Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pirate Princess Birthday

If you have read my blog even on a semi-regular basis, then you've probably heard me mention my good friend Amanda from Divine Designs.  You probably haven't heard about her awesome daughter Kaeley, though.  She is such an angel, and she has a style all her own!

When I first talked to Amanda about Kaeley's cake, Kaeley's first cake ideas were "Monster Truck Princess" or "Pirate Princess".  How can you not get excited about either of those ideas?!?  As you can clearly see, we went with the Pirate Princess.

I got a sample of the plates that would be used at the party and made a modeling chocolate skull and crossbones topper using it as a reference.  The rest of the cake was decorated black, gray, and light pink accents on a hot pink buttercream base.

We also made some sugar and fondant gems for her birthday "loot" and I piped her name in bone letters.

All in all, I thought it turned out really cute and I'm sure that Kaeley was the prettiest pirate princess ever!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sydney's Sweet 16 Cake

When I started selling cakes, I only made birthday cakes until I felt confident enough to make a wedding cake.  I think I made one wedding cake my first year in business and I was a nervous wreck! 

Now, it's the total opposite as I only do a handful of birthday cakes each year and they tend to be freebies to vendors or friends.  This cake was for a photographers daughter who loves to bake and came to visit me when they picked up the cake.  She was so sweet and genuinely interested in talking to me and seeing my kitchen (unusual for a teenager).  Had I known, we could have made it together!  

When I get a birthday cake order from a friend or vendor, I take the order like they are any regular customer.  I try to get an idea of what they want, size, and budget.  That way I can decide if I want to gift the cake or discount it.  I read on Earlene Moore's website one time that she does this with her family and wedding cakes.  She said that in her experience, if you tell people something is going to be free, they tend to take advantage of your generosity, whether intentionally or not.  In Earlene's case, in the beginning they picked the most expensive cake with large amounts of gumpaste flowers and she learned her lesson.  Now, I've never had that happen to us but it's because I took her advice from the beginning. 

I don't think any of my fellow wedding professionals expect a free cake.  That's not why they come to me.  I have always charged, but now if I can afford to, I like to repay the people that send me business and talk so kindly about me to brides.  Truth is, I would do this all for free if I could, as would Chaddy.  We really do enjoy all aspects of this business.  I'm really not blogging about this cake am I?  Well, sort of... right?  My point is that no matter what you "do" or "sell" don't let people take advantage of you by accident.  Be up front from the beginning by quoting a price or saying that you can offer a discount but can't work for free.  You never want to be in a position that you are resentful or a friend/colleague is mad.  Cakes are mostly time, but time IS money!

So that you got a little something "cakey" out of this I'll tell you how I made this cake.  Go to YouTube and type in "buttercream ruffles" or something similar.  There are many videos that show this new and popular technique.  It was super easy but used a lot of buttercream.  I used a BIG rose tip, the #127.  The "flowers" are just gumpaste circles that I thinned and ruffled the edges with a ball tool on a foam mat.  Real easy, just try it!  I let them dry in different size cups/flower formers so that they would have some variation.  Glued the circles together with dab or water and added pearl centers with a dot of buttercream.  Since there was no "flat" surface I choose to do the birthday girls name on the little circles floating on the edge.  It's not like you can pipe a name on top of these ruffles and it look like anything.  I'm tired of plaques and banners on my cakes, so voila!  Circles!  I know it's not all that, but sometimes you have to "embellish" your blogs!  :)

Have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Super Bling Rhinestone Wedding Cake w/ Stand

2012 is continuing to bring in the bling, and I have to tell you, I really like it!  The more it sparkles, the bigger I smile!  I think there's just something about that sparkle, that brilliant jeweled fire that just catches a woman's eye and warms her heart!

With that being said, it's no wonder it's a popular design for wedding cakes.  In this cake we used rhinestones, as well as brooches and the topper that the bride provided to bring some extra pizazz and bling to this cake.  The rest of the cake we kept understated, with tone-on-tone bows, pearls, and fondant swags.

