Saturday, January 28, 2012

Trial Saturday

Ahhh Saturday. I love 'em. And this is the first Saturday in over a month I didn't have anything planned. So I had big plans to try out a new cake recipe. I came up with a really cute cake design too! It included using several of my Christmas gifts too! Well things never go as planned. The cakes didn't come out of the pans nicely. What in the world am I doing wrong?! Well, needless to say, my cake design I was so excited about is canned.... for today. I had a few people try the cake and they thought it was great! At least there's that.

I did manage to accomplish a few other things. I practiced some gumpaste roses. And I used my new ball tool, which I now love!
 I actually only made the two big ones and one of the smaller ones today. The other three I made a few months back. I think I'll just make my own bouquet of flowers out of gumpaste!! They won't die like real flowers and I like them more than silk flowers :)

Here's some growing.

Pretty fun. Now I need to learn some other flowers...

I also played with my Cricut Cake today. It has been a while. I feel like today was pretty successful though.
These are on my old dummy cake. It was actually a layer in a wedding cake I did. The mother of the bride returned it to me! So I've been using it.
 I tried a few different ways. Might look rough in this situation... ha

 I thought I'd try out what it would look like if I piped it. Aaaand back to the Cricut.
Just playing around. Anyway, although all things didn't go as planned, still a good day! Wish I had more days like this! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Square Tiered Cakes

The next cake I did was for a good friend of mine at work. Her birthday was Friday so I had to make her a cake!
 Another of the "fancy" framing, ha.
 This shot make it look a lot lighter than it was.
I finally got to use my stencils that I got for Christmas!! I love 'em. I practiced (above) on an old cake dummy. (Btw, that's the brighter version of the burgundy royal icing I was talking about in the previous post.
Much brighter.
 After I would stencil the cake, I had to get the excess icing of the stencil. So I just did it on my countertop and there were pretty designs everywhere!!
It was some new decorations for a few hours :)

Stenciling is SO easy (don't tell though... I really worked very very hard on it ;) This was the first time I had ever done stenciling so I can't speak for all stencils, but this one was easy. I am very pleased with how this turned out. It wasn't perfect and I learned a few things such as 
    (1) I needed to really keep that stencil flush with the cake. Obviously I knew this but apparently I would slack every now and then because purple got mixed in with the design. I'm assuming that was the problem. 
    (2) Make sure the stencil you want to use fits the on the cake. I hadn't decided which stencil I wanted to use, but it's a good thing I had flexibility with this cake. One of the stencils was too tall for the cake. Oops. You can tell the top layer was a little too short. The stencil kind of went on top of the cake.

I feel like I will forever more be trying to make a clean buttercream cake. Clean edges, etc. I will say that I was impressed with how fast I did this cake. Iced, decorated, and stacked in roughly 2 hours. That might be pitiful depending who is reading this, but I take such a long time when decorating cakes. I've got to learn to pick up my pace. And it really stinks when I take so long attempting to perfect the buttercream and it doesn't even look like I tried. Eh, I suppose it's a working progress. 

{Btw, this cake was chocolate, the one I was explaining I was having such a hard time with sticking to the pan here. I had to re-bake some and I think doubling the recipe was part of the reason. Also, it seems like it's so moist that it kinda suctions to the pan. Umm... is that possible?? I have plans to try another recipe; although, I like this cake! I'll keep working on it and hopefully will come up with a solution.}

Speaking of buttercream cakes, here's the last one of the weekend. This was for a couple getting re-married so it was a small wedding, close family and friends.
 Not sure how long I worked on the buttercream, the smoothness, the edges, but ugh. Not quite there yet.

 Only on my blog do I show pictures like this. Look at that bottom vertical edge. Yikes. And the corner on the top layer is MIA. 
 Here it is completed with the gumpaste/fondant topper.
 I was fully prepared to run to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon and buy a topper for when this one failed. But fortunately it worked!! I put wires in it (as you can see... but it has to have support!). This is something else I could use some "how-to" tips.
Overall, it was what they asked for and they liked it. That's always a good thing!

Gone Fishin'

I had three cakes for this weekend and I'd love to share them with you! The pictures, of course... :)

First was for a little boy's 2nd birthday. Unfortunately he got sick this week with something that is very contagious, especially to little kids so they had to cancel the party. But the mom still wanted to celebrate on his birthday so I just made a smaller version of the original cake. It was a fishing theme.
 My brother found an app that lets you put pictures into frames like this. This is what I was talking about on my last post. I see these all the time and really like them!! Now if only there was a way to do it on my computer. I do have photoshop, and I'm sure I can do lots with it that I don't even realize.
 The fisherman just hanging out :) 
The 2 is on the boat since it was the boy's 2nd birthday.
 Another angle on the turtle so you can see his shell better.
I drew on the "circles" with an edible pen, as well as the eyes.
 A bucket of fish.
 The bucket really had individual fish in it. I thought they were cute.
 The ducks and unfinished turtle with some rocks.
 The rice crispies boat. It wasn't very smooth when I covered it in fondant because of the rice crispies, but it was what it was (haha sounds funny in the past tense).
My almost-completed boat and fisherman.
I would love to take a class on making figures/animals/etc. Obviously, mine need some work. They don't look like they'd be hard, but not 
as easy as you'd think. What bugs me is how you can see there's a seam, for lack of better words. Check this out: 
See how you can see the "seam" right across his face and on his body? That's no good.

But overall I was happy with how it turned out :)

I also ended up doing some last minute fish cookies to go with:

These were interesting. I found a fish cookie cutter the day before the cake was due. The mother had mentioned fish cookies but we weren't sure if we could find a cutter. So I end up doing some... then I wasn't sure how to decorate them! The shape of the cutter has that bump on the top and a wide tail and 2 fins on the bottom. I ended up doing this. What do you think? I might just be used to them now and think they look ok, but first thought, are they weird?? 

Also, I was trying to go with natural, earthy colors so I picked burgundy. I'd already used a lot of green and blue. When I mixed the burgundy it came out pink!! Oh my gosh... but it did darken once they dried. It was much brighter than this. And I had a blue dye that's kinda close to a gray. It turned out purple. So I added true blue to it to get that color. Strange. 

I was going to put all 3 cakes on this one post, but since I've said so much already, I'll split them up :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Catch up and Questions

Goodness, I've been meaning to post this for over a week now. But between trips to the beach with my sisters and mom and trips to the hospital because of my husband's kidney stone, I haven't managed to. I still don't have much time at the moment. I feel like I have tons to do all the time. But no need to get into that... I'll just focus on writing this.

The past 2 weeks I did cupcakes!! First was for a little girl at our church. She is absolutely adorable!! She turned two in December.

I had a lot of fun taking pictures of these, if you can't tell. I'd love to put them in cute frames and whatnot like I see on others' blogs, but I don't know how to. So if anyone does, please share!!

These are vanilla with cream cheese icing. I was very happy with how the cc icing turned out. And I love these big cupcake liners!! If you can't tell, they're taller than the normal ones. 

The next batch were actually the same as these but with buttercream icing.

Some were chocolate this time, obviously. Can you tell how ugly the icing is?! It's really noticeable right after you see the cream cheese ones. The buttercream had so many air bubbles. I know that seems like an obvious cause, but I make buttercream all the time and basically do the same thing everytime and sometimes it's worse than others. This time I did use salted butter (sorry, but it was on sale and the unsalted was gone and butter is expensive these days!!) but I never would have thought it would make that big of a difference. Any ideas?

This is why the post is titled "Catch up and Questions"  I have a few questions to throw out there for anyone who might be able to help. Please help me solve the air bubble issue. Next: I baked several chocolate cakes tonight using the same recipe I've always used. Recently I've had problems with my chocolate cake sticking to the pan! So frustrating. I'm going to have to rebake some of the cakes because they were ruined. Even if I put wax paper in the pan, they'll stick some to the paper. WHY?! Could it be because I'm doubling the recipe? Is it possible to use too much non-stick spray?? I must figure this out.

I saw some Magic Line square cake pans for sale online... I have a set already and I love them. But I have learned since I've been baking and since I always make layered cakes, that it's nice to have at least 2 of each cake pan. It saves time; I can bake cakes twice as fast. They would've come in handy tonight since I had to bake 2 - 6", 4 - 8" and 2 - 10". So I'm debating whether to get them or not. They'd be nice to have and I think they're worth the price, but I have no idea where I would store them. I've already out-grown our renovated pantry and am constantly trying to rearrange things so it's not cluttered. Hmmm.... decisions, decisions.

Alright, last request for feedback. I just filled out my form for the cake competition, wrote the check, and sealed and stamped the envelope. The competition is a month from today and I know it'll be here before I know it. The theme is Grandma's Closet so if you have any ideas or suggestions at all, please share!! I know I've asked before, but it's out there again. Think, think, think :)

Well I don't think it took me too long to write this. I really wish I could figure out how to frame my pictures up all snazzy and what not, but I need to stay focused. More to do before I go to bed. I've got a few cakes this weekend and have intentions of using some of my Christmas goodies!!! I'm so excited. Hopefully I'll have a chance to post pics this weekend. 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Presents

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a fantastic Christmas!!! I definitely enjoyed the time off and the time with friends and family. On top of that, I also got some pretty sweet Christmas presents :) Let's say about 98% of my gifts had to do with baking, which is ok with me! Here we go..

A beater!! And it's the nice kind that scrapes the sides while mixing.

 A nice, non-plastic ball tool. Now, that's us laughing because my family can't handle "ball tool". hehe

 Silicone molds! So far, these items make no sense to my family... I tried to explain but I don't think they care. My husband is starting to get it all though! Ha!
 Attempt for a better picture, but I haven't even unwrapped them yet. The long ones are 5 different sizes of beads. I'm not even doing a good job of explaining...
 Another mold. An anemone :)
 I'm pumped about this. I saw it at a store in Nashville last April when I took a class from Jay Qualls from Next Great Baker Season 1. That was a great class!!
 Stencils!!! Gorgeous ones! Damask ones!! I'm planning on making a dummy cake and decorating it with the damask design. So excited.
 No pictures of me opening these... I'm sure you're grateful.
 Jumbo Cupcake!! I am determined to (one day) make a tiered cake with a Jumbo Cupcake on top. I've seen some absolutely adorable cakes like that!
 Cake Pop and Donut Hole Maker. Heck yeah! And it's pretty! Love that color.
Check this out!! Stackable cupcake carrier! This will come in handy. Especially since I have a few orders for cupcakes coming up.
 This is a cookie press. You can put dough in there and put one of the discs in and it'll have a cool shape. Or you can pipe with it! Pretty snazzy.
A clay extruder. I played with this over the break with some actual clay my brother had. This is what I was trying to clean when I cut my finger. Learned my lesson. I have to clean this very carefully.

Since we've been back home for all of 4 days, we've had to unpack and do a bajillion loads of laundry (I've heard it only gets better when kids come along), head back to work, and a bunch of other stuff so I haven't had a chance to use anything yet. Maybe I can play with some this weekend when I'm working on a cake and some cupcakes, but I'm doubtful. I still need to put up all our Christmas decorations. Our anniversary was this past Tuesday so we're supposed to go out Saturday night. And I signed up to run a half marathon Sunday morning so I plan on laying around the rest of the day. I'll be out of town the next weekend... I've got a some cakes coming up too!! And a cake competition! As well as possibly four wedding cakes this year (so far)! It might be a busy start to the year and lots to come, but it's all good. I'm excited about all of it!