Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fondant is INSURANCE, not a Guarantee!

We live in the South, so heat and humidity are just what is expected this time of year.  Oh, how I long for the days when I don't have to run the car's A/C for ten minutes before we can load a cake or when the condensation appears so quickly on our cakes.  To make matters worse, the new trendy place to have a reception is in a "Barn".  Not all barns are created equal by far!  Some are beautiful and elegant and some are so "rustic" that I can't believe how much they are charging.  For the record, my very favorite barn venue is Walnut Hill Farm in Dalton,GA.  Nanette has impeccable taste and the landscaping is flawless.  There is nothing rustic about their venue and that's the way I roll!

Cakes and heat do not play well together, especially real butter-buttercream!  Last year we delivered to a very "rustic" oven... er, I mean barn, and I was sick all day worrying about the cake.  The family didn't want to spend money on portable A/C units and the giant fans were only making the oven/barn feel more like an outdoor convection oven. They also didn't want fondant so the cake was all buttercream.  The bride did have to move up the cutting so that the cake didn't melt.  We came home and our best friend Chris, who is a bankruptcy lawyer, came over for a visit.  I explained how worried I was about the cake holding up and how I told the bride, at the consultation, about all the bad things that can happen to cakes in the heat.  For example, bugs fly up and get stuck in the buttercream or lightweight decorations like pearls/dragees slide down as the cake heats up (I've seen this happen five minutes after putting a cake outside).  Chris's answer to me was "did they sign something that says they understood what could happen and that you aren't responsible?" "No, but I explained it!"  His answer is what we all need to remember, "If they didn't sign or initial something, then it didn't happen".  I made two major changes that hot day.   One, I have an amendment (lawyer term) to my contract that lists everything that could happen and that I'm not responsible if the client chooses to go against my recommendations.  Two, on the form my potential clients fill out they have to list if the cake is going to be outdoors.  That way, at least one of the samples have fondant.  Speaking of fondant, it is now our policy that ALL outdoor cakes have to be covered in fondant.  That way I help them avoid tragedies that will tarnish their day.  I will back down on this if I am pushed hard, but I tell them to trust my experience and I'm not doing it to make "extra money".  It's INSURANCE, but not a guarantee!  Please protect your business and the couple's cake "experience". 

Oh!  The cake...not much to tell you about this one, hence the hot weather advice.  Don't get me wrong, I really do like it, but the simple design doesn't lend itself to an entire blog post.  I used the very large rose tip to do the buttercream ruffle.  It's very "rustic" and not "too" perfect, which is a good thing when you are busy :)  The only non-buttercream element on the cake is the large flower thing.  I made two, one for a back up in case the first broke.  I used gumpaste and the thinner you roll it the better.  Just make a big circle a little smaller than what you want the "flower".  Now insert two wooden skewers into the circle so you can install it safely on the cake later.  Think of the skewers like the two supports that come on monogram toppers. Then make strips of fondant, wet one edge and gather them like putting curtains on a rod.  Use some sugar glue and attach it on top of the circle, letting the edge of the ruffle hand over the circle.  Add another row or two and a center piece.  It's just a ball of fondant, but you could use pearls, rhinestones or dragees. Let it dry for a few days because it is going to be "thick" with all of those layers.  Have fun with it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pearl Encrusted Wedding Cake

With this cake I think I may have beaten some sort of "most dragees on a cake" record.  This cake was designed using several inspiration photos the bride provided during our consultation.

I really liked the softness and texture that the various sized sugar pearls added to the design.  When it was finished it reminded me of a winter themed cake

Getting all those dragees on the cake was actually easier than I thought it would be.  I placed each tier on a smaller inverted cake pan, and then placed that smaller cake pan into a very large cake pan.  I would take a handful of mixed size dragees and apply them to the sides of the cake.  The ones that didn't catch would just collect in that larger cake pan for me to scoop up and use again!

One last thing that's not cake-related, but I wanted to ask for your help on...

Our friends Ayesha and Zach have been selected as finalists in the StiVectin "Power to Change" program.  If they win, they will use the grant money to overhaul an Airstream and make a mobile art station in Chattanooga, TN.  They have worked very hard on this project and it only takes a click to vote.  Just click the link below:


And then click the yellow "Vote for This" button.  Thanks for your help, and we'll see you back here next Tuesday!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happily Ever After Wedding Cake

I really liked doing this wedding cake.  The couple were fun and not afarid to bring some color to their otherwise traditional wedding cake.  Not only was the bow hot pink, but the inside of the cake was pink strawberry with hot pink cream cheese icing!

You can click on the cake for a larger picture, but the piping reads "And They Lived Happily Ever After".  What a great way to start your fairytale life!  To do the piping, I started by printing out the wording on paper with the printer's settings changed to "mirror image".  Then I used a #1 tip to pipe faintly over the wording onto a sheet of parchment paper using royal icing.  Once I finished piping, I carefully lifted the parchment paper, flipped it over, and placed it on my cake.  That gave me a nice outline that I used to pipe over again using royal icing.  Once the royal icing had dried I then went back and painted the words with Nu Silver.

There is one other thing I wanted mention, and it applies to all cakes.  If the bride has a topper she wants to use on her cake, make sure you at least see it before the wedding day.  This bride had a cute carriage topper, but it was on a large base.  It hung off the sides of the initial 5" top tier, and it didn't look right.  Luckily, I caught it in time to rebake the top as a 6" cake.  And Wilton cake toppers have a nasty habit of securing their toppers to the box with lots and lots of screws!! So make sure you always carry a screwdriver in your emergency kit!

Thank you all so much for stopping by and visiting my little blog.  I'll leave you with a little closer shot of that piping, just so you can see it better.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clue Game Board Grooms Cake

I'll start off by saying this was a really fun cake to make!  Chaddy and I both had a blast working on this.  I can always tell when he's really interested in a cake design; his eyes light up and he's constantly jotting down notes and coming up with ideas. 

The couple opted to go the edible image route, but it came out looking great.  We had a hard time finding graphics on the web to use, especially since they needed to be so large (14").  Luckily, the couple brought us their own personal game board.  Now scanning in a huge game board (approx 19") is no easy task.  Chaddy actually had to remove the top off the scanner just to get the middle pieces scanned.  And then he had to take all the pieces of the scans and piece them back together in the computer.  Once printed out, the edible image sheets were arranged on a piece of modeling chocolate.

We also scanned in cards, envelopes, and score sheets and printed those out as well.  We were also able to scan all of the weapons (except the candlestick).  We printed those out on regular paper and made templates so that we could cut them from thin pieces of modeling chocolate.  The rope and the lead pipe was made with an extruder.

Here's another picture with some of the detail:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hockey Rink Grooms Cake

About 30 minutes before I started writing this, I was looking through my iPad at the last few weeks cakes to find the perfect one to write about.  And as I sat here in the sweltering Georgia heat, with record-breaking 100+ degree temperatures, this hockey rink cake called my name, as seeing it immediately made the room feel 10 degrees cooler!

This is a simple cake, but it holds TONS of sentiment.  You see, when Nick decided he wanted to propose to Meredith, he did so by writing his proposal on the ice rink.  Now I don't know how one goes about getting something written on an ice rink, but I bet it's not an easy feat to accomplish.  This groom's cake really shows the commitment this couple has made to each other; it really touched my heart!

Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day here in America, and while it's not super patriotic, here's a quote I read recently that made me smile by Erma Bombeck:  "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."


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