Polka Dots & Daisies

This cake was for a 75 year old birthday girl. I can't believe I actually took on this cake, really. I was SO exhausted from the wedding. But alas, I had already commited to it. What was really nice, and made things easy, was that the lady who ordered it wanted the same flavors I had just done for the wedding: marble cake with dark chocolate ganache filling. But this time, I did buttercream icing and only used fondant as decorations.

This was a nice, quick, and fairly easy cake. I baked a few days in advance, and prepped the icing as well. So the night before delivery all I had to do was put it together. Before I started on it that night, I made a quick trip to pick up some flowers for the cake and found the most beautiful hot pink Gerbera Daisies. I actually didn't realize how big they were until I took off the wrap that was around each flower. Turns out... I bought WAY too many. But oh well, the rest were a nice boquet on my dining room table. :) Apparently, at the party, a few of the guests didn't think the flowers were real! They were certainly perfect enough to look fake!

Here's the final cake! The polka dots and stripes are made out of fondant, as well as the "75" on top. The rest is all buttercream.


Black & White Wedding Mini Cakes

What an amazingly, exhausting experience.

I mean, I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself in to.
The bride wanted to have 150 mini cakes with a black and white design to fit their color scheme. We decided on marble cake with a dark chocolate ganache filling and fondant icing. The cakes would be wrapped in black satin wribbon around the bottom edge and have 2 edible (alternating) black or red royal icing hearts sticking out the top.

My first task was to build the stand that all of the cakes would sit on. I constructed it out of Foam core board and styrofoam. I cut the Foam core into 6 graduating squares, then glued a pretty wedding wrapping paper to the top and bottom of them. Around the edges I glued black ribbon. I purchased the styrofoam as one big sheet that was 2" thick, 12" wide, and 36" long. Then I cut it down in to 2x6x6" squares and stacked and glued three squares together to form 6 inch blocks. If you look closely at the picture below you can see the styrofoam squares before I wrapped them in the wrapping paper (aside from the top one).

Once the blocks were glued and wrapped, I glued black ribbon around the top and bottom edges to finish off the look. Below is what the final stand would look like. However, at this point all of the layers were not glued together, they were simply stacked on top of eachother. It wasn't until the night before that I actually glued it all together.

By the Wednesday night before I had as much ready to go as I could, but I knew I still wasn't going to get it all done unless I took some time off work. So I took off a half day on Thursday and all day on Friday. I immediately went to work as soon as I got home on Thursday night and worked on it until about 11:30ish. Then got back up at 8am Friday morning and worked on it ALL day up until I had a meeting to go at 7pm. By the time I left for the meeting I had 22 cakes done.. 22!! (now, remember ... I was supposed to have 150 done for the wedding the next morning??). At that point I was already so exhausted, and the daunting task I had ahead of me (and how little I currently had done) began to overwhelm me. Even to the point where when I got to the meeting someone (totally joking) asked me, "Are you done with that cake yet?!"... and I about burst in to tears. But praise GOD for my dear, sweet, unbelieveable friend Kelly who came to my rescue and offered to come over and help me. I didn't get back home until about 9:30 and Kel got there I think about 10:30. From that point on we worked.. and worked.. and worked. When Michael got home about 2:30AM he started to help too. Yes folks.. that's 2:30am... (he was IN the wedding so he had been at the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner all night which is the reason I ended up being the one to go to the meeting). The most trouble we had was with the fondant. It is SOO tempermental. You can't have it too warm, too cold, too greasy, too sugary, etc., etc.... And it was a very time consuming process just to get ONE cake covered. See, I had the cakes (all filled, cut in to squares, and ready to be covered) in the freezer because they are much easier to work with when frozen. But then the cake had to have a "not too thin-not too thick" layer of buttercream put on so that the fondant would stick. Then the fondant had to be rolled out (but not too soon otherwise it would dry out) and cut to the approximate size for the cake. Then the cake had to be carefully covered making sure not to pull too hard in one direction otherwise it would tear - oh, and making sure you get the corners perfect so there's no pleats.. etc., etc..... blah, blah, blah. Basically it was A LOT of time consuming work. Way too much for one person to do, so I totally thank God for Kelly and Michael's help.

