Happy Birthday Jesus

Today the kids will be singing Christmas songs on stage at church. One of the songs the are going to sing is Happy Birthday Jesus and then they get to have a birthday party, and of course, what is a party without a cake? So I was asked if I would make the cake for the kids, no ideas of what they wanted, just go for it. Whoopee!!

On second thought, what kind of cake do you make for a party for God? Wow, a little intimidating in a way. Do I make something elegant and pretty or fun and festive? Considering it is a party for the kids, I went with a more fun twist.

What is a birthday cake without candles?

And of course, it is all about:

I do hope Jesus enjoys His birthday cake.

But more that that, I know He desires more, not just my talents and abilities, this year for His birthday I again give Him what He most desires, my heart.

Baby Shower!

My good friend Eugenie is having a baby and a was thrilled to throw her a baby shower... and a baby shower must have a cake! So she and I started exploring themes and cake designs. Finally she showed me the crib bedding that she found and fell in love with and I knew we found the design for her cake. So here is the inspiration:

Such a sweet pattern with an adorable bunny and I knew it would look great on a cake. This was the first time I had ever tried to take something from fabric and reproduce it on a cake but this seemed easy enough.

Step 1: Start with Tall cake

Step 2: Carefully cut out fondant bunny

Step 3: Pipe on all the details

I think it turned out pretty cute!

And now for something completely different... well, almost.

I was asked to do the Gingerbread House for the Michaels store on Truxel in Sacramento, so if you stop by sometime before Christmas, you can take a peek at my handiwork.

I learned a lot while working on this house (I have never made a house from a kit before and that was one of the requirements). I will be doing some things different on my next house (Stephen and I are going to work on it together), but I thought that some things worked out well and were worth repeating.

Photo Challenge

Recently I put out a plea for help with some graphic design stuff and a friend of mine valiantly came to my rescue. As a way of saying thanks, I offered to make a cake for her (of course!). She took me up on my offer and asked me to make a "simple cake, maybe something based on a photo." I don't think anything based on a photo is simple, but I was willing to give it a try. Well, her photography group was having an event and the speaker was Lewis Kemper (Check out his wonderful photography), so the cake was to be based on one of his photos.

I happily went to his sight and started exploring the photos he had posted there. Wow. Nothing simple about these photos! Landscape art is difficult to translate into cake (at least for me with only a week to come up with a design and execute it). So I pondered and pondered. I finally found three photos that I thought I could do something with. After learning that they were also hoping for a fall theme, this is the one I chose (photo used with permission):

I just love the lines and the texture in this photo. The challenge of this photo is that it is rather stark, but the leaves gave me an idea.

The Photography club was decorating with a fall theme, so I thought this photo would be perfect, I could take the leaves and run with a fall theme. After all, there is so much that could be going on around this one photo, I just needed to expound on that and voila! I would have a cake =o)

So I set out to create a cake that was inspired by that photo... not a perfect duplication, but here is my representation of that in cake:

Of course, after I took all but the last photo, I realized that my leaf colors were off because they appeared different on my computer screen than on the actual print, so in the last photo below you can see that I swapped out the yellow leaf for a more orangy-red one which was a much better match for the photo!

Here are the photos of the entire cake:

No One Paddles Alone

In the beginning there was an idea, and the idea took planning and materials, lots and lots of materials.

As they say on Good Eats, here is the software:

As mentioned previously, there were 39 boxes of cake mix, 39 boxes of pudding,18 bags of powdered sugar, 6 bags of marshmallows, 2+ gallons of oil, 13 dozen eggs, 3 bags of brown sugar and two XL containers of cinnamon. In addition to that there were 6 pounds of M&Ms and 9 pounds of fondant.

And here is the hardware:

My dear husband was kind enough to cut out each of the boat-shaped boards and all of the dowels I needed for support.

I knew this project was just too big for me to take on alone, so I enlisted the help of Kiley Skor who was gracious enough to help with the baking and with the assembly. So after two weeks of baking, we had a mountain of cake that was barely contained on my dining room table:

We stacked and frosted and frosted and stacked:

Then it was time to carve the cake. This is definitely one of the scariest points of making a shaped cake. It is easy to cut pieces off, but terribly difficult (if not impossible) to put them back on if you make a wrong cut. But this is also one of the more exciting points as the weeks of hard work finally take shape:

Then we come to my favorite part, the decorating. In an effort to try to avoid creating a large, brown blob, I decided to try marbling the fondant to get a bit of a wood grain effect. So Kiley rolled and cut the "planks" and I assembled them on the cake.

