Car Cake Failure

I hesitate to write this post. I’ve written about the things I’ve messed up but I think this one takes the cake (no pun intended). I was asked to make a cake in the shape of a car. Again, this was a last second cake so I had no time to try and do a practice run. I really wished I had a practice run.

I spent a day or two looking at pictures and trying to find blue prints for the car that they wanted. Specifically, a BMW X3. It didn’t seem too hard to do,  but… I’ve never carved a 3D cake before. I did that tooth cake some time back but that really isn’t the same thing. I was prepared for my kitchen to be a disaster with the carving. I know my kitchen is big, but I feel like the counter space isn’t placed out correctly. Having a kitchen island would be great.

carfailpic1Anyway, enough with my complaining. I’m going to bite the bullet and just write this post out. Below is what I baked. I used a metal flower nail in the middle of the pan to generate heat so the outside wouldn’t burn before the middle was cooked. I figured three would be a good side for an SUV. Looking back on it I should have made it safe with 4.

carfailpic2I used a new recipe. A vanilla pound cake. I was worried the usual vanilla cake that I used would be too soft and wouldn’t carve. Everything I saw online said to line up the picture with the cake and just carve it.

carfailpic3I had issues with it sagging on the sides too. Now the picture below is with the cakes frozen so you don’t see any sagging on the sides, but the cakes did seem much firmer and easier to work with. The picture on the bottom is after my carving attempt. I don’t think I had enough of blueprints to really work it out well. The back was too flat but I felt the top had the correct height and slope. My cutting was sloppy, but at this moment I thought I really had something good going on (though looking at it here I should have used more of the 3rd cake for the roof).

carfailpic4The next step was to crumb coat it. I was moving fast since I wanted the cake still frozen when I did this. I didn’t move fast enough because some parts started to fall off. I should have put it back in freezer for a half hour after I “carved” it.

carfailpic5So I filled in the holes and finished covering it. I then left it out to settle. I thought it looked decent here, maybe a little too boxy but I figured the details would fix that issue.

carfailpic6So here is a picture of what I thought would be my pride and joy… “The Mat.” I’ve heard many things about this apparent “miracle” mat. It was a birthday present. I watched the video on how to “season” the mat. I had some serious issues with using the mat with pockets forming on the fondant and it was hard to roll out. I couldn’t worry too much about it since I had to get moving on covering the car. I must have rerolled out he fondant a dozen times to try and get it to cover the car correctly.

carfailpic7You can see in the bottom picture that I finally covered the car. I definitely rolled out the fondant too thick and put too thick of a coat of buttercream on the car. It almost completely removed the slope on the car. I didn’t have time to redo the entire car since the cake was due in a few hours. I picked up some silver mist spray from Michaels. The didn’t have the silver in the Wilton spray so I picked up the pearl color, and then the silver in the Duff brand. You can see the color difference between the two. On the left is the pearl, and the right the Duff silver. I went with the pearl color. You can see it completed with the spray on the bottom (with the too thick fondant).

carfailpic8After the cake was covered I took out more pictures of the car and pulled up a chair. It was time to add all the details. I was hoping with the details it would make the shape look like a car. I wanted to remove the wheels and cover them completely in fondant. The videos I was watching showed that you push the cookie cutter into the cake and pull out the shape. Yeah, that didn’t happen. So I was going to have to make due. In the future I think you should cut out the wheels first. It just popped into my head, but I should have used a spoon to scoop it out.

carfailpic9Believe it or not, I spent a few hours putting all the details below on the cake. I broke out the pasta machine to make the small and window outlines. I tried to follow the lines of the car exactly. I used edible marker to color in the BMW sign and the license plate.

carfailpic10Now here is where I made a big mistake. I went to bed after I finished the few details on the car. When I woke up, I got the lights ready to push into the car. I got them at a party city (I had to call over a dozen places online to find someone that had it). They are small LED lights that lasts about 8 hours. I pushed them right into the cake… but the fondant had already dried so it immediately caused cracks. I thought about not using them but then they cracks would look insane. I just kept with the lights.

carfailpic12Here is a picture of the car with the lights off and on (obviously). From far away it doesn’t look too terrible.

carfailpic11Now here is the bad part. I dropped off the cake after keeping the air conditioning blowing on it all the way there. When I dropped it off I told them to keep it cool and be careful with it. Clearly something happened to it. It just looks flat! I know the cake I made was on the flatter side, but it was no where near this bad. I honesty have no idea what happened here.

carfailpic13Overall, I was severely disappointed with this cake. I hated making it, I hated it when I was finished and I was embarrassed to give it away. I was going to have a backup cake but it took way too long to do.  Oh well. Here is my car cake fail. My shameful, shameful cake.

Last minute birthday cake!

