Wedding Cake

Absolutely enjoyed making this wedding cake for a dear friend. Lots and lots of fondant pearl balls made it look sooo pretty and bubbly!  I dusted the fondant balls with white pearl dust to give them a beautiful shine.

And created a unique wired gum paste topper with different shades of purple for subtle accents.

 

I was totally relieved when my husband offered to drive for the delivery because it was during a snowstorm! But weddings can’t wait!

Congratulations Beth & Mike!

Food Safety Management Certificate

My Food Safety Management Certification was due to expire this year. (It has to be renewed every 5 years) I reviewed all the time/temp. for handling and storing hot foods and meats because that is not what I normally work with so it’s not something I always remember, but I knew it would be on the test! Also, many food borne illnesses, names and causes, I knew I needed to review those too.

I passed with flying colors! Yaaaa!!

Holiday Cake

Through the month of December I wanted to celebrate not only the holidays, but also the anniversary of my business Let’s Cake Decorate, so I had several giveaway/drawings  posted on the Facebook page to show my appreciation to all my followers!

weekly giveawaysFood Permit

One of the Giveaway prizes was a Holiday Cake that allowed me to try new techniques that I probably otherwise would not have taken the time to do! It gave me a firm reason and commitment to actually finish and accomplish trying out new “on-trend” techniques that I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t taken the time to do. So planning began….and I knew it had to involve chocolate!

coffee and planning (Chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache, covered with chocolate fondant)

I wanted to try SugarVeil which makes a lacy design from a mold. I found SugarVeil quite difficult to work with, especially the scroll pattern. It took a long time to dry. I even tried drying it in a warm oven per instructions. It was best to just leave it out on the counter for a day or two to dry. Trying to get it out of the mold definitely doesn’t work if it isn’t dry enough. The individual scrolls were hard to keep separated apart when it was removed from the mold. I tried it asugarveil1 second, and even a third time, and found that using a color dust, or pearl dust ( I used gold pearl dust) on the mat before applying the SugarVeil helped it to release easier. I knew I wanted a gold color, but any color dust would work. (Use white dust to keep the original color)

sugarveil2

There are several different mediums out there used to make lace patterns. Another product is called Sugar Dress and I tried that afterwards in the same mold to compare it, and found it dried much faster and was easier to work with – not as stretchy as SugarVeil.   (SugarVeil was used on this cake though)sugar dress

 

Another technique was to ‘watercolor’ the chocolate fondant on the top tier with a gold pear dust to give it a little glimmer and bling. Adding just a few drops of grain alcohol to the pear dust makes it ‘paintable’. The alcohol evaporates quickly and leaves a beautiful watercolor look. If you use water instead it takes a long time to dry and may get the fondant all gooey and sticky.

gold color Next came the making of some gum paste poinsettias. I know there are specific poinsettia petal cutters, but I used what I had at the time ( lily and orchid cutters) trimming and ruffling each petal and attaching to wires, then letting them dry before assembling.

poinsettia3 Also made little berries out of gum paste. After the gum paste was dry I used a corn syrup/alcohol mixture to give them a shine. Confectioners Glaze also works nicely to add a shine and dries completely whereas the corn syrup mixture may stay just a little bit sticky.

The fun part is assembling and color dusting the flowers.

poinsettia gum paste poinsettia

Then arranging them onto the cake using plastic flower spikes.

Christmas Cake 1

This picture shows the delicate little snowdrops I added using white royal icing in a piping bag.

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When you don’t have a box that fits the cake for delivery, a plastic wrap for gift baskets used upside down works nicely!

wrapping cakes

Almond Pinecones

piesThanksgiving & Christmas always inspire me to bake, decorate, and try new creative things!

Although there are always the sure and true “staples” of the holidays. Whenever I mention I’m going to try a new recipe, I usually hear from my oldest son, “I like pie,” and “You can’t break tradition, you have to make the fudge you always make!” So I definitely always make those to keep everyone happy!
But this year I took the time to try some new things too. I’ve always wanted to make those adorable pinecones that you see made from almonds.

I used a base of fondant shaped like a cone and tried to just stick the almond slices into the fondant….well that didn’t work very well. The small cone shape just isn’t big enough to fit all the almonds in that you need to. So what worked best was to attach the almond slivers with melted chocolate. I melted chocolate in a decorating bag and piped just a drop onto the back side of the almond slivers and placed them onto the fondant cone shape, just placed on the outside not stuck in.  almond acorns2 You don’t necessarily have to use fondant to make the cone shape, you could use any edible dough that will hold up the almonds: tootsie rolls or caramels warmed up and reshaped, modeling chocolate, heck you could even bake pie dough into a cone shape!

I used the pinecones on my Holiday Cake which I’ll talk about in a different post. Rosemary twigs placed beside them resembled a pine branch, and the fragrance from the rosemary was beautiful!

almond acorns

3D Edible Modeling

 The new Wilton Modeling 101 class has been fantastic! This class goes through the basics of using fondant or Wilton Shape-N-Amaze modeling dough. In the class everyone practices basic modeling skills ( ball, cone, joint attachments, and sizing) while creating a super cute puppy. Some students have even added their own features to resemble a favorite, furry, friend in their lives.

Students' puppies:

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In class we use either Wilton Shape-N-Amaze edible decorating dough or a fondant mixture :

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As Wilton's motto goes, "We make it easy...you make it amazing," the Shape-N-Amaze is very easy to use! It will seem super hard when you feel the package, making you think there is no way to work with such hard material, but as you work it and knead little pieces at a time it becomes soft and smooth. Think of it as a hard caramel or tootsie roll that will get soft once you knead it and warm it up in your hands. ( BTW - caramels & tootsie rolls are another awesome modeling medium!)  I have found it to be an easy dough to work with after it is softened up. The reason it is so hard is to hold its shape after it is formed and to dry quickly without sagging or drooping as it dries. The only drawback is the taste is kind of a bland, doughy taste. So this is a great medium to work with if the figure isn't necessarily going to be eaten.

 

 

   Another edible medium to model with is fondant. Fondant by itself though is pretty soft and takes awhile to dry. As it is drying the figure may droop and sag. If it is a large figure you can make Rice Crispy Treats ( marshmallows & rice crispy cereal) and shape that into the form you want, th20160815_104219en cover it with fondant.  

Other options to stiffen your fondant to keep it from sagging and help it to dry quicker : 

Add an equal amount of ready made gum paste to the fondant to create a 50/50 mixture, or you can add a very small amount of Gum-Tex Tylose Powder to your fondant to help stiffen it up.

Just remember that this will dry pretty quickly and you will need to keep it covered with a coating of shortening and wrapped in plastic wrap when not in use.20160815_095454

 

 

 

This class has encouraged me to expand beyond the basics taught in the class and experiment with other edible modeling mediums. If you know me then you know how much I luuvvv chocolate!! So it's become a passion to use modeling chocolate as a medium! A yummy edible medium!  Modeling chocolate is very soft and difficult to use in high humidity, which there was a lot of the day I made this Raggedy Ann, but it worked just fine because the sagging and drooping just made her look more raggedy!

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      I used mostly Candy Clay to make her. Candy Clay is Wilton's way of making modeling chocolate. Remember their motto...."We make it easy...you make it amazing," so Candy Clay is an easy form of modeling chocolate. It is made from Candy Melts which technically may not be a "true chocolate," but still tastes really good and is definitely easy to work with. It comes in a variety of different colors and flavors! Alternatively, chocolate chips can also be used!

Candy melts, white 20160815_095814chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips have more "fats" which make the chocolate softer. If you use semi-sweet chocolate or a chocolate that has 60% or more cacao it will be stiffer and you may need to add more glucose or corn syrup. (Glucose will make a little stiffer dough compared to using corn syrup) Also, depending on the humidity you may need to adjust a lesser amount of corn syrup/glucose in high humidity weather.

  Candy Clay / Modeling Chocolate  - use 2:1 ratio , for example two parts chocolate to one part glucose or corn syrup.

   1/4 cup glucose ( or light corn syrup)

  12 oz. bag candy melts 

Melt candy melts in microwave at 50% power for 1 minute, stir, then additional 30 second intervals until melted. Warm glucose (or corn syrup) just to pourable consistency. Stir into melted candy melts JUST until combined, DON"T over-mix.  Spread and flatten out onto wax paper, let cool slightly, and wrap in saran wrap overnight to rest. Then it can be kneaded and used.  

