Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bat Mitzvah Fashion Cake

We were so fortunate to be asked to make cake for a Bar Mitzvah and a Bat Mitzvah a little white back.  Today, I want to tell you about the Bat Mitzvah cake.  When I sat down with the family the birthday girl was the first to tell me her vision.  She had it all planned out with pictures and everything.  She brought an inspiration picture from Pink Cake Box and their great artist Ann Heap.  She wanted to remove a lot of the extra "stuff" on the cake like candy that made it more juvenile.  We were also dealing with a budget, so when I was asked to shave a few dollars off of the cake, we removed a company logo and the tissue on the bottom tier.  We were going to have the lid raised a bit with big pieces of fondant tissue coming out.  I was happy with the change because it kept the cake more streamlined.  We already had two tiers with tissue, and that was plenty.

As far as technique for this cake the overall tip is to use modeling chocolate, the kind you make, not the pre-made stuff.  The hatbox was one large cake with four tiers.  I used a grapefruit spoon (which I don't know why I own...) to make the channel for the black tissue.  As normal, make it deeper than you want it to be.  A layer of buttercream and fondant will fill it back in to some degree, so dig a little more out.  I covered that whole tier in white fondant and then added the pink modeling chocolate on top of that.  I I was doing it again today, I would have made one big band of modeling chocolate for the sides or done individual stripes all the way around without any fondant under neath.

The blue box and orange bag are really straightforward.  My tip on those would be to fill in any uneven space with buttercream so that the modeling chocolate doesn't sink in at all.  Corners are notorious for doing that.   I have a pet peeve about droopy corners on all cakes, but that's for another day.  To make the tissue, I got some fondant/gumpaste mix rolled really thin in the pasta machine and cut squares out.  I scrunched them, my technical term...trademark pending.... and fluffed them.  I let them dry a couple of days and didn't put the pieces on the cake until  the morning of the party.  That way the moisture in the fridge didn't make them droopy.  No one wants droopy tissue!

The handbag was a "cheater" handbag. We used edible images for all the print.  I made it the size to fit one full page of print for the front and one for the back.  HA!  It didn't outwit me this time!  Did you know that REAL bags have upside down print on the backside because it's all one piece of leather?  I made sure I was accurate for this birthday girl because she would have known!  For all the tan pieces, I used a stitching tool and it made a big difference in the overal look and detail of the cake.

I was happy with the cake, even though I could have added SO much more to it (makeup, jewelry, etc.) but when we got it to the venue that was decorated beautifully, it fit in just perfect!  The staff at The Chattanoogan Hotel were all coming up and taking pictures and that is a real compliment since they see cakes all the time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Wraparound String Wedding Cake

Most bridal cake orders these days follow a certain formula. About six months or more from the wedding I get a contact email or call from the bride, a consultation, design and tasting, quote and contract, then finally delivery. This cake was very different. Two weeks ago, a MOB (mother of the bride) contacted me wanting to book a wedding cake. Book, not quote or meet. I booked it but didn't have any details other than servings and delivery date. I spent the following few days trying to pin them down to flavors or design. I got one picture of a floral centerpiece for inspiration. Out of desperation I sent three pictures of basic cakes. She just picked one! Done! It was a strange way to make a wedding cake. I found out the the bride and groom had already gotten married and didn't even want the reception. So that explained a lot!

As far as this cake, I can't say too much, can I?  It is super smooth buttercream, (yay me!) with some Fondarific bands. The first time I put the green bands on I used the smallest section on the ribbon cutter. It was still to thick and heavy. I went to my faithful Artway extruder. I used a small die and extruded the "snakes" onto a cookie sheet. I chilled for a few minutes and then applied them to a very cold cake. That way, when I didn't like the placement, it didn't tear up the cake. The cake matched the venue's decorations and it was clean and neat. It was kind of an easy paycheck, but I still felt "cheated" out of my experience with the bride. That's silly I know, but sometimes those experiences are the best part of the job!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sweet Sixteen Birthday Cake

This past weekend I made the cutest sweet sixteen for a young woman in Chattanooga.  I worked closely with her Mom to get a list of all her favorite things so we could surprise her with this grand birthday cake!

