Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bachelorette Cake

This was a fun cake. A friend of mine - and my FAVORITE Girl Scout at the main office - asked me if I would do a "fun" cake for her friends bachelorette party. We joked around about the different theme's they might have.........I sent her some pictures of things that they could do I found on line.......she didn't even trust me enough to look at them without sending a note back that said something along the lines of "are these appropriate enough to look at here at work?"

They were. Mostly. There weren't any totally rude body part type cakes like I did happen to find. I mean let's be honest - who wants to eat a cut into body part? Ewww.

So what we decided was that "yes" I would get to do a fun cake for her party - but she would consider what she might want it to look like. And she did..........she did another search and came up wit this design. Very cute - Very fun. Time consuming to make all the little detail pieces, but easy enough to actually do (does that make sense?).

In fact, the more challenging part was that the Bride To Be was asked what flavor she would like the cake. I believe that Amanda sent her my blog - which lists flavors I have tackled on the side - and the answer that returned was ...........White with White Chocolate Chip cake (okay done that) and a White Chocolate response was, "Ah does that exist?"

Of course it exists - but I have never done it. What we are finding is that EVERY flavor in the world has already been done. The challenge is generally NOT creating a new flavor, but more tweaking the flavor to be what you and those you are serving it to will enjoy. So after a quick search I found several several several recipes for White Chocolate Icing. Certainly not hard - it only included 1 double boiler adventure.........but also not as easy as a Vanilla Buttercream. Totally yummy though. I have already found 2 more cakes that it matches up nicely with.

So once finished this is what the cake looked like - and my understanding was the party group really enjoyed the flavor of the whole thing. It was the hit of the party (so Amanda said) - although cakes are fun, what I find is if you think something like the above cake up - most likely YOU are the hit of the party because you have spunk and a creative and fun energy about ya.

As you know - this cake was a White Chocolate Chip cake with a White Chocolate Icing. Vanilla fondant was used for the cake and Gumpaste was used for the Personal Items.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to turn your Hand Red

For heaven's sake!! I was searching through my lists of posts on this blog to clean anything up that was sitting around and found these pics ready to be posted! Holy cow this is from like January or February - well I think the cupcakes were Valentines so totally February.

What is this thing? Well this is a picture of the FABULOUS gift my Mother-in-law gave me for Christmas. I really really wanted this. It is an airbrush. Now I am not new to airbrushing. In High School I airbrushed in my drafting and architecture classes. Well really it was in architecture. Remember - I mentioned before that I took drafting/arch all through High School. Mr. Jackson, our teacher, was kind enough to kinda make up - fashion - create - new classes for 6 of us (was it 6? Kelly, Mike, Fred, Brad, Me....Steve may have been in it too, but he wasn't in our specific group of every year together in the class - so I guess it was 5). By the fourth year we had kinda run through most of the classes I think - there was Drafting - Arch I and Arch II. was 25 years ago.....maybe there were 2 Draftings and 2 Arch, but since each class was a semester there were really 8 semesters and - well like you really care there was a group of us who took a lot of drafting type classes and Mr. Jackson liked us all enough to keep us going with new areas of the field to teach us - plus he took us to yearly competitions (cool). Toward the end we were creating the exterior plans and then using different mediums to create the presentation - like markers, pencils, water colors and AIRBRUSHING.

Based on the grades I remember receiving I was pretty darn good at all the mediums except.....yes.....Airbrushing. I can remember Steve was excellent at airbrushing - in fact I am fairly sure he opened a tshirt shop where he airbrushed art work onto tshirts like they do at Six Flags. Okay maybe not.....but it is a possibility that it happened. I will ask Mary Jo - she always secretly crushed on him.

So I still keep in touch with Mr. Jackson. FB is a wonderful thing right? However, even before FB I had been in contact - visited - things like that. He had been following my cakes a bit - sending me some ideas and things. Both He and Dave had brought up the Airbrush and the thought that using it might open up some decorating techniques for me. Sounded fun - just needed to get one and at the time I wasn't doing enough "cakes for friends" to buy more then the supplies needed to bake a I put it on my Christmas list and my wonderful Mom-in-law made the purchase. YEA!
Anyway - back to my brand new totally coveted and wanted Airbrush. I opened it - it looked the same as the one I used in HS. And then the paralyzing fear of it came back. The AIRBRUSH. My classroom nemesis. I hated the Airbrush. How could I have forgotten how much I DID NOT like the Airbrush??

I mean look at the direction picture that details each part!! Ugh. The first day Mr. Jackson gave us the airbrush and had us dismantal it and then put it back together after identifying the parts and figuring out what each one does. Ugh. Now I have to do it again......the flash back fear of a test became overwhelming. However, I was determined to figure this thing see how using it could open up new cake decorating techniques. Only that week I had seen them airbrush the tops of cupcakes quickly and easily........and I was donating about 100 cupcakes to various classrooms at our school for Valentines - so airbrushing all of them vs actually mixing enough red dye into buttercream made sense financially as well as in time.

So I didn't close the airbrush casing........I kept going.........Finish Strong is what we tell the kids.
But then I found the directions.......Ugh.......they were so long!! And there were all these various pieces to deal with........ugh.......

But then I looked closer at the pieces........with the flash back of test anxiety came a flash back of recognition as to how to put together all the pieces of the airbrush. So pushing the directions aside I picked up the airbrush pieces and assembled it. Hey this wasn't so hard - 25 years and I could still build an airbrush - Whooo Hoooo Me!!

But I should read the directions.......But I didn't want to........They were long.......They were boring..........They weren't as fun as just sticking some of the food safe dye into the airbrush and Going For It!! Who needed those stinkin' directions anyway!! I took Architecture in High School and I already KNEW how to use the airbrush.........I am Airbrush Woman watch me CREATE!!

I poured the correct amount of dye into the pot. Closed it all up. Set it for spraying things. Put a cupcake on a plate and..........
Well and then I totally missed the cupcake on my first try.

The second try was a little bit better.........but almost as lame as the first try. I counseled myself into comfort by saying this was a "lack of reading the directions", this missing thing was more just a rustiness due to the 25 year time span of NOT having to use the airbrush in class.

After about half the cupcakes I started to get better. There were certainly blotching spots on some because my hand didn't have the grapse of slowly pulling back the trigger to release the dye, but with each cupcake I became a smidge better. Ben came by and wanted to try - so I let him. His were worse then mine so I patted myself on the back and said in my head, "See don't feel poorly about the way yours look. They are WAY better then his look!".......of course he is a 9 year old boy who has never in his life touched an airbrush.....and they only looked an itty bitty bit worse then mine........and he had the sense to say, "Hey if we add a few of those tiny chocolate chips you have on each cupcake they will look even better"......and he was right.

In the end he was probably the better airbrush artist.

Once they were all sprayed it was time to clean the airbrush. AGAIN I pulled those instructions out and looked at them. Geez O who needs directions.......I cleaned the airbrush out a million times. So I started the process of cleaning this one out. How hard can it be? Well honestly - not hard at all......unless you don't really remember HOW to clean our the airbrush and you are kinda just winging it based on the fact that you are too dang lazy to read the directions.

And with that.........

I turned my hand red.
And the counter. And the cloth that I had to use to clean the counter up. And 2 other cloths too.

Now you may be wondering........Did She Ever Use The Airbrush Again? Bet you think I didn't. Well you are wrong. I have used it, but not much to be honest. I am utterly scared of the thing. I saw on line that my absolute favorite cake decorator - who I have pilgrimaged across the country (okay only from IL to TN) to meet in person at her shop - was setting up an airbrushing class with a cake decorator who is in those competitions and teachers.......but I can't just drive to TN for a class.......and I couldn't find one around here. I should mess around with it more though because I have seen some seriously cute things done with an airbrush on a cake.

Now are you wondering did I read the directions? What do you think?

Of Course Not!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jenna Rose & Rose's roses

Here is a little secret.............I have never taken a decorators class. Here is another matter how hard I try I have never been able to figure out icing roses. Oh I try and try and try. I watch the YouTube video's people post to teach them.......check out books at the the right tips.....make the right icing.....make the OTHER right icing.....but I can't make an icing rose to save my life. So I have been experimenting with fondant and gumpaste. This is as far as I have gotten.
While the roses are pretty cute - I think that the stems look a little like Asparagus. So maybe I need to shift my focus from worrying about how well I can do roses and take a class on making stems not look like Asparagus?

