Saturday, April 23, 2011


Several weeks ago, Kristie asked me to make a cake for her husband and my dear friend Mike's birthday. She gave me complete control over the cake and told me whatever I came up with would be fine. I've known Mike since I was 15. He was a freshman and I was a sophomore in high school and we had one class together that year; Western Civilization. I remember being totally obnoxious in that class (our friend Robin will totally back that statement up) and I just remembered Mike's red hair and thinking that he seemed nice...and sort of funny...but really smart. First impressions, eh? I was mostly right. He actually turned out to be much funnier than I initially gave him credit. ;)

We became the very best of friends throughout high school and even in college we kept in touch. I remember him telling me about his really hilarious friend Danny who was NEVER there when I went to visit him in college and I therefore began to refer to Danny as Mike's "imaginary friend." About five years later, I married Mike's friend. He's not imaginary afterall. :)

We still get together regularly for our Gourmet Dinner Club that we started about 5 years ago, and I cherish the times that we're all together.

So having known Mike for as long as I have, and having shared so many experiences with him, making a cake that was "Mike" was a little challenging. He has about a billion interests: sports, music, movies, etc. Where was I to start?

I needed help.

And then it hit me.

The first time I met Mike, he was wearing a Beatles t-shirt. We had an awkward hello as our friend Katie introduced us in the doorway of that Western Civilation class. Beatles. I immediately thought, "My mom would like him".

So "Help" is what I gave Mike.

It's a chocolate cake, filled with chocolate ganache, covered in fondant. John, Paul, George and Ringo are cut out of fondant and placed around the cake.
Mike, I wish you the Pampiest of Birth Hams today and everyday!

Love always,
Ann :)

Easter Basket

My good friend Kristie contacted me for my Cake Mama assistance in making an Easter cake for her family's celebration on Easter. I was more than happy to help out! She wanted a carrot cake...appropriate...and that's the direction I got. I could do whatever I wanted. Heh...heh...heh...

So, I decided to keep this pretty traditional. Easter cakes are supposed to be happy, springy and pretty. I think that's just what they got.

Happy Easter to Kristie and her family! And Happy Easter to all of my 10 readers! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April Showers

My client, Amy, requested a cake for a bridal shower she was hosting. She wanted a simple cake, colored sage-y green to match the bride's color scheme for the wedding. Amy was going to accent the green cake with pretty red Gerbera daisies. After looking at my slideshow, she saw a cake that I had done last year for a shower that was decorated like a pretty present with a big white bow. She chose that cake, green fondant instead of pink, to be made with vanilla cake and chocolate buttercream. This was going to be good!

I created the bow out of a fondant/gum paste mix and set that aside for a couple of days to dry out completely. I think the cake turned out really cute!

I hope that Amy's shower was a sucess and I send my best wishes to the bride!

Lion Stout Beer

My friend Lori ordered a cake for her husband, Mark's, birthday celebration. Mark is a fan of Lion Stout beer and Lori wanted me to recreate the Lion Stout beer label in cake form. She requested a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling for the task. Mmmm. The Lion Stout label is pretty straightforward, that is, until you look at the lion head on the top. Seriously, how was I going to do that?

I decided to practice on several little lion heads and I'm chuckling as I type this.

There's one that looks like a baboon. Another that looks a little too human. And then there's the abstract one in the middle where I used food markers that just looks...stupid. LOL! But there were a couple that were close. I used straight-up food color gel watered down slightly to achieve the "paint" which I blended and painted directly onto gum paste.

The Lion Stout label also features small text around the perimeter. Lori wanted that to be personalized and forwarded a couple of things for me to include, depending on how much room I'd have. I covered the cake with red fondant. Then I made the label with chocolate fondant, which I dyed black. Then I finished the label. And here's the finished cake.

Happy Birthday, Mark! I hope you had a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Danny is my wonderful husband whose birthday we celebrated this weekend. I've been pretty busy with the whole "cake thing" these last few months but the WHOLE reason I took the classes in the first place, was to be able to make nice cakes for my family. So, when Danny told me to "keep it simple" for his birthday, I looked at him like he was crazy. Here, I thought he wanted a cake in the shape of a human arm, bone and all! I was seriously going to make him that cake, but after looking at a few Google images of just that sight, both Danny and I agreed that it was a little (a LOT) too gross to serve our family. I mean...REALLY. Then, he wanted an R2D2 cake. 3-D. Which nearly brought me to tears. When was I going to have the time to make that one? Maybe for his fiftieth birthday. Maybe.

So to give me more ideas about what to do for his cake, he said, "I like movies, the Academy Awards..." Yeah, yeah, yeah... Danny really didn't need a 4-tiered cake, so I could keep it simple in terms of design, but I wanted him to have a cake that was meaningful and truly him.

Danny IS a huge fan of movies and I really wanted to incorporate something about that passion in the cake. And I remembered that when he was a Hall Director at Ripon College many moons ago, he created a group for film enthusiasts just like him. They called themselves the "Cinemaniacs". Danny made a really wierd logo with a cow/chicken (yeah, you read that right), and started a film festival for the students and community members. The rest is history.

I searched high and low for a copy of the logo he made. I finally found it on the Ripon College website (Facebook also has a Cinemaniacs page). And here is the "Moooobagawk". Danny will have to fill us all in on the meaning behind the cow/chicken and what it has to do with film, but it's truly a Danny creation and one that I wanted to incorporate onto his cake.

The great thing about teaching the Wilton classes is that I, too, am learning. I've been showing my class participants how to do a piping gel transfer. That's when you trace an image onto wax/parchment paper using piping gel, then you place the wax/parchment paper onto the cake surface. Once that's done, you decorate away. That's how I was able to get the logo onto Danny's cake. If I was a better artist, I may be able to do this free-hand...but I am not.

