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!! ;-)


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