Category Archives: Inspiration

The Hippie Butterfly

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Originally posted January 30, 2008

Two cakes were on my to-do list for today. I started with an Exploding Stars cake for a 50th birthday party. This cake, along with the golf course cake, is one that I have done so many times now that I could practically complete it with both eyes closed…standing on one foot…and with one hand tied behind my back. Okay, okay, I’m not really THAT arrogant (thanks to my humble Midwestern upbringing). I’ll admit I at least need my eyes…just kidding.

Exploding Present Box - Talk Sweet To Me

My second cake of the day was a 2D Butterfly cake for a first birthday. Handi thinks this cake is a little bit “hippie” and I tend to agree…there is just something about those flowers.

Butterfly Cake Method - Talk Sweet to Me

Above is a picture of what I’m pretty generally given as a starting point for most of the cakes I work on each week. A shaped and ganached cake, along with the order form. I usually look over the order form first to determine whether or not there is anything out of the ordinary, and then ask questions before beginning. (Yes, although it may not always come across, I do have common sense. Asking questions sooner rather than later generally falls under the category of “smart things to do.”)

Covered Butterfly Cake - Talk Sweet To Me

Since this cake is a bit of an odd shape I was worried about what would happen at the corners and hoped that the icing would not bunch together and cause me to run out the door screaming in frustration. I shouldn’t have even blinked an eye at it, because it turned out to be exceptionally easy. Blindfold, anyone? After the pink icing, the oval-shaped butterfly body was placed on top.

Hippie Butterfly Flowers - Talk Sweet To Me

I made all the flower layers at once and kept them under plastic so they would remain pliable until I fit them in exactly the right places.

Starting Rope - Talk Sweet To Me

Rolling Rope - Talk Sweet To Me

Placing Rope - Talk Sweet To Me

After that I began rolling out pink icing to make the twisted rope at the base of the cake. I had a little bit of trouble with it drying out at first, but Handi came to the rescue and showed me how to (in the words of Tim Gunn from Project Runway, currently one of my favorite shows) “make it work.” A little extra moisture, a pinch of technique, and ta-da! Runway-ready rope.

Butterfly Cake Working - Talk Sweet To Me

A few finishing touches were next: I piped on daisies in white royal icing, placed the antennae, and added a happy birthday message and candle to the board.

Butterfly Cake - Talk Sweet To Me

I learned from Handi and Paris that the light purple color starts to fade quickly, so I hurried to box the cake to prevent that from happening too much. Apparently there is a no-fade purple sold in the U.S. that I will be required to ship over here immediately upon my return to the States.

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Thomas the Tank Engine

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Originally posted January 23, 2008

It was another Golf Course cake day, this time for a 40th birthday. Every time I make this cake I think of how much my Grandpa would enjoy it. He plays golf during his summers in Iowa and winters in Florida, and tells me he keeps track of his score by the number of golf balls he loses. He would get quite a kick out of it. As the now self-appointed “Queen of Finishing the Golf Course Cakes,” I have decided to run a little competition with myself. Each time there is a new one, I plan to see how quickly I can get it done…without sacrificing any of the quality, of course. Today I was done before 11:25 am. I’ll keep you posted on the next one.

The only hitch in the action today was a bit of a spill during the air brushing portion of the golf course. For one reason or another, I tend to get excited about putting the color on the green. This usually happens after I am nearly finished with the rest of the cake, so when my arm starts moving quickly and green food coloring spills onto the side of the cake with a sickening plunk, it means a few minutes of panic and running around the kitchen trying to figure out where to set down the nearly-full airbrush followed by another few minutes of sheer agony trying to clean up the mess. I was lucky today since Ritzy happened to walk into the kitchen and patiently showed me how to mop up the mess with alcohol and water, blend in the edges, and cover it with color to make it look like new. This allowed me to pretend, when all was said and done, that I was calm and in control during the entire process.

Since the golf course was done before noon, my next task was a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. The first step was to make a 6” round cake into a 7” round and cover it smoothly with ganache. A few of the artists at Planet Cake carve the face of Thomas out of cake. My technique for the day was to build up the face from icing on top of the smooth ganache. I had to begin by studying how Thomas looks. My inspiration: Thomas the Train books, toys, and previous cake pictures.

Inspiration - Thomas Cake - Talk Sweet To Me

After that I began sculpting the face. It looks sort of creepy like a skull if you glance at it quickly, but then again why mess with nature when the skull forms the foundation for every face we see?

Thomas Structure - Talk Sweet To Me

After covering with grey icing, I had to do a bit of re-sculpting. Next time the lips need to be a bit smaller but more pronounced, the teeth further in toward the back of the mouth, the cheeks less prominent, and perhaps the eyes a bit bigger. You learn something every day…the nose was good though!

Thomas Covered - Talk Sweet To Me

A strip of black icing around the bottom, covering the board with red, and a blue rope around the base were my next steps, followed by the smokestack.

This was made from Styrofoam with a small dowel inserted into it, covered with black icing and a black rope around the top. All that was left were a few finishing touches – smoke coming from the smokestack, piping the message on the board, and a couple of candles.

Thomas the Tank Engine - Talk Sweet to Me


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Bows, Exploding Stars and Celebrities

Flashback -

Originally posted January 16, 2008

Today was Exploding Stars Present Box cake day (blue theme). Ritzy already made the stars and ganached the cake, so I was left to finish things off. After covering the cake with icing, I left it to dry for a while as per Handi’s genius suggestion so that it would be able to support the next piece of icing placed on top for the lid. In the meantime I made the bow so it would also have time to dry and set. The bow turned out well today – most likely due to expert instruction from Anna-Maria and a fabulous reminder lesson from Ritzy.

Fondant bow how to | Talk Sweet To Me

Following are the instructions I have written into my notebook for bow-making:

1. Make two pieces rolled out to an even thickness (about 3 – quite thin – on the pasta machine I use) that are 7 inches x 5 inches.
2. Wet the two 5-inch sides with water, fold in the corners slightly, and crinkle the edges together.
3. Place aquarium filter material inside the bow and fold the two crinkled edges together to form one side of the bow.
4. Fold under one of the looped sides of the bow so that it sits upright.
5. Repeat to make the other side of the bow and bring the two centers together (but do not secure yet).
6. Prepare the icing ribbon to go around the center, slightly thicker than the previous pieces (I used level 5). This piece can be as wide as you like, but perhaps start with around 3 inches wide and make sure it is long enough to wrap around to make the middle of the bow.
7. Fold in the two long cut edges to make smooth outside edges.
8. Crinkle the long way once again, wet with a little bit of water, and wrap around the middle extensions of the two bows. Trim on the backside.
9. Cut and add the two trails, crinkling them up for effect if desired (see finished photo).
10. Make sure the bow looks the way you want it to and let it dry – overnight is best. After it is dry, take out the aquarium filter material. Viola!

For a fantastic video about bow-making, watch Handi on Planet Cake’s YouTube video

The board was covered in grey, which I tried to mix by taking the obvious route and adding black to white. However, the result was less than desirable…a pale lavender color. Handi showed me how to mix in a small about of egg yellow icing, which would grey the color out. Today was my first time covering a board around a square cake…somehow there are always new challenges! It was a little bit tougher than covering a board around a circular cake since I had to cut the icing to the exact proportions of the cake so the corners would match up flush with the cake. There may be a trick to it that I don’t know to make things easier, but my method worked well for today.

After adding the “lid” and side ribbons, the rope was added around the base and the bow anchored on top of the cake with the flowing ribbons. All that was needed after that were some exploding stars, the piped message on the board, and candles. The cake was done before noon and it was on to rose-making for the rest of the day. Flower making is a necessary task, but one that I find quite relaxing and enjoyable.

Blue Present Box Cake |Talk Sweet To Me

The other highlight of the day was producing one of the black icing clubs to go on the bottom tier Handi’s poker-themed cake for a celebrity birthday – my first (albeit very small) piece of a celebrity cake! Take a look at the cake below:

Celebrity Cake by Planet Cake


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Inspiration Cakes: BOLD!

Bold - textures and patterns - Talk Sweet to Me -

Over the years, I’ve torn countless inspiration cakes out of magazines, newspapers, and wherever else I can find them.  Some photos have faded over time, and although not all of them still have the information on them, I promise to do my best to provide credits for the cakes you see on TSTM. These folks all deserve to be recognized for their amazing hard work and beautiful designs! Enjoy!


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