Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

My Halloween cake project is done and I couldn't be more happy with it. This was a purely for me project. It has been a long while since I made a cake just to play. I sunk a good 30 plus hours in it. In between the eyeball cake inside a cake and the from scratch modeling chocolate flowers with meringue cookie eyes, it was a labor of love. This cake is a compilation of lots of things that interest me. Halloween being number 1 :) I had already decided to make a Halloween cake and had been researching ideas. During the research, I saw several Halloween unicorn cakes and have been wanting to play with that trend as well.

Of course, this being my first unicorn cake,  I didn't want a happy and cheerful unicorn. There had to be something a little off about it. So I bring you pretty in the front and jacked up in the back!

This turned out to be a perfect idea.  A week after working out the final plan, I was asked to help so the makeup for a local production called "Zombie Shakespeare". Yay! My cake now had a deadline and a destination. We shared it with the Chinooks staff and a few folks still bellied up to the bar after our finally showing. Since it was late, dark, and I was tired and may have had too many Tipsy Mermaid drinks at that point, I don't have any good pictures of the inside.

When cutting into the cake, the bottom tier had surprise eyes inside.  Here is my earlier post about it. It was two full cakes so double layer of eyes separated with chocolate smbc.

The top tier "bled" raspberry coulis. Its a pretty simple process.  I stacked 3 cakes together, the middle was cut to hold a pool of blood. Since this cake was going to take a few days to finish decorating, I lined the pool with marzipan to keep the cake from getting soggy.

Of course, there is no fun in Halloween unless I torture my loved ones in the process.

Both cakes were encased in espresso dark chocolate ganache. Again, I needed it to be sturdy to support the weight of the heavy modeling chocolate flowers and stable so that I could take my time decorating. This cake was only a 7 inch base and 5 inch top but it was a heavy mofo!

Once they were ganached, it was time to add some exposed brain. To do that, I carved out a little cake and tinted modeling chocolate to a nasty grey color. To which I later painted in some red and dry brushed with grey coloring to give it dimension. Before packing it up for the final show, I brushed it with corn syrup to give it a gross sheen.

Both tiers were then covered with black fondant.

The top had homemade edible glitter on it. I am in love with this stuff. It is super simple to make. Best of all, it doesn't alter the taste of your cake. And to my surprise, even though you think it would be sharp or rough in the mouth, it just melts on contact. So at worst, you have black spit. But hey, what is Halloween without a little black on your tongue!

Check out Kara's Couture Cakes for a rocking tutorial.

A side note, as it falls away from the acetate, it makes strange crackling noises. Don't combine this with late night scary movie viewing!

I so love this look.

Now time to apply the flowers. The week before, I made meringue eyes to go in some of the flowers. Years ago, I made them for the first time and thought it would be fun to bring them back. The last time, they kind of looked like colorful boobs as I made them in pairs. Here are this year's. Notice they are in a dehydrator. I live in a rain forest and it needed to dry them out a bit so they didn't pick up the moisture in the air and become mush on the cake.

And then I set out to make the modeling chocolate rosettes. Lots of rosettes. I have warm hands and it is always a struggle to keep from melting modeling chocolate or buttercream while piping. After opening the window and letting the Alaska air in, this went much faster.

Time to apply! To stick em, I used clear piping gel.

Next went in the gumpaste sutures.

Then all that was left was to put on the horn, ears, eyes, and necklace. The cameo skeleton mold and airbrush colors for the horn came from The Cookie Countess. I opted not to do the traditional buttercream rosette mane. It had enough going on and I felt it would be just too much. I'm happy that I stopped there. Sometimes restraint is the hardest part!

And the sky stopped dripping just long enough for me to snap some pictures before heading out to cover zombies in corn syrup blood and marshmallow burns. Now, you didn't think I would leave food out my Halloween make-up skills did you?

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Monday, October 23, 2017

I See You - Halloween Eye Cake

I see you!  Here is another teaser to my Halloween Cake.  The bottom tier will have eyeballs :) 

The tester for this came out great. It came out a bit dry as I was needed deeper pans to accommodate the size of the eyes. The problem has since been fixed and I just fired off the real thing with black batter last night. Can't wait to put it together. There are several Halloween surprise cakes out there. This idea came from Haniela.  She has a great YouTube tutorial if you want to see the full step by step.

