Tag Archives: fondant cake

Flowers and Figurines – Week #4

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted March 17-21, 2008

This was a short 4-day week since in Australia, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays. It was frustrating to only have four days this week, especially when Monday and Tuesday felt like I had my feet stuck in the mud and was moving in slow motion. That’s the thing about public holidays and working in this business…you still have to get the same amount of work done, you just have four days to do it instead of five. Seriously, who needs public holidays anyway, when your job is making cakes!?

I only had two cakes this week:
-2-Tier Madhatter Figurine cake
-2-Tier piping and flowers cake

Both of these cakes had unusual timing. The Madhatter was due out on Tuesday, and the other was due out the following Tuesday after Easter. Planet Cake was closed for the holidays, which meant it had to be done before I left on Thursday. So the middle of the week had a bit of a lull, but there was plenty of flower-making and figurine-making to keep me busy.

Madhatter Figurine Cake

Because of the funny timing on this cake, it ended up being a group effort. Handi made the dancing figurines and their dancing cat (while I ganached most of his cakes for the week), and Anna-Maria helped me with ganacheing, covering the top tier, and covering the board. The rest was me. Placing the stripes:

Placing stripes on madhatter cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Antony’s design drawing:

Dancing figurines design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

And the finished cake:

Dancing couple madhatter wedding cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Flowers

During the middle of the week, I worked on extending the flowers that Handi started and working on a few hibiscus flowers for next week.

Sugar Flowers - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi made us some pancakes! They were flying through the air on Wednesday.

Handi flipping pancake - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi makes pancakes - Talk Sweet to Me

I also started working on a sugar figurine wedding couple (my first venture into working on a bride and groom), which I’ll reveal next week when they are complete and fully clothed!

Piping and Flowers

The piping on this cake took me quite a long time. It was the first time I’ve done detailed piping on a cake at Planet Cake, and I was fairly happy with the result (though there is always room for improvement). Here is Antony’s design drawing…

Flower cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake.

Pastel flowers wedding cake - Talk Sweet to Me

One thing I can say in critique of myself as I look at the photo is that I wish the flowers on top had a bit more of a half-round, dome shape. They are, unfortunately, slightly on the flattened side. Something to keep in mind for next time.

There has been quite a bit of excitement in the media recently about Planet Cake. An article was printed in the Sun-Herald a few weeks ago about children’s birthday cakes. Here is the article:

Newspaper article on expensive cakes - Talk Sweet to Me

And below is a close-up of the Baby Pool cake picture that has my figurine from Week #1 on it! I covered the cake too, but Handi did the rest of the work – carving and ganacheing the cake, the decoration, piping the board, etc.

Pool cake figurine in newspaper - Talk Sweet to Me

This article set off a flurry of media activity. Paris has been busy with several radio, tv, and newspaper interviews in the past few weeks, one of which was with Steve Price on 2UE radio station. Steve gave Paris a pretty hard time about the cost of the cakes, so she sent him a life-size, realistic cake of his face (produced by Margie). All he could say was, “You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s extraordinary.” You betcha.

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Soccer Balls, Seashells, and Bling – Week #3

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted March 10-14, 2008

Whew…what a week! There were a lot of cakes due this week, and most of them were due on Friday, which meant a bit of a rush. I was in charge of five cakes and I will go through four of them here:

-Soccer ball cake

-Alien cake

-Purple “bling” cake

-Funky seashells cake – with help from Margie and Handi on the Funkies

Here is a picture of me with the nearly-completed cakes from this week:

This weeks cakes - Talk Sweet to Me
Next I’ll go through each of them individually.

Soccer ball cake

The soccer ball was one of my most challenging cakes this week, but also one of my favorites since I used to play. Go Ames Flames!

It looks deceptively simple: round ball, black pentagons, some grass, etc., but it was actually extremely time-consuming. There was a lot of structure involved in setting up this cake. The bottom half of the ball is composed of Styrofoam, and carving a perfectly round half-ball out of Styrofoam is harder than you might think! The board sits on top of that. I used a 9” board to make a size 5 ball since it is pretty close in size. There is a pole through the styro and about halfway up through the cake on the top half of the ball to hold everything in place…having the ball roll right of the board would be a little bit disastrous. Jonny mentioned once it was finished that he would like to kick it. That would be disastrous too. I had to keep an eye on him for the rest of the afternoon…

To get the ganache perfectly round too, Ritzy taught me a trick. Hold up a 9” board behind the cake as you spin it on a cake stand to see where you need to add or take away ganache to get a perfectly round shape. She is a genius.

Ganaching soccer ball cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Covering was a particular challenge. Handi said I should cover it in the same way I cover a figurine head, but the problem with the soccer ball was that I couldn’t pick it up and turn it sideways the same way I do with a figurine.

Fondant to soccer ball cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Next was putting on the panels. I brought in a real size 5 ball to measure the size of the panels so I could get them right on the cake. I cut a pattern piece out of cardboard and started working from the top of the cake down to the bottom making indentations with the back of a knife for all of the seams. It is next to impossible to get all of the panels to end up perfectly, simply because the cake is not precisely round and measuring the panels from the cardboard piece results in a small amount of human error. I am not a machine! But I thought it turned out fairly well anyway.

Measuring soccer ball cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Next I spent quite a while painting on the black panels and the seams between them. I used a mixture of black food coloring and alcohol. So far, so good!

Painted soccer ball cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Next were a few finishing touches including grass, candles, a message, and some pro soccer team emblems printed onto rice paper, and it was done:

Soccer ball cake - Talk Sweet to Me

For another perspective, Anna-Maria said that she used to do the black panels differently. She cut them out of black icing, adhered them to the cake, and piped the seams black in between them. That would probably be much faster, but wouldn’t give you the indentations you see on a real soccer ball. AM, as she is called at Planet Cake, is one of the most organized, efficient, and energetic people I know. It must have something to do with that Austrian background of hers…

Speaking of Anna-Maria, she deserves a big congratulations for her winning entry in the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Congrats Anna-Maria! Here is a picture of her fantastic entry:

ANNA-MARIA’S ROYAL EASTER SHOW ENTRY

Anna Maria Easter Show Cake

Alien cake

The alien cake was really fun. I started by covering the head and carving the body of the Funky astronaut out of Styrofoam. The Styro room was a little crowded this week…

Styro carving room - Talk Sweet to Me

To cover the cake, I made small rings of icing and placed them on top of the ganached cake before covering the entire cake with the green icing. This created the craters. I had to push the centers in a little bit with a ball tool after the green icing was placed over the top, and then pressed small black circles into the middle of each of them.

Covering alien cake - Talk Sweet to Me

A close-up of the finished Funky…his eyes need to be a bit closer next time:

Astronaut figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

The alien was just made out of a piece of icing and the antennae were pieces of dried cellophane noodles with icing balls on top. Fully edible! (As an interesting side note, everyone at Planet Cake has a different name for the cellophane noodles. Anna-Maria calls them mung bean noodles, Handi calls them glass noodles, and Ritzy says they are called “haru same” in Japanese, which translates literally to “spring rain,” since they are clear and flowing…just like the spring rain.)

Here is Jonny’s design drawing…

Astronaut cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake.

Astronaut birthday cake- Talk Sweet to Me

Purple “Bling” cake

This cake deserves the Most-Frustrating-Cake-of-the-Week Award. Because it was a very clean, simple design with only a skinny ribbon around the base, it showed even the smallest of flaws.

Bling cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

It took quite a bit of purple food coloring to make the deep shade I needed to match the ribbon sample provided by the client. This, along with the icing being exposed while I mixed in the color for so long, produced a weird texture (and fairly dry) icing. Putting dry icing over a square cake is no easy feat, let me tell you. Handi had to come to the rescue a little bit on part of the 12” tier, but I managed the others myself.

Covering purple cake layer - Talk Sweet to Me

After stacking the 3 tiers, filling in some gaps with icing, and lining the base of each tier with purple ribbon, I was ready to start putting on the bling. First I printed out each of the letters from the computer and traced them onto tracing paper. Then, in a trick I learned from my Grandma (and was reminded of by Anna-Maria), I traced the lines on the back side of the paper with an 2B pencil, placed the sheets of paper on the cake where I wanted them to go, and re-traced the original lines, transferring the pencil lines onto the hardened icing. This told me exactly where I needed to place the bling.

Tracing onto love bling cake - Talk Sweet to Me

I started out painting piping gel onto each individual diamonte, picking it up with tweezers, and putting it into the perfect place on the cake.

Placing bling - Talk Sweet to Me

I would literally have been there for hours if Handi had not shown me this trick. Painting the piping gel along the traced lines on the cake saved me from painting each individual piece of bling. Then, instead of picking up each one with the tweezers, I picked them up with my finger, dampened with water, placed them on the piping gel lines, and then rearranged with the tweezers so they were all in the correct locations. Handi is so clever.

Bling love cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The florist placed fresh flowers and the “A” and “S” bling cake toppers shown on the design drawing on top of the cake at the reception site.

Funky seashells cake

Here is Antony’s design drawing:

Beach cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

The first thing that had to be done for this cake was the shells. They were completed early in the week so that they would have time to dry before I needed to place them on the cake. They were made by pressing icing into shell molds, and painted with a mixture of ivory and brown food coloring and alcohol.

Sugar seashells for beach cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Next I stacked the two tiers and drew on the waves with a pencil. The coloring was mixed (blue on the top and teal on the bottom, each mixed with alcohol) and painted on. I found that to be a little bit tricky, as you basically get one swipe with a large brush before brush-strokes become prominent and distracting. Let’s just say it is always good to start on the back side. The wavy gold line was just piped on in white royal icing, following the pencil line, and then painted gold. The snail trail around the base went on last so that I wouldn’t drip any blue on it when painting on the waves.

The shells, flowers, and pearls were all placed on the sides of the cake, and then the Funkies were put on top.

Beach cake topper design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

They were worked on by myself, Handi, and Margie. Margie did the bodies and surfboard, Handi did the clothes, faces, and hair, and I took care of the arms and the other various paraphernalia on the top of the cake (sand and sand castles, martini glass, towels, shells, and sunscreen).

Beach cake topper - Talk Sweet to Me

The delivery-person came for the cake as I was boxing it, so I didn’t have an extra minute to check everything over as I usually do. Unfortunately, this meant that I forgot to send the 3 cupcakes that were added to the order out with the cake, which I felt pretty badly about…but everything got there in the end!

Tropical beach cake - Talk Sweet to Me

A couple of other fun things from this week

Ritzy worked on a masquerade mask…now that’s a lot of cake!

RITZY’S MASQUERADE MASK

Ritzy with mask

And a shout-out to Margie, who does amazing things every week. Here is a picture of Margie working on her jungle tree cake:

Margie working on cake - Talk Sweet to Me

I was a bit worried about her as this was her second late night in the workroom and she was starting to look a bit like Shrek as she placed the jungle leaves in her hair instead of on the cake…amazing, don’t you think?

MARGIE’S JUNGLE TREE CAKE

Jungle tree cake

Finally, it was my birthday lunch on Wednesday this week, so we went down the road to the Exchange Hotel and had a wonderful meal and a good time just relaxing together for a little while. Thanks, Paris!

me and anna maria

me and handi

lunch party

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The Cakes: Week #2

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted March 3-7, 2008

This week I’ll just quickly go through each of the cakes.

