Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blast from the Past: Gum Paste Penguin Family Birthday Cake

Cutest cake ever! Maybe not, but probably the cutest cake I have ever made.  This cake was for my best friend's birthday, and it was my first attempt at hand modeling figures.

My little penguin family turned out better than expected.

The details:
  • The igloo is a cake baked in the Wilton sports ball pan.
  • All figures and details are are made of fondant. 
  • The water is piping gel colored with Americolor gel paste color. 
  • To make the penguins, I used this tutorial I found at Cake Central.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gum Paste Poinsettia Class

I hope everyone's holidays have been wonderful so far.  I have been MIA lately due to the craziness of the season and a 5 day training at my job right before Christmas.  I am lucky now to have two weeks off during which I hope to catch up on blogging and baking. 

I received my Christmas gift a little early this year.  A couple of weeks ago, I took an excellent one day gum paste poinsettia class with Nicholas Lodge and Mark Seaman.  I own a couple of Nicholas Lodge's sugar art books and one of his gum-paste flower DVDs, but I was really looking forward to taking a class with him as I had heard nothing but good things about his instruction.  Most of the gum paste flower work that I have done previously is a result of fiddling around in my kitchen with YouTube videos and books; however, in my mind, nothing beats having some hands-instruction.

As expected, the class exceeded my expectations. Both instructors were excellent and hands-on in teaching.  Everything was super organized and efficient. The poinsettia looked a bit intimidating at first because there are so many leaves, bracts, and flowers to make out of sugar, but broken down step by step, it is actually a fairly simple flower to make.  Here is the results from the class:

A mold was used to make the yellow flower centers which simplified the process though you could also make them by hand. One of the most helpful things I learned from the class was how to wire all the pieces together.  Once all of your leaves, bracts, and flowers are dusted and ready to be assembled, you split your pieces into three fairly equal groups and the wire each group separately the wire the three groups together.  This helps give the poinsettia is symmetrical, spread out shape.
And since, I was a major fail at taking pictures during class, I thought I would go ahead and link to some of the supplies that were used in the class.  All the items are sold through Nicholas Lodges website. 
Lacquer Spray (spray glaze to make the leaves shiny)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Toffee Brittle with Chocolate and Sea Salt

Toffee Brittle with Chocolate and Sea Salt.  Do I really need to say anything else to convince you to go try this recipe? This is seriously one of my favorite holiday treats   It is so freaking delicious and addicting that I can only make it for the holidays otherwise I would weigh 300 pounds.

This recipe takes very few ingredients and almost no time to make. Plus, you get a good size batch that you can portion out and tie up in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon. Boom! Edible holiday gifts done! The original recipe can be found here

A couple of notes:

1. The recipe states to use 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sea salt.  I use almost the full 1/4 cup because I really love the contrast of the initial bite of salt followed by the sweetness of the chocolate and toffee.

2.  I always use slivered almonds because almonds are my favorite.  Use your favorite nut, but don't skip toasting them as it brings out their flavor. 350 in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally until they smell delicious and are lightly browned.  Keep a close eye on them though because they will go from toasted to burnt in flash.  Ask me how I know?

3.  I use bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet. But again, it is just a preference thing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blast From the Past: Air Force Flag Cake

From the archives, this is probably one of my favorite cakes ever!  Typically, after I finish a cake, I am never completely happy with the end result and have a list of a dozen things I would change. This bad boy, however, I pretty much love completely.

I made this cake for a friend's mother who was retiring from the Air Force.  We looked at several flag cakes my friend found on the Internet, but decided on this popular design.

Close-up of the Air Force Seal:

The details:

9x13 cake with a 4-inch square cake dummy on top to boost up the flag.

The Air Force seal was an edible image that I mounted on a fondant plaque and surrounded with a fondant rope border that I hand painted gold.  I used the same border on the cake.

The flag was all fondant.  It was made in two sections: the stripe section and then the star section.  I draped each section separately over the cake and added the stars after the blue section was already placed on the cake

An edible image was also used for the date plaque on the front of the cake.