Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yes! (Engagement cookies)

I'm so happy for my friend Sarah!  She got engaged not too long ago and is planning her wedding for next October!  I was absolutely giddy at the chance to make wedding / engagement cookies.  I'm going to start baking some mini test cakes for her to choose from for her wedding cake.  Let's count the ways that cakes and cookies can be used for wedding purposes: Engagement party cookies or cake,  "save the date" cookies sent by mail, bridal shower cake, bridal shower cookie favors, bachelorette party gifts, bridesmaids gifts, wedding cake and cookie favors.  I really need to know more people getting married just so I can create more mini wedding dresses, or even shoes, steeples, tuxedos, they all sound fun.

engagement cookiesstenciled heart cookies

engagement cookies

These are probably some of the easiest and most simple cookies I've made.  The engagement ring cookie has been done many times, but I had to make one just because they are so pretty. To achieve the silver metallic color, I used a Wilton food coloring spray in a can.  You don't even have to color your icing, it will spray right over with full coverage. There is some over spray so it's best to ice the cookies to the very edge.  I definitely would not recommend using the Wilton pink spray. It's really bad.  As in the ugliest pink you will ever see. I used it to stencil on the side of a cake and it was hideous.  I didn't even take a picture because I didn't want to remember it.
On the subject of spray food coloring, I took another Craftsy class to learn airbrushing on cakes and cookies.  I borrowed my dad's airbrush, but only to practice with as it's already been used with regular paint.  I really don't want to poison anyone.  I love how the heart turned out in the picture above and I'd like to experiment more with stencils and other airbrush effects.
I also went to America's Baking and Sweets show in Schaumberg to see some new products. There were dozens of vendors selling cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, other sweets, and a variety of baking and decorating tools.  A problem arose when I wanted to eat lunch because the only item in the entire room for me to eat that wasn't sweet was a little bit of lunch meat on a tiny piece of focaccia. I kept looking around me wondering if I was the only one that couldn't survive on sugar the entire day!
While I was there, I attended a class taught by the professional chef and certified master sugar artist Eurico “Jing” Palasigue, CMSA from Le Cordon Bleu.

This is a gum paste rose he made prior to the class.  He worked on three flowers that were partially completed for the entire hour class.  I have a lot of patience, but I'm not sure I have that much.  I have also taken a Wilton gum paste flower class but watching a professional was definitely a great experience.
So, back to Sarah.  We'll see what she picks for the design of her cake, I'll have to start practicing my gum paste flowers again. I think I'll even make some fake wedding cakes in the meantime just for fun.  I purchased a fake styrofoam cake dummy - yes, those exist.  It will be perfect for covering with fondant and trying out my new airbrushing skills!  Some people even have an entire fake cake created for their wedding and then have sheet cakes baked to be cut behind the scenes and served to all their guests.  I don't know that I'd ever want to try and balance an entire real 5 tiered cake either. 
I suppose I should have Sarah try my cake first before I get too excited  :-)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Babies and Cakes

I'd like to have 4 children.  I  have two sisters and a brother and I love them.  I'd welcome the chaos. A full house where I call my child 4 names before getting the right one. Amelie will be able to have as many friends over as she wants, as long as they keep their crayons to themselves.  I think a loud house is better than a quite one, especially the kind where your dad bangs on the ceiling from the basement and yells to "stop playing the piano!"  Or a house where normal sounds are trumpet, flute, piano, and an oboe. Maybe not all at the same time, but a different one each day.  A bird, dog, cat, fish, and a rabbit for pets all at the same time? Sure. And as for hand-me-downs, nothing is better than wearing a nightgown that your older sister wore, even if it has her name embroidered on it.  Not to mention using your older sister's Aussie scrunch hairspray in the purple bottle because it smells so good, and then lying about it as if she doesn't have a nose.
Now mind you, I say this after only having one child.  I suppose I'd like for Amelie to have what I had growing up but I do reserve the right to change my mind, especially if my someday number 2 likes to beat her sister up.

But here's to babies, babies, and more babies....

teddy bear cake topper

Johnny's cousin Lori needed a gluten free baby shower cake for her friend.  I'm always up for a baking challenge. In the process I learned about new ingredients and it tasted great!  I know because I baked a test cake and ate it.  No, not the whole thing.  But a pretty big portion.  I just kept taking bites, thinking to myself "does this taste gluten free?"  I'm not sure, let me take another bite.
 I took a class on the Craftsy website to practice figure making and the baby was my project.  He couldn't just be left alone on the cake so the teddy bear kept him company.  I made the figures with a fondant and gum paste mix.  It's like playing with play-doh, just a little more tricky.  The other problem is that it's edible, so the whole time you are tempted to eat it.  Eating a baby's head would just be weird.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspiration & Pinspiration

I love reading blogs and I have stumbled upon quite a few that always have great recipes and awesome photography.  I can't possibly share them all, but these are a few of my favorites.

Sweetopia  has made my baking life easier.  She has really cute printables listing the weights of all the common baking ingredients.  I have changed the way I bake by weighing all my ingredients with a kitchen scale.  It makes less dirty dishes and is very accurate, which produces much more reliable yummy results. Pouring ingredients into a bowl on top of a scale also keeps my kitchen a little bit cleaner.  No more sugar and flour coating my counter tops from measuring spills.  Well, not as much.

Half Baked is very inspirational.  I've spent hours looking at these cakes.  I promise that you will see the most beautiful cakes on this website. Watch out, it will make you want to become a cake decorator.

Best Friends for Frosting has recipes, party decor ideas, and interviews with professionals in the baking community. A lot of trendy party themes and dessert items to get ideas from.

Sweetapolita is where I learned that simple is sweet.  She doesn't do any of that Wilton fluffy wedding decorating.  It's definitely more of a bakery style of decorating. Beautiful colors, wonderful creamy frostings, and of course great cake recipes.

Bake at 350's cookies are the absolute cutest, but she definitely has some desserts recipes that I'd love to sink my teeth into, and they aren't all cake.

Design Seeds allows you to search beautiful color palettes by picking one color you are fond of.  The combinations are amazing. I love to browse and imagine what my house would look like with one of their color schemes.  It's rather time consuming to try and recreate these colors in icing or frosting for cookies or cakes, but I do have my favorites that I'll try one day.
Colourlovers features many pattern for inspiration.

Inspiration for creative projects can come from anywhere really.  My recent favorite tv series is Downton Abbey.  I would love to use some of the patterns from the clothing, especially since you can see an obvious art deco influence at the end of the third series. Martha Stewart always outdoes herself.  And where would we all be with out Pinterest?  My day is not complete until I've spent at least 5 minutes there.  On a side note, I'm excited to say that I figured out how to edit the html for my blog so that you can easily pin any of my pictures to your Pinterest board!!!!  All you have to do is hover over a picture and you'll see the "pin it" button appear.

I am sure that you all have heard of Wilton, and it is definitely a great site.  I feel like they take the latest trends and then create products that allow you to copy them.  I see this mostly with their newest pans such as macaroons, push pops, whoopie pies, etc.  I've taken some Wilton classes, they are fun and I would take more to learn new skills.
But because they are so good, and so good at over doing it, I have to share some of their oldies.  My sister has a Wilton cake decorating book from 1997 and she sent some of the pictures to me so we could laugh about how much decorating styles have changed. Sorry for the poor picture quality.

Swing your partner round and round....

Is this a gingerbread man in his pajamas?  Weird.

I feel so proud to say that my cookies look better than this.

And my personal favorite....Rabid Elmo.