Monday, November 16, 2009

How to make a Wicked Nice Witch! :-)

Ok, so you all have seen my Witch's Workshop cake and I promised a tutorial for the Witch, so here we are!

1. First you would need to color a ball of fondant in the skin color the witch would have- white, brown, yellow or green, you choose! :-)

2. Take a piece of fondant and make a ball that would be with the size of the head for the witch you need.

3. Mold the eyebrows and nose using your gum paste tools.

4. It really helps to look at real people's pictures while modeling a face, because it gives you an idea what you have to do. There is no recipe how exactly do make a face, but basically you have to push around the dough with your fingers and tools to make the shapes look like they are part of a face. This takes some practice, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it the first time!

5. The tinier the figure, the greater the difficulty you are going to experience while making it. This witch fit in my hand and it was really difficult to make.
Next step would be to take 2 small white balls of fondant or gum paste and form the eyes and the base of the eyelid .

6. With your thumb and finger slightly pull up the base of the neck using the dough from the back of the head, just pressing your fingers together while being careful not to disfigure the face.
With the pointy tool on the picture make a slight opening for the mouth,curl up the edges for the lips and then "install" the teeth made out of white fondant.

7. Now is the time to add facial expression, so if you have one in mind, go for it!
I didn't want my witch to be too scary ;-)

8. Place the eyelids on top of the white eyeballs, then add some wrinkles and perhaps the hat :-)
The hat you can make very simple- from a ball make cone shape, then pres slightly with your fingers to thin the edges and shape the brim, and voila, there is the witch's hat! :-)
Here is one more picture of it:

9. Now is time to color and make other details too! Make the eyes, eyelashes, add some hair ( not all of it at this point, the rest would be when you "install" the hat), and some darker color to the cheeks and face ( she needs to look like a witch after all!)

I had the dilemma if I should put a mole on her nose or not...but decided against it at the end. If I've made the nose more scary, I would have though! But the cake was for small kids, I didn't want the witch to give them nightmares! :-) On the background you see the witch's legs with stalkings and shoes.

10. For the body, use a large ball of fondant or gumpaste with the color of the witch's dress, then shape it with your fingers to form a waist line and chest.

11. Place a "skirt" of the same color over the bottom part of of the Witch's torso, then add an apron and maybe some layering under the skirt. I made the mistake to leave the layering after I made the skirt, but initially the legs were supposed to dry before that, so I could have layered everything on top. Unfortunately I didn't have the time to wait for the legs to dry I had to improvise.

12. So now we have the hat, the legs, the head and the torso, it's time to make some arms and cape!

13. I advise you to place the head after you put the cape on, so it would give the impression that it fit's snugly with the collar.
I made the green sleeves and then added the hands.

14. Some extra decoration like- broom, books, cat, candleholder, potions etc, and you are ready!

15. Here it is:

And here is the finished cake again!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My October Cake Challenge Cake- The Witch's Workshop

I've promised you that this cake would be "sweet" and you know I keep my promises! :-)
I made it for the Harvest Hoedown bake sale at my son's school. It was really funny, because I mentioned to the PTO what I'm making but I guess they didn't quite understand what I meant. I mean, it's not every day you see a fondant cake at a school bake sale, right? :-) So when I brought the cake to the sale, they had no idea what to do with it, because it was a 50 cent bake sale.LoL
Now, this is my first school bake sale, so I had no idea how it works, but I am so happy that everything turned out to be fine, since the PTO people acted quickly and they did a raffle for the cake as a prize and it was a huge success!

There was a little girl admiring the cake pretty much the whole time it was on display and I was very happy for her, when she won it!
Her mom told her something like " What are we going to do with it, how are we going to cut it" and the girl immediately protested "Oh, no!! We are NOT cutting it!". LoL

It was great fun that night, I hope I can participate next year too. After all, it's just on time for the October cake Challenge, so it works out perfectly! :-)

If there is enough interest I'll post soon the tutorial how to make the witch, so if you want to see it, leave me a comment that you do. The witch is so small, she can fit in my palm, can you believe how difficult it was to make it? :-)

I have used Devil's food recipe for the basic cake, the filling was an improvisation, because the night before I was supposed to make it I found out that I don't have whipping cream, so I had to use something else.
I combined cream cheese, butter, condensed milk and chocolate and it came out really, really yummy! Especially since I added walnuts.
If anybody wants the recipe, leave me a comment and I'll post it!

I didn't have as much fun as I did with this cake in a really long time! I mean, imagine how cool was to make the little books, and the little potions, and the broom! I sure had fun!!!

Tell me this doesn't look like cast iron ;-)!
And the thing is that I've used pearl dust only on one spot, otherwise the whole cauldron is black :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

I am thrilled!

Yes, I am!
Do you know why? Because yesterday I received an e-mail from a reader that had used my Buzz Lightyear tutorial to make a cake!

I am so happy that I finally received some feedback on how people use the website that I asked Jennifer Spiller ( that's the name of the lady who made the cake) to send me pictures so I can upload them and show you what a amazing cake she did!

This is the cake Jen made:
Jennifer Spiller makes the Buzz LightYear Cake
If you want to see more pictures, click here.

She used this cake tutorial ( click)

She says that she is relatively new at fondant, but it doesn't show at all!

Fantastic job, Jen, I am so proud of you! I hope the kid that it was for liked it! :-)

I've opened a new album called " Annie's Art Book Readers give it a try". If you've tried my recipes and you want your work to be shown on my website let me know!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cake Challenge October 2009

I can't believe it's already November 1st and I definitely can't believe it's time for the discussion of the October Cake challenge cakes!

Time just flies indeed!
It's like yesterday we had the Ikebana cake challenge and we had these amazing cakes with beautiful flowers!

The theme for the challenge this time is 3D cakes or cakes, that in other words are made in the shape of something.

You can see the full album with cakes of course!(click here)

Some of the albums are still not uploaded, but I'll update this posting as soon as they are. Also I hope soon 'll have the permission of the cake ladies participating to upload some of their pictures on my site, so you can enjoy them here as well.

So much talent! Everybody liked the theme very much, a lot of ladies made 2 even 3 cakes!

Of course as always I'll have a separate posting about my own cake called " Witch's Workshop". I have a bonus for you as well - I made a small tutorial how I made the witch's figure. It's pretty cool to see how it started taking shape from a simple ball of dough, check it out in a couple of days!

Speaking of cool, I was looking recently for futuristic and extraordinary cake pedestals and serving plates and I stumbled upon a fabulous site with the most amazing kitchen gadgets and accessories that I just couldn't but share with you, since I know many cake folks are reading here!

Now, you probably have noticed that I like nice things but it's one thing to have a nice thing, completely another to have unique thing. Let me tell you, after I saw this cake pedestal at Alessi I fell in love! This would have been the perfect cake pedestal for my Cake challenge cake and I was sooooo disappointed that I didn't find it earlier, when I made the cake! Just imagine my Witch's workshop on this thing!I would have been perfect!

Well, next time I'll know where to look for something like that when I need it and truth be told I really do need a cake pedestal. I mean really, it's about time! We already have had 5 cake challenges and I continue to show my cakes on a simple board.
(Honey, Christmas is coming hint, hint ;-) )

Anyway, enjoy the fabulous cake view and tell me what you think!

Ta-ta for now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breaking news!!! I am on Cake Wrecks!

Well, somebody might say, " Oh, no!!! You are on Cake Wrecks!" but I say
Oh, YES baby!!! I'm on Cake Wrecks!!!

If you don't know yet, Cake wrecks has a Sunday Sweets issue, that actually features awesome cakes ( during the week is the wreck stuff :-) )

Soooo, here it is, the posting that Jen was so good to add my cake to!

I read all the comments (I had no idea I was featured the previous Sunday, just found out) and I was blown away how many people think that fondant cake=not delicious or as one of the people called fondant cakes - " Styrofoam" cakes!

I think I'll have to have a special post about it, because I really want to find out why on earth people would think that and what the hell did their friends serve them on their weddings, so they can start this anti-fondant cake nonsense.

