Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monsters Inc. Cake Pops

Our school's Lower Grade Halloween party was themed Monsters Inc.  Cake Pops work so well as a quick sweet easy grab at a big event like this, with so many kids running around in costume.  We always love to get the kids involved in making them too.  
At least once a year I forget how tricky I find cake pops to make and I think , "Oh this will be really cute!" and then a week later I can't see straight and swear we all have a touch of carpal tunnel and promise everyone never to do this again...(at least until next year : )

Two pals before their trip to School.  Mike seems doubtful, but they all (120 of them!) made it safely to the party.
The finished Mike cake with the mini Mike and Sulley cake pops.  The cake's giant eyeball and lid are sculpted from white modeling chocolate and we added an extra layer of white gel color mixed with vodka on the eye and teeth of the Mike cake.
Close up of mini Mike and Sulley.  Check out those great expressions and eye movement.
After a screening of the movie (and a fine film it is!), and researching all things Monsters Inc, including some of the amazing cakes and cake pops already out there, we had a plan.  Mike would be chocolate with vanilla buttercream, and Sulley would be vanilla with chocolate buttercream.  
I find the moist chocolate cake a little harder to work with, but slightly yummier.  Both pops were dipped in Wilton candy melts.  
Their eyeballs and horns were formed from white modeling chocolate.  Sulley has some facial structure, like his eyebrows, nose, cheeks and chin, sculpted out of blue modeling chocolate. The final detailing, like eyelids and fur were painted on with candy melts using a skewer.  Their monstrous teeth were piped last with royal icing.

Clockwise from top left:  
1. The eyes have it! Mike was looking all over the place. We used a large decorating tip for the outer eye and a smaller one for the outline of the inner one.  And later added a little white in the eye to give the signature cartoon character look.
2. The stages of Mike & SulleySulley: clean canvas, added eyes and nose, built up the chin with some modeling chocolate and gave him blue eyes, and added some hair and those signature bushy eyebrows.  We added some stripes to the horns later. Mike gets dunked, and painted.
3. A little help from our friends.  Nevia Giles is busy dipping dozens of Mike-pops. Nine year-old Paz got in the action and helped paint the cake, while
 Katherine Sprules and Julia formed some of the balls to make the right Mike shape, and attached them to the cake balls with some candy melts. 

I can't believe we hadn't thought of this before, but this Wilton Candy Melting Pot (we got ours at Michael's for 40% off! ) was a huge time saver!  You just have to pay attention to the amount of heat and take the silicone heating pot out of the heating element from time to time to keep the consistency right.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fish Tale: Sushi Cake:

There are some jobs you just can't say no to.  I really LOVED the ideas of giant replicas of sushi and the prospect of making a cake for a legendary chef.  After saying no (because of scheduling), the offer came back around again, and it was too irresistible...so, I said YES!

The final cake includes 24 handmade pieces of sushi and 12 "Hershey Kisses" all made from rice krispy treats and modeling chocolate.  Even the paper tags on the kisses are edible rice paper.

Each piece of sushi has a base of rice crispy treats and then covered with a thin layer of fondant. Next modeling chocolate "rice"was added with clear piping gel. The "fish" is made out of modeling chocolate covered in a really thin layer of fondant and then handpainted with food color
The fondant covered "sushi" was then hand painted in layers of tones of powdered food color mixed with lemon extract.  The silver coating on the mackerel in the foreground is done with different shades of silvers coated in a final layer of silver flakes.

It became very clear about half way through the process of making the cake that it was going to take way way longer than I thought it would to make all of the pieces of sushi. We averaged about two to three pieces of sushi per person per day. So we called in the Calvary with the last minute SOS messages and luckily I got some of my favorite people to lend a hand.

Cynthia's Amazing shrimps!!!

In the end, not all of the sushi made it onto the cake, but we enjoyed them instead : )
Creating a template for a layout of the sushi pieces before placing them on the cake.

For the sides of the "bento box"we rolled out panels of white chocolate fondant and then scored a wood grain effect into the chilled fondant.  After all of the panels were applied to the sides of the chocolate ganache covered cake, the outside was painted with a wash of powdered food color & lemon extract.
After the chilled chocolate-fondant panels were applied to the sides of the ganache covered cake, the outside was painted with a wash of powdered food color and lemon extract.

A big thanks goes out to everyone who worked on the cake with me.  (Top row from left to right:  Cynthia Hsu, Karin Cakirdas/Keremo Cakes, and Katherine Sprules/Katherine Sprules cakes.  Bottom row from left to right:  Kate Sullivan (that's me), Mariel Kaufman, and Nevia Giles, (not pictured here Tony Wright/Pastry Prince and Mandakini Dass.)

