Friday, September 7, 2012

Princess Jordyn's Cake Smash

Recently I was employed to make a cake for a little princess' 1st Birthday. The sole function of this cake was to look pretty initially, for photos of course, and then, to be smashed into by the birthday girl. It's a fun thing to do, and I know a lot of people that have never heard of it. My mum being a photographer has actually been doing photo shoots of cake smashes. They are loads of fun!

Anyway, back to the point. There was no real theme for this birthday to begin with, so after putting together a few examples of what I could do, the customer decided on a girly pink theme. Im talking, pink spots, swirly ribbons on top, you name it!

The only problem that I could see, was with a cake smash, you want the subject to become extremely messy. I mean, whats the point in smashing into a cake, if your not going to get a little bit messy! (It honestly makes for some great photos) So my problem was, if I covered the cake completely in fondant it wasnt really going to be messy enough.

After speaking it over with the customer and telling her of these concerns, we agreed to cover the cake in a white buttercream and then decorate with fondant.

In the end this is what I came up with - It was all baked, covered and decorated in the same morning of the delivery. I finished it with a cute multi-colored spotted '1' candle. I thought it just looked too sweet in the end, don't you?! It looks like a little wrapped gift of cake to me. :)

Jordyn enjoying the cake! 
I was lucky enough to have the customer send me some of her own pictures as well. I think Jordyn looks too cute with frosting all over her face! I also made for the customer 3 dozen chocolate sour cream cupcakes with a milk chocolate swiss meringue buttercream with girly fondant toppers - including little ribbons. Such a sweet cake to make, for such a sweet little girl! :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Little Mermaid Cake

I was asked by a friend back in June to help out a family in need by donating one of my cakes for a little girls birthday party.

They made the theme the Little Mermaid. I told them I would donate a 9 inch round cake and 3 dozen cupcakes. The plan was that the cupcakes would be served at the party and the cake could be taken home to be enjoyed by the family for Abby's birthday.

I spent a few days hand crafting the little mermaid and a few more days allowing her to dry. The overall design was based around another cake I had seen, but essentially it was all my own designs.

My one aim when making this cake was to make it as bright and colorful as possible to make the day a happy occasion whilst being bright and fun!

As I finished putting all of the components together on this cake, I discovered a fun way to make bubbles, which I decided to scatter around the "Happy birthday" to bring it to life a little bit more. I even made a flounder to try and tie it to the little mermaid as much as possible.

I think this is one of the top cakes I have had the most fun making, taking me back to my favorite childhood fairy tale  Having the freedom with this cake to make anything I pleased and design it however I felt was right, gave me a lot of satisfaction. The most satisfying moment was hearing feedback about how excited Abby was to have this cake on her birthday.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Angry Birds Cakes

I know its been a while since I have regularly updated my blog, but I promise Im getting into a new routine and will be sure to update at least once a week now. At the moment though I have a massive back log of blogs to write so coming up with today's was a tough choice.   I decided I would share with you the two Angry Birds cakes I've created in the past couple of months. Keep in mind these are custom designs and I make these to order and create them based on the customers specifications. I do venture off track a little and have not disappointed anyone yet.

My first Angry Birds cake was for a friend's son who turned 6 this year. Before this I had nothing to do with Angry Birds and kind of struggled with what they were all about. Steve added the Angry Birds trial App on my iphone and I started to play it a little in my spare time just to see what the fuss was all about. I'm still not 100% convinced, but this is mainly because I don't have the patience for video games - board games is a different story.

So my first Angry Birds cake was for Kye who turned 6, and he wanted it crossed with a jungle theme as well. He was very accurate - he wanted the cake to have a lion and a giraffe on it.

I taught myself how to make a giraffe and lion - my giraffe in this one was so bad that when my sister in law saw photos, she invited me to take a zoo animals class while I visited family in Australia. It was all in fun and a joke - I laughed - but it was a good first attempt I think. :)

My first ever giraffe ;)
My next Angry Birds cake was for a little girl named Jasmine. Again I custom designed it to suit the customers requests and added my own little twist to it. Being my second Angry Bird cake I had played a little more of the game and came across one called "seasons" which included cherry blossom on one of the levels. When I was told it was for a girl I had to make it relate to a girl so added in the flowers to make it a little more girly.

After speaking to the customer I asked if she would like me to do a two tiered cake so I could position the sling shot on the cake and make it relate more to the game. She was most happy to let me do what I wanted so I went wild with it.

placing straws in the bottom layer cake for support.
I decided to place the pigs on top and simulate "boxes" as per the game. I then placed the angry birds around the front and faced them forward. Before you ask - yes each and every one of my angry birds and pigs are hand sculpted - right down to the beak and they eyes - pretty sure the goofiness of the eyes should give it away.

I attempted to stand the sling shot around the front of the cake but the pure weight of the fondant just kept trying to pull itself over so I had to lean it against the side and kind of mounted it there with high hopes that it wouldn't move.

 I finished both tiers off with a few clouds scattered around which I made by using a daisy cutter and rolled them out till they looked more cloud like. It seemed to finish it off nicely and tie it all together.

So those are my two Angry Birds cakes to date. I'm desperately awaiting my chance to make Angry Birds cupcakes- I think it could be really fun to make the scene across multiple cupcakes and then arranging them so that the slingshot is on one and you can almost fire the birds to land on the other cupcakes. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Topsy Turvy Cake

I've recently been on a holiday back home to Australia for 5 weeks. While I was there I learnt so many new cake skills. I learnt how to wire flowers and create flower sprays by taking a Moth Orchid course and in turn learnt the basics of Gum paste and how to work with it and make it myself from scratch.

I took a class on how to make Zoo Animals, moulding a giraffe, panda and monkey from fondant. As a result I can now make any basic animal sitting up - can't wait to get a jungle themed cake to make!

Finally I took one last class on how to cover a chocolate cake in ganache to then cover in fondant and create a fondant ribbon.

I took so many things away from all of these classes to then come home to an order from a friends husband for a small surprise birthday cake. After I enquired what theme etc. I was given two stipulations. 1. It MUST be chocolate and 2. It has to have "Happy Birthday" on the cake. Other then those two requirments, I was free to do what I wished. So I charged mates rates for a small cake and decided to make my first ever topsy turvy cake.

 I did a bit of research on what designs to do and finally decided to use some of the skills I learnt in Australia and came up with a 2 tiered cake. I decided to start with a cake board covered in Fondant with Happy Birthday on that. Then the first tier I made a simple pink with some flowers scattered across it.

The top tier I wanted to finish with a loop ribbon to represent a gift box, so thought I would do the strips up the side too.

The one twist to this whole order, was that I was going to be one of the guests at the dinner. This is the first time I've made a cake for a customer to then be present for the tasting. It was really quiet scary!!

At the end of the day though, the cake came out beautifully and tasted better then I expected. I guess you can judge how it turned out for yourself by checking out the pictures!! ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

New York & DC Cupcake/Bakery tour part 3...

Our final day of cupcake tours in New York took us to a couple of unexpected stops. First thing in the morning we planned to go to Cupcake Cafe, however met a couple of friends out front of Baked by Melissa. I didn't even see the store there, until my friend asked if it was on our tour.

 I noted in Baked by Melissa that all of the cakes were mini bite sized cakes, which was a welcomed change from a lot of the other stores we had been to in previous days. We found that we had started to struggle through the cupcake stores and bakeries as we couldn't finish our cakes. To have bite sized as an option was wonderful news for our hips and taste buds.

Inside Baked by Melissa
 We were only going to have one each, and Steve sent me in with the stipulation of "mint chocolate" which is not one of my favourite flavour combinations. However, when I went in I noticed that the best way to buy these bite sized beauties was in a box of 3. So that's what I did. I went with the Choc-mint, Cookies & Cream and Chocolate fudge cupcakes. They were all so delicious! The cakes were moist and full of flavour with just the right amount of frosting. They were decorated in a very cute and sweet manner. Our only criticism is that after devouring them, we wished we had more.
Chocolate fudge, cookies & cream and Choc-mint cupcakes from Baked by Melissa

Our next stop for the day was Cupcake Cafe. I had read (on another blog) that it was one of the must do's in any New York cupcake tour. Upon entering Cupcake Cafe we almost had to search for the cupcakes. We finally found them towards the back of the store, and the flavour combinations were nothing exciting at all - simple chocolates & vanilla.

Inside Cupcake Cafe

Our next stop for the day was Cupcake Cafe. I had read (on another blog) that it was one of the must do's in any New York cupcake tour. Upon entering Cupcake Cafe we almost had to search for the cupcakes. We finally found them towards the back of the store, and the flavour combinations were nothing exciting at all - simple chocolates & vanilla.

Chocolate cupcake with Chocolate frosting from Cupcake Cafe

They were all decorated beautifully, but they all looked identical. I have a feeling this is their trademark, their decorating technique. They had piped butter cream flowers on top of each cake which was really beautiful. However anyone that knows me, knows that as important as it is for a cake to look pretty, it needs to taste fantastic as well. Unfortunately the cake tasted days old, was very dry and heavy and was easily the worst cake on our whole tour. It was so disappointing.

 After a week in New York, we moved on to Washington DC. On our first day of arrival we made it our mission to go to Georgetown cupcakes. Now I've watched quite a few episodes of 'DC Cupcakes' and really like the show - but I've always been funny about the owners. When watching the show I watch how they do some things and think "There is an easier way to do that! Why are they doing it like that?!" I love TV shows about cakes and cupcakes, so watch it simply for that reason, but couldn't really stand watching the presenters... I'm certain its just me! So with an already established negative feeling towards the shop, I didn't have high expectations. However staying in DC for the week, I would've been crazy not to go and check it out.

When we got there, the line was all the way up the street but that didn't deter us from getting into "DC Cupcakes". They had a 'bouncer' on the door, and as people left he let more people in. It was a great way to do it - you didn't feel rushed whilst in the store and it gave us plenty of time to look around and take photos. Whilst in the line outside, one of the staff came out and handed us all menus for what was available. That way you could be prepared to place your order when you walked in. I have to say the selection was impressive. Some selections are always available, and some available on a roster system - changing by the day of the week. We decided on one each - Steve went with a simple vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, and I went with the lava fudge cupcake. Once we got inside though, we noticed there were a couple of added flavours that weren't listed on their menu. One looked too irresistible to leave behind, so we ordered an extra flavour - German Chocolate.

Inside Georgetown cupcakes
The beautiful display of cupcakes at Georgetown

They had a good concept for an ordering system: you placed your order, paid the money and waited for your order number to be called to receive your cakes. It worked a treat, and was very fast! We walked around the corner of the store and could see through the glass panels and into the kitchen. This allowed us to take photos and watch the bakers hard at work. They had an amazing production line, and definitely gave me a lot of ideas for how I would do it, if and when I open my own cupcake shop. It was so clean in the kitchen, considering how many cakes they were pumping out. And they were pumping them out! 
Behind the scenes at Georgetown cupcakes
 check out all those trays of cakes!!!

Behind the scenes, cupcake production line!
Georgetown cupcakes

The production line in action!
Georgetown cupcakes
 After Georgetown cupcakes, we went for a wonder through Georgetown and stumbled across another 'Sprinkles'. Yes we had already tried out the Sprinkles in NYC, but what harm would there be in trying the DC branch? Plus it's a good way to see if its just the individual stores that are producing amazing cakes, or if its the whole of Sprinkles.

Display cabinet in Sprinkles - the same as NYC!

We ordered a Red Velvet and a Chocolate Marshmallow cupcake. There were the same cakes we had seen the previous week in New York and I was so tempted to get the Salted Caramel again, but wanted to try a new flavour.

Inside Sprinkles - cupcake cabinet!!!

When we got back to our room, we opened up our goodies boxes, and first compared the German Chocolate from Georgetown cupcakes, to the Chocolate Marshmallow from Sprinkles. The cakes were both amazing - they were light and fluffy, yet moist and flavourful. The frosting on the German Chocolate was so fresh that it had already started to slide off the cake - it was fluffy and rich and not too much coconut, which I really loved. The Chocolate Marshmallow had a lovely surprise of a gooey vanilla marshmallow centre and a light coating of ganache frosting. They were delectable and I had started to realise that Georgetown cupcakes was more then I had originally given it credit for. Next we compared the Lava fudge cake with the Red Velvet cupcake, which pretty much sealed the deal for me. It was a close call, however I had made my final decision on which cupcake shop was my ultimate favourite in the whole trip.
Chocolate Marshmallow cupcake from Sprinkles
German Chocolate cupcake from Georgetown cupcakes
Red Velvet cupcake from Sprinkles

Lava Fudge cupcake from Georgetown cupcakes
Sprinkles cupcakes were amazing, and they were equally as good in DC as they were in NYC. They were full of flavour and soft and moist. Their cakes were just as good as their frosting's and were finished simply. Sprinkles became Steve's favourite. I however favoured Georgetown cupcakes far more! Their flavours were real, you could tell just from one bite that they used quality ingredients, and they advertised the fact they do too. I love this, I am all about good quality ingredients. Their frostings were fluffy and luscious and each cake was so fresh, it was just amazing. They finished each cake beautifully and they almost invited you to dive in and devour them. I am so looking forward to my visit to DC again next year, just to go to Georgetown cupcakes again!

Vanilla cupcake with Chocolate frosting from Georgetown Cupcakes