Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Berry Sweet Baby Shower Cake

This cake design is my new favorite! I had a blast making the strawberries and the little baby on top.

My little sister is having a baby and I felt blessed to be a part of her baby shower and to have a hand in the decorating and event planning. Overall it went off well and things seemed to run relatively smoothly, but I'm sure if you asked around someone could find something to fix. Isn't that always the way? Things can always be better! :)

The cake was vanilla with vanilla buttercream in the top tier. The bottom tier was chocolate with Mint Oreo buttercream filling (my sister craves Mint Oreos). The top tier transported nicely, but the bottom tier got a few cracks in the buttercream that bothered my inner perfectionist. I accidentally bought the wrong size box for the bottom tier and used straws (big mistake) to insert in the bottom of the cake and keep it from sliding inside the box. It "sort of " worked. However one of the straws pushed into the cake, left a small hole and cracked my icing. ACK.

I have been spoiled by my all-shortening/dairy-free icing and the cracks are a result of the butter crusting and the cake being transported over 2 hours in a mini-van not designed for this sort of thing! So what does every smart cake decorator do in the face of certain doom? Covers her cracks and faults with pretty decorations! And that's what I did. I used the bow placement to hide the biggest crack where the straw pushed into the cake. I added flowers to the bottom tier to cover some other imperfections and I rethought my design slightly to make it work. All the decorations are made from fondant and the borders are piped in buttercream. I made my fondant bows ahead of time so they could dry enough to be man handled as I polka-dotted them the morning of the shower. The piped ruffle with buttercream "ric-rac" looked really polished (I was surprised it worked so well). I put a lot of time and thought into this cake for my sister and I think that paid off. I would say I've improved my piping skills since the last cake and I will call that a huge win! Overall the design was not exactly as I originally planned but the end result honored my intent and (I hope) honored my sister and my new baby niece on the way. Happy Caking!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Frozen Cake

Did I mention I'm not a photographer? I know all bloggers *should* be photographers...but I really stink at it! I took these with my phone (I know...stop yelling), but they are what I have! So here you go:
 I actually wanted to make Olaf too, but ran out of fondant. The characters are sculpted from fondant with supports (straws/toothpicks, a rice cake under Anna). It was time consuming, but rewarding. The sculpting is actually my favorite part! I made this for my daughter's friend who has a dairy allergy. Her mom graciously allowed me to make it my usual way so my daughter could feel normal at a birthday party (which usually she always has to have her own separate cupcake I bring for her).

 And YES This picture is crooked. HA! I told you. I made a bunch of icing but still didn't have enough blue so I improvised with swirly snow-esque white to ice the side of the bottom tier. When I asked my friend how much cake she said "the bigger the better" so I opted for the two tiers since the bottom single layer looked so  tiny to me. I piped buttercream around Elsa and added sparkling white sugar sprinkles to make it look like snow. I piped as many snowflakes as I could near Elsa until I ran out of buttercream. One of the great difficulties about being a home baker is not having a stock of buttercream and cake to pull out!!!! I had to make due since it was late and all the stores were closed or soon to close. All in all it came out well. I do think Elsa was a little too curvy...shhhhh. Luckily most 7-8 year olds aren't focused on bust size and probably didn't care. It bothered me but I didn't have enough fondant to redo her! Cest La Vie!
 The paper towel kept her right arm from falling while she was drying. No styrofoam? Just use rice cake. We always have rice cake! I hand painted the face and pieced fondant together to make her hair and braid.
Anna turned out more like I wanted and the details were extensive and with a rewarding result! I had some trouble painting her eyes, but still it turned out better than I expected. She's also all fondant with a support and I have a rice cake under her skirt to keep it billowing out and not sinking down. I did add some paper towels under it while it was drying to help it have a nice shape. Those were (of course) removed before I placed her on the cake.

My daughter had so much fun at the party. Allergies are challenging her emotionally these days and although I didn't do the best job in preparing for everything at the party (pizza/pretzels...etc) she was able to have the cake and that meant so much to her. I know that she is actually the reason I started making cakes and she is the reason I've learned to make them allergen-free. I credit all my growth and efforts to her very existence. I thank God for her and her sacrifices. I know they've made me a better woman. Ever the work-in-progress!


Pirates Icing Smiles Cake

I was finally able to volunteer for another Icing Smiles Cake. This one was close to my heart.  I have a neighbor who recently lost their son to cancer. Also cancer has touched my family often over the years. Although it might seem unconnected...it really made me want to create this cake for Drew and his sister Grace. I actually wanted to make a cake for my neighbor's son Colty, but he was diagnosed so close to his birthday and I had just suffered a loss myself and was unable to accomplish much of my every day commitments. I really regretted that and although I know it wasn't my fault, doing this cake was a bit of a way to honor his life. I was blessed to meet Drew and his sister and their WHOLE family. So it was extra special. They requested a Neverland Pirates theme focused on Jake and Izzy. I did a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. All decorations are fondant excepting the sail/lookout box seen in the below pictures. The mast is a wooden skewer threaded through the sail to hold it up.
This is before they picked it up:
 I found a trick online to make the map look faded by dusting it with cocoa powder. I imprinted the letters and then painted them with brown icing color mixed in vanilla. The sand is made from brown sugar (so easy and so lovely)! I used Krispy treat for the treasure chest and edible pearls for some of the treasure.
 This is a picture of the kids with their cake at the party (their lovely mom sent it to me):

Aren't they adorable!!!! I love that they dressed up for the birthday party!

Drew is in now in maintenance with his Leukemia! Please pray for this family as maintenance still means lots of testing and ups and downs. They have such a strong faith in the Lord! I am so grateful I was able to make this cake for them and was able to pray for them as I did it.

Pray for children who suffer with pediatric cancer. Stand up for them and pray for a cure. These cakes I make for Icing Smiles shine bright in my heart as my favorites. I am more blessed from making them than from any other cake I've made.


Toad and Racing Car 8 Cake

My husband is a huge gamer. You wouldn't really know it unless you know him super well. He has been excited about Mario Kart 8 coming out for a long time! So when his birthday came around the kids and I decided to do a Toad Racing cake with all the items we could make from the old and new games. I confess (quite to your surprise I'm sure) that I didn't make everything on this cake. I actually let go of my design enough to let the kids make stuff! :)

 Everything is fondant and buttercream with the exception of the flags which are gumpaste. This was a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free strawberry lemonade cake from a doctored Betty Crocker mix recipe I found. I then changed it a little more to make it strawberry lemonade. It had fresh strawberries in it which really added to the moistness of the cake and allowed it stay moist longer than the first day! This was a huge win for us (most cakes dry out fast when made allergen-free)!!!

The kids made most of the items. I made the stars, banana, bob-omb, and the sign. I piped the grass along the raceway with buttercream. I made Toad last minute as my first attempt failed and was too purple. Toad is not purple! But it still worked. Because he didn't have time to dry he was leaning back too much, but when I make cakes that are staying at home it isn't an issue.

The cake was not flawless, but it was precious since the kids helped so much. I think it meant more to them when daddy ate it and when they got to eat the items they helped create. I hope they remember all our baking endeavors with smiles.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

First Holy Communion: Pink and White

I really still am in shock that this all happened, that my dear sweet child has made her First Holy Communion and I made a cake for it. It feels surreal!!! My baby is not a baby and she now can receive Our Lord in this amazing Sacrament! I feel more than I can possibly express.

Here she is with her cake...
 And yes that is a cake pan under the cake!!! I changed the size of the cake last minute and didn't have a board big enough for it so I flipped the pan. Sometimes you have to be flexible!
 I used gumpaste for the chalice and paten and fondant for the hosts so the kids could eat them. I put some red fruit snacks in the chalice. My kids thought that was the best...eating the hosts and getting fruit snacks out of the chalice. Nevermind about the humongous cake I baked and decorated...HA! The top cake is strawberry-lemonade (Gluten-free/dairy-free/ egg-free and safe for my allergic-to-everything child) and the bottom cake is safe Chocolate all with dairy-free vanilla butter cream icing.
The two little cakes are vanilla with marshmallow fondant I made from scratch. I used one of my cupcake toppers I had left to decorate one and a gumpaste plaque I piped onto for the other.

The biggest hit in my mind was the strawberry-lemonade. I found a gluten-free cake doctor recipe that I adapted to be safe and added lemon to to make the lemonade aspect of it. The fresh strawberries, increase in oil amounts and the jello packets seemed to keep it moist. The other cakes always dry out so quickly, but this cake was soft well into the week. My husband said it is now his favorite and requested it for his birthday! Win!

I am so proud of my beautiful daughter! Congratulations to her on her First Holy Communion!! I pray God guides her to the saint He desires her to be.

"There is but one suffering...to not be a saint."  Our bishop quoted this in his Pentecost Homily, but I can't remember who said it. I love it!


Alleluia Cake!

Easter this year was crazy busy! I am helping with the children's class for RCIA and that means Holy Week is I-have-something-every-night week. That said on Holy Saturday I managed to pull this off and take it for the Easter Basket Blessings at my parish.

This was a combined effort as my daughter made a little chickie and a bunny for it as well as Easter Eggs for the border. My son made one of the big flowers on the egg and I did the rest. They love making things out of fondant and I hope one day they savor these baking memories as blessed times in our life.

Although our 50 days of Easter Celebration have ended I pray you carry the Alleluias in your heart. We are the Alleluia people!

Bake Sale Cakes 2014

Here are some pics of the bake sale items I submitted this year for our church festival.
All my cakes sold including an Olaf cake I forgot to take a pic of...oh well! I have been using my phone camera to take pictures so forgive all the poor quality pics. They are the only kind I have lately! #poor excuse for a blogger

 These were cupcake toppers that did NOT sell...sigh. Too specific and not really reasonable. I saved them and used them for our own religious celebrations here.
 This is the white chocolate cake with vanilla butter cream. Not my best design! lol. Still fun and bright for a birthday cake or a just because cake.
 This is chocolate chocolate with a vanilla butter cream filling. I liked the simplicity of it.
These were some chocolate cupcakes I decorated in Festival colors that our parish uses to advertise. I incorporated virtues on them to appeal to my fellow Catholics. I made some allergen free cookies and some chocolate caramel cupcakes too but didn't get a good pic of them so just imagine the sweet image in your fabulous mind. ;)