Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snowflake Winter Wedding

A snowflake theme always makes for an elegant winter wedding.  And it really sets that winter mood, even if you're in Georgia and it's 72 degrees!

Our bride wanted really delicate snowflakes, so I wound up piping almost all of them.  I used some octagon and hexagon cutters to make the tiniest impression on the buttercream.  I then used a #1 tip to freehand pipe a snowflake using the cutters shape to make sure that the final snowflake kept a (mostly) symmetrical shape.  I printed a page of snowflake clipart to use as inspiration.

I did make a dozen or so gumpaste snowflakes on wire that I added at the church's fellowship hall, and they did add a nice touch of dimension to the cake.

In one week we will be celebrating Christmas.  I hope you all have a very happy holiday.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Disney Inspired Princess Wedding

Have you tried stenciling on cakes?  What about on buttercream cakes?  Now, I'm talking about real-butter buttercream that firms up in the fridge.  I will sometimes put the cake in the freezer for a few minutes, but not too long or it will get condensation and that's a whole other problem. 

I have tried different systems for "attaching" the stencil, but they all seem to make bigger mark than if I just hold them gently with one had and apply some icing with the other.  Once you've got a little icing on, it pretty much holds the stencil in place.  Just be prepared to do some "clean up" with paint brush for bleed overs and such.  If you have a lot to stencil, you may need to put it back in the cooler  in between.  Also, plan to wash and dry your stencil each time.  I think stenciling is pretty and uniform looking and is relatively quick.  This stencil came from Designer Stencils.

There was a cake by Jim Smeal that my bride found this stencil/pattern on and fell in love.  I wish they let me recreate all the patterns he used  because I'm really over my buttercream diamond patterns! The couple was very into Disney and this has a  kind of glass carriage / tiara feel to it.  They also had me add several "hidden Mickey's" all over the cake and that was pretty fun.  The bride wanted a big border on the two blue tiers and since they were assorted size dots, it too ended up looking like a bunch of Mickey heads.  The couple also had a sweet Lenox China Minnie and Mickey topper that we added at the reception.  It was a little "cream" and I like the look of the white cake not mixed with a cream topper.  I SO wanted to put some flowers on this cake but it is pretty as is.  I'm just really just proud that I got to make a colored wedding cake this week!  Go daring brides, GO! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Anemone Wedding Cake

There are times that I'd like to tell you exactly what I think of a cake but I don't because I'm afraid the bride may read it and get her feelings hurt. You never know who is reading these blogs! :)  In my experience your final cake design is usually a combination of the brides taste and your style as a decorator. Sometimes it's just someone else's design with some minor changes. That's the case here. I really like the original design, don't get me wrong. I wish I knew who did it because they deserve some major credit. What I don't like about this cake is the cream color and stark white contrasting flowers. It was much prettier in the original design where it was all white.

The base icing is the way my main icing comes out naturally. My "house" buttercream is a French buttercream and is made with whole eggs and butter that color the icing this light yellow color. When I first started making cakes, I thought I just had to deal with the color and most brides were fine with it because they did not want a Crisco icing. I've learned in the past few years to add a few drops of violet and it cancels out a lot of the yellow cast. Don't ask me how, it's just magic! I then add some white food coloring to the outer coats of icing. It gives the cakes a much whiter finish. I really dislike the yellow color now so maybe that's why I wasn't super happy with the final cake.

The design itself is super easy. I used a basic five petal gumpaste cutter to mark the flower outline all over the cake. If I freehand something like this, I start with one size and when I get back around the cake it's totally different. I used a #3 tip a piped the flowers a couple at a time since the cake was cold. You don't want them firming up before you have a chance to take the brush to it. You just take your brush and pull it inward. Easy squeezy! Of course the anemone flowers could have been easier, but I made it harder. I made all the pieces ahead of time, but didn't put two layers of petals together until the night before the event. They would not fit because they dried in different shapes. Luckily, I just had to recut the back set of petals. I also tried something with embroidery thread for the middles of the flowers but they looked like a fuzzy mess, so I went a different route. You should make your gumpaste flowers on the Monday before the wedding or earlier. You need to paint them way early to because you often break a few and they can get ruined with a bad paint job and you have to start over. Plan for the worst and hope for the best! When it's all done and I look back at a cake that I wish would have been different, I remember that the bride was happy and that was the ultimate goal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fondant Swag Wedding Cake

Thank goodness a week of no cakes!  We have been needing a weekend off for a long time.  So nothing to excited to share with you this week so let me apologize ahead of time.  Easy cake but funny story.

This buttercream covered cake was supposed to be very simple, and it was, just not the delivery.  For the swags and pearl borders we used wedding white Fondarific painted with white sparkle luster dust.  You know the pearls take a lot longer than you would think, especially when you are going all the way around a 20" round cake.  I rolled the wide strips out and layed them over a three dowels.  Just form the fondant around them and then pull the dowel out the side.  Make sure the swags are stuck on the butercream so all their weight is distributed. The Fondarific is great about staying flexible and not drying out or getting cracky.  Also, the wedding white color matches my French buttercream perfectly.  I've tried using toothpicks to hold some of the weight, but they do more damage than good. 

I wasn't supposed to make anything to go where the swags met, but it didn't look great, so I added some ribbon roses.  We added fresh peonies onsite and it looked prettier at the end.  We didn't get a good picture because we pulled into the parking lot on two wheels.  On our wedding contract I list the bride's address and the venue's address on the same page.  I make the forms, fill them in, and read them all the time.  We were in a real hurry and I asked Chad to enter the venue address in Garmin.  We were freaking out when we got to our destination and it was a subdivision.  He entered the wrong address!  Once the planner called we could at least tell her we were on the way and would be there in 15 minutes.  The ceremony was still going on in the church, but that was way too close for me. 

Lesson learned!  Just because the cake is easy, that doesn't mean the rest of it will be :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Football Cake

This week is Thanksgiving week, so I thought this would be the perfect cake to showcase as many of our family members will be watching football as they fall in and out of turkey-induced slumber.

But it's also a time for self-reflection, and a time to give thanks.  I have so many things to be thankful for - I am thankful that my small business has thrived in a struggling economy.  I am thankful for the skills I have learned and the people that have supported me and my business.

When I first started, there wasn't a lot of information out there.  I bought every cookbook I could find, but there were still specific questions I had.  As far as I know, there was no CakesDecor or CakeCentral to fall back on.  Out of desperation I e-mailed a few specific questions to some well-known decorators.  Some I never heard from, but I was surprised that several answered me back with an answer.  I always responded back with a gracious "Thank You" and never pushed my luck.  I also vowed that I would "pay it forward" when my skills were more developed.

Nowadays I must get a couple of e-mails a day from aspiring decorators asking me questions, and sometimes I have to remind myself of my vow. Most people ask very pointed, specific questions and I try to answer than as quickly as possible.  Some people though ask questions like "I have never baked a cake in my life and I want to make a 4-foot tall sculpted animatronic dancing armadillo cake.  Can you please send me recipes and a step-by-step walkthrough with diagrams?"  OK, so that scenario is a little inflated, but you get the idea.  I'm never exactly sure how to answer these types of emails, and honestly more times than not, I just ignore them.

So please remember this next time you e-mail someone with a question, and they can continue to be thankful to share their information.  And don't forget to thank them if you get a response!

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Spend some time with people you love!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kaben's Birthday Hoedown

Recently I did Kaben's 4th birthday cake.  I have mentioned Kaben here on the blog a few times before, since I have done all of his birthday cakes.  He is such an amazing little boy, and he always gives us such great ideas for his party cake.  This year's party theme involved a petting zoo, cowboy hats, cactus balloon sculptures - certainly enough for me to create a cake around.  It all worked so well at The Car Barn!

Our cake starts out with the bottom cake tier as a wooden crate covered with modeling chocolate "wooden" panels.  We also made his name using wood planks also made from modeling chocolate.  We used a Wilton #3 tip to make mail holes in the planks.

The next tier was covered in blue fondant and made to look like denim blue jeans complete with little pockets and stitching.  We also made a horseshoe inspired 4 made from gumpaste for rigidity.

The next tier was a bandanna in John Deere yellow and green. I gathered the fondant a little and finished the tier with a little fondant knot.

The next tier was inspired by the petting zoo.  Just a green fondant "hill" with a rickety country fence.  There were a few animals made from modeling chocolate poking their cute little head through.

Cars is still Kaben's favorite cartoon, so we incorporated one of the tractor "cows" into the cake as a topper. I used some pictures from the Internet to sculpt a tractor from modeling chocolate.  Now Kaben also wanted his tractor to "moo" just like on the cartoon.  He was too high on the cake for Kaben to reach, so we used a recordable sound module and incorporated it into a tractor tire on the cake board.  Now my frequent readers here will know that this is totally Chad's area of expertise.  He took the module into the office and about 2 minutes later he came back with with the sounds on it.  I thought he had pulled up some sound database on the Internet to record it from.  It wasn't until the next day that he told me he just mooed into it.  I couldn't believe it, but it sounded great!  I guess if this cake thing doesn't work out, he has a career as a cow impersonator!  LOL!!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my little old blog.  I know this was long, so here's a closeup of that tractor sculpture as a special bonus for sticking around!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Burlap Pattern & Rose Wedding Cake

Some of our brides discover a cake online, bring in the picture and want nothing changed.  This cake was one of those projects.  I wish we could credit the original designer, but we don't have the name at this time.  The venue for this cake was a barn with lots of rustic decor, burlap table cloths and a very elegant bride.  The imprint on the fondant was to look like a burlap pattern. I found a great clay pattern mat for clay that had a sort of wavy pattern but the "thread" was too thin.  I could not find a burlap rolling pin anywhere!  So what was I to do?  I used a large piece of rubber shelf liner that I use for non slip mats under all my cakes.  It worked great but wasn't "natural" enough until the pattern got "distorted" while covering the cakes.

The pleating did not come naturally since we are all conditioned to not have pleats, but as you can imagine it wasn't had.  I don't have room for a huge fondant sheeter, so I've found a GREAT alternative, "The Mat".  I think that tool and Elite fondant are the key to covering cakes.  We use many different brands of fondant for many different applications, but Elite is by far my favorite for covering cakes.  

This picture better shows the burlap pattern

I used two boxes of "Bloomed Garden Roses" from Caljavaonline.com as well as several smaller roses for "filler".  I really love these roses because they come with four sizes and are very natural looking.   The biggest challenge were trying to get the flowers to "match" for ivory fondant (straight from the tub ivory).  I ordered them in ivory but they were very peach!  I spent 5 hours airbrushing coats and coats of petal dust to get the color right.  The bride wanted the entire cake and flowers to have luster dust airbrushed on also.

My real challenge on this cake was self inflicted.  I keep letting brides pick their favorite cake stand regardless of the diameter of the cake.  As you can see on the first picture, there wasn't a very big lip on the cake board.  You really need a cake board at least 6" larger than the bottom tier, or the cake will be too top heavy and more likely to fall. When you are traveling with these tall guys the extra cake board act like "training wheels" so that it doesn't fall over.  When we have done this in the past, we still put a larger board so that we can carry it and not put our fingers in the sides.  This doesn't give you close to the stability, so don't use that as a solution.  I'm not going to keep making that mistake!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Smokeless Tobacco Groom's Cake


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ahoy Boy Baby Shower Cake

A few weeks ago I got a call from Rodney.  His sister was having a baby and wanted a really fantastic cake for her baby shower.  The decorations were all based off the Ahoy Baby Boy set of plates and decorations.

We wanted the cake to be a very bright color scheme, but still keep that baby blue motif.  I printed out a few sheets of blue gingham on edible image sheets and used it as a border on each tier.  I took one of the plates and used it to make templates for the whale, the turtle, and the "BOY" lettering.  The bees were just too small to cut from modeling chocolate, so I printed them out on edible image sheets too.

We delivered this cake to the Rome Library and later that afternoon I got a call from Rodney.  He said that everyone, including his sister, really loved the cake.  That's the kind of feedback we like to hear!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Art Deco Wedding Cake

We delivered this wedding cake to the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga Tennessee this weekend.  I had such a great time making this cake.  This is certainly not your typical wedding cake, but the couple really wanted a colorful art deco cake.

I had not done an art deco cake before, and I really wasn't super familiar with the style, so I hit up Pinterest and starting doing some research. When I met with the bride, she immediately fell in love with a cake I found on CakeWrecks that was similar to this one.  (Baker Unknown).  We did change things up quite a bit though, and the bride had these koi fish that she wanted to incorporate into the cake.

The cake was covered in butter cream, and all decorations were made from modeling chocolate.  Well, except for the koi fish; they were printed on edible image paper.

Is this art deco style a trend now?  Have any of you bakers done any art deco cakes lately?

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Peacock Inspired Wedding Cake

I don't know if the Katy Perry song has had anything to do with it, but lots of brides lately have been considering peacock for their bridal inspiration.

When I met with this couple, they definitely wanted peacock incorporated into their wedding, but they wanted something not so literal; more of a "hint" of peacock, I guess you would say.

When the bride saw a similar cake from Art Eats Bakery in SC, she completely fell in love.  We tweaked and loved on the original design, and made into something that would really fit in with the couples big day!

We delivered this beautiful wedding cake to the wonderful ballroom at The Chattanoogan in downtown Chattanooga.

Congratulations Hallie and Joel!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

60th Birthday Golf Cake

I made this golf cake recently for my high school art teacher's husband.  Even though it's been a LOONNG time since I was in high school, I have always stayed good friends with Jeanne and her husband Ken.  Ken was turning sixty and was preparing for a big party with family and friends.

Ken's an avid golfer, so can you guess what he thought was so great about turning sixty?  Yeah, I had no clue either!  Well, once you turn 60, you get to golf from the golden tee markers, which are closer to the green, and the little hole I guess. 

This little golf scene includes some of the hazards of the game, as well as the green and those golden tee markers.  We also made some golden golf tees from fondant.  Ken was very happy with his cake and we were happy to be a part of the celebration.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buttercream Ruffle Flower Cake + Tutorial!

I made this cake this past weekend for a dear friend of ours, Daisy Moffatt - owner of Daisy Moffatt Photography.  Truth be told, I was actually conspiring with her husband, Beau, to make her a cake with a surprise design.

As I looked through Daisy's Pinterest board, I saw lots of romantic cakes with frilly ruffles and fantasy flowers.  But almost every one was mostly fondant.  Knowing that most people aren't huge fondant fans, I got out some icing tips to see if I could possibly recreate those ruffles in buttercream.  It didn't take long before I had worked out a technique that I liked.

As I was putting the cake together, I just kept liking it more and more and I realized I was really on to something.  So as soon as Chad got home we got out the video camera and shot some footage so we could present you with a very quick mini video tutorial.  I didn't even get ready because I really didn't intend to be seen on camera.  One thing lead to another and before I knew it we were in full fledged video tutorial mode!

Here it is in all it's glory!  LOL!!   Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

Buttercream Ruffle Flower Tutorial

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I was featured in Cake Central Magazine!

I have been holding on to this little secret for several weeks and it has just about burned a hole in me!!  Several weeks ago I received an e-mail from Jackie at Jackie at Cake Central.  They wanted me to submit a cake for publication in Cake Central magazine.  I answered her back so fast I think the e-mail caught on fire!!

The theme I was asked to submit for was "Minimally Decorated with a Splash of Red".  Now, that's a hard theme for any decorator that wants to showcase their skills to the rest of the decorating community.  But I vowed that I would do my best to keep the design simple.

I was really happy with the way this design turned out.  I have read Cake Wrecks too many times and seen too many balloon cakes that turned out looking like something... less sophisticated.

I actually made 2 cakes to submit, and Cake Central put both in the magazine.  I was worried that they wouldn't one cake or the other, so I submitted a second cake.

This was the other cake I submitted.  I had conceived this design a while back, but with different colors.

I only had a couple of weeks from initial request to submission to get these cakes ready.  I wished I had more time to work on them.

How many of you receive Cake Central?  I wished it was still a real live printed magazine, but I'm still glad to be published in a leading industry magazine.

Special Thanks go out to Mike Houston of Houston Studios for taking such great photos to submit to the magazine.

Y'all have a great week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wedding Cakes in Rustic Locales

At least in my area, barn weddings seem to have become very popular.  Maybe the rustic setting is coming back in style, or maybe it's easier on the budget, but I am delivering more cakes to these rustic locales than ever before.  I delivered this cake just this weekend to the barn at High Point Farms.  This design was based on a cake the bride found on The Knot, and I thought it worked very well in the rustic setting.

There are some things you have to be aware if you're planning on having or making a cake for a barn wedding.  There are many types of "barns" - some are nicer than your house; some don't have fully formed walls.  See the light coming through in the background of the photo?  That's sunlight from the outside world.  If you don't specifically know the barn, you should treat it like you would an outside cake.  I recommended fondant for this cake and I'm so glad I did.  When we arrived the barn was cool enough, but it had sawdust / wood shaving floors.  Every time we stepped, you could see sawdust floating through the air.  If I had delivered a buttercream cake, those guests would have had extra fiber in their dessert for sure!

Now for this cake... It was a 3-tier fondant cake, with a rose stencil on the bottom tier, and an extruded rope wrap on the top tier.  The flowers are gumpaste ranunculus in the bride's colors.  The toppers are small corn husk dolls that were made for the bride and groom.

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great week! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crawfish Boil Birthday Cake

We had such a fun time making this cake.  My friend Amanda, that owns Divine Designs called me up recently and wanted a birthday cake for her husband James' 40th birthday.  When she mentioned that they had planned a crawfish boil, I immediately had a design in mind.

This is a 2-tier cake, with the entire top tier being an edible cooking pot.  The cake was wrapped in modeling chocolate and then painted with silver luster dust.  The lid and handles were also made from modeling chocolate.  The effect was really nice; people at the party thought it was actually a mini pot!

When we got ready to take our pictures, I was looking for a suitable cake stand, when Chaddy came into the kitchen with one of our big Calphalon pots.  I thought it made for the perfect cake stand to take our pictures on!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Threadcakes Contest Entry

I'm sure by now that most of you have heard of Threadless, the awesome T-Shirt company, and as cake people you're probably familiar with Threadcakes, the annual contest where people make cakes based on a T-shirt design.  If your not familiar, then go check the links above and then come right back - I'll wait...  ;-)

Seriously, I have been wanting to participate in this contest for at least 2 years, and this year I finally made the commitment to participate.  I literally spent days just looking through t-shirt designs to find the perfect one.  I finally found Bonsai Cats, a shirt I had seen previously and fell in love with.  I'm a big gardener, Chaddy likes his ninjas, and we're both big fans of kitties, so this design worked for everyone.  The design also lent itself well to cake, and I thought that while challenging, it was something we were capable of creating.

The Threadcakes rules require LOTS of photo proof during the baking and assembly of the cake.  That was an unusual addition to my workflow, but I managed it OK.  My biggest problem was one that most of you are very familiar with - TIME.  I didn't allow myself enough time and we were both rushing around the night of the deadline.  We finished the cake, took all the photos, and then cut and ate part of the cake (one of the rules) and got all the photos uploaded with only 20 minutes to spare before the midnight deadline.

So now all the entries have been turned in and the judges are now scoring each of the entries.  Hopefully they will announce the winners soon,  There are some super talented people with some great entries this year, but I remain hopeful that I at least have a shot of placing.  Keep you fingers crossed for me, OK?

UPDATE: A day before this post went live, Threadcakes announced the winners of the contest for 2012.  We didn't place in the top five slots, but we were selected as a finalist!  Considering all the great cakes that were entered, we can be happy with that!  If you want to see my entry along with the original t-shirt design and my progress shots, just click here to go to my Threadcakes entry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Laptop Groom's Cake

This cake is a great example of how you can give your client's a 3D "looking" cake, but not blow their entire bridal budget on the groom's cake.  Our groom here was a big PC gamer, and his favorite game was Starcraft.  He also wanted his gaming laptop represented on the cake.  Here's a couple of ideas we incorporated to minimize the complexity, and thus the price.

Keep the 3D elements on a smaller scale.  On this cake, the majority of the cake is actually just a sheet cake, the laptop has just enough cake for the couple to cut into.  And the back of the laptop is just corrugated plastic coated in black gumpaste.  Since it was so light, we were able to use a small bent metal angle bracket to hold the laptop lid open.

Simplify decorations where possible.  We have no problems making individual keyboard keys for a laptop cake, but that gets pricey fast.  Printing out a keyboard on edible image paper not only looks great, but saves you decorating time, and your client money. On this cake, we used edible images for the keyboard, the laptop screen (logo), and the side decorations.

All of these concessions gave the couple the cake they wanted, while still keeping the price at an affordable level.  We delivered this to the Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga and it looked great.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Buttercream Ruffle Tutorial

OK, so you remember those buttercream ruffles from last week?  And you wanted to know exactly how they're done, right?  OK, well, this is the method that I figured out, and they are much easier than you think!  Let's start with an image of the technique, almost completed:

Pretty, huh?  The best part is, you only need 2 tips to accomplish this look!

I have seen a rose tip used to make ruffles, but I have found that the Ateco Tip 070 is absolute magic for this.

I wanted to add some "lift" to my ruffles, so for this tutorial we're also going to use a Wilton tip 12.

The ruffling part is really quite easy; the tip does almost all of the work.  My suggestions here are to start each row with a full bag of icing.  Bag "burps" and running out of icing is not your friend here.  Once you have a row of ruffles, pipe a tip 12 rope on top of the ruffle. 

This rope will give you a nice ledge to pipe your next next row of ruffles onto.  Now just keep alternating ruffles and rows until you reach the top ledge of the cake.  If you want to continue on the top of the cake, just keep doing the same thing - ruffles and piped ropes.

That's it!  That's all there is to it!  I told you it was easier than it looked!!

And while you're here...
Last night I submitted my first cake to the ThreadCakes contest.  I would really appreciate it if you took a look and even clicked the LIKE button or left a comment!  Here is the link:  http://www.threadcakes.com/entries/view/1546

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Buttercream Ruffle Wedding Cake

I have never made buttercream or fondant ruffles on a wedding cake before... at least not like these. 

The client brought in a picture from The Pastry Studio, done all in fondant.  She wanted something similar, but in buttercream of course!  Since I seem to be the Queen of Buttercream, I jumped at the challenge!

The bride also wanted some extra bling on this cake!!  For the ribbons, I added rhinestone chain, but for the gumpaste peonies, it took a little extra creativity.  I took some needle-nosed pliers and cut out the middle of the flower, taking care to leave as much of the wire as a could.  Then I used the wire to crimp on a rhinestone button I got at the craft store.

But I know you're really wondering about those butter cream ruffles, right?  Well, it took me a few tries to get it right, but it's really not that hard.  Do you want to learn how to do it?  If so, leave me a comment and I'll show you next week!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fondant is INSURANCE, not a Guarantee!

We live in the South, so heat and humidity are just what is expected this time of year.  Oh, how I long for the days when I don't have to run the car's A/C for ten minutes before we can load a cake or when the condensation appears so quickly on our cakes.  To make matters worse, the new trendy place to have a reception is in a "Barn".  Not all barns are created equal by far!  Some are beautiful and elegant and some are so "rustic" that I can't believe how much they are charging.  For the record, my very favorite barn venue is Walnut Hill Farm in Dalton,GA.  Nanette has impeccable taste and the landscaping is flawless.  There is nothing rustic about their venue and that's the way I roll!

Cakes and heat do not play well together, especially real butter-buttercream!  Last year we delivered to a very "rustic" oven... er, I mean barn, and I was sick all day worrying about the cake.  The family didn't want to spend money on portable A/C units and the giant fans were only making the oven/barn feel more like an outdoor convection oven. They also didn't want fondant so the cake was all buttercream.  The bride did have to move up the cutting so that the cake didn't melt.  We came home and our best friend Chris, who is a bankruptcy lawyer, came over for a visit.  I explained how worried I was about the cake holding up and how I told the bride, at the consultation, about all the bad things that can happen to cakes in the heat.  For example, bugs fly up and get stuck in the buttercream or lightweight decorations like pearls/dragees slide down as the cake heats up (I've seen this happen five minutes after putting a cake outside).  Chris's answer to me was "did they sign something that says they understood what could happen and that you aren't responsible?" "No, but I explained it!"  His answer is what we all need to remember, "If they didn't sign or initial something, then it didn't happen".  I made two major changes that hot day.   One, I have an amendment (lawyer term) to my contract that lists everything that could happen and that I'm not responsible if the client chooses to go against my recommendations.  Two, on the form my potential clients fill out they have to list if the cake is going to be outdoors.  That way, at least one of the samples have fondant.  Speaking of fondant, it is now our policy that ALL outdoor cakes have to be covered in fondant.  That way I help them avoid tragedies that will tarnish their day.  I will back down on this if I am pushed hard, but I tell them to trust my experience and I'm not doing it to make "extra money".  It's INSURANCE, but not a guarantee!  Please protect your business and the couple's cake "experience". 

Oh!  The cake...not much to tell you about this one, hence the hot weather advice.  Don't get me wrong, I really do like it, but the simple design doesn't lend itself to an entire blog post.  I used the very large rose tip to do the buttercream ruffle.  It's very "rustic" and not "too" perfect, which is a good thing when you are busy :)  The only non-buttercream element on the cake is the large flower thing.  I made two, one for a back up in case the first broke.  I used gumpaste and the thinner you roll it the better.  Just make a big circle a little smaller than what you want the "flower".  Now insert two wooden skewers into the circle so you can install it safely on the cake later.  Think of the skewers like the two supports that come on monogram toppers. Then make strips of fondant, wet one edge and gather them like putting curtains on a rod.  Use some sugar glue and attach it on top of the circle, letting the edge of the ruffle hand over the circle.  Add another row or two and a center piece.  It's just a ball of fondant, but you could use pearls, rhinestones or dragees. Let it dry for a few days because it is going to be "thick" with all of those layers.  Have fun with it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pearl Encrusted Wedding Cake

With this cake I think I may have beaten some sort of "most dragees on a cake" record.  This cake was designed using several inspiration photos the bride provided during our consultation.

I really liked the softness and texture that the various sized sugar pearls added to the design.  When it was finished it reminded me of a winter themed cake

Getting all those dragees on the cake was actually easier than I thought it would be.  I placed each tier on a smaller inverted cake pan, and then placed that smaller cake pan into a very large cake pan.  I would take a handful of mixed size dragees and apply them to the sides of the cake.  The ones that didn't catch would just collect in that larger cake pan for me to scoop up and use again!

One last thing that's not cake-related, but I wanted to ask for your help on...

Our friends Ayesha and Zach have been selected as finalists in the StiVectin "Power to Change" program.  If they win, they will use the grant money to overhaul an Airstream and make a mobile art station in Chattanooga, TN.  They have worked very hard on this project and it only takes a click to vote.  Just click the link below:


And then click the yellow "Vote for This" button.  Thanks for your help, and we'll see you back here next Tuesday!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happily Ever After Wedding Cake

I really liked doing this wedding cake.  The couple were fun and not afarid to bring some color to their otherwise traditional wedding cake.  Not only was the bow hot pink, but the inside of the cake was pink strawberry with hot pink cream cheese icing!

You can click on the cake for a larger picture, but the piping reads "And They Lived Happily Ever After".  What a great way to start your fairytale life!  To do the piping, I started by printing out the wording on paper with the printer's settings changed to "mirror image".  Then I used a #1 tip to pipe faintly over the wording onto a sheet of parchment paper using royal icing.  Once I finished piping, I carefully lifted the parchment paper, flipped it over, and placed it on my cake.  That gave me a nice outline that I used to pipe over again using royal icing.  Once the royal icing had dried I then went back and painted the words with Nu Silver.

There is one other thing I wanted mention, and it applies to all cakes.  If the bride has a topper she wants to use on her cake, make sure you at least see it before the wedding day.  This bride had a cute carriage topper, but it was on a large base.  It hung off the sides of the initial 5" top tier, and it didn't look right.  Luckily, I caught it in time to rebake the top as a 6" cake.  And Wilton cake toppers have a nasty habit of securing their toppers to the box with lots and lots of screws!! So make sure you always carry a screwdriver in your emergency kit!

Thank you all so much for stopping by and visiting my little blog.  I'll leave you with a little closer shot of that piping, just so you can see it better.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clue Game Board Grooms Cake

I'll start off by saying this was a really fun cake to make!  Chaddy and I both had a blast working on this.  I can always tell when he's really interested in a cake design; his eyes light up and he's constantly jotting down notes and coming up with ideas. 

The couple opted to go the edible image route, but it came out looking great.  We had a hard time finding graphics on the web to use, especially since they needed to be so large (14").  Luckily, the couple brought us their own personal game board.  Now scanning in a huge game board (approx 19") is no easy task.  Chaddy actually had to remove the top off the scanner just to get the middle pieces scanned.  And then he had to take all the pieces of the scans and piece them back together in the computer.  Once printed out, the edible image sheets were arranged on a piece of modeling chocolate.

We also scanned in cards, envelopes, and score sheets and printed those out as well.  We were also able to scan all of the weapons (except the candlestick).  We printed those out on regular paper and made templates so that we could cut them from thin pieces of modeling chocolate.  The rope and the lead pipe was made with an extruder.

Here's another picture with some of the detail:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hockey Rink Grooms Cake

About 30 minutes before I started writing this, I was looking through my iPad at the last few weeks cakes to find the perfect one to write about.  And as I sat here in the sweltering Georgia heat, with record-breaking 100+ degree temperatures, this hockey rink cake called my name, as seeing it immediately made the room feel 10 degrees cooler!

This is a simple cake, but it holds TONS of sentiment.  You see, when Nick decided he wanted to propose to Meredith, he did so by writing his proposal on the ice rink.  Now I don't know how one goes about getting something written on an ice rink, but I bet it's not an easy feat to accomplish.  This groom's cake really shows the commitment this couple has made to each other; it really touched my heart!

Tomorrow we celebrate Independence Day here in America, and while it's not super patriotic, here's a quote I read recently that made me smile by Erma Bombeck:  "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peach Monogram Eyelet Wedding Cake

Are you other decorators out there getting lots of requests for peach and coral wedding cakes this season?  They must be popular colors, because almost every couple I meet with has one of those colors in their mind.

This couple wanted some touches of that peach color in their wedding cake, and they wanted that eyelet lace look also.  For this look, Fondarific made this cake possible.  It's my go-to fondant when I need to cut shapes out without worrying about it stretching or deforming.  But it still has to be pliable enough to wrap around a cake without cracking or getting elephant skin.

Any cake that also features mine and Chaddy's initials also holds a special place in my heart.  Sometimes I wish that I was doing cakes when Chad and I got married, but then again, how could I have ever chosen a design??

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saxophone Music Lover Cake

I made this groom's cake for a music lover a while back, and I was really thrilled with the way it came out!

I bought a musical note stencil a long time ago and I was so excited about using it when the client placed the order.  The stencil was pretty intricate, but it went on the cake really well.

I cut the saxophone out of modeling chocolate using some printed clip art as a guide.  Then I added some dots using my diamond impression mat.

A lot of my grooms are peanut butter lovers (my hubby included) and this groom was no different.  So we piled this cake up high with Reeses' Peanut Butter cups.  YUMMY!

Did any of you catch my interview over at CakesDecor.com?  If you didn't it would mean a lot to me if you stopped by and left a comment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden Rose Wedding with West Point Grooms

I delivered this bride and groom combo to Lindsay Street Hall a few weeks ago.  It is such a beautiful venue, and these cakes fit in just fine.

The bride wanted a very simple, elegant buttercream cake, with no borders.  Getting that nice crisp edge without any borders may have been the hardest part of this cake!  She also wanted roses, but she wanted to incorporate the green color she was using in her wedding.  I bought some of the Garden Rose Collection roses from CalJava.  I think these are some of the prettiest roses I have gotten.  I dusested them with a small hint of green, which really gave them an antique china look.  That and a few green leaves pulled in her colors nicely.

Lastly, I thought it needed a woodsy element, but I didn't have any curly willow, so I made my own!  I took 3 pieces of wire, wrapped with floral tape, and then coated in chocolate.  It made a nice "twig" and saved me a trip to the store!

Our groom's cake was for a graduate of West Point Academy.  Here we relied heavily on edible images, but I initially thought I was going to make the crest 3D.  Sometimes things just work out that way!

I used fondant in a chocolate mold to make the eagles and then painted them gold with luster dust.  I then used my extruder to make a red and blue border in keeping with the patriotic theme.

Lastly... are any of you members at CakesDecor.com?  It's a very nice place where cake decorators can come together to share cakes, ideas, and information.  I have been visiting there for a couple of months now.  It's a great resource and everyone there maintains a very positive attitude.  Well they interviewed me last week and they'll be featuring it on Thursday.  So stop by on Thursday and check it out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Magic Jack Birthday Cake

I have a big confession to make here... Pinterest is killing my creativity!  Every minute I'm being fed all these wonderful ideas, and it's just too hard not to swipe some of them.  I saw this magic hat cake pinned on Pinterest and found out it was made by CC user nonilm (and she was inspired by others).  A few days later my friend Tammy called and wanted a magic themed birthday cake for her son Jack.

It's such a cute design!  I showed it to Tammy and she loved it!!  And Tammy even came over to help me make it!  She got to roll out some fondant and cut out stars while I worked on the icing and stacking.  Part of this great design is it's simplicity - it's basically just a 2-tiered cake with an extra cake board on top to  make the brim of the hat.  The bunny and magic scarves just sit on top of that top cake board.

I must admit that I really wanted to make the "JACK" letters from modeling chocolate, but I ran out of time here and had to resort to printing them out on an edible image.  I still think they turned out cute though!

Here's another shot of the cake, a better closeup of that cute little bunny face!  We printed out a few playing cards and since Jack was turning four they all had to be the 4 of hearts!

Thank you all so much for stopping by and looking in on my adventures in the cake world.  See you next time!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rose Stencil Wedding Cake

This weekend we delivered another wedding cake to The Grandview on Lookout Mountain.  And this wedding cake was all about roses.  It's hard to tell in this photo (I have a better picture below), but I used my rose petal stencil on the sides of this cake.  And then each tier had a layer of roses in between with a nice little bouquet on top.  It seems like most of the cakes I take to the Grandview are all cakes I have to put together at the venue!

I'm not sure how other decorators carry cakes that have to be assembled at the venue, but it has always been a problem for me.  I decorate the cakes on the column plates, but I'm always a little afraid of traveling with them on these plates.  The day before the delivery it came to me!  I could just put the separator plates on a styrofoam dummy and carry it that way.

As you can see above, I used an extra plate to make the indentations on my foam dummy. I actually had to use a small knife to dig out some of the extra foam, but I still wanted the separator plate to fit tightly.  Then I just sat my cake into the foam block and popped it into a bakery box.  It was super stable and traveled very well.  If you click on the picture you can also see the detail on the rose stencil.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Diamond Buttercream Quilting Tutorial

Back in April when I Chaddy and I took the day to tape our Smooth Buttercream on Square Cakes Tutorial, we finished quicker than we expected.  There we had this perfectly square cake, and I made it just for the video, so I didn't have anything to do with it.  We had all the equipment out, so I started thinking of what else we could film.  By the way, it's hard for me to use the word "film" in reference to my videos.  It sounds SO "professional" and my videos are SO not!  Anyhoo, I remembered some people asking me about doing a quilting effect on buttercream and thought I could show that pretty easily.

This time, we tried a new vantage point with the camera that we liked that we referred to as the "Over the Shoulder Cam:"  It allowed to me to show the technique better AND I didn't have to decorate the cake "backwards"!  Well, enough of me squawking, you have to spend the next 10 minutes learning how to do your own quilted buttercream cake!

If you're new here and need my all-butter buttercream icing recipe, it can be found on this post!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Grandview Wedge Wedding & Oklahoma Sooners Groom's Cake

A couple of weekends ago I delivered these cakes to The Grandview on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.

I think this wonky wedding cake thing must be a trend and this has been my second in a month or so.  I do like the look and the challenge of getting it just right.  This time I used small styrofoam wedges to raise the tiers into the proper position.  You just have to make sure that you make the wedges small enough to allow for the placement of the roses (which were provided by the florist). 

The rest of the cake went together rather easily; some buttercream quilting, fondant stripes and ribbon, and some initials cut out using the Cricut finished it up.

When I was setting up the cake, one of the family matriarchs commented that she didn't think it was a real cake, just stacked boxes, which I really considered a compliment! :)

This was the groom's cake that accompanied the bridal cake.  The helmet was provided by the groom's family.  We cut out the Oklahoma State logo using the Cricut and also also printed out some smaller ones for the chocolate-dipped strawberries.  The edible image sheets blend in very nicely with the white chocolate we used to dip them in.

One thing worth noting, if you place one of these mini helmets on a buttercream cake, you should consider placing a couple of supports under the helmet.  I always place the helmet on the cake, and then remove it, noting the small indentations it leaves.  I'll then put a straw at each indentation to help support it.

As always, thanks for visiting, and pop back in next week to see what we've been up to!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Copper Flower Wedding at the Hunter Museum

I have done quite a lot of wedding cakes in my career, but this is the first time I have had a request for metallic flowers.  But I must admit, If this is a new trend, I could really get on board with it!

This four tiered wedding cake is covered in buttercream with several small piped band going around each tier.  The bride wanted orchids with fat petals, so we worked together and finally settled on Vanda orchids, which the bride really loved.

I airbrushed each of the orchids with copper luster dust and then painted them with chocolate brown centers and white petal highlights.I then cascaded the flowers down the front of the cake.

We delivered this cake to the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, TN.  It was our first trip to the venue and it was absolutely lovely.  Those artsy copper orchids fit in so well with the venue and the bride's decor.

Thanks to all of you that stop by and read my little old blog.  As always, I appreciate your comments!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Montana Cowgirl Cake + Mini Tutorial

A few weeks ago I was lying in bed trying to get sleepy while looking through Pinterest when I saw the cutest Cowgirl Cake by Ana Beatriz Carrard.  I repinned it immediately tn my "Cake Inspiration" board, even though I don't do very many birthday cakes these days.  Wouldn't you know, the VERY next day, I got a call from a former client looking for a cowgirl cake.  I sent her a link to Ana's cake.

Of course, she loved it, so we took several elements from it and created our own cake.  The bandana tier went together much easier than I thought.  I covered the tier with fondant like I normally would and just left a little excess fondant for the folds.  The knot I made separate and just tacked it on to the front.  I made the belt buckle out of modeling chocolate and cut the the birthday girls' name using the Cricut. I searched the web over for a how-to on a fondant cowboy hat, but never found a good one.  In the end it as pretty easy.  I rolled out a gumpaste circle and then just gave it another roll with my rolling pin to "oval" it a little.  For the hat, I sorta made a wide taco shaped piece and molded it from there.  The rhinestone "hatband" ad the crystal heart were pieces left from past projects.  Yes, I have a flotsam bin... don't judge!! ;-)

The horse head is what I really dreaded making.  I'm just not someone that can draw a horse, or even horsey features on a horse-shaped cut out.  But Chaddy and I did something pretty awesome to get the look on those horses.  If you want to find out how, click the link below to finish reading and see the full tutorial!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Birch Wood Grain Wedding Cake

I think this may be the most photogenic cake I have ever made.  Usually I take picture after picture, and struggle to find one I truly like.  But this cake, it seemed like almost every snap I took was a real keeper.

I really enjoyed making this cake.  I took inspiration from 3 different wood type cakes that the couple brought in to make this cake.  The wood is supposed to resemble a birch tree.  I used Fondarific to wrap each tier, leaving a little excess over the top of the cake.  The Fondarific worked well because I could blend it together nicely in the back.  There was still a visible seam, but it blended together WAY better than regular fondant.

From there I hand painted the birch stripes, some knot holes, and the carved heart with the bride and groom's initials.  I then painted several various varieties of  gumpaste flowers in various shades of peach and cascaded them down the front of the cake from tier to tier.  I added a little gumpaste greenery; I thought it added a lot to the nature theme and I thought it really made those peach flowers pop!

This wedding was held in Dalton GA, the groom's family have been long time customers of mine.  I was proud to make it for them and had a great time doing it!!

So now that you've seen the 3 different photos I took, which one is your favorite?  Top (grassy background), Middle (bright sunny background), or Bottom (burlap "studio" background)?  Let me know in the comments, and pop back here on Friday and I'll feature another awesome cake AND a mini tutorial!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Les Miserables Cast Party Cake

I have to admit that I don't normally entertain last-minute orders.  My time off is just as precious as anyone else's, and lack of planning just doesn't cut it as an excuse.  But when I got in late from a Friday night wedding and listened to Paul's message, something pulled at my heart strings.  Paul had ordered a cake from another baker over a month ago, but on Friday he found out they had lost the order and would not be able (or willing) to provide him with his cake.  This cake was for the fine young men of the McCallie School and the girls of GPS (Girls Preparatory School).  They had worked hard all year on their production of Les Miserables, and this cake was supposed to be the centerpiece of their cast party.

I had already endured a very trying week, still had 2 weddings cakes to deliver on Saturday, and was REALLY looking forward to some rest and relaxation.  But that message kept haunting me - it made me angry that another baker would let down a client like that.  I discussed it with Chaddy and we both agreed that it would be a shame to let all those kids down after they had worked so hard.  I called Paul first thing Saturday morning and told him that we had limited time, but we would love to help out.  He gave us open reign on the cake, but said he would like the iconic girl from the poster, the McCallie and GPS logos, and something signifying the "barricade scene".  Alright, that's something we can work with!!

I did some quick reading on "Les Mis" and started baking.  Chaddy started getting graphics ready.  The top of the cake is mainly edible images (4 sheets pieced together to be exact) with the logo lettering cut out using the Cricut.  On the sides we used a blue, white, and red border to keep with the French theme.  We then made lots of modeling chocolate barrels, stools, planks and pallets to build up a barricade at each corner.  We didn't finish the cake under after 1:00 am on Sunday morning, but we had a blast making it! 

I know this was a long post, so as a bonus for sticking with me, here's a top-down shot of the cake, along with a little secret:  When I was baking, I made a blue layer, a white layer, and a red layer.  When the cast and crew cuts into the cake, they'll get another little piece of the French flag!



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