Monday, June 30, 2014

Fashion Barbie Birthday

About a week ago, my baby turned seven. I can hardly believe it! Blink of an eye. Truly. My little girl is so fun to have around. She is full of smiles and joy nearly all the time. I cannot imagine my life without her!

For her birthday cake, she had only one request and that was to have what she called a "rainbow cake," or, by her definition, a vanilla cake with rainbow jimmies in the batter. I was going to do a simple buttercream cake with sprinkles also on the outside, but a few days before the big day, I happened upon Ipoh Bakery's facebook page. Such amazing doll cakes, like none I had seen before. (Please take a moment to go and look at these cakes. You will be amazed!) I began to get inspired. So, I showed them to Kate and she also loved them. It was decided. We would do our own version for her birthday. Probably not the best planning on my part to change the whole design, making it a LOT more complicated, just three days before her birthday, but it all worked out!

I really love this cake and I had so much fun doing this one, from the initial design of the dress, to putting it all together.

The doll first got a layer of white fondant in the outline of the dress. I rolled the fondant very thin, knowing nearly all of it would eventually be covered. I wrapped the doll's torso, beginning just under where the edge of the fondant would be, tightly with plastic wrap to keep her from getting too sticky, then attached the fondant with a little water. For the perfect fit, I draped the fondant onto the doll first, then cut carefully with an exacto knife. It was a little tricky! Some of the pieces I had to do more than once.

The bodice of the dress is my favorite part. I covered the white fondant with white, pink and red non-pariels using a mix of water and corn syrup to make it stickier than water alone. I wanted these little balls to really stick and not come off when I handled the doll to put her on the cake later on. It worked beautifully. I did have to fill in a few spots with a toothpick at the end, but not many.

If you do anything with non-pariels, you know that they get absolutely everywhere! I held the doll over a quarter sheet pan and worked in small sections to minimize the mess. I let this part of the doll dry overnight and made sure I really pressed the non-pariels into the fondant, gently but firmly, to keep them from falling off.

The cake is entirely in the doll's skirt and instead of surrounding the doll's legs as in typical Barbie cakes, the cake and skirt on this one is behind the doll. I baked three 8-inch rounds and carved them into a slightly domed shape. I then cut a small section out of the front for the doll's body, softening the edges by carving them. Because this cake is more than four inches tall, I did put a cardboard cake board, cut to be completely within the cake so that I could carve the cake, and bubble tea straws. Sorry I don't have a picture of this internal structure for you! Next time...

Once the doll's bodice and first skirt layer was complete, I made tiny little shoes for her. I stuck with a super simple design for the shoes. Tiny Barbie shoes are hard!

Next, I stood Barbie up on those tiny shoes and placed her against the cake. Once she was in place, I started covering the entire skirt, beginning with what was against her body in the front, with very thin fondant circles. I cut different sizes of circles and ruffled the edges with a ball tool. For the very front, I left the circles whole, but for the majority of the skirt, I cut them in half and used half at a time, layering over the cut edge as a I went. As I put the half-circles onto the cake, I gently gathered the straight cut edge so that the bottom edge would have an even more ruffled look and to give each circle some dimension on the cake. Without this step, the circles would have fallen flat again each other.

I wanted the skirt to appear as if it was flowing gently in one direction, so that is how I place the ruffles. There are so many circles on this skirt! This part took me so much longer than I expected, but the look in the end was totally worth it.

Another of my favorite details is the piece on the doll's shoulder. I love how it brings the skirt detail to the top of the dress and completes the design.

Finally, I added a pink bow at the waist. So pretty! I think this was Kate's favorite part of the dress. I love how it pulls the bodice and the skirt together and also gives a sense of movement.

Here are a couple more views.

And the birthday girl. I'd say she's pretty happy with everything!

I tell you, this was one of the hardest cakes for me to cut. I finished the cake only two hours before it was time to serve it. I almost couldn't get myself to cut into that skirt! But, as my kids pointed out, what good is a cake that looks pretty but you can't eat? Yes, this is an art that is not meant to last.

Here is a peek at a slice. I just love the look of the cake inside, too! Look at those layers! Isn't it making you hungry?

What you see inside is vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Absolutely delicious. I love love love this vanilla cake recipe. I am constantly tweaking it as I learn more and more about ingredients and baking techniques. I promise, though, that I will share this recipe next time. This post is just too long already! Plus, now you all have a reason to come back! :)

In the meantime, check out this post by CakePaperParty about swiss meringue buttercream. The same author talks about this new method on The Cake Blog, here. In these posts, Summer Stone really digs into the science behind this tricky confection and demystifies it, introducing a whole new way to make this buttercream. Seriously, this is revolutionary for me. Swiss meringue buttercream is by far my favorite buttercream and now it is easier to make (but just as delicious)! I hope that you will try it out for your next cake! I will note that I use a little more butter in my swiss meringue so that the overall taste is less sweet and more buttery. You can make it to suit your own tastes, though. Don't be afraid to experiment!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Birthday Pie

My husband's birthday was in April and he requested pie instead of cake this year. Can you believe it? The nerve. Ha - just kidding. I love a good pie sometimes too! I pointed him to a couple of my cookbooks and he chose the pie he wanted. This pie is seriously drool-worthy and it tasted every bit as good as it sounds and looks!

This is Martha Stewart's Chocolate Caramel Cream pie. Oh my. So good. The recipe is in her Pies & Tarts cookbook, which I highly recommend, or online here. So, you can make it yourself! Yay for homemade chocolate pie!

I was just going to serve the pie sans decorations, but at the last minute, I decided to add a little happy birthday banner. I cut little triangles from scrapbook paper, stamped them and threaded a bit of string through the corners, then tied the ends of the strings to lollipop sticks. Straws would have worked even better. I love how it turned out. Just the right amount of dressing up for this cute little dessert.

I like to think that my pie made Andy's day. Well, that and my winning smile!

I have made a lot of pies, but before this one, I had never made a chocolate pie dough before. Besides the crushed oreo kind! This was the best pie crust. So filled with chocolate flavor. Make this pie just for the crust alone! Or just make the crust and bake it as cookies sprinkled with a little sugar. Fabulous!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sweet Little Bridal Shower Cake

Hello and welcome!

Back at Easter of this year, I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful woman, a friend of a friend, who wanted a cake to celebrate her soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Cheryle was so sweet and I am happy to now call her a friend too!

One of the bride's favorite colors is Tiffany blue. This also happens to be one of my favorites, so I was excited to design a cake with that color. You will recognize it as almost the exact color of the little blue cake I last posted here on the blog.

I began the design with a copy of the invitation. It was simple and elegant, naturally lending itself to a simple and pretty design with strips of Tiffany blue fondant and some sparkly accents.

Take a look!

The flower is my favorite part.

Though not edible, the little jewel in the center was perfect for this flower and this cake! I adore how it turned out.

I absolutely love the way the Tiffany blue strips are highlighted against the simple white background. The little jewel accents were a perfect match to the invitations and set everything off so well!

The cake itself, I'm told, was to die for. I'm so happy when the flavors of my cakes get as high of reviews as the decoration! I truly do try hard to achieve excellence in both! The bottom tier was dark chocolate with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream filling, covered in dark chocolate ganache and fondant. The top tier was vanilla cake with raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream filling, covered in white chocolate ganache and fondant. Doesn't that sound delicious? My mouth is watering right now...

I hope you enjoyed this look at this cake. Cheryle, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your celebration!