Friday, June 13, 2014

D.O.T.S. cupcake display

 Our stake's annual Young Women's recognition dinner was last month. I was once again asked to make a cupcake display for this special event where we recognized the young ladies who completed their personal progress this year and those girls who are moving on to Relief Society.
I got a little stressed out about this one but I'm so happy with the end result!
 This year's theme was D.O.T.S. It stood for Depend On The Savior. They asked for lots and lots of dots. The expectations were super high after last year's "Stand ye in Holy Places" theme and display. I was stressed out because how do you make dots cute? To stall my lack of ideas I made a backdrop to start by punching out a bunch of dots and stringing them together. How cute is the backdrop? I really loved how it turned out and felt more at ease knowing that even if I couldn't think of a cute way to decorate the actual cupcakes the display itself would look cute.
 Next I took some containers I had and attached some cake rounds, ribbon, and the letters. I knew I wanted some differing heights and sizes of rounds to put the cupcakes on. I covered the rounds with some cute colors that would add a bit of character to the display as well. In other words I continued to work on the display itself in hopes that some kind of idea for how to decorate the cupcakes would come to me.
 There was a budget for the event and since fondant could get a little pricey I didn't want to do anything where each cupcake had a fondant topping. Plus 180 fondant toppers right smack in the middle of all the birthdays and birthday celebrations and graduations wasn't very exciting sounding to me. So after searching the internet and Pinterest I decided I'd try to make some royal icing dots.
 I watched numerous videos on YouTube for research and said a prayer or two that the decorations would dry. I'd attempted royal icing decorations before but I'd always had problems with them not drying well enough. In Hawaii, when you have no ac in your home like me, the humidity makes any decoration making difficult. The making isn't actually the difficult part, in case you're interested here are the real difficulties:
-allowing the decorations to fully dry
-if they do fully dry how to store them so that the don't re-soften
(when the decorations aren't fully dried they melt fairly quickly once placed on the cupcakes and we end up with some not so cute melting decorations)
 Any guesses on how I get around these problems? 
-I store my decorations in a parchment paper lined t-shirt gift boxes
-I keep the boxes in my oven with the light on (make sure the oven is off)
-although fondant pieces can be made and stored for a few months, I try to make my pieces only a week or two in advance whenever possible because rainy weather will undo previous drying anyways. Plus I don't want my oven to be unusable as an OVEN because it's always storing cupcake decorations.
-Making decorations that can stay on a lollipop stick also does wonders because then they don't have to actually touch the frosting!
 So these are my tricks for fondant and gum paste decorations that I have picked up over the past two years. I'd never applied these tricks on royal icing decorations. Guess what? I piped my decorations on parchment paper instead of wax paper, then stored them in the oven in t-shirt boxes and they dried fully, stayed dry and I was able to peel them off on the day of and put them on my cupcakes! 
Add 4 little praying and scripture reading fondant ladies on a lollipop sticks and done!
Sione said the lesson he got from looking at the display was that if you read your scriptures and say your prayers you will be surrounded by cupcakes. How silly is this guy! I love him! And the girls loved (and leaders) loved the cupcakes so I'd say it was a success.
Check out all the other cute details the stake leaders included that night!
 These were for the girls who were receiving their honor bee.

 Needless to say it was a wonderful night!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Treats for my Sister's Wedding Reception

 When my sister got married and I was in charge of the desserts. It was heavenly and so fun!
 These French Macarons have become such a hit, they were the first to go.
 I'll post the recipe soon I promise!

 Believe it or not these black cupcake tower stands were made with foam poster boards, an exacto knife and some hot glue. They really added a huge effect even though they were so cheap to make. And I could throw them away after so I didn't have to worry about storing them.
 Strawberries, marshmallows and a chocolate fountain were a major hit and took the least amount of work!
 Used both old and new techniques for some fondant flowers. Not sure which is my favorite because I love them all!

