Cake Creations, courtesy of yours truly

Hey cake virgins!

Sorry I haven't written in a while. School is finally coming to a close, and that means a ton of papers and projects that, frankly, I've been procrastinating on. I decided to put a slideshow in here that shows some of my work. Though it isn't every cake I've ever made, these cakes are some of my favorites, and I decided to share them with you!

Until next time cake virgins!


Cake Decorating in small town America

Hey cake virgins!

Living in a smaller town can sometimes mean having a limited selection of goods. Though not always the case, it is for the small town I currently call home, Athens, OH. There are certainly no shortages of alcoholic establishments or strange people (check out my classmates blog about the weird and unusual in Athens), but when it comes to bakeries and cake decorators, the selection is limited.

According to yellowpages.com, there are only 32 bakeries near Athens and only 18 places to buy wedding cakes. In Columbus, which is only an hour and a half away (less if you drive like me) there are 320 bakeries and 130 places to purchase a wedding cake. That doesn't give you a lot of choices if you live here in Athens.

Yes, you could order your cake from another baker who delivers, but with delivery comes the unknown of whether your cake makes it in one beautiful piece or a pile of what used to be a good cake.
   Photo courtesy of Nalnee Khureya
CakeTime is a local Athens bakery, opened in February of this year by Nalnee Khureya. According to the website, CakeTime is a new bakery that specializes in finely decorated organic cakes for all special occasions.

According to Nalnee, decorating in a small town isn't any harder than decorating in a larger city. "Cake decorating is art, [and] you can do art anywhere, big city or small towns or neighborhoods," Nalnee said.  

Though CakeTime has only been open for a few months, Nalnee has been decorating cakes for several years.

"I decorated cakes for the Village Bakery [in] 2003," Nalnee said. "That went on till 2008. Then I took a long break. When I came back things were changed and the space for cake decorating was needed for other bakery operations. I still work at the Village Bakery but my duties changed. I missed cake decorating and with so many people asking for decorated cakes, I saw that the market was there. So with friends' moral support, I decided to give it a go opening up my own business and keep doing what I love."                                                                              

In July of 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division counted only 63,255 people in Athens County. Just the city of Columbus had 733,203 in 2006!

Despite living in a relatively small town, business is good for Nalnee. "At this point [I decorate] 5 to 10 larger decorated cakes, [and] 50-100 cupcakes [a week]," Nalnee said in an interview conducted by email. "Wedding cakes are another story since decorating larger cakes allows [for] even more creativity. With wedding cakes, I can only take one at a time because of the concentration that is needed for that special experience."

Though opening your own business can be difficult, Nalnee has proven that if there is a market for what you want to do, your business can be successful, even in economic times such as these or in small towns such as Athens.

"Athens is where I live, and have for 13 years, so this is where I am now in life. A move to Paris at this time seemed a bit too expensive, so here I am in Athens," Nalnee said. 

So explore your local towns and find those special people that take the time to decorate in small town America. Give them the opportunity to prove to you that great cake decorators are not only in major cities, but in the small towns too.

Until next time cake virgins!


Wedding Cakes

Hey cake virgins!

I have a confession. I am obsessed with wedding cakes. I watch Wedding Sundays on WeTV, I watch cake challenges on Food Network...the list goes on and on. I feel bad for my boyfriend, Chris, because I make the poor man watch more cake shows than he probably ever wanted to see. Thankfully, he's very understanding about this and watches them with me with no complaints. I've decided that lately, my obsession with cakes is growing, and I could not pass up the opportunity to discuss wedding cakes.

These towering beauties come in all shapes and sizes, and usually reflect the couple best at the wedding. From simple three tier cakes to towering 13 tiers (yes, they've actually made cakes that tall....I'd say just get two cakes and save the baker the trouble.) wedding cakes are a tradition that won't fade. Though they may no longer have to obtain to the traditional wedding cake, white with flowers and a monogram if you will, they have grown into something fantastic. I've selected a few of my favorite cakes off of Pink Cake Box, my new obsession. Since the cake is an important part of your wedding, let's discuss some of the fundamentals of picking your wedding cake.

Pink Cake Box CakeWhat I love about this cake is not only the topsy turvy look of it, but I also love the purple. Purple is my favorite color, and these calla lillies are stunning in that shade. Topsy turvy cakes are for more fun and fancy free weddings and not for all brides. If you are going to have a more relaxed wedding and you and your husband like to have a good time, maybe look into a cake like this.

Wedding cakes are meant to be an expression of yourself, so don't limit yourself to even tiers with gum paste roses. Feel free to use this as a canvas for you and the lucky man that gets to marry you. Show who you are and don't be afraid to be bold! The most memorable cakes are the ones that remind guests of the bride and groom.

When choosing a wedding cake, don't forget that quality will be worth the money. You want to impress your guests with how beautiful the cake is and how well it resembles you, not because it was poorly made.

