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Blue Roses & Flamingos: A Wedding Cake!

15 Apr

So, I took the next step in my career as an enthusiastic baker.

I made a wedding cake.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

Wedding cake. Me. Made it.

It was a really simple cake, really, in terms of decoration–deliberately ‘rustic’ icing, simple fondant flowers–but let me tell you, just the logistics of baking all of the layers and stacking them up and crumb coating them was hard, time consuming work! I was honestly surprised at how long it took me to do the cake part, never mind the decorations. Making each layer, trying to get them perfectly even, stacking each tier, putting in dowel rods to support the other tiers…on paper none of it seemed hard, and it isn’t hard, but it does take time, especially when you want to be careful and get everything right.

Also, cake is heavy. I knew this already, but that didn’t stop me from picking up two tiers (that’s four layers) of cake and thinking ‘Holy cow I’ve carried small children that weighed less than this‘.

I also didn’t anticipate the fact that I would be a nervous wreck the entire time between setting the cake up and the reception starting, but I was. I was a bundle of nerves. I kept going to check on the cake, wandering away, then going back to look at it again. I think I was afraid that if I wasn’t watching it the whole thing would collapse, or implode, or something.

The cake was for the wedding of one of my coworkers, and I guess you might want to see a picture of it (although none of the pictures that I have are really fantastic–I didn’t have my camera, just my phone, and the room was a little dark. Sorry!)…

Ta-da! French Vanilla cake with whipped vanilla icing. The roses and leaves are fondant that I shaped and let dry.

Here’s a slightly different angle. Ooooh.

And the couple cutting the cake!

See, it didn’t implode after all. Probably because I hardly took my eyes off of it.

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Blue Lovebirds: A Cake for a Re-Wedding

12 Feb

The parents of a good friend of mine had their 30th wedding anniversary today! They celebrated by having a small ceremony and renewing their vows, and I was absolutely delighted to make a cake for them:

Their first Christmas ornament after they got married was two bluebirds, so we knew that we had to have bluebirds on the cake. I cut them out of fondant and let them dry overnight.

The icing was Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which I love–if you want to learn all about SMB then head over to Sweetapolita’s awesome Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified post to learn everything you need to know!

The cake itself was chocolate, and I’m happy to say that I think I have perfected my chocolate cake. I love the Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe, but it’s so moist and fudgy that it’s hard to work with–hard to move, hard to stack, etc. I’ve been fiddling around for a while trying to make a fluffier chocolate cake, and then had an ah-ha! moment.

Here’s my new go-to chocolate cake recipe:

Charis’ Go-To Chocolate Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I like to use half Hershey’s cocoa powder and half Ghiradelli ground chocolate and cocoa powder)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk, 1 Tbs vinegar)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling coffee (either keep it simmering in a pot on the stove, or microwave it for 1.5 minutes before adding)

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Mix together dry ingredientsin large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling coffee (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean (alternatively, I touch my cakes to see if they ‘spring back’). Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

 

“Yes, Charis,” I hear you say, “that’s very sweet and lovely and all, but what about the giveaway? What about those mini heartshaped springform pans, Charis? What about them? We are dying of suspense, Charis!

BE SUSPENDED NO MORE, READERS! We have a winner! And it is…

TABBY!

Hurray!

 

Happy Birthday, Tolkien: A Smaug Cake

9 Jan

Happy New Year! And happy birthday, Professor Tolkien! J.R.R. Tolkien was born on January 3, a birthday shared by my youngest sister, so of course I often make a Tolkien themed something. Last year I made hobbit hole cupcakes. This year I made a cake! And I’ve had The Hobbit on the brain (who doesn’t, lately?) so it had to be a Smaug cake.

Smaug, curled up on his hoard of stolen dwarvish treasure.

My Smaug is inspired/loosely based on this illustration by Tolkien:

I made Smaug out of fondant, molded mostly with my hands with a little help from a chopstick and a sharp knife. I used an icing tip to press ‘scales’ into the fondant of Smaug’s body, and the handle of my small offset spatula to press indentations for the arm and leg sockets, and made the limbs (legs/arms and wings) separately. I let the fondant dry and harden overnight, then painted the pieces with gel food coloring mixed with vodka, and then brushed it all over with sparkly yellow luster dust.

The cake itself is a chocolate cake, filled and covered with peanut butter mousse. Then I put a wire cooling rack across the sink, set the cake on it (holding it carefully with one hand to make sure that it didn’t slip and dump my cake into the sink!), and covered the cake with sparkly yellow sugar sprinkles for gold, red, green, and blue sugar sprinkles for gems, white nonpareils for pearls, and a sprinkling of gold luster dust for extra sparkle–a delicious hoard that would make any dragon proud!