Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sweet Beginnings, Martha Stewart and The Art of Cake

Since the day my first suitcase cake appeared on CNBC and after my appearances on The Martha Stewart Show and Cupcake Wars, I have been asked many times if I was professionally trained. The answer is no. I fell in love with baking and decorating as a child and made my first boxed cake when I was 9 years old. Thanks to a mother and grandmother that were amazing bakers, I learned that home made baked cakes and desserts made with fresh ingredients were far better than anything that could be bought at a grocery store or bakery. My cake decorating began to evolve in the early 80's when I was an Investment Advisor at a brokerage firm. When the first Martha Stewart Living Magazine was published, I looked forward to the inspiration it delivered and creative ideas I found inside. I turned through every page very slowly, read every recipe and tried every new technique of cake decorating. When it came to baking or cake decorating, I could not get enough. I began to read every article I could find in magazines, bought every cake decorating book published, and began teaching myself through trial and error this magical and sweet art. I then became that person that always volunteered to bring a cake to the party. My love of fondant cake decorating began when I saw my first fondant wedding cake and my heart just leaped out of my chest. It was the most beautiful cake I had ever seen. The sugar flowers were so lifelike. The icing was so smooth. It was truly a piece of art. It wasn't until my daughter was three that my fondant cake decorating actually began. I was on vacation in Florida and through the window of a bakery I spotted the most beautiful amazing cake I had ever seen. A christening gown on a cake made completely out of fondant. Having worked with dress patterns, I could visualize how the pieces of the fondant dress were created and then the fun began. I purchased fondant and began experimenting with the feel of it. My first attempt at a dress was a success much to my surprise and that was the beginning of my love of fondant. I have made many Communion and Christening dresses on cakes since that day but it was the knowledge that I had this hidden talent that inspired me to believe that I could make any image out of fondant! It wasn't until a vintage suitcase cake I decorated for Bill Griffeth appeared live on CNBC that I realized I had such talent. It lead me to open my own bakery, appear on the Martha Stewart Show and Cupcake Wars, and work with the Bob Hope Family for the dedication of the Bob Hope Memorial Library at Ellis Island. So no, I wasn't professional trained but I was definitely inspired by my mother, grandmother, Martha Stewart and many years of trial and error.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Camp at The Art of Cake

The first day of camp was filled with lots of laughter and fun. We started the morning off with a lesson on reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and mixing. No baking (that is done by the chef after the campers leave) and lots of decorating.

We made ice cream cone cakes which are easy to assemble. The girls stuffed their cones with cake and icing which had been mixed together in a bowl and then topped the cone with a cupcake. Icing was scooped on and piped on, sprinkles and ganache were added and then a fondant cherry placed on top. You can see from the picture just how yummy they were!

The rest of the week includes Whoopie Pies, Cake Pop decorating and then a two tiered fondant covered cake! Summer Fun!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Birthday Cake for a Dallas Cowboy Named Miles Austin, III

A few days ago I was contacted by the father of a Dallas Cowboy football player asking if I could make a birthday cake for his son, Miles Austin, III. Really?

I am not a Cowboy fan and actually consider myself to be very much a Redskin fan. Would I let that interfere with my decision to do this last minute cake? Of course not! As I spoke with his father about the cake, he told me about his son and all that he had done for him and his family, what a nice boy he is and how much he gives back to the community. All he needed was a small cake with a Dallas Cowboy star and the #19.

When the call ended, a client that had been waiting to speak to me told me that she knew Miles Austin and that she had gone to school with him. She confirmed how well liked he is, how much he gives back to the community and that he was just in the newspaper for that reason.

When Miles mother came to pick up the cake she told me that Miles would say his father shouldn't have gone to all the trouble. She admired the cake and asked how I made the decorations. She was just a nice as the father..

I am not a Dallas Cowboy Fan but I am the fan of a Dallas Cowboy named Miles Austin, III and of his parents.

Graduation Cakes

What a month for graduation cakes. My favorite cake was for one of my daughter's teammates that ran the 4 x 400 relay with her at River Dell High School. The girls went to the Penn Relay's and unexpectedly won their heat. It was one of the most exciting races I have ever witnessed. After being interviewed by our county newspaper, Cat mentioned that she was like "a mama duck" to the younger girls. As the senior on a team with three sophomores, Cat was the leader and the girls followed her every move. The nickname Mama duck stuck and her graduation cake reflected the 4x400 relay team with four little ducks running on a track around the cake. The Riverdell logo and Boston College logo were printed on edible paper. The graduation cap and diploma were made weeks earlier so they could dry completely. This cake will always bring back fond memories for Cat's family and for the rest of the relay team. A fondant cake is very much the centerpiece of the party and the pictures that are taken of it capture memories that will bring smiles for a lifetime.
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coast of Maine Bird Watching Cake

The coast of Maine has always been my favorite place to visit. Imagine how delighted I was when I was approached to create a cake for a man wishing to give his wife a gift that she would never forget. He arrived with his daughter and a handful of pictures of birds. The birds were the birds that his wife loved watching when they were at Acadia National Park in Maine. He described the meadows, the beach and the shoreline as I remembered them and his wish to recreate this wonderful scene of Maine.

The birds were made from rice crispy treats covered in royal icing. The feathers and rest of the parts of the birds were made from a gumpaste/fondant mixture and the legs were skewers covered in the gumpaste. The top tier represented a post on a dock with a rope tied around it. The second tier represented a stormy day, third tier a meadow and the bottom tier was the beach on a sunny day. I didn't want to take anything away from the main focus of the cake (which were the birds) so I used non-toxic chalk to draw the backgrounds on the cake rather than using any fondant. The sand was brown sugar, the stones from candy shaped to look like rocks from the coast of Maine and the shells from chocolate.

The cake was beautiful and his wife could not have been more surprised. This truly is my favorite cake.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carving a Fondant Pumpkin

Everyday clients come to me with new ideas about a cake and why the design or idea means something to them. This past weekend Tom and I created a cake shaped like a pumpkin with a sentiment carved into it as you would a real pumpkin at Halloween. Why? Because a wonderful friend of a newly engaged girl came to me stating that she wanted to recreate a pumpkin out of fondant and cake that would represent the way her friend became engaged.

We stacked and doweled the cake like a wedding cake and pressed in the lines of the pumpkin by hand. The stem was made by rolling and twisting fondant. Although the picture doesn't show how large this pumpkin was, it was the size of a beach ball and very heavy. Carving the words in to the pumpkin was most challenging because I had to use the same font that was used on the real pumpkin. When it was finished it was truly a pumpkin.

Fun cake and fun way to congratulate a friend. Best wishes to all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vintage Suitcase Cake for the Bob Hope Memorial Library

One of the most exciting moments of my career happened recently. We were chosen to make a vintage suitcase cake for the Bob Hope family for the dedication ceremony of the Bob Hope Memorial Library at Ellis Island. I was invited to attend the ceremony and luncheon as their guest. My father served during the Vietnam War when Bob Hope visited his base in Thailand. Being able to give back to a family whose father gave so much to the soliders was an honor I will never forget.

I found vintage stickers from countries that Mr. Hope visited, made books out of fondant that he wrote and copied his actual passport on to edible paper. The result was so well received that someone actually leaned on the back end of the cake thinking it was one of the many real vintage suitcases at Ellis Island.