Monday, February 28, 2011

My Baby Boy's Train Cake

Well, the big boy is 3 now. He requested a "Thomas" cake, and was quite adamant about it, as he is about everything. I looked around a little on the web and found 2 basic kinds: cakes in the shape of the train, and regular cakes with Thomas stuff or drawings on top. I decided to go with the latter. This one is one of my favorite ones I've made I think! (Do I keep saying that??) He really loved it. After I took these pics I wrote his name on the little sun with some food markers.

I set the top tier back a little, which you can't really tell from the front, but you can from the back, so to make room for the train tracks and trains.

I didn't really do anything special with the bottom, so excuse the cardboard circle!

But this? This makes up for it.

look at me gettin fancy with photoshop! I SERIOUSLY need to hire someone to teach me how to use ALL of it. I don't find it self-explanatory AT all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011- A Bake-A-Thon!

So here we go, 9 cakes in 4 days!
First, the prep work. Assemble boxes, make royal icing roses and fondants, and the frosting. All this was done on the first day.

One cake was due earlier (the 2nd day), so it's not in the picture here.
Skip to Day 3, BAKING DAY! I had hoped to get all of them baked, torted and filled the first day, but here's as far as I got and the end of this day. Thank goodness we have an extra fridge in our garage!! My Husband was out of town all these days until the last day, which is partly why I was a bit behind schedule. The boys were going BONKERS and I didn't have as much uninterupted time to work as I hoped. It's much harder when they are running around the house! Also? We were practically snowed in the first part of this, which didn't help.

Day4: (Daddy's home, YAY!!) Finish icing the cakes, cover them all with fondant, and decorate. There is lots of chilling-in-between-time here too, but since there was so many I always had one to work on.
Here they are, all iced, smoothed, and ready for their fondant.

And, wa la! Ready to be boxed up and sent out!

And plus also? I squeezed in some time on day 2 to make a batch of Valentine's Day cake balls, for my kid's Valentine's party. But, I completely spaced on taking a picture of the whole platter-duh! Here's all that was left. They were vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting with a white chocolate coating.

Next project? Transforming the boys' room this weekend with new (to us) beds /slash/2nd attempt at moving #2 out of the crib and into a twin bed. Oh, and he turns 3 next week. So there will be that cake!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cosmo Cupcakes!

My week of Valentine's baking wound up with these, made for a girl's night out. The only request I had was for pink and purple, maybe a little sparkles. I had complete freedom on the flavors--isn't that awesome?! I'm always dying to experiment out with new flavors. I decided on Cosmos, or Cosmopolitans. For those who don't know, it's a Martini with vodka, cranberry juice, lime. These don't have any alcohol in them, though! I used "Simple" brand cosmo mix in the batter, I like it because it's all natural-no artificial sweeteners or colors. It is a blend of cranberry and lime juices. The frosting was my buttercream base with fresh lime zest and juice. They are really good! I hope the girls like them. I kind of went out on a limb, sometimes that's risky!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design, class 4

This week, the final class, we spent the first class practicing a few different kinds of borders, and then a basketweave technique like you would use the sides of a cake if you were making a basket theme cake. Honestly, I thought I would be able to do that no problem, I've seen it before, but it was harder than I thought! It took me 4 times of wiping my practice board clean and trying again to "get" it. Then we had the rest of the time to decorate our cakes.

I came up with a design, finally, earlier in the week, and got to work mid-week on the flowers I wanted for my cake. Originally I wanted to do an all-white, bridal type cake. White cake, White frosting. After I made the flowers, I decided they'd look better against an off-white, but not colored, background.

I started out with a 9 inch vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream on the inside and a newly invented Mocha Buttercream on the outside. If you like coffee, or coffee ice cream, then you can just imagine how good it is.....

I added my scrolls first. This is the first time I have ever tried anything like this. I've seen it lots on tv, and my own wedding cake had some on it as well. There are templates you can get that will imprint a design on the cake for you to trace, but I just free-handed it.

then I added my flowers.