Our birthday girl is on the rowing team, so I made a replica of her rowboat in her school's colors.  The rest of her cake followed a salmon and turquoise color scheme.  Does anyone besides me have a problem mentioning salmon and cake in the same sentence? ;-)

I made her favorite shopping bag, and even a set of car keys, something every s16 year-old wants, but I had the most trouble with the birthday girls' pup!  I initially starting molding the dog using Fondarific modeling chocolate, but I had to scrap it.  It was just a little too wilty and wouldn't hold its shape the way I wanted.  I made a quick batch of real modeling chocolate and that worked much better. 

Thanks to everyone that stops and reads my blog; I enjoy telling you my tales in the cake trenches.  Friday is Valentine's Day, so hug someone you love!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Woodland Owl Birthday Cake

Sweet Kaeley is one of the only kids I still make a birthday cake for these days.  Her mom is a vendor and sends me lots of business, so it is pretty cheap pay for an unofficial outside sales person.  This year's party was at the Chattanooga Nature Center in their "Tree House" and they were having a real owl come to the party.  Birthday parties were not that cool when I was a kid.....jealous ,  I am.

I love it when  I'm given a few parameters and let to go.  A "fairy, owl, woodland, princess theme" is what I was told.  I didn't want to use "traditional" forest colors, so I went with a silver bark bottom tier, purple owls and mushrooms and bright green leaves!  That's the kind of world I want to live it!   I finally got to use a tree bark impression mat that I just love.  I 'm sorry to say, they don't make it anymore :(

My "lesson" on this cake is to tell you about over building or cake insurance.  When you have any type of heavy fondant figure or item, like my owls, put a wooden skewers up the middle with plenty of skewer to go into the cake.  All my mushrooms and letters/circles have thick floral wire in them.  For the cake support there are big straws in the 11" tree trunk to hold up the top tier.  It was only two layers. The 7" tier was four layers with a cardboard cake board under the bottom two layers and one under the top two tiers.  There are also fat straws supports in the bottom two tiers to hold up the top two.  I used four skewers through all those layer to keep the tier straight and stable.  After I stacked them, I ran a sharpened master dowel through the whole cake.  I never let  a cake out the door without a center dowel.  It's a great insurance policy in itself.  When you drive up a mountain to deliver a cake, nothing is going to move if you build yours in this way.

Unfortunately there are times when all your over building can't stop a bigger problem.  As is the norm, I was carrying the cake to the customers car.  I have four steps to go down as you leave my shop.  I was watching Kaeley and her mom and lost count of how many steps I had already taken.  As I took the last step I realized there was still another step.  I went SMACK on the concrete and so did the cake.   As stupid as I felt, I was more worried about poor Kaeley because she was looking at me with a look of horror.  The first thing she said was "Are you OK?" and then "Is my cake ruined?"  Oh, I hurt but I wasn't going to let her know that.  I said "It's OK, I can fix it.  You are just going to have to stay a little while longer".  She was happy because I have a pink kitchen and edible glitter :)  I gave her and her Mom some fondant and said "help me by making a few butterflies".  That was good because it's hard to work when everyone is looking at you and thinking "How is she going to fix that?" 

I'm truly lucky that I caught the top tier so it didn't land on the ground and because the cake was super cold.  Since my buttercream is all real butter, it's get really hard in the cooler.  That is great for traveling with any cakes.  It took me about 20 minutes to fix the cake, but it felt like two hours.  I am also grateful that the customer was a fellow vendor and she has seen a lot go wrong during wedding set ups and is cool as a cucumber.  She was much more worried about me than the cake which I so appreciate.  I was too busy being embarrassed.  At the end I told Kaeley that the fixed cake has lost all it's glitter and I needed help to get it sparkly again.  She was a big help!   I think all the after boo boo glitter really helped!  (The smaller picture is the "after".  Take my word for it, there was a lot of glitter!"

Kaeley and the "After" Photo!


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