Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Domed Wedding Cake with Lace Doilies

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a bride that really has a vision. They know they want a cake to blend into all the reception decor as well as the venue. For this particular event the venue was the Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga, TN. There are dark red curtains, gold and silver fixtures and lots of pretty marble. The bride chose darker shades of orange and purple to accent her Fall wedding.

It is really a challenge to add a lot of color to a bridal cake while ensuring it doesn't look like a fancy birthday cake. A baker can add tons of tonal details and the cake rarely looks busy, but color really changes things.  The "easy" part of this cake was the bottom stencil and the drop strings. For the bottom tier we used the "princess lace" stencil from Designer Stencils. This is the largest design in the set.

My tip here is that we air brushed the gold while the stencil was still on and in place. We also cheated a little and used a little swag marker for all the drop strings. It keeps things so consistent and easy. The cake is all buttercream with a little fondant for accents.

There is a cake all over Pinterest that shows a beautiful cake with a domed top tier and the same lace doily design. When the bride presented me the picture, I thought "holy moly that is a lot of intricate piping!" and therefore a bunch of money. She was on a budget and I wanted to help. I got so lucky and found the the lace was all done with a SugarVeil mat and SugarVeil.

I found the same mat on Etsy for a lot less money that Sugar Veil was charging. It worked great! After I removed the lace, I dry brushed it with gold luster dust and immediately applied it to the dome. It really did cut down the work while still looking like we had done a lot of hand work. I was really happy with the final product and the Bride loved it too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peony Curl Wedding

This past weekend I delivered this beautiful wedding cake to the The Mill in Chattanooga.  I have made a cake similar to this one a long time ago, but the bride brought in a photo of a cake she likes.  The petals on the tiers were curlier and a little less sparse than the one I did previously.  I knew that making the cake wouldn't be a problem. what I was really interested in was making those beautiful sugar peonies.

I have confessed on numerous occasions that I normally buy my sugar flowers.  But the peonies the bride wanted were extra full and  pretty and she also wanted a blingy rhinestone center.  Well, I could find anything like that online, so I set out to make my own.

I used gumpaste with a little fondant mixed in so I could get a little extra work time and so I could get those petals really REALLY thin.  They took longer to make than I expected, but I think that the extra time was worth it, don't you?

Well, it's almost Christmas time, are there any cake goodies you hope that Santa brings you this year?  If so, let me know what it is in the comments!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mini Gingerbread House Cutter Review

So I recently saw this cookie cutter online and I just had to order it immediately.  I could hardly wait for it to arrive so I could get to baking. It was just so darned cute!!

Well, the cutter came in and I got to baking. The picture to your left was my final results.  The final houses were very cute and got LOTS of attention to the parties I took them to.

If you're looking to make your own mini gingerbread houses, I do have some tips on what worked well for me.

First of all, these little suckers take a lot of time, so don't offer to make (or sell) a lot of these without making sure you have enough time.  If I were pressed into selling these, I think they would be at least $8 per house.

I used the gingerbread recipe printed on the cutter package, and I found that it worked best if you rolled the dough nice and thin.  The recipe they provide held up well, didn't spread too much, an was pretty tasty.  Once the cookies come out of the oven make sure to run knife across all the pieces while they're still hot.  It will save you some grief in the next step.

Once the cookies were baked and cooled, we found that the pieces still weren't exactly the same size and it made the houses go together a little wonky.  What we finally did was hold the 2 opposing pieces (front and back, right wall and left wall, left roof and right roof) together and then used a microplane grater to file down the 2 pieces just to make sure they were the same size.  And for the 2 wall pieces (left and right) we actually found that they were too long for the house to go together just the way we wanted.  So we filed about 3/4 of an inch off of the walls.  That allowed all the pieces to fit together and it allowed the roof to have the overhang that we liked better.

Photo of cutter from Good Cook

We used royal icing to put the houses together and we found that things worked well to fit the front/back and left/right walls together first.  We used a piping bag to pipe inside the house, but expect to get a little on the outside of the house too.  Once the walls have started to setup, then you can glue on the roof pieces.  Once they are all together, let them sit and get nice and dry before decorating.

Now I have an entire bakery full of dragees and sprinkles, but if I had it to do over I would make sure I got some mini candies lined up when decorating.  And don't forget the luster dust and the disco dust (as if you would!!).

Overall, these were fun, albeit time-consuming to make.  These little houses won't fi well on a standard cupcake, you'll need to make jumbo cupcakes if you are going to use them as toppers.  But they are cute and big enough for a snack all by themselves.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Happens When You Can't Deliver?

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and survived the holiday sales rush.  I'm thankful for my family and friends, and for my ever-growing business, as well as my good health.  But while we're still being thankful, I want us to all be "thinkful" for a minute.  A lot of us bakers are one-person shops - we do it all from baking and decorating, to record-keeping and marketing.  We all make sure our clients sign a contract (right?) ensuring that they hold us their end of the bargain.  But have you ever thought of what might happen if an illness or family emergency (or even an accident during delivery) kept you from holding up your end?

I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from one of my readers (let's call her "Susie") who had been blind-sided in a consultation with this very question by the father of the bride.  I was blind-sided with this same question a few years ago, also during a consultation  I didn't know what to day.  "Susie" did her best to laugh it off and say that she had never missed a delivery and hoped she wouldn't start anytime soon, but it bothered her.  And it really should.  Anyone operating with minimal staff should think about this and get a game plan together.

What would I do if I got sick?  Thank goodness I have an iron constitution and I do rarely get sick, but I have spent the day decorating when I didn't feel good.  If I were semi-homebound sick and needed some finishing touches, I would probably rely on Chaddy.  He's definitely a behind the scenes kind of guy, but he does watch and help me out a lot in the shop after his regular job.  His cakes aren't as smooth as mine, but they're passable.

But what if I were really sick?  Like IN the hospital sick?  Well, that's where having a backup bakery buddy comes in.  There are quite a few bakers in my area, and I have befriended several (all that will let me!) but Kimberly and I just click.  We have very similar personalities and decorating styles - she's not just a "cake friend", I consider her a true friend.  She's also my backup bakery buddy.  We have both committed to each other that in a real emergency we will be there for each other to make sure the cakes get out the door.  And to be specific, this isn't a "I waited until the last second to start this cake" emergency, this is an "I'm in surgery" emergency.  Even though we have had this arrangement for about 2 years, neither of us have ever had to use it.  But there are nights where it helps me sleep better.  If you don't have a backup bakery buddy do yourself a favor and start calling around to other bakers who you think do a good job.  They may not know what they would do in an emergency either!

What if something happens on the way to the venue?  What if my car gets hit and a truck just plowed through my client's wedding cake?  This is the much harder question, in my opinion.  If something unsalvageable should happen during a delivery, my only recourse would be to supply the couple with a dummy cake while I rebaked sheet cakes for the guests (if there was time) or go buy sheet cakes if time or distance didn't allow.  It's not optimal, but it's a gameplan.

So now when you (or "Susie") get asked this question during a consultation, you can have a good solid answer to give the client, and it will put their mind at ease, which makes it easier for them to sign on the dotted line.

Leave me a comment - what would you do in the event of an emergency?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kaben's Fifth Birthday - Snake Edition

Well, all good things have to come to a close, and so it goes with the trifecta of cakes for Kaben's birthday.  The last reptile on display is of course, the snake.  I saved making the snake for last because I really thought he would be the easiest to make, but there's more detail to a snake than you would think!!

I did "cheat" a little and put my snake on a cake board that I covered with modeling chocolate as the lid to the crate.  It allowed me to make it and keep it separate until I was finished with the cake.  I also cheated a little on that
"second" snake going into the crate at the bottom.  He didn't take nearly as much time as the big daddy on top of the crate.

For the snake, there is a small rice crispy treat "core" to him, that I then covered in modeling chocolate.  I then used my impression mats to give him is scaly appearance and then painted the bands using petal dusts and PGA

Well, this completes the "Reptile Trilogy" (as it will come to be known).  If you haven't enjoyed the creepy crawlies, make sure to stop back in next week - we'll be discussing a very important business topic!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Kaben's Fifth Birthday - Iguana Edition

I have to admit that this scaly little monster was my favorite reptile to create for young Kaben's fifth birthday party.  Like the frog before him, he started off with a rice crispy body, which I then covered in modeling chocolate.  He was also based on a toy iguana I bought at the toy store (thank you $1.00 aisle!!).

This little iguana had lots of details, and I made almost all of them out of modeling chocolate.  I made his back "spikes" (that's their real-life name - the fact that I referred to them initially as that was just dumb luck!) out of a thin strip of modeling chocolate that I then used my precision scissors to cut the spikes.  This little guy also had his share of time with the texture mat and the old airbrush gun.

This iguana was sunning himself on a rock, you know, the way iguanas tend to do!  The "rock" is a 2-tier cake which I carved into a jaggy rock shape and then covered in buttercream with a few green mossy bits thrown in for some color.

So what do you think?  Did you guess iguana as the next reptile on the list?  Can you possibly guess which reptile will be slithering your way next week?  Thanks for stopping by - feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kaben's Fifth Birthday - Frog Edition

I have blogged about sweet little Kaben several times before here on this blog.  To date, I have done all of his birthday cakes.  His parties are always the best and he picks his very own themes for his parties.  This year was reptile themed.  His Mom asked for 3 separate cakes.  This week we'll focus on this tree frog cake.  Now I should add that she wanted very realistic looking animals.  It was a little out of my comfort zone, but I was up for the challenge. 

I started out with a trip to the toy store to get some toys.  I walked every aisle of Toys R Us, and wouldn't you know it I found all the toys I needed in the dollar bin by the register!

I started by making a rice crispy frog body and then covered the whole thing in white modeling chocolate.  From there it was just molding and sculpting.  I finished him up with a texture mat and some airbrushing / petal dust painting.

As for the cake, this was basically a 2-tiered tree stump cake with rice crispy limbs.  The cake is rough iced in buttercream and then airbrushed with several shades of black and brown to give it a realistic bark effect.

I hope you enjoyed the frog cake, stop back in next week to the see the second of Kaben's 3 cakes.  What reptiles do you think are on the other 2 cakes??

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Khaki Flower Sanding Sugar Cake

As you all very well may know, I am known for getting my buttercream nice and smooth.  It's a skill I have developed over time - it certainly didn't happen overnight.  I get questions from people all the time that want a solution for covering some of those beginning boo-boos without using fondant.  I have found that sanding sugar fits this bill quite nicely.  It's relatively inexpensive, it goes on fairly easy, and it will go a long way to covering up some of those small mistakes in your buttercream.  It gives a really nice effect too; I fins myself using this a lot for winter weddings.

I actually used the sanding sugar here because this is a dummy cake.  I wanted to showcase something besides fondant to my brides, so I started covering the tiers with royal icing.  I wasn't very happy with the look, so out came the sanding sugar.  One note: when applying this, it can get messy fast.  I recommend sitting your cake inside a large sheet pan as you put the sanding sugar on - it will catch the "runoff" and you can scoop it up and use it again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cutie Vampire Halloween Cake

I have mentioned many times before on this blog that I sometimes get my cake inspiration from the strangest of places.   When I saw this vampire kitchen timer on Pinterest a while back, I thought he was so cute that I knew I would use him as cake inspiration one day.

Fast forward a few months and I get a call from my friend Amanda.  Her daughter birthday was coming up, and she wanted a scary Halloween cake, even though her birthday was in early spring.  But I still remembered my cute little vampire time and I recreated him in modeling as best I could using chocolate.  He needed a few pumpkins and some black ribbon roses to complete his look.

For the scary mouths on the bottom tier, I started by molding crazy mouths to get a good size approximation.  Then I scooped out a little cake and put in a little red fondant.  Then I just out the lips over the hole I had made and inserted fangs, tongues, blood, etc.  It looked very cool once I was finished.

And I have held on to this little vamp's photo since then, knowing that it would be the star of my Halloween post!  So, what are you doing for Halloween?  Dressing up?  Handing out treats?  Or tricks???

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Life to Old Dummy Cakes

The life of a cake decorator is all about learning.  Learning new skills, new techniques, new ways to overcome obstacles.  At some point, every cake decorator will learn that purple fondant is horrible about fading.  And they'll also learn that decorating dummy cakes can sometimes be harder than decorating a real cake.

Take this cake for example.  I made it some time ago and initially it was the most beautiful shade of lavender.  But only a few months later it had faded to almost white, with just the faintest hint of purple.

Dummy cakes use styrofoam and can be costly, so you really want to get the most mileage out of them as you possibly can.  I wasn't quite ready to trash this cute little cake, so I used petal dusts in several shades of purple to give it what I thought was a nice watercolor effect.

I took it to a small bridal show soon after its renovation and one future bride just had a fit over it.  She called out to her future husband and said "Hey honey, come here and look at this awesome tie-dyed wedding cake!"  Hey, who am I to argue? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rustic Burlap Cake

As a cake decorator, every client you meet will have a budget.  Big budgets can easy and fun to work with, but that doesn't mean that limited budgets can't be fun too.  A client with a limited budget can still get an elegant, gorgeous cake, but it might require just a little but of resourcefulness on your part.

Take this cake for example.  This cake is so pretty, and so elegant, and it's available to my clients a my base price, which is $3.75 a serving.

This buttercream beauty is anything but plain, and the burlap ribbon and flowers give it that rustic feel that's all the rage these days.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Buzzy Bee Birthday Cake

It's been a while since I have done a birthday cake, but when I got a call from a previous client recently with a request for her daughter's 1st birthday I just couldn't say no.  I based my design on a napkin the client provided me.

I know that most people don't like fondant (especially one-year olds) so I did most of the cake in buttercream using only fondant for the beehive and the cake's accents.

