Friday, July 11, 2014

Elsa's Crown from Disney's "Frozen" - A Template and Mini Tutorial

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

The Disney "Frozen" Fever might finally be settling down to more of a dull roar, but requests for Frozen birthday parties and birthday cakes are still going strong! After the popularity of my last Frozen cake made for the amazing Icing Smiles charitable organization, I was really excited to create another, smaller Frozen-themed cake that incorporated some key elements of the last one, with some new twists. 

Here were my design elements that I wanted to include:

1) Elsa's Crown
2) Isomalt Sugar Gems
3) Blue Ombre Fondant Ruffles
4) Fondant Snowflakes
5) Incorporate the pink from Ana's Cloak
My last frozen cake -- view tips and more photos on my previous blog post! 
For my last cake, I loved recreating the Olaf and the snowflake toppers. This time, I was excited to see just how close of a replica I could make to Elsa's crown. I began by drawing out my own template, based on pictures from the movie. It takes about 8-10 drawings, re-drawings, and tracings of my own drawing for me to create a symmetrical, fine-tuned final template.

This template works great for fondant or gumpaste crown toppers, but it can also be used with paper to create your own Elsa's crown to wear at a party, around the house, at work, on a date, etc . . .  ;)   

If making this delicate crown from paper, I would use a very heavy paper, and cut the bottom band a good bit wider to provide more stability.

The making of this crown is, in most ways, exactly identical to my other Crown Tutorial, so I'm not going to go as in-depth in this post. Hop back over to that post for more details, including a link to a great Isomalt gem tutorial!

Laying the template onto a thin, rolled out piece of dark yellow-tinted gumpaste, I used a brand new disposable scalpel to trace around the edges of the crown template, cutting it out of Wilton's Gumpaste. Gumpaste gets much harder, much faster than fondant does (even fondant with added Tylose), so I much prefer using it for something with this much height and fine detail. I also find it easier to cut, without tugging or pulling out of shape due to the drag of my knife.

Once cut, I carefully wrapped it around a large can that I had previously covered in Glad Press and Seal Wrap.

Vodka, clean paint brush, CK's Gold Highlighting Dust -- ready to paint!

Once it has had at least several hours (or overnight) to dry, it's time to add some gold! Using my gold dust, a touch of vodka, and a clean brush used only for food, I can make my crown appear golden! Some day I'll get an airbrush set to create that perfect golden finish, but for now, a brush suffices. I typically do at least 2 coats, allowing the gold to dry in between coats.

I kept the crown on the can while I painted the all-over coat of gold, just in case the liquid weakened the thin gumpaste, which could cause it to soften and droop out of shape. If you don't have access to some cheap vodka, clear flavoring extracts work as well, due to the high alcohol content. The alcohol from either one evaporates entirely, so no worries of getting any one tipsy! Why do we want the alcohol? It evaporates and dries much more quickly than water, which preserves the integrity and strength of your gumpaste or fondant.

Once it felt very dry and solid, I gently removed it from the can, carefully peeled off the Saran Wrap, and let the crown air dry on a large yellow sponge (shown in my other crown tutorial). It's best to give it at least a couple days to completely dry out. I made my crown at the beginning of the week for a cake due on Saturday.

For the final touch, I added a shiny blue Isomalt gem in the center, using a touch of Royal Icing as glue, which I also painted gold once dry. I love this Royal Icing recipe from Sweet Sugarbelle. You can save the extra for some awesome Sugar Cookies inspired by her wonderful blog!

Once totally dry, I gave the gem a quick and light steaming with iron to make it shine.

One lovely Elsa Crown, ready to adorn your latest creation . . .  or your head.  I won't tell.

Happy Caking! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Great Gatsby Cake & Wedding Shoot: Plus a Fondant Sugar Brooch Tutorial

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

I am so excited to have been a part of a gorgeous Great Gatsby inspired wedding shoot hosted by Bethany Petersen of BP Film, that's being featured today on Le Magnifique Blog! Featuring shades of jade and gold, and located at the amazing McCune Mansion in Salt Lake City, it was absolutely stunning. Go check out this amazing wedding to get your dose of sophisticated Roaring 20's glamour!

Le Magnifique Blog

This cake design was inspired by the flapper, art-deco feel of the 20's. Handmade gumpaste feathers and a hand-made sugar gem/gumpaste brooch adorn the top. The geometric top tier was inspired by the cover of the Great Gatsby Soundtrack, while a contrasting gold scallop trim on the bottom tier brings a softer but lavish edge to the cake. The scallop trim is also fondant, hand-painted with gold-dust. 

A huge thank you to Bethany Petersen of BP Film for the gorgeous photos of my cake!

Here are some of my favorite behind-the scene shots from the day:  

Photographer and film artist Bethany Peterson prepping models for the shoot
Photographer LeeYen Lobendahn at work

Dani of Danani's Handmade Adornments makes the most incredible custom headpieces. 

And now, a quick tutorial!

Fondant Sugar Brooch Tutorial

Making sugar brooches are a piece of cake (I love a good pun!). Begin with making your sugar gems, using a hard candy mold, and melted, colored Isomalt (or your favorite candy-making technique). The only lesson you need to do that, is the video and tutorial posted by Elizabeth Marek of the Artisan Cake Company. 

Once those are dried and ready, begin making your brooch base: a round ball of gumpaste. This was about 1 inch or less in diameter. 

Next, lightly flatten your gumpaste ball, keeping it shaped in a circle. 

Gently push your selected sugar gem into your gumpaste. Push hard enough that the gem looks as though it's sitting IN the gumpaste, not on top of it. I used latex gloves to do this part, so as not to leave fingerprints. 

Using fondant tools (my tool kit is from Wilton), imprint a design around the edge of the gumpaste. I made two so that I could choose my favorite. 

Allow it to dry, then paint it carefully with Global Sugar Art's Gold Highlighter mixed with just a few drops of vodka or a clear flavoring extract. Once dry, it's ready for your cake! If you'd like to add feathers, I highly recommend the McGreevy Cakes YouTube tutorial. 

To get a perfect shine on your gem,  gently steam it after you are done handling it. Since this topper was assembled on-site, I wasn't able to do this last step. 

Happy Caking! 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

CTR Shield Cake Tutorial

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

"Choose the right, when a choice is placed before you" . . .  wise words, right? Easier said than done sometimes, but a simple goal we can all aspire to! 

CTR is an abbreviation for "Choose the Right." The words to the song quoted above belong to a hymn sung at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Children learn this phrase in Sunday school (aka Primary), reminding them to stop and think before making a decision, similar to the WWJD ("What Would Jesus Do?") reminders that we've seen on jewelry, bumper stickers, etc. This abbreviation is seen frequently, most often in the form of a ring.  A ring with a green shield. The shield represents the armor of God -- protection. The green represents the unwavering colors of an evergreen tree, despite changing seasons in it's life. 

If you've ever been a Mormon or known a Mormon, odds are high that you've seen this around! They're given out in Sunday School to young children; I will always remember the excitement of receiving my own real, adjustable, green and silver ring, reminding me to be the best I can.

In the LDS church, children are baptized on or near their 8th birthday. It's a big event, where the child officially becomes a member of the church, and makes a promise to be a witness of God, to serve others in need, while always serving God and keeping His commandments. Choosing the Right. Needless to say, there are a lot of green shields to be seen at a baptism! Which is where cakes come in  . . . 

Don't look too close--this one's bottom corner got knocked by the client during transit.

CTR themed birthday cakes are huge around baptism times! I'm happy to provide them, but I'm also happy to provide a tutorial so you can make one yourself any time you like. :)

I begin by printing off my design: a fantastic one by Becca Allred, found here.  Visit her site, leave her a "thank you," and print it off to the size you would like. I use a 10" square cake, so I printed mine off to be about 9" tall. 

Place it on your cake (I've fake-laminated mine with Contact paper so I can re-use it). Carefully cut your cake to the shape with a sharp knife, making sure to hold your knife straight up and down so as to have a nice, straight side. 

I either do two layers, or I torte my one layer cake (slice it in half to create 2 layers) and fill it with buttercream. It adds a little height, and extra yumminess! To fill, using a Ziploc or piping bag of your buttercream, and pipe a dam around the sides of your first (bottom) layer of cake. Then, fill with buttercream, smoothing with your angled spatula. 

Buttercream filling
Piped dam on bottom layer
Stack your top layer carefully on it, adjusting it for a perfect match. Using your piping bag, pipe buttercream around the seam of the 2 layers, filling in any gaps and creating a nice solid connection. Smooth this frosting ridge down by running the back of your angled spatula around the side of the cake.

 I love using Ziploc bags for this step!
If you have time, chill your cake and let your buttercream set up, giving you a firmer surface for your next step. Next, apply your "crumb coat": a light layer of buttercream applied to the entire cake. This layer traps all the crumbs that you don't want showing! Chill your cake again. Either 10  min. or so in the freezer, or 15-20 min in the fridge. This will firm up the crumb coat, again making it easy to apply your final coat and maintain a good shape and crisp corners.

The food coloring I used for my green: Wilton Leaf Green, and some generic yellow drops.
Smooth on your final coat, taking careful note of corners, and chill your cake again while prepping for your final decor. 

For the lettering, you can go with fondant or buttercream. I think fondant looks the nicest. Using a nice firm fondant, (or fondant/gumpaste blend), cut out strips that are as wide as you want your letters to be. Then, using your template as a guide, cut and arrange the strips to match the lettering. Disposable scalpels or very sharp knifes work to round corners and cut the fondant. Or very sharp, very clean thread scissors work as well. I have some I use only for fondant, and would be lost without them!

The bottom edge is rolled balls of fondant. Also cute is white and green gumballs!

Here it is in Buttercream:

I believe I used a larger, open star piping tip for my buttercream letters. I first etched out my guide with a toothpick. I opted not to do a top border because I was worried it would run in to the letters. Choose a smaller tip if you'd like to fit both on the cake!

And that's it! One super-cute, evergreen CTR shield ready to go make someone smile. Let me know how yours turns out! 

Happy Caking! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Disney's Frozen: A Couture Cake

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

I'm one of the millions who think that Disney's Frozen movie is one of the best things out there since sliced bread cake.

I'd been dying to do a Frozen cake based on Anna or Elsa's beautiful dresses, so when I got a request for an "Elsa Frozen cake" for an Icing Smiles recipient (complete with a pass to do whatever design I wanted), I knew just what to do!

I wanted a more abstractly designed cake: Ombre fondant ruffles represent a fabric texture and the multi-dimensional coloring of Elsa's dress, while the sugar gems on the top tier mimic the jeweled, shimmering appearance of the bodice. 

The snowflake topper, same as the one in the movie posters, brings the breath of winter, the vibe of the movie. To make this, I printed off an image of the snowflake from the movie, cut it out and laid it on a thinly rolled piece of gumpaste, and then, using a disposable scalpel (used only for cakes, LOL!), traced/cut around it. After mounting it on a thick floral wire, I allowed it to dry. Finally, it was painted using Americolor gel food coloring, mixed with vodka. 

The ombre ruffles are strips of fondant, rolled out thin through a pasta roller. The edges were slightly thinned/ruffled using the ball tool, then applied to the cake. If you haven't done ruffles before, I highly recommend the class that I took to learn how to create ombre fondant ruffles: Maggie Austin's Fondant Frills class on Craftsy. 

The gems are made from melted Isomalt, poured into a hard candy gem mold. You can find the exact mold that I used here at Global Sugar Art. If you haven't worked with isomalt before, Elizabeth Marek, from Artisan Cake Company has an excellent video tutorial and written directions on her blog.

To get the gems to really shine, give them (and your entire cake) a very light steaming when with a mini-steamer or iron, AFTER your cake is complete and gems are applied. 

My Olaf figure, based on the most endearing character in the movie, was made from fondant, dried, and then hand-painted in the same manner as the snowflake. He brings some fun to this cake! He needs several days to dry, so plan ahead!

I used pictures and the figure that came with my daughter's Frozen dolls to refer to for general shape and size. 

The fondant snowflakes on top of the cake were made with a fondant cutter/plunger by PME, which you can also find here at Global Sugar Art.

That's it! All my tips and tricks for a gorgeous wintery Frozen cake. If you try it, leave a comment below and let me know how it goes! I'm also happy to answer any questions. You can leave them here, or for a quicker response, message me on my FB page:

A huge "Thank You" to Michelle Atkinson, of Lena Michelle Photography for the gorgeous photos! Check out her blog for even more photos of my cake!

Happy Caking!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dr. Who Cake Mini Tutorial - a Few Tips and Tricks!

NOTE: Sara’s blog has moved to a new location: Feel free to browse around my tutorials here, then come check out my new site!

Dr. Who fans have got to be some of the most loyal fans in the world! I'm ashamed to admit that I've never seen Dr. Who myself, but all I know is that this cake has been one of my most popular! Created for a Sweet 16 birthday, my customer knew the cake had to have 3 key things to really impress her daughter: the Tardis, Dalek, and a Weeping Angel. None of these meant anything to me at the time, but after a few sessions with Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, I was ready to go!