I also made a grooms cake (in an hour!) for my Bronco loving brother-in-law. It was a confidence booster since it was my first one and somehow came together. I guess I am getting pretty good at this decorating thing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring Bridal Shower Cupcakes

 My sisters soon to be in laws threw her a surprise bridal shower and enlisted me to do the cupcakes. It was a Spring theme. I had no idea how they were planning to decorate but everything came together perfectly!
 I had been watching the Next Great Baker on Netflix so I decided to try making some hand painted butterflies. They turned out great!
Amazing how a little bit of green tissue paper, a pretty bow, and cute umbrellas can add so much to the decor of a space!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monogrammed Fondant/Gumpaste Hearts Tutorial

Here is a super simple cupcake topper decoration that I made for some wedding cupcakes. All you need is a heart cutter, something to add a little texture, letter stamps, and a toothpick.
Step 1: roll out your fondant or gumpaste and cut out some hearts.
Step 2: add some texture if you'd like. Be creative, you can even use another stamp. If you are using something that you don't only use for edible creations, just wrap it in some saran wrap first. No worries and practically no clean up too.
Step 3: Stamp your letter in the center. I used a stone letter stamp in the pictures, but any letter stamp would do.
Step 4: Use a toothpick or a thin point modeling stick to add some more decor around the edges.

It's that easy, and also a great excuse to add to your stamp collection. The possibilities are endless!

Bukarau Wedding Cupcakes and a Peptalk

 Back in February I felt so honored to be asked to bake these cupcakes for a lovely couple's wedding. It was going to be another big order and I would be able to practice my fondant skills once again. Their colors were red and black and the bride requested hearts and roses. There were 4 dozen red velvet, 4 dozen carrot cake, 4 dozen chocolate, and 4 dozen vanilla. As you can see there was also a topper for every single one of them.
 Everyone loved them especially the groom! His mom has had my cupcakes before and had suggested that they should ask me to make them for their wedding. Having never had my cupcakes he was pretty excited about them when he saw them, but was even more excited after tasting them! Yay, always happy to have a new fan. Ha ha!
 I overheard a wedding cake decorator, who was nearby my cupcakes once say, "Decorating a cake is stressful, people make such a big deal about cupcakes. But cupcakes are so easy, all you have to do is be decent at piping!"
After all the work I did for these bad boys I have to disagree.  I would not be good at decorating a wedding cake if it was to be covered in icing or butter cream only. I'm not the best piper and I wouldn't want to do it, purely based on the fact that I don't like the overly sweet taste of icing or butter cream. In fact a lot of people don't. It's the reason I started making my own frostings in the first place and it's the reason so many people love the things I bake.
That being said, since I don't use icing or butter cream I've had to be creative about my decorating. My frostings won't hold as a piped decoration. My solution: experimenting with other edible individual toppers. 
I love making the toppers and cupcakes, but I'm not going to lie, it's a lot of work. In fact in my opinion it's a lot more work than making toppers for a cake.
Here's some reality to those out there that  may not appriciate the work that goes into decorating a cupcake like mine (opinionated wedding cake maker, I'm talking to you ). 
1) edible fondant toppers are about 1/4 the size of a cake topper. This means it's much more difficult to do the detail work. I may not have to deal with molding rice cereal or debating about putting sticks and wires into my toppers but it's just as much work I promise you.
2)Since most people don't make individual toppers for their cupcakes, there aren't too many molds available to work with. I find a lot of cutters and molds that would work for a cake topper but are too big to work with when making a topper for a cupcake. I've had to be creative to figure it out most of the time.
3) Quantity is a big difference. Where a single tiered cake may take 3 really awesome gum paste or fondant flowers, each cupcake would get their own flower or decoration. And in relation to reason #2, lack of molds or cutters means hand cutting a custom design or shape with an exacto knife for 12-200 cupcakes would just be insane. 
I can appreciate the work that goes into decorating a cake, so please don't downplay the work that goes into decorating my cupcakes.
...(stepping off soap box)...
 Where was I, super cute cupcakes for a wedding. My favorite topper was actually the simplest ones to make. The monogrammed hearts. It's so simple anyone could do it. In fact check out my tutorial and try it out for yourself!
I hope I've inspired some of you cake and cupcake decorators out there. I'm no professional, and really you don't have to be to try. Don't listen to those who may say it's too much work, or it's not perfect enough, or that it's just going to be eaten anyways. It's all worth it when you see those who do appreciate it! And the fact that you can take a picture of your art before it's eaten and keep it forever and inspire even just one person to bake or create something themselves helps too.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My sister's getting married!

 My sister is getting married in a couple of weeks! So I apoligize for my absence. I've been busy taking their engagement pictures, helping prep for the reception, planning and hosting surprise bridal showers, making hundreds of coffee filter flowers, building a really fun photo backdrop, and all the fun that goes into being a supportive older sister.
But cupcake making has also been keeping me very busy.  So far this year I've baked 396 cupcakes and decorated 450. By the end of the month I'll have baked and decorated a grooms cake, and about 300 more cupcake, 4 dozen french macaroons, and 4 dozen cookies.
Here's a sneak peek at some of  the cupcakes I've been busy baking and decorating. I promise I'll be back with more in April...because did I mention, my sister's getting married!

Black, red, and silver themed wedding

Spring themed bridal shower

A little princess baby shower
I'll be back soon with more tales of my baking adventures. In the meantime, happy baking everyone!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book of Mormon Temple Cupcakes and Display

A month ago I was asked if I would be able to make some kind of cupcakes that would go on a temple centerpiece for a CES midyear training convention. I of course said sure! It took a little while to decide what I would do but after seeing the picture below on pinterest I knew this would be the time to finally attempt to decorate using fondant. Go to Bird's Party Blog for the full tutorial.

 I have always loved playing with clay or Play-dough, so I thought it wouldn't be too different or difficult. In fact I was confident enough in my skills with clay and Play-dough that I decided that I would make 150 fondant dolls in just a little more than 2 weeks! Call me crazy but because I would be doing this for service and for a church function I knew I'd get some extra help and that my understanding would be quickened. And boy was it quickened, because a few days into the first week of starting  my husband and I realized we needed to go on a business trip to Vegas the next week. That meant I has 1 week to make the dolls instead of 2!

Of course that meant I went straight to work as soon as I could and in any free time had. The full inspiration behind the display was actually quite amazing with how everything came together. Because in seminary this year the teachers are teaching from The Book of Mormon and the cupcakes would be around a temple I thought 3 Nephi would be the perfect place to draw my inspiration. This is when Christ is visiting the America's at the temple after his resurrection. I originally decided I would make both Nephite and Lamenite dolls that would surround the temple and a Christ doll.
My inspiration from the gospel art book
 However after sharing my game plan I was told that in addition to the temple and the Book of Mormon as inspiration, the theme of the convention would revolve around the phrase, "They are with us still" and Pres. Eyring's talk, "We Must Raise Our Sights". The temple centerpiece would also be a modern temple. Because of this I decided to make half of the dolls modern and the other half from the Book of Mormon times. I was super excited.

My first few dolls were not so cute. I mean these guys look like they could be on a Pepto-Bismal commercial.

But with practice I got much better!  I got a little lazy and almost wanted to just leave them bald. But the perfectionist in me beat the laziness and everyone got hair.
I love the pockets and the fact that they are each holding a set of scriptures! If we added a little name badge they could be perfect missionaries too.
 For some reason the Savior came out great from the very beginning.
 My modern ladies.

 And my Book of Mormon people.
The end result was beautiful! Of course no one wanted to eat the people though. It was funny to see some people wrap up their little doll in a napkin to take home after eating their cupcake! There were 15 centerpieces total and no two were the same.

P.S. I was able to make all the dolls in 4 days! 

A few tips I learned along the way:
-Use water and a small paintbrush to glue fondant pieces together.
-Wait for the fondant to dry a bit before using your edible marker to draw on the faces, if not the color will bleed like in my Pepto-Bismal dolls.
-When making pants it is easier to wrap a skirt first and then cut them into pants after they are attached to the stick.
-Having a gum paste/fondant tool set helps with the details.

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