Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wilton Course 3: Final Class Cake!

The grand finale!

Remember all those fondant roses I was working on?
Well, after many hours of hand sculpting roses, I brushed them with petal dust, and added calyxes, and made leaves.  So in the end:

But let's go back... wayyyy back... to yesterday:

The bottom tier was a 10" chocolate blackout cake, with espresso truffle filling, and fresh raspberries.  I actually can't wait to cut into this cake.  Are you salivating yet?  Cuz I am.  It's in the same room...

Stacked cake.

The top tier was actually a 6" dummy.  Both tiers were covered in white fondant.

When we got to class, we used the push-in pillars to create the structure.

Let's be clear on one thing:  I'm not a big fan of white plastic pillars.  But I'm a good student and I do as I'm told.  :)  But seriously,  if it were up to me, I'd probably wrap dowels in fondant so that the color and texture would look more like the cake and less like cheap plastic.  

The border on both cakes was a tip 18 shell with a tip 127 ruffle piped over it, then a tip 16 shell over the top of the ruffle.  After piping the borders, we cut out some fondant cut out flowers, and piped centers:

Finally, we put on the flowers we brought to class, using buttercream as the glue.

A view of the top of the cake.

The bottom tier flower cascade.

The nice white photo background was set up in my class-- the other pictures are from their normal spot on my dining room table.  Also, one of the fabulous ladies in my class had a fabulous camera, and supplied me with some super high quality pics, so thanks to her!

Hope you enjoyed the cake pictures, and if you work with me, you might be lucky enough to be eating this cake (well, the bottom tier) with me tomorrow!  :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wilton Course 3: Flowers!

In the third week of Wilton Course 3 we learned 4 new royal icing flowers, all of which involved the lily nail set.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled with the consistency of my royal icing.  I didn't want my tips to clog or my hands to break, so I made it a little on the thin side.  Since I was in class, I just had to deal with it...

We first learned the lily:

Here I think my white icing was a little stiff, but there was a tiny bit of green in the center that was too soft, which made it hard to keep the stamens where I wanted them.  But still, I think they're a very pretty flower.  The stamen are pre-purchased and not edible, though not toxic-- they're made from paper and royal icing. 

Next, we learned the poinsettia:

The photo quality isn't great, and a couple of my petals broke in transit, but you get the idea.  I don't think these really look like poinsettia, but whatever! :)

Next we learned the petunia:

I really like this flower, though I think it looks more like a hibiscus with the wrong stamen... I had to leave this one in the foil because it wasn't ready to be removed.  My icing was way too soft on this one and especially the next one, the morning glory:

You can see it kinda lost its shape because the icing was so soft.  And it shifted a little in transit, which is why it's lopsided.  Fortunately, if I ever make these for a cake, I'll be at home and can have more control over these factors.  :)

As a preview for what's coming this week, I've been working on fondant roses to go on my tiered cake that we'll make this Thursday.  These have been very time consuming-- I've probably worked on them for 10+ hrs to make about 40 roses... and they're still not done!  And not all are full sized!

Here are some full sized ones:

Mostly medium and some rosebuds:

And yet some more....

Just like a lot of stuff in the confectionery world, it's a lot of work!  I hope the cake comes out good...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wilton Course 3: Class Cake 1

This cake is a little bit similar to the last cake I blogged about, in that it is square and has a fondant bow. :)

Wilton Course 3 is 4 weeks long and both the 2nd and 4th sessions involve decorating an actual cake (in the other classes you practice techniques or make royal icing flowers.) 

We brought the iced cake to class.  This time I made a 9" square with chocolate cake on the bottom and vanilla butter cake on the top, with cream cheese filling.  The outside was iced with vanilla buttercream.

In class, we covered the cakes in fondant, and also practiced roses made with stiffened fondant.  Stiffened fondant has a gum added to it (like Tylose or Gum-Tex) to make it more of a fondant/ gum paste hybrid.  This makes it easier to sculpt because it can support its own weight a bit better than regular fondant.

To finish the cake, we cut out ribbons from the stiffened fondant.  Since I didn't have time to do this till I got home, I used my Wilton ribbon cutter and embosser to add the textured stripes to the ribbon and bow.  You can find some really useful fondant video tutorials on the Satin Ice website (including how to make the bow...). 

We made the curlicues by wrapping fondant strips around a dowel rod, sliding them off, and letting them harden.

There was a flower cutter in the course kit, so we could just roll out the fondant and cut those out.  Similarly with the polka dots, only we used the end of tip 12 to cut those out.  I did my cut outs before class, so for some of the white polka dots, I let them dry and painted them with super gold luster dust.  Everything was attached with water or clear vanilla.

Around the bottom of the cake is a tip 5 bead border.

So what's coming up?

Next week in this class we're doing royal icing flowers, specifically throated flowers, including petunias, lilies, and morning glories.  In the final class we'll be making a 2-tiered cake with pillar dividers.

Also, today I started a wedding cake class at the Cake Art store.  Today we did some fancier buttercream techniques, like embellished borders and stringwork.  Next week, we're discussing wedidng cake construction, delivery, pricing, etc.  Then, in the final class we'll be making a 3 tiered wedding cake!

So that's what's coming up... stay tuned! :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Elegant Square Cake

At Georgia Tech, we're mostly engineers, and there aren't too many women around.  So, in the Mechanical Engineering department, we have a graduate women group to help us meet the other women in the department, and we do a lot of social events and seminars and lunches. :)

Last week, we brought in a female Ph.D. from Sandia to give a talk and meet and mingle with students and faculty at Georgia Tech.  After her talk, we had an informal lunch where the other women grad students could ask questions.  Long intro, but I was asked to bring a cake for the lunch.

To spice things up a bit, I made my first square cake!  The cake was a yellow cake with a ganache filling.  The ganache was garnished with fresh, sugared strawberries.  The outside was covered in standard vanilla buttercream, then I covered the cake in fondant.

I am happy to say that my fondant rolling skills are getting much better-- I actually covered this cake in one shot and in a reasonable amount of time!  No wrist cramps from rolling!  I guess my PVC pipe rolling pin is working out. :)

I cut out a light gold ribbon (Tech's colors are white and gold), and added the gold bow.  I used some tissue to help the bow hold its shape while drying.  Then, I piped a white swirling pattern over the rest of the cake.

The bow, up close, while drying.

The pattern ended up being a little smaller and more intricate than I was planning, so it took a little longer, but overall, this cake went very smoothly.  Oh, and the taste got rave reviews, so that makes me happy.  I'm paranoid about my cakes tasting bad or being dry. 

On an unrelated note, I start Wilton Course 3 this week-- yay!  First class is on Thursday.

Also, for the summer, I'm considering applying to be a home based business, so that I could legitimately take on some cake orders on the side... Still figuring out what all is entailed, though.  Every state/ county is different. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Doctoral Thesis Cake!

So, as you may already know, I am a graduate student at Georgia Tech.  This week, one of my dear friends in my lab defended her Ph.D. dissertation.  This event seemed to call for an awesome cake, don't you think?

This cake has several different components.  A couple weeks ago, I started working on the modeling chocolate figure of Stephanie. :)

I modeled Stephanie completely out of white chocolate modeling chocolate-- you can find the recipe in Modeling Chocolate Roses.  I did NOT color the modeling chocolate itself-- rather, I modeled everything in white and painted it later using petal/ luster dusts dissolved in lemon extract.

You can see I modeled Stephanie in a skirt with a wide base (with some skewer supports), and made her boots separately.   Modeling chocolate gets softer as you work with it, so you don't want to do anything structurally delicate until the chocolate has had a chance to firm up.  I attached Stephanie to her boots using some toothpicks, once the chocolate was set up.

The next major component of the cake was a projector, complete with an LED that would light up.  I bought the components at Radio Shack and wired up a large LED.  Then I built a modeling chocolate projector around the LED.  

The battery pack is hidden under that little box lid, which I subsequently covered in fondant and propped up on a miniature Reeses to make it a table.  The projector was also modeled in white, and then painted silver.

To go with the projector, I needed a screen.

I made the screen out of fondant over cardboard, and wrote my message using edible food color pens.  I supported the screen with skewers wrapped in fondant, and anchored using some extra modeling chocolate on the fondant-covered board.

Yes, I even had the light oriented to shine on the screen.

Now, all this cake needs is a cake!

I baked a 9x13 Funfetti cake (per Stephanie's request) and I trimmed it to size and torted it.  It was filled with vanilla buttercream and covered in the same.  Then, I covered the cake with fondant to create a thesis.

I used white strips on three sides, and textured them to look like pages using a ruler/ roller wheel.

Then, I covered the spine and front cover with black fondant, that I actually textured using cheesecloth to make it look like an old text book.

It is hard to photograph the texture, but it was pretty effective in person, I think.

After covering, I painted the spine with gold luster dust in lemon extract to look like an old book:

On the cover I put (part of) her thesis title, and her name again.

To finish the cake, I attached the thesis to the cake board, and trimmed the bottom edges with black fondant.

To top it all off, the cake tasted really good (buttercream with real butter and real vanilla is definite winner).  And I think her thesis committee was pretty amused (yes, I brought it to her presentation).

I think the cake says it all-- Congratulations, Stephanie!