I think it was about 3:30am when I began walking around like a zombie and my eyes began to glaze over when Kelly said we ought to take a break. So she left and I stayed up another half hour or so to finish some stuff up then went to bed. At 7am I was back up (yes, 3 hours later) and Kelly (bless her heart) came back at about 8. At that point panic began to set in as the wedding was supposed to start at 2pm in San Francisco. Well Michael was starting to panic too since he was in the wedding and needed to be at the chapel by 1pm. So he was freaking me out, I was freaking him out, and Kelly found a way to solve the problem. :) We finally decided that we were just going to have to drive separate. So Michael got ready and left and I decided that the latest I could possibly leave was 1:00 in order to get there in time to set it all up. I knew at that point that there was NO WAY I was going to make it to the ceremony. We figured we'd get as far as we could on the cakes and that would be that, no matter how much we had gotten done. By 12:30 we had 100 cakes done and I ran in to the shower while Kelly finished up putting the ribbons on the cakes. By 1:00 I was out of the house with cakes in hand and on my way to SF. I got to the reception hall by 2:00 and no joke it was like 1000 degrees in there! I couldn't believe how hot it was and began to worry that the cakes just might melt! I quickly got the cakes put on the stand and began pushing in the royal icing hearts. First the black, then the red - wait, the red aren't dry!! Eek! Luckily I had piped out just enough black hearts to use in place of the red. (I piped extra incase of breakage). Turns out, not all of the 100 cakes we had done even fit on the stand, so I kept the remainder in the box. At 3:00 the cake was done. Phew! So I rushed to the restroom to put on my make up, do my hair, and get dressed. (it was a pretty scary sight when I finally first looked in the mirror! haha) And at long last, by 3:30, I was done.
The guests started showing up about 4:00. Praise God that it was all done in time. I hit A LOT of snags along the way, but in the end everyone really liked it and it turns out there was plenty of cake to feed everyone. There was even some left over for the bride and groom to take home. Whew! It was the most exhausting and labor-intensive cake I've ever done, but it was totally worth it to see the look on people's faces as they walked by.

Well... here it is! (Better pictures to come soon, I promise)


Rosettes and Bows

A friend of mine was having a birthday party and wanted to me to make her cake. :) She wanted it to be chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! So we decided to do a two tiered cake. The top 6" cake would be just for her... a chocolate cake with rich chocolate filling and icing. The bottom 9" cake would be marble, but also have the chocolate filling and icing. Yum!

My only struggle was when it came to actually coming up with a design for the cake. I swear I had "designers block" .. (get it? Like writer's block??) ;) Anyhoo, I struggled to come up with a design I liked until the day before I had to make it. I think I was having so much trouble because of the colors I was trying to work with. Her favorite colors are orange and turquoise-y blue. And trying to combine that color scheme with chocolate icing was a bit of struggle for me. I eventually decided on doing orange rosettes and blue ribbons & bows out of fondant. Below is a picture taken while I was working on the rosettes. They are actually pretty easy to make, just a little time consuming. The fondant is rolled out very thin, and then cut in to approximately 1.5" x .5" strips. Then you just roll them up and trim off the bottom edge to make it flat. Once they dry, you can attach them to the cake with a little icing.

I colored some buttercream icing green to make the leaves. I also used this to attach the rosettes to the cake. When it came time to wrap the blue fondant ribbon around the bottoms of the cakes, I had a little trouble getting it on the cake without marring the surface. I guess I didn't realize how hard fondant is to control in long, large strips. But once I got it around, I made sure it was secure and then attached the bows. A few white dots, and "happy birthday" on the top, and it was good to go! It sat in the fridge overnight and was ready for her fiance to pick up the next evening.

No word yet on how the cake went over with her or the guests (I wasn't able to make it to the party), but I really hope she enjoyed the design and the taste.

Happy Birthday Christina!


Reach for the Stars!

My youngest sister graduated just from high school last weekend. Eek! Well her ambition in life is to be an actress. Theater.. movies..TV... who knows? At this point she can do anything. So with that in mind, the theme for her graduation party was "Reach for the Stars".

For her cake I decided to try something new (big shocker, eh?) and go with a topsy-turvy design. The colors of the party were gold, silver and black. Here's my original design:

She also wanted to have two different flavors of cake and filling in order to accomodate everyone's tastes. So the bottom layer was white cake with strawberry filling, and the middle and top tier were chocolate cake with vanilla custard filling. Because each cake was going to be cut at an angle, I decided to do 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of filling per cake, instead of my usual 2:1 ratio. Baking and filling prep came along nicely. I had a bit of trouble though when I started cutting in to the cakes. I realized I really should have made them a bit taller, but that's a lesson learned for next time ;) Once they were all angled and stacked, I assembled them and put a crumb coat layer of icing on. Here's the cake with the crumb coat before a trip to the fridge to set:

After that had set I iced the cakes. Now... remember the gold and silver colors? Yeah, not exactly easy to make those colors out of buttercream icing and fondant. So you'll see what I ended up with.

OH! And my new favorite gadget: the icer tip! It's awesome. It's a tip with a huge wide flat opening so that you can actually pipe the icing on to the cake instead of having to keep spooning it out of a bowl. Talk about a time-saver! Plus it gives you a nice even thickness all the way around the cake. Love it!

Here's what the cake looked like once I put the icing on:

The process up until this point had gone fairly smooth. Actually, it all pretty much went better than I thought. I really only had issues once I stared dealing with the fondant. At first I didn't think I was going to have enough, so I tried to make another batch, but it didn't come out right. BIG waste of time. After that it just became more time consuming than anything else. I had to color all the fondant, get all the shapes cut out, and get them on the cake. I ended up changing the design a little because the silver fondant that was supposed to go on the top wasn't really working with me. But I think it still turned out nice. Here are some final pictures of the cake at the party: