Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Garry & Patrick........

Whoops - I thought these went out months ago!! These were the cutest ever cupcakes (in my opinion). The day that I did these I had 2 extra children......and they did so so so so so well with The Line that it made things easier for me to get them done.

What is The Line? Haven't I talked about that before? Oh. Well The Line is very well known in my house. Generally The Line was invented to help children from getting into trouble. Although if you asked the children they might say that The Line was invented to keep them away from the fun.

See early on - when making cakes wasn't happening as often - the kids had kinda free reign in the kitchen. I mean anything I was baking was for my family. So I wasn't really worried about germs. Well...........I was worried about germs if the bakery good was going out of the house or being used for a party. But in the first few years of living here in Central Illinois we weren't having many parties - so baking was mostly for us. If the kids stuck a finger in the batter I wasn't too worried. I mean batter fingers and licking spatulas is the best part of baking for a kid anyway right? Who wants to take that away?

Then when I began to make cakes for others as favors the kids still had the same mindset of where the comfort zone was for touching things. In my mind the understanding was pretty clear cut - If The Cake Is For Someone Else...........WE DON'T TOUCH. They didn't seem to get that. In fact I remember one day where I had just mixed a batter.......Ben came in and literally STUCK his face into the bowl and sniffed in REALLY REALLY DEEP and complimented me by saying, "That smells great". All I could think was GROSS!! Dave was there with us and explained to Ben how gross that was and how he just spread germs all over the batter. Ben pointed out how he didn't touch the batter or sneeze on it (yes, this has happened in the past). So we explained how little things can still drop from a persons closely placed face in bowl. Ben apologized and left. I turned around and Kid You Not! Dave has his face in the bowl breathing in really deeply and says, "That does smell great."

Seriously? Batter thrown out. The Line invented. In our kitchen we have an island. Our kitchen is kind of an L shape. The island starts at the long stretch of the L. Inside the L there is the island (duh), sink, fridge (not the British rock band) and stove - and all cabinets. When I am baking or decorating a cake The Line goes up. This means basically that they can enter the kitchen and exit the kitchen onto the porch.......but they can not walk through the portion of the kitchen that has anything useful or interesting to them. Which can be hard.

At first.........during The Line training.......I would have to repeat "There is a line here" and physically swoop my arm from the wall - across the floor and end of the island - to the wall. Over and over we did this. About 5 cakes in the kids began to come into the kitchen and would see ingredients on the island and ask, "Is The Line up?" Thus The Line became its own "thing"

When I was making these fun cupcakes the Grey boys were here. These weren't the first kiddo's to visit when I was baking.......but they were the best at responding to The Line. Good job Pennie! When Andersen told the oldest Grey that there was A Line.....he looked for it - pretended to see it - push against it - made fun of it - but he NEVER crossed it! And that is all that counted........because honestly and invisible line is kinda funny - necessary - but funny.

Patrick was my favorite cupcake of them all. At first - when I cut his body out with a star - all it looked like was A STAR. Then as I added more items and moved his arms and legs about he began to really look like Patrick!

With The Line up - the kids paying due respect of The Line and Dave bringing home lunch - these were pretty quick to be made!

The cupcakes were Chocolate Chocolate chip and White cake - all with a Vanilla Buttercream icing and Vanilla Fondant.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Almost Easter.....

It's almost Easter and no matter what your beliefs are it seems that Bunnies & Eggs are always part of the day. You are bound to see them.

Each month the church we attend serves a meal at Jesus House Coffee Shop. Jesus House is a Missionary church run by the two Christians who lead the services and organize the coffee shop. A place where people gather to have a church service, some to be inside, others to have a meal - or all three. This month my friend Pennie and I thought it would be nice to make some treat bags for the kids who come in for the service and meal.

While Pennie bought ALL THE CANDY TARGET HAD......I made these cookies. Then we bagged 'em and donated them for the meal.

These were Shortbread cookies with Vanilla Royal Icing. Yummy.

