Posts filed under: ‘Birthdays‘




8 Days a Week or Living La Vida Loca

I think one of the best phrases the Beatles ever came up with was “8 days a week.” Lately I feel that’s what my work schedule is– 8 days a week. And me being me, I can’t help but add to a completely chuck full plate and throw in another project– aka a cake. I’ll sleep when I’m dead as they say.

Around 4am on Sunday I left work feeling exhausted and accomplished. My overall highlight of the night? I saw Ricki Martin! Let me break it down and have a true confession here, for a minute.  I loved Ricki Martin when I was in High School. I probably loved him more than was good for my already suffering drama-geek reputation. I loved him so much I went to see him in concert and I even had his spanish album Vuelve. I knew all the words en espanol and believed that we might actually make out someday…so much for dreams!

As Ricki’s career waned so did my love and I think about how gaga I was for him as a goofy teenage phase.  On Saturday he arrived to Frederick P. Rose Hall in support of a friend Michael Cerveris, who was performing– they are both in an upcoming run of Evita on Broadway.  As his 6’2″ frame smoothly strolled out of the theater, I got a long look at my teenage crush. His hair was dark and swept to the side and he wore black rimmed “dork” glasses– I wear them too, though he pulled off a Clark Kent kind of look, where the best I can do is be compared to Sarah Palin.  As he passed me I heard him speaking in Spanish to his friends.  And I’m still perplexed as I’ve never heard another dialect of Spanish with quite the same sultry quality.

For a minute I was that dorky 16 year old pining for the gorgeous Latin Sensation. Speaking of Dorky, heres my other weekend endeavor” Bot” from Umizoomi. Everytime I do a kids cake I am shocked at how out of the loop I am in terms of kids characters and TV shows.  Hopefully you can see in the pictures that cake is actually suspended over dowels decorated to look like legs and feet.

A bit of a challenge more so than I anticipated, but I heard with was a hit at the party for a young Mr. Braydon.  All in all a good week/ weekend.  On one last dork note, I’m thinking about getting an iphone…any suggestions on model or memory??

Add a comment January 24, 2012

and the Award Goes to…

Last week I took a few days off from my day job to spend some time making a custom cake for a special special person I truly admire. Unbeknownst to me my cake baking, building and decorating would be done on 2 of the hottest summer days so far, and I would fight with sweating fondant that stretched and ripped in my hands and a cake I did not trust to stand up straight  or melt into a puddle of butter.  I had to make the executive decision to arrive to the party later than expected (just as the party started in fact) so that the cake could set up in the fridge for a few crutial minutes more. Thankfully the chef in the kitchen and my client were understanding.

This birthday cake was for Eve Ensler, author of the play The Vagina Monologues, Activist, world traveler and Founder of one of the most powerful world-changing movements: VDay.  I’ve talked about Eve and VDay before, as they have been a big part of my life as I came into adulthood. Last night this well known playwright and rebel won a Tony for her play and the way she has chosen to use her art to influence and change the world for the good.

I was honored to make her birthday cake (which was a hit despite all my troubles). This year has been a celebration for Eve has she has recently survived cancer in addition to all the beautiful difficult work she does. A birthday bash and a Tony award in one week!?! Amazing! She is truly inspiring.  Her acceptance speech is dedicated to all the activists out there! Viva Eve and Congrats!

Check out her acceptance speech here

2 comments June 13, 2011

Failure to Launch Part 1

Heres a great youtube video on how to make Italian Merignue Frosting– a slightly different method than Swiss Merignue.

I some how failed to post this yesterday which brings me to my choice of topics– failure!  Failure is a pretty negative word and Im not one to quit on a project so when it comes to a cake that I’m less than please with I at least try find a lesson in whatever went wrong. Whether its learning a trick  to stacking a cake better (cause the top tier toppled over in the car ride) or just delegating my time better on a project.  Below are some photos of beautiful cakes made by some culinary greats that I was inspired to recreate only to have less than stellar results, and a couple of tips on different techniques.

