I’m excited to tell ya’ll about this cake! It was for a bridal shower that took place in my second favorite town named after a much larger part of America: Dallas, Pennsylvania.

The bridal shower had a navy blue and white theme, as the groom-to-be is a member of the Naval Reserves. Additionally, the couple is getting married in Punta Cana (lucky)! I was told I could play off of one or both of those themes. Ideally, I’d have liked to combine the the two, but to me there’s just something unnatural about icing in dark colors. I used Punta Cana as inspiration and made these pretty tropical flowers out of gum paste!

Now we all know I’m not the best baker. Gram and I woke up bright and early to make this double-layer marble half sheet cake. The pressure was really on for this one, so we made sure there were no distractions. Three parts cake, one part marbles. JK. The sheet cakes turned out beautifully. They were SO moist, we were really impressed with ourselves. We high-fived, fist-bumped and so-on.

The only problem was that there was not as much chocolate marbling as I would have liked. We poured the chocolate batter over the vanilla in a ribbon and pulled a knife through to marble the two. The problem was, the chocolate didn’t get deep enough into the vanilla. When I leveled the cakes I cut most of it off! If anyone has a better way of going about marbling, please share.

It was pretty stressful getting this cake ready and out the door on time. If you haven’t guessed, I’m kind of a hot head (it’s not my fault – blame my Italian heritage). It’s a 24/7 family party at my grandparents’ house where the decorating usually takes place, so there are always so many people around. It’s great and I love everyone but sometimes I just want them to mosey their ways out of my face. Everyone is like, “oh, just do it a little bit like this, maybe a little bit like that would work,” but I promise: icing is way more difficult than it looks. There were some words exchanged but I apologized 🙂

Of course the cake was too tall to fit in its box and it started torrentially downpouring fifteen minutes before I had to leave but I made it into the car. I sat in the back with the cake while my mom drove (cowgirl-style) to the restaurant where the shower was being held. This cake was HEAVY. I was in such a hurry that I didn’t have time to change or put makeup on or fix my hair. I showed up in black cotton shorts (untoned, pasty legs for all to see) and my Scranton t-shirt (I swear I have other clothes) and some guests had already arrived. I was so embarassed, but the cake made it, it looked beautiful, and I’m pretty sure it was the most delicious thing I’d ever baked.

Let’s hope I have another happy ending on Saturday – I’m making a nautical graduation cake for my dear friend Theresa (hey grl).
Happy piping.

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Hi, everybody. I’m a little late, but I hope your Memorial Day weekends were as refreshing and sun(burn)-filled as mine was. Surprise surprise, there were cakes for the occasion. Duane’s mom is a peach and did the baking for me so I was able to do some stress/flop-free decorating!

Now, I know Memorial Day is all about remembering our military service members who have passed away. Respect. I didn’t want to bring the party down though, so I chose AMERICA as the theme for these cakes. I have some beef with America at the moment but I was able to put it aside.

This square cake was a vanilla recipe with sour cream covered with buttercream and fondant. It was to-die-for. (The Apple Pie is irrelevant.)

This round cake was chocolate mocha, again, covered with buttercream and fondant (I need to start being a little more clever with my fillings and icings). Also absolutely delicious.

The cakes seemed to be a hit at the Memorial Day BBQ I brought them to. I think people were a little confused about what to do with the fondant, but it sure looked pretty. 🙂

I did a tropical-themed bridal shower cake this weekend so stay tuned!

Flag Image Via http://cdn2.ioffer.com/img/item/620/783/26/Z9lVsktA0s9fwkB.jpg

I thought my blog and cake decorating alike were a lost cause for a while. Although icing blunders and baking disasters make some pretty funny blogging material, it gets a little discouraging. My last cake (the ugly two-tiered green thing) took a lot out of me. It’s frustrating to put so much time, effort and money into something just to have it fail spectacularly time and time again. And I mean, let’s be honest – I like to be good at things. It was only a matter of time before I said “Sucking at this isn’t fun, I quit.” After a little “time out” I tried to bounce back in order to complete my Wilton Course 3 finale, a fondant-covered two-tier cake.

Finally! Something that looks pretty! I really wanted to take step-by-step photos of this, but like I said, I thought the blog was a lost cause for a minute. Plus trying to operate a digital camera while your hands are completely covered in shortening is both challenging and damaging. This was my very first fondant experience. Covering the cakes was easier than I thought. I love how it leaves a clean, smooth surface for decorating. People complain about the taste, but you don’t have to eat it. You can eat INSIDE it. Like it’s a shell. Lots of delicious foods have shells.

But see, don’t be fooled. Since nothing can TOTALLY go as planned (if you haven’t noticed), the bottom tier didn’t cook in the center. When I sliced the cake in half in order to fill it, the center was every so slightly a soupy glob of raw batterness just waiting to give some unfortunate eater a stomach ache. I figured out that the culprit is my three inch pan, which is deeper than normal. It needs a heating core….food science, blah blah blah. Anyway, the top tier was edible.

The roses weren’t difficult, but pretty painstaking and time consuming. I’ll do a step-by-step post later (now that I’m recommitted and all). The dots and shells are buttercream.

I like cake again. Going to pick the buttercream out from underneath my fingernails and brush my teeth since they have a sugar-coating. Bye ya’ll.

Duane’s mom asked me to make a cake for the teachers at her school. I was excited to make something pretty that might get me a job or two. I thought it’d be a good time to try making a tiered cake for the first time (if you haven’t noticed, I have an unfortunate habit of biting off more than I can chew).  I also thought it’d be some good scratch baking practice, which I now know that I hate and will never do again.

I like a good pastry, but I mostly eat with my eyes. That’s probably not the case for most people so I carefully chose this white chocolate pound cake recipe hoping it would be a hit. The recipe actually started with a box cake, which was modified with some extra butter, eggs, vanilla and melted white chocolate. The batter was insanely delicious (In fact, I still have a spatula-licking stomach ache). I felt really good!

Fail.  Make that triple fail. Despite following the directions, my pride was pummeled three times. The first cake actually overflowed into the oven BEFORE flopping (sorry Gram – I didn’t have the heart to tell you in person, but don’t worry, I thoroughly cleaned the Viking). The sweet, savory cake aroma in the kitchen suddenly started to resemble roasted marshmallows…then burnt marshmallows, you know, the charred-black kinds. I opened the oven to find  the cake looking like swamp-thing over the sides of the pan and a huge burning puddle of slop on the bottom of my grandmother’s oven. The second cake came out looking like a bellybutton. Unlike my bellybutton, it actually tasted pretty good. The third cake flopped and burned. I can’t even explain to you how awful this feeling was. It was sort of like how frustrated I’d get as a kid because I sucked at sports.

Ok. It was time to change recipes.

I switched to this surprisingly simple yellow cake recipe. It not only worked, but tasted really awesome! (When I level my cakes I get to sample the tops – don’t worry, I never take a bite out of the finished product.) Unfortunately it was pretty late by this point and I was wearing thin, but I was so excited to FINALLY have something to work with that I pushed forward into the wee hours, icing, stacking and decorating my cake. Even though I was glad to finally be decorating, the day had totally taken a toll on me.  I definitely did not my produce my best work. I got as far as icing and piping some scrolls before I went to bed at 2:30 am. I  finished covering up my ERRORS with royal icing flowers when I woke up that morning. (P.S. the filling was caramel buttercream)

I’m actually censoring out a touch of hysteria and a really messy kitchen. The whole thing was really intense and I wish I could do it over again. My mom kept telling me it was fine…but it was in the same tone she used to use while telling me I was good at t-ball and in dance class. Lies, lies, lies.

I learned a few lessons though, as usual. The first is that I TOTALLY HATE BAKING. However, I am willing to suffer though it as a means to get to the decorating. The second is to bake in advance! I’d be 20 times better at decorating if it didn’t have to take place immediately after being beaten up by cake batter!  The third lesson is about aesthetics. This cake looks like 10lbs of shit in a 5lb bag because I kept having to cover up my mistakes. Which…I’m convinced wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the flopping, but I’m trying to block that part out. Oh, and I guess the fourth lesson should be to quit biting off more than I can chew. But I can’t help it, I love a challenge…even if it lands me face down on the cold kitchen tile floor trying to control my breathing and prevent the tears from coming (true story).

Well, another one bites the dust, folks. Hopefully my Wilton Course 3 first fondant cake will turn out better on Wednesday! Happy piping.

Images via fotolog and wpclipart.

Real life has been almost too busy for cake lately (and I’m not happy about it)! I didn’t really get to update this week but don’t worry – there’s lots going on this weekend. I’m making a Mother’s Day  cake for my BFF Mom, and a MATH cake for Duane’s Mom’s AP Calculus class (she’s a teacher)!  I’m very excited to make the cake, but math is NOT my favorite – I actually had to google calculus because I totally blocked it out of my memory. Anyway, it’ll be cool.

In the mean time, I’ve come up with a list of ten things you can expect if you decide to take up cake decorating (in no particular order).

