Sunday, December 12, 2010
We were busy little bees this weekend with two big cakes and several batches of cupcakes. Here are a few samples of what we did. ~ Peggy
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 11:18 PM
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 10:58 PM
I had two really big cakes and several batches of cupcakes all due this weekend... and the cakes were both "fondant heavy," so I feel like I've caked it non-stop for the last 2 weeks. One of my big cakes was the circus-themed cake that's pictured and written about in my prior blog entry - and the second was this "winter wonderland" themed cake for a "sweet sixteen" birthday party for my niece. This cake was double layers of 10", triple layers of 8", quadruple layers of 6", and triple layers of 4" in white almond sour cream with vanilla bean filling and icing. The entire thing was covered in homemade MMF and over 100 hand-decorated fondant snowflakes. (My 12 year old little girl spent more than 5 hours hand decorating each fondant snowflake with luster dust, crystalized colored sugar, and edible pearls). When both of these cakes were finished, everyone in the house wanted to crash. We are completely caked out this week! Note to self: do NOT overbook yourself next December, Peggy!
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 10:23 PM
My favorite cakes in the world are ones that I'm given free reign on. The mother of the birthday girl gave me a list of things she wanted, and then let me go nuts. I loved making this cake and had a blast with it for 55 wonderful (exhausting!) hours. Thanks to all the wonderful cakers at www.cakecentral.com who so willingly offer to share their cake photos, their ideas, their advice, and their friendship. This cake was inspired by many of them, including a puppy by my hero, Lorraine McKay, and a baby lion designed by a user named "dragonflydoces." Cake is 10"/8"/6" white almond sour cream with Madagascar vanilla bean filling and icing and all fondant decorations. Fondant work included Dumbo on top, Timothy Q Mouse with marching jacket and hat with feather holding up "Libby Lane" banner, 3 clowns, a seal, 2 tigers, a lion, a monkey, a doggy and his hoop of fire, 6 train cars, 5 balloons, 3 hats, 6 neck collars, 40 banners, 8 tassels, 40 stripes, and over 100 balls. Hmmmm, I think that's it. All fondant and all edible except 2 wires (1 holding the "Libby Lane" banner and 1 holding up the rogue balloon on the 2nd tier). This thing was so heavy! When I got the call that it was safely displayed at the birthday party, I nearly melted with relief!
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 9:42 PM
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Oh man, this cake was so much fun and made for such a great week. I absolutely loved working on this thing. It was a first birthday cake for the little daughter of a friend/co-worker who I (coincidentally) grew up and went to school with. I really wanted to do something special for her and her precious little girl. She told me the theme, showed me a party plate and the banner she had ordered, and told me to have my way with the design. That rates her even higher in my book, since free reign is pretty much what I live for when it comes to cake. We did a WASC with Madagascar vanilla butter cream, and then decorated it in fondant accents. The crown, frogs, lily pads, and cattails are all hand-sculpted fondant. The flowers were made with a daisy plunger. Everything on the cake is edible except the wires holding up the cattails. One of my favorite things about this cake was that my daughter (age 12) and my mom (who is soon to be 70) both were able to help with it. Often they just sit around and visit while I work. My mom made all the fondant cattails and my little girl helped out in a huge way with all the fantasy flowers and she made all the lily pads and lily pad flowers by herself. I saw pictures of the baby eating her smash cake and they were so dang sweet. Happy birthday, Princess Courtney. You are loved!
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 9:55 PM
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Those of us who bake, sadly, have to discard the best part of every single cake we make: the top. It's a terrible thing and when I first started doing it, it caused me actual physical pain to have to slice it off and waste it. A girl can only have so many plastic bags full of cake "odds and ends" in the freezer. Bakers also find themselves with a similar icing-related problem. It hurts to waste it. I was doing a huge cake, so I made a triple batch of cream cheese icing (or caramel infused buttercream or fresh strawberry italian meringue, etc.), and when I was finished, I still had cups and cups of it left over... and it hurt me in my bones to scrape it down the sink. But THIS is the exact reason why some brilliant person invented..... CAKE BALLS! Take the best part of the cake, the top, mix it with the most fabulous from-scratch icing, roll it, freeze it, dip it into melted ganache (semi sweet chocolate and warm heavy cream), and TA DA: cake balls! Final step: stuff it in your face one blissful bite at a chocolate-covered time. These things get devoured. I'm not sure if it's because they're delicious or if it's because people just lose their minds when anything even resembling cake is put in front of them. So word of advice - if you try your hand at cake balls, be sure to make LOTS more than you think you'll need.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I was asked to do another harvest themed cake - this time for a married couple who have October/November birthdays and were sharing a party. I was supposed to take the blue harvest cake I did a couple weeks ago and make it a bit more "adult" friendly while keeping it similar. I have been wanting to do a cake with a tree growing up the front face for a while now, so I figured now was as good a time as any. Twenty hours worth of sculpted fondant later, I came up with this. Couldn't decide whether to put the chicken down by the ear of corn or up on top of her nest, so I left her "loose" instead of glueing her down with chocolate (the way everything else was glued down). Not much in this world is more fun that an interactive cake you can play with. Ok, that IS kinda' gross if you think about it - and I heard today from the girl who asked me to bake this cake that someone at the party considered eating the chicken and then had second thoughts after she realized half the town had played with it.
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 9:19 PM
Saturday, November 6, 2010
This was as "last minute" as a cake can be! I only had about a week's notice on this cake, which is really weird since I'm usually booking cakes a few months out. I was so happy I was able to make room for it! I referred to it all week long as my "pink nightmare," because there were 4 degrees of pink fondant all over the place for days on end! Although the cake was full of miniscule details (which I LOVE!), I was a bit saddened that I had very little artistic freedom with it. I was asked to copy a picture someone gave me and to try not to take any liberties with the design if I could control myself. (Which, if you know me at all, you know that sometimes I just can't control myself.) At the time I first wrote this blog entry, I didn't know who the original designer of the cake was - but the caking community is a very close-knit one, and I soon found out it was a lady from Virginia who goes by "Jan14grands" on Cake Central. Her work is honest-to-God amazing and my cake didn't hold a candle to her original design. In fact, I told the lady who asked me to make this cake that the only way I would even attempt this cake was if I could cut out certain "high difficulty level" elements: the fondant border, the quote that was piped on the side, and the second bow. Due to that short notice thing I mentioned earlier, she was just so grateful to find someone who was willing to make it for her that she quickly agreed. This cake was white almond sour cream with plain-Jane vanilla filling and icing. All decorations are homemade marshmallow fondant and completely edible. I'm indebted to the wonderful members of http://www.cakecentral.com/ for their support and for all the wonderful ideas that are inspired by those folks. We have the best community of bakers anywhere in the world there.
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 11:04 PM
Friday, October 29, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
This was a tiny little thing compared to the the other cake I did this weekend (the champagne fondant and burgundy ribbon cake), which was a real monster. This little cake only fed about 50 people, so doing it was, well, a piece of cake. I marbled 4 different shades of oranges and brown together for the borders, the bow, and the flowers. Green ferns topped it off. I didn't get any photos of the cake with the final top on it, but if I get my hands on one, I'll add it here. October is such a gorgous month to get married. Here's wishing love and happiness to all my brides (and everyone else's brides) this weekend!
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 8:31 AM
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Hayden was having a WWE "RAW/Smack Down" wresting themed sleepover to celebrate his 9th birthday. His momma told me all he wanted giftwise were these wrestling figurines, and she thought he would think it was pretty awesome if we could build a cake around them. I ran into a couple problems that were firsts for me while making this cake. First, I don't usually like anything on my cake that isn't edible, so typically I'm vehemently against toys or anything plastic sitting on cakes. But as I went Googling for ideas on what to do, I found that cakes with "fondant" wrestlers were just pretty bad. I think even the best cakers struggle with giant fondant muscles, mullets, goatees, tattoos, and skin tight leotards. I decided to make an exception to my "no toy" rule just this once, because for this cake, the toys just really worked. Another issue I dealt with on this cake was that it was my first BIG flavor mistake. Only after I had baked and cooled a white almond sour cream sheet cake and whipped up a double batch of vanilla bean buttercream did I recall that this cake was supposed to be chocolate on chocolate. Ah well, it all worked out in the end, as Hayden was adorable and said he was certain white on white would be just delicious. What a sweet, sweet kid. I didn't think I would like this cake, but in the end, I thought it was pretty hilarious and was quite proud of it. Except for the figurines, everything else is edible.
