Category Archives: baking

Lego Cake

lego cakeI was asked to make a Lego themed cake for a sweet little girl who lives in Hawaii. She came to California last summer to spend time with her grandma and my girls had the pleasure of spending time with her. For her birthday this year she wanted to come back to California and spend time with her grandma as well as some of her friends that she made over the summer. This loving little girl asked that her cake be safe for ALL of her friends to eat. That meant no gluten and no possible peanut contamination. I was up for the challenge and excited to start planning this cake.

I made a gluten free chocolate cake by Betty Crocker because it would be peanut safe. Everything else I made from scratch. I frosted the cake with chocolate buttercream and then covered the top with my homemade Lego bricks. I started in the center and worked my way out with the Legos, but I would recommend doing the opposite. I ended up with awkward spaces on the outside and had to cut some of the bricks to fit. I think it would have been easier to work towards the middle. I used strips of colored fondant to cover the sides of the cake. This was to give the illusion that the whole cake was actually made of Lego bricks. I used a very small amount of water and a pastry brush to attach the strips to the side.

lego mold 1

My first mold

The key to this cake was preparation. About two weeks before I had to make the cake, I made a mold for the Lego bricks out of gum paste. Having all of that time to dry was crucial. This mold held up through the whole process and I still have it. Unfortunately,I determined it was too deep. It was hard to get the Lego bricks out of it without stretching them. So, I made another mold.

My second mold :(

My second mold ūüė¶

It did not have much time to dry and this is what happened to it as I started using it. Lesson learned. I went back to using the first mold.

lego bricksI used marshmallow fondant to make these bricks and they turned out so yummy! It has been a while since i have linked to the fondant recipe I used, so here you go! Marshmallow fondat¬†is always a crowd pleaser. I used a lot of corn starch to keep it from sticking in my mold and then used a pastry brush to clean all of the bricks off before I put them on the cake. The bricks looked pretty cool as they were piling up. I made way too many because I didn’t want to run out, but they came in handy for decorating cupcakes. All of the left overs were put in a container and passed around at the party like candy, which of course they are!

Hand drawn Logo

Hand drawn Logo

Another “plan ahead” aspect of this cake was the Logo. I drew the name of the birthday girl

Royal Icing Logo

Royal Icing Logo

on a piece of paper in bubble letters and then used royal icing to pipe the design onto wax paper using the Lego logo colors. This is a fun technique that I have used before to make logos. I have more detailed instructions on my previous post: Flooding Take One.

IMG_0202

I also made a batch of cupcakes since the main cake was not going to be enough to feed everyone. I put them on my cupcake tree and topped them with some of my leftover bricks. I loved they way they turned out. They were simple, but so cute!

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Birthday Catch Up

I have been working this week to bring my blog up to date and I realized that I haven’t posted any of my oldest daughter’s cakes in quite some time. For her 9th birthday she had her first slumber party and decided not to have a cake. The kids made monster cookies instead. They took cookie dough and loaded it with tons of candy before baking. The cookies turned out to be about the size of their faces and looked completely disgusting. They loved it!

For her 10th birthday she had a sleepover and pool party the next day. She designed and helped make these cute cupcakes to have at the pool. We used graham cracker crumbs for the sand, fruit rolls for the beach blankets, teddy grahams and life saver gummies for the life savers. We also added some gummy sharks and cocktail umbrellas. This was a super easy and fun treat for a pool party.

pool party cupcakes

When she turned 11 we said goodbye to the slumber parties. WooHoo!! She asked for a bowling party, which was a lot of fun and nobody was sleep deprived or cranky. This was my first attempt at cake balls. They turned out pretty well considering I had no idea what I was doing.

cake crumbsI made a sheet cake and crumbled it into a bowl, then mixed in my buttercream. After I formed the balls, I used Wilton candy melts to coat them. I learned that you have to add vegetable oil to thin the candy and it takes a lot more candy than I expected to have the volume you need for a good coating. I ended up spooning some of it over the cake balls and that was difficult. I don’t recommend it! In the end I had bowling balls that looked pretty cool.bowling balls

The bowling pins were quite a challenge. I made cupcakes and put mini cupcakes on top. On top of all of that I put a cake ball. I used frosting to glue all of the pieces together and then froze them so they wouldn’t fall apart. After the frosting was hard, I covered everything in a final layer of white frosting. I used small strips of fruit rolls to make the red stripes on the pins. I didn’t love the way they turned out, but the kids liked them and it did make for a cute table display for a bowling party.

