Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Polka Dot Fondant

Hello Cake Couture fans!  It has been a while since my last post!  A number of things (including a horrible back issue) have kept me away but here I am again:)!

This is a quick post on making polka dot fondant.  Don't you just LOVE polka dot fondant!!  I do... It is SUPER cute, but of course a little tricky to make:-P.  I hope you find this tutorial helpful if you want to reproduce this look!

Materials:


Fondant* (in your main color and dot color)
Small fondant roller
Kitchen Aid pasta roller (mixer attachment) optional
Cutter (Pizza cutter/small knife/cookie cutter--depending on the shape you are trying to cut)

*Homemade or Cake Couture fondant preferred.  Other fondants may or may not work it really depends on their consistency and texture.

Step 1.  Roll out your main colored part slightly thicker than the final thickness you want.  For instance, with this red bow after rolling it out thick I used the Kitchen Aid pasta roller and with it set at its widest setting (turn it away from the numbers) I gave it a final roll.

Step 2.  Take your dot color and pinch little tiny amounts of fondant out.  Roll these into a ball.  Dab these on (if they have a hard time sticking try using a little high-ratio shortening) in an evenly spaced pattern.  I don't use a template, but just use a rough alternating pattern that you like.  In all honesty this is the most time intensive step... but a lot of it has to do with the fact that the fondant doesn't like to stick too well.  If you want to dab water that will definitely work, however, that can make a mess of fondant.  Tip: just take your time and work with these little dots to place them on nicely.  Squish them just a LITTLE bit in this step.

Step 3.   Follow by rolling in both horizontal and vertical directions.  This allows for the dots to stay circular looking.  I like to use the Kitchen Aid roller whenever possible but you can use the small roller (I used the small roller here because this section was larger than the Kitchen Aid allows).  However, keep in mind that after all that dot work you pretty much have ONE chance to get it right so the dots have a nice look.  If you use the Kitchen Aid run it again through the widest setting with the dots (to make them flush).  Then turn it to the #1 setting and flip it in the opposite direction to get the fondant thinner and keep the circular dot look.

Step 4.  Cut out accordingly.  You can see from the image above where I placed the dots manually and next to it is a cut out bow section post rolling.

You can try this polka dot technique in many other looks and patterns!  Check out these cupcake toppers below!

Have a great cake day!
Christie






Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Topper Tips and Tricks - How to Model Fondant Figures

There is something super special about bringing cakes to life with hand modeled toppers!  This is a quick post on some of the things I have learned along the way with making such modeled toppers.

Tip #1 - Use Pictures

*  Print or use your phone to scan multiple pictures of the character you are working on.  
*  You will want to look at the character from many different angles so a lot of time I use a phone.
*  Sometimes, when I am having a particularly difficult time with a certain area I search for that image specifically, for instance I will Google "Stitch sitting" or "Tigger nose".


Tip #2 - The Fondant

* Ok so I am partial to our fondant:).  It is called Cake Couture fondant and I find it to be the perfect fondant for modeling because it gives you A LOT of working time.  The closest fondants to it are marshmallow fondant or LMF (Liz Merek's Fondant) - see various recipes online.  We do sell our fondant in our Etsy shop.  To shop click here.
*  You will want a fondant that doesn't dry super quickly.

Tip #3 - The Gum

*  In order to enable your fondant to firm you will need a gum harder.  My gum of preference is Gum Tragacanth.  This is not the same as Gum-Tex by Wilton or Tylose powder.  A lot of modelers use Tylose Powder, however, I have found the fondant to dry a little more 'rough' and inhibit elasticity.  
*  It is tough to find Gum Tragacanth in small quantities, however, we have recently started selling this in 2 ounce quantities on our website.  Click Here

Tip #4 - The Process

1.  Mix your fondant with a good dose of gum.  I would say about 1/2 teaspoon per 3-4 ounces.   This, however, does depend on the rate of firmness you prefer.  The more gum you use the faster the fondant will take to reach hardness.  I like for the pieces to be somewhat firm in about 3 hours.  However, at this point you can still continue to 'shape' it slightly to get just the right look (I would say this stage is where you can really fix the areas that look quite right, however, do so slowly and carefully).  Give it a night or two and it will be much more firm enabling assembly such as positioning the head on the body. 

2.  Make your structural and largest pieces first in order to allow sufficient drying time.  This means the topper body and head, or in the case of a standing topper, its legs.  These parts must be very firm (drying time 1-2 days) in order to allow for good assembly.  

3.  When making heads, body, or other parts ensure to roll your fondant pieces in a ball very firmly prior to shaping.  This will ensure you get all those creases out.  I also like to use a scale to make sure weights are identical, such as equally sized arms and legs.

4.  If you position all of your parts on the body right away sometimes this can lead to the topper getting weighed down since everything isn't firm and dry just yet.  To avoid this make sure all of your pieces are dry and firm (especially the body and head) prior to assembly.  I also like to dry these pieces on flower cups to maintain roundness or on foam blocks to encourage airflow.  As drying continues from one day to another rotating the pieces to allow airflow to all sides is also recommended.

5.  If I am making a standing topper (such as the twighlight sparkle shown here) I do use skewers for the legs upon shaping the legs.  This also allows for the figure to stand.  However, when I make smaller sitting toppers I don't always use skewers that drive all the way through the topper into the cake.  For these toppers I usually just use a skewer that goes from the body into the head.  Also, I use toothpicks for the ears, however, I have recently discovered that using thin straws would decrease weight and have great structure... but I have yet to try it:-D.

Tip #5 - The Colors

* I would say coloring can be one of the most difficult part of this process!  Can you believe it?!

* Pink will fade and purple will turn blue!  You can avoid this by adding a little red to the pink, dusting the pieces with luster dust, AND storing the pieces in a dark area (like a cabinet/pantry).  However, the problem with the luster dust is that sometimes it can go on unevenly AND it still doesn't completely protect the color.  And the problem with storing the pieces in a dark place is that there isn't a lot of airflow so drying time and work-ability can be compromised:-/.  

*  If anyone else knows what to do with purple let me know!  It can be so tricky:-/.  You can see the Twilight Sparkle below very nice and purple on the left.  I diligently kept her in a dark place.  However, once I applied the wings the cabinets' restricted airflow wouldn't let them dry completely.  So I decided she had to be left out... which made her turn blue:(.  I painted her to try to get her purple color back but it's never quite the same once the purple changes color.  





















Hopefully you find this tutorial helpful when making your next cake topper!
Happy caking!

Cake Couture Designer











Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Make Zebra Stripes

Zebra striped cake!!!  This is a super fun and super easy technique!  And here is our very quick tutorial on how to copy this look!


Materials


* Fondant covered cake
* Black fondant for the stripes
* Small sharp knife
* Shortening with a small brush











Step 1.  Roll out your black fondant super thin.  We like to use our Kitchenaid Pasta attachment on our mixer on setting 2.  However, the attachment is NOT necessary.  Just get the black super thin.



Step 2.  Let the fondant sit.  Ok so that might not work for all fondants, however, we LOVE to use our Cake Couture fondant.  Cake Couture fondant sets up super nice and firm without drying out allowing for sharp edge cutting.  



Step 3.  Cut V's, Y's, and wedges with a small sharp knife. (See picture!:))





Step 4.  Adhere the pieces to the cake by brushing on shortening.  You can use water as well, however, if you want to move a piece for better placing it might leave a mark... which is why we love using shortening:).


And that is it!!

Happy Cake Making!

Cake Couture Designer




How to make a Tutu Cake Board

The tutu cake is perfect for a baby or bridal shower... and let's not forget the beautiful ballerina!:-D  This is a quick tutorial on how to make the fluffy tutu cake board.



