Kickin’ it Old School

I am an old fashioned girl.  I am strict with my kids, love singing in church choir, knitting, and broccoli salad.  I had someone at my church recently tell me I am the oldest 38 year old they have ever met.

I took that as a huge compliment. :)

That old style translates to some of my taste in cake design.  One older style that I have always loved is Cornelli lace.  I had it on my wedding cake.  I love piping it.   I think it’s timeless.  So when my long time friend wanted a baptism cake and gave me creative freedom, what do you think I chose?  That’s right!  I laced it up, baby!  My hand ached 2/3 of the way through and I had fleeting thoughts of regret, but I persevered and was very happy with the result.  Here’s how you do it.

Ice your cake and smooth it as usual.

Cornelli 1

I used a #3 tip.  I then started squiggling away!  It’s easier to tell what not to do than what to do.

Do NOT make a pattern.

Do NOT touch or cross your line.

Do NOT over think this.

Just squirm the icing all over in little squiggles.  Make it as random as possible.

Cornelli 2

Make sure you let the piping lat over the edges.  You don’t want it to look like the top is separate from the rest of the cake.

Cornelli 3

That’s all there is to it!  It’s hard to mess up.  It looks timeless and elegant…in my humble opinion.  Feel free to practice on parchment or wax paper first until you are more comfortable with it.

Cornelli Lace Cross

Good luck and happy decorating!

Making a difference one stick of butter at a time

What’s up, everybody?  Last week was crazy busy!  I am blessed with business and really amazing customers.  I am enjoying pick up day more than anything lately.  All the gasps, smiles, and hugs are worth every minute of work.  I LOVE being a part of people’s special events.  It’s amazing how much emphasis our society places on the cake at an event.  Think about event pictures from your life.  How many of them are posed around a cake?  I am willing to bet you all have a picture of a birthday party or milestone party and the person of honor is holding their cake.  So now, think about what an honor it is for me to be creating those cakes that will be in all those family albums.  It’s almost overwhelming when put in those terms.  My job is a gift and I don’t take it for granted for a single minute.  So, my mission for you is this.  Find what about your job makes a difference for people around you.  Some jobs are obvious.  Nurses, teachers, soldiers, and the like are clearly heroes for those around them.  But what about you?  Do you work in an office?  How about in food service?  I’m sure a lot of you don’t feel like your job makes a noble impact in people’s lives.  There’s several of you out there that feel like altruism escapes them.  But I guarantee each and every one of you is making a difference in the lives of someone somewhere.  We are all linked on some level and need to make the most of it.  If I can find the ways I impact people through something like cake, then you can find your way too!  I would love for you to leave a comment of what your job is and how you are positively impacting those around you and beyond.

 Thank you for coming back each week to see what I’ve been making.  I love sharing them with you all!

Time to settle the score

So, I’m not big on sheet cakes.  Let’s be honest. They aren’t the best way to showcase a beautiful cake design.  But when done well, they are definitely a great option for an easy to cut and serve cake for a large group.

To make it especially easy, sometimes they are scored.  This is a very easy technique.  Let me show ya how…

First, ice the cake and scrape it smooth.

Scoring Cakes 7

Then, using a CLEAN yard stick (I have one specifically for cakes.  Let’s not get grody, people) make a small hash mark every two inches of each cake edge.

Scoring Cakes 9

Then, gently roll your yardstick across the hash marks.  Make sure the yardstick touches the icing as it rolls across the surface.  It will ever so slightly pick up a line of icing off the cake.

Scoring Cakes 11

Scoring Cakes 6

That’s all there is to it!

Scoring Cakes 3

Now you can fill in each square with the decor of your choosing.  For this one, it was fondant music notes and butter cream rosebuds.

Scoring Cakes 4

Whoops,  missed a spot.

Music Note Sheet Cake

There, that’s better.

Happy Decorating, friends.

Yipes, stripes!

A really fun technique to use is color striping a cake.  It always looks so great.  A really great stripe to learn with a this Dr. Suess theme.  If you look at the sketches in his books, the lines aren’t perfectly straight and clean.  Let me show you how to add color in a fun way to your cake!

Start with a cake iced in your base color.  Place it in the freezer until the cake is firm to the touch.

Striped colors 5

For this design, the stripe color is also the top color for the cake, so I started there.  I placed the color in the middle first, gradually pushing towards to outer edge of the cake and eventually over the edge.

Striped colors 4

Then, pipe on your stripe color.  It doesn’t need to be very thick if it’s a darker color than the base color.  I intentionally made the lines imperfect to mimic the look of Dr. Suess.

Striped colors 1

Striped Colors 2

After drawing on all of your stripes, use a plastic scraper to smooth all the stripes onto the cake.  You will have to clean off your scraper often to make sure the colors don’t bleed onto each other.

