2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Last new year’s eve. Cady and I both brought pajamas to the party and were wearing them by 10pm. We went home before midnight and probably will do the same this year.

Well, I guess I started thinking about New Year’s Resolutions even earlier this year (a couple weeks before Thanksgiving) than last year. What can I say? I get excited by the new start. I was looking over my list from last year, and I’ve decided that some goals just won’t get done, which is fine. Some goals were also kind of vague, but that’s okay. Some of my new ones are, too.
I have an even bigger, more ambitious list for this new year:

– cook new recipes and learn Filipino cooking
– sew, crochet, other crafts, and Silhouette machine projects
– cake/cupcake decorating
– get out more and explore fun things to do in the area
– improve photography skills, photograph daily (and sometimes, be in more of the photos)
– take more family videos
– take dogs to dog park, spend more quality time with them
– give Cady more opportunities to play with other kids
– learn how use Photoshop and to install and use Photoshop actions
– go to church at least once a week
– work on decreasing “Real Age” (eating red meat once a week or less, eating fish more than once a week, flossing, exercise, taking a multi-vitamin daily, eating better)
– post tutorials and recipes on the blog
– spend time with mommy friends (I’ve been a hermit unless Tim was taking me somewhere)
– write to my sponsor child every month and mail letter in a timely manner

“When you are through changing, you are through.”
Bruce Barton

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Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes

I got Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes in the mail yesterday, and I love it! The cakes are absolutely adorable, and I can’t wait to have an excuse to make one. She also breaks down the steps in a way that makes it seem pretty easy.
The only thing I wish it had were the approximate serving amounts for each cake, but I suppose I could figure that out myself based on the pan shape and size used to make the cake, although some of it might be lost during carving. That will have to go into the equation as well I guess.

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Great Site to Buy Fondant

I just got 30 pounds of Satin Ice fondant from CakeSupplies4U and got an awesome deal. Even after shipping it cost $75 less than in a local shop, which is quite a big chunk of money. It only took 4 days to get here, and they have Paypal, which is always a plus for me. These were their regular prices and not temporary sale prices.

Satin Ice seems to be the brand a lot of professionals (even the quite famous ones) and at home bakers use. I’m sure when they purchase it in large quantities, they get pretty good deals. Plus with all the fondant they use, not having to make it saves a lot of time for people who already put a lot of time into their work. Sharon Zambito also said that buying fondant ensures that the consistency is always the same.

I usually make marshmallow fondant to cover my cakes with, but I bought 5 pounds of black and 5 pounds of red because those deep, dark colors are difficult to do, especially in large quantities– like to cover a whole cake. Also, red and black food coloring can taste bitter in large amounts.

I also got 20 pounds of chocolate since I decided it was worth just buying it rather than making it.

There are two ways that I’ve read online to make chocolate fondant. One would be to melt chocolate candy wafers, mix with some other ingredients, and the next day knead into already made fondant, which I would have to buy anyway. I’m not sure if this method works with marshmallow fondant, but if it did, I’d have to make that the day before as well.

The other way would be to make marshmallow chocolate fondant to begin with, but you have to make it the same day you’ll use it, which means leftovers won’t be any good either.

I might try the first method someday to make white chocolate fondant, which I’ve heard is pretty good., but it will be quite a bit of work. There’s already so much kneading involved when using fondant as it is, and large amounts can be pretty tiring. I’d like to try it once to just to do it, but I might just make it on special request or for my family.

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Successful Stacking DVD Review

Wow. I noticed this with the previous two DVDs I watched (Flawless Fondant and Perfecting the Art of Butterceam), but it’s even more evident with this one that the professionals really put a lot of time into their work. No wonder their cakes are so expensive. They are so time consuming, labor intensive, and require more supplies.
Don’t get me wrong. The DVD is great. I learned a lot of ideas that I didn’t know about before. Naturally the basic classes I took aren’t going to cover information like this because these cakes are on a whole other level. Plus, the basic classes I took are from a company that sells cake supplies and obviously will only use those supplies in the classes.
The stacked cakes in this DVD are absolutely perfect! I don’t think that all of the steps shown in the DVD will be necessary for the small two tiered cakes that I make with usually just a 6″ and an 8″ round. They’re not difficult to transport, and they’re so little cake to begin with. Using really wide dowels and two support dowels would leave very little cake for consumption.
However, I do think her methods will come in very handy with cakes that have three or more tiers. I do plan to make at least one or two wedding cakes in future, and I will definitely need to use every tip she has taught me through this DVD. Not only do her methods make the stacked cake much more stable, but they also makes the tiers easier to stack and prevent damaging the tiers. If a very small amount of blemishes do occur, she also shows how to fix them. She also gives tips on delivering cakes that will also be useful come wedding cake time.
Overall, I’m glad I got this DVD, too. It was all invaluable information that was completely new to me. The way she does it is different in almost every way possible than what we learned in class.

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Flawless Fondant DVD Review

Like I said previously, I’ve purchased a few SugarEd Production DVDs to further my cake education and will be writing reviews on each one with no compensation for any positive recommendations that I make.
That being said, I loved this DVD! Even though the classes did a good job of laying down the foundation for my cake decorating, there were very many tips, tricks, and informational tidbits that I learned in this 2.5hr video that I never heard about before. I would definitely recommend this DVD. It’s possible that little bits of the information found in this video can be learned through vast internet searching, but as far as I know (and I do lots of internet searching), this is the best way to get all of the tips in one place in an organized manner with nothing left out and nothing unncessary.
I’m definitely going to start doing fondant her way.

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Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD Review

I just got done watching the Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD by Sharon Zambito of SugarEdProductions (I don’t get anything for writing this review), and I really liked it! Her DVDs have actually sat in my wishlist for a while after reading about them on CakeJournal, but I finally bought a bunch of them after a nice sum of cash from my grandmother on my birthday and a lot of deliberating.

The video is 120 minutes and has A LOT of useful information that is new to me despite lots of internet browsing and youtube video watching, which makes sense considering she’s been doing this for 20 years and I have 4 months under my belt. She has quite a few different methods, but the title wasn’t lying when it said “perfecting” because the cake does look PERFECT in the end. I’m pretty impressed.

Their customer service is really good, too. I made by order over Memorial Day weekend, and the videos were sent out immediately on Tuesday and arrived Thursday or Friday. One of the videos I ordered, Boxes and Bows, was accidentally switched with Sheet Cake Secrets, so they’re sending Boxes and Bows out right away along with the Design Gallery for free (for ordering 5 DVDs at once), and they didn’t ask me to send back Sheet Cake Secrets, which I thought was both convenient and generous.

I should really watch Flawless Fondant next since I have my first cake “order” this weekend for a friend throwing a baby shower, which I’ve been pretty excited about!

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Making Marshmallow Fondant for the First Time

I hope my hands look better than that when I’m not kneading.

I made marshmallow fondant for the first time, and it was very successful!

To be honest, I was worried nearly the whole time I was making it, and when I first started kneading it again for use the next day (some people say to let it rest for 24 hours). It seem difficult to work with, but a few seconds in the microwave took care of that.

I used “Rhonda’s Ultimate MMF” recipe from CakeCentral, but since I didn’t have any lemon extract, I just put in that much more lemon juice. I heated the marshmallows in a pot instead of the microwave, and I mixed it by hand rather than by mixer, which I know some people do as well.

I didn’t know how it would taste, but I found out it’s sooooooo good! I believe it was BakeAt350 who best described it as a “sugar pillow.” I’m going to start quoting that by the way.

I used this homemade marshmallow fondant to cover the calla lilly cake I made for my Auntie Em’s birthday. She brought it to her church, and I heard it was both delicious and an aesthetic hit. The card I had attached to the box with the description of the cake said that it was covered in “rolled marshmallow icing” to keep with my promise to improve fondant’s public relations by using names with more positive connotations.

