Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Cakes

Sonya's son Josh came over last night, so I made him a little treat. As I was making it, I realized that it's a pretty cool idea for birthday parties or a get together focused around I am sharing.

  • Cake - box or scratch - any flavor - whatever floats your boat
  • One box of standard ice cream cones - the kind that are flat on the bottom
  • One - Two batches of butter cream icing (any kind of icing would probably work)*
  • Icing colors (regular food coloring is fine)
  • Jimmies or other ice cream type sprinkles
  • Small Circle cutter - if you don't have one, a shot glass would probably work. That is about the right size.
Bake the cake and set aside to cool.

Make the icing and divide into 3 separate bowls.

Color each bowl of icing a different color.

Set up ice cream cones on a flat tray or baking sheet.

Insert a dollop of icing into the bottom of the ice cream cone. If you make 3 colors, use same color in 4 cones, then switch to another color until all cones have a dollop of icing in the bottom.

Use the cutter or shot glass to cut cake into small circles that can be inserted into cones. Push down on cake to make it stay in the cone. Put cake in all 12 cones.

Next put another dollop of icing in each cone, alternating colors so you ultimately end up with a cone with all 3 colors in it.

Do a second circle of cake in each cone and cover with icing - this should put you at the top of the cone.

Finally top with one more circle of cake on each cone, then use a piping bag and tip (Easy Accent Decorator from Pampered Chef works great) to add final layer of icing in the shape of a soft serve ice cream cone. Remember to alternate colors so you end up with 4 cones in each color.

Be sure to refrigerate so icing doesn't slide off, but before you pick up your baking sheet and head to the forewarned. Use one of the cupcake carriers or a deep Tupperware container where you can stand them up against each other and the walls of the container because they WILL fall over.  Josh got to eat one, and I have 4 left that didn't bit the dust as I tried to transfer them to the fridge. Lesson learned.

Very quick and easy to put together in my opinion and Josh loved it. He wanted more, but I think after all of that icing he would have been up all night!

* - I say 1 - 2 because I made two batches and had quite a bit leftover. Probably enough to do 6 more cones. I'm not sure 1 would have been enough, but I also might have put more in each cone than was really necessary.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sushi Cake

Sue and I have been friends for 35 years so of course I wanted to make her a cake for her birthday but I struggled to come up with an idea for her cake, so I started thinking about what we have done together the last few times we met up and every time we shopped, we drank, and we ate Sushi!

So the sushi cake was born. It turns out that on her birthday, her nieces Julia and Jennifer were flying into Atlanta from Maine. Sue, her husband Mike, and their boys, Travis and Matthew were headed to pick them up, and then were going to Myrtle Beach straight from the airport.

This presented a fantastic opportunity to deliver the cake and surprise her with it. Atlanta is a 4 hour drive, but they have to drive through Columbia to get to the beach....and Columbia is only 1.5 hours away.

I contacted Mike and Jen secretly to organize the surprise. We planned to meet up off an exit and surprise Sue with the cake.
To get started, I created some California rolls with fondant. I used my potato ricer to create rice out of fondant.

Funnily enough I saw a professional make a sushi cake on television afterward and she used white chocolate sprinkles to mimic rice and mine was so much better looking!

I also made some shrimp sashimi over rice, wrapped with a piece of black fondant to look like the nori.

Next I used gum paste to create a bowl that would be solid enough to hold a liquid that looks like soy sauce.
Once the bowl was dry, I added food coloring gel for soy sauce.

I added a little pile of wasabi out of fondant, and used my petal cutter to make some super thin pieces of ginger.

I used gum paste to make chop sticks and couldn't forget the little piece of fake grass to keep everything separate!

During our last sushi outing, Sue introduced me to edamamme, which I now cannot get enough of, so I had to make that too.

Once I put it all together, I used edible markers to write happy birthday on the chopsticks, and I dug out my old college textbook and wrote it in Japanese characters on the other one.

Once I was finished with the cake, I took the afternoon off and drove to Columbia. I found a Lowe's Home Improvement right off the exit we had agreed upon. I parked where I could see them get off the highway and enter Lowe's.

Jen kept texting me to let me know where they were and how long it would be until they arrived. It was very hot, so I sat in the car, with the dog, with the A/C on high, listening to a book on CD....for about an hour and half.

Suddenly my phone rang and it was Sue. I thought for sure that they messed up and told her the surprise or she figured it out. It was very funny....but she just called to chat. I asked where they were and she said they were getting off an exit so that Mike could use the bathroom. She asked me if I thought Lowe's had good bathrooms! Of course, I said yes, I think they have great bathrooms and they should definitely go there. Then Mike couldn't see me, so he grabbed the phone from Sue and asked me where I was parked, which really got her confused, and then she saw my car.