I really enjoyed making the bees the most.  I used stamens for their little antennae and used my wafer paper again to make their little wings.  I just thought they were SO cute!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Woodgrain Buttercream Wedding

One of the most often heard comments I get during bridal consultations is "I don't want fondant."  The problem is that most of the inspiration photos they bring me are fondant.  There's the odd occasion where I have to tell them no, but more often than not I can come up with some way of replicating the design in buttercream.

When I met with this couple they brought an inspiration cake that was buttercream with lots of lines in it.  It was supposed to be wood grain, but I didn't think it was woodgrain enough.  I discussed it with the couple and we decided to make it wavier, with some knotholes so that no one would wonder.  It was a design I had only done in fondant before.

Here's a closeup of the final effect.  Pretty convincing, huh?  I started with my standard buttercream recipe.  Once it was nice and chilled, I started by cutting in my knotholes with a small sharp knife.  Once they were finished, then I started cutting in the lines around the knot holes first and then moved outward.  Nothing fancy, just happy little lines.

In these photos, I used some silk flowers I keep around the bakery, but the cake received fresh flowers when we delivered it to the venue, which was DeBarge Vineyards.  It was a lovely venue and this rustic wedding cake fit in well sitting on a wine barrel with the vineyards in the background.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Edible Feather Tutorial

My friend Kimberly told me a while about that she had made peacock feathers using wafer paper.  I was intrigued, so I immediately ordered a package.  And there it sat, for months and months, until I finally needed to make my Gatsby inspired cake for the recent photo shoot we did.  It was so easy to make I thought I would share with you my loyal readers.


1.  Wafer Paper
2.  Picture of your feather
3.  Parchment paper (for tracing)
4.  Marker
5.  Scissors, Exacto knife, or Razor blade
6.  Cutting board or surface
7.  White wire
8.  Tylose glue / Sassie Sap Glue

The first thing we need to do is get our feather pattern.  I used this image and enlarged it to the size I wanted on my iPad.  Then I put my parchment paper over it and traced the basic shape of the feather with my marker.

Now that we have an image to cut, just place your wafer paper over the parchment paper.  You can see right through it!  Just cut it gently with your Exacto knife on the cutting board.  The wafer paper cuts easily and with a light hand you won't even cut through the parchment paper.

Pop out your feather and place it back on the cutting board.

Don't draw on YOUR feather!

I made these lines on the wafer paper with a pen, but these are for illustration purposes only.  These lines just represent how you will cut the blades of the feather.

These spring loaded sewing scissors work pretty well, they make tiny cuts, but I found it a little hard to get the cuts deep enough into the feather.

A very sharp Exacto knife goes more quickly and allows you to vary your cuts.  Keep cutting the blades of the feather until your done with both sides.  If you get a couple of jagged edges, it's OK - it's a bird feather!

Now it's time to ruffle some feathers!  Just thumb through the blades to separate them a little.  More if you really want a rustic look!

Now your feather is almost finished!  To put on the cake I used some white wire to go the length of the feather (with some left over to insert) and I adhered it with a little Sassie Sap sugar glue or some tylose glue.

If you enjoyed the tutorial, leave me a comment here and let me know - and don't forget to stop back in next week!

FULL DISCLOSURE:  As a member of the Amazon Affiliate program, I receive a small commission if you buy a product from the links on my blog.  I actually own the products I recommend and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Art Deco / Gatsby Wedding Cake

This the other cake I made for the wedding photo shoot I was involved with a few weeks ago.  You see, when you have all these people together with their time invested, it really doesn't take that much more to get a second (or third) look and feel using mostly the same props.  The bride changes dresses and makeup, switch out the flowers, and voilĂ !  Different (looking) photo shoot!

One of the "looks" we were going for was a Great Gatsby / Art Deco wedding look.  I could have used the bird cage cake I made, but I had some extra time and I wanted to some great pictures of another cake for my portfolio as well.

I didn't really get to finish this cake like I wanted to, but I wasn't ashamed to bring it either.

I really liked the way the white stenciling over the gold tier turned out.  The tier being entirely gold was just too much!  Stenciling white over still left a very impactful statement. And I thought it went very well with Amanda's bridal bouquet, don't you?

My favorite part of this cake were the edible feathers we made!  What's that you say?  Edible Feathers??  Yep!  And they're actually easier than you would think to make them.

Drop back in next week and I'll have a tutorial ready for you on how you can make your own edible feathers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bird Cage Woodland Wedding Cake

I have always been obsessed with birds.  I have have had them as pets and I spend a small fortune keeping food for almost every type of bird in my yard at home.  So it shouldn't be terribly surprising that I have and idea in my head for a cake inside a bird cage.  I don't know if it's something I have seen somewhere before, (I'm sure someone has done it) but it has always just been an image that struck me as... romantic.

