Pink Cake Box University http://university.pinkcakebox.com Cake Decorating Videos & Classes Sat, 28 Feb 2015 00:19:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Full time Baker Position Available http://university.pinkcakebox.com/full-time-baker-position/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/full-time-baker-position/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:47:28 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=3725 Pink Cake Box is looking for a FULL time baker. This position is a great way to join our fast paced and fun team! Responsibilities will include baking cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other pastries for both custom cakes and our retail boutique. 5 days per week. Minimum of one year experience. Please send resume, portfolio   ...Continue Reading

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Hiring Job 2015

Pink Cake Box is looking for a FULL time baker. This position is a great way to join our fast paced and fun team! Responsibilities will include baking cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other pastries for both custom cakes and our retail boutique. 5 days per week. Minimum of one year experience. Please send resume, portfolio and references.

Apply Here

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Cake Decorating Classes: Where to Start? http://university.pinkcakebox.com/cake-decorating-classes-start/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/cake-decorating-classes-start/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 21:31:23 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=3623 Have you ever wanted to learn more about cake decorating, but you weren’t sure where to start? With the explosion of digital learning, there are so many options available today for novice bakers, professional cake decorators, and everyone in between. But finding the right class and channel to learn can be a bit overwhelming, so   ...Continue Reading

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Have you ever wanted to learn more about cake decorating, but you weren’t sure where to start? With the explosion of digital learning, there are so many options available today for novice bakers, professional cake decorators, and everyone in between. But finding the right class and channel to learn can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed down some of the options for you.  From traditional in-person cake decorating classes to online learning platforms, here are some suggestions to steer you in the right direction. You’ll be learning from the best in no time!

In-person Cake Decorating Classes

Online Classes

Online learning platforms have taken the internet by storm and have helped democratize learning.  Students can now be instructed from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace, by some of the leading teachers and designers in the world. In the cake decorating world, Craftsy is one of the leading platforms for online instruction with over 7 million users and 550 courses across 16 different categories. Craftsy's market segment focuses on do-it-yourselfers. While Pinterest is the place for visual discovery and platforms like Etsy allow you to buy all the wonderful things you can discover on Pinterest, Craftsy is being positioned as the place for those who want to learn to build and create all the great arts and crafts that are available on platforms like Pinterest.

Craftsy has built over 550 instructional videos across 16 different categories

For the cake decorator, Craftsy offers classes in baking, sculpting, cake, and cookie decorating and more. The classes are rated by other students and include previews and content timetables so you can get a taste of what you’re purchasing. Most of the classes follow a tutorial format where the teacher focuses on one or more projects and teaches by example. Our team of cake artists have taken many Craftsy classes and have posted in-depth reviews on Pink Cake Box University.

Another online class platform for cake decorating is CakeMade.  CakeMade is similar to Craftsy, but focuses primarily on cakes and baked goods, whereas Craftsy offers instructional courses in many different forms of art, baking, crafts and photography.  With CakeMade you can preview videos, read reviews, and browse classes, but their library of content is a little smaller than Craftsy’s.  However, some would-be learners might prefer this, since they have less classes to sift through and can narrow down their choices from the suggested topics.

Beyond these two platforms there are a host of other options for online instructor lead classes. We'll profile some additional options in the 'Online Cake Schools' section later in the article.

What are the benefits of online instruction?

Well, you can learn from the convenience of your own kitchen, for one.  The classes you purchase on Craftsy and Cakemade are yours (at least as long as the service is around...).  You can refer back to them whenever you need to, from any computer or mobile device.  If you have children or a tight work schedule, online instruction offers you the ability to learn whenever you want, even in the middle of the night!  You can learn from real instructors, accomplished, respected cake decorators from bakeries and schools you would not otherwise have access to.

Anne Heap Craftsy Class

And unlike 5 to 10 years ago, technology has advanced beyond simple video playback and often includes immersive and community-driven features with complementary class materials, interaction with instructors and students, and the ability for users to share and comment on projects. From a technology perspective, the production value of the videos are typically top notch with HD quality and multiple camera angles. And with the rise of smartphones, tablets and other devices, companies like Craftsy have done a good job ensuring their content is available across all these channels.

Cost is another big benefit to online instruction. These platforms offer high quality classes for as little as $20.00. We'll also profile online cake schools later in this article which have membership fees as low as $30 for access to hundreds of online tutorials and videos. These platforms have disrupted the traditional model of face-to-face learning and really helped bring high quality cake decorating skills to the masses.

What are some of the drawbacks of online video cake decorating classes?

So while we love these new platforms, there are some drawbacks that are worth highlighting. The first is the inability to ask real-time questions. While Craftsy offers a rather unique interface for asking questions for the teacher, replies can take several days in some cases. Another drawback is it can be rather difficult to quickly scan through an entire video to get the overall gist. In contrast, having a tutorial in written and/or pictorial format allows you to scan through the written lesson rather quickly to parts that are most relevant based on your experience and interest. While you can do that with video and the videos are logically structure in chapters, it's generally more efficient to scan through with written instructions.

When compared to in-person class instruction, online instruction does not offer the professional setting that most physical classes provide. You'll need your own tools, and if you make a mistake, you don't have a teacher available in real-time to steer you back on the right path. In addition, being in a classroom setting can be a strong motivator to stay focused on the task at hand. Sometimes it is all too easy to get distracted when viewing a class online. But in the end, online decorating classes are often significantly cheaper that in-person instruction, so for many the trade-off is worth it.

How does Craftsy compare to Cakemade?

Craftsy vs Cakemade Comparison

CakeMade is a newer site — so it's not quite at the Craftsy level in terms of the technology and user experience. While the interface is perfectly fine, it can be a little less intuitive than Craftsy (which may only matter if that’s been your main learning platform in the past.).

Some differences include a lack of a 30 second repeat option and the fact that the CakeMade forum discussions are somewhat disconnected from the video. Craftsy's video player nicely integrates questions and responses along the right hand navigation of the video player. Each question and response is stamped with a time that corresponds with where you are in the lesson plan.

Craftsy Video Player

Craftsy Video Player with 30 Second repeat and comments

Cakemade Video Player

The CakeMade standard video player

Technology has revolutionized online learning and cake decorating platforms like Craftsy & Cakemade have capitalized on this trend

Craftsy also has a rather large portfolio of classes and instructors and has been smart about trying to include classes for all skillsets. You will not find as much variety with CakeMade. To some this may be a blessing as it can be overwhelming when first visting Craftsy. However Craftsy has done a good job with their user interface and filter design to aide the user in finding the right class for their needs.

Given the size of their video portfolio, Craftsy also offers the ability to search through lessons which is a big help when you want to revisit a specific technique but can't remember which lesson or class it was part of. Search results conveniently link to the section of the video where the term is mentioned. Craftsy's interface also allows you to take notes and integrates users projects nicely into the class. To CakeMade's credit, they do link out to Amazon for tools & supplies which is convenient in case you need to quickly purchase a missing tool for the class.

Search Results - Adding Fondant to Dress

Example Search Results - Adding Fondant to Dress

There also appears to be some pricing differences between the platforms - in general most CakeMade courses range from $39.99 to $59.99 while Craftsy appears to be in a slightly lower price tier. However, if CakeMade is anything like Craftsy, it's likely you'll be able to find discounts if you do a little searching. (Tip!Both our Craftsy classes are always 50% on our site.)

However, in the end, none of these differences are significant enough that they should stop someone from buying and enjoying a number of classes from CakeMade. Just give them a little room to work out the kinks and evolve their platform. In the long run, having multiple learning platforms will benefit both the teacher and student communities as the increased competition should help incentivize each platform to continue to innovate.

Summary of CakeMade vs Craftsy
As of Feb '15
Feature Craftsy CakeMade
# cake decorating classes as of Feb 2015 100+ 12
Search through class videos? YES NO
Includes class materials? YES YES
Teachers availble to answer questions? YES YES
Student Reviews? YES YES
Price Ranges $15 - $60 $40 - $60

How about Youtube?

Youtube is still a great tool in any cake decorators arsenal, but be prepared for a wide variety in production quality!

While we are on the topic of online videos and cake decorating we'd be remiss not to mention Youtube as an option for decorators. Cake decorators have been posting video tutorials online for years. Production value can vary considerably but there are some great channels that consistently produce quality content. And unlike the other platforms we've covered, Youtube is free. Sure, you may have to sit through some ads, but those are minor annoyances at most and can be skipped if desired.

While we offer a Youtube channel and have curated some of our best videos in our video tutorial section, our channel is more focused on showcasing our cakes for our clients. We can however recommend some of the following channels:

Lastly, unlike Craftsy and CakeMade, which have a fairly thorough process for vetting instructors, Youtube has no such restrictions. So it's best to be discerning and look for recommendations on forums like Cake Central and Facebook.

So with some patience and time Youtube can be a great tool for the cake decorator, especially in cases when you are in a bind and need a quick tip. More times than not, you'll find something on Youtube that will provide some level of help.

If you have other recommended Youtube channels add them in the comments section!

Online Tutorials (Step-by-step written & photo form)

Santa Cupcake Tutorial

Step by Step Santa Cupcake Tutorial with instructions

So far we've covered learning platforms like Craftsy & Youtube which all primarily deliver instruction via video. The other area that has exploded in the last several years are online tutorials - i.e. step-by-step instructions with visuals that are generally shorter in nature than videos. For visual learners, written step by step instructions with photos may be more beneficial. As mentioned earlier, it's also sometimes easier to see all the instructions visually laid out upfront. Conversely, step-by-step instructions with pictures sometimes may skip steps and some decorators may prefer videos as typically they are more thorough just by the nature of the medium.

There are literally hundreds of destinations online where you can find tutorials ranging from free to pay-per tutorial models and membership type models. We have our own step-by-step tutorials at Pink Cake Box University, and sites like Cake Central and Cake Decor take a crowd sourcing approaching to creating tutorials and literally have thousands of tutorials in both video and written format. Even vendors are getting in the mix, with companies like Satin Ice beginning to build out their own tutorials in collaboration with cake decorators.

When parsing through all these tutorials, it's helpful to find their most popular and/or most viewed tutorials to find the most helpful tutorials. Most sites include tags or filters that allow you to do this. Sites like CakeDecor and CakeCentral do a good job bubbling up the best tutorials to the top. Pinterest can also be another good source for discovery using their search feature.

In the 'Online Cake School' section we'll profile some cake schools which also offer similar tutorials.

In-Class Instruction

Kids Decorating Classes

While more expensive, sometimes the investment in an in-person class is your best long term bet

Some people learn by doing.  If you’re the type of student who needs hands-on learning with a ‘live’ instructor present, then maybe regular class instruction might be for you. Class sizes, length and type vary based on location. When looking for a class, it's best to find a school that keeps classes small to allow for a personalized experience. Many classes will supply materials and tools needed for the class which is especially helpful for beginners who may not have the appropriate materials readily on-hand. Make sure to ask though if supplies are included. It also doesn't hurt to ask questions about the class instructor. These may include - What is the instructors qualifications? How long have they been teaching? What skill level is the class geared towards?

If you are in NJ, we do offer cake, cupcake and cookie classes for a variety of levels, most of which are available during the winter time. For a list of our classes click here. It's also worth mentioning our Eat, Drink, and Decorate classes. These classes incorporate food, drink and decorating into a more casual, relaxed and social atmosphere. These classes are geared more towards the casual decorator who is looking for a fun night out with friends and are great for bachelorette parties and corporate team building events. More information is available here.

Eat Drink Decorate Class

Our Eat, Drink, Decorate Classes mix decorating with friends, food and fun!

While your local bakery, community college or culinary school is often a good source for decorating classes, another good method for finding high quality classes is through cake shows. Cake shows often have a wide variety of classes offered from many different world-class instructors. In the past, we've attended and can recommend the National Capital Area Cake Show in VA which is entering its eight year. Check out their website for show and class information. The first annual Cake Fest is also slated to take place in Feb 2015 and with its strong instructor lineup we are hopeful it will become a yearly event.

Books

Sometimes there is nothing better than purchasing a book to learn a new decorating technique. For some it's a personal preference, and for others there may be barriers due to poor internet connection or lack of comfort using a computer. Whatever your reason, books continue to be a solid informational source for the cake decorating world. Some of the best known teachers have been writing books for years - Allan Dunne and Nicholas Lodge are two of our favorites. And even with all these new mediums for learning, talented cake decorators are continuing to release high quality print books.

Squire's Kitchen
(UK based) is a great resource for finding high quality books. They produce several high quality, detailed and easy to follow books by accomplished teachers. They also run in-person classes as well.

You'll find a few additional recommendations and book reviews in our review section. Have your own favorite? Leave a comment and let us know!

Online Cake Schools

A good combination of videos, step-by-step tutorials, and/or in-person classes often with a membership payment model

We've created this category to cover the ever-growing option of online resources that often combine videos, online tutorials, forums and sometimes even in-person classes. These one-stop cake schools are sometimes lead by individuals or are sometimes a collaboration of many cake artists. Unlike Craftsy and CakeMade, many of these schools offer a membership payment model which requires a one-time payment for a certain level of access that usually expires after a set time period. For the avid decorator, this all you can eat type option may be a more cost-effective option. Before signing up for any membership agreement, make sure you have a good sense for the release cycle of the particular site and the level of expertise they typically cater towards. Also ask what level, if any, of support the site provides you if you get stuck.

MyCakeSchool.com is one of the veterans in this category. They have hundreds of videos and tutorials online. Many are free on the blog, so you can start their to get a good sense of the quality.

A few other recommended "schools" are listed below. (Note we have not tried all these but have generally heard good things about them):

Look for more cake decorators to go independent in the future as DIY technology makes it even easier to setup your own cake school

Beyond this category of cake schools, many savvy decorators have released their own tutorials which you can either buy individually online through their websites or through other services like Patreon which includes fellow decorator Liz Marek. Prices and quality can vary, but a little research will help you quickly weed out the more amateur efforts.