I took the cake box out of the car and let her open it and she was very surprised and all the hard work was worth it....until I tried to leave and my car wouldn't start. Mike had to jump my battery before we could go. It was hilarious. I had to drive home without stopping so that my battery would charge...but even with all of that, it was still worth it. I hadn't seen Jen since she was about 4 or 5 when we played Barbies during Tricia's yard sale...and I'd never met Julia. Cindy was pregnant with her when I moved to it was good to see them and Travis. Matthew was konked out in the back of the van....but I'll see him in a couple of weeks when he comes to visit.

Thanks again to Mike and Jen. I couldn't have done it without you and I truly think she was pleased.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gum Paste Roses - Check

I tried a few different tools before I got there, but I have finally figured out the gum paste roses. Without a lot of time to spare. Here are some photos.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Funeral Cookies

Sue called on Wednesday morning to let me know that her cousin's daughter, who lives in Charlotte, has passed away after a 2 year battle with cancer. She is planning to drive up on Friday for the funeral on Saturday and needs a place to stay.

Wednesday night Sue called to see if it would be okay if her sister Cindy could also stay, as she is planning to fly down from Maine, and oh by the way, she's flying into Charlotte, so I needed to pick her up at the airport. Oh and one more thing, her cousin Justin is also coming and he doesn't want to stay at the hotel with his mother, so he's going to stay with us and I need to pick him up at the airport too.

On Thursday morning Sue called again to let me know that Cindy is no longer flying, she is driving and their

sister Kit is also coming.

On Thursday afternoon, Kit called and said that their sister Tricia is also coming...oh and wait, her future daughter-in-law Sasha is coming too.

On Thursday evening they set off for North Carolina, from Maine.

I set about trying to figure out where I was going to put 6 additional people in my 2 bedroom apartment. Oh and I just happened to be dog sitting that weekend, so 7 people and 2 dogs.

I have known these people for 35 years and hadn't seen most of them for about 11 years but it was as if we all were kids again, having weddings in the basement, camping, teasing Tricia, talking over each other, trying on each others clothes.

The reason for their all being there was so sad it's almost unbearable to think about, but I had such a great time. I really don't want to go so long in between visits ever again.

Anyway, while they were all at the funeral on Saturday, I
had some time on my hands, so I tried a new technique for decorating sugar cookies with color flow icing.

So time consuming, but the finished product was so cute I had to share.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lexie Wants Cake

I made the decision to make a cake for Lexie's 3rd birthday and ship it to her. I found instructions for packaging and shipping online and I think I can make it work.

I decided to go for a Dora the Explorer theme. I started with a 6" round...again. They are easier to cover and they fit in a relatively small box...which is imperative when shipping quickly.

I got a few Dora characters in plastic to add to the cake. I am not talented enough to create 3D characters out of edible materials....I started with a pink background because, well she's a girl and she's 3...isn't everything supposed to be pink? Then I got a call from my boss that I was needed in Florida for the next week. The cake went into the freezer.

Before I left, I made a purple crown and letters cut out of fondant that spelled Happy Birthday Lexus. I made some 2D flowers and leaves out of gum paste and I managed to get everything adhered to the cake and it was so beautiful. My camera is terrible and the pictures are blurry, but it really WAS a beautiful cake.

The cake went back into the freezer for a week.
As soon as I returned from Florida, I shipped it overnight.

I don't have pictures yet, but the cake did not ship well. The leaves were all broken and Dora was face first smashed into the cake... but it didn't matter.

It was all Lexie's...her very own, which she apparently smashed her face into almost immediately and continued eating well into the night.

So lesson not ship cake....unless it's for a precious 3 year old that just wants her own cake.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cole is 6

I haven't figured out the roses yet, but I've decided that I want to make a cake for my nephew's 6th birthday. Problem is, he's in Maine and I'm in North Carolina....but wait, my mother is visiting and could take the cake back with her on the plane...I'm making the cake.

Cole is obsessed with Lego's and Star Wars and preferably Star Wars Lego's, so he needs to have a Star Wars Lego cake.

I had to make a small cake so that my mom could carry it on the plane, so I made a 6" round, and a 3" round topper to kind of make it look Lego like. I covered it in a bright blue fondant, then covered the top round in bright orange.

My mom and I went to the Lego store at the Concord Mills Mall and picked up some actual Lego men and a few Lego pieces to add to the cake.

While there, I found what was meant to be a Lego man ice cube tray, which we in turn used as a chocolate mold. My mom made Lego men in yellow, red and green and these became the border around the bottom of the cake.

While six year old's can rarely match their own socks, they know the difference between real and make believe. Just writing the words Star Wars on the cake would have been make believe, so I downloaded the Star Wars logo and cut it out of fondant to ensure that this was a "real" Star Wars cake.

My piping skills are weak but I wanted to do something fun for his name. I considered using some wooden letters I found at AC Moore, but they didn't have the 4 letters I needed. So, while I was working, my mom took a little drive over to Michael's and found a cake lettering mold, which I then used to create his name in black fondant.

I used waxing sticks to adhere the stars to each other and stuck the letters on the stars. I finished by using butter cream to glue down the Lego pieces...then it was time to box it up and fly it to Maine.

After it arrived in Maine, my mom added the #6 stick and the Lego men we had purchased. Once she delivered the cake, Cole was very excited and wanted to just keep looking at it.

His sister Lexie had other ideas. She really liked the chocolate Lego men!
And now she wants her own cake!

Well her birthday is next month so I have some time to come up with an idea....
and figure out how to ship a cake!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Wedding Cake? Seriously?

So Sonya and Zak are engaged and they've asked me to make their cake. It's meant to be 4 tiers, ivory fondant with a pearl border in ivory and ivory gum paste roses on top and splashed about on each tier. I can't breathe.

I've never made a gum paste rose, but I have some leftover gum paste from my first miserable attempt at a flower, so I gave it a shot.

My gum paste is old and dry and not suitable for making roses. This is really sad. I only have 8 months to get this right.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Party

Of course there would be a blizzard on the date of the party! We are in Maine right? So, with less than half of the invited guests planning to attend, I got started on the cakes that were the reason for everything. The 6" red daisy cake was lemon cake with lemon butter cream icing. The 8" orange daisy cake was white cake with white chocolate butter cream icing and a raspberry filling. The 10" pink daisy cake was chocolate cake with peanut butter butter cream icing.

After a very late night, with Linda's help punching out tiny little white circles to adorn each petal, we were ready to transport the cakes to the party and set up.

Actual cake set up at the party.

They looked great. I was so happy and from what everyone said, they tasted great too.

I had accomplished my goal and achieved what I set out to do...make a cake instead of buying one that I couldn't afford....ahem. Okay, so I probably spent enough on tools and supplies to buy a cake directly from Duff, but now I have a signature cake and I'm still learning, so hopefully some day I'll have a portfolio and might actually be able to make a cake to order.

Please don't hold your breath.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

To Maine for the Holidays

All my practicing was done, it was almost time to make the birthday cakes I had set out to do. But, there was one more stop along the way. I found a cool cake pan in the shape of a motorcycle on the internet and purchased it before I drove to Maine. My brother Chip has a birthday right after Christmas, and his son Dakota thought it was pretty cool that I was making cakes like Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldberg. So on Chip's birthday, I made a cake in the shape of a motorcycle, covered in black fondant and brought it over to decorate with Dakota.

Dakota decided that it needed a second layer of green fondant and then the shape of the motorcycle cut out and decorated - something he had seen on one of the shows - so that is what we did. We decorated all day. Dakota did all of the work cutting out and painting the details of the motorcycle and Chip was very impressed with his work. I was just happy to spend the day with Dakota, outside of an ice arena!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Revelation

I finally found a design that I liked on the Wilton website. I altered it a little to meet my talents (ok lack of talent) and lack of flower shaped pan... and started practicing right away. The basic concept was a round cake covered in white fondant with a daisy made out of fondant and gum paste on top of the cake. Each petal of the daisy was a separate piece, cut into a folded petal.

I cut out each petal and formed them to make the flower and let them dry overnight. The next day, I made another cake and successfully covered it in fondant, sort of. At this point I hadn't purchased a cake leveler yet, which, as can be seen in the pictures is a vital tool. I also found that cutting the bottom edge of the fondant was going to take some practice and in the meantime, I needed something to cover that up, so I decided to make a fondant border that matched the petals.

Fortunately, the timing of this, my first successfully decorated cake that wasn't hideous, was perfect to celebrate Sonya's 38th birthday in November. The cake was far from perfect, but turned out lovely and we had a really nice dinner to celebrate Sonya's birthday.

Then, 3 days later, it was Kelly's 40th birthday, so I got the chance to practice again. I had just purchased new professional cake pans in various sizes, so I wasn't stuck making the same 9" round cake anymore. I had also discovered pre-made fondant in various colors. This was a huge find, as it allowed me to work with a consistently textured product and for once, my hands were not dyed the color of my decorations. Using the 6" pan forced me to come up with a new pattern for my petals...which was important because I had recently purchased a cake stand for my mom's party and it would hold a 6", 8" and 10" cake. I needed to adjust the petals for each I turned to my trusty Lexmark All-In-One and who adjusts photocopies by percentages. After a few calculations, I had my pattern and set out to make my first cute little 6" cake for Kelly's birthday.

