Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Tenure Clock (Cake!)


So let me answer the question that I'm sure is burning in all of your minds-- does Roxanne still make cakes??  The answer is sometimes. :)  I work full time and I'm passionate about my job, and I'm equally passionate about my health and life, so squeezing in a 2nd full time job is not really an option right now.  However, when the right opportunities come up, I take them.  And sometimes even the wrong opportunities-- as of now, I'm planning on making my own wedding cake.  I'll keep you posted on all of my bad decisions.

Anyway, a great opportunity came up recently-- my fiance was awarded tenure at Georgia Tech!  I was asked to make a cake for the department celebration.  Since he was not the only one being honored at the celebration, I wanted a cake that was universally relevant for everyone who got tenure.  So I came up with the idea of making the 'tenure clock'-- it is a metaphorical thing that many professors allude to during their early years as faculty members when they only have limited time to prove they are worthy of tenure!  Since we are both in the mechanical engineering department, I thought a steam punk clock in the Georgia Tech white and gold color scheme would be perfect.


I started by buying some decorative gears from Amazon and making some custom molds.  In the above picture, you see the original metal gear, the mold I made, and one of the gum paste gears on the right.  I made the gears by gently spreading gum paste into the mold, and it was a bit trickier than I'd planned on.

I then made some templates for hands and numbers.


And cut and cut and cut with my little x-acto knife:

I used a mixture of gold and bronze luster dusts with fan brushes to give the pieces their final coloration.


Then got to putting the cake together!
It is a chocolate cake iced in vanilla buttercream (always a fun challenge):


To make the border, I used the FMM border cutter set:


And finished with luster powder.  Then I just had to configure the gears!



Of course one of the engineers at the reception asked if the clock was functional.  :oP  But most seemed to appreciate the tenure clock concept.  And really appreciated liqueur-soaked chocolate cake with chocolate truffle filling.




So there it is!  The tenure clock!  Congratulations to my fabulous fiance and his colleagues who were awarded tenure this spring. :)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Duomo Cake


 A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by a coworker to make a cake for his anniversary as a gift to his wife-- he wanted the top dome of the Duomo cathedral in Florence.

For anyone who has done or seen architectural cakes before, you know it's easy to do them badly, as they require more precision than your typical cake.

Here is my rendition, with my template photo in the background:

The cake was formed from 3 6" round cakes with some sculpting.  The topper was gum paste.  There were many hand piped and painted details-- I tried to capture the spirit of the Duomo without necessarily replicating every detail, as that would have taken weeks. :)


However, I did make 8 tiny flying buttresses for the side of the topper.  I then piped on the added details like the arches on the roof.  

Because of the octagonal shape of the Duomo, I made many templates for this cake to get it as close to perfect as possible.


Happy Anniversary Fred and Amy!! :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lindsey's Wedding Cake!




I know I'm long overdue for a blog post.

The truth is, I've done only a limited number of cakes since starting a new job in January.  It is too much for me to work full time (and worse, 125% time when I'm also teaching at Georgia Tech) and try to take on big cake projects regularly.

However, when the right projects come around, I still take them on.

Over a year ago, when my dear friend Lindsey got engaged, we made a deal about who was doing her wedding cake. ;)

I was also a bridesmaid in her wedding, which was super fun, but I really hadn't thought through all of the logistics of trying to be in two places at once.

I started early last week making gum paste flowers...

Like these deep purple lisianthus...

And more flowers...

 Like these hydrangea...





And more flowers...



















Like these ivory roses....

It is hard to know exactly how many flowers to make, even with a 'vision' in mind.  Gum paste flowers are rigid and cannot be compressed to fill spaces.  I usually make a lot of extra flowers to make sure I have what I need.

And then it takes me an extra 3 hours to arrange them, fyi.

I did the baking on Wednesday and Thursday, and started filling cakes on Friday:


Lindsey had the bottom tier chocolate with grand marnier syrup and espresso truffle filling.  Her top two tiers were lemon cake with fresh raspberry puree, chambord syrup, and vanilla swiss meringue.


I was particularly proud of this flower:

This is a two-tone purple and white lisianthus.  I've never seen another gum paste flower like it.  Probably because it was a huge nuisance.  But here it is! :) 


Here it is after being arranged into the topper, with leaves and spray roses:




I knew the ivory roses were going on the gray middle tier, which was inspired by the bride's mauve sash with lace:



The lacy leaves were hand piped using ivory royal icing.

I had the cake pretty well finished up late Saturday night for the Sunday wedding.  The rain (mostly) held off, thankfully.  Although, I have had to invest in a dehumidifier for my place because it has been so horribly humid and rainy that my sugar shoes started melting and collapsing.

