Monday, May 25, 2015

Josh's Ranger Stadium cake build!

So this lovely couple, Joshua and Diana, come in asking for a Ranger's Stadium groom's cake. Apparently I had already met them at a bridal show and told them that I could make one "No Problem".  I didn't even remember this conversation (to tell you the truth-those shows go by in a flash and I talk to so many brides it becomes a blur-but you'd think I would remember this awesome request)!

They had asked another cake maker at the same show about it and was met with a bit of reluctance and were told "that was a tall order".  I, on the other hand, (they said), replied with "Heck Yeah!" and the aforementioned "No Problem!"

Which, thankfully, is how I still felt when they came in. So excited to make this cake! And, of course, gotta have a digital scoreboard and have lights.
Of course.

One big help is my art background and work in ceramics. Problem solving in 3 dimensions is fun!  So with lots of digital images and templates that I constructed I began the components for this build a good 2 months before the wedding.  Here is the finished cake and below, you can see the build in progress along with a nifty video that shows the digital scoreboard and lights (thank you my husband and his trusty Go-Pro).

video
All the wall panels and towers cut out of sugar gum-paste, painted and ready to go.

Carving the cake. The cake board was already covered but we carved and iced the cake on a foam core board to keep any icing mess off of the finished board. Note all the stadium pictures in the foreground.

Cake carved and "dirty iced" or as some other people say "crumb-coated".  I like the term dirty iced myself. It just tickles me.    
The advertising signage is all the vendors that worked this wedding.

Fatt Apple catering,
We Be Rockn Entertainment La Bella Blooms, Jeanette Cobb Photography

The groom wanted to make sure that I would put the Rangers logo by home plate. So here it is.

The Fatt Apple catering staff.
Ashley, owner of La Bella Blooms that did all the floral arrangements and bouquets for this wedding (and who made the beautiful floral topper for the bride's cake-see below)

Diana (the bride) chose a DIY (Decorate It Yourself cake) from me and had Ashley make a topper for it. Super gorgeous and oh so simple.

GORGEOUS!
Cracker jacks and baseball centerpieces.  So fun!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Myth Busting: Cake Pricing, Sizes, Shapes, and Costs

I found this post on the Superfine Bakery's blog (wonderful blog! Here is a link to their website: superfine bakery) and it really answers some big cake questions. Wonderful explanation on why custom cakes cost more than your run-of-the-mill grocery store cake.

I edited it down a bit but it answers most cake questions anyone may have about those awesome, custom designed cakes and why they are priced the way they are.

Myth Busting: Cake Pricing, Sizes, Shapes, and Costs

There are a lot of questions about cake pricing, and the chasm of difference between public perception of cake costs (low) and actual cake costs (not low).  Most clients have never ventured into the world of cakes over $50. There is a general awareness that  getting a custom cake made for a special milestone event costs more than expected, but sometimes the actual price can be a shock. There are many factors that go into a cake price, and every baker has a different way of calculating that price based on several factors:
  • Where they’re sourcing their materials and ingredients (inexpensive vs. expensive)
  • Where they are baking (home, shared kitchen, their own commercial bakery)
  • Staff (free interns or culinary school-trained staff?)
  • Style (simple and less-expensive buttercream piping or intense molded and carved sugar decor?)
  • Cake size (a cake for 150 costs more than one for 75)
  • Cake shape (a simple stack or challenging engineering? Is it sculpted to look like a car, an armadillo, or a beer pong table with an operating keg?)
  • Cake flavors
  • Delivery (a nearby drop off of a simple stack or a two-hour drive to an on-site installation of multiple cakes attached to swings?)
  • Florals (real flowers or sugar?)
…and so many more. You get the picture.
So I’m posting this to help bust some old myths around cakes, cake pricing, and client service. Here goes:

1. Wedding cakes cost more than other cakes.
For us, not true. So not true. All our custom cakes are charged the same way at the same price (on a per-person basis) no matter the occasion. I don’t know any cakers worth their salt who would swindle a client like this. Maybe in the old days this happened, but not anymore.
2. Round tiers cost less than square tiers.
This one’s actually true. But what’s not clarified when you hear this is that *round tiers feed less people than squares.* So when we charge on a per-person basis, of course round tiers will cost less — because they *feed* less. Ultimately you should order the shape you like — you’ll still need to feed the same number of people in the end.
3. Fake (styrofoam) tiers cost less than real tiers.
For us, not true. The cost of a cake resides mostly in the effort and time involved in decorating the exterior. The interior, cake or not cake, is the least-expensive factor in our calculation. By the way, those styrofoam “cake dummies” are not inexpensive — it costs a shiny dime to source, buy, and have them shipped. If they arrive dented, guess what? We have to spend time returning and getting a new one for you. Then we have to cover it, which is actually trickier than covering a real tier due to its lightweight nature. That thing will scoot all over the table while you’re trying to cover it! Especially the smaller ones.
4. A “simple” design means lower pricing, right?

Well, that depends on how you define “simple.” In the words of Inigo Montoya from the movie The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” An all-white cake with white sugar lace and a white sugar flower cluster looks very simple and clean. So does an Art Deco style cake. Yes they’re simple and beautiful to look at, but these are not simple to create. For us to make a cake like these is actually harder because all errors will show. Especially with a very orderly design like a stripe, Art Deco motif, or other math-heavy repeating pattern. If one soft piece of sugar decor is dented, smudged, or slightly tilted, it will stick out like a sore thumb, ruining the look. Not Superfine!
5. You can save on delivery by picking up the cake.
Yep, that one’s true. BUT, what will the cost be to you if the cake gets damaged en route? Frequently cake people renounce all liability once a cake leaves our hands. We often lobby to deliver it not to collect additional money, but because we are genuinely concerned about the cake getting there and making it to the table in it’s beautiful original state. Having a friend pick up a cake larger than two tiers is risky for several reasons:
  • Cakes three tiers and taller have an increasingly higher center of gravity, making them more prone to leaning and toppling on a vigorous drive.
  • Cakes are very susceptible to heat damage. If a cake is in a warm car, it will melt. If a cake is left in direct sun, it will melt. It’s a cake — it melts in ambient or direct heat over varying periods of time depending on the intensity of the heat.
  • Is there a dead-flat surface to put it on in the car? The best spot for a cake is in the passenger footwell on a non-slip mat. Put that cake on even a slightly leaning surface (like a folded-down seat) and it will tend to lean and slide.
  • Does the person picking up drive a smooth car smoothly? Cake safety is increased in a large non-sports suspension minivan or car driven by someone who takes turns slowly and stops very slowly over a long stretch.
I hope all of these help you when you’re thinking about your cake.
Happy cake-shopping!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Horses, leather and a toolbox- cakes for a western wedding.



I  have known this bride and her wonderful family for years. I had the pleasure of making a fun grooms cake for her brother when he got married.  (He thought he was getting a plain cake- but got his Lizard Spike made out of cake instead. Getting his mom and fiance to take pictures of the lizard was hilarious, no one wanted to touch it!)

Brittney sent me an image of a "leather" wrapped cake a couple of years ago stating that she wanted something similar when she got married. She was single at the time. Flash forward a couple of years, add a fiance to the picture and I got to make The Cake. 

This cake was a coordinated effort between me, my super talented son and my all around handy man, cake carrier and cheerleader of a husband (who also provides the wine when things get rough).
A BIG THANKS to my boy who tooled the leather for the mold - to see his leather work you can go to his website:
Van Curen Leather 

My husband made a food-safe mold of the tooled piece so that I could replicate the leather in fondant. 

He also created the molds for the horses using the bride's childhood plastic toy horses, a mold for the cross and the concho that I put their monogram on.

Brittney and T.J.
Sugar hand-painted horses with sugar orchids and sugar cross.



Tooling the leather for the mold. Transferring the sketch then incising the lines with a swivel knife.

Adding the beveling to give the piece depth.

The mold in the foreground dusted with edible brown powder and the rolled fondant ready to go.
"Leather" on and cake stacked. The spacer between the top tier and bottom is made of sugar and airbrushed with edible silver spray.

Fondant ribbon. Sugar monogram concho.
T.J.'s toolbox. Strawberry cake with cream cheese icing,  airbrushed silver. Fondant details.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Flying jet plane and sugar flowers. Devon and Matt's wedding cakes.

Devon's cake-Buttercream finish with gold-tipped sugar roses, peonies, ranunculas, gold-tipped hydrangeas and sugar gold-tipped leaves.



Matt is an air-traffic controller at Austin–Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas. The T38 jet trainer was Matt's input since there is a story about him not being able to fly one (???) and his friends would get the joke. It did get a great reception when we brought it into the venue. Here is the build:

 
The jet.

The tower.
My husband bought out Radio Shack (who is going out of business so everything was super cheap, but where do we go now???) and built the motor to make the jet fly around the tower. Testing,testing,testing. Making sure the motor works.....and how much weight it can take before it bogs down (answer: glue stick= half an ounce).
The sugar jet parts.  Weighing them out (see glue stick).




Testing again.  Tower made of styrofoam and covered in fondant. Had to try again- it was flying backwards. Oopsy!.
Stacking the cake (Kahlua chocolate).
Buttercream icing.

Airbrushing.
Hand-painted sugar jet with edible image graphics. 



Me sitting in the back of the Navigator on the delivery keeping the cake from swaying.

And, Delivered.
video

Love this couple!