Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Amazing Cakey Holiday

Do you know what it is like when a cake artist you have admired for a long time agrees to let you take a private class with them and then tells you, you can do any two projects you'd like? Oh, my head started to spin... it's like Santa giving you his goody bag of toys and saying 'go ahead, pick ANYTHING you want!'

I've been a long time admirer of the work from Mike's from Mike's Amazing Cakes (Facebook page here). The business name does not lie - his cakes are not only amazing, but super awesome and structurally gravity defying too.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! I was so excited and could not really settle on an idea. So finally I decided to work backwards... What did I want to learn most out of the classes? Then I started to develop the designs around those learning outcomes.

I knew I wanted to learn how to use motors to make things move, and I also wanted to work on something super gravity defying. Hmmm.... so since I was told 'anything' I decided to aim high and make it challenging. How did I know it would be challenging? Well, I thought of the designs I had chosen and wondered how I would make the structure if I really wanted to try to. My mind came up blank so I knew I had made the right choice :)

I have never used buttercream with 3D cakes before so this was all new to me :)

The class was fantastic and Mike went over the top to share everything he knows and even gave me an explanation of all his different power tools and a rundown of all the different materials he uses. I quickly learned that Mike was super detailed and very organised.

He looks like a bit of a fatty in this picture. This was pre-diet.

Post-diet :)

He went to the effort of making all the templates for me, doing all the research, printing out all the photos of the different angles, gathering lots of references and creating a picture board... so all I had to do was follow his step by step instructions and learn his techniques. He is by far the most organised teacher I have had the pleasure of learning from.

These balloons were made from gelatin :) An amazing new medium for me. Mike even thoughtfully organised this part to be taught by a guest decorator, Annie.

Does my bum look too big for my tail?

Lots of decorators these days tend to be highly guarded when it comes to sharing how they do things but Mike is extremely down to earth and more than willing to share his decorating knowledge which I really admire.

The finished leaping stag! Whee.... All cake and modeling chocolate except for his antlers.

The finished balloon girl! All cake and modeling chocolate. She spins around too!

These were by far the most challenging projects I have ever undertaken and I am so happy with how they both turned out and how much I learnt from Mike. I only wished I lived in the US to be able to take more classes with him. If you are lucky enough to be able to spend some time with Mike in class, I highly recommend it :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ask Me Anything - Post 9

Ask me anything is a series of posts where I answer any questions you may have about me. Cake decorating related or not :) 

Sorry for my lack of updates everyone. I've been sick and it's just thrown my whole list of things to do all out of whack! This week I am also getting ready for my big trip overseas, so I am super excited and will be posting all about it in the next few weeks.

I am getting ready to make my first double barrel cake and was looking for any and all pointers I can find. Your tips will be very helpful. I just wanted to ask if you have any advice on how to smooth the fondant seam when you use the wrapping method. You mention that you have to work quickly, but what exactly do you do? 

The fondant seam can (if you are lucky) be smoothed over with the warmth of your hands. Simply use your palm to rub and buff over the join :) Regardless, if you are going to cover it with the wrap method, you should design to hide the seam.

What size of the cake board for the top cake on double barrel cake? Is it 1 inch smaller or the same size? 

This is up to personal preference. Personally, my cakes are usually 2inches apart in size. So if the bottom of the double barrel is 8inches then the top would be 6inches.

Update: It has come to my attention (from one of my Facebook followers) that the original poster of this question might have meant to ask what size is the in between board of the double barrel cake itself... if this is the case, then the answer is 1inch smaller so that the board does not show through the ganache and icing :)

Do you refrigerate your fondant cakes, if no why? What if the filling is perishable? 

I don't refrigerate my fondant cakes because they sweat when it comes of the refrigerator. I have heard that if you have a modified fridge (temperature controlled and moisture removed) you can place the fondant cakes in the fridge. But I don't have one, so I can't comment on how good that is. So with that said, I also do not use any perishable fillings like fresh fruit. Please note that this is how I do it, there are plenty of other decorators who do use perishable fillings and also seem to refrigerate their cakes without any issues.

Do you use any box to cover up your cakes when transporting them?

I have a short box/ tray the cake is placed in and but they are not covered fully. If it's raining, I put a large (clean) bin bag over the cake when taking it out of the car and into the venue.

If you’d like to ask a question feel free to email me (creations_at_sharonwee.com.au) or send me a message through Facebook. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

3D Hello Kitty Head Cake Tutorial

Believe it or not, two years ago today I was five days into my new life as full time sugar artist and also officially 'unemployed'. How fast time flies!

So... I'd like to take this time and opportunity to thank everyone who has loyally supported me along the way and believed in me (even when I had my doubts). There have been highs and lows and I know that even at my lowest points, I would not have been able to have the courage to hold my head up and keep moving if it had not been for the kind and encouraging words of friends and strangers from all around the world. Know that although I don't ever get a chance to reply to all messages tweeted, posted on the blog or left on my Facebook wall, I do read and appreciate all of them :)

So here is a little thank you to all of you... mainly to the people who decorate cakes - the world's most famous kitty. But for those who don't, maybe you can show this tutorial to someone who decorates cake and hint for them to make one for you!

Hello Kitty Head Cake - The cake in the picture is an 8in square cake and will serve approx 40 - 50 coffee serves. With these instructions, you can easily scale the cake up or down and the same techniques will apply for any flat 3D type cake.

Ganache Recipes (for this cake):
- Dark chocolate ganache: 1.2kg dark chocolate + 600ml pouring cream
- White chocolate ganache: 1.3kg white chocolate + 400ml pouring cream

You will need:
- 8in Square Cake (although I used a lighter cake in this tutorial, if this is your first time doing this, I would recommend a denser cake. It is easier to work with)
- Ganache (I used white chocolate in this tutorial but you can use any type of chocolate)
- Serrated Knife
- Small Sharp Knife
- Pastry Brush and Sugar Syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled over the stove)
- Approx 1kg of fondant
- Cake Board (I used a 16in square board for this tutorial)
- Hello Kitty Printed Template (I just googled and enlarged the image)

Split the cake into 3 layers. I have an Agbay cutting tool, but you can easily do this with a serrated knife. Don't stress if the layers are not as even as shown above. Brush each of the layers with sugar syrup - this helps to keep the cake moist.

Place ganache on each of the layers and assemble them back together - as shown above. Put the template on top to get an idea of how much cake needs to be carved off. You will notice that the template sits slightly bigger on the sides. That's ok - you can use some of the parts that will be cut off to patch up those areas. Making the template as big as possible helps to reduce wastage.

Using the serrated knife and the template as a guide, follow the edges and cut straight down.

Then with the off cuts, use the bigger pieces and patch them back to the sides where more cake was needed. You will need to use ganache to stick the cake pieces together.

Once the main shape is done, start cutting off the angles from the top of the cake and rounding off the edges of the cake to create more of a dome shape.

Side view - notice that the top edges of the cake has been rounded off. Then start on rounding off the bottom edges. To do this, start cutting slightly inwards at the bottom. This gives an illusion of the cake being more 3D. Be careful not to do it too deep, it will make it harder to cover.

The shape you should have. Notice the rounded edges and how the middle of the cake is sitting higher.

Apply a thin coat of ganache all over the cake to keep all the crumbs in place. Then once it's set, apply a thicker layer of ganache. Let this set for about half an hour to an hour.

Boil some hot water and mix it with some tap water in a bowl until you get a temperature that is just a little too hot to put your hands into. Dip your hands into the water to warm them up, then using your hands, start rubbing the ganache and smoothing out all the rough edges until you get a smooth even finish like shown above. Let this set for another hour or until firm.

Brush the cake with a thin layer of sugar syrup - this will help fondant stick to the cake. Roll out some white fondant and drape it over the top of the cake. Smooth out the middle and slowly work your way down the sides. Try to open up any folds to get a smooth covering. This shape is a pretty easy shape to cover, so you will find the fondant naturally makes it way down the side of the cake.

When you get to the bottom, use the sides of your hands to help tuck the fondant against the cake.

Then use a frilling tool to get in the fold and push the fondant in. This ensures that the fondant is right against the cake and at the bottom of the board.

Then use a knife and cut off all the access fondant.

Grab a small amount of fondant and use it to buff the fondant on the cake. Be sure to check for any air bubbles and poke them out with a pin.

For Hello Kitty's bow, cut it out of the original template and trace it over some pink icing. Use a sharp knife to cut it out and the frilling tool to make the indentation.

Then to ensure it does not break when it's placed onto the cake (since the cake is not flat) cut out a piece of acetate/ plastic in the shape of the bow and attach it to the back of the fondant bow with some water or piping jelly. This is so that, if the bow does crack when you are placing it onto the cake, the plastic at the back will still continue to hold it together.

For the whiskers, roll some black icing into a long snake shape and insert a pasta stick through it for stability. Try and follow the length of the whiskers in the picture you printed.

Allow the whiskers to dry overnight.

Place the template over the covered cake and gently poke where the eyes and nose are. That way you will know how far apart to place the eyes. Roll out some black and yellow fondant and flatten into a an oval shape. Attach the eyes and nose onto the cake with some water.

To cover the board, roll out some pink icing and cut out the shape of the template from the icing. The icing should be as big as the board.

This is what you should have.

Cut a slit at the top and fold the sides of the icing down. You need to work relatively quickly to prevent any creases in your icing.

Gently lift the icing onto the board and then start unfolding the icing until it joins at the back. Blend/ join the seam by rubbing it with your palm. Once you are happy that everything is in place, lift up the icing and brush some water to the edges so that it will stick to the board.

You can use a piece of acetate to smooth out the icing. Try and refrain from using your fingers as they leave marks. Then use a knife and cut off any access icing from the sides of the board.

Attach the bow to the cake with some royal icing. Use some pins to anchor and prevent it from sliding until it dries.

Attach the whiskers to the side of the cake with royal icing and like the bow, use some pins to hold them into place until they dry.

All done! Don't forget to remove all the pins :)

For more detailed tutorials, click on the 'online tutorials' link in the header to visit my online store.

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