Saturday, September 25, 2010

James Turned 2 with a Choo-Choo Cake! (Click photos to enlarge.)

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, Gary 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!

Grandma Patty Got a Cake (click photo to enlarge).

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! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Molly's Fisher Price Rainforest Baby Shower Cake (click photos to enlarge).

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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jan's Lazy River Cake (click photos for a bigger view).

This cake was for a friend who was going away for a little "getaway" with 7 girlfriends. They were going to a condo that had a "lazy river" and my charge was to make a cake depicting that. (A handful of middle-aged diva's floating the lazy river). Wow, this cake almost did me in. Prepare yourselves, because I'm posting a LOT of pictures of this cake, because honestly, it just didn't photograph well. I guess I figure if I post enough photos, maybe one of them will bear some kind of resemblance to the real cake. I plan to post more some photos of the actual ladies enjoying their vacation as soon as they return home. This cake was a double half sheet torted and filled with whipped caramel infused butter cream. Including the cake, filling, icing, and decorations, this baby contained 3 full pounds of butter, more than a pound of shortening, a pound of sour cream, 7 pounds of sugar, a cup and a half of heavy whipping cream, well over a dozen eggs, and more than 5 pounds of fondant on it. My daughter, Molly, age 12 (the world's harshest cake critic) didn't love this cake as much as I my husband and I did, but of all the cakes I've made so far, this is my personal favorite. Maybe because of the work that went into it - or maybe because of how ridiculous it is. Either way, this cake was what cake-making is supposed to be: FUN.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cake Update: Ryleigh's "high heel shoe and pearls" cake

Ryleigh didn't really care what her "tea party" birthday cake looked like, but she did have three special requests:  1) she really wanted the cake to be strawberry; 2) she really wanted a pearl border; and 3) (and most importantly) she wanted a "high heel shoe" on top.  I thought those were pretty reasonable requests.  Per her momma, my sweet friend, Amanda, if I could incorporate all three of those things, she would have a VERY happy birthday girl, and the rest of the design could fall on me.  Music to my ears, as I love to hear those words!  Artistically free is my favorite way to bake!  For months, I'd been saving up all these ideas for my next "little girl" cake.  I could only get away with a couple at a time on any one cake, though, so sadly, I had to narrow it down to just one or two.  

I was desperate to try the "melted icing" look, so I knew I'd be doing that on this cake.  I also knew it was a great time to try the "quilted" look (with tiny flowers or pearls, but I wasn't sure which).  So those were the two new techniques I wanted to incorporate into Ryleigh's cake.  All you other little ideas, just be patient.  You'll get your turn.  So, looking back, maybe I shouldn't have tried two "new" things on one cake.  I was a bit disappointed with the end result, as the cake wasn't as "clean" in real life as it was in my mind.  But I have to say, looks aside, this was quite possibly the BEST cake I've ever tasted.  And I don't typically even like strawberry cake.  This had 2 quarts of fresh strawberries in it, a pound of butter, a pound of sour cream, a pound of granulated sugar, and more than a dozen eggs.  Just in the cake.  The almond and Madagascar vanilla-infused whipped buttercream filling and icing were another shopping list entirely.  Oh I do hate to brag, but I'm telling you, this cake tasted GOOD.  Speaking of good taste, Amanda has an amazing gift when it comes to all things regarding that.  Entertaining and decorating are among her many talents, so it makes sense that she provided an exceptionally beautiful setting for this little tea party.  Happy birthday, Ryleigh.  What I would have given as a little girl to have had a day like this!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Zoo Vet Cupcakes (click to enlarge photos).

A friend of mine asked me to make cupcakes for her daughter who's in college studying to be a zoo vet. She wanted a few zoo animals in fondant and the rest of the cupcakes in buttercream. I thought about what I wanted to do and then came up with the idea to give all the little fellas "ailments." Not sure how big the photos will be on everyone's screens (all 5 of you that will ever see this), so just in case you can't tell, the lion has a thorn in his paw (I think the rest of them are pretty obvious). Cupcakes were triple chocolate - chocolate batter, filled with chocolate cream, and covered with chocolate buttercream. White cupcakes were WASC with whipped caramel buttercream. Thanks for looking.

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