Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spring, I invoke thee!

Yes, it is summer now, but I made this cake before it was even spring. There was snow outside. I shudder at the memories. This was a birthday cake for my sister-in-law. She loves the super sugary frosting grocery store cakes and always asks for extra flowers on the cake. I decided to make my own version of a sugary flower cake. 
We had such a horrible winter everything was white, grey, brown and just dirty looking for too many months! I was ready for some vibrant spring/summer colours. 
I am not fabulous at piping flowers with frosting. I much prefer working with fondant or modelling paste. Personally I think that it is not only easier (for me anyway), but you can get much more creative with the types of flowers you can make. This blue ruffle flower below was made with several different sized circles of modelling paste. I thinned out and ruffled the edges using a stick tool with a tapered end. I then placed the layers one by one in a small bowl with the largest circle on the bottom and getting smaller as I got to the centre of the flower.
I used plunger cutters for the daisy type flowers. The make the centres, I took some brown modelling paste, pushed it through a strainer, scraped it off with a knife and then used a circle cutter.
I also made ribbon roses which I think are really cute. The thick, puffy look is a nice contrast to the thin ruffled flowers.
I used a 5-petal flower cutter to make the other flowers - I don't even really know what to call them since they aren't modelled after anything real.
Since my sister-in-law enjoys sugary frosting, rather than just simply icing the cake, I decided to pipe ruffles around the cake for a maximum frosting to cake ratio. I used a rose petal tip (#104) to make the alternating shades of green ruffles. I had a bit of trouble when I got to the top edge and turned the tip the wrong way around prematurely but the overall effect is still there. 
The cake of course was vanilla with vanilla frosting - no shortening used in this 'grocery store' cake though. Just lots and lots of butter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bachelorette Cake

This cake was made for a friend's bachelorette party back in February (yes, all the way back in February). Given my time limitations with work and school, the bride-to-be's sister kept the design request relatively simple and picked a fun and flirty bustier in purple and grey to match the wedding colours.
I am self-taught in terms of cake carving. I have seen some bustier cakes online in which they use a heart shaped pan for the top and bottom of the cake. I've also seen cakes in which the bust part is created using a bowl or ball-shaped pans. I am sure that this approach 'wastes' less cake (there is no waste of cake in this household!) however I don't own any heart-shaped pans and also wanted more control over the shape. Also, carving layered cakes versus using a bowl or ball-shaped pan ensures that every bite of the cake still has a good buttercream to cake ratio. 
Once again, I did not plan to take pictures of the process of cake-making, so this picture is taken with my iPhone with less-than-optimal lighting (not really complaining about a sunny day as we had so few this winter). I used a 9 x 13 inch pan and traced it onto a large sheet of freezer paper. I then sketched the outline of the bustier within 9x13 space. I cut this out and used this as my carving template. To make the top of the bustier (it feels strange to write about breasts and cake together but also feels immature to say 'cake boobs'), I baked and filled three 5-inch round cakes. I cut the template apart where the cups meet the bodice and used it to carve away the top of the bodice part to make room for the cups. Once everything was in place, I worked on carving the curves working very gradually until I was happy with the final shapes. I crumb-coating the entire shape, put it in the fridge to set and then covered it in purple fondant. 

It is very challenging to get dark purple from white fondant. I would have liked a darker purple but time was not on my side. I used a ribbon cutting tool for the detailing on the bodice and around the cups. To make the frills, I cut about 1-inch wide ribbons from fondant mixed with some tylose and used a bulbous gum paste tool to ruffle the edges. 
The cake was chocolate filled with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. With the cake and the fondant-covered large board, it ended up being quite a large and heavy cake to transport. I was extremely worried about dropping it. I somehow managed to hold this cake with one arm while locking the door to my house, and then proceeded down my icy steps and very icy driveway in very high stiletto boots to a taxi. I safely made it out of the taxi, across a very slippery lobby floor and got the cake to the party in one piece. Whew!
I have a couple of more projects to write about and will do that gradually when I need breaks between analyzing my data for my research. Cake-making will continue to be infrequent but I hope to be up and at it more frequently after the summer. Alternatively, if any of you blog-readers out there are statistics aficionados who like to help out random people on the internet, I can get back to baking sooner!