Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not your typical cake design....

One of my colleagues, Steve, was leaving the company and I wanted to make a cake to wish him luck in his new adventures. Hmmm…what should I do? Well, he loves zombie movies. OK. No particular zombie movies come to my mind immediately, so I start searching for zombie cakes….

The “traditional” zombie cake photos that I found were mostly of tombstones with heads and arms crawling out of the grave. I didn’t need a large cake and I wasn’t real comfortable with trying to make a head and face, even if it would be a zombie! I found one cake that was a pink decorated birthday cake with a zombie hand breaking through the cake and decided that was they way I wanted to go. I just changed it up a little but kept the idea, a nicely decorated cake with a zombie hand coming out of the cake…and my zombie hand would be holding an eyeball!

For this trick I decided to try modeling chocolate. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy modeling chocolate was to make and work with. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos while I made the chocolate. It basically works like modeling clay. Once you work it a bit it becomes soft and malleable. Then you can sculpt or carve as necessary. It hardens again by placing it in the refrigerator.

As suggested by a fellow cake decorator I decided to use rice krispy treats covered with modeling chocolate instead of solid chocolate, purely for weight concerns. I made what looked like a baseball mitt out of rice krispies. The fingers were just too hard to do with this medium. After this “dried” for a few days I started covering with modeling chocolate. I added fingers and was able to add small pieces at a time and smooth the entire surface. I didn’t really worry about it being perfect, it was supposed to be a zombie hand. This is what the hand looked like at this point.
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I was debating on other colors to add to the hand for effect. Should I use modeling chocolate or edible paint? I decided to add some green modeling chocolate, going for the moldy, rotten look. I new the hand would be coming out of the cake surrounded by a pile of crushed cookies for dirt so I brushed on small amounts of piping gel (so it would be sticky) and sprinkled with cookie crumbs.

On to the eyeball… solid white modeling chocolate smoothed into a ball. Used a small piece of fondant for the iris/pupil and painted on blood vessels with melted red chocolate.

Next the cake... it was 4 layers of chocolate cake, with strawberry jam filling, covered with chocolate buttercream.

I placed a small cake circle (cardboard) at the base of the hand and inserted two wooden skewers through both to support the hand. I then inserted the skewers into the cake, of course adding buttercream under the circle to “adhere”. I piped a mound of buttercream around the hand and covered with crushed cookies.

I was careful to keep the rest of the cake neat, but Doug said it was too neat of a pile; it should have been more messy like the hand actually broke through. OK, I get that, but executing that is a lot harder than it sounds. I think it turned out great!

I added the eyeball and some melted red chocolate on the hand for blood dripping from the eyeball. Done!

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Here is a close up of the hand...


Best of luck Steve!
It was a pleasure working with you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This was supposed to be quick and easy...

A simple 2 layer cake for a 90th birthday party.  Nothing fancy, so we decided just flat flowers.  OK, baked and filled the cake, no problems.  Frosted the cake, no problems.  Unless of course you count the fact that a 10x14 board is a little tight for a 9x13 cake.  I'll have to remember that next time. 

Added reverse shell border on top, no problems.  Wait, must have placed border just over the I'm working on the flowers I notice part of the border on the back is falling off!  I carefully remove and re-pipe a new border in that section and put the cake in the refrigerator hoping the buttercream will stiffen enough to hold everything in place. 

30 minutes later....border looks OK.  Onto the flowers.  Should be easy, use a cookie cutter to "mark" the shape of the flower in the buttercream then outline and fill with simple stars.  Yeah, easy.  I had to use the medium size cutter because the cake was only 9x13 and after filling in with stars they looked like big blobs!  Deep breath...scrape off the plan.  Move onto the lettering.

I practice on paper about 10 times trying to keep the 90 centered and why can't happy and birthday have the same number of letters?!  In the end I think it looks ok.  If only she hadn't drawn me a picture of the cake then I wouldn't have felt obligated to put the words at a slant like that.  At first my 9 looks like a g.  Happy goth birthday, great!  Scrape, scrape...9 with a straight line, check.  Time to walk away.

30 minutes idea for the flowers.  I'll pipe circles for each petal and flatten slightly, then add a center circle.  Are they the best flowers I've made?  No but I'm out of ideas and once I add the vines, leaves and small flowers on the sides I'm comfortable with the way it looks.

Serves me right for thinking I could go out for dinner after work, come home and easily put this cake together in an hour or so.  As far as cake decorating goes these are minor problems but after a long day, when it's 10pm, they seem a little bigger than they actually are, and it's easy to get stressed.  I've learned when I'm getting frustrated it's best to just walk away, take a break and come back fresh in 15 or 30 minutes.  And always plan for your plan to change!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I love making cakes...

This is Carter, and his mom was lucky enough to have the camera in hand and catch the moment when he first saw the camo cake I made for his birthday.  Need I say more?!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How I made a camouflage cake, inside and out!

First came the request for a camouflage cake for a young boy who loves the outdoors, only one fondant.  Next came the internet search and of course, a search on Cake Central where I get most of my inspirations!  There were many great design ideas and then I decided to take it to the next level and make the cake itself camouflage! 

First, I mixed a white cake mix (dyed green), a chocolate cake mix and a yellow cake mix, separately.  After preparing my pans I spooned a little of each batter in random spots until I had the proper amount of batter in each pan.  I did not swirl the batters.  I then baked and cooled the cakes as usual.

Here is a photo of the inside of the cake as I split to fill with chocolate frosting.

Pretty cool, huh?

Next I crumb coated each cake and stacked.  This is a 4" high 6" round cake stacked off center on a 2" high 10" round cake off center.  The only reason I crumb coated was to "seal in"  the chocolate crumbs.  I don't really think this step is necessary, the camo design will cover the entire surface.

Next step was to mix the buttercream colors.  I chose buttercup yellow with a little brown, moss green, and plain vanilla and chocolate buttercream.  Now I know these are not technically camo colors but I didn't want the cake to be all drab colors.  I filled my piping bags and started piping randoms blobs and lines all over the cake. 

The cake went into the refrigerator to firm up and crust.  After about 20 minutes I removed the cake and started to roll the surface with a 4" high density foam roller, the Melvira method.  I couldn't beleive my eyes, it was actually working!  (You can see on the bottom tier where I started rolling before I remembered I needed to take a photo.)   I continued to smooth out the surface and added a few plastic figures.  

The finished cake...
Happy Birthday Carter!

Here is a photo of the inside of the cake after cutting...

I can see using this for different occasions, for example, school colors and holiday colors.  The design pretty much stayed in place as I rolled the surface so this may even work for something like stripes in buttercream.  Hmmm, I'll have to try that.