Sunday, December 21, 2014

Journeyman Years



A journeyman is an individual who has completed an apprenticeship and is fully educated in a trade or craft but not yet a master.  Sometimes, a journeyman is required to accomplish a several-year working trip, which may be called the journeyman years.

Andrew and Brendan are getting married!

And this Evil Cake Genius can't think of a more fitting setting for their chic, metropolitan affair, than New Year's Eve in Downtown Minneapolis.

New Year's Eve weddings are wonderful in many ways.  Your guests are more apt dress to the nines for the holiday.  Nobody is leaving before midnight, and it's as if the whole world is celebrating with you.  There are, however, some pitfalls to a New Year's Eve Wedding.  Things can get pretty cheesy and themey pretty fast.  Thankfully, Andrew and Brendan and their wedding planners- Style Architects, had this firmly in mind when hashing out the details of the evening.

When they came to meet with me to discuss the Wedding Cake and Invitations, there was a beautiful design to the event.  Great color scheme, clean, modern look, with a little bit of glam (after all, it is New Year's Eve).  But there was nothing that screamed of Auld Lang Syne or the beginning of a new year.

That all changed with the cake.  No, we didn't pollute their plans with a six foot tall Champagne Bottle cake with a ticking clock, edible clock springs, confetti, and pyrotechnics at midnight.  But we did talk about the significance of time.

Andrew and Brendan had been together for 11 years.  That's a long time...and in those years, they had experienced a Journey.  They started out as two single guys (life-apprentices, if you will).  And what followed were 11 Journeymen Years.  In those years, they grew together.  They experienced loss, love, the birth of their two daughters, the evolution of their careers, a cross-country move, and the transformation into a family.  Each year brought something new, something joyous, something heartbreaking, something comforting, something scary, something easy something difficult, but always something that they would face together.  So what better time to share this Journey with their closest family and friends than on the dawn of a new year.

So we sketched a cake.  A modern, clean structure with a timeline running down the center.  The guys would get me a paragraph about each year's significant events.  And we'd create a sweet story.  We'd borrow fonts and formatting from their invitations, which we had already designed.

We topped it with a sugar monogram in the style of their invitations, and a title of sugar letters to draw their guests in.  They even added their daughter's monograms, and let them choose the style and color of their letters...after all, it was their journey too.

There was a temporary wall between the ceremony and reception area at the venue (the beautiful Guthrie Theater) so we not only got to see our guys just before they walked down the aisle, but we got to eavesdrop on the ceremony.  A rare treat for the Evil Cake Genius.  As we stacked layer upon layer of cake, we could here readings, music, and the exchange of vows.  We added the last details, and listened to the guests erupt in applause as the couple walked back down the aisle...and into the next of many journeys, together.

Decorator's Notes:

Andrew and Brendan's cake was paneled in fondant for a crisp look.  The cakes were frosted in buttercream, then topped with fondant.  The side pieces of fondant were rolled out a day in advance and allowed to dry.  Then, they were cut to size, and attached to the cake using buttercream.

The lettering was all done using a custom Mesh Stencil.  Rather than hand-painting one letter at a time, which is slow and imprecise, we laid out stencils to allow us to do all of the wording on each panel in one swipe of Royal Icing.  Thank God for Evil Cake Genius!  Want to see one of the mesh stencils in action, click HERE to see a monarch butterfly stenciled in no time!  Evil Cake Genius does custom Mesh Stencils too, so go ahead and contact them. Here's the web site link

We used mesh stencils to create the pattern on the monogram as well as the Zebra Print on the girls' initials.  Super precise, super fast!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Edible Painting, my latest obsession

"Ancora Imparo"

The Evil Cake Genius never went to culinary school.  Nope, not one lick of formal training in this noggin.  It makes me a tiny bit self-conscience at times because nobody ever handed me a diploma or certificate saying "you're done", "you've got this", or even "you're ready to go".

To some, this may seem like a handicap.  But as it happens, it makes me better at what I do.  You see, nobody ever told me that I was done learning.  Because, in fact none of us are ever done learning. And in this way, having no formal training means that I am still in I'm currently in my 18th year of my Evil Cake Genius "degree".

Enter Michelangelo, yup, the big "uomo" himself.

Several years ago, my husband "The Captain" and I took a trip to Italy.  In preparation for the trip, we studied up on our Renaissance artists, and one particular book, "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling" ended up being one of the most influential books I've ever read.  The Captain read the book before we saw the Sistine Chapel and while I and the 30 or so other tourists in the room stared blankly at that magnificent work of art, he was actually seeing it.  He whispered to me some points of interest about the ceiling and the process of creating it that he'd learned from the book so I could appreciate some of the finer points, but  once we got home, I felt the need to read it myself.  And what I got was an understanding of the human behind the work.  I always assumed that Michelangelo was one of those few who were given a "gift".  But in fact, the man had to struggle, and work, and rework his craft.  And at the age of 87, he is recorded as saying "Ancora Imparo"- "Yet, still, I learn."

Now what does this have to do with the Evil Cake Genius, and decorating cakes?  Trust me, I am not comparing myself to the big Mich, or any Master artists for that matter.  But I find great comfort in knowing that, that when the frosting falls off the side of one of my cakes overnight in the fridge, I'm walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo, discovering an entire section of his completed fresco ceiling  on the floor of the chapel when he came to work the following morning (and I'm sure that we shared the same choice words, after all, %@#! translates perfectly between English and Italian).

Now onto Ong and Brandon...

Ong has an eye for style.  From her amazing wedding dress, to the incredible floral decor of her reception.  She created one of the most timeless and romantic weddings that I've ever had the pleasure to be involved with.  We designed her cake with an ombre of pink ruffles leading into two tiers of hand-painted floral patterns.  It would be exquisite.  I also had no idea how I was going to do it.

The one thing I did know was that I'm not one of those "gifted" folks who can just freehand an amazing design on a cake.  So I researched, and found a beautiful floral pattern.  Then, I traced the outline and created a mesh stencil so that I could transfer the pattern to the cake.  That was the easy part.

Now I had to learn to paint.  So I looked to the best cake and cupcake painter I know,  Nina Evans Williams, of Mon Cottage Cupcakes.  I emailed her for a few tips and bought her tutorial.  And I tried it.  And I sucked.  Her technique was fabulous, but I was too slow and too inexperienced with painting to get my flowers to look as beautiful as hers.

I couldn't get the colors to blend.  By the time I painted one section, the color next to it was dry, and my roses looked like cubist representations of flowers, not the beautiful classic roses I wanted.  So I did what came naturally... I whined.  You see, what Michelangelo didn't know, was that if you bitch and moan long enough, people get sick of it, and try to solve the problem for you.  I was bitching to Jenna, that my edible "paint" (a mixture of petal dust and vodka) was acting like acrylic or watercolor paint, when what I really needed was oil paint.  Oil paint doesn't dry for a while, so if you're meticulous and slow like me, you can still blend the colors.  "Well, why not mix the petal dust with cooking oil?" And with those words out of Jenna's mouth, the heavens opened, and this old genius learned a new trick.  And painting those roses went from stress-fest to an absolute joy.  No, not exaggerating.  This cake became a relaxing, enjoyable, and highly rewarding process.

Once we finished the painted tiers, I looked over to my baking racks, where a little frosting version of Ong's beloved St. Bernard, Lincoln was waiting for his big debut.  For any of you who don't already know, The Evil Cake Genius makes these little pooches for lots of her dog-crazy clients.  We stash them somewhere on the wedding cake, and the full price of the pooch gets donated to the ASPCA.  Well, Lincoln had some color issues.  Where I had painted his markings, was streaked, and brush stroked.  I have always struggled with this on my multicolored pooches, but had no real solution...until now.  I mixed up some petal dust with oil, and went over all of his painted areas, and they blended beautifully.

Ahh, applied knowledge.

But, after we delivered Ong's cake, I was deflated.  I wanted more, more I tell you!  So, I decided to transfer my newfound technique into other designs.  How about using my edible oil paint with one of my acrylic stencils?  We thickened it up a bit, and used it on this watercolor Southwestern Chevron pattern. (Can't show the whole cake until it's published, but damn, it's cool!)