A few months ago I got a tremendous deal on some 24-row rhinestones from Bead & Trim.  I finally decide that they would malke for a beautiful cake stand!  So I called up my brother at My Woodworking Solutions and we set out to design a stand.  Luckily, he finished it just days before this cake was to be delivered .  I know this picture doesn't do it justice, but it really does sparkle!  It's like sitting your cake on top of a disco ball!  And it is designed really well also.  The stand as you see it is in 3 pieces; a top, the main middle bling piece, and the bottom.  Since the rhinestones are expensive this gives you the opportunity to use the stand with multiple (lower cost) tops and bottoms to get a variety of effects.  He came up with the idea and I really liked it!  I'm not sure if he offering this stand for sale, but if you're interested, hit him up on Etsy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Alabama Crimson Tide Grooms Cake

When I meet with couples, there's always a period of time where we discuss the groom's interest and what he would like represented in his groom's cake.

Not always, but often, his interests will lead into sports, and sometimes, just sometimes, I can see a glint of horror in the bride's eyes.  Now I can't be certain, but I think it might be her fear of a tacky sports cake bringing down her otherwise elegant wedding.

Now that was not the case with this couple, but there's always tasteful ways to bring a groom's interests into his groom's cake.

Take this cake for example.  Our groom was a big Alabama fan, so we brought in some of the colors in the banding, and I printed a houndstooth pattern on edible image sheets to bring in that element.  The logos were also printed on edible images and were kept small and understated.  And we topped it off with mini Crimson Tide helmet.

By the way, I have entered my World of Warcraft Beer Stein cake into InkEdibles Edible image contest.  They are looking for a cake that makes the best use of their edible images.  Right now, there's a Hello Kitty cake that's really kicking my butt!  I would appreciate your vote -  just click this link and then click "Like" next to my stein cake.  It uses Facebook so there's no registration or hassle.  Thanks! Y'all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chuck Taylor Converse Shoes Grooms Cake

I made these shoe cakes for Matt and Nikki, a very happy couple in Dalton, GA this past weekend.   The shoes were important, because the bridal party wore custom made Converses, so they had to match.  The reception was at Stage 123, which is an extension of RockBridge Church.  It was our first trip to this venue and it was really, really nice. 

These shoes were pretty big, each one was about 16 inches long.  I posted this cake to Cake Central yesterday, and folks there had on main question:  "How did you do the stitching?"  I tried several techniques that I was unhappy with, so I thought I would share what worked well for me.

I started by taking out my quilting embosser and used it, along with a ruler to make straight stitching lines, making sure I used enough pressure to make the stitches a little deeper than normal.  Then I mixed up some white petal dust along with some PGA.  Next, I worked in small swatches (about 5 inches at a time) and painted over the stitching.  Afterwards, I took a damp paper towel and wiped over the area I had just painted.  It removed all the white color except for inside the quilted bits.  After trying MANY things, I was very happy with these results.

As always, I appreciate each one of you that visits and comments on my little blog!  I hope you find the information I bring to you helpful!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Golden Fork Award - Best Bakery in Dalton!

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from the fine folks at Dalton Magazine and they informed me that we had been voted the "Best Bakery in Dalton" by the readers of Dalton and Whitfield County.

I remember reading about it several months ago and I even put the link on Facebook and asked my fans to vote for us but I had all but forgotten about it until they called. 

We appreciate all the comments and compliments we get about the looks and the taste of our cake, but for our customers to vote us all the way to the top during this inaugural contest really means the world to us.

If you would like to read the issue, you can click here to see an online version.  Even though the issue is all food-related, I don't think any of the Golden Fork winners were featured.  Another bakery in Dalton got a nice article in this issue, so don't confuse her with me!

I know the blog has been a little light on cakes recently, but this has been a low-volume time for the bakery and I really don't think you want to hear about my year-end paperwork, organization, and tax preparation, right?  Well, things are picking back up and I'll have some new cakes to show you next week - PROMISE!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vendor Spotlight: Marco's Italian Bistro

This past Sunday, Marco's Italian Bistro hosted a wedding vendor mixer where local area photographers, florists, DJs, event coordinators, and (yay!) bakers got to sample of Marco's best offerings.

This is the second time we have been to Marco's and each time the food and service has been excellent!  And they make some great desserts too!  Their tiramisu and creme brulee are some of the best I have had, and believe me, I've had my share of desserts!!

Owner Kevin Cummings and Executive Chef Roger Burrows have a real passion for food and the pedigrees to back it up.  We met with and spoke to both of them about their passion for food.  Chef Burrows said "I get paid paid everyday to do what most of you got into trouble as kids doing - playing with your food."