The first step was to figure out how to create a Tardis. If you're looking to do the same, I HIGHLY recommend that you go check out Elizabeth Marek's Tardis Cake Tutorial. Everything you could ever need to know about creating a Tardis cake is right there. And it's perfect. After going through her tutorial, I was moderately confident that I could create something similar, but using Rice Krispie Treats as my base structure for the Tardis. Thank you, Elizabeth!!!

Dalek: totally cool. I got that one. 

However, once I figured out what Weeping Angels were (check out this creepy video), I was a little less confident. Thankfully, it all worked out. 

I didn't take any photos while the work was underway, so this will just be a simple overview of what I did.

The cake itself was a 6" two layer cake on a 10" cake board. Hindsight, I should have gone with a 12" cake board. The fondant was black, marbled with a small amount ofblue and purple fondant. To do this, simply lightly knead the 3 colors together just till they begin to mix, then stop (before the colors blend together) and roll out your fondant, giving you a nice, subtle marble appearance.

For the Tardis, make your shape from Rice Krispie Treats (RKT) and allow to harden in the fridge. Make a hole a few inches deep in the bottom of the Tardis--using a wooden dowel--so that when you're ready to mount it on a cake, you can put the dowel in the cake (trimmed to the right height), and simply stick the Tardis on it to hold it in place. Remember that you're adding about a 1/4" of fondant on all sides, and plan accordingly with a slightly smaller RKT base. Following Elizabeth's Tutorial, I used fondant to cover my Tardis in the same manner as she did, including using a second fondant layer and then cutting out windows to create the "trim work" on the Tardis. Gumpaste was used for the handle, lock, sign, and and "notice." I used an edible marker for the writing. No working lights on hand, so my lantern on the top was also gumpaste.

For Dalek and the Weeping Angel, I also used an RKT base for the shapes.
Dalek was then covered in black and red fondant, given a red hat, and finished with gold details, etc. I used my Clay Extruder to make the fine pieces for Dalek's . . .  um . . . face protector part of his helmet?

As mentioned before, the Weeping Angel was the most intimidating. I shaped the torso and skirt first out of RKT, and set it in the fridge to harden. Again, remember that it will gain some width from the modeling clay! I should have made mine narrower. It ended up a bit short and stout. But hey, I'm sure not all angels are tall and slim, right? They're angels, not supermodels. ;)

For the face, arms, and wings, I used Gumpaste. I wanted to be sure the wings would harden quickly. First, I cut out the shape with an Exacto knife, making sure my piece of gumpaste was thicker at the top and thinner towards the bottom, smoothing the curves and adding grooves for the feathers using my pointed Wilton modeling tool. I inserted a toothpick into each wing, where it would attach to the back (up in the thick part of the top of the wing). 

I then modeled the head, using a separate piece of gumpaste for the hair, attaching it to the head with Wilton's Piping Gel, and then creating more grooves and definition. A toothpick went into the neck. 
Arms were created the same way, but later so as to not dry so hard that I couldn't bend them into place.

Taking my RKT figure out of the fridge, I attached the wings, and head. I then covered the RKT body in a really poor batch of modeling candy clay. Candy Clay is easy to make--go here to Wilton's blog for a recipe! I over-mixed mine, so it wasn't as smooth as it should've been. Luckily, in the end, I thought it enhanced the stone-look I was going for. I added the grooves in the dress with my pointed tool. Make sure that the modeling clay covers all toothpick connections. Lastly, I created and attached the arms to the shoulders using toothpicks again, glueing the hands to the face with Piping Gel. I had to hold them there for a bit while the gumpaste set up.
Once the figure was dry, I painted it with a tiny bit of black paint mixed with a bit of clear vanilla extract to give it a grey finish. It pooled in all of the grooves, giving the figure a nice stone/marble appearance. 

Once all your figures are made, let out a HUGE sigh of relief, attach them to the cake and cake board, and make one loyal Dr. Who fan incredibly happy! (Make sure you have a few dowels/fat boba straws in place in your cake to support the weight of your Tardis. Position them right around where the dowel is, making sure they will be under the Tardis so that they won't be visible).

Finally, go catch up on your sleep. You've earned it. ;)

Happy Caking!!!