Monday, July 2, 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

*I wrote this two years ago and finally got caught up enough to post it!  Only two years of cakes left to post to catch up . .  . . .*

Laura [used to] work in my office.  Her niece was getting baptized and they wanted to have a cake to celebrate.  Apparently, Curious George is quite popular in their family.  So she commissioned a two-tier, yellow cake, with raspberry whipped cream filling and the theme of Curious George.

I decided to do George, sitting amongst the trees.  But you can't have a monkey without bananas!  So, first, I made some fondant bunches of bananas.  They turned out pretty darn good.

Next I made the leaves for the trees and some single bananas.  I had to make the leaves ahead of time so they would dry and harden.  That way when I put them onto the trees, they would hold their shape.

(You may notice the banana peel there)

Now, I had to make George.  I'm getting better at figures, but they still freak me out and I'm not great with the balance.  I didn't take any pictures while I was making him, but I do have pictures of the final product.

I put George on a styrofoam circle, on top of some parchment paper.  This way, if you need to use toothpicks in the bottom or anything like that, you can just stick it in the styrofoam.  The Crisco can behind him is helping to make sure the body doesn't fall over.  I did use a tutorial to make the monkey.

I made the body first, then added the legs and arms.  I made the hands and feet separately and then added them to the arms and legs.  I made the head separately as well and then attached it to the body using a toothpick.  I started with the dark brown part, then added the thin layer of ivory color to the front.  Next I added the ivory colored part of the mouth which goes under the dark brown part.  Next came the nose and ears.  Finally, I added the eyes and piped on the pupils, eyebrows, and mouth.

Finally I made the banana that George is holding.  I used the calyx cutter to make the peeled banana.  It turned out so great!

What would curious George be without the man in the yellow hat?  So, as a tribute to him, a yellow fondant hat.

Now it was time to assemble the cake.  I covered both tiers with green fondant and stacked them.  Then I started adding trees and branches.  The trees are pretzels with green leaves glued on with icing.  The branches are fondant.  I also made a fondant leaf border where the two tiers connect.

I added more trees and started adding vines as well.  The yellow hat went on the top tier.

Then I added more piped leaves.  It really started to look like a jungle.

Finally, I added the bananas and a few flowers.

Meanwhile, George started to get a little tipsy.  So I propped him up with a chip clip against the crisco can and hoped that he would dry well and not fall over.

Delivery Day: I actually left work early to go to Wisconsin for a dance competition, but first I had to drop off the cake.  Fortunately, Laura lives only a few blocks away from me.  I got the cake set up and it was time to add George.

He looked fantastic!

Laura's family loved the cake.  Apparently, her husband said that my talents are being wasted, since I'm an attorney and not a professional baker.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Hunting We Will Go!

So back in October of 2015, I had just started my new job in a new town, three and a half hours away from everyone who knew me.  So of course, I knew I had to show everyone what I could do, so they would want to buy cakes from me!

My co-worker, Jesse, had a birthday in October.  He jokingly asked me to make him a birthday cake.  So I decided to show off a little (it worked, people starting asking me for cakes.  Just saying).

Jesse likes to hunt with a bow and arrow.  I decided to make a two-tiered hunting cake, complete with hunter in a tree, with a bow and arrow.  The tiers would be different flavors.

I made the hunter first because it was the hardest part and needed time to set.  I started out with some manilla/tan colored fondant.  I made pants and the torso first.

What would a hunting cake be without camouflage?  I used my gel food colors and painted the different colored spots on.  I thought it looked pretty good.

As you can see, I used the lid of the food coloring to prop the feet up while they were setting.

Then I added the left arm and hand and camouflaged that too.

 Next I made the head and the right arm.  I needed the right arm to be up in the air because I wanted him to be holding the bow and arrow.  But, as usual, it was too heavy to sustain itself.  So I made a little brown box to help prop his arm up.

And there was my hunter!  (This is actually probably the opposite way of how he holds his bow in real life, but it's cake, don't be so picky.)

Now I needed to make the cake.  I wanted to make the bottom tier camouflage as well.  So I freehanded some lines and then piped different colors in each section, using the star tip.  First tan.

Then light green.

Then a darker green.

Then brown.

I thought that turned out pretty well.

The next tier I colored blue to look like the sky.

Then I added a tree trunk.  I also made a leaf border where the two tiers met to cover any imperfections.

Next I added some branches and leaves.  I made these leaves using a single cutter.  I normally use a different kind of fondant leaf, but I felt the size and texture of these leaves fit this cake better.

Now it looks a lot more like a tree!

For the top of the cake, I made a hunter's perch and some more branches.  These branches would stick up on the top of the cake, so I wouldn't put them in until I got the cake to the office.  I didn't want to risk moving it with them already in place because I knew they would fall over.  I should have made them earlier to give them a little more time to set.

 Once I made it to work with the cake, I added the branches, the perch, the hunter, and the bow and arrow.

Here you can see the bow and arrow and if you look closely, there is string on the bow, made from flower wire.  It's the only part of the cake that isn't edible.

This one turned out to look pretty amazing!

It was quite popular at work.  This was all that was left of all that cake!

Happy birthday Jesse and happy hunting!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Monster Book of Monsters

Once Upon a Time, way back in 2015 . . . . .

Like many young lads, my favorite nephew is a little bit obsessed with Harry Potter.  (I recently went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London and he was SOOOOO jealous).  Back in 2015 I had just moved 3 1/2 hours away to central Illinois.  So the family came down for Peter's birthday to go to Curtis Orchard and go apple picking.  Peter knew he wanted a Harry Potter cake, so we poured over pictures trying to decide which one I should attempt.

This one was way beyond my skill level and amount of time available to make the cake.  

Something like this was bandied about as well.

But ultimately, we decided to go with the Monster Book of Monsters.  For those of you unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter, the Monster Book of Monsters is a required text book for the third year student taking Care of Magical Creatures.  (It's also apparently available on Amazon).  Here's what happens when you open the book:

And here is a still picture of the book:

To start out with, I made a sheet cake for the book.  Peter loves chocolate so I used chocolate cake.  I used my largest frosting tip with ridges to make the white frosting on the edges look like pages.

Then I started making the features like the tongue, the mouth, and the tentacles.


For the tongue, I just cut out a big chunk of reddish/pink fondant and scratched some lines onto it.

For the mouth, I used the same fondant to create a sort of gum look.  The teeth are yellow fondant shaped to a point and then shoved into the gum fondant.  I thought it turned out pretty well.

For the tentacles, I used gray fondant and just rolled them in varying sizes until they looked right to me.  Normally I try to use spaghetti when I stick stuff in cake because if someone accidentally eats it, it won't stab them in the mouth.  But the tentacles were heavy and were hanging off the cake, so I had to use toothpicks so they would hold.

You can see some of the toothpicks sticking out - they will be covered with frosting!

Then I used one of my favorite tips, the grass tip, to pipe on the "fur" on the top of the book.  It's hard to see, but there is a mound in the middle for the eyeballs.

Next - the eye balls.  I used yellow fondant rolled into varying sizes.

 And then I added them to the mound and piped black pupils on.

The cake was almost complete.  I added the bottom tentacles.

And then piped the book title in yellow.

One of the tentacles was too heavy and kept falling off.  So I propped it up with a round cutter so that it had a chance to dry before it fell off.

Propping it up worked - I removed the cutter and the cake was finished!

 Here are some close ups:

Peter poses with his sister.

Gotta make sure you know to whom the book belongs!

 Here Peter is risking life and limb putting his hand close to the book's mouth . . .

 It's been a few years now, but this is still one of my favorite cakes.  Happy birthday Peter!