John Deere Baby Shower

John Deere Baby Shower

I recently had the pleasure of making a baby shower cake with a John Deere theme.  This was not going to be a typical farm theme baby shower because the expectant couple is going to have a girl.  

Cake made by cakecentral member "ranbel"

When the shower hostess contacted me about making the cake, she sent along a picture of a cake with the look they were going for.  The picture was of a 2-tier cake with a small pink tractor, cart and baby on the top.  

The shower hostess didn't need a cake this big and was working within a budget so I suggested they skip the tiered cake design (which adds $) and go for a 2-layer cake big enough for the servings they needed.  We decided a 10-inch round would work.

John Deere girl
I made my pink tractor and cart out of cereal treats, covered in white chocolate, then covered in fondant.  After studying different designs of tractor cake toppers, I settled on a design in which the cab portion sits on top of the engine or hood section.  This was fairly simple to make as I used pre-made Rice Krispie Treats which were almost exactly the size I needed.  I made the cart out of homemade cereal treats - that's when I decided to buy the ones for the tractor.  I found the pre-made ones easier to work with.  I found a couple of good tractor tutorials from Rose Atwater: Tractor Tutorial #1 and Tractor Tutorial #2.

The front wheels of the tractor are also cereal treats but the back wheels are mini-doughnuts covered in fondant.  I covered the cart with fondant that I had imprinted with a wooden board mat and used an extruder gun to make hay.  The tractor is surprisingly heavy and I had to put straws underneath it with a small piece of cardboard for support so that it would not sink into the cake.
John Deere baby shower

I stressed a bit about how to make the baby.  At first, I was going to purchase a mold but decided to try my hand at making one on my own.  It turned out to be very simple since I only needed the head to show.  The rest of the body is hidden under the pink fondant blanket.  I thought it would be cute to make the baby look like it had been picked from the field.

baby shower cake MS

Once I measured around my cake pan and subtracted a few inches for the gate, I used the Jessica Harris wax paper transfer method to get my fence rails on the cake.  I learned this technique from the Craftsy class,  "Clean and Simple Cake Design".  The fence posts were imprinted with the same wood imprint mat I used for the cart.  I decided to go with a more farm-look fence rather than the fence in the inspiration picture and finished it off with a swag of dainty flowers that ran from fence post to fence post.

farm baby shower

Senatobia MS cake


Stack of Books Cake

Stack of Books Cake

When my aunt decided to throw a party for my uncle, her and my cousin for their milestone birthdays, she asked if I would make the cake.  Of course, I said yes then I brainstormed about a design that would incorporate birthdays for three different
Senatobia MS cake
people.  The design I came up with was a stack of books with a title on each that reflected something about the person.

book cake

My uncle will be 80 this year and is known for having a story on just about everything.  My aunt is a blonde and hit 70 this year.  My cousin, who turned 50 in June, loves all animals and has a special fondness for cats.

I decided to poke a little fun at the birthday celebrants:
buttercream book cake

I sacrificed a bit of cleaness in the design because I really wanted these cakes to be iced in buttercream instead of fondant.  Before I started, I did some research into how to get a more realistic looking book cake while using buttercream.  
MS book cake

Before this cake, the only book cake I had made was an open book cake.
open book cake

I am especially happy with how my cake board turned out.  I covered it in fondant, made distress marks, scored it with a ruler and then airbrushed it to look like a wood floor. 
Senatobia MS cake

We had a great time at the party and I got to see old friends and family that I had not seen in a while.


Cupcakes 21 Ways

Cupcakes 21 Ways

There are countless ways to decorate cupcakes.  Here are 21 of them:

"Ice Cream" swirl (left) and "Rose" swirl (right).  Done with Wilton 1M tip.

swirl cupcake

Big Puff of icing done with Wilton 2D tip.
puff cupcake

Giant Rose done with Wilton 127 tip.
giant rose cupcake

Swirl done with Wilton tip 199 and gumpaste bumble bee.
bumble bee cupcake

Hydrangea blossoms done with Wilton tip 2D.
hydrangea cupcake

Old-fashioned rose petals done with Wilton tip 104.
rose petal cupcake

Grass done with Wilton tip 233 and tiny gumpaste flowers.
piped grass cupcake

Thin swirl with star tip and simple fondant rose.
simple fondant rose

Iced in buttercream and rolled in sugar sprinkles.
sanding sugar cupcake

Spiral piped with any medium round tip and "webbed" with toothpick.
spiral web cupcake

