A Tangled Themed Cake to Create an Icing Smile

For me, making cakes is about so much more than just throwing together some flour and sugar. Every cake I make is a special, unique creation designed for an individual person. I spend countless hours and pour my heart into each and every one. I view cake decorating as my ministry; a way to show my love and God’s love to others. It is for this reason that I have never pursued cakes as a business. It is also for this reason that a couple of weeks ago I signed up to be a Sugar Angel with an organization called Icing Smiles. If you have never heard of Icing Smiles you should check out their website. They serve families of children with critical illnesses by using local volunteer bakers to create cakes and other treats to help these families celebrate special occasions and temporarily take their minds off their medical situations.

Ever since I first heard of Icing Smiles I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. It took me a while to finally get around to actually applying though. After months of putting it off, I sat down one morning and filled out the online application. To my surprise it only took about 5 minutes to complete. I was approved within a couple of hours. After talking to other friends who are involved with Icing Smiles I learned that it can take a while before you are needed. I was shocked the next morning when I opened my email and found that I had already received my first call to action. It couldn’t have been a better match because I was placed with a family that has two little girls. I also have two girls, who are teenagers now, so I have always had a special place in my heart for little girls.

The oldest daughter, Lucy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just 3 years old. Lucy is now turning 8 and is cancer free after many surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments. She has an amazing family who has used this tragedy to start a foundation, called Lucy’s Light, to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

The call to action was a request for a birthday dream cake to celebrate Lucy’s 8th birthday. The theme request was Rapunzel from the movie Tangled. As I thought about the movie I was moved by the fact that Rapunzel was trapped in a tower for many years, fearing she would never see life beyond that tower. Through her strength and courage she finally jumped out of it and slid down her hair to freedom and a life beyond anything she could have dreamed. To me, this was representative of little Lucy’s life. She was trapped by an awful cancer but fought hard to battle it and, with her strength and courage, she is now free from that awful disease and has a beautiful life waiting for her. I knew that had to be the scene I represented in the cake.

Many hours of working on the cake allowed me a lot of time to think about Lucy, pray for her and fall in love with a little girl that I had yet to meet. Here is the resulting cake:

And some close ups:

The top of the tower

The tower base

Rapunzel escaping down her long hair

The landscape

Rapunzel’s little buddy, Pascal the chameleon

Of all the pictures I took, here is my favorite:

Lucy seeing her cake for the first time

Most decorators would probably agree that a reaction like that is worth more than all the money in the world. This is why I love making cakes. This type of a moment makes every late night and a kitchen full of dirty dishes all worth it.

As I carried the cake to her front door, Lucy watched from a window and I could hear her screaming with delight. Lucy was as sweet and adorable as I had imagined she would be. My heart felt like it would burst as I finally got to meet this sweet little girl and hug her for the first time. She was so excited and wanted to know how I made every little piece on the cake.

Her family was just as wonderful. They overwhelmed me with their gratitude and I felt an instant connection with them. I knew it was no coincidence that I was placed with Lucy; there was a heavenly hand at work.

As I left the home, my eyes welled up with tears. This was one of the greatest moments of my life and definitely the greatest cake delivery I had ever made. I also knew that this couldn’t be the end of it. I had fallen in love with Lucy and fallen in love with her family. I am keeping in touch with this incredible family and hoping to be able to be a part of their upcoming fundraisers. I realize that I can’t expect that every call to action will turn out quite like this but I am so thankful for my first experience with Icing Smiles. For me, this is what cake decorating is all about.

May God bless you, little Lucy, and may you remain cancer free for the rest of your long life.

Until next time God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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1000-Likes Facebook Car-Cake DVD Giveaway

Well, after all the praise for Mike and his DVD found in this post, how would you like a chance to win a FREE DVD? Last month my Facebook page hit a milestone by breaking 1000 “likes.” I’ve been wanting to do a special giveaway since then but was having a hard time deciding what I should give away. After doing this cake I decided that a Cakenology DVD would be the perfect prize. It involves cake and one of my favorite cake artists as well as one of my husband’s favorite things, cars. (I wanted to include my husband in on this somehow because he is the creator of my app and my web developer, along with being a car guy.)

