Monday, December 30, 2013

70th Birthday

Last week our church choir director celebrated his 70th birthday.  He's a lover of yellow cake and strawberries, so I made him a 12" vanilla cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberry filling and iced with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles.  Many Years to Him!

Chem 110

In the midst of my midlife career change, I'm taking nurse's chemistry at the local college.  After quite an exciting first semester back at school, we gals needed a little sugary celebration.  So this was my contribution to the party.  The frostings are a variety of flavors, topped with chocolate wafer cookies and handy chemistry compounds.  Who doesn't love a little ethyl or methyl cuppie after a hard final exams week!

Fall Birthdays

Well, here we are.  Another Fall birthday season at my house.  For son #1, we celebrated his 9th birthday with a Minecraft party topped off with a minecraft cake straight from the game!  I made marshmallow fondant and topped the cake the best I could to resemble the cake found in the gaming realm.  The red squares (I think) represent strawberries, and we decided to ice the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream.  Oh what fun!

Later the next month, son #2 celebrated his 7th birthday with my tried and true Lego cake.  Here we made a chocolate cake, iced it with chocolate buttercream, and topped it with candy legos fashioned from melted and tinted white chocolate candy melts in our handy dandy silicon lego ice cube tray.  This cake, as with all things Lego, was a hit.

40 years

Our church, Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, celebrated our priest's forty years of service with a little celebration at the beginning of October.  This cake, commemorating the event, was designed for both Fr. John Takahashi and his wife, who together have dedicated the majority of their lives to serving the church.  One cake was chocolate and the other vanilla, both filled with strawberries and cream.  It was iced with vanilla buttercream and topped with fresh flowers and a marshmallow fondant "40" dusted with gold lusterdust.

Cake: 6/10" squares


We had a lovely double celebration for two wonderful priests at our parish back in August (yea, I'm a bit behind in posting!), and here are their cakes.  One priest loves chocolate and the other vanilla, so it was a perfect opposite cake match!  Both cakes were filled with strawberries and cream and iced with either fudge or vanilla buttercream.  Yum!

10" square chocolate and vanilla cakes with fresh fruit.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Le Petit Buttercream 2

Ah, yet another lovely wedding this summer, and yet another sweet sweet couple! We decided to make
this cake similar to the cake I made a few weeks ago with the "striped" buttercream.  Boy do I love this look!  This bride had more bold colors in her wedding party- hence the oranges and purples in her flowers.  I really do love how this came out!

cake: 6"/10" chocolate cake with whipped nutella cream filling iced with vanilla buttercream
not pictured: 2 more sheet cakes of the same yummy goodness

Photo credit: Alex Akamine

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Le Petit Buttercream

My sister-in-law married a really great guy last weekend.  I've been really looking forward to this wedding for many reasons- great couple, great location, great colors and flowers, great caterer, and lots of my baking!  The bride wanted a small and simple buttercream wedding cake- primarily for the cutting.  The bulk of the dessert was to be cheesecake, which I was to make, as well, to compliment the BBQ dinner served by their fantastic caterer.  So I made six cheesecakes- two chocolate, two vanilla, and two lemon with blueberry sauce. The beauty of cheesecake is that it tastes better the second and third day.  So I was able to make those ahead of time and then devote my entire Saturday to the wedding cake.

Despite our awful heat wave (and my house with no a/c), her cake was one of those cakes where everything just seemed to go right. Cakes baked up nicely, torted and set well in fridge, frosting consistency was really nice, etc.  After I frosted the tiers, I rested my spatula on the sides and spun my turntable to get the striped texture look, and it worked on the first try!  We put some pretty fresh flowers on and voila! All done!

cake: 6"/10" (top) carrot cake with cream cheese buttercream filling, and (bottom tier) chocolate with chocolate cream cheese filling, both iced with vanilla buttercream and adorned with fresh flowers.

She sells seashells..

A really sweet couple I know was married in June in San Francisco.  Their wedding's theme was a sort of seashell, nautical type of decor and the bride asked for a simple cake with seashells (she was making the cake-topper).  She also really like a batch of Italian buttercream I had whipped up, so we decided to use it for the cake!

Making Italian Buttercream is a rather fun adventure.  This is the frosting that requires you to boil sugar and water and add it to egg whites in your mixer.. all while beating the heck out of it while it cools.  I found the challenge rather fun and watched as the frosting went from a curdled looking mess to a very delicate and not-too-sweet, spreadable icing.  

Since this was my first time using this frosting on any cake order- let alone a wedding cake!  I learned lots of little lessons and would, of course, do things better next time.  But the cake had a little whimsy feel, and I thought it came out pretty good for a first run.  

I decorated the cake here and there with white chocolate shells (to match the bride's tiara) and marshmallow fondant pearls I painted with luster dust.  We also had a bunch of matching cupcakes that turned out gorgeous, but, alas, I forgot to take a picture of them!  Maybe one will turn up in the next few weeks. :)

cake: 8"/12" chocolate cake with layers of fudge and whipped cream filling with fresh strawberries inside. Iced with vanilla italian buttercream.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

April Showers

April showers bring wedding flowers!  This past weekend was my dear sister-in-law's wedding shower.  And what better way to celebrate than with cake! (and a lovely party).  This cake is an 8" carrot with cream cheese frosting adorned with fresh spring flowers.

You know, like many other bakers and decorators out there, cream cheese frosting has been a bit of a thorn in my foot.  I love its taste, but it often turns out too creamy to actually hold piping.  So over the years I've had good luck and bad, but I think I finially figured out how to get it right almost every time.  Rather than adding the cream cheese during the butter phase of traditional buttercream, I go ahead and make a normal batch of vanilla (maybe a tad stiffer than normal), then I add diced room temp cream cheese at the end.. not too much, but enough to give it a twang of yumminess. I've done this a few times, and what I get is a nice, spreadable frosting that holds piping just great! Yay!  Try it, it works!

Oh, and I made some wedding cake cookie favors for our guests.  Good old sugar cookies with marshmallow fondant and royal icing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Springing forward

Ah, March, the time of year where one week is chilly and the next feels like summer... and what better way to navigate this flurry of meteorological indecisiveness than with some cake!  This past weekend yielded 2 little projects.  One was a classic chocolate/chocolate cake with a painted fondant "31," and the other a mass of cupcakes for a double baby shower.

The chocolate cake speaks for itself, but the baby shower cupcakes deserve a line or six about the decoration.  I've seen lots of cakes with mini-bunting decorations all over Pinterest. Most are made from paper or fabric resembling shabby chic or indy or whatever.
For this order, I picked up some flowered and blue paper, some blue and some pink ribbon and a pack of sticky letters from Michaels.  I used some circle cutters I had on hand (a plain circle and a slightly larger scalloped edge) and sewed them onto some ribbon I tied to a few lollipop sticks.  I have to say, I rather like how these turned out!  Sometimes it's hard with cupcakes to sort of convey that party message, and this just may be the way to go!  Next, I'll have to try a much smaller version on a cake - maybe using skewers and twine... :) We'll see!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Birthdays and Baptism

Well, I've fallen a bit behind in my cake postings, so I though I'd lump my last few cakes into one update!  My little one turned two back in January.  I can't believe two years have gone by!  She was really into Caillou and Pooh at the time.  So it was a bit of a toss up what to make for her. I settled on Pooh, and I think it came out kinda sweet.  She loved it. It's just simple vanilla cake and buttercream icing filled with strawberries and cream.  Maybe we'll do Cookie Monster next year!

Our priest turned sixty in January, and his wife requested a vanilla/chocolate cake with berries.  Mmmm, one of my favorites!  The insides are layers of vanilla and chocolate cake filled with strawberries and cream, and the outside is iced with buttercream and decorated with fresh berries.  Yum!

My third cake these last few weeks was made for my little god daughter's baptism. It's chocolate cake filled with strawberries and cream filling (my, quite a popular filling these days!), and iced with vanilla buttercream.  This cake was fun to make in that it was my first time venturing into the world of fondant roses.  I've made little fondant flowers before- like daisies and such, but I was always a little nervous doing the rose.  I ended up buying a little ateco 5-petal rose cutter- quite a handy contraption.  I followed a few you tube tutorials (from expert village), and they came out pretty okay!  Since I had the ingredients on hand, I went ahead and used marshmallow fondant which yielded petals a little thicker than real life.  Next time, I think I will splurge and get some real gumpaste so I can roll them nice and thin.  But I think I'm off to a good start!