Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wrapping Elf Class with Susan Carberry

A couple weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to take a class with Susan Carberry at Studio B in the International Sugar Art Collection!  It was fun to go back to the student side after teaching there a few times this year.

I had a blast with the wonderful ladies in class and Susan is a wonderful, spirited, and funny teacher.  We made elves about 20" tall, and in context discussed structure and construction for 3D cakes.  The structure is primarily PVC pipes and connectors.

For purposes of the class, we used styrofoam dummies for the body and head.  All of the details are fondant with some hand painted gold accents.

It was fun to see how the whole room full of elves turned out-- since we used essentially no molds or cutters for the elf detailing, every elf had a different facial expression and personality.  The room definitely looked like Christmas with all the red and green!

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday season!  Hopefully more sugar coming your way soon..

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blue Mason Jar Cake

I was asked to make a cake for a very fancy crafting party.  Their theme was centered around old style ball mason jars which actually come in a lovely light blue color, and their logo featured the phrase 'Queen of the Ball'-- as in ball mason jar.  The party was very elegant, and many details were given to me to include on this cake.

The good news is, it was right up my alley.
 'Can I have flowers?'
'Oh and I love fondant bows.'
'Me too!' :)

So I sketched up my idea for the blue mason jar cake with its lid tilting off and flowers exploding out of it. The client also wanted their prize ribbons and logo to be featured on the cake, so I drew those in the middle of a big bow.  She also wanted a crown (you know, the 'queen' part of the theme) to be part of the design, which is how I decided to top the lid with a sugar crown.

Note that my little brain busily works on how exactly I'm going to execute these crazy cakes and looks for potential problems for quite some time before construction begins.  Like cakes wake me up in the night.  I should probably see someone about that.  Anyway...

I started the detail work well in advance.  I started with the extra large gum paste peony.

And hydrangea...

I dusted the bottoms of the ivory hyrangea with pink petal dust and the tops with just a touch of white sparkle.  I also made about 10 peony leaves and many hydrangea buds, as well as 2 smaller peonies and two peony buds.

Then I started on the prize ribbons, which I also made from gum paste.

Sorry for the glare from the flash.  The whole center is only about 2", so you can only imagine the fun I had painting that logo.  I probably should have ordered an edible image, but I only needed one and I don't have an edible ink printer... So I painted away!  Painstakingly small!  It does actually say 'Queen of the  ball' on the jar.  The teal gum paste surrounding the logo was painted with confectioners' glaze to make it shiny like a button, and I used bronze luster dust on the spiky circle... for lack of a technical term.

I also made the sugar crown from isomalt a few days prior to delivery:

This meant I got to use my awesome new blow torch!!! :)

While I made the crown, I also made some isomalt gems that I used to finish the board.

I didn't really take too many process pics once I got going.  I made the mason jar from 6" round butter cake layers and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.  Notice the grooves on the lid?  I did those using fondant underlays... ;)

The jar and lid took 6 different layers, with a little cut away around the top of the jar to shape it correctly.  I covered the jar in light blue fondant and the lid in gray.  I airbrushed a little around the top and the bottom of the jar and airbrushed the lid with silver sheen.

I sprayed the jar with confectioners' glaze to give it a little sheen, then added the SugarVeil lace around the top before stacking on the floral separator and the lid.  I was pleased as punch with the SugarVeil lace... just makes a perfect a effect, I think! :)

Note that the jar is doweled throughout with tier separators and after everything was stacked I hammered in one final center dowel to hold everything in place.  Can't have our lids sliding off in transit.

I made the bow with teal gum paste and lace from the SugarVeil Circle Bouquets mat-- I just cut off the side designs and layered that over the gum paste.  I was thrilled with the effect.

I'm always nervous when I finally go to bed at 2 AM that the cake might spontaneously combust.  So I got out of bed and took a picture of it in the fridge... LOL :)

I left some foam and paper towels in place to let everything set up overnight and left the foam in place for transit as well.

