Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Buttercream Trampoline

I had the honor of making my niece's third birthday cake last week. The theme was trampoline because the party was being held at Powersports Gymnastics in College Station and our niece loves to bounce and somersault.

The cake was two-tiers with the top tier made of strawberry funfetti cake and the bottom tier made of white funfetti. Both tiers were filled with strawberries and buttercream and the whole thing was iced in vanilla buttercream. The flowers and butterflies surrounding the cake were made of fondant and gave the cake a very girly and colorful look. The trampoline was made with piped buttercream and a fruit roll-up on the top (can't see that in the photo though) to give it a springy look like a real trampoline. The bouncing birthday girl on the top was made of rice krispy treats and covered in fondant. My niece and her parents loved the cake as did the rest of the birthday party crowd. Hooray! There's nothing like helping to make a birthday party just a little bit sweeter.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wonder Pets on a Buttercream Adventure

This weekend I completed a fun and very colorful Wonder Pets birthday cake for a friend's daughter. When she asked me to make the cake with this theme, I can honestly say that I was beyond excited. If you've never seen the Wonder Pets children's show then you are missing out on the cutest television show ever. Basically, it follows the adventures of a duck, guinea pig and turtle as they travel in their little red flyboat and solve problems using teamwork. Like I said — adorable beyond words.

The birthday cake was a two-tiered funfetti white cake filled and iced with vanilla buttercream. The boat and the Wonder Pets trio were made of fondant-covered rice krispy treats. It took a while to create the little critters but I'm really happy with the end result. This was my first stacked cake so I was a little nervous about stacking it correctly and having enough weight support. Once I inserted the cake dowels and stacked everything without any problems, I finally relaxed and could easily transport my very stable stacked cake. Phew!

So what was the best part of making this cake? Probably when the birthday girl gave me a big thank you hug for making the cake that she had been anticipating for days. Moments like that are why I love making cakes!

Next weekend I will have a trampoline-themed cake for my niece's third birthday. I can't wait!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Perfect Blend of Perfect Balance

As I continue along on my career journey, I find that I've struck a moment of perfect balance. Although I don't currently have a full- or part-time job just yet, I've been quite busy with freelance work in both graphic and cake design. Considering that my graphic design career had been a bit of a rocky road filled with downsizing and dead-ends that left me burned out and jaded, it's nice to finally be at peace with my career. I'm very happy balancing both the freelance graphic design and cake decorating, plus having some (temporary) time to take care of all the little things I felt I never had the time or energy to do.

I'm now looking for a full-time job in graphic design with the intention of doing cakes as a freelance gig for family, friends and word-of-mouth cake requests. You may be wondering why I've seemingly gone full circle back to graphic design after going to culinary school. Well, I don't consider it a circle because it feels more like moving forward. I needed time away from office life to recover from that rocky career journey and I needed to challenge myself so that I could grow. At the beginning of this career shake-up, I'd felt stagnant, bored, frustrated and even a tad cynical. In other words, nothing like my old self who had been cheerful, optimistic and overachieving. A change was absolutely necessary.

I had always thought cake decorating would be a fun and a great creative outlet, so that's what I decided to pursue and I'm glad that I did. I'm not known for spending time in the kitchen, so going to culinary school allowed me to take a risk and truly challenge myself. I learned a lot and I gained confidence by discovering that I was capable of not only cake design, but of starting over and re-inspiring myself. So now I not only have a back-up career, but I also got my fire, joy and enthusiasm back. Now I can share that passion by making cakes that bring joy to others and maybe somewhere down the line I could teach people to develop cake decorating skills as well. For now though, I think I'd like to give my graphic design career another shot while still doing freelance cake decorating on the side. Don't worry, I still intend to keep my readers up-to-date on my my cake endeavors.

I'm enjoying this moment of peace and tranquility, and I know that once I find my next graphic design job that I'll be ready to take on the world with a smile and renewed enthusiasm. I might even bring my new co-workers a cake on my first day. The perfect blend of perfect balance.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Arrrrr You Ready For Ye Pirate Cake?

The Pirates of the Caribbean skull logo cake for my dad is now complete. I'm pretty happy with the end result except I made the skull a little too big and ran out of room for the flaming torches to go on top. That's okay though, I just used the flame-colored icing to pipe the borders around the cake to give it the feel of a flame effect. I love the color combination on this cake and the whole thing kind of has an unintended biker tattoo vibe to it. Pretty cool. I wanted to buy some chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil to put around the sides, but I'm not sure I'll have time to do that before I give the cake to my dad this afternoon. Either way, I know this Father's Day cake will make my dad one happy pirate!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Luke, I Am Your Froster

I've been trying out cake recipes and working on my piping skills lately. Many of my practice cakes will be going to my husband's techy coworkers, many of which have interests in things like sci-fi, gaming and other geek-friendly endeavors. Considering this fact, I decided to decorate my cake with a theme that would please such an audience, hence, the Star Wars Stormtrooper.

I found the design on a t-shirt and thought it would translate to cake perfectly. I baked a white cake with confetti sprinkles and covered it with vanilla buttercream. I had set aside some of the buttercream to dye black for piping the details and borders. I then lightly sketched the Stormtrooper face onto the cake using a toothpick to create a guideline before I start piping. Unlike pencil sketching, you kind of only get one shot when piping directly on a cake. I'm fairly happy with the end result, but I know the facial proportions aren't quite right and the mouth is slightly uneven. It is MUCH easier to replicate images with pencil than with frosting, but I'll get better at it. That's why I'm doing practice cakes after all!

Next up...a father's day cake for this weekend that will probably be the Pirates of the Caribbean skull logo. I found this cake online (see photo) that pulled it off beautifully, so I'm going to use that as my model and inspiration. I'm going to make the same chocolate/buttercream/ganache cake that I made recently for the practice groom's cake/cupcakes. My dad likes chocolate (well, really anything sweet) and I think he'll really like the design since he loves the pirate movies. The decorating technique is similar to the Stormtrooper's with some slight differences, so it shouldn't be too difficult to do. I hope it comes out like the cake picture, but I know my dad will love it no matter what it looks like. That's why he's a great dad...Happy Father's Day!

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