After the cake pop fiasco, I was happy to be home and able to relax. I was looking forward to getting a good nights sleep. As I sat on my front porch after taking my dog for a walk, I got a text from my sister. A teacher of my niece’s wanted to see if I could make a birthday cake for the next day. I thought she was kidding me at first. No way, right? But yeah… Way… While I sat there for a moment wondering if I could do it, or if I even wanted to do it… I decided I had to. But then I remembered it would probably be easy! I had cakes in the freezer! A 6″ chocolate, an 8″ chocolate, and about 5 pounds of buttercream. I was told the person ordering wanted to try something different (usually orders vanilla with vanilla buttercream). So I figured I could make my normal vanilla cake, but maybe try a custard. If that was the case, I really didn’t have much to make! Easy peasy! Let’s go for it!

ImageI’m not sure why I haven’t learned by now. Disaster traveled with me the rest of the night. God. Will it ever be easy? I started the evening off with making the vanilla cake. I made it like I always do. I put the bake even strips on, oiled the pan, put down the parchment paper, everything normal. But for some reason, they didn’t rise correctly. And then when I tried to pull the parchment paper off, chunks of the cake came with it! I was baffled. No idea why this was happening. I didn’t trust making the cakes with these, so I started over. But again, flashing forward another hour and a half, the very same thing happened. No idea why! Why would it stick to parchment paper? Why? I still can’t figure it out. Just looking at these pictures makes me upset about it all over again.

ImageAfter I had my broken vanilla cakes sitting all sad looking on their wire racks, I set up my chocolate cake. My plan for the birthday cake was a two tier: 8″ and 6″. Since I already had an 8″ chocolate and an 6″, I just cut the 8″ down to a 6″ so I wouldn’t have to make another chocolate cake. Bonus!

ImageI made a chocolate buttercream for the filling in the top layer of the cake. I figured this would be different for them, but I was told that someone at the party hates chocolate and I wanted to keep all the chocolate in one layer.

Below, you can see my attempt at filling the bottom layer with a vanilla custard. I found a recipe that seemed easy to make. It took an extremely long time to cool after I finally got it at the right consistency I needed as a cake filling. It tasted okay, as I expect a custard to taste. I piped a buttercream dam around the edge. A little voice in my head told me I should make a bigger dam (in fact, I should get a bigger round tip, going to make a note of that). Anyway, I filled in the cake and I knew it was already a bad idea. But I figured, hey! Maybe I’m wrong. Let’s stack it and see.

No, no no. Horrible. As you can see in the picture below the buttercream dam started to push outside of the crumb coat. I waited longer to see what would happen, and the custard began to leak out of the cake. I was very upset. I tried plugging the holes, and wiping away the custard, anything that I thought would work. Things were going wrong one after the other and at this point and I was again questioning why I do this to myself. I should admit, I even threw a spatula across the kitchen at one point. I was pretty angry.

14bdaycake4So here is where a slightly positive thing happened. I had to toss the cake with the custard. There was no way I could hope the custard would stay in place so I had to make a new bottom for the cake. Now earlier in the day, I made an extra two vanilla cakes because of that parchment problem. So luckily I was able to level and fill those extra two cakes and fill them with buttercream. I really wanted the custard to work. But if I think about how things ended up, maybe it was a good thing all these bad things happened because I was told that the custard and cake didn’t taste great. I’ll have to work on that at some point. On weeks that I don’t have anything to do, like this week because I had a canceled cake, I should be practice more cakes. Ah well, soon enough I suppose.

Anyway. I used a 1M tip and piped swirls on the cake. I made a ton of purple buttercream and then the two lighter colors. I took purple fondant and cut out two circles and a heart. Shaped it with a toothpick to make a little dress. I decorated it with royal icing and a flower. I set it up to dry until right before I had to deliver the cake. The dress was easy to make actually. I should make more of these for simple decorations.

14bdaycake5Below is a closeup picture of the little dress I made. I wasn’t sure how to use it as the cake topper since I didn’t want the bottom to sink into the buttercream. I ended up making a large ball of fondant and sticking it into the cake, then taking a toothpick and attaching the ball inside the cake, and the ball under the dress (that was helping to shape it). This held the dress just above the buttercream.

14bdaycake6I then took another piece of fondant and wrote out happy birthday on it. I’m not a big fan on my handwriting, but if I had more time, and more fondant I would have practiced this more. Also, this would be good to add to the cake before the buttercream crusts so it doesn’t make any of the flowers crack.

14bdaycake7The cake almost made it there without fault. I didn’t think to “glue” the bottom cake board to the larger board. It ended up sliding into the large box I can it in and smashing a flower. So, something else I’ve learned is to make sure that cake is glued with royal icing, or buttercream, or both! Just make sure it can’t move.