It's not down to TASTE OR LOOKS, but it needs a GOOD BAKER and a GOOD BUDGET. If you compromise on one of the two, of course you'll have to compromise on the taste and looks as well.
It is as simple as that.

Loosing 10 lbs and being featured on Cake wrecks "nice cake" edition calls for celebration!!! :-)

Off I go! :-)

Friday, September 18, 2009

The recipe for the 2 peas in a pod cake

I've been asked to provide the recipe for 2 peas in a pod cake and there it is.

You will need ( for each tier):
1 package vanilla cake layers
1 package chocolate cake layers

( If you can't order these you can very well use all purpose yellow cake and cocoa cake layer)

For the walnut ganache

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

For the strawberry filling

2 cups fresh strawberries
6 tbsp sugar

1. The day before In a large pan bring the whipping cream to a boil and add the chocolate chips. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until ALL of the chocolate is completely incorporated! You shouldn't have chunks or darker dots, and your ganache should be with a homogeneous dark chocolate-y color! Chop the walnuts with a processor until they are almost creamy, then add to the ganache. Transfer into a bowl and leave in the refrigerator overnight.

2. The day before wash the strawberries and place them in an airtight container. Sprinkle with the sugar and leave them in the refrigerator overnight.

3. The next day first check if there is any undissolved sugar in the strawberries and if there is, place them in a pan on the stove and warm up as you stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely before use!

4. With a mixer beat the cold ganache until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat it!

5. Place the first layer in a cake spring form, previously lined with plastic wrap. Then spread the ganache and on top of it place the strawberries. Remember, your strawberries should be completely cold at this point, otherwise they would melt the ganache!
Repeat until the springform is full and cover with plastic wrap.

6. Freeze for one hour, then coat with buttercream or decorators Icing and you are ready to cover the cake with fondant.

Very easy and delicious!

Note: You can add whole walnuts under the strawberries or if you want to make one layer with walnuts, one with strawberries.

THis is how this cake looks when cut:

This photo is from Kalin's birthday, I made the same kind of cake. I have such a thick layer of decorator's icing, since the birthday was outside on a very hot day with no refrigerator. You need to use small amount if you are going to keep the cake in the refrigerator.


Monday, August 31, 2009

A TinkerBell cake for my little girl!

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First of all, this is one of the unluckiest cakes I've made, since everything was against me when I started making it.

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I couldn't use the AC, the refrigerator was not working properly, so on top of me-not-having-time to do that at all, I had all these minor irritating problems, that made it what much harder to finish this cake.

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The fondant ( I am using for a last time ready made fondant, I swear!!! SatinIce fondant is the WORST fondant I've ever used and I bought 25 lbs! I just used the last piece and was extremely happy!!!) started melting! Now, for almost 2 years since I make cakes I have only "heard" about this problem, never seen it firsthand. But I guess that cake was meant to be a "first one" of a kind.

I was so pressured in time, that I forget to make the "pages" on the side of the cake and had to finish that 15 min before the guest arrived. It shows of course, but the most important thing was that my little girl was as happy as she can be and she recognized Tinkerbell :-))

You can check out the cake layer recipe here if you are interested.
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I made Mascarpone filling that I improvised at the last minute :-) Here is the recipe if you are interested.

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Mascarpone filling

2 cups mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp clear vanilla extract
3 tbsp lemon zest ( you can add more if you like it)
1/2 cup corn syrup ( if you want, you can use less or more, depending on how sweet you want the filling)

Mix everything together and spread over the cake.

I used strawberries on top ( stored them in sugar overnight, so they can have a little syrup) of the filling. It was heavenly combination tastewise!

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Then I iced the cake with buttercream.
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This was the night before, before the cake was even ready:
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As you can see, Tinkerbell doesn't have eyes yet :-)
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As you can see, part of Tinkerbell is patchwork work that I painted over. Not a good idea if you have a melting fondant.

