Thanksgiving Cake

Today our church celebrated Thanksgiving a bit early with a big pot-luck style Thanksgiving dinner.  I honestly thought about bringing something not dessert, but I just kept coming back to cake.  I think by now most people expect me to bring a cake, and I am happy to do my part and not disappoint.

For this cake I wanted to experiment a bit. I purchased the Wilton checkerboard cake pan a while back, but I haven't had a chance to use it, so I thought this might be a good opportunity.  To make the checkerboard cake, you have to bake three layers, and I think I finally got the hang of it by the third layer! So, needless to say, my cake does not look like a checkerboard, but more like random areas of color, but that is okay. I think I will do better next time.

Since the cake was just a French Vanilla cake, and not very "Thanksgiving-y" I wanted to do something special for the frosting. I came across a recipe for a Caramel frosting, so I thought I would give that a go.  Unfortunately I missed the part about cooling before you whip, so it seized up on me. It still tasted good, so I thought it would work well for a filling instead of a frosting.  So in the end I used my stand-by almond buttercream, which is always a favorite and it all came together quite well.

The flower on this cake is piped in buttercream, re-using a technique that I used on an earlier cake for my daughter's birthday.  I used a tip #12 for this flower, piped dots and squashed them into a petal shape with the tip of one of my smaller spatulas.

The smaller flowers on the back sides were just pressure piped using tips 11 and 12. 

All told, I was pleased to see that our church has it's priorities straight... we had just about as many desserts as we had savory dishes... and it was all so very good!

Cookie Pops!

Cookie pops! Okay, I realize these are not cakes, but they still fall into the dessert category and I decorated them, so they still seem worthy of this blog. In fact, they represent a whole new adventure for me because I am going to start teaching a Cookie Blossom class in December.  In this class we will be creating bouquets of cookies that you can give as gifts or use as a centerpiece for you holiday party or really any party.

Alright, enough commercial... onto the cookies. I am sure these are not the most exciting cookies you have ever seen, but this is my first time playing with this kind of decorating technique, and really my first time playing with the Wilton Cookie Icing.  I am pretty happy with the designs considering I had no idea what I was doing!

The idea is that you drag a toothpick through the icing while it is still wet and you can make these pretty designs. It really is quite simple, but I had some trouble when I came to the edge of the frosting and it didn't come out as clean as I would like. Thankfully my family does not mind eating my practice cookies!

On a side note, this is my 50th blog post! I really hope you have enjoyed what I have done to date. Feedback is always appreciated.

Remember, dear readers, if you put "eat cake" at the top of your list of things to do today, at least you'll get one thing done!

ATA Pumpkin Cake

Today my son is headed to a Halloween party at his taekwondo studio, and the party is a dessert potluck, so what else do I bring but a cake?!  I wanted to do something fun that the kids would enjoy, but mostly as a surprise for his instructor. I also wanted to do something that was not terribly complicated since I had just done a wedding cake last week, so I settled on a pumpkin with a carved "ATA" logo (ATA stands for American Taekwondo Association).

This was my first time trying to carve something like this, with a recessed area in the middle of the cake, and I will say it was definitely a challenge. The cake I was using was mostly a box mix (just slightly modified), so it was soft and moist, and not ideal for this sort of carving. So to combat that I had to carve with it frozen and I had to keep putting it back in the freezer as it would start defrosting. Originally I wanted to carve the letters deeper, but I decided not to because of the softness factor and I did not want to loose too much cake. Overall, I am quite happy with the results. 

Another first for me is getting the little curly vines to work. I have tried them in the past, but they would never quite hold their shape. I think I was just too impatient, and this time I put more gum paste in the mix. So when I took them off the dowel, they held the curly shape, but were still soft enough that I could stretch them out and curve them the way I wanted.

I hope everyone has a great time tonight, and I hope everyone enjoys the cake!

Vintage Wedding


Recently my lovely friend's daughter asked me if I would be willing to make her wedding cake.  I was thrilled to help, but a bit nervous because I also knew that the groom's mother made wedding cakes herself.  But I tried not to think about that and we started designing the cake.  Their wedding was going to have a vintage feel so they wanted a cake to reflect that feel. Originally she wanted to put a few antique broaches on the cake, but I suggested trying to make them edible.  I had recently purchased the supplies to make my own silicone molds, and I was anxious to give it a try, so we made one mold from her great-grandmother's broach and one from his great-grandmother's broach. 