Topped with fondant embossed with vintage lace.
embossed fondant

Topped with fondant circle then piped chocolate & 2-tone swirl (middle).
chocolate cupcake topper

Basketweave piped with medium round tip and star tip flowers.
basketweave cupcake

Tip 1M swirl with fondant heart.
valentine cupcake

Giant Sunflower done with Wilton small leaf tip.
sunflower cupcake

Topped with fondant owl.
owl cupcake

Star fill-in done with Wilton tip 18.
star tip cupcake

Ballerina done with Ateco frill tip and gumpaste heart.
ballerina cupcake

Petal technique done with medium writing tips and small angled spatula.
petal technique cupcake


Decorated Cake Boards

Decorated Cake Boards

petal cake with undecorated boardThe cake board is often an overlooked part of the overall cake design.  I admit that there are plenty of times that I leave the cake board undecorated, as in the monthly corporate birthday cakes that I do.  However, most of the time I like to decorate the cake board in some way that adds to the overall design.

Covering with Paper

Senatobia MS groom cake with paper covered boardPaper can be used to cover the board as long as the paper is also covered with a grease-proof covering.  When I use paper to cover a cake board, I cover that paper with a clear plastic that has adhesive on the underside.  The types of paper that can be used include:  wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, plain brown paper, even freezer paper.  If you use freezer paper, just make sure the slick side is facing up and then you don't need another grease-proof covering.

Groom cake with paper covered board

Owl cake with paper covered board

Covering with Foil

One of the most common cake board coverings is aluminum foil.  I don't care for using this as a covering on its own.  I just don't think it adds anything to the design.  Wilton makes a product called Fanci-Foil that is thicker than regular aluminum foil.  There is also a florist foil that comes with embossed patterns that looks a little more festive but care should be taken that your cake does not sit directly on it as it is not food-safe.

Covering with Fondant

Senatobia MS cake with fondant covered board
One of the most versatile cake board coverings is fondant.  If I am using fondant as a cake board covering, I do it a few days ahead of time so it can harden and can be handled easily.  The fondant covering can be embossed or imprinted with a design or even airbrushed.  Covering a cake board with fondant allows for more creativity and can enhance a customized design or theme.

fondant covered cake board

Senatobia MS wedding cake fondant


airbrushed fondant cake board


Frozen Buttercream Transfer Tutorial

Frozen Buttercream Transfer Tutorial

There are a lot of frozen buttercream transfer tutorials on the internet.  Google it and you will find several on blogs and on youtube.  So, why am I adding my own to the mix?  Well, why not?  In this tutorial, I will show why I like using FBCTs and address some of the issues I have had using them.

A frozen buttercream transfer is a relatively simple technique that allows for a picture and/or logo to be placed on a cake.  I enjoy using them because I am terrible at drawing and this technique allows me to "draw" a picture on cake.  Just takes a little patience and care.

frozen buttercream transfer
I used the FBCT technique on these cakes in order to get the school logo and/or mascot.

Supplies Needed

You will need:
  •  a flat surface on which to tape your pattern to that you can also pipe on and transport to and from the freezer.  It can be a cookie sheet, cake cardboard, glass, etc.  I like to use a piece of acrylic that I purchased at a hardware superstore.  
  • something to pipe on.  This can either be wax paper, parchment paper or acetate.  I prefer to use clear acetate because it is easier to view the pattern underneath, but I have also used wax paper.
  • a piping bag filled with a medium to medium-stiff icing that you want to use as an outline color (most of the times this will be black).  NOTE:  You can do FBCT without an outline but is is easier to have an outline. 
  • piping bags filled with a medium to thin icing to fill in.  These will be all the colors you use for your pattern.
  • various sizes of round (writing) tips.  The size depends on the level of detail you are trying to achieve and the area (size) that you have to cover.
  • art brush or toothpick to move icing into corners and missed spots.

