The New World of Cake Decorating

Recently cake decorators all over the world have been creating and sharing free cake tutorials, photographs, and information online using a variety methods. These are the top sharing methods I currently see:

1. Cake Decorating Tutorials on Pintrest

Pintrest has been fast exploding with collections of cake decorating photo tutorials, allowing users to group, or “pin,” these photos onto a shared board. The photos are either hosted on an outside website/blog, or they have been uploaded by the user.

I welcome users to pin my work.

Examples of some popular boards on Pintrest:

2. YouTube

YouTube allows users to upload videos, allowing the audience to visually see cake decorating techniques. The quantity of cake decorating videos has increased substantially.

While videos are not necessarily grouped, the YouTube experience rather takes you on an adventure of video browsing by following recommended or suggested videos or channels.

3. Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are a great place to ask open ended questions. Users reply with their own personal experiences or opinions.

Anyone can ask and find the answer to any cake decorating question. My favorite discussion forums are at CakeCentral.

Tip: Instead of searching within the website, you can easily use Google to search within a website by adding “site:url.com” to the end of your search query.

For example, if I wished to find out how to make fondant shiny, but wished to search the CakeCentral website without going through the pages of the site, I would type into Google: “how shiny fondant site:cakecentral.com”

Final Notes

Because of open sharing, the skills of the cake decorating community has grown together as a whole. This is not limited to just cake decorators, but all other interest groups. I hope that the net will be used as a tool to make our world a better place, by becoming a representation of shared knowledge and wealth. I foresee people creating more quality, concise content, and by doing so with intent.

Remember, just because it isn’t online, doesn’t meant it didn’t happen. Although great to look at, it’s hard to eat cake through a computer screen. 😉

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Royal Icing Victorian Style Cake

Royal Icing CakeVictorian Style CakeFine Piping on CakeVictorian CakeRoyal Icing Piping on CakeVictorian Lambeth Style CakeCake Piping DecorationPiping on Cake
In my eternal study of cake decorating, my latest obsession involves delving into the history and beginning of cake.

So far I have learned that it began in the ages of kings and queens – from this I realize where the name “royal” icing must have come from. Before fondant and before soft buttercream icings, fruit cake was covered in royal icing, a simple mixture of two ingredients: icing sugar and egg whites. And with such a pure & simple medium, I am amazed that so much can be created with it!

The practice dummy was first iced in several thin layers of royal icing, allowing it to dry hard in between. 3-4 layers were needed to coat the cake. To decorate this, no molds were used here – just simple piping with a piping tube and some tips. The borders and lattice are built up with several layers of piping on top of each other, allowing the layers to dry in between.

Marian was the one I went to learn the secrets of royal icing – and she graciously shared her amazing skills and techniques. For that I owe her a forever thank you.

I’m very grateful for all the cake decorators I have had a chance to meet, whether they be beginners, professionals, or hobbyists – I find that these are all people of kind hearts and of giving and they have taught me so much. Cake & life is about sharing after all, and the people and cake decorators I meet really get it. I want to keep this as a keepsake piece as a reminder for me that the foundation of cake decorating is not necessarily just technique, but also the generosity of people in passing that technique on.

Making Gumpaste Sugar Orchids

I’ve been practicing lately. Sugar flowers that is. The last time I even attempted gumpaste sugar flowers was nearly four years ago in Baking and Pastry Arts school at SAIT.

The perfect opportunity came up for me to get back into it again. And it was also an opportunity to test out the new camera!

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

Gumpaste is an edible cake decorating medium, similar to fondant. It is mostly made out of icing sugar, binding agents (such as corn syrup or egg whites), and vegetable gums (hence the word “Gum.”) To difference between gumpaste and fondant is that gumpaste can be rolled incredibly thin, and I mean really  thin. Think see-through-paper-thin. It also tends to dry hard and brittle, which can be very visually appealing, yet so fragile.

It takes a certain mindset to get into the groove of making sugar flowers. I compare it to the same attention-to-detail mindset one would need when cross stitching. It was also a great chance to get together with the girls, as each one of us worked on different parts of the flower. I think I’ll have to adjust the colour of them to be a bit more purply, but I’m pretty happy with the overall feel of them.

What I really love about making gumpaste flowers is the process of taking very basic materials and turning them into something that can be so pretty.

