Saturday, January 26, 2013

Painted Paisleys

I have been dying to share this with all of you. It is one of my new favorite techniques for decorating!

Painting... on a cake! How cool is that?

I was inspired by this scrapbook paper. The colors drew me in and the pattern, pared down, seemed perfect for a small cake.

I have admired this decorating technique for awhile now and Craftsy recently added a class on it, taught by one of my favorite cake artists. Please take a minute and go check her out at Three Little Blackbirds. Better yet, check out her free (yes, free!) class at Craftsy.

The background for my painting is white fondant. The "paint" is actually gel food colors diluted with a little vodka and water mix (50/50). I painted it all free-hand with the scrapbook paper in front of me for guidance.

It was so much fun to sit and paint this. I'll definitely be doing this more and I'm looking forward to playing with different colors and designs.

The cake inside is a vanilla butter cake with blackberry swiss meringue buttercream filling. So tasty! Come back soon for the recipe for the cake. I've been playing with my normal recipe and I think I have a new winner!

Doesn't it look delicious?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 21, 2013


I know Christmas is over now, but I wanted to share with you this Christmas ornament-inspired cake that I did over the holidays. It was a very special cake, made to celebrate the birthday of a very special person: kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Spence.

My son was in Mrs. Spence's class last year and my daughter is in her class this year. We love her! This year, the parents discovered that her birthday is the day before Christmas, so we planned to surprise her with a cake at the kids' holiday party.

It worked and she was very surprised! Yay!

Everyone loved the little sparkly fondant ornaments, berries and leaves. The one that looks plain white was actually sparkly, too, but it didn't show up as well in the photo. I love how everything looks against the chocolate ganache background. Simple. Beautiful. And tasty!

Thank you, Mrs. Spence, for giving my kids such a wonderful time in kindergarten! I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Will's 7th Birthday

Small and simple.

My (not so) little boy turned 7 last week. I still can hardly believe it. Time really does fly by us at an incredible rate.

Will is amazing. Those of you who know him know what I'm talking about.

Will and I had grand plans for his cake this year, but time got away from us. So, we simplified things. I still think it's pretty nice. And Will loved it!

The candles on the top spelled out his name. Kate picked those out and Will was so tickled with them.

The little Spiderman is a toy. Maybe sometime I will learn how to make Spiderman out of fondant.

Happy Birthday, Will! You are the BEST!

Will picked the flavor of this cake. It's a new recipe I'm still working on: Almond Buttermilk Cake. It's yummy! I am hoping to be able to share the recipe soon. Just tweaking it a bit still. I filled it with vanilla bean buttercream. A match made in heaven. Will practically licked his plate clean! We ALL practically licked the plate clean! I then covered it in ganache and fondant. The buildings, web and name on the side of the cake are all fondant, too.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday + Anniversary

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Anniversary to you, Happy Birthday to you!

I have a friend whose mother-in-law is celebrating both her 70th birthday and her 40th wedding anniversary. My dear friend threw her mother-in-law a big party and asked me if I would do a cake. I was happy to!

This cake had a lot going on! It looks different from every side.

There are a lot of little things to look at on this cake!

The design on this cake was really a challenge for me. When I first talked to my friend, she mentioned that her mother-in-law liked golf and the beach, was a retired nurse, and has four grandchildren. Oh, and she likes the color green. I wanted to incorporate as much of this as I could because I wanted the cake to celebrate her life. But I wasn't sure at first what to do with the anniversary aspect of everything. I found out that the birthday girl and her husband enjoy playing golf together, so at first I thought I would focus on that, but it seemed to leave out the birthday aspect of the celebration.

Finally, after a couple of weeks of thinking about it, I decided to do a sort of pattern around the cake that would incorporate little symbols of all of the things my friend's mother-in-law loves. I was happy with the design and my friend gave me the go-ahead. So, I thought I was set.

Then the time came to actually do the cake and the decorations just didn't seem right. The pattern wasn't coming together like I wanted it to or like I envisioned it in my head. In order to fit, everything would have needed to be really small. In my head, this was okay, but I very quickly discovered that on the actual cake, it all needed to be bigger.

One thing I have learned about cake decorating is that you have to be able to adjust your vision, or your design, at the last minute. Flexibility isn't always easy for me! But I'm learning. And in this case, I think I did a pretty good job. :)

I was nervous the whole time that the final look would be messy with all of the names and symbols scattered rather randomly around the cake. I really wanted the cake to seem appropriate for a grown-up but with a touch of whimsy. I wanted the birthday girl to be able to look anywhere on the cake and see something that spoke to her life and the things that she loves.

I think that I succeeded in making it look streamlined rather than messy. Thanks in part to the clean and simple white background. And to careful editing in what I put on the cake. I didn't want it to be too busy, but I did want the space to look filled. I admit that I leaned on my hubby and kids for advice on this! I wanted to add more, but wasn't sure, then my husband took a look and said he thought it was enough. So I listened! I know, it was shocking to him too! :)

There really are so many little things to look at on this cake. I can't decide which is my favorite.

My son liked the bandaid.

My daughter thought the stethoscope was a dog leash. I guess it does look a little like a leash! I'm not sure if nurses use stethoscopes, but I included it anyway.

The golf club is one of my favorite things. I really like how it turned out, along with the little golf ball. The ball is hard to see here, but it is so cute!

This cake included a first for me - a big fondant bow. I actually broke the first one I made. I put the bottom loops on the cake, then bumped them and they were crushed. And I was crushed! Thankfully, it was still the day before the cake was due, so I had time to make some more and let them dry. The lesson I learned was to always make extras the first time! Oh, and don't crush them! :)

I wrote with royal icing on the "tails" of the bow - "40th" with overlapping gold rings for the anniversary and "70th" with a balloon for the birthday. This part was actually my friend's idea and it was a good one! After the icing dried, I painted the rings and the balloon with a mix of petal dust and vodka.

You are probably wondering what's underneath all of these decorations, aren't you? Beware - it will make you crave some cake! Don't say you weren't warned....

Both tiers are dark chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream. I covered them in chocolate ganache to create a nice solid (and delicious!) base for the fondant. All of the decorations are made of fondant and everything you see is edible!

Thank you, Jaime, for letting me be a part of your family and celebration in this small way. I am SO glad that you all enjoyed this cake!

And thanks to you, dear readers, for stopping by! I hope you all enjoyed this cake as much as I did! Stay tuned for more projects to come. This week is my son's birthday, so you know I will be making a cake for that!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Wow - long time since my last post! I really need to get in the groove a little more.

Well, here is a project I did a couple of months ago and didn't get a chance to share until now. I had the opportunity to make a batch of cupcakes with fondant toppers for a great group of women from the company Thirty-One.

I handmade each of these toppers from various colors of fondant. Some were cut freehand with an exacto knife and others were stamped and cut with rectangle and round cookie cutters. I use stamps made for scrapbooking. They work great on fondant! But if you do this, make sure you use new, clean stamps that have never been used with ink. You can also stamp on fondant using "ink" made with a mix of food color and vodka or lemon juice.

Here are some of the toppers before they made it to the cupcakes.

And the cupcakes....

Don't they look good? They are dark chocolate with vanilla bean frosting. Yum!

Thanks for stopping by! I have another big project this week and can't wait to share it with you all!

Happy New Year!