Advance Notice

ALL custom cake orders must be placed at least two (2) weeks in advance.
No new orders are currently being scheduled.

31 August 2011

48 Hours

All the cakes, cookies, cake pops, and other confections I make are from scratch.  Meaning I don't have any of these things just hanging out in fridge or freezer waiting for someone to call up and say, "Hey...I need _______" (insert appropriate request here).

That's the reason I usually like to have plenty of notice for any orders.  It gives me time to plan, to make any pieces in advance that I might need, and to sleep.  Sleep is very, very important.

Occasionally though, I'll get one of those last minute requests...often times I limit the design to something I know I can crank out quickly.  This always makes me a little sad because I am definitely a details person and want the time to add all those little things that make a custom design, well, a custom design.  But, there are those times when I punish myself and accept the challenge of making a complicated/intricate cake in hours, rather than days. For example, this one:

P8261080_cew

I received the call for this designer purse two days before the client needed it.  Under normal circumstances, I would have said no, but I admit, I wanted the challenge, and it is hard to say no to a client who is one of my best patrons!  Everything on the bag is edible...the zipper, the logo, the handle.  And I was only up until 3 AM finishing it...never mind I had to go to work at 7 that morning!  There are some things about it I would have liked to "detail up," but time and exhaustion were working against me.  Still not bad for 48 hours (only about 28 of which were available for either cake making or sleeping!)

Oh, and there were also matching cupcakes to accompany the purse!  Chocolate buttercream icing, edible gold glitter and dragees, all atop a white almond cupcake.  Yum-o!

P8261076_cew

That wasn't the only creation from this past week though.  I also had several others, all of which I had quite a bit more lead time on, thank goodness!

P8241068_cew

The birthday girl wanted a Mustang for her birthday....turns out she got 3.  Hehe!  The Mustangs around the base were edible images applied to gumpaste, while the pony was handcut from gumpaste, then painted with an edible silver glaze.

P8281107_cew

This cake was an fun request to take on.  The client was having a large celebration for 3 members of the family - a 16 year old, a 21 year old, and a 70 year old - but only wanted one cake.  My solution, as you can see, was to do 3 smaller cakes, yet place them all on the same board to form one large "collage" type cake.  I was able to work on my bow making skills, as well as try out a new bow technique - the blue and green one on the front cake.

P8281119_cew

These last cakes were in celebration of my grandmother's 85th birthday.  Between the main cake (above) and the two sheet cakes (one is pictured below) there were 200 servings of cake!  I didn't start out too worried about these, but then I had the "lighbulb" moment where I realized I was essentially making the equivalent of a large wedding, just without any stacking!  This was the first time I had ever had to section a cake into serving sizes as well...I contemplated how best to achieve this while still creating a nice design that tied in with the main cake.  I'm glad I went with a floral motif!

P8281112_cew

'Til next week,

30 August 2011

How-To: Toast Nuts


We've all done it...come across a recipe that calls for TOASTED pecans, almonds, or some other type of nut.  And instead of taking the time to toast them, we just toss nuts straight from the package into the recipe.  But, I beg of you, next time...DON'T!  It doesn't take long to toast nuts (usually only about 15 minutes tops) and the results are magical!  Toasting nuts allows the flavor and texture to deepen, and also makes them easier to chop, crunchier, and less likely to sink in batters and mixes.

If you've never toasted nuts before - don't be intimidated!  There are several ways to accomplish the task, in fact, you can even use the microwave!

Toasting Nuts - Microwave Method
Spread a single layer (approximately one cup) of nuts on a microwave safe plate.  Cook on high power in 1 minute intervals until the nuts begin to smell and taste toasted.  **Microwave toasting will not yield the beautiful deeper brown you get from pan or oven toasting.

Toasting Nuts - Pan (i.e. stove top) Method
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat.  When the pan is hot, add a single layer of nuts.  Do not add any oil or cooking spray - the nuts have enough natural oil to cook sufficiently without sticking.  Cook until the nuts begin to smell toasted and have turned a pleasing golden brown color.  Remove from heat.

Toasting Nuts - Oven Method
This is the method I use most often...and is recommended for making large quantities.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake according to the chart below or until the nuts begin to smell toasted and have turned golden brown.  You may wish to stir the nuts or turn the pan halfway through the cooking time to help ensure even toasting.

Nut Type Suggested Time
Almonds, sliced 7 - 10 minutes
Almonds, whole 10 minutes
Chestnuts 25 minutes
Hazelnuts 12 - 15 minutes
Macadamia Nuts 12 - 15 minutes
Mixed Nuts 15 - 20 minutes
Peanuts (in shell) 15 - 20 minutes
Peanuts (shelled) 20 - 25 minutes
Pecans 10 - 15 minutes
Pine Nuts 5 minutes
Walnuts 10 - 15 minutes

25 August 2011

Money, Money, Money

Who couldn't use a little more of this these days?

P8180968_cew

Unfortunately, the money in this money bag isn't legal tender.  It is edible though...and chocolate!

Course, if you are looking for ways to increase your money flow, I'd like to suggest that you stick to socially acceptable means of doing so - you know, playing the lottery, marrying rich (I'm joking here, people!), or working diligently at your place of employment.  Definitely refrain from getting up to any monkey business...

P8211036_cew

P8211043_ew

What kind of monkey business, you say?  I don't want to give you any ideas, but I'd suggest that if the activity results in any of the following, you may want to steer clear of it.  Just a suggestion though.

For example, an activity that results in a loud "crash," "bam," "pow," or "ka-boom" will more than likely decrease your cash flow...

P8160926_cew

I wouldn't recommend getting involved in any car chases or drag races either...

P8200999_cew

The drawback?  Chances are you're going to get caught and the car will be towed.  And I'd be willing to bet your tow truck driver won't be nearly as friendly and fun as this hill billy truck...

P8200994_ew

And, finally, definitely steer clear of anything that involves handcuffs, badges, or the police...

P8160917_cew

It could be years before you get to say "Goodbye Warden, Hello World" again.

"Book 'em, Danno!"



24 August 2011

Jalapeno Popper Sandwiches

This is a fun take on the traditional jalapeno popper, and it's a super easy recipe to prepare - it only takes about 30 minutes. While the recipe doesn't call for any protein (and it is fabulous without it), don't be afraid to try adding some!  Bacon is a perfect accompaniment, though shrimp would be yum as well.  Oh, and don't skimp on the bread...K and I only had a French loaf on hand when making these, and while they were delicious, the bread wasn't quite sturdy enough to hold up to all the gooey goodness.

Jalapeno Popper Sandwiches
Printable Recipe
Adapted from SimplyScratch
Yield:  2 Sandwiches

P8170937_ew

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole jalapenos, roasted & steamed (Instructions can be found here.)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 whole green onions, minced
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 slices Colby Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Butter

Preparation:
  1. Preheat a griddle to 375°F.
  2. Combine the cream cheese, minced green onion, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Spread the desired amount of cream cheese mixture onto two bread slices, then layer the roasted peppers and cheese over the onion/cream cheese spread.  Top with the remaining two bread slices.
  3. Butter the outer sides of each of the bread slices and cook on the heated griddle until golden and crispy.  Serve warm.
Delish!

23 August 2011

How-To: Roast & Steam Peppers


Love the taste of roasted peppers, but hate having to shell out for the jarred ones at the grocery?  If so, try this tasty tip!

To Roast Peppers:
  • Preheat your oven's broiler OR turn your heat source (i.e. an open flame on a gas stove, outdoor grill, or even a campfire) to HIGH.
  • If desired rub the peppers with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Do Not use extra virgin olive oil due to its low smoke point.
  • If using the broiler, place the peppers on a baking sheet; then broil until skins begin to appear charred in spots.  Using tongs, turn the peppers, and repeat the broiling process until the skins begin to blister/char evenly on all sides.  
  • If using an open flame, grab a pair of tongs and your first pepper, then pass the pepper through (or as close to) the open flame as possible.  Turn the pepper and continue passing through the flame until it is evenly charred.  (Times will vary widely depending on the type of pepper and your heat source, so don't wander off!)
To Steam & Clean Peppers:
  • Immediately after charring the skins, place the peppers in a zippered storage bag along with a damp (not wet) paper towel or two.  Seal the bag tightly and allow to steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the peppers are cool enough to handle.
  • Remove the peppers from the storage bag and peel away and discard the charred skin.  Most of the skin should slip off fairly easily, but if it doesn't, don't fret, it will add additional flavor!
  • Once the skins are removed, pull the stems out of each pepper, then invert the pepper over a bowl and use your hand to squeeze out the bulk of the seeds and pulp.
  • Slit the peppers open with a knife and spread them out ribbed side up.  Using the backside of your knife, scrape out any remaining seeds, ribs, and/or membrane.
  • Use the peppers in your favorite recipe or store them for future use.* 
Mmm....tasty!



*I'd recommend freezing the peppers in a single layer on parchment paper, then placing in a zippered storage bag.  They'll keep for several months this way.  Or if you're into canning, use either regular olive oil or balsamic vinegar to cover them.  Keep in mind - the olive oil won't leave behind much added taste and can be (mostly) rinsed off, the balsamic vinegar will leave its mark though!

18 August 2011

Blood, Sweat, and Tiers

And, to be honest, there were some "tears" in there as well.  In fact, I imagine I made K feel pretty helpless when I started to cry on him sometime around night #5 of little to no sleep.  But, sometimes shedding a few tears makes everything better - it helped release some of the tension I had been carrying around and allowed me to "be calm and bake on."

So what exactly, cost me all this sleep and tears?  Well, I designed the largest wedding cake I've done to date last week, along with making entries for the local fair's cake contest and creating two birthday cakes.  Everything turned out well, despite all the other issues that seemed to crop up - the fair, broken cake layers, a cut finger, the list goes on...

But before we continue on, please Pardon the Interruption:  

I know you're waiting for pictures of all my creations, but before I share, I've got give out my thanks and appreciation to my supporters and help system from this week - K,  Hunny's, and, for the first time, my madre!  (I'm not sure what she thought of the whole process (she helped me deliver & set-up the wedding cake), but she seemed to enjoy it and even said it was "fun," so that must be a good sign!)  Thanks, as always, for everything.  My cake hobby has become less of a one woman show and more of a team effort these days, and I appreciate those of you who have been there for me!

Okay, I'm ready now.  Are you?  Then here we go!

Here's my entries for the local fair.  I had planned an additional show cake, but the design didn't work out to my expectations, so it didn't make an appearance.  I am happy to say that I won first place with the cupcake bouquet and grand champion with the cake, both in the professional division!

P8080879_cew

Who wouldn't love an edible bouquet of cupcake flowers?  They look pretty and you don't have to worry about the blooms fading...though they may not last as long as a traditional arrangement.  After all, wouldn't want to let delicious cupcakes go to waste! (The picture quality here is awful...it was quite late, so I had no natural light to work with!)

DSC03524_cropped_ew

This cake is a true show cake...not only did it win grand champion at this year's fair, it won a 2nd place ribbon at the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show last October.  I've kept it well sealed and protected until about a week ago (don't worry - the cake forms are Styrofoam), when I unwrapped it for entry in the fair.  It still qualified for entry since it was made after last year's fair, but prior to this year's.  I had been contemplating dis-assembling this cake and re-using the forms for another show piece, but since it has been so good to me and is my very first show cake, I've decided to keep it intact.  The only problem now is where to store or display it...

The birthday cakes are up next - both of these were fun to make.  I got to splatter "paint" one of them, and utilize my Silhouette cutter on the other.  Good times!

P8080867_cew

I used airbrush sheen to splatter this cake.  It made a mess, but the effect was well worth it!  The monogram is made from fondant and the cake is iced in cream cheese icing.  It served as a perfect reminder for why I don't offer cream cheese icing as a finishing option for most of my cakes - it gets too soft and doesn't hold well!

P8120892_cew

I hand cut the topper and the landmarks for this cake; the Silhouette got the job of cutting out the city names! I opted to use a different font for each city - the electronic cutter made quick work of the project, much quicker than I could have.  The designs continue around the cake and include, other than the ones visible in the photo, the Pyramids of Giza, Big Ben, and the Roman Colosseum, as well as the cities of London, Cairo, and Beijing.  Here's a closer look at the cuts made by the Silhouette:

P8120885_ew

I think I've improved since last time! Hehe!

And, here's the groom's cake for the wedding:

P8130895_cew

I used the Silhouette on this one, too.  Though just on the phrase, not on the rack and skull.  (Optical Illusion Bonus:  Do you see the skull as well as the deer?)  It was fun to see a little humor injected into the wedding celebration...and I got to try out my camouflage fondant technique!