Materials


* 2 layers of tutu trim
* 9" cake boards (2 or 3) for spacing
* 14" cake drum for bottom
* Cake on a 10" cake drum
* Glue
* Stapler








Step 1.  The tutu trim:  Using a basting stitch stitch along the edge of each strip of tulle.  Next stitch another line next to your first line of stitches.  Gather the strip into a ruffle by taking the bobbin threads of both stitch lines and pull them out while scrunching the tulle together.  Repeat for all 8 strips.  Once 'scrunched' stitch the strips side by side 4 at a time creating two separate tutu 'layers'.  This gives you a nice full tutu look.  And, just in case you prefer to skip the sewing you can now get these off the shelf on our Etsy shop!

Step 2.  Take two or three 9" cake boards and glue them at the center of 14" cake drum.  This gives you the spacing to place the cake on.  This step also allows for super easy transport!:)


Step 3.  Once the 9" board is glued place one layer of tutu trim along the 9" board and secure with staples on the perimeter.  Repeat for the second layer or tutu trim.


Step 4.  Now you are ready to place the cake on top!!  Use a 10" cake drum.  If the cake is on it... even better!  Affix the 10" cake drum to the 9" cake board with glue.



 Thanks for reading and happy caking!!

Cake Couture Designer
















Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 Biggest Cake Mistakes

It's been roughly 25 years since I started developing my cake decorating skills.  And let's just say it's been a BIG adventure:-D.  In this post I share with you the biggest mistakes I've made and have seen with cake decorating.  My goal is to save you time (or should we say years?!!) by not have to go through all that trial and error yourself!:)




Mistake #1  Buttercream shortening is not Crisco.


American buttercream is the most popular buttercream used for cake decorating.  This recipe always calls for shortening, sugar, flavoring, and some small amount of liquid.

Ok, so, the lesson here is: don't use Crisco.

Yes you can use it but it really won't turn out the same.  The 'same' means less flavor and poorer decorating texture:-/.  The shortening that you should use is called 'high-ratio shortening'.  Different companies make it and it is made for bakeries since they sell it in 50 lb boxes.  If you are a DIYer and are looking for a small amount check out a local cake shop or see if a local bakery is willing to sell you a couple pounds.



Mistake #2  Powdered sugar sifting

I avoided this one like the plague... for YEARS!  Sifting powdered sugar takes FOREVER, makes a MESS, and really who's got time for that?!  Ok so seriously this is a tip when using small quantities:  the C&H powdered sugar in the PLASTIC bags really don't need to be sifted (hallelujah!!).  What happens is sugar that is stored in plastic doesn't let air in and therefore doesn't clump.  The sugar in paper bags or paper boxes, however does.  If you do small projects this is perfect... if you are moving into the larger quantities you will want to buy the bigger bags, however, you will definitely have to sift!:) Also, I do recommend C&H (or white satin found at Cash and Carry) over store brands.  From what I have noticed it is a higher quality and decorates best:).



Mistake #3  Whip or paddle?

Use a paddle when mixing up your American buttercream.  The whip is for things that are not so dense or heavy.  If you don't have a paddle you can use a whip however, over time it will get tired and have to be replaced:(.


Mistake #4  Fighting buttercream bubbles

Seems impossible but it's not... there are several ways people beat the bubbles.  But no need to fight them!  My way is to make buttercream a day or two in advance and store in the fridge.  This gives the buttercream time to firm (it will be full of bubbles but don't worry!).  Bring the buttercream to room temperature and stir with a 'scoop'-type spatula.  These spatulas work awesome.  Stir and stir in small areas and you will see the air bubbles disappear!!  Also, after application I clean it up further with the paper towel method:).



Mistake #5  Fondant drying time

I love working with fondant!!  But one of the biggest things with fondant is the number of drying hours required to get a nice clean look.  I know waiting can be so hard!!  But it must be done:).  If you start working on a fondant cake right after covering it it will start getting that soft/lumpy look to it.  So cover your cake and let it sit for the setting time required with your fondant.  My fondant takes about 3-6 hours of drying/firming time.