But on a happier note, here's the finished product!






Somehow, I made it to everything I was supposed to!

And I had a blast celebrating Lindsey and Kyle!  Congratulations!!

And there was cake for all.

The end.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

City-Inspired Wedding Cake




 This cake has been a pet project of mine for a while now.  My friend Mandi had requested I do her wedding cake back in the spring, and I had so much fun designing this cake for her occasion.  I worked on the gum paste components on the side over the last month, and needless to say, I didn't sleep much the couple days before her event.  It was totally worth it to see this design come together.

Let's go way back to the design.



Mandi was great to work with-- she gave me photos of her dress, the bridesmaids' dresses, a color swatch, save the date, centerpieces, etc.  She told me she was doing a city theme and was thinking of maybe using the king and queen buildings that are iconic on GA 400 as inspiration.

To give the cake an architectural look, I mixed square and round cake tiers and got the idea of adding a topper to look a little like the queen building.  My goal was to fuse architecture with feminine flair, so I thought of building a gum paste peony and bud into the the topper.




As you can imagine, getting those gum paste 'straps' to stand up like that required all of my cunning.  And I had to put the peony in before adding the second strap...

Another idea I had in my head was inspired by an old cake decorating magazine where I saw someone build a filigree tier out of pastillage for a cake show.  I thought, why not do it for a real cake, in gum paste instead of pastillage, and add some building profiles to add to the city theme.  The artist in me thought to put more gum paste flowers inside the mesh and the engineer in me thought... how about a light source so that when the sun sets the whole filigree is illuminated...


It is hard to see the light in broad daylight, but you can see it catching one of the rose petals (it is mounted to the top of a clear cake plate).   If I can get pictures of the cake from the reception after night fall, I will share them with you.  The bride told me the light worked! :)


Here are the gum paste roses and leaves that went inside the filigree tier.  I just clustered 3 roses and some leaves while I was setting up so no styrofoam was required.

The piping on the two round tiers was inspired by the details on the bride's wedding dress.  It is was hand piped with royal icing and then hand painted in silver luster.  The silver detail on the top tier around the topper was done the same way.




Sorry for the backlight (though the scenery is amazing!).  This venue is on a 14th floor downtown near the aquarium here in Atlanta.   You can imagine the view is gorgeous day and night.



The silver beads were done with gray 50/50 paste (half fondant, half gum paste) using a pearl mold and then painted silver to match the piping.

The squares on the bottom tier are actually an underlay-- I made fondant squares a day or so in advance and let them dry.  I adhered them to the bottom tier before putting on the fondant and then carefully smoothed to reveal the design using both my hands and some tools to enhance the details.

Here is a view from the back (with less back light):


And one more from the front!



Delivery to the 14th floor presented its own set of challenges.  It took a long walk and 2 different (slow) elevators to get all the bits and pieces up to the venue.  The bottom half consisted of a custom wooden board, plus the square and round cakes which together probably weighed 60 lbs.  I could not have done it without the help of the boyfriend, Craig, who assisted with heavy lifting, sandwich delivery, and general moral support.  If you decorate cakes then you know-- it's not over till you actually deliver it and get it set up.

I really enjoyed seeing this cake come together and pushing myself to try new techniques.  Thanks for looking and happy caking!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Teal and Zebra Gum Paste Stiletto


Sometimes, you just have to come back to basics, or in my case, to gum paste stilettos.  

I really enjoyed making this teal and zebra version of my signature gum paste stiletto.  I particularly liked the liner and label, which I made super-blingy. 



This stiletto was made for a birthday celebration, and had an accompanying chocolate cake that I also covered in a zebra stripe pattern.  



The shoe will ultimately be a topper, but it was packaged separately for easier travel.  

For the stiletto, I painted the zebra stripes onto white gum paste using black piping gel diluted with just a little vodka.  For the cake, I hand cut the zebra stripes from fondant that I rolled out thin using the pasta machine.  

Such a fun shoe/ cake combination!

I made the silver studs using a homemade silicon mold that I created using a rhinestone from the scrapbooking aisle.


Hope you have a fantastic week! :)


Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Week at Highland Bakery

I thought I'd share a couple of the cakes I worked on this past week at Highland Bakery...

There's no place like home!! 

The gum paste ruby slippers turned into quite the undertaking.  I still think the template I made needs some refining, but it was the first time I put together a more pump-style shoe.  And I got to use almost an entire container of red disco dust.


These shoes are a smaller size than the ones I normally make, but they really popped on the yellow brick road cake.

I also worked on this cute little cake:

This cake featured a fantasy flower related to a peony.


More goodies coming next week!  :)