Rockin’ out!

It’s time for another musical cake of sorts. Keeping in tune with the theme of birthdays, I had the opportunity to make an electric guitar cake for another coworker’s daughter’s birthday. She’s into the band “Pierce the Veil,” and the request was a personalized electric guitar cake. Here we go!

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The baking process here began with planning- I had to figure out how big the final cake was going to be before even turning on the oven. The cake had to feed roughly 10 people. I decided to sketch out a guitar body that would fit over a 9×13″ cake, and scale the neck of the guitar and accessories accordingly. I had to make it proportional or else it would completely lose the effect.
IMG_1481To customize the guitar with the “Pierce the Veil” logo, I printed out the sketch that my coworker Dave sent to me. His daughter actually drew it, and we wanted to incorporate it to make it special. This helped me to get an idea of the scaling for the decorations.

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After finalizing the sketch, I copied the guitar body onto parchment paper and used it as a template to carve the cake.

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I used a serrated knife to get a clean cut around the edge.

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The cake was strawberry flavored with a vanilla buttercream. Strawberry cake is interesting (in my opinion)- I’ll have another post on that coming up with recipes & ingredients for the cake part. Here is the cake, post crumb coat and final coat of buttercream.
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I covered the cake with Fondariffic black fondant. I really liked how smooth it is, and for shapes like this, it smoothed over really nicely. If it was a more 3-D shape, I might not opt to use this brand as it never really seems to stay really gooey.

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While the body of the guitar was setting up, I started working on the guitar neck. To keep the right proportion, I needed a thin material for the neck. I chose to use wafer cookies- they are thin, light, and structurally sound enough to support the weight of fondant. Using my template, I pieced together and carved out the shape of the neck from a single layer of wafer cookies.

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This mid-process photo shows the neck after being covered by black fondant, assembled into the body, and the silver details beginning to be added. The silver details are just rolled out and cut fondant painted with edible silver dust.
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The final product, including the “Pierce the Veil” logo that I had help on from my in-house creative director (the man). The only non-edible part on this cake is the guitar string assembly.

IMG_1522A top view.

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I supported the neck with some aluminum foil covered foam core blocks. Overall, I was really pleased at the proportion of the cake! I think Dave and his family were happy as well. 🙂

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Supernatural(ly) Red

I got another birthday cake request from a coworker and was eager to take on the challenge! The cake proposition was a black ’67 Chevy Impala from the show Supernatural, for a 16th birthday. The cake flavor of choice- Red Velvet. Since I’m not a huge Red Velvet fan, I don’t typically bake it that often, so I had to do a little research and practice.

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Here is my “test cake.” It’s delightfully RED. I found that using Americolor Gel Color usually gives a great pigment without changing the liquid content of a cake or frosting too much. I was looking for a dense but moist Red Velvet to hold up to all the carving that I knew would have to happen before applying fondant.

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My test cake, frosted with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. This was a new recipe as well- but I loved it. The white chocolate firms up better than just the normal cream cheese/butter mix and also adds a subtle tang. I ended up using this recipe for the filling of the cake.

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The recipes are from a book called, “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.” Check it out! There are recipe excerpts on Amazon. I adapted the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting slightly, mostly just switching up the technique. (I only have a mini-food processor, so I ended up just using my stand mixer to whip everything together.) I also doubled the recipe to get enough to fill the car cake. Here’s my edited version:

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients (Makes : almost 1 cup)

  • White chocolate containing cocoa butter (3 ounces)
  • Cream cheese, softened but still cool (4 ounces)
  • Unsalted butter, softened but still cool (2 tablespoons)
  • Sour cream (1/2 tablespoon)
  • Almond extract (1/8 teaspoon)

Melt the White Chocolate
Heat the chocolate until almost completely melted. Use a small microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds.

Make the Frosting
In a stand mixer, whip together the cream cheese, butter, and sour for a few seconds until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides. Add the cooled melted white chocolate and whip until it is smoothly incorporated. Add the almond extract and whip together.
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I wanted to make a realistic replica of the car, so I researched and printed off some photos (all angles) of the Chevy Impala. Knowing that the car was to feed a minimum of 10 and was for more of a family event, I didn’t want to make it too big. I decided to bake 2- 9×13 pans, cut them along the long edge (hot dog style), and stack them side by side to get the approximate proportion that I was looking for. I then sketched up a side view of the car to use as a template for carving.
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This is a top view of 3 of the cake layers “stacked” horizontally. Each layer is 4.5″x13″. I had 4 layers, but that made the car too wide.