Nobu 20th anniversary celebration. Notable guests who turned out to congratulate Chef Nobu Matsuhisa included Robert De Niro, chef Thomas Keller, producer Meir Teper, and restauranteur Drew Nieporent. Courtesy Town and Country.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Win this beautiful Pink Glass Cake Stand!

Glass Cake Stand GIVEAWAY! 
All you have to do is go to this image on our Facebook page and press SHARE!! Then comment here on THIS original fb post to let me know you shared and want to win! On Wed. 9/10 we have a random drawing to choose one lucky winner! 
Here are the product details: Cake Stand (Crown Tuscan) 6" Originally made in the 1930's, the "Plain and Simple" cake stand is still Hand Made in the USA with the original molds acquired by Viking, LG Wright and Cambridge. Great for serving cakes, pastries, pies and quiche.
Best of Luck!!, ♥ Kate

Monday, August 25, 2014

GIVEAWAY for my Upcoming New (mystery) Craftsy Class

I Love this Class because its about one of my very favorite things! 
...and I'm so excited to share it!  We'll be unveiling lots of little sneak peeks over the next week or so...sooooo, while you don't know what the class is yet, what the heck, enter anyway, its free!
There's something for decorators at every level of experience, and cakes to cover every occasion.  Its filled with tons of tips and ideas. 
Please stay posted to our Facebook page for details and more really fun giveaways in the coming weeks--- (and "like" it if you haven't already, and check in and say hello in the comments section, we'd love to hear from you!)
XO, Kate

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Inspired by Students

I've been so very inspired and impressed by the cakes that my students have shared in our Craftsy
class. These are just some of the stunning Student Projects, (*click here to see all of them) from The 
Art of the painted Cake.  What a crazy amount of talent there is out there! I love to see all of the
different directions these techniques have been applied to.
clockwise from left: Hello Sunshine Cake Studio, Vagabond Baker and Anne Heap
Above are some wonderful examples of "Tie-Dyed" fondant covered cakes and painted flowers using
 a "Royal Icing Stamp" transfer method

Cakes by Krista.

To make this cake Krista used the pencil transfer technique from our class and the chalkboard design
 was inspired by and online class by Liz Marek 

clockwise from left: Albina's Custom Cakes, Bite Me Bakery and arkattica1165531
I love the 3D flower jumping right off of the painted flower! and the Dr. Seuss inspired black, white
 and red designs, and van Gogh styled sunflowers in these vibrant cakes that combine 2D and 3D
Crafty Mummy's Cakes
 The sweet simplicity of this family line drawing is so fun and delightful.

from top left: Lovely cakes by Eva, Simply Superb Cakes and debanderson@shaw.ca
Above: Its so cool to see such wonderful storybook approaches to cake decorating. 

Cake Power cakes
  (I was so inspired by Anne Heap's painted peony that now I want to paint peonies on everything!)

It was such a blast making this class because I have such a passion for painting on cakes and I'd love
to share it with as many people as possible!  If you'd like to take the class too click here for a 50% 
discount link ...and then I'd love to see what YOU do with it!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How Barbie Got Baked for VOGUE

Charles James Ball Gown as seen in Vogue 1951
I was definitely one of those kids who loved Barbies and all things dress-up growing up.  So, I really loved seeing this in the subject line of in my inbox: VOGUE story/Charles James. Vogue.com wanted to do a story in anticipation of the Met Gala in honor of Charles James assigning a handful of bakers to create "barbie cakes" modeled after iconic Charles James dresses. Yes!  I didn't even check my schedule, because it was just too fun to say no to! I have to admit, I have never made a Barbie cake before, but I have always been tickled the pure kitsch of it.  Then there was also something brazen and ironic, in the best possible way, about draping her in a gown by the legendary master of complex sculptural fashion design, Charles James.  
Here's a STEP BY STEP:
(this Barbie cake is dedicated to Brenda Maher :)

1. Paper dolls: cut out dress templates to a barbie-size scale
2. Barbie gets baked!
3. Cutting circles of moist and delicious chocolate cake for the gown
4. Clockwise from top left: Barbie wrapped in floral tape, and secured to base with dowel and modeling chocolate; the cake was built by cutting the circles in half and filling with buttercream; a quick crumb coat and carved for basic skirt shape
5. Cover cake skirt with modeling chocolate, and little run trial run with parchment paper
6. Drape modeling chocolate with fondant
7. Build up skirt poofs with modeling chocolate
8. Mold bodice onto figure and cover skirt with a super thin layer of fondant
(Queen's wave)
9. Details, details, details, then time to gild the Barbie
10. Barbie (looking pretty and oh so realistically hot at 55)

(Runway moves)

Charles James Ball Gown Barbie Cake as seen on Vogue.com 2014

To see the full Article: 6 Barbie Cakes Modeled After Dresses by Charles James by Mieke ten Have.
Thank you, Mieke ten Have!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kylie & Icing Smiles

All strapped down and loaded into the ambulance I stared at the ceiling and started tearing up. "Don't cry lady, you're going to be fine.  You're very lucky," the EMT guy assured with a wink.  But that wasn't what I was crying about.  I felt pretty sure I could tell that it wasn't anything too serious, and aside from sheer the shock of being hit by a car,  I was upset because I had a cake due in a few days. All I could think was "how am I going to get that cake done?"
I'm fine, I have a fractured leg, but nothing that won't be completely healed in a few months.  
I'd received an Icing Smiles email two weeks earlier, which meant that there's a little kid far away from home in a hospital receiving treatment on their birthday for something pretty serious and their parents have reached out to Icing Smiles to arrange for a really special birthday cake.

This is me on a cake delivery being wheeled around by my friends Tracy Quisenberry from Icing Smiles and Cynthia Hsu, who along with two wonderful and dedicated interns Mariel and Mandakini did most of the heavy lifting on this cake

This is the spectacular Kylie.  Five months ago Kylie was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma.
I'd been following Kylie's story on Facebook, and it's utterly impossible not to fall in love with her and her amazing family. I was so struck by how much faith, love and courage they have and the enormous positivity and joy in their perspective. You really can't predict the timing and how the kids will be responding to their treatment on the day of their birthday, and Kylie was having a very rough day. It was also Mother's Day.  Bree's fondest wish for the day was for her sweet daughter to open her eyes, which she did, repeatedly.
Kylie's family along with Barbara Zobian from Candlelighters, NYC had done a beautiful job decorating her hospital room somehow making it festive and filled with love. Kylie's grandfather, Larry greeted everyone with big heart, open arms and stories for everyone.

"Kylie's favorite stuffed animals Turtle, Whoo Whoo (blue owl), meow meow, and chirp chirp... Kylie picked the names :) . She is in love w her animals and they all have special jobs to help her," mom Bree told me.

A seemingly tireless Tracy Quisenberry, loving force and founder of Icing Smiles, talks to mom, Bree, and the rest of the family after making the four-and-a-half hour drive down from DC to NYC for the landmark event.

This is Kylie's 2nd birthday cake.  It was also Icing Smiles 5,000th cake!
For me it was like coming full circle because I had the honor of making one of their first cakes four years ago.
Icing Smiles, a national, non-profit organization brightens the birthdays of children fighting cancer and other critical illnesses by supplying specialty birthday cakes for them and their siblings. Their goal of impacting not just the sick child, but their entire family, Icing Smiles makes it their mission to help create lasting memories and a day of normalcy despite hospitalization and illness.  Icing Smiles has over 5500 active volunteers across all 50 states delivering not just birthday cake, but real smiles for families undergoing an incredibly strenuous fight.

Clockwise from left: one of the amazingly upbeat nurses at the hospital, Tracy, Larry (grandfather/ambassador of good will), Chirp Chirp (valued member of Kylie's stuffed animal support team) and me.

We have a lot of stuffed animals around our house too, and pulled some in to model for us

Cynthia paints an ear with a powder pink food color mixed with lemon extract

Finishing up the details, a sea turtle from the San Diego Zoo gets his spots

Sweet fondant covered birds, ready for action

Inside: chocolate cake with layers of chocolate and vanilla buttercream

There's always a little bit of holding our breaths when its time for stacking...

Mom and Dad welcome us in as Kylie sleeps surrounded by love and her favorite stuffed animals.

The incredibly uplifting Barbara from Candlelighers, NYC compares the real Meow Meow to the cake version while Kylie holds on super tight to mom's hand

Usually we would make something on the scale of these beanie boos out of rice krispie treats covered in a sculpting chocolate and fondant and the turtles would be made out of cake.  For Kylie's cake we carved them out of Styrofoam, and covered them in chocolate and fondant in case she wasn't able to enjoy them on the day of her birthday, they would be there for her when she is more awake.
Someone commented on Kylie's facebook page recently that they "prayed that the tubes all over are soon replaced with fingerprint and cookie crumbs and instead of ventilators and moniter beeps all you hear are giggles and laughter."  I second that emotion.