Monday, March 4, 2013

The Cake That Started it All

So how did I get into cake decorating?  I didn't start decorating cakes until after my son was born.  Never even thought it was something I wanted to do, or would be good at.  So for me, there was definitely a defining moment for when I "started" decorating cakes.

While I've always enjoyed baking and been pretty good at it, cake decorating was nowhere on my radar.  Not until I offered to make my mother-in-law's birthday cake for her 60th birthday.  We were having a surprise party for her... I really wanted to make the cake special, but wasn't sure exactly how.  I had ordered cakes from the grocery store with edible images before for my kids' birthdays.  That gave me the idea to put a "family tree" on top of the cake to high light her life and the people in it who loved her.  I thought it would be cool to have photos of the family on the family tree and one larger photo of Sue on the cake.

But how on earth was I going to execute this idea?   I had no skills whatsoever at icing a cake smooth.  So then I had this brilliant (albeit somewhat naive) idea of making fondant.  I really didn't know that much about it and wasn't even sure if I had the name right.   But I thought, if I had a perfectly smooth cake to decorate, that would be a great foundation for the family tree.

I did a google search and found a recipe for marshmallow fondant.  I figured if it didn't work out, I wasn't out that much money or time so I thought I'd give it a shot.  So I followed the recipe (which called for incorporating the sugar into the melted marshmallows by hand).  I had the biggest mess on my counters and swear I was up to my elbows in confectioners sugar and melted marshmallow. I'm sure the amount I washed off my hands was nearly equivalent to the amount of fondant I ended up working with.

All the stars must have aligned just right because somehow.... somehow!.... that fondant rolled out so perfectly.... it went onto the cake perfectly!  It felt like a miracle, and I was sooooo pleased.  I had this beautifully covered, perfectly smooth, white sheet cake upon which to decorate.

I was scared to death to decorate this cake... I mean... it was beautifully flawless (in my mind anyhow)... I was so afraid I would muck it up when I started adding decorations.  So I made my decorations out of fondant... hand rolled and cut chocolate fondant for tree trunk and limbs... green fondant cutout leaves... red fondant cut out flowers.... I was mesmerized by this lovely concoction that was so wonderfully pliable... I became addicted and obsessed with the product and the limitless possibilities it represented.

The flowers and leaves were all looking pretty spectacular in my mind, but I was so afraid to actually put them on the cake.  Finally, I mustered up the courage to start adding the decorations to the cake... little by little, step by step, my confidence grew.  I made green buttercream and piped some additional leaves.  I made red buttercream for additional piping to frame the family photos.  I was on fire!  Or at least that is how I felt.

As is plainly evident, piping/writing was my downfall.  I was sorely disappointed in the "Your Family Is Proud" script that certainly looked like a four year old wrote it.

But overall, I was thrilled... I was proud of my creation.. I wanted to do it again... and again... and again....

It started there and never stopped.  That was December of 2006 and I never looked back.  I went to culinary school in 2008 and completed a Pastry Arts program.  This single cake was a catalyst to a hobby, which has blossomed into a successful cake business that keeps me pretty busy... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Cake That Started My Obsession

I am proud to say that my piping skills have improved tremendously over the years and no longer look like the work of a pre-schooler!

Fast Forward to October of 2008.... This was my next "Family Tree" cake.... Makes me think of that Virginia Slims (?) ad... "You've Come a Long Way Baby!"

It was nice to recreate the same "idea" for a cake and see just how far I had come... Absolutely LOVE both cakes, but for completely different reasons.

I love what I do and grow more confident and comfortable every day in my role as a cake artist.  Thank you to everyone who supports what I do and lifts me up when I need it.  I am thankful that I get to do what I love.... 


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