Monday, May 31, 2010

How to make a Gumpaste Stiletto

Wanna take a walk in my shoe?

This (not quite complete) high heeled shoe made entirely of gumpaste is one of 3 that is going to be featured on my competition cake at the end of June.

I've been experimenting with construction methods, trying to make them as realistic as possible without cheating-- no molds!

I made a cardboard template which I used to cut out the base of the shoe (from gumpaste).  Now, in the picture it looks black, in my living room it looks purple.  You can't win...

This sole is drying (to shape) on a chunk of fondant that I felt was too dry to cover cakes anymore.  There is parchment underneath to prevent sticking.  I tried to make my own drying mold using home made play doh-- bad idea.  For multiple reasons.  It isn't stiff enough, and moisture from the playdoh gets to your gumpaste, preventing drying and making it sticky.  Ideally, you want the gumpaste to have as much air exposure as possible when you're trying to dry it quickly.

For this shoe, I made a cardboard template and cut it out over and over again, stacking each little sliver of gumpaste on top of itself.  When gumpaste is fresh and sticky, it will stick naturally.  If it starts drying, you need to use something else-- I used tylo glue.

Slow progress...

Dried sole (this was done over a couple days), with a platform under the toe and a mostly complete heel.

The heel does have a dowel in it... for the record.

I used a clay gun to extrude a nice edging...

and I painted the sole and heel black.  You can see the contrast between the 'black' gumpaste and the true black color.

Then, I cut out a nice sole liner using my PME Design Wheeler (which I also use to do quilting), and painted it with a shimmery champagne luster dust.

Then, I extruded some straps, again using the clay gun:

Paper towels make great support structures for drying gumpaste...

A day or two later...

Fun, right?  I want to wear it, but I'm sure it's not strong enough... or big enough... ;)

More sugary shoes are coming soon...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simple Draped Cake

I've decided to enter a cake competition at the end of June-- that's the good news.  The bad news is, I have a lot of commitments in the days leading up to it, and this competition (unlike most others) requires the use of only real cake-- no dummies allowed!  So I'll let you in on a little secret-- I'm going to have to make my cakes the weekend before and freeze them.

So I froze 2 6" layers of my famous Chocolate Blackout Cake last week, took it out of the freezer on Friday, and did the stacking and decorating last night.  Then I tasted it-- since taste is one of the criteria in the show!

Now, I'm also on a quest for a perfectly clean looking cake-- neat corners and no bulges from the filling.  Ever seen a cake where you can tell where the layers end and the filling begins??  Yucky weird looking right?? Okay, maybe you don't care, but I want my real cake to look as good as the dummies (And taste a lot better). ;)

Here's last night's cake:

I kept the design really simple for multiple reasons-- it was late, it wasn't for anything special, and the point was to get clean lines-- no point in covering them up!  But you can see, it's got a nice corner, and no bulges!

How'd I do it?  A magician doesn't reveal her secrets-- but I was never much good at magic so I'll reveal mine.

Another objective in making this cake was to try an Italian Meringue Buttercream-- basically, you beat some egg whites, pour in a boiling sugar mixture, and then beat in tons of butter till it's creamy.  It's a little harder to work with than classic butter/shortening-based buttercream, but the taste is really creamy and slightly less sweet.

So here's the big secret:

You're looking at the bottom of the cake here-- I iced it upside-down.  Crazy talk, I know. ;)

You can find the details of the technique on Cake Central:

Basically, you ice a circle slightly larger than your cake on a piece of parchment taped to cardboard-- make sure it's perfectly smooth!  I found out mine had ridges...  Anyway,  you refrigerate it and then stack and fill your cakes in reverse order (upside down), and apply your icing to the sides.  Then, you take an icing scraper or a paint scraper, run it under hot water, dry it, and drag it around your cake as you turn your turntable, going through the icing circle you created, all the way down to the parchment.  This makes a clean corner.  Then, you smooth the bottom (or top in the picture) by tucking in any rough edges.  Refrigerate, and flip onto your iced cake round:

 Refrigerate for 10 minutes again, then gently remove your parchment:

Nice corner, right?  The icing has some air bubbles, but I think with a more stable buttercream (and a smoother cardboard- you can see the ridges on the side from running my scraper over them as I smoothed), you could get pretty close to perfect.  Then, I decided to cover in fondant:

Pretty clean looking... :)  Always room for improvement, but I think this is the cleanest looking cake I've seen in a long time-- at least in person.

I wanted to try a draping technique that I might use in my show cake, so I figured this was a good opportunity.  It was a bit of a struggle because I wanted a pretty long drape, but I learned some valuable lessons and I think it will be easier when I try again.

Here it is after steaming.  To keep things quick and easy, I added a modeling chocolate rose that I had around, just to give it a focal point:

Done!  Then, I just 'had to' taste it:

Is it possible for a cake to taste even better after being frozen for a week?  Cause I'm a believer.  Was even moister (I think) than the cake from the same batch that was eaten fresh... Phew!  At least I know I have a recipe that will taste great for the competition.

To freeze my cake, immediately after cooling, I double wrapped each layer with seran wrap, followed by aluminum foil.  Then I put each cake in its own freezer bag.  To defrost, I just left the cakes in their packaging and set them on the counter. 

