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?


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