When my friend Daisy Moffatt was designing her "Garden Fantasy Wedding" photo shoot I really had full control on what the cake looked like.  And it just so happened that the weekend before the shoot I ran across this bird cage at Home Goods (that store gets me into SO much trouble).  I immediately texted a picture of the cage to my friend (and florist for the shoot) Amanda and said "What do you think of a cake inside here?"  Her response was "Go for it!"

The cage was initially colored a silver/black metallic color and as I played with my dummy tiers inside the cage I decided that it would need a coat of paint to better go with my vision.  Krylon spray paint to the rescue!

I cut some birdie silhouettes using my Cricut and made sure they were thicker so that I could edge them in metallic gold luster dust.  The rest of the cake is just covered in fondant with branches that I carved into the fondant using my sculpting knife, some gumpaste flowers, and some scroll molds painted metallic gold.

Once it was put together i thought that it still needed a punch of color so I covered the bottom of the cage (which was leveled with a piece of foam with some moss.

I was very pleased with it once the whole vision came together.  Above is a picture that Chaddy took during the shoot while Daisy was off photographing the bride - I'm sure her pictures came out better!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Photo Shoot for ...

I was reading a blog a while back and the author said that if you want to be part of a photo shoot then you should make it happen.  Pick your favorite vendors, a great concept, and a great location.  This has been a slower year for wedding vendors in my area, so there have been a few of these shoots taking place.  A great couple of friends of ours decided to come up with a concept and I was lucky enough to be invited.  They gave us plenty of time and lots of artistic freedom.  I think that was a big plus because no artist wants to be given a big list of rules when they are making something for fun.  Our theme was to be "garden" so that was pretty easy.   Amanda, with Divine Designs by Amanda, did all the flowers and the table setting.  She worked with White Table on the linens and chair sashes.  Chad took these pictures but Daisy Moffatt was the official photographer.  And it all went down at the lovely Black Fox Farms.  The plan is to submit the pictures to blogs, magazines, websites and to add to our portfolio.  I am really fortunate to get to work with such a great group of people.  I can't wait to show you more pictures in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Shoes....

There are a lot of shoe box cake tutorials out there, so I won't bore you with another.  I do want to give you a few helpful hints I learned on the first, wait...actually second shoe I have ever made.  How have we gone this long and never made a shoe cake?  Just lucky?  Nah....just kidding it was fun.  I was instructed by the buyer that I could change the shoe a little (thank goodness) and add a red sole to the shoe bottom.  Oh those pretty, sexy shoes!

Bad Shoe
My first attempt - Everything was way too thick!  Don't do this!!

 The first thing I did was to buy a shoe kit from Jennifer Dontz.  I guess that is pretty lazy or spoiled of me but it sure did make things a bit easier.  Really, the styrofoam form was the biggest help, but I'm sure it could be done with a posterboard form or something else the shoe tutorials advise.  The shoe in my inspiration  picture had a black sole and a cream insole.  Now I had to add a third layer to this and still make it look delicate.  My first attempt was bad, just bad (see below!).  It was too thick and looked silly when you look at it from the side.  I decided to get my pasta machine out to get things nice and thin.  I rolled all three layers of gumpaste (50/50 mix) as thin as I could on the cream and red, but a little thicker on the black.  I put the three layers together and gave it a little roll and cut out the sole.  I did go back and paint the little bit of red showing on the sides so it would look more seamless. Easy squeezy!

Bad Shoe 2
This is WAY too thick and not delicate at all.  The pasta roller helped!

The ankle strap in the inspiration picture was crazy!  It was sticking way up it the air!  I really could not make it happen and I hate that.  I told the customer up front that I probably could not duplicate the crazy straps so the pressure wasn't crazy like if he expected it.  I tried putting a wire in the straps, but thin wire was too wimpy and thick wire was too bulky for the look of the straps I needed.  In the end, my straps were just gumpaste with no wires.  I used some rhinestones from the scrap booking department that already had glue dots.  Handy!  No one was going to eat the shoe so why not?

To hold the straps in a gravity defying position, I poked two sets of skewers in either side of the styrofoam mold.  Then I took a long piece of scotch tape and wrapped around each set of skewers.  This gave the straps something to rest on while drying.  I let the shoe set up for a couple days before the straps and then for another six days with the straps installed.

For traveling with the shoe, I got a 10x10 box, cut the top off and put a 10" square cake board in the box for stability.  Since I use grippy/shelf liner under everything, I added a good piece on the cake board.  I left the shoe on the form and put it on the cake board/shelf liner and anchored it down by gently hammering (with my baby hammer) with 2" pieces of strong floral wire (Wal-Mart type).  I didn't want to ruin my expensive piece of styrofoam ;)

 A very sweet friend of ours gave us a glorious recommendation to his good friend.  Unfortunately he doesn't realize that we really only make wedding cakes.  I just felt like I had to make this shoe box cake.   We were given a picture to follow very closely.  I wish I knew the original cake artist.  If you do, please let me know so that I can credit them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My First Shoe Box Cake

A very sweet friend of ours gave us a glorious recommendation to his good friend.  Unfortunately he didn't realize that we really only make wedding cakes.  But still I just felt like I had to make this shoe box cake.   We were given a picture to follow very closely.  I wish I knew the original cake artist.  If you do, please let me know so that I can credit her.