The cake featured above is by none other than Sylvia Wienstock. She’s been the queen of fabulous culinary works of art long before the Cake Boss picked up his first pastry bag.  She’s based out of New York City and her work is featured at every big New York Wedding there is.  She’s been called the Leonardo Da Vinci of cakes– a title you don’t just earn over night.  I used this photo as an inspiration for a cake I made this weekend for a friends birthday. Ultimately I didn’t spend enough time on this cake to render a mirror image of the photo which left me frustrated…and only escalated when the cake frosting melted everywhere in the car ride up. So here some advice on Italian or Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Italian Meringue/ Swiss Meringue ButterCream is alot less sweet and so fluffy some people think its whipped cream frosting.  It is by far my absolute favorite frosting but there are some down sides when working with it

First– its expensive to make. 2 sticks of butter a dolop of milk or water and a bag of confectioners sugar will run you about $5 bucks and render a great simple buttercream– and you can easily cover an 8″ cake with it.  Italian or Swiss Meringue call for a 2-3 cups of sugar, 2 lbs of butter and at least dozen eggs whites only but really after all the time it takes to make this excellent frosting whose got time to use the yolks?  –Its almost double the cost of American Buttercream and it doesn’t go as far. The time you spend whipping and mixing rarely will cover and decorate more than a 8″ / 10″ cake.  Its also a little tricky to make– I’ve screwed it up and gotten soup plenty of times to know. Both under mixing and overmising can lead to a total waste of time and ingredients.

Secondly, It also doesn’t take color well. Food coloring tends to drown in the meringue, barely blushing from a scoop of color. You will eventually notice if you pipe with it, that the color comes out as the frosting heats in your hand but that completely unpredictable.  Its so soft at room temperature I tend to find that piping flowers is only easy for those who are beyond the novice stage of piping.

And it melts….and melts and melts.  In the refridgerator you’ll find the frosting binds up just like butter does, making for a firm surface to work on once your cake is frosted, and chilled, but just let that cake find its way into a warm car for delivery or sit in the sun light and you are looking are melty soupy madness in no time.  I reconmmend experimenting with this before deciding to go and whip up a batch for the next birthday party your invited to.

Why would you suffer through something so finicky?  Well because it tastes soooo good! When I was making Jamie’s Cake this weekend it was suggested to not knock myself out with a crazy design but rather bring a cake that was simple and tasted delicious.  I was pissed I had to run into the kitchen of the restaurant and try and doctor the sides of the cake I had already spent so much time on only to have to use a butter knife to try to fix my now botched cake.  And those beautiful fondant roses I made? Were now covered in frosting…. Strangely enough the cake was a hit!  I watched people lick their plates literally to get a few more tastes of the ohhh so finicky frosting.

I didn’t originally photograph this puppy out of disappointment, but found myself tagged in facebook later, so I figured why not post it– so hopefully I’m not the only one learning from my mistakes.

Add a comment May 31, 2011

No Sleep till Brooklyn

As always i found myself awake into the wee hours of the night to finish a cake, even though I had divided my time all week in preparation for this cake. I just like to take my time with my work and I also decided at the last minute to do all the birds out of fondant and not make them as cake pops.  After an all nighter…or two—I did watch the royal wedding the night before while i worked…I drove down to Brooklyn. I think Joe’s reaction was worth the lack of sleep.

More pics in the gallery.

1 comment April 30, 2011

Hermits

I kind of SUCK!! Haven’t posted in more than a week!  Well no excuses.  Today I’m finally feeling ahead of the eight ball.  I spent a day off yesterday cleaning and organizing, spring cleaning is always so cathartic.  As I walked into apartment after work tonight I saw this lying in the hallway. I walked past it at first but quickly felt that nag to turn around as I always find needed inspiration in those cute fortune cookie slips. Inspiration in a cookie? Yesss!  This is why I bake.

Be on the alert for new opportunities. Well okay.  But wait its gets better.

Cake. CAKE!  Dan Gao. DAN GAO! There’s an important message here.

This last week in recap?  Well I watched my beloved Ranger’s lose their chance at a 2011 Stanley Cup, and lost a bake-off at work, but I also got some quality time with family for the holidays, and celebrated my little brother’s birthday.

In my family April is the month for celebrating birthdays, especially on my mom’s side.  My bother and cousin were born in the same year 16 days apart, April 6th and 22nd.  You couldn’t have found two happier grandparents than mine, whose birthdays are also both in April.  My aunt and uncle (my grandparent’s son and daughter) were also April babies along with a couple more relatives I’m probably forgetting.  Around Easter we usually got a cake to have for dessert, to share with all the family members that was celebrating birthdays within days of each other. I have a very distinct memory when I was young of piping cool whip with a plastic sandwich bag on one such cake, and this could have easily been the start of where I am today.

My grandmother would have been 86 this past April  2, and I can’t help but think of all the time I got to spend with her.  Being the oldest grandchild I have the most distinct memories of time spent with her in her kitchen.  Whether it was eating oatmeal (slow cooked over the stove) for breakfast, or canning homemade strawberry jam every summer, I’m almost selfish about how lucky I was to have the vivid memories of learning to cook with her. This past Christmas I spent time duelving into the pages of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, remembering all the recipes I made from this book in my grandmother’s cozy upstate kitchen.  The Hermit was one of them and I always remember my grandmother when I think of this cooky.  It’s perhaps a little out of season– you can see my pictures are from Christmas, but its a great cooky for an afternoon snack, or tea.

According to Betty Crocker the Hermit was the Best Cooky from 1880-1890.  Its sweet and spicy and perfect with coffee or for dessert.

Hermits

Ingredients:

1 c shortening (I used 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c shortening)

2 c brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1/2 c coffee

3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 c raisins

1 1/4 c broken nuts ( I used pecans, walnuts are good too)

Sift flour and combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix shortening, (butter), sugar, and eggs thoroughly.

Mix in coffee. Add flour/ spice mixture.

Fold in raisins, and nuts.

Wrap with plastic wrap, or in wax paper. Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough 2″ apart on the sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  I usually press the dough out  a bit with my finger before baking.

Betty Crocker doesn’t call for it, but my grandmother always added a sweet glaze to her Hermits.  Mix 1-2 tbsp of milk to a cup of confectioners sugar, or enough to make a thick but runny mixture. Drizzle over your cookies and let dry.  Hermits are mildly sweet so the glaze isn’t a sugar overload.

Add a comment April 28, 2011

The March Hare

 

My dear friend Rachel just turned 29  the other day, on the Ides of March.  Beware the Ides of March…  Have I mentioned I love Shakespeare? How can I not having been a theatre major? The ides of March really means nothing more than the half way point in the month. Theres an Ides of May, July, and October. I think Rachel’s always enjoyed having her birthday on an infamous day.

Once upon a time when we were young fresh twenty somethings and roomates we used to take turns making her bomb a$$ recipe for Carrot Cake. People have said I quote “You could make money off of that cake.”

Rachel’s Carrot Cake

2 c sifted flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

(1/2 tsp nutmeg -my addition)

2 c sugar

1 1/2 c oil

4 large eggs

(2 tsp vanilla- my addition)

2 3/4 c coarsely grated carrots

1 can 8.5 0z crushed pineapple in heavy syrup

(2/3 c raisins- my addition)

(2/3 c walnuts- my addition)

Sift dry ingredients– flour, soda, powder,  spices and set aside.

Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil in a separate bowl.

Add dry ingredients.

Fold in carrots and pineapple (with syrup). Add raisins and walnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

 

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

I got kind of tired of the same old piped carrots on the cream cheese frosted carrot cake, so I thought I’d embrace the warm spring like weather of the past few days and take a different spin on a carrot themed cake.  The Basket weave is a fun– not as hard as you think- way to decorate. In the future I’ll post a video on how to go about it say around Mother’s day?

Piping tips used on this cake:

#67 and #352 for leaves

#3 for blads of grass

#2 for vines and petit flowers

#48 for the basketweave

#12 for rows of crop– dusted with finely chopped walnuts

open ended parchment bag (about a size #5) for carrots

4 comments March 18, 2011

The Little Engine that Could

This week is just trucking along! How is it that its already Thursday?!! As you can see I spent the first part of my last weekend completing a Thomas the Tank Engine Cake for my friend Peter’s son Jasper.  Thomas the Tank Engine was a big part of my childhood as my kid brother was obsessed with Thomas and trains, this of course was when Ringo Star played Mr. Conductor. Then it was George Carlin and these days I don’t even know who holds the magic whistle.  The rest of my weekend was spent ringing in an early St. Patty’s day upstate with the Master and Mistress of Cheesecake Machismo…Stout Chocolate Cheesecake should be a sin to eat.

And somewhere between Saturday and day light savings its suddenly  Thursday and I haven’t posted a thing.  So here is what you can look forward to:

Friday: Carrot Cake-– the most to-die for recipe I’ve got thanks to my friend Rachel who’s now celebrating that last year of her 20’s just this past Ides of March.

Saturday Evening look for a Brunch recipe for Banana Pecan Belgian Waffles

And Next Week: Tiramsu Pops— cause lets face it what Starbucks debuted last week in the way of petit confections–as far as tiramsu goes was just Yucky!!

An old favorite Cupcake Cones in honor of my favorite girl Aela and her upcoming 7th Birthday

And by the end of the week I’ll have three more additions in galleries by way of spring inspired cakes!!!

One more thing before I run back into the kitchen and then go to bed.  To my regular and some times readers a question for you: Are you interested in taking a cake decorating class with yours truly? Let me know!  I’ve taken a leave from the rather rigorous schedule of teaching the Wilton Method while I adjust to my new gig in the middle of the city.  I’ve still got a hankering to make connections with cake enthusiasts and impart some skills with my own technique.  Give me a shout if your interested (TheCakeEccentric@gmail.com). I’m located in the Metropolitan area, but am accessible in the Capital region as well so if you are looking to not just read up on the subject but do some decorating too give me a shout or pass this on to your friends. I love teaching in small groups of 8-10 or more and am hoping to organize some regular classes in basic and advanced techinques.

2 comments March 17, 2011

Dad’s Birthday Cake

Today is my dad’s birthday!!!! Happy Birthday DAD!!!!  My father is an artist of many mediums.  When he first saw some of my work (the Monet cake specifically) he told me “I paint with frosting.”  Its a big compliment coming from my dad, who can actually paint . I actually employed him on one particular occasion to start piping on cakes when I was running behind on a project, and though my great aunt on my mom’s side was once a wedding cake decorator, I’m fairly certain most of my artist edible endeavours comes from my dad’s side.

My dad doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, but he’ll indulge on a slice of his favorite find of cake.  Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Seems simple enough.  It was a signature cake of my great grandmother.  I however do not have my hands on her famous recipe, mostly because she kept it in her head rather than recording it.  Instead of posting another scratch yellow cake I’m going to go through a little short cut.

I’ll be honest even if it sounds snobby, I haven’t made a cake from a box in years at this point, delicious as they are.  Time saving and cost saving for sure.  You can grab a box of cake for about a dollar.  If you want to pass off that Betty Crocker confection as your own hours- spent- slaving- over- a- stove confection you might want to try this spin on that good ole stand by.

Better Betty Crocker Cake

2 boxes yellow cake, your favorite brand

1 c sour cream

8 eggs

1/2 c + 2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp mayo

3/4 c milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Mix milk and vinegar and set aside for 3-5 minutes, or use a comparable amount of buttermilk. Combine the rest of the ingredients with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer then add milk mixture.

