Pink Cake Box University http://university.pinkcakebox.com Cake Decorating Videos & Classes Mon, 22 Dec 2014 19:00:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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.

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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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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.

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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 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! The special premieres on Saturday June 28th at 9|8c.  Here’s the description from   ...Continue Reading

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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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Applying fine art skills to cake decorating http://university.pinkcakebox.com/dont-need-bfa-apply-fine-art-skills-cake-decorating/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/dont-need-bfa-apply-fine-art-skills-cake-decorating/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 19:36:42 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2687 While I do have a background in fine art which I’ve found to be terribly useful as a cake decorator, it is certainly not necessary to spend years of your life honing your art skills just to be able to paint a scene on a cake. Craftsy, as well as offering cake classes, has an   ...Continue Reading

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While I do have a background in fine art which I’ve found to be terribly useful as a cake decorator, it is certainly not necessary to spend years of your life honing your art skills just to be able to paint a scene on a cake. Craftsy, as well as offering cake classes, has an impressive array of art courses which range from rank amateur to intermediate craftsman. You don’t even have to do the projects to benefit (though why not? You might enjoy it…).

The class that caught my eye first was Mixed Media: Pen, Ink and Watercolor. I use these mediums myself as an artist and have found that the skill set associated with this type of drawing serves me well as a professional cake decorator. Teacher Matt Rota discusses line quality, composition and planning. While you would never use a dip pen on gum paste, he does cover inking with a brush and adding color to a black and white drawing.

Tip: To adapt this to gum paste or fondant, add this class to Kate Sullivan’s Painted Cakes course.

You may notice while making your way through the classes that cake decorators and artists use many of the same methods — Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Rota both do carbon appliqué when transferring a design from scratch paper to the surface they plan to be their final version.  While there is no way to make indelible lines on sugar, the principals are the same and there is a lot to take away from Mr. Rota’s class that can be applied to your next cake design. For instance, he encourages the student to accept the imperfection of the medium, to even appreciate it. The nature of sugar work requires a technician who can adapt to circumstances, and Mr. Rota encourages just that.

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While I can’t emphasize enough how often being able to draw saves me in the workplace, there is a lot more to it than simply being able to create a watercolor style painting on the side of a cake. We use edible printers and wafer paper sheets in the shop on a regular basis (See Joanne’s review for more info on wafer paper). Often enough there are circumstances that call for a hand painted design, but what if it’s for twenty mini-cakes? Or three hundred cookies? With basic computer skills, I can draw more or less what I require and print out as needed for the project. I’m frequently asked to create presentable cake sketches in full color. Again, being able to draw, paint or work with different mediums speeds me to completion and reduces the time I might spend wrestling with unfamiliar tasks. It’s ambitious, but if you want to expand your skills in that respect, you can add Drawing With Colored Pencils to the Matt Rota class. Colored pencils are a great tool to have in your arsenal. They don’t dry up if you don’t use them (like paint), they are mess free, and if you know what you are doing, give pleasing results. Lisa Dinhofer walks us through the basics and well into detailed, finished pieces. I might mention that both Ms. Dinhofer and Mr. Rota discuss color theory which is worth learning even if you never set pencil or pen to paper.

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pencilsb

To tie everything else together, a better understanding of water color technique will streamline your art-to-cake skills. Mary Murphy’s Watercolor Flower Bouquet is an extensive lesson in painting flowers. Again, while some of these methods work with sugar, you cannot paint exactly this way on fondant and gum paste. But we’re all about adapting, right?

floralbub

floralbua

If you want to narrow it down, Mr. Rota’s class will give you the broadest range of skill, though the emphasis on flowers and nature in the other two classes are a great bonus.

Just as an example, I often sketch in ink and color in watercolor:

Sparrow Water Color Painting

And also paint on cakes with food colors:

Painted Cake Watercolor

Let me know what you do with your classic arts techniques on your cakes!

