Sunday, June 26, 2011

THAT IS ONE "WICKED" CAKE!

I have been anticipating the delivery of today's cake since March! Today was the 3rd birthday party of a sweet little "best actress in a musical"-in-the-making, Claire. Her Mom and I have been friends for about 16 years.  We are both vocalists and although we never sang together, our lives have paralleled for several years and in many ways. Some of my fondest memories were created during our time as neighbors on Strawberry Street in the Fan of Richmond.  It was a great place to live and I am so grateful that despite the fact that we have moved on from that address, Marilyn is still in my life.

Marilyn's little girl, although only just 3, has developed her mother's love for musical theater.  The musical Wicked, in particular.  She has seen the show several times and knows all the characters and music by heart. Claire's birthday party was themed around her favorite show, complete with yellow brick road sidewalk, castle bouncy house, flying monkey costume favors and of course, a cake to match.  She also sported a precious dress that was custom made for her by my very talented neighbor, Mandy.  Mandy owns Lucy's Closet, a custom embroidery and applique business.  For Claire, she made a green gingham A-line dress with a witch's hat applique and embroidered "Defying Gravity", the show-stopping anthem of the musical.  Look for Mandy online at http://www.lucysclosetbymandy.com/.  Marilyn joked that the only thing missing was "SURRENDER DOROTHY" being written across the sky (although we acknowledged that technically, that all happened AFTER Wicked).

Marilyn asked me to do Claire's cake back in March, and I have been so excited for today to finally arrive!  Choco-mocha topsy-turvy cake with lime green vanilla buttercream.  All figures and plaque topper are hand-painted chocolate, including the flying monkies circling the cake.

It was a hit!


Until next time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Since the launch of CREO, I have been asked by several friends, "Where did all this come from?  I never knew you wanted to be a baker."  It's true.  This is not something that I have secretely been pining to do...spending years dreaming of just how and when I would start my own "caking" business.  Collecting recipes, fine tuning techniques, writing my business plan...nope, never happened.  This is all just one big, happy accident.
The truth is, I have for many years been nurturing my creative side.  People who know me well will say that I have always been crafty.  I learned to sew and crochet at a very young age, loved color and would re-arrange my room every few weeks, trying desperately to make my pitiful little escape just a little more aesthetically pleasing.  In my young adult years, however, I channeled all those creative energies into the performing arts.  Fine tuning my craft as a singer/dancer (and having lots of fun along the way) occupied every waking moment.
It was during several soul-searching months in Nashville that I began to re-connect with visual arts - drawing, painting, decorating.  I think I decided then that I always needed to have some sort of project in play to feel truly fulfillled.  All of that manifested itself in painting anything I could get my hands on (pottery, lampshades, floorcloths), jewelry-making and ultimately, lots of household DIY projects.  Add into the mix a love for cooking that I never knew I had (years on cruise ships prohibited exploration of that hobby).
So when my boys came along, I was drawn to what seems to be a rite of passage for most new moms..let me see how I do baking them a birthday cake.  My amazing MIL had given me a cake decorating starter kit (thanks, Mom!) and I was off to the races.  I didn't think much of it all at first.  Just had fun with it and was quite pleased with the results.  But the more complex the designs, the more excited I became at the possibilities.  The skills that I have been nurturing all these years...building, cooking, painting...they all just happen to coincide in the form of a "caker"!!!
At the same time, I had left my advertising gig of 14 years and was looking for a way to bring in some extra cash, as well as keeping the artist in me alive.  I hadn't realized how much I had really wanted to own my own business until I went to my bookshelf and found no fewer than 5 books on "How to follow your passion and start your own business", "Creative Cash"...you get the picture.  So, I started researching, asking questions, playing with recipes and CREO was born.  Now with each confectionary project, I find myself learning something new - a way to blend colors, a tweak to a recipe, a construction method or a piping or decorative technique.
This week was especially challenging and fulfilling.  I was asked to re-create a wedding cake from the 1970's for a couple who was being surprised with a 40th wedding anniversary party.  The cake was very traditional, with tiers and columns, lace doilies, lots of fluffy buttercream and tons of greenery.  The party's host (and a dear friend) and I did our best to interpret the original design in a way that was tasteful, yet true to the integrity of the original.  I learned how to tier a cake and make fondant roses for this project..and I think we were all quite pleased with the end result! 

So, that's how all this happened.  And now each week seems to bring me a new design challenge - which I thrive on!  "Wicked - The Cake" is next week with Star Wars cupcakes to follow!

Until next time! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

PLAY BALL!

My beautiful friend has been planning a 2nd birthday party for her son.  He already seems to be quite the sports nut, so she asked me to do cakepops in the form of several different types of balls.

In the process of making these, I have to admit  that my baking materials have been testing my patience.  Some of the candy colors melt to a better dipping consistency than others, which means that I have to make lots of extras to allow for some clunkers.  Let's just say I almost threw several cake tennis balls through the window, not mention all the four letter words that were flying as well.  But, my hope with the trouble-shooting is that I am getting better and smarter at what I am doing.

I finally managed to complete 4 different ball designs, complete with personalized pop signs.  I think young Branson will be happy with his treats on a stick.  They give new meaning to ballpark food.  



Coming soon..."Wicked - The Cake"

Until next time!