Preparing Your Work Surface

FBCT tools
Take your pattern (a coloring book page, image found on the web, party invitation, etc.) and prepare a mirror image.  If your image is on the web, you can easily flip the image.  If your pattern is a coloring book page or invitation, you can use a copier to reverse the image or you can trace your pattern onto parchment paper then flip it over.  If you don't start out with a mirror image, your FBCT will turn out flipped horizontally from your original.  This may not be a big deal except if you have writing on your image.  The more detailed and the more colors that are in your picture, the harder it will be to pipe cleanly.  In this example, I took a permanent marker and went over the outlines to help them stand out even more.

Once you are happy with your pattern, tape it to your flat work surface.  If you are using a cookie sheet, tap the pattern on top of it.  If you are using a clear surface like glass or plexiglass, you can tape it to the underside.  Next, tape your wax paper, parchment or acetate to the top of the pattern. NOTE:  Before you start piping, make sure your flat work surface will fit in the freezer.

Piping the Outline

FBCT outline
If you want to tint your own icing black (or whatever outline color of your choosing), feel free to do so.  However, if I am using black I generally will use a pre-made black icing because it is very difficult to get a true black icing on your own.  In the picture above, you can see where I used a tube of black icing- this is more like royal icing and not buttercream.  I cut the "seam" end of the tube off, scoop it out and put it in a bowl, and thin it to the consistency that I want. Once the out line is done, I put the transfer in the freezer to harden the outline.

Piping the Inside

Couple of things to keep in mind as you pipe the rest of the design.  

It's generally easier to pipe from the middle out so you minimize the risk of dragging your hand in what you have already piped.

You must keep in mind that this image will be "flipped" so you are looking at the backside while you are piping.  This requires that you pipe any details that are "in front" first.  This includes any highlights (like this image had highlights in the sunglasses that I needed to pipe before filling in the black part of the glasses).

You will use smaller tips for little details and filling in tight spots and bigger tips for filling in large areas.  Remember that stiff icing will be very difficult to pipe through a small tip.  It may be tempting to pipe lines back and forth to cover the spaces but the image will look better if you can keep the tip inserted in the icing as you pipe and use a little circular motion.  When you use very small tips (1 or 0), you may get bits of icing sugar stuck in the opening.  This is why I like to use couplers with small tips.  I can easily screw the coupler off, unclog the tip and put it back together.

Once you have piped one color or area and before you start on the next color, place your transfer in the freezer for a few minutes to let icing firm up.  This makes it so much easier to get clean lines without the colors inadvertently mixing.

From time to time, check your piping from the front side to see if you missed any spots.  There will usually be tiny areas that the icing did not get into.  Take a small paintbrush or toothpick and gently coax icing into those spots.  

FBCT back
When you are satisfied with how your design looks, put it in the freezer to harden.  Remember, you are looking at the "back".  This side will be against the cake.  

Once it is hard enough where you won't mess it up, pipe a layer of icing on the back (the same color as the icing on your cake) and smooth it over with a small spatula.  This adds stability.  Try to get this icing as smooth and even as possible.
 If there are high and low spots, your transfer will have dips (and may even break) at the low spots as the icing thaws once it is on your cake.  BUT, be aware that the thicker your transfer is, the higher it is going to stand up off your cake.  Personally, I like to use a small, tapered spatula to smooth out the back.  Place it back in the freezer one last time.  At this point, I usually take off all the tape that had been holding my pattern in place.  I want to get it on the cake as soon as possible after it comes out of the freezer and I don't want to be fumbling around with the tape.

Placing it on the cake

After your transfer has sufficiently hardened, it is time to place it on your cake.  The amount of time it stays in the freezer is completely up to you.  I have left them in there as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight.  However, once you take it out, it will start to thaw immediately so you need to work quickly.  Have your cake already iced and have pre-determined where the FBCT will be placed.  Take a quick look at your FBCT to make sure you have it oriented in the right direction.  Place it flat on your cake and gently press.  Peel off your wax paper or acetate to reveal your masterpiece.  If your FBCT is wanting to stick, put the whole thing (cake and all) back in the freezer to firm back up.  If you notice a lot of "lines" in the surface, wait until it has thawed, finished condensating and crusted a bit before placing a Viva paper towel or piece of parchment paper on it and gently rubbing out those lines.  You may wish to leave your FBCT like it is or place a border around it.

Here is the finished cake:

FBCT without border

FBCT with border

More examples of FBCT: