Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cakes for Well Dressed Royalty

Cat and Perry had a joint birthday celebration this year. This never happens. Their birthdays are a day apart from each other, February 18 & 19, and they always celebrate separately (because who wants to share their special day?). This year, they brought all their mutual friends together for a royal afternoon brunch at Hs Lordship in Berkeley. It was a lot of fun, and they should do it more often!

The dress code was blazers or suspenders with a touch of gold. So I set out to design cakes around that dress code.

[I didn't take very many pictures, because most of what I was working on was time sensitive and hands on. I didn't have time to stop to take pictures or want to risk getting my hands dirty.]

My original plan was to make a ganache with candy melts.  I didn't have much of a color selection when it came to them. I should stop thinking things will work when I haven't actually tested it first myself. To make ganache, all you do is add heated heavy cream to chocolate. Regular milk chocolate works the best when making ganache, everything else does not. I got some goopy mess when I tried making it with these candy melts. My guess is: too much butter fat mixed with more butter fat equals goopy mess. I really wanted the ganache idea to work, because it has the cleanest look. Fondant could have also been used, but, in my opinion, it doesn't taste very good and no one really eats it.

I ended up having to just melt and pour the candy melts over the cakes.

My newest tool: Duff Goldman (from Charm City Cakes) approved gum paste/pastillage.  If you've ever seen flowers or other cool decorations on cakes, this is the stuff the decorators use to make them. Gum paste is completely edible, and is used and sets like clay. What makes gum paste harden is the egg whites or meringue powder used to make it. I didn't want to risk making my own, so I picked up this ready made gum paste to make the details of the cakes.

I quickly molded my pieces, and painted them with gold luster dust when they dried a few hours later.

Perry's was a brownie and Cat's was a vanilla cake. Both were made from mixes. I was so hyper afterwards. Frosting, candy melts, sugar... kept getting everywhere and I kept tasting it and it was nearly 2am and everyone was sleeping.. I ran around dancing downstairs for awhile to expend the energy.

At Hs Lordship the next morning (February 25th).

So this is what it feels like to be in the presence of royalty ;)

Photos from Nikki's

and Tracy's iPhones.

Happy birthday, Cat and Perry!

More pictures from my camera.

Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

T3! Minus Nancy & Zoe.

Tracy had an injured arm that Alane kept unintentionally hitting.


lol, Lan.

"Donald Trump wants his blue blazer black."

"Why would he want his blue blazer black?"

Perry would be the only one to fully follow his own dress code.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roses for my Valentines

Kevin had the idea to make roses for Liz. As I helped him, I made a few for my friends. Using references from different blogs, I came up with some random petal templates. The inner pieces are small and they get bigger as you move away from the inner bud.

I probably shouldn't have used white as the example flower, but it was the one I was working on during the day when the lighting is a bit better. Above are the sets of petals just after cutting them, and below are the sets of petals after I curled them with the skewer.

First layer: the bud. Each layer was wrapped around the skewer with tape.

Second layer.

Third layer.

Fourth layer.

Fifth layer.

The stems were wrapped with floral tape.

I also cut the ends an angle as you would with a real flower. With real flowers, the angle gives the stem more surface area for water transport. Capillary action! Right?

Here are some of the roses I made for my friends.

My personal favorites were the yellow ones.

Though the red ones looked pretty real.

I like flowers. And yes, that is a spool of thread.

The red roses were mailed across the country to Shaina and Naomi in West Virginia and New York.

The white roses didn't go quite as far. They were personally delivered to Flora and Cat.

The yellow roses, addressed from President Snow (The Hunger Games reference), were also personally delivered to Nikki and Alane right here in Pinole.

kidrobot tissue paper for Jackie's rose.

I felt like a florist these past two weeks. I wish I had a picture of all my roses together, but they were all made and delivered at different times. It would have been a colorful bunch!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

24 Carrot

I've always wanted to do something gold for Cat's birthdays. Well, this was the perfect year to do it! I haven't been making as many cakes lately, but I always set aside time for Cat. Her birthdays always gives me a chance to try new things.

This year (today, actually), Cat turns 24! As I've mentioned before, I knew the cake I'd make her this year would involve gold. And as I thought more about her cake, it hit me that her cake theme should be "24 karat gold." How perfect, right? A few days before her birthday, I mailed her a Valentine's card, and included this clue.

Twentyfour carrots. I was hoping the carrots would throw her off and make her think I was going to make a carrot cake even though I know she doesn't like it. When I saw her yesterday, she told me that she did think I was going to make a carrot cake, because her mom thought of it first. It wasn't until a few days later, as she was telling her cousin about the clue, that it made sense.

My plans for the cake. I was suppose to make a filigree pattern to wrap around the cake, but the more I worked on it, the more it didn't work.

To get the filigree pattern round, I had to find something that would be the same circumference as the cake. I got lucky that our rice cooker pot matched. 

It wasn't tall enough to hold my pattern, so I added paper to add height.

I added wax paper, and piped the royal icing on. Keep in mind that this was my original plan.

My crazy work space.

Did I mention that I was making tiramisu? The past few birthdays I had made red velvet cake for her, but I think she's had enough of it. Time for something new!

Gold luster dust.

Tested it dry on royal icing dots.

Not as vibrant as I needed it to be. To make it more paint-like, I needed to add a clear alcohol. Vodka is usually the alcohol of choice, because it's clear and dries fast, but I don't have anymore (lots of long, hard nights. Kidding. Maybe ;) ) So what I usually use instead is vanilla extract which contains 35% alcohol. My dad got this from a friend who goes to Madagascar often. Here I am thinking that it's exotic, until I see that the company is in Richmond. What the.

A little luster dust and a drop of vanilla extract. I forgot to take a picture of it when it was more liquid-y.

Though it seemed like it would work in my mind, I had never used royal icing. In my mind, royal icing was suppose to harden like candy, and it may have if I gave it more than 7 hours overnight to dry. However, when I got back to it the next morning, it crumbled as I removed the wax paper.

Not to worry, I always have a backup plan. I changed the design a bit. I scrapped the royal icing, and grabbed something I knew would hold better, white chocolate. Instead of making the filigree pattern in two round pieces, I separated them into twelve flat pieces.

Before attaching them, I dusted the top of the cake with cocoa powder.

Hand piped the message.

And arranged the message on top of the cake.

Again, something went wrong. The gold didn't paint as well on the white chocolate. My guess is that the white chocolate has oil/butter fat and royal icing didn't, so the paint didn't hold as well on the waxy-like surface. With some persistence, I did manage to get a few to work. I split those few in half, since I also overestimated the height of my cake, and decorated the cake with them.

My simplified design.

Next few pictures are from Cat's phone.