Friday, July 1, 2011

Pirate Party

I had the most fun making a pirate-themed cake and accompanying cupcakes for Jack's birthday party last month.  Jack's mom, Melissa had such confidence in my creative abilites that she gave me full reign of the creative process...I love when that happens!  She knew she wanted a pirate theme and a combination of cake and cupcakes.  The rest was up to me.  I couldn't wait to get started, so immediately started sketching.

Here is what I came up with for the cake and cupcake toppers:

Finished fondant decorations ready to go on the cake:

Finished fondant cupcake toppers:

Cake - vanilla cake with lemon curd filling and blue raspberry buttercream:

Pirate cupcakes - vanilla/vanilla, parrot - vanilla/chocolate, skull and crossbones - chocolate/chocolate, treasure chest - chocolate/peanut butter:

Detail of treasure chest.  I'm so proud of how they came out!

I loved this project so much and look forward to doing more like it!

3-Cake Weekend - Part III

The third cake in my 3-Cake Weekend blog series was for my 5 year-old nephew Evan.  I was unable to have a cake ready for his party, so I decided to make a 6" personal cake just for him.  Evan is crazy about Transformers, as most little boys his age are, so I knew the cake had to have some sort of Transformer on it.  But which one?   There are so many...too many to count really.  After a lot of unproductive brainstorming, I finally got a lightbulb and decided that the Autobot insignia was the answer.  It's clean and simple (just as I like it!) and representative of all the good-guy Transformers. 

Evan's 5th birthday Autobot cake  - Chocolate cake with vanilla cream cheese buttercream:

Monday, June 13, 2011

3-Cake Weekend - Part II

The second cake in my 3-cake weekend was for one of my good friend's daughter's 3rd birthday party.  After trying to dissuade her daughter for weeks from having a princess-themed party (even telling Marley that "I don't think Whitney can make a princess cake" to which Marley replied "yes she can!"), my friend Brandie finally surrendered to the princess party. So, a very special princess cake for a very special little girl was in order!  Brandie had already purchased this adorable princess cupcake kit from Williams-Sonoma for me to draw inspiration from, which made the design process easy.

I decided that I would make three-dimensionsal flowers to match those on the princess dresses and cupcake liners.  And the piece de resistance would be a princess crown on top of the cake of course!  I made the crown by drawing a template on parchment paper (as you would if you were making a paper crown), laid the template over white fondant and cut out the shape using an exacto knife.  Then I wrapped the fondant crown around an empty oatmeal container and let stand upright to dry overnight.  Once dry, I applied decorations.  I also gave the crown a dusting of luster dust to give it that golden glow.  Here it is in its beginning stages:

The finished princess cake - chocolate cake with vegan raspberry "buttercream":

Happy birthday Marley!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

3-Cake Weekend - Part I

What is it about May and birthdays?  It seems like the majority of the people we know have May birthdays which means that every May we have at least one birthday party every weekend!  I guess people just get that lovin' feeling when the weather starts to cool off and the holiday season draws closer...

This year, more birthdays equals more cakes for me to make...yipee!  The weekend of the 21st of May, 2011 will always be remembered as the 3-cake weekend.  Not only did I have to make three cakes for three separate birthdays, but I had to shuttle my kids around to three different parties!  You might think I'm crazy for piling all of this onto my plate in one weekend, but I just couldn't say "no".  I'll explain below and in my subsequent posts.

Cake #1 - Tulsi's Carnival Carousel Cake

I was asked at the beginning of the month to make a cake shaped like a circus tent for a carnival-themed birthday party.  Although I had never done a shaped cake or a cake with such detail before and I knew that the weekend it needed to be ready for was going to be crazy, I couldn't say "no".  I think that it is so important as a creative artist (or for anyone in any profession for that matter) to continually do things that are challenging and scare you.  That's the only way you can become better at what you do.

At first I wasn't sure how I would make the pointed top of the cake.  Initially I thought molding the top out of rice crispy treats would be the way to go, but after giving it some thought, I decided to make a separate cake and just carve it into the shape that I wanted.  It was a messy task, but it worked really well.

Here is an image of the top after I iced it and covered it with fondant.

Top view

Finished cake and top ready to be assembled

Detail of fondant carousel horse I made to match graphics at the party

Tulsi's carousel carnival cake - Vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream

Stay tuned for parts II & III!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy birthday baby sister!

My baby sister turned 23 a few weeks ago....what?!  Although she has grown up to be someone whom I admire and am quite proud of, I can't help but still think of her as that cute little baby I used to carry around and dress up like my little doll.

Here we are back in the good old days.  She must have been a little over a year which would have made me 8 or so.  Isn't she adorable?!

Even with a seven-year age difference between us, she is my very best friend and I would do anything for her.  So, of course I had to bake a very special cake for her big day. 

