  Some bills printed out on edible image paper completed the look.  And the stack of flyers (which the bride provided advertising their own wedding - how cool is that?) is actually a separate, sugar-free cake just for the groom.

I make one heckuva cake, but when you start taking out gluten, or sugar, or other key ingredients, I lose my way quickly.  That's when I turn to mixes.  I noticed a few months ago that Duncan Hines now has a sugar free chocolate cake mix and I used it on this cake.  I must say that I was quite impressed with the flavor and texture.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Updated Bow Wedding Cake

You might have seen this cake before... almost!  I made a cake just like this a year or so ago as a dummy cake.  The only difference was that the bows were shaped a little differently, and pink.  At my last bridal show I accidentally dropped it, and it completely cracked an entire side of the cake.  I found the nearest trash can and gave it a proper burial.

Fast forward a few months and I meet with a bride that wants that exact cake, only in her colors.  Good thing I had taken a picture, I guess!

There's nothing technically difficult about this cake, but it did turn out very elegantly.  A couple of years ago I was taking a class with Mike McCarey and we were asking him about all the crazy cakes he did and how we wished we could get out clientele to not only ask for such crazy cakes, but to be willing to pay for them as well.  He thought for a few minutes and replied "Don't get me wrong, I do some crazy cakes, but swiss dots are my bread and butter.  Swiss dots are what pay the bills."

I think it's a good point - I would love to feature outrageous cakes here every week, but I just don't get those kinds of orders, or have that level of clientele (just yet). But a cake doesn't have to be completely unique or super difficult to be beautiful!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Walnut Hill Farm Monogram Wedding

I have been talking a lot the past couple of weeks about how important it is to us to get good photos of our cakes.  We setup our own photo booth, and have been experimenting with different backgrounds.  Why do we go to all this trouble?

Well, you just never know what the conditions will be like once you get the cake to the venue.  Sometimes, the DJs are still setting up the lighting.  Sometimes the house lights aren't on and the place is just too dark for good pictures.  Sometimes the cake gets put right in front of a huge window facing the sun and taking a good picture is impossible (especially for inexperienced amateur photographers).

But when we took this cake to Walnut Hill Farm, conditions were fairly optimal.  We had to used our external flash, but the picture here at the venue turned out really well.  The florist had left me some flowers, and I was able to use them to accent the cake.
You just never know where you're going to get your next great picture! 

Have a great week!  See ya back on Friday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Alternative Garnishes for Grooms Cakes

Everybody thinks of the classic groom's cake as a chocolate cake with strawberries or chocolate-covered strawberries.

This was one of those groom's cakes where I was given free reign on the design of the cake.  My only guideline was the color scheme.  Green was the bride's splash color.  So I started thinking of something other than strawberries that I could use to garnish this cake.  As my picture has already given away the surprise, I finally settled on grapes and kiwi fruit.

Now at some point someone bought me one of those fruit garnish kits, you know, like they use to make the edible arrangements? Well I got out my "V"-shaped knife and used it to cut the kiwis.  I really liked the pattern and texture it brought to the cake.

The monogram was a backup I had originally made for the bridal cake, but since both arrived safe and sound, I decided to add it to the groom's cake at the reception hall.  I think it turned out pretty nice.  I bet you're green with envy, right?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lavender Fantasy Flower Wedding

I was really happy with the way this cake looked when completed.  The bride initially brought in a cake completely covered in these circular fantasy flowers.  She didn't know the original designer, but was only interested in small clusters of flowers anyway.

I started with a buttercream cake and used an impression mat to mark my spacers and then piped buttercream dots over the entire cake.  I then used lavender ribbon as a border on each tier.

Those fantasy flowers?  I made them by cutting circles from gumpaste and then using my ball tool to ruffle the edges on some of the layers.  Glued the layers together with royal icing and let them dry in a flower former cup.  Each center was finished with an edible pearl center.

Even though we had a busy delivery schedule that day, we took 15 minutes to bring the cake outside on the beautiful sunny day to snap a few photographs. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Grooms Cake

This groom' cake seems fairly simple, but even simple cakes can pose problems.  This cake posed two problems:

How do I cascade chocolate dipped strawberries down the side of the cake while securing their placement?  This one wasn't terribly hard.  I used long (sandwich style) toothpicks placed in the strawberries so that I could anchor them into the cake.  This allowed to pile them nice and high without worrying that they might later fall, taking parts of the cake with it.

How do I minimize the variance in my icing color?  OK, I have to admit that this is probably a problem that's unique to me.  My chocolate icing tastes great, but when I refrigerate a layer and then put more icing on it, the "new" icing goes on in a little different color than the layer below.  If I keep working on it, I can eventually work it out, but it has always bugged me.  This week I had a little extra time and tried a new technique that worked well.  I got out my trusty blowtorch and used it to gently (can you do anything "gently" with a blowtorch?) heat the outside layer of the icing.  To my surprise, the colors began to come together and normalize.  The effect was really nice, it gave the cake a sort of leathery look.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scroll Pattern Wedding Cake

When I met with Kelli about her cake, she had a very good idea of what she wanted.  She brought in 2 pictures that she had printed and really couldn't decide on which one she liked best.  During the course of our design consultation I was able to take the bits she liked the very best from both cakes to custom design the cake of her dreams.

On this cake, most of the decoration comes in the form of the wide piped border of all but one of the tiers.The design reminded me a lot of a fleur de lis.  The brooch and ribbon were made from gumpaste.

And today's backdrop experiment?  I actually took the curtains from my office and pinned them to my photo station wall!  LOL!!

Have a great week!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roughed Up Buttercream Wedding Cake

This is the second or third "rough textured" buttercream cake that I have done in the past couple of months.  I hope this isn't a new trend, as you all know I like to get my buttercream nice and smooth.

But this bride specifically asked for this texture on her cake.

I spoke a little last week about trying to prop my cake photos a little more and since this cake was on the simple side, I thought it would be a good candidate for some background opportunities.

I started the propping by putting up a piece of burlap fabric.  I thought the rough fabric of the burlap would compliment that rough buttercream.  I wondered outside and grabbed a couple of branches off my crepe myrtle tree and placed them in a vase in the background.  I think it adds some visual interest without interfering with the cake itself.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Family Crest Grooms Cake

All of my regular readers know that I enjoy doing unique cakes, and this one ranks ranks right up there!  When I first met with this couple they mentioned the possibility of us doing a replica of the groom's family crest.  Family Crest?  I had heard of them, but I guess I didn't realize that people still had them.  In my family, the only family crest was the tube of toothpaste in the bathroom!  ba-dum-pum!

Anyhoo... on to the cake!  This was a big goom's cake; the picture you see above is on a 22"x22" board.  The main shield design was fairly basic, so we chose to print a template of the crest and hand cut the larger pieces.  We used the open-source program PosteRazor to enlarge the image to my specs.  The lion (I guess that's a lion!!) and the family name?  They were much harder and more intricate, so we used the Cricut to cut those. 

Once the letters and lion were cut, it took a while to remove all the little pieces without messing the graphic up.  We started by cutting the modeling chocolate while cold, and then immediately after cutting (which seemed to take FOREVER) we put it right back in the freezer for a 10 minutes.  We alternated working on it for 10 minutes and then freezing it again for 10 minutes until we had all the pieces removed and cleaned up all the cuts.  Then it was on the cake and FINISHED!

Hope you enjoyed it and we'll see you back here on Friday, K?

And... Happy Anniversary to my beloved husband Chaddy!  Today we have been married for 14 fun-filled years!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Orange Daisy Vols Wedding Cake

Sometimes a couple are such big sports fans that they want to incorporate that into their wedding cake.  This is one of the best ways to do it right; by bringing in the colors of the couple's team.

This wedding cake accompanied the Smokey the Dog cake from Tuesday.  I started by making gerber daises in orange and white out of gumpaste.  They were fairly easy to make, but they were SO fragile.  I lost a lot of these to the cake gods.

I piped orange paisleys on alternating tiers and highlighted them with some small white dots.  Each tier got an orange ribbon border.  And an orange monogram on a fondant plaque finished it all up.

This cake went to The Car Barn in Chattanooga.  It was out first time there, and the venue was really great!  It was spacious and decorated very sharply.

Y'all have a great weekend, OK?


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