Sunday, July 29, 2012

Let's Go Patriots!!

So you may or may not have read that I live in New Hampshire...  I have for the past 3 years and before that I lived in Connecticut for nearly all of my life (I had a 2 year stint in Florida right after I graduated high school, but that was so long ago it doesn't really count!).  I am an New England girl through and through. 

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I do follow football with my husband and we are (of course) New England Patriots fans!  I was so excited when I got a call for a Patriots "flying Elvis" cake....?  Okay, I'm not THAT much of a Patriots fan, I had to check with both my husband and brother and they hadn't heard of the "flying Elvis"  but we all agreed, and a quick Google search confirmed, that it must just be the Patriot's logo (I of course checked with my client and it was what she was looking for). 

This thoughtful bride was ordering the cake as a surprise grooms cake for her soon-to-be (and surely is by now) husband!

I wish I had thought/had time to take photos of the process so I could share with you all how I made this cake... it was pretty easy, and I really love how clean and sharp looking it came out.  Exactly what I had in mind and hopefully what my client wanted to (if she hadn't just left the nail salon when I dropped off the cake she may have done cartwheels... so I think/hope she was happy!).

I baked two 2" layers in a 9"x13" sheet pan.  Torted and filled them and let the cake chill in the refrigerator.  I made a template from an enlarged graphic I printed (on 2 separate sheets of paper and pieced together) and used it to cut out the "outline" on a 1/2 sheet cake board... this would become my bottom cake board.

Using the cake board/template I gauged how much of one corner I could cut off and used buttercream to "glue" it on the end of the cake so I would have the length I needed for the "tail".  Chilled again really quick so it wouldn't fall apart while I carved.  Then used buttercream to glue my cake board to what was currently the "top" of the cake (reversed, so it would be the right orientation when flipped).  Carved around the template and then inverted the cake... Voila!  The cake board is now on the bottom!
Then all you have to do is cut out the logo pieces from fondant (I mix a little gumpaste in to help the cut outs hold their shape) and you've got yourself a "Flying Elvis" cake!!

I hope any Patriot's fans who want to make their own cake will understand my rambling description!  If not, hey, you can always call me ;)

Happy Caking :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Pictures of my PUBLISHED cake!

If you missed my last post... I'm published!  In Cake Central Magazine Volume 3, Issue 5!  I'm still in disbelief, lol... I am very proud of the design and Simply K Studios out of Wethersfield, CT took so many great photos I wanted to share some of my favorites!

We got some amazing outdoor shots that didn't make it into the magazine (I can kind of understand it as the pink ruffles, especially on the bottom tier, got a bit washed out from the sunlight...).  But, not surprisingly, all of my favorites were from the outdoor shoot :)

Okay, so there are a bunch of favorites!  Thank you Simply K Studios for taking such amazing photographs of my cake!

Happy Caking :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm Published!!

Okay, I've been freaking out over this for a good 2 months now and couldn't tell anyone!  But, back in May, Cake Central Magazine asked me to design a cake to be featured in an upcoming issue!  I cannot tell you how honored and excited I was to be asked... That in the 2 years or so, since I first picked up my spatula, I have come so far as to be invited to have my cake published in a trade magazine to be admired by my "peers."

Of course I was busy, but OF COURSE I had to make it work!  I was sent an inspirational photo that featured a teal and pink color pallet and had a beautiful, feminine, "vintagey" feel to it.  I held my breath for a month after I submitted the photos, waiting to hear if my cake was good enough to make it in... they even contacted me to confirm the photographer credit (the amazingly talented ladies from Simply K Studios in Connecticut) but I still didn't want to get my hopes up.  But, I made it!  My cake was published, along with so many other beautiful cakes, in the issue that came out at the beginning of July- Volume 3, Issue 5: "The Really Big Wedding Cake Issue!"
Although Cake Central Magazine is now a digital-only format (and I would really love a glossy copy to hold in my hand, hang on my wall, show to strangers on the street...) it is soooo exciting to see my name "in print!" If you'd like to buy a copy, you can do so here!

I have to give a HUGE, GIGANTIC, THANK YOU and shout out to Simply K Studios for so graciously taking these amazing shots... Head over to their website or blog to see their beautiful portfolio.  If you are in the New England area and in search of a photographer I highly suggest you contact them!

*I'll share some of the other gorgeous photo's they took as soon as I can get watermarked copies!

Happy Caking :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Craftsy Rocks! Class Review Part 4: Advanced Fondant Techniques

This is Part 4 of a little series of posts I am doing on the cake decorating classes currently offered on Craftsy.  Currently there are 4 and I have take all of them!  If you missed my last posts, I reviewed the first class I took, Handcrafted Sugar Flowers with Jacqueline Butlter, the second class I took, Topsy Turvy Cake Construction with Richard Ruskell, and the third class I took, Modern Piping with Joshua John Russell.  In this review I will focus on the final class I've taken of the 4 available so far...

Advanced Fondant Techniques with Marina Sousa

Online Cake Decorating Class
Everything I have learned about working with fondant I have taught myself.  Not because I didn't want to take a class but because I felt that I was already beyond what the Wilton classes would offer and the more complex classes are usually to far for me to travel too (especially with a clingy 2 year old at home!).  So when I saw that Marina Sousa (an amazingly talented and hugely known cake artist) had created this "Advanced Fondant" class, I jumped at the chance to take it (at a discount!  Seriously, if you keep an eye out you almost NEVER have to pay full price for a Craftsy course!).

The "Class Materials" for this course include a pdf for "Supplies & Resources." In it, you will find a cake sketch, a supply list for the course, as well as supplies broken down by "section" and a list of online resources so you know where to buy your supplies.  One of the things I found most useful in the Supplies & Resources guide was that Marina calculates how much fondant you need for each part of the class, so you aren't left guessing about what and how much to buy!

In the class Marina demonstrates 5 different cakes, each using a different decorating technique: hand painting, stenciled embossing, applied design, inlaid technique and lace technique.  She also demonstrates how to make different embellishments including bows, multi-loop bows, a couple different flowers, ribbons and pearls.  In the different decorating techniques, you will learn several different methods for covering your cake; enrobing, wrapping, and paneling.  I've never tried wrapping or paneling a cake so these were techniques I was excited to see demonstrated.

I think my favorite of the techniques shown (though all are great) was the embossed stenciling!  I'm so excited to give it a try.  The inlaid technique was also really interesting... these two will give a whole new look to my cakes!  The embossed stenciling uses the paneling technique to cover the cake with fondant.  Marina gives some really useful tips about how to work with the fondant and keep it looking perfect!

Advanced Fondant Techniques rivals Handcrafted Sugar Flowers as my favorite of the 4 classes!  Actually it might be my favorite because the techniques will be more widely used (Handcrafted Sugar Flowers is, of course, a very close second!).  I think this class was well worth the money.  If you are a newbie or relative newbie to the cake decorating world I think you will get a lot from this class.

Marina Sousa is the talented cake artist behind her business Just Cake in Capitola, CA.  She has not only been a repeat competitor on Food Network Challenge (with multiple wins), but she has even been a judge for the series.  Head over to her website to see her amazing portfolio!  Or follow Marina on Pinterest to see what inspires her creative mind :)

There are new classes being offered on Craftsy all the time!  Some of my favorites are:

In addition to their wonderfully produced online classes, Craftsy also offers some great free resources!
There is a recent post on Cake Central about the Craftsy classes... and while a lot of people agree with me that they are fabulous, some people felt disappointed.  I think the classes are great if you are a beginner to intermediate level cake decorator.  I think for the $15-$40 you pay for the class (depending on if you got it on sale or full price) they are an excellent value and tool for expanding your skills.  If you took a class with any one of these instructors in person you would be paying hundreds of dollars, not including any travel fees and lodging if the classes are outside of you immediate area.  I think that it's great that you can interact with the instructors, and from what I've seen they are all very prompt in responding to questions.  Of the four, the Topsy Turvy is the only one I might have be a little disappointed with.  But only because I found the design and final product a little lacking.  That doesn't mean that I didn't learn anything from it...

In my humble opinion these classes are great and I cannot wait to see what else Craftsy has in the works for us cake designers!  I happen to know that one of them will be a sugar flower class with James Rosselle!

Happy Caking :)

DISCLAIMER: The Craftsy class reviewed in this post was purchased by me and all opinions are my own.  Links to Craftsy classes & the Craftsy website are sponsored by the Craftsy affiliate program.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Craftsy Rocks! Class Review Part 3: Modern Piping

Craftsy Logo
This is Part 3 of a little series of posts I am doing on the cake decorating classes currently offered on Craftsy.  Currently there are 4 and I have take all of them!  If you missed my last posts, I reviewed the first class I took, Handcrafted Sugar Flowers with Jacqueline Butlter, and the second class I took, Topsy Turvy Cake Construction with Richard Ruskell.  In this review I will focus on the 3rd craftsy class I took...

Modern Piping with Joshua John Russell

Cakes with intricate piping are beautiful but also labor intensive!  Piping isn't typically something you can just pick up and do.  While I feel somewhat comfortable with a piping bag, swirls and filigree where somewhat of a mystery to me!  I just couldn't figure out how to make them look flowing and even- on the side of a cake!  So, having has great experiences with the first two cake decorating classes that Craftsy was offering, I decided to buy Modern Piping (also at a discount- I see a trend here, lol).

The "course  materials" in this class include recipes for the royal icing needed for the class (both a scratch recipe and a recipe using a mix).  You also get a "Supplies & Resources" list with all of the tools and supplies needed as well as templates for each of the designs.  Joshua John shows you how to make 3 beautiful and modern cakes with different techniques, but they are all cohesive and could be used together on a dessert table.  The course covers stenciling, free hand piping, how to make "cake jewelry" and how to transfer a pattern/design to your cake.

While nothing but practice can really make you good at piping, I think Joshua does an excellent job of teaching you the techniques you need to master piped design.  I don't want to give away the material in the video, but he gives tips on how to steady yourself to keep your lines smooth and fluid.  And he shows how to transfer a pattern onto your cake... I'm beginning to think that most of those complicated designs that make your jaw hit the floor are done with the pattern-transfer method!

I have yet to try out Joshua John's Modern Piping techniques, but I think this class was worth the cost and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning piping.  I admittedly have not taken a Wilton class, but a lot of the Wilton material I see is very basic and dated looking.  I think this class would be better for anyone interested in learning piping techniques for a "fresher" looking cake.  This class gets a thumbs up from me!

Joshua John Russell was a finalist on Last Cake Standing and has appeared on Food Network Challenge 15 times!  He turns out stunning and ornate cakes from his Atlanta based business Joshua John.  He says he most often draws inspiration from fashion, which is quite evident in his amazing work!  Check out his cakes on his website, or his blog- The Fashion Caker.

There are new classes being offered on Craftsy all the time!  Some of my favorites are:

In addition to their wonderfully produced online classes, Craftsy also offers some great free resources!
Up next is my review of Advanced Fondant Techniques with Marina Sousa!

Happy Caking :)

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links; however, all opinions are my own.