Monday, October 14, 2013

Portal of Power!

Sarah has become a fan of my work.  I didn't take much... She had a cake I made for my niece and she was sold.  Her husband was the lucky recipient of the Milenium Falcon this past winter, and she warned me a few weeks later that the little man's birthday was at the end of the summer.  Sure enough a reminder email came in:

"Jen... Skylander cake... go!"

That pretty much summed up the conversation.  I swear she was describing it in Greek or Mandarin.... Barely any words made sense.  I got cake, figure and online out of it.

So Skylander (which is not Highlander in space, much to my disappointment) is uber popular for the little guys these days.  Apparently.  Do you know Skylander?  I didn't have a clue.  So you get an action figure to play with in real life, then a stand for it that acts as an online portal... place the figure on the base and you get to play with that character in an online world.  Or so I'm told.  If you place 2 on it... apparently they will go into battle mode.  Fancy!

"Sure Sarah.  I can make that work"

Research away, and yep... A streamlined cake for a family dinner was easily doable.  I could have gone into crazy detail for this, but as usual, timing wasn't easy (I have to stop taking orders on weekends I'm working).  I knew cutting a few corners wouldn't take anything away from the cake, and little W would know it right away.

I decided to get a little fancy and  make it in action... it glows to tell you the character is online.  So I had some fun with bright orange for the portal and the fun symbols around the side.  

I got carried away doing the stone effect, but I think it looks great.

Sarah was blown away, and I can't wait to hear how the little guy liked it.  And hopefully I'll get a picture with his new figure on the cake, making it look all official like.

The cakes that almost weren't

If you are a cake fan, there would be nothing worse than losing your baker two weeks before your wedding.
Sadly for Kendra and Nate this is exactly what happened.  

Luckily for Kendra and Nate, their photographer was my friend Samantha.  They mentioned their plight, and were sent my way.  Normally, bakers like a good 4-6 months before a wedding to plan everything and get their schedule arranged. Looking for a baker 14 days before your wedding generally means you aren't getting a cake.

It was tight, but I knew I could make it work.  

His and Hers Cakes

The neat thing about this cake is that there was actually 2 of them... a his and hers - something to reflect both of their interests.

From our first conversation, it was clear that their previous baker didn't really include them in the decision making process, and they had no idea what their cake was going to look like.  After asking a few questions, I came up with a quick sketch that they fell in love with.  Not bad for 20 minutes while at work:

I mean on break... I was definitely on break and not neglecting my duties at all. 
We met a few days later and made a few small changes, and they could rest easy and focus on more important things. 

It wasn't easy - they took a lot of time to figure out how to make everything work.  I had never really done anything like this.  My monkey cake was just a couple of monkeys I made following a tutorial.  There was no tutorial for all of these - just pictures and stuff around the house.

It took a better part of a week to get all the bits made just right, but man was it fun!

Have a look:

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Congratulations Kendra and Nate.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Flight suit, with a twist

This belly cake might be the oddest one I will ever make.  I thought my ringmaster was the furthest away I would get from the dressy belly I first made, but this one is quite specific.

See, fella's friends all met through the air cadets.  They are all pilots; some professionally, some privately, and some still through the military.  Lindsey, up until the giant belly, was in charge of a centre where new cadets would come out and learn to fly a glider. 

As soon as I found out that we were having a shower while the bun was still in the oven, I volunteered to make the cake.  I told fella about my idea, and his eyes lit up.  That normally only happens when 'I'm making a cake' is followed by 'for you'.  I immediately sent off an email to the host, who replied "Um, that would be AMAZING!!!!!!!!"


This one required quite a bit of researching.  In a room full of pilots, I had to get this one right.  Thankfully, fella had this lying around...

flight suit cake

Yep.  A belly dressed up in that.  Then took an old cake and drew the plan.

belly cake
Not too shabby!

Finally, I remembered to take pictures along the way, so here's a little tutorial!

After my favourite cake recipe is mixed and baked we have the makings of a cake.
belly cake
I'm not giving away all my trade secrets, so you'll have to guess how to get these shapes.

A little bit of cutting, and molding, and here were have boobs, and a nice tall belly:

belly cake

After a thin crumb coat and a chill, a thicker, final coat of icing, then into the fridge to firm up before starting with the fondanting!

Now it's just a matter of decorating.

