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Flour & Fondant and the World of “Allergy-Free”

Posted by on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 | 1 comment

Flour & Fondant and the World of “Allergy-Free”

I have always taken pride in what my cakes are like on the inside…the actual cake part. My ingredients are whole, fresh, and always natural. That is how I feed my family and the only way I would want to treat my clients. But recently, our family has been through a food revolution. We discovered that my husband is very gluten intolerant, my son has a handful of allergies and intolerances, including soy, yeast, all dairies, gluten, and eggs. Since we are a family, and I have noooo desire to cook per each persons allergies, we decided that we would all eat the same diet. So we are all on a very strict diet that we love. Seriously, the kids tell me all the time they love our food, even if they can’t have grilled cheese anymore! Well, cakes are a kind of big part of our life, obviously. At first I didn’t know if we were going to be able to keep making them…the struggles baking and decorating caused were close to unbearable. Now that we have settled in to our new normal, no one really minds much anymore that they don’t get scraps for snacks…except for my hubby! So, for that I am thankful. But what about our special celebrations??? The kids, and my dear husband, are not ready to give up cake for their birthdays. They have had all kinds of extravagant cakes in the past and working on cakes with me is all part of the birthday fun. They have been begging me for months to start experimenting on cakes that they can eat. So with my husband’s birthday celebration tonight and my daughter’s 5th birthday in two weeks I had to start working! I am so pleased with this chocolate cake. It is the perfect consistency for covering with fondant. I was concerned that it would be too delicate and crumbly, but it turned out exactly like I had hoped. The cake pictured is for my husband and I filled and covered it with coconut cream and topped with walnuts and chocolate. It is completely gluten free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, and all natural! A year ago I didn’t think this would be possible and still be edible, but it is good. REALLY good. So how will this impact my business, you ask? I really don’t know, but we will see where it takes us. I would like to offer up the option for allergy-free cakes, vegan cakes or cakes to meet your dietary needs. The cakes will still be decorated with fondant as always, but the inside will now be edible for those who normally don’t get to eat cake. I do not use a separate kitchen or utensils for allergy-free baking, since I only have one kitchen in the cake shop. It works for us and if you think it works for you, give us a try. You may be as surprise as I was. Word from the kids, “Mom, this is exactly like REAL...

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Victorian Rose Mini Cake

Posted by on Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 | 0 comments

Victorian Rose Mini Cake

I have a really special friend, Carole. I met her a few years ago helping out at our local food pantry that she and her husband, Don, organized and ran for like 20 years. They are such servants…always laboring to meet people’s physical and spiritual needs. Even though Carole’s life has been complicated with advanced MS she never stops reaching out and doing what she can. She rests in her bed and prays for all of the families that take part in the food pantry. She prays for her family. She prays for my family! I am constantly humbled by her perseverance and her Godly attitude. Well, this week was Carole’s birthday. I knew that a cake was a must. I really had no idea what I was going to make. Delicate, feminine, and flowers. I thought about the old “LOVE” stamps with the roses, maybe they still have them, I don’t know. And I love making antique doilies and lace appliques, so I thought I’d do a combo and see how it came out. I chose a very pale green fondant, just enough to tie in the leaves but without having a “green” cake. I rolled out the extra fondant and just started cutting and veining and pressing and layering. Over and over and over again… I added a gumpaste rose and bud, that I had finished earlier, on top and seriously it looked like a Victorian postcard! I am really pleased with how it turned out. Very unique but, delicate, feminine and it had flowers. You can see the layers of fondant a bit closer here. I was fairly systematic about my placement. As I was working on all the elements I kept thinking about how I would do it differently next time. I think I might draw out a design with all the layers and get everything the way I like it. Then I’d systematically repeat it around the cake. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t make adjustments but just to have an idea of how I want it layered. It wasn’t really difficult except that if I had thought ahead I would have been able to tuck certain layers under for a more integrated effect.Once completely assembled I washed the entire cake in antique white shimmer powder. It really fills in the details and gives the cake a bit on “old glamour”. Carole, (and Don) I hope you enjoyed your special day! Thank you for being an inspiration to me and such a blessing to my family. We love you dearly!! Happy...

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Puppies for Kate

Posted by on Friday, June 29th, 2012 | 0 comments

Puppies for Kate

My little client, Kate, knew what she wanted for her birthday! She loves dogs and actually wants to be a vet when she grows up. Here were the cake requests: hot pink and lavender, puppy theme, and a 3D chocolate lab. She also wanted chocolate cake with cream cheese butter cream. I’d say that Kate got what she ordered! So from left to right, we have Dachshund, Bulldog, Chocolate Lab, Yorkie, and Bloodhound. Each of the puppies has a toy or bone and the lab sat on a quilted dog pillow. I used paw print elements around the sides and butterflies in various places to sprinkle around the lavender.  Around the bottom I made a dog collar with stitching around the edges and a little tag that read, “KATE”. Pink and purple are very difficult colors to work for because they fade so quickly, even when kept out of direct sunlight. I painted the majority of the pink and purple elements to keep their vibrancy. The Yorkie and Bloodhound…I think they are so cute! Here are closeups of the other pups. My references for these dogs, and lots of other animals, are real photos and polymer clay pieces. I like to reference polymer clay sculptures because people usually construct the elements with more detail than other mediums. The only dog that is directly from a polymer clay piece is the bulldog, but I thought it was so adorable. See http://www.etsy.com/transaction/9096256. Well, Kate, I hope you enjoyed your puppy cake and your happy...

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Baby Jack’s Ark

Posted by on Monday, June 25th, 2012 | 1 comment

Baby Jack’s Ark

Baby shower cakes are always so fun! Everything is cute and soft…and so fun! This, obviously, is a cake with a take on Noah’s ark. I like to call it “Jack’s Ark” instead. My client brought in designs for her grand baby, Jack’s, bedding for reference. It was mostly browns and oranges but we wanted to bring in some light teals too. I used all of the animals on the bedding, down to the little fishies around the bottom and the birdies perched various places among the animals. I decided to make the ark a simple round design, for cost reasons, as well as I liked the simplicity of the tiers with more focus on the animals. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make a rescue tube on the side. I always like to find creative places to put the client’s message. “Jack Allan” fit perfectly on the tube! I formed little paws and arms for each of the animals. The animal “heads” really looked out of place before, like they were just floating with no bodies. Now I think they look even more childlike, which adds to the adorable nature of baby cakes! Okay, so the pandas were not pictured in the bedding! But I had to make some more animals to fill the emptiness on the back of ark. I could have done rhinos or cheetahs or tigers or something that made more sense with the safari animals…but the pandas were so cute! Finally, I added a little white dove on the top of the cabana. In the Biblical narrative of the Noah when the storm and rains had passed, the dove returned to the ark with branch in its beak. This symbolized new life after the washing of the rains. I love how that relates to us…Even in the midst of storms God gives us a glimpse of his renewal, the new life that only He gives. And sometimes we have the privilege to witness that in the life of a precious new child. Baby Jack, may God bless your little life, and may you one day understand the washing that was done for you so that you may receive renewed life through...

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What’s Grillin’?

Posted by on Friday, June 1st, 2012 | 0 comments

What’s Grillin’?

What do you get when you have a “grilling out”-themed couples baby shower and the daddy’s birthday all at the same party?? The Grill Cake… The colors were, obviously, yellow and grey and chevrons were to be incorporated. Oh, did those chevrons give me problems!! This was a rush order, too, so many things that I usually do 5 days ahead had to be done the day before. But, it turned out cutesy enough to be on display at a baby shower all the while gently declaring, “man”. I wanted to set the grill on something so it wasn’t so lonely on top. We settled on a weathered grey deck. I think it turned out well. I love the nails…I actually always love doing nails! I do them every chance I get because I think it adds such nice dimension. On the charcoal bag I used the spaces for the labels to write, “Happy Birthday, Sam”. Any other time I would have made a bag with more charcoal-bag colors like red and blue, but I didn’t want that to distract from the color scheme we had going. On to the food! The burgers and hot dogs took 10 seconds to make and I think they are my favorite part! I extended the deck to the base of the cake for some added detail. I know the chevrons are already plenty of detail…but I wanted to balance out the busyness on the top. I couldn’t resist adding this neoprene and yellow quilted BBQ mitt. I even made little stitching around the bottom! It was really cute! Happy Birthday, Sam! And congratulation on the...

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Hawaiian Sweet 16

Posted by on Friday, June 1st, 2012 | 0 comments

Hawaiian Sweet 16

I love that I can do what I do (make cakes, among other things) while supporting a cause that helps save lives! Last year I had the honor of donating a silent auction gift certificate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Gala in Peoria. And the winner is…a very sweet girl, Emily, who turns 16! Emily had her idea all ready…she wanted Hawaiian hibiscus flowers and a turtle somewhere. We waffled between purple and blue-green, but eventually landed with the washed up sea foam for the backdrop for the flowers. I am so happy with her choice! Though she didn’t need a three tiered cake, we both really liked the look. I made the top tier out of foam so that Emily can have the effect of a big cake and keep part of it for the memories! I love the blue bamboo sign…so beachy but pretty and delicate too. I used “tiki”-style letters to write the birthday message, complete with little nails. I needed something to make the sign pop so I added the pink and orange hibiscus on the corner. This little sea turtle is adorable! I wanted to incorporate the flowers and Hawaii into the design. I found a clip art drawing on a similar design and thought it would fit perfectly. I love how it turned out! Well, Emily, I hope you have an amazing Sweet...

