10/24/09

Thanksgiving Cornucopia Cake Class

Once a year I offer a special project class in November, the week before the Thanksgiving Holiday. I call it a Cornucopia but is also know as a Horn of Plenty.

In this class we use a cupcake or a muffin as the base to create the horn shaped basket that holds the overflowing bounty of the fall harvest. I teach students how to make all the fruits and veg with buttercream icing. I love this project and I have made a number of these over the years.


It's a little old fashioned looking but that's exactly what I like about it!




I am offering the class on Sunday, November 22nd from 12:30 to 2:30 pm. That's just in time to serve for your Thanksgiving dessert.



Here is the supply list needed for the class, maybe I will see you there!

Supplies needed for Cornucopia Cake Project Class

- 1 large cupcake or muffin

- 1 10 inch round caked, iced and ready to decorate (optional)

- 2 Recipes decorating icing (recipe on previous page)

· Icing colored and separated as follows:

- ¼ cup of Red(tomatoes)

- ¾ cup of white(cauliflower)

- 1 ½ cups green (Cabbage, cauliflower, etc.)

- ¾ cup orange(carrots)

- ¾ cup golden yellow(corn)

- 2 cups Ivory

- Wax paper

- #7 flower nail

- Decorating turntable (optional but very useful)

- a tablespoon of cornstarch

- Cake Sparkles, white (optional but highly recommended)

- Small angled spatula and Flower lifter (or food safe scissors)

- Bath Towel and Paper towels

- Gallon size zip-lock bag

- Scotch tape

- A Show n Serve board or cake plate

- Small serrated knife

- Large disposable plastic cups

- You will need the following tips in the quantities listed:

- #21, #104, #233, #103, (3) #5, #349, #7, #14

- Additional tips if we have time for extra’s, #2 or #3

- Advanced preparation is important, please bring bags of icing filled and marked as follows:

- Clear disposable bag or 12 inch re-useable bag with ivory colored icing and tip #21

- 2 clear disposable bags each fitted w/a coupler with green icing

· one bag marked “green, tip #104 and tip #103

· one bag marked “green, tip #7, tip #14 and tip #349

- Clear disposable bag “yellow, tip #233” (or tip 3 if you cannot find #233)

- Clear disposable bags or 8 inch re-useable bags filled and marked as follows:

- Red, tip #5

- White, tip #5

- Orange, tip #5

Decorating icing (double batch recipe)

- 4 tablespoons water, milk or cream

- 2 teaspoon Wilton clear vanilla extract

- 2 teaspoon Wilton clear butter extract

- 2 teaspoon Wilton clear almond extract

- pinch of salt (optional) let salt dissolve with liquids before adding next ingredient

- 2 cup solid vegetable shortening

· Cream liquid and shortening on low speed until combined

- 2 lb. Sifted confectioner's sugar mixed with 6 tablespoons Wilton meringue powder

· Cover mixer with a kitchen towel and blend on low/medium speed with creamed shortening until fully combined, do not over mix.



9/13/09

Back to classes!

Cake classes have started up again for the fall and my oven is ready for baking season! "Course III, Fondant and Tiered Cakes" started on Wednesday with a great group of ladies of all differrent skill levels.

Here on the left, is a picture of Edith's cake from a CIII in the Spring. Aren't her white roses stunning! Great job Edith!

Look at what Nicole made! I love colors and so does Nicole. She made her roses in all the colors of the rainbow and did worderful work. Her 15th birthday is in a month and her aunt Julianna says she is begining to plan the big party including making her own cake. Can you believe she is so young and so talented?

6/5/09

Cupcakes-o-plenty!

I had a cupcake lesson the other night and my students did a great job making beautiful cupcakes. Here are just a few from Connie, Paula and Regina.







It seems cupcakes are all the rage now-a-days. I mean everybody’s into making cupcakes and hey, why not! They are perfect pint size treats that can adapt to any occasion. Cupcakes aren’t just for bringing in to your kids class anymore. People are having cupcake wedding cakes! It’s not very traditional but doesn’t it sound like a great idea?
Ambiebride.com showed this lovely "wedding" cake on their site, calling cupcake wedding cakes an affordable alternative. I am not sure I agree with that because as a baker and a decorator, it all depends on what the bride wants and what it will take to produce the end result. Afterall, depending on the design alone, icing/decorating 250 cupcakes versus a cake serving 250 is a completely different thing.