Happy Easter!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rapunzel & Architecture

It is the sweetest thing ever (pun intended on the use of sweet because....well this is about cakes) - Dave watches Alton Brown videos about cake stuff. I am not sure if he is doing this because I out loud say, "Why does that happen?" when some cake related thing occurs ........ or if it is because I try to explain something about a cake related thing and Dave doesn't get what I am saying and wants to hear an experts take........or if it is because really he has always like Alton Brown - which I shouldn't overlook - he has watched Alton on Food Network for years - but now he is looking up cake stuff and watching on the computer so I am totally taking it to be a sweet support to my cake dealings.

How is this related to the mess of stacked cake above? Well he was watching an Alton Brown episode about whipping eggs or something and there was a question/answer thing happening and he made the statement that many cake designers have an architecture background. Usually I can zone out what Dave is watching........because unlike the kids when they watch videos (like Annoying Orange) on the computer.....I don't make him put on earphones. This statement by Mr. Brown caught my attention - because in High School I studied drafting and architecture.......and then in my first year in college I continued my studies. Many of you know that following that first year I switched schools and eventually attended many colleges before earning my bachelors and masters in social work and counseling related fields - not architecture. Still.......I do have an architecture/design background of sorts. So this statement was kinda cool.

See Mr. Jackson........apparently I am using my years of architecture after all - just in cake building. Kudos to you for making me so good at it all.

Now the first picture is of a budding tower. And I didn't just stack those cakes up and hope for the best. That would have been ridiculously not smart.

This is the beginning of the roof top of the tower. The original cake I found on line had a roof just like this. But this looked pretty.........well..........boring and like a hat that I made in kindergarten with construction paper.
In fact if you turn it upside down you will see that it basically is the hat I made in Kindergarten. I took a piece of poster board - created a cone - lined that with plastic wrap so the fondant didn't adhere to the cone - then I put a base on the cone so that the weight of the fondant didn't pop it (I'm a mother - I worry about everything).

Then to make the cone head roof look a little nicer I put shingles on. This is my first shingle making and while I did really well, they are by far not at all uniform........of course if I think about it do you think the elves who were making the shingles in the forest for the magical tower that Rapunzel would live in made them all uniform? No probably not. Besides they were using wood - which is probably way easier then fondant. Elves have such an easy life. All they mostly make are cookies and shingles.

Now .......this is really the only architecturally structural picture I took. I knew that if I left the stacked cakes without a base support I would be crying the next day. So I put 3 very long dowel rods into the cake. Unfortunately one of the dowel rods went in at a slight angle. Personally I began freaking out as soon as I realized that to take it out and replace it might mean to cause holes that would cause cracks.

My husbands advice was that I was worrying about nothing that needed to be worried about. It would all be fine. Move forward and let it go.

My focus was to drive him berserk. "Can you come here and look at this?"......"What do you think does it look like it shifted?"......"Do you think it will hold?"......."How about now has it shifted now?"......each question came with his having to bend over and peer at the cake (or pretend to in order to appease me) as I turned the cake swirling around thing (you store may call it something else if you go to purchase one of these).

Once it seemed Dave had enough of this I left him alone.........for a bit at least.......and moved onto the next thing.

The landscape. I iced the landscape to include a river. Can you see the river?

As I was putting the landscape to the side to dry before putting fondant on it my 5 year old came in and said, "Maudy that is way too bumpy to be smooth." I said, "It is going to be a valley with a river in it. Can you see the river?"........he looked at me like I had lost my mind. Nodded his head and smiled at me like he was afraid to tell me he didn't think it did. And walked away.

I can see the river........can you see the river?

Then I iced the outside of the tower. A nice gray mortar kind of a color. And Dave and I did another round of "Can you come here and look at this?"......"What do you think does it look like it shifted?"......"Do you think it will hold?"......."How about now has it shifted now?"......

Then I began placing the rocks on the tower. Added a few windows that Rapunzel would have swung open if she were planning to throw her locks out to Finn to climb.......and did another round of Does this look leany to you Dave? Dave was getting quite tired of this game, but he was playing it really well by continuously stating, "No it is going to be fine." "It looks great.".......but he didn't want to play anymore and left - then luckily my friend, Sheri, showed up to drop her son off for a sleepover. Unfortunately for me though.....when I asked her "Does this look leany to you?" she said, "Yes."

So I spent the rest of my night LOOKING at the tower.....over and over and over and over. I was so paranoid about the cake leaning into breakage that the side I thought was leaning I put a towel under the cake swirling thing to make sure it started leaning straight - because things can lean back to straight right? In my head at least........hey no one ever said I was a GREAT Architecture student (but I was - right Mr. Jackson?).

While waiting for my tower to fall over I went back to the valley. Put a nice layer of fondant over the top......pretty right? Then started to fill in the river........My five year old started to see it.

Add in a few boulders around the river - some grass - a few pine trees........a lizard - rather I believe he is a chameleon.
Then a few flowers scattered all about............. After that I called it a night. Tried not to think about the tower that I had propped to lean straight in the china hutch and played with the kids.

The next day we took the entire collection of cake pieces - and two cookies - to the party.

These are views of the car ride to the Birthday Girls house. I thought that the view from this angle was kinda cool. What I did was place the tower on the cake and then pushed the remaining portion of the dowel rods into the base cake. There was also a cake board at the bottom of the tower that had hole punches matching the top of the tower - so there was a foundation at the top and bottom that kept the dowel rods from shifting much.

Although in my head the whole thing was about to fall at any moment. Poor Dave driving the van........

Once we got to the party I put the roof on the tower - placed the figures they had given me to use on the cake........and all was right with the world.

The cookies were Shortbread........I was trying to think of a way to get the Birthday Girls name and message onto the cake and also incorporate the crown that Finn had stolen and was a pivotal point for the characters. Plus everyone loves a cookie right?

So in the end Dave was right (please don't tell him I typed that). The tower was fine. I worried for nothing. But hey, I'm a mother - I worry.

This cake was Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream and White with Vanilla Buttercream.......Vanilla Fondant and Shortbread cookies with Royal Icing. The pictures of the final cake could have been better, but honestly - I was so crazy nervous putting it together I am just happy I remembered to TAKE a picture!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I think I have this now.......Progression Series

Okay I am pretty certain that at this point I have the BASICS of cake balling down. A week ago I have the cutest cake to do for a family that loves a football team. So I needed to carve the cake........and my new - well I was going to say "motto" is never throw cake away, but that would be totally a lie because just yesterday I threw a ton of cake away because I didn't have time to make cake balls. Given that and not wanting to make myself look thriftier with cake then I am......I will simply say that it is my new "goal" to try to use every bit of cake. In this particular instance I was totally able to.

Also to become a better cake baller (this is what you should call your friends that do cake balls by the way. for no particular reason. just because it sounds sporty. totally expect them to look at you weird though. then laugh to yourself - in your head so they don't think you are certifiable.) - anyway - also.....to become better at cake ball making - I have been using different types of chocolate. Michael's had a sale going this week where there melt chocolates were a good deal - and on top of that I had a 25% off your entire sale coupon - BONUS (gotta love Michaels coupons!) - so I tried those. They melted like cotton candy in humidity (this really happened to some cupcakes I made - ugh cotton candy melts in humidity - who knew? - yeah I know EVERYONE knows - my 3rd grader told me all about it).

Anyway - the cake balls above are the ones that I made to see how the candy would coat. Pretty nicely. Fairly easily. I just need to figure out how to get the cake ball off the spoon without making a mess. Still .... they look like cute little chocolates.

The bulk of the cake mixture went to making these.....footballs. Remember - the cake ball mixture came from a carved cake that was for a football cake. I figured what better way to use the finished cake balls then give them to the family having the party. I asked if they would let me do this - wanted to make sure because you never know when you will show up with something to a party and find out "Dang Patti wish you would have asked - WE HATE CAKE BALLS!!" Silly sounding? Maybe, but you never know when a persons Great Aunt Milly choaked on a cake ball and caused an accident while driving that ran over another persons prized personally genetically developed apricot colored roses that were going to fair for competition and Great Aunt Milly ruined them due to cake ball chokage - was sued by the guy with the roses and won and poor Milly ended up working at Walmart in her retirement because she lost everything in the law suit. You Just Never Know......so I called ahead and asked permission.

