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!

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!

You’re Never Too Old For An Animal Party

This epic cake was for a young lady who turned 18. Her party’s theme was ‘animals’ and she herself was going as a unicorn, which I applaud because you should never ever lose your silly side just because you grow up.

So I searched for animal cakes, and found one that served as my basic inspiration. Given more prep time, I would have ordered more specific fondant and created better decorations and figurines, but given the resources that I had, I think it turned out OK.

I decided on a three tiered cake. If you are a baker and ever find yourself having to bake a cake for a large number of people (50 in this case) and no idea how much cake you actually need, I highly recommend signing up to this website: www.bakingit.com. It’s free, so long as you’re using it on a computer, and it will basically design your cake for you, once you put in your specifications (shape, number of portions, etc).

The largest tier was a marbled vanilla-chocolate cake, with fresh strawberry icing. This icing is DIVINE.

IMG_3294

I covered it in white fondant, and decorated with strips of black to emulate a zebra’s hide.

IMG_3298

The middle tier was a chocolate mudcake, or as my father calls it, brownie cake. Given its’ richness, I decided to simply cover it with dark chocolate ganache, as a tree trunk.

IMG_3299

I punched out lots of leaves both in dark green and bright green fondant, and lined the top of the middle tier. I used three different sizes, first the big ones, then I used middle sized to fill in the gaps.

Once I placed the final tier on top, I used the tiny sized leaves to hide the edge. The final tier was all vanilla, and decorated to look like a giraffe’s skin.

IMG_3300

And lastly, I did make a small elephant and panther head, because after all, it wouldn’t be much of an animal cake if only two animals were represented. I found this handy tutorial to teach me how to make an elephant; the panther came straight from my imagination ^_^

IMG_3301

I had a blast making this cake, even if it did stress me out, I had bad luck finding the right gluten-free flour, and I was up at all hours of the night putting it together. But the look on Lucie’s face when I delivered the cake was definitely worth it.

Happy Birthday!

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!

Birthday Boardgame Bonanza

Hello everyone!

Apologies for my absence. Things got very very busy and it was hard to find time to sit down and write a proper post. Of course, that means there is a lot to catch up on! So without further ado…

I made three cakes for Zak’s Boardgames Birthday Bonanza. The lesson I learned? How to appropriately size cakes for a given number of people. There was WAY TOO MUCH cake (wait, is that even possible?).

Given his recent foray into Minecraft, the first cake I decided to make him was a cake that looks the way cake does in Minecraft.

IMG_2670

This was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. I genuinely looked up a picture of a Minecraft cake in Google so I could place the red sprinkles accurately. This was a relatively simple cake, although cutting and placing the white fondant was tricky. It was fun, although some people at the party were confused about it.

I also made Minecraft cake pops: chocolate of course, and made to look like blocks of dirt or with mine-able materials.

IMG_2657

The second cake I made, was of Zak’s favorite boardgame of all time: Pictionary.

IMG_2669

This one was purely vanilla: cake and buttercream icing. Again, a simple design, covered in fondant. I got to use my brand-new writing tips to pipe the white outlines and words. While you can’t tell in this picture, my writing is still a bit wobbly. To help make the lines straight, I used a piping lace decorating tip from SweetSugarBelle “Piping Lace on Cookies” (A side note: I’m really excited to try piping lace too!).

Also, the reason the colors are a bit off on the board, it’s because it’s hard to cut a rectangular board into five equal areas, and I had very little orange/purple-blue fondant to work with. Covering the cake boards was a rather last-minute idea.

The final cake I made, was based on the Settlers of Catan. I ordered a hexagon-shaped cake pan and had to make four times my regular vanilla cake recipe. I put chocolate buttercream between the layers. I covered the whole thing in fondant, hexagons the exact size of the game pieces. I made my own Robber. I even made dice! I’m pretty darned proud of this cake.

IMG_2671  IMG_2672

To help with the placing of the resources, I generated a game on my iPad version, for complete authenticity. Although the cake isn’t big enough to show the full game, the resources are placed randomly, as are the numbers.

So, three cakes, when really, the Catan cake would have fed us all.

IMG_2675

So the birthday boy was very happy, and I was pleased to pull this off, even if I do need to seriously reconsider cake quantities etc.

IMG_2678

Thanks for reading!

