Monday, July 25, 2011

Modern Cake Study

Here's a cake challenge: to design a cake for a designer (not to mention a designer who doesn't especially like cake). But rule number one in this caker's house is that no birthday gets left behind, even if it means there is a blueberry pie in the near future as well. (though the birthday boy was gobbling up the scraps from this cake, so perhaps I found his favorite?)

This cake starts out with a buttery pound cake filled with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream~ and how lovely it is to see those tiny brown flecks throughout the creamy richness that comes with a traditional European buttercream.  I then took knives big and small to sculpt the layers to create the offset tiers. The bottom cake is an eight inch and the top is five inches, each with varying heights. Another coat of buttercream and then a thin layer of fondant with applique design complete this modern cake study. 

And to celebrate on a smaller scale, a single cake can be sculpted into a dynamic and elegant centerpiece perfect for a birthday or anniversary. With this cake, the bottom went with the husband to his office, while we will enjoy the top tier at home with family. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Cakes are Like Vampires, Part 1

Some things just don't do well in the sun. Here, Bronwen Weber from Frosted Art Bakery in Dallas, shows what happens to a Wedding Cake left in the Texan Sun.  Southern Arizona has the same concerns with some frostings and fillings not being safe for outside display. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Went to Cake Camp, 2011

Every so often you find a great way to replenish the well of creativity and for me, I drank in the downpour that was California Cake Club's Cake Camp 2011. Now, telling a cake muggle that you are going to 'Cake Camp' gets you some funny looks, so in other words it is a weekend conference of classes and hands-on workshops taught by some of the best cake artists in the world. I feel fortunate that there was such a great opportunity relatively close in Las Vegas, so I took the opportunity to drive (and really have room to bring home goodies from the vendor room). 

I took several classes on such topics as fondant, whimsical wedding cakes (which the lead photo was the project from), the business of cake, couture cupcakes, and techniques such as stenciling and embroidery. Some of the classes resulted in a finished 'dummy' project (real cake isn't allowed at Cake Camp, oddly) or just your working technique pieces.  

Michelle Bommarito is an amazing instructor!  I will be seeking out her classes at the next camp. 

While some classes require you to bring your own supplies, some instructors have everything you need all laid out for you at your table. Plus assistants to fill your bags and clean up! It was heaven! 

The amazing Colette Peters teaching stenciling techniques.

Marina Sousa and James Rosselle teaching Couture Cupcakes

Some of my finished projects: 

'Embroidery' in the foreground, and a practice dummy with draping examples in the rear. 

I truly LOVE this technique of recreating the lace or embroidery patten of a wedding dress onto the cake.  Kathleen Lange was so excited about sharing this technique and it was great to learn from her. 

I can't not mention that the venue hotel, Green Valley Ranch was a great location and that I had a lot of fun meeting some great cake artists from around the country. Even found myself knocking them back with an impressive group of the 'Top Dogs' on the patio after the banquet.  Some of the cool kids even gave out some flair for stopping to say "Hi!"

Reva from Merci Beaucoup (as seen on TV's best cake-porn show: Amazing Wedding Cakes) was so sweet! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Icing Smiles for an Amazing Little Princess

". . . and she was the fairest princess in the land, kept safe away in a castle of diamonds and pearls." Sounds like a lovely fairy tale sure to follow with a strong knight on white horseback and a happily ever after, right? Now, let me tell you that the little girl this cake was made for has indeed spent her first year kept in safety, but it's the safety of the PICU and Diamond Children's hospital. The little princess is getting stronger and healthier everyday, thanks to her medical team of strong knights and fairy godmothers, and most of all of her parents who have more love for her than the kingdom has ever seen. 

I was asked to make a special cake for this family on a referral from Icing Smiles, Inc, a non-profit network of bakers who provide custom celebration cakes and treats to families impacted by critical illness of a child. The family (in this case the hospital's Child Life Specialist took over as the mother had her hands full with the care of her daughter) contacts Icing Smiles and then a call to action is sent out to bakers in the area. Then a theme, colors and flavor are decided upon, and the cake designer takes it from there. Children in the hospital usually have their cakes delivered to make it a bit easier for the family. 

The cake is a 6" atop a 10" made in dark chocolate and filled with whipped chocolate ganache buttercream. The frosting is All-American buttercream in soft pink, with pink and white swirled together for the luscious rosettes.  The castle that wraps all the way around the first layer and banner are made of fondant painted with luster dust and edible pearls. The crown is from gum paste and fondant, also painted with luster dust, and finished with pearls and a sprinkle of disco dust.

I hope this little princess and her family had a wonderful birthday up on the 6th floor, and soon she will leave her castle behind and take off to explore the magical kingdom that awaits her.

**Update: Follow this link to the Icing Smiles FaceBook Album that has photos of the birthday girl and of her proud parents at her birthday party. Best Wishes and prayers for a quick homecoming to this lovely family.