Tutorial Tuesday: IRL

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You won’t be learning much in today’s edition because I took this Tuesday to do an in real life Tutorial Tuesday! My friend Kevin is awesome, he’s done two of my three baking related tattoos and I’ve known him since he used to make lattes for a living before he became like one of the coolest tattoo artists ever.
Also, he has two of the cutest kids I’ve ever met. Well, they were kids… and now they’re like… these crazy sort of grown up looking people. I don’t really know how this happens because last time I saw his daughter I think she was reading me a Dora the Explorer book and she came over today and was as tall as I am. Haha. Parents, stop letting your children grow up! It’s making me feel old!

Anyhow, Eros is 13. Almost 14, as it turns out. And she loves Ace of Cakes. She watches it like crazy and she’s obsessed with cake decorating. She’s been rolling play dough over tin cans as her practice, which, I think, is pretty darn adorable. Now, when I first started, I also loved Ace of Cakes. I didn’t know where or how to get started. Then I helped a good friend with an art project by helping her illustrate a children’s book she wrote. I didn’t ask anything in return, but I came home to a package in the mail… it was this:
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Just a few little things to get me started… and look how far I’ve come!
So, I made her a little starter kit!

Just a few things to get her started, icing spatula, some silicone spatulas, pizza cutter, pastry brush, measuring cup, couplers, 4 icing tips, three different kinds of sprinkles and I made her some fondant to play with.

I’m also passing on the two decorating books I started with. They were a great inspiration to me when I got them and I know they’ll be a great inspiration to her.

I prepped a few cakes to work with her on. I made two tiny tiny cakes and pre-iced them so we could just cover them in fondant. Then I baked and leveled two other small two layer cakes to show her how to fill and crumb coat a cake.
We started by covering the two tiny cakes. I didn’t get photos of us covering them because I was obviously a little busy haha, but she did great.
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Right away we started cutting out pieces of decoration for the cakes. She was a total natural.
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She picked everything up so quickly and anything she didn’t get right away, she figured out within minutes!

We moved on to filling and crumb coating the larger cake, again, no photos of this, I was covered in frosting lol. Then we covered these in fondant. She found out that getting a nice, smooth, even coating of icing on a cake is hard work haha. I helped her a bit, remembering how hard it was for my the first time I crumb coated a cake.
She did a great job with the fondant though :)
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Right away she was decorating every side of the cake and having a blast.
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This was her finished large cake :)

Eros is obviously super creative and has some skillz! I think if she really wants to do this, she’ll do great! I’m so glad that I could be a part of helping her learn. She did such a great job and Kevin said she was super stoked on everything. I made them take home all of the cakes hahaha. My husband just lost 80lbs, so… we try to not keep a lot of cake around these days lol.

She wants to come over some time and help me out with a cake which would be great!

I think next week, I’m going to do a tutorial on how to ice a cake using just buttercream and make it look great! Stay tuned! Hope you enjoyed seeing Eros have her little cake making dreams come true! I had a blast working with her today!

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Make Perfect Pearl Borders

I’ve often struggled with pearl borders. I try to do them with buttercream most of the time, but I don’t think I’m very good at it. Even with the proper tips, I’ve never been able to do it perfectly. They end up egg shaped or pointy. I have to poke each one with my finger tip once they set up a bit to get them rounded. It’s frustrating. I’ve never taken a class or had a lesson from anyone on anything, I barely know how to make proper borders in general. It’s always something I’ve struggled with!
I like fondant much more than buttercream. I know it better. It’s smoother, it’s more predictable… I love fondant!
However, the idea of rolling a million tiny pearls one at a time is obviously not appealing. I needed a better way. So, as always, I came up with a better way.

It’s so obvious that I’m sure this is already a thing. That you can buy… somewhere. I don’t know. I know there are magical places someplace where you can buy magical cake decorating stuff. I’ve never been anyplace like that though. So I made this up.

First I got some of my Amazing Mold Putty as featured in one of my other tutorials.
I rolled a long strip of it and pressed a (*cough*fake*cough*) pearl necklace into it, sort of wrapping it around it, but not all the way.
When it dried, I popped the necklace out and was left with a mold of it. :)
(disclaimer: totally washed the necklace in the dishwasher before this to attempt good sterilization lol)

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Then I rolled out a thin snake of fondant about the length of the mold. I pressed it into the mold and squished it together.
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Then I popped it out of the mold!
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Just what I wanted!
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I was way happy with the first cake I tried it out with! What a time saver. I trimmed off the pinched edge left by the mold and ran a thin line of butter cream around the bottom of the cakes. Then just pressed the pearls into the frosting. It worked just great!

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Stack a Tiered Cake

People ask me all the time what they need to do to ensure the integrity of their tiered cakes. I’ll show you how I do it.

First I cover my cakes with fondant. This is a bit more tricky with buttercream covered cakes… but I do most of my cakes in fondant.

The bottom cake is given a support system. Honestly, drinking straws work awesome. I find the center of my cake and come out a couple of inches in each direction and insert a straw. Be careful not to put the supports out further than the next cake with overlap.
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Pull the straws up a tiny bit and cut each one so that once you push it back into the cake, it’s level with the cake and rests on the bottom of the cake board. The concept here is that the next cake’s weight will be supported completely by these straws and it won’t crush this cake.
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Now, sometimes when I do a tiered cake, I’ll add a center support to keep the cake from falling over or sliding around, coming off center etc.
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I usually use a wooden skewer in this case. Be sure that your skewer is cut to the correct height, you don’t want it tearing through the top of your top tier. That would be bad!
This cake is going to be a three tier.
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This next part is very important… you have to have a board under your other cake as well. The board distributes the weight across the supports. I usually cut a piece of foam core board into a circle slightly smaller than the cake is and cover it in foil. Also important… if you’re using a center support… POKE A HOLE INTO THE CENTER OF THIS BOARD BEFORE YOU PUT THE CAKE ON IT. (See how serious I am? I resorted to capslock…)
If not, you won’t be able to properly do this.
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Yeah, that cake looks a little wonky. Don’t worry about that bottom, that’s what boarders are for ;)

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I added a third tier on top of this, putting supports in this second tier the same way as on the bottom. Once you get the cake on, it might look a little rough from the handling, but you just need to wiggle things around a little and smooth things down a little and hey, decorating cakes is all about covering up imperfections with awesome little things you create.

Here’s a photo of it with the top tier on.
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Happy stacking!

Cricut Cake Day One

Well, I got my Cricut Cake yesterday and started trying to figure it out! I’d read that there’s quite a learning curve involved.

All I had laying around to work with was some week old marshmallow fondant. The machine works best with gumpaste or fondant you’ve added some tylose powder to, so I’ve read.

Anyhow, I didn’t have nearly the disastrous results I’ve read about online. I think the people who have so many issues are either not familiar with working with fondant (and other cake decorating supplies) or not familiar with working with technology lol

There was certainly some set up confusion for me. I didn’t understand where to place the fondant on the mat.
The manual said the bottom left side… So that’s where I put it. Well, that’s where I thought I put it anyway. Evidently I put it in the top… Right? I’m still confused on that one. In any case, it need to be in the top right when you feed the sheet into the machine!

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I also found taking the note to stick your sheet in the freezer helped a lot. The manual says to “liberally” coat the mat with shortening… It took me a while to get the consistency right. Not so liberally, as it the case may be. Then I rolled my fondant out pretty thin. Minimum pressure wasn’t hard enough and I ended up doing most cutting at medium pressure and low speed.

I didn’t have much luck with the super intricate designs, but I think I was trying to cut them too small. I had great success with boarders and butterflies though :)
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I have to figure out how to make those boarders connect lol

I want to use the machine on a cake I’m making this week, so I might save myself some headache and make some gumpaste.

Overall, I’m very excited to get into using this! I can’t wait to get more cartridges and start putting out some awesome designs!

And also- mad props to wordpress for the update to their iPhone app. I can’t believe I was finally able to post a decent post from my phone without issue!!!

Tutorial Tuesday: How to level a cake

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Lots of people ask me how I level my cakes. There are some fancy things you can buy that are supposed to do this job, but I’ve never had much luck with them. I’ll show you how I can level any size cake with just one bread knife. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a skill and takes some time. Don’t blame me if you wreck your cake! haha

Okay, so first, you’ll need a cake!
Like this one:
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Ok, it doesn’t have to be juuust like this one ;) But seriously, look how wonky this cake is!

You’re going to need a knife. A long serrated bread knife is best. Whatever knife you use, it MUST be serrated. And for goodness sake, let that cake cool first!

Now, you want to score the top. JUST SCORE IT, don’t cut any further than the highest post that is not domed. Does that make sense?
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See here? How I stop right at the edge? That’s as low as you want to score.

Now the other way, same thing. You’re scoring the dome top into four sections:
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Now, holding your knife steady as possible, you’re going to start on one section, Begin your cut right below where the dome stops being… domey. You want to get rid of that hard crusty part anyhow.
And then cut as straight as you can through that section.
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One down, three to go!
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Continue with the other sections, using the previous section as a guide for accuracy.
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Okay, you see how one section is raised higher there? You can see it in the center. It’s easy to spot.
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But don’t fret, it’s easy to just run the knife across that spot, hold your hand steady and shave that bit down.
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Ta-da!
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There you have it. A level cake. And some delicious leftovers…
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(That’s NOT waste… you eat that! or these scraps are great to save for cake pops or cake balls!)

