Saturday, October 5, 2013

C is for Cookie, and Z is for Zarek!

It's so much fun getting cake orders for birthdays. This time last year I was making my first topsy-turvy cake for a little guy named Zarek, and this year I was asked to make a cake for his 2nd birthday. I can't believe he is 2 already. Where has the time gone?

This cake was considerably smaller and less complicated than the cake I made a year ago, but just as fun. It stars one of Zarek's favorite characters - Cookie Monster! I have to admit, I'm a fan of that silly blue cookie lover myself.

When Ratna, Zarek's mother, asked me to make the cake, I immediately thought of making a cake recipe that my friend Ann uses - chocolate flecked cake. It looks like a chocolate chip cookie when you cut into it and I thought that would be perfect for a cake featuring cookie monster. Then I looked up the recipe and calculated the cost - as wonderful as the cake sounds, it is a lot more expensive than most of the cakes I have made. Probably because it's a Martha Stewart recipe. Dang that Martha Stewart and her expensive tastes! Well, since Ratna had just ordered Bollywood cupcakes from me and wasn't ready to spend the amount of money that the chocolate flecked cake would cost, we went with a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling. And then, an added twist - in the past year Zarek has developed an egg allergy, so Ratna was requesting a small egg-free smash cake just for the birthday boy. Having just made a vegan cake two weeks ago, I was all ready to take on this extra request.

Here are the cakes - I had so much fun decorating them, because they use my favorite tip.The smash cake was especially fun. If I'd had enough icing, I would have done the same with the big cake, but my 5 year old daughter insisted that the cake would look much better with smooth sides. So I added some "fur" at the base and stuck some cookie crumbs in the front. Very cute!

Happy Birthday Zarek!

Hooray for Bollywood!

I think I have to say that this cake order is one of the most interesting ones I've had in a long time. A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from a long time client, Ratna asking if I could make either cupcakes or a cake for a party she was throwing for her sister. Her sister was moving to Wisconsin from California (I hope she's ready for Wisconsin winters!) and the theme of the party is Bollywood Bash.

The picture Ratna sent me was of some very intricately decorated cupcakes with flowers and paisley designs painted on the frosting. I immediately began to feel overwhelmed - I've never even done that kind of painting before. But did I give up? Nope! Instead I did a search and found a reasonable alternative that was much more in the realm of my skill set. After some back and forth, we agreed on cake flavor and frosting color. Then it was just up to me to get the needed materials. It took me a while to find the gold beads, but I found them at Cook's, a baking supply store right here in Milwaukee. The paisley design was made with a leaf cutter, and I attached the beads with gum glue, which is a mixture of water and gum paste. I had initially thought of making royal icing, but decided to give gum glue a try and it worked!

Here are the final cupcakes. And there is much more to the color scheme than meets the eye - these cupcakes are color-coded! To add variety to the chocolate cake, Ratna asked me to add filling to the cupcakes. And then I devised a color scheme to help the party guests know which cupcakes had which filling. Orange - peanut butter buttercream. Pink - peppermint buttercream. Purple - coffee buttercream.

A big welcome to Ratna's sister - I hope you love Wisconsin and had fun at your Bollywood welcoming party!

Carnations for Stephanie's mom

The beginning of this story goes back... way back. Earlier this year, I joined a book club. The books we have read have been very interesting, many of which are ones I never would have chosen myself but ended up loving. One of our most recent meetings was for the book "The Jefferson Key", and a big part of that book is pirates. Being the cake decorator I am, I made cupcakes - I used a box mix to which I added rum extract and then, I made this amazing spiced rum frosting. No recipe. I just made my usual buttercream and added rum extract, orange zest, baking spice and a touch of allspice. I baked the cupcakes in special pirate liners and put little flags on them.

Stephanie, one of the members of the book club, just fell in love with my spiced rum frosting. In fact, as we were leaving the meeting, she asked me if I could make a birthday cake for her mom at the end of September. She wasn't sure of the decorations yet, but all she knew was that she had to have more of that wonderful spiced rum frosting.

A few weeks later, we touched base again and she told me that she really liked the cake I made with the pink carnations and ribbon curls on it and wanted something similar, but without fondant - just lots of frosting.

I was beyond excited. The last time I made gum paste carnations was two years ago when I made them for my final cake decorating class. They were so much fun to make, but in the past two years, I haven't had any requests for that specific kind of flower. Until now. With this being a 6 inch cake, I made only three flowers, and dusted them with purple luster dust since purple is Stephanie's mom's favorite color. I even brushed the ribbon curls with it too, to give them a bit more sparkle.

And since Stephanie loves the frosting so much, I decided to cut each of my two layers in half to give her four layers of yellow cake and three layers of the yummy spiced rum frosting that she loves so much.

Happy Birthday Stephanie's mom! I hope you loved the frosting as much as your daughter does!