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 9:58 PM
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Tiffany gave me a photo of a cake she wanted for her little boy, Brayden, so this cake isn't by any stretch of the imagination a "Peggy original." I'm so used to working hard to make my cakes "pretty" that the idea of making one dirty on purpose made me a little nervous. When this cake was finished, I had to go "stain" up the shirt and the baseball. That was so weird. It just felt wrong. I think my heart might have palpitated and I'm pretty sure I broke out into a cold sweat. But alas, I summoned the courage and worked it all out. White almond sour cream cake with whipped vanilla bean filling and icing (colored brown on the outside). Covered with graham cracker/milk chocolate "dirt" and all fondant decor (jersey, banner, baseball). Happy birthday, Brayden. Thank God for little boys or all my cakes would be totally covered in flowers!
I confess, when I was asked to make "Jonas Brother" cupcakes for my friend Maura's daughter's 17th birthday, I was completely stumped on what that would mean and what I could do. I said, "Doesn't your daughter have a favorite color? We could do that?" Maura said, "Nah, not really." I asked hopefully, "Does she have a favorite pet?" Maura said, "Um, no, not really." Pressing on, sure I could change her mind, I asked, "Well does she have a hobby?" Maura said, "Not anything I can think of that we could easily turn into a cupcake." "Does she have a favorite fashion "thing," a favorite number, does she loves shoes, purses, jewelry? Does she have a favorite flower?" I was basically begging at this point. You don't have favorite flowers at 17. (Red tulips for me, please, if anyone's interested.) "Man, what does this kid like???" "She loves the Jonas Brothers," Maura told me for the 10th time. So Jonas Brothers cupcakes it was! But what to do, what to do? How do you turn a Disney boy band into a 17 year old young lady's birthday cupcakes? I went Googling and found darling pink and aqua blue cupcakes using "edible images" (photos printed on edible paper). I knew that was the ticket. I ordered 6 little "purple/pink/blue" colored cupcake-sized edible photos and got busy making fondant flowers. In the end, I was actually rather pleased with these. Cupcakes were white almond sour cream with a really lovely caramel and hazelnut infused buttercream icing. So hey, happy birthday, Bekka. I hope you had fun biting the faces off Kevin, Joe, and Nick! (I had to go to Wiki to find their names.)
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 11:28 PM
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Making this cake might have been the most fun I've ever had making a cake. This experience was exactly what cake decorating is about. I didn't break a sweat, I didn't pitch any hissy fits, I didn't curse out loud. (I didn't even curse under my breath.) While my family was busy with school work in the evenings this week,
grading papers and Molly doing homework, I sat at the kitchen table and made a train out of Rice Krispy treats. Playing in fondant is theraputic. It's better than a book or the t.v. or the internet. On top of the fun fondant work involved with making this cake, I loved that it was only one tier. I also loved that it was finished in a joyful shade of sky blue buttercream. I had a blast making the trees, the trunks, the hills, the rocks for the tunnel (totally stolen idea), the railroad sign (totally stolen idea), the flowers, the tiny apples. Thanks to Nichole Patrick for the inspiration cake. Triple layers of white almond sour cream torted and filled with whipped vanilla bean buttercream. Everything on the cake is completely edible. Happy birthday little James! Gary
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 4:52 PM
I wanted to make my mom a birthday cake, but knew she didn't want a full-sized cake. I also had 2 other cakes that week and didn't have a lot of spare time. Molly (my 12 year old daughter/baby genius) came up with the idea of doing a "mini" tiered cake. This was a 6" torted bottom tier and a 4" torted top tier. Each layer was white almond sour cream cake filled with whipped vanilla bean buttercream filling. The entire cake was iced in butter cream then covered with chocolate ganache and chocolate covered fresh strawberries. Just for kicks, I piped on a giant border of a whipped version of the chocolate ganache. I wish I filled these cakes with chocolate ganache, but I didn't think about that until it was too late. I want to try that and can never remember to do it. I didn't make time to take a great photo of this cake, I just snapped a picture of it on the kitchen table before we ran out the door with it (taking it down to my mom's house). I wish I had taken a better photo - and I also wish I had taken a picture of the inside when we cut it, because the inside was prettier than the outside. Happy birthday, Momma!
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 1:42 PM
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I had a blast making this cake for a new mummy who loves monkeys and was using the Fisher Price "Rainforest" party decor as her shower theme. I was asked to make a cake to match the decorations and given free reign on what I wanted to do. I searched and searched for ideas, but in the end, couldn't find what I wanted, so I just did my own thing. This cake was a basic white almond sour cream cake with whipped Madagascar vanilla butter cream. It's 100% edible - even the palm tree which is solid fondant, not a dowel wrapped in fondant.
Posted by Peggy Does Cake. at 8:41 AM