While eating Sonya's cake, we discovered that more butter cream icing and less fondant is a good thing when it comes to taste, so the center of the flower was also adjusted for Kelly's cake. Instead of rolling a log of fondant to fill the space, I just piped in some yellow butter cream icing.

Later that night, Roland drove me and Dominic and Georgia (Kelly's kids) to the hospital to deliver the cake. While everyone at the nurse's station checked it out, I got my first request for a business card. I was kind of shocked. I never thought of it as a business. I was just learning so I could make these cool cakes for my mom. And truth be told, I was becoming a one trick pony. I only had one design and even that hadn't been perfected yet. A business? Crazy.

Kelly quickly whisked the cake away to save for her break time, which disappointed Dominic and Georgia. They were hoping to eat cake. I was scheduled to baby sit them later in the week, so I told them I'd make them a cake of their own that they could eat and then I asked what flavor.

Big mistake. Dom wanted lemon and Georgia wanted chocolate. I couldn't image a worse tasting cake so I decided I better make them each one. Hey, I needed the practice and one of my mom's cakes was going to be lemon so it would give me a chance to work on the recipe too. So, they each got a cake.

Georgia specifically requested hearts, so her cake was very easy to conceptualize. Dominic on the other hand was 14 and a freshman in high school. I really didn't have the slightest idea on how to make a cake that looked cool for him. Sonya happened to come by while I was working and she actually helped cut out some of the circles for the cake. In the end, he only cared that it was lemon and tasted good. And, I had two new designs to add to my portfolio...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Journey

I've always been a baker. My best friend Sue and I decided at a young age that we would open a bakery someday.

I was 9 when my Aunt Grace taught me how to make pie crusts and also when I had my first cake blunder.

While my parents were out with my Aunt Grace and Uncle John who were visiting from Florida, I decided that I would make a cake for my Uncle John's birthday... as a surprise. The recipe called for a 1/2 cup of instant coffee. I wasn't sure if that meant to make the coffee, or put the dry coffee grounds into the cake. I called my neighbor Bev and she had never heard of adding coffee to a cake, so I had to decide on my own. I've always been very literal, so in went the grounds. Everyone was surprised ... but not in the way I had intended. The cake was awful.

Although I have not yet opened a bakery, I have always enjoyed it and it has always been a hobby. If you stop by my house at any given time, there is a 75% chance there will be fresh baked goods for you to try. Occasionally, I still screw up and the results are quickly tossed, but for the most part, everyone enjoys my treats.

But, when it came time to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday this year, I actually considered buying her a cake ... something cool, a la Cake Boss or Ace of Cakes. I did some research and quickly realized that I was not equipped financially (love ya Mom, but not that much) to purchase a professionally decorated cake. Good Lord they are expensive. Perhaps I should have opened the bakery instead of going to college. Whatever, can't go back now, but suffice it to say that I decided then that I needed to learn to do this myself and I had about 6 months to figure it all out.

You all know I'm a perfectionist, so I hesitate to show some of my earliest attempts, but the point is to document the story, so I'm going to tell you that it did not start out well. I got a recipe in June 2009 from my friend Tommy to make fondant and I went to town. Sooo not as easy as it looks. It's messy and the consistency is difficult to pin down immediately, and it dries out if you leave it too long. The list of difficulties goes on and on. I used some regular cookie cutters, a basic wooden French rolling pin, liquid food coloring and my counter top with no mat. I clearly did not have the proper tools to get this done.

So shopping it is! I purchased a fondant rolling mat, a fondant rolling pin, some fondant cutters, gel food coloring and a zillion other little tools that I actually have learned to use over the past year. I tried again and actually managed to successfully cover the cake in fondant. was so ugly. I had no idea how to actually decorate the cake. My friend Kelly, a nurse, came over and took this one to the hospital so it would get eaten, but I was far from ready to show off my skills.

At this point, I need to regroup, quit baking and focus on the design aspect. I had already decided that the theme of my mother's party would be red, orange and pink gerbera I went shopping again and bought everything I could possibly need to make flowers. They do not sell skills at Michael's, AC Moore or Hobby case you were wondering.

I still didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to make, so I just started experimenting without getting too complicated. What I ended up with just wasn't even cute. I had all of these tools, but no vision.

So I went to the web and did a Google Image search for ideas.

And then....