So here is what you have to do to enter; you need to “like” my Facebook page (if you haven’t already), then:

  • Find the post for this blog entry on my Facebook page (it’s pinned to the top) and “like” the post
  • Leave me a comment on the post with the name of your favorite type of car.

That is it, really easy. Remember though, that you have to both “like” the post and comment on it for your entry to count. I will be picking a winner on the morning of February 3rd, 2014 so you have until midnight (MST) the night before to enter. Good luck!

Posted in Advanced Techniques, Basic Instruction, Cake Celebrities, Contests, General Information | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Shelby Mustang Cake and a Mike McCarey DVD Giveaway

I’ve got a new cake to share with you this week along with a really great giveaway!

My friend’s daughter had her “Sweet 16″ last weekend so I offered to make her birthday cake, hoping that she would want a car cake. One of the most exciting things about turning 16 is the freedom that comes with getting your driver’s license. Unfortunately your dream car doesn’t usually come along with that license. Since most 16-year-olds have to drive mom’s minivan, or the only cheap clunker they could afford from the used car lot, I have found that car cakes are a great way to celebrate their dreams. If you can’t drive your dream car, you might as well eat it.

Luckily for me, she was excited about the car idea and asked me to make her dream car, a 1960’s Mustang. She wasn’t specific about a year, it just had to be from the 60’s. After looking through many different pictures online, I settled on a 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350.

To be honest, car cakes are some of the most challenging cakes I have made. As excited as I get to make one, I also get equally as nervous about doing it. Fortunately I have an incredible instructional DVD, called Cakenology with Mike McCarey, that walks me through every step of the process.

Here is the finished cake:

It was so fun to try to get in as many of the details as time would allow.

From the hood scoop

To the side mirrors

Down to each individual chocolate tire

It is all those little details that make a cake like this come to life. There were a few more details that I would have liked to have added but time eventually ran out on me.

I covered the cake board with a piece of gray vinyl that I got from the fabric store. I love to use vinyl on cake boards because it is easy to clean and you don’t have to worry about smashing it with your fingers like you do when you cover a board in fondant. The texture of the vinyl and the gray color gave it sort of a street look. The letters were yellow fondant cut out with letter cutters.

I didn’t put together a tutorial on how to make this cake because every detail can be found in the Cakenology DVD.

If you want to make car cakes I HIGHLY recommend this DVD. It is my favorite of all my instructional cake materials. Mike is an incredible teacher with so much attention to detail. He is also very entertaining. The DVD is creative, funny and extremely informative. I had the pleasure of being able to take one of his classes at his shop in Seattle a few years ago and I can attest to the fact that Mike is just as funny, kind and helpful in person as he is on his DVD. You should check out his work on his website. There is a reason his shop is called Mike’s Amazing Cakes.

Well, after all that praise for Mike and his DVD, how would you like a chance to win that DVD? Last month my Facebook page hit a milestone by breaking 1000 “likes.” I’ve been wanting to do a special giveaway since then but was having a hard time deciding what I should give away. After doing this cake I decided that a Cakenology DVD would be the perfect prize. It involves cake and one of my favorite cake artists as well as one of my husband’s favorite things, cars. (I wanted to include my husband in on this somehow because he is the creator of my app and my web developer, along with being a car guy.)

So here is what you have to do to enter; you need to “like” my Facebook page (if you haven’t already), then find the post for this blog entry on my Facebook page and “like” the post, then leave me a comment on the post with the name of your favorite type of car. That is it, real easy. Remember though, that you have to both “like” the post and comment on it for your entry to count. I will be picking a winner on the morning of February 3rd, 2014 so you have until midnight (MST) the night before to enter. Good luck!

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

Posted in Advanced Techniques, Cake Celebrities, Class Reviews, Contests, New Cakes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Make an Argyle Design on Cake

Yesterday I shared with you the mustache themed baby shower cake I made over the weekend.

Today I am going to share a tutorial on how to make the argyle pattern I put on the bottom cake. There is also a tip afterwards for writing nicely on cake toppers, so stay tuned till the end.

Argyle prints are really cute and versatile. They work great on baby shower cakes as well as Father’s Day cakes or really cakes for any age. They can also be for any gender, just switch up the color scheme to match your desires.

There is a fast, easy way to do argyle or a slightly more challenging way. The fast and easy way involves just cutting out squares to the size you want and then placing them point to point around the cake until they meet. The only problem with this is that often they will overlap once they meet. If this doesn’t bother you then just make sure you make that the back of your cake. Also, the “diamonds” will actually be a tilted square instead of an actual diamond. Again, this really isn’t a problem and that actually may be the look you prefer. But, if you want to have a true diamond shape and you want to make sure your diamonds measure perfectly around your cake without overlapping, then read on for a process that requires a little bit more effort and a little bit of math, but is really worth it.

You need to start with a prepared cake. I had covered my cake with blue fondant. You can also use a cake that is just covered in a crusting icing but you will have to be a lot more careful with this first step if you do, so that you don’t mess up your icing job.

Take some receipt tape (you can get it at Walmart or even the grocery store) and wrap a piece around your cake, marking with a pencil where it meets back on itself once wrapped completely around. Lay out your tape and measure the length with a long ruler. Make note of it. My length was just a tad over 32 1/2″ for this 10″ round cake.

Now measure the height of your cake. I used a bench scraper and held it up to the side of the cake to see that I had a height of just under 4 1/2″. Take note of this measurement as well.

Now here is where the math comes in. (Yay! I have more proof for my daughter that you do use math in real life.) You need to decide how many diamonds high you want your argyle print to be. I wanted mine to be 3 high. Now take the height of your cake and divide it by that number. Since my cake is just under 4 1/2″ I used 4 1/2″ as my height number because I could then have the tips just barely wrap over the top of the cake. So 4.5 divided by 3 = 1.5. That tells me that the height of my diamonds need to be 1 1/2″.

Next, take your receipt tape and fold it in half, width wise. Now fold it in half again, and again, and again. Continue folding until the width of it gets to be somewhere close to the size of the height of your diamond. You will find there will be a perfect point to stop because it will be definitely too big just before the final fold and definitely too small if you fold any more.

Now measure the width of this remaining rectangle. The width of mine was 1 1/8”. Unfold your tape and cut one of the rectangles out. Fold it in half lengthwise and widthwise to get the center points of all the sides. Use the edge of a ruler to draw a line from each of the center points to its adjacent points. Cut on the lines and you now have a diamond. (I forgot to take a picture of it once it was cut out.) This is the diamond shape that should fit perfectly both going around your cake and up and down your cake.

If you happen to have diamond cutters, check and see if you have any that are the size you need. I was fortunate to find that I had a cutter that was the exact size I needed. This makes quick work of cutting out all the diamonds.

If you don’t have cutters, or you don’t have any that are the size you need, you can either use your paper diamond as a pattern to cut around or you can use the measurements of it and cut out the diamonds on a grid cutting mat.

To do this, thinly roll out your fondant then use a knife or bench scraper to cut out strips of fondant that are the width of the side points on your paper pattern. In my case I would cut out strips that are 1 1/8” wide. Use the lines on your mat as your guides.

Then use a knife or razor blade to cut out the lengths that are same length as the top to bottom points on your paper diamond. In my case this would be 1 ½”. Again, use the mat lines as guides. The bottom piece in this picture was discarded because it was too small, I only used the top pieces.

Separate your rectangles then either visualize where your center points are on all the sides or use a toothpick to mark your center points, again, using the mat lines are guides.

Now take a knife or razor blade and line it up on the points and cut out your diamond shape.

Once you have diamonds cut out, brush a little bit of water on the back of each diamond and attach it to your cake.

Start at the front and make your first line of diamonds, alternating colors.

Next, attach another row of diamonds on each side, making sure all the points touch each other.

Continue doing this all the way around the cake until you get to the back.

If everything was measured correctly, the diamonds should line up perfectly at the back. I like to start in the front and end in the back just in case I did something wrong and my ends don’t line up right. Fortunately I didn’t have any problems with this cake and it lined up perfect.

The final step is to add some black stitch marks. I made some chocolate royal icing and colored it black. I used the chocolate because it is much easier to dye chocolate icing black than it is to start with white icing. I then used a #1 round tip and piped the stitching in the center of each of the diamonds, first going in one direction.

And then coming back in the other.

Here is the final result.

Okay, now I am going to throw in one more trick I used on this cake. I hate, hate, hate writing on cakes! (Did I mention I hate it?) I have horrible handwriting on paper so it is even intensified when it comes to piping out words on cake. I usually try to avoid any writing but when I have to do it, I try to do it separate from the cake, as in this cake topper sign, so that I can use this handy trick.

I start by cutting out my sign from gumpaste ahead of time and letting it dry completely, usually two or three days. (I always cut out an extra piece, just in case I accidentally drop one and break it) For this sign I used a cutter to cut out the white portion of the sign then traced around the cutter on a piece of paper and enlarged it twice on my copy machine to make patterns for cutting out the black and green pieces.
I then measured the space I had for writing and went to my computer. I found a font I liked and printed it out in the size I needed.

I then turned the pattern over and used a non-toxic #2 pencil to cover the back of the lettering with pencil scribbles.

I placed the paper back on the gumpaste sign (you can line it up properly by holding both pieces up to a light) then traced back over the lettering, being careful not to press too hard and break the gumpaste.

Here is what I was left with.

I could now use my black royal icing with a #1 round tip and trace over the imprints. It still isn’t perfect but it is far nicer than it would be if I had free handed it.

I then layered all three of the sign pieces together and attached them with piping gel and added some small blue icing dots. Finally, I attached a lollipop stick to the back of it with some melted white chocolate then inserted it into the cake.

I hope you found these tutorials helpful. I’ve got several more cakes coming up over the next few weeks so you should be hearing more from me soon.

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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A Mustache Themed Baby Shower Cake for a Little-Man-To-Be

This last weekend was our pastor’s wife’s baby shower. This is their fourth child and their 12-year-old daughter wanted to throw her mom a shower. Isn’t that the sweetest thing ever? When the daughter asked me if I would do the cake, of course I said yes. First of all, I can’t ever turn down a child and second of all, I had to do it since it is my pastor’s wife; I mean, don’t you get more bonus points with God for doing things like that? (I am just kidding, please don’t leave me messages about salvation not being based on good works.) Anyway, the shower was mustache themed since they are expecting their third boy. I drew up several sketches for different cake ideas and this is the design we settled on.

I made sure that the mustache was very prominent since that was the theme of the party.

There were a LOT of women attending the shower (that’s one of the benefits of being a pastor’s wife) so I also needed to make some additional cupcakes to make sure we had enough servings.

I colored the icing the same shades of blue and green as I used in the cake and then cut little mustaches out of modeling chocolate for the decorations. The mustache looks a little streaky in this picture because I had just cleaned all of them off with a light rubbing of shortening right before I took this picture. It eventually absorbed in the chocolate.

It all came together really nicely for an adorable cake display that went along perfectly with the rest of the shower.

I took pictures while I was making the argyle print on the bottom cake so check back tomorrow for a tutorial on how to make an argyle pattern on cake.

Until then, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

Posted in Basic Instruction, Cupcakes, General Information, New Cakes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment