Friday, May 25, 2012

June Schedule and An Apology

First, let me start by apologizing for getting behind on blogging, again.  I had some personal stuff that came up that throw me for a loop and I am working way my back to playing in the kitchen.  June will bring on some experiments and some new blog posts for everyone.

I also wanted to take a moment to share the current promotion and June’s class schedule.


Sign up during 5/13-6/9 for 50/50 OFFER!

Register for a 4-Week Wilton Course and take 50% off the regular price tuition price AND the Student Kit

So with this promotion you will get the 4 week course for $22.50 and the student kit for $17.50.  Which is a great deal!

June 2012

Decorating Basics – Mondays
Starts June 4th

Gum Paste & Fondant – Wednesdays
Starts June 6th

Advanced Gum Paste Flowers – Tuesdays
Starts June 5th

Please remember to sign up 48 hours before the class is scheduled to start.

Don’t forget to check out the Current Class Schedule tab to see the schedule for the rest of the summer classes.  As soon as I confirm schedules with the store I will put some more project classes on the calendar.  If there is one you would like, let me know.

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!  If you make a cake, please pop over to the Your Sugar Connection w/Tracy Facebook Page and share it with everyone. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cupcake Cake Memory Lane

In What Is a Cupcake Cake, I gave you some easy directions on how to create a cupcake cake, as well as how to make a rainbow on one.

To give you an idea how versatile cupcake cakes can be, I decided to share a few of the ones I have done in the past.  I do generally stick to the basic shapes for mine, but remember you can use your imagination here.

For this one, I did use the shape of a baseball field as my base shape.  The figures are plastic.


Cupcake cakes can be decorated in different directions as well, depending on the shape of your decorations.


If you have ever heard me talk about the image I forgot to flip before piping, it was this FFA cake.  Not only did I have to redo the whole image, I ended up dropping me camera on it while taking pictures. 


The image on this one always cracks me up every time I see it.


For this one, I dropped some colored icing (or maybe it was just the gel color) on the white icing and smeared it around.  They were also filled with lemon curd (colored green) for the slime factor.


Here is a slightly different shape than the others.  The hand print is actually mine hand, covered in green colored piping gel.


This was a larger cupcake cake using about 35 cupcakes.  As long as you have a board that will fit you can do as many cupcakes as you want or need to do.


Several of these images were done using the Frozen Butter Cream Transfer (FBCT) technique.  It is a great technique for transferring a more detailed picture onto a cake and giving you a smooth top.  You can google it, as there are many step by steps of it out there, showing different ways of doing it. 

Let me know if you would like to see a blog about it one day? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What is a Cupcake Cake?


A Cupcake Cake is a bunch of cupcakes that are lined up so that you have a flat top to ice and decorate.  They are easy to serve, no need for a knife or fork, but can be decorated like a cake.

When filling your cupcake papers use an ice cream scoop.  This will give you more even sized cupcakes.

Cupcake Cakes can be generic shapes or shaped to match how you are decorating them, such as like a fish or butterfly.

Play with the shape of your cupcake cake.  You may need to adjust the shape depending on how many cupcakes you have/need.



Place your cakes as close together as you can get them.



Use a dot of icing on the bottom of the cupcakes to help glue them in place.


Now we have that mostly flat time that I mentioned above.  These cupcakes were filled with a peanut butter filling.


I iced the cupcake cakes with a soft medium icing. 


For the rainbow, I drew a half circle with the tip of the spatula to give me something to follow.


Using the elongated piping that we learned in Course 1 Lesson 2, I piped my different colors of the rainbow. 


For the clouds I did piped in a circular motion.


If you are decorating late at night, please pay attention to what you are doing.  You might want to make sure that you do your decorations on your cupcake cake (or any cake in general) are centered.  I did not realize until the next morning that I was not centered.

When serving the cupcake cake, pull your cupcakes straight up.  If you pull them off to the side, your icing may slide off the cupcake.

Please forgive the quality of my pictures in this post.  My camera batteries died during the middle, so some of these pictures were taking with my cell phone.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Current Promo, plus April/May Project Courses

Current Promotion for Project Classes: 
Sign up during 4/8-5/12 for Buy 2 Classes and get 1 FREE 

You get a lot of options with this promotion...
- Buy two 4-Week Courses for $90, and get one 4-Week Course
free
- Buy two 4-Week Courses for $90, and get one Project Class (any price) free
- Buy one 4-Week Course plus one Project Class ($20) for $65, and get one Project Class (any price) free
- Buy one 4-Week Course plus one Project Class ($15) for $60, and get one Project Class ($15 or less) free

- Buy two Project Classes ($20) for $40, get one Project Class ($20 or less) free
- Buy one Project Class ($20) and one Project Class ($15) for $35, get one Project Class ($15 or less) free

- Single 4-Week Course ($45) resigration is 30% off or $31.50
- Single Project Class registration is either $15 or $20 depending on the class.

This promotion is good between 4/8-5/12 on any of the courses, no matter what month it is in.  Save your reciept!

Visit the Current Class Schedule Tab to see the dates for the 4-Week Courses.

April 2012 Project Class:

Fondant Fun Cookies - Two Session Class
Class cost: $20, supplies not included.
Wednesday, April 25 &
Wednesday, May 2nd

I must have 4 students signed up and paid 48 hours before this class is scheduled to start to run it.  Please sign up at Michaels by Monday, April 23 before

 
May 2012 Project Classes:

Mommy & Me Silly Monster Cupcakes
Class cost:  $15, supplies not included.
Sunday, May 6th

I must have 4 students signed up and paid 48 hours before this class is scheduled to start to run it.  Please sign up at Michaels by Friday, May 4th before

 
For this Mommy & Me class it will be $15 per child.  Mommy comes free with paid child. 


Tall Cakes - Wedding Cake Piping Skills Class!
Saturday, May 12 at
Cost: $20 supplies not included.

During this 3 hour class you will learn how to assemble a two tier cake and decorate your special creation. We will cover classic piping techniques including Brushed Embroidery, Cornelli Lace, Sotas, Ruffle borders and garlands, Basic String work, Picot work and embellished borders.

I must have 4 students signed up and paid 48 hours before this class is scheduled to start to run it.  Please sign up by Thursday, May 10th

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peanut Butter Filling

What you need:

1 cup powder sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream


Blend the first 5 ingredients together, until well combined.  Add the heavy cream until you get the consistency that you like.



I did find that the filling thickened up a little after sitting in the cupcakes.


Original recipe:  http://cook-eat-love.com/2010/03/reeses-chocolate-peanut-butter-cake/

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Cake Will Settle

What is the next step after you have stacked up your cake layers and have given your cake its crumb coat? 

You get to take a break.

No really, I’m serious.  Take a break.  You’ll thank me later.

If you haven’t made many cakes you probably haven’t had to really deal with this, but if you do not allow time for your cake to settle you will almost always end up with the dreaded bulge around the middle of the cake.  The bulge, a ring around the middle of the cake where the layers come together, is caused from when the weight of the top layer plus gravity pushes down on the filling.  There is nothing worse than getting a cake finished, coming back a few hours later and seeing the bulge.  Believe me I know from experience on this.

I try to let my cake settle six to eight hours or over night, but even a few hours is better than nothing.

I also feel that it is helpful for you to move your cakes around while you are working with them.  Pick them up and move them around a few times.  If the first time the cake is moved is for you to take it some place, you might find issues, like the bulge or even large air bubbles that form under the icing.

Next you get to move on to the fun stuff, icing and decorating.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Same Color, Different Icing Consistencies


Have you wanted to use one shade of a color, but need different consistencies of icing?  Such as wanting to make purple roses (stiff), purple drop flowers (medium) then write on a cake in purple (thin).

Instead of making the different consistencies and trying to match colors, start with the thickest consistencies you need, color it the shade that you want.  Then you can take out icing from there and thin it down to fit all of your needs.

Stiff to Medium Icing:

1 cup stiff icing + 1 teaspoon water/milk = 1 cup medium icing.
1/2 cup stiff icing + 1/2 teaspoon water/milk = 1/2 cup medium icing.
1/4 cup stiff icing + 1/4 teaspoon water/milk = 1/4 cup medium icing

Stiff to Thin Icing:

1 cup stiff icing + 2 teaspoons water/milk = 1 cup thin icing
1/2 cup stiff icing + 1 teaspoon water/milk = 1/2 cup thin icing.
1/4 cup stiff icing + 1/2 teaspoon water/milk = 1/4 cup thin icing

Medium to Thin Icing:

1 cup medium icing + 1 teaspoon water/milk = 1 cup thin icing.
1/2 cup medium icing + 1/2 teaspoon water/milk = 1/2 cup thin icing.
1/4 cup medium icing + 1/4 teaspoon water/milk = 1/4 cup thin icing

You can always add powder sugar to thicken thin icing up to medium.  I can’t really tell you how much, since I usually go by feel for that.  Personally for stiff icing, I always make it fresh rather than trying to thicken up other consistencies for it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crumb Coating AKA Dirty Ice

A crumb coat, also referred to a dirty ice, is when you take some of your thin icing and just smear it all around the cake.  

