Thursday, April 25, 2013

A collage of cupcakes

My husband recently mentioned to me that my life is a little like a sitcom. I say 'yes' to everything and then hope it all comes together. I somehow manage to jump from adventure to adventure and it all works out in the end. This is probably not good for the sanity of myself nor those around me and is generally a flawed philosophy for life. 
I also can't keep things simple. I think 'Fifty cupcakes? A variety of themes? No problem. I'll do a few 3-dimensional decorations and the rest will be simple 2-dimensional decorations. Tah dah!' And then as I start to make things, I think to myself, '2-dimensional is no fun! I want to make cuter things!' And then halfway through the week, I have bags under my eyes, I clutch my decoration to-do list on the subway and revise my plan of attack on my way home from work each day. I think to myself, ' I need a baking break' and then I somehow finish the cupcakes, I am thrilled with them and think 'wow, I should do this again soon!'. This is the story of my life. Actually below is the story of someone else's life - in cupcake form! 

I was told a few things about the guest of honour: He likes a particular business organization, cycling, tools and food. For the business aspect, I did a couple of books titled 'The Art of Business' and a couple of business shirts and ties. I made some simple bicycles for the cycling.

I think I had the most fun making the tools and the food. I had done several of the tools before when making construction-themed cupcakes. This time I also made hand saws, wrench and nuts, and screwdrivers in addition to the drill, measuring tape, square and pencil, and my favourite, the X-acto knife. 

I tried to make a variety of foods to go on the cupcakes. These toppers involved a lot of different colours and a lot of small details which meant a lot of work for my finger muscles! On a couple of mornings, I was convinced that I was developing arthritis in my hands. 

No birthday would be complete without cake (or I suppose cupcakes in this case) and I couldn't resist putting a piece of a cake on top of cake. I have an appreciation for redundancy. My husband would call it recursion. Geek. 

Following along with sweet foods, I made a few little donuts with sprinkles. Who doesn't love desserts with sprinkles? Doesn't it make you feel happy, young and carefree? I felt slightly carefree while making these donuts, and then I looked at my decorating to do list and it brought me back to reality. 

I made quite a few fast food items including hot dogs, hamburger and fries, pizza and fish and chips. The fish and chips was one of my favourites and I included the peas in a ramekin (as they do at our favourite pub) which I usually push to the side because I hate peas. I've really tried to like them. I even have a t-shirt that says 'Give peas a chance'. I'll stick with the fondant ones, thank you. 

I was also happy with how the hamburger turned out. This one had lettuce, cheddar cheese and tomato slices. I also made little fondant sesame seeds. 
I included some stereotypical 'guy' foods like barbecue stuff and steak. I included peas with the steak. I don't know if that's a real thing. I suppose the healthcare professional side of me was thinking, 'That's a really big piece of meat. It needs some vegetables and fries don't count!'

My other favourite food (in true form and fondant form) is sushi and maki. This maki is made with fondant cucumber, crab, avocado and rice. Each rice grain was rolled by hand to taper the ends (because I have an abundance of extra time OCD). 
Group shot! Although there were a few distinct themes for this cupcake collage, overall they worked well together. The cupcake flavours were vanilla/vanilla, vanilla/chocolate, chocolate/chocolate, chocolate/vanilla and red velvet with cream cheese frosting. 

Okay, one more group shot. I couldn't decide which photo I liked better.
Next cake project will be something simple but delicious! We'll see if it's blog worthy and if I'm able to get photos before it's gobbled up.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Welcoming a little peanut

I have no idea where the past few weeks went. Spring is fast approaching and while I am very excited about spring and summer (we kind of missed it last year with buying a house and renovating) I feel like time is flying a bit too quickly. Before I know it, birthday season in my family will be here. 
I'm also seeing deadlines quickly approaching for goals that I've set for myself for getting my thesis done. Scary. 

Carrying on with a baby theme, my last baking project was for a baby shower honouring my friend's sister. The theme was elephants and the colour palette was grey and yellow. 

I wanted the elephants on the cake to match the invitation, so in order to make a mommy and baby elephant, I photocopied the invitation onto card stock to use as a template for the gumpaste. One of the challenges with 2-dimensional elephants was figuring out the most stable way to insert these into the cake and ensure they would stay put during a car trip. Initially, I carefully inserted floral wire into each of the legs. I found that I could see the floral wire through the elephants and it did not have as clean of a look as I would have liked. Instead, I recut the elephants and made long and tapered legs that I could stick into the cake. After covering the cake in fondant, I lightly indented where each of the legs would go. After the fondant set and I had the cakes stacked, I made slits for the legs, filled them with a bit of royal icing for added stability and inserted the elephants. The balloon was made with gumpaste and floral wire. This was also secured with a bit of royal icing. I didn't think these elephants were going anywhere, but just in case, I made a few backup elephants for the car ride -- understudies, if you will.
I must say, stripes are not my favourite (translation: not the easiest) thing to do with cakes, especially with 3 alternating colours. My brain is just too tired in the evenings after work to mathematically figure out how many stripes I need to ensure that the colour pattern is continuous and I don't end up with two of the same coloured stripes side by side and how far apart to space said stripes. My math skills seem to be great these days (I really think that it was sheer luck) as the repeating colour pattern worked out perfectly!
I love polk-a-dots and I think it went nicely with the stripes on the bottom tier. I did a pearl border around the base of each tier to finish it off. 
The cake was chocolate with dulce de leche buttercream. I am still using Satin Ice for my fondant of choice. I find that it dries a bit too quickly and that you need to work really fast when covering the cakes to avoid an elephant skin look (would have been ok in this case!) but I love that it does not stretch as much when you are picking up the fondant and it dries to a nice hard finish which I think gives a cleaner look to the cakes. I'll have to see how it behaves in the warmer/more humid weather. 
I was really happy with how this cake turned out and really loved the colour combination of grey and yellow. I also loved the simplicity of the 2-dimensional elephants. My friend did an amazing job putting together the baby shower. Everything was so beautifully coordinated and I was happy that one of my cakes was a part of it.
Now let the countdown to birthday season begin. Will I reign myself in and keep things simple? We shall see.