Monday, May 09, 2011

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day at least in Germany, Finland and USA.  This naturally meant that I had a busy weekend, despite being a mother myself!  It also meant that I got to make lots of lovely flowers, which always makes me happy. 

One of my projects was to make a cupcake bouquet for the wife of a colleague of mine.  Having done two of them in the past, I got a bit more ambitious with this one.  I thought that instead of just putting piped rose swirls on the cupcakes, I would actually make fondant roses the proper way (minus the wires).  For variety and balance I made lots of hydrangea blossoms.  On paper it was a great idea, but the logistical problems emerged when it was time to attach the cupcakes to the styrofoam ball.  Namely the roses were so heavy that they were in severe danger of falling off.  So instead of using cocktail sticks to spear the cupcakes on to the ball, I decided to use wooden grill sticks cut long enough to spear...and thus hopefully secure...the rose on each cupcake.

In practice I had to avoid putting roses on the lowest level and the cellophane I used to gift wrap the bouquet also became a support system for the lowest cupcakes.  Not sure what I am doing wrong (other than using too heavy toppers!), but I  am definitely going to have to rethink how I put these bouquets together.

Nevertheless, the problems and headaches that came with making this order were all well worth it when the recipient teared up with joy and flung her arms around me in happiness.  I kept telling her that the gift wasn't actually from me, even though I created it.  The bouquet was delivered relatively early on Sunday morning, so for me it was a perfect start to a lovely day.

Having already completed two cake projects for the weekend, I wasn't ready to call it quits yet.  I had baked a small, 15cm single layer chocolate cake from left over batter from a birthday cake I had made for Saturday, with the idea that my daughter could use it to make a Mother's Day cake for me.  At the last minute I announced that I  wanted to decorate my own cake.  Sounds weird, I know, but I had an idea in my head for a cake that nobody had ordered and I wanted to do it for my portfolio.  My daughter rolled her eyeballs at me, called me nuts, but ultimately was happy to go along with it as she had a massive project for school to complete.

It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday, so I sat in our garden and spent a few merry hours making sweet peas and lilies of the valley for my cake.  Both were flowers I had learned to do the other week with Alan Dunn, but as with everything else, practice makes perfect.  I  used a different brand of flower paste than Alan uses, and it gave me ENORMOUS problems!  It cracked, it dried too fast, it was brittle beyond belief etc etc etc.  This meant that I only got half the number of flowers done than I had intended, because so many petals broke, failed or merely refused to cooperate.

I also finally understood the importance of having high quality tools to work with.  At the moment I have a fairly haphazard collection of paint brushes I use exclusively with cake work and I have never really spared a second thought to them.  If my shading was off, or my painting was less than perfect, I blamed myself, and not the equipment.  Having spent three days using state-of-the-art equipment with Alan, I realised that the quality of one's brushes can have a significant impact on the quality of one's work.  I also realised how woefully inadequate my collection of dusting powders is, with the inevitable result that the leaves are far from the colour I was aiming for.  Also, not having a small enough and sharp enough cutting wheel is far more restrictive than not having the correct cutter!  Needless to say, my next shopping list includes GOOD paintbrushes, a tiny cutting wheel, and a whole host of dusting powders!

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