Over the next few years, it wouldn't be surprising if more individuals continue to go the independent route to share and sell their skills within the cake community. While platforms like Craftsy have a tremendous reach, cake decorators typically only receive a small percentage of revenues from each sale. And with the advent of DIY online learning platforms like SchoolKeep and Fedora and powerful social media platforms, the technology savvy decorators has powerful tools at their fingertips to help build and promote their videos and tutorials.

Instructional DVD’s

Instructional Cake Decorating DVDs

DVDs are fading in the face of online learning platforms, but they still have a place for some

If your schedule is too complex for group classes and you are not computer savvy, there is always the option of purchasing instructional DVD’s to assist you with your cake decorating.  Several years ago, DVDs and CDs were the primary method of delivering education digitally, but with the advent of better internet connections and more advanced technology, digital video learning via the Internet is quickly surpassing DVDs.

However, there is still some demand for DVDs and they make a great tangible gift for that cake decorator in your life. Pink Cake Box offers two DVDs for sale as part of a cake starter kit. Cake Decorating 101 and Cake Decorating 102 offer step by step instructions for round and square cakes, adding filling, using fondant, and more.

In closing, that wraps up our guide to different learning channels and platforms in the cake decorating world. It's never been a better time to expand your craft or learn new skills, and with all of these options available, how can you go wrong?

Of course, if we missed anything please sound off in the comments!

Contributors to this article also included Debbie Zelasny, Jesse Heap & Anna Puchalski

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New and Exciting Tools http://university.pinkcakebox.com/new-exciting-tools/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/new-exciting-tools/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:00:09 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=3030 Just six months ago, if I wanted to make a houndstooth effect on a cake I would probably be torn between spending hours upon hours painting it by hand or paneling it with wafer paper or icing image prints. Neither ever gives me quite the satisfying results that these new molds do. Marvelous Molds is   ...Continue Reading

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Just six months ago, if I wanted to make a houndstooth effect on a cake I would probably be torn between spending hours upon hours painting it by hand or paneling it with wafer paper or icing image prints. Neither ever gives me quite the satisfying results that these new molds do.

Marvelous Molds is an innovative company that creates texture mats and detail molds out of food safe silicone with cake decorating in mind. One of the most impressive creations they've offered is their Silicone Onlay series -- silicone mats that are designed to take fondant, press it into a design and allow the decorator to apply it directly to the cake. We use these constantly in the shop for chevron patterns, houndstooth, herringbone and quatrefoil designs.

Hibiscus Flower Mold for Cake

The process is fairly simple: roll out your fondant thin, lay it over top of the mold which has been lightly dusted with cornstarch and gently press over it with a small rolling pin. Once the lines of the mold have cut through the fondant, brush water or tylose glue of the fondant in the mold, remove whatever sections you do not want on the cake, and press it to the tier. Here I have used an accent mold of hibiscus for an island theme cake.

cake mold of hibiscus flower

  1. 1Lindsey, one of the talented decorators here at Pink Cake Box let me follow her through the process of using the molds on a two tier cake. Here she preps the mold with a small amount of cornstarch in a sachet.

    Prepping mold with cornstarch in a sachet

  2. 2Then uses an acrylic rolling pin to press fondant over the onlay mold. The herringbone is a complex texture with a lot of small pieces, so the pressure from the rolling pin must be even all across the mold.

    Rolling Pin Press Fondant on onlay mold

  3. 3The mold has been spread with glue and the unnecessary sections removed, leaving only the pink herringbone behind to be applied to the cake. Lindsey carefully peels back the onlay, flattening any stray pieces that might have stuck in the mold.

    Peel back the onlay

  4. 4She matches up each section as she goes to make a continuous pattern.

    Match up sections for continuous pattern

  5. 5An entire tier covered flawlessly and the onlay mold that made it possible. If you noticed, even the bow has a delicate houndstooth print.

    Final houndstooth print from mold

    ...and the finished cake! What spectacular results!

    Houndstooth patterned cake

Want to try it for yourself? Marvelous Molds has a full range of products and designs. Fairly easy to use with stunning results! Note: We receive a small commission if you end up purchasing a mold or onlay through one of these links. So thank-you for supporting us. We only recommend products or services we use personally at Pink Cake Box.

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Trouble Shooting Sugar Flowers http://university.pinkcakebox.com/trouble-shooting-sugar-flowers-ongoing-conversation/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/trouble-shooting-sugar-flowers-ongoing-conversation/#comments Sat, 06 Dec 2014 14:12:17 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2970 I can only imagine that this will prove to be an ongoing conversation. I've touched on some of this before and expect to do so again. Not every client wants cultured roses, hydrangea and cool greens. As a matter of fact, more and more often florists are thinking outside the box in an effort to   ...Continue Reading

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I can only imagine that this will prove to be an ongoing conversation. I've touched on some of this before and expect to do so again.

Birch Tree Wedding Cake with Sugar Flowers

Not every client wants cultured roses, hydrangea and cool greens. As a matter of fact, more and more often florists are thinking outside the box in an effort to create really memorable events. So must we, the cake decorators, keep up with the times. Not to mention, I love a challenge! When this cake first crossed my desk the request was simply "wildflowers." I had recently found a nice range of dusty miller cutters, so I knew that would be my base. The 60 mile drive from my home to Princeton NJ takes me by a lavender farm, and it was in full bloom when I was considering this cake, so lavender was a must. Talk about challenging, each bud is a tiny petal of purple wrapped around a paper stamen and taped into a stalk. I made cornflowers by layering two tiny daisy cut outs and anchoring them to a wire. The thistles were hand sculpted. There was no easy way around them, each one required snips with tiny scissors until they had the right "look."

I also tend to go back and "improve" flowers that for the most part everyone is quite happy with. Our peonies are the most popular flower requested at the shop save the rose. But they certainly started out with a different look and have evolved throughout my time here. After reading Naomi Yamamoto's Wedding Cakes book, I decided to use her half-sphere method to change the way I do my peonies. I started out with a ball, cut in half and mounted onto a heavy floral wire, then added daisy cut outs and layers to create the fringy center of the flower. (I did a version of this in my previous method as well).

troubleshootingflowerspostf

I try to take notes as I go (as you may be able to see in the photos), but just as often I'm so caught up in process that I forget to write down what I did and have to walk myself backwards to document it.

troubleshootingflowerspostg

The final peony, complete with wired outside petals (but before painting). The main difference is the center, I didn't change much from my method otherwise, though the end result is quite different.

troubleshootingflowerspostd

Another challenge was a client who requested blue delphinium. I was not the least bit familiar with it, and had no cutters that suited the shape. I've made bell shaped flowers before, but morning glory and daffodils have fallen out of vogue, and it's been a long time. I used a basic blossom cutter, a veining stick and some fast thinking to produce them, though not without a lot of trial and error...

troubleshhotingflowerspsota

And some success, too.

troubleshootingflowerspostc

troubleshootingflowespostb

A very special client (a previous member of the Pink Cake Box staff, in fact) ordered her elaborate wedding cake recently. Having worked in the events industry and "seen it all" her floral choices were quite diverse.

Diverse Floral selection

Damask roses have become a popular option for out-of-season brides who want a peony look when peonies are not available.

I made them in two sizes and added wired petals to a few of the largest. As I progressed, the flower centers became more complex. I'm looking forward to the next order and a chance to improve on them more.

troubleshootingflowersb

Her "filler" flower was lisianthus, which I had not been asked to make at any point in my career to my memory. My main challenge was having it look distinctly different from the spray roses which were roughly the same size and color. I textured the petals and elongated the buds.

troubleshootingflowersc

Finally, the double threat of whimsy and atypical wedding flowers -- succulents and astilbe! Luckily I had made both the lavender stalks and wheat fairly recently, which prepared me for the delicate, ice pink astilbe. The succulents required wired petals for all but the center.

troublshootingflowersa

Who knows what is next? But I'm looking forward to it! Every attempt only improves the final results.

Interesting in learning more? Check out our local cake decorating classes in Denville NJ, or our review of Nicholas Lodge's Mastering Sugar Flowers online class!

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Little Pink Dress Cake Class Giveaway! http://university.pinkcakebox.com/little-pink-dress-cake-class-giveaway/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/little-pink-dress-cake-class-giveaway/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 21:40:39 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=3017 This contest has ended. Winners announced here. Go here to get the class for 50% OFF! With the upcoming launch of our new class Little Pink Dress Class on Craftsy, we are excited to announce a launch giveaway for a chance to over $300 in classes and DVDs! Ever since we created our first dress   ...Continue Reading

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This contest has ended. Winners announced here. Go here to get the class for 50% OFF!

With the upcoming launch of our new class Little Pink Dress Class on Craftsy, we are excited to announce a launch giveaway for a chance to over $300 in classes and DVDs!

How to create a dress cake class

Ever since we created our first dress cake way back in 2008, I've been asked by several cake decorators to put together a tutorial to share techniques for making these types of cakes. Well, after a lot of planning and production the class is done and will be launching soon! In this class I'll teach you the secrets to making our dress cake. The class includes everything from tips on how to build the dress form structure, carving the skirt and bodice, draping the dress, adding fancy details and more!

This giveaway offers you a chance to win one of five FREE Little Pink Dress Classes through Crafty's online video platform along with other prizes including our DVD cake starter kit, our cake toppers class and a chance to attend one of our in-person classes for FREE!

Grand Prize Package Include:

*Winner is responsible for travel expenses to our class location in Denville, NJ. Read terms and conditions for more info.

Four runner-ups will receive:

  • FREE lifetime access to my Little Black Dress class
  • Every entrant will receive a special coupon for the class and our Cake Starter Kit!

All winners chosen at random.

Note:Contest ends on Dec 13th, 2014.

How to Enter:

  • Follow us on Pinterest or Facebook
  • Vote for your favorite Dress Cake!
  • BONUS ENTRY Leave us a comment and tell us what dress cake you voted for and why.

Thanks for Entering! Please spread the word for additional Bonus Entries!

Voting Results!

Total Votes: 349

*By entering this contest you agree to our Sweepstakes Terms & Conditions.

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]]> http://university.pinkcakebox.com/little-pink-dress-cake-class-giveaway/feed/ 0 Painting Cakes (a recurring theme) http://university.pinkcakebox.com/painting-cakes-recurring-theme/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/painting-cakes-recurring-theme/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 04:09:33 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2955 I talk a lot about painting on cakes. Partially because of my arts background, I know -- but also because it's a versatile way to add detail to a simple project and much easier than it appears. We also do it constantly here in the shop!! The obvious approach is to use the cake as   ...Continue Reading

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I talk a lot about painting on cakes. Partially because of my arts background, I know -- but also because it's a versatile way to add detail to a simple project and much easier than it appears. We also do it constantly here in the shop!!

The obvious approach is to use the cake as a canvass and paint directly on it, as you might a porcelain vessel or ceramic tile. Powdered petal dusts dissolved in vodka have a pleasing watercolor effect and behave much the same. A few tips, though:

  • Refrigerate - Fondant your cake and let it stand in the refrigerator for a while. This will make the fondant firm and also dry the surface out a little.
  • Temperature Control - I like to drop the temperature in the studio when painting on a cake to prevent sweating as the cold cake adjusts to the room.
  • Let it sit - You can also allow the cake to sit for ten minutes or so and the moisture will reabsorb. Once the painting is done, so long as the cake doesn't sweat excessively again (so don't, say, leave it in direct sunlight on an open porch in august) a little extra moisture should not mar the painting.

I recently did a  Lily Pulitzer inspired print on a tier which was quite exciting! As you can see, I block out my larger fields of color and go back in for small details.

liily-pulitzer-print-cake

A more delicate and classical design, this Victorian style flower illustration was taken from the invitations provided by the client. I took a much softer approach color-wise, but ultimately the same method of blocking out swaths of color and defining them with details in other colors after. Always start with your lightest colors and work in darker as you go. If you want to read more about how I integrate art skills to cake, here is a Cake Corner post with a selection of helpful classes you can take to expand your skill set.

victorian style flower painted cake

You can also apply this water color effect to 3D items as well. In trying to think of the best way to illustrate this technique I asked my friend's seven year old son what to make. He suggested a white tiger, so I quickly pulled together a tiger face in gum paste, allowed it to set for ten minutes until the surface was no loner porous, and then brushed some soft details in. It's a great, fast, artistic element to use when designing a cake.

Water color technique tiger cookie

Another painting technique is trompe l'oeil. I use this when I want to make a surface resemble something it is not. Troupe l'oeil translates to "fool the eye," which is exactly how it works. This exotic themed cake we made for The Knot features a "bamboo" texture on the tiers and a blond wood board that we made by adding strokes of thinned airbrush color to the fondant with a hard bristled brush. To keep the color from becoming too intense, I "lifted" some of it off after it had set by dipping the same brush in vodka and stroking over the tiers again.

Tropical Themed Cake for the Knot!

If you are interested in learning more about Painted Cakes I recommend you check out my review of Kate Sullivan's Painted cake class!

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Making Extreme Figures for Cakes http://university.pinkcakebox.com/making-extreme-figures-cakes/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/making-extreme-figures-cakes/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 19:59:50 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2945 I have a sculpture background which is one of those things that both helps and hinders when working in sugar. On one hand it shortens the learning curve when doing really unusual projects that fall far out side the realm of baking, but it can get me into trouble, too. There are lots of things   ...Continue Reading

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I have a sculpture background which is one of those things that both helps and hinders when working in sugar. On one hand it shortens the learning curve when doing really unusual projects that fall far out side the realm of baking, but it can get me into trouble, too. There are lots of things that work with non-food construction that simply do not translate due to the turbulent nature of food as an art medium. That said, we do some pretty outlandish things here!

First up are a couple of complex, semi-realistic figures based on actual people. This lovely birthday girl had a thing for mermaids and glitter, so I sculpted her based on photos provided by her boyfriend. The tail was added wet on the cake. While I usually like to have the figure completed well before it goes on the cake, sometimes it's just not possible and things have to be added the day of. The tail had to conform to the shape of the cake (a rock surrounded by sea) and I simply couldn't anticipate how and where she would sit best. She's made of gum paste, which I prefer over modeling chocolate for the base reason that the dried surface resembles porcelain, paints well, and can be shaded smooth if needed.

Mermaid Sugar Figure made out of Gumpaste

Staying on that theme, we were asked by BBC America to create a cake commemorating 50 years of the iconic British television show Doctor Who. Actor Matt Smith was the current star at the time and I had to create him in sugar exiting the Tardis. It was a real challenge! As you can see above, I usually avoid portraiture and go for a detailed, flattering character or cartoon look. It's less likely to suffer "uncanny valley" effect and also less likely to make me terribly frustrated as sculpting a realistic portrait is hard enough in clay, much less attempting it with the limitations of sugar, deadlines, etc.

My first attempt actually failed. I misread the dimensions of the finished cake and had to start all over. For a brief time my desk featured Doctor Who and his Mini-me companion.

Tardis Cake Figures

It was OK in the long run. The second attempt (the taller one) had a better likeness. While I certainly went more realistic on this one in comparison to the mermaid above, you can see I stayed in a comic book style still. The finished cake lit up, too.

While all this may seem very complex, Matt Smith was replicated in sugar using much the same methods taught in Anne's Figure Modeling Craftsy Class. From simple to complex, the bones of the structure stay the same.

Tardis Doctor Who Cake

When my coworker Nicole had her Rock n' Roll themed wedding recently, I again had the opportunity to work in that murky area between portrait and caricature. This held other challenges as it was a precarious totem pole design, or "stack of heads" as I cheerfully dubbed it in the early stages. The band Kiss is a favorite of the groom, and I made the underlying structure of this particular piece faux so it could be preserved for posterity as part of his formidable memorabilia collection.

Kiss Cake in the Making

This mid-production picture shows the PVC pipe I built it on before fleshing it out all the way. LED lights were built in to the structure do it could be illuminated. I live in fear of embedding a disposable LED in some inaccessible place in a sculpture and it turning out to be a dud and not lighting up. So far, that's never happened! Digging the light out of six inches of rock hard black gum paste the day of the event to replace the light in Gene Simmon's mouth might have driven me to tears.

The logo lit up also, as did the guitars. I had planned to mount the guitars to the back of the totem pole, but they were so cool we decided that would hide too much of the detail we put into them. Also they were really heavy and as I was part of the team delivering and setting up this cake, we adapted.

A rabbit might not seem very extreme after the Kiss totem pole, but I love bunnies and this is one of my favorite pieces. The cake itself was a towering, complex creation. This little guy was a pet of the candy-obsessed birthday girl. Here I am looking very serious while working on Brownie the Bunny:

Bunny Rabbit Cake Sculpture

...And Brownie complete -- I'm told he happily spit out the chocolate bar during delivery, which had to be reattached. A lesson for me as I tend to use pretty minimal amounts of tylose glue. I check that everything is securely attached now. Behind the bunny you can just see the styrofoam form for a display cake of a bull dog under a sheaf of reference pictures.

extrememfiguresposte

 

 

And here's the bunny atop the cake!

 

Bunny Cake with Candy

I wonder what I'll get to make next week!

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Wafer Paper Flowers! And other things paper-related… http://university.pinkcakebox.com/wafer-paper-flowers-things-paper-related/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/wafer-paper-flowers-things-paper-related/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 01:56:50 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2960 We love new methods, new materials, new anything here at PCB. While I am hardly fad driven, I used to work for a paper specialist boutique before becoming a cake decorator and I adore paper craft still. So to use some of that background for cake is a lot of fun. Joanne did an extensive   ...Continue Reading

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We love new methods, new materials, new anything here at PCB. While I am hardly fad driven, I used to work for a paper specialist boutique before becoming a cake decorator and I adore paper craft still. So to use some of that background for cake is a lot of fun. Joanne did an extensive review of the Craftsy Class, and I scanned through that as well. But in the long run, I decided to rely on my own experiences with actual paper for the most part. I took some inspiration from this Paper Flower Book.

My department is also responsible for the edible ink printer at the shop, and I have a certain love for making textures in photoshop -- a dangerous mix for this. I went through my art files and picked a few past textures, adjusted the colors for Anne's palette and started printing. I had already made some tests in white, but now I was ready to execute them in color. I printed on both sides of the paper for maximum effect.

Wafer Paper Flowers

Wafer Paper Flowers

 

I couldn't help myself! I just kept coming up with new ideas and making different types of fantasy flowers!

Wafer Paper Fantasy Flower

Wafer Paper Fantasy Flower

I used paper punches for some of the shapes but for the most part, I cut freehand with a craft knife. The craft knife allowed me to cut cleanly through as many as five sheets at a time. Make sure you have a clean, fresh blade before trying to cut many sheets at once!

Wafer Paper Flower

Another wafer paper flower!

 

The assortment grew... I use piping gel to make the paper flexible and to give it more durability in the walk in:

Complete set of wafer paper flowers

Complete set of wafer paper flowers

I kept going and eventually Anne came and put them together on a couple of cakes:

Wafer Paper Flower Bunches

 

I also experimented with printing the templates directly on the textured paper to make it easier for someone other than myself to make the flowers. Here is a peony print sheet (and some petals I started cutting out):

Peony Print sheet and wafer paper petals

Peony Print sheet and wafer paper petals

 

And the finished item:

Completed wafer paper peony

Finished wafer paper peony

 

Then I started making my own graphic  prints! And did a decoupage effect on a cake mixed with some shreds of silver leaf I kept from a cake earlier this year.  As a side note, the papers are a mix of Sir Thomas Moore's hand writing, Bach's handwritten music, the first few pages of Colette's Cheri (which I typeset and textured in Photoshop), and Sonnets by Shakespeare (likewise with Photoshop) mixed with some random images of an antique quilt I printed out last minuet just to mix it up. I added the silver last, gently placing it over the still damp piping gel then dusted the whole thing with cornstarch to cut the shine.

Decoupage effect on a cake

Decoupage effect on a cake

 

I have so many new ideas now!

Interested in learning more about wafer paper and cakes? Check out Joanne's review of Stevi Aubile's Delicate Wafer Paper Class!

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Food Network Premiere – Outrageous Wedding Cakes! http://university.pinkcakebox.com/food-network-premiere-outrageous-wedding-cakes/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/food-network-premiere-outrageous-wedding-cakes/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 13:04:32 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2837 Want to learn how to make this cake? Check out our Craftsy Dress Cake Class online! We are thrilled for the opportunity to create this 7 foot tall wedding dress cake for an upcoming Food Network Special - Outrageous Wedding Cakes! Along with Anne, Pink Cake Box University instructors Joanne and Anna were both part   ...Continue Reading

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Want to learn how to make this cake? Check out our Craftsy Dress Cake Class online!

We are thrilled for the opportunity to create this 7 foot tall wedding dress cake for an upcoming Food Network Special - Outrageous Wedding Cakes! Along with Anne, Pink Cake Box University instructors Joanne and Anna were both part of the event!

Food Network!

The special premieres on Saturday June 28th at 9|8c. 

Here's the description from the Food Network:

While many have probably dreamed of their wedding cakes since childhood, they were most likely not wedding cakes quite like this. From a cake with a river running through it to a tower of cake dripping in 30 pounds of Swarovski crystals, Food Network is going from coast to coast to find the most incredible creations by the best cake artists in the country. These magicians can make anyone’s dream cake come true —— no matter the cost.

We hope you can tune in!

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FIVE Class Giveaway in honor of Icing Smiles! http://university.pinkcakebox.com/5-class-giveaway-honor-icing-smiles/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/5-class-giveaway-honor-icing-smiles/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:58:02 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2740 We are excited to announce a fun MEGA 5 Class giveaway ($200 worth of classes!) with Craftsy and a group of FANTASTIC cake artists! As part of the 5 class giveaway, you can find our Cake Toppers Class along with a list of classes from this fantastic set of cake artists: Marina Sousa ( Just   ...Continue Reading

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We are excited to announce a fun MEGA 5 Class giveaway ($200 worth of classes!) with Craftsy and a group of FANTASTIC cake artists!

Icing Smiles Giveaway

As part of the 5 class giveaway, you can find our Cake Toppers Class along with a list of classes from this fantastic set of cake artists:

  • Marina Sousa ( Just Cake - Marina Sousa)
  • Charity George ( Chef Charity)
  • Kate Sullivan ( Cake Power)
  • Elisa Strauss ( Confetti Cakes )

Want to learn more about these classes offered by these talented artists? We've reviewed several here.

How to Enter the Giveaway

  1. 1
    Step 1: Like ICING SMILES on Facebook


  2. 2
    Step 2: Click below to enter for a chance to win all 5 classes via Craftsy!

    Enter Here »

Winners will be chosen at random on Tuesday, April 29th.

We encourage you to visit Icing Smiles to learn more about this wonderful organization. Perhaps even donate if you'd be so kind!

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