I was in charge of 5 cakes:

-2-Tier round chocolate ganache cake – smooth finish

-3-Tier round royal icing cake – smooth finish

-Funky child with stars

-Teddy with baby block

-Orange and yellow flower spray birthday cake

And worked with others on 2 more:
-4-Tier cascade
-Circles/Bubbles cake

The chocolate ganache and royal icing cakes were fairly simple. The royal icing cake was ganached, covered with a thin layer of regular icing to prevent the chocolate and royal icing from coming into contact with one another, stacked, and then iced. I added some glycerine when mixing the royal icing so that it wouldn’t dry quite so hard…it’s not very graceful when a bride has to take a chainsaw to her hard-as-rocks wedding cake just to cut it. Putting on the royal icing reminded me a lot of my earlier days working with buttercream…although I’m not sure I miss it that much!

Royal icing finish cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The chocolate ganache cake was just stacked and covered with melted ganache. As Handi said, “finish it so that it is smooth, but not smooth.” This reminds me of his helpful (but not helpful) instructions to place the silver balls on the snowflake cake in a “random, but not random” fashion. In the end though, it actually gets the point across rather well!

Ganache finish cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The Funky child with stars cake starts with the Funky. I worked along with Handi carving the body out of Styrofoam. It is very messy, and by the time we were finished it looked like it snowed in the styro room.

Carving figurine body2 - Talk Sweet to Me

Carving figurine body - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is a close-up of the finished Funky…

Boy figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake!

Baby boy cake - Talk Sweet to Me

This week there was another Teddy with baby block cake, which is the same as the one I completed last week.

Its a girl teddy bear cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The only thing different about this cake is that it was being shipped to Hong Kong. Here it is all packaged for shipping. The only thing that wasn’t added and needed to be was a message to NOT refrigerate it, which someone loading the plane decided would be best, and which actually caused a crack in the cake during transportation. At least, thankfully, it was on the back side.

Cake to ship to Hong Kong - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi taught me how to make cymbidium orchids this week. We made centers first, which must be completely dry before they are followed by the first layer (which includes the tongue).

Making sugar orchids - Talk Sweet to Me

The 5 other petals were made on wires, texture was added, and they were left to dry overnight.

Sugar Orchids step1 - Talk Sweet to Me

The next day the five additional petals were wired onto the center, and a light yellow dusting of color was added to the tongue and base of each of the five petals.

Complete sugar orchid - Talk Sweet to Me

The next cake was for the same person who ordered the orange cake from last week. She must have a lot of friends to be able to have two parties! Here is Antony’s design drawing:

Gold cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

Working and covering the board…

Covering square board - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake.

Golden citrus birthday cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi and I worked together on the 4-Tier cascade cake. The cake was for a woman named Maude. I was oblivious until at least halfway through the week that Handi was making fun of the way I say that name. From an American accent perspective, I pronounce Maude as “mod,” the same way I would start to say the word modern. Handi and the rest of the Australians pronounce it “mowde,” a cross between the words mood and mode. Kind of obvious when you’re thinking about accents, yes, but it took me three days to understand that Handi was mocking me! That’s okay…I can take it.

Handi ganached the bottom two tiers and covered the top two, while I ganached the top two and covered the bottom two.

Covering bottom tier - Talk Sweet to Me

Stacking the tiers:

Stacking cake tiers - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is Antony’s design drawing…

Cascade design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

…compared to the finished cascade:

White rose cascade cake - Talk Sweet to Me

And the final cake. I think it was Anna-Maria who said that this cake looks a little bit like it is from outer space.

Bubbles design inspiration - Talk Sweet to Me

Geometric cake - Talk Sweet to Me

It took quite a long time to cover the different-sized Styrofoam balls with icing and paint them silver. Anna-Maria, Handi, and I all had a hand in producing this cake. Next time we would raise up the bottom tier on a Styrofoam base so that you could see the piping dots pattern instead of having them hidden behind the larger balls. Plus it would make the tiers both look like they are the same size instead of the balls dwarfing the size of the bottom tier.

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

The Real Deal – Week #1 (Part 2)

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 25-29, 2008

Thursday

On Thursday we try to finish all of the cakes and package and label them for delivery or collection.

In the morning I finished the orange cake with piping and arranging the flower spray on top of the cake. The flowers had to be dyed orange and yellow and then dusted in order to make them “glow” from the inside.

Dusting flowers for orange cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The spray was arranged on top in a teardrop shape, starting with the largest flowers first and working from largest to smallest after that, generally alternating colors along the way.

Placing orange flower spray - Talk Sweet to Me

Then leaves were added, which helps to hide the wires.

Finished citrus colored cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Does it look like the design inspiration??

Orange cake design inspiration - Talk Sweet to Me

Next Handi demonstrated how to finish the teddy bear funky, which will be used on a cake for next week.

Finishing teddy figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

 

Teddy bear figurine finished - Talk Sweet to Me

The Funky was placed on the cake with the block, the flowers piped on, and the message added to the board.

Finishing piping on teddy cake - Talk Sweet to Me

 

Teddy bear birthday cake - Talk Sweet to Me

In the afternoon, the 65 cupcakes were ganached and decorated.

Decorated cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

Here’s Handi working on his Hydrangea cupcakes:

Handi finishing hydrangeas - Talk Sweet to Me

After practicing flower placement on one of Handi’s cakes…

Learning flower placement - Talk Sweet to Me

…I completed a 3-tier cascade. This is yet another thing that is trickier than it looks. Handi brought one down from the showroom for me to work from.

SHOWROOM CASCADE

Cascade inspiration

Working, working…

Placing flower cascade - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the completed cascade:

Rose cascade - Talk Sweet to Me

Friday

Friday is generally last-minute finishing and preparation for the next week. This morning I finished up my cupcake stand and boxed it for delivery.

Cupcake stand display - Talk Sweet to Me

Design and invitation used for inspiration:

Cupcake stand design - Talk Sweet to Me

After finishing this week’s cakes, it was time to organize the cakes for next week with Anna-Maria and make some ganache. Fifteen batches of dark chocolate ganache, and sixteen batches of white chocolate ganache. We went through a lot of chocolate today.

Before lunch, Paris gave me a constructive critique of the cascade I completed on Thursday. It was really helpful to help me see what needs to happen next time. More flow, less bunching!

Next we started preparation for next week’s cakes, but before getting too far into it, a slight emergency arose. Paris received a call from a customer who said that that the hair on the Funky baby that was delivered was smashed. Luckily we had another Funky just sitting around waiting for something to do (the one I started on Tuesday), so I gave him some arms, a dye job (brown to blonde hair!) a new pet duck, and a face.

Figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

Done!

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Magnolias and Rosebuds

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 20, 2008

Today I started out with a Magnolia Cake. Unfortunately we were all out of white icing until the delivery arrived later that morning, so while I was waiting I prepared the bamboo sticks and the magnolia flower. I made the bamboo sticks with a dowel and white icing, cut the grooves in, and painted on the color with an alcohol/food coloring solution. The magnolia petals and center were already wired and dried, so it was just a matter of assembling the flower with floral tape.

Sugar magnolia and bamboo -Talk Sweet to Me

Sugar bamboo - Talk Sweet to Me

Next I started working on some small sugar rose buds for Handi’s massive castle cake. I started off just adding two layers of petals, then let them dry until later in the afternoon when I would add the third layer.

Hooray, the icing is delivered! I proceeded to cover both tiers of the magnolia cake. However, after they were finished we all discovered that the layers were supposed to be extended height (5”) instead of regular height (3.5”). So, unfortunately, the icing had to be taken off, more cake added to each layer, and both tiers had to be re-ganached. This meant that the cake would be finished by one of the other artists later in the week.

Pink present box cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Because of that, I worked on an Exploding Stars present box cake. I got a lot of practice covering square cakes today! The practice happened to be quite good as I learned that I was actually trying to roll the icing too thin. I started to become frustrated with the number of air bubbles I was getting, and Handi pointed out to me that the white icing was almost beginning to get transparent over the chocolate ganache. A good thing to learn! I finished and boxed this cake, and then it was back to the flowers to add the third layer.

Sugar Rosebuds- Talk Sweet to Me

Here they are on Handi’s cake (just barely visible on the bottom round cakes):

Castle cake by Planet Cake

HANDI’S CASTLE CAKE

In other exciting news, I will be full-time at Planet Cake for the next 5 (busy!) weeks through March and am looking forward to it. Certainly the weeks will fly right on by and I’ll be so immersed in cake that I’ll be dreaming of ganache and icing through most of the weekends. Okay by me!

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Madhatter!

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 16-17, 2008

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2-day Madhatter course taught by Anna-Maria. There were four other very talented women in the class, and it was fun to talk to some other people who are passionate about cake decorating. It was great to hear some of their cake stories and share tips and tricks…it was a great weekend.

On Saturday we learned how to cut and ganache the bottom and top tiers. Usually if there is time it is best to also cover the bottom layer so that it is easier to put the stripes on during the second day, but we decided to wait until the ganache had some time to set and do it in the morning.

Sunday we covered the bottom tier, put on the stripes, covered the top tier and placed it on top of the bottom one, made the ribbon and bow, and placed the balls around the base of the cake. Everyone used very different colors, so it was great to see all of them together at the end.

All madhatter cakes - Talk Sweet to Me
For most of Saturday night I had color combinations swirling around in my head. Orange and green? Tangerine and aquamarine? Magenta and bright green? In the end, I was inspired by fabric on the shirt of a woman who was on the bus with me on Saturday night. Since the Madhatter has such bold lines, I figured that bold colors were best for it. I chose bright red, orange, and a dark coral color with black and white accents.

Madhatter cake - Talk Sweet to Me
I was very happy with most of the craftsmanship (or craftswomanship!) on my cake. The top tier ended up giving me a bit of trouble though. It wasn’t cut quite right (I didn’t take off enough of a wedge for the first cut), so I ended up having to stick some extra pieces of icing underneath the base of the top tier to hold it up at the correct angle. The good thing about cake is that there is usually a way to fix the problems that arise…you just have to learn those tricks, though it is of course best to avoid having to use them in the first place! The covering of the top tier was less than ideal as I pushed down a little bit too hard when I was smoothing the darn thing and it got squished on the side. But there is something to learn with every cake, and hopefully I will improve next time.

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Baby Booties and White Roses

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 13, 2008

Two cakes on the agenda for today.

First up: a Present Box with Baby Booties cake, pink theme.

I start with the order form and ganached cake:

Beginning present box cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The cake was covered in white icing, the pink ribbons were added, and dots were placed on all sides.

Working present box cake - Talk Sweet to Me
The bow was completed with tails, and a pink rope added around the base. The booties were made entirely of icing (though it has been done with Styrofoam on previous occasions). It was decided that that since the booties were relatively small it would be okay to make them out of icing only.

Beginning sugar baby booties - Talk Sweet to Me

Thin pink rope details were added to the booties, the board was covered in icing, and the message was piped onto the board. Done! Sensei Ritzy showed me a trick for covering a square board. The last time I tried to do it I cut a square out of the icing that was exactly measured to the size of the cake and carefully put that on the board. It was a pain in the neck. This time, Ritzy taught me how to use four pieces of icing evenly and thinly rolled out using the pasta machine and place them on each of the four sides of the cake. After that it was simply a matter of making sure the corners were trimmed to meet up nicely…and after that, Ritzy waves a magic wand (or uses x-ray film!) [or overhead projector transparency film] to make the lines where the icing meets up disappear. She is amazing.

Present box cake with baby booties - Talk Sweet to Me

Second cake of the day: A fairly simple one-tier cake to match the ribbons that a client brought in.

Beginning white rose cake - Talk Sweet to Me

White rose petals cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The trick for me on this cake was extending the sugar rose to place on the top and making the stem and leaves look realistic…or at least as realistic as they can look in white. Several extra layers of petals were added onto the normal Planet Cake rose, and I actually put on an additional layer of wired petals using florist’s tape. The stem was composed of a paper towel covered tightly in florist’s tape, and the leaves and petals were wired into it. This flower was secured into position on the cake with a couple of U-shaped wire “pins.”
Overall, quite a good day.

