Justin Bieber cake with shooting stars

Here's my word of advice: One should not try to make the color purple; instead one should just buy purple food coloring

We all know that yellow + blue= Green; yellow + red= Orange; and blue+ red= Purple.  However, when working on this cake, my blue and red equaled grey, dull, dirty and WRONG!!!!!

Thankfully with a quick trip to a local store, I was able to pick up colors colors violet, fuchsia (both from AmeriColor), and color Electric Purple (from Spectrum) and create this fun Justin Bieber cake. 
To learn how I made the Star Cake Toppers see my previous post.


Creating Fondant/Gum Paste Star Cake Toppers

Recently I was asked to make a cake, which was to include stars connected to wires that shot out of the top.  Although it sounded easy, being that I never made fondant shapes connected to wire that's meant to be a cake topper I decided to do some research beforehand.

At the cake supply store, I was advised to use gum paste because it hardens faster/better than fondant.  Online, I found sites that said to use fondant and others that said to use half fondant and half gum paste. However beyond that bit of info and some pretty pictures (of the final product), these sites offered nothing.  With that said, I decided to test out a few different methods in hopes of answering the below questions for anyone who finds themselves in this position one day:
1) Why it was best to use one over the other? Although all three hold the shapes well, I liked the half and half blend b/c it's more pliable dries quickly.  The fondant is a bit tougher, but it also dries quickly.  The gum paste is also pliable, but dries slowly and never gets as hard. 
2) How do you connect the shapes to the wire? I used 26 gauge floral wires and stuck them in the stars so they could dry together.  However, they were easy to pull out & took 9 days to stay in securely.  Also, they didn't support the weight of the stars and I doubt the thicker 20 gauge would have worked.  On top of that, I read that for food safety reasons, you shouldn't insert the wire into the cake and therefore need to take extra steps to cover it and prevent contact when inserted.  With all that said, I switched to bamboo skewers.  It was safe and supported the stars. The only challenge was since the stars were not thick, I couldn't insert them.  Therefore, I stuck the skewer on the back of the star using a 3:1 sugar water mixture (corn syrup might also work) and applying a thin piece of the gum paste/fondant blend on top.  This held everything together while it dried.  Also as you see in the last picture, on the largest star I wrapped wire around 2/3 of the bamboo to cover the wood, but left the bottom 1/3 without wire since that would go into the cake.
3) How thick should the stars be? No less than 1/8" and no more than 1/4".
4) How far in advance should they be made?About 4-6 days. This allows time for drying.


2011 Weddng Cake Trends - Pt. 2

In respect to wedding cake design, there's a growing trend towards minimalism.  As much as I love a beautifully ornate cake, I can appreciate this shift.
  • It offers simplicity without cutting back on elegance.
  • It's modern, sophisticated and clean.
  • Less details equals less money allowing those saved dollars to be reallocated to other areas of the event.
One thing you don't want to do is mistake this style for boring.  Think beyond cakes which feature nothing more than buttercream and a satin ribbon, or a few flowers thrown on top, or flowers thrown between tiers.  


Writing with Chocolate

I'll admit, this cakenista is still learning to write...on cakes that is! So when asked to make an anniversary cake for two lovely friends I decided to find a way around this obstacle, by writing on chocolate with chocolate!  

It's easier because:
  • once tempered to the right consistency chocolate squeezes out in smooth continuous strokes.  
  • writing on a chocolate plaque is more forgiving.  If any mistakes are made, it's easy to just wipe off and start again.
Prior to this cake I always had issues creating chocolate plaques, curls and other decorative elements.  Nonetheless I took on the challenge and came out the victor.  I believe that the reason for the win is that I specifically used melting chocolate (opposed to Hershey, Nestle or Ghirardelli).