This cake was asked for by a friend who works at Western Ave. - a local community center that works to keep kids and families connected with the things they need to be successful. She wanted to bring a nice cake for a hard working volunteer. I had the honor of meeting Rose later on a delivery there and she is a VERY sweet woman. Now I suppose I should look into decorator classes.........or at least trying the more difficult roses I have seen in videos??

This cake was half Chocolate and half White with a Chocolate Buttercream icing. Vanilla fondant was used for the flowers (like you didn't already know that).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sponge Bob Revisited

Remember the tractor cake? If so then you probably remember the picture you see here. Tractor wheels was the point to this picture.........but at the end of the tractor wheels there was left over RKT (rice krispy treats). My kids eat a lot of sweet treats if I leave them laying about. To try to keep that from happening I toss a lot of the scrap stuff into the trash. But I will be honest - that is SOOOOO hard to do sometimes because we are always taught not to be wasteful. On this particular day I also had a Sponge Bob cake to do - so I decided to use some of the extra RKT to fashion the arms and legs. Let them dry for a day with the tractor wheels and voila.....

This is technically my 3rd Sponge Bob cake. The very first was years and years ago for my almost 10 years old sons 3rd birthday. This cake is the 2nd Sponge Bob made with a fondant cover. I am just about ready to do Sponge Bob without looking at a picture anymore. ;o)

Still - no matter how many times you do the same thing - there is always something new and different you can bring into the mix. For this cake it was obviously the arms and legs made from RKT. I heard that the Birthday Boy LOVED the cake. We are on swim team with them and he came up to me the other day (this is months after the birthday) and said, "I am planning my birthday cake". Always fun to hear!!

This cake was Chocolate (if I am remembering right - geez o I should not wait so long to post things!) - Vanilla Buttercream icing and a Vanilla Fondant. Most of all it was loved and enjoyed!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Baby Showers should be all about the Mom~To~Be

I wish wish wish wish I could find the napkin that this image was copied off of!! My friend suggested me to her friend and asked if I could do a baby shower cake. Red Velvet. Red Velvet is one of those mystery cakes to me. What is the draw? It isn't Chocolate cake exactly because there are about 3 TBS of cocoa in it..........but it certainly isn't a Yellow or a White cake because there are about 3 TBS of cocoa in it. Yet is vaguely tastes like both. My family didn't have Red Velvet hanging around our house. We had White Cake White Icing. That was it mostly - and Chocolate Brownies...........and tons of cookies at the holidays. My mom would bake a MILLION different kinds of cookies. For almost a month she was baking them. Then we would make huge trays of cookies to give to folks and to have around for holiday gatherings. But after that we had Carrot cake and my favorite as a kid German Chocolate Cake (loved the coconut).

What were we talking about?? Oh, the Red Velvet. So Red Velvet. Don't exactly get it. I will however admit that it is kinda yummy - and definately pretty.

So anyway...........this friend of a friend asked me to copy the party napkin she had. This is just a cute cake if you can't see the napkin. It was fun to make. I never heard back from her when I asked how it hopefully they thought it was as cute as I did - and my friend, Pennie, who I was with when I brought it by the hostesses house on our way to Sam's..........which is a whole other topic.

The cake was Red Velvet (obviously) with a Vanilla Buttercream icing. Now - speaking of Red Velvet and icing. Again - didn't grow up with this cake, but there seems to be A LOT of different trains of thought on what icing goes with the cake. Some say a basic buttercream - some have said a cream cheese - and still others have mentioned a special icing that you cook in a simmer pot on the stove top. If you are a Red Velvet Cake Specialist would you please weigh in and let me know what icing you have experienced on this cake?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Sweet Cake for my Mom

This is a fun cake that I did for my Mom. She was coming to visit and she was the first baker I ever fell in love and awe with...........but she lives 2.5 hours I never get to bake for her or have her taste test anything that I make. Anything I am goofing off with and trying to get feedback on I take to friends who love dessert and are honest (or at least I think they are honest) about what might make something better or if I got it right the first time. My mom lives too far away for that. And she lives a little too far away for celebrations like Mother's Day or Birthdays. Sometimes we get to see her on those days, but not always. This year was a "not always" year since she went out of town for Mother's Day and the kids were in a production here in town on her birthday in December. I owed her a cake.