Pour into 2 greased 8 inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.   Cool on wracks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely.

Another little tip about baking your cakes.  If you find while you experiment with different recipes that the outside of your cake is cooling a little too fast, meanwhile the inside is still wobbly, place a cookie sheet on the rack below the cakes, or carefully place the cakes on the cookie sheet and place back in the oven.  The extra insulation slows the cooking on the outside of the cake.

Below you’ll find some tricks for assembling a picture perfect cake.

After allowing cake to cool, level layers.  That means slicing off that round hump that forms during baking.  If your cake layers are at least 2 inches thick slice in have lateral forming 2 layers, for a four layer cake.

Place the first layer on your CAKE BOARD– its time to graduate from putting your cakes on too-small dinner plates!  Do yourself a favor and get some cake boards at least 2 inches wider than the diameter of your cake.  The first layer you place down should be crumby side up– the side up that you sliced. The sealed side– the side that was against the pan should be touching the cake board.  Adhere your cake to the board with a schmere of frosting so your cake stays put as you frost.

Pipe a tube of icing, called a “dam”around the edge.  If you are using a filling spread 1/2 cup (if you are decorating a 8” cake. NOT anymore than 1/2 c or you run the risk of leakage)  If your not using a filling just use frosting.  Place you next layer on.  If this is your last layer it should be sealed side up– this way you have less crumbs to deal with when icing.  If this is only your second layer continue to build –piping a dam, adding filling.  You final layer should be sealed side up as I mentioned.

If your cake is really soft, refridgerate to settle the cake.  When your ready add your frosting.  Start with the top of the cake, “working” frosting out to the edges.  I use the word “work” here to signify that you gradually cover the cake.  Work slowly side to side.  Work with the frosting .  No large heavy swipes.  Your spatula should never touch  the actual cake. There should always be frosting between the cake and the spatula.  The frosting on the top of the cake should slightly hang over the edge.

Start to add frosting to the sides of the cake.  Bend your torso over the cake (you should always stand when icing, the cake at waist height) your elbo should be pointing up toward the ceiling, your spatula at a right angle to the cake board, parallel to the side of the cake.

Once your cake is covered you can utilize your turn table to smooth the edge of your Frosting.

2 comments January 26, 2011

Harry Harry Potter

I’m a little too obsessed with Harry Potter for a gal who is well out of grade school.  And I’ve been waiting for someone to request a Harry Potter themed cake for some time. Sure I have the ambition to make a Horcrux themed cake just for the Hell of it, but staying up all night working on a cake with no party to bring it to, is like getting all dressed up on a Saturday night with no where to go.

I’d planned a recipe to accompany this cake, but I didn’t have time to make butter beer in addition to this cake, so instead I’ll focus on technique.  I haven’t really focused on a lesson in technique in awhile.  Mostly because after teaching 500 people the basic principles of cake decorating I know its important to have a teacher demonstrating, otherwise we all would have just read a book on decorating and figured it out.

This year when my friend Peter’s daughter Madeline asked for a Harry Potter themed cake, I was obviously thrilled and seeing as I’m goingto focus on the decorating part in this post, I’ll mention a few tricks I’ve learned in the year since the last birthday Madeline celebrated.

The last birthday cake I made for Madeline was topped with a Pegasus.  Of course I refused to just pipe one on a square sheet cake which would have totally been a big hit still. Instead I choose to sculpted a winged horse, and though the party guests thought it was cool, I was a bit unsatisfied with my results. So here are a few tips on working with gum paste and fondant, when it comes to crazy cakes.

Lets break it down here is what you have to work with when it comes to sculpting toppers, and decorations:

FONDANT: There are lots of kinds of Fondant.  If you’ve read my Marshmallow Fondant post from last year, than perhaps you experimented with different types already.  With the popularity of cake decorating shows ready-made fondant is easy to find in craft stores, as well as on the internet.  True traditional fondant known as “European Fondant” is boiled sugar that is then cooled and folded (fondre in French means “to fold” rendering the name Fondant).  As its folded it continues to cool and become white.  There are lots of alternative recipes to making European Fondant at home.  Its actually a bit dangerous, as you run the risk of burning yourself.  You might come across some resipes for Rolled Fondant which contain gelatin, sugar, and crisco and sometimes cornsyrup.  I’m sure this is a great alternative, but I have yet to try it out.

GUM PASTE: is also a sugar dough.  It contains gum usually tagacanth gum, talose, or karaya gum to add strength.  You can make it at home without the risk of third degree burns.  At some point I’ll put a recipe up here, thats easy to make and works well– It will also save you the cost of buying ready-made.

I should also mention that Gum paste is also referred to as Pastilliage, or Sugar Paste. These are similar, recipes vary a little but really they are the same thing.

MARZIPAN Before the Ace of Cakes and Extreme Cake Challenges there was Marzipan.  This is a sugar dough used for sculpting and its made from almonds.  I’ve used it once or twice– I’m not proficient in it, but it bares mentioning. And if you are interested you can find lots of intriguing books on marzipan sculpting.

Modeling Chocolate is also an option when decorating, but lets stay focused on the sugar doughs.

FONDANT vs GUM PASTE

They can be interchanged depending on the project.  Other times you must use one and Not the other.

Fondant is used to cover cakes, NEVER Gumpaste.

If you are using Fondant to add ribbons, or a bow to a cake– or any relatively thin design that needs a little strength — more than what typical fondant can offer, you can use only gum paste or add gum paste to the fondant.  A 50 /50 ratio is good. your design will begin to take shape and dry faster with gum paste added.

Gum Paste is best for delicate designs. Its added strength means that you can roll it out very very thin, pull it, vein it, feather it, and it doesn’t tear.  Or at least it doesn’t tear and rip the way Fondant can.  Beware as gum paste fades in color while it dries, approximately 2-3 shades.

Fondant and Gum Paste will both dry hard, but fondant takes a lot longer to do so.

Sculpting: In my experience fondant is best.  I realize that there are folks who might argue, but to each their own.  The Pegasus topper I made just one year ago is a perfect example of why fondant is better for sculpted pieces.  I’m sure you can see in alot of pictures that the body of horse was smooth and sturdy– made from fondant.  The legs crumbled and continued to crumble no matter what– worsening as time when on– they were made from gum paste.

The big factors in sculpting are:

1.What are you making? A rubber duck, a shoe, a sewing machine, a rose. If its thin and delicate use gum paste, otherwise use fondant.

2. Make sure your design can adequately dry on undisturbed propped up or balanced in a way the design won’t sag or get dented.

3. what kind of fondant are you using?

Wilton Fondant is great for Sculpting. It is a bit drier than other fondants, without quite as much elasticity.  It has a reputation in the world of fondant for having one of the more unpopular flavors, but its great for sculpting.  Duff’s Fondant on the other hand is far more elastic. Its flavor is a little more vanilla infused.  And there are chocolate and lemon flavors to choose from.  I highly recommend this brand to novice for covering cakes as its stretches and stretches and stretches without tearing.

So lets get the the nitty gritty.  You can’t have a Harry Potter cake without a snitch.  So I’ll walk you through how I went about sculpting this important feature.

First I pinched off a piece of fondant and began to roll it into a ball.  About golf ball size.  The longer you roll the more the seams and wrinkles in your fondant will disappear.  Try your best to make a spherical shape.  You want to beable to view your cake from all angles so if you snitch is really lumpy on one side, your work won’t look as good.  Let the ball set.  I find the best way is to insert a toothpick in the bottom center.  Dipping the tooth pick in a little vanilla extract will ensure the snitch doesn’t slide, as it dries and it makes for an easy way to paint and insert the snitch into the cake later.