Jo

PS. I know this post isn’t as detailed as to the making-of for each cake, but I thought it would simply be too long, and I didn’t like the idea of splitting it into three posts. Suffice to say there was a lot of work involved but I’m pleased with how they all turned out ^_^

 

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

A Final Taste of Summer

Greetings all!

We had a double birthday celebration this week, which was also the final week of school before the holiday. Since we are all responsible adults and we don’t eat TOO much cake 😉 I made a single tier mango cake. If you recall, I had made a mango cake a couple months ago, when I made the Yellow Car Cake, and it was very successful, so I thought I would make it again (and actually get to eat some this time!)

I have also been dying to use my Calla lily former set, that I bought months and months ago, so I though they would make the perfect toppers for this cake. So three days before the cake was due for, I sat and made several Calla lilies.

IMG_1501   IMG_1504

They were quite tricky actually, because the fondant liked to tear, instead of sitting and sticking to itself nicely. I ended up having to make double the number of lilies after 2/3 of the ones in my first batch ended up cracked when I took them off the formers.

I tinged the vanilla cream cheese/buttercream icing yellow, for the colors to match better. Plus, we were all a bit feeling tired from the long two months of school, autumnal weather that was starting up (read: rain and chilly temperatures), so a bright cake was just the thing to cheer us up.

IMG_1507

I had some leftover green icing from the soccer cake, so I used that for the edging along the bottom. My ‘swirls’ are getting better, but I do still need some practice!

DSCF0180

I colored some more fondant green, and made several leaves, to back the lilies. I thought that white flowers on yellow cake might be too pale, and the green was such a complimentary color, that it would look good. I placed the leaves in the center of the cake, in a star shape.

IMG_1508

Then, I proceeded to place the lilies between the spaces of the leaves, in order to get a multi-point star shape. One thing I do need to work on is placing my center piece in the actual center of the cake. I’m close on this one but slightly off to the left.

DSCF0188

Close-up of the lilies:

DSCF0190

And ta-da! A finished mango cake with Calla lilies for decoration.

One thing I have learned from this though, is that fondant and regular icing don’t mix very well. While everything looks great in the above photos, the moisture from the icing leeched into the fondant (slightly) which caused the lilies to collapse a little by the time the cake was brought out to eat. It still looked (and was!) yummy, but the flowers weren’t as perky.

IMG_1517

Thanks for reading 🙂

Soccer party for 20, coming up!

Today I’m excited to share with you all my first cake commission. At the Birthday Break last week, when I brought out my Rainbow Cake, a colleague asked Josh who made the cake. He pointed her in my direction, and she asked if I would be open to baking a cake for an event: her son’s birthday party. Josh was going to run the soccer themed party with fun games, so I figured, why not? Sunday birthday party meant I would have all day Saturday to work on the cake without time worries. Well, life got in the way a bit with that plan, and I unfortunately had to turn down going to watch the rugby (Luxembourg-Israel, practically down the street from me) but let’s move on. Cake.

Luckily, the cake boards I ordered from England (The Craft Company) arrived on Friday so I didn’t have to worry about lending out a foil-covered chopping board. (The amount of packing space in the box was absolutely ridiculous).

Image

I searched for soccer-themed birthday cakes online, and found a great one through Google Images. It linked me back to this website. I shared the photo with my colleague, who thought it looked great and worried it was too much trouble. Since I’d not gotten to use my piping grass tip since I bought it back in March, I was super excited to try and represent this cake.

https://i2.wp.com/specialtycakecreations.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Soccer-Field-Cake.jpg

So I prepped my cakes (double batch of Devil’s Food Cake) and used chocolate buttercream icing to put the layers together and crumb-coat the whole thing. I used Wilton’s Sports Ball cake pan to make the ball.

Image     Image

Then, I had to cut pentagons and hexagons to cover the soccer semi-ball. Wanting to do this right, I actually looked up a Youtube video. I had all kinds of mathematical operations to do to get this right, including using a protractor. Never thought I’d use one of THOSE in baking!

Image     Image

Then, I got to the fun part – tessellation! Late Saturday night, after a lovely dinner with Josh’s parents for his dad’s birthday, I came home, cut careful shapes from fondant, and tessellated the soccer ball.

Image   Image   Image

This morning, I whipped up a double batch of classic white icing (using shortening instead of butter) and tinged it with A LOT of green food coloring to get a nice field color. I set myself up with The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel’s Beginning to keep me company while I iced, and got to work.

Image

I started by icing the sides of the field with a knife. That part was going to stay smooth. Because the cake and chocolate icing were room temperature, I had to be careful not to scrape any of the chocolate into the green. Once the sides were done, I put my grass tip on the piping bag, and started piping “grass” on to the top of the cake, around the ball.

Image

When I made the green icing, I unfortunately forgot to save a bit of it in white (before adding the food coloring) that I was going to use to mark out the basic lines on the field. I then remembered I had a bag of white Candy Melts, and looked up online to see whether it was possible to pipe them. Luckily for me, they are, although I will avoid it as much as possible because it includes putting them in the plastic piping bag and microwaving it until they are soft enough to knead to the right consistency and pipe. But for the purposes of this cake, it all worked out, and I piped the white field lines directly onto the icing.

Image

I finished this with a couple of hours to spare before the cake was to be picked up, and lots of spare melted Candy Melts so I piped a message onto wax paper and stuck it in the fridge, just in case. The cake looked fine without it, but this was a birthday cake after all. So after the letters hardened, I carefully peeled them off, and gently pressed them into the icing on the side of the cake.

Image

Overall, I was very happy with the cake. There are a few things I would change if I were to do it again (like adding a small cake board under the half-ball for extra support) and perhaps making a buttercream frosting for the white grass, for better consistency and taste. The parents were impressed with it, and Josh told me it was a success and delicious.

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Yellow Car Cake

Hey everyone!

This week’s baking adventure was one that almost didn’t happen, thanks to my forgetful memory. About two weeks ago, Sandra asked me if I could bake a cake for Armando, her sister’s boyfriend. Then, work and life got in the way, and next thing I knew, Zak was over for Halo 4 with Josh, and we were having pizza; he calls Sandra, and she’s reminding me about the cake… that’s for Friday (3 days later). I get the details (no chocolate, he likes mango, shape of a car, preferably yellow), it’s all good, and then I realize, I’m out on Thursday night for a school event- when the heck am I going to get this cake done?! I found a mango cake recipe, found a semi-tutorial to follow (because I’ve never sculpted a car before), and decide to leave right after school the next day to pop to Thionville for some ready-made fondant, mangoes, and other baking necessities.

Schedule-wise, I had to bake the cake on Wednesday because I would have zero time on Thursday to do anything major. So, I baked a mango cake:

Image

On an aside, this cake is one of my new favourites. It’s butter-less and made with fresh mango. It’s moist, delicious, and holds its shape well for carving. The website also supplied a recipe for a vanilla icing, which used a combination of cream cheese and butter, which is also a total winner. The result is creamier and simply delicious.

Anyway, after baking one 9″x13″ cake, I realized I was definitely going to need another half-recipe of it to get the height on the cake. So I woke up at 5am on Thursday to bake the cake before getting ready for work. My plan was to carve and crumb-coat the cake Thursday night after the social, but when we finally got home at 10:30pm, I was just too exhausted. Given that we were also out for a birthday party on Friday night, and I had to run an errand before 7pm (when the shops closed), I realized I had approximately 2 hours between the end of work and the time by which I had to finish the cake and handover to Sandra.

Image

By the time I crumb-coated it, it was starting to take the shape of a car.

Image

OK. I admit it, I used a Lightning McQueen car cake tutorial as my model. The fact is, all the other car cake images I found were overly complicated. Due to my time constraints, I needed something simple that was also big enough to feed around 15 people. Obviously, I didn’t decorate it in the same way.

Image

I even made little rearview mirrors, and windshield wipers. I carved, iced, and decorated this bad boy with about 1 hour and 40 minutes- a record that I don’t think I’ll ever top, because I did take some shortcuts. I lightly traced with a yellow food-safe marker the outlines of the doors, personalized mini license plates, and when I sent it off home with Sandra, I kept thinking there was something missing. Several hours later, when I was heading out to town, it finally hit me – I forgot headlights!!

Image       Image

Of course, there was also the part where there wasn’t quite enough yellow fondant to make a layer thick enough, hence the bumps, and that it overall just looked like a comic car and not a real car. The most important part, was that everyone enjoyed it 🙂

Image

Thanks for reading!

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!