My husband rolling the fondant for me.
He’s so sweet and helps me a lot.

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Calla Lilly Cake

I made this calla lilly cake for my Auntie Em’s birthday. It’s chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing and covered in marshmallow fondant. The flowers are a 50/50 blend of gumpaste and fondant.

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Simply Spectacular Cakes

I got my Simply Spectacular Cakes book by Peggy Porschen in the mail today, and I’m super excited. I’d honestly love to make every single beautiful thing in here even though I’m a novice, and she’s an artist. I guess there’s no other way to learn though than to just practice. She includes instructions with each photographed cookie and cake as well as recipes, templates, and basic information. I can’t wait until the next time I have an excuse to make something (after my Auntie Em’s cake this weekend that I already have plans for).

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Cake Club and Fondant Calla Lilies

Cake club was great today. Everything went smoothly and started/ended on time. I really look forward to meeting again next month.

Today we made fondant calla lilies. These would be great for any cake, but especially for weddings and Mother’s Day (which is coming up) because they are so lovely and elegant.

Now that I’m home, I wish I had taken step by step pictures of how I made my calla lilies. I didn’t make them by the book, and I think they look more realistic. Not to mention it’s easier and requires less supplies than doing it their way. The flowers are so easy, and I promise I’ll post a proper tutorial next time I make them. I’ve never had a tutorial post before, but I should start writing them (even though there are probably tutorials out there in the internet world already) in case any of my friends are interested in knowing how to do these things.

I’ll try my best to explain it for now.

~ Clean work surface (having a food safe mat or vinyl/plastic place mat to work on would be great)
~ 1/2 fondant, 1/2 gumpaste blend (you can buy these or make them at home)
~ Cone shaped drinkingcup or snow cone cup (or something similarly shaped)
~ Yellow gel icing color (don’t use the liquid stuff from the grocery store, it’s too watery)
~ small rolling pin
~ heart shaped cookie cutter (I like using a big cutter to make big flowers)
~ plastic sandwich bag or air tight plastic container
~ piping gel or gum glue (recipes can be found online)
~ small food safe paint brush (or brush that you ONLY use for food)
~ toothpicks
~ cornstarch/powdered sugar blend

To prep:
1. Lightly dust your work surface with the 50/50 mix of powedered sugar and cornstarch. You only need a small amount to keep your fondant/gumpaste from sticking.
2. Do the same with the outside of your cups.

For the flower:
1. Roll your fondant gumpaste mix very thin (1/16 in) until you can almost see through it.
2. Cut it with your heart shaped cookie cutter.
3. Put the left overs in your plastic bag or air tight container because it dries/hardens very quickly.
4. Take your heart and wrap it around the tip of your cone with the curves of your heart on top and overlapping each other. “Paint” a little piping gel or gum glue where they will over lap to seal it closed.
5. Use your fingers, the handle of a small paint brush, or toothpicks to roll the edges of the bottom of the flower upward and outward from the cup.
6. Where the point of the heart was, pull it out gently and mold with your fingers to a more defined point.

For the flower center:
1. Use a toothpick to color a small amount of fondant/gumpaste yellow. Once you’ve dipped a toothpick into the fondant, use a new toothpick next time. Do not put a contaminated toothpick back into your icing. No double dipping 🙂
2. Roll out a small amount into a little cylinder with one end pointed (kind of like a carrot).
3. Once your flower has dried and hardened, use gum glue/piping gel and a brush to glue your center inside.

You can also add a calyx and leaves to your flower. You can also use a mixture of vanilla and luster dust to paint your flower center and add a shine to it. You can also use green sugar dust to paint the outside of your flower with a gradual change in color or do the inside of your flower that way with the yellow. I’ll explain more next time.

Make sure to always put the fondant/gumpaste in an airtight container when you’re not working with it to keep it from drying out.

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