It ended up being a very long night for something I thought I could do in a few hours. Oh well.

18th Birthday Cake

I think I should have a reality show. Just some cameras around the kitchen that film me when I make a cake. I’m sure people would love to watch me have mental break downs, sometimes cry, throw things around the kitchen, and talk about how I’m wasting my time with what I’m doing, yelling how something only is getting me $50 and I spent 12 hours making it… Yeah, I’m a mess. A horrible, horrible mess when I’m doing a cake. I really should consider a small sedative.

Anyway! As you can see below, I was ready for a long night. You can also see that it was day time when I started. God, this was a long day/night. I had my coffee ready.

ImageI started soaking my new bake-even strips from Wilton. I figured they were worth a shot. They are supposed to prevent the sides from cooking before the middle, and therefor make for even baking. They suggested soaking for at least 5 minutes before putting them around the cake pan.

ImageRight after the batter was finished mixing I wrapped the cake pans in the strips. I left them soaking. When I put them in the oven, I heard some sizzling as the edges touched the bottom. I pushed the two pans together to prevent the strips from hitting the oven. When I looked into the oven, I was shocked to see my cakes were baking level. I wish I could express how excited I was to see them baking like this. Perfection really.

ImageThey took a little longer to cook (about 10 more minutes), but look at them. Just look at them! All that baked even perfection. Sigh. Not sure I would ever get something this level and perfect again. I also knew this was bad foreshadowing. Something going so right at the start? Yeah. This means problems ahead… And… Yes. Problems happened.

ImageI decided I wanted to make a 8″ layer, 6″, and top it off with a 4″. I bought 4″ cake pans. I thought they looked pretty cute.

ImageLook how beautiful they all are just sitting there. All level, and waiting to be decorated. I wish i could have left them like this.

ImageIt was time to make my buttercream. I bought a new container of Crisco. Not sure why I’m adding this picture (it’s getting late), but I thought the Crisco looked so pretty all smooth in the container. I’m weird, okay?

ImageI followed this old recipe I had for a crusting buttercream. There was some notation from the author that she always tripled the recipie in her 5qt mixer. She said it was always filled to the top, but the icing always came out smooth. Well. Here it is. This was overflowing. I couldn’t even add the rest of the powdered sugar! I will never do that again. Holy bananas that was insane. How would this seem like a good idea? The mess it made, oh dear.

ImageThe amount of buttercream ended up coming in handy, but more on that in another blog post. Here are all my cakes iced and Viva’ed. Oddly enough, the hardest cake to ice was the 4″ one. But still, it went kinda smoothly. So I was again worried disaster was close by. I should consider making a cake with just a buttercream. I need to work more on the edges to do that, but it may be possible!

ImageSo I started trying to cover the cakes in fondant. It wasn’t going well. I weight out the fondant to make sure I was using enough. Rolling it out was more difficult than it should have been, but once it was on the cake it wouldn’t lay correctly and was getting immediate elephant skin. I must have tried for two hours to get these things covered correctly. I had to keep throwing out fondant and then cover it again in buttercream, waited for it to crust, then covered it again in fondant. Ugh. At some point in the middle of the night I just gave up and left it covered horribly. If you look, you can see the problems. The picture on the left is the dowels in the cake. I even spent a good 20 minutes trying to sharpen a dowel to stab through all the cakes. I gave that up eventually and stabbed it with a metal skewer. Then I put the wooden dowel in. That worked. I’m sure I’ll have to figure something else out in the future.

ImageSince I gave up and decide to roll with that I had, I decided to try and cover the imperfections up with dots, and a boarder. I didn’t think to take a picture of the back of the cake. At one area I have it covered in dots. Boy oh boy was it a mess. I could only hope they would have the cake against a wall, or be distracted by something else to look at. The picture below is the final cake. I had to add a bunch of flowers to the top since the purse was too big to use as a cake topper. It would have worked if I didn’t add the 4″ layer.

ImageHere is the little purse I made that I ended up putting in front of the cake. It was a bit sloppy, but I was in an angry state at this point. I thought the purse looked cute though. The buttons were a nice final touch.

ImageOverall, they seemed happy with the cake. I should note they asked for the cake to be sweeter and more moist than the cupcakes I made for them the other day. I make my cupcakes moist with a muted sweetness. I’ve always hated desserts that were hard to eat because of their level of sweet. But, I did what they asked. I soaked that cake in simple syrup and broke out my ultra sweet icing. They liked this, so I made a note to use the same procedure for future cakes.


Communion Cupcake Favors

The same week I had to do the artist cookies and the Xbox cookies I had an order for 90 cupcake favors. Because of the cookies and how long they were taking, I didn’t start the cupcakes until the day before they were due. My sister came over to help. If my mother and my sister weren’t around to help me today I’m not sure this would have gotten done. Or, I would have been up another 12 hours, things would have been super sloppy, and I would have been rushing to get it done before I had to leave for delivery.

That being said, my mother put the boxes together the day before so they were already done when my sister and I started working on everything. I bought sticker paper and printed out the wording the client wanted on the favor. I gave my sister the task of getting the boxes ready to drop the cupcakes in. So while I baked, she cut out the stickers, put them on the box, put the sticker with my information in the bottom of the box, hot glued the ribbon to the bottom of the box (to easier tie the ribbon later), and then cut a fake flower off the stem, and glued it to the top of the box. When it was all put together, it seemed like it would be something that wouldn’t take long. But in fact it took her 10 hours of straight work. Making sure everything was in the right place and cut correctly took a lot of time. While she did this, I did the cupcakes. It’s time likes this I wish I had a double oven.

Here you can see some of the boxes that were already done towards the back of the table.

ImageBelow are 90 cupcakes. Just plain vanilla. They didn’t seem like much laid out like this. After they cooled, I painted all the tops with simple syrup. It’s been a couple of weeks since I made these, but I remember having some trouble. The recipe said they would be done in 12-15 minutes, but most had to go to 16-18 depending. I had to have a pow-wow outside of the oven and watch them. Some with less batter may have dried out, but no idea really.

ImageMy goal was to have a the icing look almost like a hydrangea. They were originally going to be simple lavender colored icing on top, but of course I had to go the extra step. So after mixing and coloring the icing, I had to get them into the same bag so both colors would pipe out at the same time using the 2M tip. You would use this tip to basically make a ton of stars which would then look like a hydrangea. Getting the icing in the same bag was messy. Some of the cupcakes had a good even color between the blue/lavender, and some had more than the other.

ImageBelow are the first cupcakes I made. I made about 20 with these colors.

ImageWhen I made the next batch of icing, I made the blue deeper. I think they came out better this way as you can see below. The picture also shows how different each one looked.

ImageI saw with my sister decorating all the cupcakes while she finished up the boxes. Below, you can see all the boxes completed and laid out, waiting for a cupcake.

ImageHot gluing the ribbon to the bottom of the box made things much easier then I tied the ribbon on the box. Below, you can see the cupcake in the box with the tied ribbon and a closeup of the label sticker I made. I thought it was a little simple looking, but I’m going to have to learn better computer skills for the future.


ImageHere is the final picture of them all boxed up and waiting to be put in my car in the morning. I finished around 2AM, and I was so happy to be done.

ImageOriginally, I bought some molds for crosses to make as a cupcake topper. I tried adding them, but they were very large and just didn’t look right. I think in the future a small fondant cupcake topper would have been better. My sister, mother and I decided they looked better as they were. So here we go! A big order done, and it was a busy, busy week.

Wilton Course 2, Lesson 2: Complete!

Another class of flowers. The instructor pointed out that the last 3/4 classes were royal icing flowers. She found it funny that the first course used fondant and gum paste but no more until Course 3. But that is beside the point. We worked on royal icing flowers today. I was a bit hesitant with this. In the past, I was not successful in keeping my icing stiff enough to hold a shape like a flower. To make sure it would work, I poured powdered sugar into it. Dumped it right in and kept going until it was actually hard to mix in the color. Only issue (as you will see in the pictures) was I drove 50 minutes to get to the class, and the classroom was very warm. The icing was stiff but the heat from the room began to melt the royal icing.

With less people in the class there was some more room to spread out. But it is still a messy class to take. Things are much easier at home (obviously). If you look close, you can see the rose I made already started to melt in the room. For the final class we’re supposed to decorate an entire cake. Not sure about that since everything melts, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

ImageWe’ve done the rose a dozen times now so this would be different flowers to make for once, and ones I could save. As I sit here and type this it reminds me that I really need to practice my buttercream flowers from Course 1, and really practice the ones I learned so far in Course 2. If I can master all these simple flowers it may help my in the future. Not sure why I’ve dismissed it. But anyway, not practicing right now.

The flowers below were supposed to be primerose flowers. I think the reason why I don’t like them is because I was too lazy to change my piping bags and use a pink color. I think with some work, in the right colors, and adding some yellow into the center would make it complete. We also worked on the apple blossom flower. Most of these flowers are very similar to make. Again, I need to practice more.

ImageThe pink flower on the nail was supposed to be the apple blossom.


The final flower for the class was the rosebud. I really liked making this one. Probably because it was the one I could actually do easily. I get so frustrated when I see other people doing the more complicated flowers with easy. But those are my own issues. But anyway, this flower was pretty easy.

ImageSo that was all we learned in the second lesson. We finished in about an hour. Simple lesson, but I really liked the rosebuds so I was pretty happy with it.

Putting together the pieces: Cupcakes done!

After finishing the cake, I went to sleep for a few hours, then began work on the cupcakes. I found this recipe and went for it ( The recipe called for cake flour, which I didn’t have and my local store didn’t stock, so I went with regular flour. I also used extra light olive oil instead of canola oil. Luckily, I had buttermilk on hand.

When I pulled the first batch out of the oven, they were no where near done. I let them cook another 7 minutes, but then worried I overcooked them. The next batch came out normal, but they were very pointed tops. No idea why that happened. I like the cupcakes to have a slight dome to them.

While the cupcakes were cooling, I made small, rolled flowers to use as a flower bush on the cupcake. I rolled 25 of purple/pink/reddish. They were easy to roll and dried quickly.

ImageI saved the rest of the buttercream I put on the tooth cake, and used Kelly Green + 1 drop of Chocolate Brown gel fool coloring to get the color green I wanted. I put a thin layer of icing on the cupcakes to hold the house, and the walkway.

ImageI should mention, before I put the thin layer of icing on, I put some simple syrup on each cupcake. I put a dash of vanilla extract in the syrup as well. I was concerned some of the cupcakes would be overcooked, and used this as a possible way to balance it out. I actually forgot all about using simple syrup on my baked goods until that moment. I really should be doing that on everything.

ImageThe houses ended up being very heavy, so I cut toothpicks in half and put them inside the houses just to anchor them into the cupcakes better. The walkway just stuck right on. I wanted the house and the walkway down first, then I piped the grass around the rest of the cupcake. After the grass was on, I put on the flowers.

ImageI’m very happy with how they came out! They all looked adorable. There is one thing I didn’t make on the cupcake: the little flower next to the house. I had these flowers from a few months ago for the first cake I made for my niece. They really are perfect to use. Either I need to buy more, or I need to learn how to make them.

My friend wanted these cupcakes for her daughters first birthday party that had a fairy theme. She ordered a fairy hut cake and asked if the cupcakes could match. So below is how it looked on the dessert table. I think the cupcakes added to the presentation. I really liked the little figure that the was made for the cake. I need to practice on that myself!


My First Fondant Covered Cake

Before I started molding the houses for the cupcakes I have due, my friend who asked me to make the cupcakes asked if I would have the time to also make a cake for her father. His birthday was the day of her daughters first birthday party, and wanted to make sure he had something for himself. She sent me a few pictures of fondant covered “tooth” cakes. Against my better judgment, I agreed to do the cake.

Constructing the houses took longer than I thought they would, so the day before the party (when everything was due), so I had to put that aside and work on the cake. I didn’t have to leave for the party until 2PM the next day, so technically I could finish the cupcakes in the morning. Right? Sure, why not!

I decided to make a chocolate cake for the tooth cake since it has proven to be the easier cake to work with. So of course, this would mean something would go wrong.

ImageAnd it did! I made two cakes at once, and only one leveled. As you can see, the cake to the left just didn’t rise, and didn’t bake. Each toothpick I took out had batter on it, and it was just so heavy, and dry, I couldn’t even use it. This lead to some panic since I didn’t have enough coco powder or oil to make another cake. I decided to make a vanilla cake and cross my fingers.

ImageEverything looked good with the vanilla cake. The only issue I had was trying to level both the cakes. For some reason that I need to figure out, my stove just doesn’t bake things evenly and I end up with one side lower on my makes. Even leveling it doesn’t solve this problem since I can’t cut it that low without ruining the cake. I used the buttercream frosting (my french vanilla one that I’ve been iffy about for some time now) to even out the cake. It wasn’t perfectly level, but it worked. Plus, I had to carve off the edges anyway.

I was concerned about how to shape the cake, so I painted a tooth shape on the cake with buttercream and cut off the edges with a serrated knife. I think it came out pretty good! Subtle shape, but still a tooth.


Now for the part I was very worried about… Fondant covering time! I took a large ball of it, probably more than I needed, but I wasn’t quite sure how this all worked.

ImageAnd bam! I got it covered. I had to move quickly, but I got it covered. The edges weren’t as clean as they should be, but it was on! There were some imperfections in the fondant, but there wasn’t much I could do about that. In the future, I need to figure out a way to keep everything dust free. It is amazing how much dust just appears. I washed my hands, even took off my shirt at one point, scrubbed everything around the surface, and still there was dust. I got it all off eventually, but man that was a pain.

ImageAfter cleaning up all the sides, I spent about a half an hour trying to make a bow tie for the tooth. I thought just eyes and a smile would be too simple, and he needed a bit more pizzazz. I never made a bow before, I kept working at it until I had something I could work with. I couldn’t find any of my circle cookie cutters so I had to make due. I used cups, and a knife to make all the eyebrows, eyes, and the mouth to the tooth. I am very happy with how it looked in the end. Simple, but cute!


Making Houses

A couple of posts ago, I showed my attempts at making modeling chocolate for the cupcakes. Well the first of two nights, I actually used the modeling chocolate to make the little houses. It was two long, long, long nights. When I signed up to make these cupcakes, I didn’t really imagine how long it would take to make all the tiny details.

To start out, I picked up the white chocolate that I dried out and then tried to put back together again? Yeah, it didn’t quite work out. When I broke off a piece to being rolling it out, it just immediately crumbled. So, no dice. Impossible to work with. I threw it all out.

ImageIt’s a good thing I had the good block of the vanilla chocolate chips. I broke off small pieces of that, zapped them in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, and then used the heat from my hands to roll it out. Below, you can see the three things that I made with the modeling chocolate that actually worked. First, the little huts. Just making simple squares was easy enough to do. The great thing about the modeling chocolate was how fast it dried. I figured out earlier that I couldn’t just drape the roof over the square shape. I would need a little cone to attach to the top. So I then spent another hour and a half making all the little cones. Finally, the easiest part was making the little chimneys to attach to the roofs. I just took a small block and rolled it out. This entire process took about 4 and a half hours. Very tedious work. I left these to dry overnight just to ensure they were solid and ready to be manipulated for the rood attachment.

Image The next night, or the final day of putting the houses/cupcake decorations together was extremely long. I mean, two episodes of “Friends,” nine episodes of “The Office,” and two episodes of “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Yep, that’s right. I spent about 8 hours finishing up the rest of these houses. Holy bananas. The only good thing during this part was how monotonous it was. I say good, because I was able to focus on other things (like the television) to distract myself from cutting out circles.

To start, I used royal icing to glue the cones to the boxes and make the start of the little houses.

ImageI left these to dry while started working on the walkways for the cupcakes. I took out the block of milk chocolate modeling chocolate I made, zapped it for five seconds, and tried to roll it out. I was not successful.

ImageI’m not sure what the issues was. Every time I tried rolling the chocolate into a small ball, it would just crumble apart. I tried kneading it, refolding it, but nothing stuck. I was able to make a couple of strips for the base of the steps, but it was just too difficult to mold. I wrapped up the rest of the chocolate (maybe I can find some use for it in the future?), and decided to go with fondant.

ImageI took some royal icing and dyed it brown to use as an adhesive for the walkway. I made more strips to attach the “rocks,” and then I rolled out very small balls, and flattened them with a cup. I then used the royal icing to attach the rocks to the strips. Now I had my tiny little walkways, and the base of my houses.

ImageI started making the roofs for the houses. Earlier in the day, I went to the store and bought more white chocolate and made fresh modeling chocolate. I forgot to dye the chocolate when I added the corn syrup, so I had to kneed it in. This is supposed to be easy, but as you can see below… No. The chocolate kept crumbling as I kneaded it, and it took an exceptionally long time. I made one circle and tried to put it on one of the houses and it just immediately cracked. This was just not worth it.

ImageI broke out the fondant and decided this was the best course of action. I didn’t want to fight with the modeling chocolate anymore. I’m not sure what was the problem with this batch, or if it didn’t work well being draped, but I didn’t want to take the time to figure it out anymore. I took a ball of fondant and dyed it pink. I couldn’t find any circle cookie cutters the size I needed, so below you can see that I used a metal shot class to cut the circle out. I just had to dip it in cornstarch to make sure it released the fondant.

ImageThe circles were just a tiny bit small, so I rolled them out a little more after they were cut. I kept them stacked under a cup to keep them from drying out too quickly. I put a bit of royal icing on the cone of the house, and then draped the fondant circle on top. I took me about an hour to figure out how to get the roof on correctly. At first, it would crack, and the cone would pop out the top. I finally figured out the best way to put the roof on was similar to how you would cover a cake in fondant, and push up on the sides. It took about 5-7 minutes per roof to make sure it was on correctly. Once I got the roof on, I would dip the chimney in the royal icing and stick it on the side of the roof. Possibly in the future, I would use pink icing just to make it blend more, but it the long run it didn’t matter.

ImageOnce all the houses were done, I used the same pink circles and cut out very small ovals to make little doors. I attached these with royal icing as well. Now I had my army of houses.

ImageThere was only one last thing to do, and that was to add the dots on the roof and the doorknob. I spent some time debating if I should actually go through with that. The houses looked fine the way they were, and I already spent so much time making the details so far I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I finally decided that if I went this far, I might as well stay up and go all the way. I don’t really have any pictures of making the small dots, but that’s because I reached a point of exhaustion I can’t describe.

ImageI’m glad I actually put the dots on. I think they completed how the house looked. Really added something. Once they were done, I crawled into my bed and passed out.

Sugar Cookies vs. My Sanity

People like my sugar cookies. Which is awesome. I even tried one once, and I liked it. You can do so much with the icing and cookie cutters. You make make favors, or just have a dessert tray. But holy bananas. They can be such a pain in the neck, I want to throw them out the window constantly. My sister asked me if I could make cookies for a friend of hers that was due to give birth. Since birth dates are a tricky thing, I waited to make these when I heard she went into the hospital. This happened to coincide with a three-day span of downpours and damp weather. I didn’t think anything of it, but it became a problem later.

My sister asked for onesies, baby carriages, and butterfly cookies. The butterflies were to represent a family member of the new mom. I decided to make letters as well, since the babies initials were going to be A.B.C, which was too cute. I cut the cookies before the baby was born, so I also made “S” cookies since the babies name could have began with S. But look at how horrible that S cookie cutter is! Looks more like a snake. I adjusted it after the cookie was cut.

ImageI was concerned with only making this small amount of cookies. You never know what can go wrong!

ImageAfter the cookies were done (and sat for a few hours), I outlined the butterflies in black royal icing. I let these sit overnight. I was concerned if I put light colored icing next to the black too soon, the colors would bleed into one another.

ImageAfter the butterflies were outlined, I made purple, hot pink, and peach colored icing, and got to work on the other cookies. I’ve seen in many pictures, people using a wet/wet technique on royal icing to give a flat polka dot look. I went a little overboard with my dots.

ImageSince the babies name ended up staying A.B.C., I wanted to try and make the letters stick together. It was slightly problematic (and one C broke in the end), but eventually it worked. I had to use a ton of royal icing and patience to get them to stick together. But I think it was worth it for the overall design. For the set that the C broke off of, I just decorated the side, and wrote the babies name on the cookie. The name didn’t come out awesome, but I was having such problems with the icing at this point, I just rolled with it. I used a small dot of purple on some letters to make them more legible.

ImageI had high hopes for the baby carriages. I found this amazing picture I wanted to copy, with a pleated cover to the carriage. I figured it looked easy enough, and according to the instructions, I just had to wait 20 minutes between each piping. What could go wrong?

ImageYeah. A lot. Look how sloppy that is. Sheesh. The icing wasn’t working out well, and everything was just… a slop fest. the picture below shows what my original intention was (I drew on the cookie with edible markers). I ended up trying to color in the top of the cookies which made it even more sloppy.

ImageThey looked really sloppy here, but I hoped they would even out by the morning. Would they? Of course not!

ImageLook how horrible! It looked like I took a leather mat and imprinted the cookies. These were at least almost dry, but looked horrible. So what could I do to fix it? Hide it as best as possible! I bought sanding sugar the other day, so I figured I could cover up the parts that looked sloppy. I used piping gel to paint the wheels and the top of the cookie to hold on the sparkles. After I did that, I added some small sugar pearls around the bottom of the carriage. Even though I wasn’t super happy with how they came out, they looked much less sloppy.

ImageBut here is the big thing. I let the cookies sit out for about 12 hours. When I checked them, they were all still wet/sticky. This has never happened to me before when making cookies with royal icing. I guess it’s hard to tell in the picture below, but they were just not drying. I had to add some extra dots to the purple cookie because when I tested it, it was so tacky it made a mark. You can see the leathery appearance starting on these cookies too. Damn!

ImageI tried to put this in the back of my mind. I figured maybe I made some mistake somewhere along the line, so I decided to go ahead with the butterfly cookies. I used the wet/wet technique again on the butterflies. I would make three lines, then drag a toothpick through the lines to make the design on the butterflies. The butterflies had to be done right. This was the important part of the cookie platter,

ImageI let the cookies sit for another two days, but they still didn’t dry completely. I started frantically looking online to figure out why this happened. Turns out, when the climate is damp (and it rained for three days straight while I iced these cookies), it can make the icing not set, or take on a leathery appearance. Because I had a ton of work to do for the week, and the cookies had to be done in a couple of days, I couldn’t do anything to fix them. The more they dried, the more of a leathery appearance they took on. Below, if you look closely at the purple icing in particular you can see the issues. Apparently they still tasted fine, but I was/am not happy about it. I’m going to have to figure out what to do in case this happens again. Maybe try a glaze icing instead? Who knows!

ImageThey look cute from a distance at least!

Finished and Delivered Cake!