One important tip when melting chocolate of any kind - don't let any water or moisture get into the chocolate or bowl! Water will make chocolate seize which means it gets crumbly, grainy, and won't mix smooth. So if you are melting the chocolate over a double boiler be very careful the steam doesn't get into the chocolate!  

    Another important tip - All of these different mediums can be combined and kneaded together to form the consistency, or taste, that you want. I actually used a bit of left over fondant that I had to mix into the red candy clay for my Raggedy Ann Doll. I mostly just wanted to use up the pieces of fondant I had left over from another class, but by adding it to the candy clay it also stiffened up the consistency.

Here is another picture of modeling chocolate roses. These were made from melted milk chocolate chips & corn syrup. Modeling chocolate doesn't roll out as 'paper thin' as gum paste does to make delicate, fine, ruffled petals, but it sure is delightfully yummy!!   

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Wilton School

So excited and grateful to attend the Wilton Headquarters School in Darien, Illinois, for Instructor refresher classes last week. It was great to meet other Instructors from around the U.S. and Canada.

The world of cake decorating is constantly changing with new and unique "on-trend" designs and techniques, and I love to at least try and keep up with these new ideas as much as I can, so that I can share them with my students! 

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 I've been noticing that succulent plants are becoming a new style in cake decorating, even on wedding cakes. While I do think they are kindda cool looking, it wasn't until we started making them and it was said what an Agave plant is used for, that I realized maybe WHY they are popular ... Ok, you may already know this ...but I didn't!!! Agave is used to make tequila, I had no idea, but I think that explains the popularity..hehe!! 

One of my favorite techniques was using modeling chocolate to cover a cake just like you would fondant.  And then using cocoa butter paint to paint designs on it. Also, sculpting and creating flowers with the modeling chocolate. Beautiful and yummy!!

       What is modeling chocolate you ask?

Well, it is a really yummy modeling medium made with ....chocolate.

In this class we used Wilton Candy Melts, of course!  

    12 oz. white candy melts & 6 oz. glucose ( you can use corn syrup but glucose makes a stiffer consistency)  

Adjust with more chocolate in humid weather.

Melt the Candy Melts in microwave, and warm up the glucose to pourable consistency. Stir glucose into melted Candy Melts just until combined. Spread out flat to cool and wrap in plastic wrap to cure a few hours or overnight.

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There was even the bonus of being there at the same time as the Wilton Headquarters Annual Warehouse Sale!  A warehouse of goodies on sale...oh my!!   

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Buttercream Peacock Design

I've been enjoying 'Adult Coloring Nights' at the East Brookfield Library. Every time I color these beautiful pictures I can't help but recreate the image in my mind onto a cake!

When I saw this adorable peacock design I knew it would be perfect for a cake. 

Making the color choices I decided on blue & green hues, with a splash of yellow.

Having a tall cake would allow for the peacock tail to droop over the side and flow down, so I used two 3" high cakes which I torte and filled with chocolate ganache and strawberry filling. Then iced it with white buttercream ( added some Wilton Salted Caramel Flavoring drops to the buttercream...hhmmmm, I can smell now...yuuummmyyy !!)

          

 

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After letting the buttercream 'set up' to the touch, I used the piping gel pattern transfer technique taught in Course 1. Then used thin consistency colored buttercream with a Tip #5 to make elongated drops.

I've been messing around a little with photo lighting to get a good presentation, thus the different photos below....something I will continue to work on. I'm not sure which lighting I like best, but it makes such a difference!  

                   

Stained Glass Cake Design

Sharing a  technique that I recently tried. I had always wanted to try a stained glass design look on a cake.

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So, when my son colored a "stained glass" picture I new exactly what I wanted to do with it!

 Plus, I love birds, especially hummingbirds!

 I traced the picture onto some parchment paper

and traced the design with piping gel.

This is a technique taught in Course 1,

I just doctored it up a bit by filling in the design with colored piping gel

instead of all buttercream.

After the design was on the cake I re-traced it with black buttercream and filled in with colored piping gel. 

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    I added a few flower designs onto the side of the cake. 

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It came out quite nice, just what I was looking for, and my family  enjoyed it that evening!

                        Stained Glass 2                     Stained Glass1

 

If you ever try this technique, I'd love to hear how it went! Either post below, or send a photo through email or through www.facebook.com/cakedecorating

Double Barrel Cake

This birthday cake for my “classy chic” niece was the first time I’ve attempted a double barrel cake (which means two tiers of the same size stacked on top of each other). I made four 8″ layers baked in  Wilton’s 3″ high pans.  The layers were leveled, torted, and filled with softened ganache and strawberry preserve filling. Each 8″ tier was then prepared as though they were two separate tiers (dowels and separator plate between them), but they were iced on the outside in ganache all together.

Then I filled and iced the 6″ tier with white chocolate ganache. When using white chocolate for icing ganache you need to use more white chocolate in ratio to heavy cream so that it will stiffen up and not stay soft.   Jen's bday2Although it took awhile, it was actually fun smoothing the ganache to achieve straight sides.

Then the fun really began with covering the cakes in fondant, and decorating with ‘butterfly hearts’ that I dusted with super luster gold & silver dust. On a few of them I added gold & silver disco dust for added bling!   Jen's Bday Cake1

The final design has a front and a back to it – (I was given a picture off of Pinterest to use as a sample design idea, so I must give credit to the person that made the original design!)  but I added a few twists and different colors.

Very nervous during delivery, but it all went great, and it was a fabulous 30th birthday party!

Jen's BDay final cake

Cupcake Basket Class

The cupcake basket class at North Brookfield Evening School was sooo much fun! As I always say,”I love to see how it all comes together,” and it really did- they all came out so pretty!  I heard comments at the beginning of class that some had never decorated before and didn’t expect them to come out very nice, but by the end of the class they were having fun and excited to see how nice they really came out!  It really felt like spring… cupcake1 cupcake3 cupcake4 cupcake5 cupcake6
…even though it was pouring rain and cold outside. Motto of the evening, “April cupcake2Showers Bring May Flowers”

Thank you Amanda!

Thank you, Amanda, for hosting a Wilton-At-Home Class/Party. It was a perfect day (rainy and cold outside) to spend time together inside creating and designing wonderful cakes! I loved to see father and daughter decorating together! Everyone did such a great job. Enjoy your cakes!

Amanda6 Amanda 3 Amanda 5 Amandas4 Amanda's 2

Last Class for “Intro to Wired Gum Paste Flowers”

The "Intro to Wired Gum Paste Flowers" is being discontinued temporarily at Michaels. ( may resume in the fall?) The last class is scheduled at Michaels in Sturbridge, for Sunday, April, 10, 1:00-3:00 and we meet again the following Sunday, April 17 same time.

Join us to make a beautiful rose, classic hydrangea, and the tropical hibiscus. (Course 3 recommended)

Registration currently on sale  $15.  Sign -up through Michaels

Hibiscuscloseup                    WiredGPFlowersCake-RosesHyachoriz

*New Class – Modeling 101*

So excited about this *New Class at Michaels in Sturbridge –  Modeling 101*…Coming Soon!

First Class is schedule for Sunday, May 22, 4:00-6:00

Welcome!

Glad to have you visit the new website! Wow, what an adventure it was learning how to build this website. I’ve learned so much from putting it together…more than I ever wanted to know ! Who knew that a website can look completely different on different desktop computer screens, never mind what it looks like on a cell phone or other device!

If you are looking at this with a cell phone or small device, please let me know how it looks to you. The screen I used to create it is rather large and I don’t need to scroll at all on the home page, everything shows up, but I noticed on smaller screens you do need to scroll to see the class buttons…aarrgg!

I have to thank my boys for helping me! I never would have been able to do it without them! From Jesse getting me set up and hosting, to Devin helping me with picture pixels and sizing. Jacob gave me feedback on layout (he thought the picture slide on the homepage was an ad that came up on the website). Cliffy checked all the links and suggested some options.

Well, the reason I wanted to start the website anyway was to be able to direct people to information about classes. I’m all over Central Mass lately, and it’s hard to get individual class information out on facebook. I’ll try my best to keep the Class Schedule Calendar updated.

This is where I’ll share new information, new classes, new recipes, etc.

– I hope to see you at an up coming class…or at your own Wilton-At-Home Class/Party!

     ~ Sue