Sunday, August 29, 2010

Easy embellishments

This weekend I made cupcakes for a wedding shower and decided to add a few fondant flowers to them.  I love these little embellishments--they feed my need to add something fun, but without becoming too crazy.  Plus, they take almost no effort with the right tools.

I used the pasta attachment on my KitchenAid mixer to roll out the fondant.  (Ok, this isn't a necessity...a roller will absolutely get the job done. But it's a beautiful thing to just put the fondant in at the top and have it roll out, all the same thickness, with no fanfare in about ten seconds.)  Then I used a plastic five petal cookie cutter, popped out the shapes, and used this silicone flower veiner:

It takes the cutout from this

to this:

Then I put them in little flower formers to keep their shape while they dried and I frosted the cupcakes. I added the flowers at the very end, along with some sugar pearls for the centers.

Even though I am all about over the top decorations when it comes to caking, I like that you may not notice the flowers at first, but as you get closer, can see the details.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Double ring

I was watching a recording of Project Runway from my DVR last week and saw a ring that completely derailed any attention span I had for the show.  One of the designers was wearing it during the judging of the make-a-garment-out-of-crappy-party-supplies challenge. (She won the challenge, although I can't say that I understand why. But I digress.)  This is how it goes with me.  You might think you are meeting with me about some serious, important matter...and I'm participating, really.  But don't think I don't notice the earrings you are wearing, or that you seem to prefer gold over silver. 

The ring was very simple--a silver rectangle that went across two fingers.  I. Wanted. To. Make. That. Ring. When I told Gage about my plans, he informed me that he was pretty sure that brass knuckles were illegal. 

I combed the internet via Google to try to find a still image of that ring, but didn't have any luck. I found some of those rings, but almost all of them fit over two fingers and had a name spelled out in metal with some flowery font.  No, thank you.  So I resorted to pulling a screenshot from the PR website


Since I wanted to make one continuous sterling loop, I used 20 gauge silver sheet so that it would be sturdy enough to hold the shape of the ring.  The sizing was a bit awkward, trying to size for two fingers using one ring mandrel. The ring I saw on PR looks like it is fairly angular, but I wanted mine to be comfortable and really fit both of the fingers, so this is the shape I ended up with:


I wanted to keep it fairly simple and created an overlap on one side and added a sterling rivet and a couple of holes with copper inlay to it. 

(Please excuse the severely dry hands of the model...using chemicals and spending time at the workbench in general isn't too conducive to soft hands.)

So this week, I'll test drive the ring to see how it feels and decide if I want to make more.  Maybe I will make Stephanie M. one that says, "Twilight" in a flowery font for her birthday!! 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Whoppers and cupcakes

I was at the grocery store for a mid-week stop to grab a few essentials and saw a giant display of candy boxes on sale. 

As soon as I saw the Whoppers, I remembered a recipe for chocolate malt cupcakes and decided it was time to give that another run. 

I made chocolate cupcakes last night using the soda cake method.  When I make cupcakes mid-week, I always bake them in the evening and frost them the next morning.  It's easier for me to avoid sampling the frosting that way--early in the day I always have such good intentions--and it only takes about 15 minutes of my morning to put together.

This morning I made the chocolate malt frosting with this recipe:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chocolate malt powder
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon milk

I added the frosting and finished them up with the Whoppers candy and some chocolate sprinkles:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ice cream cone...cakes

Bakerella posted on her blog about these and when I saw them, I knew I had to try them.

They look like mini ice cream cones, but there is no ice cream involved.  Instead, they are filled with cake--red velvet with cream cheese frosting.  I used a method that Bakerella is well known for using in the caking community--little cake bites.  To make them, I baked the cake as usual.  When it cooled, I raked a fork through the cake to break it up and added frosting to the mess.  Then I scooped out spoonfuls of the cake and frosting mixture into the ice cream cones and put them in the freezer to firm up. 

Supposedly, you can find mini ice cream cones.  I didn't, so I cut down regular sized ones with my kitchen shears.  (Sure, the kitchen shears were overkill.  But I wasn't quite sure how to do it with a knife without crushing them.)

After they came out of the freezer, I dipped the cake on top of the cones in melted chocolate and decorated them with sprinkles.  They take longer than I care to admit, but they were fun to make. 

I went with peanut butter m&ms for the cherry on top of the ice cream.

See?  No ice cream.

The best part of these is that they don't have to be perfect; the chocolate can drip, the cone can fall over--it doesn't matter.

I even had enough of the cake mixture left to make cake bites--always a nice treat!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A weekend at the bakery

I don't work a ton of hours at the bakery; sometimes I go a couple of months without clocking in there.  Everything depends on the number of hours they have for the week in that department of the store...and maybe how much I stop by and whine about wanting to work.

Here are the top reasons I love to work there:
1. I don't work that often, so it doesn't feel like a drain on my time. It's more like going on a play date.
2. I love the people I work with there.
3. I don't have to bake any of the cakes and there seems to be an endless supply in all flavors and sizes.
4. I don't have to wash ANY of the dishes.  None.  Not a single frosting-filled tip!
5. I can usually get away with coloring very little fondant--it's often already done in a rainbow of colors.
6. I don't have to find some poor, unsuspecting crowd of people to unload the cake on. I simply put the cakes in the case and walk away.
7. I get paid to do it!

Last weekend the stars aligned and I got to work four hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  At one point, I was showing a coworker how to make 3D figures out of fondant using existing colors.  There were some really ugly color combinations going on, and my friend Kelli asked if I was making a clown.

When I say the word "clown", my mouth twists up and the distaste I have for them is visible on my face. Seriously, they're creepy.  But when Kelli said it, she was excited.  She said she would love a clown for the display case.  So this is what I made*:

Not tooooo creepy, I guess. We needed a cake to go with him, so I put this together:

That slice is really an eight inch cake with the sides shaved off--that's about the size I like to have if I'm eating a piece of cake!

I also made a cake I have been wanting to try but didn't have a reason to--it's really simple and only took me about 20 minutes start to finish (remember, no baking or cleaning up!).

I will definitely do this one again--it is something I can do when I'm short on time.

*A drawback to the bakery time is that the pictures are only as good as I can get with my phone and those florescent store lights surrounding everything. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giant amethyst pendant

This thing is enormous.  But I love it.

The pendant is two and a half inches in length and width at the widest points and hangs from a hand forged sterling silver chain through sterling rivets.  The beaded wire around the base of the bezels is oxidized to bring out the detail and the rest of the silver is polished.

The clasp is at the back of the necklace so it can be adjusted.

I wore the necklace for about an hour to make sure the chain wasn't uncomfortable because I wasn't sure about those square links.  But it's very comfortable.  I like the weight of it. 

Too bad it isn't very "me"...I don't think I would wear it, so I won't be keeping it.  I considered it!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Carousel cake

I made this cake for a birthday and used the Cricut Cake for the fondant decorations.  So far, so good with the CC--I used the Make the Cut! program to import the image of the horse I found online.  I used it to cut all of the decorations on the cake just to see how things would go.  It took a while to get the cuts done, but I think that would go faster if I used it more often.  

I used Wilton fondant because it is a little bit drier than marshmallow fondant and the humidity is high right now...I have read a lot of information in the cake forums about the MMF sliding off cakes if it is humid and didn't want to take that chance.