Cake Notes

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A Break from Cake.

I forgot how much work it is to have a toddler. Just keeping him fed  makes me feel like I’m shoveling coal into the firebox of a speeding train all day. The inside of my home looks like the aftermath of a tornado (albeit an adorable one!). Every day. No matter how much I clean.

Add 20-30 hours of cake making to the things I’m already doing?

I actually tried. I did, and it was miserable. We were all miserable. So Yeah- the thought of attempting any more cake or cupcake projects is looking like a really tall glass of NOPE right now. This little quote really validated my decision:

I love cake. But I love my family more. I choose to put them first. See you next year! 

-C.N.

Filed under priorities cake choices toddler stay at home mom

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Lookin’ Fine Frankie Stein!

A lot of research went into creating the perfect dress and cake for miss Frankie Stein. 

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The Monster High plaid/argyle is so cute! As you can see it became the theme for the entire cake. I don’t like how bell-shaped doll cakes traditionally are, so I cut more of a cone shape for the base:

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The end result was a dress that really looks like a dress, but also has yummy red velvet cake inside! 

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Can you put enough hot pink on a little girls’ cake? I think not!

Filed under monster high frankie stein Halloween halloween birthday cake party scary black argyle fondant sugarpaste cake food cute food

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Inspiration From Unexpected Places…

I don’t usually think of casserole dishes when I need ideas for cake decor, but this ended up being the inspiration for my friend’s Birthday cake:

It is an exceptionally cute dish! I have many fond memories of serving brownies, cobbler, and other delicious things in it. If it ever breaks, now I have a nice photo to remember it by, and a cake that looks like it too! 

This is a fresh apple cake with caramel frosting inside. The outside is covered in my homemade marshmallow fondant, and hand-painted with gel paste colors diluted in a little food-grade alcohol. It turned out way better than I could have imagined. I think I need to do more hand-painted cake designs in the future.

Filed under flowers red flower marshmallow fondant cake food cute food sweet birthday casserole hand painted

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Explore. Rescue. Protect.

Prior to this cake, I knew next to nothing about the Octonauts. Now Captain Barnacles, Kwazzi, and Peso are my BFF’s! I cheated and used toys for two of them, but Captain Barnacles is 100% my handwork.

I used rainbow confetti cake for the submarine, but it wasn’t quite stiff enough. I think next time I’ll experiment with cereal treats.

Like many of you, I love ombre, so I had to include that on the second tier. 

Also, as you can see, I’ve included lots of sea creatures and sand!

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A big shout out to my niece for being my assistant on this one. I was far too ambitious in my planning, and needed an extra pair of hands to take care of all of the minute details.There’s no way it would have happened with out her hard work and creativity! Thanks Becca!!!

Filed under cake birthday 6 octonauts disney pes kwazzi captain barnacles bear ocean sea beach seaweed fondant sugarpaste gradient ombre fish octopus kid

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Plants vs. Zombies

It’s so convenient when the person you are making a cake for is your kid. They are always available to answer important questions like “which plants and zombie do you want on your cake?” They are also around to help you put it all together…which was fun!

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The best part? Getting a piece of paper with “I love you” scrawled on it as a thank you. :) !

Filed under plants vs. zombies sunflower peashooter cabbage-pult football zombie conehead zombie buckethead zombie torchwood lawn birthday cake red velvet

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Made with Love and Science.

When you’ve wanted a baby for along time, and it finally happens thanks to IVF, it’s pretty exciting. A friend wanted to celebrate this miracle with a science-themed baby shower cake. I immediately thought of the two most endearing Muppet scientists out there- Beaker and Bunsen!

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At first I decided to use the edible images for Beaker and Bunsen to keep costs down, but I think it looks way more dramatic than sugar paste figures. The softer look of sugar paste was perfect for the baby, who is happily sitting on the “Periodic” work table. If Beaker and Busen had thought bubbles I think they’d go something like this:

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Another successful scientific demonstration!

Filed under The Muppets Beaker Bunsen Baby Cake Sweet periodic table science scientific atomic made with love and science buttercream beaker lab

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Custom vs. Store-bought Cake: What’s the difference? And why I won’t be opening a cake shop anytime soon!

I was reading a blog that helps home bakers manage their cake business. They had this great quote that explains the difference between a custom cake and one from a store.

"Never, ever compare your prices to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco, or a grocery store.  People can’t get the same cake at Wal-Mart that they get from you.  That cake at Wal-Mart was made months ago, flash-frozen, and shipped to the store, where an employee working as quickly as he/she could frosted it with icing from a bucket, and maybe added some airbrushing or buttercream roses.  That employee probably had 50 other cakes to complete in the same shift. 

