Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gum Paste Peony Resources

It is time to start learning some new sugar flowers, and I have had gum paste peonies on my to-do list for a while.  Before I ever attempt to make a new type of sugar flower,  I read and watch the all tutorials I can find and take note of the different techniques used. I also look at wide variety of pictures of the real flower I am trying to make from sugar.  I admit I am nerd at heart and probably study and research things a little excessively before attempting them, but that is what works for me.

How can you not love all that beautiful, frilly goodness? 

Since one of my goals for my blog was to share resources with others like me who are trying to improve their sugar skills, I wanted to put together an extensive list of tutorials and resources available for those looking for to attempt sugar peonies.

Blog Tutorials: 
Cake Journal: Two part blog tutorial
Cakes and Cookies by Andrea: Blog tutorial
Cakes by Keka: Pictorial tutorial using heart shaped cutters and a ruffle pastry cutter in place of peony cutters.  A great idea of using the supplies that you have.
The Cakerator: Great blog in general and a great two part tutorial starting here
Delicious Cake Design: Blog entry about her learning peony flowers from Alan Dunn which contains some lovely pictures and useful information
Tortentantea Tortenwelt: This one is in German, but good self explanatory pictures, and I am sure you could use a translator on the page if you prefer. It is a two parter so don't miss the link to the second part at the bottom of the entry.

Misc Tutorials: 
Sugar Craft: Buddy Valastro Tutorial
Petal Crafts: Pictorial Tutorial on Facebook
Wilton: Peony the Wilton way. An easier version, but not necessarily very realistic looking.
Cake Central: 2 part tutorial by SharonK1973 on Cake Central with a link to the second part
Cake Central: Sweettooth101's tutorial using inexpensive cutters

Video Tutorials onYouTube: 
Way Beyond Cakes by Mayan: 4 part tutorial with the first part here. This one is great for a beginner who doesn't have a lot of expensive gum paste tools.
Poetry on a Plate: Six-part tutorial, excellent.
Savannah Custom Cakes: Short little video on making peony buds

If you want to purchase a tutorial:
Nicholas Lodge Peony and Gardenia DVD: I own this DVD. Awesome, awesome instructor.
A Cake to Remember: Has a very extensive print tutorial available on Etsy.  Lots of pictures. She shows you how to make peonies 4 different ways including open peonies which don't usually find in the free online tutorials.  Only $7.00!
Design Me A Cake: Edna De la Cruz has an instructional Peony DVD available for purchase on her website.  I don't own it, but her tutorials on You Tube are wonderful so imagine that this is a high quality DVD.

Let me know if I have missed any good tutorials that you think I should add to the list.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NOARDA's "That Takes the Cake" Cake Show and Competition

After spending just about every evening and a good portion of my weekends for the last 2 1/2 weeks making sugar flowers, I was finally able to put my cake together for the North Aurora River District Alliance's 3rd Annual "That Takes the Cake" Cake Show and Competition.  This was my first cake show and I wasn't sure what to expect, but all the participating organizations and individuals came together to put on a really great show.  Decorating demonstrations and cake skirmishes, a cupcake tasting competition, and my favorite part, a live cake challenge featuring the talented designers, Mark Lie, Karen Scobbie, and Bob Brougham.

Seriously what they and their assistants were able to put together in 3 hours is mind boggling.  Mark Lie was the winner, and here you can see a portion of his cake which included a running water feature! I wish I had gotten a better picture, because the amount of detail work was impressive.

Of course the highlight for me was getting the chance to complete and display my first show cake. The theme for the show was "Milestones" and included a prompt about a family experiencing an exciting year including a 25th anniversary, the birth of a first baby, and 16 year old's birthday.  I decided to create a cake to celebrate the impending birth of the couple's first baby. The prompt stated that the couple were avid gardeners, and I immediately knew I want to do a garden themed cake since I could include a lot of sugar flower work, which is my favorite.

This cake actually differed significantly from my original design, and I ended up changing it quite a bit the Friday before the Sunday show when I knew the pieces I had weren't working together.  Happy accidents though because I was actually really pleased with how the final cake turned out.   I learned a couple of lessons making this cake. The first lesson being to trust your gut.  Seriously, if you think something doesn't look right or isn't working, you are probably correct, so try to make the changes needed to make it work.  The final design ended up including sugar roses in pink and yellow, rose leaves, hydrangea, hydrangea leaves, white filler flowers, pink primroses, ivy, and various buds.

These hydrangea nearly drove me to drink. The petals were super fragile and kept breaking off.  I thought I made enough of them, but second lesson learned, even if you think you have enough sugar flowers, make some more.  You don't want to be cutting, dusting, and steaming a new batch of flowers at the last minute. That said, I absolutely loved how they turned out.

To be honest, since it was my first show, I was simply hoping for a 1st or 2nd place in my category, so I was thrilled to receive a 1st in the Intermediate category, along with the People's Choice award.   When they called out my name for Best of Show as well, I was shocked and super excited because the award for Best of Show was a Kitchen Aid Mixer!

Obviously, I couldn't be more pleased with how the day went, but mostly, I am happy because I pushed myself and created a cake that I couldn't even imagine being able to do just a year or so ago.  That was the most sugar flower work I have ever done for a cake and honestly, I wasn't even sure I would be able to manage it.  So onward I go. I have no cakes for any friends or family for the next month or so, and the plan is to learn some new sugar flowers, complete a couple of dummy cakes to work on my skills, and obviously bake a little bit and break-in that Kitchen Aid!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sugar Flower Galore and Gumpaste Hydrangea Links

There has been a bit of radio silence around here, but with good reason. I have been a busy bee creating sugar flowers for an upcoming cake.  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to enter a small, local cake show(My first ever!) so I have been working furiously over the last week and half trying to create all the bits and pieces for the cake.  My butt has been firmly glued to my work area at my kitchen table in the evenings after work.

My little workspace.

I think I may have been a little ambitious in my design. I decided on some sugar flowers that I have never made before, so it has been a bit like sugar flower bootcamp for me as I try to figure out how to make them.

Hydrangea made using Petalsweet's tutorial.

Petals cut and dusted for Black-Eyed Susans

The beginnings of some yellow roses.

I am still a novice when it comes to making sugar flower. There have been some mistakes and "duh"moments; however, you usually learn more from your mistakes than you do your successes. I try to keep that in mind when I screw something up. 

I still have a bit more to finish (leaves and the dusting everything with petal dusts) before this weekend when I will start working on the actual cake portion.  Can I just say that I love my metal shelving in my kitchen so much!  I keep most of my cake supplies in large storage closet and use my shelving unit to hold the projects I am currently working on. It has six large shelves and is essential in keeping me organized and tidy. 

And because I hate to leave with just a post of a bunch of my pictures, I wanted share with you the best gum paste hydrangea tutorial I have found. I think most cake people know Jacqueline Butler of Petalsweet, but if you don't, run quickly and check her out.  She makes the most amazingly beautiful sugar flowers.  She has both a 3 part hydrangea tutorial on her blog, which I used to make the hydrangeas above.  In addition, she has filmed a online hydrangea and filler flower tutorial for Craftsy that you can purchase.  I haven't purchased it yet, but plan on doing so in the future so I can refine my technique.

So go forth and make beautiful flowers!