Tag Archives: luster dust

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

8 Dec

Betcha thought I forgot about ya’, didn’t ya’? Nope. Just “busy, busy, busy” to use those immortal magician’s words. 

For a change, I thought I’d post a holiday themed cake before the holiday. I have a few holiday cake pictures in my collection but since they aren’t created until the week of the holiday, it’s kind of hard to post them after the holiday and not look like I don’t know what the date is. I gotcha this time, though.

Way back when at the Farmers Market, we held a drawing for a free 6 inch cake. The coupon was cashed in recently and the winner wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate mint frosting. The cake was for a church event and she liked the outdoors and Christmas. From there, the rest was up to me. The cake was supposed to be a simple design, per the rules, so I restrained myself and designed a mistletoe cake, thereby giving her both the outdoors and Christmas on one cake. I’m smart like that.

We start with the obvious: a 6 inch cake. This one is actually 2 six inch cakes stacked. That’s what my recipe makes, so why not use all the cake? My freezer is plum full of cake truffles already so I have no need for more extra cake. I have to have room for other holiday goodies in there, doncha know.

Level the cakes (level-ish, according to the pictures)

 

Fill and stack the cakes:

I put a dowel down the center of my cake because, as you see, it’s a bit tipsy.

Crumb coat (stop me if you’ve heard this before).

Finish coat:

Lacquer coat- wait, that’s cars; this is cake. Get a ruler and draw diamond shapes (ish, again. Dear Santa, for Christmas I would like a diamond impression mat because now even hubster cannot draw it.)

(We should have left it like that, but of course we didn’t.)

Try to figure out the circumference of a 6 inch cake, and then decide to wing it and cut a rectangular strip for the top edge of the cake. Roll it out 4 times until you remember to roll up the strip to move it onto the cake instead of picking it up while it’s flat and screaming in frustration when it rips.

Put the strip in its proper place on the cake.

Use white icing and a round tip to fancy up the intersections of the diamonds. Except you will use the smaller tip even if you think it’s not big enough because, as you see, the bigger tip looks like doody.

Try to figure out the circumference of a 6 inch cake, and then decide to wing it and cut a rectangular strip for the top edge of the cake. Roll it out 4 times until you remember to roll up the strip to move it onto the cake instead of picking it up while it’s flat and screaming in frustration when it rips.

Put the strip in its proper place on the cake.

Use white icing and a round tip to fancy up the intersections of the diamonds. Except you will use the smaller tip even if you think it’s not big enough because, as you see, the bigger tip looks like doody.

Between the mucked up diamond pattern and the gigant-o dots, I hope our winner doesn’t have her glasses on when I deliver this.

Next, cut out more leaves than you will ever use in this lifetime.

I scrounged around in my stuff to find the cutter. You can find it here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E30D6EB-475A-BAC0-5E5EF66C57041711&killnav=1

Dust them with sparkly type stuff.

Make teeny tiny balls of red fondant and dust them with sparkly type stuff, too. Or do what I did- use a pearl maker.

Arrange  leaves around bottom border of cake.

Arrange 3 leaves on top of cake.

Over-leaf the whole thing and remove the excess leaving the top no longer smooth and no longer able to be smoothed. Add red balls for berries on the top of the cake.

In person, it was centered. Seriously. It’s the picture that makes it look “off.” Dunno why. Ask my son, he’s the photographer. I’m sure it’s some really long technical explanation that will make you sorry you asked, but go ahead- ask. I double-dog dare you. My apologies also for the darkness of the shot. Again, ask the kiddo.

Decide the cake is “done enough for  this late at night” and go to bed wondering if you’ll remember to buy a box for it tomorrow so you can deliver it.

Two more weeks of this college class and then I promise to make perfect cakes again. Right after I buy a crap ton of gifts, wrap them, make 2 dozen confections for Christmas, and take a vow of poverty rather than work a 40 hour per week job that isn’t caking.

What do you mean it’s only 2 weeks until Christmas?

Aaaahhhhhhhh! Quick, somebody wrap something! Anything!

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Here Kitty, Kitty!

26 Oct

Sheeee’s popular, sheeeee’s cute, sheeee’s copywrited, she’s Hello Kitty!

Yup, can‘t do Hello Kitty. What you can do is make a Kutie Kitty, not to be confused with the copywrited Hello Kitty. Got it? NOT Hello Kitty. It’s a different bow, so it can’t be. It’s Kutie Kitty. Got it? Got it?

Alrighty, then. Let us proceed to make a Cute Cat Cake.

I’m a slacker at heart, so my kitty starts with a shaped pan you can find here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=2105-4945

bear cake compressed

Using a sturdy cake recipe, make a bear cake. Yup. Bear. Not cat. Bear. S’alright. You’ll see.

Now, in a grown up, cake addicted, adult version of Operating Table, we’re going to perform a lil non-plastic surgery on Mr. Bear ‘cause his whole life he’s really felt like a cat inside. Who are we to stand in his way? All you need for the surgery is a knife and for the kids to be out of the room. Unless you want to traumatize them. If you do, that’s a whole other post on a whole ‘nother blog.

 creating kitty ears compressed

Slice the roundness off the ears by cutting a straight line perpendicular and a straight line horizontally. Don’t know your perp from your vert from your hort? Memorize this song and you’ll never have that prob again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spaw8bCZMHc

Wow! Those were the days, huh? I can hardly remember what it was like to be that cool.

crumbcoat kitty compressed

After you’ve run a towel into one ear and out the other to clean those images out, crumb coat the bearcat. This time, keeping the facial details is not important, so slather away at it.

final icing coat kitty compressed

You know the drill: final coat and smooth.

Geez, that song is still playing in my head. I think I’ve aged at least 30 years in the past 1 ½ minutes. Can you believe leggings are back in style? No, you cannot wear them. Remember: if you wore it the first time, you cannot wear it the second time. By the third time, you’ll be so old people will accept your little quirks as age issues, so don’t toss your originals just yet. But I digress….

Where were we? Let’s see: carve, crumb, final. What’s next? Oh, yes! Fonnnnddaaaaannntt!

rolling kitty fondant compressed

The rolling pin (found here: http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=B46C2136-802D-F658-044AFB328E609BEE&killnav=1) was left in the picture as a guide for you. Okay, I really didn’t think about it at the time, but it is a happy circumstance, isn’t it?  The pin is 20 inches long, for those of you too lazy to click and look right now. Roll your fondant and prepare for launch- onto the cake, of course.

cover with fondant kitty compressed

Cover your kitty (insert your own joke here). Adhere and smooth the fondant to the cake. Ignore that it’s not quite kitty kat shaped. Again, s’alright. Your friends won’t notice. Or coworkers, in this case.

adding kitty details compressed

Begin adding the details. The nose and eyes are ovals, not circles. You can use an oval cutter- or a round one if you’re good at that kind of thing. I’m not. Those things only happen by accident in this kitchen. The bow you add is up to you. Consider your time, skills, and tools at hand and go bow-making-crazy.

Awww, ain’t she adorable? She still needs whiskers. We wouldn’t want her to get her head stuck somewhere because her curb feelers are AWOL. I used 3 long black coffee stirrers cut into halves for my Kutie Kitty. You can try dying spaghetti black or getting string licorice stiff enough if you like. My time, talent, and fear of color bleed kept me firmly on the coffee stirrer path; but hey, you may be superior to me.  😛

The final touch was a dusting of white pearl dust to make her shiny. Every gal needs a little glitter for her big debut.

Red carpet, errrr, office pod- here we come!

finished kitty compressed

Happy B-day, J!

(P.S. I told you it would be alright. When will you learn to trust me? Yeesh, some people. )

Cake Chicks Undercover

21 Sep

Have you ever wondered what a cake decorating contest is like? If you could “hang” with that crowd? If you have a snowball’s chance of competing? So did we. What’s a cake chick with a longing to do? Spy, of course! We’re so good at it, we didn’t even have to lurk around corners to get the story. We walked right in, spoke to people, gawked, took beau coup pictures, and boldly snagged pieces of each cake even though we were supposed to limit ourselves to one. Hey, it’s not my fault they didn’t say that before they started passing the plates!

Here’s the set-up: contestants arrived one hour prior to the competition to set up. They have one hour to finish decorating their partly finished cakes in front of a live audience. And they were definitely live. A little too live at times. Kids, young adults, and way grown people alike were both nervous and excited- too much so at times. While the contestants are decorating, judges interview about their creations. Eek! Go away! They only have an hour!

 After the time allotted has passed, the judges get to work and eat cake while we watch and are served our own pieces. Badda bing, badda boom, winners are announced, and we all go home entertained, full of cake, and a little more educated.

 There you have it. That’s how it works. Satisfied? *Sigh* I thought not. Okay, here’s the whole scoop on this particular contest:

 We arrive at the much disclosed location and pull up to the little booth where they keep the parking attendant hostage. When we fork over our hard-earned-we’ve-got-bills-to-pay five bucks for parking, he sees our swank attire and posh vehicle, takes pity on us, and gives us two free tickets to the event. Score!

 Park the hoopty, walk into the building, and wander around acting like we belong. The contest is being held during a home improvement show so we totally blend in. We look like we drop a hundred grand on a patio, right? Suuurrrre.

 Okay, in our zest and excitement, we’re a lil early for the contest. We get the lay of the land and now the contest starts in….an hour and a half. LOL Hey, at least right outside there’s a horse show of some sort. Let’s go check that out…. Well, city cake chick is not fond of the aroma and country cake chick still can’t stand to see a whip used so let’s not hang here too long. Blah, blah, blah, kill time and check on progress. Nope, zoo dude is still hogging the stage. Lunch? One taco, two drinks, and too much money later, it’s time to check again. Whoo hoo! Snag a couple of seats and wait for the big event to start!

 Waaiit a minute. Where’s the nekked cake? Why are these covered? They look almost done. What’s going on here? Hmmm, guess I should have read the rules a bit closer. I was ready for them to start from baked nekked cake and end with a completed masterpiece. I mean, that’s why I said, “No way am I ready for that” when asked if I was interested in competing. Shoot, had I known all I had to do on site was the actual last hour of decorating any cake I might have tossed my spatula into the ring. Or not. I’m pretty chicken, that’s why I’m a cake chick and not a cake lion or something else equally fierce.

 Cake chicks and cake roosters, there is fondant everywhere! As far as the rolling pin can reach, there is fondant. Out of 5 contestants, there is 1, yes 1, fondant free cake. Here. In middle America. In a town nicknamed Cowlumbus. Fondant. Huh. Whoda thunk it? And not just accents, either. Entire cakes covered. In fondant. I thought for awhile there I’d have to pull my fellow chickie out from under the folding chair where she was rocking herself while in the fetal position. Fondant has officially taken over the world if it’s here.

 Hey, I’m a fondant fan. I’m also a buttercream pipe dreamer. I can eat buttercream literally by the bucket if not stopped but fondant? Yes, I’ll have one piece, please- but only if it’s a kind that tastes good. I’m a wannabe buttercream piper. I’m practicing my skills dreaming that one day a client will ask for an 8 tier wedding cake with royal string work and intricate scrolls and I’ll say with confidence, “I can do that, no problemo.” In the meantime, I fondant. Not that fondant is simple or easy. It’s just a different talent and skill. One I already have. Piping does not come naturally to this cake chick- which makes it all the more exciting to try to conquer.

 Anyway, fondant is definitely here, but there’s some buttercream work, too- along with *gasp* chocolate! Yum, white piped chocolate! *Swoon* Now it’s my partner’s turn to pick me up from the floor. Where I’m crawling towards the table trying to sneak a taste. “Whoa, there, Nelly! Don’t make me harness you and put you in the ring outside!” Alright, alright, I’ll sit back in my chair. For now.

 After we peruse the offerings, the contest starts with minimal fanfare. The crowd quiets for a bit as the work begins- but no for long. Every contestant has their cheering section and some lend quiet support, but others, not so much.

Dispatch Cake Contest supporter compressed

At this point, one of us is sliding in and out amongst the chairs and onlookers taking pictures whilst the other is “standing on ballerina toes trying to see over the heads of the RELATIVES WHO GET TO SEE THESE FOLKS WORK ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME!!!!!!!!” Ahem. As I said, some were calm and others were not.

 La, la, la, la- contestants are covering cakes with fondant, applying borders, covering cake boards, piping basket weave, etc….etc…etc…. It was difficult to see due to people standing and the set up of the whole shebang. Every 15 minutes or so one of the judges announces the time left. Roughly half-way through, a local reporter/judge talks to each one of the contestants asking about the inspiration for their cakes and each caker’s experience with cake. Near the end, the crowd’s patience is at an end and they start filing by the tables, completely blocking the view of anyone polite enough to stay back and let them work without interference. Argh! A child’s curiosity gets the best of her and I see her reach out and quickly slap a cake. Aaaahhhh! I swear, this next part was pure reflex on my part. I’ve been a parent too long. I should have been given more time off as a parent. You would have done the same, I swear.

 I slapped my fellow caker. Yes, slapped. Reflex, I swear. It was as if I was reaching out to slap that child’s hand away from the cake. At the same time, I gasped, “She’s touching it!” Fortunately, the slap was gentle enough that my bud just said, “what?” like a fellow exasperated mother who’s been interrupted one too many times. Security like people (if you can call people in golf shirts security) quickly set up a barrier and the cake was unharmed. Whew! Disaster averted.

 The whistle blows signaling the end of the allotted time and we are all given one more chance to take pictures and shuffle by the cakes. Contestants cut into their masterpieces and the judging begins. We were, umm, too busy eating cake to watch much of the judging. J Hey, you have to know if it tastes as good as it looks, right? I mean, in the end, cake is for eating.

  How did it taste? Disappointing. Then again, I had pretty high expectations so my disappointment was partly my fault. I was looking at the decorators as semi-gods. Obviously, they were confident enough to enter. If they entered, they must have thought they had a decent chance of winning. Judging by their supporters, other people thought so as well. I naturally assumed a person with such high decorating skills would have equally high baking skills. I mean, it’s cake, right? You eat it. Your family eats it. Your friends eat it. Your coworkers eat it. There must be something extraordinary about it, right? Nope. Box mix, box mix, box mix, box mix, probably altered box mix. Call it fudgy chunky pumpkin whatever. It’s a box mix. Huh. So what’s all fuss about scratch vs. box again? Hey, I like box mixes. I make them a lot. It’s just that I had different expectations. I definitely didn’t expect the chocolate to be burnt, but let’s not point fingers at what I’m sure is already an embarrassing enough situation. Can you imagine when that caker got home with the leftovers and discovered that little oopsie? Oh my!

 Other unexpected discoveries were:

 Wilton boxes. Yep, flimsy as they are, every box I saw was a Wilton.