  1. There will be powdered sugar and shortening covering every horizontal surface of your kitchen. There is no way around it.
  2. Unless you have a freakish amount of tupperware, you’ll probably have to buy more in order to corral the insane amount of icing that seems to multiply like rabbits.
  3. The Michael’s 40% Off coupons in the paper every Sunday will be 40% more exciting.
  4. You’ll start critiquing the cakes in the bakery aisle at the grocery store (and realize that if all else fails, you can maybe get a job there).
  5. You’ll develop a whole new level of respect for the pastry chefs who compete on Food Network Challenge (even if they DO use Rice Krispy Treats).
  6. You’ll start scraping for occasions to make cake that wouldn’t normally be relevant. For example, Groundhog’s Day cake, Justin Bieber’s Half Birthday cake, Kate Gosselin Finally Got Thrown off of Dancing With The Stars cake, and so on.
  7. You’ll secretly feel cool about knowing all of this new cake lingo, i.e. “Look at those leaves, she definitely used a veining tool. Also, those drop strings are exquisite. What’s that, a tip 1? Crazy.”
  8. You might find yourself saying, “Oh, I don’t have a dry scalp, that’s just powdered sugar.”
  9. You’ll feel compelled to write a letter to Crisco requesting that they kindly put the trans fat back in their product.
  10. Your grocery list won’t change TOO much…except for the added 10lbs of 10x sugar per week.

Okay, see you post-weekend-cakes. (P.S. I asked my little sister Liz if she’d mind helping me with my cakes this weekend. I was expecting her to be more excited until she finally confessed, “Okay, but you can’t FREAK OUT this time. You get all stressed and stuff.” Oops! Maybe she should spill two entire bottles of red food coloring and scrape icing at 2am, then see how she feels…)

Random Google Images via Web Design, Snazzy Space, Gossip Boulevard, Lake Powell Realty, First Person Singular, My2 Tupperware, etc. etc. etc.

A few weeks ago I got a text message from my former high-school-art-room-desk-companion Marietta: “How do your gum paste figures ship?” I had no idea, but I was curious, so I agreed to make her some and ship them out for her boyfriend Chris’s birthday. The subject was unknown at first. Finally she said, “I’m thinking Mini Coopers.” Challenge.

I committed, and spent three or four evenings lovingly crafting the little Euro gems. Here’s how it went.
I started by dying three balls of gum paste about 1-1/2″ in diameter: red, blue and black. Most things made from gum paste seem to start out as balls. I can’t really afford gum paste tools yet so I had to use my fingers and a lone wooden stick…
After I got the body shapes done, I had to decide how to deal with the black tops. Google told me I could use food gel color and water as paint, so that’s what I did. It was very effective, except the gel paint dried sticky, which was a concern, particularly with packaging and shipping.
I cut the wheels using the top of a lead pencil with the eraser removed (like I said, too poor for proper tools). I later painted rims (sorry, no spinners) and other moto-details with silver luster dust and water.
Not only did Marietta want tiny European cars – she wanted British flags on top of them. Although the flag-tops seem to have a white background, I used blue gum paste so the remaining components could be made with straight lines. I cut little strips of white, glued them on the blue with meringue powder and water, and then painted red on top.

Vroom vroom, ya’ll. Here are the completed Minis that turned out just slightly larger than a quarter. I wrapped these badboys in plastic wrap, then bubble wrap, and put them in a box signed The Sweetest Tooth. They arrived in State College in one piece (and don’t worry Pop, I shipped them UPS)!

Exciting things to come: I’m enrolled in TWO Wilton classes for this month – Course 3 AND Fondant & Gum Paste. Good stuff, stay tuned!

Congratulations to me: I have graduated from Wilton Course 2 and have a very prestigious certificate to show for it.

I made my final cake on Wednesday night, which had to be modeled from the Course 2 book in order to showcase the new skills learned in the course: royal icing flower-making, color flow decorations and the basketweave technique. I made the flowers and birds throughout the duration of the course and saved them since royal icing decorations last indefinitely.

Although the style of the cake totally wasn’t my taste, I was kind of proud of how it turned out! My immediate thought upon completion was, “Wow, I’ll actually have some EYE CANDY to post on the blog, what a nice change from my usual disasters…”

That was before I hit a giant pot hole on my way home from class.

Close but no cigar. I can add another cake wreck to my roster.

Fortunately I was able to disguise the damage in a few photos. But I know what you REALLY want to see: here’s an adorable shot of where the cake rammed into the carrier!

Better luck next time.