I knew that I wanted her cake to have a pig on it.  My sister is a lover and collector of pigs just as my dad was (not real pigs, just pig paraphernalia).  Making a fondant pig of some sort would have been a cinch for me now that I have become really familiar with the stuff, but fondant was off limits.  You see, fondant contains gelatin, an ingredient that is derived from an animal by-product, and my sister has been a vegetarian for nearly seven years.  I suppose I could have used icing, but I really like the contrast of using firm, smooth fondant in conjunction with soft, more textured buttercream.  While poking around in the baking aisle at Whole Foods (my home away from home) I found marzipan, a dough made of almonds (wholesome and 100% vegetarian!), and figured it was worth a try.  Working with the marzipan was a little tricky.  It was incredibly sticky and got crumbly quickly, but it tastes soooo good.  After a few failed attempts of pig-making and trying not to eat the marzipan, I ended up with a pretty convincing pig face.  I added a bow and some pretty eyelashes to make piggy look girly and voila...

Chocolate Cake with raspberry puree filling and raspberry cream cheese buttercream.

Happy Birthday Serena.....and many more!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wedding Cakes

So, I've done it again!  I've gone nearly two months without a single post!  I must be the world's worst blogger.  Well, it all changes today!  I have made a pact with myself to update my blog at least once a week and I plan to hold myself to it!

In my last post, I forecasted a possible wedding cake in my future.  As it turned out, Jayme and Rob (the bride and groom) were brave enough to have me do their cakes for their April 29th wedding reception.  This being my first wedding cake, I have to admit I was a little nervous, but I love a good challenge!  After a design consultation and tasting with Jayme and Rob, we decided to do a two-tiered wedding cake with accompanying cupcakes.  The top tier would be chocolate with raspberry filling and the bottom tier vanilla with lemon curd, both covered in raspberry buttercream.  Rob knew before we even had the tasting that the groom's cake had to be carrot cake, so carrot cake it was.  After countless hours of baking, decorating and coming close to losing my mind, I had two finished cakes that I am really quite proud of.

Jayme's pink wedding cake with fondant rosettes and accompanying cupcakes

Close-up of fondant rosettes

Rob's groom's cake with Canadian and New Zealand flag in honor of his heritage.

All in all I really enjoyed making these cakes and would do it all over again if given the opportunity.  A big thank you to Jayme and Rob for trusting me with this important task!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Madness

My sincerest apologies to my three followers!  It seems I have really dropped the ball with this whole blogging thing.  I mean, what respectable blogger goes almost a month without a single post?!  I have to blame it on the fact that March has been an unusually busy month for me.  There was spring break, SXSW here in Austin, two new babies for two good friends and a ton of birthdays. During all of this busy-ness, I can't believe I even had time to bake, but I made it work and produced some of my best work to date!

At the beginning of the month my brother in-law Jeramy asked me to make another batch of app cupcakes to bring in to his office during SXSW interactive week.  He sent me a list of 15 apps to choose from.  It was a hard choice, so I decided to make all 15 times 2 (he needed 30).  This time around I opted to color my own fondant which ended up being less expensive than buying the pre-colored variety and there was a broader range of color (the colors looked so much more vibrant too.  From now on I am always dying my own fondant, even if it takes twice as long!)  The whole process from drawing everything out on paper to baking the cupcakes to decorating took me an entire week of working here and there around the kids.  I am very pleased with the end result and would welcome the opprtunity to do it again.

Here is the finished product.  Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream.

Fondant and royal icing apps from left to right/top to bottom (sorry for the sideways picture...I can't figure out how to rotate it):  Flickr, StumbleUpon, ipod, Gowalla, Skype, Youtube, MMS, Mail, Phone, Facebook

Fondant and royal icing apps clockwise from top: Twitter, Pandora, API logo (Academic Programs International, Wordpress, Hoot Suite (my favorite).

Next up, my husband's 30th birthday cake.  I had really high hopes for this cake.  I brainstormed for several weeks about different themes that I could do and how I would go about implementing them.  When it was all said and done, I just ran out of time and energy and opted to do something simpler.  Sometimes simpler is better, if it means saving your sanity!

Chocolate cake with chocolate filling and peanut butter frosting topped with chocolate buttercream border and Justin's peanut butter cups.  My son is responsible for the dinosaur on top.  I think it was the perfect touch!

One thing I learned while making this cake is to ALWAYS level your cake layers.  Even if you think you can get away without leveling them, do it anyway.  I managed to fill in the gaps with frosting pretty well, but it took an inordinate amount of time and I feared that this would surely end up on cake wrecks.  Not quite a cake wreck, but not my best work either.  At least the birthday boy was happy!

Finally, I was asked to do another Iron Man cake.  I wanted to change things up a bit, so I made Iron Man's face a little larger and added some more detail.  I had some left over batter when I made the cake, which I used for accompanying cupcakes.  I am incredibly pleased with the end result.  My best cake to date maybe.

Vanilla butter cake with vanilla buttercream.

Fondant detail on cupcakes.

Happy birthday Hutton!

And so concludes my March Madness.  Stay tuned for April.  I have my sister's birthday, a cupcakes and cocktails party and possibly a wedding cake...yikes!