 Not a Viva paper towel in sight. I guess they all trusted their icing to remain perfect. The paper towels I saw had prints or patterns on them.

 Fondant- the homemade one was okay- tasteless, which can be a good thing. It didn’t compete with the cake or buttercream flavor at all. The stuff that wasn’t homemade and that was served was…weird. Very stretchy. The person who flavored their fondant with pumpkin pie type spices- don’t do that. Weird and ick, ick and weird.

 Square corners with ripped fondant. As we all know, that’s what décor is for, right?

 Crooked borders

 Not an airbrush in sight, but there was a can of Wilton spray color involved.

 One person out of 5 wore gloves. None had their hair covered. In fact, one long haired contestant didn’t even pull the hair back in a ponytail. Not all wore aprons.

 The buttercream layer under the fondant was maybe 1/8” thick. Mine is closer to ¼”

  Just interesting observations. Observations that make me think I’m too hard on myself and perhaps I’m ready to play with big guys. Or maybe the medium guys.

 In the end, the little details didn’t seem to matter that much. As someone said to me, “You could have Jesus spinning on top of a pumpkin, and the ‘shoe would still win.” Sorry if that offends anyone, but there’s a truth to it.

Dispatch Cake Contest 'shoe compressed

The horseshoe stadium wins every time. Something to remember, no? I’m not saying she didn’t deserve the win, not at all. She gave a terrific explanation of her inspiration for her cake and she does a mean, fast, straight basket weave, after all.

 Check out the detail on this apple:

Dispatch Cake Contest apple compressed

“Gorgeous!” (must be said in a certain tone of voice with jazz hands) Again, to be fair, the judges were not cakers. Not that I’m aware of, anyway. Only cakers truly know the exquisiteness of a well turned out shoe:

Dispatch Cake Contest william's shoe compressed

or perfectly executed cutey pie pumpkins:

Dispatch Cake Contest baby pumpkins compressed

or the real difficulties of a chocolate collar (even if the decorator says it’s easy):

Dispatch Cake Contest chocolate collar compressed

I guess I just wanted all the cakes to win or something. Each one had their own specialness to it. Each stood on its own as a work of edible art. But dang, did you have to go all ‘shoe on them??? LOL

So, judge for yourself. I know you can’t taste them so you’ll just have to go on decorating skill alone. Which one would you have chosen?

Dispatch Cake Contest 091 'shoe cake done compressed

Dispatch Cake Contest 090 pumpkin and stump compressed

Dispatch Cake Contest 074 chocolate cake compressed

Dispatch Cake Contest 092 pumpkin house compressed

Dispatch Cake Contest 093 square cake compressed

 

Slip Me Some Sax, Baby: Part Two

9 Aug

We left off with the carving finished (Yay!) and putting the cake in the freezer. Remove your cake from the freezer and let it thaw while still wrapped. Leaving it wrapped is important! The moisture that was in the cake is probably on the outside of the cake and thawing it while wrapped will allow that moisture to seep back into the cake. While it’s thawing, have some breakfast, read the paper, and toss back a cuppa before the kiddos are up and underfoot. After that, let’s start making the fondant.

Personally, I use Marshmallow Fondant. It tastes good, it’s cheap to make, and it’s more likely to be eaten than some commercial fondants. Once again, color consistency is important. The sax will need 2 large batches of fondant. Make both batches separately for ease of mixing, and then knead them together until it’s all one color. If you have trouble knowing when to stop kneading in powdered sugar, check out this action shot:

 fondant consistency

Yup! I took that picture while dropping the fondant. Mad camera skills, eh? The fondant should stick to your hand and begin to stretch before releasing in its entirety (assuming, like me, that you haven’t washed your hands between the kneading and the testing). At this point, it’s still pliable but it is stiff enough to roll. All you need to do at this point is put shortening on your board and rolling pin and it should be perfecto. Mwah! (I’m making hand kissing gestures over here. Somebody stop me before I get too crazy!)

One of the more difficult parts (besides carving) is getting the color correct. Before we tackle that, set aside a golf ball sized peice of fondant (or a little bigger) while it’s still white. Wrap it well. White tends to dry out fast. Alright, back to coloring. Trying to achieve a perfect, clear gold is an exercise in insanity. For those of us who are unfamiliar with brass instruments, they age in many shades. Perfect gold only happens on brand new instruments and even then the exact shade will vary from instrument to instrument. So, relax a little, and let’s play with color!

sax color testing

Before you we have three samples of fondant. Each is a slightly different shade. I’ve arranged them from light to dark. For this experiment, you’re going to need a small cup, a food safe brush, gold pearl dust, and vodka- or clear vanilla. Your choice- depending on your preference and time of day. Using the brush, apply the dust dry to one of each color. When that’s complete, put a teaspoon of liquid in the cup and sprinkle in some dust. Stir the mixture a bit and apply it each of the remaining pieces of fondant. If you haven’t used vodka, you can call the kiddos into the kitchen and play, “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears Guessing Game.” Which one is too light? Too dark? Just right (or close enough to just right)? Whichever one you like best, that’s the color and dusting method to use.  Adjust the color of the wompa ball of fondant as needed, wrap it in plastic, and let’s get back to cake!

Your cakes should be just about ready to frost by now, so go ahead and make all the buttercream you’ll need. How much will you need? If I remember correctly, using your own personal fave recipe, make enough that it uses about 4 cups of powdered sugar. If you’re concerned about the color showing through under the fondant, color it the same color as the fondant. I got uppity and went with white.

Cover your buttercream to keep it from crusting over, and go in search of the board I told you to make yesterday. This may take awhile if the kids decided it would make an awesome sled or the original owner of the wood board repossessed it.

 Once you locate the board, cover it with the food safe wrapping of your choice. Yes, you must cover it. If not, the board will detract from the soon-to-be awesomeness of the cake. All wrapped? Cool. Let’s move on before we realize it’s about to get scary again. Smear some dabs of buttercream on the now covered board where the cake will sit. Make sure the dabs will be covered by the cake or we’ll have to do it again after we clean up that oopsie. Place half of the cake on the board and frost the end where it will join with the other cake. Slop plenty on there. It’s okay if it oozes out a bit when it’s joined. Better too much than not enough. We don’t want this bad boy to separate and muck up the whole shebang. Next, place the second half on the board as close as you can get it next to the first cake. Gently slide it into place and then press both halves gently but firmly together. Use the buttercream to fill in any gaps around the edges. Now, step back and take a look at the cake. Are they joined correctly (or at least close enough you can fudge it with buttercream? It is? Good. You’re now ready to crumb coat the cake. Go ahead; I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing better to do right now anyway. At least, nothing better I want to do right now.

sax crumb coated

Once the crumb coat is crusted a bit, smooth it some more, and then put on your final coat. You know the drill: let it crust and smooth the final coat. Make this last coat as smooth as you can get it. Any major humps or bumps will show through the fondant. Cover the cake so the buttercream doesn’t crust so much that the fondant won’t stick to it.

sax final frosting coat

This is where you’re going to need major space. I used my dining room table that seats 6 comfortably or 8 if you’re friendly. Place the cake and board on one half of the table. Put whatever you use to roll fondant on the table, smear shortening on it, and smear shortening on your hands and rolling pin. Give a heavy sigh, thinking of the work ahead, and start rolling your gold fondant out. At this point, it’s handy to remember how large the cake is, so feel free to measure it before you start. Roll, roll, roll, shake out your arms, and roll, roll, roll again. The fondant needs to be the same thickness through-out. When in doubt, roll it larger than you think you’ll need (if you have enough fondant). ‘Tis better to roll it too big and roll it once than to roll it too small and have to *&%#$@*ing roll it twice. Oops! Did I just say that? Moving on…

sax rolling fondant

Here’s a tiny tip for you: set aside a strip of fondant long enough to place in the center of the cake. See the hole in the middle? Yeah. That’s an impossible task to cover once the big piece of fondant is placed. How do I know? Don’t ask, baby. Don’t ask. Listen to the voice of experience here- you want to put that strip of fondant in place before you put the biggest piece of fondant you’ve ever rolled in your life on top of the cake.

 Is the strip in place? Is the rest of the fondant ready?

 Here Comes the Scary Part! Cover Your Eyes, Kids!

Pick up the fondant and gently place it on the cake. Before it touches even one itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny part of the cake, check to ensure it’s lined up the way you want. Removing fondant is a huge pain, and sometimes impossible, once it touches the cake. I rolled my fondant on a big piece of plastic, so picking it up wasn’t so hard. Okay, I had help.  I enlisted Big Daddy to help me move it. The fondant should be stuck enough to the plastic to stay on while you turn it over but not so much that you can’t gently peel back the plastic to remove it once it’s lying on the cake. Obviously, it was “all hands on deck” for this part, so no pictures could be taken of the process. Using whatever method works best for you, center the fondant where you need it and place it on the cake.

 sax placing fondant

There’s no time for a sigh of relief, you have to adhere the fondant to the cake before the weight pulls it down and tears it. Move, move, move! Okay, not that fast. You’ll mess it up if you try to move too fast. From here, it’s like every other fondant covering job you’ve ever done. Adhere the fondant to the top of the sides first, then the top, then the corners (or the curves in this case). Whew! The tricky part is over. 

 Now breathe a sigh of relief and plop down in a chair to work on the sides and such. There’s no getting around it. You’ll have to cut a slit in the middle of cake so you can push the fondant into the hole. If it’s your lucky day, and the fondant is stretchy enough, it will easily mold to the hole from top to bottom. If not, at least you put that strip of fondant in there first. Rare is the person who will peer far enough down into the hole to see the seam between the pieces. If someone does, snort with derision, turn your back on them, and walk away. They deserve it.

Once the whole hole issue is taken care of, move on to the sides. Trim away part (not all) of the excess fondant. Once you get the hang of making fondant the right consistency and smoothing it onto a cake, it’s not that hard. Trust me. “Get it” once and you’re pretty much set for life. Right now, it probably has what looks like a thousand pleats on the sides, doesn’t it? We’re gonna fix that right now. Getting the sides smooth is simply a matter of lightly (and I mean lightly) stretching the fondant and pulling it away from the sides. Starting with the curves, pull, stretch, and smooth; pull, stretch and smooth. It’s okay to adhere the excess fondant to the board a little to keep it in place once you have a section smoothed. If too much fondant is getting in your way, trim a little of the excess off. Not all of it and make sure it really is excess first, but go ahead and trim to make life easier. When the curves are done, the sides may looks worse. S’alright. Use the same process of lightly pulling and stretching to get it smooth. If you can’t get it all smooth, try to get the bumpy part down to the board. We’ll put a border on the cake later that will cover it. In extreme cases, you can even cut out a pleat; but I really dislike doing that. If you have to cut out a pleat, join the two sides by gently stretching them. Grease up a couple of fingers until nice and slippery and start rubbing the seam. It takes a little while and it may never go away completely but you should be able to make it only a tad noticeable. Try really hard to not have to cut it, though.

sax fondant first trim

What feels like forever later: How does it look? Are you ready for the final trim? Trim away! After the remaining excess is removed, use a lightly greased hand and rub it over the fondant one last time to ensure it’s all adhered to the cake. Ta-da! It’s all piece work from here on out! You’ll notice in the picture that I put the border on. Ignore that. I had to take it off a few times to put on some details; but you’re going to be smarter than that.

sax before detail work

They say the devil is in the details. Let’s find out if it’s true. So far, it looks like a *Yawwwwnnn* sax. You can tell what it is, but it hasn’t reached, “Dahling, it’s gorgeous!” yet. Back to work, then. Root out your circle cutters and your clay gun (if you have one). Tell the chicklet to get her hiney in here ‘cause she’s on deck? What, no chicklet? You really need to put that on the grocery list. I don’t know what I’m going to do when mine goes back to college and leaves us to do all the work- especially musical detail work. *Sigh* I guess we’ll have to cope somehow.

 It might be helpful if you can find a detailed drawing of a saxophone. For a cake this size, you’ll need tenor sax info. Yep, it’s true to life in that it’s the same size as real tenor sax. How’s that for authenticity? I would give you a link, but I have no idea where the chicklet got the one she used. I’d ask her but the communication lines are down at the moment. She’s hours away teaching a whole new generation to stop playing to the ants and get those ‘bones up. I tried finding it on my own but no such luck today. Perhaps there’s some secret website only band geeks can find? If you find one, leave the link in the comments section so everyone isn’t left to suffer and guess, will you? C’mon! Be a pal!

Going by the pictures, here’s what happened in the dining room while I was off doing something I’m sure was super-important like checking cake blogs. With your circles cutters and gold fondant, cut 4 extra large, 4 large, and 5 medium circles. Roll out a little white and cut out 8 small white circles. Cover those up and use the clay gun or whatever method you use for ropes to make long gold ropes. How long? Long enough. Does that help? I thought not. I used 3 ropes that were as long as the width of my dining room table. I know, it’s not an exact measurement but at least it gives you an idea. You need these ropes to be smaller in diameter than the rope you’re going to put on the board for the border. Done? Okay, cover up the ropes and uncover the gold circles. These are the keys. Using either the drawing you found on the ‘net or the picture here, smear a little bit of water on the back of the gold keys, and place them on the cake. Starting at the neck (the part below the mouthpiece), the order is: 5 medium and 4 large. At the bottom of the sax, place one extra large key and then move up the other side to place the remaining 3 extra large keys. That should take care of all the gold ones. The white ones will be used later.

sax before hardware

Uncover your gold rope and place it accordingly, cutting off the lengths as needed. Notice the end of each piece is balled, so make that happen after you place each piece. Don’t forget to glue them down with water, but not until you’ve formed the balled ends. You’ve got pieces that go from top to bottom and pieces that go across the sax. Place the top to bottom pieces first. It’s looking swanky now, huh? Once that’s finished, go ahead and place the white keys and glue them down the same way  you did the gold ones.

sax pearl cap placement

The bell looks a little blah, so we’re going to take a stab at adding some detail. It’s a little scary, but we can do this. Go to the cupboard and get a piece of ghetto Tupperware from the cabinet. Yes, that margarine bowl you have but pretend you don’t. Get that. No, the medium sized one. Take that to the sax. Squeeze the bowl so it forms an oval. Do not let it actually touch the cake yet. Hover the bowl over the bell while squeezing it and check it for size. Will it work? Drag bowls out of the cupboard as needed until you get the right size.

 Here’s what you’re going to do: you’re going to squeeze the bowl into an oval shape, place it upside down on the middle of the bell (with the lip of the bowl against the sax) and gently press down on the cake. The trick here is to press with enough force to push some of the cake down while not tearing the fondant. I know this seems “over the top” but it will add dimension and realism to the cake.

Really, it will.

Go ahead.

Chicken. 🙂

 Look, let me add this bit of realism for you: I tore the fondant when I did it. Yup. I pressed too hard. I tore one whole curve. I almost majorly freaked out. It’s all good, though. If you tear it, repair it. Smear shortening on your finger, rub the two sides of the tear together, and smooth it as best you can. Look at the picture. The indent you are about to make will be covered by a fondant rope to give it even more dimension. Therefore, if you can’t get it repaired perfectly, all you have to do it get it repaired well enough so that the ugly part is covered by the rope. Feel better now? A bit calmer? Go ahead and puuush the bowl into the cake. Whew! That was the last scary part. I promise. Place  rope around the indentation and around the outer edge of the bell, then you can take a break to see what the heck that noise is upstairs.

 sax horn

Step back and take a look at it. See how great the bell looks now?

sax before mouthpieceWhat else is missing? Ah, yes- the mouthpiece. Measure the length and width you need to make the mouthpiece. Write it down somewhere because we have something else to do first.

 The mouthpiece is black and the ligature is gray. We need to make both colors. Using the remaining white fondant, break off a piece and knead in a tiny amount of black coloring until it’s medium-gray. Set that aside. Use gold fondant scraps and add black coloring until it’s solid black. You’ll need between a golf ball and baseball sized amount. Before you color it black, make sure you have enough gold fondant left for the border. If not, make a small batch of fondant and color it black while we continue onward with the mouthpiece.

 Roll out the black fondant and cut a rough triangle using your measurements. You’ll probably have to trim it once it’s on the cake, but go ahead and try anyway. Place it, trim as necessary, and glue it down. You can impress a line on the mouthpiece like we did or leave it alone- your choice.

sax mouthpiece before ligature

Roll out the gray fondant, and cut out the ligature. There are several different styles, so yours may differ from the picture. The shape we cut looked like this:

ligature drawing 

 

(without the lines separating the small rectangles from the large rectangle)

 Glue that down and smooth it. Still using the gray fondant, roll 4 teeny balls and glue those to the ends of the ligature.

sax mouthpiece

We’re almost there, folks!

 Step back and take another look. Vow to never again use iridescent paper because it’s too shiny and makes taking pictures a pain the patooty.

 We’re ready for the finish work. Make gold fondant ropes and glue them around the base of the cake for the border. Now aren’t you glad you didn’t put it on before? You didn’t have to take it off to put on the mouthpiece and ligature, like I did. You’re smarter than that, right?

Hopefully, you have plenty of gold pearl dust. If not, send Big Daddy out for some while we use the white pearl dust. Dust the white keys to make them pearly looking, and then dust the ligature to make it shiny, too (or use silver pearl dust on the ligature). A dab of white luster dust should be fine on the black as well. Not too much, though. You want it to be glossy, not change the color. Using gold pearl dust, brush the rest of the cake but be careful around the mouthpiece and the white keys.

 All the rough edges at the edge are covered and the cake looks anchored to the board now, doesn’t it? Ahhh, it’s all in the details!

sax before lettering

Our board looked sparse so I added the fondant letters to give it some punch. (Letter molds are available from www.wilton.com) I also added my biz card. 😉

sax finished

What do you think? Did we accomplish the mission? We must have because a week later I opened our small town newspaper and saw this:

0716ji63598-1885ac

http://www.thisweeknews.com/live/content/johnstown/stories/2009/07/19/0719jicakeauction.html?type=rss&cat=&sid=104    

  Yippee!

Chocolate Shells

10 Jun

Isn’t this a lovely cake? I know how to cover cakes in fondant so all that’s left is to see if I can make shells like this. While these shells are fondant, I’m going to make mine from chocolate because I love chocolate and I always have a tough time getting fondant out of molds. I have a few leads on how to do that, but in the meantime: chocolate shells. 

Tools and Ingredients

Tools and Ingredients

The ingredients and tools are fairly simple for this project: a shell mold, some candy melts, and a way to melt the candy. I’m using an electric chocolate melting pot my daughter gave me because somehow she ended up with two. Yay for me! I love free stuff! LOL Not pictured just yet, but you will also need luster/pearl dust, a small bowl, and a food safe fluffy brush.

After gathering your ingredients, proceed with melting the chocolate. You can use a little melting pot, the microwave, or a double boiler. Remember to heat in small increments in the microwave, stir, and heat more until melted. If you leave it in too long, the chocolate will burn, and your house will stink for hours. The smell will be so bad it almost, just almost, turn me off chocolate for awhile. If you use a double boiler, remember to not put too much water in the second pan and keep the water at a low boil. Water and chocolate do not mix. Even droplets of steam in the chocolate will cause it to “seize” and it will become unusable. If this happens, you can try stirring in a little bit of vegetable oil to get it back to consistency. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try before pitching it in the trash. So sad- chocolate in the trash. There outta be a law, I tell you. There outta be a law.

shells in molds compressed

Once your chocolate is melted, stir it so it’s smooth with no lumps at all. Then you simply pour the chocolate into the molds. After your molds are filled, lightly tap the molds on the counter top to release any bubbles. Bubbles are for champagne- not chocolate. I usually put my molds in the fridge at this point to make them harden faster and I personally think it helps the chocolate release from the mold.

unmold shells compressed

Once the chocolate is set (firm), turn the mold upside down and lightly tap the mold on the counter to release the chocolate from the mold. As you can see, a few of these need trimmed. Trimming needs to be done quickly yet gently. The longer you hold the chocolate in your hand, the softer it will get. Soft is bad. However, if they just need a tiny bit trimmed or smoothed, rubbing your hand along that area does a nice job without messing with a knife.

all shells unmolded compressed

Ta-da! Brown, pink, and white chocolate shells. Pretty, huh? But not pretty enough just yet. Coming up: the final step that will make these babies good enough to put on any beach cake- even a wedding one!

This is the step we’ve all been missing. It’s like it’s some big secret or anything; but after today, even you, yes, you!, will be able to make stellar chocolate shells! Step right up to the check-out counter and purchase these: pearl or luster dust, and a food safe brush. If you wanna get real swank, get some Vodka at the liquor joint on the way home. Clear vanilla will also work, but Vodka is so much more fun! 😉 The color of dust you buy is personal preference, but most people stick with white or pearl dust. Today I used pink and white colors.

 When you get home, shoo the kids outside so they don’t see the vodka. After all, we don’t want the neighbors talking, do we? The last thing you want is your kids carrying wild tales to school about alcohol in your home. Ask me how I know this.

Okay, the kiddos are stashed somewhere now, so open up your purchases and grab a small bowl (custard cup size works well) while you’re throwing the packaging trash away. Pour a little bit of dust into bowl (and a lil vodka, if using. A lil vodka for you, a lil vodka for me. Oh, sorry. That’s a whole other story I may tell you some time. If you’re really nice.).

dusting shells compressed

Now, pick up the brush, dip in the dust, and go wild. Okay, not wild, because that would make a mess. Tap your brush against the side of the bowl to remove the excess. Using a little dust at a time, brush your chocolate until you’re satisfied with the colors. Don’t brush too hard or too fast or you’ll be picking dust boogers for a couple of days. Not pretty. Not PTA PC, either. They’ll never believe it was a kitchen accident. All sorts of weird theories/gossip will spread. For goodness sake, go easy on the stuff!

Finis!

Finis!

Voila! Shiiinnnyyyy. Preeetttyy. Must… touch… now. I used white on the white, pink on the pink, and pink on brown just for funsies. The brown turned purple. Betcha don’t find that in nature, huh? It’s all good, though. The cake I made to put them on had PMS or something that day so the now purple shells seems like the perfect match for that cake.

Lemon Cake, Lemon Filling, Lemon Icing. Lot o' Lemon!

Lemon Cake, Lemon Filling, Lemon Icing. Lot o' Lemon!

See? When good cake goes awry. My frosting wouldn’t smooth for nothin’ that day. Good thing this is a house cake (a house cake is any cake you don’t want people to look at and think, “She/He makes cakes?”). Since it wouldn’t smooth I tried going for the whole “cliff on a beach” look but that was not to be. The sand is crumbs from a cake that fell apart. I crumbled the failed cake into little pieces; let them dry for awhile, and the processed them in a food processor. The stuff at the top is supposed to be a grassy moss thing. The side décor is how ivy looks when your icing isn’t stiff enough. The cake was too far gone in the looks department by that time so I refused to stop and stiffen the icing. *Shrug* It’s house cake, anyway. The dudes here don’t care how it looks, they just want cake, cake, caaaaaakke.

So now you have pretty chocolate shells and you’re cleaning up the mess and stashing the vodka before the rugrats interrupt you. How on earth are you going to get the brush clean? Not with water. Step away from the sink. Walk towards the pantry. Find the cornstarch. Grab a couple of paper towels or paper plates or regular plates or something you can use to pour out some cornstarch and still have room to clean the brush. Wax paper would also work. Pour a small pile of cornstarch on one side of the plate (or whatever you’re using) and rub your brush around in the cornstarch. Don’t rub like you’re cleaning the mystery spots off the wallpaper, but rub hard enough to work the cornstarch into the bristles a bit. Now, move to the other side of the plate and pounce the brush to remove the cornstarch and pearl/luster dust. Pouncing is a motion kind of like jumping on a bed. Straight up, straight down, repeat. Again, not so hard you bend the bristles permanently but hard enough to remove the dust. You can even tap the brush on the plate. Repeat until all that comes out of the brush is cornstarch, then pounce a few more times to remove the remaining cornstarch. All clean! (I believe CakeCentral is where I found this little tip.)

Once they are completely dried, the shells can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container. Again, moisture is the enemy of chocolate so check on them occasionally to make sure they’re still in good shape. You can store them for as long as you would store the chocolate you used to make the shells with so check your container for an expiration date.

So, there you have it: how to make shiny chocolate shells. Not so hard, is it? Now, go forth and cake!

 

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