Friday, August 31, 2012

Braden Digs His Birthday

So, you all have kept me busy this summer! It is a good thing that I like what I do...well, most of it! I love the design stage. I love taking clients' ideas, pictures, event decor and turning it a complimentary piece of edible art. I love the planning stage, although this is my most stressful step. This is where I go over and over and over in my head every detail that needs to be made and when. Since drying time is so critical the plan needs to be orchestrated perfectly. I also love the creating stage. I can get so absorbed in what I am doing that when I am in the zone several hours could flash past and I wouldn't know it. Which is why the planning stage is so important for me.

Then I get to the not so exciting parts, at least for me. The cutting of the many foam boards, the lining of the pans, the making of the batter, the waiting and waiting for the buttercream to whip, and the washing of the stack of dishes! Sometimes it's enough to make me never want to make another cake again. But then I get to pull out the fondant. And I get to put on all the elements that I so diligently labored over. Once it comes together in the end I decide that I actually do LOVE what I do. (You do know that this is really not what I do...I have four lovely children and they are what I really do!)

Anyway, on to the cake...a dear little boy, Braden, and his grandfather share a birthday. This year the theme is, I bet you can't guess, construction! He wanted a digger and that's about it. His mom helped out with a few more ideas. She wanted it to coordinate with the orange and yellow decorations. She also asked that I make a mini cake for Braden's grandfather with the two of them on top. Simple, but clean and cute...and perfect for a little boy who only really wants the digger!

 Generally, I do figures and big elements like the digger a week ahead so all the piece can dry and then be assembled. Thinner items, like the signs and rocks, I usually do while I am waiting for cakes to bake and buttercream to whip. (It really does take a while for that stuff to get fluffy!)

I am sure that a certain yellow "digger" company in Peoria will be contacting me soon wanting to get their hands on my new arm design! To be honest this prototype has not been field tested yet, but I am willing to sell the rights to the design as is. Sometimes I am so intricately detailed and real-life accuracy is very important to me, but other times I use a lot of artistic license. I love the "2" sign being hoisted up the side. It, also, brings a touch of whimsy to the cake.

An old wooden construction sign, with reflective orange flashers on top. It kind of reminded me of an abandoned gold mine...

Here they are, the construction crew themselves! Love how the hats and vests turned out. If you look closely you can see stitching and pockets on the carpenter jeans. The sign was just an adorable idea from my client. I just realized looking at the picture that I forgot the reflective orange on the flashers! Oops! Well, it's a good thing no one will ever know.

Well, folks, that's about all I've got for this post. Hope you enjoyed the fabulous pictures taken by my fantastic husband. And thanks to the new bulbs he bought me recently our colors for the last few posts have been so vibrant and true! Thanks for reading and have a great long weekend.

And...Happy Birthday, Braden and Pop!
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Black and White Beach Wedding

If you have googled "beach wedding cake" recently you'll probably see a lot of light blue, starfish, clam shells and sand. That might be perfect for someone else but it definitely is not my idea of a wedding cake. So, when my client told me she needed a cake for a beach themed wedding I was nervous. My client's brother and sister-in-law had a destination wedding in Jamaica earlier this month and were having a reception for family and friends now that they have returned. I was much more excited about the cake design when my client told me that I needed to work within the color parameters of black and white.
The design I came up with showcases a billion ruffles on a very tall four-tier cake. Okay, not quite, but it felt like if when I was making it! I wanted it to be narrow and not very tapered so I stacked to 8 inches and topped with two 6 inches. I love how the ruffles really hide the tiers. I envisioned the ruffles giving the cake very organic movement...almost like waves or coral or even a Spanish dancer, a breathtaking animal in the nudibranch family. (YouTube it-nudibranchs are my absolute favorite animals on Earth!)  If you have ever seen a Spanish dancer, fluttering through the crystal sea, waving its ruffles in the calm silence it is quite magnificent. Hopefully I was able to capture the movement along with the delicate serenity.

I then decided on nautilus shells, which I also love. I wanted something that no one else had on their beach cakes...and I wanted it to be bold, so that it would stand out against the abundance of ruffles. Nautilus shells really are reddish-brown and white with black right at the base but I took some artistic license and worked it into our color scheme.

I also chose nautilus shells because, with a little artistic license, I could add lots of curly pieces coming out of the shells. This inspiration comes from the glass artist, Chihuly. He blows brightly colored glass tubes, twirls them, then connects them all together in coral-like arrangements. I would love to do a Chihuly cake! But, these shell curlies are as close as I have come so far.