Finally - here it is!  Six tiers of butter creamed, hand piped, fondant be-ribboned wedding cake!

P8130902_ew

To say I breathed a sigh of relief once this cake was constructed would be an understatement.  I fretted over this cake for weeks!  And it didn't help that I had to re-bake both the bottom tier and the 3rd tier because the original ones cracked and would have been structurally unstable.  It also didn't help that I cut my finger while leveling the cakes and was working with a bandaged hand while trying to hand pipe beautiful buttercream designs on each tier.  Or how about the fact that we had to search for a table sturdy enough to hold the weight of the cake once we arrived at the venue?  It was a bumpy road, but the cake was gorgeous when all was said and done.

The topper was made from artificial flowers and a crystal Monogram letter.  I, obviously, didn't make the flowers, but did make the arrangement from blooms provided by the bride.  The trailing pieces were a good choice...they helped tie the topper to the cake.  Some of the piping is a bit easier to see in the photo below.  There were 3 alternating designs; 2 tiers of each.

P8130904_cew

Purple seems to be a very popular color in weddings this season, at least in the ones I've been doing; some of you may recall I did this cake a couple weeks back.  I improved my fondant ribbon application technique from then to now.  While the ones on the previous cake didn't look awful, they were not nearly as smooth as I would have liked;  the ribbons on the cake above were much, much smoother.  Here's a shot of the completed cake table:

P8130907_cw

The piping is fairly visible in this picture, as well.  I'm afraid I don't have very many shots of this wedding cake...by the time we had located a stable table and finished construction, the wedding was near to beginning and my madre and I needed to exit the reception hall.  Just one of the drawbacks of having to finish a cake on-site!  At least I have a few shots of it...

See you soon!



16 August 2011

Lighten Up


On the garlic that is.

If you want just a hint of garlic rather than a strong flavor, try rubbing the bowl/dish/etc you're using in the recipe with a peeled garlic clove.  This will give you a slight background note of garlic and it works especially well for homemade sauces, vinaigrettes, and salad dressings!

Mmm....tasty!

11 August 2011

It Worked! It Really, Really Worked!

I finally managed to get a usable gumpaste/fondant cut from my Silhouette SD!  To say I was pleased would be an understatement...I might or might  not have danced a little jig around my kitchen; I might or might not have pumped my fist in the air while letting loose a whoop of joy...

That's not to say that all is perfect or that the fight is settled, there is still some tweaking to do in order to get the cleanest cuts possible; but I was pleased with my first usable result after hours and days of trying to crack the Silhouette's secret to cutting gumpaste and fondant.  When time permits I'm going to try more intricate designs, and maybe even give cutting icing sheets a whirl.

Here's the cake that received the trappings of my win in the Silhouette v. C fight, Round 73.

P8060842_cew

The cake is buttercream with exception of the facial details and bow.  They are done in either fondant or gumpaste.  And the inscription at the bottom?  That is what I cut with the Silhouette.  Here's a close up of some of the letters:

P8060845_cew

See what I mean about needing to do a little adjustment here and there?  There's a few rough edges where the cutter didn't make a clean cut...but hopefully a couple of minutes tinkering and that will be solved.  Even with the rough edges, using the Silhouette still yielded a prettier result, in this instance, than hand cutting would have, and in a much smaller time frame.  I think I'm going to like it...

The Mrs. Mouse cake also included matching cupcakes.  The bows were made using a mold, and the monograms were done with - you guessed it - the Silhouette cutter.

P8060859_ew

I also had one other cake order this past week, and decided to try my hand at making Gerbera daisies for the first time.  The end results were good, but not spectacular enough for my inner perfectionist, so I made some mental notes on what to change and try differently next time.

P8050830_ew

P8050824_ew

Speaking of doing things differently, keep an eye out for some changes to the blog in the coming weeks - I've got a few little projects in the works that I can't wait to share with you!  One of these projects is being handled by an amazingly talented artist that I know, so be sure to check back soon!


09 August 2011

How-To: Peel a Hard-Boiled Egg


Raise your hand if you've ever had trouble peeling a hard-boiled egg.  *Raising hand.*  Yep, I admit, I too have had this problem before.  And the solution?  A fairly simple one, though it involves more than just how you handle the eggs AFTER cooking.

Step 1:  Make sure the eggs you will be using are less than perfectly fresh.  By this, I mean that you want the eggs to be at least several days old...fresh eggs are nearly impossible to peel because very little air passes through the eggshell.

Step 2:  Bring your less than perfectly fresh eggs to room temperature or, if you're short on time, place them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.

Step 3:  Cook according to your preference/recipe.

Step 4:  When the timer dings, run cold tap water into the pot until the eggs are cool enough to handle.

Step 5:  Tap the ends of the egg on a hard surface, then roll the egg on the counter top to crack the rest of the shell.  Peel the cracked shell away from the egg under COLD running water.

Step 6:  Enjoy your handiwork!

04 August 2011

Oops! I Did It Again...

Perhaps some of you recall this post.

If so, you are probably already shaking your head in wonderment, amusement, or horror.  Maybe even thinking to yourself, "How could she possibly endure that a second time?"

Well, the good news is, I did and the results were amazing!  That's not say there weren't some bumps in the road (remember that new cake toy I've been referring to?), and that I (and K too) didn't lose lots and lots of sleep, but the end product was well worth it.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not in a hurry to do it again unless I've got an extra sous chef or two on hand, lots of extra space, and no other demands on my time, but its nice to know that I've got the chops to make it happen if I wanted.

As it stands, without the help of K and Hunny's I would have never gotten everything done in time.  You are all absolute lifesavers and your support and willingness to help me out means a great deal.  Thanks for everything!

So...care to see the cakes?

A Caddyshack inspired birthday cake:

P7290746_cew

The gopher is made from fondant pieces layered together.  I added a few hand painted details to liven it up a bit more.  Here's a closer look.  The gopher's expression never fails to make me giggle a bit...

P7290756_cew

This next cake was for the daughter of one of my best friends.  I just couldn't refuse the opportunity to make her birthday cake.  The birthday girl had very specific requests for the cake, including a rearing black horse and horseshoes and spurs around the bottom of the cake.  I added the pink boots (rather than the spurs) and edible glitter to give it some color and to match her sparkly attitude.

P7290768_cew

P7290771_cew
(Top View)
Here's the groom's cake for the first wedding of the weekend.  It is a German chocolate cake with homemade coconut pecan icing.  The deer "painting" is a gumpaste plaque painted with edible food color.  And, just for the record, German chocolate cakes are a bit of challenge to decorate - you still want to be able to see the lovely color of the frosting, but at the same time you don't want just a giant slab of brown.  This was a good compromise...

P7300783_cew

And here's the wedding cake!  It was a gorgeous five tier cake done in ivory buttercream with a Swiss dot pattern, purple fondant ribbons, and gumpaste hydrangeas.

P7300784_cew

I tried my hand at making gumpaste hydrangeas for this cake.  They were fairly easy to create, though I should have made nearly double what I did!  The hardest part was deciding how best to join the individual blooms to achieve the overall round appearance.

P7300786_cew

If you want to try your hand at making your own gumpaste hydrangeas, Jacqueline over at The Petalsweet Blog has a fabulous three part tutorial.  I highly recommend it!

The cakes for the second wedding of the weekend were great fun to create; they were a bit out of the ordinary, but were a perfect fit for the couple.  (Don't ask K's opinion on this (the fun part), we had a hiccup along the way, but I believe the cakes turned out better for it.)  

The groom's cake was K's favorite of the weekend...after all, who doesn't love the classic Nintendo game system?

P7300807_ew

It was done in fondant, with all of the pieces being hand cut.  The only buttercream on the cake was the writing on the controller and the cake's border.  The connection cable was a last minute addition, but it adds an extra dose of "realistic" to the cake.

And here's the wedding cake!  The phrase on the third tier reads "Love Is All You Need."  The cake was topped with a pair of gumpaste "love" birds atop a tree branch.  

P7300791_cew

The table setting and backdrop for this cake were an excellent complement.  They really helped the cake stand out amid the room's other decorations.

That's all the cakes, but here's a picture of my latest cake toy.  I am sad to say that as of this writing, I have yet to conquer and make it create anything usable for a cake.  The learning curve is steeper than I anticipated.  I will persevere until I figure it out though...I might even end up getting a new laptop out of the deal. He-he!

P7310813_ew

Whew! I am tired!  Kinda of long post today, huh?  Think I'll go take a nap...