Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cats, Cotton and Cakes Galore!

I've been pretty busy helping out at Blue Note lately. I'm truly flattered that they trust my design skills to allow me to decorate cakes and create wedding toppers. You feel a little pressured to get it just right and not look like a culinary student made it since people are paying for it and featuring the cake at their wedding, birthday or shower. I'm learning a lot by helping out though and it's great practice to hone my skills to a more effortless flow. Here's what I've made lately:

Kitty Cake Topper
A couple requested a five-tiered wedding cake, plain white and nothing else on it but a simple beaded border and their two cats sitting on top. They even provided photos of their adorable kitties, a striped yellow tabby and a black tortoiseshell. Cute! It was fun creating the kitties out of gumpaste, but knowing that they were the main visual on the cake added some pressure. I love animals though and they have always been my main subject in my art, so I knew exactly how to pull it off. I even made sure to capture the unique patterns and patches that give the kitties their unique identity.  I'm really happy with the finished kitties and I hope it met the couple's expectations for their special day.

Cotton-Pickin' Cake
Someone ordered a birthday cake for their papaw who is a cotton farmer, so they requested the cake resemble a cotton farm with a tractor and a cowboy hat and boots. The bakery already baked and iced the cake, so they gave me a bit of guidance for decorating and then let me at it. I'm always astounded that they let me do so much on the cakes, but they always seem pretty happy with the result so I must be doing something right. All those years of art classes and doodling can pay off! I really like working with fondant and gumpaste, now I'm starting to really like modeling chocolate too (the boots).

Airplane Cupcakes Take Flight
An order for a baby shower led to these adorable airplane cupcakes. I used fondant and a little bit of innovation to create the little airplane pieces. I love the challenge of trying to come up with efficient and effective ways to create cake decorations. It would take too long to hand-cut 18 identical fondant airplanes, so you have to come up with short-cut techniques to get the job done. I had a moment of inspiration when looking amongst the collection of cookie-cutters for something to make propellers. I spotted a butterfly cutter and noticed that the top half of the wings were long, thin and even tapered in the center — just like a propeller. It worked beautifully and I even used the bottom half of the butterfly wings for tail fins. It may seem a little weird, but things like that excite me the way solving crossword puzzles excites people. Eureka moments are exciting no matter what problem you're solving...including cake!

A Shot at a Twist of Lime
Lastly, I helped out with this tequila-themed birthday cake. I didn't design the bottle, but I did paint the table, salt shaker and limes. I'm all about the little details, so I had a blast painting the table's wood texture and giving the limes segments and pulp.

Yep, I've definitely chosen a fun career. Designing on a computer is fun, but it's not quite as thrilling as taking a lump of white fondant and turning it into a cat, tractor or limes that will help make someone's special day that much more special.

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