Here's how you can do it:
White Chocolate Plaque (sorry, but nothings measured)

  •  Chop melting chocolate into small pieces and place in a DRY microwave safe bowl.
  •  Temper chocolate in microwave by setting to 1 minute.
  • At 30 secs, stop the microwave, stir chocolate pieces with DRY spoon/small spatula. At this point it will most likely be nowhere near melted so put it back in for the remaining 30secs.
  • Stop, check and, stir again. If necessary put back in microwave for another minute.
    • This may seem like a slow and tedious process, but it's very quick and easy to burn chocolate.
    • By frequently performing the Stop/Check/Stir process you're minimizing the risk.
  • Spread melted chocolate in a baking sheet and try to get it an even level. If you're working with a small amount of chocolate, you can do this in a small cake pan or try to limit the spreading to one section of the sheet.                                                        
  • Refrigerate for 10-20mins till hard. Wipe a hot/wet paper towel beneath the sheet to help with release (onto parchment).
  • Although you can now cut the chocolate into desired shapes, be careful and cut slowly using repeated slicing (not sawing) motions. Since it's hard any rough movement can cause it to crack.

Writing with Milk Chocolate

  • Using the same method from above, melt the chocolate.
  • To write you can use a piping bag and fine tip, but I used the squeeze bottle shown below because: 
    • You can easily store any unused portion in the fridge and then re-temper in the same bottle when needed again.
    • It has a removable tip and coupler which allows  you to use other tips as needed. 
**TIP: If at any point you need to start over, wipe off the writing and put the plaque in the fridge for about a minute.  Doing this will help prevent any melting potentially caused by the wiping off action and of course the room temperature. 


2011 Wedding Cake Trends - Pt. 1

What's new in the world of cakes?  Height!!!

  • Skyscraper cakes with  5+ layers in a tier is an absolute perfect way to add a dramatic affect to what would otherwise be a simple cake.
  • This looks best when applied to only one tier; applying to all or several is overkill.
  • Much like the Royal Guard, cakes designed in this fashion command attention adds a wow factor. 


Vanilla and Chocolate Mix

 From bland to ............




Looking to take cupcakes from bland to grand?  All it takes is a bit of planning and some patience.  For this job my most valuable tools were a pencil and some paper.

My tips for you are to do some math.  How many cupcakes do you have, what are your different cake flavors and frosting flavors.  Since you won't need a full batter of frostings...how much do you really need to make?  Think about how you can mix and match by creating combinations that highlight taste and beauty. Also important is what will the guest want and how can you incorporate their preferences into your final plan.

Lastly if you haven't already, invest in some serve ware (cake stands, cupcake stands, dishes, etc) and a few embellishments (flowers, bling, etc.) because contrary to what anyone says.....looks matter! 


Lavender Cupcakes w/ Browned Butter Frosting

I've been dying to try something new...and oh it was worth it.

Lavender isn't only for freshening your linen closet or for relaxing shower gels. As of today (for me) it's also for cakes.  I was so excited by the results and even more happy with how much the browned butter frosting complimented it.

Lavender Cupcakes
 Use any vanilla/yellow/white/butter cake recipe desired.  However, here's what makes this different: 
  • Boil 1/4 cup of lavender in some of the liquid required in the recipe(milk, buttermilk, juice) for about 10 mins.  This will speed up the process of extracting the flavor.  When done, strain out the flowers and add the liquid to the remaining of your liquids.  Since some of the liquid may have evaporated, be sure to remeasure your and accomodate so it's exactly what the recipe requires. Allow to cool off before adding to cake batter. 
    •  lavender can be purchased from any spice store or gourmet market.
  • Add about 2tsp of lemon zest (do not use extract or juice) to the batter.  It helps add a nice refreshing contrast to the lavender flavor.

Browned Butter Frosting
1 stick butter @ room temp
1 stick butter (for browning)
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy cream

  • Melt 1 stick of butter in sauce pan at low/medium heat until brown; about 7 mins (watch carefully & do not burn).  allow to cool about 4 mins
  • In mixer beat 1 stick of butter  (with flat paddle) till creamy; about 1min.  stop and scrape bowl.
  • Add the cooled browned butter to the mixer and beat about 3mins till fully combined with creamed butter.  stop and scrape bowl
  • Add vanilla and mix about 30 secs
  • Add in sugar 1 cup at a time stopping to scrape bowl after each addition (frosting will look really gritty and coarse)
  • Add in heavy cream in 2-3 additions and mix after each.  Mix until smooth creamy and everything's fully combined.
**FYI- the final product is light brown, but I added food coloring which why it looks purple.