And Marco's is now on the cusp of offering catering for weddings and other outside clients.

Marco's is located at 417 Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga (North Shore Area) in the old Jet Stream Grill location.  If you're in the area stop by and enjoy a delicious, authentic Italian meal!  Tell'em we said "Hi!"

In the interest of full disclosure, our meal sampling on Sunday was provided free of charge, but it was not provided as payment for this posting.  As foodies, we just love great food and want to share it with you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pearl and Ribbon Flower Birthday Cake

There are a lot of cake people out there these days, but there are some that are stand out.  Sometimes it's for pure skill, like Mike McCarey from Mikes Amazing Cakes.  That man can make anything, and it's so clean!  Some artists stand out for their distinct style. Have you seen the Cotton and Crumbs cakes? They have a lot of pictures on flickr.com. All her cakes are very "romantic and soft" to me.  She does such a great job with her photography and backgrounds. 

We look at these people as pure inspiration to help us develop our own style, from cakes to print ads to photography.  It's a great undertaking and I don't think it can be done overnight.  Whatever you do, do you have a distinct style and feel to your work?  If it's important to you to project as certain style, then join me in this ongoing effort for 2012!

This little cake was a 6/9" for my friend Amanda who owns Divine Designs by Amanda.  She is an amazing floral designer as well as friend and mom to a super sweet girl.  She has a romantic but modern look/feel about her, that's my perception anyway so I wanted to make a cake that reflected that.   "Cotton and Crumbs" inspired the romantic part of this cake. 

The pearls were all made by using Fondarific that chills up well in the cooler so they keep their shape when you unmold them.  The flowers are super simple, just ruffle some gumpaste circles with a ball tool and dry in shallow drying cups.  There is a little half circle measure cup that comes with the new Purex laundry softener.  I used it to form a few "cups" in pieces of aluminum foil.  It's a good way to make as many drying cups as you need then throw them away when you are done.  I attached the circles together with a little tylose glue and poof you have a circle flower. 

Happy baking!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ruffled Wedding Cake

Most of the cakes we do are formulaic these days, at least it feels that way.  Do I sound bored?  Well, when most bridal cakes are white and include a monogram, diamond pattern, dots, and/or swirls it can get a little mundane.  I am grateful for those cakes, don't get me wrong.  They are my "bread and butter" and I don't have to stress or learn a new technique every week. 

However, I was super glad to add a new design element to a couple of old standards, RUFFLES!  Yes, fondant ruffles!  I really was surprised how easy they are to do, just a little time consuming.  Once you get a standard width and length, make a little template out of a cake box lid and cut away!  The most important piece of advice I can give you for these is to use Fondarific brand fondant.  It is just perfect for this application!  It won't crack or dry out while you are working on it.  I pinched a few pleats in each strip and then applied directly on a butter cream cake.  Keeping the slant the same all the way around was a little challenging, but next time I'll just make a little triangle template to double check myself as I go.  It shouldn't look uniform, so no worries :)

When all the ruffles where complete I airbrushed them with ultra silver/PGA mixture. The bride was very fashion oriented and a little flashy, but in a good way!  The other accents are all dark purple, which like brown, you have to be very careful with because the dark colored accents end up photographing more black than anything.  We delivered this cake to "The Mill" in Chattanooga, TN and it was a little dark there so I'm showing you pics that we took in the shop. 

As you can see we also had to include buttercream diamond pattern and scrolls piping. The original design came from some ladies in Las Vegas, but for the life of me I can't find their names.  I liked their design better because they used circles instead of diamonds but you can't have everything when it's not "your" cake.  I did get to make silver RUFFLES!  There were also luster dust stripes on the tier with the flower and on top of the bottom tier.  They just didn't show up on this picture very well.  I also had to make this butter cream cake with no borders to keep the clean look the bride wanted.

For those other cake people out there, do you try to encourage new and different designs?  The right salesman could talk a bride into a pink wedding dress, but that doesn't mean she will be happy after the when she sees the pictures. I don't want to push, but I DO try to encourage.  I have a "scrap book" that all my brides look through.  Since they have seen most of my cakes from the website by the time they meet with me, I try to show other ideas from cakes that I would really like to make or just caught my eye. 

I want to pull every cake with the regular formulaic designs out of the book so they'll stop picking them.  Is that wrong?  Cause I feel it coming :)


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