Now I mentioned in another post that growing up when we had cake it was primarily White Cake with White Icing. This is my mom's ALL TIME FAVORITE cake. When we have a celebration that is centered around her we KNOW that it needs to be White Cake with White Icing. Hands down done deal - or you have messed up. But I really want to share my other flavors with her so I took a risk and decided to mess with her White Cake standard............I added some Cinnamom. Because I know she loves Cinnamon (probably where I got the Cinnamon belongs in everything - but not my husbands meat rubs - gene).

So this cake is a Cinnamon Cake with a White Icing (Vanilla Buttercream). I made the cake - Iced it white - and then looked at it.

I wanted to turn it into something pretty. At the same time my mom does not love fondant. Even though I have been told my scratch fondant is yummy - fondant is not White Icing. Yeah, icing is under the fondant, but it changes the texture if not the whole flavor. So fondant as a cover to create something that is "my mom" was out. Then I thought about flowers. Second to her basket and quilting (they are interchangeable hobbies) is her ability to grow things. Veggie gardens and flowers are a call to fame for her in my eyes.

Delicate looking daisies it was. As I was getting the fondant ready for the daisies I thought about color. White - Yellow - yeah those are perfect............but a Raspberry/Plum is "Her" color. I can remember as a kid she always had a shirt in that color. Mom said it was "Her" color. Then when I was a teenager she bought me one of my all time favorite turtle neck sweaters. It was a Raspberry/Plum color. I am fairly certain I wore that sweater in the winter months for about 10 years. As the weave began to stretch a bit and make the sweater longer the style of leggings came in and it changed from a sweater with jeans kinda top to a sweater with black leggings kinda outfit for the clubs. Mom had one to match - only she never came clubbing with us. And yes, I was the dork girl at the club with a turtle neck on..........I rolled with the idea of leaving a bit of mystery to what was under my clothing.......hoping to instill that dress code in my kids (especially my daughter).

So the flower color was born. It was the perfect combination to be a perfect cake for My Mom (in my eyes). Simple - Elegant - Beautiful. Just like My Mom.

When my mom came I envisioned us waiting for the kids to come home from school - sitting and celebrating her and then having a piece of cake. Only none of us was really hungry because - well we just weren't. However, the bigger problem was that Mom didn't want to cut it. She said it was too pretty. So we boxed it up and sent it home with her - with a promise from her that she would tell me what she thought of the flavor. Because for me part of the point of it all was to share a bit of what I am doing with her. The next day I called to see how it was. She said she still couldn't cut it because it was so pretty. She was going to lunch with girlfriends and was baking .............cookies............for the gathering and thought she might take the cake with her to share. The day after that gathering she called and said the cake was a hit. Everyone loved it and she didn't have any leftovers. And that she loved the flavor - plus she was approached by friends to have me make cakes for them...........until they realized I lived 2.5 hours away.

This cake was ........Cinnamon with a Vanilla Buttercream icing and Vanilla Fondant.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Do You Know When State Farm Founders Day Is?

Nothing Over the Top Crazy about this one............but it is fun to know that I can do Logo replica's.

A few months back I did a few cupcake toppers for a friend who had a sister graduating from ISU. They were Red Birds (sure he has a name, but I am not great at knowing the names of bands or names of mascots - my brain is cluttered enough. I can remember the words to American Pie though). Another friend pointed out that by copying the mascot I could be tagged and prosecuted by ISU because they hold their bird tight. Which is probably true. However, I copy tons of licensed things........and when I google the ideas I see tons of others who have copied them too. Which made me wonder just how likely it was that Disney, Nickelodeon, STL Cardinals, Cubs or any other company would be sending me or the thousands of others using their image court papers - or how often they see how much thier image has been used and say "YES!".

Now if I were a big company mass producing the licensed item to a GINORMOUS profit - well then I would TOTALLY expect a phone call, court papers and a cease order. Since I hardly even charge enough to make a profit off any cake I won't worry about it for now.

Watch - Monday papers will show up after this is posted............where is some wood to knock on?

This cake was a Celebration of SF Founders Day. Half White and half Chocolate with a Vanilla Buttercream for my favorite last minute ordering Queen Taunia. I heard it was yummy!!