Happy caking!

  nom.. nom.. nom... ;)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Embossed Buttercream Class Cake

Yesterday I took a class at the Cake Art store entitled 'Embossed Buttercream.'  This was a very fun and useful class!

A lot of the ideas/ concepts for this class came from Earlene Moore, a retired cake artist from TX-- if you haven't seen her stuff, check out her website:

First, we learned to make a gumpaste loopy bow, like you see on the top of the cake:

Gumpaste Loopy Bow

We made the loops at the beginning of class and let them set up, while we iced our cake dummies.  After icing and smoothing the dummies, we divided them into quarters so that we could try different patterns/ techniques in each of the four quadrants.

Quilted/ Pearled Quadrant

In this quadrant, we used a diamond impression mat to create the quilted look.  Later, I piped a shell border on the bottom and a fleur-de-lis border on the top.   We added the pearls last-- we also learned how to make these in class.  They are made from fondant and rolled in Super Pearl dust so they're fairly soft and totally edible.  You can find a similar set of instructions here:  We simplified it a little bit in class, but I think they came out nice. :)

For this quadrant, we cut a vertical striped impression mat so that it would accommodate garland work above it.  We applied the impression, then piped ruffles above it with tip 104.  I added a little rosette border on the bottom and small shells on the top.  You can see here we made pearls in a  variety of sizes.

In this quadrant, we used a paper pattern to create the overall shape, then used a little teardrop cutter to create the outline you see in the center.  The whole section was piped with cornelli lace.  My lace looks a little too angular, in my opinion, but you get the idea!

This is my favorite quadrant, I think.  We used a paper pattern and then piped over it to create the scrolls. I really like the pearl arcs that complement the scrolls.   Above the scrolls is a sotas lace, and I added a reverse shell border:

So, normally I wouldn't decorate a cake in four quadrants, but this was a nice way to try some different techniques!

Finally, we assembled the bow using royal icing, and voila!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quilted Fantasy Flower Cake

This cake was made for my friend Tamera for her masters defense, which was this morning. :)

I started and finished this cake yesterday.  However, the 'finished' part was easier said than done...  Some cakes just don't share your vision.  This cake was a lesson in patience and structural integrity.

I made my favorite Chocolate Blackout Cake, and this time I decided to torte the layers.  This might have been bad idea number 1.  Then, I opted to create my own white chocolate cream cheese filling on the fly, which tasted great, but was very soft.  Using this to fill AND cover the cakes might have been bad idea number 2.  To make a long story short, the first time I covered this cake in fondant, it was a) lopsided, b) lumpy, and c) a general cake-tastrophe.  And that was at 11 PM...

Oy.  This was round 2, after I ripped off the fondant, removed most of my icing, and lobbed off the top layer.  My 'tall cake' concept got shorter.  Fortunately, this cake didn't need to serve too many people, so it didn't matter that it shrunk...

I had to make good old-fashioned sturdy, crusting, class buttercream to cover the sides and top of this cake to prevent any additional filling from oozing out between the layers.  Then I let this cake set up in the fridge, and re-covered it in my light yellow fondant.

The fondant still wasn't as cooperative as I would have liked, but you can see it looks pretty good after the quilting, which I did with the PME quilting tool and a ruler.

Then, I had already made these fantasy flowers (which I made up on my own) earlier in the day:

I made them using slightly stiffened fondant and concentric circle cookie cutters, which I then trimmed into 5 petal flowers and thinned just like the fondant roses I showed you a few posts ago.  For the centers, I used tylo glue (made from Tylose powder  and water)  to affix a bunch of 2 mm silver dragees and 5 stamen (these are store-bought-- Wilton).

I had also made some leaves out of white fondant, which I dusted with some Nu Silver luster dust.  The last thing I did was create some stems, which I hand rolled, dusted with luster dust, and attached to the cake using Tylo glue.

By 2 AM, it looked like a cake.

I also piped a bead border around the bottom with some regular buttercream.

I managed to win the fight with this cake-- well, more or less. :)

So what's coming up?

Well, next Saturday I have a class on embossed buttercream, where we'll learn to use impression mats, make pearls, and make a loopy gum paste bow.

Also, I'm thinking about entering a cake competition at the end of June.  It's a little bit complicated, because I have commitments for 4 days prior to it, and the cake HAS to be real-- no dummies!  But I think I have a strategy... Work on elements for this cake will commence very shortly.

Finally, I got some new supplies from Global Sugar Art today, including pink cake boxes!  So now I'll have some nice looking packaging for the cakes I give away, and I'm working on coordinated labels for the boxes...  I'll show you when I get everything set!

Have a great week...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Diaper Cake!

Okay, it isn't really 'cake' per se, but isn't it adorable??

This 'cake' was clearly a baby shower gift... :)

To make it, I rolled and rubber banded a whole lot of diapers, then tied them together using ribbon to create the tiers.  The bottom tier is resting on a cardboard cake round.

After putting together the tiers, I swapped out some of the diapers with onesies and other little bibs and things that I found.

On the top tier, I put a blanket in the middle and positioned a stuffed monkey to be holding the blanket.

You can see I also dressed our monkey friend in a bib, hat, and mittens...

On the back of the 'cake', I tied in some pacifiers and baby socks. 

Cute 'cake', right?  And no calories either! :)