Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Graduation Cake Inspiration

In addition to May weddings, we get a lot of requests for graduation cakes. Between high school graduations in early June and college graduations for the numerous Austin area schools, we get pretty busy. Sometimes people want a traditional style cake to represent their school colors or scholarly pursuits. The real fun comes when people order cakes to represent the grad's personality or interests. 

The Texas Tech cake is actually a high school graduation cake for a girl going to TX Tech. The UT cake is a popular option for a simple and straightforward design. All you need to do is change the colors and logo to make it work for another school.

I created this design for someone who might want a trendier design. Again, this could work well in any school colors. The advantage of a style like this and the ones above, is that they are a relatively economical choice and can be scaled to accommodate a smaller group.

And then we have Yoda. Most of the detailed custom graduation cakes we do are ordered quite a bit in advance to allow for some design time. It's a really wonderful process because I get to work with the parents, who are brimming with pride over their children's accomplishments. 
Whether you make a cake yourself, pick up a cake from the grocery store, or order a custom cake, everyone will have a great time celebrating this milestone event in a loved one's life.
We've got some fun personalized graduation cakes coming up this spring that I can't wait to share with you!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mother's Day Cake Tutorial

Although there is no doubt that there are loads of wonderful things to buy your mom for Mother's Day, nothing is more heartfelt than a homemade gift. Ok, I do admit I enjoy the pedicure gift certificate I get every year, but it's the cards from my kids I'll keep forever. I designed a cake that is hopefully simple enough for the novice cake decorator to recreate or use as a starting point for another project. I tend to do my own thing and strongly encourage others to follow their own design instincts. By the way, this cake would also work well for a  birthday, baby shower, or bridal shower.
I haven't done an online tutorial before, so please be patient with me (and let me know if there are questions or elements you think might be missing).

I started with a 6" round cake, which would serve about 10-12 people depending on the height of the cake. It goes without saying that you should make your mom's favorite flavor. I covered the cake in white fondant, but you could easily recreate this design with a smooth coating of white buttercream. Just make sure the buttercream is chilled when putting the pieces on. This cake design won't take more than 1 hour of active time to complete, including time to mix your fondant colors. You will need to let the flowers dry a couple of hours.

Every tool I used can be purchased at a cake decorating shop. I'm not sure if big box craft stores have them, but you can order them online. Tools: round cutters (3/4 -1.5 inches), ball tool, frilling needle, 2 different carnation cutters, lace cutter and small rolling pin. Not shown are the foam pad, Tappits, plastic half circle molds in small, medium and large, small knife, and my favorite tool ever - the ribbon cutter. I like to give people some creative freedom, so by all means use any colors you like for the fondant. I would use a green, though, for the leaves and stems. Also, try to keep all your colors the same value so it looks cohesive. 

Design elements
Let's start with the carnations. I did 2 large ones and one smaller one. Each flower is made up of 3 pieces. After you cut it out, lightly flatten the edges with the ball tool on the foam board. I then used the needle tool to frill the edges (bottom left). I placed the first one in the circle mold and then folded the other 2 to fit in, using a little water to stick them to the first piece. Use the needle tool to gently lift up the edges so they don't fall flat.

The red flower is simply 3 nesting circles in different sizes. The larger flower starts in the large mold tray and is cut from the 1.5 inch cutter. These flowers can all be made from fondant and will need a few hours to set. Gumpaste can be used as well. When the red flowers are set, just use a drop of royal icing or water to stick them in place. Roll out a small green flat circle to fit in as the center. You can go around it with the end of a paintbrush to indent it as shown in the first photo.
Ah, my ribbon cutter. Or as we call it at the bakery sometimes - the rolly thingy. If you don't have this tool, run out and get it ASAP! If you don't have one, you can still make the banner. It just won't be as fun and quick. You'll need to roll out a piece of fondant to about 8 3/4 inches long. Cut it into a 1/2 inch wide strip. Tuck the ends to make it look like a folded banner. Cut the ends at an angle. You'll need to nudge it up to curve it. Be gentle so you don't indent the fondant. I left it on an 8" cake board to dry for a little so it wouldn't lose it's shape when I placed it on the cake, but not too dry so that the ends don't drape down a bit.

Making the leaves is super simple. I used the lace cutter without the center hole to punch out about 24-25 of the teardrop shapes. They are tiny, so use the needle tool to gently push them out. Also be sure to roll out the fondant very thinly. It's easier to place these once they've set a little.

Finishing the design
Gently lift the banner and place it on the cake, making sure the very top edge of the banner is at the central point of the cake. You can mark the cake's center if you don't want to eye it. Roll out green fondant in thin coils. I use one hand and a fondant smoother in the other as I roll on the table to keep it even. You can use the photo as a guide for where to place the green stems and leaves. Use a slightly wet tiny brush to adhere them in place. For the flowers, I used a small dab of royal icing to stick them in place. The pink flowers are made up of assorted size balls I rolled from light pink fondant, also stuck down with water. Again, feel free to use whatever color scheme you like.  As for the banner, I don't really have a reason for choosing "mother". You could easily write "mom" or a friend's name for a birthday cake. I used Tappits, but if you don't have a set, feel free to write with edible pens. 
Remember, this cake is for your mom. It doesn't need to be perfect - it just needs to be from you!