This is how my kitchen looked... I love having a life size model to work from.  It makes this step so much easier.

flight suit cake

Fondant on the cake, now just needs to be trimmed to shape.  On normal belly cakes, I don't let the fondant go all the way to the board under the belly - I want it to sit outwards and be ruffly like a dress would hang.
flight suit cake

I couldn't make all the patches standard issue looking being so small, so I had to improvise.  This name patch should have first and last name, as well as the type of plane the person flies.  I had a hard enough time getting just the last name on here!

flight suit cake

As soon as fella knew that I was making the cake, he said I had to make this old patch.  I don't know what the difference between this and the new one, but everyone seemed happy to see it on the cake, so I guess there's more to it than I know.

flight suit cake

As soon as I finish a cake, I take as many pictures of every angle of the cake in case I every need to make it again.  So here is my final photo shoot with the cake. 

flight suit cake

flight suit cake

 flight suit cake

flight suit cake
At ease, baby!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Belly Cake

Belly cake, boob and belly, pregnant dress cake... Call it what you will, this is one of my favourite cakes to make.  It never ceases to be overwhelmingly adored by everyone who orders it.

Baby shower cake
My fist belly cake, for my best friend

I have been lucky enough to make 10 of these so far, and would love to give one to every Mommy-to-be out there.  It's just so much fun.  

The best thing about it, for me, is that even though the premise is the same, every cake is different.  It's a big ol' pregnant belly dressed up.  But each dress is as different as the expecting mama.  I ask a few questions about the mom - Is she girly, laid back, funky.  Expecting a girl or a boy or is it a surprise for everyone.  What theme are you following at the shower?  Do the parents have the nursery decorated a certain way?  

Every answer helps to design the dress.

Baby shower cake
Or lack of a dress.  This mama doesn't wear dresses, but that won't stop me!

I'll never stop loving the look on the customers face when they pick it up... they were expecting something amazing, but the finished product is always so much more - they can see the guest of honour in that cake.

Please enjoy!

Baby shower cake
Great for a boy, or unknown sex

I just love adding in that belly button :)

Baby shower cake
Girl or Boy? No one knows.

Baby shower cake
Designed for a Giraffe Theme Shower

Baby shower cake
A proper mama in pearls

Baby shower cake
Who says you can't go strapless when 9 months pregnant?

Baby shower cake
Big Top Theme shower... The cake was the Ring Master!

Baby shower cake
Adorable unisex cake

A wedding by the sea

Sadly, I wasn't invited to the Caribbean, but all jealousy aside, I was more than happy to make the cake for the Canadian reception for this wonderfully happy couple.

Megan and Greg wanted one thing: A cake to bring some of the ocean home for those that couldn't be with them, and did I ever have fun making that happen

I spent a few days making all the accent pieces

Sea Shell Cake

Ocean cake

The cake went together like a dream, and decorating was the fastest I have ever done.  The on site build was a little hectic with a hiccup in the delivery, but the cake was complete before the doors opened, which in the end is all that matters.

(I'm not going to lie... I did enjoy the small audience that collected to watch it come together.... I don't normally get to hear the reaction of my cake by the guests, just a happy 'thank you' from the newlyweds after the fact)

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I was able to cover up some bulges and tears with the decorations

Ocean Theme Wedding  jenbakescakes
I always make extra decorations, as you never know until you are building how much you will need.  This turned out great; instant table decoration, and nibblies for the kiddies!

I am still having issues with the fondant bulging and had some slight tearing, but it was easily corrected on site.  I just need to figure out why this is happening. 

Ocean Theme Wedding  jenbakescakes

All in all, this is the most happy I have been with the final product.  It was such a stress free cake that I almost want to take on two cakes on the same day just to see if it can be done...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Buffalo Sabers Cupcake Cake

Nancy's son is a big Sabre fan.  As soon as it was time to start planning his birthday, she knew the theme before asking him.

She came to me looking for one of two things: a cake with the Sabres logo on it, or cupcakes.

I did a little research for a hockey themed cake and had a brainwave!  Pull apart Cupcake Cake!

They always look so cute, and I've been wanting to make one.  I showed Nancy a picture and what my plans would be, and she was on board:  an ice rink with the logo in the middle.  Easy, effective, perfect.

The one thing I really discovered with this order is that while the recipe I use for cakes (adapted from a tube cake recipe) works well for cakes, it really deflates too much for cupcakes.  I've made them before, and they shrink a bit becoming perfectly flat on top and have straight sides: asking for a big swirl of icing on top.  They almost become 3 bite cupcakes - which looks great on a plate.  But 24 stacked in a rectangle looked a little unimpressive.  The flat top made icing the cake a dream, but even with spacing them apart they just looked too small.

In the end, Nancy was very happy.  It looked perfect, and I was pleased with the outcome.

Hockey cupcake cake

Just 1 lesson learned... I need a new cupcake recipe.
 I know some people that will be very happy to be guinea pigs for the upcoming taste tests.  I may have to have a cupcake party with 3 or 4 different recipes that everyone will have to have and vote on.    

Sunday, June 09, 2013

White themed party

Veronica threw her husband Ronen a big 40th birthday party.  Everything was to be white: crisp and clean.  

She came to me wanting a cake that was on the cover of a parenting magazine.  It was cute; 2 tiers, covered in buttercream with chocolate discs stuck to the sides.  They are called Merkins around here, and you buy them to melt for making lolly pops.  I had never thought of using them as the decoration before.  It was an interesting outcome and would be very cute for a polka dot party for kids.  Not for a grown up party.  It just didn't fit with what she was describing.  

I showed her a picture of the first real wedding cake I did:

Jen Bakes Cakes

It was so simple, but so effective.  Covered in coarse sugar it sparkled anytime light hit it.  In a big wedding hall with a disco ball, anytime you looked at it it shone.  

Veronica loved the idea.  Much more sophisticated than her picture.  

I have to say... I mentioned the cake when she said it was a white party mainly because I really wanted to make this again.  It's an easy cake to make, and takes all of 10 minutes to decorate.  With the Monkey cake being a demanding cake, if I was doing another the same day it had to be simple.  Yes I cheated and talked the customer into what I wanted, but it worked out in the end - she got a stunning cake that fit the theme, and I didn't have a lot of work to do for it.  

I really wish you could see the sparkliness of this cake.   Even in diffused daylight, every time you move your head something different is shining.

 The finished product:
I couldn't be happier with this one.  I had a great weekend for cakes!  2 winners.  :)
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It's there...

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Too bright from the flash attempting to show you the sparkles. 

Jen Bakes Cakes

Two big cakes for the same day was tough.  It was easy baking and getting the prep work done, it it really took all of my energy to get them finished.  I know my day job schedule killed me for this.  I should not have been so tired, but I worked some terrible hours this week.  

New lesson:

Don't take on more than you can do.  Had this cake been more complicated, it would not have been ready for pickup.  While 2 cakes on one day isn't bad, with what I was working it was a bad idea.

A monkey for Mateo

I got a call from an old colleague needing a cake for his son's first birthday.  They knew they wanted a monkey themed cake but weren't sure on exactly what they wanted.  I sent them googling, and they cake to me with a very cute single layer cake with monkeys and palm trees.  Carlos ran with that and we made some changes since he wanted a 2 tier cake. 

This was a very fun cake.  I was a little skeptical of my skills with fondant sculpting, as the most I've done before is cars and shoes for a christening cake.  I found a tutorial and fiddled around and gave it the ol' college try.  A successful test run, and Carlos was in business for monkeys on a cake. 

The real monkeys took some time.  Roughly 2 hours for the both of them.  This was new territory for me, and I wanted to do it right, so I took my time.  I'm amazed at how well they turned out.  I don't have to be afraid of sculpting anymore.

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Death stare aside, super cute!

 The monkeys were to be surrounded my bananas, so I spent a little time making tiny bunches of bananas.  Staking them to look natural was trickier than one would think. 

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I've got a lovely bunch of ... bananas

The finished product:  My Monkey Cake!

This turned out better than I was expecting.  Leaps and bounds better.  I should have charged more to be honest.  I tend to give family and friends a bit of a discount, especially when trying something new in case it doesn't turn out well.  But this... this was a masterpiece.  There is nothing about it I wished I did differently - that's rare to say. 

Those are some happy monkeys!
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Oh these?  Just an afternoon snack.

 I made the trees go all the way around so it wasn't bare at the back.  I love how they turned out. 

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And yes... I made sure to hang the bananas the right way

Here she is!  

Jen Bakes Cakes