The Rose and The Butterfly

Last weekend, I had the pleasure and good fortune of attending a sugarpaste modelling class at a local cake company here in Luxembourg. Sweet Lily, situated right on Avenue X Septembre, regularly hosts cake decorating classes, both for children and adults.

2015-12-05 19.27.15

This time, Emi, from Cake Atelier, led a sugarpaste modelling class and taught us how to create a beautiful and realistic looking rose, and a butterfly. We learned how to use a variety of tools to obtain the desired effect, how to use floral wire to hold the whole thing together, and how to paint each individual flower with powdered food colouring.

2015-12-05 19.26.36

We also learned how to effectively level, ice, and cover a cake with fondant. Personally, I discovered that Satin Ice fondant is easier to work with and less likely to tear, than Renshaw, which I’ve always used so far (which isn’t to say that Renshaw is of poorer quality; just a different feel to it).

I’m very excited to start applying these methods to my future cakes!

Advertisements

Drum Roll Please!

This fabulous cake was for a friend and colleague of mine who has taught at my school for about as long as I can remember. He taught 3rd grade when I was in 3rd grade (although I wasn’t in his class), and was a dear friend of my mother’s. This year, he retired, and I was overjoyed that his wife asked me to make a cake for his retirement party.

His main interests (apart from teaching) being playing the drums (he’s a musician as well), art, and swimming, we decided to creatively represent all three of these.

I baked a combination of vanilla and chocolate cakes, and to add a bit of excitement, placed a chocolate layer in the vanilla cake. This was the bottom tier, and largest drum.

IMG_3401

The second, smaller drum, was entirely chocolate, and the ‘skin’ cover of the drum was blue, to represent a swimming pool.

IMG_3402

Making the metal fixings of the drums was tricky, but proved to be quite an important learning step for me. This was the first time I’d done anything like it, and getting to fondant around in one piece was difficult. I had to do it in two pieces for the largest drum, as using one one length kept tearing.

IMG_3405

Once I got it stuck on and let it set for a few minutes, I painted over the grey fondant with metallic silver food paint.

IMG_3413

I had one thin layer of chocolate cake leftover, and rather than throwing it away (I hate wasting, and I was out of space in my freezer to freeze it), I made a thin tambourine to sit on top. This was a total extra, but I thought it’d be nice to emphasize Robert’s passion for art by also including an artists’ palette; instead of just having drumstick paintbrushes.

IMG_3414

This part was a bit last-minute, and not as secure as I would have liked it to be, however the overall effect was striking.

IMG_3415

Everything (except dowel rods) is edible in the cake, including the drumstick paintbrushes which are made of fondant.

Happy Retirement!

First Communion: FC Porto

This is the second First Communion cake I made, coincidentally for the same weekend as the football pitch. The request here, was to create a cake using the FC Porto logo as inspiration, as that is the boy’s favourite football team. Of course, the logo had to be rather complex:

FCPorto

Since the cake was for around 20 people, I decided to use the round blue part as the main cake base, and supplement it with a half football in order for there to be enough cake for everyone. For the crest, I ordered some wafer card and used edible ink markers to draw it.

IMG_3257

The cake itself was vanilla, with vanilla icing. I used blue icing between the layers to keep in with the FC Porto theme.

IMG_3256

IMG_3259

Then, I baked a half sphere cake in my handy Wilton’s Sports Ball pan (such a lifesaver for these things!) and fixed it towards the back of the cake with some icing. I also cut it in half to add some icing in it – makes it look prettier, and I feel that the icing helps break up the cake texture a bit.

IMG_3260

The next morning, I got to tessellate again, which I was very excited about. This time, I actually ordered a cookie cutter set specifically made to cut fondant to cover a football cake. They worked a treat!

IMG_3261

The crowning piece was affixing the wafer card to the front of the football. I used some extra icing to attach it at the back, as I was worried that using edible glue would affect the wafer and the ink.

IMG_3263

Ta-da!

Congratulations Patrick!

A Gift from Me to You

Hello everyone,

First, I apologize for my absence the last few weeks. After my birthday, things got very hectic at work (Winter Concert and other festivities) and at home (upcoming Hanukkah and Christmas), and I hardly had a minute to myself, let alone the time to sit down, sift through my photos, and write a decent blog post.

So here I am, on Christmas Day, catching up! Merry Christmas!

It is fitting, then, that my post today is a cake in the shape of a gift, and ironically, for my colleague whose actual birthday is today. Happy Birthday Conchi 🙂

I got all my tools out, and I looked up how to make a bow out of fondant. This video was extremely helpful. The first bow I made, I used the exact dimensions the lady used. That one was WAY too big for my small cake, so I adjusted, and made a second one.

IMG_2010     IMG_2011

Keeping with the festive season, I made a velvet spice cake, with chocolate buttercream frosting. I did not make my own fondant this time – I used store-bought white instead. I decided the “wrapping paper” would be green, so I set to kneading green food coloring into the fondant.

IMG_2013

This is arguably what took the longest out of the entire cake decorating evening. There was a lot of fondant to dye, and I had to make sure it was even. But I eventually got there, and covered my cake:

IMG_2014

Next, since my bow had “ribbon” that was 5cm wide, I had to make sure the “ribbon” wrapping around the cake was also 5cm wide.

IMG_2015    IMG_2016

I used edible glue to stick the “ribbon” into place. Looking back, I could have made the ends slightly narrower, but the overall effect was still what I wanted. I added the bow. Then, I rolled out some more white fondant, and punched out snowflakes with my smallest plunger, and stuck them on with edible glue.

IMG_2018

Close up of snowflakes:

IMG_2020

I’m very very pleased with how the cake turned out ^_^ It wasn’t difficult as far as cakes go, and the whole decorating process probably only took about 1 1/2 hours. It was fun to decorate, and I would definitely do it again!

Thanks for reading!

IMG_2022

Pre-Wedding Cupcakes

Hello again,

About a year ago, my boyfriend and I got an invitation to a colleague and friend’s pre-wedding garden party. She was getting married this summer, but wanted a big get-together with all the people that wouldn’t attend the formal wedding. A few weeks ago, I was chatting to one of her friends who was on the committee to help provide the food and drinks. That’s when I found out that this committee were all contributing to part of the culinary aspect of the garden party, and they wanted my advice on where to get cupcake decorations, tips for icing, and recipes. So I gave them my go-to basic vanilla cupcake recipe (you can’t go wrong with it!) and offered to make some fondant roses as decorations. I wanted the practice, and I thought this would be a nice way to help out.

Somehow, miscommunications ensued and I got put on the list to bake and decorate 20 cupcakes. My colleague said she was awful at decorating, so she suggested we team up – she would bake 40 cupcakes, and I would decorate them. Since I had just ordered a 1M piping tip from Wilton, and I was making the roses anyway, I agreed.

Image

So this entry is more about my epic decorating job than actual baking. It took me 3 days to make the fondant roses (I made my way through 4 Disney movies – Cinderella, Princess & the Frog, Wall-E and Tangled) and about 3 hours of piping and decorating. But I was very pleased with the results.

I made chocolate and vanilla buttercream, and iced half the cupcakes in each, so people could have some choice. The theme colours of the garden party were purple and yellow. I took a short-cut with the fondant and used store-bought yellow and pastel yellow. The pink was left-over from the pink champagne cake. Since I find purple a difficult color to blend into fondant (and preserve the color richness) I decided pink would do just fine.

Image Image

The garden party was lots of fun, and Michaelynn loved her eclectic mix of cupcakes in lieu of a pre-wedding cake!

Image

Can you spot my cupcakes? 😉

Cakes So Far

It’s going to take me a while to get used to this layout and process of keeping a blog and making decent entries. I was nearly through with my first real entry (with photos and everything!) of the team birthday cakes I made from October to June, when the window froze as I was trying to add a link, and the whole entry was lost. So, I’m trying again.

The first cake I made was a nut-free carrot cake, with cream cheese icing, piped carrots and Wilton’s Candy Melts grass. I looked up a tutorial on YouTube on how to pipe carrots, and used regular Ziploc bags for the first time, as there was so little icing to pipe, I didn’t want to waste a proper piping bag.

Image

Next up, was our “Deputy Sheriff”‘s birthday, thus called as even though she’s an assistant, she keeps all of us in line. The cake is chocolate, with vanilla buttercream. I puzzled over how to make the shape of the cake for a while, until I realized that if I baked a 13″ x 9″ cake, I could then cut triangles out of the 9” sides, and place them at the top and bottom for the two other points. The rounded ends are made out of fondant balls which I shaped around the points. Although I was careful with the writing, I clearly still need practice :/ I used Google for some reference images and ideas, but no one’s tutorial in particular.

