Hoo’s arriving in April?

I’m excited to announce that our “special guest” arriving in April is my first niece! My sister is expecting, and I recently went home to visit and to host and attend her baby shower. I was really excited to bake something for her shower. At her request, we went with lemon cupcakes with a raspberry cream cheese filling, topped with lemon buttercream frosting and an owl fondant decoration. Her theme for the baby shower and my niece’s new bedroom will be- you guessed it- owls.

These are the lemon cupcakes. I love the pink and green wrappers. I procured a cool little tool for myself as well- a cupcake corer! It’s a simple little gadget, really. It’s no more than a  long circular cookie cutter with a fun flower design at the top for the “gripper,” but it works surprisingly well. I got this size and a larger one (1 inch diameter) as a set at Wal-mart for 1.84.

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See? In less than 5 minutes, I had cored 24 cupcakes. I ate the bowl of cupcake holes, but I guess you can replace them after you fill the cupcakes… if you are feeling generous and not hungry like me!
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The cupcakes are filled with the raspberry cream cheese filling. I just piped it in with a good ol’ ziplock baggie:

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I covered cupcakes with lemon buttercream frosting:

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Here’s where it got a little tricky AND labor intensive. I made homemade fondant with lemon meringue flavored marshmallows that I found at Wal-mart. (They are freakin’ delicious)…. and then colored the fondant with gel food coloring. The bonus was lemon flavored fondant!! Yum. The owls are a product of “creative” cookie cutter manipulation, led by my two faithful baking helpers, my parents. (Shout out and props to them for staying up until 2 AM making cupcakes with me, now THAT’s love). 😉

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Ah! The final product: a hoard of owls. Is it a hoard? … I just looked it up. I think it’s a “stare” of owls. I don’t know, that’s what the Audubon and BirdNote partnership say.

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I’m not sure if you can see the filling, but it’s in there:

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Here are a couple of “bonus” pictures from the shower.

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The favors were baking related! It’s cookie mix. (I tried out the mix from an extra jar they had made. The cookies were delicious!)

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And… just because I thought it was cute… Make a bib for the baby! haha.

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Congrats Mel (& Pezz)! Thanks for making me an Aunt-to-be!

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Bengay and Phonebooks

Merry Christmas!!

It’s an understatement to say it’s wedding season.  I was recently asked to do a ceremonial wedding cake for a wedding that happened last Saturday, Dec. 19th. You know, one that can be cut into but doesn’t have to feed a bagillion people. Anyway, with all the excitement of the holiday season, the closing out of one of my rotations at work, and housing changes, I’ve been a crazed mess! But here’s my detailed account of my first ever wedding cake made for Aletheia and Josiah, happily married now- Congratulations!

What I love about making special cakes is that each cake is different depending on the person and occasion.  My prompt this time was: a small-ish wedding cake that is simple and elegant, preferably with odd-sized tiers and a blueish-grey color to match the wedding theme.

I got so many questions during the wedding about how the cake was made that I think it’d be good to post up some “in the process” photos.

Here are the two top layers: Real cake, covered in buttercream. Layer 1: 5″diam x 4″ high. Layer 2: 6″ diam x 2″ high.

I had to figure out how to color the fondant. I was matching it to the wedding invitations…

So, my friend Bri and I played with the gel colors and regular white fondant. We made the main color “core” by mixing equal amounts of violet and blue, with a pinch of grey, and then took that and added it to tons of white to get that light color. Only problem is that it takes tons of kneading to get an even color… and after… ohh… 2 and a half hours or so of kneading/making/rolling fondant… while standing on a phonebook (because I’m a little shorter than my countertops and needed leverage)… well. My arms felt like jello. And I ended up slathering up with Bengay before I went to sleep. 🙂

Anyways, I detract. Here’s how the color core was mixed in, along with fondant photos:

So below is the first layer covered in fondant:

So, the bottom layer (7″diam x 3″ height) was a fake styrofoam layer. I attached that with royal icing to the ceramic stand that they provided me (for transport) then attached the top two together with royal icing. Getting those to Bri’s house in my car was quite the feat. Since she lives closer to the venue, I could assemble the entire cake at hers and then she could drive me while I held the cake in the car.

Those were the two layers packed for travel 🙂

Final product: (no I didn’t make the topper, it was special ordered off Etsy.com, and is super cute and made out of clay).

At the wedding….

Cut open and eaten 🙂

Woo.! And Done. 🙂 Next project- Jan.9th, 2010. !

Wedding Bells are ringing…

It’s my 20th post! Coincidentally I have a bunch of wedding cake (mostly completed except for the third tier) photos to show… a culmination of “hard work” thus far… Hope you enjoy!

This Thanksgiving was really relaxing. I didn’t do much but eat, sleep, and do little craftsy things that I always have going on when I’m at home. After messing around with the snowman topper idea (posted earlier), some feedback and suggestions, I tried my hand at a cake topper that isn’t edible. (I found that molding people out of fondant and gum paste isn’t as easy as they make it look on Ace of Cakes, nor is it as simple to work with as clay.) I found some inspiration at a cute etsy store called “The Small Object…” and sort of worked from there. (She charges 135 for these wedding toppers, min. So I tried to re-create and personalize it.) Here we go:

Chris and Karen and Yu Teow, for a winter wedding scene:

Some close ups:

We had some confusion- the yarn is her arm, not hair extensions 🙂

Hello small puppy!

The base- with the navy ribbon, as on the cake.

Ok. So coming back, I wanted to see the entire thing put together (two tiers at least… I haven’t yet gotten around to tackling the 14 in. cake layer…::Shudder::) SoOoO… Here are some photos. I did the 10 in. fake tier in marshmallow fondant and experimented with royal icing. Meringue powder is a miracle invention. Who knew? Anyways… There are two options- the first is little piped dots (which I personally like better, they remind me of snow falling in a whimsical way, but don’t let me bias you) and the second is little piped star-type things. I was going for snowflake but I like simpler better. What do you think? Let me know!

Take 1:

Some details:

From above:

Take 2: Snowflakes

Phew… Who likes cake? Lots of recipes to try, coming up! 🙂

Monday night activities…

I’ve realized what a sporadic blogger I am, in addition to the wide range of topics that my entries cover. I think I’ll try driving this in a more consistent direction, instead of the “hit-or-miss” random entry style of word-vomit that usually develops.

Similar to other blogs, like “Cupcake Project,” or “52 cupcakes,” I’m going to do this Julie & Julia style and work slowly towards a goal. Not quite the most original idea, but rest assured I’m sure some random tid-bits will find their ways in, especially with all the holidays coming up. Plenty of opportunities to bake!

Anyways, my friend Karen is getting hitched in January and I’m making a cake for her… as mentioned probably 5 months ago. I have been researching and reading up on things, trying recipes here and there, but now is crunch time! Here goes nothing!

Today’s experiment is marshmallow fondant. I’ve used store-bought before (Wilton brand), and it doesn’t taste good, but is pretty user-friendly. I’ve heard some great things about this marshmallow fondant and it seems to be pretty easy. Thanks to some super googling by my friend Amy, I followed this tutorial: Cakexperiment on WeddingBee

To be honest, my experience was a bit different than described in pictures. To keep it short, my fondant was much drier- not sticky at all after adding the powdered sugar, and I actually ended up having to add quite a bit of water and Crisco to get it smooth and elastic. However, some success was to be had, as I used it to practice covering a fake tier.

I started with two fake tiers: 10”x 4” and 6”x4”. Didn’t want to be too ambitious so stuck with covering the 6”… and since I bought some pretty thick dark blue ribbon (matches the bridesmaids) I opted for the 4” thick. Other supplies are pictured below, and include:

  • 2 little mounds of marshmallow fondant
  • A brand new bottle of silver dragees (little silver decorating balls)
  • Quilting and embossing tool for fondant
  • Domo Cup from 7-11 for moral support

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Didn’t include a photo of the fondant roller, but that was pretty essential. Here are a few first-time covering photos, including my quilting pattern that was obviously eyeballed for accuracy. First time, I’m allowed 🙂

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Since it’s a winter wedding, Miss K suggested a snowman topper, so I played around with that. It turned into a somewhat whimsical and childish play-dough experiment, but fun nonetheless. I have to figure out how to better mark the eyes and small features. This time ‘round I used skewers and Wilton food coloring. Not a good idea, as I look like I got in a fight with a rainbow and it won, plus it’s difficult to control color application.

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Oh yeah, the little figure at the bottom is their puppy 🙂

Here’s the final product (a few views/shoddy photos). My camera was pretty much covered in Crisco by this point. I also only took photos from one view because the other sides were pretty craptastic… 🙂 The fondant was really lumpy where I coverd the Styrofoam with saran wrap so I could re-use it, and my quilting pattern definitely was off. Overall, not too disappointed with a first try… I just have to keep practicing. Next will be the 10” diameter layer, and perhaps some piping.

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Whomp whomp… it’s going to sit there until I get tier two done. -___-