Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tier Support

Two years ago I posted about stacking tiered cakes.  At that time I was using dowel rods for support.  No doubt they worked great, but I've found something better.  It's far from an earth shattering discovery.  Cake decorators all over have been doing the same thing.  I'm posting this because I finally tried it and I love it, and thought you might like to try it too.
I've started using straws to support my tiers.  I don't mean bubble tea straws or anything special.  I use regular drinking straws.  They have proven to be just as strong as the dowels and so much easier to use.  As a matter of fact, I used straws in the two cakes that traveled in the car for 6 hours with no problems.

As I see it, these are the benefits of straws for support:
1.  They are just as strong as dowel rods.
2.  They are easy to cut with scissors.
3.  They are guaranteed food safe.
4.  They come in bright colors so the server has no difficulty locating them for removal.
5.  They are inexpensive.
6.  They are readily available for purchase.

Do any of you use straws for support already?  Can you think of any more advantages that I should add to my list?

If you don't use straws for support, I hope you'll give it a try.  I think you'll really like it!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stress Free Cake Transport

Raise your hand if you've ever had to transport a cake and thought that your heart just couldn't take the strain. (raising hand)
Raise your hand if you've ever transported a cake and mourned the crack that showed up in the frosting. (raising hand)
This post is for you. 

I recently made these two baby shower cakes for a friend.  She had to take them on a 6 hour drive!  That's right, 6 hours!  Obviously, she couldn't balance them on her lap the whole drive, not to mention that she would be the driver.  Time for some engineering.

Before I show you the transport contraption, let me just address a few quick items to consider.  Since I knew that these cakes were in for a long drive, I planned their decoration appropriately.  I didn't put any heavy decorations hanging off the side of the cake, for example.  I also dammed the filling and supported the tiers as usual to give it every support for all the vibration that comes with a 6 hour car drive.

Now that we have that out of the way, here's the part you have been waiting for.  Start with a sturdy cardboard box that is relatively close to the dimensions of the cake.  My boxes came from Staples and were 12" x 12" x 12".  This worked out great since my base cake board was a 12" circle.  Tape the open bottom of the box together with strong packing tape.  Turn the box so that the open "top" is now the side.  We're going to side load the cake later.  On what is now the top(used to be the side) of the box, draw a big X connecting corner to corner.  This locates the center on the box.

Using a compass or round lid, draw a circle that's center is the center of the X.  Using a sharp knife or box cutter, carefully cut out the circle.  My circle was approximately 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  Remove the circle and brush the cut edges with your hand to remove any loose pieces of cardboard.  Put the cardboard circle back into the box and tape it into place on the outside of the box with packing tape.  The tape is a little hard to see in the photo so I made the photo extra large to help. 

See that hole in the center of the circle?  That's from the dowel, and we need to talk about that.  Remember the dowel that I put in my cakes for stabilization?  If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the post on stacking cakes.  This time the dowel will be part of the transportation device.  Get a dowel that is taller than the transportation box by about 3".  That made my dowel about 15" since my box was 12" high.  Sharpen one end of the dowel.  Pierce the box in the center of your cut circle and push the dowel into the box.  Wiggle the dowel around to make the whole large enough to allow the dowel to push through smoothly.  Remove the dowel from the box and you're ready to load the cake.

Carefully slide the cake into the open side of the box.  Mine was a perfect fit so I slid it until the cake board was touching the opposite side.  If your box is a little larger than your cake board, I would suggest putting some anti-slip shelf liner under the cake.  You don't want the cake to slide around inside the box.

Push the dowel, sharpened end down, into the hole that you made previously.  Keeping the dowel straight up and down, drive it gently down through the cake until it touches the bottom cake board.

Now the cake is firmly anchored inside the box and cannot shift side to side.  Tape the open end closed and your ready for a long drive.

