Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Cakes and Spending Time with Family

When I was very young I knew an older lady that made cute chocolates by painting those plastic molds with colored chocolate and then filling them up. They were so "fancy"!

She got me so interested in it and it really sparked my love of pretty sweets. We have a very sweet niece that came to visit from Portland, Oregon. She wanted to make a cake and I found a simple design that a 14 year old and I could make in a few hours. I baked some layers and made the buttercream early that morning. We tried some different fillings, made fruity pebbles treats for the little stumps, made chocolate icing, filled, iced, and airbrushed. We made some grass, flowers, butterflies, a bunny and a cute fluffy bunny butt!

We had a great time and made a bunch of dishes. This would be a really cute design for someone that is learning and wants to try a cake with lots of wiggle room for error. I hope you are inspired to try even part of this Springtime cake with a special younger family member. You never know what desire you may spark in them!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Our 6th Blogiversary!

I just realized it's been six years since I started my little blog!  Time sure does fly when you're having fun, right?  It's a time I like to look back and see what's happened over the past year and what the next year might bring.

While I've consistently blogged over the past year, I will admit that I have read less blogs over the past year.  And I have seen decent stats as far as readers are concerned, but I've seen less comments over the past year.  I love hearing what you guys have to say, but if you don't comment I certainly won't hold it against you!  Are blogs going by the wayside in favor or Facebook?  Am I missing any good new blogs?  If so, please let me know in the comments.

Remember the Millennium Falcon cake we did last fall?  Well recently it sort of went viral, well at least as viral as anything we've done before.  It was featured on some really cool geek sites like BoingBoing, Wired Italy, Laughing Squid, and a bunch of other sites that I have to use Google Translate to read!  It's been fun to see all the new hits from these other sites, but going viral doesn't put coins the coffers.

As far as my outlook on 2015, I want this year to be all about rebranding.  I have started working on a new and improved website, and today I contacted a designer about creating new logos for the business.  I need something that fits my business better and can double as a watermark.  I really do dislike watermarks, but I've had my photos stolen in the past, and with photo sharing all the rage on sites like Pinterest, I've decided it's become a necessary evil.

So look forward to seeing some new branding here soon, and don't forget to post any cool new cake blogs in the comments that you think I should check out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Libby Swirl Birthday

Every baker is given pictures from their customers and asked to reproduce them and it happen most of the time.  It happens to the most famous cake people!  It's not a knock on your abilities, so don't take it that way.  Customers get on Pintrest and Google to start their wheels turning but get their hearts set on a certain design.  It stinks because if they are willing to give you some freedom they may get a better cake.  All cake designers are sitting on a pile of designs that really want to create.  Sometimes my job is trying to convince someone that I can take their ideas and customize it to fit the event even better.  Some cake designers just say "no, I won't reproduce another bakers work".  I don't get that since almost no design is an "original" and is certainly not copyrighted.  I do try hard to mention the person or company IF I KNOW IT, but often I don't and I don't have hours to research.  

Some customers will not let you change anything from the picture they provide you.  If you were to really push them to change the cake, you may lose the sale.  If you are a baker, my advice is to make sure you advise them, especially on the contract, that anytime two people make the same thing, they will not come out the same.  Even when I am supposed to make a cake that I've already made before it will come out different.  If you are a customer, be sure you understand that we are not "copy machines".  Your baker may not have the same abilities as your picture from a magazine.  It's not wrong to ask your baker to see a picture of a cake similar to the cake you are wanting.  If you want a stadium cake, you should look at other cakes that would require the use of blueprints and need to be to scale.  It's not apples to apples but it's better than blindly trusting.

   As you may have guessed, a customer asked me to make an exact copy of another bakers work.  I did just that but a made a "cleaner" and more finished version of the original.  This design is super simple so if you haven't tried it, Google a tutorial and give it a try!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Safari Animal Birthday Cake

We create so few birthday cakes these days that when we get to make one, we tend to go a little overboard.   The cake is really a basic design to be a backdrop for the real stars, the animals.  I added a small piece of styrofoam to lift the top tier so I could have a place to hang the vines.   It really is best for the sake of stability.

We marbled a little fondant for the waterfall  and disguised the source with fondant rocks.  As a side note, if you want some AWESOME looking candy rocks and boulders that are solid chocolate covered in a candy she'll, check out Nuts.com.  I love these people, their almond flour and their cute packaging.

There are a million animal tutorials out there, so I can't add much new in that department.   The most important thing to remember is to add tylose to your fondant and let it sit up a while. This step will make your animals not  be droopy or melty looking.   Another tip is to add a little "makeup" to your animals. A little touch of blush will make your animals "come to life"!  Also, if you get the basic way of making an animal, you can search Etsy for an "elephant" and take some inspiration from a greeting card, stuffed animal or most anything.  If you are selling a cake with animals, you should allow about two hours to make each animal.  I'm just saying, don't start the animals at 8pm the night before the cake is due.  Happy animal making!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New Realistic Cake Guitar Strings - Mini Tutorial

Remember the guitar cake we did a few months ago?  Sometimes the best ideas hit you when you're in the weeds.  We were SO running out of time to finish this cake and I was going to do something that would not have been so pretty.  I'll give you the short version, which is still kinda long!  Chad came up with a great idea to use bamboo skewers to hold the strings.   Read on for a mini tutorial on how we did this.

 We drilled the tiniest of holes in the skewer and tied fishing line in a double knot so it wouldn't slip through.  We measured all the skewers to just fit above the fondant after it was tapped into the gator board/drum below.  Next time I would do a better job of cutting these more uniformly.

Once you have all the skewers cut and your fishing line attached (leave it long on the "neck" end) start hammering them into place at the bottom of the guitar.  If you do them once at a time they'll be easier to manage.  An assistant will help hold the loose strings off the cake.

I did my best to hide the skewers, but I was on a tight timeline but I would conceal them better next time. probably using fondant or food markers.

On the neck end, each of your skewers will be a different height, so you'll need to hammer in and measure each skewer individually.  This will also be the time you measure your fishing line and cut it just a bit longer than you need.  Go ahead and drill your skewer hole and tie your fishing line in a knot on the skewer.

Here's where the magic all comes together.  Start pushing the skewer back into it's hole.  If you notice the string is going to be too long, give the skewer a turn or two to tighten the string.  As it goes into the cake, the string will tighten.  You won't be able to tune it to the correct key, but it will hold tight enough to look really good.  Using a thick modeling chocolate bar at the base of the neck will give the strings something to bite into and help keep them in place. We then put some fondant tuning pegs over the holes to hide the skewers.

We used real guitar string on the banjo, but know that we have figured this out, it will be our go to method.  I will say that when we moved the cake the strings got looser because the flex of the very long cake board but then got tight again as soon as we laid it on the display table.  I'm lucky the saggy, traveling strings didn't mess up my paint.

Hope this helps - if you have any questions, feel free to  lave us a comment.


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