Three Tier Staggered Squares Wedding Cake

I did a wedding cake this weekend.  Wedding cakes freak me out.  They have to be as close to flawless as possible and I don’t do flawless work.  I prefer the cakes that have to look like something else.  The kind that, if I mess up, I can cover up the mistake with a fondant flower or some other random decoration.  Anyway, this one was pretty simple.

Three square tiers with ribbons around the bottom.  Impossible to mess up, right?

Psht.  Right.

busy bakerThe first cake I baked stuck in the pan.  When I tried to turn it out, it came out in a million tiny pieces.  I said some choice words, cried a little, gave the mess to 5 very happy children, and made another one.  It turned out perfectly, as did the next 4.  In all, I made 6 pound cakes, but only used 5 of them for this cake.

Then I cut them into squares, as I don’t have square pans.  Again, more remnants for the cake monsters.  They ate cake for breakfast for 3 days.  I won major Awesome Mom points for that.

I made 14 cups of buttercream icing (thank God for KitchenAid mixers!), iced them, put dowel rods in them (to keep cake from collapsing,) iced them again, and stacked the suckers. Then, I spent 1 hour, applying scotch tape to the back of ribbon so the grease/butter from the icing wouldn’t bleed through.  That was FUN.  *eye roll*

I attached the ribbon and went to bed.

The next morning, I got up, got myself and 5 kids ready for a wedding and loaded them and the cake into the car.  I hate driving with cakes in the car.  I just know somebody will rear-end me and cake will fly everywhere and the poor bride will be left with no wedding cake.  I drive very slowly, turn corners at a snail’s pace, and tick off drivers every time I deliver a cake.

Anyway, I got it there in tact and on time.   Here it is.

staggered squares with ribbon wedding cake

Not much to it, but it’s at least relatively smooth.  Not smooth enough (my cakes never are) but I did the best I could.  It tasted good, or so I’m told.  I’m dieting and can’t eat it.  Bummer, huh?

This little baby packs some major calories/carbs/fat or whatever else you’re not supposed to have while dieting.  Here’s the rundown.

  • 14 sticks of butter (cake and icing)
  • 15 cups of granulated sugar (cake)
  • 28 cups of powdered sugar (icing)
  • 15 cups flour (cake)
  • 30 eggs (cake)
  • 7 cups Crisco (icing)

I think I gained 15 lbs. just by typing that.

Related Posts:

Wedding Cakes
My Cake Hobby 
Let Them Eat Cake 
Three Cakes 

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Giraffe Cake

I have so many posts in draft that I could finish, but it’s 11:30 on Sunday night and I don’t feel like thinking.  Besides, tomorrow is Monday.  Who feels like reading on a Monday?  So, for your pleasure and mine, a cake.  Cake is always a good idea.

It’s not the best cake I’ve ever done, but I think it’s cute.  I drew the giraffe free-hand and it wasn’t my idea to make it blue with neon green spots.  However, the color palette is my favorite part about this cake.  All the colors were vibrant and cheerful and my client (and her daughter) were happy.  Success!

In other cake news, I’m doing a wedding cake in December.  I always get nervous doing wedding cakes.  A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event (theoretically) and the cake needs to be perfect.  Ach, wish me luck.

An Interview, Some Cake Stuff, and a Dancing Toddler

It’s Monday and I hate Mondays.  So, how about a little fun and some cake?

First, I did an interview for Stewie over at This Little Thing Called Life.  For those of you who don’t know Stewie, doing this interview was a risk.  He’s…satirical, to put it nicely.  He absolutely demolished Apostle Jack who, admittedly, deserved it.  What made it worse (or better) is that Apostle Jack was clueless. (See here and here.)  I didn’t want that happening to me.  But he was kind.  He only called me a racist arsonist.  I suggest you check it out.

Second, cake.  People love cake.  I get a lot of questions about my cakes.  (For cake photos, see here and here.)  The number one question is, “How do you get the icing so smooth?”

It’s not that hard.  The secret is “crumb-coating” or “dirty icing.”  Basically, you get the smallest amount of icing possible and spread it really thin all over the cake, not caring whether there’s crumbs or not.  Be sure to fill in all the holes and cracks with icing.  It’ll look like this when you’re done.

You let the icing “crust.”  That can take up to an hour, but when the icing is hard, the crumbs will be sealed in.  You’re now ready to ice the cake for real.

This time, put a butt-load (technical term) of icing on top of the cake and start spreading it with a spatula, pushing the icing down the sides.  Then ice the sides, making sure not to dig into the crumb coat.  Add extra icing as necessary.  Then use the flat side of a plastic or silicone bowl scraper to smooth the icing, beginning with the top and ending with the sides.

A turntable makes this easier, but it’s not necessary.  Again, let the icing crust.  If there are still some cracks, place a piece of paper or a paper towel on the icing and smooth over it gently with your hand.  And voilà, a smoothly iced cake.

The next question I get is, “Do you use cake mixes?”  The answer is yes, but with modifications.  Here’s the recipe.

Doctored Cake Mix

Ingredients:

1 box Duncan Hines Cake Mix (they taste better)
Oil and Water called for on the cake box
4 Eggs
1 cup cake flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/2 tsp. baking powder + dash of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup cocoa (If making a chocolate cake)

Directions:

1.  Mix cake mix, flour (or flour mixture),  sugar, and cocoa (if applicable) in large bowl.
2.  Add water, eggs, and oil.
3.  Mix on low-speed until all ingredients are incorporated.
4.  Beat on med-high for 2 minutes.
5.  Add sour cream and mix on low until blended.
6.  Bake according to package directions.

Yield:  Makes (3) 9-inch layers.

Tip:  Grease cake pans with shortening and flour or use baking spray with flour to ensure easy release.  Let cake sit in pans for 10 minutes before releasing.

There are some cakes I would never use mixes for.  Carrot cake, Red Velvet, and Sour Cream Pound Cake should always be made from scratch.  I do have the recipes for these but they are closely guarded family secrets.  If I told you what they were, I’d have to kill you.  Or marry you or force you to marry someone in the family.  Trust me, you don’t want the recipes that bad.  (Kidding, for any family that might be reading this.)  No, I’m not.

The last thing I want to leave you with is a cute little video of a dancing baby.  In case you haven’t seen enough of those in your lifetime.  I know I have, but this one is different because it’s MY dancing baby.  And like the excellent mother that I am, I happen to think she’s the cutest baby in the world.  And you will, too, even if you won’t admit it.

A Week of Surprises

My blog has been too serious lately.  I need to lighten up a bit and what better way to do that than to do another cake post?  Everyone loves cake.  As luck would have it, I’ve done four cake projects this past week–4 cakes and 24 cupcakes.

The first cake was for a little girl’s 8th birthday.  She wanted a blue, zebra-striped cake. Surprisingly, this was the second request in less than a week that I had for a blue zebra print cake.  Zebras are very cool.

The next two cakes were for a little boy’s 1st birthday.  As we are all apt to do, these parents want to instill a fanatical love for their favorite college football team into their boy as early as possible.  So, Mr. Saks, you got 2 super cute Auburn University Tigers Cakes!

My husband suggested I do a “joke” University of Alabama Crimson Tide cake to go along with these.  I didn’t think Saks’ mommy and daddy would think it was very funny. (For those of you who have no idea what this is all about, see here.)

Surprisingly, these awesome people threw in a little extra $$ when I delivered the cakes.  To quote Saks’ super nice daddy, “You don’t charge enough.”  I’m not arguing with that.

The next cake project was 24 cupcakes for my son to take to school.  He turned 6 on Friday.  Un-be-liev-able.   I didn’t take a picture of those because they were just plain cupcakes, sprinkles, and a football ring stuck in the middle. I did, however, take a picture of him in his birthday hat they gave him at school.  He wore it all day Friday and Saturday–even in the Wal-Mart,  to my 12-year-old’s embarrassed horror.

He is beautiful. Not just handsome. Beautiful.

And a little silly. Love that missing tooth!

Surprisingly, my favorite part about these pictures is that he still has chocolate from the cupcakes on his face.