Step One: Mini cupcakes on top of cupcakes

Step One: Mini cupcakes on top of cupcakes

Step Two: Cake balls on top of the mini cupcakes

Step Two: Cake balls on top of the mini cupcakes

Finished Product

Surf’s Up

Surf's Up cakeFor my dad’s 60th birthday I made a beach themed cake and cupcakes. The bottom layer of the cake is, what my kids call, a Papa Cake. They named this delicious cake after my dad because it is very rich and chocolaty, which is his kind of dessert. It is a chocolate cake with chocolate chips mixed into the batter. The frosting is made from melted chocolate chips and butter blended with powdered sugar and milk. I used chocolate cookies of varying lengths to make a bamboo fence. I also used the cookies for tree trunks.

The flowers at the bottom, the palm tree leaves and the surf boards are all made of gum paste. I frosted the ocean and wave with buttercream and then added some graham cracker crumbs for sand.

My daughter painted the designs on the surfboards. She used clear vanilla extract mixed with a tiny bit of frosting tint. She did a great job!

Painting designs on surfboards for Papa's cake

Painting designs on surfboards for Papa’s cake!

Surf's Up cupcakes!

Surf’s Up cupcakes!

Noah’s Ark

Noah's ArkMy dad asked me to make a Noah’s Ark cake for my mom’s 60th birthday. I had a lot of fun coming up with the design for this one. The bottom layer was made with a standard 8 inch pan and I just frosted it blue to represent the water. I used M&Ms for the rainbow because what’s a Noah’s Ark cake without a rainbow?

The next layer was a two layer 6 inch cake. I frosted and filled it with a chocolate frosting that my family loves. I believe my mom invented this recipe, which involves melting semi-sweet chocolate chips with butter before blending with powdered sugar and milk. This is definitely a family favorite!

The little structure on top is made from graham crackers and held together with the chocolate frosting. Royal icing would have been much sturdier, but I assembled this at my parents’ house and did not transport it anywhere else. So, I didn’t want to make new icing for such a small task.

I covered the chocolate cake and graham crackers with fondant strips that I had prepared ahead of time. I made them a fondant wood planksday ahead and poked the edges with a toothpick, so they would look like they were nailed to the cake. I would recommend making them ahead of time, so they are not sticky when it’s time to assemble. I stuck them to the cake with a very small amount of water applied to the back with a pastry brush. I had trouble cutting them straight, but I think they looked okay on the cake.

The little animal heads peeking out of the ark are definitely my favorite part. I made them out of marshmallow fondant. I sculpted them a few days in advance and let them dry on plates before they were transferred to the ark. I love the way they turned out!

fondant animals

Cupcake Party

My daughter loves to help out in the kitchen, especially with baking, so she asked for a cupcake themed birthday party.  We came up with four designs to teach her friends that were cute, but simple enough for the kids to do on their own.  Most of the girls were 7 Р8 years old and the party was a hit!

We made suns out of candy corn and added faces with black frosting.  I let the kids use pastry bags for the details.  The lady bug was made with a candy melt for the face and edible googly eyes.  The spots were chocolate chips.  The owl was a favorite with the kids.  I cut candy melts in half for the feathers.  The eyes were made from candy melts, white frosting and chocolate chips.  The beak was a candy corn. The last cupcake was a chance for the kids to practice swirling the frosting with a fancy tip on a pastry bag.  They had tons of sprinkles to choose from for decorating.

photo (21)          photo (22)          photo (19)          photo (18)

Here is the birthday girl with her completed cupcakes.  One of my favorite things about the party was the fact that each guest brought home their four cupcakes in a cute box.  They were all proud of their creations and excited to bring them home to their families.

Finished Cupcakes

The birthday cake that we served at the party was a giant cupcake made from a silicone mold.  I had trouble getting the cake out of the silicone mold, which surprised me.  But, once I pieced the cake back together it still resembled a cupcake. I wrapped the bottom with my marshmallow fondant  to look like  a cupcake wrapper and just swirled icing around the top half.  Here is the birthday girl with all of her cupcakes!

