Sunday, June 26, 2011

Making a portable "refrigerator"!

It is such a happy Sunday!!!  My plan for making a “refrigerator” to transport a cake worked perfectly!  Well, so far anyway...

To catch you up…  Next weekend I am making my cousin’s wedding cake.  No problem, right?  I mean that is what I do. 

Except that I’m used to delivering things in town.  This cake needs to make it to Indiana…a four hour drive in July heat.  Since my cakes and buttercream are made with real butter, that could spell disaster!  So, I decided to try and make a cake carrier that would cool the cake on the drive. 

I started with two 4’ by 8’ sheets of foam insulation board, a roll of duct tape, a box cutter, and a tape measure.  Dry ice will come later.

Here’s the plan…

I started by making a grid to go under the cake.  The dry ice will fit into each “chamber”. 

A board of insulation will then go on top with holes cut into the corners to let the cool air up without the dry ice coming in direct contact with the cake.  I don’t want it to get freezer burned!

The cake would then sit on the board and the other two sides will get duct taped together.

Finally a piece will get taped on top to seal everything in.

And it should arrive in Indiana in perfect condition!  Check back next week for pictures of the whole trip!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mountain Bike Groom's Cake

Happy Sunday!  This week’s featured cake is the groom’s cake that went with Jen’s wedding cake from last week. John requested a mountain bike themed cake, so I sketched a few ideas for them:

John liked the one last one with the cake carved into the shape of terrain with hills and rocks.

I started by making the “shrubbery”… green fondant shaped into little blobs (very technical terms here) and snipped with scissors to give it a leafy texture.  After they set up, I went back and painted them a couple of different colors of green to highlight the texture.

To go along with the bushes, I sculpted several trees out of modeling chocolate.  I have several clay sculpting tools that I used to give the bark some texture (don’t worry, I only use them for cakes!)

Next I made the rocks from some white fondant.  To make fondant rocks, I roll out a piece of fondant about a half an inch thick and chop it up into irregular shapes with a large chef’s knife…simple but it looks exactly like rocks! 

I tossed the pieces with some black, green, and gray food coloring to give them some color.  My fingers got quite a bit of color as well!

While all the sugar work was drying, I worked on the cake itself.  I started with a half sheet cake, which a cut up into pieces to resemble the side of a mountain.  (Without the frosting, it just looked like a pile of cake)

But once all the detail were added, it really looked like a bike trail. Its hard to see everything in the picture though.  The trail is brown sugar and piped some extra grass and shrubs with green buttercream.

Next week I start constructing a portable cooling carrier for a wedding cake I’m driving to Indiana!  Four hours in a car in the middle of the summer spells disaster for cake made with real butter, but I have a plan!  I’ll post pictures of my contraption next week and stay tuned the following week to hear about the trip!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wedding Cake for Jen

Happy Sunday everyone! 

This week’s featured creation is a wedding cake I made for Jen and John Pardue in April.  The ceremony and reception were at Nashville City Club with a beautiful view of the city!

The wedding cake was small since they were also getting cupcakes to serve most of the guests.  The bride chose a simple but stunning design that fit the tone of the event perfectly.  It featured two tiers with a black ribbon around the center of each tier showcasing a beautiful brooch.

After the tiers were baked and assembled, I carefully covered each one with white fondant.  When working with square cakes, this part of the process takes some time as the edges need to look very crisp and clean. 

I like to use a tool called a fondant smoother for this; you can find them at most any craft store in the cake decorating section.  You can use just your hand to smooth the fondant, but the fondant smoother certainly makes it easier.  And you don’t have to worry about accidently sticking your finger in the fondant (but I wouldn’t know anything about that!)

Next I stacked the cakes, and piped what’s called a “bead border” around the base of the tiers.  This adds a finished edge around the cakes and also helps keep the cakes from moving around.  When I first started decorating cakes, piping a bead border was one of the hardest techniques for me to learn.  It looks so simple, but it’s really not!

I used modeling chocolate tinted black for the ribbon around the middle of the tier.  A pasta machine come in really handy to roll out the modeling chocolate (and fondant and gumpaste too).  It’s much easier than rolling it by hand and you can get a perfectly even thickness.  I pinched the edges of the ribbon to create “folds” like a gathered ribbon.

Adding the brooches from the bride was the finishing touch!

A shout out to my friend Brian for taking some great pics of the cake too:

Check back next week to see John's groom’s cake!

As always, post or email questions anytime!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Cake

Happy Sunday!  I hope you have all had a wonderful Sunday!  I spent some time with my family today, so I’m a little late in getting this week’s post up.

Today I share the best recipe I’ve come across for (almost) everyone’s favorite cake – chocolate!  I actually got this recipe from a friend and it is by far the tastiest and most moist…and its easier than most too!

Here are all my ingredients ready to go…

You start by combining all the “wet” ingredients except the boiling water: sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth and creamy looking.

In a separate bowl mix together all the “dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Then add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat until smooth and there are no streaks of flour, but don’t over mix.

Once everything is combined, SLOWLY pour in the bowling water.  If you add it too quickly it will splash out and make a mess everywhere (not that I know anything about that!)

The batter will be very runny, but it bakes up just fine.  This recipe will make 2 9” round cakes.  Since I’m usually making larger cakes, I double the recipe and bake it in a half sheet pan:


And now for the actual recipe...
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
¾ c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. boiling water

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Grease two 9” round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.
3. With an electric mixer, combine sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
5. Gradually add dry ingredients to the mixer.
6. Carefully, pour in boiling water and mix until well blended and smooth.
7. Pour into greased pan.
8. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick interested in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
9. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.