Monday, June 17, 2013

Thomas The Train Visits A Birthday Party!

I have been neglecting my blog a bit lately. My apologies. I had a LOT of stuff going on the last couple of months!

If you don't know by my infrequent postings, i am a home hobby baker. I am finding my way around cake decorating kind of like a blind person finds their way around an unfamiliar room. I just feel my way, learning as i go. Therefore, it's really exciting for me to see my cakes take form, and every success feels like a marathon with a photo finish.

Back in April, my nephew turned 5. He requested a Thomas the Train cake. My son loves Thomas back when he was a kid as well, so this was an exciting cake for me to take on. I had a kind of visual in my head, and my husband kind of gave his 2 cents, and i was off like a shot.

I knew i wanted there to be a tunnel. When i think of trains i think of tunnels into hillsides and long trestle bridges.

I baked a dome shaped cake in my Betty Crocker Bake N' Fill dome pan, and then i cut it in half for my hillside. Then i frosted it in a nice brown shade.

I used Royal icing for the tunnel details and the rails, brown sugar for dirt, and i piped some happy little trees using a star tip.

The toy i chose to use was a Happy Birthday Thomas the Train, and i took cues from how the train was decorated and piped colorful streamers of red, yellow, and blue in Royal icing for a festive border. Next time i would probably use buttercream icing instead because it was brittle and the kids at the party wanted to poke it, but it looked nice until they started messing with it.

My nephew was happy, and so was everyone else, because it was simply delicious!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hello Kitty Birthday Cake

I made a cake last week for my friend and yoga teacher. Her daughter turned 6 and wanted a Hello Kitty cake.

I had the perfect idea in mind for the cake. I wanted to try and do an icing transfer! I keep trying new things, because i like to push myself to see what i can accomplish and this seemed like something i could manage.

I went to the store and found a very cute Hello Kitty coloring book. I planned out a 9" two-layer cake, so i found an image in the book that would fit. I took a cookie sheet and put the coloring page on it, already taped to the back of a sheet of freezer paper that i cut to fit. Then i taped both pages to the cookie tray so it wouldn't move around.

When i have seen transfers done on the internet, i have mostly seen buttercream icing transfers, but i wanted a glossy flat look for mine. So i made a batch of royal icing and i portioned out some icing of piping thickness into bowls and colored them black (for the eyes and whiskers), a bit of yellow (for her nose), some pink and blue (for her jumper and shirt), some red (for her bow), and i portioned out a good amount of plain white (for her body outline).

With my remaining icing, i added a bit of water to make some icing of a flooding consistency and colored portions as i did for the outlines.

This was nerve racking for me, honestly. I hadn't had time for a test on my method, and the flooding icing took ages to set. I was terrified she'd crack and i'd have to start over.

I let it sit overnight and went to bed with a bit of a prayer on my lips.

Now, when i do something for the first time, i always learn something important. In this cake, i learned that i CAN make this method work, but i originally imagined i'd use the side against the freezer paper as my "up side". But when i peeled the paper off of my transfer, i learned that it doesn't work quite that way. The paper side of the transfer wasn't perfect. There were a couple of air holes and it was far too flat and not very glossy and a little... grainy for lack of a better word.

So i had to improvise. I went ahead and laid her, flat and grainy side up, on the cake. I took my icing bags and piped my outline all over again and filled her in. I heaved a huge sigh of relief that that part was done and moved on.

I bought pre-made Wilton posies because i don't have the tools to really work with flowers yet (or any experience in making them for that matter) and arranged them on the cake.

I decided she would look really cute with stars around her, and so i used my freezer paper method and made some stars. I made 7 (the little girl was turning 6 and i wanted an extra one in case one broke) and my daughter poked her fingers in 2 of them when i wasn't in the room. So i placed 5 dried stars on the cake and i crossed my fingers and piped the bottom one directly on the cake. Stars are HARD.

It was a fairly simple design, but it certainly did turn out cute! My little one asked if i would make a cake just like this for HER birthday! She'll probably change her mind before August, but  maybe not.

You can't tell much in the photos, but there are tiny pink candy beads around the bottom of the cake. I need to learn to pipe shell designs. I'm hoping to take some Wilton classes this spring or summer, so i will have some actual training under my belt. Being a hobby baker is hard in the respect that you're constantly teaching yourself and crossing your fingers in hopes that your ideas will work. On the up side, every time i complete a cake, i feel very accomplished. And that's a pretty awesome feeling!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Once Upon A Dream

One of my all-time favorite Disney movies is Sleeping Beauty. It's one of those movies that makes every little princess-loving little girl sigh with wistful wonder that someday their price will come.

Mind you, i have already informed my older daughter that if she does in fact have a prince waiting out there, she'll probably have to go rescue him from whatever dark forest he got lost in, but hey, not all princes are as perfect as our Shining Knight, Prince Phillip.

One of my friends asked me if i could make a cake for her little girl, who also adores Aurora. Of course i said yes!

I don't know about you, but my favorite scene in the movie is when Briar Rose strolls off into the forest to fetch berries while her "aunts" finish up her birthday preparations. It still gives me shivers. I love her voice, and the songs, and the owl who steals Prince Phillip's cloak... its wonderful.

That was the scene i wished to re-create with my cake.

I happened to find the most perfect Disney figurines, and i was all set.

"I'll love you at once, the way i did once upon a dream...."

My other figurines didn't really have a place on the cake, so i decided to have them hang around it instead. 

I'm also very proud of myself for learning (sort of) how to use my Left #107 tip for the flowery rosette borders. So far i haven't really gotten the hang of making any scalloped borders or anything. I used some Spring themed Wilton sprinkles for the fallen leaves of the forest, the daisies floating down the stream, and the wildflowers and butterflies (none of which i thought to get a good close photo of).

My friend said it was delicious and i know her daughter just loved it because i saw her face when i brought it over. It made my whole day!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Are you making any resolutions? I don't really have any personal resolutions to make, i think i'll stick to my standard resolution of wanting to end this new year a better and hopefully more enlightened person that i began. This year, i published my first blog content here after a looong time debating on it, and i also made a lot of cakes and garnered an enormous amount of experience along the way. I may gank a lot of ideas from here and there and yonder (and Pinterest), but i think we all do... but it's also good to take a recipe and do your own thing with it. Some people i know think baking is so hard but baking comes in two parts: Success and Failure. You have to be willing to fail to make anything worthwhile. If i have any wisdom to impart this year, that would be it. Don't be afraid of failure. It's okay to not meet your goals. It's not okay to give up. Giving up is the only real failure.

On a personal level, i began a journey into yoga and healing my body, mind, and spirit. Although i have only been at it a few months, i am gaining strength and more, and that makes me happy.

I have a lot of plans for the new year as my blog goes.

1. I really need to learn how to customize a layout on here. This hummingbird theme is cute, but when i look at other blogs there are so many amazing things happening and i want to learn to do some of them.

2. Bake more, and post more. I started out dedicating this blog to my cakes, but i don't make cakes often enough. I have months where i make 3 in a row, and months where i make none. So i am going to mix it up and add more content and learn more as i branch out more into other creations. I *love* to make candy, and i think i am going to share more of that here.

3. I want to do a theme post thing on my blog where i pick things from Pinterest and try them out. I would hardly be the first person on the internet doing that, but i have also found that my pins come out differently (sometimes for the better) than other Pinvestigators (i just coined that word, as far as i know). Also, if i do this, i can take the pressure off of myself, since i am ridiculously perfectionist. I need to do things where it's explicitly okay in my mind to make mistakes and fail if need be. Maybe i'll lighten up.

4. Enjoy myself more. I think i started taking myself way too seriously when i started posting to a blog. I have said it before, and i'll say it again for my own sake... i am not a professional, and therefore, it's OK if i screw up. I don't have many people around giving me really harsh criticism (thank goodness) so why am i so hard on myself?

So that's it in a nutshell for me. Thanks for taking the time out to come read my blog, and if you haven't already, follow me here on Blogspot, or find me on Facebook at Sugar On The Brain!

Happy New Year!

Love, Tracey AKA Sugar