Savoriesnsweets’ Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Cake Decorating

This week I had 3 cakes to do!  THREE.  This was the most cake I’ve ever had to produce for anything so needless to say I was busy non-stop this week. With each cake, I focused on different techniques to decorate them and to make them customized for the recipient and the event.  I have to say I learned a LOT and am slowly thinking I’ve found something I’m not bad at!  It’s so great to be able to make such delectable creations for friends and family while I’m still learning new techniques.

The first cake was a cake for my Wilton Fondant and Gumpaste course. This is a chocolate stout cake with french vanilla buttercream.  I covered it in white fondant and made pink gumpaste carnations to top it.  I also made a fondant border and piped a bead border and Cornelli lace.  I took the cake to work and everyone loved it!

Fondant and gumpaste course cake

Here’s a shot of the inside of the cake.

The next cake was kind of a wedding cake.  Some friends of mine recently got married, but they only had family there.  I was told the day was lovely and of course completely hectic.  It was so hectic in fact, that the bride informed me that there was a cake there, but she didn’t remember what kind it was or even much about it as she wasn’t in charge of getting it.  So I offered to make the newly wedded couple a yummy cake for them to enjoy at their leisure and share with whomever they liked.  This actually was a good idea since I managed to get the cake to them upon their one month wedding anniversary and there was plenty to go around.

I made them a two tier square cake decorated with gumpaste cherry blossom flowers and gumpaste origami cranes.  Unfortunately, the cake got a little jostled while I was driving it over there and the fondant got a few nicks in it, but my friends didn’t mind at all.  The top layer was a moist yellow cake with mocha amaretto buttercream.  The top layer was a lemon cake with lemon curd and french vanilla buttercream.  My friends loved it and they shared the cake with friends and family over the next couple of days. I was also really happy to give them a wedding gift that they’d enjoy and remember!

Origami and cherry blossom cake

The third cake was for a friend’s birthday party.  It was a milestone birthday for him and so I decided to make him a really fun and yummy cake!  Since one of his favorite hobbies is painting, I decided to paint the entire cake in different colors.  I also knew he loved chocolate so I made the chocolate stout cake with french vanilla buttercream and mini chocolate chips.  I thought a chocolate stout cake was fitting since his birthday was going to be celebrated in a bar.  The cake was a real hit!  He thought it was a delicious work of art!!

Even though it was such a hectic week, it was a lot of fun making all these cakes!  Since my cake decorating classes are soon ending, I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep my skills sharp by making cakes for family and friends for all their different events.

So lately, I’m obsessed with cake.  Not eating it–making it, decorating it, reading about it, talking about it and any other things I can do that have to do with cake.  I pay way too many visits to the cake decorating supply store.  And I’ve been spending a lot of time trying out different recipes, practicing techniques, and rolling out fondant.  My Wilton courses have really opened my eyes since I’ve finally been exposed to the variety of styles and decorations out there.  But really I owe my real cake educational development to courses I’ve staged and attended at ICE.  I also credit a lot of my recent development to reading different books.  Reading the Ace of Cakes book, as well as books by Colette Peters and Toba Garrett have both inspired and challenged me to try new techniques and mediums.  As inspired as I am, I know it all has to start with good fundamentals, so I’m spending this rainy weekend baking cakes and decorating them for spring and St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ll be giving away these cakes, so I want to be sure they’ll taste good, but most of all  want them to be beautiful and lovely cakes!

My St. Patrick’s Day cake is a homemade funfetti cake.  Basically, I used a white cake recipe I got from school and just added some colorful sprinkles.  I figured the colors would be fun for the holiday.

Funfetti cake for St Patrick's Day

The other two cakes were made from recipes from Toba Garrett’s book, The Well Decorated Cake.  That’s a great book with wonderful techniques and most importantly, delicious recipes.  I made her chocolate fudge recipe which was delicious!!  And I filled it with a banana filling and iced it with mocha buttercream. The bananas made the cake have kind of a caramel taste and kept it really moist.  And it was really simple to make!  This can be considered kind of a spin off a bananas foster. If you’d like to try it, here’s my recipe for the banana filling.

Banana Filling

Yield:  just under 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas, diced (I used bananas that were just ripe enough to eat, but I suspect using underripe bananas would be fine too.)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup good brandy or cognac (I used some Remy Martin I already had around.)
  1. In a heated medium sized pan, melt the butter.
  2. Add the sugar and stir to combine thoroughly.
  3. Add the bananas and cook until very soft, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg and stir to combine.
  5. Add the cognac and tilt your pan to ignite.  IMMEDIATELY REMOVE FROM THE HEAT! This part is very cool, and VERY DANGEROUS, so BE CAREFUL and DO NOT return pan to the heat until the flames have died. Be sure to have a lid or other pan at the ready to cover this pan if the flames get out of hand.  THIS PART IS NOT REQUIRED!!!  Just be sure to incorporate everything very well and cook off the alcohol.
  6. Allow to cool before using to fill your cake.

Chocolate Fudge cake with banana filling

Royal Icing Daisies

Time for a slice!

In case you’re wondering, everything was made from scratch!  I made the cakes, fillings, frosting and even the fondant!  The last cake I made was the peanut butter & jelly cake from the same publication as the chocolate fudge cake.  I didn’t decorate it this weekend though as I’m saving it for my cake decorating class later this week.

While I’m searching for a job that I think would be a good fit for me, I’ve been working as a kitchen assistant at my old culinary school.  It’s not a high paying job but it’s a fabulous learning opportunity and really a lot of fun.   I most recently assisted in Toba Garrett‘s one week wedding cake workshop.  I’ve only been a student in one of her classes which was all about cookie decorating and I learned so much!  I never took her cake decorating classes, but I am signed up to take cake decorating 1 very soon.  I’m even more eager after I’ve seen what her students manage to create in a short time!

In this class, I got to see how students apply their different skills and techniques to the creation of a beautiful wedding cake. The first day was where all the cakes were baked off, the fillings and icings were made and the modeling chocolate was made.  The next day the cakes were split into layers, filled and iced.  Once that was completed students began working with white modeling chocolate to create roses and leaves.  The third day the cakes were iced and covered in fondant and work on flowers was continued.  The fourth day the tiers were created and the flowers and leaves finished.  The last day students decorated their cakes and applied any finishing touches.

All the cakes were gorgeous!  The color schemes ranged from different color combinations like black, white and red to all white cakes.  One student even created a garden out of her cake with different color flowers and icing vines. I was amazed to see how different all the cakes were and how much work went into creating a wedding cake!

While I was assisting, I was learning.  I was fortunate enough to be able to take home some leftover cake layers and I picked up additional supplies and got to work at home.  I wasn’t having a wedding anytime soon, but it was soon my birthday so I decided to make this cake my birthday cake.  I made red roses and green leaves.  I covered my cake in white and red fondant and decorated it with royal icing accents.  It was by far the most intricately detailed cake I’ve ever created!  The cake was a yellow cake with lemon curd filling and french vanilla buttercream and it was delicious!! It was a real treat to have for my birthday and it was great fun to make!

If you’re looking to learn how to make some fabulous cake, I highly recommend Chef Toba Garrett’s class.  Her instructional methods are excellent, she answers student questions/concerns and she helps to fuel inspiration to help you create your own masterpiece out of cake.  Here’s some shots of the cake I made.  All the techniques I learned just by watching her in class!

Once I got to the pastry module in culinary school, I realized I should have done the pastry program instead.  I really love making cakes, cookies and pies for different occasions and decorating them.  I also love making different pastries and even strudel!  But I couldn’t afford to go back for even more school.  So while I’m still in the midst of job-hunting, I figured I’d indulge my creative side and sign up for a Wilton method cake decorating course at my local AC Moore. The nice thing about this course is that it’s a small group led by an instructor who is very knowledgable, encouraging and fun.  Of course the down side is that the course is only two hours once a week, so it feels a bit rushed, even though we do a lot of preparation work at home.   We did manage to get in quite a few different techniques and practiced on two different cakes and a set of cupcakes.  I’ve really liked decorating my cakes with different flowers, leaves and vines since I think it’s just such a beautiful touch on cakes.  I’m looking forward to creating even more beautiful flowers in the next course.  In the meantime, here’s some shots of the work I completed in course one!

In an effort to maintain some skills in a kitchen, I’ve been taking some classes at the culinary school as well as other local venues.  I recently took a cake decorating class at The Brooklyn Kitchen.  This is a small-ish kitchen supply store with great kitchen gadgets, cookware, books, and classes.  I do love going there, since there’s almost always some cool new gadget or book and the staff is very helpful.

As part of the class, we received a small vanilla cake to decorate that was filled with chocolate chips.  We also received buttercream, a kit of disposable pastry bags and tips, a palate knife, bowl scraper and a handout detailing all the fundamentals of decorating.  All this for the $50 tuition!  The class was held in the back of the store, by their on-staff pastry chef who was delightful and patient.  While I didn’t learn anything new exactly, (we did all of this in culinary school) I did get a lot of good practice and of course, a pretty and yummy cake!

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