Friday, August 30, 2013

Little Mermaid Cake

I just love how my nieces Little Mermaid Cake turned out!

Below are some photo's of the Little Mermaid Cake.  It's hard to see it but I did brush the bottom half of the cake in blue petal dust to create the illusion of depth since the ocean does get darker the deeper you go -it's like a subtle ombre effect.  I also made the splashes around the tail fin by ruffling up some circles of fondant, lightly folding it in half then brushing the tips with white royal icing (brush embroidery method).  I then dusted some white glitter along the tips of the fin and water splashes and added pearl dust around some of the decorations.  The bubbles were painted on really lightly with white gel color diluted with vodka and the cutter used on the name were FMM Upper Case Tappit Cutters.

All the decorations were made using Wilton Fondant.  Wilton Fondat dries up quickly but gives you time to work on it - kind of like a mix of fondant and gumpaste.  I'm liking this stuff.  I still like covering my cakes with Marshmallow Fondant (recipe can be found along the tab above) - it tastes better and works wonderfully for me.

I must have watched, The Little Mermaid over a million times when it first came out on VHS ages ago and I loved Sebastian singing his songs.  So for Sebastian (the little red, crab), I modeled him singing to Ariel in his catchy, big, deep voice, "...Under the sea, Under the sea, Darling its better down where its wetter, take it from me..."

I made the Little Mermaid child-like since I figured it would fit better on a cake for a 3 year old.  She loved it.....I do....and I hope you do too!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Japanese Beetle Bug Cake (Tutorial)

My daughter's friend had a bug themed party and when asked to make a cake, I jump for joy suggesting a giant bug for a cake and that is exactly what I made....a big, creepy, Japanese Beetle Bug Cake.

The beetle is sitting on a 16-inch round board and its body measures to about 12 x 6 inches.  He's entirely made out of cake and decorated in fondant.  Here are some of the step-by-step photos of the process in making the cake:

Baked 2, 8-inch square cakes plus a cupcake for the bugs head.  Cut out the base of the cake out of a cake board and used it as a template to carve the basic outline of the beetle
Basic outline of the bug carved out of cake
I used a paper template from a coloring page of a Japanese Beetle to get the features just right on the cake.  Further carved the sides of the cake into shape.
Remove the template and eyeballed the rest of the features and carved out the roundness of the bugs body
Cover in ganache and let it sit overnight to set
After it sits out overnight, I pop the cake into the fridge for about half an hour to get firm so that I can handle it better.  I propped it up over a container so that as I add the fondant details, I can wrap it up under the cake to give it a more 3D look rather than have it sitting flat up on the cake board.  I lightly drew out the details on the cake with a scoring tool so that I can get a better feel of what I need to make.  The cake does form a small layer on condensation as it comes back to room temperature and it works to your advantage and helps the fondant stick to the ganache without needing to add anything extra.
Keep adding the details on the bug cake section by section.  As you can see, the cake is propped up over a rectangular container that fit under the bug's body.
The wings were the most difficult to get just right.  I must have spent a good hour shaping them.  I then let the cake rest for a couple hours so that the fondant can harden up a bit before painting in the details.
I then painted the wings with piping gel that I watered way down with vodka: I used a mix of chocolate brown, bright yellow and white gel colors.  I also painted the body of the bug the same way using a little bit of yellow to give it some texture and dimension.  The piping gel dries up leaving behind a glossy shell.

I used the coloring page as a reference to sculpt the beetle's legs with - I wrapped up a straw with black fondant and sculpted the details on it.  I used the same technique to create the tentacles.

All 6 bug legs made and left to dry overnight.  The tips of the straws sticking out is what I use to insert into the cake.  I used sugar glue (Tylose powder mixed with water) to help hold the legs into the cake.

Once the cake was assembled, I used white royal icing to brush the "fuzzy hair" around the sides and back of the bug.

 And that's it.  Hope you like it and didn't get too creeped out by it.
Japanese Beetle Bug Cake
(a view all around)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Featured in CakeCentral Magazine (June 2013)

A Beatrix Potter Baby Shower Cake - The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies


I was completely surprised to be asked if I could to submit a cake to be possibly featured in an upcoming issue of CakeCentral Magazine.  Who could possible pass this up!  Well, I almost did.  I received the invite on a day that I had gotten hit really hard with the flu bug.  I briefly read the email not thinking anything about it and went right to sleep where I stayed for 4 days fighting a high fever.  It wasn't until later that I sat down and reread the email that it actually hit me...Cake Central had invited ME to submit a cake!  Me!  Oh my! and it had to be professional photographed and submitted by a deadline that was now less than 2 weeks away.  I pondered whether I could possible pull it off while being sick all while trying to figure out what was I going to do, am I even qualified to do this, how, when, where, who, ahhhh!

The theme I was given was a Beatrix Potter Baby Shower and the book was, The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies.  Beatrix Potter is the illustrator and writer behind the Peter Rabbit series of books.  I absolutely love her work and I was excited to take one of her stories and turn it into cake.  The design I came up with for the cake was my interpretation of the story - the top tier showed one of the baby bunnies sleeping under the lettuce plant after filling his belly up with lettuce (food coma or as Beatrix Potter called it, soporific) and the bottom tier showed farmer Mr. McGregor's window (the one the Flopsies used to peek in through) and I added mommy and daddy, Flopsy and Benjamin Bunny, walking along the farmers home.

A week went by in trying to fight off the flu and now I was on a tighter deadline.  With my head in a fog, and a flu that just stuck to me like glue in what seemed to take forever to get rid off, I was now on a mission to get this cake done.  And it never fails....Why is it that when you need something, you can't find it but when you don't need it, they're everywhere?  I had to go all over town to 3 cake supply stores to find cake dummies in the sizes I wanted.  All I wanted was a 6 x 4 inch round and 2, 8 x 4 inch round dummies!  Nothing complicated, nothing out of the ordinary.  Then, make another run to Home Depot to grab a pale of Patch 'N Paint (it's the stuff you use to spackle and patch walls with) and rolled up my sleeves to attempt prepping my first cake dummies.  Just a month prior, a fellow cake club member gave a demo on how to prep your cake dummies using Patch 'N Paint like buttercream to cover your cake dummies with, let it day a couple hours, sand it down smooth, rub in a light layer of shortening all over it and then roll out and smooth your fondant over that.

Sounds easy right?  Well, real cakes are heavy and stay put when you ice them.  Cake dummies on the other hand, are really light and move all over the place.  I rolled up packing tape to the bottom of the cake dummies and onto a board to help them stay grounded and just held the top of the dummy down with one hand while I iced and turned the cake with the other hand.  What a challenge that was!  The Patch 'N Paint is awesome and has the same texture and work-ability as buttercream.  It's super light weight too and dries within hours.  Just look at how neat it looks after sanding it down smooth.

A blank, white canvas....

It looks like buttercream without the extra effort and ingredients to actually make the buttercream.  I'm really loving this stuff.

For the cobblestone base, I rolled out balls of white fondant and smoothed them one by one next to each other around the board.  After it dried, I dusted it over with an assortment of 5 petal dusts to give it some depth and the illusion of a real cobblestone floor.  What's an English garden without cobblestone?

The baby bunny was hand molded out of marshmallow fondant that I mixed with Tylose to help it dry harder and faster.  I used scissors to snip the fur pattern around his body.

I cut out the lettuce leaves free hand (didn't have a cutter that was large enough for these) and veined them using a large orchid viener.  They were originally made in white then dusted with yellow and green petal colors to look like lettuce.

The larger lettuce head is what I assembled with the leaves I had made a day prior then at the last minute, I decided to add a couple small ones along the base of the cake.  I used rose petal cutters to cut these since they were smaller and dusted them the same way as the large one, assembled them and let them dry overnight.

The fondant name plaque was hand cut from a paper template I made and I added the ribbed texture on it by pressing down a skewer every 1/8 inch across it.  Upper Case and Lower Case Tappit Cutters were used for the "Baby" font.  I added 2 trees to either side of the cake and made each leaf on the tree one by one...

well, each leaf is actually a 5 petal flower molded and pinched in the middle to look like a cluster of leaves.  I wanted to illusion of leaves but without the work of having to make each and every single leaf  - cool right?

I used 5 different colors for the leaves to create some depth and made well over 200 of these blossoms for both trees.

They came out exactly how I wanted them to look.  I absolutely love how they turned out.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny were also hand molded and I used a pair of scissors to lightly snip the hair markings around their bodies.

Aren't they just cute walking along the cobblestone path!

And here it is...3 pages in the June 2013 issue of CakeCentral Magazine (Volume 4, Issue 6).  What an honor and an adventure that I would do all over again in a heartbeat.

A special thank you to Bryan Ramsay Photography for making the time for my last minute request and for taking the beautiful photographs that made the cake magazine worthy!

We had to wait quietly for 3 whole months to find out whether the cake made it into the magazine or not.   It was torturous not being able to talk or share the photographs with everyone but now, I can finally show them off.  Hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Doc McStuffins Cake

Disney has a new show perfect for little ones that want to grow up to be doctors just like Elizabeth does.  So for her 6th birthday, she wanted a Doc McStuffins themed party.  Here is the cake I made for her including some photos on how I made the Doc McStuffins figurine - she's made mostly out of gumpaste and her clothing is a mix of gumpaste and fondant.

I've been playing around with different ways to make faces and this has been my favorite technique thus far - I also used it on the Strawberry Shortcake Figurines I made a few weeks ago too.  Here are some step by step photos that I was able to capture....

I was digging through out my pantry looking for something to use for the inside of Doc McStuffins head.  I've used styrofoam balls before but kids, no matter how often you tell them not to bite into the head and that it's not edible, still manage to sneak in that bite.  I've also used rice krispie treats before but it was after midnight and I really didn't want to go through the entire process of making a tiny batch just for the head.  So alas, I found this tootsie roll pop in our candy stash - it was the perfect size!  Now the head is entirely edible except for the popsicle stick inside it - ha hah!

Step #1: Cover the Tootsie Roll Pop with fondant and mold it into a round ball.  Then add the features - forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin.

Step #2:  Cover the lollipop with a piece of skin-toned fondant, smooth out the seams along the back of the head (the hair will hide it) and mold in the features of the face.

Next Steps:  Define the nose, add the eyes, lips, and hair. Use a toothpick to add the freckles and dust the cheeks and eyelids with pink luster dust.

Note:  I like to use small sewing pins to hold up the fondant while it dries.  You can see one that I used with a yellow head for the bangs.  I also used 3 sewing pins to hold up the ruffles along the skirts bottom.  They work perfectly and only leave a tiny little pin hole behind.

Since this figurine needed to be 5 inches tall, I had to add another popsicle stick to the torso section.  I twisted the Tootsie Roll Lollipop stick around a longer popsicle stick and used white floral tape to keep it all held together and secure.  I then covered the entire mid-section with a piece of white gumpaste and built the clothing up over it.

From this stage forward, I forgot to take more photos of the process but hopefully you can see what was done.

We had cupcakes that I frosted with pink buttercream and I added a dash of glitter to make them sparkle.  I also made little pink fondant hearts and added them over some wafer cookies to look like bandaids.  The birthday girls mom setup the dessert table with little cups that held pink and white licorice candies that resembled pills and a glass canister that held large marshmallows to resemble cotton balls.  It was a super cute party!

(photo courtesy of Tuan Le)
(photo courtesy of Tuan Le)

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