Well, we’ve reached the 2013 halfway mark. Thought I’d review my list of 2013 Design Goals to see how far I’ve come (or, more likely, how far I have to go).
Here’s a list of my goals and my progress on each.
Check! I actually achieved this one recently and will be sharing the entire cake shortly. Meanwhile, here’s a teaser shot.
2. Show my girly side.
I guess this one is sort of subjective. I would argue that I have in fact shown my girly side. I did a super girly, lacey, pastely cake for Bride’s Magazine (the issue comes out in late August) , so that counts, right? I made a seriously pink-and-purple cake for a party last week, and although by “girly” I meant sort of classically feminine in an adult, women-who-take-lavender-scented-baths type way rather than a six-year old girl way, I’m counting it for this goal.
3. Use a lighter touch.
Nothing comes to mind here, so I guess it’s a no. Six more months to work on this one.
4. Use my lace molds.
Check! Not only did I use my lace molds on Ava’s baptism cake, it’s so girly I could probably use this cake for Goal # 2! Double check!
5. Sugar dahlia.
Negative, but I did buy a new dahlia cutter (that I don’t think will work, but still).
6. Juliet rose.
Nah. Kind of forgot about this one until just now. Will have to remind myself to remember this goal.
7. Further explore what interests me as an artist.
Nope. Haven’t had time to “explore” anything. I’ll try to work in some exploration time soon.
So, out of seven goals, I’ve achieved three, and I still have six months to go. I think perhaps I can do this! Thanks for checking in on me. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
I had no way of knowing when I did this ombré sugar hearts cake for the Wedding Chicks that it would resonate with so many people. It’s got over 89,000 Pinterest pins and even caught the attention of the editors at The Knot. They asked me to replicate it in an orange-into-yellow-into-white ombré. It appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of The Knot Magazine. You can also see it on their website. (The cover shot, below, is by Elizabeth Messina. She’s the one who photographed my interesting-yet-oddly-beautiful-in-the-way-that-only-a-mother-could-love mushroom cake).
Much thanks to my wonderful assistant Callan, who worked so hard on this cake (and the purple one before it).
Last year, I wrote about a cake with pleated pinwheels that I proposed to Bride’s magazine. The cake was inspired by something I had seen in Martha Stewart, and in the sketch (and my imagination) it was beautiful, with shades of peach, ivory, buttercup and pink. Once I executed it in sugar, however, it was lackluster at best, and the Bride’s editors passed on it.
I couldn’t let the idea of the pinwheels go though, and when The Knot asked me to do a cake–and left the design and colors completely up to me–I decided to revisit them. This time, I proposed a cake with more vibrantly colored pinwheels in an ombré that would pop against a white cake, as seen in the sketch below.
The Knot editors liked my idea, and so I hand-delivered the final product last spring to their offices. This time, the design really worked, and so does the photo by Devon Jarvis (to whom I am extremely grateful for sending me this high res image):
The photo appeared in The Knot magazine’s Spring-Sumer 2012 New York edition.
I’ll end with this: If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time (or, for that matter, a short time) or if you know me personally at all, you know I never say this, but…I love this cake!
This idea was inspired by a post I saw on Such Pretty Things. I forget what I was searching for when I stumbled across it, but I immediately thought the hearts would be just lovely in an ombré. (Until about a year ago and a half ago, I thought ombré was some kind of silken fabric. Silly me. