Friday, June 22, 2012

Some Books Are To Be Tasted

One reason for getting a cake from friend instead of a bakery is the high degree of personalization without costing an arm and a leg.  (And if you think you can get that at a bakery - go check out  Last month my mom ordered a very specific cake that you would not have found in a bakery for a retirement party for a teacher at her school.

I've done the whole book cake thing before.  Bake two sheet cakes, stick them together, pile up some of that cake-you-cut-off-to-make-it-even in the middle to make a bump, cover with fondant and done!  

Book cake without the pan
Yeah, too much work and too much fondant.  So what is the secret for making a quick, easy and beautiful book cake? 

The Book Pan:
Book Pan

See, you try to do these elaborate things and then you find out, oh, there's a pan for that.  Wish I had known that sooner!!!

Well, the book pan is awesome.  But do not be deceived - the advertisement says the book pan takes 2 cake mixes, but the directions that come with it say 3.  It's 3.  Trust me.

See how nice and smooth it turned out?  And it just pops out of the pan like that.  But make sure you spray the pan well (I use Wilton baking spray) and follow the directions.

The teacher who was retiring apparently did this strawberry play every year with the kids, so my mom wanted a quote from the play and strawberries on the book.  Hm, never made strawberries before.  So I took some red fondant, rolled it up into varying strawberry-like shapes and then used a sculpting tool to poke little dots in them for the seeds.  Then I made green toppers using green fondant and a handy-dandy calyx cutter.  Plop some gum glue on and voila!  Strawberries.  I thought they turned out pretty well.

They look good enough to eat!

Next I added the bookmark and the words on the "pages."  Now I have discovered two secrets to piping words on a cake.

Secret #1: Add piping gel.  You can buy it in a little plastic container and use whatever amount you need.  You only need a tiny little bit.  I think it's like 2 tsp. of gel per 1 cup of frosting.  Of course, I wasn't using one cup of frosting to pipe these words.  So I just threw a little gel in and mixed it up.

Secret #2: When you are piping words, move your entire arm to form the letters, not just your wrist.  It may look a little odd, but it works really well.

(Also - it helps to write out your message on paper first.  You know, in case you forgot how to make an uppercase cursive B or S or L or something like that.  Better to mess up on the paper than on the cake.)

Next I added the strawberries and some flowers along with a border and, you guessed it - leaves.

I think this was the first cake that didn't take me all day!  I heard that the teacher didn't want to cut the cake because she thought it was so beautiful.  (That seems to be happening a lot lately).

"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested."
 - Francis Bacon

I quite agree.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons 8, 9, 10 & 11: Gumpaste and Fondant (and birthday cake)

All right, well I'm about four cakes behind on the blog.  Just haven't really been in the mood to write a post.  So I'll be playing catch-up for a little bit.

And it's back to the cake classes . . . .  I took class 3 - Gumpaste and Fondant, during the month of May.

I hate when my hands are sticky.  So it's a wonder that I ever got into cake decorating.  Because everything is STICKY!!!

Especially gumpaste and fondant.  I combined all the lessons for class 3 into one blog post for a few reasons.  Mostly you are making lots of flowers, so it's kind of boring (for a post).  And I kind of struggled with this class, so I wasn't super happy with the results.  Ready for the one minute version of Class 3?  Here goes:

Lesson 8:  Make bow and bases for flowers


Lesson 9:  Make roses, carnations and calla lilies
(Note: my carnations were horrible.  I had such a rough time with this flower and I got really frustrated with it.  I wanted to chuck them all!!!!)

My horrible carnation.  It doesn't even remotely look like a carnation.
It took several tries to get better.
Roses and carnations.

Calla Lilies
Lesson 10: Make mums and daisies.

Mums, Daisies, Roses and Carnations

Carnation calyx

Lesson 11: Final cake!

Now I really dislike making a cake for no reason.  It is very hard for me to come up with a design idea because I have nothing to go on.  So since I had already made orange flowers, I decided to go blue and orange and make myself a birthday cake, since my birthday was the week before.  (Happy birthday to me!)

We also had to learn how to cover a cake with fondant.  As you know, I am not a big fondant person and I try to avoid using it (at least to cover the cake) whenever possible.  Also - we were supposed to learn how to cover a cake board with fondant.  But my teacher felt (and I totally agree) that this is a waste of time and money.  Who needs fondant on the cake board?  No one is going to eat it and it is completely unnecessary.  So we skipped that part.

Here was my final cake:

And as always - the cake tasted excellent.  End of class 3.