Ivory Wedding CakeIf you like classic cakes, it's perfectly fine! The Knot, a wedding site for new brides (and an excellent place to get a feeling for everything wedding) talked recently about how there are some great new trends in classic wedding cakes. Tiers can be wider or taller, even square. If you like a classic looking cake, you can always spice it up with these ideas.

Sometimes the most simple cakes can be the most beautiful. If you like simplicity, go with the simple cake. There was a beautiful cake recently on "Amazing Wedding Cakes" on WeTV, which was a simple cake, terra cotta colored, with a single white magnolia on the side of the cake, similar to this picture. It was simple, classic and beautiful, but still had the flavor of the bride and groom with the red-orange color of the fondant. The magnolia flower was white and made of gum paste, but looked as though it was a real flower. Explore the different possibilities with simple, classic cakes.

Pink Cake Box Cake With weddings may come grooms cakes. More of tradition in the South, grooms cakes are usually a contrasting flavor of the brides cake and much smaller than the brides cake.

These cakes represent the groom, since most weddings are overtaken with feminine details and flowers galore. Let's face it ladies, what the man wants usually isn't a big deal. After all, we've been planning our weddings since we found out about them. So let's give something to the men that sacrifice their dignity for one day to give us the day of our dreams. Give him a grooms cake to show him, "Hey, I know I've been a bit of a bridezilla and this wedding reception is all about love and not sports, so I decided to get you this Nintendo cake to show you how much I love you!" 

So when it comes to the wedding cake virgins, remember the following:
  • Don't forget: The cake is an expression of you! You don't need to be traditional unless you want to.
  • Classic cakes are still beautiful, but don't forget to infuse them with a little bit of your personality, even if you just change the color of the gum paste flowers or the fondant, or you make the tiers a different shape or size.
  • Remember the man you are marrying.....after all, without him, you wouldn't be picking out a wedding cake to begin with.
Keep these things in mind and you are sure to have a stunning and beautiful cake that represents you and that man of yours.

Until next time cake virgins!


Covering Cakes With Fondant

Hey cake virgins!

Let's talk fondant. It can come in two forms. The one you may be most familiar with is rolled fondant, which is used to cover wedding cakes and give them that smooth, clean look. This cake, courtesy of Pink Cake Box, one of the blogs I follow, is covered with fondant. The gorgeous cherry blossom flowers are made of gum paste.
Pink Cake Box Cake
Poured fondant is a cream concoction used as a filling or coating for cakes, pastries and candies or sweets.

For the purpose of this blog, we are just going to discuss rolled fondant. Rolled fondant reminds me a lot of play-dough. The flexibility of fondant is what makes fondant so great as a cake covering. If it tears because you rolled it to thin, no biggie! You can mush it back together and roll it out again.

Before putting fondant on your cake, you need to cover it in buttercream icing. This works best with fondant. Not only does it help the fondant stick to the cake, but if you make a mistake and need to take the fondant off of your cake, you won't rip your cake to shreds.

For information on how to ice your cake properly, check out my previous post. In that post, I discussed crumb coating your cake. CRUMB COATING IS NOT THE COAT THAT YOU WOULD PUT FONDANT ON! If you do that, your fondant will look lumpy.

After the crumb coat, you put the cake in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, you take another bowl with a clean spatula and clean, crumb free frosting and coat the cake a second time. This layer will be crumb free and smooth. You can check out this video from Epicurious to show you how to make the top coat of icing.

Once you have a clean top coat of icing, we can start with the fondant. I found these steps off of Wilton, and have included a few of my own tips as well.  Step one would be to knead the fondant. You want it to be a workable consistency. If the fondant becomes to sticky, and is all over your hands and work station, knead in a little confectioner's sugar. You can also dust your work surface and your rolling pin with confectioners' sugar to prevent it from sticking everywhere else. It should be rolled out to the size of your cake. You want it to be able to cover both the top and sides of your cake.

The next step would be to gently lift the fondant over the rolling pin. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar on the top of the fondant to make sure it doesn't stick to itself. Then, all you do is position the fondant over your cake, just like you would if you were laying a table cloth on your kitchen table.

Nest, shape the fondant to the sides of your cake. It would be best to use a smoother here, as the pressure from your hands can leave impressions on the fondant. If you are light with your hands though, then the smoother isn't necessary. Starting in the middle of the cake top, you smooth outward and down the sides, removing air bubbles and smoothing as you go. If you do get an air bubble, insert a thin pin on an angle into the bubble, release the air and smooth the area again. Once the sides are covered, use a spatula or a sharp knife to trim the excess fondant.

And poof! You've just covered your first cake with fondant! You can move on to decorating the cake! We will start talking about some tips in later posts, but if you are eager to begin, you can check out videos on Epicurious and step-by-step instructions on Wilton.

Until next time cake virgins!


Hello Cupcake!

Hey cake virgins!

I'm straying away from a typical post to do a book review. The book, which has quickly become one of my favorites, is called Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. Yes, this book is all about decorating cupcakes in creative and unique ways, but this can be great practice before you begin work on a larger cake.
Hello, Cupcake! offers not only some of the cutest cupcakes around, but also recipes for cupcakes and frosting. Not all cakes have to be full size. I find cupcakes a great and easy way to feed a boatload of hungry kids or adults.

The book starts off with simple tips, like which candies to use for facial expressions, the basic tools you will need to make their cute and playful creations, design materials, and even a list of baking supply stores, party supply and craft stores, gourmet candy stores, and  home decorating stores, even packaging and boxing stores.

The book provides a wide variety of cupcake designs, from holiday cupcakes that look like a turkey or a snowglobe, to April Fool's cupcakes, that look like corn on the cob or mashed potatoes and gravy.
What I think the book does best for you cake virgins is give you ideas and gets the wheels turning. Cakes don't have to be ordinary, they don't have to be typical. I think cupcakes provide an outlet to not only practice your techniques on, such as piping and gumpaste flowers, etc. but cupcakes are a medium with endless possibilities. You can still make a full cake out of cupcakes, as I demonstrated in a previous post with my starry night cupcakes.

Tack and Richardson do a good job of making these cupcakes easy to make. The cupcakes may look complicated, but you can make your own cupcakes look just like theirs. The techniques are simple, the candies are readily available at any retailer, and you can still impress your friends with you ability to make cute cupcakes that are not only delicious, but look great too.

Hello, Cupcake! is a great way to get your feet wet in decorating without having to jump in head first. The tips you learn from this book will help you in the future when you move forward with larger cakes, especially with figurine making. It helps you find the inner artist in you, and lets that inner artist get creative and think of unique ways to do different things.

Richardson and Tack have come out with a second book, What's New, Cupcake? that follows the same path as the first book. I have only gotten to glance through this book briefly (as a poor college student, I sat in the book store reading it and dying a little inside from not owning it myself) but it looks to be just as good, if not a little better, than the first book.

Both books are very affordable, only roughly $11 if you order it off of Amazon. It is also available for free shipping if you place an order over $25, so you could always buy both! If Amazon isn't your thing, both Hello, Cupcake! and What's New, Cupcake? are available at local bookstores for about $16 each.

I have included at the end of this post a video, courtesy of hmhbooks, of Alan Richardson and Karen Tack demonstrating how to make one of their many creations.

Until next time cake virgins!


The Best Tool in Cake Decorating

Hey cake virgins!

Okay, so I know we haven't done any talking about the techniques involved in cake decorating. However, I could not help but tell you all about the greatest invention in cake decorating history.

I don't know how many of you have heard of Cricut personal cutting machines, usually used for scrapbooking. If you haven't, the personal cutting machines are a magic genie for those who love to scrapbook. The machine can cut anything you want it to, with the appropriate attachments. You can make vinyl letters for your walls, cut paper to make your own cards, cut through plastic to make your own stamps, etc.

For my niece's first birthday, my sister made this using the Cricut personal cutting machine:

Fantastic, clean and looks professional.

Well Cricut has outdone themselves this time. They have created a Cricut Cake, which is now available in stores across the United States. It follows the same idea of the scrapbooking machines, except this time, you can cut cake products, such as gum paste and fondant, which we will cover in a later blog. You can cut out monograms, figures, letters, whatever you want!     
This machine, which is available at Joann Fabrics, Michaels, Hobby Lobby and AC Moore, will make cake decorating a breeze for beginners and experts alike. You won't have to purchase numerous tools to cut out different shapes, you can simply have this machine and its accessories.

It has all food safe materials, so you don't have to worry about things becoming unsanitary. Don't worry cake virgins, this machine won't give you (or those friends you are trying to impress) any e-coli or other harmful germs.

The price is not yet listed online, but the national debut is today, so it is available in your local craft stores! If you don't have a Joann Fabrics or a Michaels near you, you can order the machine off of HSN for $429.99. The HSN package includes the following:  Cricut Cake machine, cake basics full content cartridge, elegant cakes full content cartridge, 12" x 12" cutting mat, blade assembly, keypad protector, cartridge plug, cartridge skirt, blade cleaning basket, cleaning brush, yellow frosting sheet, red frosting sheet, blue frosting sheet, 3 white frosting sheets, 3 brown frosting sheets, quick start guide, user manual, tips/tricks insert, instructional DVD, cleaning guide, manufacturer's 1-year limited warranty on electronic parts and manufacturer's 90-day limited warranty on labor and non-electronic components.                                                                www.hsn.com

Here is a video that gives a demo of what the Cricut Cake can do, courtesy of Custom Crops:

For additional videos, check out the Cricut Cake website and click on the "See the Cricut Cake in action!" tab on the side!

Until next time cake virgins!