When I finally showed the cake to Danny, he cried out, "Oh Moobagawk!" and was pleased with the design I chose for him. The surprise was the actual cake itself. I made a yellow sponge cake with absolutely amazing strawberry buttercream. This is called a "vertical" or "spiral" cake and

Happy early birthday to you, Danny! I love you so!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Don't get me wrong - I'm ALWAYS up for an interesting cake idea, and I'm always up for learning something new. My cake history speaks volumes, and quite honestly, that's what I love about making cakes. Every single one is different. They're like snowflakes. Even if they look the same on the outside, they may be different when you cut into them. And, in case you're wondering, cutting into them is what I like least of all. :( SO much time and labor given to one project and then - BAM! It's gone. Nature of the beast. But I digress.

My friend Lori called me again to do a cake for her sister's birthday. (Lori, if you recall, asked me to do her husband's groom's cake - the Rugby cake.) I LOVE me the repeat customers!!! Best.Compliment.Ever. Now, Lori's sister is a HUGE dog lover and Lori wanted to incorporate her sister's love of dogs into this cake. So, she requested a dog dish cake. I had never heard of such a thing and upon doing a Google Image search I realized that there are hundreds, if not thousands of these cakes out there! Who'd have thought?

Lori requested a white base with multi-colored dog paws and bones around it. She also wanted me to incorporate "Happy Birthday Erin!" on the cake somewhere. That was definitely enough to go on. The cake flavor was lemon with raspberry buttercream filling. Mmmm!

So here's what I made for her sister, Erin:

As you can see, "multi-colored" to me means EVERY color! I had so much fun with this cake (my favorite color is rainbow, afterall)!

Instead of a traditional border, I wanted to keep it "dog-themed" and made a fondant leash wrap around the base of the cake. And before you begin to panic about the dog food, it's actually Cocoa Puffs.

I hope Erin had a great birthday celebration, and I hope my cake made it safely to Minnesota (my first out-of-state cake...tear...). Happy Birthday Erin!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

1 Cake, 2 Cake, White Cake, Blue Cake

My friend Beth approached me a few months ago asking for some cake advice. She was throwing a Dr. Suess party for her soon-to-be 2-year old daughter, Jillian. She wanted to create a Cat in the Hat HAT in cake form. I gave her some well-thought out advice, or at least I told her what I would do if I were making the cake.

Then the call came. Beth asked ME to make the cake for her daughter's party. She is one busy Mama with 3 kids four years and younger. Plus, she works. When on EARTH would she have time to make the cake? she called me and I was more than happy to help out!

The good news is that I already had the design done. But you know something? I wanted to do something different. Just the Cat's hat wasn't enough. I wanted to do more and thought that this may be the perfect opportunity for me to attempt a topsy-turvy cake. I'd always wanted to try. A big risk, mind you, having never done one before, but Beth had to approve anyway.

So I asked her if we could scrap the hat idea and if I could try the topsy turvy cake. I explained that I'd like to incorporate more of The Cat in the Hat story and bring in Thing 1 and Thing 2, the goldfish and kites. Beth was excited by this an also asked me to incorporate "Happy Birthday Jillian", the number 2, the actual Cat in the Hat(because that was Jillian's favorite Dr. Suess character), and have it match the outfit Jillian was going to wear the day of her party.

She attached a picture of Jillian's dress. Isn't it the cutest?!!!

I took a few hours and created the characters from gum paste. Here's what they looked like when I was [almost] done. (All of the marking, by the way, is done with a food marker. Edible. Very important!)

Then, it was time to bake the cakes. For the bottom tier, Beth wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling. The top tier she wanted marble cake with bavarian cream filling. Well, the bottom tier went together without a problem. It was awesome. I baked three 10-inch cakes and filled and stacked them, and then did the carving, crumb-coating and covered it in fondant. No problem whatsoever. Life was good.

Then, the marble cake disaster occured. The cake itself was too moist and crumbly and it quite literally disintegrated when I attempted to put it together. Marble cake was not going to be an option. So, I baked some yellow cakes instead. Those went together MUCH better. The topsy turvy cakes need to be firm, dense cakes, and the yellow cake worked out MUCH better than the marble. It started to collapse in the fridge, but I was able to fix it, cover it in fondant and move on with the rest of the decorating.

Because this cake had to travel a good 45 minutes, I wanted to make sure that it would travel well. So, the top tier of the cake, the Cat himself, I made out of molded Rice Krispie treats covered in buttercream and fondant. That made the cake a little lighter and I was able to sculpt it much easier. So, when you put it all together, this is what Jillian's cake looked like:

I cut out the letters in gum paste using a Dr. Suess font I printed out.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are running in opposite directions on the cake, dragging kites behind them. The poor fish...all stressed out.

Because Jillian's dress had the infamous word "BUMP!" on it, I also wanted to include that on the cake. I found the perfect spot!

My favorite part of this cake was the drop-off. Beth is a teacher at a school a few miles away from where I live. She figured it would be easier for the two of us if I just brought the cake to her school and she would drive it home. So, as a special treat for her class, she had all of her students come out to the front of the school to see the cake. How fun!

Here's 2-year old Jillian with her cake! LOVE IT!!!

I understand that Beth was serving Green Eggs and Ham among other "Suessical" things at Jillian's party today. I sure hope they had a fantastic time! I'm so sorry I missed it! Happy 2nd Birthday Jillian!!! I'm so happy I got to be a part of your special day!