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TinkerBell has eyes, yay! :-)

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An old recipe with a new flare to it! ( updated recipe)

This is a recipe I've used for Kalin's famous Buzz Lightyear cake, but we liked it so much, that after more than a year, I decided to make it for Ellie's Tinkerbell as well.
The difference is, that this year I shot step-by-step while I was making it, so here it is now with the corrections and changes.

The original recipe for this cake ( Heavenly Devil's food cake) is again from Christopher Kimball's " The dessert bible".

- First make sure that all ingredients are room temperature! It is extremely important!
- Preheat the oven at 350F. The original recipe calls for three 8 inch cake pans but I needed a 9"/11" sheet cake pan( both for Ellie's Tinkerbell and Kalin's Buzz Lightyear cake, so I double the recipe. Cover the bottom of each pan you use with a piece of parchment paper.
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( Note: this is the original recipe, not the doubled one! If you want to use it in a sheet cake pan, double the ingredients! If you are going to use it in three 8 inch cake pans- use it as is!)

1 1/4 cups boiling water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pound ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still firm
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

1. Stir in the boiling water, chocolate and cocoa together and reserve.
If for some reason ( like if your chocolate is to coarsely chopped) you can't melt the chocolate with boiling water, you can use a Bain Marie ( water bath) to do that. Then gradually add the boiling water and cocoa.
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2. Combine the dry ingredients- flour,salt, baking soda and sift together.
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3. Beat the softened butter on medium high for 1 minute.It's supposed to look creamy as on the picture. No lumps allowed!
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4. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and beat until fluffy. You can still see the pieces of sugar, but it's creamy!
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5. Add one egg at a time and beat on high for 30 seconds. Be very careful with the last egg you add, you might want to beat it in less than 30 sec, since sometimes ( depending on the size of the eggs) it can be too much on the butter and you risk to overwork it. Add the sour cream( I prefer it than yogurt and beat until well combined on medium speed. Be sure to scrape the bowl often! ( I apologize for the pictures here, but unfortunately I forgot to turn on the flash :-(

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6. Add half of the chocolate mixture to the cake batter( be sure to stir well before you add it) and half of the dry ingredients. Beat on low or even stir and then add the rest of the chocolate mixture and the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl and continue to stir by hand ( just folding).

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7. Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes( if you make a sheet cake I would double that, but check it around 40 min), as you rotate the pans halfway through. When it is ready, let it cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Then release the edges with a knife and turn it over on the cooling rack. Peel off the parchment paper. Let the cake cool completely before you start working with it.

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If you are going to sculpt a cake you might want to freeze the layers before shaping.

You can check the recipe for the all purpose lemon cake that I've posted here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My cake for the July 2009 Cake Challenge

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I'm sorry I kept you waiting for so long! :-) But it's finally here!!!
What do you mean who is here??? The pictures of my cake that I made for the July 2009 cake challenge, of course! :-)
As you all already know, the theme was " Ikebana"- Japanese flower arrangement art.

My idea was to make this cake for a very special lady that have been the most wonderful teacher my son can ever get- his speech therapist!

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So, I started with the idea of having a cake with dragon painted pot ( something I wanted to try in a long time, and the challenge is all about trying new things), some Moth Orchids ( a variety that I just love!!!) and some red wood "branches".
I have painted the dragon with light gray color, then I've used darker color and some red and gold paint.
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I had had my troubles with the orchids, it was my first time making flowers like this and second time making wired flowers at all.
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Now I can understand and appreciate better the work of the masters in sugar flowers making. It takes time, patience and a lot of practice! I am nowhere near where I want to be as a skill level, but I'll keep trying. That's how you get better, isn't it?
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I loved the idea of the branches being natural "wood" at first, then " shiny" dark red!
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I have had my doubts about the color of the background, black is very bold. But I couldn't imagine this cake being any other kind of color. It just didn't seem right, no matter what kind of color I tried.
This is the first set up the day before I gave the cake as a gift:
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The cake inside was with fresh strawberries and walnut chocolate ganache, although I didn't try it, because it was a gift, the people who did, said it was delicious.
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If you want to see more pictures, try here:

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