Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas Eve with Ginas Cakes!

Well here we are, the night before Christmas, the time of frantic shopping, mad wrapping, and more than a little eggnog-indulgence (or at least, so it is at my house). 

Finish up the holiday countdown (or kick off the twelve days of Christmas, depending on your celebration tendencies), how about some adorable winter delights made by Gina Rouchy?

How about a Christmas Cupcake?
 
Or a pudding pot, if you're a more traditional type.
 


I wish there were enough snow right now to actually make a snowman, but this one will do just fine in the meanwhile.  I lovelovelove the piping on the scarf and hat.

Snowman Cake
 
Do I spy some vanilla wafer windows?  Lovely.
Christmas Gingerbread
 
Another brilliant bit of knit-frosting.  You have to squint a bit, but the sparkly script on top makes for a very festive touch.

Let It Snow Cake

Sleigh Cake
 
 
What's a sleigh without the most famous reindeer of all?

Rudolph Rocks Cake
And lastly, one of the most adorable creche's I've ever seen.  Plus, look at the incredible detail around the sides!  

Bethlehem Cake
 

Happy Christmas everyone!  Best wishes for now into the New Year!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In a bit of a break from the winter theme....I think I've found my wedding cake:

 
So completely in love with this, I don't know where to start--although what looks like royal icing wings might be in close contention with the blue smoke design down the sides...or the lovely luminescent scales....or...okay, no, I'm just completely in love.  (Any Spirited Away fans out there?)

Also: if anyone knows the baker who made this, I would love to know!  I saw this on the site "I Waste So Much Time," which unfortunately did not cite its source. EDIT: Good news: the lovely peeps of Cake Wrecks featured this in this week's Sunday Sweets (02/17/2013), and tracked down the bakery.  Big huzzahs to The Butter End Cakery!

Happy Studying, fellow students!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Oh Tannenbaum...

....please be as adorable as these:


 
 
I think the white and gold one is my favorite, but I can't get over how lovely this design is!  I wish they'd post a tutorial--I'm guessing the leaves and decorations are some combination of gumpaste and/or fondant.  
Continuing the count-down to Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Well hello, December

Well, it happened...
Despite my best intentions for October and November, school work and life and intern-y things got the best of me.  Not to say it isn't crazy now, but how about some wintery cakes to tide everyone over during Finals season?

First, this lovely lovely painted delight, by Nevie-Pie Cakes:
I'm absolutely smitten with their hand-painted style--especially having struggled to achieve a similar effect on fondant, buttercream, or chocolate with marginal success.  And--birds and berries.  What could be better?

Maybe penguins.

Frolicking penguins, from Highland Bakery.  I know, I know, the adorableness of it all just hurts, doesn't it?
Keeping with the bird theme, there's also this glittery bit of elegance by Brooklyn Cake:
 

If you couldn't tell, I'm rather fond of the whole bird-on-branches-with-berries theme.
Short post for now, hopefully cookies to come!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Paper Break from Cake

All images from BritSketch.blogspot

I know I normally feature cake artists here, but a friend sent me a link to Brittney Lee's blog, and I simply had to share.  Her prints are adorable... 

Hats

Caged Birds Sing

Morning Fog
 ...but I'm particularly in love with her paper sculptures, starting off with an Edward Scissorhands tribute that's just wonderful.
Small World
 And the best part of all?  She's a Disney and Harry Potter fan.  What's not to love?
Little Mermaid

(Lookit little Harry!  With OWLS!  So adorable)
 

Brittney also has an Etsy shop that you should definitely check out; lots of prints, and it sounds like some of the paper carvings show up there occasionally as well.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Lemonade

Why hello there, my lovelies!  It's been awhile, hasn't it?  All I can say is that with June came an super fun internship that eats up most of my days, and the rest of time seems to be spent in the garden, or exploring Rhode Island, poking in antique stores, biking through Newport (oh my goodness, Newport.  I'm in love) and trying to figure out the mundane things like gas and groceries. 

Still, in the spirit of summer, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes: lemon pie.  Made by letting fresh lemon pieces soak in sugar overnight, this pie is tart, and in my opinion best served cold from the refridgerator, or with a dollop of whipped cream for a slightly sweeter version. 

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium lemons
  • 2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 (15oz) package of refrigerated pie dough
  • cooking spray
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
Whipped cream
  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar

  1. Grate 1/2 C rind from the lemons (here's where a fifth lemon might come in handy). 
  2. To remove the white, pithy covering that remains, slice the lemons on either end, and then slice the pith away, top to bottom, following the curve of the lemon with your knife.  Remove the lemon segments by cutting on either side of the remaining membranes.  Chop the lemon into pieces, discarding the seeds and the pith
  3. Combine the grated rind, chopped lemon, and granulated sugar in a large bowl; toss well.  Cover and let the bowl stand at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  5. Roll the dough into an 11-in circle; fit into a 9-in pie plate coated with cooking spray.  Fold edges under & flute.  Add flour, salt and eggs to the lemon mix, sitrring eith a whisk until combined.  Pour lemon mix into crust, bake at 450 for 15 min.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Shield the edges of the piecrust with foil, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until the filling is set.  Remove from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.
To make whipped cream:
  1. Combine cream and powdered sugar.  Beat with a mixer at high spped until stiff peaks form, then serve.