Striped cake 3

Again, these are imperfect on purpose.  If the stripes need to be straight, pipe them slowly and steadily.  You will also have to keep the cake cold by putting it back in the freezer occasionally.

I then added thin black piping along the edges of the red stripes to complete the look.  I LOVE how it turned out!

Cat in the Hat Cake with Smash

Happy striping, everyone!  I hope you have fun with this technique.

I got your financial peace right here! Tip o the Week

Some of you will remember I mentioned in a previous post that my husband and I took Financial Peace University at our church this winter.  It was life changing.  We had always done fine and have been blessed with extra here and there, but now things are different.  Dave Ramsey really know what he’s doing.  We feel like we are much better stewards of our money now and feel so blessed.

What does this have to do with cake decorating, you say?  Well…

Guess what my favorite tool for smoothing cakes is?

Old credit cards!  And since my husband and I got rid of all of ours recently, I have an abundant supply!  Seriously though, they are great.  They are perfect for smoothing icing, scraping off small mistakes, marking lines, etc.  They are usually “free” and are dishwasher safe.  If you put them in a basket (usually used for baby items like bottle parts) and put it in the top rack, they can go in the dishwasher.

So, make Dave Ramsey (and yours truly) proud and put those credit cards to work in an entirely new way!

Happy Decorating, everyone!

But, it’s just cake!

How many times have you heard that?  A friend asks you for a cake with a day’s notice and when you explain to them that you can’t make an Empire state building out of cake for 100 people  in 24 hours, they proclaim “But, it’s just cake!”.  I’m also very familiar with “Can’t you just slip in one more?”

As much as I would like to take every order from every person that calls, I eventually have to draw the line.  And here’s the main reason why.  Are you ready?  It’s confession time.

I bake ahead of time.

That’s right, folks.  That cake that you pick up from me on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning was not baked that morning.  That’s impossible you say?  It’s tastes so fresh, you proclaim?!  That’s because of the measures I take to assure the cake’s freshness.  I have to bake Tuesdays each week.  There.  I said it.  My name is Tiffany and I bake cakes in advance.  What you need to know also is that by doing this, I can do more with the cakes.  I bake them and cover them in foil like I taught in a previous post.  Then, I put them in my “cake fridge” at least over night.  That not only makes the cakes moist, but when they are cold they are easier to handle.  They also crumble less when carved.  I ice them the day after they are baked, which sort of seals in their moisture and freshness.  Even if I am not going to get to decorate it that day, I ice it.  This will keep the cake fresh for a long time.  I have had customers say they ate their cake for over a week and it never went bad.  Trust me, you can bake in advance!  You don’t have to get it all done in one day and eat it immediately!  Some grocery store cakes are baked weeks in advance and frozen.  That’s how they can take a last minute order.  They have cakes on hand.  Mine are never frozen.  They are all baked to order.

So, you don’t have to think they have to be from oven to table in one day.  If you take the correct measures, your cake will be fresh and delicious for a lot longer than you expect.  This will help lower your stress levels of thinking you have to dedicate an entire day to making a cake.

Happy baking, everyone!

Balls on wires (insert inappropriate joke here)

This is a totally cute accent to add to a cake that costs very little and takes a reasonable amount of time.  The problem is, people often leave out a couple of important steps which can make them very frustrating.  Check out how I do it and see if it helps.

First, you need floral wire.  The wrapping on it helps keep the balls in place instead of sliding all over the place.

Balls on Wires 1

These needed to be curled wires, so I needed a dowel rod too.

Balls on wires 2

Take a wire and using needle nose pliers, bend the end into a hook.  This will help hold the ball in place also.

Balls on wires 3

After you make all of your fondant balls (which should be about the size of a pretzel M&M) string a ball onto the wire, pushing the hook at the opposite wire end deep into the center of the fondant.

Balls on wires 4

Then, wrap the wire around your dowel rod to curl it if that’s the desired look.

Balls on wires 5

Carefully slip it off of the wire.  I then put a little icing that matches the fondant color onto the open slit on top of the ball to help smooth it shut.

That’s it!  They add depth and fun to your cake!  The wires can be bent in many different ways to match the look of your cake.   This one was Cinco de Mayo themed, so spirals seemed the most fun.

Cinco de Mayo Cake and smash cake

Have fun, everyone!

Carefee, carefee (in your best Gus Gus from Cinderella voice)

This tip o the week is one of the easiest/fancy looking.  You can all write me thank you notes after you’ve done your first one and everyone ooohs and aaaahs at the mere sight of it’s beauty.  Covering a cake in sugar looks amazing and takes very little time and effort.  You can get sanding sugars in a rainbow of colors.  When it’s for a girl, I even like to mix in some Disco Luster Dust to really add sparkle.

Ice and smooth your cake like normal.  Place it in your freezer until the icing is firm to the touch.  Place a generous amount of sanding sugar in a bowl larger than the diameter of the cake.  Hold the cake from beneath, steadying it with your fingers.

Applying Sugar 1

Then, while holding the cake at a slight angle over the bowl, gently pat a handful of sugar up the side of the cake, starting at the bottom.

*Same cake, different camera angle…weird color effects.

Applying Sugar 2

Do this all around the cake.  You may have to turn it all the way around a couple times, repeating the process, the get the sugar evenly applied.  Then you will just need to brush the extra off the board back into your bowl.  If it is taking long enough that the icing starts to get soft, place it back in the freezer or you will start leaving hand and finger indents in the cake.

Here is the finished product.  I forgot to get a picture of it before it was picked up, so the mom was nice enough to send me this.  She even added a new Barbie for her daughter to the middle.  What a fun mom!

Barbie Pink Sugared Cake

So now go wow your friends with this new trick.  It makes for a beautiful cake!

That is my bag, baby!

I have mentioned before that I tend to be a bit lazy about how many tiny tips and tools I have to wash each week.  Also, disposable bags (especially as many as I use each week) can be expensive!  Parchment triangles can be bought from most bakery supply sites and stores.  They make an easy,  inexpensive disposable bag.  I usually sit down and make 20-30 at a time to have on hand.  Here’s how you do it.

Lay your triangle out in front of you, with the longest side along the bottom.

Bag how to

Then, holding the top point, twist one of the lower points up to the top.

Bag how to 1

Then do the same with the other side.  Pull them tightly so the closed point of the bag is a super fine tip.

Bag how to 2

Then, place a piece of tape around the tip of the bag.  This will help strengthen where it is cut open for a better opening.

Bag how to 3

Next, place a piece of tape along the seam of the bag to keep it securely closed.  Lastly, Fold over the top edges where all the points come together.  This will also help keep the bag together.  I then place a piece of tape along that folded edge to keep it in place.

Bag how to 4

There you have it!  A parchment piping bag that’s easy to customize.

Bag how to 5

For most of my piping, I can just cut a small opening on these bags and use them as they are.  You can also drop in a tip if you need a shell border or a rose, etc.  You can even cut the tip into a V and make it into a leaf bag without using a tip!  If you are just using them to pipe on images or design, cut the triangles in half to create smaller bags.  I only use full size triangles to make bags if I am using them to ice cupcakes or fill in large areas.  That will stretch your parchment even farther!

Happy piping, everyone!

Stacking cakes…dum, dum, DUMMMM!

So there are lots of you out there that are very talented decorators but you haven’t done tiered cakes.  A friend of mine, who is a far more talented decorator than I am, is one of these people.  As I marvel at her ability to make a cookie look like an action hero, she tells me she doesn’t know how I feel comfortable making stacked cakes.  Now, I may regret showing her just how easy it can be since that will be the last skill in her arsenal to leave me in the decorating dust, but it must be done.  So Heather, this one’s for you…

Let’s start small.  These are a 5″ and 7″ rounds iced and smoothed.  The 5″ has a foil wrapped 5″ board beneath it.  I ice it on a 10″ board to limit the mess.

Stacked 1

Place the top cake in your freezer.  Then, insert a dowel rod into the middle of your base cake.  With a pencil, mark where the top of the icing hits the dowel rod.

Stacked 2

Then, remove the dowel.  Wipe it clean, leaving only the pencil mark.  Then, cut it at your mark.  Using that as your gauge for length, mark your other pieces.  The rule of thumb is place as many dowels in your base as the cake on top is in inches.  So in this case, we will be placing five dowels to support a five inch cake.

Stacked 3

Stacked 4

Check your dowels for loose pieces of wood.  If you are using a sharp enough cutter, it should leave pretty clean edges.

Then, place the dowels in your bottom tier, returning your original center piece to the center.

Stacked 5

Add some icing to serve as “glue” for the top tier.

Stacked 6

Then, take your top tier out of the freezer.  It should be firm to the touch making it easy to handle.  Loosen it from the larger board upon which you iced it, and center it on your bottom cake.  You will then need to pipe around the base of the top cake to fill in any gaps.

Stacked 7

Smooth your fill in piping and you’re done!

Stacked complete

Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?  It takes time and smoothing it once stacked can be tricky, but it’s not the impossible feat you once thought it to be.  Try practicing smoothing multiple tiers on dummy cakes.  Then the real thing won’t be so daunting.

Good luck and happy decorating, everybody!


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