Voila! A covered cake!

Then Kiley had to leave and I was left to finish the project and bring my vision to fruition. A few more hours and a few more details later and it was finally starting to come together. I love the way the nail heads really brought the planks to life.

I initially tried a new technique involving piping the logo and freezing it and then transferring it to the cake, but after that failed miserably, I ended up having to re-do the River Church logo late on Saturday night. But I actually like the way it turned out much better than it would have had the previous technique actually worked!

Finally it was time to deliver the cake. I mentioned previously that one of the scariest moments was carving the cake, well that was nothing compared to having to actually move it. I had visions of the entire side falling off or having to stop so fast that the cake slid off and smashed into the seat (which really wouldn't happen because of the structure inside the cake). You really never know what can go wrong when trying to transport a cake. So again, with the help of friends we were able to lift the cake into the back of the van and off I went.

I was so excited to see the final cake come together with all the pieces. It was almost exactly what I had envisioned all those weeks ago when I first had the idea!

Happy Birthday to the River Church! I love doing life with all of you and it was my honor and privilege to offer this small token of my love and appreciation.

It is true that we are not meant to go it alone, and this was no exception. Thanks to God for giving me the talents and abilities. Thanks to Kiley for all her help... it would have taken me days to accomplish what she helped me do in just a few hours. And thanks to my wonderful husband who patiently allowed me to tackle (and pay for) this project.

The Cake Lady

Our church is turning 10 in a week and a few weeks back the party was mentioned in the church bulletin. We have been a part of The River Church since the Grand Opening celebration and are pretty excited to be here to celebrate this moment in the life of the church. Anyway, the bulletin mentioned that there would be cake and ice cream... wait, did they say cake? I like cake... I love making cakes... I want to make the cake for the church!! I jumped at the chance. I would make all the cake they needed and donate it to the church as a love offering. This could be a way to thank God for the talent that he has given me and the church for their years of service and community.

So I started putting my plan into motion. How many servings? 300-350. No problem. What kind of cake? Well, in order to not totally break our budget I decided on a very yummy recipe that is based on a box mix that is doctored and comes out like a coffee cake. Yum! So off I went to Walmart to buy supplies.

Most of the time you can walk through Walmart and not be noticed by anyone unless you run into them or get in their way. Try walking through Walmart with your arms loaded with 15 boxes of cake mix! That definitely gets you noticed. People start to comment. Some even ask what you are doing and if they can have some. "Why I am making a cake for our churches 10 year anniversary/birthday, come join us and eat as much as you would like!" The checkers really got a kick out of this and mentioned that they might just join us.

Now try going back to Walmart a few more times, equally laden with cake mix boxes, pudding, powdered sugar, and marshmallows. Now, 39 boxes of cake mix, 39 boxes of pudding, 18 bags of powdered sugar, 6 bags of marshmallows, 2 gallons of oil, 13 dozen eggs, 3 bags of brown sugar and two XL containers of cinnamon later, when they see me coming, they greet me with "Hey, it's the Cake Lady!!"

**Unfortunately I did not think to take a photo of the lengthy list of supplies until after most of them had been made into cakes, but you get the idea.

Sweet Success!

My Father-in-law and my mother both have milk sensitivities, so I enjoy challenging myself to make delicious foods (mostly desserts) that contain no dairy. Last week was my hubby's birthday and his parents invited us to their place to celebrate. I, of course, would bring dessert. What is my hubby's most favorite dessert in the who world? Cheesecake. So thus I was presented with my most challenging dessert to date. Is it even possible to make a cheesecake non-dairy? I decided to find out.

After exploring the health food section of our local Safeway, I think my hubby discovered that Tofutti makes a product called "Better Than Cream Cheese" that is a nondairy cream cheese. Ah ha! But could you bake with it? One of the challenges with not using dairy is that the non-dairy substitutes do not always hold up in the baking process like their dairy counterparts. The only way to find out was to try.

I whipped it up, tossed it in the oven and waited. I was a bit worried when I took it out because it did not seem to set up like a normal cheesecake, maybe I should have added an extra egg? Too late now... so I let it cool and then chill in the fridge. The next day I took it out and it seemed that success was near. It set!

The next challenge was to decorate it. I had never decorated a cheesecake before. I decided to try some chocolate. I had never worked with chocolate as a decoration before, so there was yet another challenge. I had visions of elaborate, delicate chocolate bows, but time and common sense caused me to keep it simple. So a few chocolate plaques and some strawberry topping and voila! A beautiful non-dairy cheesecake that did in fact taste very much like a "normal" cheesecake!

Alyssa's First Birthday

A couple of months ago I got to peek at the new Wilton Yearbook and I ran across the photo of a Tinkerbell Flower garden cake and I fell in love with it! It was cute and girly without being pink, and if I left off the little Tinkerbell candle, it was just a flower garden! Perfect for my little girl's first birthday cake.

So I spent a week making the flowers and all the leaves (really only a few hours, but in snip-its here and there in the evenings after the kids went to bed). I did underestimate the amount of time it would take me to put it all together, but I finished mere seconds before the first guest arrived at the party!

Happy Birthday to my little girl!!

Stephen's Cake

Months ago I brought home a copy of the 2010 Wilton Yearbook with all kinds of cake ideas to get my mind perking. Stephen spent countless hours thumbing through it too and managed to pick out his next several birthday cakes, including his 100th birthday (I told him if he could remember that he wanted a cake someone would make him one). What surprised me is that he picked out the one he wanted this year back in February, and it actually stuck! He never wavered from what he originally wanted, so I held up my end and made it for him. My mom got in on the action too and helped me make the people! She made the people with the red and black hair and I made the brunette and the blonde. The birthday boy was a combined effort!

Without further ado, here is Party on the Green:

VBS... Route 264

This year our church came together with another local church to offer VBS to our community and the result was magical. Everyone seemed to work together well and we all had a blast serving the Lord! So, about half-way through the week I thought, why not make a cake as a thank you for everyone's hard work? After all, it is what I do =o)

I finished decorating it Thursday night, and all in all it took me somewhere between 2 and 3 hours (it would have been less if I hadn't tried a half dozen times to cut the letters out of fondant before giving up and doing them out of color flow =o). The cake itself was coffee cake with vanilla butter cream.

The cake sat on the snack table for about an hour and a half before one brave soul (I won't name names) couldn't resist any more and cut the first slice. That seemed to be what everyone was waiting for because it was entirely consumed in about 20 minutes after that. Some were sad that they didn't get any, but you snooze you loose!


Fun with Fondant!

As a Wilton instructor, I am required to do an in-store demo every so often. In June it was to promote the new classes and this month it was to demonstrate some of the techniques hi-lighted in their new yearbook, which was released this month. They tell you what techniques you are supposed to demo, but the final product is up to the instructor doing the demo. So today I was to demonstrate how to do inlays and overlays with fondant. I only had 2 hours to decorate a cake and talk to all the people who cared to stop by my setup, so it is not a major work of art but most people seemed to like it. So for your viewing pleasure here is my Fun With Fondant!

**For your drooling pleasure, the cake inside is a take on Black Forest cake (Dark chocolate fudge with cherry pie filling).


B, a friend of mine, was unfortunate enough to break her ankle. I wanted to do something nice to cheer her up and I thought, what better than a cake? It took me a while to come up with a design (other than a cast cake!), but when she gave me the go ahead to experiment and try something new, it didn't take me long to get an idea. I think I got this idea from a design in the latest Wilton Yearbook, but I can't be sure. I remember the original was multi-tiered and more of a wedding/valentine style cake, but in any case I did not set out to duplicate it in any way... this is my take on the design I saw. (Yes, everything you see is edible)

A Blog!

I never had the desire to have a blog, nor had I ever seen the need for one... until now. Previously I was displaying my cake creations on a separate Facebook account just for my cakes, but people who were not "fans" of that account couldn't see them and then they would ask about them, so I would end up posting photos twice. So the idea for my cake blog was born. This is a place I can post all my photos and cake creation adventures without having to do double duty! So for your viewing pleasure, a recap of my cakes to date.

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Sacramento, California, United States
For Ordering Information, visit http://AmbersCakeCreations.net

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