Sunday, February 27, 2011

Justin Bieber Birthday Cake

I don't like to brag, but some days, I impress myself. I've been wanting to try hand painting on a cake, so when this Bieber Birthday came my way, I decided to go for it. I'm so glad I did!

I started with a vanilla cake with a strawberry and vanilla cream filling. I covered the cake with butter cream icing, then white fondant. I added stripes and a bead border in black, silver, and 2 shades of purple. Since the birthday party involved going to the JB movie, I incorporated the popcorn, film strip, and tickets to tie it all together. I wrapped fondant around a stack of cupcakes to make the popcorn container, then topped them with tinted marshmallows to resemble popcorn kernels.

And then, the piece de resistance: Bieber. The party host gave me a paper plate to match colors, so I used the picture from the plate to model my mini painting after. I cut out a 4"x5" piece of fondant and attached it to a cardboard backing. Then I drew the basic shape of J.B. on the fondant with an edible marker. Then, I used frosting gel paste color and mixed it with water to create my own edible water color paints. YES, I painted the portrait by hand with a little paint brush and a black edible marker. It turned out way better than I anticipated. I mean, my father in law can attest to the trouble I had in our watercolor class painting flowers and landscapes. Who knew I should have started with portraits? I love the effect that was created: when the water mixes with the fondant, it results in a sugar glaze, so the finished product looked more like a porcelain tile than a piece of edible art. I love when I discover a new technique (at least new for me!) Portrait cakes...bring it on!

Princess Castle Birthday Cake

I loved doing this cake. Maybe it reminded me of my childhood...not because I was a girly girl who liked princesses (I wasn't). I actually was a Lego girl. And my Lego's of choice were castle Lego's! So I got to channel my inner architect and build a cool castle. This cake was for a special little princess at her 5th birthday party. I made a larger square cake (chocolate chocolate chip) and topped it with a smaller round cake (cookies & cream). Then I made 4 king size cupcakes and 4 regular cupcakes, cut a quarter out of the cupcakes and fitted them to the corners of the square cake. I topped the small cake with more cupcakes, then covered the whole cake in white butter cream icing. I added ice cream cones to the tops of the cupcake "turrets" which I covered in a thin layer of corn syrup then rolled in pink and white sanding sugar. I made the front doors, windows, bricks, and purple strips around the ice cream cones all with fondant. Then I added pink icing borders and white icing decorations around the windows and doors. I finished the castle by piping green leaves and vines with yellow flowers, and added some pink fondant flowers as well. The final touch was the fondant "crest" with the birthday girl's age and a swag banner across the front with a special birthday wish. With all the princess stuff at my own house, I'm surprised that this was my first princess castle cake! Hopefully not my last.

Twin Elmo Birthday Cakes

Who can resist that furry red face? Especially when he's a delicious vanilla cake! These small layer cakes were for twin girls turning 2. In addition to the brightly colored little cakes, I made a dozen matching cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate. Happy birthday times two!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Disney Pixar Cars "Tokyo Mater" Cake

When I got this call, I was excited to try some characters from Disney/Pixar's "Cars". And in order to do "research", I had to watch cartoons (it's a rough job, I know). It was a short film from the series "Mater's Tall Tales" where he describes how he was challenged to a race and learned to "drift" in the streets of Tokyo. (Really cute - check out YouTube). I hear that this is the idea behind the new "Cars 2" movie coming out this Summer, so get ready all you moms of boys out there!

So I started with the characters themselves. I found a picture on the web, then used it as a pattern to cut out a simple fondant shape. Then I used my edible markers and a little white fondant to add all the detail to Lightning McQueen (or "the Queen", as my son says!) and a "modified" Mater. Yes, I drew that all by hand. (It's what I do. My mom used to call me the human xerox machine.) Then I worked on the cake.

This was a vanilla cake layered with Cookies and Cream custard. I covered the whole cake in vanilla butter cream, then a top layer of white fondant. Once the fondant was smooth, I decided to try a new technique and paint the fondant with watered-down gel paste frosting colors. Because I wanted to make it a night-scape background, I knew the colors had to be dark. And experience has taught me to try to avoid really dark colored icing (i.e. the great Cookie Monster cupcake incident of 2010 - all the party guests had blue teeth!) So I thought that this way I could get the color I wanted and not have black and blue party guests. It was fun to paint the entire cake (it was like watercolor painting); I blended blues, black and browns to create the night sky and street. Once I had the color I wanted, I cut out some simple fondant buildings and decorated with my favorite markers. With the scene set, I just placed the 2 fondant cars on the top to finish the design. Then I added a Tokyo-inspired race flag on a bamboo skewer with the birthday boy's age of "4". Then I piped on the birthday message for the finishing touch. It was a fun cake to create, and my inner artist got to come out with the big paint brushes. Maybe this is a good time to look into buying an airbrush...FUN!

PS my son, who is turning 3 in a couple months, has decided that he now wants Cars on his cake too (along with ALL the characters in Toy Story 3. Fantastic. They love collecting work for mommy! ;) He loved the cake and squealed "is that for MEEEE???" Poor kids. We go through this every week around here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cupcake Wars Update

So many of you are watching and supporting my bid for a shot on Cupcake Wars that I thought I'd give you an update. I did hear back from Casting this week, and they wanted me to shoot another video. I figure that they wouldn't waste their time asking me for another look if they didn't like *me* on the last video. So I am considering this as a good sign. (And my "agent" [i.e. my neighbor who knows the industry] agreed that it was like getting a second interview. Thanks Jeff!) So check out the new link at left to see Interview #2. It's a lot more rough, but it's a pretty accurate picture of how we roll 'round here. So keep those fingers crossed!

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Cupcake Wars" Video Audition!

This last week was a whirlwind! I've been battling a sinus infection (like everyone else in town) and not feeling up to par. But when I got a call from the Casting department of the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars" on Tuesday, I got a second wind! After a 30 minute phone interview, they asked me to make a video audition that I could post on YouTube by the upcoming weekend! So I agreed and started thinking about how I wanted to approach the whole thing. I had a vision of my husband and I with our new flip video camera shooting something around the house for about an hour on Saturday. What actually transpired was a whole lot more than I bargained for!

We had a friend "volunteer" her husband (a professional camera man) to come shoot and edit the whole thing for us! What a gift. Our house looked like the set of the Martha Stewart Show with all the lights and ginormous camera. It was quite an experience. The video we ended up with was something WAY more professional and beautiful than I ever thought possible. I asked him to use the Angelina Jolie filter on his camera, and I think that helped. I am so grateful for their generosity (THANK YOU DAVE AND KAREN!)

For my first time in front of the camera, I was pretty proud of how it came out. I was, however, pretty horrified to see myself on film (or whatever you call it these days!) I hear that's a pretty standard reaction in the TV world, but that didn't make it any easier. I guess I'd better get used to it if I'm going to go on the show and wipe the floor with 3 other cupcake "posers". (I gotta get my "game face" on... not sure why I revert back to the 1980's for my insults).

So, to see the finished product, check out the YouTube link at the top of the blog (left). I could use all the good thoughts and crossed fingers that I can get. As far as the timeline, I'm not really sure what to expect. I know they received my complete application and video. I have been told that "things are moving very quickly" for Season 3 casting, and that they would talk to me soon. Not being familiar with Hollywood lingo, I'm choosing to believe this is a good sign (if it's a brush off, don't burst my bubble).

Bring it on, Food Network! A pulled pork cupcake? Really? That is NO winner. I'm just glad they already did an event at Sea World...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bridal Shower Dessert Buffet

This table turned out so pretty! This backyard party was decorated so beautifully, and the plates of tiny sweets were the perfect final touch. I couldn't believe how perfect all my serving pieces matched with the elegant Parisian decor. (Yes! All plates and pedestals are available for rental) We planned on 3 pieces per guest, so I came armed with almost 200 mini mouthfuls. It was a nice assortment of flavors and textures, and I tied all the decorations in with their black, white and pink color scheme. The menu included mini cupcakes in 3 flavors (red velvet with cream cheese icing, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and coconut cream with vanilla buttercream), brownie cheesecake bites, lemon raspberry bars, heart-shaped sugar cookies, chocolate and peanut butter parfaits, and double chocolate truffle pops. YUM!

King of the Jungle Baby Shower Cake

This cake design was based on a line of tableware at Party City called "King of the Jungle", which was just so cute I wanted to incorporate it into the cake. So this white cake with strawberry filling got a blanket of white fondant over the vanilla buttercream. Then I added a large circle of brown fondant to the top. I added circles in matching colors to the sides of the cake, plus borders out of fondant. Then I topped the cake with a couple of fondant palm trees, and a lion which I cut out by hand. I added some gold dragees to his crown, and wrote the message on the white plaque by hand with an edible marker. Simple and cute, my favorite kind of cake!

Chrysanthemum Baby Shower Cupcakes

These cupcakes were for a baby girl shower with a pretty pink flowery theme. The cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese icing and chocolate chocolate chip with vanilla buttercream. I swirled on some icing, then piped the pink petals on top. I finished the flowers with some edible glitter and a pink sugar pearl. For the last photo, the hostess actually sent me some paper samples to match the frostings to, so I propped them up behind the cupcakes. Who knew all those art classes I've taken on color theory would really pay off in my baking career! Not a bad match, huh?

Cupcake Pops and Marshmallow Cupcakes

Not to be outdone by the Cake Pop craze going on, I decided to play with some other cute bite-sized confections. The cupcake pops were actually the same filling that I use for my chocolate truffles, just molded and put on a stick. They were just as delicious, and extra adorable on the sticks, not to mention easy to eat (no chocolate fingers!)

The last picture is a variation on a family favorite. My mom and I make these marshmallow pops, and those of you that have tried one at my house know that they are freakishly delicious. Well, I tried these babies without the sticks by dipping the marshmallows halfway in chocolate and then molding the bottoms in a chocolate mold. Then I dipped the tops in white chocolate. They are a work in progress: while the undercoating of caramel was delicious, it was kind of a nightmare to work with, and started oozing out. But once I get the hang of these, they will be adorable too!

Just a couple more options for dessert buffets or party favor treats!