Delivered cake set up on the dessert table.  Can't complain that it didn't fit the theme, lol! :)

Some close ups of the gum paste flowers:

I was really impressed with their setup... look at this dessert table:

I think the ladies who were there when I set up were pretty excited about the cake too-- I know I was.  :)

Happy Sunday, my fabulous readers!  :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Butterfly Wedding Cake

On Saturday I delivered my first official wedding cake!

This cake featured over 40 gum paste butterflies in about 15 different colors, all hand dusted and painted with unique detailing.  The cake itself is a lemon butter cake with lemon swiss meringue buttercream, chambord flavor splash, and raspberry puree.

The bride picked out this cute little bunny topper, which is actually a ring holder (the rings go on the ears). Notice I wired up a little butterfly between his ears?  Yeah, thought I'd integrate the theme... :)

I started the butterflies well in advance and made a few of them on wires so they could 'fly' away from the cake.

I tried to plan for the right number of butterflies before the cake was made.

The bride did not want a smooth cake-- she wanted buttercream icing with some texture or sloppiness to it.    I used a paddling technique over the whole cake to give it the texture that you see.

The cakes were 10" round (~8.25" tall) and 6" round (~5" tall).  I delivered the cake like it was pictured above only I had already attached the ribbons to the cake board.  I carefully packed up all the butterflies and put them on when I got there; they were fragile enough that if they fell down in transit they were likely to break.

Fortunately, everything went pretty smoothly!  I set up the cake on what was to be the dessert bar-- it was surrounded by little pies and pastries on the platters.  I really like the rustic look of the whole setup.

I hope the bride and groom (and guests!) loved it. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kickin' it Old School

This weekend I went to a dinner party and did a tasting for a wedding cake.  God forbid any of my cakes should be under-dressed (they might take after me a little), I decided it was a good opportunity to practice some old school overpiping.

This cake is a lemon butter cake with a framboise flavor splash, a fresh raspberry puree, and a light lemon swiss meringue buttercream.  With some minor adjustments, I'll be using these flavors for a wedding cake in a couple of weeks.

All the piping was done in the swiss meringue buttercream as well using PME tips 2,3 (round) and 6 (star).  The top border was done with 6 as a base, followed by 3, followed by 2. I have this set of 20 PME supatubes-- they are seamless and I love them for detailed piping: PME 20 Piece Icing Tube Boxed Set.  The cake was a big hit at the dinner party!

I also made a smaller version as a tasting cake:

I'm just fascinated by old school piping.  I'm dying to take a Lambeth class with Kathleen Lange-- maybe next summer! :)

More cakes in the works...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Little Prince Baby Shower Cake

This weekend I made a baby shower cake along with 30 cupcakes.  The theme was 'A New Little Prince' and I was shown a plate and napkin so that I could get the color scheme down pat.

Now, all cakes take longer than I think they're going to.  It seems like every time I do a cake I think to myself 'oh, I have plenty of time, no way I'll end up staying up till all hours this time' and every time I end up rediscovering what it's like to be awake at 3 AM.

So what takes me so long?  I'm not really sure.  Sometimes I get a slow start early on in the day. I don't have a ton of experience nor do I do this as a full time job, so I'm naturally a little slower.  Other times I'm just foolish, like yesterday when I decided I needed to let the buttercream set up for a bit and took a short nap by the pool.  And often I run into unforeseen setbacks, like these crowns:

These crowns are patchwork cutters (as is the crown on the top of the cake).  Patchwork cutters get the best of me fairly often-- it takes me longer than I care to admit to find the best approach to using any given cutter.  And then rather than knocking out 30 crowns in 10 mins like I thought I was going to... Yeah... not sure how long it took but over an hour.

This picture was probably taken around 2 AM. One new tool I tried was using a smocking rolling pin on the stripes to give them some ribbon-like textures.

Also, buttercream cakes...  They technically take less time than fondant, but not really because getting buttercream to be truly smooth is a frustrating endeavor.  Also, there is a definite trade-off between the taste of the buttercream and how cooperative it is.  This cake was cream cheese buttercream which was softer and took longer to crust.  It also had a fair bit of air bubbles and was a bit translucent so it took a few coats until I was satisfied.

The cupcakes (in spite of my general hatred of cupcakes, but I won't get started on that right now) came out really cute too.

I colored the buttercream a very light cornflower blue and piped it in a rosette pattern.  I finished them with the crowns (that turned out to be so labor-intensive) and some blue hologram glitter that made them very festive.

Here's everything set up for the party:

As I was setting up, a little boy yelled out, 'Mommy!  That cake looks like a Cake Boss cake!'  I was pretty excited to receive such a compliment in my sleep deprived state.  Everyone who was there early while I was setting up seemed really excited, which made me happy.  Hopefully they like the taste too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sexy Stiletto Gum Paste Workshop-- Austin, TX!

I was super excited to be able to teach my 2 day class in Austin.  I had a full house-- 15 students!!  The most I've ever had. :) Above are the 2 shoes I completed while teaching the class, which now live at All in One Bake Shop in Austin.

By the way, I've learned that demoing/ teaching and doing are completely different!  When I'm trying to assemble things so that people can see, or so that I'm in a mirror or in camera, I end up doing things at awkward angles... It's a different art from when I'm sitting in my living room completely focused on the task at hand, and one that I'm still working on mastering!

Anyway, here are the photos from class!

Keeping everybody busy!  

I was very impressed with my students in Austin.  At least one had an enviable shoe collection. :)  I saw some great cakes and some beautiful craftsmanship.  I learned from them too!

I owe so much thanks to the amazing Kyla Meyers for organizing this class.  If you know her, you know she's amazing at what she does and a super nice person.

I hope everyone had a blast and I'm looking forward to teaching again at the end of September at Mother of Cakes Sugar Art Academy in Allentown, PA!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Austin Day of Sharing

So once I was *finally* done shipping and packing everything for Austin in my ginormous new suitcase, I finally arrived in the great state of Texas.

If you know me, it's no big secret that I have a not-so-secret love of Texas.  I mean, what's not to like?  Meat? Good.  Cowboys? Goooooood... ;)  I also might like country music and two-stepping, but don't tell anyone.

I arrived a couple days early and spent time with my fabulous friend Tina, who I went to high school with.  She and I ate some awesome food, like this bacon maple doughnut from Gordough's:

Don't judge me.  It was one of the greatest things I've ever eaten.  We also ate some other unusual foods, like foie gras and duck egg and fried bone marrow and beef heart.  Fantastic!

I had the luxury of using her kitchen to finish prepping for the day of sharing where I enjoyed the company of her cat, Mr. Peanut.

He's so awesome he even has his own Facebook page.

Back to the sugar.  For my demo, I decided to show the zebra print portion of my latest shoe, and some cheetah print on a cake, and then whatever else I had time for.  So I pre-made my shoe up to this point:

This photo and the remaining photos in this post are by Chris Wingler.

This was my very first time doing a one hour demonstration and I had a big audience!  I also had some really talented decorators/ demo-ers on before me, so I was feeling the pressure.  I had a table on a stage and a camera that was projecting me onto big screens on the sides of the room.  For the record, it was really hot on stage.  So even though I was lamenting not investing in a chef's coat in time for this event, I was really glad not to be wearing long sleeves...

Not sure what I'm doing in this picture, but I seem to be concentrating on it. :)

Here's the completed shoe from the Day of Sharing.

And my little table display...

Here I am (far left) with the other demonstrators:  Janet Rosebeary, Ashlee Trotter, Kimberly Chapman, and Ruth Rickey.  What a fabulous bunch!  I learned something from all of them and they're all such fun people.

Overall, a great experience!  I learned a lot about new decorating techniques and picked up some good tips on giving demos as well.  I also want to thank the Capital Confectioners for inviting me, especially the president, Kyla Myers, who organized the whole event and coordinated my class the following days!

Up next:  Pics from my 2 day Sexy Stiletto Workshop!