 The broach at the top of this photo is made from the mold of his great-grandmother's broach, and is done in isomalt (poured sugar).

The broach in the middle and bottom of the photo is made from the mold of her great-grandmother's broach. The center of that broach is poured sugar and the outer parts are white chocolate. Both broaches were then hand painted to get the gold antiqued effect.

This was only the second time I have ever had someone help me work on a cake. One of my previous students wanted to help, so I put her to work helping fill in the lace piping on the sides. She did a great job!

Overall, I am really pleased with the way this cake turned out. It really fit in well with the theme and the gorgeous vintage decorations they used.

 I was honored to be apart of this joyous celebration, and I look forward to seeing God's blessings on this wonderful couple!

Congratulations to Blake and Alexandra! 

 Thank you to my wonderful husband who took all the photos you see here. If you would like to see more of his photos, please stop by The Inkless Book

Fall Cookies!

I love fall! I love the coolness in the air, the leaves falling off the tree (as long as I don't have to rake them!), and it is finally cooling down enough that I can bake more without heating up my whole house! Now, I can add that I am now in love with fondant covered cookies!! I don't know why I never tried decorating cookies with fondant before now, but I think I will be doing this a lot more in the future. It is so easy, especially if you are already using a cookie cutter to make shaped cookies.  Just use the same cookie cutter to cut the fondant shape, paint a little piping gel on the cookie, and stick the fondant to the cookie!  If you are doing drop cookies, you can find a round cookie or biscuit cutter the right shape for your cookie and use that to cut out the fondant.

Of course, some cookies I decorated using all buttercream, but they took longer, and others I did half in fondant and half buttercream. Personally, I thought the cookies that had both buttercream and fondant turned out the best and were the easiest to do. What do you think? Give it a try and see for yourself!

Happy Decorating!


This little cake was done for a couple of new friends who actually got engaged last year.  We got together today and I wanted to have a little something for them as a sneak peek at their wedding cake and a congratulations on your engagement.  I should have had more time to do this cake, but thanks to homeschooling, karate, cub scouts and my job, I ended up with about 20 minutes to come up with a design and get it on the cake. Nothing like working under pressure!  I am pretty happy with the outcome, but of course I would  have loved to do more! 

Congratulations to Michael and Marie on their engagement! I can't wait to do your wedding cake (I promise to schedule more time for that cake =o)!

Butterfly Birthday Bash!

My sweet girl turned 2 this month! I had a hard time deciding on a cake for her this year because she doesn't really have any favorite things, or at least no one favorite thing.  She loves animals, books, Dora, Blue, Curious George, Clifford, cats, and most recently butterflies.  So I decided to go with the butterflies because I have wanted to do more painting on my cakes and butterflies are something I wanted to try, and because they are her most recent "love" so it represents her right at this moment.

I also saw a new technique for frosting a butter-cream cake and I really wanted to give it a go because the effect looks so neat! What do you think? It was really easy to do and I think this is one of my most favorite butter-cream techniques so far! Add the right finishing touches and it makes a really stunning wedding cake too.

The butterflies are all gumpaste; I airbrushed the color and hand painted the black on the wings. That part took me longer than I thought, but I was really happy with the way they turned out.

Happy birthday princess, mommy loves you!

Sweet 16!

My friend's daughter turned Sweet 16 the other day (stay off the sidewalks!) and she asked me if I would make her cake (of course!).

She wanted a bikini cake and I convinced her to let me do a bikini on the beach...

I am quite happy with how the sand turned out (graham crackers and chocolate chip cookies thrown into a food processor). 

Happy Birthday Brooke! I do hope you like your cake!

