How to Make a Jellyfish Cake

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My best friend has always wanted a jellyfish. I can’t afford to give her such a gift, so I went with what I know! Cake, of course. I knew to make this work I would need to build a stand.
I purchased two metal plates and a clear orange glass vase. I hot glued these together to make a stand. Make sure your top plate is the same size as your cake.

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I dropped two battery operated tea lights in there. Thankfully, they stayed lit through the party, which was hours later!
My tentacles were next.
I used Airheads candy. I didn’t think fondant would hold up. I assumed it would tear and droop.
I microwaved each piece of candy for four seconds (based on trial and error, 5 seconds was too long, believe it or not.)… Then rolled it into a thinner strip. I cut those into smaller strips and twisted them, setting them aside to cool.
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Each strip I then attached to the top plate with melted white chocolate. This will harden and hold the strips firmly in place.
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Next I went to work on my cake. I baked three cakes in decreasing size in order to carve a dome. The bottom cake is the same size as the plate on top of my stand. That is important later.
I placed the cake on a board that was slightly smaller than the bottom layer. That way I will be able to easily lift the cake on to the stand, but it will also sit flush on it.
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I carved the cake and iced it.
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Next, I elevated the cake and laid the fondant over it. I trimmed it to hang slightly over the cake so that it would cover the stand plate and have the fluid jellyfish look to it.
I pleated it a bit and then transferred the cake to the stand.
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Once on the stand I hand painted some details with food color gel mixed with high proof vodka. I even sprinkled a bit of luster dust over it.
I piped a happy birthday message for the birthday girl and it was done!

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It was a huge hit at the party. Everyone loved pulling the tentacles off and eating them with their cake!
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I’d say this was a great example of turning one of my crazy ideas from my brain into a real, working concept! Love it :)

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Good News Everyone!

Well, it’s my very own birthday on Monday. I’ll be… twenty- eight. Woo. I had a brief moment of panic lying in bed last night thinking about how tragically old I am and how I’m going to be ancient and dead any time now.
Then I realized I’m not even 30 yet and I’m making myself a cartoon birthday cake and I’m going to drink like a 21 year old tonight. Then I felt a little better.

Anyhow, on to the cake!
My favorite show of all time is Futurama. And my favorite character on that show is Bender Bending Rodriguez!
So, first of all, this is my birthday, and I’m the cake chick… so my cake has to be awesome. I started with 6 layers of cake. Chocolate, strawberry and vanilla!
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I leveled them and stacked them.
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This thing is like a foot tall and weighs a ton. I stuck it in the freezer for a bit before carving it.
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This was not an icing job for the faint of heart. That’s for sure. All that exposed cake is hard to frost without tearing if you aren’t experienced and using the proper tools. I had to keep heating my spatula in hot water, it turned out well though.
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I set it in the fridge to cool a bit while I rolled out the fondant.
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My fondant ended up with a weird line in it from when I rolled it onto the rolling pin, but it’s ok, his eyes will cover that.
I mixed up some of my edible silver and painted the whole thing.
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Then I added a mouth, which I drew on with food color markers.
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Starting to look Bendery! Also, I added his antenna which is part of the dowel I pushed into the cake to keep it from sliding around. It’s just a wooden rod I covered with fondant on top.

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I’d LOVE to show you my process of making the eyes, but it was a mess lol. First, I cast eyes out of white chocolate, but they turned out to be too small… so I went with these. It was okay, but the visor was really hard. I ended up sort of stacking two fondant ropes around the eyes. It’s not perfect, but it worked. I also made a cigar, of course.

“Happy Birthday meat bag!”
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Happy birthday to me! I planned on cutting it into pieces of each flavor, but who knows, maybe I’ll take the first slice and get a bit of each ;)

Tutorial Tuesday: How to make a checkerboard cake

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This was my first attempt at a checkerboard cake. If I could do it all again, there are things I would do differently, for sure. So keep an eye on that commentary. I’ll say this is a more advanced project. If you’re not already pretty great at frosting cakes, this probably won’t end well for you.

