Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cake Stencils are Awesome!

I love "Designer Stencils" a bunch. My current favorite is the mod flower because it gives the cake a sophisticated texture which seems to be a hot button with my brides. There is a display cake in my shop with this stencil and I swear that is why it keeps being picked. Here are a couple of my  "pearls of  wisdom" on stencils. First, you can absolutely use them on buttercream IF you use butter based icing that you can get cold/hard in the fridge. Sometimes I even but the tier in the freezer for 15 minutes so that it's super cold. Just go straight to the work when you take it out of the cold so that it doesn't get a layer of condensation because then the icing won't stick. I have bought some stencil holding "kit" but it was just two book clamps and some stretchy gauze. I found that it did more harm than good, so I don't use it. I sometimes use a corsage pin through the hanging hole and hold the other end with my fingers. Using a small angled spatula, I put on a clump of buttercream and spread it down the stencil. Once you get icing on the end your hand is holding you won't have to keep holding it down. I then used a plastic, cheap, dough scraper and take of most of the icing. You have to be consistent with the "thickness" or "depth" of the stencil icing or you will have really high sections and some barely there at all. That looks bad so it's a good habit to chose how you like the depth and be consistent. While the stencil is still attached, I airbrush the entire stencil with luster dust. Remove the stencil from one side first, scrape off the leftover airbrushed icing to throw away, wash and dry the stencil for the next section. Sometimes you are going to have some areas that "bleed" under the stencil. Just clean them up with a stiff paint brush (and soft to blend) after you have chilled the cake back up.

My next tip is to stencil the tiers before you stack them. If you want the design at the top of the cake you can raise the cake by placing cake boards/drums under the cake until you get the perfect height. That's a good reason to keep cardboard singles for just the right height. Don't forget to use shelf liner/grip so the doesn't slip when you are stenciling. When doing the cake pictured, I saved the bottom tier until last and then I had to trim the "extra" off the bottom so that it could be flush. I think the hardest part of this cake was the caulking the tiers so that there was no borders. I took out some of the stenciling, but I couldn't help it. The very best idea is to talk the customer into a ribbon border (fondant or real). It gives you lots of material to hide the union of the tiers.

Closeup of Stencil...  It adds so much detail and texture!

Just remember that every cake is going to have a backside. Seams won't match up perfectly. Just blend and love on it so that it's not so apparent. That's all you can do, so don't worry about it. It's just cake :)

Don't forget about the height. Lots of stencils are only 4" tall and I make 5" tall or taller cakes. Luckily some stencils are taller, so focus on those to buy if you make tall tiers too! If you really want to use a skinny stencil, allow for the width of your ribbon border and measure. Cut the cake shorter so that the stencil isn't a weird band looking thing, unless that's the look you are going for :)

One note about the cake featured above.  When I got to the venue, the "florist" left me a bucket of flowers the looked like the trash at the bottom of the boxes. Real Junk! I had to make it work but I don't have to be happy about it. The poppies were squished and mostly closed. The blue things were prickly! Sorry, had to get that jewel off my chest.

Do you have any tips on cake stenciling? Please share them with us in the comments so we can all be better decorators!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tiffany Blue Wedding Cake

We delivered a cake to Trevitt Hall in Dalton this weekend.  I loved the bride, but the mom of the bride was precious!  She is the manager for a catering company so she sees weddings, and cakes, every weekend.  I was truly honored that she chose me to make the cakes. What a compliment!  My bride brought me a picture of this cake, in different colors, and didn't want me to change a thing.  I hate to copy other artists work, but I have to make what the brides want, especially when they are so sure.

I've been LOVING my odd size cake pans.  It has added a lot of options and I highly recommend them.  The flowered tiers are cake and the solid tiers are 3" tall styrofoam (from Dallas Foam).  The cake was 7/9/11/13" squares (duh) and the styro was 4/6/9/10".  I tried all of my teal and turquise colors from Americolor, etc but the winner was "5th Avenue Blue" from Albert Uster Imports.  It was the perfect "Tiffany Blue"!

If you decide to make this cake, I have a little advice.  First a 2" tall styrofoam seperator would be fine.  Use lots of supports included a couple of skewers in each styrofoam piece so they don't wiggle or float any.  I used two cake drums (10 pcs of cardboard) and 1/4" MDF for the cake board and then sharpened a long dowel and drove it through the entire cake for stability.  You have to use a "master dowel".  Count on cutting flowers out for 8 hours - yes 8 hours, just ask my sweet husband.  He cut and cut and then cursed me for not planning "better" as we worked until 11pm on Friday night.

Cake decorators are often lucky to have time to let gumpaste dry up for a bow, but we are know we should do better and plan better.  What I did right on this cake was to cover the cake board and styrofoam pieces on Tuesday so that they would be hard and dry before I manhandle them to death.  This makes the construction much easier.  Lastly,  turn your cake boards over and mark a square where it will line up with the styrofoam.  It's so hard to line up a cake with you are doing in from the underside.  Since the cake was 36" tall we had to put the top tier on at the venue. This made this very quick and easy since we are all the "entertainment" when we are setting up our cakes. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Delivery Tip

Some weeks, I have to make several trips to get my cakes delivered.  Sometimes the timing of the deliveries just works out that way.  Some weeks all my cakes are due within a hour or so of each other and basically in the same part of town.  This can pose a problem of how to fit all those cakes in whatever vehicle you use to deliver your cakes.  A couple of weeks ago I had 5 cakes to deliver, and these were some big cakes.  My problem was figuring out the best use of my trunk space.  That's when it hit me!!  I went and got cake boards to match all my cakes and used these to figure out cake placement in our SUV.  I even realized that by rearranging the cakes (first cakes to be delivered go in last) I could be even more efficient.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but it sure won't be the last time I use it.  From now on, anytime I have 4 or 5 cakes cakes to deliver I will be using this little trick to make things easier.

I hope you can make use of this too!  Have an awesome week!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Banjo Cake Armature Design

Last week I showed you guys the awesome banjo cake I made for Rachel and Daniel's wedding.  They were thrilled with the cake; I even heard from the bridal planner that they wouldn't allow the cake to be cut!  They took the whole thing home with them without a scratch on it!  That's the way I like to think all my cakes go over.  I HATE seeing pictures of my cakes after they have been fed upon!!

Anyhoo, back to the design of  banjo armature.  I wanted this cake to look as much like a banjo as possible and as little like a cake as possible.  Even though it would mean more inedible pieces, I wanted the neck to be "floating", I wanted to use real guitar strings, and I didn't want a visible cake board.

In the picture above, I have removed the neck from the armature and screwed 6 small eye screws into the bottom of the banjo.  These will hold the strings.  The bottom cake is om the armature.  I included the thickness of the cake board into my design so that the banjo would keep it's scale and since it was the same size as the cake (14"), you would never know there was a cake board.  Even though the cake actually only measures 1.25 inches thick, I decided to put in some supports because I didn't want ANY shifting or sinking.  The cake above has it's basic decoration already done, which was a block modeling chocolate top with a wood grain modeling chocolate wrap around the sides.

This is the 2nd tier of the banjo, which is a 12 " cake.  It is sitting on a very thin cardboard round.  I cut out the holes for the armature.  Once it was on the cake I had to fill in the bottom with just a smidge of modeling chocolate to fully round out the bottom.  From there, it got a similar coating as the bottom tier.  White on the top with a gray wrap around the sides.  The neck could then be attached and then the details could be added.  Here's one more shot of the completed cake, just in case you missed it last week!

Have a great week!


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