I love how the light catches on all of the ruffles in this shot. You can see how delicate and alive this cake is. At just under 25 inches tall, this cake has me nervous for the delivery. Heading north a few hours is not what this beach-themed cake was made for! In any case, it turned out beautiful and unique. I am privileged to contribute a part to two people's very special celebration!
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hello Kitty Carnival Birthday

Okay, so my kids play their birthday cakes all years long! On rainy days or on long car rides, they go through stacks of scrap paper drawing elaborate ideas ranging from super secret spy labs to 3D rainbows and clouds. I just go along with it and help them create...their minds change so many times I don't really worry about if it is something I can make or not. Annie had a Hello Kitty Mermaid cake for last year's birthday. I thought she would have moved on to something else by this birthday...but, no...we are still pals with Hello Kitty! This year we had a carnival theme so we tried to tie that all in.

Around the top tier I wrapped a little pink and red pennant string. It was a really simple element to add to a tier. I'll have to remember that for construction cakes too! I placed pink pearls all around the base of that layer, too. For the bottom tier I covered it with red and added pink and white stripes all around. The little pink swags add a theatrical touch to the cake. Another theatrical element was the feather headpiece in front. I tried to match the headpiece on Hello Kitty. I was in a time crunch, here...but it turned out okay.

The Hello Kitty on top was dressed like a circus performer. I love the headpiece with the feathers. A combination of red and pink dress layers adds to the whimsy. Once again Annie insisted that Hello Kitty have a smile. So Hello Kitty got a smile...and so did Annie! Happy 5th Birthday, Annie!

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Frog Kiss Cake

As my husband pointed out last week, I am so privileged to never have made a cake twice! I absolutely love that! My goal when I started this business was to create a place where clients could order a completely custom, one-of-a-kind cake. Even though it may be more challenging because of the learning curve, designing from my clients' diverse ideas and themes is always rewarding.

My client last week was planning a bridal shower for her sister and the theme was: She Kissed a Frog and Found a Prince. So cute! The whole event was centered around frogs was the cake! Here is what we came up with. A frog prince on the top in a tuxedo and holding out a ring box. He is sitting on a lilypad with a small waterlily. Nestled into the lilypads and waterlilies is a scroll tacked up with gold nails which reads, "Kiss Me". More waterlilies and lilypads surround the bottom of the cake. I wanted to keep the colors light, using as much white as possible since it was a bridal shower cake.

I like how it turned out..a little fairytale with a happy ending!

I think my favorite part is the tuxedo and ring box. I have so much fun on all the tiny elements.

The Kiss Me scroll I painted with gold highlighter dust and lemon extract.

Each waterlily is made up of a bout 10 layers of petals, starting with gold, then yellow, and then finishing with white. A little difficult to see in these pictures are the water droplets on all of the lilypads. I placed glucose drops in groups of threes all over. I love the effect!

I hope you all enjoyed the Frog Kiss cake, especially the bride-to-be. I enjoyed working on it! Keep the unique cake themes coming...this really is the definition of custom cakes!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Flour & Fondant and the World of "Allergy-Free"

I have always taken pride in what my cakes are like on the inside...the actual cake part. My ingredients are whole, fresh, and always natural. That is how I feed my family and the only way I would want to treat my clients. But recently, our family has been through a food revolution. We discovered that my husband is very gluten intolerant, my son has a handful of allergies and intolerances, including soy, yeast, all dairies, gluten, and eggs. Since we are a family, and I have noooo desire to cook per each persons allergies, we decided that we would all eat the same diet. So we are all on a very strict diet that we love. Seriously, the kids tell me all the time they love our food, even if they can't have grilled cheese anymore!

Well, cakes are a kind of big part of our life, obviously. At first I didn't know if we were going to be able to keep making them...the struggles baking and decorating caused were close to unbearable. Now that we have settled in to our new normal, no one really minds much anymore that they don't get scraps for snacks...except for my hubby! So, for that I am thankful.

But what about our special celebrations??? The kids, and my dear husband, are not ready to give up cake for their birthdays. They have had all kinds of extravagant cakes in the past and working on cakes with me is all part of the birthday fun. They have been begging me for months to start experimenting on cakes that they can eat. So with my husband's birthday celebration tonight and my daughter's 5th birthday in two weeks I had to start working!

I am so pleased with this chocolate cake. It is the perfect consistency for covering with fondant. I was concerned that it would be too delicate and crumbly, but it turned out exactly like I had hoped. The cake pictured is for my husband and I filled and covered it with coconut cream and topped with walnuts and chocolate. It is completely gluten free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, and all natural! A year ago I didn't think this would be possible and still be edible, but it is good. REALLY good.

So how will this impact my business, you ask? I really don't know, but we will see where it takes us. I would like to offer up the option for allergy-free cakes, vegan cakes or cakes to meet your dietary needs. The cakes will still be decorated with fondant as always, but the inside will now be edible for those who normally don't get to eat cake. I do not use a separate kitchen or utensils for allergy-free baking, since I only have one kitchen in the cake shop. It works for us and if you think it works for you, give us a try. You may be as surprise as I was.

Word from the kids, "Mom, this is exactly like REAL cake!"

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