Or how about for Christmas cookies?  I've always loved those little pieces of art, so I traced some vintage Holly and Mistletoe patterns and created a set of Cookie Mesh Stencils.  I put on a little Nat King Cole, mixed up some Petal Dust "oil paint" and had some holiday "me time".  As easy as those "paint by number" sets I used to do as a kid, only instead of a portrait of a horse that, once completed, ends up in a shoebox full of artistic achievements that no one actually wants to display, these little babies can dress up your Christmas Cookie Platters, and then be chomped down by some clueless uncle at your Caroling party.  Not a much better fate for fine art, but it's all about the process anyway...?

Who knows where my new favorite technique will show up next?  And now that I've put it out there to other cake decorators, I can't wait to see what all of you Evil Geniuses do with it.

As for "still learning" at age 87?  This Evil Cake Genius will be happy just to be "still breathing" at that age.  But, one thing I can say for sure is that as long as I'm learning new things, I'll be sharing them here.

Decorator's Notes:

Ong's cake had that beautiful Ombre of ruffles that went from deep lipstick pink to Ivory.  The Evil Cake Genius has always struggled to get a vibrant pink color in fondant.  Until one day, I whined about it on Facebook, and someone suggested that I use Pink oil-based Candy Color in my fondant.  Once again, oil seems to be my friend.  The oil based colors don't dull in the least once added to fondant.  So I added these colors to the Evil Cake Genius site. Click the photo below for a link.
The Classic Rose Pattern that we used on Ong's cake has been a fabulous seller on Evil Cake Genius.  We include a full tutorial for using the Mesh Stencil on a cake as well as a tutorial for painting the pattern.  We've had many decorators send us photos of their Rosy Successes, and we know you'll love the process too.  To shop bot the Classic Rose Mesh Stencil and the new Shortened version for standard-height cakes, click HERE
We even put together a Petal Dust set of the colors that we used to paint Ong's flowers, so there's no guesswork for matching our color scheme.

Our Southwestern Chevron Acrylic stencil is available HERE
 we've sized it for double-barrel cakes as well as standard height tiers 
And our Mistletoe and Holly Mesh Stencils with complete photo tutorial are available HERE
Along with our Petal Dust set with the colors you need to replicate our color palette for the painting.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Paper Trail

The Evil Cake Genius has been decorating wedding cakes for a long time.  A very long time.  Allow me to take a moment to rant like an old lady about "in my day" for a second.
When Gateaux Inc. opened in 1996, things were simpler...and harder.  There was no Pinterest, no Ipads, and cellular phones were just that, phones.  Simple.  Brides and Grooms would come in for their appointment with a ring binder (insert young, techie howling laughter here) filled with torn-out pages of wedding magazines, photos, (yes, printed photos) of the bride's wedding dress, and a few swatches of linens, etc.  Any additional inspiration collateral would have to be mailed (snail, that is) to us.

Likewise, when we made an awesome cake, we printed an 8x10 the photo shop (not on Photoshop) and put it in our adorable little photo album for other potential clients to see.  Nothing went viral except the occasional head-cold.

That didn't stop The Evil Cake Genius from creating some pretty bad-ass cakes.

One in particular was designed for a couple who were living in San Francisco, but marrying in Minneapolis.  They loved good wine, their Golden Retriever, and their new "home" City by the Bay.  So, we decided to make a cake that would bring a little San Francisco to their Minnesota guests by way of a three tier cake topped with a frosting sugar Trolley and adorned with little candy striped awnings, under which would be frosting vignettes of store fronts.  We had Lombard Street Wines, a wedding cake shop, a wedding dress shop, and of course, a pet shop, with their sweet little dog silhouetted out of golden fondant.
Photo by Studio 306

It was a delightful cake.  The couple loved it, their guests loved it, and we loved it...despite the fact that hand-cutting every tiny detail out of fondant with an Exacto blade took us a record-breaking 54 hours of decorating time.  A night that will live in Gateaux infamy as the "holy crap, we may not get this cake done in time for the reception tomorrow" night.

Needless to say, we made it "to the church(reception) on time, but when we received pictures of this adorable cake from the couple's photographer, we admired them, and promptly filed them deep in the bowels of the cake shop, never to be shown to any potential client for fear of a repeat performance.  Simple.

If that cake had happened today, those photos would have been plastered on the Internet via Facebook, Pinterest, Weddingwire, Reddit, Diddit, Haddit, UptoMyEyballsInit!  Thank God for a simpler time.

Enter Sarah and Joe...last year.

Sarah knew exactly what she wanted in a wedding cake.  It was simple...she'd known since the moment she saw it...years ago...while working part time at the Calhoun Beach Club as a server.  How cool is that?  Long before she had the ring, or even the guy, she fell in love with her future wedding cake.  The Evil Cake Genius is pleased with such flattery.  Now, which of the many little gems that we've delivered to CBC was it?  The beautiful lacy cake with the big bow?  The Architectural square tiers with little fondant lemons?  Not quite.  Imagine the Evil One's panic when she pulled out of her bag of cake tricks...THE cake.  We had that sucker buried deeper than the Ark of the Covenant in that government warehouse at the end of "Indiana Jones" (don't get the reference? stop reading this...right now...go sit your ass down and watch one of the most entertaining movies ever...what's wrong with you?)

Anyway, after reviving myself, I realized that while we didn't have the Internet barrage that we have today, we weren't living in the stone age when we made that cake.  Sarah didn't have to ride her dinosaur home and paint a picture of that cake on the wall of her cave to remember it, she just had to snap a quick photo with an ancient device known as a camera.  Which she did, and now that photo-paper-trail has led her directly to my lair.  I wanted to hate her for it.  I wanted to zap her with that deneuralyzer thingy from "Men in Black" (don't get the reference, see above note after "Indiana Jones" for your dose of shame).  I wanted to...kiss her.  After meeting her, I discovered that she was an absolute joy to work with.  We customized the idea of the cake from storefronts, to the fronts of the three little boutique hotels that they'd be staying at on their honeymoon...a whirlwind trip to London, Lisbon, and Amsterdam.  With our advanced technology this time around, Sarah provided me with pictures of the three hotels right from her phone, and we were off!

We added Sarah's beloved pup-Jobie (interestingly enough, another Golden Retriever) but this time sculpted him in 3-D out of chocolate paste for our usual donation to the ASPCA.
Best of all, we surrounded the cake with the bride and groom's favorite sweets.  From cake pops and Petit fours adorned with the Portuguese word for "love" to little frosting Big Ben cookies, S'mores tartlets and hand-made peanut butter cups, we made a dessert spread that would make you consider skipping the honeymoon and just camping out in your hotel room with a big box of leftovers.

The day of the wedding, we had the privilege of seeing the couple enter the cocktail hour to see their cake.  It is always a little unnerving to do so, especially when a bride has been anticipating her cake since she was in high school.  Sarah quickly put any doubt to rest, with a resounding hoot and a few choice words that the Evil Cake Genius cannot repeat in proper company.  God, I love it when we make brides use expletives of joy!!

In hindsight, the second version of the "San Francisco cake" took pretty much the same amount of time as the first.  Happily, there are two things that make that kind of work day okay.  First, both couples were absolutely fabulous people, who were so appreciative of the care that went into making their dream cakes.  Second, these little miniature cakes are very much like playing dollhouse with sugar, making the time spent on them a series of delighted squeals, cooing, and laughing like a kid in a candy (cake) shop.  So go ahead, cruel internet...share, pin, and dig away.  We'll be waiting for the next couple to be about another ten years.

Many thanks to Ben Colvin Photography for the beautiful pictures of Sarah and Joe's wedding.

Decorator's Notes:

We still had to hand craft the details from each hotel using our trusty Exacto Blades, but The Evil Cake Genius has gained a little street cred in the technology department since that first awning cake.

We created a custom Mesh Stencil for the Wrought Iron and the hotel signage and got them onto the cake in one swipe of a palette knife...Hallelujah! We've even added our Wrought Iron Mesh Stencil to our Evil cake Genius Site HERE to save some of you other Evil Cake Geniuses a load of time!
We created the little moldings around the windows using an Artway Clay extruder and some of their incredible moulding discs.  They are Available HERE and they are awesome beyond belief.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hello Gatsby

When the Evil Cake Genius was but a wee Cake Minion, her family would trek back to the East Coast to visit the grandparents once a year.  And a trek, it was.  18 hours in a car in the time before personal DVD Players (who am I kidding, even before VCR's) hand-held video games, iPods, iPads, iAnything...with three other siblings and two stressed out parents.  There are only so many times you can play eye spy, and midway through Ohio, you realize that you aren't going to get those last 35 US state license plates to check off your License Plate List game (apparently most Hawaiians and Californians are smart enough to keep out of the midwest).  Overall, it was a study in patience that I wouldn't wish on any kid, or parent for that matter.  There were two things that made this ride bearable to Mini ECG.  First, there would be Dunny's Pizza when we arrived in Reading, unlike any you could find in the limited Pizza desert that was Wisconsin in the early 1970's and Second, a walk over to see my Grandpa at work.  My Grandpa was a Pharmacist.  Those of you who didn't grow up in the '70's may not understand this.  But those of us who did can still smell the sweet mix of plastic prescription bottles, greeting card paper and candy that was a Pharmacy in the 1970's.  Before big box stores, the corner Pharmacy was a spot to pick up your prescription, along with a few necessities and impulse buys.  It was where greeting cards were king, and little trinkets and tchotchkes made up the Royal Court.  I would often score a new coloring book and a handful of Penny Candy when visiting my Grandpa, but the real score was in the corner display.  That's where SHE lived. 

Hello Kitty.  The cat herself, poised on a four sided rotating Point of Purchase display full of miniature toys, notepads, lip balms, stickers and other items completely foreign in value to anyone but a seven year old girl.  Fortunately, The Evil Cake Genius was just that.

As the years passed, so did my voracity for those little treasures.  But the lure of the Kitty never fully left me.  Even as an adult, I'd find myself drawn to the Sanrio displays when shopping for a birthday present for any of my nieces or nephews, just to revisit the glory of tiny little diaries and mini pencils to write in them that only a very coordinated elf could functionally use.

I'm not entirely sure when, but at some point in my adult life, word got out about my obsession with The Kitty.  Simultaneously, or so it seemed, Miss Kitty sold out.  She moved from her corner in the drug store to the mainstream.  And the market was flooded with Hello Kitty....well...everything.  I have since been showered with gifts ranging from fuzzy slippers to gym bags, cell phone cases, blankets, t-shirts, even my nightstand lamp dons that cat.  You can get a Hello Kitty Microwave, bathroom and bedroom decor, bicycle, and even things that I can't mention here, but let's just say you'd have to be over 18 and a little...a lot...weird in your amorous tastes to buy.

Now, truly....what the hell does any of this have to do with wedding cakes?  Patience, grasshoppers.

There is a certain feeling that I got when my special little white cat became the media slut that she now is.  A mixed bag of elation that I can go to the gym with a Hello Kitty water bottle, and disdain for all of the Hello Kitty Posers that have emerged.  After all, "she was MINE FIRST".  I liked her before you could find her little white face on everything from Fruit Snacks to Steering wheel covers.  And now all of these people have jumped on my Kitty Bandwagon.

Enter Connie and Kelly.  A sophisticated, established couple getting married at one of my favorite venues in Minneapolis.  Not only my favorite venue, but my favorite room of that venue.  The Calhoun Beach Club's Solarium.  The first time I saw this room, I was transported back to 1925 and east about 1800 miles.  It was straight out of The Great Gatsby.  That Perfect white trimmed room with french doors leading onto a stone balcony, and palm decor.  Real Palm Trees...inside.  It was Opulent without a stitch of pretense.  I have always felt like Daisy looking around that room for...him...the moment I cross its thresh-hold.

I met with Connie and the Coordinators from Style Architects to discuss the cake and stationery for the event.  We all agreed that the room had to be considered in the design, and I couldn't help but bring up my Gatsby take on the room.  Connie agreed, and before I knew it, we were designing the cake and stationery around the most beautiful Art Deco Chandelier Pattern that I had found a few months prior.  I had been waiting for the right client, the right venue, and the right time...and this was it! 

We laid out the invitations with the pattern across the top edge.  Letterpressed and backed in a Gunmetal Grey liner.  The programs, menu cards, place cards, etc. would follow would the cake.  We split the pattern up over three of the tiers and tied in the fourth with details from Connie's incredible Monique L'huillier gown which, by the way, also incorporated the diamond drop patterns in the stationery art.  And all was aligning perfectly.

Photos by Laura Ivanova Photography

And then it happened.  A couple of months before the wedding, I started to see a surge in Art Deco design.  Everywhere.  From print to fashion, the 1920's was making a comeback.  And one night, while snuggled up with a bowl of popcorn watching The Amazing Race with The Captain, I found out why.  There he was in all his movie star glory...Leonardo Di Caprio...cast as the man himself...The Great Gatsby.  And I felt that same pang of resentment. My hand dropped down into my Hello Kitty Popcorn Bowl with disgust.  Hollywood.  Hollywood would corrupt my perfect Art Deco dream wedding.  Within two months, you'd be able to buy Kleenex designer boxes with Art Deco geometric patterns.  And I would look like a lemming.  No Fair!  Total BS!!  Didn't they know that Gatsby was mine?

I kept my disgust to myself, and stayed the course.  The wedding day came, and the cake was one of the most striking cakes I have made to this date.

The room looked stunning, the bride, sophisticated and beautiful...and the groom...when he looked at her, you knew she was his "Daisy".  And suddenly, I didn't care.  I didn't care that Hollywood had claimed my inspiration.  That more weddings to follow would have an Art Deco inspiration, or that "it was MINE FIRST".   I realized that maybe when the rest of the world catches onto something you've loved for a long time, you should be happy.  Happy to share something wonderful with everyone else for a while.  And when the fad passes, and everyone moves onto Art Nouveau and My Little Pony instead of Art Deco and Hello Kitty, I'll love them just the same.

Decorator's Notes:

Connie and Kelly's cake was truly one of the most elegant cakes I've ever made.  Just like any great cake, it had its challenges.  Being the perfectionist that I am, I couldn't bear the thought of free-hand piping what was meant to be a precise, geometric pattern.  So, the Evil Cake Genius decided to lay out custom stencils for three of the  tiers.  

The top and bottom tiers were 6" tall, and we wanted the wrap around chandelier pattern to stand out,  so we made that tier a "Supertorte"...our term for what others may call a "double barrel" tier.  Basically, two standard-height tiers, stacked with dowels and a separator plate, but then frosted and fondanted as one tier.  We love the elongated look.

You can find the Wrap Around Stencil HERE

You can find the Top Tier Stencil HERE

You can Find the Bottom Tier Stencil HERE

The stencils kept the precision of the design, and allowed us to embellish between diamond patterns with edible pearls and some hand-piping.  The flower topper was meant to be sculptural rather than organic, so we used the flower template that we designed for our Evil Cake Genius "Vow Flower" and actually had the pleasure of following one of our own Tutorials while making it (happy to's a great tutorial).

The Vow Flower Mesh Stencil Set and Tutorial are available HERE

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Having it all

Compromise...Life is full of compromises...and marriage is a minefield of them.  After all, when you marry, you're committing to sharing your life, your home, your finances, and your bathroom sink with another person...forever.

When the Evil Cake Genius married The Captain, there were compromises even before the wedding.  I would take his last name (only after losing a fateful round of Rock, Paper, Scissors just before filling out the marriage license) and he would stop sleeping with a box fan (circa 1970) on high, aimed directly at his head. 

But sometimes, compromising to please your partner isn't a compromise at all.  The Evil Cake Genius is thrilled to admit that she and The Captain have attended both "La Traviata" at the Vienna Opera House, and the Premiere of Jackass the movie.  Yeah, I said it.  And both experiences expanded our horizons.  If you ask me, being open to your partner's tastes and wants leads less to compromise and more to "having it all".

That's where Carly and Ryan come in.

Carly and Ryan met in a soccer league.  They both love soccer.  Do they love soccer enough to have a soccer themed wedding?  No.  So when Carly brought in a magazine shot of her dream wedding cake, we needed to figure out just how to incorporate their love of the sport and its significance in their relationship into this pristinely preppy design.  Add to it, Ryan's love of airplanes.  He even works in the airline industry. 

Now, this is where we might need to take a detour into designing a groom's cake.  After all, the navy blue pleated cake that Carly loved really didn't lend itself to airplanes and soccer balls.  Or maybe it did?  The cake had a lovely trail of fondant ribbon flowers running down the front side, but the back was, well, the back.  Why not let this cake have it all?  Carly came up with the brilliant idea of having a soccer ball busting out the back side of the cake.  Ryan loved it, and the Evil Cake Genius silently reeled with questions about how to make it happen out of frosting (usually a mild panic means a great cake) so we added a little chocolate airplane in orbit around the ball, and it was a done deal.

We set up the cake in an area that the guests would all approach it from the front.  While stacking the tiers and putting on the finishing touches, we got to "test drive" it with the caterers and other wedding vendors wandering in and out of the room.  And it was a blast.  Nothing beats that look of puzzlement that quickly turns into delight when someone discovers a secret.  And this cake had a great one.

So my advice to the happy couple.  Stay the course.  Keep embracing everything that you love about each other and you will surely have it all.

Decorators Notes:

Carly and Ryan's cake was a beautiful deep blue fondant.  As many of you decorators know deep fondant colors are a nightmare to work with.  So for this cake, we tinted the fondant a medium blue, and airbrushed the tiers with a beautiful Navy Blue Luster Dust mixed with vodka to form a paint.  The luster gave the cake a mild satin sheen, keeping it from the dreaded "Play Doh" look that colored fondant tends to have.
The Soccer ball was a trouble spot.  We worried that the weight of the ball would cause it to tear away from the side of the cake during transport or worse, while it was on display.  So we molded a hollow chocolate soccer ball to keep it light.  
The little silver airplane was also molded out of chocolate and airbrushed with a mixture of our Evil Cake Genius Silver powder and Vodka.  The same mixture paints like a dream for those of you who don't have an airbrush.  The silver powder is available HERE

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Where it's at

There's a destination a little up the road
From the habitations and the towns we know
A place we saw the lights turn low
Jig-saw jazz and the get-fresh flow
Pulling out jives and jamboree handouts
Two turntables and a microphone
Bottles and cans and just clap your hands and just clap your hands

Where it's at
I got two turntables and a microphone
Where it's at
I got two turntables and a microphone

That's it.  That's all I ever wanted to be..."Where it's at"...

But I wasn't.  I'm not saying I was a total outcast, a geek, nerd, or member of any other socially shunned clique.  But I wasn't the trend-setting cook kid either.  I just always kept my head low and let the other guys take the social risks.  When Jessie Springer showed up wearing her new "Olivia Newton John" style head band in 6th grade, I was green with envy.  I wanted to "get physical" too.  But I didn't have the fashion or the social chops that Jessie had.  Apparently, neither did Jessie, because when she came back to school after lunch hour, that headband had mysteriously disappeared.

It's the oldest story in the book.  Kids are cruel.  Society is dog-eat-dog, and being cool can get you in places that all the money, smarts, and skills in the world can't.  But that's okay.  As I got older, I learned that it didn't matter as much as I thought all those years.  I'm good with "where I'm at" and can walk through life confident and happy.

Now let's talk about Matt.

Matt is by all definitions "Where it's at."  He's a trainer with the Minnesota Vikings, so he's literally "where it's at" every game of the season...on the field.  In his younger days in Boston, he was a DJ...another completely "where it's at" profession.  Matt's mom and dad, Linda and Paul, also "where it's at" decided to contact me to make him a groom's cake for the rehearsal dinner for his upcoming wedding.   So we met.  Let's just get this out of the way now.  I have a serious bias toward East Coast people.  My own family was from eastern Pennsylvania, and every time I hear someone with any variety of East Coast accent, I am immediately drawn to them.  I've had my share of backfires, but typically, this attraction has proven beneficial.  Linda and Paul are no exception. They are true Bostonians...straightforward, and without pretense...outgoing, hilarious to chat with, and oh, that accent...what I wouldn't give to have that accent.  In talking with them, my little bits of East Coast (like things being "harrible" instead of "horrible" and how I just love my "dawg") crept back into my voice, just as it does every time I visit New York.  And I was home.

Together, we designed a Two Turntable masterpiece for Matt.  We had each LP label represent the two teams he's been a trainer for, and found a laundry list of inside jokes and references to stash here and there on the cake.  We had so much fun, that Linda scheduled an appointment for Matt's bride to come in with them on their next trip to town so that we could convince her that she absolutely needed that wedding cake that she had no interest in.

A few weeks later, we did just that.  Jamie actually had a beautiful little two tier cake hidden away on her Pinterest page that was labelled "Almost makes me want a cake".  Once she shared that, it was all down hill.  We created a beautiful two tier cake and surrounded it with all the desserts she had dreamed of.

Linda and Paul went back to Boston, and I had my typical moment of "What the hell did I just agree to?)  It was time to figure out how to actually create not one, but two edible turntables (thank God, no microphone, at least). 

So began my more than one way.

I found a place in Uptown that rents Turntables and other audio equipment.  Not the kind of AV Geek equipment I was hoping for, but a full on DJ emporium.  A place that a 42 year old cake decorator had no business visiting.  I'm pretty sure that they agreed.  I walked in the front door to some house hip-hop mix I didn't recognize, and the distinct whiff of some herb that had no business in a bakery (at least not in Minnesota yet).  The guy behind the counter looked at me as though I must be here for directions to the nearest Scrapbooking Supply Store, when I told him I was there to pick up my rental.  He pulled the paperwork, and began writing up the order, and just when I realized that I was Jessie Springer at home for lunch, sadly removing my awesome headband, and re-feathering my defeated hair, he asked me what I was doing renting this thing.  My mind raced.  Maybe I'd bluff him.  Maybe I was gonna "go down to Eight Mile with my usual DJ setup, a Traktor Scratch Pro with a Mac Book Pro and an Allen & Heath Mixer Xone 3D through a BBE Sonic Maximizer with a Mackie Blackjack audio interface through my computer to the Web. Control vinyl with Traktor and a Pioneer CDJ 1000 and a mic.  But I thought it might be dope to dubstep some Electro old school with this turntable."

But what really came out was "cake."  


But much to my surprise, he was intrigued.   I believe the actual word that came out of his mouth was "cool."  So we discussed my plans, he had a schematic for one of their turntable wraps that had the layout and dimensions of all the whatz-its and thingys (technical terms) on the turntables that he emailed me.  Now I had a perfectly sized template for the decks (yeah, I said it, that's what us cool people call turntables).  Not understanding that the truly cool have their own needles, I was left without that particular piece to model my frosting needle from.  But now that I was "where it's at" he happily lent me one of his.  I loaded the turntable into my car and drove off, a newly baptized "cool" broad.

For the next day, we measured, molded, and photographed every part of that turntable (ahem, deck) from every possible angle, and began recreating it in sugar.  Meanwhile, Linda got me the details on all the other elements that would make this cake truly special, and even invited me to the wedding reception.  

We set up the Groom's cake at the rehearsal dinner, and saw Linda and Paul as they entered the room.  Still dressed in my chef coat, I tried to sneak out quietly, but I was spotted, and promptly introduced to the family and treated like a guest.  That's just the kind of people these are...the truly "cool" who don't care if you're wearing no makeup and look like you've spent the last 48 hours straight in a bakery with no daylight (and certainly no mirrors).  They embrace you as family.  They're not "Minnesota Nice", they're East Coast Fabulous...and they can make a girl feel like she is always "where it's at".

 The next night, we set up the wedding desserts and cake and actually changed into something less "cheffy" to have a drink at the cocktail hour.  We got to meet the whole family, perfected a few words in "proper" Boston dialect, learned what a "Southie" is, and got to bask in the perfect energy that surrounds a couple who has just proclaimed their love and commitment to each other for all to witness.  I left the reception just before dinner was served to go home to my own husband, realizing that cool or not cool, when you're surrounded by those who you love and respect, you're always "where it's at".

Decorator's Notes:

 Matt's groom's cake was one of those cakes that was structurally simple, but would hinge on the fine details.  I always recommend getting your hands on the "real thing" if you can.  We've had brides bring in Fender guitars, Navy officer's hats, and all sorts of other objects to model cakes after.  Anything you can measure, trace, mold, and see three-dimensionally will help make the cake that much more accurate.  The detailing on the turntables was molded out of mexican paste (a mixture of fondant and gum paste) allowed to dry for 5-7 days, and airbrushed in Silver Powder mixed with Vodka.  The silver powder that we used is available on our Evil Cake Genius site.
The Records on the turntables were also Mexican paste, and the grooves in them were made in the simplest of ways...We wet a large paintbrush with Pam nonstick spray and held it on the records as we spun them on a turntable (bakery, not DJ).  The grooves stay shiny and raised.
 The fine details on the record labels, Tequila bottle, and DVD case were custom Mesh Stencils that we created and stenciled onto the fondant in Royal Icing.  Many similar stencils are available on our Evil Cake Genius site as well, but we make custom ones for other bakeries all the time, just contact us at if you're looking for something specific.