Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blast from the Past: Spooky Halloween Birthday Cake

Now that Fall is here, and the holidays are soon approaching, I have gotten a major cleaning/organizing bug.  Part of the process has been slowly sifting through all my billion cake pictures, deleting and organizing to get them in some semblance of order.   Looking through everything, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my past cakes that I have loved making. With tomorrow being Halloween, this cake seemed most appropriate.

This is a spooky Halloween cake that I made for a friend's birthday last year.  I took my inspiration from a similar design that I had seen floating around the Internet.  My apologies because I am not sure who to credit for the original design.

The was my first time working with modeling chocolate, which I used to make the spooky tree topper, and I have to say I loved working with that medium.  I made the tree using an internal skeleton consisting of a cake dowel and heavy duty floral wire and then covered it with modeling chocolate.

Making all the tiny bits and pieces was my favorite part. There were fondant pumpkins, skulls, bones,  and gravestones.   I drew templates on card stock to make the fondant trees for the sides of the cake and used an clay extruder and fondant to make the gate.  

The cobblestone walkway was a time-consuming PITA to make, but I loved the effect.  I used multiple colors of fondant to roll out individual cobblestones which I placed one by one on the cake board.

The "keep out" sign was one of my favorite details. 

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Man, it feels like it has been forever since I baked something that wasn't a cake.  Now that my marathon training is over, I am shaking the dust off my measuring spoons and am getting back my baking mojo.

Guilty pleasure confession, I am not immune to the thrall of store bought baked goods.   I especially love those pastel iced sugar cookies you get in the grocery store bakery section, so when I saw a recipe for homemade frosted sugar cookies making rounds across the Internet, I made sure to put it in my "to make" file.   

Mike has been bugging me to make something for him to take to work, and I thought it would finally be a good time to try out the recipe.  The verdict: totally delicious. Soft and buttery without all the nasty chemicals that are in store bought cookies.  This recipe is definitely a keeper. 

I used this recipe from Annie Eats and decorated them with a fall theme.  The recipe yield says 24 large cookies,  but I got about 40 medium size cookies out of the batch, and I can't imagine making them any bigger.  The key is to keep an eye on them and not over bake them to ensure they stay nice and soft.   

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My New Cake Toy

I have been lusting after a new camera for a while now.  My current point and shoot was serviceable, but not great for taking pictures of my completed cakes, and it was pretty awful at capturing detail work.  I knew I wasn't ready for a big gun, DSLR camera that are so popular with bloggers, so I settled on a higher quality point and shoot.  After a little bit of research, I purchased a Canon PowerShot S95.

I haven't had a chance to play with it too much yet, but I brought it with me to the Wilton class I took a couple of weekends ago and was able to get a couple of decent pictures of some of the many cakes they had on display around the classroom. 

Colette Peters teaches classes at the school regularly so they had several of her cakes displayed in the classroom. One of qualities that I admire most about her decorating is that she has a very distinct style and point of view that sets her cakes apart from anyone else.  

So far my favorite aspect of my new camera is the ability to zoom in on details. I definitely couldn't get these shots with my old camera.

Example of brushed embroidery work on one of the display cakes.  I haven't attempted this technique yet, but I would like to soon.

Pretty royal icing flowers.  I love the colors and the way they shaded the roses.

This was one of my favorite display cakes.

Not surprising because I love gum paste flower work.

Obviously, I still need to mess around with my camera a little bit more and learn about the different settings, but I am super happy to have this new little bad boy to take pictures with.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Introduction to Sugar Artistry

This weekend I spent my Sunday playing with hot sugar at The Wilton School’s Introduction to Sugar Artistry class.  Since I started decorating, I have always found sugar work fascinating, but intimidating.  When I saw that Wilton was offering a 1-day course, I figured it would be a good way to dip my toe in a new decorating medium.
At the start of the day, the instructor demonstrated how to make poured sugar, color it, and work with the heat box. Everything we made started with a hunk of amber colored sugar that was softened, broken into smaller pieces, and colored for the different projects.  Below is the box with a heating lamp that keeps the sugar soft and malleable so you can pull it and shape it. 
The rest of the day was spent learning about how pull and mold a few different flowers, leaves, ribbons, and lollipops by hand.   

A definite benefit to pulled sugar flowers compared to gum paste flowers is that you don’t have to wait for flowers to dry in stages. You can complete flowers as quickly as you can pull the petals.
We also made pulled ribbons for a sugar bow. 

I used kelly green and sky blue to color two sections of my sugar and combined them with a section of uncolored sugar, and this beautiful color was the result.

The students concluded the day by putting our individual pieces together in a small sugar centerpiece.  We had free reign on the design, and it was neat to see how different each of the eight students’ pieces looked.  Since my bow was flattening quickly due to the heat of the room, I used it as the base of my piece and then added few of my flowers, leaves, and vines around it.   

Being a hobby decorator, I don’t have the equipment or the demand to do sugar work at this time; however, it was quite fun to take a class and learn some new skills. I am looking forward to taking possibly taking some of Wilton’s advanced sugar art courses sometime next year.