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A short introduction to Sculpted Cakes http://university.pinkcakebox.com/short-introduction-sculpted-cakes/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/short-introduction-sculpted-cakes/#comments Sun, 16 Mar 2014 16:58:15 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2612 We love sculpted cakes here. We really do! Both Anne and I get excited for unusual orders, and we were jumping up and down over this recent Rhino cake. Dog cakes are also a constant pleasure: But I feel there is a lot more to sculpted cakes than going straight for the most extreme item.   ...Continue Reading

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We love sculpted cakes here. We really do! Both Anne and I get excited for unusual orders, and we were jumping up and down over this recent Rhino cake.

cake2442

Dog cakes are also a constant pleasure:

cake2499

But I feel there is a lot more to sculpted cakes than going straight for the most extreme item. Actually, that can be a very frustrating place to start! It’s smarter to start with a simple shaped cake, in order to get used to the idea of planning and creating templates. Templates are a helpful technique for any project. An example is this Doll House themed topper we created for a client. A lot of the details had to be created ahead of time so they could dry. The dormers that sit on the roof were very much dependent on the angle of the top of the cake, which left very little room for error.

cake2596a

I used 1/4” foam core to build a model of the house before it was iced. I build all the gum paste components on the model and let them dry. When it came time to carve and ice the cake we used the sides of the model as templates. When it came time to assemble and decorate it was easy going. 

The dogs require a little more skill but less planning. While you might well want to have a structure for support depending on size, it can certainly be done just as you would a tiered cake. Stack your cakes asymmetrically to one side (the front of the dog) doweling as you go. While our cakes normally have a masonite board as the base, for the dogs we use cardboard cake discs so we can carve through them along with the cake.

dogcakea

I like to shape the body first and then sculpt the cereal treat “skull.” There is a better chance of it being proportionate this way. Also, you want to gear the skull much smaller than you think it should be. By the time you are done layering sugar on it, it will expand all around by at least an inch.

dogcakeb

I coat the cereal treat skull with white chocolate. I have some reasons for using white chocolate rather than dark. First, of course is that it shows through light colored fondant less, but it’s also easier to handle. Once it starts to set up, it can be smoothed with a gloved hand as it is much softer and melts at a lower temperature than dark. Because the cereal treat is malleable until coated with chocolate, I sometimes run skewers through to keep the shape while I’m working on it. Much like doweling a cake, if someone wishes to eat the head, you simply cut around the supports.

dogcakec

Once the chocolate is set (I use the freezer to speed this along) I can attach the head to the body with a dowel. This is when we are going to make final adjustments before we fondant. If the face needs reshaping I’ll carve it here, once it’s covered with fondant it’s much harder to adjust.

Sculpted Dog Cake

Tip: I roll the fondant thick so I can use a detail tool to stroke it into something that looks like the grain of a dog’s fur.

dogcakehh

dogcakef

Unless the dog is a dark color with little variation, I’ll do the entire piece in white or ivory and paint using a mix of air brush and petal dust to achieve realistic coloring effects.

dogcakeh

Other details such as noses, tongues and teeth (or bow ties!) come later.

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More Info!Want to really learn sculpted cakes? Check out Mike McCarey’s two fantastic classes on Craftsy including his car cake class which I reviewed last month.

We also recommend Elisa Strauss’s Sculpted Dog Class and Handbag class for even more information on sculpting!

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Experiments with Gelatin http://university.pinkcakebox.com/experiments-gelatin/ http://university.pinkcakebox.com/experiments-gelatin/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 03:35:07 +0000 http://university.pinkcakebox.com/?p=2583 If you’ve happened across my review of the Mike McCarey Craftsy Classic Car Class you might remember me waxing poetic about how versatile I found his gelatin technique to be. Since then I’ve adopted some of my new discoveries for use here at Pink Cake Box.  We have a couple of Sugar Veil mats here   ...Continue Reading

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If you’ve happened across my review of the Mike McCarey Craftsy Classic Car Class you might remember me waxing poetic about how versatile I found his gelatin technique to be. Since then I’ve adopted some of my new discoveries for use here at Pink Cake Box. 

We have a couple of Sugar Veil mats here which we use from time to time to make lace. But using Sugar Veil for commercial work has always been a challenge. As much as I love it, it’s moody, it has a short working time, a long setting setting time and frankly it’s not exactly affordable either if you take into account the number of times it might fail before you are able to get a usable product out of it. The shop also has technicians with a range of skill sets and experience, so again — having a high failure rate makes it a difficult material because it is limited to certain people who have worked with it before. Because of that, I swapped it out for the flexible gelatin mixture from Mr. McCarey’s class.

gelatina

The first step was to make up a batch of gelatin — I used the recipe exactly as described in the class. I laid out my texture mat, a pallet knife, a squeegee, and some white gel color (in a clean bowl). While the base mixture was still hot, I poured it into the bowl with the white gel color and mixed until I had a consistent color. Then I poured it out onto the mat.

lacea

laceb

Using the squeegee I pushed the liquid mixture around in an even coat, keeping it as thin as possible while still covering the mat.

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laced

lacee

Done!

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The gelatin has to set before it can be pulled off the mat. There are a few ways to do this. The most oblivious approach is to leave it alone on a level surface for three to six hours (or even overnight!). That’s a lot of waiting. Mr. McCarey suggests putting a fan on the drying gelatin in his class and that does cut down the setting time to a couple of hours. In the shop we have a dehydrator — the type of machine used to make fruit leather and jerky — so usually I just toss the mats in there and in less than an hour I have perfectly set sheets of edible lace! Since the dehydrator works at low heat, I assume this could be replicated in a home oven set to 200F or, if your oven has a pilot light, that might be enough. Only do this with silicone moulds and texture sheets as they are heat-safe to 350F. Many plastics give off fumes when heated, so don’t take risks!

Once set, the lace peals off with a little effort. If you have warm hands you may opt to wear latex gloves so that your body heat doesn’t melt the gelatin.

laceg

Once dry, it can be cut with scissors and is quite flexible, though still a little delicate. Sheets can be stored in ziplock bags. It will continue to dry when exposed to air and become brittle unless it has been attached to a surface.

laceh

To secure it to your cake, wet the surface of the cake with a thin layer of tylose glue or piping gel and apply the lace to the fondant. It can even be attached to a buttercream tier — simply dampen the cake with water using a paper towel or a spray bottle and press the sheet against the surface.

Gelatin Lace Applique on Cake

On this cake I used the gelatin lace as an appliqué to replicate the texture of a wedding dress.

A few notes about making texture sheets using the Sugar veil mats:

The white gel color helps to give the gelatin a matte effect, so if you are planning on making it a color other than white, you may want to use powdered colors or  mix your color in with the white gel color before adding the gelatin. The other option is to add color once it is attached to the cake. This can be achieved by air brushing over top of the lace (it’s quite durable once it has been attached to a surface). Or, once the medium you have used to attache the lace is set, the lace can be brushed with a color to bring out detail. Royal icing can be piped overtop to add dimension and detail.

Onward!

Butterfly Wings!

The other item I was quite pleased with as far as my gelatin experiments have gone so far were the butterfly wings. I picked up a silicone sheet called a “Sugar Dipper” from one of our venders a while back. I had been using it to impress gum paste as we really don’t do a lot of poured sugar here because it has some real challenges in regards to humidity, fragility, and again — technique and experienced technicians to handle it. Like Sugar Veil it has a high failure rate which makes it difficult in a professional setting where one has a limited amount of time to complete a project. So, I have never actually used the mould for it’s intended purpose.

Of course, I decided to dump gelatin into it.

gelwingsa

gelwingsb

I mixed a bit of edible glitter into the mixture first, then spooned it into the moulds. As an after thought I realized it would be a better use of glitter and easier to apply if I poured the gelatin clear and sprinkled glitter over top before it set. I did exactly that with all the pours that followed.

Once filled, I put it in the dehydrator over night. Because the wings are thicker than the lace sheets they have a much longer drying time. But, since we don’t need (or want) them to be flexible, it’s less important that we pull them out of the mould in a certain time period. However, don’t touch them until you are sure they are completely dry. If they are removed from the mould too early they will curl and deform as they dry.

gelwingsd

Once dry, pop them out of the mould and place them in a ziplock bag to avoid any further shrinking (and possible deformations). This will also keep them from becoming too brittle.

Roll some gum paste out to 1/8”. Brush with tylos glue and place a 22 gage wire 1/2 inch into the glue area. Place the gelatin wing on the glue. You’ll notice the gelatin wing has a rim from the edge of the mould, place this face down on the paste and press. Quickly cut around the edge of the wing using a craft knife.

Before the gum paste dries, place the wing paste-side down in the mould and press carefully so that it has an impression that mirrors the texture of the gelatin. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours. Now you may detail the gum paste side of the wing! I like to brush it lightly with petal dust just enough to bring out detail.

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Another variation on this is to make four sets of gelatin wings per style and sandwich the gum paste and wire between them.

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