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I traced my side view template onto parchment paper (so that it is slightly transparent), and lined it up with the stacked cake.

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I didn’t get any photos of the carved cake (pre-buttercream), but I basically followed the template, referencing the other photos as I went to get the shape close. Then I crumb coated it with a Swiss Meringue Buttercream (my favorite for building cakes, it’s so smooth).

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A front view of the cake. I tried to match the “V” shape of the grill.

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Another side view.

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I wanted to make the windshield look like it was “embedded” into the car body, so I cut out approximate shapes of the windshield out of grey fondant and placed them where they would be on the car.

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Then, I covered the entire car in black fondant. I used Wilton’s Black Fondant, and I found that it was stiff enough to work with but had a tendency to dry out a little if you didn’t work fast enough. This produced some cracks, especially in oddly shaped areas (like the wheel wells).

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To get the windshield effect, I lightly cut through the top layer of fondant (the black) and revealed the grey fondant. I then peeled back the shape.

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And then did a bunch of detail work of which I didn’t stop to take photos. (Typical)

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With the windshield embedded, I was able to roll out thin ropes of fondant and “line” the edge of the windows where the grey met the black fondant. I painted these with edible silver luster (a new favorite decorating material of mine).

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The grill, bumper, side mirrors, and lights were made in a similar fashion- I shaped the parts out of grey or black fondant and painted them silver. The slight variation in color just depends on what the base fondant color was.

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The wheels were made by my in-house modeling chocolatier. Ok, I made the modeling chocolate (also a new technique that I learned and implemented in this project). I’d been wanting to try it but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now that I know how easy it is, I will incorporate it more in future projects! The hubcaps are grey fondant painted silver. Basically, we employed a series of round cookie cutters and a lot of shaping by hand.

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I used the same thin ropes of fondant for the border of the tail lights. The tail lights were just grey and red fondant squares.

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I built a foam core base and covered it in aluminum foil to help support the base of the car.

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Lastly, I used some modeling chocolate to incorporate Gabby’s love for music (in a music note). She’s into band right now, and it was one way I could think of to incorporate that theme subtly without adding anything to the car.

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Happy Birthday, Gabby!

Peace, Love, and Cake

I was super excited for this cake project- one of my coworkers found out that I bake as a hobby and asked if I could make a VW van cake for her daughter’s 15th birthday. I immediately had lots of ideas in my head on how to make this a fun, brightly colored cake to fit the theme of fun hippie youth.
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A lot of times the inside of the cake is forgotten in the whole process of cake-istry. I thought this project posed a great opportunity to make the inside of the cake just as fun with the addition of some food coloring. I baked two 9×13 layer cakes with various colored white cake batters with the intention of a fun surprise when the cake was cut open.

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I love the way the colors look like tie-dye!

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Here are the two cakes after evening out the top for stacking.


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To get the right shape for the VW Van body, I cut the 9×13 layers in half (like a hamburger, not a hot dog, you know what I mean) and stacked them for a total of 4 layers. I was given creative license with this cake so decided to put a raspberry buttercream in between the layers for a pop of flavor.

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In the meantime, I made a platform for the van out of foam core, knowing that there needed to be clearance for the wheels. One lesson I learned in this project is that the supports are just as important as the cake.

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Back to carving the iconic shape of the VW Van. I rounded the front and trimmed up the sides to make them a little more symmetrical.

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Here is the swiss meringue buttercream coating that holds it all together. At this point I carved the wheel wells also.

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I covered the top half of the van with white fondant, and created the iconic “V” shape in the front.


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Following along with the tie-dye theme, I rolled together a few different colors of fondant, which created the tie-dye effect. At this point, I started getting more focused on the details and forgot to take pictures of the rest of the process. I’ll try to talk through the things done on the finished photos below.


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I was asked to do a little cartoon version of the birthday girl driving the van so I used some fondant and a toothpick for stability to create her!