DSCN3105

Flooding Take One

I have wanted to try colorflow or flooding for quite some time, but have been waiting for the right opportunity.  I decided to make a cake for our dance teacher because her birthday was on the same day as our dance class.  This was the perfect opportunity to try flooding some royal icing.

I printed the logo for our dance studio and covered it with waxed paper. There was no way I could freehand the lettering and I love this technique for making complicated designs from royal icing.

DF cake 1

Next I outlined the lettering with black icing.  This frosting is fairly stiff because it acts as a barrier for the thin icing.

DF cake 2

Once the black icing was dry I filled two plastic bottles with the icing I wanted to use to flood.  I did not buy any actual color flow.  I just watered down my icing before putting it in the bottles.  I was nervous about making it to thin, so it was a little on thick side.

DF cake 3

As I started filling in the logo, I realized it wasn’t runny enough and used a toothpick to pull the frosting to the edges. ¬†It’s important not to have gaps because the frosting needs to dry together and form one piece. ¬†This helps with the integrity of the design when it’s time to move it to the cake.

DF cake 4

I let the logo dry for a couple of days before putting it on the cake.  I think 24 hrs would have been plenty of time, but I left extra time in case the first one broke.  I was really excited with the finished product and the way it looked on the cake.

DF cake 5

It’s A Boy!

My best friend is expecting her first baby this summer and I had the honor of making a cake for her baby shower. Since she will be having a boy I could not whip out my standard princess or butterfly cake. She and her husband requested an R2D2 cake and here is how it turned out.

Overall, I was really happy with this cake.  There were no major issues while making it and it turned out the way I imagined.  There is always room for improvement, so I would love another shot at this cake.  But for now, here is how I made it and what I learned.

The base of the cake is four round cakes.  The head and legs are made from rice krispie treats.  I molded the head in a buttered bowl that fit the top of the cakes.  I let the legs set in loaf pans and then cut out the shapes once they cooled.  Here they are pre-frosting and fondant.

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The assembly of the cake was very straight forward and this was probably my best fondant experience since I started using it. ¬†I made a cake a couple of weeks ago and had a terrible time with the fondant, got mad, and threw away my Wilton roll and cut mat. ¬†It was old and curling up on me. ¬†Worst of all the fondant kept sticking to it. ¬†So, for this project I bought myself a present. ¬†The Wilton decorator work mat. ¬†It was amazing. ¬†If you don’t have one, you need one. ¬†And no, they did not pay me to write that, but maybe they should! ūüôā It sticks to the table and does not move when I roll out the fondant. ¬†It was also so much easier to clean.

If I make this cake again I will wait to put the head on top until right before the event.  I put this head on the cake the night before the shower and his poor body could not handle the weight.  Just like a real baby!  Anyway, it started to compress and mess up my fondant, which looked awesome on day one.  I would also cover the head and legs better.  I ended up with seams that I was not happy with. Minor details really, but I always see the flaws.  Luckily, my friends always see the things they love and the cake was a hit.

May the force be with you!

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Since The Muppet Movie came out this year, my daughter decided to feature Kermit at her sixth birthday party.  We came up with a fun two-tiered cake design that would be similar in structure to cakes I have made in the past.  Unfortunately, my over confidence did not serve me well.

 

I baked the cakes and started stacking the way I always do.  I covered the bottom tier with white fondant, then covered the top tier before stacking the two cakes.  As the cakes sat on the table, I noticed that they were looking a little strange.  The bottom cake was bulging on the sides and the top cake was looking less and less stable as time passed.  I tried smoothing the fondant and shifting the top tier, but after a couple of hours it was obvious that the cake was not going to make it.

I was able to salvage the top tier with Kermit, so I was very happy about that.  I made Kermit out of colored fondant and applied him to the top with a small amount of water.  This became the pretty cake for pictures.  The bottom tier was saved for serving, but not pictures.  I was able to pull the fondant off and re-frost the cake so it was presentable and edible!

I also made some cupcakes to help feed the masses at the party.  I made a few frogs and pigs for the cupcake tree, but the rest had vanilla buttercream frosting with pink or green sprinkles.

In the end the party was a lot of fun and my daughter loved her Kermit cake. ¬†One thing I have learned over the years of cake decorating is that you just have to be flexible and always ready with a plan B or C. ¬†I don’t always handle these roadblocks gracefully, but I’m learning!

To infinity… and beyond!

Since the majority of my cake decorating has revolved around my two daughters I haven’t done many boy themes. ¬†This was my first superhero cake and it was a lot of fun! ¬†I was asked to make a Buzz Lightyear cake for a little boy’s third birthday party. ¬†His mom sent me a picture of a cake very similar to this one and I copied the design. ¬†It’s a simple two-tier cake with marshmallow fondant covering and decorations. ¬†The wings are made of gum paste and covered with fondant.

Showing off his wings!

One of the big requirements for the cake was my marshmallow fondant. ¬†I have talked to a lot of people about how much they hate the taste of fondant. ¬†I don’t know why people bother with the store bought stuff. ¬†It’s expensive, hard to work with and nobody will eat it. ¬†I make marshmallow fondant, which is cheap, easy to work with and tasty!

Here’s how you do it:

Dump a bag of marshmallows into a microwave safe bowl with about 2 tbs of water

Heat for 30 second intervals- stirring in between- until the marshmallows are melted

Start pouring powder sugar into the bowl and stir until the mixture pulls together like bread dough

Dump the whole mess onto a greased surface, coat your hands with Crisco and start kneading

Add sugar as needed- you may use up to 2 lbs for the batch

Once the fondant is mixed and no longer sticky you can color it or use it as is.  It will be warm and pliable.  It does not tear easily because the marshmallow give it an elastic quality.  You can also make it a day or two in an advance and store it in a resealable bag.

If you cover your cake with fondant and want to add fondant decorations like the stars on this cake all you do is brush some water on the decoration and gently press it to the cake. ¬†Don’t use too much water or it will run! ¬†I use a damp pastry brush and the fondant gets very sticky.

I would love to hear from others who have tips and suggestions about working with fondant.

Front view

Why I love the Super Bowl

I am not a football fan and I don’t think I have ever watched a Super Bowl. ¬†However, it seems that this year the Patriots are going to be playing in the Super Bowl and a whole lot of people have been visiting my blog looking for cake decorating ideas. ¬†So, I would like to thank the Super Bowl and the Patriots for the extra blog traffic. ¬†Last year I posted about cakes I made for my friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner, which included a football cake and cupcakes representing the Colts and the Patriots. ¬†I included pictures, but not much “how-to” information, so I thought I would revisit that post and help out all the football fans out there.

For the football cake I used the Wilton Wonder Mold pan. ¬†The cake comes out looking like a volcano. ¬†I normally stick a doll in it and decorate it like a princess. ¬†Can you tell I only have daughters? ¬†For the football, I cut the “volcano” in half. ¬†Imagine cutting straight down the middle starting where the lava would come out! ¬†Then I laid the tall pieces down flat on the board and pushed the fat ends together. ¬†If the two halves are not exactly symmetrical, than a little extra carving is required. ¬†Once I was happy with my football shape I used a star tip to put on the brown frosting as well as the white stripes. ¬†I used this tip for a textured look, but smooth frosting would probably work just as well. ¬†Then I used a fat writing tip to pipe the white laces. ¬†The “stars” are fairly tall, so the lacing may take several layers to stand out properly.

The cupcakes were a little more time consuming. ¬†I made the logos a day in advance to allow time for drying. ¬†First, I found the team logos online. ¬†I copied them into Word, adjusted the size and printed them. ¬†I put the printed logo under waxed paper and traced the design with royal icing. ¬†I use Wilton’s meringue powder and follow the recipe on the can to make the icing. ¬†I have not had luck with color flow, so I use my pastry bag to pipe all of the icing and then I go back over the design with a wet paint brush to smooth the icing. ¬†I always make more designs than I will need to allow for breakage. ¬†On game day, bake and frost your cupcakes, and carefully peel the logos off of the waxed paper to transfer them to the cupcakes. ¬†The easiest way to do this is to pull the paper down off the edge of a table and the logo should pop right off. ¬†I wish I had a picture of this process, but I never thought I would be writing a tutorial like this. ¬†Next time I do this I will take pictures. ¬†I promise. ūüôā

I hope this is helpful to all those football fans out there.  Enjoy the game and your festive cakes!