A Floral Explosion!

Well, hello, strangers! I realize it has been ages since I’ve posted anything here. I want to let you all know that I have been working quite a bit behind the scenes and will be doing a website update at some point in the near future. In the meantime, I figured I may as well post photos of a cake I made recently. Enjoy!

For a more in-depth explanation of gum paste flowers, click here. And forgive the cake- it was one of the very first ones I ever made! 🙂

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Flowerpot Cake Pops

I have a conundrum. I can’t decide how I feel about cake pops. They are cute, but they are painstaking work for very little gustatory satisfaction.

red flowers on cake pops in flower potsWith leftover cake scraps, as well as leftover pink gum paste, I decided to try some cake pops that might look like flowers. Using a flower cutter, I punched out a few sizes of flowers, and once hardened, I painted them with food coloring mixed with vanilla extract. (For a more in-depth explanation of how to actually make the cake pop, click here for Chicago Cubs cake pops, here for roses, or here for Easter eggs.)

painting red gum paste flowers

Once the flowers were painted and the pops were ready, I used a little bit of melted candy melts to stick them together.

adding gum paste flowers to cake popsflowers on cake pops from side

Put a little styrofoam circle in the bottom of a planter, surround with some decorative grass, and stick in your cake pop. Ta-da!

cake pops with flowers

They might look like flowers from the front, but the cake pops are definitely hiding back there! 🙂

red flowers on cake pops from side

Cute, right? I can just imagine them as decorations at a garden party, or favors at a bridal shower, with the colors, of course, customized to the event.

But again, it’s just… they’re, like, two bites. Honestly. All that work for two bites.

BUT THEY’RE SO CUTE!

Let me know what you think in the comments. Yay or nay to the pop?

red flowers on cake pops

 

The Wonderful World of Wafer Paper

wafer paper roseWafer paper: a weird but wonderful paradox. It loves water and hates water. It is both smooth and textured. It is quick and inexpensive but finicky and unforgiving.

I’ve only used this once before, and that was to simply cut strips to look like grass. So with a little trepidation, I set to work trying to find what I could from the photos I found online. This is the main link I’ve modeled my flowers after: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjUFSA01cMQ

I’ve made a few changes to my flowers, but the link above is a wonderful resource if you’d like to watch the process in real time.

My initial observations after making my own flowers:
– They seem sturdy once finished
– I don’t know how to attach them to the cake. Anyone else know?
– They are very quick and cheap, compared to gum paste or fondant
– They are so light!

If you are attempting these flowers, there is a smooth and a textured side. My flowers were done with the textured side facing up. I don’t know what they’d look like the opposite way, so I can’t say which way is better! And to make the edges look more realistic, I painted a bit of water on the underside of each petal. It eventually causes the paper to shrink up a bit. (It takes a few minutes.)

Here are my step-by-step photos:

how to make wafer paper rose tutorial When you put the petals together, adhere them to a small scrap of wafer paper with a little water. This is what the back looks like:

back of wafer paper roseI used a puffy brush to add some pink dust to these flowers and then painted the edges of the petals gold. This cake was for my niece who is celebrating her golden birthday!

gold teal pink rose wafer paper cakeLeaving the paper stark white is quite striking, as well:    white wafer paper rose What other uses for wafer paper can you think of? I have almost an entire pack left! Give me an idea and it may just be the next thing on the blog! 🙂

A Flowerpot Cake with Gum Paste Orchids

I always knew I would end up in Urgent Care because of the Blackhawks; I just always figured it would be cardiac-related. So now, older and wiser, might I suggest: Do not attempt to cake decorate while watching a Stanley Cup Final game.

This particular cake was for a pair of dear colleagues who were retiring from my school. A cake, shaped like a flowerpot, fit both their interests and so I set to work. The first step was to create the gum paste flowers, a task that is time consuming, but pays off big in the end. (Just set up your Netflix and the hours will pass by.) You’ll need to first cut the petals out of gum paste, attach a wire to the back, and drape them across wax paper to let them dry. After they’ve dried (a day or two), you can paint them with food coloring mixed with clear extract. Once they’re painted, gather the petals in an artistic fashion and wrap them with floral tape. Viola!

step by step teal purple gum paste orchids Stick them in some styrofoam to dry:

gum paste orchids dryingattaching gum paste flowers to stickAs these were orchids (well, they were supposed to be orchids. They morphed into something else. 🙂 ), the flowers were supposed to be clumped together at the top of a stick. I had an idea to create a little divot in the top of the stick, and then I would rest the wire in that divot, and it would ensure the flowers wouldn’t slide down the stick. (You can see the divot pictured above. It came at a price.)

