July 26, 2009

Course II - Grande Finale Cake

So three weeks of hard work in class led up to today's Grande Finale Cake, the Basketweave. But first, we go back.
We spent two weeks learning the different types of flowers, gave them time to dry and then get ready to place them on our final cake. I had very little to do outside of class time to prepare for things each week, so it seemed very anti-climatic when we got to class today to finally put things together. Let me tell you, I lot of work went into these flowers, and the hour plus it took me to ice the basketweave. This cake should win me a big fat prize.

Anyways.. the final result:

I don't know if I will ever have a use for the basketweave technique again, but I was really pleased with how cute this cake looked.

So Course II is now complete. I am ready to continue on to Course III which begins next week. Fondant is something I have never eaten, let alone touch, so it should be interesting to see what I can do with this class. I am really excited about moving on and enhancing my skills. Currently I have a few cakes to make this week for my daughter's birthday. That should give me good practice!

July 20, 2009

My First Cake Smash Cake!

I was complaining on Facebook last week that I needed an event or something to make a cake for so I could practice some techniques and, well.. I wanted to make and decorate a cake! A friend of mine was doing a photoshoot for a One Year Old's Cake Smash Shoot and wanted to know if I felt like making a cake for it. I jumped on the chance to do it!
(For those of you who don't know, a Cake Smash is a photoshoot usually done for a One Year Old's Birthday as a way to commemorate their first "real" cake. You give the child a cake and let them have at 'er! I liked the term and hence named my blog that.)

Anyways, I had a great idea for the cake and couldn't wait to get started. Unfortunately it doesn't take long to do, so I still had to wait until this weekend to actually do the cake. I had so much fun doing this cake! I dropped it off this afternoon at the photoshoot to see how well received it would be. While the child couldn't care less what it looked like, his mother was beaming at how great the cake was. I can't wait to see how the photoshoot turned out!

The cake was a chocolate cake with a chocolate pudding filling. The icing is a vanilla buttercream. The letters were done with the color flow/fill in method.
Here's another pic of the letters:

I was so pleased how well the cake turned out. It really makes me want to do this for a side business!

July 19, 2009

Class 3 - Pansies, Daffodils and Daisies

Class 3 was a nice relaxing class. We learned the last few flowers needed to complete our basket cake. I was looking forward to this class, because I got to learn my favorite flower, the Daisy.
I wish there was something interesting to really discuss this week, but there isn't. I didn't even have to make new icing as everything was pretty much leftover from last week's class. Not surprising is the flowers look harder than they actually are. Honestly, it does amaze me how simple this decorating stuff is so far. Not to say I'm an expert and laughing in the face of those who have spent years learning - far from it! I am just so thrilled that I have found something that I am somewhat good at. I actually look forward to coming home and practicing what I have learned. I can't say I ever did that in school!

Anyways, Here is a shot of the flowers I made for this weeks class:
Unfortunately the purple doesn't look really purple in the picture.
So from the top going clockwise, you see three daisies, a daffodil, two primroses, a pansy and two roses. Needless to say, my roses still need a LOT of work. But they are getting a bit better than my first ones from last month. I figure maybe fondant roses might be my best bet at making decent flowers!
I was actually quite happy with how most of my flowers turned out. They were fairly simple to do and as you can see, can easily be made in any color choices you wish. I know the Daisy will get a lot of use in my cakes!

Next week is our final class for course 2. We have to make a "basket" cake, ice it and have our flowers ready for class. We then learn the basket weave technique and how to put the flowers on the cake. And viola! Final cake. I'm looking forward to seeing what my final cake will look like!
And to complete my day, I have registered for course 3 - tiered cakes and fondant. There is only a few weeks left for that to start and so far I am the only one listed, so let's hope some people join me, otherwise I will have no class to go to!

July 12, 2009

Class 2 - Royal Icing Begins

This weeks class we got to begin working with Royal Icing. Having never decorating cakes before, I had heard of royal icing, but I had never worked with it. I had heard many people say the taste of it is nothing like buttercream, and after seeing what is in it, I can see why..

Royal Icing:
4 cups sifted icing sugar
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
5-6 tablespoons warm water

Mix on low speed for 7-10 minutes, until it loses its shine. Hardens quickly. Keep a damp towel over the bowl when not using. (Make sure all utensils are grease-free)

Seems simple enough right? And it was. I don't think it needs 7-10 minutes though. I think I mixed mine for about 4 minutes before it lost its shine. The taste of it is very sweet. I think kids would probably lap this up a lot more than adults would. That said, I'd probably eat say a single flower or two, but probably wouldn't chow down on some roses or a figure.
The big bold headline at the top of my recipe reiterating to keep utensils grease free freaked me out. I don't own a lot of metal or glass bowls. I live in the land of Gladware, home of cheap plastic meant to hold anything and everything... So I wasn't happy to hear that Royal Icing is deathly afraid of grease. (For those who don't know any trace of grease(shortening/butter) will ruin a batch of royal icing completely.) I ended up going out and buying some "royal icing only" gladware and measuring cups. I want to keep my royal icing happy!

So this weeks class I had to prepare not only my icing, but my flower templates so I can learn to make the different types of flowers.

So these are the 8 templates for the flowers I will be making in this series. Well, 7 flowers and 1 leaf. For this first class with Royal Icing we learned Apple blossom, Violets and the Violet Leaf.
I was actually surprised at how easy these were to do. They look a lot more difficult that they really are. No wonder people think you are a magician when you make a nice looking cake!
Here are a few of my apple blossoms and violets:

Not bad eh? Maybe I do have a knack for this cake decorating stuff.... Nah, if I can learn to do this stuff, I'm pretty certain anyone can. I think that's why they put on these courses!

We also learned what is called "Color Flow" or "Fill-ins". These are interesting. Basically it is watered down Royal Icing piped in a "shell" There is an actual recipe for this using a product called "Color Flow" but our instructor told us a shortcut which is to use Royal Icing. Apparently the color flow recipe just means the piece is harder and shinier.
To be honest, I used the Color Flow icing, and my friend used the Royal Icing. There was very little difference in our pieces. I can't say anything about the strength of the piece, but had I known I could just use Royal Icing, I would have saved myself $7 by not buying the color flow powder.
Anyways, the piece we were supposed to do were two birds. I decided I didn't like the birds, so I did Butterflies. I like them much better.

I didn't think it was bad for a first attempt, but you can see where I need some help on my outline work.
So basically these dry for a few hours to a day and then they can be stored until needed for the final cake. I have a few ideas of things to put on cakes using this technique. I can't wait to try it out!

So there you go. A few new flowers, which can all be made with buttercream as well, and a new technique for designs. Thankfully no homework for this week, so I think I am going to make a cake just for the heck of it so I can practice a few things..

And because I have become obsessed with decorating cakes!

July 6, 2009

Course II - Flowers and Borders

So I started Course II this weekend, Flowers and Borders. We pick up where we left off at the end of Course I, and we get to learn a ton of new flowers, some new borders, and we get to work with Royal Icing and Color Flow/Flow In.
Our class this time around is only 5 people, and our instructor Breanne is working on her last month of classes before leaving to give birth to her first child.
I am really excited to be taking this course. There is a lot more intricate work involved in this course, and only one cake to do in the final. And I get to learn about Royal Icing, which is surprisingly something I am looking forward to. After having to make another batch of Class Buttercream for practice work, I am going to be so happy when I don't have to make this crap anymore. I find it very hard to make nice looking flowers and borders when it cracks, doesn't come out right and has a poor consistency. But for practice, I guess you aren't looking for anything fantastic.
I did however learn that in a pinch, the Wilton boxed/canned icings, are actually really nice for making decorations. Too bad it has an absolute ton of trans fat in it!

So this Course is a bit more laid back. My homework for this week is to trace the two birds out from the back of the book, or find another bird/animal to use for my color flow work, and for the final cake. On top of that I have to make a batch of Royal Icing and get my Flower Templates cut out and ready to work with. For the next two classes, we will learn how to work with Royal Icing, and how to make what looks to be about 20-some different types of flowers. Then our final class, we learn the Basketweave and put together our final work.
Breanne did tell us that we need to take our final cake somewhere where people will appreciate the work involved for it. So Im taking bids on who would like to have my final cake for their office/family party:)