Saturday, June 2, 2012




Well, well--Happy June! It's been a busy few weeks, ending finals, moving into an apartment, starting an internship--and oh yes, turning that magic number for the American adolescent: twenty-one.  Indeed, I am now finally able to legally acquire alcohol.  I can go into bars, and order those cute little umbrella-topped drinks in restaurants, and no longer have to be frustrated when the cake requires Grand Marnier and there's none in the house.
While, generally, this occasion is marked by a certain amount of consumed alcohol, one must ask oneself: is alcohol better than sugar?  Better, say, than frosting?  I think not. 

So to duly celebrate my 21st in true cake style, I took a decorating class at Amanda Oakleaf Cakes, located in Winthrop, MA.  It was quite excellent; lots of useful tips for decorating, but especially for decorating with fondant, a substance that has never been my closest friend.  Happily, by the end of the class I was rolling and smoothing and stacking layers almost like a pro.


Finished cake, with birthday candles.
The cakes the Amanda Oakleaf Cakes' crew turns out are pretty awesome, too.  It's generally all fondant, but there's a great array of styles:

There are the pretty ones...








 ....and then the less traditional ones.






The brain cake makes the psychology major in me giggle, and does anyone else want to know what the support system for that lobster wedding cake looks like?  Talk about a balancing act...

They've also done crazy amazing things like being featured on TLC Fabulous Cakes, build a life-sized Stormtrooper out of cake, and compete on the Food Network Cake Challenge.

Be amazed, my friends.  Be very amazed. 

They'll also be heading down to Florida in the nearish future to make another cake-figure, this time a life-sized Darth Vadar. 

Sending you lots of cake-love!  Stay tuned for a few more kitchen posts for July, and maybe even a couple more cakes.



**Logo and cake images from oakleafcakes.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buttercream vs. Fondant: A Frosting Review


There are a lot of kinds of edible cake coverings.  Faced with nekkid cake, the cake decorator can choose to cover it with any or a combination of: buttercream, royal icing, flat icing, fudge, glaze, fondant, gumpaste, sugar paste, ganache, molding chocolate, whipped cream, meringue, mousse...

Generally, frosting types can be sorted into six types.
  • Buttercream is made by mixing (you guessed it) butter (or margarine) and powdered sugar with a liquid (frequantly milk), and sometimes a flavoring such as vanilla extract.  Think of the frosting on grocery store cakes, and you'll have an idea of the texture: smooth, creamy, and easily spread.
  • Royal icing is a harder, stiffer consistancy; in cake decorating, it is extremely useful for any kind of delicate lace work, hanging loops, or flowers.  Unlike buttercream, it will hold its shape, and won't smear.  Unfortunately, it is also relatively fragile.  The basic recipe is meringue powder with a liquid (I tend to use water).
  • Ganache is essentially chocolate melted into butter and cream.  It is extreme versatile, and very rich.  Heated to a liquid, it can be poured over cakes to form a shiny glaze.  Left to sit at room temperature and then beaten, it becomes a fluffy, rich filling; chillen and beaten, it becomes thick, stiff, and excellent for rolling into truffles.  If poured flat and chilled until only slightly soft, it can be used for cut-out chocolate shapes (but I wouldn't recommend it for anything that doesn't lie flat).
  • Glazes are the simpliest icings, made by mixing powdered sugar and water, or a juice (lemon glazes, for example, are powdered sugar and lemon juice).  It is generally poured or drizzled, and hardens into a shiny, hard crust.  Because the flavor can be made as subtle or a strong as you want, these can be a great accent to a pastry, or used to add a tang of flavor between layers of filling on a cake 
  • Fondant is popular on sculpted cakes and wedding cakes, and undoubtedly familiar to anyone who watches cake shows.  The basic recipe is a mixture of sugar, water and either glucose or cream of tartar.  Before it dries, it rather resembles PlayDoh in texture, and can be kneaded, rolled, stretched and shaped.  Rolled flat, it can be draped over and shaped against the contours of a cake.  Within this category I'll also include things like molding chocolate, which can be softened and worked into shapes, and gumpaste, which is similar to fondant, but includes gum tragacanth (gum tex), and is more rigid when dried.  This makes it especially good for delicate shapes and flowers, since it can be rolled much thinner and tends to hold it's shape. (Fondant, in a warm room, can soften again).  
  • Whipped/Meringues involve egg whites, and are beaten or cooked until the frosting is light and fluffy.  While these can make for great additions to desserts, they tend to break down over time.
Generally, cake interiors don't vary too much.  Sure, different bakeries might favor mousse fillings, or be known for flavored glazes, but generally there's enough variety in flavors within any given cake shop to see a fair representation. 

The exterior, however, tends to divide cake decorators into one of two camps: those who work with buttercream, and those who work with fondant.  Frequently, each side can come up with a long list of reasons why their chosen medium is superior, but when it comes down to it, I feel that it's a bit like the difference between painting and sculpting: both are artistic mediums, but require slightly different skill sets.

Pros and Cons
So, why use one over the other?

Fondant makes things, to a certain extent, easy: it can be shaped and rolled into three-dimensional decorations.  Gum-Tex powder can be worked in to give it support, and it is far more likely to survive a trip from bakery to plate, since it won't smear.  When it's used to cover cakes, fondant--when applied well--creates an absolutely smooth, matte surface that doesn't require a steady hand with the spatula.  In most cases, it holds color well.  It also stores longer than other types of frosting.

All fondant, from Colette Cakes
Unfortunately, it's messy and time consuming to make at home.  While it can certainly be purchased, cheap fondant does not tend to taste particularly good; the most common complaint I've run into is that people don't like the flavor.  I had, however, had recent success with Duff's fondant in terms of flavor, price and availability (it can be purchased at Michaels).  Be wary of the setting, too--in warm weather, fondant might very well lose its shape, and if it's a covering, slide off the cake.

Buttercream, on the other hand, can be easily made at home, and is more likely to be a crowd-pleaser in terms of flavor and familiarity.  Personally, I like it because it's an easy matter to pipe designs onto the cake surface, and does not need an extra amount of counter space for rolling.  It can create highly delicate patterns, and apart from coloring, doesn't need much prep work.  When it comes to writing, I personally don't have time to punch out and place individual letters.

All buttercream, from Some Crust Bakery
Those who prefer buttercream only for filling and crumbcoating would point out, however, that buttercream is pretty much confined to two-dimensional designs.  Like fondant, it can sweat if the cake is put in a warm room (especially if it's humid, or the cake was recently stored in a freezer), but with buttercream the dyes are more likely to bleed and drip.  An accidental brush of a finger might dent fondant, but you can be certain, with buttercream, that there'll be a noticable gouge.  Additionally, it can take a lot of work--or a lot of buttercream--to get smooth sides, and unlike with fondant, which tends to hide crumbs, dark chocolate cake can be beastly when combined with white buttercream.

So then, which one's better?

Again, it depends on your strengths in decorating (have a steady hand? Try buttercream piping.  Rather work with your hands? Go the fondant route) and personal taste. 
Of course, buttercream can make for some
pretty awesome 3D cakes, too.

For most of my life, I've been a buttercream kind of girl, but that's mainly due to the preferences of the people I most often bake for (family and friends).  
I've recently been working more with fondant--for the sceptics out there, think of it as any other medium, and give it a try!  Remember, with store-bought frosting, not all brands are equal. 



Stay tuned for a follow up and review of fondant brands!





Friday, May 25, 2012

Colette Peters

What's a week without some cake love?  This week it's Colette Peters, of Colette's Cakes


I first heard about her work after receiving her book, Cakes to Dream On, for Christmas.  She has such a great range: intricately floral wedding cakes, whimsical, topsy-turvy confections, thematic cakes, and some great can't-believe-it's-cake designs.


Like lace and flowers?  How about this fabulous Sweet-Sixteen, which what I do believe is a Cinderella carriage on top.  Look at the wheels!  And all the delicate piping!  Or the all-white flowers on the second tier, against the blue...just so wonderful.


 Something a little more traditional, but in an absolutely beautiful color scheme; again, I'm in love with the piping on this, and the little flower chains around the bottom and third tier.

While a little more modern, I really love the visual simplicity of this design, especially the open bands around the bottom and fourth layers.  Such a clean, pretty detail, and all the more impressive since I can't imagine making those, or keeping them from breaking.  Lovely touches with the single center flower, and the little ones around the base. 



 No flowers, just leaves?  Not a design I would immediately think of, but I really love the whimsy, new-spring feel to this next cake.


 And then....piping.  Excuse me while I go swoon--all the little beading! Makes my heart go pitter-pat.

 
If piping and florals aren't your cup of tea, or you need a bit more color to your cakes, Colette also has these lovelies:
















And last but not least - Colette's beautiful, beautiful buildings; check out the sugar-spun work!



All images from Colette's Cakes

Still need more?  Browse through all Colette's cakes here