Friday, January 20, 2017

The Pokemon Pikachu Cake!



Hello Cake Couture fans!!  Here is a SUPER fun cake that I had never posted about!!  I made this cake back in 2015, but WOW it has had about 8,000 pins on Pintrest!

Thank you for loving this cake!<3 And btw when you see the pin now that I added the link to this post it reset the counter to 0 haha!

This post is a descriptive summary of the decor that went into this cake.

Below we will talk about the special font, the lightning, the ball, and modeling!

DISCLOSURE: I am sooo sorry for not having more working pic.  Sometimes I get so consumed in cake making that I forget to take pic!:-/

The Font

There are awesome font generators online for unique fonts. 

For this Pokemon font I went to:  http://fontmeme.com/pokemon-font/

Scroll toward the bottom and type in the text you want to generate.  When you generate this unique font save/copy it and transfer this to a word doc where you can further manipulate it to get it into the size that you want.    

Then cut each letter so you will have a paper template of how the letters will come together.  With these templates cut out your text backing and text letter fondant pieces!

Here is a PDF showing you the text in the sizing I used and images I used to reference for modeling:  Pokemon PDF


The Lightning

For the lighting I cut out from what I have in the PDF, HOWEVER, I realized that it was just much too thick to fit at the shoulder of the base case tier so I trimmed them down thinner.  

You can see that I kept some that were thicker on the cake itself.

For the lighting on the cake, roll out fondant and use a thick shortening (I liked using high-ratio shortening and NOT Crisco) to make the cake items (including the font) stick to itself.  I am not a fan of using water since that makes it impossible to fix a problem without compromising the clean look of the cake.  

For the 3D lightning pieces I mixed in a good amount of Gum Tragacanth (or you can also use Tylose Powder or other gum hardening agent) into the fondant.  Roll thin, cut out, and let dry at least overnight if not two nights.
Next using a skewer and small fondant pieces with a tad of water, affix skewer to the lightning piece and insert into the cake

The Ball

This ball is made from a 3" styrofoam ball.

First, position the styro ball using a skewer or toothpick into another styrofoam surface for support.

Then coat the entire ball with high-ratio shortening (remember, this sticks much better than Crisco!).

Next cut out a circular white piece approximately 5" in diameter.  Although that is technically close to the real measurement I think I actually guesstimated through trial and error lol.

Repeat these steps for the red piece on the opposite side of the sphere.  Make sure to do the red side last so no skewer holes show!  And prior to laying on the red piece you can plug the skewer hold on that side with a little bit of fondant

Finally cut out a couple of fitting gray rounds, a black round, along with the black strip.

Modeling

Modeling is all about reference, reference, and more reference.  I used the exact print outs from the link above to make each piece here.  

My fondant modeling tips:

  • You have to have patience!  It take a long time to get a shape just right so just try it! 
  • Make pieces like the head, arms, or body by kneading in your preferred gum AND letting the piece(s) dry separately overnight.  
  • Put dried and hardened pieces together using toothpicks and sugar glue (about 1/3 cup of super hot water with about 1/2 tsp of TYLOSE powder) 
  • Work from light colors to dark colors during one seating to prevent major hand washing/dry hand issues lol








Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Throw a Cake Decorating Cake Party!


This was the third time that I hosted a cake decorating party.  The first two times they were run as fundraisers for our preschool and they were fun and successful!  Fyi I charged $15 per cake decorator but $20 is probably a better rate:).

The last time I hosted this party it was for my daughters birthday.  And boy was it SUPER fun!!!  We had about 30 children coming so I knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge.  But hey I'm always up for a challenge lol.  All the kids had SOOO much fun and myself as well watching and helping them:)!

So here is my quick tutorial on how to host a cake decorating party!
BTW I don't have a huge house so we had to be create on how we cleared out the entire living room,
dining room, and kitchen to make everything work!

Step 1. Prep

Buy all of your ingredients one or two weeks prior to the party.  I used Betty Crocker cake mixes in Chocolate.  My formula is for every 2 cake mix boxes use one LARGE Jello instant pudding mix and one EXTRA egg (and follow the recipe accordingly).  I also made my buttercream, however, despite my homemade intentions I bought fondant at Michael's.

Step 2.  Bake

Bake all of your cakes about 3 or 4 days prior to the party.  I used six 6" pans at a time filling them
just over 1/2 full and baking them for about 40 minutes at 345F (the lower degrees allows for slightly more even rising).  When the cakes are done I pull them out and place a cutting board on top of the cake dome poking out of the cake pan to 'squish' it down.  This avoids the need to cut it out avoiding a mess and any wasted cake.  After about 30 seconds remove the board on top and now you have even baked cakes!:)

Once slightly cooled invert the baked cakes onto a cake board or plate.  This will be what the child will use to decorate the cake on.  I have used cardboard cake boards or the foil coated boards as shown above.  To source these look for a Cash and Carry, try to buy some supplies from a local cake maker or cake decorating shop, or craft shop (Michael's or Hobby Lobby).  However you can always use disposable plates!:)

Once all your cakes are cooled FREEZE them.  This might depend on your freezer...I have a dedicated freezer where I can freeze the cakes unwrapped for best results.  However, my regular freezer can cause freezer burn so in that case I would put it in a tupper but not plastic wrap (the plastic wrap can cause softening which makes it more difficult for kids to decorate).