It was a good idea in theory, just carried out in a really, really dumb fashion. First of all, I don’t own a saw, and was trying to cut into the wood with a big knife. (Stupid Idea #1.) Then, I was holding the wooden dowel rod between my fingers with one hand while sawing away with the other. (Stupid Idea #2.) Thirdly, I was watching a very important game on TV during which the players were playing like complete doofuses. (Stupid Idea #3.) So as I was yelling something at the TV during the second period, a thought quickly flitted through my brain, like the fleeting glint of sunlight on a butterfly’s wings… “This isn’t safe.” And then a millisecond later, the knife slipped.

To their crIMG_5442edit, the staff at the Urgent Care was very kind and almost completely hid their sighs of resigned exasperation at the patient who enters the building at 9:58pm when they close at 10. The women were so eager to get home (probably wanted to catch the third period), that all three of them were working on me at once. I felt like I was a patient in “Grey’s Anatomy,” except I wasn’t even sick.

The most important piece of information here is addressed to my many friends who were at this party, and who oblige me and read this blog: This contraption was made several days before I made the cake, and in a different place and with different tools. So don’t worry, everything is safe and clean as always. 🙂 gum paste orchids internal cake structure

The last step was the actual cake. I tried a new oreo cake recipe that was pretty yummy! It had oreo frosting, with chunks of oreos inside, which made for bumpy fondant. Luckily, the squares of fondant I placed around the pot to create a “tiled” look also hid some of the bumps. Once the fondant was finished, I topped it off with some more frosting and then crumbled, dry oreos. (To look like dirt.)  IMG_6248gum paste flower 1           

 

gum paste flower 2teal and purple orchid gum paste flowers with cake flowerpotInjury aside, I think it came out fairly well. And I learned something very important about myself: I cannot handle the sight of the inside of my own finger.

“That Rose Looks So Real!” – “No, it’s Surreal.”

How does Salvador Dalí start his day?

With a big bowl of surreal.

I’m sorry, I saw it on the internet and I couldn’t resist.

Ok, back to the cake! This one, called “Meditative Rose,” by Salvador Dalí, is the 8th in my series of Art cakes, each representing both a different art style/era, as well as a different cake medium. Here is my attempt at Surrealism, using gum paste for the rose.

STEP 1: Create Rose
Since this rose was so big, I didn’t use the formal “rose cutter,” which is available at your local crafting store. 🙂 I just cut pieces out of gum paste, softened the edges, and stuck the pieces on.

how to make gum paste rose I used balled up pieces of wax paper in between the petals. Cut out a petal, stick it on, put some wax paper around it while it hardens, repeat.

step by step gum paste roseSTEP 2: Paint background.
Using gel food colors mixed with clear vanilla extract- paint away! These meditative rose painting on cake with food coloring vanilla extractcolors are very tricky and don’t act like real color, so beware. For example- when brown is mixed with the vanilla, its base color becomes green. And black’s is purple. So- mixing these colors together becomes a little tricky. That’s why my version of this painting is much more vivid than Dalí’s- I had trouble softening the colors, especially the blue, and basically just used the blue straight from the tube. My apologies to Dalí! 🙂

Here are some step-by-step photos of the background painting process:

step by step meditative rose dali painting on a cake gum paste rose food coloring Comparison of the two paintings side by side. My little food coloring brushes didn’t allow for long strokes, so the background is pretty choppy compared to his:

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Here’s a super-zoomed-in pic of the bottom of the painting. Like I’ve said before- it’s impossible to add white. So in this case, to make those highlights on the two people, to make the path on the right, and to make the little village in the distance, I just used a sharp tool and scraped off the color. White fondant underneath: viola!

close up of bottom of meditative rose painting on a cakeThe rose really jumps off the page! It reminded me of a Harry Potter photo that comes to life! 🙂     meditative rose painting on a cake with gum paste roseDo you like art? Take a peek at the other art cakes I’ve made here, in timeline order:
Michelangelo’s Pieta, sculpted with modeling chocolate
Leonardo da Vinci’s Self Portrait, painted with food coloring
Monet’s Haystack, Nerds candy
Monet’s Sunset in Venice, royal icing
Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, apple peels
Van Gogh’s Starry Night, buttercream frosting
Ansel Adams’ Moon and Half Dome, chocolate shavings

meditative rose dali painting on a cake food coloring gum pasteHave other art ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Improvising with a Musical Cake

See what I did there?

