Friday, December 2, 2011

Little Roses Cupcakes and Nails

Found gorgeous little 'vintage rose' cupcake wrappers and stared at them for a few weeks trying to decide what to do with them. I frosted the cupcakes to match the wrappers... then painted my nails to match the cupcakes. Little roses, all the way down.

The cupcakes are 'fridge leftover cupcakes' which is a rather unattractive name, but easier than 'strawberry wine - orange juice - vanilla pudding' cupcakes with 'coconut - cream cheese - french vanilla - baileys buttercream'. Sounds like a hot mess, I know, but they were incredibly delicious and moist summery cupcakes. Like an creamsicle, for adults.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Ugly Fairy Cake

A friend asked for a birthday cake with an 'ugly fairy' on top. So cute!

I made a mossy, plump fairy with dimply, foldy skin, belly button and a party hat.

He's made out of gumpaste, except his wings which are chocolate. I used a new-to-me technique, instead of making and assembling the individual parts - rolling little sausages for arms and legs - I started out with a piece of gumpaste that I kept kneading and rolling in my hands and then 'pulled out' his arms, legs and ears and carved his face with the end of a gumpaste tool and a teeny awl.

The cake is a six-layer banana toffee cream cake with caramel banana cream filling, my 'magic vanilla' buttercream, and modelling chocolate ribbon roses. I was incredibly shocked (and flattered!) to find out that she'd wanted this cake flavour for over a year, since trying it at another party.

I loved making this cake. I giggled through the making of the ugly fairy and was happy with every step. I'm definitely going to use modelling chocolate for ribbon roses in the future, I found they worked better than fondant, dried nicely without any cracking or crumbly edges and I highly enjoy the "Yay, it's chocolate!" reaction face.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jewellery Hanger Tutorial

I've been working on a project to make a huge wall-mounted wire tree jewellery hanger. Completed the plans, have most of the materials, and now all I need is a few days of peace and quiet to get the wire work done. So... maybe sometime next year.

In the meantime, I made a jewellery organizer/display using a plastic coat hanger and cable ties. It works very well, looks nice and holds a lot more weight than I had expected. Want to make one?

You will need:
One heavy plastic coat hanger
12-18 cable ties
Nail file
Wall hook for hanging

1. Take your hanger and attach a dozen cable ties so that they're almost tight. Leave enough space for them to slide around. Do them all at once.

2. Put the hanger down on a flat surface, with all cable tie ends pointing up. Slide the cable ties into position. My hanger has 15 cables on it, placed about an inch apart.

3. Tighten the cable ties, making sure the ends are all pointing straight up. Cut them short and use the file to smooth the edges. This is the back of the hanger,  the cable tie bits that are sticking up will press against the wall, holding the hanger a little away so that you can put your jewellery on.

4. Hang it on the wall, hang your necklaces, enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peacock Beaded Earrings

This is really one of the saddest excuses for not posting... but I loathe that I can't use the 'switch account' option for Blogger. I've pinned my gmail and calendar as app tabs in my browser and it's just very aggravating to be logged out... yep, saddest excuse ever.

However, it's now November which means that I'll be making things while procrastinating and fretting over my NaNoWriMo.

Like these. I was making some earrings with purple and blue beads on them and started thinking about peacocks. I ended up playing around with a design until I came up with these shoulder-dusters. They're heavy, extremely sparkly and I love them.

Peacock-inspired beaded chandelier earrings

Now I need to go to a party so I can wear them. And maybe tonight I'll make a matching cocktail ring.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cake

I went to a birthday party this weekend. Great party. Backyard, fire, tons of food.

Made cake, of course. This is a six-layer 'extreme chocolate' cake. It's actually a quintuple-chocolate cake, so dark it's nearly black. You can smell the chocolate down the hall. My favourite cake!

Two thin layers of chocolate sandwich a layer of creamy mint filling between each layer of cake. Chocolate buttercream and a nice thick coating of chocolate ganache. Cake ruffle and piping are done in mint filling as well - delicious, but a bit difficult to pipe.

I will definitely make this cake again. The ganache with the peppermint filling is like eating delicious candy. I recommend this cake be sliced into thin leaves as it's incredibly rich.

I also made mini-cupcakes, milk chocolate cake with a rolo baked in the centre, chocolate buttercream frosting, a drizzle of whiskey-caramel sauce and topped with another rolo...

...Unfortunately, this is the only picture I took. I'll just have to make those again, as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Glitter of Tiaras

I'm a fan of sparkly things, and I've made a lot of tiaras lately. 

A lot.

Yay for glitter and sparkle!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toronto Bake Sale Follow-up

So the Bake Sale for Japan raised $30,000 - including over $4000 at the Liberty Noodle.

I made 200 cupcakes for the sale in seven different flavours!

1. Dark Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and gold dragees.
2. Mocha cake with mocha buttercream and a chocolate malt ball
3. White tea cake with pink vanilla frosting and white chocolate leaf
4. Orange chai cake with vanilla chai frosting and white chocolate leaf
5. Chocolate hazelnut cake with a chocolate frosting/nutella swirl and a pirouline cookie
6. Keylime cake with coconut cream frosting, a sprinkle of coconut and a lime candy
7. Cherry vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, cherry candy and pink pearl sprinkles

Monday, April 4, 2011

Toronto Bakes For Japan!

Want cake?

I will be at the Toronto Bakes for Japan bake sale, this coming Sunday, April 10th from 11am to 3pm at Liberty Noodle (171 East Liberty St, Toronto)

Come on out and help us raise money for an excellent cause! I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gumpaste figures, tips...

... and embracing your inner artist.

You know that old joke about making something from scratch? (First, create the universe...) This comes to mind often when I'm learning something new.

Painted gumpaste frog
I want to take better pictures for my blog! Okay... researching how to do this... a few weeks pass, the next thing I know, I'm in the living room trying to build a lightbox out of parchment paper and poster board.

I want to make better gumpaste figures! Okay, first, learn to make gumpaste. Learn to make figures. Research. Learn that I need to learn to draw first. Think about acquiring mad fine piping skills with the ability to draw, be inspired.

Luckily (!), as you know, I've been madly sick for over a month, which gives me some time to work on drawing skills and pile up stacks of paper by the bed.

Learning to draw is amazing. They really mean it when they say everyone can learn to draw, they just need practice. I'm sad now that I didn't take any art classes in school, it seems I missed out on a lot of fun! (Is it weird that I don't consider myself an 'art-person'? How about if I make cakes and jewellery and craft a lot?)

Noah's Ark Cake

I'm learning more about things that I already do - for example, the sugar frog above I made after looking at many, many pictures of frogs and trying to draw my own. I'm learning to really, really not skimp on sketching the cake ahead of time.

I'm also learning about 'how to see shapes' - breaking down figures into ovals to make sure you get the lines right. This is extremely helpful for building figures, since they're essentially formed from those oval pieces and then smoothed.

The Noah's Ark cake was my first cake with so many gumpaste figures on it. It was semi-sketched in advance, and I really hope to get another chance to make a similar cake again. I love those elephants.

I learned a Valuable Lesson about leaving appropriate drying times for gumpaste figures when making those elephants, though.

If you're learning how to make gumpaste figures, I strongly recommend that you make sure to leave more drying time than you think you need. And then leave some more. It might be a bit difficult to get over the feeling that if you make figures and flowers too far in advance they won't be 'fresh'... but gumpaste lasts for a very, very long time.Trust me. Sometimes, clients will keep the gumpaste figures as souvenirs, and a year later you'll spot them at their house (and then possibly escape into the bathroom for a private, sniffly they-loved-it!! moment).

Princess Pillow Cake with Gumpaste Tiara
Gumpaste might also be a little bit stronger than you expect it to be. My first gumpaste tiara was made for my friend dee's birthday.

A pillow cake covered in fondant with fondant ribbon roses and cameos, little pink pearls and a gumpaste tiara, I loved every moment of working on this cake... except for the terror every time I needed to move the tiara.

I put it in a plastic ice-cream container to travel, with a few paper towels to hold it in place and proceeded to drive the bumpiest roads in Toronto to dee's place. Solid as a rock. A sparkly, swirly rock. A sparkly, swirly rock that I dropped once, banged into the car door once (still in the container!) and still, it stayed intact.

(On a slight aside, there should be a therapy group for people who deliver cakes. Crazy stressful, that is. Or perhaps a group for the drivers, to help them get their adrenaline levels under control after delivering a fragile cake that a stressed baker is holding on to while screaming about bumps?)

I'd like to do more figures with modelling chocolate. I love the convenience of gumpaste. It's easy to make, to shape, to paint or colour, but even though it's primarily sugar, I'm not crazy about the taste. Modelling chocolate, however, tastes like fresh Tootsie Rolls and I could eat an entire batch of it.


Actually, maybe I should stick with gumpaste...

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Day of Many Earrings

or: What to do with a bunch left-over random beads and bits. 

I have random containers with beads all over the house. :|

I'm not very good at designing jewellery in advance. I'm working on it, but many of my pieces are things that sorta happened as I went along. Sure, creative fires and energy and all that, but I do end up with a lot of unsorted beads... everywhere.

(I can recognize the 'I just stepped on a bicone, run for your life' yelp from down the hall.)

Every once in awhile, it's time for an earring day.

You will need: earring wires, jump rings, headpins, a bowl of random beads and bits and your jewellery pliers. You'll also need a comfy place, a couple of movies and a large plate to put your beads on. Or a piece of textured fabric on your tv table.

I prefer using the lever-backed earring findings over regular earwire findings, I like the way they look and feel, plus they can't fall out... and you can clasp pairs of earrings together.  For an earring day though, a cheap back of wire findings from Arton Beads downtown. $4.30 for enough for 50 pairs!

This step takes at least a movie. I took the unsorted bowl of chaos and sorted by type, when that was finished, I put them on headpins. Most are finished with a wrapped loop.

This is the fun part. Sorted the bits and beads into earring groupings, playing around with different colour and size combinations. Then, jump rings to attach the earwires to the group of beads (or to the bits of chain, or random earring findings).

Yay, a lot of new earrings! I avoided having to sort all those beads back into their original containers and I have a whole bunch of sparkly inspiration for upcoming matching jewellery!

I feel like shiny silver ready-for-the-sun rainbow jewellery is going to be coming up soon!