Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sunflower Grad Cake

Graduation season is here! Are you guys making a lot of grad cakes right  now? I had the opportunity last week to make a cake for my son's best friend. She is a very sweet girl, and I was happy to make it for her. I included the elements in the cake that she requested: the colors of red and black, a sunflower (her favorite flower), and paw prints to represent her desire to open her own small animal care business. And of course we had to include the grad cap and tassel to represent her school. (Instructions on how to make the cap and tassel can be found  in our Book Smarts DVD.)

I took some photos of the process I used while making the sunflower and thought you might like to see them, so here we go:

 I used yellow gumpaste (Wilton premade works very well) to cut out two of the sunflower shapes.

Putting the petal on my cel pad, I used my ball tool to thin the cornstarch dusted petals. I put most of the pressure on the middle of the petals, because sunflower  petals are a little bit wider in the middle than they are on the two ends. I avoided thinning too much where the petals join the center portion, because sunflowers (and daisies) are notorious for breaking in that vulnerable spot.

After the thinning was done, I used the veining tool to add some vertical lines to the inside of the petals.

The flower was  placed into a cupped former lined with foil. I pinched the tips of the petals to give them  some movement and make them more life-like. Petals were propped with paper toweling in a random pattern to give the petals a natural look.

I repeated the exact same process with the second layer, but I did not glue the two pieces together. The reason for this is because I wanted them to dry in the proper shape together, but I needed to be able to  separate the pieces later for dusting.

In order to speed up the process of drying, I placed them into my dehydrator. (I made two flowers; I always make extra for breakage.)

This is Bessy. She may be old, she may be ratty and held together with masking tape, but she is a faithful and loyal friend who always gets the job done. She is a Nesco food dehydrator that I got at Walmart years ago for about $35. I use her constantly for so many items. I could not live without her. If you invest in one, I recommend that you get one with a temperate regulator. Always use the coolest temperature setting so that your items do not melt.

After the flower was fully dry, it was time to dust. The best part!  Dusting the flower just makes it come to life, and is so much fun! My dusting process was as follows: The entire flower got a light dusting with buttercup yellow. The lower portion of the petals were dusted with a combo of sunflower and pumpkin. The centers of the petals were hit with some daffodil yellow. The tips also got a little bit of the sunflower color. Then the entire flower got a very very light dusting with yellow luster dust, just to brighten it up a bit.

Remember  that I said this type of flower is known for petal breakage? Yep, happens almost every time! ACK! Here you see a petal glued back on with just a little bit of melted white chocolate. The break was low enough on the petal that it will be covered by the center once applied.

I used a silicone push mold to make the center. Brown gumpaste was pushed into the mold, and popped right out. So easy it feels like cheating.

A little bit of dark brown petal dust was applied to the center. Then I brushed the center with just a little bit of  shortening to give it a little sheen and wake it up. We don't want a sleepy sunflower! :)

Now onto the cake for a minute:

I wanted extra height on the cake tiers, so that the sunflower and stem would be in the correct proportion. We did not need any more extra servings of cake, so I increased the height by using fomecore under the tiers. I used  pieces of  1/2 inch  fomecore taped together, and then covered that with Glad Press and Seal.

I used three pieces of fomecore for the lower tier, and 2 pieces for the upper tier. Then I proceeded to ice and stack  per my normal techniques. (You can learn my technique for smooth icing and stacking in our DVDs available here.)

The finished flower was then attached to the side of the cake with a little bit of melted chocolate. Ta da!! Isn't it pretty! I love how the yellow pops against the red and black.

And the finished cake. Nicole was thrilled with it, and I was very happy that she was happy.

We will be shooting our next DVD in a few weeks. The topic will be gumpaste and fondant flowers. Do you think we should include this sunflower in the DVD? Leave a comment here and tell me what you think, and you will be entered into a drawing to win a free flower DVD when it is released in the fall. Woo Hoo! Free stuff!

Happy caking everyone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

25th Anniversay Cake

26 years ago today I married my college sweetheart.

One year ago we had a nice party for family and friends to celebrate our 25th.  I have not published the photos of the cake to date because I thought they were going to be featured in a prominent cake magazine. Well, that never happened, so I thought today would be an appropriate day to share them with you.

I chose black and red with touches of silver to match the decor of the venue we had rented for the party. I did make my own cake, but I cheated. It was all stryo dummies, for two reasons. I wanted to be able to save the top tiers as a keepsake, and I wanted to be able to work on the cake early, since I would be so busy with party preparations in the days before the event.

I made my fantasy bling flowers; the same ones I made for our TLC cake, but smaller and in red this time. (We will be teaching this flower in our next DVD release, yay!) The 25 topper was made by gluing Swarvoski crystals to jewelry wire I bent into shape.

I used the diamond impression mat for the sides of two tiers. Black fondant swags and bling roses for the bottom petal tier.

I also made a small monogram Z for the center of the bow from crystals. This was my favorite part of the whole cake.

Purchased beaded ribbon was glued to the separator drum and the presentation board. You can't see it in the photos, but there is silver in the beading. The sizes of the tiers were 6,9,10,13 and 16.

Here are a few casual shots of the party:

Hubby and I toasting to 25 years!

We also celebrated Paul's 50th birthday that night, so I made a toast to him....

....... and I got a little choked up.

My two wonderful sisters and my youngest son, J-man.

My men. The lights of my life.

My beautiful Italian mother in law.

Paul's brother, and yes they do look a lot alike!

 It was a wonderful night to celebrate my blessings with my family and friends. Thank you for sharing it with me too!

Happy caking!