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The Fightin’ Irish!

Posted by on Monday, May 21st, 2012 | 1 comment

The Fightin’ Irish!

I love new challenges…and this was a challenge! My client asked for a cake for her son, who was graduating from Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. She wanted something “leprechaun” and “Notre Dame” all in one. We came up with the iconic Golden Dome, with the leprechaun mascot clinging onto the side. The dome was an octagon, which was not easy to get even a little symmetrical! I put a round blue base under the dome with the ND logo. “Patrick-2012” was on the bronze banner in front, complete with a little green clover. The Fightin’ Irish…he did look mean! I wish he wasn’t so mean, but I couldn’t really have a sweet, happy-faced leprechaun. My favorite parts are the curled coat tails and his shoes! Okay, actually my favorite part was that my client’s son requested that the cake be “fun-fetti” flavor inside! I always work so diligently to use fresh, all-natural ingredients and then I tossed in a handful neon confetti pieces, flecking my perfect white cake with the most unnatural greens, pinks, and yellows! Men! Patrick, I hope you enjoyed your confetti-compromised cake and had a wonderful graduation party!...

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Happy Nesting!

Posted by on Monday, May 7th, 2012 | 0 comments

Happy Nesting!

So…real life has an amazing way of taking over your life, doesn’t it? I hate to say it but I have had to actually turn down cakes this spring because I had more important things in real life going on! The most ironic part of life recently is that some of our family members were diagnosed with over a dozen food allergies, including eggs, all dairy, yeast, soy, wheat! Since these are crucial cake and real life ingredients I had to do some major rethinking in the baking and cooking department. We went back to basic survival skills…gathering berries and eating nuts, but I am proud to say that I now have some pretty good allergy-free recipes down! I was thrilled when I felt settled enough in our new normal to finally accept a cake order! One of my favorite clients ordered a baby shower cake for a friend. I call it “Happy Nesting”… We went with a blossoming branch topped with a Momma bird and egg snuggled down in their nest. I had made the bird white with pale pink and brown accents but the top needed more weight. I decided to go darker with slightly iridescent hues to bring out a delicate elegance.  The pink pearl-y egg is lightly speckled, perfect for a spring baby girl. A small wooden plaque with a curled piece of paper reads, “Happy Nesting”. A few small feathers peak out from between the nesting material. I love adding these “soft” elements to birds nests, which are especially cozy for a baby shower. And, of course, I had to add some flowers around the nest and the base of the cake. I love flowers and birds…and branches, too…and I love the way this all came together. It was a relaxing and refreshing way to return to my cake...

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Year of the Dragon-2012

Posted by on Monday, February 6th, 2012 | 1 comment

Year of the Dragon-2012

Happy Chinese New Year! I received an order from a frequent client of mine for a dragon cake. She wanted it small but with these elements: dragon with five claws; red, orange, yellow and gold; clouds; and a fire ball. Here is what I came up with: I wanted a traditional dragon, like in a New Years parade. This dragon was sitting up in the clouds guarding his fireball. A close-up of the dragon shows all the details that went into finishing this piece. The layers of colored scales on the dragon back were topped with gold spikes. The head had four feathery layers fanning out form the face. Each little detail was cut and placed with precision, from the teeth and the tongue, to the eyes and the gold ridges on the nose. I always love working on cakes for clients…new styles and subjects, always and new challenges! This was no exception. Happy Chinese New...

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Paper Doll Birthday Cake

Posted by on Monday, February 6th, 2012 | 0 comments

Paper Doll Birthday Cake

My oldest daughter, Kate, turned 7 and she wanted her theme this year for her party to be paper dolls. I loved it! That was a fantastic idea since the party decorations, favors and crafty things could all be out of paper. But when it came to the cake it was a little trickier. After days of drawing and redrawing the cake we decided on two paper dolls around a party table. Around front of the cake was a scene from a doll house. Kate and I spent one day making all the little pieces…the lamp, pictures, rug, table and party treats. After the pieces dried we painted each item. Often I would color the gumpaste before making pieces but we wanted the give this a watercolored look, like something that was from a storybook. We modeled the dolls after Rebbecca (American Girl) and Ana dolls. I rolled very thin gumapste and then cut out the basic shape of the dolls. I let them dry for about five days before I painted them with lemon extract and petal dust. Kate wanted ice cream bowls with strawberry ice cream and a cherry on top. And of course she had to have a three-tiered cake! We made little silver edged plates and a doily for the cake stand to sit on. This cake was very pretty and delicate…perfect for Kate’s 7th...

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