Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tell me, what is your first question about this 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 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
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..


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:

* 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)


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!:)


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!!:)


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Damask Stenciling

Ok, I will admit it... I have been deadly afraid of this technique for a long time.  Yeah, not just a little afraid... DEADLY afraid.  All those little cavities in a damask stencil and not to mention working with royal icing... or should I say royal icing working with me?  Why does royal icing have to be sooo finicky?  I sure don't know how the cookie makers do it but hey we all have our strengths;-).  Ok so this is my BEGINNERS tutorial on damask stenciling on a fondant cake.  Yes, let's be clear here... this is specifically for fondant and not for buttercream (I told you this was for beginners:)!).  This is specifically for the technique I used on the cake at the left here because, quite frankly I have yet to do it another way (and successfully is another matter:-P).  As an add this is also for use with my marshmallow fondant recipe which you can check out on this link here.  I have not tried this with another fondant type but I assume it should work very similar... however, in all the research I have done about damask stenciling I haven't seen this technique used so alas - here I am again!  Actually from the techniques that I have researched online I have successfully failed at them... sigh.  Ok, so let's get started!!

And for the quick YouTube version of the tutorial below:


* Damask Stencil (got mine at Stenciland on Etsy *LOVE* their selection and handmade in Canada!:))
* Royal Icing (consistency is tricky here so go for something a little less runny and a little more paste-y)
* Fondant covered Cake (Fondant must be firm to touch - 6 hours or so after the cake is covered to dry at room temp)
* Scrapper 'piece' (rectangular flexible piece - cut from a bowl scrapper if you can)
* Small Tool (to fix the little details after stencil comes off)
* Brush and vodka (to fix any royal messes!!

Step 1

Lay your stencil on a paper towel with the 'wrong' side facing you.  Smear a thin and even layer of shortening on another paper towel and dab the 'wrong' side of the stencil thoroughly.  This shortening will make your stencil adhere to your cake.  Some people use toothpicks at either end but this is exactly what DOESN'T work for me and that might be because fondant is very smooth allowing icing to creep in behind the stencil.  Shortening just does the trick!

Step 2

Position your stencil on your fondant covered cake by pressing by hand or using a fondant smoother

Step 3

Apply your royal icing with your flex 'tool' (I cut mine here into a rectangle from my bowl scrapper).  Apply a medium coat.  If it is real thin it will be slightly opaque (especially with white and I just don't like it like that) and if it is real thick that might compromise the integrity of the finish.  Go with what you like here...

Step 4

After ensuring a good even coat peel off gently.  Fix/adjust any royal icing mishaps with a small tool.  I used a toothpick but you can really use anything small enough to let you work with your pattern.  Let dry to apply next stenciled pattern (approximately 15-30 minutes).  When applying another pattern rinse stencil with warm water and re-apply shortening.

NOTE:  If you don't like what you get after peeling scrap off the royal icing with a spatula or bowl scrapper and clean up the residue using a brush and vodka.  Clean your stencil with warm water only, reapply your shortening and try again!:) (this is why I LOVE marshmallow fondant... sooo forgiving)

Step 5

After pattern has fully dried use a clean brush to brush away the residual shortening.

And that is it!
Have fun with your damask stencil project!!
Send us your questions or comments! 

Happy Caking!

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