"Hey, I can do that!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Amazing Wedding Cakes

Amazing Wedding Cakes

It makes me sad that I can't make a cake every day!  I've been forced to find other ways to satisfy my caking itch.  One of the best outlets is watching Amazing Wedding Cakes from WeTV.  Since I don't actually have cable television, I bought season 1 and 2 from iTunes.  It's a real treat to relax at home and watch other people work!  What's great is that this show follows several cakeries in each episode.  Every time I watch I get exposed to different styles and talent.

Season 1:
Season 2:
I've watched Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes, and some of the Food Network cake challenges.  This show, however, teaches me so much more than those ever could.  I get to watch professionals in their own environment without horrific time constraints.  They all do such awesome work; it's really inspiring to me.

My favorite is Cakegirls.  Their style and artistic vision are really aligned with what I'm personally shooting for.  A few more years of experience and it feels like I'd fit right in there.  Unfortunately their business suffered from a fire earlier this year.  Their website shares that it's still an on-going battle to get things settled with insurance.  I hope the very best for them.  I know many in the caking community and their fans have given their support in their time of need.

I hear Fabulous Cakes on TLC is also excellent.  Grr.  I might have to talk with hubby about finally getting cable. I watched the first episode of Buddy's Next Great Baker.  One of the contestants lives not far from me, and we are both active members in our city's cake club.  Unfortunately it's very reality-tv-ish and downright ridiculous at times.  Buddy is even more over-dramatic than on Cake Boss.  It'd be hard for me to stomach watching more of it, but I'd still want to root for the home-team.

... need more tv ... can't dirty kitchen ... need to lose weight ...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Modeling Chocolate

Modeling Chocolate
(a.k.a. Candy Clay)

I finally got around to posting my experience making modeling chocolate.  Neat stuff!  It definitely has its pros and cons.  I used this stuff to make brains on Halloween.

  • 12 oz candy wafers
  • 1/4 c corn syrup
After doing my preliminary research on the web, I found that the many recipes range in ratio of chocolate / candy to corn syrup.  I picked the 1 lb to 1/3 c recipe.  

Melted candy.

Corn syrup.

Together at last.

Wow, that's gross looking.

Stored in baggie.

Still gross looking.

After the mixture set overnight, I could break off a chunk and work with it.  It has to be kneaded and warmed by hand before you can do anything.  Anything, like, make roses!

A big "THANK YOU" to all the cakecentral.com members who told me that you can color modeling chocolate with food coloring gel.  I had originally thought the chocolate coloring rules applied (only use oil-based or powder colors), but that is not the case!  Here's a dollop of Americolor Burgundy.

Hurray!  I can use all my colors!


  • can't get any simpler than a 2-ingredient recipe
  • malleability changes with temperature (also a CON)
  • tastes good (sometimes better than fondant ... depends on my mood)
  • can use cheap almond bark or expensive gourmet chocolate, all user-preference
  • can feel greasy when some of the oils are worked out (I hate that ... I have to wear gloves because that's a pet peeve of mine)
  • malleability changes with temperature (also a PRO)
  • can be overworked easily (my hands seem to be hot) and will require "rest"
I need more projects with this stuff before I can make any further assessments.  

Baking with a Collar

Baking with a Collar

I wanted to see what would happen if I put an entire box cake mix into my 7" round.  One box mix is too small for my 8" round and too big for my 6" round.  I was hoping 7" would be juuuust right.  

My pan is 3" high, and I figured the entire batch might overflow, so here was my opportunity to try out a cake collar.  From what I read, a collar is just parchment paper inside the pan to prevent overflow and get that extra height when necessary.

I was concerned about the paper stability, so I used 2 pieces of parchment paper, both folded in half.  I don't think I should have done that.  The folds made pockets at the bottom where the cake got pushed inward.  Next time I should just cut a long strip instead of being lazy!

See how ugly the sides and bottom are from the paper folds???
Thank goodness for cake spackle.

The other problem was that it seemed to take a long time to bake.  That was due to either so much batter vertically or because this was in my Magic Line pan, which is more heavy duty than my regular Wilton pans.  I must have taken it out still too early.  There was a spot in the upper center of the cake that I noticed when leveling / torting that was slightly under-cooked.

Cake collars is a neat trick.  I like the size of the 7" round and will continue using this method but hold back on some of that batter.  A little waste isn't worth the time or the risk of under-cooking.

Oh here's the final cake if you're interested ... I don't know why I bothered crumb-coating ...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gelatine Bow

Gelatine Bow

This is my first time working with gelatine like this!  I've jumped on the band wagon and am sold.  Finally, I read the cakecentral.com article: How To Make Gelatin Flowers and Bows.  Is it gelatin or gelatine?  Spell check says it's gelatin but the dang box says gelatine ...

Before trying this, it might be useful to read this very long thread from the cakecentral forums.  Watch this awesome video for flowers here: http://www.cakeconnection.com/gelatin_art.php.

  • 2 packets of unflavored gelatine (1/4 oz each pack)
  • 1 oz + 3 tsp water (I think...)
  • blue liquid food coloring

Turns out I would have preferred a much deeper color than this.

This is the scum off the top after letting it sit for 7 minutes.

If you work on a silicon mat, put something white underneath (e.g. freezer paper or a towel) so you can see what you're doing. 

Here's me not knowing what I'm doing.
What I also did not know was that I wasn't keeping the mixture hot enough.  After reading the forum thread, I should have microwaved it longer at first, and then maybe again during application.  It lumped up while I was brushing so I didn't really get an even coat.  I got holes in some areas.

I tried it on freezer paper too.  Much easier to see what was going on.

After ~18 hours.

You can see it curls and pulls away from the surface that it was on.

It's like working with thin sheets of plastic film or acetate.  I cut several strips and glued them together with piping gel.  The better glue would be to use left over gelatine, but I had already dumped it in the drain.  NEXT TIME I should let it set until firm, then put it in a plastic bag and store in the fridge until I need it.  It can be re-heated back to liquid form.

Clothespins helped hold the loops while the glue set.

It quickly separated soon after this pic, but meh, next time I'll do it right.

  • mixture not hot enough
  • not enough coloring
  • improper glue
  • general ignorance for how to make a bow!
I WILL try again.  These would be awesome cake toppers for Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cookie Exchange 2010

Cookie Exchange 2010

The Capital Confectioners cake club had their Christmas party yesterday.  We had some great food and good laughs.  The best part was definitely coming home with a big stash of cookies from our cookie exchange!

I've never done a cookie exchange before.  We were instructed to make 36 cookies and bag them in pairs with their recipe attached.  I found this recipe in a cookbook: Hazelnut Espresso Sandwich Cookies.  I doubled the recipe to make sure I had enough and even extra for the holidays.  Um, that turned out to be a lot of cookies!  I hit a good stride using 2 cookie pans, rotating them in and out of the oven as I rolled and cut out the dough.  These are with 2 1/4" diameter cutters.


Sandwich ...

Enjoy!  (I think she's actually eating a different cookie though)

Hubby and I decided we're NOT sharing our stash with anyone!

Austin Cake Ball Class

Austin Cake Ball Class

For my birthday I specifically asked hubby if I could take a cake ball class taught by Austin Cake Ball.  I finally had the opportunity to go to the big Whole Foods downtown and learn in their lovely classroom.  

Stacy Bridges and Rafael Cisneros showed us how they make their wonderful creations.  I've made cake balls before but it was a great opportunity to watch how the pros do it and to hear their ideas and techniques.

I could definitely use some more practice!

Maybe everyone will get cake balls for Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Mark & Erin!

Happy Anniversary, Mark & Erin!
(+5 skill points => 380/400) 

Thanksgiving time also means it's my brother and his wife's wedding anniversary!  Since we had a multitude of pies already incoming for turkey day, I got to focus on making a cake just for them.  

  • 8" round of extended Butter Pecan box mix
  • American buttercream using high ratio shortening
  • filled with eggnog frosting
  • reverse shell border on top
  • bead border on bottom
  • swirlies on the side
This cake really allowed me to practice some basic techniques.  I still need to log many hours in for leveling, torting, damming, and filling a cake ... only then can I also practice icing.  This cake went pretty smoothly.  I used my Wilton leveler to make 2" high layers.  My dam was made of cake spackle.  The eggnog icing was very stable.  This made for one of the straightest and tallest cakes I've made.  

Icing still is difficult me.  After crumb coating, I have difficulties maintaining consistent icing thickness around the cake.  I've been using a large tube tip to apply the icing, but I think I need to switch to something smaller.  My attempts to smooth things out end up moving the icing around too much.  My icing unfortunately didn't crush, so using Viva paper towels wasn't very helpful.  I managed to get some smooth and straight areas with a plastic scraper.  It made things easier when the cake was popped in the freezer for the base buttercream to firm up.  Afterward I could spread on some thin buttercream to even out or fill in any holes.

I free-handed some swirlies!

I wish I had more time to practice these kind of cakes over and over again.  This was still a great opportunity to gain a little experience.  I dream one day someone will ask me to do a wedding cake!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, to Me!

Happy Birthday!
(+5 skill points => 375/400)   

Is it funny that what I want to do on my birthday is make myself a cake?  I'm happy that I got some time to practice my hobby and try new things.  Maybe hubby will clean up my mess ...

  • 8" round doctored vanilla cake mix
  • iced and filled with American buttercream with Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
  • vertical piped buttercream using Wilton tip #7
  • modeling chocolate topper with kitty cat patchwork cutter design
I bought a can of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder to work with.  I just used the recipe on the back of the can.  It's been a good while since I've worked with crusting buttercream.  Gotta say I don't miss this gritty powdered sugar.

Hubby and I bought a new food processor!  Now I can make cake crumbs with ease :)  This makes me super excited about my upcoming cake ball class.

Dam using cake spackle.

Leveled using a serrated knife ... um ... I need to get an Agbay.  Can't you see it's slanted???

 Still too lazy and untalented to get smooth icing.

 I've been wanting to try this design that I saw on a wedding cake on cakecentral.com:


Grab some aspirin and get comfy.  This takes a while.  I scored some guidelines along the cake with my spatula.  I started piping vertical lines using Wilton tip #7.  Then I realized I could just make really long zig-zags instead of stopping after every line.  I still stopped every 3-4 lines to give my wrist a break.

 I should have timed myself.

Ick, the buttercream had all these holes.  Too much air incorporated!

Finally!  An excuse to use my cute cutters that I bought in February.

Oh ... turns out you don't cut with these ... you impress the design.

Like this.

I had rolled out some modeling chocolate on my silicon baking mat.  I love how I don't need to prep the mat; nothing sticks to this sucker.  After imprinting the design, it was popped into the freezer for ~1 minute.  On to a cutting board and curvy-cut with a paring knife.

Final cake.

Not as pretty as that wedding cake, but was great to try.

Happy birthday, to me!

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners