Sunday, December 27, 2009

Igloo cake

I worked at the bakery for the first time in...maybe six weeks? yesterday. I had a great time and realized how much I miss being there. The available hours probably won't increase anytime soon, so for now it looks like I will only work when there are gaps in the schedule.

Here is the cake I made yesterday--the igloo is a double layer ten inch round cake and a giant cupcake turned on it's side, all covered in fondant. The penguins hanging out around it are made with fondant (these pictures were taken with my phone...not the best quality, but it's all I have!):

and a better picture of one of the penguins:

I wanted to add a little blue fondant lake and a tree or two around the sides of the igloo, but I am already painfully slow in commercial bakery terms and felt like I needed to wrap it up already and move on to the next task (the rushing shows in my piping on the igloo)! Maybe next time...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Side trip: the Knifty Knitter

Over the holiday, we had a baby shower for my sister. The weather kept me from being able to attend, but part of my gift was a baby hat that I made with my all-time favorite go to for this type of thing: the Knifty Knitter.

These looms allow someone like me--unwilling to really put the effort into learning how to knit, let alone knit actual shapes rather than just rows of yarn--to make little hats or scarves quickly and easily.

So in about an hour, these materials

become this:

Perfect for a cold, Ohio winter!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gingerbread house

Another holiday tradition at our house is to bake, assemble, and decorate gingerbread houses. This year, we decided we would just do one house and share the decorating. I don't really like the strong flavor of most gingerbread recipes, so here is the one I use:

Gingerbread dough ingredients:
3 3/8 cups flour
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter

In a saucepan, heat the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter until the butter is completely melted and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and slowly add the sugar mixture until blended. Chill the dough until it's easy to handle, then roll out and cut into house pieces. Bake the gingerbread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

When the pieces are completely cooled, I use royal icing on all of the seams to hold the house together and let it set up overnight. The next day, we use vanilla buttercream frosting to adhere the candy to the house.

First up, the candy selection:

Here is the house, assembled and glued together with royal icing, left to dry overnight:

...and finally, the finished house. Not a portion left undecorated!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday trays

Every year around the holidays I try make trays with cookies, etc. on them for the neighbors in our cul de sac. Since I am still trying to figure out the flooding technique with royal icing on sugar cookies, I made some giant cookies to include in the trays. I still don't have it...I want that really smooth finish, but I think the thing I am missing is something terrible like Crisco. If that's the case, I guess I won't ever get there. I can't put that on top of the cookies and serve them to friends and family--it might end up with my guilt forcing me to jump in and knock the beautiful but deadly cookie from someone's hand.

Ben is home with me for the next couple of weeks, so he helped me by decorating the chocolate covered pretzels. Not one millimeter of that chocolate went undecorated. Check out that cute apron. He was a huge help!

One of the finished trays:

We haven't been able to get all of the trays delivered because not everyone was home last night, but we will try again today. That's one more check mark on my holiday to-do list!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Melting snowmen

I made about 45 of these cookies for Ben's classroom winter party. I have seen something like them on a website in the past and thought they would be a big hit. I had never tried flooding a cookie with royal icing, so the added element of being unsure of how all of that would go just made me want to try it more. Here is a picture of one of the finished cookies:

I used sugar cookies, but you could probably use just about any kind of cookie or cupcake you want (maybe a bigger cupcake...I don't know that there is really room for all of this on a regular cupcake!) for the base. Then I made the basic Wilton royal icing and piped an outline for the melted body. I thinned the royal icing out a bit more and piped that into the middle of the outline, then added rainbow chip sprinkles for the buttons and a half-melted marshmallow for the head. I added vanilla buttercream frosting for the nose, eyes, mouth and arms.

Next time (if there is one...these things take a long time to make and the marshmallow part is really messy!!), I won't flood the cookie with quite so much royal icing--I like how it looks when the flooding is flat on the surface.

In the end, I only brought home three cookies and my reputation as an overdoer was solidly intact.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Metal work

I made these for the Bizarre Bazaar as well.

Some quick hammered copper disc earrings:

And some asymmetrical fold formed sterling silver earrings with a satin finish:

Now that the BizBaz and after show sales for the season are wrapped up, I can no longer pretend I am too busy to update the website. It's a daunting task, since so much of the stock turns over this time of year (I'm not complaining, really!), and I like to wait until I think sales have slowed down enough that any changes I make will stick for a while. So that is on my to-do list for the weekend...maybe after I get some Christmas shopping in!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Glass, glass, glass

Here are some pictures of more of the jewelry I finished for and/or during the Bizarre Bazaar. These are all made with lampwork beads and sterling findings...fairly straightforward.

This giant lampwork bead with the sterling silver core is special to me because when I decided I wanted to make these "pandora" style beads, I found some tools online to assist with the task of adding the sterling core for around $300. A never-ending cheapskate, I decided to make my own by filing down a giant nut/bolt combination and it works fine. Sure, it took a million hours, but it was free (I found it in the garage...I'm sure Lowell won't miss it) and that baby is allll mine.

This bead is made of six rows of glass that are all two layers deep. Layering with first an opaque and then translucent glass gives the bead some depth, and I think some people call them dragon scale beads. There is something about this layering that is mesmerizing to me, and I finally decided to keep it. Two views of the same pendant: