Its been waaaaay to long since my last post, but I promise my blog has not left my mind. Ive been super duper busy making all kinds of beautiful sugar creations and I have plenty of content to post. I just have to find the time to do it, so hang in there folks!
First up is a special little cake that was for a good deed rather than a sweet tooth. This beautiful cake is fake…a prop…a dummy (although they aren’t being called that much any more). I made it for a few reasons, practice being one of them but I also was testing out some new techniques I learned from a Craftsy class, more on that in a moment. I really made this cake to use as a display and teaser at my daughter’s annual school auction. The bidder of this cake not only won a cake (not this one but a real one) but a full party package donated by me that included cookies, cupcakes, party styling and set up help too. Although I havent been contacted by the bidder yet, it did raise a good amount and I cant wait for the winner to claim their prize. It will be a lot of fun!
So now about this cake. I have to say that I am very pleased with the quality of my construction, it marks a new era in my cake design expertise. And I really owe it all to another blogger, cake decorator and interior designer, Jessica Harris of Jessicakes. I’ve stumbled across her cakes for a few years and popped in a few times at her blog, but when I realized that she was creating her cakes with special techniques (and not a magic wand) I knew that I had to study up. This was about the same time that she announced that she had been asked to be a Craftsy instructor and all of her tips and techniques were available as video tutorials. I bought the class, Clean & Simple Cake Design, the week it debuted and it was the worth every penny.
Jessica uses her interior design side to design and create cakes. She plots out the design to scale in CAD (I’ve designed all kinds of things in CAD, including a quilt, but never had I thought to use it for cakes!), she repurposes tools from the hardware store (like a PVC pipe as a large rolling pin) and she has the eye of a trained and practiced designer (her cakes are modern and clean lined). She is a perfectionist and every cake starts with a perfectly smooth, crisp and clean cake base. All the times I ran across her cakes online I swore they were decorated styrofoam dummies. But they aren’t! And luckily she includes her cake icing techniques in her Craftsy class too.
In her class, I didn’t learn just techniques, I learned that I should often be working with a different medium to create perfect decorations. Jessica’s cakes are covered in fondant but the decorations are mostly modeling chocolate. Besides being delicious, modeling chocolate has a very important attribute, it is flexible but doesn’t stretch out of shape as easily as fondant. You can cut a true straight line and move a piece of decoration without a square loosing its 90 degree angle or a circle turning into an oval. It also self heals with just the warmth of your fingers, so seams and boo boos can be erased. The horizontal zig zag band around this cake was made from modeling chocolate, you can see up close how perfectly straight the cut lines are. You can’t really achieve that with fondant.
The technique that I learned to apply sugar decorations to a cake has literally created a whole new cake world for me. After cutting out this zig zag pattern I applied it to the cake in just a few seconds without struggle or disappointment using Jessica’s wax-paper transfer method. With the modeling chocolate stuck to wax paper with shortening, it was like wrapping a sticker around the cake and pealing off the paper backside. Perfectly intact and in the correct position. Awesome.
The beautiful fantasy flower is also a design and technique from Jessica Harris’s class, she includes several templets for decorations like bows and ruffles along with the recipes for marshmallow fondant and modeling chocolate. It’s really an all-inclusive type of class!
In case it doesn’t already show, I am so happy with all that I’ve learned! I truly found her tips and instructions to be simple enough for real life cakes, not just for a very special occasion and I cant wait to try them out more often.