They granted it. So I decided to make Cake POPS!! What is the difference between a Cake Ball and a Cake Pop? Duh - the stick!!

Notice that the stick is a REAL BONAFIDE stick this time? Not a cut off straw? I learned - sticks can hold the weight!! Who knew? Yeah yeah my 3rd grader. "Whatev's" as my 6th grader would say.

Basically what I did was roll the cake mixture out onto the counter and cut them with an oval shaped cookie cutter. Simple simple simple. If you do this - roll the mixture out thick. The first couple I did them normal size for a cookie, but you have to stick a stick in them and this makes the mixture less sturdy On The Stick. Of course after cutting the mixture into ovals I then stuck a stick in them and kinda compressed them a bit to make sure there wasn't a lot of air around the stick area.

Following that I dipped them into the melted chocolate. This is a step I still need to perfect. I used an icing spatula spreader thing (they might be called something different at your store if you go looking for them) and gently shaped the chocolate around the football as the excess chocolate dripped back into the bowl - then set them down on a piece of parchment paper to dry. This was pretty quick. Time example - ate dinner - cleaned the table - came back to these and they were ready for the football lines. Since I had some left over black icing from another cake I did that day I used it to make the lines. It seems to me that most footballs have white lines for the strings, but I didn't Google it.

The finaly project I let dry overnight. Some of the footballs fell off their sticks because I - a) rolled the first batch out too thin and they didn't stay attached to their sticks and the chocolate added caused too much stress and they broke off - and - b) I am sometimes clumsy.

In the morning I popped the Cake Pops into bags and tied green ribbons on them. As my sister-in-law and I have learned.......many sites that ship cookies & cake balls advertise that they do this for YOUR display purpose and for Added Freshness. I personally think it is so they don't melt together. Regardless they made really cute little party favors.

The balls in the top picture went to the neighbors after dinner the night I made them. Feedback on them were they were delish!!

These were Deep Chocolate Cake with Vanilla buttercream and Chocolate Mlets on the outside. They really were yummy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chilly Birthday

This is another birthday treat that made it onto Facebook, but never made it to the lime light here on the blog.......oops. This is an example of the Gum Paste. Can you tell any difference? Gum Paste vs Fondant doesn't really look much different when finished. However, the gum paste dries much quicker. Well fondant dries quickly too........let me explain better. When I am using fondant to make figures it tends to stay soft longer when I am doing the actual moulding. So it is hard to get a specific shape - most frustrating a ROUND shape. Because one side will want to start to rest and become the kinda flat side. Which isn't a big problem for something like a cake because you want it to have a somewhat flatter side so that it won't roll off the cake or require so much icing to make it stay in place that it shows a lot. Gum paste will set up (dry) a little faster. So the resting doesn't cause the figure to fall out of the shape I want. Does that make sense?
Also - gum paste is a little more forgiving then fondant when it comes to creating figures. If I mess up a figure with either modeling medium I have to wad it up and start over. Sugar dries - as we mentioned before - and it is useful sometimes to have powder (in the form of powdered sugar or corn starch) on the mat I am creating on so that the figures don't stick - if they do stick then I have to tug on them to pick them up and they easily stretch out of shape (imagine playdoh). After wading up a piece of fondant that has been touching a powder you are also adding in the powder that is attached - thus causing the fondant to dry out a bit more. You can counter this by adding a little smidge of shortening or butter (very little), but still you are altering the original texture.

Gum paste doesn't seem to stick to the mat as much - so I can create more without using a powder substance to keep it from sticking. Thus when I mess a form up..........and let's just say that happens with every new thing I create....because the cake pops have now proven I am not perfect every time. With the gum paste I can wad it up - use it - wad it - use it. Not forever of course - but for a little longer then the fondant.

One additional pro for gumpaste over fondant for making figures - you can roll it out MUCH thinner!! Fondant will tend to tear if you roll it out too thin - or crack - or break after it has dried a bit and you try to move it. Gum paste has more elasticity to it. This stretchability (my word - yes you can copy it) helps when you are making roses, flowers, or other things that you mess with to give edges shape. Gum paste also costs a bit less to make - but oddly if you buy it at the store it costs more to buy. Weird huh?

Now in covering a cake - I would go fondant. It is softer in my opinion and easier to place over the cake. Tastes a bit more like icing. I know there are lots of folks who say.....ick fondant tastes awful. Well most likely the person who made your cake did it with store bought fondant. I am always amazed that people doing cakes don't just make their own fondant. Easy to make - and you can flavor it. I make 5lbs for half the cost you buy it at a store. Yes I know - convenience.......that is a whole other blog.

There are tons more Fondant vs Gumpaste issues in my head - but I can stumble into them later. Personally I was resistant to gumpaste - for no reason other then I was getting good at fondant and not wanting to add another trick to my bag. Now I am seeing that there are definite pro's and con's on both sides.

Penguin cupcakes were a hoot to make. And they were fun because it taught me I am getting better at moulding things. They went to one of our Boy Scout families. The Birthday Boy had recently done a project on penguins and he is currently in love with them. Fun!! Learning and Cakes combined with Birthday - LOVE IT!

These were Chocolate & White cake cupcakes with a Vanilla Buttercream icing.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Making Balls of Cake......progression series for Mindi

It is always sweet to me when friends and family say things like, "Wow what you are making is AMAZING!" or "You are so good at things that are crafty". While I am Amazing (good to build my ego) and I am good at things that are Crafty.......those talents are NOT without practice. I do have to practice things and often times there are some miserable FAILURE moments. The reason some of you don't seem to think I have the ability to fail at crafty things is because.......well I don't put those things on display! I tell my friends during coffee mornings or marathon phone conversations and we giggle out bottoms off (geez I wish I could literally giggle my bottom off! I would have it made! I would open Giggle Gym's all over the world. I would be able to buy all the cake making supplies not matter how expensive.........oooh to have have one of those giant fondant rollers.......course those things seem counter productive - a Giggle Gym to keep in shape so I can buy things to make decadent cakes.......hmmm...counter productive, but hey it is my dream sequence leave me alone sense maker voice in my head......wake up Patti - wake up!!). Okay...back to here and now. Anyway, recently one of my FAVORITE sister-in-laws sent me a note asking if I would like help her with her sisters baby shower. Sports theme. She is thinking cookies in shapes of sports balls - football, baseball, soccer, basketball.....my thought was cut round cookies out and ice them - that is CAKE! I am totally in!! Then I read on and noticed she was also thinking of doing some cake balls in the same type shapes........my thought was Cake Balls are my downfall....but I am always up for a personal challenge. Add in that the other day I was reading something on my new favorite place to see cake information.......Sweet Wise.......and she mentioned that when you top a cake you can keep that cake and make it into cake balls or cake pops. I throw away a lot of cakes because there really is no such thing as a Giggle Gym and my bottom can't take any more cake scraps. So with the cake topping and trimming I do I can really practice cake balls for Mindi.
But first I thought I would share my beginning......because Cake Balls/Pops are NOT easy. No matter how simple the video you watch makes it seem - NOT EASY!! Last October I watched a video on them and thought - "Dang I can do that".....and I tried. See these gems? They are Pumpkins. WHAT? You don't think they look like pumpkins???
Look again.......here is a close up......now do you see it? Still NO? Well that is because they are an EPIC FAIL. I was going to throw them out. Sure I was just kinda messing around - I mean I don't even have the right pieces for the cake pops - my sticks are straws and let me tell you - a straw can not hold the weight of a cake pop........so they became upside down cake pops.......sad, but true. Also - apparently you don't just melt chocolate to dip them in. I mean you do, but certain chocolates don't melt that well if you don't add oil - they didn't mention that on the video. Also you can OVER melt chocolate and then it becomes a hard mess. Didn't know that either. PLUS - you can't just use regular coloring - this was A LOT of orange coloring, but still I only got a pretty pastel color. Ugh. I became so frustrated (disgusted) with them that I quit trying. Got ready to toss them out and was stopped by the kids and Dave.
We were headed to a local horse arena to watch our wonderful niece, Megan, compete in a Hunter's Pleasure riding competition. They asked me to bag them up and take them as a snack. Since it was family I figured it was safe because family will only make fun of you - they will still love you and promote your hobbies. Off we went to watch Megan win an award for her wonderful riding. And to sit in the sun.....it was a gorgeous day!! And to eat up all the cake balls.
Which leads me to another issue about my cake balls.......apparently they were a little large. If you look at this photo you see that they are basically as big as my 5 year old sons head! But I was assured they were DELISH and by the end of the event they were all gone. So my thought was......maybe someday when I feel like banging my head against a wall I will try these again......and I filed that away never to probably see the light of day. Welcome to the Light of Day.......Mindi asked if I could do cake balls/pops. I had just read Sweet Wise's post about the cake toppings.....and I felt like a challenge. So why not try to make some cake ball/pops out of a few of my cake scraps? Who can it hurt......plus Andersen was pretty much BEGGING to do it. So we did it together.

