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!!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Princess Ombre Ruffle Cake: A Fondant Crown Tutorial and Template

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 fall in love with almost every cake I do. It's just a fact. Every new cake I make is "my favorite." But this one . . . for real, it's one of my most favorite cakes that I've made to-date! It helps that it was made for a lovely little girl who's brother has been battling cancer. I'm a volunteer baker for Icing Smiles, Inc, who provides cakes to terminally ill children and their siblings. These cakes are always my favorites! 

This cake was inspired by this lovely fondant-ruffled cake made by Bubble and Sweet. Absolutely gorgeous, right??? A BIG thank you to her! Go check out her deliciously beautiful stuff! As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to re-create it in pink buttercream for this special little princess. 

For tips on how to make your own Ombre Ruffle Cake, check out my Ombre Ruffle Cake Tutorial

I enjoyed creating my own template of that darling little crown, which I will share with you here. After all my work sketching, measuring, cutting, re-sketching, and creating of the crown, I found out you can buy this crown cutter by Patchwork Cutters, sold at Global Sugar Art. That cutter/embosser is what was used by Bubble and Sweet. Certainly would have made my life easier! But I enjoyed the challenge, and hopefully you can still use the tips learned here to create or design your own crowns.

Before beginning the cake, I made my cake board and my crown so that they would have time to harden. I like to give myself at least 2 days in advance of my due date for this. Make the the cakeboard by glueing together two cardboard 8" rounds (I use Elmer's spray adhesive for that), and then covering them with a gold colored fondant. I used Wilton heart fondant cutters to imprint hearts around it. I wish I had used 10" rounds, as I forgot to compensate for the extra width the ruffles would add. This is why you really can't see that beautiful cake board I worked so hard on! Live and learn, eh? 

On to the crown! For some of us, whether due to a budget or time frame, ordering the cutter online might not be an option. In which case, we can always make our own template! Choose any design you like, sketch out half of it, and use that half to create an identical other half, then using both halves to create one whole template. Here is the template I created using that technique. Mine is not exactly like Patchwork Cutter's, but very similar: If you use it, I only ask that you please give credit to this post, and I, in turn, can give the credit to those who originally inspired this design. My final crown was 4" wide, though it could likely be shaped into a 5 - 6" crown, as well.

 I used the same drafting techniques to create an original crown template for this cake. The sky's your limit! 

Once your template is ready, cut it out from cardstock. Assemble your tools: a ruler, fondant cutter (pizza cutter), my small Fiskers Mini Rotary Cutter, my Wilton heart fondant cutter, and my pointed scriber modeling tool. Not pictured, but crucial: find a round can that is the width that you want your crown to be. Mine was 4" across, a Bread Crumb can. Cover it with a strip of wax paper taped at the back so your gumpaste won't stick, also keeping your work surfaces cleaner.

 Get your gold colored fondant/gumpaste out (if it's all gumpaste it will dry much faster, but you can also use a mix), and roll it to about 1/8" thickness. I colored mine using the Americolor Gold gel. Using a my favorite tool, a #11 disposable scalpel, available in boxes on Amazon, I traced around the curves of the template, using my rotary cutters wherever I could (they are the best for cutting fondant smoothly with no drag!) The mat underneath is a simple food cutting mat sprinkled with a touch of powder sugar/cornstarch to prevent sticking. I use these cutting mats exclusively for cakes, and they work great for details like this.

 Remove the template, and quickly trace in any lines you want, before your gumpaste dries out. If you're slow, you can cover the part of the crown you're not working on with plastic wrap to keep it softer. I used my scriber fondant tool to etch in a border around the top of the crown, and a ruler plus the tool to create the lines at the bottom. 

Use your fondant cutter to cut out the heart in the middle, if desired. Next, again, not pictured (sorry), carefully lift and gently wrap the fondant crown around the can. Stand the can up, and leave it to dry partially. After a couple hours, I could gently lift my crown up and over the top of my can (the fondant still had some give to it), and place it on a clean cakes-only sponge to dry completely. Make sure the crown has set enough to stand well on it's own. The sponge allows air to circulate better around gumpaste figures, drying all sides, which is also why we remove it from the round can. 

The next day, I was ready to paint it. First I sprayed it with a couple coats--allowing time to dry in between-- of the Wilton gold edible spray (available at Walmart) to give it a nice sheen. I also used that spray on my cake board. Once dry, I went back and used CK's gold dust highlighter mixed with just a drop or two of Decorator's Alcohol to paint the details/trim of my crown. You can use cheap vodka or clear vanilla or lemon extract as well with the same results--quick evaporation is the key here. A little of the dust goes a long way! Technically, this is a "non-edible decorative effect". It's marketed for cakes, but that's what it says. Gumpaste doesn't taste great anyways, so this shouldn't be a problem, but let customers know. :) Use a small, clean paint brush (only for cakes!) to apply the "paint".

You really could stop here if you want! I love the simple, gold look. 

But, since I was in LOVE with Bubble and Sweet's crown, I decided to make my own isomalt jewels to decorate it.  :) This was also done in advance to be sure they were ready for use when needed.

Isomalt is basically sugar. But, it can be a pain to work with, and can give you one heck of a burn if you're not careful. The Artisan Cake Company (a brilliant decorator) has a great tutorial with directions and a video that I used to learn how to make sugar gems. You can also follow the directions on the back of the bag. :) I didn't use a jewel candy mold for mine. I opted to make pink and gold ones. The gold was achieved by painting the back of the clear gems with my gold highlighter dust. I used clean gloves so that my fingers wouldn't leave finger prints on the slightly tacky surface of the gems.

Finally, I applied my dry gems to my fondant crown using just a touch of clear Wilton Piping Gel, and some handy plastic sterile tweezers that I found in a joke of a first aid kit. 

At last!

Finally, your gorgeous, hand-made, hand-painted, mostly-edible crown is ready to grace the top of your lovely cake! I certainly think it took this cake up a notch. A cake fit for royalty, or one very deserving, very brave and loving sister. 

Happy Caking!