Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Many Faces of Bee Bee; Dog Cake

This was a very special cake for me because it is a follow-up for my very first client from 23 years ago. 
That first cake was a bib-shaped baby shower cake that I learned how to make from Colette Peter's book, Colette's cakes.  
Fastforward to today and this cake is the college graduation cake for that same "baby" all grown up and amazing, graduating from Barnard.

Left: A Dog in Paris.  Right: The many sides of Bee Bee.

The concept behind the cake was to combine two passions: 
A beloved Havanese dog named Bee Bee, with wardrobe and costume styling and design.


Cactus Bee Bee, and Little Red Riding Bee-Bee
Alexander Mc-Queen Bee-Bee
Barnard Graduate Bee-Bee
The real life Bee Bee, perhaps one of the cutest dogs ever.

Once the idea for the cake was down on paper, the challenge was to figure out how to execute six different hand sculpted figures in a relatively short period of time.  
For that, I need to give a huge shout-out to Sachiko Windbiel from Mimicafe Union!! I met Sachiko at a great Karen Portaleo class recently and was immediately smitten by both her charm and her outstanding work. 
My sculpting medium of choice is usually modeling chocolate . But when it comes to making really small figures, modeling chocolate can become somewhat less lovable.  
Tiny fingers and toes are always coming undone. I needed to try something else, so I got Sachiko's tutorial video, How to Make a Standing Fondant Figure. 
For me, (very much a creature of habit) there was a bit of a learning curve moving from modeling with chocolate to coaxing shapes out of fondant, but I have to say once I got the hang of it, I was all in.  AND no fingers or toes were lost in the process : )

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Have Dragon, Will Travel! The Story of the Dancing Dragon Cake

 Cake for a lovely Chinese New Year celebration at the Golden Unicorn Restaurant in New York
The story of this Dragon cake, I'll call him Elmer Elevator in honor of one of my favorite children's books, kind of begins, at The Institute of Culinary Education at its new super gorgeous location near One World Trade Center in NYC. I brought Elmer's unfinished head along to show a physical example of a work-in-progress to talk about how the final decorating details are done as part of my talk for their Professional Demonstrations and Lectures series

OK, really, a good rule of thumb is to not add on any extra road-trips for a floated cake I'm grateful that while we tempted fate 3 times, this piece proved to be very hearty and forgiving!

The head of the cake is sculpted out of Rice Krispie Treats and modeling chocolate. Elmer's eyelashes and a beard made from cut rice paper sprayed with gold food colorThe long body was red velvet cake filled with a chocolate ganache and  buttercream filling. Both the head and body were covered in fondant, embossed with patterns and then painted with powdered food color mixed with lemon extract.

Maria and the Dragon:  The base was built using wooden dowels inset into foam-core boards and secured with hot glue.  The head is on a separate stand that could then be inserted into the full base.  By the time we were ready to build a base for the body, the timing had become a troublesome issue for me and I started talking about speeding up the process by simplifying the base structure as much as possible and have most of the body sit flat on the board. Malena Tillous, a very talented cake designer who was assisting with the cake, wouldn't hear of it. We talked about some of the options for building it and how much time I thought it would take and how I wasn't event sure the idea would work...but before I could talk anyone out of it, she got to work and had it done in half the time I'd imagined and it was surprisingly sturdy...Triumph!

I love kids...there was a very enthusiastic reception for the cake...I actually saw a fair amount of plate licking going on (and while this caused some parental dismay, it warmed my heart!)

There, can you see the giant dancing dragon, right in the window?! The Store was filled with them.
Before starting most projects I spend some time researching images on line.  I filled a folder with photos from all different sources for reference for Chinese New Year parades and Dragons.  After struggling with getting the shape of the head right for a long while, I finally hightailed it to Pearl River in Soho. (I've loved Pearl River Mart since I was in high school, and very sadly, I made it there just before they closed their doors forever just after Chinese New Year in February.)  I was so glad to get there one last time and was able to get two small figurines. Having them as 3D references made all the difference.  

Bring us the head of that Dragon!
The final Chapter: I got a text from a friend letting me know that the principal of our school had brought a bit of Elmer back from the celebration and placed it in a really lovely showcase in the lobby of the school. Awww! (It made me cry a little) While I usually do like to see everything get eaten, I could not have been more surprised and delighted than to see it treated with such care and love.

Photographs on location at the Institute of Culinary Education by Casey Feehan

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Icing Smiles New Jersey Candy Shoppe Cocktail Bop!

If I close my eyes,  I can still hear "The Way You Look Tonight",  and taste the chocolate mousse.

I could say a thousand things about how much I loved this event, and how moved I am at  the love and generosity of everyone involved, but I'm going to try to let the gorgeous photographs by photographer Tania Colamarino (with some friends and family snapshots sprinkled in for good measure) do the talking... 

What a fun and fabulous night!! I never cease to be amazed by my friends, (and powerful forces-of-nature), Anne Heap and Elisa Strauss.  They pulled out all the stops to create the first ever Icing Smiles New Jersey Candy Shoppe Cocktail Bop.  top right: Anne and her team of "Candy Girls" were absolute Show-Stoppers!  bottom left: me, Anne, Elisa and Tracy Quisenberry, the outstanding founder of Icing Smilesbottom right: Amazing Vintage Candy Design Cake from Pink Cake box!


THANK YOU, Team Theresa Fisher (aka BFF)! Yaaay! Theresa devotes a huge amount of love, time and energy to a cause that's very close to her heart, Tunnel to Towers.  So when I invited her to be part of a cause that's close to my heart, not only did she jump in, but she jumped in with both feet and all of her heart!  Theresa made a special trip in from New Hampshire and brought her both own family and some of her Tunnel to Towers family with her.  top left: Donna Fisher, Bridget Fisher, Kate Sullivan, Theresa Fisher, Nell Simon and Sierra Coughlin. top right: Nell Simon, Theresa Fisher, Colleen Grace, Amanda Stefanese and Paola Tornabene.


Thank you to Marc Coolrecht, Benny Rivera, Sarah Pleitez of City Cakes, not only for bringing the muscle and joy to the party...but for the HUNDREDS of amazingly delicious as always cupcakes  


Hearts of Gold: Meet the Biggars! What can I say? I practically accosted Liz Asaro-Biggar at a party recently and asked her for advice about helping out with a fundraiser.  Once she heard about what Icing Smiles was, her immediate response was to say "Can I buy 10 tickets?" Liz and her family added a special magic to the evening. clockwise from top left: sweet Anne with one of her auction prizes; Family photo: Matt Asaro, Steve Biggar, George, Liz Biggar, Jack, Anne, and Sydney.  Treats: Happy little chocolate cake-pop cones based on Wayne Thiebaud‬ Painting by Cake Power


(George. George's mom told me at the beginning of the evening that he doesn't like candy)


clockwise from top left: Donuts! I seriously love this doughnut-shop cake by Christina Pagan!  Wonderful Robert DeLuca of BobbyDbaker with Vikki Scotti DeLuca;

and Gin Fizz setting the tone and serenading us through the evening


Q: What do you get when you ask dozens of bakers to dinner?  A: Lots of leftovers... seriously, a veritable fantasy never-ending dessert table!


Two more of my BFF's, the inimitable Aster and Terefech, honored guest bakers.


I enjoyed meeting Stacey and Orlando León of Butterfly Bakeshop so much! We were able to both bond over what it's like to have a cake business in NY,  and it turns out that our kids are about the same age, so we could also compare parenting notes...not to mention discuss and compare the merits of the 2 Yummy signature cocktails of the evening.  Cake: Amy Kolz of Village CakeCraft made this so crazy adorable (the milk bottle is out of control!) Its alway great to see Denise Passarelli of Denise Makes Cakes and Shamar Frisby.


The Incredibles: Elisa Strauss, Jenny McCoy and Danny Tagino; The sultry and sophisticated jazz quintet, Gin Fizz


and a sampling of what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of really delectable and adorable desserts from mousses to tarts to a colorful macaroon tower brought by Corina Dumitru-Fritz - Cake Passion and Yvonne Ortiz-Galarza - Heavenly Sweets and Pastries

clockwise from top left: The Marvelous and Lovely Ladies of Keremo Cakes pictured here with the Scintillating and Amazing Cynthia Hsu; The Fascinating Brad Jarman and Jeff Grossman; The Death-Defying Michael Timmons and Jennifer Bunce of The Hudson Cakery


clockwise from top left: The Remarkable Stephanie Grajales and Bethania Gonzalez; A Jewel-like Pulled Sugar Lollipop Cake by Lauri Ditunno of Cake Alchemy; The Always Delightful Amy Kolz of Village Cake Craft  and John Kolz; and Raspberry tarts that melt in your mouth.


I'd like to thank Michelle Effron of Eat Great Cakes (left) for making it look like I had the super hot and sought after silent auction item by revving things up with a good old fashioned bidding war!  No really, you rock.  Wayne Thiebaud ‬inspired "Ice Cream" Cake: Cake Power

and thank you, Marc Ricks, David Levinthal and Jesse Heap.

Hello, Carmen Serrano... always working!

There are so many people we want to shout-out to... this is just the first in a series of posts...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cupcake Class: We ❤️ Tunnel to Towers

I was so happy and honored to have the amazing people from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation over for a studio visit and cupcake class this week.  The kindness and compassion of everyone I've met in the organization continues to blow me away.  Please join us next year in September for a very powerful and moving Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk.
*The Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors and supports our first responders and most catastrophically injured service members.
We started with a classic piped cupcake rose with a Wilton 2D tip

While everyone said they were beginners, I don't know ; )...these guys were good!

This is a super fun video tutorial on how to pipe a swirl rose: Lindsay Ann Bakes

After piping we moved on to gum paste flowers painted with petal dust

A simple confectioners' sugar and butter based buttercream is used for piping

I love using gold foil cupcake liners! They add a festive touch to any design

Veined sunflower, daisy and gerbera plunger cutters were used for daisies

We used a hydrangea flower cutter set with silicone veiner for making hydrangeas

Thank you Jen, Marie, Theresa, Coleen, Viki, Amanda, Jen, Erin, Sam, Janice, Shelly and Sanny for a really great afternoon! *And Thank you to Maria for all the behind the scenes work!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Whitney Museum Cake

 Event Photography by Filip Wolak, courtesy Virginia Overton and the Whitney Museum 

I was thrilled and delighted when I was asked by renowned sculptor and installation artist Virginia Overton to produce a cake of the Whitney Museum for her presentation as part of the Whitney's ongoing series 99 objects.

Above: VIDEO excerpts of the event shot by our good friend, Boaz Halaban

Named in honor of the Whitney’s new address, 99 Gansevoort Street, 99 Objects is a series of in-gallery programs focusing on individual works of art from the Museum’s collection on view as part of the exhibition America Is Hard to See
Speakers include artists, writers, Whitney curators and educators, and an interdisciplinary group of scholars. Programs take place daily.

Where to start? The first cut is the hardest... (the royal icing front railings are already down, and I love how they became like sprinkles around the base of cake)

Ah, What a delicious museum!

Special thank you to 
Cake assistants: Sara Porter, María Tillous, Kanupriya Kesari
 Architectural consultant: Mané Nalbandyan
 Intern: Remy Stankus.  
Also to Ryan Oskin, Hillel Katz, Larry Krone, Matthew Griffin, David Levinthal and of course, Virginia Overton.

Part 2- and now for any cake nerds out there... the making of the cake:

Before the delivery.  A thunder-stormy, cobble-stoney delivery.  Thanks to Ryan, the cake arrived just fine. (perhaps a little tiny bit worse for wear.)

Pieces of cake buildings and Rice Krispie treat balconies
Attaching the royal icing railings and finishing details on location

Sketches made to scale the size of the cake and lots of photos for reference
Mané spent several days, first finding 3D renderings on line to print our 3D model from, and creating at least a dozen pages of block dimensions, footprints and detailing dimensions

The cake was covered in white chocolate fondant rolled out into large panels

Watching the building get served up, while in the building was very cool!


Printing out a 3D model was key to figuring out the shapes of the building.