"Hey, I can do that!"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baby Shower Desserts

Baby Shower Desserts

I had the distinct honor of co-hosting the baby shower of my grade-school friend Pam.  She is expecting baby Aria in May.  I, of course, volunteered to make several desserts!

  • 8" round doctored cake
    • cooked flour filling and icing
    • covered in fondant
    • decorated with modeling chocolate blossoms
  • "No Fail Sugar Cookies"
    • covered with fondant and modeling chocolate
    • decorated with texture sheets
  • macarons
    • filled with dark chocolate peanut butter spread
  • dark chocolate fudge cupcakes (box mix)
    • iced with mixed swirl of chocolate and peanut butter icing
  • failed petit fours (not in photographs)
    • cream cheese pound cake
    • filled with pate a bombe icing and strawberry jam
    • failed to cover with chocolate almond bark
I must have been in some sort of cakers' hell this weekend.  Since the baby shower was 3 hours away, I decided to do some of the work at my house, then pack everything up and do the rest at my parents' house (near the shower).  What I didn't account for was that my parents were in the middle of packing up the house getting ready to sell and retire.  They were out of the country at the moment, so I couldn't ask them where anything was!

This was my first time to use some brand of almond bark that I got at Walmart.  When I went to dip my petit fours, it clumped badly and my parents didn't have any shortening to help smooth it out.  I gave up on them and figured I'd move on to baking cupcakes.  I look under the kitchen cabinet for their KitchenAid mixer and it's not there!  NOTHING is there!  Not even the other ancient standing mixer.  I look in the pantry and there's no hand mixer!  Ack.  I called my girlfriend who was hosting the party at her house and informed her it wasn't going well.  I asked her if she had a mixer and she said she did.  I packed everything up and went over there.  Her standing mixer was not awesome ... it was barely adequate.  I mean this from a caker's perspective, so I am exaggerating, but I was pressed for time and missed my KitchenAid badly!  I managed to make and plate everything else in time (barely).  I was piping the frosting on the last cupcakes as guests were walking in.

We had so much food.  The guests hardly made a dent in my desserts, and I'm sure the chocolate fountain and its accessories had a hand in that.  I'm still working on perfecting macarons. They were a bit chewier than I'd like.  I forgot the baking powder in the sugar cookies, but couldn't even tell.  The cupcakes were very yummy and chocolate + peanut butter icing was a great combo.  I didn't get a slice of cake though :(  The grandmother-to-be showered me with compliments, so it was very rewarding.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That Takes The Cake 2011: Celebrity Guest Demonstrations

That Takes The Cake 2011
Capital Confectioners' 7th Annual Art Show & Cake Competition
Celebrity Guest Demonstrations

Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the special celebrity guest demonstrators, but I did get them all to autograph my show poster.  I had the honor of being video camera girl during the entire thing.  We had rented Alamo Drafthouse's 13'x24' screen, projector, and audio rig, so everyone was literally bigger than life.  I had the responsibility of keeping the camera on the demonstrators and their work for everyone else to see.  Every single demonstrator was totally awesome, so fun and informative.  I enjoyed this much more than last year.
Location: North Austin Event Center, Austin, TX
Time: Sunday, February 27th, 2011 9 AM - 2 AM
Total Hours: 3.75
  • Lorraine McKay - modeling cute cartoony frog from fondant
  • James Rosselle - cutting, wiring, and decorating 3 different flowers
  • Mike McCarey - sculpting a dog cake with dowels and boards
  • Marina Sousa - making jewels and beads with Isomalt
  • Susan Carberry - sculpting a mushroom cake using PVC piping as internal structure
This was a fun and whimsical tutorial.  She informed us that she uses fondant, not gumpaste, to do these figures.  This frog required very few tools and media.

James is so wonderfully tall and did such intricate work on these flowers, it was hard to keep the camera focused on what the audience needed to see!  He informed us that Fondarific will be launching his own special line/formula for gumpaste.  He showed us how to use a groove board, different cutters, how to insert wires into the petals and arrange them.  We even got to see him airbrush a few at the end.

Right off the bat Mike was running at a mile a minute!  When I approached him to attach the wireless lavaliere mic on his chef's coat, he said "Sure, but I won't need it!"  He was right.  He didn't want to stand behind the counters, but instead talk and walk closer to the audience.  I gave up trying to keep the camera on him.  His assistant had to hold up printed pictures to my camera for everyone to see.  He showed us how to create a blueprint for carving and sculpting cake of a dog sitting up.  Mike had documented the entire process in a series of large print photos that he showed us.  He brought in the different pieces of wood and the tools he uses to make the base.  Mike says he uses a very specific brand of fondant that of course I can't remember the name of.  He likes its workability and stretchiness.  To smooth out fondant seams, he wets the fondant and rubs it with his finger times.  Mike showed us the Dremel tool that he likes to use to cut out his custom wood bases (gotta get me one of those!).

After some technical difficulties with the stove, we eventually got Marina going and showing us how to work with Isomalt.  She did some real-time isomalt melting in a pot to show us about how long it takes.  She had some pre-melted and warmed in a microwave that she used to pour into silicone molds.  Marina showed us the molds she helped develop that can make a beautiful string of sugar beads.

Susan was a lot of fun.  She even shot confetti out of her cake!  She showed us how to work with PVC and flanges to create a base and internal structure for a sculpted cake.  Susan shows us a cool trick for supporting boards!  If you have a PVC pipe going up the middle, cut a slightly thicker but shorter pipe and slide it over.  Slide down your cake board with a hole the size of the inner pipe.  It should sit and rest comfortable on the outer pipe.  To stabilize the board, you can cut another piece of larger pipe and slide it down the middle pipe so it will sandwich the board.  If you need the board to sit wacky, cut the pipes slanted!  Easy way to stability and support a cake!  To shoot out confetti, she showed us some tubing connected to a compressed air canister for pumping up bike tires.  Yeah ... I'm not going to remember all these hardware components she talked about!

I really wish I could have taken notes and pictures, but I barely had time to scarf down lunch before the audience called me back up to zoom in on James!  Next year I'm saddling hubby to work the camera!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TMNT and the Secret of the Oozing Buttercream

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
and the Secret of the Oozing Buttercream

Event: "That Takes The Cake" 2011
7th Annual Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition (Austin, TX)
Division: Adult Intermediate
Style: Buttercream Only
Media: styrofoam dummy, Wilton buttercream

So I was too embarrassed to enter this cake into the show.  I felt fantastic about it when I finished it ... but that was over a week ago.  When I brought the cake out before the show, I saw how the colors had bled and the whole thing didn't look as bright as it used to.  I just looked at it again to take pictures and you know what?  I should have just submitted the damn thing.  It's not a train wreck.  Know what else?  I would have grabbed an easy 3rd place!  There were only 2 cakes in my division for that category.  Oh well, maybe next year ;)

St. Patrick's Day Wedding

 St. Patrick's Day Wedding
Wedding Tiered

Event: "That Takes The Cake" 2011
7th Annual Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition (Austin, TX)
Division: Adult Intermediate
Style: Wedding Tiered
Media: styrofoam dummies, modeling chocolate, fondant, piping gel

Wow, I actually finished a cake early!  I was quite proud of this one until I sat it down next to all my competitors' cakes in awe.  It was a total shock that this won 3rd place.  The judges said it was very clean.  This also go the attention of the representatives from CakeCentral.com.  I got the first ever Cake Central Choice Award!  Today I had a short phone interview with them.  Hopefully you'll be able to see my ramblings in Volume 2, Issue 2!

If you're interested in the work that went in to this (around 20 hours), here is my work log for this cake.  When I was working on it, I kept having to justify sacrificing time for re-doing several parts because they weren't perfect.  Now I understand that doing so makes all the difference in competition.

Worst Cake Ever.

Worst Cake Ever.
"Comic Book Guy" from the Simpsons

Event: "That Takes The Cake" 2011
7th Annual Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition (Austin, TX)
Division: Adult Intermediate
Style: Sculpted
Media: cake, modeling chocolate, rice cereal treats, gumpaste, food coloring, candy coating, PVC piping, metal flanges, wood boards

Since I knew the show theme was "Comic Books", I've been wanting to make this guy for a long time.  This is my first cake using PVC for internal structure.  He didn't really turn out how I wanted due to time constraints, but he still took home 3rd place.

I finished him at 3:30 in the morning on the day of the show.  He was heavy, but he was as sturdy as a rock.  He has 1/2" pipe in each leg, secured to the wooden base by adapters and metal flanges.  I smooshed rice cereal treats and formed legs, feet, and his butt.  I then covered that with gumpaste.  After drying over night, his bottom half not going to budge for nobody!

I had plenty of cake to play with.  Carving went well and I used cake spackle to build up any other areas.  He's got some pink icing inside because I had a lot of pink left over from a failed buttercream-only cake.  His head is rice cereal treats over the end of his spinal pipe.  Modeling chocolate provided the rest of his flesh, hair, and clothing.  It was so late in the night, I was completely out of time and couldn't do any of the finishing touches that I would have liked.  The judges specifically called them out too: shoelaces, belly button, etc.  Oh well, maybe next year.

He was still very nice to slice into ... had my stop myself from chowing down.  No one should eat competition cake that's been sitting in a convention center for 3 days in front of hundreds of people!

Tuskarr of Northrend

Tuskarr of Northrend
from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Event: "That Takes The Cake" 2011
7th Annual Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition (Austin, TX)
Division: Adult Intermediate
Style: Special Techniques
Media: modeling chocolate, rice cereal treats, royal icing, food coloring, candy coating, wooden skewer and toothpicks

This little guy won 1st place in his category!  I had a great time making him and hopefully he'll last for a while.  If you're interested, here is my work log for him.

What is a Tuskarr?  The Tuskarr are a race of walrus humanoids present in the massive multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft (i.e. a video game).  They were introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  I have a strong fondness for these creatures because they are based off of Eskimo and Inuit tribes.  To me, they're like the Filipinos of the north!  Tuskarr are jolly and live simple lives, but possess strong beliefs and come from a rich culture.  For my birthday I got a Tuskarr model that is wonderfully detailed with excellent craftsmanship.  I wanted to create a sugar art piece that would honor these creatures.

I used a wire coat hanger to make a rough skeleton to support the model. This was screwed in to a 10" wooden square base and additionally secured with hot glue.  Rice cereal treats were compressed around the wire frame and became the majority of his bulk.  I coated the shaped rice cereal treats with thin Royal Icing and he was left to dry.  Modeling chocolate was pressed and smoothed around that, creating musculature and giving him more weight.  I used clay and gumpaste tools to carve and sculpt his features.  Finally he received an extensive coloring session using a variety of gel, powder, and liquid food colorings.  His spear is a chocolate covered wooden skewer.  The other accents are modeling chocolate.  I used a clay extruder to make ropes from modeling chocolate.  No molds were used.

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners