Friday, September 10, 2010

Darth Vader got Iced

Ohhhhhh yummy chocolate cake.......this is a super yummy one too....Chocolate Chocolate Chip. Made extra moist. Now I am totally not a big chocolate cake person - cut me a piece of white cake or banana or something with spice in and a delish buttercream icing - but this chocolate cake is worth breaking a calorie count.

And this is the way we start a fun cake. This particular cake was for a friend of a friend. Her son was having a birthday party and loves........the ultimate kid fiend........Darth Vader!!

Honestly I had no idea what-so-ever how to make Darth Vader. Yeah I saw the movies, but there was no way I am ready to try to carve out his face and lay fondant over it to be 3D - so instead we went 1D with a tiny bit of 2D added in.

I found a good picture of Darth Vader online - printed that out to the size I was looking for. Then cut each shape as a template of the face - starting from the largest image - placing that on the fondant and cutting around it with a small knife. After finishing with one piece I would cut the template smaller for the next piece and just kept doing this until I had each piece for the face.

First I cut the base shape - then (if you look close you can see) I cut the helmet shape and placed it over the base - then another ridge along the face area to make it have some depth above the face. For the actual face I cut a few shapes to make it look like the face had some dimension too.

That done it still looked flat. So we added some shading..........

In the mean time I placed a layer of fondant over the cooled and icing crumb coated cake. Still learning how to lay fondant well - and rolling it out on a laminate counter top that has tiny little grooves no one notices until sugar adheres to it and your fondant gets stuck - you can see that the fondant is not PERFECT. However, I am excellent at figuring out how to forge ahead and fix stuff.
Yep - that is right - this bad boys face covered up the little holes that were made when I was laying the fondant out. It may also be noticeable that there is now some shading done on the face and Darth looks a tiny bit more realistic in a 1D fondant sort of a way.

After putting the face on the cake it looked a bit black and white - and maybe boring. So I brainstormed - alone - in my own brain - and tried to think of what else might work and not take away from Darth's image........what is another Star Wars kind of thing that would work??

Not long into the thinking it dawned on me.......Light Sabers!! One red and one blue. I guess if I were going with just Darth it would have been two red, but my 9 year old had entered the room by then and he said that a boy would want to have both so that he could pretend in his head that they were fighting. Really? Okay - I guess.

So once that decision was made the Light Sabers were added and the Birthday Boys name was added. He lite up when he saw it........yeah!

This cake was Chocolate Chocolate Chip (as I mentioned in the beginning) with a Vanilla Buttercream and a Vanilla Fondant.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wedded Bliss Cupcakes

Yeah Fondant!! No really.....I am becoming much more familiar with Fondant. Fondant loves me and I am begining to actually love Fondant too. This was totally fun because I was getting to try new things and create.

What I was doing was creating cupcakes for a 30th Wedding Anniversary party. Friends of Dave at work had asked me if I could do it. See Dave often takes in things that I bake, but don't want to eat, and shares. His friend knew I could bake and Dave had shown him pics of things I had decorated. Their "cake lady" was unavailable (hey maybe I can become someone's "cake lady") and they asked if I could help in the pinch. And his wife said I could do whatever I wanted - but she kinda wanted cupcakes - hmmmm........ahhhh Yeah Totally!!

So I searched some ideas. Again - I figure someone has already been there before me so might as well learn from some of their ideas. Found some really cute flower ideas and started rolling out some fondant I made. Cutting them into 3 sizes of flowers.

Then I pulled out some Vodka and some Luster Dust in the shades of Silver and Pearl. The theme items were all being purchased in those shades - apparently 30th Anniversary is Pearl. So I mixed the vodka and luster dust and began painting the flowers.

Once done they looked like this. I have to say that although it was a smidge time consuming - it was really fun!! and simple.

The cupcakes were all simple. Yellow and Chocolate. Easy........the icing was by request a Cream Cheese. Yummy!! So I topped each cupcake with a simple swirl of icing.

Then took the individual flowers and stacked them - using a smidge of icing in between each flower as glue and a small candy pearl in the center.

I have mentioned before that I don't always like to Reinvent the Wheel.....and this flower is not much different. The first flower I saw that sparked this idea was on the Bakeface blog that I love to follow. She has brilliant things that you might see me copy and these flowers are the start. You can see her creation that sparked my plan here.

Popped a completed flower on top of each of the cupcakes and Viola!! A completely cute cupcake that looks elegant and fun all at the same time. Of course, as cute as these were......they weren't exactly the whole party theme......we were missing 2 characters......

One of those characters was the Groom. Here he is with his box of chocolate cupcakes. How cute is that right?

And then there was also a box with the Bride and her yellow cucpakes.

I have to say that these two cupcakes were much easier to create then all the flowers - and they turned out really cute. Basic fondant layered over the cream cheese icing - then adding a few elements - the flower on the lapel - the buttons from fondant - the dress texture is thicker pearl luster dust painted on with a small amount of edible pearl colored glitter - and then a necklace of candy pearls. TahDah!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Han Solo Would be Happy

This was a fun cake. I even did a good deal of picture taking correctly. A good friend asked me to do this cake. It was after much consideration though because she had hoped to do both Star Wars cookies and a Millennium Falcon cake for her sons party. Only she had never really worked her way into creating cakes or baking much yet. So in the end - and after I asked/begged to do the cake - she asked me to do the cake and she went forward with her plans for the cookies.

As you can see we started with a 1/4 sheet cake and a rounded cake. The rounded cake was done by baking inside of my medium size glass mixing bowl. Much easier then trying to carve a round shape.

Once the stacking was done I carved out the shape of the ship. Yes there was a lot of waste in thrown away cake - but better that cake hit the trash can then that it hit my families tummy every time a cake is carved - otherwise there would be a lot more Waist in my family (get it? Waste/Waist - it's early the jokes are lame). Still I was happy with the initial shape.

Having a life size replica of the ship - we have a toy Millennium Falcon the kids received a few years back with chunky Star Wars figures - very cute - anyway, the replica of the ship (not pictured) was helpful to look at. I used it to figure out where to carve in some indentations.

You can also see that I attached a cupcake as the cockpit on the side. Remember Luke in there shooting at the rebel fighters?

Finally it was time for the crumb coat - or dirty icing as Ben likes to term it (he watches a lot of Cake Boss). This was a task with this cake because there were so many crumbs due to almost every edge and surface being cut on that the crumbs made it really hard to get an even somewhat smooth surface.

But I moved forward. Created some of the indentations again over the cuts to make sure that when the final icing was placed it would not look too chunky.

And I walked away to let it dry. Sometimes walking away for a bit can make a mess look more reasonable when you return. I do this with any craft type project I have that becomes wonky in my head. Of course - the icing also had to set. If I had added the final icing over this it would have just mixed into the wet crumb coat icing.

Now honestly, when I first came back my head wasn't cleared up. The thing looked like a really badly formed soccer ball to me. Lucky for me I say things to my kids like "don't give up" - "keep moving toward the goal" - "never look backward only forward" - "you can do it" - "I believe in you". They all came by and said - "wow cool" and when they noticed my frustration they used my words to encourage me. And with that I moved foward.

Another fun thing about this cake. It was one of the first few times that I used chocolate as a decorating component in the cake. See the satellite dish thing? That is made from white chocolate chips that I melted and dyed the color of the icing. Using a small ramakin I covered with plastic wrap I smoothed some melted chocolate inside the dish - vaguely shaped it to look like a satellite and let it sit to dry. When I popped it out it was really cool. Maybe not perfect looking - but it worked perfect and it gives me hope to try stuff like that again on future cakes!

At the end of the project my kids and hubby were all cheering how great the cake looked. I have to admit - at the time it still seemed a bit wonky - but after walking away and coming back I even had to agree that it was very cool. I am my own worst critique and I had to pat myself on the back for completing this. The Birthday Boy - he loved it!! What a cool present to gift!

This cake was obviously Chocolate - no chips because it is impossible to carve a tiny chocolate chip. Vanilla Buttercream icing was the rest.