PostHeaderIcon How Marvelous are the Marvelous Mold Onlays?

Bright RainbowMaaarvelous!!!  Chef Dominic and the team at Marvelous Molds have been turning out amazing molds and mold making kits since before I started decorating cakes. Not too long ago,  they released a new series of onlays. I watched ALL the videos, looked at all the styles and although they seemed amazing…I must say I was pretty skeptical. It cannot be that simple to make a beautiful damask or chevron cake.  I mean just watch the 2 minute video http://www.marvelousmolds.com/onlays.  Could it really be that easy?

So for Christmas, I was the lucky recipient of the small chevron onlay.  I just couldn’t wait to try it and was lucky enough to get to use it on a cake this month.

Chevron is crazy trendy right now and terrifying to most cake decorators. Chevron is a graphic look that demands clean edges and straight lines.  There are cookie cutters and cutting machines but once you get the rows cut out, trying to get them lined up on the cake is an entirely different matter. It also doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a nut job when it comes to things lining up straight so this was not a design I wanted to do free hand.

As far as a review goes, I can’t say enough about how great it was to work with onlay.  So now on to the point of the post. My tips and tricks for using the onlays. There is a great 40 minute masters class video for using the onlays.

I highly recommend you watch it a couple of times before you attack your cake.

I followed the instructional video but now that I’ve completed my first cake here are a few of my personal recommendations. Please remember I have only done a cake using the chevron onlay so you may have different experiences with different designs.   I’m looking forward to adding more onlays  to my collection over time.

Cake Details:
8 inch round cake
Iced in buttercream
Small Chevron Onlay

Tip 1:  The instructional video suggests rolling out the fondant to a #2 on the KitchenAid KPSA Stand-Mixer Pasta-Roller Attachment. I did this and felt the fondant was a bit thicker than it should have been. Next time I’ll roll it out to a #3

Tip 2: Place the buttercream cake in the freezer while you prepare each application of the onlay.  So cake in the freezer, prep onlay, pull cake out of freezer, apply onlay, cake back in freezer. Repeat until completed.

onlayTip 3:  After you press the fondant into the mat, Chef Dominic suggests rolling over the fondant with a small rolling pin. In my case, this kept causing the fondant to shift in the mold. I found rubbing the fondant over the blades of the onlay with a bit of shortening made a very clean cut. I am interested to see if the rolling pin will work better when I roll the fondant out to a #3.

Tip 4: For this cake, I wanted the top chevron to line up with the top of the cake. So instead of lining up the bottom (straight edge) of the onlay with the bottom of the cake, I flipped the onlay over and placed the pointed edge along the bottom of the cake so the pink chevron would now be the top.  I was worried that it wouldn’t stay straight using it upside down but it worked perfectly.

buttonsTip 5: After applying the onlays to my cake, there was still a gap between the first and last onlay. Do NOT panic! Even though I used an even sized cake, I attribute the gap to the fact that I use a thick layer of buttercream on my cakes. That said, this is the point where most people say “Don’t worry every cake has a back.” I actually did the opposite and made the area with the gap the front of my cake and filled the gap with coordinating buttons. This gave a little more interest to the bottom tier. You can of course put the gap to the back but take advantage of the opportunity to add some fun accents like buttons, bows or ribbons to the cake.

Tip 6: I did not apply the corn syrup glue onto all of the fondant and then remove every the opposite pattern. I just used a small brush painted the corn syrup mixture onto each panel that was going on the cake.

Tip 7:  This is more an idea than a tip. For the rainbow chevron, it was very time consuming to do one color per chevron and I worried about the other ones drying out as I added each color. Next time I will do the entire onlay in a single color, remove them and place them under plastic. Then add them back in a rainbow fashion to the onlay and apply it to the cake.  Since you add a bit of tylose to the fondant it holds its shape well so I don’t see this being a problem.

If you were skeptical like me, I hope the review and tips encourage you to try the onlays.

 I would love to hear from others who have used the onlays, so feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments. 

PostHeaderIcon Rainbow Heart Sprinkle Cake with a surprise inside!

Rainbow Heart Cake

There are some cakes that just speak to me. I have an entire folder of favorite cakes that I save in hopes that someday I can use them for inspiration. This month I had a request for a rainbow themed birthday cake. I must say, I was over the moon because I have saved up several cheery rainbow themed cakes. Probably my favorite is this rainbow heart cake  by Wild Orchard Baking Company that I discovered on Half Baked. rainbow_heart_cake_1My second favorite is the new trend of covering the entire cake in rainbow sprinkles. Sprinkles just bring out my inner 5 year old. I was torn between these two styles of cake and so was Molly’s mom.  On a whim, I thought why not make them both in one rainbow, heart, sprinkle cake.
Time for the nitty gritty. How did she do that:

Cake Details:
6 inch chocolate cake(bday girl’s favorite)  top tier
10 inch rainbow vanilla cake  bottom tier

 

Supplies:
6 and 10 inch cake boards
Supports of choice for tiered cake – I use the Single Plate System(SPS) by Bakery Craft
12″ Round Cake Drum
Rainbow food colors – Christmas red,orange, lemon yellow, leaf green, sky blue, violet, pink
Fondant - 5-6 ounces of each color is enough for the hearts, balls and name
Sprinkles – 6 ounces of multi-colored nonpareils (fancy word for round sprinkles)
 2.5 batches of white buttercream (a single batch is based on 2lb of powered sugfar)
Letter Cutters- FMM Funky Tappits and FMM Script Tappits were used for Molly’s name
Small heart cookie cutter
Large heart template – I created this template on a Cricut to cut out a  4 1/2 inch George(cartridge) heart.
#12 Wilton piping tip and a piping bag
Small offset spatula
Wax paper
Cooking spray

 Heart Tier Instructions:
heart tierThe number of hearts needed will be dependent on the size of heart cutter you use. I lucked out and happened to have a heart cutter that fit exactly 14 (2 sets) of the rainbow hearts on each row. Officially a rainbow has 7 colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.) I replaced indigo with pink for a little extra variety.  
Use a couple of pieces of paper and outline your hearts to figure out how many will fit. I even labeled them with colors to help me test how many of each color I would be using. For a 6 inch cake, you need to cover a rectangle that is approximately 4in(height of the cake) X 20 inches(circumfrance of a frosted 6 inch cake).

For my cake, I needed a total of 42 hearts (6 of each color).   Roll out each color of fondant to 1/16 inches thick. Cut your hearts and keep them in a ziplock bag so they stay soft. You can do this a couple of days in advance as long you keep them sealed. I made 1 extra of each color just in case.

Fill and frost your 6 inch cake. Starting at the front of the cake place the first 3 hearts vertically. If your frosting has crusted, apply a small amount of buttercream to the back of the hearts before you apply them. Add the next column of hearts to the left, then add the column to the right. Continue adding hearts left and right of the center. This makes sure any “adjustments” you need to make will be in the back. When I was 2/3 of the way done, I recalculated my spacing between hearts to ensure they would all fit nicely on the cake.

Sprinkle Tier Instructions:
rainbow cake insideFor this tier, I wanted to carry the rainbow from the outside into cake.  I baked individual layers to create the internal rainbow effect. I used only 6 of the 7 colors of the rainbow for the inside. I didn’t want the top tier to be super tall. I used just under two batch of vanilla cake. You want the tiers the same size, so you want to weigh or meause the amount of batter you make of each color. For the 10 inch cake, I used 2.25 cups of batter for each layer. I separated the batter and used the same gel colors I used for the hearts to color the batter. To make sure the color would stay bright, I added enough food coloring to achieve the color I wanted then added an extra dab. Bake each layer at 300 to 325 degrees. You want to bake these thinner layers at a lower temp so that they do not dry out and they do not dome. I did not have to level these thin layers.  Once cooled, wrap each layer to keep them moist while the other layers bake.  Freezing the layers for 15-20  minutes will make it easier to stack them later on.rainbow cake before icing
Place a smear of buttercream on the 10 inch cake board and place the purple tier onto the board.  Load your buttercream into a piping bag with a #12 tip. Pipe a layer of frosting over the entire layer and smooth it with a spatula. Add the next layer of cake, repeat layer of frosting until you complete your cake rainbow. Then frost the outside of the tier using your normal method. Smooth the front portion of the well where the white heart and name will go.

Applying the Sprinkles:
Before I applied the sprinkles, I took my large heart template and placed it on the cake. If you let your buttercream crust up a little you can attach your template with a little shortening around the edges.  There numerous suggestions on how to apply sprinkles. So people say to use your hand and kind of press them into the cake. I tried that first and made a massive mess in just one handful so that was a total failure. Half Baked did a blog post where she chilled her cake and rolled the edges in sprinkles which would work great for a small cake or cupcakes but there is no way I could do that with a 10 inch tier. When researching sprinkle cakes, I came across a post on how to apply sprinkles to the side of a cake and since I was out of options, I thought I would give it a try and to my total amazement, it WORKED! Cut a strip of wax paper. I did best with strips around 2X 4 inches and place it on a deep cookie sheet or baking pan.  Spray lightly with cooking spray. Literally sprinkle the sprinkles onto the sprayed wax paper. Shake it around a bit so the sprinkles form a single layer. Lift the wax paper and gently place it onto the side of the cake. Lightly rub your hand over the wax paper to transfer the sprinkles from the wax paper to the cake. Lift the wax paper off. if there are any sprinklesbottom tier still on the wax paper, just move it to a bare spot on the cake and rub light over that spot. Do not press too hard or the buttercream squishes out between the sprinkles. Repeat until the cake is covered. I’m not saying you won’t have sprinkles bouncing around your counter but it is much cleaner and easier to do than trying to press them into the side. Don’t forget to pay special attention to the area around the heart template so that you get a very well defned sprinkle outline around the heart.  Gently remove the template.

Cut out your letters in the rainbow colors. I used the Funky Tappits for the M and the Script Tappits for the rest of the letters. Roll out a fondant snake and create the swirl accents. Leave these items to dry. Roll out the fondant balls for the border. I made 8 fondant balls of each color and had a few extras. Attach the letters with buttercream and attach the fondant balls to the cake drum with melted chocolate. Don’t forget to add a ribbon to your cake drum and you are all set for a whimsical rainbow, heart, sprinkle cake.

PostHeaderIcon Ice Cream Cone Cake

 

It’s fun to make an ice cream cake that doesn’t require a freezer. My friend Jessica found this adorable cake design on Pinterest. The original was done by Abigail’s Bake Shop. I tweaked the details just a little bit for Addie’s first birthday cake. It went great with the pink frilly decor of Addie’s birthday party.

The cake is 4inch round on top of an 8 inch round. Both are strawberry cake  frosted in buttercream with fondant accents.

Colors used for the accents:
Wilton Pink for the light pink
Wilton Rose for the hot pink
Wilton Lemon Yellow
Wilton Leaf Green – just a touch to get the light green color
Wilton Sky Blue

Tools used for this cake:
For the swirls I used the medium swirl cutter from the
Swirl and Heart Patchwork Cutters.
The letters and the number 1 were done with the
FMM Funky Alphabet & Numbers Set.
To create the number medallion, I used the two larger sizes from my
 Biscuit Cutters

Things I learned on this cake.
1)  I’ve been wanting to try this technique for a while.  For tiered cakes I normally use a support system called SPS (Single Plate System) by Bakery Craft. However, their smallest round plate is 6 inch. Since I needed a 4 inch circle, I decided to try Bubble Tea Straws for support.

Many cake decorators rely solely on bubble tea straws even for larger cakes so I thought I’d give it   a go with a lighter weight cake.  I was very impressed with the bubble tea straws. They were easy to cut and supported the 4 inch top tier well. I will continue using SPS for my larger tiers because I prefer not having to cut supports and SPS has always served me well. But I’m glad to know I have a good alternative for smaller tiers.

2) It’s the little things that matter. I took pics of the cake before delivery and I had not added on the pink “cherries” yet. Looking at the pics side by side, you can see what a big difference that little extra touch really makes.

 

 3) This tip I learned from Royal Bakery’s FB page. I made the swirls and the medallion in advance. When it came time to place the medallion on the cake, it had dried so that it would not lay flush on the top tier. It would have been “OK” to have it on the cake flat and not flush, but that wasn’t what I wanted. Someone had posted on Royal Bakery’s page that if you have a fondant piece that has dried, you can place it in a tupperware container with a piece of bread and it would soften up.  I left the medallion with a single piece of bread in a sealed container until the morning. Over night was too long  for a piece so thin. In the morning it was way too soft so I had to let it firm up a bit before I could use it . Next time I would only need to leave it for a couple of hours.  Either way, it’s definitely my new favorite trick.

PostHeaderIcon Even the Liner Matters

When you set out to make the perfect cupcake, even the liner makes a difference. There are different sizes, types, colors and designs. Sadly you don’t know the quality of the liner until you try it. The most disappointing part is that the majority of those really cute pattern lines are actually really cheap crappy liners.  When you bake in a patterned liner that is not greaseproof,  the pattern basically disappears due to the moisture in the cupcake and those super cute liners you were so excited about, look sad and pathetic when you take them out of the oven. The worst part is a lot of these liners also pull away from the cupcake after they cool which is really frustrating.

Here are some examples of white and chocolate cupcakes baked in plain white liners.

Champage Cupcake
Non greaseproof liner
Cupcake Genius Cupcakes

Non greaseproof white liner

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
grease proof cupcake liners

Traditional Grease Proof Liners

Even greaseproof liners are not created equal. Many greaseproof liners are OK with white cupcakes but lose their pattern when you bake chocolate cupcakes. In general, solid colors hold up better than light or intricate patterns. You can see in the blue liners the traditional ones are “ok” with a white cake. The more color in the pattern the more successful the liner is but these same liners with chocolate cupcakes quickly lose their “cute”. One baker at Sweets and Treats Boutique has decided to take it on herself to create her own greaseproof liners that truly hold their pattern upon baking…even with chocolate cupcakes. When she offered fellow bakers the opportunity to “test” out her new liners, I jumped at the chance.

Sweet and Treat Premium liner on the left - "traditional" greaseproof liner on the right

To the right  is the compare and contrast of this wonderful new line of cupcake liners against a traditional greaseproof liner.

As you can see even with a chocolate cupcake, the Sweet Treat liner maintains its white color and zebra pattern while the traditional greaseproof liner allows the chocolate to show through and ruin the pattern.
 
Sweets and Treats Boutique sells her custom Premium liners in Zebra and Checkerboard. Word on the street is she is working on some new patterns in her premium line as well. I can’t wait!
 
In the mean time, she sells her premium liners as well as many great patterns in traditional greaseproof liners at her online boutique. My new favorite item at the boutique is the awesome Party Straws! Perfect for a fun color coordinated Dessert Table. I hope you get a chance to check out all her fun stuff.

Sweets and Treats Party Straws

PostHeaderIcon Whimsical Peony Tutorial

 Whimsical Gumpaste Peony

I call this a  “whimsical” peony because it’s not a true peony. I did not wire the petals, use the special “peony” cutters or anything fancy like that. Basically I just winged it using the cutters and materials I had on hand.

Supplies:
Gumpaste – white
Pink or Red Petal Dust- I used Poppy Red petal dust. When applied lightly it makes a hot pink.
Stencil brush or stiff paint brush - dedicated to cake decorating
Small rolling pin
Paint brushes – dedicated to cake decorating
Pasta attachment for KA – optional but helpful
Small Bowl
Corn starch puff
Ball Tool
Foam piece – I use the one that came in the Wilton Gumpaste flower kit
Gum glue – gumtex powdered dissolved in hot water

Instructions:
Begin by deciding what size flower you would like to make. This will determine the size of the center of your flower and which size 5 petal cutter you will need to use. In my case I used the 75 mm FMM 5 petal cutter but any 5 petal cutter will do.

Step 1:  Roll a ball slightly bigger than the center of your 5 petal cutter. I accidently rolled the ball a bit too big and struggled to gpeony centeret the petals to wrap all the way around to the top (you’ll see my make shift solution to this later on). Let the ball dry. In a perfect world you would let it dry overnight. I didn’t have that much time so I used the tip below:

 Tip of the week: To dry fondant or gumpaste cutouts and figures quickly, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and turn the oven light on. The oven light makes just enough heat to dry out the gumpaste or fondant but not melt your figures. Just be careful noone turns the oven on while you’re drying your items.   

While the ball5 petal rose cutter is drying, roll out a piece of remaining gumpaste very thin. I use my pasta attachment on a setting 4 for flowers. This makes very delicate petals. Using the 5 petal cutter, cut out one layer of petals and place the remaining gumpaste under plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.  Place the petal cutout on a thin piece of foam, and using the ball tool thin out the edges of each petal. This is done by running the ball tool along the edge of the petal (with the ball being half on the foam and half on the petal). 5 petals frilledIf your ball tool sticks, tap it on your corn starch puff and try again. Peonies have very ragged edges so I was really really hard on the petals. I kept thinning them until they were ruffled and ragged. For the first few rounds of petals I also applied the ball tool in a circular motion, to the center of the petal cutout. This makes the petal cutout have a wider center.   To attach the first layer of petals,  paint a very thin amount of gum glue on the center and up the sides of each petal.  Place the gumpaste ball in the middle and gently pull the petals over the top sides of the ball. Leave a little bit of the ball exposed so it looks like the Peony is opening.  The petals should overlap one another in the beginning. Be gentle when pulling the petals up…they are quite thin. It’s ok it they rip because the next layer will cover most of the mistakes:)

Repeat the above with another two layer of 5 petals. As I continued to apply petals, I realized that my ball was too fat for the size cutter I was using. Because of this for the  3rd and 4th layer of petals, I actually used individual petals. I made them the same way as above but after I ruffled them, I cut the 5 petals apart and placed them on plastic spoons to dry a bit. This helped them hold their shape. Because they were individual petals, I could place them exactly where I wanted them to help the petals look like they were opening up. I placed them a little lower down the ball and made sure to ruffle the edges outward.

Peony CenterI set the partial peony in a bowl to set up while I worked on the next layers. Because I wanted the rest of the flower to be more, I created the next layers separate from the ball. Using the same petal cutter (a larger one would have been  better but I didn’t have one handy), I created a new layer and ruffled the edges and expanded the center just a bit. This layer will be the bottom of the flower so I had to be more gentle. I placed that layer into a bowl that would help hold the shape of the flower. Be sure and dust the bowl with a bit of corn starch before placing the bottom petals in.  Put a small dab of gum glue in the middle and apply the next layer of petals. Be subottom layer for Peonyre that each layer is placed so that the new petals are between the previous petals (just like when you make roses). I applied 3 layers of petals directly in the bowl. Then applied more gum glue to the center and placed my partially complete peony into the middle. At this point the petals are still quite soft and will want to droop. Take a small amounts of wax paper, parchment paper or saran wrap and place it between the petals to give the flower the shape you want.  (Don’t use paper towel or tissue as it tends to stick to the gumpaste).  Leave your flower to dry overnight.

drying peony

If you look closely you can see little pieces of wax paper sticking out

Once the flower has completely dried, gently remove it from the bowl.

Using a stencil brush or stiff paint brush, dip your brush into the petal dust and tap off the excess. I dusted the center just by running my stencil brush in a circular motion of the center of the flower. For the individual petals,  gently scrape the edge of the petals with your brush. These petals are quite fragile so be gentle. It is better to apply multiple light coats than to have too much dust on your brush because you don’t want dust to goes everywhere.  And now you have a whimsical peony.

Here is the finished cake with the Peony topper.
Here is the tutorial on the Ruffle Cake

Pink Ombre Cake

PostHeaderIcon Pink Ruffle Cake

Pink Ombre Cake

I have been wanting do this design for quite some time. I had the perfect opportunity when I hosted a small party celebrating life as a girl! It would also be a great design for a wedding or baby shower.

Supplies Needed
Your favorite white cake recipe
5 small bowls
6 inch cake pans
6 inch cardboard cake circle
1 batch of buttercream (a batch to me is a recipe based on 2 lbs of powdered sugar)
1 lb of white fondant (this is probably a bit more than you need but better safe than sorry)
Pink food coloring - I used the Wilton Rose color because it’s more of a hot pink than a baby pink
Pasta roller – optional but extremely helpful
Paint Brush
Ball Tool – used for making gumpaste flowers
Thin piece of foam – used for making gumpaste flowers

Detailed Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare cake batter following the instructions. Evenly portion out the batter into the 5 bowls. Set one bowl aside. To the first bowl add a very small amount of the rose food coloring. Be very careful. My first attempt ended up being the brightest layer. A little coloring goes a long way. Gradually add a bit more coloring to each additional bowl until you have graduated colors across the 5 bowls. If you need to lighten a color, add some of the base batter to that color, just be sure you always have enough base color for the last layer of cake.

Prepare pans with pan grease  or grease and flour your pans. Since I only have two 6 inch round cake pans, I could only bake 2 colors at a time.  Pour each color into a separate pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Remember that you’re making 5 layers out of a recipe that is generally going to make 2 layers of cake. This means the layers will be thin and cook quicker than usual. These layers took 15-20 minutes each to bake.  Cool the cakes as usual. Once the layers are cool, you want to level them so they’re approximately the same height. 

Place a small amount of buttercream on a 6 inch cake board and place the brightest layer face done. Add a thin layer of buttercream on top of that layer and then place the next brightest layer on top of that. Repeat this from brightest to lightest until all 5 layers are stacked. Next time I would also trim the bottom of each layer to remove that slight brown coloring between them. Frost the cake as you normally would. You want the sides to be reasonably straight but the cake doesn’t have to be super smooth since it will be covered in fondant. The top is buttercream only,  so after the buttercream crusts, I placed a Viva paper towel on top and smoothed with a fondant smooth. You can smooth over the paper towel with your hand if you don’t have a fondant smoother.

Once the cake is frosted, you can begin making your fondant strips. Measure the circumferencerete of your cake so you know how long to make each strip. For a 6 inch cake, my strips are a little over 19 inches long. Take white fondant and portion it out into small amounts. I wasn’t very exact with this. I took a chunk of white fondant, rolled it out so that I could run it through my pasta roller. I used the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid and I ran the strips through to number 4 . This is p thin. Using the ball tool from the Wilton flower kit and a thin piece of foam, I ruffled the edges of each strip. Because I was using straight fondant and rolling the strip so thin, the fondant strips were very flimsy. I found it worked better if I let them set up for a bit. So I would make and ruffle 3 strips at a time before attaching them to the cake.  For each strip, add  a tiny bit of Rose food coloring and ran it through the pasta roller. You want the color progression on the outside to mimic that on the inside of the cake.

To attach a ruffle, dust it lightly with cornstarch and then gently roll it up. This keeps it from stretching as you apply it to the side of the cake. For the first ruffle, I applied a thin bead of buttercream just below the top edge of the cake. Choose the back of the cake, and gently press the beginning of the ruffle into the buttercream. Slowly unroll the ruffle, pressing gently to adhere to the buttercream. Once you make it all the way around, you may need to trim the end. Kitchen shears are great for this.  For the next ruffle, roll it up and then take a paint brush (used for caking only) and paint a small amount of water along the bottom edge of the strip currently attached to the cake. Again starting at the back, gently unroll the ruffle, pressing it to the base of the previous fondant ruffle. You want your ruffles pretty close together so I made sure the new ruffle was just barely below the first ruffle. It will seem too close, until you frill it back. To frill the ruffle back, gently run the small end of the ball tool between the two ruffles, gently forcing the top of the new ruffle outward. Keep applying ruffles using an increasing amount of pink color in the fondant. When you apply the final ruffle, you may need to use a pizza cutter to clean up the bottom edge. Just run it flush along the bottom edge. After all of the ruffles are applied, your cake is ready for a topper. This cake is so light and airy, I wanted a topper that would compliment the feel, so I decided on a Whimsical Peony. Whimsical meaning my knock-off version:)  It is definitely not a realistic peony but it has a similar look and feel. Keep an eye out for an upcoming tutorial on How to Make a Whimsical Peony.

This cake was the perfect compliment to the Pink and White table theme.

PostHeaderIcon Barcode Cake

My husband’s company hosted a 25th year anniversary party and they asked me to do the cake. I was super excited and they gave me free artistic control over the design. I was able to experiment with a lot of new techniques and ideas. The supply list for this baby would be way to long so I’m just going to focus on some of the highlights on this cake.