If you do your detailed work under a warm light I suggest setting the tooth pick into foam and setting in a cool place away from a hot lamp.  This allows your design to dry quicker.

Now for the wings.  I rolled out a thin sheet of fondant, though reading all my rules above– gum paste would have done the trick. Like I said Wilton fondant is a little drier and can stand in in some cases.  my small sheet of fondant was less than 1/16″ of an inch thick.  If you use a Wilton 9″ rolling pin it comes with bands that help you make proper measurements.

I cut 4 wing shapes with a flower petal cuter.  Always make extra for the delicate pieces to save from breakage. On a thin piece of shaping foam I “balled” the edges of each wing.  Using a balling tool press slightly into the edge of the wing as you move around the edge of the shape.  This is important: the balling tool should be half on the wing’s edge, half on the foam.  As you trace the shape you’ll notice the edge thins and rises off the foam.  (Use a little powdered sugar on the foam and balling tool to save the sugar dough from sticking.)


I left the center and one of the pointed ends of the wing alone, so that it  remained thick enough to insert a short piece of floral wire.  2-3″ inches of thin floral wire dipped in clear vanilla will remain relatively hidden inside the wing and will allow you to assemble your snitch when you are finished. Weave it through and try to keep it from poking through.

I then used a veining tool (the larger end) to create a ruffle.  Hold the veining tool like a pencil. Press down on edge of the wing and pull away from the wing and in toward your chest. Continue to make indentations consecutively around the under side of the wing.  You are using the heel of the vein tool, to press on the edge. Don’t curl your wrist as you do it, else the point of the veiner will pierce the dough.

I then used the viening tool to make impressions laterally across the wing. to create a texture.

Allow the wings to rest on a flower former or the corner of a cookie sheet.  This allows a natural shape to set.

When your ball and wings are relatively dry, paint with color food paint.  I used my Americolor air brush paint.  My airbrushes (Both of them!!) are not working else I would have just sprayed the pieces. A soft paint brush does a great job as well.  Paint one side of the leaves and allow to dry, (15 minutes should be good), then paint the other side.  Hold the ball by the tooth pick to paint all sides.  Allow your pieces to set completely.– Using fondant for the ball piece ensures that the piece will still be soft enough to assemble hours later.

Insert the wings into the sides of the ball.  Make any touch ups needed after adhering to your cake.

2 comments January 25, 2011

Rainbows and Stars

Every year I make a birthday cake for my friend’s daughter Aela.   This year she turned 6 and requested a chocolate cake with rainbows and stars on it.  Of course I went a little overboard as usual.

Cupcakes are all the rage these days.  In fact I’ve read a couple articles recently discussing whether cupcakes (which are now being served at weddings in lieu of cake) are a passing trend.  The verdict according to my reading is that they are here to stay.  My opinion is that they are easy to serve at a party with a guest list comprised mostly of kids.  Theres little clean up and its an easy way to offer more than one flavor of cake.

I also like to match cupcakes to the cake in terms of decoration, so I fashioned fondant stars and rainbows in advance, once dry, its pretty simple to add atop the vanilla and raspberry buttercream frosted chocolate cupcakes.

For an added “Ahhh” factor I also made a rainbow cake as the largest tier of the actual birthday cake.  In terms of the theme of rainbows I couldn’t resisted experimenting with a fairly simple way embellish this idea.

The bottom tier was a white cake.  Once the batter was mixed I divided it into a number of different bowls and added a few drops of  food coloring.  I scooped the colored batter liberally into two pans, and baked as usual.

Theres no need to swirl the batter with a knife and once cooked the cake will appear golden brown on the outside and not as bright as you might expect.  Once you level your layers to start building the cake, you’ll find its very bright inside.

So Happy Birthday to my favorite munchin and cake eater, Aela!

3 comments March 31, 2010

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets

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