The ones pictured here are the remaining cake balls that we did not get covered in chocolate. They were not covered only because if you don't make the balls as huge as your 5 year olds son and cover half of them due to frustration.......well you have a lot of them and you don't have enough chocolate. So we experimented half with chocolate and half with some royal icing.

Note: Royal Icing never sets up on a very moist cake ball. So while it was super tasty, it was a sticky mess on your fingers. Win Win for my son Ben who loves to eat things and then try to remember later what he has eaten by wiping his sticky fingers on his shirt. Bonus right?
The goal was experimenting with the covering part of the cake balls - making them look kind of like bon bons or something. This was the end result ..........

Cute.........nice............definately a step in the right direction.........and we will keep improving right?

Plus we added a few sprinkles.....made them cuteish.

This weekend - Football shaped cake pops. Yes, I bought the correct sticks to make them and I will attempt it .......... we will see what happens.

ALL of these cake balls were Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Buttercream icing........with a shell of White Chocolate - or - Royal Icing.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pine Wood Derby Cake

Time slips away so dang quickly!! This cake was from February when our Boy Scout Troop had their Pinewood.......or was it January? Dang I think it was actually January. Huh! I was sorting through the "draft" blogs I have hidden away behind this wall of posts and found that I have stashed quite a few cake blogs to sit and wait. While I did post this one on Facebook, I didn't really detail the process of it. And honey, this one really made me frustrated for a few minutes. This cake is made up of 4 1/2 sheet cakes. The base is the length of 1 and a half cakes - then the remaining cakes are stacked up. I let them sit for awhile and then I trimmed them into a slope. This is the closest semblance to a Pinewood track I was willing to try. I mean the tracks themselves are individual strips of pine (surprised it was pine?) and to replicate it exactly would have taken pvc pipes, maybe a little welding and certainly more cake. Dave might have gotten excited ........... but he was last minute finishing cars.........and then friends showed up to have him help them............so I was able to use him as an excuse in my head - I mean without welding......right? Really I don't think we have welding tools, but Dave sure has collected his share, the neighbors share and the population of a small countries share of wood working tools (and he wants more) - so I KNOW he could build a base for a Pinewood cake. Maybe next year? So how this cake was built.....kinda got distracted. Here is a tip - don't use as much powder as I had been at this point in fondant work. See on the previous pic and this one how much white on the blue you see? That is either powdered sugar or cornstarch. BOTH are recommended in many cake sites to be used as you roll your fondant out to be placed on a cake. True it is helpful. However, I think the pics of cake people that I was reading were not really using it right - and the more I learn the more I find that using a lot of powder on your fondant can cause your fondant to dry out (my problem), be cracky (or elephant skin as some refer to it) and various other problems. There are products on the market that can help you roll your fondant out - like TheMat or the Wilton Roll & Cut Mat (I now have both and use them for different things) - which will eliminate your need for the powder - keep your fondant from being dried as you use it - and honestly make it a GREAT deal easier to lay on your cake. Was I using those products here? NO. Was there cursing? YES. Were children banned from the kitchen. YES. Did the visiting pinewood derby car fixing kids understand the ban? NO. Did I get cranky? YES. Did it all work out in the end? YES. One thing that I will NEVER have in my kitchen is the space to roll out a GIANT piece of fondant. Well I guess Never Say Never.........so what I mean is One thing that I do NOT have CURRENTLY in my kitchen is the space to roll