Now for the biggest surprise of the week.

I am horrible at planning my kids’ birthday parties.  We always have the party a week after the actual birthday, partly because my kids have inconvenient birthdays.  (Spring Break, 2 days after the 4th of July, and the first month of summer–when everyone is travelling.)  Mostly because I’m a bad mom procrastinator.   This birthday, my 12-year-old son took matters into his own hands.

He wanted to make it a surprise party.  He picked a date and time, designed the invitations, printed them, handed them out, and even designed the cake.  More than that, he sketched the Sonic characters on the cake for me to fill in.  Folks, he did this on buttercream icing with a paintbrush and liquid food coloring.  And that is hard!  It requires a light hand and a whole lot of patience.  I was blown away that he put so much into it.  Normally, he just calls Billy an idiot, punches him, and tells him to go away.

Finished Cake

Awesome first cake, don’t you think?  Yes, those are Baby Girl’s fingerprints in the border. She loves “tate” (cake.)

Surprisingly, the secret of the surprise birthday party wasn’t leaked.  That is a small miracle, considering those keeping the secret were under the age of 12.  I simply took Billy to the Publix and waited for everyone to arrive, turn off the lights and hide.  When we got there everyone yelled “Surprise!” and Billy jumped and made the best surprised face ever.  Of course, no one got a picture of it.  A head in the way, delayed digital camera, etc.  So we had him recreate it.

As you can see, he was too excited to sit still during the re-creation.  This is surprise in motion.

Just to give you an idea of what life with this devilishly cute little boy is like, I have one small story from that trip to Publix with my beautiful, silly Billy.

Billy shares my love of Mumford and Sons.  Bless him, he’s the only one.  Well, he has one song he adores.  We were playing it in the car and he was singing along.  Then, after one line, he stops and says, “That is gross!”

The line was, “All my bridges have been burned.”  I was confused.  I explained, in 6-year-old terms, what that phrase means.  He looked at me for a second, brow furrowed, and then his face lit up, as only his can.

“Oh! I thought he meant these.”  He patted his pants and guffawed.

The dear lad thought the line was, “All my britches have been burned.”

Not surprisingly, that moment has come to my mind a lot today and every time I giggle and get tears in my eyes.  Both for the humor and the absolute preciousness of it.  Though I still don’t understand what is gross about it.  Then again, I’m not 6.

Happy Birthday, Billy!

Three Cakes

I’ve been away for a while and I’ve missed The Blog terribly.  I promised myself I’d post this weekend so here I am, with about 5 minutes to spare to keep my promise.  With moving and all that jazz I still managed to do three cakes this week.  One for my son’s 11th birthday, one for a dog’s 1st birthday, and one for my husband’s cousin’s son’s (did you get that?) 2nd birthday.

My son is a video game junkie, so he chose a Nintendo DS as his cake.  That was fine with me since I didn’t have to carve, stack, or work out the physics of anything.  I did, however, have to paint with food coloring, which I’ve never done before.  Now, I can make things out of fondant (its edible Play Dough, which I’ve been playing with since I was three), but drawing is not my thing.  Painting, even less so.  Basically, painting with food coloring is like using watercolors.  Ach.  I grabbed a picture of Sonic (drawn by my #1, who is a FAR better artist than I’ll ever be) and a picture of Mario, Luigi, and the oh-so-lame-Yoshi, who I didn’t realize was oh-so-lame until the next morning when my son saw his cake and said (with disgust), “Why did you put Yoshi on there?!”  Autistic children aren’t known for their tact.

“I put Yoshi on there because I painted Mario and Luigi too far to the left and needed something to fill in all the white space on the right,”  I explained out loud.  To myself, I added “brat” on the end of that sentence.

Anyhoo, here is a picture of the cake.

Here are the close-ups of my fancy artwork.

Sonic the Hedgehog in Food Coloring

Mario, Luigi, and Oh-So-Lame Yoshi in Food Coloring

Yeah, so Luigi has a big butt like my daughter pointed out (8-year-old girls aren’t known for their tact, either) and Mario’s head is HUGE.  I think it’s pretty good for a first try.

The second cake was much better.  Well, I had a less critical client for it, anyway.  It was for a dog’s 1st birthday and no, it wasn’t made of Alpo.  Although it’s a bit out of proportion, I’m sure Max didn’t mind.

The third cake was the most fun and the most challenging.  It was working on this cake that made me truly sorry for some of the things I lost in the fire.  I bought the bare minimum cake supplies I’d need and I was missing the fancy cake levelers and fondant tools.  *Sigh*  I completely underestimated the time I needed to do the cake, too.  I was forced to make my husband’s cousin’s mom (that would be my husband’s aunt, or ex-aunt since she’s divorced from his uncle, or my ex-aunt-in-law.  Got that?)  wait in the car for almost 10 minutes.  I was desperately trying to get florists wire to stick in a cake at the perfect angle and had to stop when Jehovah’s Witnesses rang my front doorbell.  I’m sure they were two very sweet little old ladies but I gave them the politest brush-off I could muster.  At least I didn’t hide in the floor away from the windows like I usually do.  I took The Watchtowers and tossed them in the trash on the way back to my floral wire nightmare.  Anyway, here is the finished cake.

Elmo Birthday Cake

This picture doesn’t do my Elmo justice.  He looked like he’d had one too many drunken nights with the Cookie Monster.

Fat, drunken Elmo

My daughter said, “Elmo looks kind of fat.” Brat. But she was right.  #1 said he was creepy.  Yeah, well you should’ve seen him before he had hair. It was definitely not my best work and I felt really bad about it.  Oh well.  I’m sure the two-year-old was okay with it.

Well, that’s all I have time for now, folks.  I have to pack and my bathroom has flooded with backed up washing machine water, which leaked into the hallway carpet a little bit.  Things have been going so well, something irritating was bound to happen.  I’m just wondering why it had to be the night before I left for vacation.

Wedding Cakes

Daily Foglifter:  The Royal Wedding cake had 900 sugar-paste flowers and the Groom’s Cake used 35 lbs. of chocolate.

So I watched the Royal Wedding.  I wasn’t going to.  In fact, I was going to make a point of NOT watching since I was tired of hearing about it.  I’m not English, I’m not especially interested in weddings, and I’m not keen on the idea of getting up at ungodly hours to watch television.  I’d made up my mind.  Until I started reading a bunch of blogs and discussion forums about it.  Everybody was looking forward to it.  So I bowed to the peer pressure and I watched it.  It was beautiful.  The church, the dress, the music–all of it.  I was so caught up in it that I took my kids to school almost an hour late.  I had to see the kiss on the balcony, right?  I’d watched the entire thing and I was going to miss that so my kids could get some learnin’?  Not happening.

Despite my reluctance to watch the wedding, there was always one aspect of the whole thing I simply had to see.  The cake.  I could only imagine how beautiful and intricate it would be.  I was not disappointed.

8 Tiered Masterpiece

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381944/Royal-Wedding-cake-Kate-Middleton-requested-8-tiers-decorated-900-flowers.html

Royal Wedding Cake Top View

An added bonus! Prince William had a groom’s cake!

Prince William's Grooms Cake--Chocolate Perfection

Coincidentally, I made a wedding cake this week. It wasn’t anything like the perfect specimen above, but it was an entirely different kind of wedding.  Much more laid back and informal, as you can see by the cake.

Ball and Chain Wedding Cake

Yes, that is a ball and chain.  I love it.

Perhaps you are wondering how one would make such a super awesome cake topper.  Well, you’re in luck!  Here’s how!

First, you have to decide if you want a cake or a rice crispy treat sculpture.  For the sake of stability, rice crispy treats are more practical.  A ball cake weighs a lot more and I had to drive the cake to the venue, which was an hour away, in a car with my five kids.  Definitely rice crispy treats.

Then, follow the directions on any marshmallow bag or Rice Crispy cereal to make the treats.

Rice Crispy Treats

Then, you shape it into a ball, as tightly packed as possible.

Rice Crispy Treat Ball

Stick it in the refrigerator to harden, remove, and ice with buttercream icing.

Iced Rice Crispy Ball

The next step is to roll out black fondant. This doesn’t look very appetizing, but it is delicious!  It’s dark chocolate fondant and it is heavenly.

Dark Chocolate Black Fondant Rolled Out

Then, cover the rice crispy ball.

Rice Crispy Ball Covered in Black Fondant

Now we have the basic ball, it’s time to do the chain links. Do this by rolling pieces of black fondant into ropes and cutting uniform pieces.

Black Fondant Ropes

Link these pieces together, with the ends lightly brushed with water or fondant adhesive to make the fondant pieces stick together.

Ball and Chain Links

Add a hand-crafted fondant manacle, and there you have it!

Ball and Chain Cake Topper

Later this week, I get to make another cake. I’ve gotten a lot of business lately and in addition to bringing in a little extra income to feed my ravenous children, I don’t have to think of new subject matter for The Blog. Life is sweet.

Affianced  –Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain.”  ~Ambrose Bierce from “Devil’s Dictionary.”

Whine and Roses

Daily Foglifter:  The term “horse sense” originates from the American West between the years 1825-35.

The temperature outside today went into the 90s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was truly a beautiful day.  I didn’t step outside once.  I spent the day inside.  It wasn’t much different as the temperature inside the house topped out at a cool 86 degrees.  The air conditioner is broken.  We have a window unit and a portable AC unit, but it’s no match for the sun beating down on our undoubtedly damaged roof.

It’s only April and the weather around these parts doesn’t get cooler.  It gets hotter.  And wetter.  It’s unpleasant.  It makes me irritable.  It makes the kids complain.  It’s horrible.  It makes my brain forget how to form complex sentences.  It also makes me forget to use my good common sense.  My horse sense, if you will.

I’ve been doing cakes for years.  I’ve been going to church on Wednesday night for years.  I know that I have to have dinner ready at a certain time if there’s any hope of eating before 9:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter that I know all that.  I still didn’t plan my day accordingly.  Well, I thought I did.  But the heat and humidity through a wrench in the works.

An unexpected result of The Blog has been an increase in cake orders.  That is, they went from nonexistent to one a week for 5 weeks.  I’m thrilled.  I really do love doing it.  But I’ve always had a working air conditioner and it has never been so hot in my house when decorating.

Heat + butter + sugar + vegetable shorteningunstable icing, frustration, and  me violently throwing decorating bags of icing in the freezer when the buttercream roses melt into a sickly pink blob.   

What should’ve taken me a little over an hour took three.  The “roses” were put on the cake and  I managed to get dinner ready exactly five minutes before it was time to leave for church.  I obviously wasn’t going.  I didn’t go as I hadn’t had time to take a shower and the baby, wearing only a saggy diaper, was sitting in the contents of a spilled bag of Marshmallow Pebbles (yuck) and she was covered from head to toe in some unknown substance.

The Horse Cake

I passed the cake on to the equally exasperated husband and he took the rest of the kids to church.  Or so I thought.  I was sitting down eating my cold dinner when #3 and #4 came into the living room.  They immediately started crying when they discovered they’d been left.  #4 boldly proclaimed he was walking to church.  I was SOOOOOO tempted to let him try.

Looking for some peace, I suggested NetFlix, the most wonderful invention EVER, but was deeply disappointed when it wouldn’t work.  I HATE technology!  Instead, I found a stupid, mindless, and sub par movie for them to watch.  And now it’s them in front of the television watching “Planet 51” and being quiet.  I LOVE technology!

Now, as evening approaches and the heat has subsided somewhat, I sit here looking at the garbage dump I call a house.  It has to be cleaned, but I don’t want to do it.  It’s finally getting cool in here and all I want is to take a shower, put on some yoga pants and a comfortable T-shirt, and read.  I wonder which scenario will win out?

The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked “nevermore” that wasn’t there before.

The lonely night discloses just a passing breeze filled with memories
Of the golden smile that introduced me to
The days of wine and roses and you

~”The Days of Wine and Roses” lyrics by Johnny Mercer