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I started with two different color cake layers which I then sliced into four thinner cake layers. Mistake #1. I either should have made four layers the original size… or I should have just worked with the two layers as they were.
I let the cakes freeze for a while so they’d be easier to cut. Then I found some round things… like bowls and containers that I could use as guides to cut rings out of the cakes about two inches apart.
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I arranged my layers and then put some wax paper on my board and some frosting to hold down the first layer.
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Carefully place each layer and carefully frost the top of it. Using hot water on your spatula will help you to keep from shredding the cake. Stack and frost each layer. Don’t forget to alternate color schemes. It’s a labor of love.
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Once it’s all stacked, you can sort of smoosh it down with your hands maybe… you can see here why my layers being too thin was an issue. Once I got to this part, I was starting to panic. It sort of looks awful…
Somehow, I used my cake frosting magic to turn that into this:
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From there I chilled the cake for a while and then covered it in fondant.
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My results were decent…
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If nothing else, strawberry and lemon always taste wonderful together.

I had a great time this weekend in Wisconsin with my bff Liz. If I get time, I’ll add some great photos from our trip at the end of this post soon!

Colorful Cake Fun!

Sometimes I get projects that are awesome. That I can’t wait to do. Sometimes people ask me to do things and I think, “Not only do I love this idea, it’s something I would have come up with on my own!”

This was one of those moments. Some one went to a party where I had made the cake. It was actually the Star Cake. She loved it and wanted to know if I could make a cake and some cupcakes for a birthday party coming up. I agreed and was thrilled with the concept. I showed you guys how I assembled the tower here. So this was my finished tower:
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I must admit… initially, I wasn’t completely in love with it. I hand painted it and added the ribbon and I just kept thinking I wasn’t 100% sure I loved it…

Until I got everything put on it…
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Can you say perfection?
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Okay, so I was totally 100% in love with it. completely. It was like… the cutest thing ever. I swear. I was so happy.

You’ll notice, (possibly angrily?), that I haven’t posted a tutorial in a while. I’m sort of taking a hiatus from it. It sort of started grating on me having the deadline looming over me and what not. It was kind of not much fun for me for the moment. I have a lot going on in my life and it’s hard enough to update this blog on the regular, along with my other personal blog, which I have been writing since 2001. lol

The point is, I’m still here and I’m still going to educate you guys again at some point, but for now you’ll just have to put up with only looking at my snazzy cakes! Hope you guys understand!

Tutorial Tuesday: How to Make a Cupcake Tower (revisited)

Let’s make a cupcake tower like the one I used in this post!
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Alright kids, it’s another late one here at the Whitten house… trying to crank out helpful cakery tips for you guys to keep you informed.

Two things first… one you may have noticed the new TUTORIALS tab at the top of the page. Yaay! I spent a little while painstakingly placing all of the tutorial links on that page with a photo for each. Much easier to access now. Wowy, it’s like I’m getting all organized. I’m going to work on a cake gallery next, but gosh, it’s going to take some time!!

Second, you might notice this is sort of a tutorial I did before. I just have had a lot of questions since then and I wanted to do a more clear version of it. I hope this helps! Since last time I was making sort of a wacky/whimsical tower with odd shapes, I wanted to show you a more basic version.

You’ll need a few things to start with.
*Foam core boards- Somewhere between 3-5, depending on how big you want the tower to be and how many things you need to re-do ;)

*Something to trace- I used lids from some bowls that I have to trace for my tiers. If you want to make squares, you might be able to just measure them out. More power to you.

*Exacto knife -please be careful with this! Only responsible adults should use these. Have one help you if you are not one.

*hot glue gun- same concept here. I don’t want you guys slicing yourselves up and then getting hot glue on yourself and burning your precious skin! Trust me, it doesn’t feel good. Maybe I need a responsible adult helping me :/

*Measuring tape or ruler

*Ribbon- of your choice to go with your project.

**Extras- you might want paint or other decorations to put on your tower when it’s done**

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Start by tracing TWO of each circle onto your foam core and cutting them out. I’m doing two in order to make a very sturdy tower.
They’re not going to come out perfect, I know. Unless you’re some kind of precision robot, just do the best you can.
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Don’t worry. We get to cover those edges up later with the ribbon!

Next, hot glue your circle pairs together. Except for the top tier!
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We’ll deal with the top tier later.

Here’s where I don’t want to lose you. I’ll try to make this make sense… really.
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to make the center supports steps for the tiers, measure your bottom tier. You’ll want your bottom step to be that length or just short of it. That step should only be about an inch tall. The next step, should be slightly smaller across than your next tier, and should be at least 3 inches tall, since a cupcake has to sit under the next one.
The next step, should, again, be just slightly smaller than the next tier, also, 3 inches tall. Keep in mind, each tier will be sitting on their respective steps and need to be supported, but not hanging way over the steps. I truly hope this this making sense. For my top step, again, I made it 3 inches tall and then put just a tiny 1/4″ step on top of that. I’ll explain that further on.

