Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's Up Don?

This was the most interesting order I've received to date. I was getting my hair done and was talking to Lorraine (see Carly's Cake) about a carrot cake I was going to make for another client (see Meow!) when another woman approached me and asked me to make one for her husband. Just like that. She didn't know who I was but heard "delicious carrot cake" and that's all it took. I do say that my carrot cake recipe is DELISH! I use one FULL POUND of organic carrots per recipe. Mmmm! And don't even get me started on the cream cheese frosting!

Well, her husband's name was Don and the only thing she wanted on the cake was "Happy Birthday Don!" The rest of the decorating was up to me. So I went ALL out!

I did the basketweave on the side and included a ring of carrots as a border.

This cake weighed a TON with all of the carroty goodness and frosting! I hope Don had a happy birthday and enjoyed the deliciousness of the cake. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Make sure you leave a trail of bread crumbs...

Hansel and Gretel would most certainly love my latest creations. I think making these gingerbread houses is one of my favorite things to do this holiday season. I just had SO much fun!

It all started by baking my batch of gingerbread. Each batch yields two gingerbread houses and I knew I wanted to make one with my daughter, Josie. The other one HAD to go to my nephew, Connor. What a fun thing for us to do together.

Here are the finished houses:

And here are Josie and Connor with their creations. I LOVE how they're just studying their houses. And they were SO good about not picking at the houses. What self-control they each have!

Well, after my mom saw Josie's and Connor's she was just so complimentary that I just HAD to make one for her.

And, after much discussion and thought, I was trying to find the perfect gift for Josie's 4K teachers. I wanted to do something homemade (don't worry, I also gave a giftcard in case they get sick of homemade gifts) and I figured a personalized gingerbread house would be a great gift. So here's how they turned out.

I just love how each house looks similar, yet very different from one another. It was fun coming up with different designs. Connor's and my mom's was made to model the houses they live in. Santa, on Connor's house, is right outside of his bedroom window. :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cake Mama Classes

My friend, Melanie, asked me to teach her a few cake-decorating tricks so that she could make her daughter, Cecelia's, 3rd birthday cake for her party later this month. I was absolutely THRILLED to be called to this task. Teaching is one of my favorite things to do!!! (So, yes people, start getting ideas!!!)

I asked Melanie to pick out a cake from that she wanted to make for the occasion and she chose this lovely one featuring the Ribbon Rose.

Melanie's friend Lexi and Lexi's mother-in-law, Pat, joined in to learn the techniques. Both Melanie and Lexi brought a cake to the class and I supplied the buttercream. My "students" learned how to properly frost a cake and a few "secret" techniques.

They also learned several borders, dots and writing, leaves and even a few flowers. Once the learned the concepts and practiced, they got to finish decorating their cakes.

I think Lexi's turned out great!

And Melanie's daughter, Cecelia, will surely LOVE her birthday cake!

I had such a wonderful time teaching! Thanks so much, Melanie, for hosting such a fun event!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Carly Cake

Lorraine has done my hair since I was 15 years old. And she's done my hair for more than half of my life, so I've known her for quite some time. She requested a cake for her daughter's 14th birthday. Carly is an athletic girl who's not really into the girly-girl pink stuff. Lorraine wanted a marble cake with chocolate buttercream filling. As for the design of the cake, the direction I got from Lorraine was, "...something electric blue and green. If you could incorporate the iPod swirly things and maybe soccer?" Ah...ssssuuuure? I'm always up for a challenge! Luckily I had a few weeks to think on it.

So this was my inspiration picture. I liked the green and the blue colors...and then I decided to add a few colors to the mix.

I made the "polka dots" to look like the iPod "swirly thing" and created the soccer ball topper out of Rice Krispie treats smooshed into my Magic Bullet cup for the form. Then I covered it in buttercream and fondant.

I really like the way it turned out and Carly did too.

I hope she has a fantastic birthday party and a wonderful birthday weekend!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This cake was a fun adventure. My friend Erin requested a cake for her mom. It was on the calendar for well over a month and as the date approached I really didn't have much direction. So, I called Erin earlier this week and asked her what kind of flowers her mom liked. Also, did she have any color preferences. In the background, I could hear Erin's husband, Steve, say, "Tell her she likes leopard print." Erin says, "Whatever Steve! I don't even know how she'd do that." Then she talks to me and says, "Steve's just being Steve. Anyway, yeah...whatever you'd like to do. Fall colors would be fine. Pretty flowers...whatever." I clarified and asked, "So your mom REALLY likes leopard print." Erin laughed and said, " know my mom, right?" Okay, so leopard print it was.

I do know that after having this conversation, Erin was TOTALLY under the impression that her mom was getting a carrot cake with fall-colored flowers on top. I was okay with that, hoping beyond hope that I would MORE THAN satisfy my customer. Erin was going to be the superstar and bring this awesome cake to her mom. She'd be the hero. It'd be totally awesome. Super-charged theme music would play as she opened the cake box and people would rush up to her - total strangers - and ask, "WHO MADE THAT CAKE?!!!"

That is...if her mom REALLY liked leopard print and Steve wasn't just teasing.

Oh gosh. Was he just teasing? Will Erin totally hate the cake? Should I scrap this one and make a new one altogether? No, I told myself, it'll be fine.

Well, I continued on with my leopard design and did a great deal of research. I used food coloring and a splish splash of vodka to paint on the design. Then I called my mom, who always seems to have an answer for everything. I called her at work (because this was a REALLY important call) and asked her which color would be a good accent color to leopard print (and I didn't tell her I was making a cake). She said black or gold and I disagreed. So, I added the pink cream cheese lettering and border and made a matching pink bow out of fondant.

Then I breathed deeply into a paper bag while I waited for Erin to pick up the cake.

She totally LOVED it! In fact, she kept opening the box to look at it. Phew!

I slept really well that night.

Today is Erin's mom's birthday and I wish her the very best! I hope SHE loved her cake as much as Erin did.

And by the looks of this picture (thank you Erin and Kristi), I think she did!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What is a group of turkeys called?

On Sunday, I had SUCH a nice time catching up with my cake decorating classmates/friends and our fabulous instructor, Karen (who's taught me SO much!!!). We decided to get together and also learn a new trick. I "officially" know the color flow method and we had so much fun learning together.

So that I could practice what I learned, the very next day I whipped up another batch of color flow icing and decided to do placecards for our Thanksgiving meal. I made little turkey cut-out cookies and had such a fun time decorating them.

And here's the RAFTER of turkeys...

After they dried I wrote our names on the turkeys...

...and here's what they looked like on the table at my parents' house.

Josie didn't even wait until dessert before she started to dig in. That's my girl!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Drop and give him 20...

A referred client contacted me to do her son's 1st birthday cake. She said that she didn't know exactly when it started, but they began to call their son, Jacob, "Captain". It was a nickname that stuck and she wanted to incorporate that theme into his birthday party and cake.

The invitation she sent out had a camouflage background with orange lettering and the most adorable picture of their son doing a push-up. SUPER cutie-pie!! She was going with an "Army"-type feel for the party so she wanted a camouflage cake made out of fondant with orange accents. I said I could do it without having ANY clue how to make camouflage fondant. (It's agreeing to stuff like this that either makes me totally awesome, or incredibly stupid. LOL!)

So I did some research on "camouflage cakes" and "army cakes" online and the majority of them were made out of buttercream frosting. Honestly, that would totally be the easier thing to do. But I came across a blog where the baker made camouflage fondant toppers for cupcakes. I could do the same thing on a much larger scale, however. This made sense to me.

So I made 4 different shades of fondant to match the greens, brown and black of the camo she used in the invitation. I rolled them into balls, and other shapes and pushed them close together on my rolling sheet. I prayed to all of my ancestors, the saints of the kitchen and anyone who would listen because I only had ONE shot at it. Once the fondant was rolled and stuck together, I would NOT be able to roll it again. I'd have to start over completely.

Luckily for me, it worked the first time! And I think it turned out great!

I made stars around the sides of the cake that were based on the Army star. I substituted the gold color for the orange and I rolled up little balls of fondant for the border.

Last, I made a cupcake for "The Captain's" smash cake and utilized some of the left-over fondant to make a cupcake topper for him.

I hope that his party is awesome and thank his mom for putting me through this "basic training." Happy 1st Birthday, Captain Jacob!

Up-and-Over Rugby Groom's Cake

A few months ago, a high school friend of mine, Lori, contacted me to do a cake for her (soon-to-be) husband's groom's cake. He was a member of the Milwaukee Rugby Club and many of his rugby buddies would be at the rehearsal dinner so she wanted the cake to be appropriately themed. Her vision was to have a rugby-shaped cake made out of red velvet cake. You know, because rugby can be so "bloody". Yum. :)

As we continued to communicate about her cake, it didn't look like a little rugby would feed the 70 people they were expecting at the dinner. So we decided to throw in a sheet cake made out of chocolate cake (to symbolize the dirt in rugby) and I would make it look like a rugby field.

Great. We're all set.

But wait!! Lori wanted the rugby ball to have the Milwaukee Rugby Club logo on it and she sent me some pictures. Now how was I going to do that?My first thought was to do a color flow logo and place that on top of the cake. Here's a picture of the logo that I covered in waxed paper.

Then I outlined everything in black.

And flowed in the white.

It looks okay now, I did two more, but the colors all bled together to form a mass of gray and it cracked...and it just wasn't going to work. I tried the process AGAIN and prevented the bleeding of the black, but it still didn't look the way I wanted it to. This cake had to look GREAT and I'm too much of a perfectionist.

So days later, I decided to just do the whole logo out of fondant. My wonderful husband, Danny, helped me with the lion-like creature in the logo and I put the rest together. But before you see the rugby ball, I'll talk about the rugby field. After putting down a crumb coat of green frosting, the first step was to outline the field lines in white.

Then I added the stars. This process took about an hour to cover the whole cake.

But it was worth it, because I think the frosting looks a lot like fuzzy grass here.

I added support in the cake and topped it with the finished rugby ball and added an additional border. I really think this cake turned out great and am so thankful Lori believed I could do it.

Today is Lori's wedding day. I wish her and her husband the very best!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dave Schmave

In a couple of days, my brother-in-law will be celebrating his birthday. He shares his birthday with Mickey Mouse. Coincidence? Anyway, my parents-in-law were in town this weekend and it just seemed "right" to celebrate his birthday a little early while they were here. I cooked up an early Thanksgiving meal - because, why not?! - and also baked up a quick cake for the occasion.

Dave absolutely adores blueberries (as does his dad...coincidence?) and I came across a recipe for a blueberry cake with lemon curd icing. I thought I'd give it a whirl. Here are the cakes as they came out of the oven:

I used frozen organic blueberries and covered them with a smidge of flour before gently folding them into the batter. That way, the blueberries wouldn't just sink to the bottom of the pan. Instead, they're nicely distributed. (You can do that when adding chocolate chips or nuts to batters as well.)

I topped the cake with additional fresh organic blueberries and created a border on the top and bottom. Yummy! This one sure was a delicious experiment and one I'd like to do again. Any takers?

Lordy, Lordy...

About a month ago, my brother asked me to make my sister-in-law's (his wife's) 40th birthday cake. Just the mere mention of the cake brought loads of fantastic, beautiful, classy ideas to mind because I do know her so well. All of these ideas were to be deflated by his; to make a tombstone cake, all gray and gross, that said, "Here lies Teresa's good years. May they rest in peace." Was he joking? Doesn't matter. He's my brother and I always do what I want, not what he tells me to. (Sidenote: To all of my other clients, I will always do whatever YOU want. Just to be clear.)

I know that Teresa absolutely loves chocolate and her mom made this really great peanut butter frosting that brings her right back to childhood the moment the flavor hits her mouth. THAT was my inspiration. And luckily, I had asked her for the peanut butter frosting recipe a while back, so I already had THE recipe.

I started her cake by making 40 small flowers out of fondant. Although Teresa seemed very "zen" about her birthday, I wanted her cake to be subtle yet whimsicial.

Teresa knew that it was a chocolate cake by the outside view, but I was pleased that she was so surprised by the peanut butter filling. I hope she enjoyed it!

Served with vanilla bean ice cream to, as Teresa would say, "cut down the sweetness", this was a real "keeper". Happy birthday to you, Teresa, my dear sister-in-law!