January 28, 2012

Carving a Path

This week, I was blessed with learning another new technique; carving out a path along the edge of a cake. One very special birthday boy asked for an action cake of Indian Jones specifically the mine cart chase. This carved cake creates the perfect stage for the edible adventures of Indiana Jones!

To get started, I cut both ten by two inch cakes layers in half to create four layers. Between each is a quarter inch of red buttercream to represent the lava in this action scene. Using chocolate buttercream, I crumb-coated the cake and let set for thirty minutes.

Using a toothpick, I marked a spiral line around the cake starting at the top and working my way down to the bottom edge. Having the cake on a turn table will make this step a breeze!

Insert toothpicks about every inch along the line to help maintain a smooth, even curve when carving. There is no room for mistakes!

The top of the cake also needs to be marked to keep the path going down your cake an even width. I needed lots of space so I chose to make marks two and a half inches in from the edge. Start across from the highest toothpick on the cakes edge and end just after the last toothpick on the bottom of the cake.

Using a serrated knife cut all along the outside edge of your cake just above the toothpicks. Be careful to not cut too deep. You can always go back and make a deeper cut.

Now start to cut into your cake using the top toothpicks to guide you. I found it easiest to work in chunks. Cut into the cake going a few inches in lenth then cutting the chunk of cake off. Working in smaller sections like this allowed me to see if the path was still level. It's also a lot of cake that's being cut off. It kept the job a lot neater.

The cake will have a nice curve when finished. 

Remove all the toothpicks and apply a crumb coat to the exposed cake.

Because there was so much cake cut off, so I opted to place it all on another cake circle along with a bag of extra buttercream and the leftover cookies (I crumbled those up and smashed them into the final buttercream coat to creat the look of a mine). These extras were boxed up and delivered to the customer for them to enjoy after the party or have on hand for extra serving as needed.

 The finished product:

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


January 25, 2012

More on Topsy Turvey Cakes

I have completed two topsy turvey cakes now and have learned a lot through both experiences. Topsy turvey cakes create an illusion that the cake is going to topple. In reality it is very stable (or that's the goal), but this look does take significant carving and skill to obtain. The result is so much fun and people are always impressed by them! They just can't get over the look of the cake being tilted! 

I learned so much during my first attempt at a topsy turvey cake, which I have posted here. A few key errors occured and in my second attempt I learned why my first cake had so many support problems. Here is what I've found:

The directions I've found from other cake decorators say to put a cake circle that matches the one fro the next tier, onto the top center of your cake to carve out a flat surface for that next tier to sit on. What I discovered was that when you do this, the angle of the cake creates a different size circle than the actual size needed. When you place that next tier on the cake, you'll see that the tier will sit off-center make the cake unstable and also putting more weight on one side of the cake. The result from my first try was a slipped dowl-rod, fondant that broke and cake that spewed out of the brokedn fondnat. All becuase the tier was a little off-center. Not good.

The fix is quite easy! Use a cake board, setting on the flat surface you just carved and see how much more cake needs to be removed before it sits on the center of the cake. Keep in mind, you still need to put on a crumb coat of buttercream then more buttercream or fondnat. That's a lot of added thickness that needs to be compensated for! Carefully carve a little cake at a time off the back edge until the cake circle fits easily in the center with a little room to spare on each side. Add your crumb coat and final layers.

Finish up with a crumb coat and your regular coat of butttercream or fondnat and the cake is now ready for it's next tier! Probem solved!

Best wishes for a successful topsy turvey cake!


January 24, 2012

Edible Cupcake Torches

My first grade Sunday school class is working their way through the book of Judges learning about Israel's cycle of disobedience and their turn back obedience. Each week the kids learn about how God would save the Israelites through the use of one of our Bible heros. This past week the kids discovered how God used Gideon, who we learned had a hard time walking in full faith of what God already said and did. 

My favorite part of Gideon's journey is when the action starts! Gideon gathered 23,000 men to help fight against the Midianites but as they camp near the enemies camp God says there are too many men. Too many?! This is war! Isn't it more advantageous to have more men? God does have a reason of course. He doesn't want any man to be able to claim the victory was won by their own might, but he instead wants the Israelites to credit the victory only to Him (see Judges 7:2). Gideon announces that anyone who is afraid can go back home. One thousand men left right then leaving 22,000. Okay, that's not to bad a loss! They could surely win with an army of that size! God doesn't waste any time though in informing Gideon that he still had too many men. God tells Gideon to watch how the men drink their water from a nearby body of water. Anyone who drinks like a dog is to go home. This time 300 men are left. God is content with this number and instructs them to go on.

Our dear friend Gideon is not holding onto his faith so securely as he asks God for yet another sign (at this point he's had an angel of the Lord visit him and gave a sign and asked for two other signs shortly after that). Our hero seems short of faith in God's word. God humors him, gives yet another, very direct sign (as if speaking directly to Gideon wasn't enough!) and Gideon is ready to fight. The really amazing things is that there really isn't a fight! Gideon and his 300 men divide into three groups, surround the enemy camp and at the right time they blow trumpets, break clay jars they were carrying that contain a torch and shout, "A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!" (there wasn't even a sword though!) God causes a great confusion to rush through the enemy camp and they all start killing themselves and flee! It's a great story about how God himself is the one to save his people and all it took was a little (very little as Gideon demonstrated) faith in Him.

The kids love to play a part in this amazing scene. These edible torches are not only a great teaching tool, but a delicious snack for after the lesson!

Edible Cupcake Torches

What you need:
Ice cream cones
cake batter of your choice
buttercream frosting
orange, yellow and red food coloring
piping bag with your choice of tip

Using a mini cup-cake pan, place one ice cream cone in each cup.

Mix the cake batter of your choice. I used white cake and added sprinkles to make a confetti cake. This is for kids, so make it fun!

Fill the ice cream cones 3/4 full with batter. Bake according to the directions for your cake batter.

Once done, allow your cupcakes to cool leaving the cones in the pan. Make buttercream if you haven't already. I kept my buttercream white and added stripes of color into the piping bag for a more realistic fire look.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, load your piping bag with icing colors (orange, yellow and red) and then with buttercream. Pipe small mounds of buttercream all over the cupcake. Could also do one swirl using a large star tip if you desire. These are your cupcakes, get creative!

 The finished product!

 Had to share this! Emma caught a drop of stray food coloring while hunting for potential food. This was followed by 20 minutes of carefully wiping the color off her fur. Of course she had to have been looking up at the exact moment the coloring fell! 

Enjoy this yummy treat for the Lord and for Gideon!