Thursday, January 31, 2008


Now that I've caught this thing up with all of what I have done, I can post at a more realistic pace - more details on the trial and error, less lengthly babbly posts where I try to explain too much.

Grandma's birthday is coming up. 80, and she's throwing a big 'ol bash for the occasion. I believe the expected count is around 30. And I've thrown my hat in to make a cake - this makes me very nervous, and I haven't *officially* said I'd do it yet, since so many people will be there, and I want to be happy with what I end up brining. So.. I'm practicing the grand idea I've come up with.

Oh, by the way - if your name is "Grandma" and you happen to be my Grandma - and you want the final cake to be a surprise, you should stop visiting this blog until your birthday!
Otherwise, read on!

A humming bird visiting a flower - or flowers, on top of a large cake.
Here I shall include an artist's rendition, care of MS Paint.

Quite fabulous, don't you think? Yes, I have mad skills.

How to do this, you may ask? Ah, well first, to start with the bird! I baked a duck shaped pound cake* last night (2 batches = one duck), and then proceeded to chop it up and reassemble it to vaguely look like a hummingbird.

I am quite pleased with the results.

I then spent some painful** tv-watching time cutting and bending coat hangers and mesh baskets from the dollar store to produce a frame*** for the wings. I plan on this being the support for the fondant - as there's no way it can support itself in such a large format without help.

Now to make a frame for the tail, and figure out some support for the head (it fell off after sitting upright for a little while. oops!)

*Sour Cream Pound Cake - The New Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
1/2 c. dairy sour cream (i used plain yogurt)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

  • Allow butter, eggs and sour cream to stand at room temp for 30 min. Grease and flour cake pan (makes standard loaf pan). Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder. Set aside.

  • In mixing bowl beat butter high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar - beat for 10 mins or until quite fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Alternatly add flour and sour cream beating until just combined.

  • Pour into pan. bake at 325 for about an hour.

**No, really, painful. I have little cuts all over my hands :(
***"But they aren't allowed to do such things in the cake contests! A non-edible frame is cheating!" you say? Yeah, well get over it. It'll be totally sweetawesome when I'm done with it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I went to Costco today - hoping for marshmallows, powdered sugar, and pound cake mix. I guess I was delusional in thinking I'd find any of those.. I didn't. So I ended up at Smart & Final. I came home with 8 lbs of powdered sugar, and 4 lbs of marshmallows (that's 4 batches of fondant, folks).

I have another cake on the horizon, and some big BIG ideas... a hint 'till next time - I'm baking a pound cake in the duck pan tonight for some.. modification...hrm. I also bought three tall straight clear glass cups, and three wire mesh baskets. I have plans. Oh yes...*cue fog machine and crazy music*

Quilt Cake

My most recent cake was the finalized version of the quilt. I don't have as much photo documentation of that process - as I only just decided to start this blog. Oh well.

Anyway. Party for my Mom was on Saturday.


I made two batches of M.M. fondant (I only used the prescribed 1/2 Crisco per batch this time - stickier in the initial kneading, but the overall texture in the end was soo much better and easier to work with).

I also made 1 1/2 batches of this fantastic (I do mean fantastic) White Chocolate Butter Cream frosting. I used Ghiridelli white baking chocolate, and I really think that added to the richness.

In both of these frosting recipes, I added some almond extract - because the final cake would be chocolate cherry - I figured the almond would add a nice hint of cherry flavour.


I baked the Dark Chocolate Cake in heart shaped silicon pans. I was worried they'd warp, but they didn't - my worst problem was that the cake stuck in the end - even though the pans were silicon and sprayed with Pam. Dangit.

I also started to play with the fondant colours, practicing marbling and texturing techniques and such. To help me, my friends Chris and Brandy came over to play, and learn what this cake decorating was all about we had fun.

After leveling the chocolate cake, I had some leftover pieces, and so, we made a cake with our play fondant.


I spent the first few hours kneading colours and trying as hard as i could to match the colours from the original quilt. This took a really really long time - so many different colours - and not to mention my daughter at my feet and, you know, needing me to interact with her every once in a while :)

After the fabrics were made it was just a matter of cutting and assembling again - this time though, I had a square fondant cutter, thank god. So my shapes weren't wonky, and everything was much more uniform. That, and cutting took so much less time...

Assembling the pieces was a far more tedious job this time, however. I decided that I would lay out a large piece of fondant, rolled as thin as usable - and then lay each piece on it, after wetting the bottom and edges slightly, so that it would stick. So each piece had to be layed out precisely - since once a wet piece of fondant touched other fondant, it usually stuck pretty good and would make a big 'ol mess to repair.

Many hours later.. all of this was done. So I layered the cake with frosting and cherry pie filling - and then lightly frosted it all over. I painstakingly picked up my quilt and layed it down on top of the cake. After that it was all a matter of forming, prodding, and pinching the fondant to fit the cake. Sadly, I again over-judged how much butter cream to use - so there was some oozing - not only that, but the cherry filling caused some havoc as it squished it's way out in some places.

After I was happy with the lay of the fondant, I pulled out my little texture wheel thing and quilted the cake!

To my delight, my mom recognized it immediately as her quilt.

Test Fondant - A Quilt

So, my mother's birthday was coming up, and my husband unwittingly made the absurd suggestion that I create a quilt cake. I didn't think it was a joke, however, I loved the idea! So, I had to find out if it was something I'd be able to pull off.

My mom has has had one of her quilt designs published, it's called Asilomar Sunset - so I thought this would be the perfect design to use for her quilt.

Lucky for me, the book layed out all the instructions - piece sizes, number of fabrics... I figured the best way to go about this would be to make a single fondant fabric for each fabric in the design. This turned out to be 11 different designs. (Erk!)

I marbled, I kneaded, I squished and rolled out fondant for a good few hours, and in the end had 11 different rolled out pieces of fondant. Two of the fabrics in the quilt were florals - so I pulled out a paint brush and dye and painted right on the fondant!

After the fabric was complete - then came the cutting and piecing. This took far less time than I thought it would, however I only had a straight edge and a knife, so many pieces were not quite the right sizes to fit.

After laying all these pieces out on wax paper, I realized I would need some way to place it all on the cake - so I rolled out a large piece of leftover fondant, layed it on top of the pieces, and rolled it all together, to stick the pieces to the fondant.

Not the best idea. in the end the pieces became misshapen and the yellow fondant backing mooshed out between the pieces. It worked, but it was ugly.

Anyway.. in the end I knew that although the technique would need some adjustment - the idea was plausible.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Second Cake - Happy Birthday Des!

Somehow, the second time I did this cake, so many lessons had been learned that I pulled off something that impressed even me.

I'll take you through the process..

The birthday party was on Saturday.
I made a batch of Marshmallow Fondant, and a batch of butter creme frosting.
I baked the duck with pound cake - and a sheet cake with a white cake mix. I also started to play with the fondant, making a water lily and some lily pads. I coloured the fondant by kneading in gel food colours (available at your local Upermarket - it adds less moisture than traditional food colouring). While the lily pads were freehand, the flour was reliant on some great fondant cutters.

The white powder you see all over is corn starch to assist in the stickiness of the fondant (I found in later attempts that this was due to way too much Crisco). I stored these in the fridge after completion.


I started the major assembling....

First, I frosted the duck (made the day before so that it would be cooled entirely to room temperature) with a layer of butter creme frosting. This is to help the fondant stick to the cake. They say you should frost and let it sit for a while before laying the fondant to help with he sticking.. so I then coloured the fondant by kneading in some yellow food colouring. And then rolled it out to a massive sheet. Lifting the fondant sheet was not easy, even if i rolled it back on itself - it had a tendency to crack (the recipe on the baking 101 site says cracking means it needs more moisture - I added more Crisco.. this ended up being part of my problem, I used *way too much* Crisco, so the integrity of the fondant was lessened, it was too soft) - anyway. where was I? I placed the fondant over the duck and started to push, prod and mold it into shape. After much work, I got to a point where I was happy with it. I then molded and attached wings and feathers (again, the leaf fondant cutters, perfect shape!). Fondant is cool in that if you need it to stick to itself, just wet it!

Now for finishing touches - some sprayed on colour accents, thanks to my husband, and some black eyes, and we have a duck!
Now for the sheet cake - very carefully, I leveled the top with a serrated knife. I then cut it in half, for filling. On each inside of the halves I spread a very thin layer of butter cream - this was so that the filling wouldn't seep into the cake and make it all mushy. I then spread blueberry pie filling onto one side, and put the other side back on top.

Next came frosting - but first, you'll notice round rise in the cake - that is a plastic cake board, to support the duck later. I used a white store bought Betty Crocker frosting that I had dyed a bright blue. Then, I started placing green fondant cut-outs of - yes, the leaves again all around the edge.

Finishing up - add the flour and lily pad.. some spray colour accents...
Place the bird over the cake board anddd....


First Cake - the Lumpy Duck

My mommy said that my last cake was the kind of thing you needed a blog for. So - hey.. here is a blog.
I recently started to play with cake decoration - and since starting, have been totally hooked. It's only been 3 months now, but I've spent so much time and money already... Anyway.. the next few posts will be about cakes I've done already, and how. Just to catch things up.. and then I'll use this place to muse, post projects etc etc....

This is the first "creative" cake I have ever made. It was a test cake for my daughter's first birthday - to see if I could do such a thing as make a fancy pants cake like those on Ace of Cakes.

As you can see, the results were.. questionable.

This was the first cake made in the duck mold (one big mold you fill half full and cook) I used a carrot cake mix, and it did not at all finish cooking in the middle.

The next time, I baked the duck with a pound cake mix - much more sturdy, and it cooked much better. However, much of my problems ended up being with me learning how to work with and make the marshmallow fondant recipe that I had found online (fabulous site, learned a lot here). I used *way* too much Crisco, and it was slippery and shiny - also the fondant cracked like crazy when I placed it on the cake - so i smoothed it out with a wet finger, and that made the texture really slick.

For some reason, I thought that the aerosol food colouring (Micheal's and my local Upermarket carry this) would soften the shine - sadly, it just made things far, far worse.

I took this cake to work to be consumed. It was a very tasty pound cake.

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