You’ll need to cut out two of these.
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Now, you’ll want to measure and cut half way up one and half way down the other.
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You might need to tweak it a little bit to make it work, but you want them to fit into each other and sit level.
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If it’s a tad loose feeling, don’t worry, we’ll sturdy it up later.

Now the hard(sih) part is up. You’ll want to find the center of each of your rounds and mark off and cut out an “X” from each one. (except that top part, we’re getting there, don’t worry.) You’ll want to cut the “x” wide enough to fit over the frame you build. Basically, this bottom one needs to fit over that 2nd step. DO NOT get confused and cut the “X” the size of the bottom step. That’s the step it rests on! It only needs to fit over that second one. Does that make sense? Make sure you’re only cutting them to fit over what they need to fit over and rest where they need to rest.
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Now, if you’d like, you could just put the top two rounds together and cut them this way as well. With just a tiny “x” small enough for that top tiny portion of the stand to fit though. Or you can try this.
Cut one round the way you cut the last ones. The next one… try to only cut half way through.
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So that you still have a smooth uncut top portion. Glue them together so that the “x”s are lined up, of course.

Stack your tower by sliding each round over the steps, guiding the last one on top.
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Ta-da! Okay! So, now that you know it all fits together… (it all fits, right? No? Okay, well go re-do the stuff you messed up like I did the first time and then come back to this step…) let’s make this more permanent!

Start gluing things up. Put some glue in the frame and stick it together.
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Follow the lines up and down and glue those two pieces together where they connect. Fill in any gaps with glue.

Next, add glue to your steps tops and quickly slip your rounds onto them. Flip it over and glue them more on the bottom as well.
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Now it’s time to deal with those rough, ugly edges! Glue your ribbon on the outside of your rounds!
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You can use whatever ribbon you want! And before you put the whole thing together with the glue, you could decorate each tier however you want. You could cover them with cute paper, paint them, bedazzle them, etc etc! Also, while cupcakes will probably cover the rough edges on the stand itself, but you can always run ribbons over those edges as well. Be creative!!

I didn’t ACTUALLY put that ribbon on this tower. I can’t show you the final project yet either ;)
This tower is for someone and I make a point to never show finished work until the person it’s for has seen it! It’ll be worth it though. This thing is getting decked out!!

Alright, so I REALLY hope you’ve learned something today and PLEASE, ask any questions you have. I’m hoping I made this so that it makes sense! I get tons of google hits every day for my previous post, but I think this one will be much more informative for those looking for better steps!

Cupcake Madness

Okay, some of you know where I stand on cupcakes. I’m not a fan. Of making them. (Big fan of eating them, however…) They’re time consuming and painful, literally! Have you have piped swirls on cupcakes? Hand cramps!

Anyhow, my friends know this, but they also know I can’t help myself and I love a challenge. So I was given the challenge to end all challenges… 200 cupcakes for a wedding. TWO HUNDRED.

The best part was when I realized I only owned one cupcake tin… that would have been an issue. Can you imagine me making 200 cupcakes 12 at a time? lol! Thankfully, I hit the thrift stores and found two and my wonderful mother in law let me borrow a 4th. I was all set!
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Just another day in paradise. No big.

The second best part was when I was baking and suddenly realized “Wait… Why do I have so many leftover cupcake liners..? I thought I bought 3 sleeves of 75… but I’ve only used a sleeve an maybe half… OH NO.” I only bought enough stuff to make 100 cupcakes. Fact: I am AWESOME at math. (NOT)

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Ok, so I went to the store and got the rest of the supplies lol. I had bought enough of some stuff and not enough of other stuff. Because I’m, evidently, only selectively bad at math.

Cupcake hell. Kill me.
In the end it all worked out and everything came together wonderfully. I admit to using the phrase “cupcake hell” at one point, but I can admit I was completely thrilled to see them all done and frosted.

I also made this little stand and cake to go with the set as a center piece. I used my Cricut Cake to cut out the heart and boarders!
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So… the moral of the story, I think, is do the math twice, shop once. Or… something like that.

And… buy a big piping bag, or you’ll end up cutting a hole in the powdered sugar bag and using that until it explodes.

Also, anything worth doing is worth doing right!
Oh, and I hope you’ve gotta big trunk… cuz I’m gonna put my cake in it…
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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!

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