Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You're how old?

There seems to be a rash of birthdays towards the end of summer. We decided to combine my two older children's birthdays into one party to celebrate. First, we have Audie... he turned 7 this year and is a BIG fan of Ironman. So much so that he dressed up as the metal-clad character for Halloween last year.Chloie turned 6 this year on the first day of school. Poor girl, she just doesn't understand yet. She wanted a strawberry cake that looked like a wedding cake.Our final birthday exhibit is from a friend at work. Her mother turned 60, and she wanted a cake with flowers and this little heart-felt message.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Temple... II

Remember a while ago when I was obsessed with the leaning temple I did for Stake Women's Conference? My BFF Amy and long-time squeeze Mike decided to get married in the Washington DC Temple... and guess what they wanted for their wedding cake?
This time I got brave and added the annex and annex bridge. Most of the cake is regular cake. 7 standard layers of 3 chocolate, 3 yellow, and 1 strawberry iced in cherry flavored buttercream. Most of the bridge is strawberry, and the annex (the little building in front) is a strawberry cordial for their anniversary.I took a page from Duff and made gum paste panels for the walls and spines of the temple. I also got smart and made the towers from foam. See? Less wasted cake! And I even got the doors on the eastern walls. Now that's detail.Here they are before the cake-in-the-face-smashing event. How sweet!And of course, the obligatory aftermath pictures...I should mention that the little round cake behind the temple is a gluten free chocolate cake for Amy's FIL and was made for him as a special request. Because of an allergy he can't usually partake, but this is one of very few receptions where he can actually enjoy the cake.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wow, I have a lot of catching up to do...

This is what happens when you get behind...

This was a Tiki cake I made for my best friend's bridal shower. After a failed attempt at learning hula, I'm glad we dove into the cake. The tikis were baked in steel cans so I didn't waste cake, and they were filled with strawberry cordial innards. even the icing on the outside was white chocolate, but I tinted it for the tiki masks.
This little cutie was for my niece's 5th birthday. Her requests for the cake were:
1. purple polka dots
2. yellow cake with chocolate icing
3. pink flowers
4. princess castle
The only way I could work in polka dots were on a purple dragon. On my 'in-laws' blog, they have a picture of Abbey posing with her dragon. Too cute

Lessons learned: Never, EVER bet behind on a cake blog!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My favorite kind of favor

My friend asked me some time ago to teach her to make the white chocolate raspberry cordial. He daughter practically demanded one for her birthday. OK, I can handle an enthusiastic fan.

We baked the cake as soon as they got there, then watched some Bill Engvall waiting for the cake to cool. Instead of making a no-cook jam version by hitting the puree button on my food processor, we decided to just mash the raspberries with the back side of a rubber spatula.Here is the birthday girl with her cake. I threatened to keep the cake if she didn't pose for a picture with it... apparently cake is very persuasive. I'm told she sniffed the cake the entire way home, and then rationed thin slices to the members of her family.

Family Birthday Cakes

Hubby and I took a vacation to NY to visit his family, see some church history sites, and camp on Lake Ontario. While we were up there, we celebrated his parents' birthdays.
For her July birthday, her favorite chocolate indulgence. This time I actually got a picture of the inside of the cake.Oooo, pretty slice. Tim was concerned that the full-size cake would be too much for the two of them, then I reminded him that we were traveling with friends of ours from church and their 4 hungry boys. When we left Sunday afternoon, there was the equivalent of this much left.This was for his father's March birthday. I know, it is late, but you can't exactly mail a cake like this through the US Postal Service.His first comment was that we got the colors right. For once, being obsessed with details paid off. For this we made yellow cupcakes with coconut milk for just a hint of flavor, white chocolate icing, and a circle of fondant painted to resemble the billiard balls (he's a big fan and plays often).

It was a nice visit; we definitely got to relax. I'm glad to be home. I have more cakes to do. :-)

At the Luao

This is what happens when you sign up to make a pineapple upside-down cake for a church function, and are asked to make extra because some of the others couldn't make cakes. These ferns and flowers all came from plants growing around the house, and the purple butterfly bushes smell heavenly! This was your standard recipe for pineapple upside-down cake, one 9x13 and one 1/2 sheet size. I used 4 5"-pillars and two 3/4" tubes for support of the upper layer, and green florist variety water picks for the flowers. I couldn't see spending a lot of money for the white ones when I could cut the spikes off of the green ones and work just fine for cheaper.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Luscious Lemon

I made our receptionist (at my day job) a cake for her birthday. I brought in the day after on Friday so that she didn't have to share if she didn't want to. After seeing the wedding cake I did for my friends at church and talking about the flavors, she decided on the lemon cake with lemon icing. Mmmm, tasty!

Fireworks? What fireworks???

I don't see any fireworks, just this cake that looks like fireworks. I know we're not supposed to set fireworks off at work!

My day job asked my side job for a cake... go figure. :-)

They wanted something 4th-of-July-ish for a little shindig they were throwing at lunch. Nothing big on the menu, just hot dogs, chips, and soda... and of course cake. They didn't have any special requests, no flavors, no designs. They just let me run free with it. Dangerous, I know, but they have to learn sometime!

I saw a cool idea from Cupcakes Take the Cake (see their post about it here) and thought it might do the trick, but I wanted something that resembled fireworks. This is what I brought to work this morning... I baked one box each of red velvet mini cupcakes, white mini cupcakes, and blue-tinted white mini cupcakes. I followed the directions for the marshmallows and frosting the minis, but I omitted the fruit so that I wouldn't have to refrigerate it. I made the inside out of my favorite green Styrofoam, covered it to make it food safe, and stabbed away. There were 85 kebabs in all in this explosion!
Lessons learned here: 1. Definitely don't do this more in advance than the night before. This was served at lunch (11:30 or so) and by the time I brought the remaining 10 kebabs home, the mini cupcakes were getting a little hard. 2. Weight the base. The first couple yards down my driveway and out of our development were a little harrowing as I saw it teetering. I ended up moving it up behind the driver's seat so that I could hold it while I drove. 3. Don't stick the skewers in so far, Erin! We had a difficult time getting some of them out. On the bright side, the holes are "pre-drilled" so it won't be so hard next time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A short breather...

You know, I thought I was out of work for a while, that I could relax, possibly stress because I didn't have any cakes to keep me busy. Apparently the Lord was listening and laughing...

My best friend, Amy (my maid of honor), is getting married!!! Guess who is doing the cake? You guessed right. For her wedding cake, she's asked me to do another rendition of the Washington D.C. Temple cake, this time with the Annex and bridge. I learned my lesson on the last cake, so this time should go a lot better, less stressful, etc.

In the mean time, I'll be busy with other cakes. Stay tuned! (and be careful what you wish for. :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Something borrowed, something blue!

My friend from church asked me to make a cake for her oldest son's wedding. Doug and Amy met at WVU and were married in the Washington D.C. Temple on Tuesday. They had a reception in WV on Wednesday for his family, and one on Saturday for her family. This was their cake... The quilt in the background was a wedding gift made for them by my friend's sister-in-law in their chosen wedding colors.I started the week prior making flowers out of gum paste. The irises and violets started out as the same shade of light blue, then I painted the irises for the variance in color as I've seen the real thing. I didn't have, and couldn't find anywhere, the flower nails needed to make the irises, so I improvised and made a strip of wood with 12 nails of alternating heights topped with cotton balls. Once the petal sections were formed, rolled, and veined, I draped the sections over the cotton balls to dry.I tinted the gum paste a darker shade of blue for the blue bells and did those after the other flowers were done. There were 80 violets, 12 irises, and 80 bluebells on the cake.
The cake itself was tasty. Unsure of what flavors Doug and Amy wanted, JaNae opted for a variety. The top two tiers were yellow cake with strawberry flavored butter cream, the third tier was lemon with lemon flavored butter cream, and the bottom tier was chocolate with raspberry flavored butter cream.

I got to do some new things on this cake... 1. ribbon on the tiers, 2. gum paste flowers, 3. flavored icing besides chocolate and white chocolate, 4. a little flower arranging.

Lessons I learned on this cake: 1. Even if you think you have enough ribbon for the cake, get an extra roll just to be safe. 2. If you live on a bumpy road, don't stack the tiers but take them separately and stack them on location (my cakes shifted a little on the trip there). 3. Leave a little earlier on rainy days so you have time to be careful driving. 4. Allow for extra time to make gum paste flowers (they never go as quickly as you'd think they would). 5. Raspberry flavoring oil will tint your icing pink no matter how much sugar you add to avoid it. 6. Lemon butter cream is surprisingly good.

Teacher of the Year

Do you remember the Heritage High School thank you cake? Same wonderful friends, this time to congratulate Coach K (what she goes by). Coach K coaches tennis, volley ball, and basketball at Heritage High School, and was voted this year's teacher of the year. This was a 1/4 sheet yellow cake with regular butter cream icing on it. I rolled out a thin sheet of fondant and painted the wood grain and court lines. The balls (if you can say that without blushing) were made from tinted fondant and the lines added with a food-safe marker.

I'm told she thoroughly enjoyed her cake, which never fails to put a smile on my face!

Monday, May 25, 2009

I love to see the temple...