The day before the cake was due to be delivered, I had to go out and buy a new cake pan.  I thought three layers of a 9in square would be sufficient for 25-30 people, but I was told I was wrong. So, a 10in cake pan it was! After getting the pan, I made three layers using the same chocolate cake recipe I practiced with. It is a very firm, and dense cake so it easy to get out of the pans and move it around (I also used a non-stick pan for the first time, lined the pan with parchment paper, and used a Crisco non-stick spray – I wanted to gaurantee nothing stuck in that pan!).

I used the leveler again, and I really think that has been my best purchase so far. The cakes came out mostly level, but after adding icing, I was able to tell which sides had too much, or too little and adjust until it was perfect. I did a basic crumb coat. This really wasn’t necessary since the cake was so intact, no crumbs really formed. I also didn’t really have to do it since this was not s crusting buttercream. I ended up sticking with the frosting recipe I test the day before since I heard rave reviews about it (I would end up regretting this). The icing went on smooth.


So the cake baking, leveling, and icing went smooth. Too smooth. Things don’t go this well for me. I had that annoying little voice in the back of my head reminding me of this, but I tried to stay positive. This cake was due in 14 hours!

I broke out the fondant squares I made the day before. They were firm, but not too stiff. Most of them still had corn starch on them. I brushed it off with a wet cloth. The cloth was more effective than a brush or my fingers. I also tried steaming the squares over a teapot. I heard this could give a nice shine to the fondant (which is what I wanted). The shine wasn’t permanent, and it faded. Also, if I steamed the square just a second too long, the square would break. So I just stuck to using the wet cloth.

Now. This is when the bad things happened. I don’t have any pictures for this part because my kitchen when into defcon 3 mode. Sheer panic. But it did wake me up! Anyway, if you look at the picture on the left, it started out okay. The squares went on and attached. So I kept at it! I was feeling good! But as I kept going it started to look super sloppy. As you can see in the picture on the right? Slop city.

cakesale6So after looking at the cake for about 5 minutes and debating all my options, after panicking, after wondering how I was going to find a bakery to make this cake for me in the morning… I went into damage control mode.

I took all the squares off. Most of them broke doing this since the icing wasn’t crusted. For a moment, I tried something crazy. I thought if I covered the entire cake in a sheet of fondant, and then put the squares on the cake, it would look awesome! Right? No more white buttercream showing? So I started coloring and rolling a huge amount of fondant. It looked like it would work, but the fondant kept sticking to the counter. No amount of Crisco or corn starch was helping. I really need a non-stick mat for things like this. So that wasted a good half an hour. I settled back down and figured out a new plan.

I took off all the buttercream. I dyed the buttercream a light green, and put a very thin layer back on the cake. I think the white was really problematic because you can see the icing between each square, so if I make it green, it would be better… right? Well this was what I thought. Additionally, the thick icing was a pain because the icing would bunch up between the squares when I pushed he squares into place. So thin, green icing.

After the cake was iced, I did something that I should have done the first time around. I took the square cookie cutters that I used to make the fondant squares, and actually measured out how they would fit on the cake. The sides of the cake would only hold a square and a half, so I had to make sure I cut squares out. Now the biggest problem (if you look at the first completed picture of the cake above) was the very thin line on the edges of the cake that just seemed too small for a square piece. So I had an idea. This is a Minecraft cake, right? Minecraft has grass! Why not make some green grass along all the edges of the cake? That should work! So now I felt more motivated. Maybe it wouldn’t look horrible.

I measured it out, put on all the squares, piped the grass, put on the black “monster” face, brushed off some dried fondant in places…. and it was done (see picture below, left).

After it was finished, I glued some brown ribbon along the cake board edges, then covered it in brown squares. I had to go with a very sturdy cake board since the cake ended up being very heavy. Then I put the “Happy Birthday” right on the cake board. The picture below, right, is the final cake. Some parts look a bit shiny still since I kept making corrections with water.

cakesale7The box for the cake was just a tad short. If would have just messed up the icing. I debated letting it, and just fixing it when I got to the house, but decided against that. I took a wooden dowel, broke it in half, and glued each half on either side of the cake so the top wouldn’t close on it. Then I taped the top of the cake box down as best as I could.

The cake was ready for delivery. I had originally planned on making a small thank you gift with matching rice krispies, but ran out of time. I’m just happy it’s done. The cake did look super sad sitting in my trunk.

cakesale8I heard everyone liked the cake, so I’m hoping it all worked out. I’m such a nosy person, I want to ask 100 questions about how it came out, and what people liked/didn’t like. I have to get used to not be able to do that!

Final thoughts: I’m glad that I was able to deliver a cake I was happy with. I think that I recovered when I thought all was downhill. But, I wasn’t happy with the fondant. It just didn’t shine. In the original picture I based this off of, the squares were shining. I really need to practice with that, and see what I can do about that.