Step 3. Icing

Buy or make your icing about 2 or 3 days prior to the party.  I use the following buttercream recipe:  http://everybakingmoment.com/recipes/janis-buttercream and make about 1.5 batches per 15 cakes (roughly).  Storing at room temperature is just fine for this.  If you do store it in the fridge make sure to bring it to room temperature prior to the guests using it for decorating!

The day of the party fill decorating bags with a few different icing colors.  In my case I used pastel blue, pink, purple, and green.  I also used different style tips for different colors to make it more fun!

Step 4. Set-up

After having done this a number of times I found the most effective and efficient way to set up is to designate specific tables.  Once the child is done at the Frosting Table they can move on to other decorating tables:  

Table 1 - The Frosting Table
On this table set up lazy Suzan's, I used six lazy Susans each with a small square of non-skid material to allow for holding down the cake to the turntable and one small off-set spatula for icing.  Also allow for bowls of icing.  In this case I placed two bowls between each pair of turntables (see pix:)).
Table 2 - The Piping Table
On this table set up your colored icing bags.  This is where the kids move on after frosting and if they want to do some pipe work.

Table 3 - Fondant Table
For this I had taken the fondant that I bought, split the whole batch into three and colored them a matching pastel pink, blue, and green color.  I also set this table up with small fondant rollers.  No need for additional powdered sugar this fondant was very similar to marshmallow fondant and did not stick to the plastic table covering!  I also placed on the table fondant molds and cookie cutters for the kids creation:).

Table 4 - Decor & Sprinkle Table
On this table I placed sprinkles and other decor items.  I used to decorate cakes so I had extra flowers although I did have to limit them per child.  You can also fill the table with candy or sugar decorations from the craft store.  

Step 5.  Cake Boxes

Provide some sort of box for the kids to carry the cake home.  The cake decorating is the party activity AND the party favor!  I used retail cake boxes because I used to sell cakes and had these left over, however, even in bulk these boxes are expensive.  You can also find cake boxes at the craft store or you can try to cut cost if you save and use Costco-style cardboard boxes. 

Some Party Tips:

1. When a child arrives give them their cake straight from the freezer FROZEN

2. Use a sharpie to write the child's name on the cake board or their box

3. We didn't have a cake!  My idea was for kids to cut their cakes and share it with their families but really that was going to get crazy messy and complicated.  Plus the kids get really connected to their cakes so everyone liked the idea of saving it for later.  My girls definitely enjoyed us eating their cakes for the next few days;).


That sums it up!!  It is a lot of work but SOOO much fun!  
Have a great party!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Quick and Easy Cake Pops


So I have realized there are several cake-decorating topics that I have not covered...and cake pops is one of them!!!

Although my work has been mostly in cakes there were occasions I was asked to make cake pops.  I will most definitely not claim to be a cake pop expert.  This is a basic and quick tutorial for the pop making lover who just wants to make a better cake pop than their first:).


Materials

Your Cake
Chocolate Melts
Cake Pop sticks

NOTE on melts: I have had good luck with Wilton white or Hobby Lobby colored melts.  I have not had much luck AT ALL with colored Wilton or other brand colored chocolate.  I know pro's use other brands with some special consistency additives, however, this again is the quick and easy version:)

Disclosure: Despite scouring my cake pictures for some behind the scenes images I unfortunately don't have any...just finished cake pop pic:).

Step 1.

Make your cake about 3 to 4 days in advance.  After your cake has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap or in a Tupperware and freeze.  I recommend not breaking up the cake at all at this point but if must that is not a big deal.

Step 2.

Bring out your cake from the freezer.  While it is still cold cut the edges and the top.  These rough sides will interfere with a nice workable consistency.  Cover and set the cake aside and let it come to room temperature.  I repeat...cover the bowl!  As the cake is coming to room temperature, condensation will set in due to the thawing process, if left uncovered the cake would dry out.  If I remember correctly bringing the cake to room temperature (or at least somewhere near that to make it workable) takes about 2-3 hours...or maybe less?  Let me know if you try it I can't remember I'm sorry!

Step 3.

Once the cake has reached room temperature add a small amount of icing...maybe one tablespoon at a time.  Since the cake has extra moisture due to thawing you don't need as much icing as you might otherwise have used (e.g. if you didn't freeze the cake).  Mash everything together with your hands and get it to the consistency you like. 

Step 4.

Roll one-ounce balls of cake in your hands to create cake balls and place on a tray.  I did start using a scale for this because if you go too big it gets too heavy.  The Teddy Bear cake pops here were actually about 2 ounces and they were SO heavy that I lost A LOT of them to weight as I was making them.  These are the ones that survived:).

Step 5.

Set your tray in the fridge for about 10-30 minutes.  No need to cover.  Be careful not to make it too cold because if the cake is too cold and your chocolate too warm, you will get cracking in the chocolate.  


Step 6.

While the cake balls are in the fridge melt your chocolates in an wide-ish 8 ounce glass cup.  Don't use one that is super tall and don't use a bowl, these are more difficult to work with.  The best fit are short-ish 8 ounce glass cups.  Fill the cup to the top with chocolate and microwave as such: 1 min, stir, 1 min, stir, 30 sec, stir, 30 sec, stir, 20 sec, stir, etc.  You might have to alter your routine to your microwave, weather, and chocolate response.  Just make sure to heat slowly and stir to keep the heat distributed well.  This chocolate can be delicate and can easily hit an unworkable state.  I believe there is a chocolate melter that makes this easier at Michaels or on Amazon I'm sure.  I've never used it but I have heard it works great!:)

Step 7.

Bring out your cake balls and using a stick poke all of them at the top.  Then take a stick, dip it in the chocolate and position it in a cake ball.  Repeat for all cake balls.

Step 8.

By the time you finish putting sticks into all of the cake balls you can try dipping them. HOWEVER, if they are too soft this would compromise their strength when dipping, so pop them back in the fridge for about 10 minutes or so if you must.  Don't go too long in the fridge or your pop will get cold enough to cause cracking.  You might have to experiment to find the sweet spot of coldness here:).

Step 9.


To Dip:

When dipping hold the pop completely vertical and put the entire pop directly in the cup.  Once inside the chocolate, rotate the pop and/or the cup around to get full coverage.  Make sure to get the chocolate to cover the seam where the stick inserts.  

Pull the pop out and hold up letting the chocolate settle.  If you want your cake balls to sit on a plate make sure to place them on a wax paper-covered tray to set.  Otherwise place them in a cake pop holder or styrofoam for standing pops.

To add sprinkles or anything you want to stick to the chocolate make sure to add that while the chocolate is still wet.

Step 10.
Decorate.  I liked adding fondant accents to pops and you can also decorate with cute wrappers and/or ribbon.  The A's pops above used royal icing and those sure were tricky!

That's it, 10 steps!!
Good luck!!!







Monday, January 2, 2017

Don't Confuse Cake Orders!

When you are making more than a few custom cakes in one week staying organised is imperative!

We have heard MANY horror stories about cake makers making the wrong cake, having the wrong flavors, not remembering details, and forgetting about paid deposits.  

Whether you are a client or the cake maker, these situations are NOT fun!

At our peak we made 10 wedding cakes in one week and we were terrified that with so many cake orders we would forget something someday.

Thankfully nothing serious ever happened but it was all thanks to staying as organised as possible.

So here is our post on how to stay organised when it comes to your custom cake making!

1. Use A Cake Calendar

Dedicate a calendar to all of your cake making orders.  For ourselves, each year we printed a calendar so that two pages spanned one month.  These sheets were hole-punched and kept in a 3-ring binder.  Also, each month was tabbed so that we could quickly jump between months when looking into inquiries.  Cake orders were written on their designated date.  

We did look into trying to get organised digitally, however, we were just not able to make it efficient or effective enough given the amount of details considered for the quantity being produced.

2.  Use Order Sheets


We took orders via phone, text, messenger, email, and in person...a perfect recipe for losing order details!! 

Whether the order was for a wedding or birthday cake we used order sheets to stay organised.  The order sheets incorporated contact information, a sketch of the cake, notes, and other details. In addition these sheets also served as a simple contract for the client and included my contact information for their future reference. 

We simply photo copied these sheets at cake tastings and filled them behind the corresponding month in the Cake Calendar binder.

Make your own order sheets or modify ours!  Download our free word document via our Google Drive or available on Etsy for the 20 cent listing price:).

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwRMU-AIirQgbDJrNjV0Z0xra2M
https://www.etsy.com/listing/502549085/cake-order-sheet?ref=shop_home_active_1

3.  Easy-to-Use Bookkeeping
We loved the quickly and easy set up QuickBooks online.  It is an easy and fast way to help keep track of clients, deposits, payments, and invoices.  You can would also input a lot of the information from the order sheets for wedding invoices for future reference.  On some occasions, in lieu of the order sheets we would create an invoice instead, input details and print and file this paperwork into the cake calendar.  

Best of all these invoices were easy to email and could prompt clients to submit payment.  Payments are also made easy via this bookkeeping.  You can quickly turn off and on credit card payments and keep track of all other methods of payment.  For instance we used Paypal, Chase QuickPay, as well as Venmo. All these methods made client payments more flexible and easier.  And when it came to me tracking them, it was much more efficient:)!

Happy Cake Making!:)