But clever play-on-words aside, this cake truly was an exercise in improvisation. Last weekend, I sat down, table loaded with gum paste and iPad loaded with Netflix episodes. I tinted the gum paste but suddenly came to the quite tardy conclusion that I had forgotten all but one of my flower tools at home. Sighing, I weighed my options: go back and get them (nope, too lazy), go buy new ones (nope, too cheap), or just.. make something up. Yes, yes, that’s it!

I did have the large and small rose petal cutters, and I did have the shaping foam. (Whew!) But after making several roses, I knew I needed some bigger flowers. I looked at some photos of flowers, remembered some types I had seen on cakes before, and attempted to use a spatula to cut some interesting petal shapes. Improvising again, I was forced to wait until they dried so that I could attach the wires onto the back. Moral of the story: double check your materials list before leaving home!

various gum paste flowersAnother tool I didn’t have was my set of flower formers, which are small white cups that allow you to dry your flower so that it has a shape, as opposed to laying flat. So my homemade flower formers consisted of cling wrap rubber banded lightly across a cup. I left it loose so that the weight of the gum paste would weigh down the flower, creating that “cup” shape I was after.

gum paste flowers dryingI wasn’t too happy with the way these flowers turned out. Despite my best intentions, they were relatively flat. And the color was flat, too. So I mixed a little teal gel coloring with some lemon extract (or you could use vanilla- or vodka! You just need clear alcohol!). I painted the extract onto the edges of the petals in an attempt to give it a little more life:
teal gum paste flowers with and without shadingFor the layer of piano keys, I covered the cake in white fondant first, and then added white strips, and then black strips after that:

piano cake I was honored to create this cake for a benefit for a beloved high school teacher and his family. Many of his past students are gathering today for a day of sharing music and offering encouragement to the family. There will be raffles as well as items up for silent and live auction. Should you be interested in helping the family cover medical costs for the triple transplant, as well as various costs associated with travel to and from the transplant site, please check out their site and make a donation!

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/jules-needs-a-stomach-intestines-pancreas-too-/172967

teal gum paste flowers music cake close up teal gum paste flowerteal gum paste flowers music cake sideways

Gum paste flowers and… straws!

Finally: gum paste flowers!

I have been waiting and waiting until I could learn how to make these! I loved the first three cake-decorating courses, but I couldn’t WAIT for the last one! I just think these  flowers look so realistic. Everything on the flowers is edible except for the wire stems and the stamens. Pretty neat!

The process of making the flowers is fairly time-consuming, but worth it, in my opinion! The more time you take on the flowers, the better they will look in the end. Spend the time to mix appropriate colors, roll the petals thin, and take care how you lay them out to dry. This will give them life and movement!

If you’re interested in learning how to make these flowers, check out a local craft store near you- they often offer beginning cake decorating classes.

IMG_1957

Now, the cake does look kinda cool– unless, of course, you see it from the backside… yikes.

*Must… improve… cake… design…*

Once I made the flowers, I didn’t really know what to do with them! We didn’t use them in a cake during my final course, so I didn’t exactly know how to use them. My instructor said that they sell tubes that you can insert into cakes and put the flowers into (presumably because the wiring and floral tape is not food safe). But since I was in an experimental and money-conscious mood, I decided to use straws. I have no idea if this is the right technique, but it seemed to work okay at that moment!

…But then you have a cake full of straws… right?

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HELPFUL HINT: Use luster dust around the edges of the petals and leaves for a realistic look!

In this photo below, I used a mixture of orange fondant and gum paste to create the rose. Once the rose was dried (at least a day or two later!), I smudged some luster dust on my finger and dusted the edges to create some dimension.What a difference!

Thanks for reading! Do you have any advice about how to use gum paste flowers in an actual cake? Please leave a comment below if you can help! What am I missing? Or do cakes with flowers also come punctuated with holes? 🙂

White gum paste roses

Gum gum paste roses smallpaste roses are a time intensive process, but in the end, they look so delicate and beautiful!

It takes a few days to create these, because the buds need to harden. You simply take a small amount of gum paste, shape it into a teardrop shape, stick it on the end of a piece of spaghetti, and let it dry. (The flowers pictured here were created using the Wilton method.)

The flowers on the right are Day 2, when I’ve added another layer of petals. Adding one more layer (below) creates a large and open blossom.

gum paste roses medium

Here’s a question I have- once you’re ready to use the flowers, do you just stick the piece of spaghetti in the cake?! That’s what I did! Once it’s time to eat, you pull them out? How weird is that! Please comment below if you have a suggestion!

gum paste flower cake 

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