Image

Next up were our December birthdays, of which we had four, and this is the only birthday lunch I can’t find photos from. It was also a generic end-of-term potluck lunch. The cake I made was a velvet spice cake in a ring mold, which I then sprinkled with icing sugar for it to look like snow, and pressed in some small sugar holly berries and leaves for an extra-festive look. If I ever find the picture (I know I took one!) I will post it, but if not… well I’ll just have to make another, won’t I? 😉

My colleague and friend Jenna’s birthday was the next one up, and, knowing she loves chocolate, I decided to follow a full tutorial for a cake for the first time. Shortly before I had to bake this, one of the cake artists I follow on deviantART, ginas-cakes (http://ginas-cakes.deviantart.com) posted a tutorial on how to make a box of chocolates cake. Despite the problems I had with this cake, including the chocolateer giving me the wrong selection of chocolates, and my homemade fondant refusing to cooperate (I am still looking for alternative recipes), the cake turned out pretty good. And it was tasty, which is really all I can ask for!

Image

This brings us to my first non-cake birthday. This colleague wasn’t a big cake fan, so I went all out and tried something totally new: a lemon-meringue pie. Notes for next time: make pretty waves in the meringue instead of heaping it on, and continue practicing writing. Other than that, it was quite good for a first try (I had no idea they were so difficult to make!) and I look forward to making it again.

Image

Next came a double-birthday, so I decided to be reckless again, and make a tiered cake instead of two separate cakes. I found the recipe online (not sure of the exact website now, but it was on AllRecipes, or BBCFood or some such) and inspiration for the design from Beantown Baker (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2010/04/lemon-raspberry-layer-cake.html). This cake went down very very well – a white cake with raspberry jam between the layers, and a lemon buttercream icing. Topped off with fresh raspberries, it was very light and fruity.

Image

And then came the two most epic cakes I have made so far. Up next was another double-birthday, but this time, it was of the woman I work with, and of a colleague whose obsession with WWII was too good to pass up. With a three-day weekend ahead of me, I embarked on my longest cake-making endeavor yet: a replica Sherman tank (chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting – homemade attempt which ended up too tough to work with properly) and champagne bottle (pink champagne cake pink champagne frosting and fondant accents). The Sherman tank is mostly painted with edible a vodka-corn syrup-edible food coloring mixture. The champagne bottle cake is mostly done with colored fondant, although I hand-painted and wrote the label. The fondant champagne glasses are also hand cut and painted. The two cakes were assembled without any big drama; but the time I spent making them is one of the reasons why I’m not considering this as a career choice just yet.

Image

Image

And this brings me to my final team birthdays cake of the year – a Black Forest Gateau. I had made one of these before, but I knew it to be my boyfriend’s favorite (he works at the same place I do) so I made it for him and my other colleague whose summer birthdays needed to be celebrated before we broke up for the summer.

Image

And so this is the end of this first blog. For most of these cakes I have photos of them at different stages of completion. In my future posts, I hope to include these, with a longer description of the stage at which the cake is at. But until then, thank you for scrolling through and checking these out!

Here I am…

I have always liked helping in the kitchen. I have fond memories as a child, sitting on the counter, helping Mom to bake chocolate chip cookies. This went on to being the first recipe she let me bake entirely on my own (by the age of 10), closely followed by cupcakes. When I went to university, I found myself with a lot of free time, and started exploring my baking hobby to a greater depth. With some help along the way, I discovered icing techniques, countless recipes, and started browsing cake decorating tutorials and Facebook pages for inspiration.

A friend suggested I start a blog to keep a record of my baking adventures, and as a sort of portfolio, should I ever decide to do this professionally. At the moment, baking is for me a sort of de-stress mechanism. Baking helps relieve day-to-day tensions I build up. This past year, I agreed to bake the cakes for the team I work with at school, for our birthday lunches. Even though these were approximately once a month, once or twice I found myself stressing about the cakes, and spending entirely too much time perfecting them. So for now, I am not taking commissions or orders; I just want to share my experiences with you.

As this is the first blog I’ve ever kept, I welcome constructive criticism on presentation and content. Things that seem obvious to me might not be to you, and I will gladly answer any questions you have. I will always reference my recipes or techniques to the websites/tutorials where I found them.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading through my blog.

Jo