Sunday, March 27, 2011

Peter Pan Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful week!  I certainly liked the weather here last Sunday much better than today...

This week’s cake was for a little girl who was having a Peter Pan-themed birthday party.  The client wanted a small cake, but it had to include Captain Hook as well! 

I came up with a design featuring Wendy, Peter Pan, and Captain Hook.  I wanted the cake to look a little more like Neverland, but when I searched for pictures of Neverland, all that came up was Michael Jackson’s house (which isn’t very helpful).  So I just went with something playful and whimsical.

The “water” is made by not completely kneading the food coloring into the fondant, so that it leaves streaks, which create the appearance of running water.  All the little rocks and foliage are made of fondant as well.

Here’s a closer look at Captain Hook, which my favorite part of the cake.

Usually when I make small figurines for cakes, I use modeling chocolate.  It’s easier to work with, as it doesn’t ever completely dry; this gives me more time to shape the people.  Well this particular week, it was really hot outside, so my modeling chocolate was melting as I was trying to work with it.  I had to switch to gumpaste in the middle of the project.  Gumpaste is firmer that fondant and dries rock hard very quickly.   This can be very beneficial sometimes, but in this case it was a mixed blessing.  This solved the problem of the figures melting, but it made it much more challenging to shape them.  Oh well, the joys of making art out of things that are edible. 

Don’t forget to send in your baking/cake decorating/cooking questions for next week’s special Q & A post.  I’ve gotten several good questions so far, so keep them coming!  You can post them here or email them to

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Harry Potter Birthday Cake

Greetings on this gorgeous Sunday!   Yesterday marked my 500th pageview...including views from people in 9 different countries!  Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of my blog.  I am thoroughly enjoying sharing my work and ideas with you!

This week’s cake was for a little girl who wanted a Harry Potter themed cake.   Having never seen any of the Harry Potter movies, I had to do quite a bit a research for this one.  After looking online for inspiration, I sent her several designs, and she finally decided on the Hogwarts crest.

This cake was a simple to bake, as it was just a sheet cake, though the decorating was quite involved.  The cake was chocolate, but without the usual chocolate buttercream accompaniment.  The birthday girl did not like icing, so she was very adamant that the cake not have “pudding” in the middle!

For the animals on the crest, I made modeling chocolate with white chocolate, then tinted it with food coloring.  White chocolate modeling chocolate is often much easier to sculpt than fondant, but fondant works better for covering cakes, so great cake decorating is all about knowing what method to use when...which is learned through much trial and error (sometime lots of error!).

Each animal was hand-sculpted with quite a bit of detail…texture on the lion’s mane, fur on the badger, and feathers on the eagle.  I painted the letters too…which requires a VERY steady hand!

Since March has five weeks, I'd like to host a special Q&A post in two weeks.  Instead of featuring a cake, I'll answer any of your cake decorating or cooking questions...just shoot me an email or post a comment here.  Don't be shy...remember there are no silly questions!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rubik's Cube Birthday Cake

Happy Sunday everyone!  Last weekend was my sister’s birthday, so I wanted to make her a special cake as my birthday present. 

She is a wiz at the Rubik's Cube, so I decided to attempt a Rubik's Cube cake.  I wanted the cake to look like a brand new Rubik's Cube however, as hers are all “very loved” (as she says):

I tried a new chocolate cake recipe on this one (you never want to try out new recipes on paying clients, so I decided that my family would make great guinea pigs J).  And I have to say, it was an amazing cake – moist, with a tender crumb and deep chocolate flavor.  So, stay tuned as it will probably be my next recipe of the month.

I started off with a half sheet cake, which I cut into squares and stacked on top of each other to make a cube. 

After the cake was assembled, I frosted the cake with chocolate buttercream, then put a coat of cake and icing spackle on to help make the cube smooth with sharp edges.  You can check out my Roller Skate post for more explanation about cake spackle.

My sister doesn’t really like fondant, so I used black modeling chocolate to cover the cake.  I colored some marshmallow fondant for the squares, however.    

Each color was rolled out very thin, and cut into nine perfectly measured squares.

She gave me a “scrambled” cube, so I matched that pattern…….with one tiny exception.  Just to be cute, I swapped two of the tiles, to see if she would notice.   See the two red squares next to each other on the top left-hand corner?

Of course she noticed in about 10 seconds….darn math majors J

Here's one more angle...

She loved the cake and it was a delicious end to her birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Sis!

 As always, please share my blog with your friends!  Feel free to email me anytime too.  Let me know what you think and what recipes and tips you'd like to see in the future...  Happy Eating!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Marshmallow Fondant

And the survey says…..Marshmallow fondant!  Thanks to those of you who voted in my poll the last two weeks!  Today I’ll walk you through making Wilton’s marshmallow fondant, a delicious substitute for prepared fondant.  It is slightly softer than the traditional stuff, but tastes sooooo much better.

I am usually not very picky about the brands of ingredients I buy; but for marshmallow fondant, you must use Kraft marshmallows and Domino powdered sugar.  I have tried making it with store brands, and it never turns out.  So, take my advice and buy the off brands of eggs and butter, but buy name brands for this recipe.

Start by melting the marshmallows with a little bit of water in the microwave for one minute. 

Stir it around a bit, and microwave for another minute. 

At this point, the marshmallows should be completely melted and the mixture will be sticky and soupy (yes, that’s a very technical term J) 

While the marshmallows are melting, generously grease your mixing bowl and dough hook with shortening.  This will make getting the fondant out of the bowl much easier later. 

Combine the melted marshmallow mixture and about 7 cups of powdered sugar (reserve the rest for later) in your greased mixing bowl and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes.  

I usually don’t have to add the extra powdered sugar.  You want the fondant to be firm, but a little sticky at this point.  It will set up more as it sits.  Once it’s done mixing, grease your countertop with some shortening and scoop out the fondant.  I like to use the wheel from my pizza cutter.   

Kneed the fondant for about a minute or so, just until not sticky anymore.  You may need a little more shortening.   Then double or triple wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit at least until completely cooled and as long as several days.  

It’s now ready to cover cakes, make decorations for your cakes, etc….the possibilities are endless!  If you've ever wanted to try your hand at a fondant cake, give this recipe a try!  Then let me know what you think!

Marshmallow Fondant Recipe

1 16-oz package marshmallows (not a 10.5 oz package)
2 tablespoons water
1 2-lb bag confectioners' sugar
Approx. 1/4 cup shortening

To make marshmallow fondant, place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 1 minute more; stir again.

In the greased bowl of a standing mixer, combine marshmallow mixture and about 7 cups of the confectioners' sugar.  Using dough hook, mix on low speed for about 5-6 minutes.  Add more powdered sugar if mixture is too soft.

Remove from bowl and kneed on a generously greased work surface for 1-2 minutes.  Don’t skimp on the shortening.  It helps with the texture of the finished fondant.

It's best to allow marshmallow fondant to sit, double-wrapped, overnight before using.  Prepare the fondant for storing by coating with a thin layer of shortening, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in resealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Marshmallow fondant will keep well in refrigerator for several weeks.

When not working with fondant, make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap or in a bag to prevent it from drying out. When ready to use, knead fondant until smooth. Roll out fondant 1/8-1/4 in. thick.

To color fondant: If you need to tint the entire batch of fondant, add a little icing color to the melted marshmallow mixture before adding confectioners' sugar. For smaller amounts of tinted fondant, add gel color to portions of fondant as needed.