I started with baking several sheet cakes in various colors.Using concentric round cutters, I built the eyes. Make sure these don't get too dry as they will be twice baked. A dense recipe works best, and cut when frozen.

I made 3 colors so that as you cut through you get a different colors that will echo the entire cake theme. Then back in the freezer they go.

In the original tutorial the eyes are placed in a round, but there are gaps in them. I wanted every slice, no matter how small to have an eye.  So again, frozen is key here.  Some of the eyeballs have to be cut into a wedge shape to fill the gaps.  They are arranged in a smaller pan so that I can freeze in the round and then insert into a larger pan.  My final cake is a 7 inch round. This is a 6 inch pan.  At this point I also brushed with espresso simple syrup for good measure.  The cake batter that it sits in is a chocolate stout cake.

I didn't take a pic of the cake in the batter.  For baking, I put a layer of batter down and set the frozen eyeball ring inside, covered with more batter, making sure to get the outer edges. A few raps on the counter to make sure it all settles is never a bad idea!  I'd recommend a pan a good 2 inches taller than your eye size and a flower nail in the center.

Keep a good "eye" on it in the oven. On my final cakes, I didn't fill the center as full. It will naturally rise higher than the rest as the batter is pushed while baking.  And that can lead to dark and dry edges.

This was definitely time consuming will all the colors but super fun and exactly what I was looking for.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

My knitting made it to the Ravelry homepage!

I warned you that there will be knitting and other things than baking!

Even though I have been knitting for a couple of years, I never made a hat.  If you haven't noticed, I'm one of those jump straight in with both feet type of gals. When I first started, I made a pot holder to figure out how the needles worked and cause and effect. Then I jumped right into making the Exploration Station shawl

and have mostly been doing statement pieces / project pieces since then.  This summer, I put my newest on hold and made several buffs and headbands for my staff at Adventure Sixty North

I was just about to restart my newest project and I got a text from my son saying his head was cold at college. So here you go, my first hat!

Little did I know that my quick no makeup picture in front of work would catch the eye of the Ravelry folks.

It was a quick knit from Tin Can Knits that I will definitely come back to later. The 4 stitch cable pattern is easy to do without using a cable needle. After a couple of rows of the pattern you get the hang of it and cruise.  Which means I can drink my wine and knit!

As I am a shop local as much as possible person, I need to plug Cindy at A Flyin' Skein.  She knows exactly what I look for in yarn and the projects I like.  She has recently started dyeing her own yarn under the label "Sheep Shades".  You can find my cookie related post on FB here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Blog Focus and Halloween Teaser

Someone pointed out to me last week that I never advertise for cake projects. He is right.  My business is strictly word of mouth, and often repeat customers.  This allows me to be choosy about my projects and also insures that I can charge what my artistic talents are worth.

That said, it got me thinking about how I can do better. People are always asking to see a cake that I had been working on. Aside from throwing a quick pic on Instagram, I do little to publish my work. 

My new goal with this blog is to go back to sharing the details of what I do. I absolutely love to teach folks things that I have picked up along the way. Whether it be foraging for plants, mushrooms, or teaching how to make soaps. It is time I applied this to baking. This blog will be a accumulation of several of my "arts". It will be mostly focused on baking, but there will be some random foraging, costume making, and whatever is my current muse at the time.

I can't guarantee that my ideas are the best way, or that they will work best for you. However, they might give you a direction to formulate your own creative plan of attack.

So here's to doing better with sharing what I know to the internet world! 


First off is the Halloween cake that I am working on. This isn't for a commission. For those that don't already know, Halloween is my holiday. As in my Halloween lights are up and will stay up until February sort of thing. In my defense, the winters are dark and the orange lights cast a warm glow in my house. Every couple of years I do a crazy costume and on off-years, I do baking projects. It has been a long time since I have made a Halloween cake.

You will have to stay tuned to see what the final is going to be. I can tell you that it is a cake theme that I have wanted to do for a year or so. Only it is the dark version :)

My first step is staging out a few design elements. One of the most time consuming will be these modeling chocolate roses. This weekend, I made the chocolate, colored, and played with a what sort or roses.  Now these have been marred by nails and re-worked until I found the whimsical style that I am going for.  I'll go into how I make these in my next post.

Thanks for listening to the random thoughts in my head and I hope you all like the blog refocus.