Sugar Sweet Buttercream

I finally received my new Cricut Cake last week! For those unfamiliar with the Cricut Cake machine, it's an electronic cutter specifically designed for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. It doesn't officially launch at retailers until tomorrow but I thought I'd share this just to be like "I had it first." Hahaha...
Let's just say that it is a pretty complex (amazing!) piece of equipment, especially since it doesn't need to hook up to a computer. It wasn't hard to use but I don't have experience with the original Cricut for paper scrapbooking so it'll take a little time to get comfortable with it.

My friend asked me to make her a small super chocolaty cake for her roommate's birthday so I came up with this Chocolate Insanity Cake.

Chocolate devil's food cake covered with chocolate buttercream, filled with milk chocolate and decorated with white chocolate chip borders! I used the Cricut Cake to cut out the flower and letter decorations out of white frosting sheets. I had a hard time getting them to stick to the dry buttercream because it's better suited for attaching to fondant-covered cakes. Next time I'll try using the Cricut Cake with rolled fondant or gumpaste.

Since we're sort of on the subject of chocolate buttercream, I wanted to share this lil' cutie bear-shaped cake I made in my first cake decorating class with a Wilton shaped pan. He was my first attempt at piping stars all over a cake, a little tedious to say the least but I love the effect.

How could you resist an adorable face like this? I just want to eat him up!
Oh wait, that's right, I already did...

And now that we're sort of on the topic of shaped cake pans... Here's a piggie face cake I made for my good friend who loves pigs. She requested it special for her birthday.

I used the Wilton animal crackers pan and filled it with fun-fetti cake.

Shaped pans are great for a quick themed cake and are very versatile but I've already acquired so much bakeware and I'm running out of room to store everything! I should experiment with carving cakes to save on space... or start a cake pan rental business... hmmm... do they have one of those already??


The Princess and the Cake

Before I started taking cake decorating classes I thought it'd be a good idea to make a tiered cake for a princess birthday party... I'm glad I did because I learned a ton! I had grand fairytale ideas of sugar gems and fancy piping crowned with an intricate royal icing tiara, but here's what I learned:

-An oven thermometer is a bakers best friend.

-Royal icing only hardens when made with grease free utensils.

-Melting down jolly ranchers is a messy messy venture.

-Sifting powdered sugar really is necessary.

-Sketching cake designs is fun and beneficial...

I created a beautiful Sleeping-Beauty-inspired tiara template which didn't end up working out due to runny royal icing.

I'm proud of my attempt despite the tacky plastic princess costume piece.

The biggest feat was getting it down the super steep roller coaster driveway, but it was all worthwhile to see the birthday princess smile :)


Spring Bows

Where do cake decorator's find inspiration?
Other than looking at beautiful cakes designed by others, we often look to the occasion's specifics such as the invitation, location and theme. For instance, my good friend's cousin designed these beautiful little embellished invitations for her surprise bridal shower and they were just too cute to ignore. I knew immediately that I wanted to make a special cake for the shower based on this design.

[Check out Jillian's custom designs at jillzawistowski.com]

I had planned a 2 tier round cake covered in ivory Satin Ice fondant:

Unfortunately the shower was postponed due to a crazy snow storm which made it unsafe for everyone to travel. I had already made the cake and decorations but didn't put it together yet... so I froze it. [FYI - Satin Ice fondant freezes well, I just wrapped it carefully with plastic wrap a million times and ended up using the top 6" tier for my tulip Easter cake after thawing it thoroughly.] The shower ended up no longer being a surprise and was held this past weekend at the bride's mother's house in New Jersey. Since I was traveling by train, I modified my original design to a more simple 8" round yellow butter cake covered in vanilla buttercream. I used the same ribbon accent from the invite and made my own flower and button decorations.

Sticking with the bow theme... this is the first fondant covered cake I made in cake decorating class. It's very simple but perfect to show off the fondant roses and bows we learned to make.

Here's another practice cake I made for decorating class. It was done in the fall but it's more appropriate to show as a springtime cake. I planned to make it for my dad because his favorite flowers are pansies but I couldn't transport it to him... so I ate it. Sorry dad.


Sweet Easter Treats

Not only do I love Holidays, I think I single-handedly keep Hallmark in business.
I'm not kidding.
I get personal phone calls from the manager when there's a big sale going on.
Seriously, no joke.

Easter is one of those Holidays that Hallmark exploits with it's animated plush chickies, glass egg ornaments and singing bunnies... but who can deny how cute and appealing they are?
Although, depending on your religion, you know the "real" meaning of Easter...

That being said, here's the Easter/Spring cake I created to share with my coworkers.
(I'm employed full-time in the fashion industry but love to decorate cakes in my not-so-spare time)

I used a 6" double cake that I had in the freezer which was already covered in Satin Ice ivory colored fondant. It's yellow cake with milk chocolate ganache filling and vanilla buttercream crumb coat. All decorations were cut from rolled fondant except the pink royal icing "Happy Easter."

I also made these chocolate covered Oreos.
Well, after a failed attempt to make the first batch (I unintentionally ate all the cookie sandwiches) I bought another package and completed the project using a Wilton chocolate mold and white chocolate candy melts. Yum!

Here's the spread of treats my coworkers brought to share...

This is a rather weak display compared to our usual feast, but it was Good Friday and many people took the day off to spend extra time with their families. In spite of that, we had contributions of cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, flower-shaped pound cake pops, pistachio cake, chocolate and brown sugar covered Matzo, bunny corn and lemon cake pops shaped like carrots and cupcakes.
Still quite impressive!
I love working with such creative people - they make such delicious treats!!

Okay, I was debating whether or not to post this next photo.
Here goes...
My mom and I decided to revisit the Easter Basket cake design this year - with little success. Firstly, we baked each layer individually because the "good" round cake pans were mysteriously missing... this resulted in two very uneven layers of cake. Then we realized the cute speckled M&Ms we had were the peanut-filled ones... I figured they would be too large to stick to the thin layer of store-bought vanilla icing around the sides but we gave it our best shot.
The icing was setting nicely but the weather was warm and my mom accidentally covered the cake before the icing had crusted... later I checked on it only to find that the majority of the M&Ms fell off. Oops...
I called my mom (from my cell phone - to the house phone) to inform her of the cake-tastrophe and she ran to help me put it back together. By put it back together, I mean my mom literally wiped off the messy frosting from each candy with paper towels while I did my best to reapply them. In the end, the M&Ms didn't stay put but at least it tasted fantastic!

[We used devil's food chocolate cake with vanilla icing (my all-time fave) for the base, speckled peanut M&Ms around the "basket" sides with colored coconut and Whoppers chocolate-covered malted milk Robin Eggs for the basket filling. The basket handle was fashioned out of aluminum foil and white ribbon.]