 

The first purpose is to seal in the crumbs, so that they stay out of your way when you are icing the cake.

The second purpose of it is to keep your cake from drying out while it settles and waits for you to do more work to it.  The coating of icing will keep the air out of your cake.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Green Cake

There has been a green cake that has made its way into a couple of posts.  It was my nod to St. Patty’s day, but also just a chance to play around a little.

Not only was the cake colored green, it was also mint flavored.  I started with the Cake Mix Extender recipe and made one quick and easy change as well as an addition.

The Green Mint Cake:

4 eggs
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup (8oz) sour cream or yogurt
3 teaspoons Mint extract*
1 box white or vanilla cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Green color gel

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients in, mix on low until just combined, scrap down sides, then mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

I used the vanilla Better Crocker cake mix, and had a prefect amount of batter for my two 8in round cake pans.


*You could totally do a Peppermint flavored cake as well.  I used 3 teaspoons of mint because I wanted a good mint taste.  Depending on how strong the extract is, you may need to use less of it.

I paired this cake with the Cookies & Cream filling, but a chocolate filling and icing would also be very good with it.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Layering the Layers

Now that we have our two flat cake layers it is time to put them together.  The following is how I do it.  I'm not saying it is right and any other way is wrong, it is just what I have learned works best for me.


I place the first layer, bottom side down with the cut side up.  The part that was in the bottom of the cake pan is against the cake board.  I do put a smear of icing down to ‘attach’ the cake to the cake pan. 

Spread on a layer of icing or filling.  If you are using a filling other than icing, don’t forget to make your butter cream damn around the inside edge of the cake, using a tip 12 and medium or stiff icing.


When I place the next layer of cake on, I put cut side down and the bottom of the cake up. 

Why do I place the two cut sides in the middle of the cake?  To make my life easier.  Cut edges make more crumbs.

If I torte the cake layers I still follow this method for stacking, placing the two cut tops in the middle of the cake. 


When I am using something besides icing for my filling, I will do two layers of filling and one layer of icing.  My cake would be cake layer, filling, cake layer, icing, cake layer, filling, cake layer.

When I use the 8x3 round cake pan, I put the top of the cake against the cake board.  I like have the flat bottom up, which gives me a flat surface to start with when I ice it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

April's Class Schedule + March Tall Cakes Class

Tall Cakes - Wedding Cake Piping Skills Class!
Saturday, March 31 at .
Cost: $20 supplies not included.

During this 3 hour class you will learn how to assemble a two tier cake and decorate your special creation. We will cover classic piping techniques including Brushed Embroidery, Cornelli Lace, Sotas, Ruffle borders and garlands, Basic String work, Picot work and embellished borders.

I must have 4 students signed up and paid 48 hours before this class is scheduled to start to run it.  Sign up sheets are in the book!


Sign up during 3/11/12 - 4/7/12 for Buy 1, Give 1 
"Register for any Wilton 4-week classes (for $45) and give one to a friend for Free - a $45 value!"

Individual Registration Price is 50% off ($22.50)

Sign up for any 4-week course, including courses in the up coming months, during the above time period to take advantage of this promotion.

April 2012

Decorating Basics – Tuesdays
Starts April 3rd

Gum Paste & Fondant – Mondays
Starts April 2nd

Advanced Gum Paste Flowers – Wednesdays
Starts April 4th

Prerequisite:  Gum Paste & Fondant – Course 3

To plan ahead visit the Current Class Schedule tab to see the 4-week course dates for April, May and June.

From now through June I will be offering Decorating Basics (Course 1) and Advanced Gum Paste Flowers (Course 4) every month.  Flowers and Cake Design (Course 2) and Gum Paste and Fondant (Course 3) will be offered every other month.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

In Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1, I showed using Tip 1M to on the sides of the cake. 

This time I used a technique we learn in Decorating Basics, the zig zag.

I crumb coated the side of the cake, but did put a normal amount of icing on the top of the cake. 

Using a Tip 21 I piped zig zags from the bottom to the top.






I really like how it came out.  It gave me a chance to make a not so plain cake on a night (after class) that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time decorating.

If you happen to have a cake where you get crumbs in the side of the cake, this would also be a nice ‘cover up’ for the crumbs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Leveling & Torting Your Layers

I’ve talked about different things you can do to get a full cake layer with a flatter top including the amount of batter you use, using Bake Even Strips and heating cores.  The next step is to level and torte them.


My oven has a slight lean to it, which makes my cakes bake with a lean.  I try to remember to turn them half way through baking to help even out, but I often forget.  And really that is okay, because 99% of the time I am going to trim it to make it level.

When is the 1% of the time that I don’t trim?  When using the 8x3in pan by itself.

For the rest of the cakes, I trim the tops even.  I use the Cake Leveler for this.  Set it to the height that you want the cakes to be at.  When using the leveler, start with it closest to you and slide your hand through the leveler to place it on the top of the cake.  You will lightly saw, moving the leveler to the left and right, through the cake.  Peel off the top layer that has now been cut off.


Do this for each layer of cake that you will be using.

With most of my cakes I would also torte the two layers I am using.  Remember we torte, cut the cake in half, using the leveler the same way as described above. 

For the cake I used above I did not want to torte it because I felt it would have taken away from the zebra effect.  Here is a quick picture I snapped of another cake I was working on that I did torte the layers.


By torting both of my layers of cake I will end up with four thinner, layers of cake and three layers of icing/filling in the final product. 



Next Post:
Wed., March 21 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Don’t Free Hand!

We learned about using piping gel method for getting an image on a cake in Decorating Basics.  Well there is another way to get some outlines on your cake for you to follow.

You can use a cookie cutter.


Take your cookie cutter and lightly press it into your icing.  When you pull it away you have an imprint that you can now outline.


I filled in my hearts with some zig zags.  You could also fill them in with stars or dots as well.



Next Posts: 
Mon., March 19 - Leveling & Torting Your Layers

Wed., March 21 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1

For my cake with the zebra striped insides I wanted to do something a little different on the sides.  I was looking for something that would dress up the cake, with out doing a ton of decorating.

I went ahead and iced the top as I normally would.


Then I took my bowl of white icing, and tossed in some of the left over pink from class, along with a few tooth picks of red coloring, and lightly mixed it up.  You could also do some bag striping here as well.


I bagged it in the 16in bag with a tip 1M.  Next time I do this, I will use the regular 12in bag. 



I piped a line from the board up along the side of the cake.


I added some stars along the top edge, again using the tip 1M.


The guys at work loved the cake, so I consider it a success.  Of course I’m pretty sure since it was free cake they weren’t going to complain any about it.

And are you curious about what the inside looked like?  I got a picture of that for you as well.

(Sorry for the bad cell picture here.)

I think it looks pretty neat myself!


Next Posts: 
Fri., March 16 - I Don’t Free Hand!

Mon., March 19 - Leveling & Torting Your Layers

Monday, March 12, 2012

Flower Nail = Heating Core, plus Temperature

In the last post, about Bake Even Strips, you may have seen something sticking up out of the middle of the cake pan.  It was a flower nail.

In large cake pans, different sources will recommend that you use a heating core in the center of the pan.  It works similar to the Bake Even Strips, only working from the inside out.  With the heating core, which is made out of metal, in the middle of the cake it conducts heat into the center of the cake.  By doing this, it will help the middle of the cake bake more evenly with the sides of the cake.

Many cakers will use heating cores in smaller cakes as well, since having the cake bake more evenly will give you a flatter cake top.  Some smart person (nope it wasn’t me) figured out that you can use a metal flower nail for this purpose as well, and even better, it doesn’t leave a big hole in the cake.

I do use the flower nail in almost all of my cakes, usually from the 8in cakes and up, especially my 8x3in cake pan (the one I show the first night of Decorating Basics).  You can use two flower nails spaced out in larger pans like the 13x9, 11x15 or 12x18.

To use the flower nail in your pan, grease the cake pan, then grease the flower nail (I often just spray the flower nail with some cooking spray) and place it, flat side down in the pan. 


Fill the pan half full and bake as you normally would, though you may find you have to adjust the time you bake it a little bit.


After you flip your cake out on a cooling rack you will remove the flower nail.  I always use a fork since it will be HOT!


You can see it just leave a small hole in the cake that no one will notice when you ice the cake.


Baking Temperature

I bake everything at 325*.   This, along with the Bake Even Strips and heating core will help your cake come out flatter on top.



Next Posts: 
Wed., March 14 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1

Fri., March 16 - I Don’t Free Hand!