Stats:
4 tiers – top and bottom tiers were classic white cake and middle tiers were chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream filling
Frosted in buttercream with fondant decorations
Tier sizes – 6 inch round, 9 inch round, 12 inch round and 14 inch square
Feeds approximately 150 people

The Topper:

Many fondant decorations can be made in advance including the topper. The topper is black fondant with tylose powder added for stability. I printed off the font and size of the numbers on my computer. I placed the computer paper under a sheet of wax paper. Using my clay extruder with the largest round disc, I made a long fondant snake. (You could roll these by hand but I like the consistency of the extruder).  I rolled the ends thinner than the rest of the snake. Using the print out as my guide, I formed each of the numbers. While the fondant was still soft, I inserted 3.5 inch skewers into the numbers so I could insert them into the cake once they were dried. As always, make 2 of everything to plan for breakage.  As long as you make 2 you won’t break anything:)

Curlie Qs  were also made in advance, out of fondant with a bit of tylose powder. Using my fabulous fetticini attachment for my Kitchenaid, I was able to roll out pieces of orange and yellow fondant about 1/4 inch thick and run them through the pasta attachment. This created many strips of fondant. I then wrapped them around a 1.5 inch diameter wooden dowel. You can wrap the dowel in press n seal wrap and then dust it with cornstarch before wrapping the fondant around a dowel. Use a dab of shortening on the ends to keep it on the dowel while it dries. Let the curlie qs dry on the dowel for 24 hours. Carefully remove them from the dowel and let them finish drying for another day or so. 
Quick tip - If you don’t have a ton of time to dry your fondant decorations, place them on a lined cookie sheet in the oven. Be sure the oven is  OFF but turn the oven light on. The oven light produces a small amount of heat that will dry the decorations faster.  

 Honeycomb:
The honeycomb was a bit of an experiment for me. I knew I wanted it to be edible but I was having a hard time coming up with how to create the honeycomb effect. I kept looking for impression mats, chocolate molds anything that would work. Then while I was wandering around my favorite cake supply store, I saw a candy mold that would make hexagon jewels. Turn the mold over and the back is a perfect honeycomb. Now for the fun part… playing with molten sugar. You can use real sugar or isomalt to create sugar art, however I wanted something easily accessible and tasty so I decided to use butterscotch. I melted several pieces of butterscotch in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. WARNING – when working with sugar be very careful not to burn yourself or the sugar. Always melt sugar in very small increments of time.    I sprayed the back of the mold with a light coating of non-stick spay, then gently poured the sugar onto the back of the candy mold. Let it set up for about 10 minutes then it just pops right off the mold. I sprayed a sheet of wax paper with non-stick spray and placed the honeycomb pieces on the wax paper in a bakery box. You can use a variety of hard candies with this method, Jolly Ranchers, Butterscotch , life savors. Be sure your molds are for working with hot sugar. Many molds don’t tolerate the high heat.

Logos and Barcodes:
The logos are all hand cut fondant. Like the topper, I printed off each logo the size I wanted them to be. Then I cut out each letter or logo. Roll out a piece of fondant and let it air dry for an hour or so. Then using a very sharp knife (or exact knife dedicated to caking only), cut the letters out of fondant and set them on parchment or wax paper to dry. The QR codes (small square barcodes) are edible images placed on fondant plaques. These QR codes were scannable and included messages including the names of the business units (Wasp Barcode, System Id and Barcode Trading Post)  as well as Happy Anniversary.

Wasps on Wires:
One of the business units logo is the wasp so I decided to do little wasps flying around the cake. Using tinted fondant I cut thick circles, decreasing in size,  out of alternating yellow and orange fondant. The heads are just shaped into a fat triangle. Using gum-glue (gum-tex powdered dissolved in water) I glued the bodies and heads together. After the glue had dried, using the smallest circle disc on my clay extruder, I extruded very thin black snakes. Placing a small amount of water along the seam of each body segment, I wrapped the black snack. I left the wasps to dry for a few hours or up to a day. Eyes are edible candy eyes by Wilton also attached with gum glue. The only non-edible part of wasps is the antenae and the legs, and of course the wires they’re flying on. The antenae and legs are made from black flower stamens. I cut them to size and dipped them in the gum glue before inserting them into the wasp. Fondant this thick takes a while to dry. Using the cake wires by Duff, I shapped the cake wires into spirals and inserted them into the bottom of the wasps and inserted them into a piece of styrofoam. While the wasps continued drying, I made sheets of clear gelatin. There are gelatin specific texture sheets that you paint melted gelatin on and once the gelatin dries you can cut it into any shape you want. I cut out gelatin wings and mounted them on tiny pieces of fondant. Once the wings had attached to the fondant, use the gum glue to attach the wings directly to the wasps. Always remember it’s not safe to put wires directly into the cake so you can use coffee stirs or plastic lollipop sticks to keep the wires from coming in direct contact with the cake.

It was a really fun cake to do with all the little details.

