Friday, January 4, 2019

Happy New Year!

Wow, long time, no post! I thought my domain expired with my hosting service, but turns out I was wrong. While I lost all my WordPress content, the stuff I posted on Blogger before making the switch is still here.

Sadly, I haven't done anything new since 2015. Working full-time pretty much eliminated my video production, but you can view existing cake decorating tutorials on my YouTube channel. Maybe one day I'll find the time and motivation to produce more.

Thank you to all viewers who have watched my videos and offered feedback. Here is my most popular video, demonstrating how to make a heart-shaped cake. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Love Free Stuff

Being a Wilton Method Instructor definitely has its perks. One thing I always look forward to every year is the Annual Instructor Meeting (AIM) because not only do we have a good time and learn from demonstrations, but we always go home with a nice collection of free Wilton gear, usually items recently added to the product line.

This year they released a lot of new cake decorating tools, and they've revamped and improved some of their existing products. Here's all I brought back, minus a tub of 101 cookie cutters that just wouldn't fit right in the picture and a pack of butterfly stickers I totally forgot about. "Wilton Brands" also includes some scrapbooking and craft supply companies, and the stickers are from EK Success.
At some point I'll completely unpack everything and show more of the actual tools themselves, but that might be better done as a video, and I have the Sugar Play Day to get ready for in a few hours, so this is all I have time to post for now.

At the end of the meeting, the leftover display products were randomly given out to instructors via a drawing, and I got one of the new tip organizers. There are many reasons why this one is better than the old tip storage boxes, but the main thing is the top locks on really tightly, and the lid doubles as an angled base so you can more easily see your tips. Oh, and the little caddy up top is for storing large piping tips. This was a win.
I also got some butterfly sprinkles and stamens. Not the pearl stamens I was looking for, but lily stamens, which I can most definitely use. They gave us a new cake leveler, too. This one is much better. It's easier to adjust the wire, and it's more sturdy.
Wilton updated their icing bag holder, and in addition to having better sized holes, this new one isn't flimsy like the old ones. A totally new product is the Decorating Bag Sleeve. You get three in a box, and these remind me of the things you cook Hot Pockets in. They hold the bag upright so you can fill it with icing, and then afterwards, once the bags are all washed and clean, they prop them open so they can air dry.
The new fondant tools we received are pretty much improved versions of what we already have. There's a redesigned fondant smoother, and I'm really excited about the easier to use ribbon cutter and amped up embosser wheel.
Both of these tools come with handy storage boxes, which is a definite plus. Inside the boxes are little pegs to keep the bits and pieces organized and easy to find.
Oh, and here is the display piece I made, representing all of the Wilton 4-week courses. They were having a drawing for one of those new Ultimate Rolling Tool Caddy things, and if you brought in a display you were entered in the drawing to win it. Sadly, I didn't win. Something like this would really be useful, but I may wait and see if they put locking casters on the wheels before I get one.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Minecraft Diamond Ore Cake

Minecraft is very popular at our house, and for my older son's recent birthday we made a diamond ore cake. In case you don't know what they look like, or can't be bothered to follow the link to Minecraft Wiki, here's what we were going for:

When it comes to projects like this, I like to see if I can find somebody else who has managed to make something similar, so I can pretty much just do whatever they did since it seemed to work out for them. Like I needed another excuse to browse around Pinterest, right? While I didn't find a diamond ore cake, I discovered a couple of different dirt block cakes: one is exceptionally well done with thousands of little rolled fondant squares, and the other is more simple, made by YouTuber MincraftChick. I also found these Minecraft Cake cupcakes, which I think are lovely.

Making a cake that's a cube shape was easy enough, we just used three 8-inch square cake layers. Since they're between 2 and 3 inches tall each, stacked up they looked enough like a cube. We decided to add an extra level of fun and color the cake layers themselves gray with blue flecks, so that when you cut into the cake, it looked like diamond ore, not cake. This didn't work out so well, as the blue sprinkles I planned to use (like funfetti) dissolved in the cake batter and turned it an awful blueish gray.

I used Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix and added around 4-5 drops of Super Black food coloring to make the layers gray. We then sandwiched them together with gray-tinted buttercream and a generous layer of the blue sprinkles.

We were going for a marbled gray rolled fondant to cover the cake with, but by the time I got it rolled out large enough, the color was pretty thoroughly mixed in. We tried embossing the square pattern on the top and sides of the cube, and that looked okay, but we ultimately opted to add rolled fondant squares in gray and various shades of blue all over the cake. I'm pleased with the results.
To go along with the diamond ore cake we made dirt block treat pops. These are like cake pops, only made with rice cereal treats instead of cake. They're much easier and quicker to make, as they don't require multiple steps of chilling, and it's a firmer mixture to shape. These we dipped in chocolate bark coating and then dipped the tops in green sanding sugar.
We also constructed a pickaxe out of the rice cereal treat mixture and covered it with chocolate bark coating on the handle and white candy melts on the blade part.
Sadly, I neglected to get any pictures of the cake after it was cut so you could see all the gray goodness inside. One of the layers turned out just a shade or two darker than the others, as is typical. It's so hard to match colors exactly when you try to remix them.