out a GIANT piece of fondant. So I cut and paste - which is totally acceptable. I just need to learn to paste better........and I am. I am also learning to hide my pasting spots. One of my favorite things to make on this cake - the checker board bottom. Not sure why, but that was fun. Kinda like a puzzle. Maybe I liked it because it followed the portion of the cake that involved cursing..........and it was easy........so it made me feel better about myself. Then after the checker board I placed lane dividers and painted the track to look as close as possible to pine. Eh........but your brain knows what you are supposed to be seeing and it helps my final goal. Please thank all your brains for tricking you that way for me. Note to self - paint lanes FIRST - then lay checker board........for obvious reasons. Finally the FUN part came. The CARS!! These I made early in the week so that they would dry. It surprised me that they were still a little playdohy (my word - don't look it up). They were dry enough that it did not effect anything though. Placing dowel rods in their base (or I think they were toothpicks since the cars were small - on in the front and one in the back) I popped the cars on. Being careful not to make anyone win - see I made the cars in shades of the different levels of Boy Scouts.........excpet the Green should be more of a Teal color. Tiger Cub - Gold...........Wolf - Red..........Bear - Teal..........Webelo - Blue Did you know that? Learn something new everyday right? The cars were fun to make and pretty simple. It is like going back to school and working with clay.......or even further back and working with playdoh that you can eat. Only it really is PURE sugar and like eating cotton candy - so I pass. Here is another tip I am learning though. Fondant is fun to work with, but with figures like this Gum Paste is a little better. GP will dry faster - not while you are working it, but once you set it to dry before using........much better. Plus GP is a little less finicky and a bit more forgiving - AND cheaper to make. If anyone wants my recipes for either let me know and I will post them. I am told that the fondant is yummy as I flavor mine with both Vanilla & Butter flavorings to try to come close to a buttercream icing flavor. I use the word "close"........ Since we had no real clue as to how many folks would show up.......I threw in some cupcakes. 150 were gauged for the event - the cake was enough for 150 easy, but just to be safe - and since there was extra batter - why not right? Made a few "wheels" to deco these with the extra black fondant I had from another cake I was doing. My friends, Scott & Sheri, who were overseeing the event was thinking Dinner First.........then we will Serve Cake. The folks attending were thinking "Grab a cupcake before they are gone" and did just that. Which frustrated my friend, but secretly made me smile. Before all the cupcakes were gone though - my good friend, Julie, who has her own photography studio......shameless plus.........Capturing Sweet Memories.......she is WONDERFUL!!, took a few photos of the whole dealio. She takes such nice pictures!

When we were carrying the cake in the board bent a little - There is another tip......use heavy duty boards if you have a ton of cake weight! - and the fondant cracked a bit. Julie used her photo magic to fix the cake!!

This cake was Chocolate Chocolate Chip cake, Banana cake and White cake. Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla Fondant. This ENTIRE cake was totally gone by the end of the night!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Boy Scout Fleur De Lis

Here are some cupcakes from Ben's Boy Scout Blue & Gold Award ceremony. They have a nice dinner, entertainment - which this year was our friend and magician/thespian, Joel Shoemaker (he was great!! If you need a magician for a party call me and I will hook you up with him!).
This year I have had the oppotunity to make cakes for BOTH of our Pack's Boy Scout events. So Much Fun to be part of the event in a creative way. And since Dave is the active parent in the Boy Scout world it is also fun just to have the chance to be part of Boy Scouts.
This Fleur cookie cutter has come in MORE then handy this year!

