wow. blogging seems to be just one of those things that has fallen off the table. this whole parenting thing sure takes a lot of time and energy. sheesh.
hannah turned one! ohmygosh, i am the mother of a toddler now. the original plan was to make a little cake for her to smash on her birthday, and then get a cake for her party a few days later. sam's club does small (6-inch?) cakes with "matching" cupcakes, which i thought was awesome because i wouldn't have to cut and serve cake. then - on the day of her birthday, good planning, mom! - i decided to see if i could manage cake decorating. as in, fancy cake decorating. as in, buttercream and piping (well, not much) and fondant and gum paste.
please note: i have never. ever. EVER. decorated a cake before.
but... there are bigger idiots than me who decorate cakes, right? (exhibit a: cake wrecks. i couldn't do much worse than that, right?) i mean, i'm a reasonably intelligent person and relatively crafty.
in the end it was actually surprisingly easy. (see, bigger idiots than me can do it too!) i did cheat and used store-bought fondant and gum paste mix (and i actually even cheated and used a buttercream icing mix so that i didn't have to make a separate trip to the grocery store). i picked everything up at joann's (though i hear this stuff is cheaper at wal-mart) as well as gel color and a small set of cookie cutters.
i was kind of scared to use fondant, but it was easy. maybe it gets a bad reputation because it is difficult to make? you just roll it out like pie dough, roll it over the cake (which gets pre-frosted with buttercream so the fondant will stick), and smooth it down and trim off the excess. the only problem i had was smoothing it down at the base of the cake, which is why there are small gathers... which i kind of think looks cute anyways.
the flowers, butterflies, and leaves are made of gum paste. after i made the mix, i just kneaded in a little bit of gel color and then rolled it out flat like cookie dough. i used the flower and butterfly cookie cutters to stamp out those shapes and cut the leaves with a knife. i used the end of a toothpick to make the veins in the leaves and the little slashes on the petals. i molded the flowers around a large rounded frosting tip and set them to dry on the tips of a bottle drying rack, and twisted and molded the leaves and set them on the counter to dry. the butterflies i just bent in half and set them over an accordion-pleated piece of cardstock to dry.
i piped a little bit of green buttercream frosting around the bottom edge in a squiggle to cover up my messy trimming job and to give the flowers and such a place to stick. when the gum paste decorations were dry, i used a little buttercream to "glue" them in place, piping in the "centers" of the flowers, and piped the writing on the top. i think i need to practice my writing a bit.
now that i know better, i should have used royal icing to glue on the decorations. apparently the fat in buttercream makes the gum paste soften. it wasn't so bad with the flowers, but by the next day the butterfly on the top had fallen flat. oh, well.
i was so impressed with myself that i decided hannah was not allowed to touch the cake until her party. that way i didn't have to buy a cake, and we just baked cupcakes to go with them.
for the cupcakes, i just made a bunch of extra gum paste decorations. i filled a frosting bag up with buttercream and cut the tip off so there was a relatively generous hole and piped it on in a spiral. it was really easy to do. then i stuck the decorations on. the night before, i had also piped a bunch of little buttercream flowers for the butterfly cupcakes. i piped them onto a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and let them dry, then "glued" them on with buttercream.
brian's birthday is next month, so i am planning to try my hand at cake decorating again. this was pretty easy and fun and i was very happy with the results, so hopefully brian's cake will be fabulous too!
what have you been up to lately?