Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rocker Chic Balmain Cake

Posted by MamaWa at 6:00 PM 3 comments
Victoria texted me and said, "I want all my birthday cakes from you!", after the LV cake I made her last year.  The two of us kept our promises and the result was amazing!  Victoria loves fashion and it shows in her taste in cakes.  What could be more fun than a Balmain cake inspired by the latest runway shows.  I could only describe it as "rocker chic" with tons of glass, silver, gold, and studs set against a black or pale background.  Victoria emailed me her favorite pieces, and I drew elements from the ones I liked the most.

I knew this cake was going to labor intensive with all the small details, so I had to plan my time accordingly.  As I baked the two 10" green tea cakes in the oven, I began on my silver and gold studdings.  Using a candy mold, I formed hundreds of small fondant diamonds in a pale yellow and light gray.  The light colors act as a base for the luster dust and creates a vibrant metallic color.  The easiest way to cover all these pieces is to place them into a sandwich bag, and pour in a little gold or silver luster dust.  Remember, a little goes a long way!  Give it a good shake to cover all the pieces evenly.  If the color isn't as vibrant as you want, add more luster dust and give it another round.  I felt that the hard lines of the diamond shapes needed to be balanced out with some soft and simple lines.  Taking inspiration from one of the pictures, I cut out some motifs and dusted them in luster dust to keep with the color palette.

Flash forward a bit and my cake is baked, cooled, torted, and filled with raspberry!  I crumb coated the entire cake with a raspberry buttercream, and then smoothed on a blanket of black colored fondant as my backdrop.  The dark contrast will make the gold and silver pop!  Starting with the bottom edge of the cake, I attached the silver fondant motifs and work my way around the cake.  I usually use a string and measure around my cakes to make sure I have the right amount of spacing and pieces to go all the way around.  Dividing that the length helps me figure out the sizes of my decorations too!  Once the bottom row of motifs were attached, I worked my way up and around the cake with alternating fondant and sugar pieces.  Gold and silver sugar dragees add an extra metallic pop.  The top of the cake also needed some special treatment for the birthday girl.  I designed monogram of Victoria's initials and cut them out on a personal cutter, a larger one covered in silver lust dust and the smaller one in gold.  These created a elegant and bold effect, but the accents of sugar diamonds and dragees brought it all together.  The final cake could have cat-walked its way onto any plate.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunny days for Sesame Street cakes!

Posted by MamaWa at 6:00 PM 1 comments
These birthday cakes were definitely a blast from the past.  It takes me back to my childhood, where I sat in front of the glowing tube, singing out loud - "Sunny Day, Sweeping the clouds away. On my way to where the air is sweet...".  Sesame Street is one children show that has tested the hands of time, and has touched every generation thus far.  I knew the characters like the back of my hands.  I only spent my entire childhood watching it.  So when my friend, Peter, asked to make a cake for his niece, I gladly agreed.  Then a week later, my friend Michelle requested one for daughter Oneida!  Sesame Street Fans all around :)


It seems as though that everyone's favorite characters are Elmo, Cookie Monster, or Big Bird!  Being the sugar model fanatic that I am, I created sugar models of these lovable characters.  Starting with the torsos of each one, I rolled out balls of 50/50 mixture of gumpaste and fondant.  Each ball were rolled and shaped accordingly to create the limbs for each character.  The heads were then shaped, using the body for sizing.  I didn't want my sugar models to look like bobble heads.  A toothpick is inserted into the torso as support for the heads.  Remember to use gum glue!  Brush it on lightly to hold everything together.  I placed the sugar models aside to dry.



Time to move onto the cakes!  I started with a classic vanilla cake batter, and baked them into two 10", and two 6" layers for Alex.  Oneida's was a bit different with a 10" of yellow cake, topped off with a 6" of chocolate goodness.  after baking, I allowed these to cool completely before working with them.  Applying icing to a warm cake will only leave you with a melting mess of sugar and butter.  The cakes were then torted and filled.  For Alex's cake, I filled it with raspberry puree.  It's a perfect balance of sweet and tartness!  Oneida's was filled with buttercream in the bottom layer, and chocolate bavarian cream on top.  I then cover the stacked layers with a food safe bag, and left them on the counter for a few hours.  This gives the torted layers a chance to settle, and help eliminate that ugly bulge that can happen on the sides of a cake.  The cakes are then lightly crumb coated with buttercream, and then covered with a thin blanket of fondant.  The 6" cake is then stacked onto the 10" cake with the support of dowel rods.  Fondant elements were cut out and attached to the cake with a touch of water brushed onto the backside. Each one received the a customized Sesame Street sign boasting the names of each birthday girl.  For a celebratory touch, I created streamers by wrapping thin strips of fondant around dowel rods and allowed them dry to hold their curly fun shape.


Oneida's Sesame street fun continued with rich chocolate cupcakes topped of with buttercream and a fondant Elmo!  The Elmo toppers were cut out of fondant and assembled a day ahead.  This allowed for ample drying time.  The cupcakes were baked and allowed to cool before I piped on red and purple buttercream.  The Elmo toppers were then placed on top of each cupcake at an angle.



I hope that these treats brought some sunny days into the world of the birthday girls!  Alex and Oneida,  I hope you had as much fun as I did!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's time for a Yo Gabba Gabba cake!

Posted by MamaWa at 5:58 PM 0 comments
Before designing this cake, I have never even seen one single episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.  I know.. I know.  Now, I own a few of the dvds, and I can even sing a few of the songs.  I have to admit, the show is quite fun. Plus, the showcase of musical guests keeps my son entertained. . . Who doesn't like the Roots?!  I can see why Mikayla loves the show, and this was the perfect cake for her first birthday.

A few months ago, John contacted me about a cake for his niece.  He's a long time friend of the family, and I was happy to take on what ever he had in mind.  I learned that her favorite character was Foofa, the cute pink one with the flower on her head.  John sent me several examples of Yo Gabba Gabba cakes, and told me what his sister liked about each one.  I took those ideas came up with a design that showcased the four different character themes, and sugar models of the five characters - Muno, Brobee, Toodee, Plex, and Foofa.  This cake was meant to feed around 50 guests, standing 3 levels stacked high of vanilla and raspberry goodness!

The week prior to delivery, I spent hours watching a dvd that I had borrowed from a friend and taking notes.  I sketched out the characters, and printed out images I found on the internet for references.  Using gumpaste and fondant, I started on the sugar models of the characters.  Each one was created in the same order, starting with the torso, the head, and then the limbs.  A great thing I've learned through my past experience is that creating the head after the torso helps keep everything in proportion. I've had to remodel figures because the heads were too big for the body.  On the torsos, I used a ball tool to created sockets for the arms and legs to fit into.  This creates a cleaner look.  Skewer sticks and toothpicks help the legs support the body upright and can be used as inserts onto the cake.  I crumbled up tissue under any areas that needed support while drying to reduce any hard blemishes.  The faces were done last with the help of small round cutters, or cut freehand with an exacto knife.  Small details such as the lashes were drawn on with a fine tip edible marker.  They are the best thing to purchase if you want to create sugar figures or draw very fine lines on a cake.


With the figures done and left aside to dry, it was time to create the cake.  Each level of cake had it's own design element that required attention.  The bottom level showcased the four homes of the characters - Munoland, Brobeeland, Toodeeland, and Foofaland.  Each one also represented the 4 seasons of summer, fall, winter, and spring.  To divide the cake evenly into the 4 scenes, I measured the circumference of the cake after it was torted and covered with a bright blue fondant.  This gave me the correct width of space for each scene.  I cut out a fondant rectangle of each background color and attached them to the cake with a little water.  Using the print outs as a reference, I cut out elements of each scene and attached them to the cake in layers for a dimensional look just like the show.  Colors play a very huge part in each of the scenes so using techniques such as marbling or color blocking helped.  Marbling two shades of blue allowed for a cold winter sky in Toodeeland.  Do you see the rock formations in Munoland?  Those were created by laying down thin ropes of different colored fondant next to each other and rolling it out at once.  I then cut out the shapes of the rock formations with a knife.


The second level was torted and covered with a marbled pink fondant.  I cut out 3/4 inch circles out of different color fondant and laid them out to create a bright message board where "Happy birthday Mikayla" in white fondant would sit.  I arranged the message on a parchment paper before attaching it to the cake just to make sure I had the spacing right.  A ribbon of the same blue fondant from the layer below accents the bottom of the second level.  The top level was covered in white and received a fun, whimsical striping treatment.  I used a wavy ribbon cutter and cut out 1/4 inch stripes of light blue, purple, and light pink fondant.  I attached these across the top and down the sides of the cake, alternating in colors.  I don't like the bump that can be creating by overlapping ribbons on the top of the cake, so my ribbons only really meet in the center and don't really overlap.  I cut off the areas that on top of another ribbon to create a seamless fit.  This was then accented with a ribbon and pink fondant beading.  The characters were then inserted into the cake and secured with a touch of piping gel.  To finish off the cake, I rolled out a whimsical #1 supported by a wooden skewer.  I brushed on some shimmering rose dust to give it a little bit of shine.  Once this was dried, I inserted it into the cake and yelled, "Yo Gabba Gabba!"


Friday, September 16, 2011

Robot Cake For My Mateo's 2nd Birthday!

Posted by MamaWa at 5:43 PM 0 comments
I can't believe another year has past, and my little baby is now a 2 years old toddler.  He has grown so much, and has developed such a personality.  Last year, I made a Lucha Libre style Dunny cake for his first birthday, and that was because I love Dunnies!  This year, we could tell what he likes and dislikes, and what would be fun for him to have as a cake.  With all his toys and clothing in mind, there was only one option... A retro robot cake!

I have to admit.  I was super excited to do this cake at first, but then I got really nervous once I started planning it out.  I had to figure out how I was going created legs for the cake.  I didn't want the robot to be sitting.  I wanted it to stand upright. Luckily, I was able to pick the brains of a few structural designers I know and came up with a solution.  I used high density styrofoam as my base, and created the legs for the robot cake.  Since I'm not used to working with this stuff, a sweet man named Lou helped along in this process.  I first created a template for all the parts of the cake on the computer, and then cut them out of cardboard.  Lou used the templates to cut out the parts from the high density styrofoam with the help of a hot wire.  The pieces were then glued together and left to dry overnight with 40 lbs of weight sitting on top.  This ensured full contact of the glued surfaces, and also acted as a weight test for me.  I knew this cake was going to be heavy.

The body and head of the robot was much easier compared to the legs.  I baked three half sheets of horchata cake and a batch of cinnamon buttercream.  I stacked 4 layers of the cake, nestled between the spicy buttercream, and carved to even out the sides.  This was then covered in a light gray fondant, smoothing down all sides with a fondant smoother.  The head was 3 layers stacked and covered the same way, but was carved down slightly smaller than the body.  The body was then carefully lifted onto the robot legs. A bit of duct tape secured the top of the base to the cake board beneath the body of cake.  Using a template of the the head, I marked the area on top of the body where the top cake would sit.  This way, I could make sure that my dowel rods would not be seen once inserted.  I measured 4 dowel rods accordingly and cut down to size.  These were then inserted within the area that I had marked.  Piping a small dab of buttercream acted like glue, as I carefully set the head portion of the cake on top.  To add a bit of detail, I rolled out strips of the gray fondant and adhered to all edges.  Small balls of the same fondant were flattened to create rivets.

Once the body and head of the delicious robot were stacked, I had to cover up the legs to make it look like one cohesive cake.  In order to adhere the fondant to the high density styrofoam, I spread a thin layer of piping gel on the base with the help of a small angled spatula.  Covering the base did take some patience.  I had to cut out all the sides of the legs, and carefully blend the seams with my fingertip.  The same treatment with the edges and rivets tied the cake and base part together.  This robot was a bit naked with just the gray fondant, and covering the whole cake in luster dust was going to take forever... therefore, I airbrushed the entire thing with a silver sheen to give it an metallic look.  Based upon an illustration I found online, I decided on simple geometric shapes for the robot's facial and body features.  The different sizing and angles gave this robot the perfect childish expression it needed.  For a personal touch, like this wasn't custom enough, I added a whimsical heart with an "M", and a large number "2" on the back of the robot.  The arms were layered shapes cut out of black foam board glued together, and attached to a dowel rod.  These were then inserted into the sides of the cake with some space in between.  No robot could be complete without any lights, right?  I carefully cut out two small circles from the front of the cake, just big enough to fit the two flashing LED light units.  These units ran on a small watch battery, so they did not require much space or running of any wires.  I wrapped the lighting units in plastic wrap before inserting them to keep it food safe.  I then cut out two slightly larger blue circles and covered up the openings, leaving a small hole for the light to shine through.  The result was perfect!  Seeing my son's reaction was the best reward for this cake, oh! and eating it too! :)

Make sure you check out the lights in action here!  Hope you enjoyed this one!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Norwegian Birthday Cake for Arlene

Posted by MamaWa at 6:05 PM 0 comments
Before designing this cake, I've never heard of a pastry called Kransekake, let alone pronounce it.  It's a traditional Norwegian almond cake that consist of a tower of rings, drizzled in icing.  This became a major element behind the cake design, along side with a figure of the birthday girl.  Penny approached me a few months prior to the cake delivery date with plenty of resources at hand.  She came prepared with a family recipe book that contained photos, notes, and a good glimpse into her family's heritage.  This book gave me a personal perspective, and allowed me to sketch up some ideas for her mother's birthday cake.  Oh yeah, did I mention that this cake had to travel 8 hours in a car?  That also came into play when I designed the cake.

From the very beginning, we decided on a sheet cake based upon the number of servings and the dangers of traveling for such a long time.  I wanted the cake to look like a landscape where the miniature Kransekake stood as a monument that Arlene was approaching with a Norwegian flag in hand.  I began by forming the ascending rings of the traditional cake out of a 50/50 mixture of gumpaste and fondant.  I printed out a template of rings to make sure I had the right sizes and that the increments were consistent.  Using a small ball tool, I created small indents to replicate the texture of the real cake.  Once the rings were completely dried, I stacked them and attached them together with a bit of melted candy coating.  No Kransekake would be complete without the icing, so I drizzled skinny threads of the candy coating down the tower of rings just as if it was the real thing.  I placed the Kransekake aside to set while I moved onto modeling a figure of Arlene.

Using a photo from the recipe book,  I began shaping a miniature Arlene.  I created each part separately and attached them using some gum glue or a toothpick for support.  Once the body was firm enough, red fondant was rolled out thinly and hand cut into pieces of clothing just as if I was going to sew together real fabric.  These were draped and adhered to her body and shaped for a soft flow.  I tucked a little tissue under skirt to give it some fullness until it dried.  I gave her salt and pepper hair by marbling a bit of gray and white fondant together and ran a veining tool through it several times to create strands of hair.  I made it slightly long enough to peek out from underneath her traditional red hat.  Her glasses took a little effort to create.  At first I tried making it out of gumpaste, but I was not convinced by the results.  It was hard to create something so small and thin.  I opted for some floral wire and a small needle nose pliers instead.  I twisted the wire to create two loops for the glasses frames and snipped off the excess.  With a the help of a little drop of piping gel, I adhered the glasses into position.  To complete little Arlene, I printed out a Norwegian flag and wrapped it around a toothpick and inserted it into her hand with a drop of piping gel to secure in place.  I placed a styrofoam cup below it for support until it dried.

With the two major elements done, it was time for the cake.  I baked a 11x15x3 sheet of french vanilla cake and filled it with bavarian cream after leveling and torting it.  Once the cake settled, I crumb coated the sheet cake with vanilla buttercream.  The cake then received a smooth blanket of green fondant.  The trick to covering a square or rectangular cake is to work on the corners first, and then smoothing out the sides.  A strip of chocolate fondant was then rolled and imprinted with a cobble stone pattern for the road.  This is where the miniature Arlene would be standing on the cake.  "Happy Birthday Arlene!" was cut out of white fondant and adhered to the cake with a dab of water.  The Norwegian translation was provided by Penny, and I thank her for it.  I wouldn't have known if what I found online would be correct or not.  The Kransekake and Arlene were then attached to the cake with the help of some gum glue and wooden skewers to secure.  I dreaded the idea that Penny would arrive at her destination only to find the tower of rings on its side.  I made sure that wouldn't happen.  For a finishing touch, royal icing flowers were placed in various areas of the cake, and accented with a bit of green leave cutouts.  The result?  A lovely Norwegian theme cake for the birthday girl!

P.S.  The cake made it in one piece!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sheila's Cherry Blossom Baby Shower Cake

Posted by MamaWa at 5:31 PM 0 comments
When I last spoke to my sister's childhood friend, Sheila told me, "You are going to make a cake for me!".  Sure enough.  A few months later, I received a message from her explaining that she wanted a cake for her baby shower, and that her sisters would be contacting me shortly.  I couldn't wait to see what they had in mind for her, especially after knowing her for so long.  The theme was based around cherry blossoms, and the colors are pink, white, silver, and accents of brown.  With so many samples of cherry blossom cakes, it is a challenge to design one that looked like a baby shower and not a wedding cake.

I began with one sketch and sent it over, but the design didn't really scream to them, I told you this was going to be hard.  The final design was pretty much a 360 from the original idea, but still keeping the cherry blossoms.  Two cake flavors made up the cake: red velvet with cream cheese on the bottom, and classic vanilla and vanilla on the top.  The 10" bottom received a blanket of pale pink, and was accented with wavy fondant ribbons of a brighter pink and shimmery silver.  Straight strips of white fondant broke up the spaces in between.  The 8" top layer ( where most of work happened ) was first covered in a light gray fondant, and then was airbrushed with a silver sheen.  The two layers were then stacked before I continued.  Small beads of chocolate fondant were attached to the top layer in flowing swirls around the cake, creating these delicate and whimsical branches.  Small cherry blossoms were cut out of white fondant, and cupped on a thick foam for shape.  I brushed the center of each one with some pink petal dust for a natural and subtle color, and accented with an edible candy pearl.  For the message plate, I created a soft, hand-stitched ribbon out of layers of pink and white fondant.  The message is written in a edible color marker! 

My favorite part of creating this cake was definitely the toppers.  I created some paper templates for the three parts of the booties, and cut out the sole, toe, and heel.  These were attached to each other with a bit of gum glue, then gently filled with tissue to hold its shape until dried.  Do you see the eyelets?  I punched those out using a #2 icing tip.  They added so much character to the cute booties.  The rattle, which I designated to be eaten by the mommy-to-be, was actually two cake balls on a lollipop stick.  I crumbled up some cake with a bit of frosting, and rolled the mixture into two perfect balls.  I allowed these to set in the fridge for a bit before attaching them to the stick.  I gave each end a good dip in one smooth motion, and tapped off the excess candy coating.  Using a #5 tip, I cut out little dots of different color fondant and attached them to the rattle.  I couldn't be any happier with the results.  Congrats again to Sheila!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Coach Cake For Bridget!

Posted by MamaWa at 12:50 PM 0 comments
My coworker has always said, "I'm going to find an event to have you make a cake!".  Well, she finally found an event, and approached me almost a month and a half ahead of time.  Her niece, Bridget, was graduating from junior high and she wanted a cake for her party.  At first, we were thinking about designing a cake around Bridget's passion for competitive cheer leading.  However, the color combination and uniform pattern made me think of bad 80's memories.  After steering away from that concept, we designed a cake around her other passion...Coach!




The cake consisted of a 10" of yellow cake filled with Nutella, and a 6" of chocolate filled with Nutella.  The bottom level was covered in a light brown fondant and embellished with the signature Coach monogram pattern in a dark chocolate fondant.  The top layer was covered in a light pink vanilla fondant and embellished with a more modern take on the Coach monogram.  All the monograms were created in Illustrator and cut out on an electronic cutter, which has been a great investment so far!  Contrasting ribbons of fondant were wrapped around the bottom of each layer, and finished off with a bow or placket with gold dragee detailing.  To complete the cake and add a personalized touch,  I created a logo plate out of dark chocolate fondant and spelled out Bridget's name out of gold dragees!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jazz up a simple cake with some candy!

Posted by MamaWa at 7:06 PM 0 comments

 Not all cakes have to be over the top to be special.  Take this cake for instance.  This cake is for a little boy named, Oscar, and his Godmother had ask me to make a yellow cake with chocolate whipped cream.  And of course, the theme was all about semi-trucks.  Little boys just become interested in the most random things.  The question was how to incorporate a semi-truck... should I use a transfer, edible image, etc.  I love working with gumpaste, but I was worried about the truck just becoming a soft mush on the whipped cream, or the colors bleeding into it.  Then I thought about chocolate, but the rising heat worried me.  After about an hour of talking to myself in the kitchen, I finally figured it out... good ol' candy melts!



I baked two 8 inch rounds and torted them after cooling for several hours.  I made some chocolate whipped cream and filled in between each layer.  I placed the cake back in the cooler for few minutes to settle and covered the entire cake with a Wilton icing tip.  I smoothed out the top with a large spatula, and ran a bench scraper along the sides for a super smooth finish.  I piped on the border using a star tip and added rosettes to the side of the cake.  Now for the fun part!  I melted candy melts in the microwave and used a squeeze bottle to fill the cavities of a silicone mold.  I filled in the tires first and then the rest to prevent the colors from bleeding into each other.  The mold was then placed in the cooler for 15 minutes to set.  Now,  I have to admit, this is the nerve wrecking part... getting the candy out of the mold.  The wheels are so small and delicate that one wrong move and my wheels will break off.  I slowly pulled away at all the edges until I had loosen up the truck and then popped it out of the mold in one piece.  This colorful ( and yummy ) element was then placed on the cake.  I finished off the cake with a message and piped Oscar's name on the semi-truck's trailer.

Remember, simple doesn't have to boring.  Candy making tools are a great way to turn any cake into awesome!  Enjoy!

Every girl needs a Burberry Cake!

Posted by MamaWa at 6:02 PM 0 comments
Last month, my friend called me about her cousin who had an emergency... a cake emergency!  Ada needed a cake for her client, and time was fast approaching.  Ada works for fashion icon Burberry, and this could not be less than that.  Her client was celebrating her birthday, and they wanted to surprise her with a delicious purse cake.  Ada sent me a couple pictures of purses, and we weighed out our options to figure which one had a better shape and size for the cake.  After a few messages, we were able to narrow it down to her client's fave purse, the Prorsum Knight!

The cake begun as a 1/4 sheet vanilla cake that was cut into 4ths, and stacked between layers of vanilla buttercream.  Using a template that I created on the computer, I marked the areas that I would carve with toothpicks, tracing the outside edge of my paper template.  I slowly carved away thin sections for a smooth tapered shape.  I've learned that the trick to carving a cake is a good serrated knife, and a chilled cake.  This prevents the cake from just falling apart, and I'm not left with a pile of crumbs.  The entire cake was then crumb coated with buttercream for a smoother finish.

The next two steps were a bit tricky, and took some patience.  I had to recreate the pleating in the leather to resemble the real purse.  I rolled out the black fondant and cut out a piece slightly larger than the front and back of the purse.  I draped the fondant down the side, and created a pleated fold with my fingers just before adhering it to cake.  Then the hardest part was to create the zipper and the zipper opening.  I was lucky to find a zipper mold, but that didn't solve the problem I faced about incorporating it to the top of the purse cake.  I didn't want to just plop it on top... I wanted a nice clean finished look as if it was stitched under the leather.  I realized that I would have to work fast in order to get my plan to work.  I formed two fondant zippers with help of the silicone mold, and brushed on silver luster dust for a metallic sheen.  I then quickly rolled out a strip of black fondant and slit in two openings the size of the zippers.  I positioned the strip over the top of the zipper and adhered it with a touch of gum glue.  This gave the appearance that the zippers were set into the purse and behind the leather.  The result was perfect!  I then carefully drapped this over the top of the purse cake and smoothed it down to follow the curvy top.  Using an exacto knife, I carefully trimmed off the excess.  A rope of black fondant finished off the seams, and a quilting wheel helped to add the details of the stitching.

Next up was the handles, and I didn't want handles that just laid on top.  I wanted to add some structure so I opted for 30 gauge wrapped floral wire that I shaped according to my template.  I rolled out a skinny strip of black fondant and folded it over the wire and attached it with some gum glue.  Then I traced along the edges with the quilting wheel for a stitching affect.  The ends were then inserted into the cake and trimmed with a triangular piece with more stitching.  The Prorsum Knight could not be complete without the studs that ran along the bottom.  I created the studs from small balls of grey fondant, flattening the sides with a knife, and covered them with more silver luster dust.  Positioning them on the cake took a bit of planning and a ruler.  It would be awful to have studs that were crooked.  Each one was attached with a dot of piping gel.  For final details, I added the distinct key lock, and a silver Burberry tag.  A contrasting blue gift tag personalized the purse cake.  A cake this fabulous needed a matching base, so I covered a half inch foil drum with black fondant and imprinted a weaving pattern.  I then painted on a their signature black on black plaid pattern with clear piping gel.  And voila!  No girl should ever live without a Burberry....cake!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peony Wedding Cake for Jennie!