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Full On and Flat Out – Madhatter and More

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 6, 2008

Today was pretty full-on. In a very good way.

After completing a Spotty Present Box cake, I finished the gerbera daisies that were started last week. The first layer has to dry before the second layer of petals is put on, and after cutting out and preparing the second layer it must immediately be placed on top of the first layer so that it will form to the shape of the first dried layer. After letting the new layer dry for a little while, I dipped them in the colors (orange, yellow, and magenta today). The middle was made by rolling a small ball of white icing, pressing it with a grid-type fabric to make the pattern on top, and then dipping it into the yellow solution and placing it right onto the flower while it was still wet.

Spotty Present Box Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Gerbera daisy sugar flower - Talk Sweet To Me

FYI: Did you know that each petal on a daisy is actually a tiny flower in itself? And that the middle is also made up of many very small flowers? The one “flower” that we see is actually a whole bunch of flowers – hundreds for the price of one! My apologies, this is the biology nerd in me trying to get out. I think it is totally fascinating. Back to the cakes…

But first, morning tea. Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations to soothe my (very unfortunately) raging sweet tooth. So you can imagine my utter astonishment when someone said that they had never experienced this before. I brought in some Reese’s Peanut Butter cups from the candy store near my apartment that happens to sell American candy at over twice the price one would pay for the same thing at home. But it was worth every penny (and every calorie, too)!

After replenishing our energy, I talked with Handi about how to construct tiered cakes and helped cover a large base tier for a 4-tier cake he was working on. I also helped put the other layers together…quite exciting to work with multiple tiers!

Putting apricot gel on the ganached layer:

Apricot gel - Talk Sweet to Me
Handi and I knead the icing :

Preparing icing - Talk Sweet To Me

Handi picks up the icing…

Picking up icing - Talk Sweet To Me

…and places it on the cake:

Handi places icing - Talk Sweet To Me

We work quickly to secure the edges and smooth the icing:

Covering layer with Handi - Talk Sweet To Me

The board is covered at the same time, and edges trimmed off:

Covering board - Talk Sweet To Me

Here I am placing the top tier, complete with a cheesy smile and a dusting of cornflour:

Placing top layer snowflake cake - Talk Sweet To Me

I place the silver balls as per Handi’s instructions – “Randomly, but not random.” Controlled chaos, I guess…

Working snowflake cake - Talk Sweet To Me

Handi worked some more magic, and the cake was complete!

Snowflake Cake by Planet Cake

The next cake was by far the highlight of my week. I’ve wanted to work on a Madhatter cake for quite some time now, so it was fantastic to finally get a chance to do it! Plus, it would give me a bit of a head start when I did the Madhatter course the next weekend.

Here is the drawing that I worked from – a one-tier, striped Madhatter cake.

Madhatter cake drawing - Talk Sweet To Me

I started out covering the cake with white icing for the base layer. It is best to let it dry a bit before proceeding with the stripes.

Covering Madhatter - Talk Sweet To Me

Then it was time to put on the stripes!

Starting stripes for madhatter - Talk Sweet To Me

Adding stripes to madhatter - Talk Sweet To Me

Finished madhatter stripes - Talk Sweet To Me

Then just a bit of finishing – the bow, the balls around the base, covering the board, and piping the message.

Madhatter Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

With all of that fit into one day at Planet Cake, it was a long one. Putting the stripes on the Madhatter cake took quite a long time, but I had a blast doing it. So I didn’t actually leave until 8pm, right when it started pouring down rain, but that was partly due to the break I took to look at Margie’s stunning photos from her recent travels in the USA through Utah, Colorado, California, and some other places out West. It was fun to see, but made me miss home. Sniff, sniff.

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The Hippie Butterfly

Flashback - talksweettome.com

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

Flashback - talksweettome.com

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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