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After a long summer break (we spent the summer abroad), I finally got the chance to make a birthday cake again. The customer requested a special birthday cake for her daughter. I received a picture she found online, I believe in was from CakeCentral.com, and requested a similar ladybug cake. The color theme was pink and light green, which looked so cute. It was a two tiered round cake with a ladybug cake on top. This was the first time doing a tiered cake, so I informed myself how to stack cakes etc. So happy to learn and try something new!
Off I went to the local craft store to get the needed supplies. I was really excited to make this cake, because it gave me the chance to work with fondant again, which I love to do. Luckily, I took the last Wilton class (Fondant and Gumpaste) before the summer, which taught me to properly cover a cake with fondant and make accents with gumpaste.
At home, I mixed up two batches of Marshmallow fondant. I prefer to make the fondant myself. Marshmallow fondant tastes better in my opinion and is cheaper than store bought fondant. Five days before I had to deliver the cake I started to make the decorations. This way they would have time to dry and keep their shape on the cake. I formed little ladybugs out of a fondant/gumpaste mix. I read so many comments online that stated that it was hard to achieve a dark black fondant, but with plenty of Wilton’s gel color it was not as difficult as I thought.
I also formed little and big white flowers out of fondant/gumpaste.
I planned on ordering letter and number cutters, but I did not have time to get them delivered, so I decided to form the letters and numbers myself. They actually turned out nice and I was glad I did not use cutters to do so.
Last, I formed leaves. I used a sharp kitchen knife to cut out leaf shapes. On a thin foam pad I pressed in the leaf’s veins using the blue tool from one of the Wilton student kits. I placed the leaves on the Wilton Wave Flower former, so they would look like real leaves.
For the base a baked two 10 inch round cakes. The top tier was a two layer 6 inch round cake and the ladybug was made out of a half Wilton Sports Ball pan. All the cakes were red velvet cake following a recipe from Paula Deen at Foodnetwork.com (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/grandmother-pauls-red-velvet-cake-recipe/index.html).
The recipe calls for buttermilk and in the past I bought it at the supermarket. This time I made buttermilk myself and it worked out wonderfully: 1 cup of whole milk mixed with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar. Let it stand for at least 5 minutes and you get buttermilk great for baking without any leftovers.
To get a deep red color you usually need a lot of red food coloring, but Wilton’s gel colors are intense. This No-Taste Red tinted my cake a beautiful red without the taste of food coloring. I filled the cakes with a crusting cream cheese frosting following this recipe from Cakeboos.com: http://www.cakeboss.com/CreamCheeseFrosting.aspx. It calls for a bigger amount of powdered sugar with let the frosting crust a little bit and preserves the cream cheese. Therefore it was perfect for using under fondant. Because I cannot refrigerate the fondant covered cake, it was important to have a stable cream cheese frosting that would not melt inside the cake and destroy the decoration. Everything worked out great and I am proud of my ladybug cake.
I loved making this cake and making a tiered cake was certainly a new experience. Happy customer = Happy baker!
I finally had the time to sign up for the third and last course of the Wilton Cake Decorating classes, which is Gum Paste and Fondant. During the second course of Flower and Cake Design we were already introduced to gum paste and I was looking forward to working more with this fabulous material. I also was excited about learning to work properly with fondant. The possibilities with fondant and gum paste are endless and you are able to decorate cakes in any shape or form.
The first thing we did was to mix gum paste and fondant. You add gum paste to fondant, so it can be shaped better (gum paste can be rolled paper thin) and the fondant dries faster and harder. We used this mixture to make bow loops.
Before this class I bought the Wilton Roll and Cut Mat, which turned out to be very useful. Using the Wilton Fondant Ribbon Cutter/Embosser (included in the course kit) we cut the rolled out fondant/gum paste mix into strips. For the bow we needed 5 inch long strips. The Roll and Cut Mat has premeasured lines which are one inch apart and therefore measuring was very easy.
Next, we folded the strips and attached the ends with gum glue. Last we cut the end into a point and placed the formed loops on a cardboard to dry. The dried pieces can then be assembled into a finished bow.
Unfortunately, we never had enough time during class, so I did not get a finished bow. I am saving the bow loops for a special cake. Check back to see where I will use it some time!
Next, we formed bases for mums and roses. Both bases can be formed with white gum paste, because they will not be visible in the final flower. They will be covered with colored petals.
The mum bases are simple little balls made out of gum paste, which are placed on thick spaghetti to dry. Sizing the balls is essential to getting a beautiful flower in the end. The bases need to be the right size in order for the petals to fit properly around them. Following the instructions in the booklet might seem tedious for forming a simple ball, but it is key.
We also formed the bases for the roses out of gum paste and placed them on spaghetti. It is helpful to have a foam board of any sort available. You can stick the spaghetti in the foam and let the flower bases dry, so they can be completed during the next classes.
The last flower base we modeled was the carnation base. This base is also made out of gum paste, because parts of it have to be rolled very thin. Gum paste is the perfect for rolling out very thin. Again, sizing is important while forming the base so the petals will fit later on. The carnation bases have to be the color of the final flower. Since mums are traditionally white, that is the color I used.
I am so happy, I finally signed up for the Wilton Gum Paste and Fondant course. The instructor was great and I enjoyed every minute. It was great learning new things. I cannot wait to start the next class and finish the flowers we started.
I always loved the combination of bananas and walnuts. I baked Banana Walnut Muffins years ago and they were so delicious, but never attempted them again. Why? No clue. I just got wrapped up in making cupcakes, but no muffins anymore. Something I really have to change. Muffins are easy to bake and make a great on-the-go breakfast.
So many times I found very ripe bananas stored in the kitchen and I had no idea what to do with them. I ended up making banana milk shakes, but baking is so much better! I owned a cheap and very bad loaf pan years ago and threw it out when we moved. Luckily I recently bought a Wilton loaf pan which is excellent. I baked bread in it and nothing ever sticks. Lesson learned: You get what you pay for. It really pays off to buy a better pan and they really do not cost a fortune.
So when I ended up with really soft bananas once again I finally decided to give a Banana Walnut Bread a chance. I searched for a recipe online and the first one that showed up was a Banana Walnut Bread recipe from Food Network with a lot of really good reviews. The recipe calls for toasted walnuts, but honestly I was too lazy to toast them. I had walnut halves which I put in a Ziploc bag and crushed by stepping on them. For me that was the fastest way to get the job done without the work of cleaning a food processor.
The recipe is easy to follow and the Banana Walnut Bread turned out great. It was best the next day when the bananas soaked in a little more. Top it with whipped cream and… yum!
Here is a great recipe for a very yummy German Marble Cake. I tried several recipes before I found this one and it is a keeper. I use a Bundt cake pan to make this German Marble Cake. This cake is great by itself, but can also be decorated. I, for example, used a Bundt cake as the top of the Barbie cake you can find in my earlier posts. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com which is such a great resource and just tweaked it a little.
• 1 cup butter
• 1 3/4 cups sugar (I usually use 1 cup, because this is sweet enough for my taste)
• 5 egg yolks
• 3 1/2 cups flour
• 1 cup milk
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 5 egg whites
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
2. Gradually stir in flour, alternating with milk, until everything is mixed in. Stir in the baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Fold in egg whites into batter. (I use a mixer to do this, so the egg whites and batter mix properly.)
4. Hold 1/4 of the batter, and pour the rest into Bundt pan.
5. Mix cocoa into the remaining batter. Pour onto batter in the pan and fold under with a fork.
6. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
If you like you can add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the whole batter to give the cake a little more taste.
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Once more it was time to design a final cake for the fourth and last class of the Wilton Flowers and Cake Design course. I decided to make a small rectangular cake.
I baked a carrot cake from scratch in a 9×13 inch pan and cut the cooled cake in half. As filler I used chocolate buttercream. I whipped up some regular buttercream, following the Wilton recipe for basic buttercream. We needed to ice the cake at home, so I covered my cake in a light purple frosting. The rest of the decoration was left to do in class.
I prepared white gumpaste button flowers two days before class, so they can dry hard before putting them on the cake. In my bag I also packed some dark purple icing with a little added piping gel, which I would use to pipe swirls. We needed to bring some buttercream icing to practice the reverse shell and the basketweave. I did not use the basketweave on my cake, because I wanted to decorate the cake with a different design. The reverse shell is often used to pipe a border on top and bottom of the basketweave.
After learning those two techniques, it was time to decorate our final cake. Because I made a simple modern design, it did not take me too long to finish the cake and I was very happy with the result. I attached the button flowers on top of the cake and connected them with swirls of dark purple icing. The same icing was used to pipe some design on the sides of the carrot cake. To finish the decoration, I added piped dots of dark purple buttercream using tip #12.
The final cake came out just the way I planned and I love its simple design. Unfortunately it was the end of the second Wilton class, but I am looking forward to taking the third and last course soon.