I know that prices can vary greatly by zip code and baker so I don't talk about it much.  For this cake, I charged $250, which is my minimum order price.  After I told him the price, the customer said he called the original cake artist and she wanted $850 for the cake and that a local bakery had quoted $150.  He said the $850 lady was "crazy" for wanting that much.  His words, not mine.  Even later he told me that he didn't think the $150 baker would be able to replicate it with great detail.  After looking at her previous work he didn't have confidence in her abilities.  So the extra $100 I was charging was for an "insurance policy" that he would not be disappointed.  As we all know, you get what you pay for!

I baked  three layers of 9 x 13" and cut a couple of inches off to make it more shoe boxy.  It was white/chocolate/white cake with raspberry buttercream.  Yum!  The whole cake was paneled with modeling chocolate.

For the signature on the side of the box, my client wanted the birthday girl's name in a very similar style of the original shoes.  I couldn't find a suitable Louboutin font online, but Chaddy did use an app to recreate it to the best of our abilities.  The app is called Adobe Ideas, and is a free app.

The font with the signature was so small there was no way I could pipe it and I didn't want to mix mediums, so we wound up printing out an edible image to cover the entire side of the box.  We did a lot of test swatches on paper to find a color that was an exact match to the box color.  BUT!  It darkened over night!  So let that be a lesson to us all!  Luckily, since I covered the entire side of the box with the image, you could hardly even tell!

Stop back in next week and I'm going to talk a little more about that sexy shoe and what went into the making of it!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Texture on Buttercream Cakes

Almost all my customers say "I don't want fondant!" and they mean it, so I've worked hard at coming up with buttercream alternatives. Since we make a bunch of all white wedding cakes, texture seems to be a huge trend that I'm seeing.  Brides don't want very busy or piped cakes, but they do want some design.  They are bringing me pictures of rough iced cakes, stenciled cakes, combed cakes, and sugared cakes.  I want to go over a few options they you may want to consider when designing a cake for any occasion.
I've blogged about stencils before, so please give it a read.  It's a great option in all one color for texture or two different colors for more detail.  It's also a good idea to add pearls or extra piping on the stenciled design.

Buttercream ruffles are very trendy and you don't have to do the entire cake.  Just a few rows will give you lots of  femininity and texture.

Diamonds and lines are are classic and easy.  Use a bench scraper and blow torch or super hot water and melt the design into the cake.  Sanding sugar or pearl dragees are great on buttercream for sparkle and opulence.  Covering a cake in this material also keeps you from having to get a cake perfectly smooth.  If you a beginner, give it a shot.  Just keep in mind, it gets everywhere!

Lastly, buttercream combs are a great way to add a side design and it's super easy!  Wilton and many others sell all kinds of different designs.  Just get your cake level, basically smoothed and chilled.  Add another thick layer of buttercream and quickly run your comb through it and poof! You have a design.

Tell me about any great ideas you have for buttercream texture!

Happy caking!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Best Way to Sample at Bridal Shows

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my latest showing at the Chattanooga Bridal Show.  One of the comments on that post was about how I provide cake samples to the attendees of the bridal shows.

Now I've seen samples done several different ways.  The most common method I have seen is a sheet cake that is cut into small portions and handed out.  I don't like this method because not only is it messy, but it takes someone (maybe you) away from interacting with your customers.  There's not a lot of room in a 10 x 10 booth for employees - I would say no more than 3.  You don't want one of those people cutting cake.

 Then there's mini-cupcakes and cupcakes.  I have never tried mini cupcakes, just because I hate making them so much!! :-)  But I did try full-sized cupcakes at my first couple of bridal shows and it was a total disaster,  Some people thought it was too much cake and wouldn't even take a sample.  Some people were so enthralled by the cupcakes that they just wanted to know how many they could get and take home to kids, nieces, etc. And the people that did want cupcakes also wanted something to carry them in.  So I bought cups and lids.  That just increased my costs!

What I have found that works best for ME is using the Solo 2 ounce condiment cup with lid.  I will cut a small circle our of a sheet cake to fir in the cup and I still have room for icing and a filling, if necessary.  Then the lids go on.  I also put a small label on the lid with my business name, website, and phone number. The cup size offers the client a nice 2-bite sample; the lid allows the the client to pop it in their goodie bag to take home, and the label reminds them about who made that awesome cake later on.  The best part is that I make them up a couple of days before and just set them out in the booth.  They stack nicely and it allows people to take one and run if they want to.  And I'm available to talk flavors or otherwise discuss cake with my potential clients.

For those that have done bridal shows, how do you provide samples?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lions Football Grooms Cake

Football field cakes can be a great way to showcase a groom's interests and it's much more economical than a sculpted football helmet or stadium cake.  For this cake we used a combination of edible images and Cricut cut-outs as the main decorations.  The cake stand was awesome, and was made by the grooom's mother if I remember correctly.  We delivered this groom's cake to Trevitt Hall in Dalton, GA.

But I just fell in love with these chocolate covered strawberry "footballs".  I have seen them before, but this was my first time making them.

They are your basic chocolate-dipped strawberries, but with a twist (or a spiral!).  Once the chocolate firmed up, I used royal icing to pipe the lines and the laces on the "footballs".  I think you will agree that it is a pretty convincing effect!  And the word from the wedding party was that they were very delicious!

Any of you have any other ingenious disguises for chocolate covered strawberries?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bridal Show Booths Revisited

This weekend Chad and I participated in the Pink Bridal Show.  It was sort of a last minute decision; I didn't have any cakes booked for the weekend and I really do think they help promote not only customer relations, but vendor relations as well.  Here are some tips I have learned from my previous shows.  I may have touched on some of these topics before, but it bears repeating.

If the event allows you to setup your booth the day before, then you should do it.  The actual day of the show is very tiring, you'll need to start the day with all the energy you can muster.  Setting up the day before also allows you a "second chance" if you accidentally forget something.

Don't be afraid to rearrange your booth.  The show promoter will generally give you an 8-foot table with 2 chairs and a small sign with your business name on it.  If you want different tables, let the promoter know or bring your own.  Look at other vendors' booths, see what they are doing.  Don't copy them, but use them as inspiration.  In the photo above I have used none of the items that am with my booth.  I ditched the sign, the chairs, and replaced the 8-foot table with 2 6-foot tables and 4 highboy tables.

Don't sit in your booth.  The reason I ditch my chairs is that I want to be on my feet and energetic when potential customers walk by.  I'm very interested in their business and I want to look that way.  If you're sitting, customers will walk by without engaging you or when you start to get up they will say "No, don't get up, we're just looking".  Don't believe me?  Find a booth where someone is sitting behind a table and watch the action.  Odds are the only thing you will see going through it are tumbleweeds.  Or better yet, go by a booth where people are packed in like sardines.  I bet they're not sitting.

The aftermath of standing all day and booth teardown is that you will be tired.  Give yourself some time the following day to recoup.  But you want to be near your phone too.  These brides have spent all day searching for the perfect vendor.  They are excited and they want to iron out details.  Monday morning they will start calling.  Make sure you are there to answer the phone!

The last thing I'll mention is that while you are in that booth, make sure to have your patience pants on.  You might get the same question 100 times in that 5-6 hour span, make sure you answer with last as eagerly and energetically as the first.  Remember why you're in the room... Brides are there to find information, but it's also a job interview for you as a vendor.  Your cakes can taste delicious, look amazing, but if you give the customer an eye roll over a "silly" question the customer may just decide to pick your competition over you. 

So stay positive and have an awesome week!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Wrigley Field Marquee Cake

I made this cake recently for our good friend John.  He is the host of our weekly trivia tournament, and an all-around super great guy. When we found out his birthday was coming up, one of the guys on another trivia team told us what a big fan John was of the Chicago Cubs.  Paul was the one that suggested the Wrigley Field marquee.  Chaddy and I aren't sports people at all, but once I saw the marquee, I knew we could knock it out of the park!  That's a sports saying, right?!? :-)

Chaddy went to work on the graphics, and determined really quickly that it would fit just right on a 12x18 cake.  He then cut the letters out with the Cricut, found a font and printed out the "LCD panel", and printed out a life-sized template.  I used the template to carve the top of the marquee, and to place the letters on the cake.  I extruded a small square rope for the edges of the marquee.  I made small pin holes in my template to help me place the letters and the lines.

After that, I thought the cake still needed a little something, so I put a small Cubs ribbon as a cake border (also an edible image).

And for the record, John was really stoked about his cake!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Marvelous Molds Contest

Recently, we were asked by Cake Central if we would be a part of a special contest.  We would be shipped some new cake decorating supplies and we would use those to make a cake.  It sounded like fun so we said "YES!"  A day or so later I got a box in the mail from Marvelous Molds.  Now, I really like Marvelous Mold products, I have ordered lots of molds from them in the past.

Watch a short 2 minute video about the new onlays

They sent us a few products from their newest product line; silicone onlays.  Onlays are part stencil, part cutter, part impression mat.  Roll a thin sheet of fondant over the onlay and the silicone ribs cut the fondant into its separate shapes.  Pick out the pieces you don't want on the cake and place the flexible silicone mat against the side of the cake and the pieces stick right on.  The best part about these onlays?  They are all based on Pi, so they line up perfectly on any even-sized diameter cake.

I received a zebra and a harlequin mat.  I was a little disappointed, as those are simpler designs that I can already do well without using the onlays, but I think I made the best of it!  Here's a picture of the cake I made from Cake Central's website:

Cake Central Contest Entry

If you haven't already voted, I would love it if you could stop over at CakeCentral and vote on my cake.  There are several great designs and designers, including the fabulous Erica OBrien!!  The cake with the most votes will be featured in an upcoming issue of Cake Central Magazine!

Full Disclosure:  Marvelous Molds did provide me with a few of their new silicone onlays free of charge as part of the contest, but their exposure here was not part of the agreement and my opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guest Blogger: Beata from My Sweet Passion Cakes

Even though I have made it my mission to help out cake decorators just getting their start, it can still be a daunting task to find help online.  I frequent more than one cake forum and lots of times I see a a basic question turn into a heated debate over some minute detail that has nothing to do with the poster's question.

But sometimes the planets align perfectly and two people thousands of miles apart connect to make something special.  That's how I met Beata Khoo from My Sweet Passion Cakes in Brighton, UK.  She posted a question on CakesDecor asking for assistance on how to make a cake like a dragon sculpture she had a picture of.  It seemed like a daunting and ambitious task, but I answered and what unfolded was a really satisfying month-long collaboration.  Even though Beata says she's just a hobbyist, she took instruction well and learned to work with modeling chocolate and make her own structure, something she had not done before.  I was so impressed with the work that Beata did that I asked her if she would like to write up a post about her experience making this awesome cake.  And now without further ado, here's Beata!

My name is Beata Khoo and I started to decorate cakes about a year ago. I have always loved to bake cakes, but never really decorated any cakes.  I was always so busy in y everyday life and never had the time, until last year someone gave me the most gorgeous cupcakes. And I thought -this is what I can do... and rest is history ;) I am hooked! All I want to do is bake and decorate cakes.

I have been doing a few cakes since then but I really crave a challenge to see how much more I can do. Then one day this lady calls and asks me if i can do this Amazing Dragon.  I really wanted to do it too, but I wasn't sure where to start, so I decided to write into Cake Central and CakesDecor.  I also wrote a private message to Liz Marek on Facebook, hoping someone will have some idea on how to make it.

Unfortunately i didn't get anywhere with Cake Central, but very lucky on CakesDecor.  Jenniffer from Cup a Dee Cakes wrote to me and gave me advice how to build the structure and the best way to use modelling chocolate. On top of that Liz Marek gave same idea and was kind enough to answer my message. In that moment I felt so happy that there was someone giving me guidance and I knew that I could do it ;)

And this is the way I did it...

1. First I bought a wooden board and copper tubing. Drilled seven holes (size of the copper tubes) in the base, not too close to one another.

2. Then I made modeling chocolate white and colored it. (I have never worked with chocolate before and thanks to Jenniffer - I love it now)

3. I applied the chocolate on to the copper and created his skin with scissors

4. Next, I made the heads, which was a little tricky, but with a lots of determination they came out lovely. After finishing modeling, I put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to set.

5. The body of the dragon i made it with a chocolate cake and the wings I made with rice crispy treats.

6.Then I wanted to paint the MC so again I was asking Jenniffer and Liz Marek, then I thought best to try on little test MC before I painted the dragon.  I tried mixing petal dust with vodka and then vegetable oil. Vegetable oil looked the best so my decision was made. I painted my dragon with petal dust and vegetable oil, it took 2 days to dry but it looked fantastic!

So before i put it together - I covered my wooden base to look like wood and then put my heads together and held it all together with dark modelling chocolate. I then created the body and wings and painted them last. Hope you like the way I finished it off with the Enchantica book and message on each side of the dragon. Most of all I would like to thank Jenniffer and Liz Marek for all their help.

Didn't Beata's cake turn out great!?
Beata can pass out all the thanks she wants, but in the end, she was the only person in that kitchen doing all the work.  And she she did an exceptional job, didn't she?!?  I was super glad to provide her with some assistance; I was excited every morning to get online and see what progress she had made.  It's this type to collaboration that the Internet was invented for.  Please stop by Beata's Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/mysweetpassion, LIKE her page, and let her know what great job she did!  Lastly, I want to thank Beata for guest blogging here today!

For more pictures please visit www.facebook.com/mysweetpassion


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