Tag Archives: cake decorating

21st Birthday Cake and Hibiscus Bridal Shower Cake

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted June 2008

I made a couple of cakes recently and thought it was about time to post them. The first is a pink-themed exploding stars cake for a 21st birthday. They wanted the numbers to be candles instead of made out of icing, but the only number candles I could find had a green outline and colorful confetti on them. They were U-G-L-Y! I had to make a white and pink “faceplate” out of icing for the candles so they would go with the rest of the cake. Here ‘tis:

Pink 21 exploding stars cake - Talk Sweet to Me

I also made a tropical-theme cake for the fun of it because I had a few layers of cake leftover after a cake testing bake-a-thon. I wish my design drawings looked as nice as those that Antony and Jonny do. I’m working on it. Perhaps my first mistake is that I grab the nearest piece of paper when an idea or picture of a cake pops into my head and start drawing. This means it is often on the back of a piece of scratch paper, a post-it note, or in this case, a used envelope!

Cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

Don’t tell Handi, but I forgot to look back at my notes from when he taught me to make a hibiscus flower, so looked at a bunch of flower photos and came up with my own version instead. My inspiration:

Hibiscus inspiration images

And the sugar version:

Pink sugar hibiscus flower - Talk Sweet to Me

Since I don’t have any petal cutters or silicone veiners yet, I made my own template for the hibiscus petals and leaves out of cardboard and used the back of a knife to make the veining pattern on the petals. Turns out I made the cardboard template just *slightly* too big…the flowers are really overly-massive. They turned out okay, though, as the focal point for a cake. I thought the yellow hibiscus looked better with this particular color combination:

Shower cake with yellow sugar hibiscus flower - Talk Sweet to Me

I was told that the cake looks like a hat, which it does, but that wasn’t exactly the plan. I think it might need a message on the board to look more complete.

Ta ta for now.

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A Golf Themed Birthday Cake

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted April 28, 2008

This week was a challenge because I had two cakes to complete and didn’t have the equipment I was used to or the cake and icing which used to magically appear at Planet Cake after Anna Maria ordered it. I know that’s obvious, but seriously, it was harder than I thought it was going to be. I have been running around town like a crazy-person trying to find all the supplies I need in order to make Planet Cake-style cakes from home. Both of my Grandpas had birthdays in early spring this year, so I returned just in time to get myself into the kitchen.

One of the main differences between making cakes here and making cakes at Planet Cake was that I had to make the cake myself. From scratch…making cakes from a box is cheating, but that’s just my oh-so-humble opinion. At Planet Cake it was really convenient to have everything dropped off from the bakers…something I appreciate even more now! I spent the entire day on Monday baking cake. 3 – 9×13 pans of vanilla butter cake, and 3 – 8” round layers of chocolate stout cake.

I used the chocolate stout cake for my Grandpa M’s cake. He likes to golf, so I wanted to make my own version of the normal Planet Cake golf cake for him…with a Grandpa figurine on the putting green.

I started with the 8” round layers…

Starting cake project - Talk Sweet to Me

…and cut them to shape.

Carving cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was time to cover and decorate the cake:

Covered golf cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Golf cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was on to the figurine!

Here is the picture of my Grandpa I worked from:

Grandpa picture

And the finished figurine:

Grandpa golfing sugar figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

A couple photos of the finished cake:

Golfing cake from front - Talk Sweet to Me

Golfing cake from side - Talk Sweet to Me

It was fun to get to actually see people enjoy receiving their cakes this week, something that didn’t happen very often at Planet Cake since a lot of them were either deliveries or picked up on Saturdays, when most of us weren’t there.

We dropped off the cake at Grandpa’s house…

Grandpa McElherne sees cake - Talk Sweet to Me

…and I think he liked it!

Grandpa likes his golf cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Grandpa McElherne party - Talk Sweet to Me

My grandpa had friends over later that evening and planned to serve the cake to them for dessert. Somehow, though, they convinced him that it was too nice a cake to cut and that he should keep it in his china cabinet. I had to gently explain that cakes are made for eating, and if he didn’t cut and eat it pretty soon it would go bad and start to smell. We all ate some later that week and it was goooooood…

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An 80th Birthday Cake – Full of Memories

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted June 2008

My Grandpa turned 80 this year, and the whole family gathered in Illinois for his birthday party. It was a blast to see everyone. I figured we needed cake. It all started with three 13×9 vanilla butter cakes and a plywood board wrapped with clear plastic.

Starting cake decorating project - Talk Sweet to Me

I cut the shape of the rolling hills,

Carving cake - Talk Sweet to Me

and covered it with ganache.

Ganached cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Then I covered the cake and the board with icing, adding a rough texture with the edge of a piece of broken styro…

Green hills 2 - Talk Sweet to Me

…and started in on some of the final decorations.

Green hills - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was time to make the Jeep. I carved the body of the Jeep out of styro and made the wheel covers and front windshield base from balsa wood.

Sugar Jeep in process 4 - Talk Sweet to Me

The wheels had aluminum foil as their support, and were later iced, glued to the end of a skewer, and inserted into the styro.

Sugar Jeep in process 3 - Talk Sweet to Me

My Grandpa worked for ALCOA for years, and had seat cushions in the back of the Jeep for all of us to sit on, so I painted the logo onto the cushions. A penny is there for size reference on (the penny is a bit bigger than a 5 cent piece in Australia, but smaller than the 10 cent piece). I had to use my version of Margie’s ninja brush!

Sugar Alcoa cushions - Talk Sweet to Me

Then I covered the Jeep, which was quite tricky (especially since the styro I used was different, lumpy, and gross to work with), added seats, steering wheel, cushions, and gear shift, and got ready to put the top on.

Sugar Jeep in process 2 - Talk Sweet to Me

Working…

Working on sugar jeep - Talk Sweet to Me

I made a “cage” out of skewers and then glued acetate onto them so there would be clear windows, leaving the doors open as they were on the Jeep, and painting the insides of the skewers black so they couldn’t be seen when you looked in the windows from the outside.

Sugar Jeep in process - Talk Sweet to Me

Then I put the black top on and cut out the windows. This is the back of the reference Jeep image I used.

Example Jeep 2

And the view from the back. My Grandpa’s Jeep was box-ier, a different color, and had a different seating arrangement than the reference Jeep, so I had to work from memory a little bit.

Back of sugar jeep close up - Talk Sweet to Me

Reference Jeep from the front…

Example Jeep 1

…and the miniature version:

Sugar jeep close-up 2 - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the Jeep once it was placed on the cake. Watch out for those cow pies in the prairie! My Dad used to pretend to fall off the back of the Jeep and nearly landed in one…

Sugar jeep close-up - Talk Sweet to Me

The finished cake…

Whoop de do cake - Talk Sweet to Me

My Grandpa used to take me, my sister, and my two cousins for rides in the Jeep whenever we visited. He took us out on the prairie, and every time we went over the hills, he called them “whoop-de-dos.” Then he would turn around, go over them the other way, and call them “do-de-whoops.” Hence the message on the board…

Back of Jeep birthday cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Sometimes we also got “stuck” in the creek and my Grandpa would tease that we would all have to get out and push. The creek was important enough to make an appearance on the cake too.

The cake and Jeep made it to Illinois on a 3.5-hour car ride with no problems whatsoever. Presenting Grandpa with his 80th birthday cake…

Grandpa likes the cake

Then it was time to light the candles and blow them out!

Grandpa blowing out candles - Talk Sweet to Me

Done!

Cake eaten - Talk Sweet to Me

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Cakes for Kids – Birthdays, Baptisms, and More

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

I have a file of cake photos that were completed at Planet Cake in my pre-blog time there, so thought I would share them. Here they are:

12th Birthday Cake

This client has the same cake design for their child’s birthday but with different numbers every year.

12 Birthday Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Paint Palette Cake (Note: this photo is from the Planet Cake website…mine was exactly the same but you must imagine magenta writing on the board and of course a different name):

Paint Palette Cake

Doll Dress Cake

Doll dress cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Baby Petals Cake

I will be eternally embarassed by the piping on this one but will put my reputation on the line, noting that this was some of my earlier work, and share it anyway. It wasn’t centered and it bugged me, so I made some swirls. They look really silly, and I could have moved a few flowers and turned the figurine instead of worrying too much about the piping being centered. Live and learn! (Figurine by Handi, I think.)

Little girl figurine cake with petals - Talk Sweet to Me

3-D Number Cake

1st Birthday Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Shabby Chic Cupcakes

These remain a favorite of mine.

Shabby chic cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

Pram Christening Cake (Pram – so cute! – by Handi)

Pram Christening Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

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Covering a Square Cake with Fondant – And Other Fun

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I began to learn the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted April 7-11, 2008

This week was busy, but not necessarily because of the cake. Since it was my last week in Sydney, it was filled with good-byes, parties, lunches, and last-minute meetings with friends…in addition to producing 4 cakes:

-2-Tier Round Royal – smooth finish cake

-Magnolia Square cake

-Gold Cross Christening cake

-Wedding cake with horse topper

2-Tier Round Royal

Ummm…not much to say. Same old, same old. It always feels good to have one of these cakes in your week because it can be finished very quickly…which of course leads to a (perhaps superfluous) sense of accomplishment.

smooth royal

Magnolia Square

This cake gave me the most trouble this week. The bride brought in ribbons that she wanted to have replicated on the cake with icing. I had to do a little bit of experimentation to get the look right because the base ribbon was dark purple with a gold sheen to it, and the other, to be placed on top, was a pearlescent lavender color.