Mistake #6  Improper stacking

When stacking fondant cakes I used to use a non-skid fabric but with bumps on the road it wasn't secure enough.  So I started 'gluing' the fondant tiers together with water.  You can use buttercream as well, however, water or sugar glue hold the best.  For butterceam cakes stack your tiers cold for easiest maneuverability.  Here I 'glue' the tiers together with buttercream.  With fondant or buttercream cakes I secure them further by running a skewer down from the top into the cake board.  However, this isn't always possible from the top tier (for instance with a fondant cake that will not have a topper).








Mistake #7  Modeling with gumpaste

When modeling figures using gumpaste can be a big mistake.  Gumpaste is really intended to be used for flowers or other small objected that need to be extremely firm.  If you try modeling with gumpaste you might end up with a crackly and broken figure mess:(.  So when modeling figures use fondant with gum or Tylose powder.  For drapes/swages try using 1/2 fondant and 1/2 gumpaste, 


Mistake #8  Pink problems

Pink is a big cake color fav, however, let me tell you, pink has some serious issues!  Here's what I've found:

In buttercream 
* pink gets darker after sitting on a cake and exposed to air for about an hour or two
* pink gets lighter when exposed to florescent lighting for several hours

In fondant
* pink gets lighter no matter what

To fix:  In buttercream use VERY little pink and stick to using what is called Soft Pink instead of Bright Pink.  In fondant add a touch or red when you mix in the pink and this will help maintain color.  Also, brush on some pearl dust on fondant to protect the color.

Mistake #9  Color fading

Colors such as purple for some reason love to fade!  And on fondant fading can be more pronounced than on buttercream.  Avoid the fading by storing your purple items in a dark place like in a pantry.


Mistake #10  Drive with a wedding cake sign!

When delivering cakes avoid annoying everyone by your over-cautious driving!  Use a magnetic sign that says "Caution!  Wedding Cake"


Hope this list helps with your projects!!
Thanks for reading and happy cake making!!

Cake Couture Designer

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Apple Cake

Good day cakers!  I hope you are having a great summer:)!!

This Summer has been particularly extra nice because I took a break from my grad school studies to take an international trip with my family:-D!

Upon our quick return it was time to work on this REALLY fun Apple Logo cake.  These kind of 3D cakes are SOOO fun!!

Here are some behind the scenes pic of the Apple Logo cake.  This cake was a chocolate gluten-free cake.  And, although regular cake can be tricky to trim, gluten-free can be slightly trickier because it is usually a lot more 'crumbly'.

Regardless of the cake ensure to chill the cake to make it firmer before trimming it.  As soon as you bring the cake out to room temperature make sure to work quickly!  As the cake comes to room temperature it will become more and more difficult to trim and maintain sharp lines.  As soon as you are done with the trimming (and filling) give it a coat of buttercream (you could use ganache as well, however, ganache could be a little more difficult to make smooth when dealing with odd shapes so just a warning for fondant use:)).


So about the leaf... it's not cake!!  The leaf is made of ganache and filled with creme brulee.  It was essentially a large piece of filled chocolate candy!:-D.  And how exactly was this accomplished?  So a lot of trial and error went on with this little piece, however, this was inevitably how it happened:
1.  I 'sculpted' a slightly smaller leaf piece out of a 6" cake (it is slightly smaller to make room for the chocolate).  

2.  Next I covered the entire little piece of 'leaf' cake VERY gently and seamlessly with a piece of plastic wrap.  Once wrapped I put it in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.

3.  Next I placed the little leaf cake on a right sized leaf cardboard and very carefully covered it with ganache on both sides (using the little cardboard as a guide).  With the sides covered in chocolate (but not the top) I placed it in the fridge for about an hour.

4.  Finally, I brought the ganache leaf out (which was now hard chocolate), pulled out the little piece of plastic covered cake (which was now soft cake) and vuala!  A chocolate shell!!  I filled it with creme brulee to the top and covered it gently with ganache.  

5.  After the final detailed ganache shaping it was ready to cover in fondant:-D!

Off to another summer project!

Thanks for reading and 
Happy Cake Making!

Cake Couture Designer









Monday, August 3, 2015

Perfect Sculpting Rice Krispy Recipe

 Once upon a time I found the perfect Rice Krispy Treat sculpting recipe.  Every time this recipe works beautifully to make sculpted pieces.  Which, in this post is, yes, the champagne bottle!:-D

This isn't my original recipe, I actually found it online, however, I have NO IDEA from where I originally found it.  I actually printed out different recipes and this was my favorite.

So in this post I am sharing this recipe!!  It is just too good not to share!:-D

As a side I must tell you about the champagne bottle!  It is airburshed with yellow, green, and black.  I couldn't have done it without the help of Serdar Yener who has a lovely tutorial about it!!  Check it out here:


Perfect Sculpting Rice Krispy Recipe

Ingredients

50g butter
200g marshmallow
160g rice cereal



Directions

Step 1.  Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat

Step 2.  Add marshmallows and stir constantly until melted.

Step 3.  Stir for a further minute then remove from the heat.

Step 4.  Add the cereal and stir until well coated.  

Step 5.  allow to cool slightly then mould into required shape compacting it firmly.  Use shortening to tame the stickiness.  

Tips:  Wait a little bit so it is not too hot, however, still warm and malleable.  Do not wait too long and work quickly otherwise the much cooled krispies will be more difficult to get into shape.  


Happy [Rice Krispy] Cake Making!:-D

Cake Couture Designer

















Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wedding Cake Flowers

Ok I'll be frank... I'm no florist nor stylist.  I can't arrange a bouquet or style a display to save my life!!  If you look at my house.. ok please don't because you would see how 'un' decorated it is! (sob)

But for whatever reason when it comes to the design of cakes, clothes, or accessories I'm more 'with' it.  I just LOVE LOVE LOVE these things!!:-D

So why this post about  cake flower arranging??  Because, I have noticed that when I deliver wedding cakes, although the florist or a friend has been flagged to place the flowers on the cake, a lot of times there is uncertainty on exactly how they should place the flowers on the cake.  

So here we go... hopefully this blog post helps anyone flagged for the task!:-D.

How to Arrange Flowers on a Cake

The main elements to flower arranging on a cake are balance and color.  Specifically that is... balance between the flowers and the cake and color between the flowers themselves. 
But in lieu of writing any kind 'theory' here, here are the steps I take!:-D



Note:  Cut your flowers as you go to a short stem with a pair of scissors or knife.

Step 1:  Place the largest flower on one side of the base of the largest part of the cake.  

Step 2:  Place the same flower (slightly smaller) on the top tier.

Step 3:  Place a complementary flower color (preferable different texture or slight color variation) 
next to the first flower at the bottom tier.  Choose a flower that is slightly smaller.  



Step 4:  Repeat Step 3 with a like flower on top of the cake (next to the one you already placed on top).

Step 5:  Repeat step 3 and 4 with a different flower on an opposing side of the second flower placed at the base.  This should give you 3 of the largest flowers in sort of a triangular configuration at the base of the 3 tiers.  If you don't like the textures/colors next to each other simply play with different ones to get the look you want:).



Step 6:  Place the smaller sized flowers at the middle tier (of course this is if you have a 3 tier here!:))

Step 7:  Create a flow-y connected look by placing smaller fill-in flowers at different heights to cover exposed cake.  

Step 8:  Choose a different texture/color like greenery to further fill in the flow-y connected look.  Ensure to disperse it's use to get a balance of color.  For instance you can see the dispersed use of green in this pix.

Step 9:  Create a slightly softer/full look by adding some floral just behind the frontal arrangement.

So you can see from the images below... I follow these steps every time:-D!

Thanks for reading and
Happy Cake Making!!

Cake Couture Designer