Monday, May 30, 2011

Pretend your body is a tube of toothpaste...

and squeeze from the bottom, up.  This was a rule of thumb that I often heard in ballet class to help strengthen my center and develop proper dancer posture.  As hard and repetitive as ballet tended to be, it really was an excellent foundation for other types of dance that I was interested in and asked to perform in various shows. The same concept was true for singing.  Learn the craft with classical techniques and you can then build upon those skills to master any variety of styles.
I now carry those same practices into the development of my cake decorating skills.  I seem to have initially gravitated toward several non-traditional techniques (painted chocolate) and product offerings (cakepops) as I love the variety and opportunities for artistic expression that they provide.  However, I want to make sure that I also know more traditional techniques so that I can satisfy any number of client preferences.  I have just completed my 2nd and 3rd cake classes, Flowers & Cake Design and Fondant & Gumpaste and have found that I very much love the detail work involved in the creation of sugar flowers and figures.  I look forward to continuing to experiment with development of my signature style through combining these classic techniques with newer concepts.  Here are some of my lessons learned.
In a few weeks, I will be re-creating a traditional wedding cake for a 40th wedding anniversary.  The topper features yellow rosebuds, so I have been practicing creating those with fondant.  This is a very detailed technique where each petal is created separately and then adhered to the bud base with gumpaste glue.  It is time-intensive, but I think it produces an elegant and very realistic flower.  I will enhance the coloring with shimmery lustre dust before placing on the cake.

Another flower technique is  to pipe a more informal rose and rosette with buttercream.  The cupcakes here were just for practice and not as finished as I normally like them, but you get the idea.  I love the white on white.  Perfect for a bridal shower or even as a complement or alternative to a wedding cake.  Picture these in your favorite color combinations!

Many people love the clean and finished look that a fondant-covered cake provides.  If you have never had one, the texture and taste is very different from a buttercream or other creamy type of frosting.  It’s very much a matter of preference.  I happen to love buttercream or cream cheese icing.  This cake, which I made for the family for Memorial Day, combines a fondant-covered cake base, cake, fondant bow and stars.   

Until next time!  Remember…squeeze like a tube of toothpaste!

Friday, May 20, 2011

HOLY BIRTHDAY CAKE, BATMAN!!!

WHAM!  POW!  BAM!  This week's cake has been crazy fun to make!  The task was to pay tribute to a sweet 3 year old little man's love for Batman as he celebrates his 4th birthday this weekend.  His family are neighbors and they will be going all out with a Batman moonbounce and the rest of the works.

I am thrilled to present what I think might be the coolest Batman cake that I have ever seen!  White almond cake with vanilla buttercream will please all palates.  Topped with painted chocolate figures.  I haven't talked alot about what goes into this technique.  It's definitely a labor..but one that I love.  The chocolate is difficult to pipe finely, so I do details and outlines with a toothpick (I might go blind soon - as well as get carpel tunnel).   And there is alot of planning in figuring out which colors to apply and in what order as there is limited working time once the chocolate is melted.  It's a process, but I think it makes the cake.  I love this so much - almost don't want anyone to eat it! 



Next big project on tap is a re-creation of a 1970's wedding cake for a 40th wedding anniversary party. It will be traditional, tiered and columned with sugar roses. My first columned cake - can't wait to tackle it!

Until next time!

Friday, May 13, 2011

TIS THE SEASON...FOR A WEDDING, THAT IS!

A wedding is always a great excuse to have sweets, right?  A friend and former Martin Agency co-worker of mine is the mother-of-the-bride this weekend and asked me to help her put together some surprises for various family members and guests.  I first met the bride when she was in high school...and she is now a lovely young woman, living in NY and working for CNN online.  I am honored to have been asked to provide treats for her special weekend.
I was particularly excited to work on this as it gave me a chance to work on a variety of different designs and techniques.  Creatively, it was a blast.  Here's what they received:

The couple elected not to have a traditional wedding cake at the reception.  However, the MotB wanted to surprise the bride with a cake for the rehearsal dinner.  The dinner is themed - Roarin' 20's - so I created this cake to complement.  The topper is a plaque using the painted chocolate technique - all painted by hand and all edible.  Calla lilies were added at the base of the feathers after delivery.


 
Bride and Groom cakepops will be provided in the wedding party dressing rooms prior to the ceremony.



The Groom's family hails from India, so they will receive sari-inspired pops as a hotel room treat.



The Bride's family will receive a variety of pop flavors in their hotel in the elegant color scheme of the wedding...lavender, brown, white.



Congratulations Crystal and Thiru!

Until next time..
 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teacher Love

No, I'm not talking in the "don't stand so close to me" way.  I'm talking in the "thank you for helping my kids become the best little people that they can be" kind of way. 

I have a million thank-yous in my heart for a handful of what I consider to the be the best of the best teachers.  These are the ones who taught me not only the curriculum, but also who I wanted to be through those lessons.  One stands out among all the rest.  My high school choir director, Vernon Pipkin, remains to this day the biggest musical mentor in my life.  His love for his students and his way of making us realize our fullest potential will always make him the "music man who gave us more than music".  He died of cancer only 4 years after I graduated high school.  He was in his 30s.  I know that he is still missed by all of us who were so lucky to have been his students.

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and my kids' school has a full agenda of thank-you activities to show the staff the love they deserve.  Today, the PTA hosted a luncheon and raffle for the teachers.  CREO donated some special treats to be raffled off.  All made with lots of teacher love for the special people that help mold us into who we are destined to be.
Pop design courtesy of Bakerella

Cupcakes with painted chocolate rulers

Until next time!