Smoothing out the sides of the cake…

smoothing sides

…before sharpening the edges and corners:

sharpening edges

Sharpening square cake corners - Talk Sweet to Me

Stacking the tiers:

Placing top tier of magnolia cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The difficult part was the ribbons for some reason, but Handi came to the rescue, as usual! First we rolled out a piece of icing in a long strip, and made sure it was long enough to get all the way around the layer with a measuring tape (there is nothing more frustrating than preparing the icing ribbon, only to have it turn out to be slightly too short). Then Handi showed me how to roll it up from one end to the other (sort of like bubble tape, if any of you ate that as a kid!), paint water around the base of the cake so it would stick, and then unroll the ribbon around the cake, sticking it as you go. After that, all that is left is trimming the top to the correct height and painting on the gold and pearlescent finishes. Add some magnolias and here it is:

Magnolia wedding cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Gold Cross Christening cake

The cross was made first out of icing and painted gold. I let it dry overnight before transferring it onto the cake.

Making cross for cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was just a matter of adding the base ribbon, securing the cross to the top, and adding a few roses and a message:

Christening Baptism Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Wedding cake with horse topper

Here is Antony’s design drawing:

Antony horse cake design drawing

My job on this cake was basically to do everything but the horse. I cut, ganached, covered, stacked, added ribbon, and placed roses. The horse was best left to the expert, Margie, and it was magnificent. As Antony would say, it was “Be-YOND belief!” It looked exactly like these beautiful Breyer horse models I used to have as a kid…when I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses for a living. I quickly eliminated that from the list of possible career paths when a friend told me I couldn’t eat brownies, cookies, or cake anymore because I had to stay little to be a jockey. Even in third grade, I knew enough to say, “Forget that!”

Here is Margie placing her horse on the cake:

Margie placing horse on cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Margie with horse cake - Talk Sweet to Me

And the finished cake…

Wedding Cake with Horse - Talk Sweet to Me

Flower making

I also had a chance to make some additional flowers this week, so worked on a magnolia and some bamboo for Handi’s cake the following week, and also tulips and lilies, just because I wanted to learn how to do them.

The lily petals dry on their sides and the tulip petals dry in plastic spoons.

Sugar flowers drying - Talk Sweet to Me

The next day I put them together – a magnolia, 2 tulips, and 2 lilies.

All sugar flowers completed - Talk Sweet to Me

Other fun

I was inspired by Margie’s mountain cake this week.

Margie Mountain Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

MARGIE’S MOUNTAIN CAKE

Until next time…

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Making a Wedding Cake With Tiger Lily Sugar Flowers

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I began to learn the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City.

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted April 12-13, 2008

Over the weekend of April 12-13, I attended Handi’s Basics 103 course. It was a blast, as it always is when learning from Handi. It was also great to see Amanda again, who was the facilitator for the weekend.

I sat next to Vivienne, who was fabulous, and recently learned that she has become Planet Cake’s new Intern…she’s already getting rave reviews!

Here is a photo of Handi leading the class:

Handi teaching - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi taught us how to make these cakes step-by-step…

After finishing the ganacheing, we gathered ‘round to learn about covering a square cake:

Handi covering cake demonstration - Talk Sweet to Me

And after stacking our tiers and putting the icing ribbon around the base, Handi also demonstrated how to paint a monogram on the cake:

Handi demonstrating cake painting - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the finished demonstration cake (I liked the colors, chosen by Amanda):

Planet Cake class example cake - Talk Sweet to Me

My cake was a bit different, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it when it was completed or not. White base, brown ribbon, and orange tiger lilies. I’d made plenty of magnolias before, so thought it was time to try a new kind of flower.

When Handi demonstrated how to make the flowers, my lilies from the previous week were unfortunately used as an example of what NOT to do! It was okay though, because I admit they were a bit funny-looking and I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong…I learned that I bent the petals of the lily too severely at the halfway point. They should have been bent at almost a 90 degree angle 2/3 of the length away from the wire, 1/3 from the tip of the petal. The petals should also go on in two layers, one layer of three a bit lower than the other…just like the real thing!

Tiered tiger lily cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The flower petals were each individually dipped in a food coloring and alcohol solution, and then I brushed on a deeper reddish color on the insides and tips of the petals. After assembling in the two layers, I also added the brown dots with a toothpick.

Sugar tiger lily - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the final group photo. It is a little blurry, but look at all these gorgeous women with their beautiful cakes!

Planet Cake class group photo - Talk Sweet to Me

 

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Bride and Groom and Stilettos!

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted April 7-11, 2008

Since I promised a posting about stilettos this week, I will break my last week of work at Planet Cake into a couple different postings. Here I’ll concentrate on the stiletto and my first set of bride and groom figurines.

The Bride and Groom

Planet Cake always obtains information about dress, hairstyle, colors, and more from clients so the figurines can be customized to follow the hairstyles, hair colors and dress/tuxedo of the bride and groom…so I picked out a couple images to learn from!

Inspiration images - Talk Sweet to Me

It actually took me three tries to get the body of the groom carved correctly out of styro (too skinny once, to high a waist the next time), and took me two tries to get the bride’s body right (her waist was right underneath her boobs the first time). After a while, Handi didn’t even give me a hard time about my multiple failed attempts, just silently shook his head and handed me the next piece of styro to start in on. After finally getting it right, I gave the bride some cleavage and skin on her back:

Figurine heads - Talk Sweet to Me

Then put the groom’s shirt and pants on, gave him some hair, and added a jacket, tie and flower. The groom was nearly done!

The bride took a bit more work. After letting the chest and back dry overnight, I put on a piece of white icing for the dress and carved the flow of the fabric into it.

After the dress was done, it was on to arms and hair. Since she was holding a cascading bouquet, I didn’t need to add details to the hands since they would be covered anyway. The arms were just a single piece of icing attached to each of the shoulders. Working on her hair…

Working on figurine hair - Talk Sweet to Me

…which took me two tries to get right too. The first attempt was kind of a disaster, partly due to the difficult style (having it shown both up and half down in the picture added to the confusion!), partly due to it being the end of the day and Handi and I each lacking concentration. We even had to make diagrams on the white board!

The Board - Talk Sweet to Me

I stayed for a while after work was over to give it my best shot, but it still came out looking a little bit like Medusa was starting to emerge from the barette on the back of her head.

Medusa hair

Scary, I know. Needless to say, I scraped this off and gave it another try. When Handi and I were both fresh the next morning, we tried again and it came out so much better:

Back of figurines - Talk Sweet to Me

Then just some color on the faces…

Need faces painted on - Talk Sweet to Me

and a face or two!

Bride and groom sugar figurines - Talk Sweet to Me

So, there is room for improvement…it would be nice to make one attempt at everything and have it turn out right the first time!

Stiletto

I wish I had some more pictures of the stiletto in progress, but my description will have to suffice for now. I chose a picture out of Anna-Maria’s fabulous shoe book…a Manolo Blahnik, of course. I figured if I can’t afford a real one (let alone a pair!), I might as well make myself one out of icing.

Inspiration shoe - Talk Sweet to Me

Anna-Maria is more obsessed with shoes than anyone I know, except perhaps Carrie Bradshaw. She had a lot of great models for me to look at, including a few different heel types carved out of styro, and two different shoe types (pointy-toed and a regular rounded toe).

The first thing I did was cut the sole of the shoe out of very thin corrugated cardboard, with the “grain” of the cardboard running from the toe to the heel of the shoe. This was so I could insert #26 wires into the cardboard in about 3 different places, which made the cardboard hold its shape when I bent it.

Next, the heel was carved out of Styrofoam, and a small bamboo skewer was inserted and glued into place. This gave me something to hold onto, and would be used to insert into the cake to hold the shoe in place.

The top of the sole of the shoe was covered first, with both black and a beige color to match the picture. Next, I used strips of acetate (cut in the pasta machine to make sure they were all even) to construct the straps. The straps were attached to the bottom of the shoe with masking tape and held together where they met on the top of the foot with double sided tape. Once they were all in place, it was time to cover the bottom of the shoe, leaving a place for the heel to be glued on.

Both colors were then used to cover the heel, and icing strips were used to cover the acetate straps, secured with a bit of gel.

Here, Anna-Maria shows me what to do next:

Learning how to make sugar shoe - Talk Sweet to Me

Next I glued the heel to the cardboard (covering the styro with masking tape first so that it wouldn’t melt) and covered the sides of the shoe with a very thin strip of black icing.

Working on sugar shoe - Talk Sweet to Me

A label printed on rice paper and a bit of bling were the finishing touches.

Sugar shoe - Talk Sweet to Me

Over and out for now…

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