Now, some explanation… yes, you can just do this in two sections. I’d rather do it in four though because when you make one long cut across the surface of the cake, you have a bigger chance of cutting up or down on an angle.
If I do a square cake, sometimes I might just do two sections. It’s easier to keep a level eye on something with corners ;)
I like this method because most cakes I bake are wider across than my knife is long. I can’t just slice the top off in one sweep.
Also, NEVER BE AFRAID. People are afraid to correctly level their cakes because OMGBBQTHATSHALFTHECAKE. But listen, that cake is only holding you back. You stack that thing with a dome top and you’re whole cake is going to fall apart. It’s gravity. I promise. It’s bad news. Plus, who wants to eat those crunchy burnt edges? Not I!
Final note: when you go to frost this thing, whether it’s being frosted just as one layer or stacked with another… your top- is now your bottom. Flip that thing over and frost the “bottom”… otherwise you’ll be trying to frost crumbly, unseared in cake! lol
It would fall apart on you. Just sayin.

Sorry for being MIA. Still trying to work stuff out with my health. If you haven’t got your health… well, you haven’t go anything <3
Happy decorating!
Summer

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Build a Cupcake Tower for about $5

UPDATE: I HAVE CREATED A NEW VERSION OF THIS TUTORIAL! FIND IT HERE! For better laid out instructions!

So, my friend asked me to make her son a small cake and some cupcakes for his Nightmare Before Christmas themed birthday party. We were trying to find a cool cupcake tower for the cupcakes, but gosh they are expensive and kind of hard to find. I told her not to worry about it and that I would figure it out and make something…

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I knew what I WANTED it to look like. So I started sketching.
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Then I decided to do a small scale test… I cut out small pieces from paper. Basically, you need the center base. This needs to be made of to equally shaped tiered shelves, one with a slit half way up from the bottom and one with a slit halfway down from the top.
Then you’ll need your shelves. These need to have “x”s cut in them that fit over the tiered base. Each shelf needs to have these cuts made large enough to fit over the first few tiers and then rest on their spot.
I did three tiers. I went totally whimsical so that I could put my shelves off center.
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Assembly goes something like this:
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Once I saw this small scale working well, I went full scale. I LOVE foam core board and use it all the time. It’s what I make most of my cake boards from. It’s so sturdy and easy to work with. I lightly outlined my pieces using a measuring tape to get it all right. Then I cut them out with an exacto knife.

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I was really happy with how it turned out!

I figure you could cover the pieces with contact paper, scrapbook paper or wallpaper, line the edges with ribbon etc…

I’ll tell you what I don’t suggest doing lol
Painting it… with acrylic paint. Haha. Now don’t get me wrong, this turned out pretty well, but there were some rough times in between lol. I didn’t know that when you paint something like that, when it dries, it curls up. So I painted one side, left the house a while and came back to it all curled up! Yikes! I painted the other sides and that evened them out pretty well haha.

I also doubt acrylic paint is food safe, but I’m not placing any food directly in contact with it. So it will be fine.
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My phone doesn’t photograph purple very well. Sorry about that, but yeah, it’s black and purple. These cupcakes are going to look great on it.
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But seriously, this was so easy to make. I get foam core boards at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. I used three sheets for this and I used two $1 bottles of paint. So, yeah, this cost me $5 to make! Can’t wait to fill it up with cup cakes!

You could easily make one of these with simple circle shelves, crazy star shelves, whatever really! So simple that I can’t believe I never tried this before!

I have been asked a LOT of questions. I decided to try to make an illustration that MIGHT be helpful. God knows I’m not architect. Hopefully ANY of this makes sense. Try to make each step at least 3 inches tall to leave room for the cupcakes!!
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Tutorial Tuesday: Chocolate Pound Cake

Ingredients:
1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 tablespoons cocoa (this is what the recipe calls for, but hey, I used 6 because I love chocolate!)
1 cup milk

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Do yourself a favor and set out all of your ingredients ahead of time. And set your oven to 325. And just know you’re going to need some time to make this cake. It takes 80 minutes just to bake!

Start by creaming your butter and shortening.
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Next, add your sugar a bit at a time.
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Now after that, you’ll be plopping your eggs in one at a time. Mix well after each one.
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Next add your vanilla.
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Now mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
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Start alternating your dry mix and milk into the mixer…
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Combine well.
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Grease a nice big bunt cake pan and start filling it.
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You’ll want to pop this baby in the oven and bake it for 80-90 minutes. I think I left mine in for about 85 minutes. Might vary depending on your oven.

Let it cool throughly and then it’s time to om nom nom!!
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Oh… well, I guess we could garnish it with some lovely powdered sugar as well…
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Happy baking!

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