Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring flowers

With sunny skies and longer days, spring is definitely here despite the cold nights.  The snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils are in full bloom and it won't be long before the cherry trees start to blossom!  After the inevitable green cake for St. Patrick's Day, I had a relatively quiet weekend to look forward to.  I had a cupcake "sampler" order for Monday which inevitably left me with extra cupcakes. 

For a while I have been itching to try making a cupcake bouquet and now that I had both the time and the cupcakes, I got to work making flowers.  I also got to practice my buttercream roses, which I have to admit I haven't done in years.  The cupcakes are an assortment of vanilla, lemon, strawberry and chocolate flavours.  In the end I was pretty pleased with the result and so was my friend who received it.  She is battling cancer and I thought I would cheer her up with this edible bouquet.  Perhaps next time I make one of these I will try using fancier cupcake cases and more ribbon.  I think this is a great gift idea for anyone who loves cupcakes.
I also had time, finally, to practice making sugarpaste peonies.  Here is a picture of my very first attempt.  Not perfect, but I hope that in time they will get better.  They are not so much impossibly difficult as time consuming; each petal must be hand shaped and shaded and there are so many in each bloom!  To make this peony I followed an online German no less! For those interested the link is .  Monika is a very talented lady whose cakes have won prizes and have been featured in wedding magazines. 

Last but not least, here is this year's St. Pat's Day creation.  Every year the Irish staff members throw a buffet lunch for all staff members at the school and it has become habit for me to provide the cake for them.   I will admit that the leprechaun is recycled from last year's cake, but everything else was fresh!  The beer mug was made from rice krispie treats with the "foam" being Bailey's flavoured buttercream, yum!  I am somewhat amused to see how inordinately popular the rice krispie treats are with the staff.  The Brits like it because I suppose it is a familiar treat from "back  home", but the Germans have been hitherto completely ignorant of this treat.
Next on my wishlist is time to make a tiered wedding cake, just to prove to myself that I can do it.  Tempting as it is to use up every free moment cake decorating, I do have to make time for my family and the garden occasionally!  However, before I get too caught up in the wedding cake theme, I have a birthday cake to create for my husband......

Monday, March 07, 2011

Busy times......

Last week was definitely the busiest I've had since December with cake projects to complete every evening after I came home from my day job.  It was challenging, exhausting, but also exhilarating.  I am always eager to learn new methods, try new things and extend my repertoire in general and last week was no exception! 

This champagne bottle cake was a first for me and much harder than I anticipated.  Having read on the internet that using rice krispie treats is the in thing to use in 3-D models, I decided to use this method for the bottle.  But I had a devil of a time getting the surface smooth enough for my liking.  In the end it came out OK; not perfect, but not so bad for my first effort!

The bucket was relatively easy and I was quite pleased with that.  The flowers were another first for me.  The design is loosely based on that of an anemone, but as you can see, there are no black stamens.  This is primarily because I didn't have any black stamens on hand, and in the end I ran out of time to dye them myself.  At one point I considered painting them on, but came to the conclusion that I liked them better this way.

Below is a close up of another fantasy flower I used last week for a different cake.  For this flower I followed the instructions of a tutorial and it involved wires to put the whole thing together. It was time consuming and a bit fiddly, but well worth the effort in the end! I am in the process of trying to get private tuition from a professional in the art of making realistic sugar flowers.  I yearn to make perfect flowers indistinguishable from the real thing.......
Below is a cake I did for a dear friend of mine at the request of her young daughters.  They knew exactly what they wanted their mother to have, and it was real pleasure to help them out.  This cake is not covered in fondant, as the girls were emphatic that they didn't want it for their Mum.  Instead I covered the cake with whipped ganache, but realised too late that it would have been better to use unwhipped ganache.  The latter would definitely have given a smoother finish! 

This is one of the things I find so frustrating about not being able to do this full-time.  My time is so very limited, being restricted to the evenings and weekends, that if I'm not happy with  the way something came out, I rarely have the time to do it over.  I find myself making more compromises than I am  happy with.  I get so envious when I read how a fellow cake decorator had time to experiment with an entire cake for no other reason than to practice a new technique.  Until I take the plunge and garner the courage to quit my day job, that luxury will not be a part of my life.

Speaking of experimentation, the McDonald's meal pictured below was a huge experiment for me, done with no tutorials or instructions of any kind.  I have never done this before, but I found it great fun, and not nearly as challenging as I expected!  This was all well and good as this was the last of 5 cakes I completed last week and I was literally exhausted.  My tiredness showed in that I made several crucial mistakes in the baking phase, and had to bake the cakes twice, with the first lot going in the bin.  The worst part of this was that it had to be a banana cake and I ran out of over ripe bananas.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find over ripe bananas in the supermarket when you need them?!  I didn't succeed in finding any, so had to make do with plain old ripe bananas.  I hope the flavour came out ok!

The drink was also made out of rice krispie treats and this time I was smarter.  I covered the rice krispie treats with buttercream frosting and stuck the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or so to harden.  Then I smoothed the frosting before covering it with fondant.  Much easier!
I also made two other cakes, which are pictured in my photo gallery, but not here.  They were easy and fun to do.  By Saturday night I was more tired than I remember being in a loooonnnng time after surviving on barely 5 hours of sleep a night all week.  Yet I was not stressed or strung out.  The true beauty of this work is that I find it so pleasurable, that no matter how busy, or tired I may be, I actually relax when I sit down to make my fondant creations.  And so I look forward to my future projects with glee!