Flavors That Make You Sing

Flavors that Make You Sing

One of the advantages of being a custom cake baker is that I can offer much more than the standard vanilla and chocolate cake flavors.

This is a picture of my recipe box where I keep all of my cake and icing recipes.

Of course, I do offer vanilla and chocolate - in fact, I have 2 vanilla recipes (regular and white almond) and 3 chocolate ones (regular, triple chocolate fudge and chocolate kahlua).

I also have strawberry, lemon, orange blossom (hint of orange flavor), banana, red velvet, carrot, and white chocolate.

If you want to try something a bit more adventurous, I also make pumpkin spice, pineapple-coconut, and strawberry-lemonade.

Every had Neopolitan ice cream?  I can make a cake to go with that:

Feeling like you want to have a "rainbow" of colors in your cake?

Now - if you've read down this far, you may be wondering what does all this do with singing...well, how about a Lime-Coconut flavor - I have it.  Now, try to get that song out of your head  ;)


Red Velvet Cupcakes X 2

Red Velvet Cupcakes X 2

Was wanting to play around with fondant cupcake toppers and piped chocolate decorations.  I had some red velvet batter on hand, so I made cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  If you want more information about the different types of icings, see my post That's the Icing on the Cake.  The SMBC (Swiss Meringue Buttercream) recipe that I use is one that pastry chef, Gretchen Price shared on her blog Woodland Bakery Blog.

After the cupcakes were baked and the buttercream was ready, I melted some dark cocoa candy melts from Wilton.  I used this to pipe a free-form flower on wax paper.  These will dry pretty quickly but they do need to be completely dry before they are handled.

Half of the cupcakes were going to be topped with fondant cupcake toppers.  Once, the fondant is rolled out, I cut out a round circle with a very old cutter that I have.  This cutter has a scalloped edge all the way around it.  Then, I took a #3 round tip and punched out a small circle at every other scallop.  This was so easy and made for a pretty cupcake decoration.

The other half of the cupcakes got two layers of icing with a chocolate piece inserted into the buttercream.  The icing was colored with two different shades of pink.  The bottom layer was piped with a large round tip while the top layer was piped with a 1M.

P.S.  When you make the chocolate decorations, be sure and make several extra - some of them WILL break while you are trying to get them off the wax paper :(


Big Box Bakery Cake vs. Custom Cake aka "The Thrilla in Vanilla"

If you are not a boxing enthusiast or old enough to understand the significance of my title, LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU

It's near impossible to compare a big box retail bakery or grocery chain bakery cake with a custom cake from a small bake shop or home baker.  Just like the saying goes, "it's like comparing apples to oranges".

The *mart* type bakeries are better at providing a basic sheet cake for a large number of people for very little money.  Fact is - a grocery store or big box bakery cake is going to be cheaper than one from a custom baker.  That being said, most custom cake makers will try and work with you to find a way to accommodate your budget and still provide a fantastic, fresh cake for your event.

Personally, I can't even purchase the base ingredients I use to make my cakes and icings as cheap as some of the finished cakes I see at these stores.  Mass retailers purchase cheap ingredients in bulk and rely on volume to generate revenue.  There is absolutely no way I can compete with the *marts* on pricing.

So, how can the big box bakeries price their products so cheaply?  In addition to buying cheap ingredients in bulk, they also save money by trucking in pre-baked cakes that were mass produced from a central manufacturing bakery.  That is why you are usually limited in both flavors and sizes when you order from a *mart* bakery.

In most cases, a custom cake maker will not have large quantities of pre-made cakes laying around.  Your cake will be made fresh especially for your event.  I can't speak for other bakers, but my cakes and frostings are made from fresh eggs, butter, and other real ingredients.

custom cake
With a custom cake baker, you are primarily paying for the time and skill of the cake maker rather than the individual ingredients necessary to bake the cake. The design of your cake is limited only by your imagination, the skill level of the cake maker, and well...your budget.  Some of the cakes shown on TV shows like Food Network's Cake Challenge or Ace of Cakes are thousands (yes, that is over $1,000) dollars.

As mentioned above, the big box bakeries rely on volume to generate revenue.  That is why their cake decorators are required to ice and decorate 'x' number of cakes per hour.  Heck - it takes me several hours just to decorate one cake.

So, there is a place for each - both the mass market bakery and the custom baker.

My husband's workplace needed a large cake on short notice, so they ordered one from a *mart* bakery.  Normally, there are talented decorators at these bakery centers; however, I am guessing the decorator wasn't available to do this cake and someone else had to sub (or I hope that's what it was).



Fondant Pinwheels

Fondant Pinwheels

I love pinwheels - don't know why.  Something about them makes me think "happy".  Imagine how delighted I was to come across this tutorial for fondant pinwheels from Carrie Selman at "Half Baked-The Cake Blog".

In her very easy-to-follow tutorial, she made patriotic red-white and blue pinwheels for Independence Day.  These pinwheels were designed as cupcake toppers.

I immediately thought that this idea would be perfect for a baby shower, bridal shower or child's birthday.  So, using the above tutorial as a guide, I came up with a few pinwheels of my own:

I apologize for the poor picture quality but I am a terrible photographer.   If you live in a humid climate like I do, you may want to put something in the folded over parts to keep them from collapsing on themselves.  I put small bits of wadded up plastic wrap in them until the pinwheels were reasonable dry (about 1-2 days).

I enjoyed trying both the striped techniques and the polka dots.  These could be added as decorations for a bridal shower or child's birthday by incorporating the colors in the invitation or decorations.


Easy Owl Birthday Cake

Easy Owl Birthday Cake

Owls have been popular for quite some time.  You see them all over Pinterest in decorating ideas for children's rooms and birthday parties.

I guess it takes me a while to catch on, but I finally got around to making an owl cake.

There are literally hundreds of owl cakes on the internet out there and I probably looked at most of them for inspiration and ideas.

Inside is a 3-layer, strawberry lemonade cake.  That flavor just sounded like it would fit in with July birthdays.  I used buttercream icing between each layer and on the outside.  It's hard to tell by the pictures, but the icing was tinted a very light
shade of mint green (it's supposed to be one of the "trend" colors this year).

All of the decorations were made from fondant.  Most of them were made ahead of time.  I wanted them to be dry so they would be easier to handle and it takes a while in the type of high humidity like we get in Mississippi.

A couple of days before I made the cake, I pre-made the fondant eyes, ears(horn things), nose, feet, message tag, wings and flower.   I used the cake pan as a guide to help me figure out how big to make each piece.

The flower was made from a tutorial I found on facebook:  Shawna Flower tutorial
This tutorial is from Corrie from Corrie's Cakes in Wyoming.  She is very talented and creative.  Every since I saw the tutorial, I have wanted to make this flower.  There wasn't much room on my owl, so flower size had to be reduced.  Can't wait for the opportunity to make a big full-size flower.

The "breast feathers" were made by cutting out a piece of fondant with one of my piping tips.  I did this part after the cake was made and the other pieces had been placed.

My husband said everyone wanted to know how I made the "Happy Birthday" message.  That was probably the easiest part.  Once the message tag that I had previously cut out had dried, I used a rubber stamp and a food writer edible marker to stamp the birthday message.  I found the stamp in the scrapbooking section of the store.  I don't scrapbook, so the stamp will only be used for food items.  Once I washed it, I went over the message on the stamp with my food writer several times.  You have to move fast because the edible ink dries very quickly.  I lightly stamped the piece of fondant then went back over the letters to make them darker.

Here's the finished cake - I enjoyed making this one and may try a 3-D owl in the future.
owl cake