It’s like re-creating nature.

Gumpaste Sugar Orchid

What do you think? Does it look like the real thing?

Boston Cream Pie

In light of the Stanley Cup last week, I am very grateful to have the recent opportunity to create an over-sized Boston cream pie!

It was a special request for a very kind friend of ours that wanted to spread the joy of the hockey playoffs with both the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins fans. (And I still can’t believe the four goals in the 1st four minutes!)

The Boston cream pie turned out to be 16″ in diameter, and was decorated with a hand-cut Canucks logo.

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

So what is a Boston cream pie exactly? Well it turns out it’s not a pie at all, but a cake.

Traditionally, Boston cream pie is white cake filled with a layer of pastry cream, then finished with a chocolate glaze on top. I used this  my favourite white cake recipe, this pastry cream recipe, as well as a ganache ratio of 1 part couverture chocolate by weight to 1 part heavy whipping cream by weight.

It was a simple dessert that I had fun putting together, and it brought back many memories of the projects we would create back in baking school. The cake went over so well, that he requested a second cake two days later in order to continue spreading the tongue-in-cheek “joy”. 😉


The Next Great Baker – new TV cake show on TLC – Review

Last night, I had a chance to watch the first episode of The Next Great Baker. The show is a fun spinoff of Cake Boss, where a group of cake decorators compete for the title of The Next Great Baker – along with a $50,000 prize and the opportunity to work alongside Buddy.

The show follows a similar format as other reality TV shows such as Top Chef, or Project Runway. The bakers/decorators are faced with challenges which they must complete in a limited time frame, and then are judged by Buddy and his team. A contestant is eliminated weekly.

It is a fast paced show that pushes the contestants to their limits, full of intense cake disasters major cake successes.

The Next Great Baker also has many colourful personalities and talents.   Greggy Soriano from Cake Lush, the self proclaimed “Lady Gaga of cakes,” 😉 has some fabulous cakes definitely worth checking out.  I’m also rooting for Brian Stevens from Crazycakes, who specializes in blow-your-mind cakes, full of special effects such as smoke, fireworks and explosions – seriously exciting & inspiring cakes!

Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Ace of Cakes Last Season

Read the message from Duff himself here.

Ace of Cakes is airing it’s last season in January.

It’s one of my favourite cake shows of all time –  I consider it the pioneer of the many cake TV programs that we have today. I was sad the hear the news, but I know that all good things but come to an end – and Ace of Cakes has been around for many years now. In my opinion, Ace of Cakes was one of the things that was essential to skyrocketing the huge cake culture that we have growing today.

If you haven’t seen Ace of Cakes, you can still catch it on the Food Network. The show follows Duff Goldman(the “Ace”), and his bakery & team, Charm City Cakes, through the making of many spectacular cakes. You’ll like the show if you enjoy detailed cakes, mellow/cool vibes, dry humor, and the occasional cake pun.

To me, it feels a lot less scripted than many other shows, and it’s much more about the special story behind each cake.

Ace of Cakes airs on Thursdays 10:00 pm EST in Canada. Check out the Food Network Listings for additional times.

 

 

Dog Versus Cake

I just had to share this….

I made this RV cake last month. After I heard back saying that the parents freaked out over the cake so much that they didn’t want to eat it and wanted to preserve it for the long run!!! (I suggested freezing, but with no guarantees.)

But recently, I got this very interesting – and in my opinion, hilarious – update:

Here are her words:

[quote]

“…Funny follow up to the motorhome cake: my parents saved it because they didn’t want to cut into it. It sat out for a couple of weeks on display in their living room.  They had guests come for a weekend so my mom put it on a table down in the storage room. Next thing they know is that the dog is sick, they couldn’t figure out why, so inconvenient when the guests are there, etc.  my mom just happened to go down into the storage room and the dog had eaten a chunk off the back end of the cake!!!!! But the best part – the front and the figures are still intact so they hope to preserve that.”

[/end quote]

And then she sent me a photo!

Tactfully named a_dog’s_breakfast.jpg:

dog eats cake

LOL! I’m speechless. It’s like he started licking the board… then made his way to the fondant on the side, where then he uncovered what was underneath and went all out!

(P.S. The dog is doing just fine now. 😉 Poor guy, I can’t imagine how he felt after eating that much chocolate cake!)