Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Banjo Groom's Cake

I met with Rachel and Daniel several months ago and as soon as they mentioned they were interested in a banjo cake, my eyes lit up.  This is the kind of cake that I rarely get to do, but always look forward to making.  Almost immediately, I called our good friend Jim Pankey, who is a professional banjo player.  He was kind enough to lend us a banjo for a couple of weeks.  Chaddy went to work taking measurements, making cardboard templates, and taking pictures and detailed notes.  He even made some silicone molds of the tuning pegs!

Details on a cake like this is what can take it from great to incredible, but none of it will come together without a proper structure.

In instruments I have made from cake in the past, I used extruded fondant for the strings, and I never liked the look.  This time I wanted to use real strings, which meant that extra structure would need to be in place.

Luckily, our couple didn't care a great deal about how many people the cake fed, they were much more interested in a realistic final product.  The cakes are comprised of a 14" and a 12" rounds, but each "tier" is less than 2 inches high.

The neck is made of 1/4" wood, covered in modeling chocolate.  There's a small block of wood at the top and bottom of the banjo to hold the neck and strings.

 For the neck, all the decorations needed to keep a very low profile to keep the strings from damaging them.  I used thin strips of edible image paper for the frets, and gumpaste rolled super thin for the inlay.  I looked at lots of pictures of banjo inlay, and they were ranged from very simple to very ornate.  In the end, we wound up using a standard fret dot with a heart on either side.  I thought it added a nice hint of romance (it was a wedding, after all) but without being too "girly" or over the top.

So, is anyone interested in seeing the structure used to create this cake?  If so, drop back in here next week and I'll talk a little more about how we made the structure and show a few in-process shots of the cake.  If you have any other questions about the banjo cake, leave a comment on this post and I'll try my best to answer it next week.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beautiful Roses Can Make the Cake

We delivered a wedding cake to Lindsay Street Hall in Chattanooga this weekend.  It was one of those simple pearl dotted wedding cakes.  I've done many like it before.  In fact, before leaving the shop I didn't even take a picture of it.  I just had to drop it off at the venue and put some fresh flowers on it.

When I got to Lindsay Street Hall I found the flowers that the florist had left for me.  Before I could even remove them from the container I couldn't help but notice that these were the largest, most beautiful pink and peach colored roses I had ever seen!  As I started putting these gigantic roses on the cake I began to really fall in love with it.  I checked the label on the container and saw that Humphreys Flowers had provided the florals.  I don't know the names of these roses YET!, but I will be speaking with someone from Humphreys soon to find out more about them!

It just goes to show that sometimes you can take something perfectly elegant and with just a simple addition turn it into something spectacular.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This Knot Helps No One

At least twice a week I get calls from salesmen wanting me to advertise in their publications, usually a bride-centric or wedding-themed issue.  I almost always say "No", and for two reasons.  First of all, I rarely see any leads from print media.  Maybe that's my fault for coming up with goofy ads, maybe it's the publisher's fault for not getting it into enough hands, or maybe it's the reader's fault.  I really don't know - let's just say I've tried it and not been happy with the money I've spent.

But my biggest problem has to be with the content that these magazines come up with for their "Wedding" issues.  I once advertised in a local magazine that said "Bridal cakes are all the rage these days and prices have gone up; be prepared to pay anywhere from $1 - $2.50 per serving for your cake."  Say what?!?  At the time, I was about the cheapest cake vendor in town (tied with Publix) and my prices started at $3.00 a serving.  I literally had a fit on those people.  I told them I had basically just paid a tidy sum for them to announce to their entire readership that my prices were WAY too high, when that was FAR from the case!  No one at the magazine could even tell me where they got their information for their Wedding Cake article.  Maybe from their grandmother's archive of old magazines?

Another time I found out that I had been voted "Best Bakery" by our local "Your Hometown Magazine".  I decided to run a small "Thank you" ad in the magazine just so people would have my number handy after reading it.  When I got the magazine, I opened it to find that they had done a huge article on a competing bakery across town!  I was floored by the lack of planning on the magazine's part.  It wasn't long before their salesman called wanting to know how excited I was to run some more ads in their publication.  I told them about my disappointment and the only thing they could say was "Yeah, I guess that was bad timing, huh?"  You betcha!

This weekend I was in Atlanta and stopped in a book store and a quick coffee break.  Someone had left a copy of the Georgia version of The Knot laying on the table next to ours so I decided to thumb through it.  I have advertised with The Knot in the past and I've had my share of issues with them, but they generally give out good information to brides.  So when I found a "What to Ask Your Baker" section, I thought I had better read it so that I could be prepared for these questions.  I almost spit out my latte when I read that brides should ask me if my "buttercream is made from imported Italian butter!"  If I get asked this I am going to respond "No, but I have an imported Italian cow that I milk everyday, just to make butter!"  Seriously?  I consider that my time as well as the bride's time is valuable and asking crazy questions like this does no good for anyone.

So brides, if you happen to read this, make sure that you realize that all these great articles you read in Bridal magazines are usually written by someone who has little to no knowledge of the actual service they are advising you about.  Decide what's important to you, make a list, and ask your baker (or other vendor) those questions instead.

And bakers, have you noticed this type of silly or downright misinformation in publications before?  What was the worst cake "advice" you've seen in print?  And do any any of you use imported Italian butter in your buttercream?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mad Hatter Victorian Cake

 Some nights I sit in bed waiting to get sleepy and I wind up trolling Pinterest on my iPad.  It usually just gets me wound up.  I see some new cake or craft idea and my brains explodes trying to think of some way to incorporate it into a new cake design.  When I saw this mini mad hatter tutorial on Seeing Things That Aren't Really There, I knew I would have to make one for a cake.

I made this cake for my friend Amanda's birthday.  I decided on a romantic Victorian design with a hint of steampunk.  For the bottom tier, I did buttercream ruffles.  for the second tier, I used edible image sheets to recreate a layered ruffle design.

For the top, I used some molds I got from Kara Buntin along with some button molds to make a small Victorian collage around the monogram.  I added a lace mold to to give it little more of a feminine touch.
I really wanted to make the hat edible, but time ran tight and I just just used the paper template directly from the Seeing Things... blog.  It went together pretty easily and I have have my sights set on doing it again, but out of gumpaste or modeling chocolate.

I really appreciate each and every one of you that stops by here and visits the blog.  I hope you have an awesome week!


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