Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to make a Guitar Cake!

So here it is, the Gibson Les Paul Gold Top Guitar Cake!!  I have been anticipating this cake for a number of months.  I had several ideas in my mind of how I was going to put it together but of course you don't know exactly how it will go until you try it.  And you know sometimes you never know what will happen until you are faced with the challenge... and the time is ticking... and you have to make a decision... and there are other cakes waiting!!
SOOO let's help make this a better cake making world by sharing just what I went through to make this cake;-)!  Of course you might make yours different but here's what worked for me:).
This tutorial is broken down into different "phases":  the neck, assumptions, the board, the template, and the cake.

First off here is a quick YouTube video with a brief description of our guitar cake:




Next here are more or less my 'steps':

Make the Neck

Since the neck needs to be very firm it should be done at least a week or two ahead of time.  I made rice krispy treats using the same formula used here.  I modeled it and utilized the flat table top to get a flat surface on one side and rounded the top by hand.  Do your best with the headstock and if neccessary you can trim off areas when fully dried.  After drying for a few days I covered it with a thin layer of gumpaste.  Also, I made the guitar bridge with gumpaste since it needs to support some tension.  After drying the neck for another day or so I then covered it with marshmallow fondant.  Now that the neck is done time for the board but first..

Assumptions

Just like we have assumptions in engineering problems, I had to make some assumptions about this cake.  I assumed I would use real guitar strings.  Because really there is no other way of getting the effect of a really cool guitar cake using buttercream or dental floss!
THEREFORE the supporting structure had to be built in a way to support the string tension (even if it is minor).  Which means I needed to somehow secure the strings to a support member that attached to the board itself.  So now..

The Template

So it really helps to have the actual guitar you want to make especially if you want it to be life size.  Trace the perimeter on a large piece of cardstock and cut out your template.  Here is where I cut a slot for the support section necessary to hold the strings. Next..

Make Your Board

I purchase a 2' by 4' board at home depot and had it trimmed down so that it was somewhat larger than the cake itself.  Also, I asked them to trim the scraps down to a size width similar to that of the string housing with a height that would clear the cake and elevate the strings just above it.  
Before putting on the string housing structure I noticed the rice krispy treat neck really needed support.  Even though it is firm there is no way it was going to stay elevated on its own.  Soo... now what!?  I built a supporting member out of strips of cardboard (using sheet cake boards).  Next I covered the wood board and the cardboard support in cabinet wood print liner.  
Now that the board is almost ready and covered take your string housing piece, position well (using your template), drill, and connect.  Now for the cake!..

The Cake

Believe it or not the cake itself is the last thing to worry about here;).  This cake is ALL about the prep work of the board!  ALSO make sure to make a cake board out of a half sheet board for the bottom of the cake using your template.  And now that that is done on to the cake!

I baked a half sheet and a quarter sheet cake to meet the dimensions of my template.  Let cool completely and then freeze (this way it turns out moist.. if you freeze before letting it cool it will dry out so make sure to cool completely!).  Freeze for at least 24 hours.  Carving turns out just *beautiful* if you freeze.  If you don't expect a much softer, difficult to decorate, and not so clean look:-/.   

Now it's time to work FAST!  When you are TOTALLY ready bring out your cake, carve the half sheet portion using your template (don't forget the slot for the housing!), move it to the shaped cake board, position the top portion using the template, and move it over as well.  Next fill your cake.  At this point the cake will be much softer.  Refreeze for no more than a few hours or so.  Then crumbcoat in buttercream (again don't forget the slot!) AND add the guitar curvature by building up the buttercream down the middle center.



And now finally!  After a few hours for the buttercream to firm at room temperature paint some water and next cut and cover with tan colored template version of marshmallow fondant.  After the fondant has firmed for at least a few hours I sprayed it with metallic gold Americolor airbursh color.  After that, It was detail after detail from the actual guitar.  





I secured the neck using toothpicks pushed into the cardboard support structure.  Some details are secured with toothpicks and the strings were gathered at the headstock with a small wood piece with holes.  Also, the strings were cut, bent, are pushed into the rice headstock.  The guitar base color was made by mixing black and brown with vodka for a good paint consistency.  Once dry a thin coat of cooking oil to bring in the shine.  Also silver highlighter and super pearl (mixed with vodka) was used to paint the details.  And... well if you've made it this far you really don't need me anymore;)!  
Good luck with your guitar cake project!!
Happy Caking!
Christie






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jimmy Buffett Cake


Tell me, what is your first question about this cake?  For most it has been:  Is the bird edible?  Does the burger taste like a burger?:).  And the answers are 1 - yes and 2 - No!:) 

Now that that is settled:), I am SOOO excited to share with you some how-to's and a number of behind the scenes pix of this super *fun* Jimmy Buffett cake INCLUDING how to make your own burger cake!! (if you so dare!!;))

FIRST THE BIRD...  
First off, yes the bird, although it is not cake, it is modeled using rice krispy treats (I used one full batch of the following recipe).  The whole bird making process did span about 5-6 days which includes drying time.  Proper drying gives a sharp look so whenever possible don't underestimate the drying time!

Rice Krispy Modeling Recipe
Ingredients
50g butter
200g marshmallow
160g rice krispies

Directions: Melt butter over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted.  Stir for an additional minute and remove from heat.  Add cereal and stir until well coated.  Cool slightly then mold and compact firmly.  Use shortening on hands if preferred to help with the sticking.

Ball up the batch of rice krispies and mold the shape by crushing and compressing it well.  When done leave it to dry preferably a night or two to become very firm. Next coat the modeled figure in shortening to act as a sticking agent and drape the entire shape with fondant. Let dry for a couple of nights.  You want this to be super firm

Meanwhile I prepared a wood stump for the bird to stand on by covering a 4" Styrofoam cake with white fondant and marking random vertical 'wood-looking' lines along the perimeter BEFORE leaving it to dry.  Let the stump dry a night or two to firm.  With Ivory and Brown cake colors, I mixed drops of vodka and brushed the stump a wood tone.  Leave to dry for a night or so.

Using a skewer pierce the bird and a good balanced spot you want it to sit on in the stump.  Now you are ready to cover the bird in feathers!  For this I used a small pointy flower cutter for the small feathers (cut in half and positioned horizontally) and feather cutters (available from Every Baking Moment in Dixon, CA) for the larger feathers.  All feathers were attached with water (love marshmallow fondant!:))  It is best to feather in 'parts' allowing areas to firm up well and dry in order to be a good foundation for the feathers that follow..

AND NOW FOR THE BURGER!!!

The burger is a challenge but it is possible!!  If you are considering making this also check out the YouTube *awesome* video from Crumbs and Doilles.  I is a great resource to help with your project and I utilized a lot of the same techniques:



Materials:
* Three 8" round 2" tall cakes - baked, cooled, halved and waiting in the freezer 
***NOTE:  MUST have been frozen a minimum of 8 hours.  Freezing is REQUIRED to ensure clean carving (and trust me the cake will actually be more moist due to sealing in the moisture of the thawing process)
* Tan colored Fondant enough to coat two 8" tiers
* Brown, red, white, and green fondant
* Cake knife
* Paintbrush
* Filling/buttercream
* Ball tool
* Stacking supports (I like to use thick/wide plastic straws)

Steps:

Step 1.  Take one 8" layer (2" tall) and the smaller half of another 8" layer (preferably one that is slightly less than 1") out of the freezer.  Set on a carboard round and start carving a dome shape using your cake knife.  This will be your top bun.  Ensure to leave a flat spot for any toppers.  Also ensure to carve the bottom edge of the bun to give it a more realistic look.  

Step 2.  Fill and crumb coat your carved bun.  Let dry for 3-6 hours.  

Step 3.  Next trim the cardboard circle way down... just past your carved area.  Apply water using a paintbrush - this is the sticking agent for marshmallow fondant. 

Step 4.  Use a tall and narrow object (like a mug) to raise your cake for best working position.  Apply water at the perimeter of the cardboard holding the bun.  Cover your top bun with fondant, trim excess with scissors or knife, and adhere the fondant to the wet part under the board.  

Step 5.  Repeat this EXACT same process with remaining of the halved 8" cake (the one that is just over 1" since you already used it's other half in the top bun) for your bottom bun.  This smaller portion does not get filled.  Carve the top and bottom edges for that realistic bottom bun look.  

Step 6.  The patty is also EXACTLY the same EXPECT you will slide it off it's board when applied to the cake.  For the patty use one 8" layer (2" tall).  Carve, fill, crumbcoat, and let dry.  Apply water, and cover in brown fondant.  Since it will be slid off the cardboard I only trimmed part of the cardboard off and left a 'handle' to help me accomplish this.  Do your best to 'tuck' the fondant under the patty between the cake and the board.  You could leave the board, however, it might look a little 'stiff' and you have a lot more separating when serving.

Step 7.  Dimple the patty using a ball tool. and set to dry.

Step 8.  I painted the bun using ivory, orange, and drops of vodka.  Let dry 1/2 hour to one hour or so.

Step 9.  Create lettuce to place on top of the bottom bun.  I ruffled the edges of green with a toothpick.



















Step 10.  Slide the patty a top the layer of lettuce.

Step 11.  Apply 'cheese' and more lettuce.  Cut out tomato half circles and white onion strips.

Step 12.  Apply your support structure in the center.  I like to use thick and wide plastic straws.

Step 13.  Fill the cake gap on top of the straws.  Some like to use buttercream and I used small cardboards that I affixed with glue to the bottom of the top bun cardboard.

Step 14.  Place the top bun on top and paint to match the bottom bun.  

Step 15.  Apply teardrop shaped sesame sesame seeds (ivory colored).

And you are done!  
Ok, so I might have written it out in a really nice and neat 15 step process even though it is a multitude of steps within those steps, HOWEVER, it really is the same process on the three main elements (buns and patty).  If you practice just one you will be able to do the rest!:)

Thanks for checking out this cake and happy caking!:)

Christie
























Friday, September 26, 2014

What Happened to My Mixer?!!

There it was... my beautiful mixer under some emergency surgical procedures and so close to the very busy wedding month of October!!  Yes I pushed it a little... ok I lied... I pushed it a lot!  Well, how else can you make countless batches of marshmallow fondant without a 20 quart commercial mixer or manually exhaust yourself to pieces?!

Yes, I learned my lesson... but not until after the 6th batch.  Sooo if you EVER go through this yourself read on for how to fix it!

I was pretty happy with myself for getting through 6 batches and I happened to turn on my mixer and to my surprise (shouldn't my mixer be able to handle anything??!:)) it was making a horrible knocking like sounds!  And I pretty much flipped... October it is one of the busiest cake months.. this was NOT a time to plan equipment rebuilds!!  The mixer still turned

but the sound was horrible.  Did I overload the motor? How much longer will it work?  Will it be able to handle batter load but what about buttercream load (and let's just forget about fondant!)?  Did I start the gears down a stripping path?  So this is the part where I was reminded just how *awesome* my husband is for being a millwright (aka equipment mechanic).

But if you are not a millwright... no problem!  Anyone can do this! Especially with the help from ereplacementparts.com and a little YouTube!:)  We bought the spare parts (see list below) and here is their You Tube video to help guide your initial fix (read further for the alignment fix!):




So, after installing our new parts, we closed it up and... to our surprise it still made that horrible noise!!
 Aahhh!!  It turns out that although I had wore the gears out a little I had MOSTLY just got my mixer out of alignment... Which was what was creating that horrible knocking noise.  In this case, and likely in many others where parts are replaced, alignment is critical.  I have heard people say that their mixer makes a lot of noise because 'it has been fixed', however, it turns out that the loud noise has everything to do with alignment not necessarily that it was 'rebuilt' (and don't forget to re-lube as shown in the video).  So how to fix this?...

Realign Your KitchenAid!!

Step 1.  Take your mixer apart and fix according to your needs.

Step 2.  With all of your gearbox parts in place gently place your gearbox cover on top and just flush mount your screws.  DO NOT fully tighten them.

Step 3.  UNSCREW your motor screws so they are just flush mounted.

Step 4.  Turn on your machine to a low setting - this part is resetting your alignment.  You will hear the noise subside as the mixer finds it's comfortable aligned spot.

Step 5.  'Freeze' this aligned spot in place: gently and evenly alternate tightening the screws at the gearbox and then at the motor.

And that is it!!  Test that the awful noise is gone and your KitchenAid re-alignment is done!
Now let's get back to caking!!:)

Christie