I'm going there someday... Those must be the only two lines of this children's song from church. So the theme this year for Stake Women's Conference was Joy and Happiness. What a better way to represent eternal happiness than the Temple?The ride to Hancock was a little harrowing. The unfortunate breaking incident described in the Graduation cake delivered the same morning did a number on the construction of the temple cake. It leaned a little, and the driveway to the church wasn't much of a help either.From the ends it looks a little better. I had to have help to carry it into the building. It had 10 pounds of fondant on it and 7 layers of cake - 2 strawberry, 2 chocolate, 2 yellow, and 1 white. Once on the table, I added the spires and fixed and nudged as best as I could.The cake stood 28 inches high (compared to 288 feet high on the actual temple), 24 inches long (240 feet), and 13 inches wide (136 feet). Essentially 1 inch of cake equalled 10 feet of temple. Here is a picture of Sister JaNae Barnes on the left and that's me on the right so you can see for scale. This cake was massive.The spires were carved from green floral Styrofoam from the top level of the cake to 2 inches below the tip of the gold spires. From there a tooth pick (4 smaller spires) or a bamboo skewer (end spires) supported the rest. The spires were then covered in gum paste and shaped for the tower and spire details. Then the upper-most portions were painted with a yellow wash and coated with gold pearl dust like I did when I originally formed the Angel Moroni.And I would be remiss if I didn't provide the obligatory cake carnage pictures of the aftermath.There were sisters who hovered and waited as layers were cut and served so they could get their favorite flavor further down in the cake.
My friend Amy had the camera for most of the carnage and decided to take a picture of me standing over it with a knife in one hand and icing-covered fingers on the other.

Some one asked me how I felt cutting into one of my creations. I replied that I was relieved that I didn't have to obsess over the lean any more. I'm glad I learned one lesson from the castle wedding cake. Moroni's trumpet broke during the trip up, but I had my trusty hot glue gun there to save the day. Lessons learned from this cake? 1. Always have someone on the trip with you. 2. Less cake, more foam, or at least better plan the construction so that there is less of a risk of leaning. 3. Once it is set up, put on blinders and quit fiddling with it. Anal retentiveness is sometimes a bad thing...

Congrats Grad (and a welcome home) !!!

You might remember the skateboarder cake one of the members of my church ordered from me a few months ago. She referred me to Rita who was planning a surprise graduation party for her son, Daniel. Daniel was graduating from Hedgesville High School, loves computers, guitar, and weight lifting, and is joining the Air Force this summer.We decided to incorporate all of his likes into the cake for his graduation. Oh, he and his brother are both are both BIG fans of German chocolate cake with coconut-pecan icing. The cake did have a pair of dumbbells in front of the guitar, but an unfortunate breaking incident caused the computer tower to crush them. There was nothing I could do to save them.

Everything on the cake was cake except for the guitar which had a wood backing and neck. This was the only piece of the cake that didn't have coconut-pecan icing filling it. This piece was specifically for Rita because she's not a fan of the icing.
Here is a close-up of the computer screen, keyboard, and mouse. Daniel and his friends took turns having their picture taken "typing" on the keyboard. At first they didn't believe it was cake.
This is the welcome home cake for Daniel's brother, Chris. He is in the 82nd Airborne, and he was home for leave before his deployment overseas. He didn't even know he was getting a cake. Hehehe!!! This cake, too, was German chocolate with coconut-pecan icing as filling and covered in fondant. I carved the cake into the unit patch, covered it in fondant, then painted the colors onto it.
This is a shot of the two cakes together.
I was privileged to be there to present and cut the cake for the party. This cake and the Temple cake (in Hancock, MD) were due on the same day, so I delivered and presented the Temple cake then came back to Inwood to present this one. It was a wonderful party with my friend Christie from The Answer is Porcini catering a delicious taco bar, and GSProductions Entertainment providing the entertainment and MC (pretty cool guy, I might add). It seems that everyone enjoyed themselves, and these guys are lucky to have Rita as their mom. Congrats, guys!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Renaissance attire optional...

This has been an interesting week. I finished my little ferocious guy earlier while baking the layers for this cake. I constructed the center of the castle and covered the towers Friday night and finished the walls and remaining details Saturday morning. This is what the cake looked like on my kitchen counter...

(from the back) (from the front)
I ended up having to line the walls (cake) with a piece of cardboard toward the inside of the cake for stability. I must have used at least a dozen bamboo skewers! I was worried that the walls would fall over during transit, so I used some shortened skewers inside the "court yard" to support the walls.
We only had two of the towers fall during the trip, and when we got to the reception, we found that the tip of the dragon's tail and the sword arm of the groom had broken off. Grrr! While I was setting up everything else, my faithful assistant (my husband) went looking for super glue to reattach the arm. Unluckily for us, the weather took a turn for the worst, and humidity coupled with rain and a strong gust of wind blew the front wall of the castle over. I'm glad now that I kept some extra skewers with me. I ended up propping up the front wall with some shortened lengths, and used to full sized skewers on either side of the draw bridge. Hubby and I stood behind the cake to block the gusts that threatened to tear down the wall again.
Here it is at the reception...
The humidity also wreaked havoc on the fondant covering the turrets, and some of the flags leaned a little more than I liked. I ended up sticking them in strategic locations elsewhere. The sword arm of the groom kept sliding off... apparently Loctite doesn't set up well with gum paste. My fingers are now a permanent shade of blue and purple from all of the adjustments.
You remember this guy, right? Here he is with his new dye job (and attached tail). He looks a little more vicious in green than he did in white!So, lessons learned: 1. Bring the hot glue gun. 2. Make the walls out of foam. 3. Bring an extra set of gloves to prevent finger dying. Got it. Ready for round two?