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[See that? A soul-less cake zombie!]

The difference between your cake and Wal-Mart’s cake can be likened to the difference between custom garments and off-the-rack clothes. Say you went to a seamstress, consulted with her about the perfect fabric and cut for your body type, discussed your coloring, took measurements, went back for several fittings, and in the end had an exquisite dress, hand-made with excruciating attention to detail, perfect for your body and your coloring. 

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When the seamstress required payment, you would not tell her that a Wal-Mart dress costs $14.99, so that’s all you should pay. The two products are not comparable. “

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That’s right. There is no comparison. I felt like I needed to post this because sometimes people don’t understand why I “charge so much” for my creations. Well, it’s because unlike those store cakes, the one I make for you is not cranked out of a factory— The one I make for you is totally unique!

Before I even start baking, I design the cake. Sometimes I will even make a sketch of what it will look like. If it’s a character cake, I will often spend time researching it, and studying other cakes with the same theme, and taking elements I like from the best ones. If your cake contains an edible image, I have to find the perfect image, size it perfectly, and order it from a specialty store. Then drive 40 minutes round trip to go pick it up for you!

When I buy the ingredients, I fuss over and buy the unsalted butter. (No Crisco for you, my friend!) I use fussy, high-quality cake flour! I use cage-free eggs that come from happy not-tortured chickens. I use the highest quality Mexican Vanilla money can buy. ¡Que sabroso! The cake practically sings when I bake it! I love it into being.  

And that’s just the beginning.

Then I build it. I make sure it is perfectly level and balanced, so it won’t collapse when it is moved. I have to cut dowel rods, and arrange plates and cardboard circles to make sure it stands up straight, and stays that way. It has taken me a lot of time and practice to achieve good cake construction. 

Frosting is another step that looks easy, but takes a lot of work to do well. Try to get it really smooth without crumbs or tearing, and you’ll see what I mean!

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Decorating may look simple, but it can take many hours. Especially if the cake has lots of little details. Also, because you are working with food, you can’t leave the cake sitting out for hours on end.

I really put a ton of effort into my cakes. I hope you can see that it’s more than just a baked good… it’s art. It makes me really sad when people only want to pay me $2 an hour (or less!!) to do something that requires a lot of skill, time, and concentrated effort. (I admit this is partly my fault because I should value what I do enough to ask for what it’s worth.

As a music teacher I make about 20 times more per hour, and enjoy it just as much. It doesn’t make my body ache, and it doesn’t make me fat. So there you go. Cake decorating is awesome, but it doesn’t pay the bills. If I were to even consider making it a business, I’d have to make some actual money at it first.

Love and hugs,

C.N.

Filed under cake wal-mart stores inc custom store love

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Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.

Grandma, you mean the world to me. I’ve made some 4th of July Birthday cakes for you in the past, but this year I was privileged to make a special one to honor your 90th 

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I wanted to make something that would represent your industry, creativity, and most of all, your love for your family. You’ve planted so many seeds over the years and given so many delicious vegetables away- some freshly picked by your loving hands and served at your welcoming table, and others carefully preserved in jars to be enjoyed later. How many beautiful flowers flashed by as I ran through your garden as a child? You cut and arranged so many bouquets that were shared with family and friends, or admired by everyone at church or Lion’s Club. Sharing. Giving. Hard work. You are the embodiment of those qualities, but the greatest one of all is- LOVE.

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The quilt on the cake is a replica of one Grandma made for my wedding day. She has made many quilts and baby blankets over the years, and I can tell you, there is love in every stitch!

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Close-up of a watering can and flagstones inspired by her garden.

And check out these cute little vegetables! 3 of her favorite ones to grow!

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All of the flowers, veggies, etc. are sugarpaste.

Filed under cake garden quilt birthday 90 food sugarpaste gumpaste flowers vegetables plant dreams pull weeds grow a happy life bricks flagstone hosta tulip gardening watering can

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Congrats 2013 Grads…

…and that includes kindergarten! I really enjoyed creating school-themed decorations for this cake, as well as the cute little faces!

I used a clay extruder to squeeze out all of those colorful crayons:

One of our kindergarten friends cannot tolerate gluten, so these are some special little decorations I made for the special cupcake his mom is bringing:

:) !!

Filed under cake food frosting gumpaste sugarpaste fondant kindergarten graduation 2013 ruler crayons bow flower boy girl