Martha has been very busy on the web lately promoting the art of cupcaking since the infamous media mogul just released a brand new book on cupcakes. Check out her site for some truly amazing pictures of the Cupcake challenge at Martha Stewart Living Radio: open only to folks on Sirius XM! radio. I almost hate to share this as I want to steal all their ideas but the cuteness and cleverness of the ideas is so awesome I am bursting to show everyone! Let me know what you think by posting a comment.
In addition to Martha’s new book on cupcakes, which I haven’t managed to get my hands on yet, there are two other books that I think are great cupcake books

First is the "The Cake Mix Doctor, Cupcakes". Her technique is very simple and she spells it all out. Use a ready made cake mix, any brand you like and add the ingredients she suggests, bake it and you will have some amazing flavor combinations with the frosting pairings she suggests. The second book I love is, "Hello Cupcake!" by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson. The author completely floored me with her creativity and using only ready made ingredients to decorate cupcakes with anything from sharks, sunflowers or an incredible cupcake cake decorated to look practically dead on like a Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I laughed out loud, chuckling and snorting like a child, unconscious of being in a public place when I starting leafing through this book. I hear her vanilla cupcake recipe is the best!

Check out the book carousel on the right side of this page if you are interested in purchasing any of the books I’ve mentioned.
Here is an example of Karen's creativity, just in time for all those graduation parties. She used Mallomars(YUM!), Andes mints, red licorice and phyllo dough(ready made in the freezer section of most chain grocery stores).

I can hardly wait for her next book!

One last batch of cuteness before I sign off for the day.
Love it!


5/23/09

Monkeying around with cakes

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
It's amazing what you can find on the internet. It's even more amazing how creative a person can be when it comes to cake.

Here is one I found without a description on how it was made but it looks like a round cake was iced and covered with chocolate rice crispies. The ears look like oatmeal cookies. Spread a little tinted frosting on(tinted with a little of the syrup I am about to mention) and you could probably use chocolate syrup for the mouth and eyes. Viola! C'est le Monkey! Tres cute, no? Great project for when the kids want to "help".

Here is another cutie I found, using Google Image Search, that looks super simple to do. This looks like a 10 inch round and 3, 6 inch rounds cut up to make the ears, eyes and bananas. Excellent! I love it.
Check out this brilliant idea I found on flicker. The baker used Banana Runts candy and molded a monkey from fondant.




Even Martha is getting in on the monkey act with this cake.
Not bad, Martha. Not great but not bad...
Now here is a video I found on YouTube from a great cake artist who documented her progress in her Course I class on video. I love her work and her willingness to share!
Check it out

5/11/09

The Right Tool for the Right Job: The $ of Taking Classes

Howdie, Cake Friends!
When I took my cake decorating classes I was unemployed. I bought the student kit the first week and each week I bought more supplies and not everything all at once.
I used what I had at home until I could buy some of the tools that made things easier to work. For example, I didn't buy any special cake decorating colors for a long time because; I had the liquid food coloring that you use to color Easter eggs in my kitchen cabinet. That's what I had so that's what I used. I didn't have a cake pan but I did have a small ceramic oval roasting dish from IKEA and since my instructor used an oval cake to demo with and I thought it was sooooo cute, I used that! I also used dental floss to torte my cakes.
Well, with a little bit of experience you find that the cake decorating colors are better than the liquid food colors because they are concentrated and you aren’t adding extra liquid to your icing which will change the consistency of your icing. A ceramic roaster is fine for roasting chicken but when I baked my cakes they weren’t baked evenly as when you use an aluminum pan. Half of the cake would be golden brown and the other half would be blonde. Now, when you throw some icing on that bad boy no one is going to notice and the cake was never raw batter inside or over done, it just wasn’t cooking evenly. The dental floss method was not a very precise method, to say the least and the $3 I spent on a cake leveler was the best $3 I spent in my life!

The point is, all the tools available are great to have but the job can be done without them until you decide you have had enough of doing things the hard way! Tools make things easier; the right tools for the right job can save your sanity!

5/3/09

I had a Candy Making for Mother’s Day class today. Candy is a lot of fun to work with, it can get a little messy but the clean up is easy. We made the maraschino mice I mentioned in my first blog post as well as chocolate dipped pretzels rods, dipped strawberries and well let’s just say, we did a lot of dipping because there isn’t anything that doesn’t taste good covered in chocolate! Except maybe roast beef.
We made lollipops and bon bons as well as clusters. Those are my favorite (after the mice of course). The clusters are rich and crunchy and are unique each time I make them.
It’s a great class and the students always leave happy. I think the sampling helps a little too. Haha!

4/25/09

Hello Cakesters!

A recent discussion with some fellow cake decorating instructors inspired me to tell you about my experience with kids in my classes.

My cake decorating classes are for adults; anyone sixteen years old and under requires an adult to take the class with them. While the classes are alot of fun you are still really learning something and so as with anything worth learning, there is work involved. You have to prepare by baking, making icing, coloring it, buying supplies and etc. For most adults, it's not a big challenge but for a child it's a lot of work which a parent will have to supervise.

I have overlooked this policy a few times. I can be flexible but more often than not and for more than a few reasons, I regret it. I had two lovely ten year old girls (BFF's) take the class and the mom insisted on not registering but would sit and read while the girls learned. I must have scared them when I argued with the mom on the first day about her taking the class with them because they were very serious and tried their hardest to do their best. Poor girls, I’m not sure if they actually had any fun in the class! I was very nice to them and tried to teach them like I would an adult and I was extra nurturing because of their age. Oh and before I forget, mom read for the first lesson and there after dropped them off for class and disappeared for each lesson. What else did you think was going to happen?
There were also two other adult BFF’s in the class. How would you feel if you were in your 20’s or 30’s, getting together with your BFF for some fun bonding time and have to do it with ten year olds; not two girls with a mom (at least you could relate to the mom!) but two ten year olds. Think about it.

Most recently I have had a 14 year old girl in my class that I swore was at least 17-19. I actually forgot that I let her take the class without an adult as a favor to one of the store employees! She has taken, CI, CII, F&GP and I wouldn’t be surprised if she takes CIII with me in a couple of weeks and ends up making her quincinierra (sorry for spelling) cake when she turns 15. This is an important birthday for girls in Hispanic culture.
She has been wonderful and I forget how old she is. She isn’t the MOST prepared person, she isn’t the BEST at techniques but she gives her all and she loves it! The class makes her happy, makes her feel special, I can tell. I am glad I allowed her in my class but again, I did it as a favor to a friend. She is a wonderful exception to the rule.
I also agreed to do a cupcake decorating Birthday Party when someone asked me as a favor. I had 20 girls, yes 20 tweens! Yikes! I must admit I was scared, a little, at first. Mom and Dad were there the whole time so I figured if the kids turned on me at least I had some back up! LOL! Kidding! The girls were awesome! I would do it again in a heart beat. I started out as I would in class. I welcomed everyone to the Birthday Girls Birthday party, introduced myself and told them I usually teach grown ups so I was going to teach them cake decorating like I would if they were grown ups. I think that made them feel special.
I then told them a few rules, nothing big but I was worried that they would run wild screaming and throwing icing and eating it before it got on any cupcakes. I was imagining the worst! After all the running, screaming, wild banshees I see when people bring their kids shopping, you see why I could imagine the worst. I wonder what parents are thinking sometimes. Anyway, my rules were; no licking of anything! No fingers, spatulas, cups, anything and I explained why. Hygiene, of course! Dad, in the back of the room actually laughed at me and said, “Good luck with that one”. LOL!


Do you know not one girl broke that rule? The next rule was not eating until they had their proper lunch which was pizza and that we would sing Happy Birthday to the Birthday girl, before eating their cupcake creations. The next rule was helping and sharing and all in all I was really proud of those pre-teen girls. I showed them how to color icing then had some of them work in teams to make a few colors. I showed them how to cut a bag to put in a tip and then how to fill a bag. Once they had their bags of icing, I showed a few icing and decorating techniques and let them have at it!
They all did a great job and were very well behaved. I was so relieved and the parents were very happy too.
Happy Caking!