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Ok, So after adding the tie-dye panels, I tucked the fondant wheels into the pre-made wheel wells. The next steps were a white front bumper, a white “rooftop” and roof rack, and grey windows.
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The small details fell into place- the yellow lights and pink “HPY BDY” license plate. I had my in house fondant sculptor help me with the VW logo 🙂

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Here is another side view. I used some purple fondant to make the lining of the tie-dye panels.

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The roof is covered with tie-dye fondant cut outs of hearts and flowers and peace signs.

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The back has a white bumper, two red lights, and of course a customized “Taylor” license plate for the birthday girl.

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Another side view of the van riding into the sunset (or my dining room lights). 🙂

Happy Birthday Taylor!

Steph! We are so sad you are Mooo-ving!

Good-byes are never fun, but are still an occasion for cake. Our dear friend Steph got an amazing job opportunity in Switzerland, and of course we wanted to send her off in style. What’s a better theme for her going-away party than good ol’ America! (‘Murica will miss you, Steph) We started off with some red, white, and blue cupcakes- frosted in buttercream and dusted with red and blue sanding sugar.

IMG_2638I actually never have “official” colored sanding sugar on hand- I guess I don’t use it too much- so usually end up making my own version. It’s not as shiny and the crystals aren’t as large as store-bought sanding sugar, but it works! I usually just add a dab of gel food coloring to a zip lock baggie with normal sugar and massage it around a bit.

The second half of our going-away cake… took a little bit of brainstorming. Lauren, Meg, and I were trying to think of something somewhat Swiss (before we knew the theme of America, because otherwise we could’ve done a hot dog or something)… and came up with a cow. Yep, a Swiss cow- kind of like the type you’d see on a Milka wrapper.

2.2.1_milka_cowExcept, not purple. Anyways… having decided this, we dove straight in and made a cow cake:

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It’s a layered 9×13 funfetti cake with buttercream and fondant. I had to carve the cake a bit to make the curvy shape, but I’m happy we made it work with just the 9×13.

So post cake making, we’re proud of our cow but don’t really understand how we are going to present it… the theme just didn’t make sense. Then, a light bulb moment. Meg rolls in and says, “We are so sad you’re Mooooo-ving!”

Have you ever had a moment of realization like that? As soon as she said that, we were completely dumbfounded at how obvious and fun that was, but how none of us saw it earlier. Nevertheless, we were happy that our cow now made more sense. 🙂

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Here’s our little bovine friend at the party, with a Milka eyepatch and a Swiss Flag in the cupcake by his left ear. We’re having cake steak!

We miss you, Steph! Come visit soon 🙂

Off to the beach!

One more cupcake post! Megan’s birthday was within the last two weeks. We were able to celebrate this week with some beach themed cupcakes! Since… well, she loves the beach!

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You’ll see an assortment of beach accessories- flip flops, beach towel, life saver, sun, pails! And of course, Ghiya’s signature dog with frisbee up at the top left corner. To complete the theme, we had funfetti type cake (I threw some sprinkles in the batter) and vanilla buttercream frosting tinted an ocean blue.

Happy Birthday Meg!

Bear Down!!!

I’m not quite sure where to begin with this one… I’ll try to explain the best I can.

Cake project: Bri asked me to help her make a birthday cake for her friend.

Design: A man kayaking on a river; a “menacing” bear at the river bank watching him.

This cake project was definitely an exercise in random idea generation :). Bri’s friend loves kayaking and he absolutely hates bears because of a little “run-in” he had with one on his adventures. She loves this story, so we went with this as the theme.

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Coincidentally, the U of A was also his alma mater. Bear Down!!!! (yes, I know their mascot isn’t a bear) Here is our lovely fondant kayak, man, paddle, and bear (he’s kind of dark and blends in with my counter).

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Hey there, Mr. Bear. Yeah, not quite menacing… kinda cute?

cake cropHere is the cake- a sandy brown shore with a blue river.

photo 5Here is the assembled cake. It’s a little simple- we looked at it and considered adding foliage, but then we ran out of time. haha!

What will it Bee?!

I’m back to blogging again after that almost half a year hiatus. I find that my baking projects tend to come to a halt during the summer! It’s too hot to turn on my oven! And all anyone ever wants is frozen yogurt. Yum. 🙂

Anyway- this was my first “reveal party” baking project. If you don’t know what a reveal party is, then you are in the same boat I was in prior to this project. Basically, my friend Aletheia is having a baby (Congrats!!) and she wanted to have a party to reveal the gender. So I was to make cupcakes with a colored filling (either pink or blue) that would hold the secret! And no one would know until dessert time. 🙂 Hence the theme: What will it Bee?

Here goes!

Bees

Here I’ve made many little fondant bees with heart shaped wings.

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The fondant topper comes together here with a round yellow platform and the path of the bee flight!

photo 3Multiply x12!

photo 4All boxed up and ready for transport. The bee cupcakes were white cake with lemon cream cheese filling and frosting. The plain cupcakes were lemon cake with the same filling and frosting.

bee cupcakesAll set out on a pretty cupcake stand.

photo 5What will it bee?!

The coolest part about this is that even Aletheia didn’t know! She and her husband would find out at the same time as everyone else. I was the very first person to know! The perks of being a baker, right?

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I know you are dying to know…. It’s a girl!!!! Congrats Aletheia!!

The cutest storm you’ve ever seen

I helped out with a baby shower this weekend, and the theme was “shower them with love.” The theme was- you got it- clouds with a rainshower of tiny hearts. Pretty cute, huh?

Anyways, I was asked to make a 2 tier cake for 25 people and 30 sugar cookies as favors. It was a storm in my own kitchen as I baked away! Here we go:

I started with the cloud shaped sugar cookies. Here they are, outlined in white royal icing:

1Next up: flooding them! I enjoyed this part- I felt like I was coloring… in the lines, of course 🙂

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Filled and sprinkled with tiny sparkly hearts! 3

A plethora of unique clouds:4

All wrapped up and ready to go:6

Now it’s time for cake! Many tiny fondant hearts:7

A light purple background: (for the curious, the inside was chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream) 😉

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Lots of fluffy white clouds and raining hearts. IMG_0713

“Shower them with love!!”
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An A+ White Coat

It’s graduation season! I recently helped Bri with two graduation cakes for her friend Andy… but from Med School! Such a huge accomplishment- so we wanted to do something special and specific. We decided on a U of A “A” since that’s where he attended, and a doctor’s white coat. Unfortunately I have no process photos as I was elbow deep in fondant, powdered sugar and frosting 🙂 But here are the final products. Enjoy!

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White coat

Congratulations, Dr. Wong!

Miracle Mile Masterpiece?

This post is long overdue, but it took me a while to get my ducks in a row, know what I mean? Anyways, in January, my friend Vanessa asked me to help her make a cake for her boo, Sagar, for his birthday. She was envisioning a Chicago themed cake, as that’s “his town.” I thought we were able to do a good job at incorporating a lot of elements of Chicago while focusing on some of Sagar’s favorites. Take a look!

Sagar’s a huge Chicago sports fan. Bull’s Jersey, anyone? Courtesy of our resident sports expert AND closet fondant craftsman. I like to call him Mr. T.
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Can you name who this #7 jersey belonged to? If you said the Croatian Sensation, you are CORRECT!

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It’s not Chicago without the iconic skyline! Check out the Sears (now Willis) Tower (sans tower poles). The red CNA building, and… uh… some artistic interpretations of the other buildings…. yeah.

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Back to sports! Can you guess who this is?

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Ditka! Ditka!… question. Coach Ditka versus a hurricane… who would win? But wait! The Hurricane is named Hurricane Ditka! Oh yeah, and a “da bears” logo.

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Ah! Coming together… Speaking of Sagar’s favorites- check out the fondant “Vanessa” at the top. I thought it was a cute touch. The “Willis” tower now has the poles up top. There’s a plane flying by with a banner, wishing Sagar Happy Birthday on behalf of all Chicagoans.

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A few finishing touches include carefully placing the Jersey and some sports balls.

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Ah, an Old Style beer logo screams classic Chicago.

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I don’t have a picture of this, but Vanessa saved her Navy Pier Ferris Wheel made out of dots for the empty spot in the center on top of the cake.

Happy birthday, Sagar!!