I added a simple border at the top and bottom, and am now ready to take home and share roses made my cake just about 1/2 inch too high to fit in my cake dome. DOH! So, how to get it home on the 30 min drive? I tried first to leave it on the base of my cake dome. I secured it best I could and...

I didn't even make it out of the parking lot when I knew I had to think of something else. It was sliding around all over the place. I moved it onto the base of my turn table, which has a bit of a non slip rubbery ring on it. I wrapped my jacket around the base and wedged my purse in there too. It didn't move as much, but I still had to use my fingernails to hold the base the whole way home, switching positions around the cake depending on which way I was turning or braking/accelerating. It was a long drive! Comical!

But, I made it home! I snapped these quick pics and then promptly took a butcher knife to it and gave my neighbor HALF the cake. There is no way we need this much cake in our house! I still have about 1/3 of it left, and I'm giving it away as best I can!

BTW, I did actually have some of this cake. It's the first time I've eaten any cake I've made in a long time! It's so rich though, I could barely eat anything with any sugar for like 4 days! That's saying alot for me! Also, I usually don't have to cut into the cakes I make...this one was hard to cut!

I am really happy with the way it turned out! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design, class 3

This class we did more of the roses. This time, I actually got it! I was so proud of myself.
This is putting the first petal on the rose base.

Then the second row of petals.

Then a 3rd (or even 4th if you want) row of petals. My icing consistency was a little soft, so my some of my petals look a little melty. But, you get the idea. Look at me!!!!

Next up was violets. My icing was't exactly purple, but close enough. These are pretty cute too!

Then daffodils. These are just ok in my book. They were kind of hard to make.

Then, Lillies. I like these alot, and think they will come quite in handy around Easter, but I definitely need some practice. These are flowers that having a correct consistency of icing would really help.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design, class 2

This week in the Flowers and Cake Design class, we did a ton! The first part of making a rose with our royal icing we made at home (which is tricky! we were all having problems with the consistency of it). This icing dries rock hard and these flowers can be made way in advance, and are ideal for cakes that will have many many flowers on them. The we stuck wax paper squares on a flower nail with a template underneath it. The "rose base" is basically a Hershey's kiss shaped dollop of icing. You would think that sounds pretty easy, but for some reason, I could. not. get. it. All mine looked like drunk elf hats. You can't really tell in this pic, because they're covered with the first leaf of the rose, the center petal. But you can see how crooked they are! Frustrating. We skipped ahead a little and made actual roses with a couple of our bases. Of the 2 here, the good one my instructer did, and the "special" looking one, well, that's mine.

Then we moved on to Apple blossoms. Switch the template on the flower nail (it's a circle with lines in it that tells you how wide to make the petals basically.) THESE ARE SO FRIGGEN CUTE. I so fell in love with them right away. I knew these would be in heavy rotation in my future designs! They are so small, about the size of a nickel.

Then we moved to Primrose. These were very similar to the apple blossoms, but just a little bigger. I really liked these as well. I'm noticing a trend, I like the simple ones! These wavy things are another kind of flower former, you put them in there right after you make them and you can have them dry with a shallow cup or more narrow one. Pretty cool. And you can line up several of them on there at one time.

Next, rosebuds. These were quite simple on paper, but a little challenging on me. Definitely need to practice. Pardon the yellow stems, I only had 2 colors of icing this time.

We did a ton of stuff this week!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design, class 1

I recently completed another Wilton cake decorating class, called "Flowers and Cake Design". The class I took before, last fall, was Fondant and Gum Paste. I was really on the fence about taking this class, mostly because as I said before, I'm not really a "flower" person. But I had such a blast at the Fondant class, and we actually made a TON of flowers in there, and I wasn't actually horrible at it, and ::stop the presses:: I liked making the flowers. So, here we are. The classes are once a week, for 4 weeks, 2 hours each.

Here's what we did in the first class.

Our in our kit we had this thing called a Button Flower Cut and Press set. This is something really cool and cute. There is a leaf one too but I don't have it. It's SO easy to use.

You mix a little gum paste and fondant together, then roll it out. On the back of the right side there is a nifty rectangle-shaped ridge around the edge of the plate that you press into what you rolled out and it cuts it to the exact size you need for the press.

Then, you put your piece of fondant into the right side, on the plate where all the ridges inside the flowers are.

Then, you close the left side over top of the right side, like a book, and preeeeessssss really hard. We even used a rolling pin over top of it. When you open it back up, this is what you have.

We used a little pin to pry out the pieces that wouldn't come out by banging it on the table. You get 3 little flower pieces that you can use together or not, or you can make different colors and mix and match them. They we stuck them together and let them dry in these plastic "flower former" cups so they dry with a little shape. How cute are they??

The other flower we learned this week was the Pansy. I didn't take many pics of this one during the process because it was a little involved. And to be honest, I wouldn't be able to pick a pansy out of a field of anything, so needless to say this wasn't my favorite thing. But I don't have to like them all, right? It's kind of cute and a good one to know I guess? Moving on!

That's about all we did during this lesson. The other stuff we covered was making icing bags out of parchment and making royal icing for the flowers next week.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This is what happens when we get stuck at home with too much snow and time on our hands...

This was several weeks ago, when we got about 3 inches of snow.

Blog, meet our kitty, Meg. She is almost 13 years old and still full of p-n-v. But she is very sweet, and has been so patient with the boys. Surprisingly so!

We were all playing outside in the snow, and Meg was watching wistfully at the back door windows. I'm sure she wanted to come out and experience snow for the first time, no?

She came out, sat for a minute and pondered, and decided that her warm and toasty bed inside was much more her speed.

(ok, i may have an old electric heating pad under a blanket in her kitty bed that I turn on at night for her.) Don't worry, she was only outside for a total of about 2 minutes. But before she ran back in she made sure to let me know what she thought of the snow!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine's Day Bake-a-thon: First Edition

Happy almost Valentine's Day! Since I am about to take on this project again, I wanted to blog about last year's event. I didn't have this blog back then, but if I did, then this definitely would have been on it! I'm so glad I took a bunch of photos to document it. This was the first major baking project I took on, shortly after I got my grandaddy stand mixer last Christmas. I would have never attempted such a thing without it.
My husband and I got the crazy idea that I would take orders and sell Valentine's cakes at his work. It was a way for me to hone my skills and earn a little bit of dough to get more of the "baking things" i.e. gadgets and pans and things, that make life as a cake maker easier. I got to work making a "demo" (but very real) cake to photograph for the flyer that was going to be handed out. I can't remember exactly, but I think I sent maybe half this cake to my hub's work and kept the other half here for us to eat.
This is the first edition, circa 2010.
(This was only like the 3rd cake I had ever covered in fondant. I did then and still do make my own marshmallow fondant, it's a-cheaper, b-easier to dye, and c-tastes much better than the box stuff.)

I wound up getting 12 orders for cakes, plus one special order of cupcakes. I made these from the Hello Cupcake book.

A couple days before hand, I got to work making the fondant.
(note my seasonally appropriate coffee mug in the left background. A lot of coffee was drank, and I'd be remiss to drink it in anything else. Am I right or am I right?)

And the frosting...each of these tubs weighs 5 lbs. Yes, I put them on the scale and weighed them. So, 15 lbs total of vanilla buttercream. YUM.

And, almost 48 hours of straight baking, decorating, and coffee consumption, there they go, off to school. Bye kids! My husband took them to work and had to get a rollie cart and make two trips into the office, bless his heart!
And, ta-da....This year's version! I think it is miles above last year's. That's a royal icing rose on the top, something I learned in the Wilton class I just finished up taking, stay tuned for more posts on that!