Friday, June 25, 2010

Happy 50th birthday Sally

This order came in with about a weeks notice, a budget and a "do what you want, I trust you". Yikes. Very scary. I had a busy week already with a few orders booked but wanted to squeeze this one in. I figure, if you get told to "do what you want" you should go for it! However, time was limited and keeping in mind budget, I decided to go with a few elements I had done before (exploding design), practice some things (sparkle dust, tappet letters) and try something again I had only done once (figurines). So, a bit of everything!

I have to confess, I am a bit addicted to the pearl dust, love a bit of bling! It has featured on a few cakes this month (more in the next blog!).

I still have some more work to do on my figurines, but practice makes perfect.

I mentioned last blog, that I am learning as I go in these early stages, this cake taught me a lesson too! I debated about sharing this with you, but what the heck, you  have been with me from the beginning, good and bad.

Many decorators have a dedicted "cake room" (oh, how I dream of this!) or at least a set up area. I just operate out of my kitchen and, sometimes, my dining room table, both of which I have to share with my family. I believe it is important to have home cooked meals and eat them at the table as often as possible as a family. So, this means, as I am working on a cake, it is moved from the kitchen (when I am cooking for the family) to the dining room, then from the dining room (when we are ready to eat), back to the kitchen. All fraught with danger and to add to this, two small children and one big child, in the form of the Workaholic, running around the house. It was bound to catch up with me.

And it did. I always thought it would be by dropping the cake (which is still possible), however, it was as simple as someone splashing some water on the cake. Not good. Water eats away the icing. I didn't notice for about 15 minutes, by this stage, the damage had been done. Most of it was contained to the board. I contemplated recovering the board, then I thought of Planet Cake and some of their advice, "if you make a mistake, or find a flaw in the cake, cover it up with something or turn it into a feature". This is where the stars containing the "50's" come into it. They covered up the water stain. Thank goodness Sally had given me the green light to do what I wanted, there was no specifics, so I could do what I wanted and cover up the water mark.

So, I will keep learning, and thank you Sally, and all the customers who give us free reign and a chance to learn and grow and I hope you had a fabulous 50th!

Cupcakes, cupcakes and more cupcakes

Once again, I have been very slack on the blog front. My apologies. It seems word of mouth is spreading about Baked by Kate and I have been very busy baking for real paid jobs!
Can't complain about that! Very exciting. Some have been my usual buttercream cupcakes, some have been "fancy" cupcakes and others have been large and some very large cakes (more on the large cakes in another blog).

I thought I would just group some cupcake jobs in one blog, so lets get cracking!

The above was for a very nice lady to give to her daughter's preschool teachers at the end of semester before our big 4 week winter break. She gave them 4 each and I believe they created a stir at the preschool with the other mums, all wanting to know where to get them. Nice work Caz!

As usual, the picture doesn't really do them justice as my wonky camera has finally given up the fight and I have been borrowing cameras and we are all still getting to know each other! However, I have just bought myself a Cannon on sale but not sure how it is going to go yet. You may have to use your imagination with the pics for a while!

This one was a "love" job (pardon the pun), for my son's teacher at school, who is getting married in Canada over the holidays. The class and the parents threw her a little bridal shower and I was "nominated" to make the "wedding" cupcakes.

It was great fun and I surprised some parents as to what I do. One even said "you never really know people, do you?". I think she meant it in a good way! She was trying to say that we have know each other for 2 years and speak on an almost daily basis at school and she had no idea I baked. Well, there are so many other things to talk about, terrible salesperson I am!
Here is a shot in action, minus the kids, as I don't like doing that without parent's consent, however they were all very excited!

The next job was for a woman leaving her workplace for maternity leave and to have a little baby boy. It turned out that her last day was only a week before her due date, so by the time I delivered them for afternoon tea, she had already taken off early that morning "not feeling well", so I assume the baby is on it's way and I know her co workers appreciated them anyway!

Being only in the early days of this small hobby business I am learning many things as I go. One of them is how often I hear "do what you want" or "what do you think?". This was one of those jobs, so I decided to play around with my two loves, buttercream and fondant! I am quite comfortable putting fondant toppers on buttercream but I had never gone this far! Gasp! I think they are really cute. Love the disk idea, makes a nice combination and a lot quicker than the full fondant design.

And finally, my first love, the plain old buttercream cupcake. I have been doing lots of these, and seeing as you have all seen them all before I don't usually put up a blog or picture about every one of them, but for old time sake here's the order for a little girls party tomorrow.....

Ahhhhh, I still love 'em! Good night!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy Birthday to my beautiful boy

It is our son's 6th birthday today. Happy birthday my little man. Love you heaps.

I always let the kids pick the kind of cake they want and they spend ages flicking through my cake books.

Oscar had requested a Mr Tickle cake, from the Mr Men series, weeks ago. I was quite surprised but looking forward to it too. How much fun would I have with his long tangled arms!

Anyway, I got back from a trip to Melbourne and the cake courses, feeling a bit under the weather and needing to decorate two cakes in three days. I was lacking in motivation.

You can imagine how pleased I was when Oscar turned around on the Wednesday night just as I was about to start trimming the cake and said "I want a Mr Tickle cake for my 7th birthday, this birthday I want a Robot cake". What?!?!?!?

For some reason, after the smoke stopped coming out of my ears and the kids where in bed, I decided that I should come up with something. I researched the internet, printed out various robots. Decided I didn't want to make a robot novelty cake as that would involve baking another cake and I didn't have the time nor motivation.

I liken it to someone who is married to a plumber but her dripping tap never gets fixed. I have been so caught up in everyone elses work that I think I was a bit over the whole cake before I even started. I decided to keep it simple and model some robots of a cake I had seen on the internet. Apparently they aren't robots, the kids on the day informed me. Apparently, they look like a character from a kids TV show called Go Gabba, Gabba, or some such thing, I really should watch more kids tv!

I did have some fun with the pearl dust and sparkled up the board and the cake. The board looked amazing, like silver, even though the icing was actually grey.  So I ended up using my sons birthday cake to experiement. Is that wrong?

I think it ended up being a pretty cool 6th birthday cake. Simple but effective. I like it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Good bye Trish & Adam

As is typical in this remote outback town with a transient population, two of our dear friends are getting ready to leave and start a new adventure in a new town. They have been here for 10 years, working in a tough field and it is time for a change.

They were the first people in town to invite the Wotherspoon's over for a BBQ, when we arrived 2 years ago, and they have been inviting us over ever since. We have shared lots with these two lovely people, great camping holidays, road trips, weekends helping other people move before collapsing in swimming pools at the end of the day, family dramas, work dramas and lots of other good things. It will be sad to see them go. We will miss them.

This weekend we invited them over for a BBQ with our friends. It was the perfect day, plenty of food, conversation and laughs. One of those days that start with lunch and stretch into dinner before we think about what the time is.

Ofcourse, the day wouldn't have been complete with out a cake. A BBQ novelty cake. This one was a challenge as the cake seemed to be so fresh it was falling apart in my hands as I carved. I left it alone in the fridge for a few hours and it seemed to behave itself again! The kids at the party loved the sausages and kebabs. I had to wrestle a sausage off my son, oh the sugar!

Great fun. Good bye guys, see you on the road.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pirate Island

This cake is the outcome of Planet Cake's Novelty 102. Day two at Melbourne Planet Cake was a very relaxed affair.

Maybe I was less tense this day as I had been told my two wedding cakes were at their venue safe and sound. I don't know what it was, but we all seemed to just glide along through the morning.

This was the first Planet Cake course were I saw huge differences in the outcomes of the day between the cakes. I guess it was because you, as an individual , decided the shape of your island, and there were a few people that had some very different ideas. Everyone seemed to have fun though, which is the main idea.

I love attending these courses, even if it is just to be in the same room as "cake people". The discussions are great and you can pick up some great ideas and tips. I love that we all share with each other openly. I even am getting experienced enough to help out some people next to me, it's nice to be able to pass on my cake love!

This cake is currently sitting on display at the Mornington Court House & Information Centre for this week before being cut for morning tea at the end of the week. I guess it goes well with the beach location.

All in all, I had a fabulous week, 3 paid cakes and two days of training. What more could I want. Oh, and Leesa, a incredibly talented fellow cake decorator who runs a business called Alice Cakes here in town, referred a client to little ol' me! It didn't end up coming off but it was nice to recieve the "love".

The week would not have been possible without the help of my parents, coming straight up the track from Melbourne and not taking the scenic route, so I could get on with the cakes. Mum was such a trooper with the kids, I even conned her into reading with Oscar's class twice during the week, not to mention looking after the kids while I was in Melbourne and the Workaholic was doing what he does best, work too much! Thank you, thank you, thank you, it is appreciated and I love you both for it and a million other things, like knitting on demand for my pesky children's teddy bears, sorting out the garden and the tiling etc. They will need to get home for a holiday soon LOL.

Roll up, roll up to the yummiest cake in town...

After a week of cake making like never before, in between my normal life, I slipped off to another two courses at Planet Cake.

I wanted to keep going with the "foundations" stream but none of the dates work with me until next year so I thought I might have a go at the "novelty" stream. A bit more creative and a little bit more forgiving than the more traditional "foundations" stream. Besides, given I am in the "child rearing" phase, I am assuming it is going to come in more handy than the "foundations" for a while.

These two courses were run in Melbourne last weekend in a freezing cold building in Kew. The group of people that attended were much more varied than the last course I did. A real mix, from the serious decorator to the "just want to learn how to make a cake for my kids" type people.

The first day was the big top with clown. I loved playing with the cake, shaping and carving it, getting it how I wanted it. In hindsight, I went a bit over the top with the pointy bit, but what can you do!

For a simple cake, the atmosphere in the room was quite tense. I found this day more challenging than 102 (the island) but got a lot out of the day. Just to be reminded of some tips I had forgotten since last time, and to get some reassurance I was on the right track with some other bits was invaluable.

The cake was demolished in about 30 seconds after I stepped in the door at my brother's house so the photos are a bit rough but you will get the idea.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The wheels on the bus go round and round..................

Would you believe that I am just packing to attend a "Novelty 101" course?

Oh what fun and despair I had doing this cake.

This is my first ever "novelty" fondant cake. The two women who ordered the Outback Wedding Cake wanted to represent the UK in their other cake. They loved the idea of a Routemaster London Bus.

So did I. I was really keen to have a go at this cake, having never done a "novelty" cake before. I researched and planned it like mad. In the end I just had to go for it. I was under pressure as I had three cakes to deliver in three days that week as I was on a flight to Melbourne on Thursday to attend "Novelty 101 & Novelty 102" at Planet Cake.

I think I may have put the cart before the horse here, probably should have attended the Novelty courses before doing a paid cake, but I don't care, I had a go! I think it turned out quite well and so did the wedding party.

It took far longer than I predicted and was more fiddly but I am learning something new everytime I do a cake.
It was the first time I had used "tappit" letter cutters. How hard are these little blighters!?!? I am sure I will get the hang of it but there was lots of tapping!

I already have great ideas on how to make it better next time. Just have to find someone wanting a bus, truck or train cake.


An outback wedding

So far this is one of my favourite cakes. I have discovered I really love building a scene/story on a cake.

This one was a wedding  for a same sex marriage in Alice Springs. The brides had previously married in the UK, where marriage is legal over there.

I have had many people baulk at this cake and its gay element, but to me it is really simple. If two people are in a loving, respectful relationship I don't care what colour, sex, size or religion they are, as long as they are happy.

One of my best girlfriends is gay and would be LHAO right now at me because it is so typical that my first ever paid wedding cake is for a gay couple. I have spent lots of time known as her "handbag" and protected her from unwanted gay stalkers/groupies (she is a talented singer) over the years. Having said that, another gay male friend said "my god, I always thought one of the benefits of being gay is not having to get married", so each to their own. Either way, it should be legal.

Okay, social justice and politics aside (again!), I love this cake. It is two layers of fruit cake, topped with home made marzipan and then fondant. I planned this cake in my head on the way back from a road trip to Adelaide at Easter, and it all worked out perfectly.

The couple had already been married in the UK and brought back the bride toppers and camel and wanted me to incorporate them into the design. Their original cake was Uluru with them sitting on top but I wanted to do something a bit more them.

They both ride motor bikes and quads and enjoy camping up here. They have careers that take them out bush regularily and they deal with the indigenous community. These were my inspirations.

I used an indigenous painting in my house to match the brilliant red dirt colour we get up here. I covered the cakes and then proceeded to make 4WD tracks all over my beautifully covered cake - go figure! I then added bits of the couple, the bike they ride, tent, and other bits traditionally seen in central australia, snakes, stuart desert peas, VB cans etc. They are fun people, and I wanted to express that in the cake.

I think it works well and it was a big hit at the ceremony on Saturday, along with their other cake (more to come in the next blog).

Reconciliation Week

As most of you know, I live in outback Australia, which has a large indigenous population (one of the reasons I love living here).

This week marked Reconciliation week. A week of activities based on working together (black and white) towards a better Australia, I like to call it!

Anyway, enough social politics, Dorelle, in the Workaholic's office was in charge of celebrations, ofcourse she contacted me regarding a cake.......bit hard not to when I am the bosses wife.....LOL!

After much discussion, we decided on the Reconciliation logo and their slogan/theme for this year.

I love working with the more natural/indigenous colours. Surprisingly, Alice Springs had 95% humidity the two days I was trying to ganache and cover the cake. Made for a VERY soft cake and a less than ideal finish. I don't have fridge big enough to give the ganached cake a quick set so the air con was blasting on a not very warm day (could explain the kids colds!) but didn't do the job. Planet cake recommeds not ganaching or covering on those types of days, but I didn't really have an option with a deadline looming and 2 more cakes to go before stepping on a plane.

On the plus side, each cake I am doing provides more lessons and tips on improving next time.