These cupcakes were Chocolate with Vanilla Buttercream.....Apple with Vanilla Buttercream.......and White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream.

Boy Scouts Rock!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kiss Me I'm Cute

In going through all the cakes that I have uploaded pictures for to create blogs on I have realized.........uh I need to step my game up. There are lots of blog potentials that are sitting there, but you have seen some of the pictures on Facebook already. Ooops. You see in the Blog World in my head I have ALL DAY LONG to do whatever I want and type until my fingers drop off. In the Real World.......well I have 3 kids, a wonderful hubby, 2 cats, 2 hammies, a house and I am a confessed Volunteer-A-Holic. I don't know how to say "No" to a good cause - my kids, my committees or a person who is asking for a cake for someone they really love and want to surprise. Case in point - this cake. So week before this cake my wonderful sister, Bronwen, calls and says she wants to come visit. No thought needed - What Day? was my only response - well not only..... I might have said "Yea!". See we don't get much family up here visiting - so when someone offers I am so excited to have it. If we go visit them we have to visit ALL OF THEM - we have lots of family and very close friends so while it is fun to visit - it is not relaxing. If they come here we are just HERE - not off to the next spot. Although in this case Bronwen, baby and my step-mom, Janice, we in tow as we did the normal routine.....and it was ISAT week at school......and GS cookie pickup from the hub......which we then organized in my garage......and troop parent cookie pickup from my garage all night....and I knew ALL OF THIS was going to be happening when I got a call from a friend of a friend who wanted a simple Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Icing birthday cake for their daughter a few days before it was all to happen. Smart thing to do - just say no. But it was for her daughter. And she was very excited. And how hard is a chocolate cake with basic icing? You see where this is going right? Now everyone in unison - what did I say to the friend of a friend? Yes..........very good - you all are really getting to know me well!!
The phone conversation was easy enough - "we would love a chocolate chocolate chip cake with chocolate icing" ..... "nothing big deal"......"but it will have chocolate chips in it right?" "she loves chocolate chips so please include them"......and then the purple icing too.....that is when my radar went off......"purple icing? I am not sure I can make the chocolate icing purple" I was missing something. "oh the purple icing is for the lettering - no problem". "What you want it decorated like Sex and the City?" Dang. I walked right into that didn't I?

Paying more attention I was also thinking it through - she wanted just a few baubles that would be Girly and Sex in the City like. Easy enough - I had Saturday and Sunday to create things that I could pop on a cake. And the thought of making a lipstick case and a purse peaked my interest. So I did it.

Flash forward to the actual day. Train depot to pick up guests, home, sort thousands of boxes of cookies with my co and another mom and hubbies, school to make popcorn for 300, home to help parents count down and load up cookies to take home, bake dinner, bake a cake.........which went flawless.........until I realized I forgot those dang chocolate chips!! How could I forget the chocolate chips? She mentioned them about 7 times during the phone conversation and I have them written down and circled on the paper!! Perfect cake - not a single chocolate chip! Ugh. I had used up a few ingredients (ain't it the way?). Called Dave the Wonderful to pick them up at the store. After dinner I baked a second cake.......WITH chocolate chips.

So it took longer into the evening then expected - but a fun bonus was my sister and step-mom got to watch me ice and decorate the cake. A few of the steps I take - like leveling - were new to them and they seemed to genuinely enjoy it. The extra batter I had turned into cupcakes and it was fun to watch my step-mom teach herself to make an icing rose with a 1M tip. Honestly once the cake was baked and iced........dropping the finishing touches on were easy.

I had a moment of panic when I thought that putting an icing border at the top of the cake would be overdoing it........but then when I remembered I made white buttercream for the purple icing I decided to pipe on a pearl necklace for a type of top border.........and it turned out super cute! Totally I would do that again..........only maybe not on a day when all of the rest of my life was going in full speed.

Okay - who am I kidding - stop giggling - we all know I would totally overbook myself again if asked.

This cake was Chocolate Chocolate Chip (duh right? that was totally part of the story focus). Chocolate buttercream with a Vanilla buttercream for deco. Fondant used for lipstick and purse.