PostHeaderIcon Fun with CakePops

 

My friend Karen gave me this great book Cake Pops by Bakerella.  I saved the tops of my leveled cakes and some left over buttercream and we decided to have a play date and make cake pops. This was very “ad hoc”…meaning we just used what we had handy for decorations. It was great:)

Supplies:
Cake – any flavor
Frosting – any flavor (store bought is fine)
Candy Melts or dipping chocolate
Lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam to hold finish pops
Various sprinkles and sugars for designs

I had read a lot about cake balls and cake pops on the internet. The most common problem seemed to be using too much frosting. So although the official instructions call for quite a bit of frosting per cake, we just mushed up the cake and added a few tablespoons of frosting until the consistency would hold a ball. The first few cake balls we made, we just grabbed a hunk and rolled them up. But then I grabbed my handy cookie scoop and that gave us more even proportions for the cake balls. We rolled several in advance and chilled them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Do not freeze them too long or the chocolate will crack…trust us…we learned from experience:)

Melt the candy melts in a microwave in a deep narrow container on 1/2 power. I used a 2 cup measuring cup. This was a nice amount of chocolate to work with and easy for us to move in and out of the microwave. It is easy to burn chocolate so always melt it in small increments on medium heat.  The book says “you may need to add shortening to thin out the chocolate”. Using candy melts, it was absolutely necessary to add shortening to get the coating consistency just right. I added 2 heaping tablespoons to the one bag of candy melts and that worked well.

You have the choice of making cake balls (not on a stick) or cake pops which are on a stick. The rules are basically the same but if you do cake balls you need to place the ball in the chocolate using a dipping fork or a regular plastic fork with the middle tines removed. This lets you remove the ball without damaging the chocolate on bottom. Place the cake balls on parchment or wax paper to set up.

For cake pops, you dip the end of the stick in the melted chocolate and then press gently into the naked ball of cake. Let it set up a bit and then you should be able to pick up the stick and the cake ball will be attached. Too much frosting and the ball will pull away. If they are not chilled enough you can have the same problem but generally for us it was a frosting issue.

Dip the cake pop into the chocolate and swirl gently until the entire ball is covered in chocolate. Lift the pop out at an angle and let the extra chocolate fall back into the container. You want to make sure the chocolate is thick enough to coat but thin enough to cover..so it’s a bit of learning curve until you get the chocolate just right. Once the cake pop is covered place the stick into a piece of styrofoam to let it setup.

Various decorating ideas:


 

 

 

Karen did one of my favorite design which was a swirl pattern. She dipped the pop into white candy melts, then using a toothpick applied dots of red. Using the toothpick she created patterns with the colors directly on the pop.
Sprinkles - I have a pretty big assortment of sprinkles and dragees. Rolling the cakepops in sprinkles got a solid covering. If you just took a pinch of sprinkles and literally sprinkled them on top of the cake pop you got a much more open pattern The dragees gave a fun modern effect of spots. Place each dragee separately to get a nice even placement.

For shine I had both pearl dust and a luster spray so we decided to do a side by side comparison. 

The left is dusted with luster dust and the right is sprayed with Pearl Sheen

The only design we did directly from the book was the cupcake pop which we loved. I can’t wait to try other designs  for her book. To make the cupcake press the bottom of the ball into a small round or flower shaped cutter to create the base of the cupcake. Dip the bottom of the cupcake in one color and lay it face down (non chocolate side down) and insert the lollipop stick.

Once the chocolate has set, use the stick to dip the top of the cupcake in a another color.  Apply designs and sprinkles at will. We used red gobstoppers as our cherries but you can use whatever red candies you have handy.

We were shocked at how many cake pops you can get out of a small amount of cake so be prepared to be dipping for a while!

Also my friend Ari posted a great thread on making the apple cake pops
http://letsgetcaking.blogspot.com/2009/08/chocolate-apple-cake-pops.html. They came out super cute. 

Happy Caking!

PostHeaderIcon My entry in the North TX Cake Show

I entered my first cake decorating competition this weekend with my Alice inspired cake. It was a great show. There were over 140 competitors and some amazing work. I was so excited to take a first place ribbon in my category (Adult Intermediate – Novelty Tiered) .

Here are a couple of more detailed shots.

When I have some time I’ll do a more detailed post on how I put together my entry. For now I need to clean my kitchen and get some sleep.  Thanks everyone for all your support!

PostHeaderIcon Christening Cake

 

male christening cake

I made this cake for my friend’s adorable little boy, James, on his Christening. On the day of his baptism, he also turned 1 (hence the cupcake). It was really fun to make a “boy” cake. I knew when I started this cake that I wanted something that was subtle and reflected the purpose of the day. Also since he was 1, I really didn’t want it to be too “baby”. I decided on the angled top tier to highlight the cross and wanted to do an argyle pattern on the bottom. It’s not quite a true argyle because once the diamonds were placed, I was afraid the hash marks would take away from the cake.  FYI, I’m a total sucker for a harlequin pattern so  expect to see it time and again ;)

Cake Details:
6 inch and 8 inch  strawberry cake with strawberry butter cream filling.