Fixing a store bought cake... wreck

The last cake I posted was for four people, one of whom is my son (he had the Angry Bird). Today he turned six, and although we did celebrate earlier with the previous cake, he needed a cake on his actual birthday too. Unfortunately we were out of town on vacation until yesterday, so I did not have time to make him a cake. So, I ordered one from the grocery store. Sad, I know. He had fun picking out the cake from the book though, so I thought all would be well... until I saw the design he picked (Wall-E). I desperately flipped through the book looking for an acceptable alternative because I knew there was no way they would pull it off well.  But no, that was the one he wanted, so we ordered it.

All in all, they didn't do too bad, and if I wasn't such a Cake Wrecks fan, I wonder if it would really look that bad to me, but...

All I could see was the large piles of poo with rabbit pellets all over the cake.

Something needed to be done to keep me from thinking about poo when looking at his cake!  So I whipped out my fondant and made some blocks of "trash" (which by the way, is what the large piles of brown frosting are supposed to be), and set those on top of the large areas. That was an easy fix, but what to do about the smaller, rabbit pellet-like piles? I thought and thought and couldn't think of a good solution but then I found some larger sprinkles and picked out the green ones... we are going to pretend this is from the end of the movie and the plants are starting to make a come back! 

So here is the final, fixed version:

Not perfect, but at least it is better. When it came time to serve the cake, what was my son's favorite part (besides the toys)? The fondant "trash" I added. That made me feel pretty good.

Happy Birthday to my big boy! Mommy loves you! Next year, your cake will be better.

Celebrating Multiple Birthdays!

Challenge time!

This month we have four birthdays in our family: My husband, our son, our daughter, and my niece. For the first time since our daughter was born, we will all be together and I thought it would be fun to celebrate all the August birthdays with a cake. The challenge is, how to represent each person on one cake without making it feel like I dumped everything but the kitchen sink on the cake, or making it so generic that it could be for anyone?

Here was my solution:

One cake, four toppers! The topper balls are all rice treats covered in almond modeling clay and then covered in fondant. 

Let's take a peek at each one, shall we?

 First up is the one for my hubby! This is actually the first cake I have made for him since I really started doing cakes, so I wanted to so something special for him. The octopus is his favorite animal, so I decided to do an underwater scene.  The rocks are all fondant, as is the octopus and seaweed.

 Next is my son. He is turning 6 this year and he is absolutely addicted to Angry Birds, so I decided to surprise him with the Red Bird.  He loved the bird, but he insisted that I add the yellow bow on top (I believe the red bird that takes you to the Angry Birds Store has a bow), so I dutifully complied.

 Next is my daughter, who is turning 2 this year. She was harder, because she isn't really attached to anything, but she has recently discovered Blue's Clues, so I decided on that. Blue has a completely different shaped face than the shape I had to work with, so it didn't come out looking like Blue, but it is a pretty cute blue dog.

 Last but not least is my niece, who is turning 12 this year. She loves ballet and recently acquired her black belt in karate! I thought it would be fun to do something that put those two things together for her.
 So happy birthday to my dear family! I love you all and I hope you enjoy your cake!

Candy Button Cookies

Does anyone remember those little candy button dots that you would peel off the paper? For some reason those stick in my mind with fondness, even though I distinctly remember eating more paper than candy...

Here is a great way to enjoy the nostalgia without the eating paper part:


 I made these today while I was doing a Demo at Michael's. They are quick and easy to make and I love that! I don't decorate cookies much because I feel like they are too much work for something so small, but these were fun. I like fun! To make these all you need are some rectangular cookies, spread some white frosting on the top and pipe dots using your icing colors of choice and a tip 5.  The only thing I would have done differently was take a wet paintbrush (reserved just for cakes) and knock down some of the peaks that I left behind, but I didn't have that with me at the time.  Enjoy!

Birthday Cake for a World Traveler

This cake is for a very special lady who loves her family - she has four children, five grandchildren, and is currently at four great grandchildren. She is a seasoned international traveler (has done it for the past 40 or so years); her favorite locations are Barbados, South Africa, and cruises to anywhere.  Her dream trip is to Australia. She always strongly believed in education; returning to school and receiving her college diploma at 40. She's an active volunteer, loves movies, and swims several times per week... Whew! With all these interests I could only think of one way to try and represent as many of these things as possible: a suitcase!

When you take a cruise, you always see one of these!  This little towel elephant was my favorite addition.

The flags were a fun addition and they added the punch of color this cake needed. 

Happy Birthday Mary! I do hope you enjoy your cake. 

Poured and Pulled Sugar!

So I was finally brave enough to try my hand at poured sugar. I am not sure what went wrong, but somehow I must have overcooked the sugar because it turned an amber color... or maybe that is the difference between using isomalt and real sugar? I am not sure, but I will find out! Regardless of the color though, I was able to successfully pour the sugar and have it harden in the molds and remove the pieces, so all in all, I consider it a success! Here are a few of the poured pieces:

When I was done pouring, I had a lot of extra, so I took a small bit of it and thought I would try my hand at pulling sugar. It was way easier than I thought, but now that I have a piece of pulled sugar, what do I do with it? Well, the only thing I could think of that I thought I might be able to do from memory was a sugar flower, so I gave that a try. 

I am pretty happy with it considering it was my first time and I had no clue what I was doing, so I just kind of made it up as I went. What do you think? 

Happy Independence Day!

I tripped across the idea of making fireworks on a cake a little while ago and I was really intrigued. I wasn't sure I would have time to put it together, but I did! I piped all the stars last night (I think I piped about 250 of them!), and stuck them all on wires this morning. All in all, this cake came together rather quickly. Of course, it was over 100 degrees here today, so the cake spent much more time in the refrigerator than it normally would, which slowed down the process, but I also spent time in the pool, cooling myself off too! In fact, I was still in my swim suit when I put everything together.

The bottom border is actually from one of Wilton's new silicone molds, the Global one no less, but with a little blue and red painted on, it was perfect! 

I hope you like it! 
Happy 4th of July everyone!!

Introducing Tooly Tuesday!

Welcome to my latest blog addition… Tooly Tuesday!

I have been thinking about what I could add to my blog that might be interesting and inspiring, and different from what I am already doing. So, I came up with the idea of featuring a different cake decorating or pastry tool.  My intent is that this won’t necessarily be a tutorial, but more of an inspirational piece that will give you ideas of things you can try.  I will show you a tool, talk a bit about how it is used, and try and touch on some unusual or uncommon uses.  If I touch on anything that you want to know more about, let me know! I am always open to ideas.

So, to kick off this latest addition, I thought about what tool I wanted to feature. Something new? Something old? Something unusual?  Then I thought, why not start at the beginning? When I am teaching brand new decorating students, we start with the Star Tip. Bingo! The star tip it is…

The star tips come in two basic types, Open Stars and Closed Stars.  Today I am sticking with the Open style, we will leave the closed ones for another Tuesday.  The Open Stars are tips numbered 13-22, 32, 172, 199, 362-4, 2110, 4B, 6B, and 8B (to see examples of all those tips check out the tip chart).  All the following photos were done using a tip 18, except for the shell border and basketweave, which I opted to use a tip 21.

Okay, so anyone who has even attempted to decorate has probably used a star tip. And obviously, a star tip can be used to make stars.


However, did you know you can use the star tips for more than stars? In my Wilton classes we teach five more uses:
1. Rosettes

2. Zig-Zags

3. Shell Border

4. Reverse shells

 5. Basketweave
**This technique can be done with a variety of tips, but we use the star tip in class

There are tons more uses for the star tip beyond what I teach in class. In fact, I think I could probably teach an entire course using just the star tips! Here are just a few more uses to spark your imagination:

E’s, C’s, and S’s
(when used in combination with other tips, these can look pretty cool, so look for these to show up again in a future Tooly Tuesday)

(another one that looks especially good when used in combination with other tips)

Flur de lis
(These are a combination of one shell, and two reverse shells)


Rope Border
(I sometimes throw this technique in as a bonus when teaching the basketweave in my flowers class since it makes such a nice border).

Whew! So many uses for such a little, unassuming tip. So with all these uses, could you decorate an entire cake with just the open star tips (other than the character pans of course)? 

 You bet!

I hope I have inspired you to dust off your star tips and try using them for more than stars and shells. Happy Decorating!

If you have a tool that you would like to see featured on Tooly Tuesday, leave a comment and let me know! Also, if you like my blog, why not consider becoming a follower?

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