Posted by MamaWa at 6:25 PM 2 comments
Being the eldest out of three girls, it was especially emotional for me to see my kid sister all grown up and exchanging vows.  In my eyes, she'll always be the little girl that loved to shine in front of the cameras (not like that has changed much), and whose giddiness was contagious after the clock struck midnight.  In early March, our families witnessed the marriage of Jennie to Steven, whose dorkiness is awesome.  I really wanted to make a wedding cake then, but living out of a suitcase in San Francisco for a week didn't really make that possible.  Luckily, with family and friends everywhere, the two newlyweds had to plan two extra wedding receptions... one in L.A., and the last one in our hometown Chicago.  Woot Woot!

Since it's my sister, the cake had to be amazing and delicious.  The design of the cake was left entirely to me.  Creative freedom is always a plus in my book.  Starting with the color palette, I chose her default color from childhood, Pink! Mine was blue, Jennie's was pink, and Linda's was purple (and still is).  I decided to use different shades of pink and in different values.  I wanted the cake to look monochromatic elegant, and not Barbie childish.  After selecting the colors, I created the design by taking notes from their two wedding invites.  The first invite was from their actual wedding, whose contemporary graphics consisted of light pink swagging strings of beads.  The invite for the Chicago event was a modern take on the traditional Chinese invitation, whose embossed peonies became my main decorative element.

I began with the gumpaste peonies and researched for tutorials.  I have never made a peony prior to this, so this was going to a challenge.  It could go either way, I could totally breeze through these or get frustrated out of my mind.  Luckily, It didn't quite get to the latter.  It does take some practice though.  Using peony cutters, I started wrapping the smaller petals around a small ball of gumpaste attached to a 20 gauge floral wire.  After my first two layers, I noticed that my peony was looking more like a small cabbage.  It also felt really heavy.  I did not like how it looked or felt.  I knew this was not going to work on my cake.  I started all over and used CelBuds instead.  These are bud shaped styrofoam that I could insert a wire through it and twist the wire to secure in place.  There was no way that my peony would fall off the wire when I hang it upside down.  I began on the petals differently too.  I started with the largest petals and attached them to wires, and ruffled the petals with a ball tool on a thin foam pad.  I then allowed these to dry in shallow flower formers.  The smaller petals were cut out and I ruffled them the same way, but attached them to the CelBuds.  I used a skinny veining tool to open up the petals more and hung them upside down to dry.  After the first layer was dried, the second layer of petals were attached, opening up slightly more than the last.  Once these were dried, the largest petals on the wires were attached by wrapping the wires around the center wire.  These were then covered with floral tape for a clean look.  Each petal was then accented with a blush of deep rose petal dust for life-like and subtle color.  Notice that some were left as closed buds for variation.

Now that the challenging part was over ( or so I thought), it was time to bake the yummy goodness that everyone will enjoy!  Green tea with raspberry whip filling! Yes, this was my first attempt at this recipe and I never thought that finding cooking grade green tea matcha would be so hard.  I think it took me about three days to find some, and some that didn't cost me an arm and a leg.  I eventually found some and it was definitely worth it.  It had a subtle sweetness that I really liked.  The cake consisted of three levels of stacked cake, with a 14" bottom, 12" middle, and a 10" top.  It was a lot of cake.  I was really worried about how level the cake would rise, and how evenly baked they would be.  Good thing I had my Even Bake strips, and that I found a neat trick that uses a flower nail to help the baking process.  A flower nail is placed head down in the center of the pan and the cake batter is poured around it.  It acts like a heating core, but there no huge hole to fill later.  My cake baked so even that I didn't have to level my cake!  Amazing!  Each one was then torted after cooling, filled with a non-dairy raspberry whip, and stacked accordingly.  I crumb-coated each one after allowing them to settle.  This helps eliminate the side bulges.  White vanilla fondant covered each cake, and then smooth to perfection.  To carry on my color theme with out over doing it, I airbrushed on a pink sheen on each one prior to assembling the cake.

Construction is very important when dealing with a cake of this size and weight, I think it was total of 50 lbs.  I inserted 8 cake dowels in the bottom cake, and 6 in the middle level.  The cake was then stacked and held in place by a long dowel down the center.  I did not want this cake to move during my 45 minutes drive.  A pale pink ribbon of fondant was rolled out with the help of a pasta roller, and trimmed each cake level.  A brighter pink was then used in a 9mm beading mold and trimmed the ribbon.  To continue on the look of their first invite, random lengths of beads were attached to the cake for a modern flair.  The gumpaste peonies were attached to the cake onsite, and I couldn't be happier with result.  I hope she loved it as much as I wanted to make something special for her.

Congrats again sis, and welcome to our crazy family, Steven!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rainbow Cake for Kylee and Bethany

Posted by MamaWa at 6:09 PM 0 comments
At the beginning this month,  I was asked to create one most colorful cakes ever. . . a rainbow cake!  But this was not just a cake, it was a cake with a spectrum of shimmering cake pops and a fantasy horse!  This cake was for Thu's eldest daughter who was turning 4, and her niece who was going to be 6.  Her daughter, Kylee, has a love for black horses, and Bethany loves anything shimmery and colorful.  This cake was a mash up of the girls fave things. 

Thu requested cake pops, and they were perfect for the concept of this cake.  They would make up a bright and shimmery rainbow, and a lovely black horse would sit nearby on a cloud pedestal.  The base of this cake was a delicious marble, and the cake pops were round balls of yummy vanilla and moist chocolate cake.  This cake required some careful planning to achieve the perfect arch of colors.  I created a template in Adobe Illustrator with a 9 x 13 cake as my guide.  This allowed me to figure out how many cake pops in a certain color was required to fill the space, and at what size I should make my cake pops to fit properly.  Once I had my template, it was on to creating my little black horse.  I have to admit, it took me two tries to create a horse I was happy with.  I've never made a horse like this before, and I had to steer away from it looking too much like a pony. . . Okay, so I was kinda worried.  My first horse started to look resemble a mix between a donkey and a cow.  It was not what I going for.  I finally realized that my shaping and positioning of the limbs that was affecting the overall look.  A horse has a very defined muscle structure, and this guy looked like it hadn't hit the gym in years!  Time for a do-over and some photo inspiration, and the horse was looking so much better.  Thin ropes of green for the horse's mane brought this little guy to life.  Kylee requested glitter in the it's mane and that is what she gets.  After the hair was set in place with gum glue, some edible glitter was lightly brushed on foe some shimmer.

Two batches of cake were made for the cake pops, one in vanilla and the other in chocolate.  The cakes were then crumbled and mixed with some butter cream.  The key is to not add too much at a time, and not make the mixture too moist.  You don't want the cake balls to fall apart when you try to coat them.  Using the template I created, I shaped the cake balls to the correct size and placed them in the fridge to firm up.  I left them in for a couple hours before attempting to coat them.  Working with 4 at a time, I dipped the end of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating and inserted it halfway into the cake balls.  In one continuous motion, I dipped the cake pops into the candy coating in the colors needed.  I remove excess candy coating from the covered cake pops by tapping on the inside of my wrist after dipping them in.  Tap the same wrist that is holding onto the cake pops.  This helps lessen the force to the cake end, and lessen the chance of them falling off the stick.  After they were coated, matching disco dust was sprinkled on to add a little bling.

The base cake was torted and filled with buttercream, then crumb coated with more of the same yummy stuff.  Since we had a rainbow, clouds and a blue sky just seemed natural as the backdrop for the cake pops.  I kneaded white and blue fondant together, but not completely intergrated.  This creates swirls of blue and white, mimicking clouds floating in sky.  This was used to cover the base layer of cake, then smoothed to perfection.  Using my template ( so glad I made this thing), I marked the location of each cake pop.  This ensured that they fit perfectly, and the arch looked smooth.  A pedestal made from cereal treat was covered in white fondant, and placed in the upper corner.  This was the perfect platform for my little horse to view the lovely rainbow from.

A new twist to the phrase, "Taste the rainbow!".
 

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