The process to extract the cake from the box goes like this:  Carefully peal the packing tape off of the circle that you cut out of the top of the box.  Grab the dowel and gently twist it as you pull up.  The cardboard circle should ride the dowel up.  The large opening allows you to remove the dowel with out scraping any crumbs that cling to the dowel back onto the cake.  Now that the dowel is removed, open the side of the box and take the cake out the same way it went in.  The dowel will leave a small hole  in the top of the cake.  Cover the hole with a flower or topper, or anything that goes with your design.

These particular cakes traveled in the trunk of a car.  Other items were packed around the boxes to prevent them from sliding all over the trunk.  I think it goes without saying that you would want to place the boxes on a fairly level surface and keep them out of the heat.  But I said it anyway.

This method worked so well, I might make a box like this for shorter drives like across town.  I hope this method will ease your stress the next time you have to transport a cake.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Fondant Lemon Slices

I've mentioned here on the blog before that, in addition to my cake hobby, I also work with polymer clay.  Today's tutorial is straight from polymer techniques.  I had to give it a try in fondant and, what do ya know?  It worked!  (Are you out there Kristyn?  This post has yellow!)

Start by making a thick log of yellow fondant.  Wrap it up in parchment or plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes or seal it up in an airtight container and let it sit for a few days.  The freezer option can be sticky in the next step, but if you don't have a few days to wait, it can work.  True to my nature, I went with the freezer option.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flower Formers for Free (Almost)

Many of you have probably already learned that when it comes to cake decorating tools, I improvise.  Call me cheap, or frugal, or thrifty.  You pick.  If I can improvise a tool and not pay for the one at the store, that makes me a happy camper.  This gadget tip falls into the category of "Why didn't I think of this sooner?"

A store bought flower former looks something like this.
or this.  The purpose of this tool is to provide a curved surface on which to dry fondant or gumpaste flowers. (Is it just me or do the formers on the right look like molars?)

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mother's Work is Never Done

Sunday is Mother's Day and I don't have a Mother's Day cake to show you.  What I do have is closely related.  After all, you can't be a mother without children.  Here's a baby shower cake that just about any mother can relate to.  A mother's love can turn even the most mundane task like laundry into a thing of beauty.  Who knew that laundry could be beautiful?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cupcake Roundup & A Little Giveaway

Can you believe that since I started this blog I have posted 19 different cupcake designs?  When I counted them the other day I was so surprised.  I thought it would be fun to put them all together, and have a fun surprise for all of you.  So without further ado, here is the cupcake roundup.


In honor of posting over 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes on That Really Frosts Me I'm having a fun little giveaway to say thank you to all of my followers. 

Here's how it works:
  • I'm giving away these two cupcake necklaces made by yours truly.  The little cupcakes are made of polymer clay and stand approximately 1/2 inch tall.  They are hung on an 18" chain.
  • Anyone who follows this blog on Facebook or Google Friend Connect may enter the giveaway.  If you don't follow yet, now is a good time to start.(The buttons are found on the right side of the screen.)  Leave me a comment below to tell me that you follow and that you would like to win. 
  • A second entry can be earned by sharing this post on Facebook.  Leave a comment telling me you did so.
  • Entries will be accepted until May 13th, 2012 @ midnight.
  • Winners will be announced on this post on May 14th.
  • Two winners will be chosen at random.  The first winner to contact me gets to choose which cupcake necklace they would like.  The second winner will receive the other necklace.
Entries are now closed and winners have been notified!  
Thank you all for your participation and wonderful comments.  I wish I had 
a necklace to give each and every one of you.  
Congratulations Whitney and Barbara(comments 5 & 8), I hope you enjoy your prize.
Good luck everyone, and happy cupcake making!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Purple Passion

When I was a little girl it was well known among my relations that my favorite color was purple.  Pink was way too girly.  Purple was cool.  Every Christmas my grandma would give me something in purple.  I had purple quilts, purple afghans, purple doll clothes...you get the picture.  Well, I'm happy to say that some years of maturity have brought about(among other things) an appreciation of the full color spectrum.  I have decided that I no longer have a favorite color.  I like them all.  But purple is one of them, and I do still like it.