Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Very Curious

Since this is the busiest time for planning events and weddings, I am very familiar with the likes and dislikes of people. The ones who absolutely will not eat coconut, like berries, but not the seeds, the very few who really don't like chocolate. Now that last one just has to be wrong!
Anyway, it's all good and I enjoy meeting with people and creating their perfect cake, with or without chocolate.

Here is something new that has popped up over the past couple of years, though. Along with the more common allergies including nuts, some fruit, occasionally chocoate, I am now running into an alcohol allergy. This is as severe as the nuts, which means potentially fatal. The most curious part is that so far, it is only men. So, is this just an odd coincidence, or is it a question for the scientists?

Something to ponder.

Monday, March 23, 2009

April Showers

The old saying about April showers and spring flowers comes to mind(yes,I know it's still March) as we watch the forecast for precipitation this week. For me it was also prompted by the number of cakes I am making for baby and bridal showers. This is the pre-wedding season, so the bridal showers make a lot of sense. Baby showers are sprinkled throughout the year and are always a joy to make.

This past weekend a baby boy was the soon to be bundle of joy to be celebrated.The cake I decorated recreated the design on the sweetest baby clothes! It was all about a frog dreaming of becoming a handsome prince. Too cute! Lily pads and ponds and a crown on a frog, all in soft colors interspersed with the message. I love shopping for baby clothes.

Babies are the sweetest of gifts to arrive after a shower, rain or otherwise.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Signs of Spring

There are a variety of signs besides the calendar to tell us spring has arrived. My childhood memories are nostalgic and bring a smile. The adult acknowledgements of the season share as much room for a smile as they do a grimace.
Let's compare.

My childhood: The corner Dairy Queen opens for the season.
As as adult: I make a tax appointment.

My childhood: Easter break was often spent with my maternal grandparents in Arizona.
As an adult:I consider the impact of pot holes on my wedding cake deliveries.

My childhood: Grandma Stella and I always had Crocus from the garden on our shared birthday cake.
As as adult: You can never stay ahead of the muddy paw prints.

My childhood: Bridgeman's offered fresh peach ice cream for a few short weeks.

That's a great place to end. Happy Spring!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sports and Cakes

Groom's Cakes have been gainig in popularity over the last couple of years. It is a very personalized way to honor the groom and his interests. WIth sports being a common theme to inspire, I have made many stadiums, mascots and logos into cake.
Now, there's a new game(sorry, I couldn't resist) in town! Helmets.

Over the last couple of weeks I have received inquiries from more than one bride about this possibility. The teams have been different, so this should be fun.

It looks like I could become a fan without ever seeing a game.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Edible Garden

Last night was the Duel of the Design and the debut of a new idea in dessert buffets. The edible garden. Paths of Thomasina's Cashew Brittle meandered through fresh moss and wheat grass that held vanilla cupcakes turned into mushrooms and flowers. raspberry linzer cookie flowers lined the paths and nestled in grass and moss while apricot butterflies flitted overhead.

My favorite part was the Happy Garden Gnome, made of cake, fondant, poured sugar and chocolate. He stood upon a slab of shale made of fondant and held his poured sugar lantern to light the way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's In A Buttercream?

Buttercream is a term that has been applied to a variety of frostings, many have butter, some don't, and the steps to make them can differ. You may recognize one or two of these.

Decorator's Buttercream is a white, white frosting acheived by combining shortening, powdered sugar, flavorings and usually hot water and mixing until smooth on a mixer with a paddle attachment.

American Buttercream uses the same method, but replaces the shortening and water with butter and milk. These first two frostings are generally fairly sweet and heavier on the tongue than the following meringue based frostings.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream utilizes a different method. Egg whites and granulated sugar are combined over heat until the sugar dissolves. This combo is then whipped at high speed to a light meringue(hence the Meringue in the name). Softened butter is whipped in at the end to create a light, smooth frosting.

Italian Meringue Buttercream uses the same ingredients as Swiss, but cooks the sugar to 240 degrees before pouring, Carefully!, over the whipping egg whites. Like the Swiss meringue version, softened butter is whipped in at the end. This frosting is slighty stronger than the Swiss meringe. (At least in my opinion).

French Meringue Buttercream follows the Italian method, but uses whole eggs instead of only the whites, for a richer taste and color.

5 frostings, 3 methods, 1 name. Now you know what is in a buttercream.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Refresher Course

Every industry has some sort of continuing education, re-certification or information updating courses I would think. New computer programs are put into place, tax laws change, a more advanced procedure or technique is adopted. The world of cake is no different. There is always something new to learn or tweak to be better.

Yesterday I spent a few hours with a friend doing said tweaking. Joe and I worked on some gumpaste flowers, some painting techniques and his way of wiring petals and leaves. I have been working with gumpaste for flowers and figures for a while, but we all have a different technique. There can be minor or major differences depending on who originally taught us a technique, and since I am now teaching, I decided to see how Joe does things, to help me be a better instructor.

Joe has worked extensively with Nicholas Lodge and Scott Clark Woolley. Two amazing talents with books, tools, colors and other toys that many of us have utilized over the years, but it is another thing all together to work one on one to see immediately what we do in the same way, and what might be improved or completely changed to get a better result. Sometimes it is the tiniest thing that can have the biggest impact. That little aha! or Duh! moment is my favorite. Like I said, it's usually the tiniest thing.

Here are just a few shots(admittedly not great) of my emerging Cattleya Orchid.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Berlin's Big Day

Berlin turns 1 today! Happy Birthday. Kid's birthday cakes are so different. Boys want to be superheroes, girls go for the sparkle. My nieces and nephews give me excellent ideas and plenty of photo ops. Dragons, mermaids, Pokemon and more. Add in my clients, and there is no telling what I will be asked to do next. The trend now is to have a "smash" cake for the birthday girl or boy to..well, smash, which leaves the actual cake to stay pretty and be enjoyed by a more mature crowd. The photos that are sent back are a hoot. Cake everywhere, frosting in the hair, smiles and laughter. A perfect party.

Two weeks ago I did a birthday cake for Jen Cress's 4 year old, Jack. Definite superhero material with this kid. Can you beat that smile?

Berlin's cake is in shades of pink, chocolate brown and aqua. No frills and sparkles, but definitely a feminine confection. She got her smash cake, so we'll wait to see how much she wears and how much she eats.

You are never too old to celebrate your birthday and you are definitely allowed to embrace your inner child. So go ahead, indulge and