Supplies:
Double batch of buttercream (using 4 lbs of powdered sugar)
Support system of choice ( I use SPS – single plate system for tiered cakes)
Long knife or cake leveler
14 inch cake drum and ribbon
1/2 lb blue fondant (it may take less but I prefer to have too much)
Tylose powder or Gumtex powder
Paint brush
Diamond Impression Mat
Fondant Smoother
Viva Paper towels
Diamond Cutters (I use Ateco)
Cross cookie cutter
Wilton Sugar Pearls, White
Ribbon cutter
Clay Extruder (optional)

Level and fill the 8 inch cake on it’s own cake board. I prefer to keep my cakes larger plastic cake boards to make them easier to manage (see Disney Cars Cake tutorial for details).  Cover and let settle. While the larger cake is resting, it is time to make the angled top for the smaller tier. I have a wonderful cake lever called an Agbay that makes this process much easier but you can do this with a knife. Using the Agbay, I adjusted the cake leveler to the degree of angle I wanted. The leveler is wide so I was able to move the cake left or right to adjust the impact on the top tier. If you look at the angle you can see it’s not severe if I just took the top piece off. The trick is to take the top piece and flip it over to make the high side of the angle even higher. This gives a more dramatic cake and you don’t waste any cake.

Place the other 6 inch layer on a cake board face down. Apply icing dam and fill. Place the tall angled cake on top of that layer. If you crumb coat, crumb coat the cake, cover it and let it rest. Resting cakes helps prevent the bulge where the filling is located. Cakes should rest several hours or over night.  While your cakes are resting there are several things you can do. Cover your cake board in a food safe covering. I use wrapping paper then cover that in FDA clear wrap you can find at craft stores. This is a great time to make buttercream and color your fondant.

Once the cakes have rested, I started on the bottom tier. Ice the cake in white buttercream and smooth.

Ice the cake smooth with buttercream. As you can see in the picture my buttercream is not perfect but the bottom tier is busy enough to hide most of the flaws.  Take a small amount of blue fondant and and a pinch of tylose or gumtex and knead it into the fondant. Let the fondant sit (covered) for a few minutes while you get out your rolling pin and cutters.  Roll out the blue fondant fairly thin, I prefer this to be as thin as possible because I think it makes for a prettier final product.  A pasta roller is perfect for this but I didn’t pull mine out for this cake.  I also prefer to  roll these out on cornstarch because that drier back makes them easier to move around.  Cut out several diamonds at a time.  Using a small paint brush, paint the back of the diamonds with water (for dark colors I prefer piping gel because you don’t risk the color running). Attach the diamonds in an argly patter. It is difficult to get the back to line up just right so just “fake” it a bit when you get to the back. In this case I wish I had started with the top diamonds and then added the bottom ones. The border hides enough that I think it would have been prettier to have a little more blue on the top of the bottom tier.
Once the bottom tier is complete, frost the top angled tier. You can see here that my frosting is almost smooth but still has lots of spatula marks. Take a Viva brand paper towel (yes it has to be Viva and it has to be pattern free), holding the paper towel to the side of the cake, run your fondant smoother firmly over the paper towel. This will smooth out any rough edges. Depending your buttercream recipe, you want to do this when the frosting is crusted but not crunchy. If the paper towel sticks, the frosting is not crusted. If you see hair line cracks then the frosting is too crusted. I don’t get the hair line cracks now that I have switched to hi-ratio shortening.  

Once smooth,  apply the diamond impression mat to the front of the cake and rock the mat to the left and the right.  Do not press on the very end of either side. (This will create a line where you stopped). Be very careful to hold the mat in place to keep the lines clean. Remove the mat and line up the edge of the impression with the mat on the left hand side and rock around. Move to the opposite side and repeat until you meet in the back. Again it will not be perfect, that is why we work around to the back from both the left and the right side.  Apply sugar pearls at the intersection of each quilt. Long tweezers (for caking only) work great for this.  Generally the pearls stick on their own but you can add a dab of waangled tierter or piping gel if the frosting is completely crusted.  Next roll out a thin, long piece of fondant to make the top border. Using the rick rack wheels on your ribbon cutter, cut out the top border. Attach with a bit of water painted on the back. Roll out a thin piece of fondant and using the cross cookie cutter, cut one cross. Let it sit for a several minutes to harden, so it is easier to apply to the cake. 

Now that the top and bottom tier are almost finished, assemble your support system. Using SPS, I attached 4 pillars to a 6 inch plate and inserted it into the bottom tier. I chilled the top tier for 15 minutes in the freezer to make it easier to apply to the top of the cake. Place a dab of buttercream on the SPS plate, and place the top tier onto the plate. Once that is complete, make a border. I used the square disk on my clay extruder to make the off white fondant border but you can roll a snake, uselarge  pearls or do a buttercream border. Apply the border to the top and bottom tier and you are done.  The cupcake was a jumbo strawberry cupcake with buttercream frosting and blue sugar sprinkles that was James’ smash cake. Boy did he have fun smashing it up.

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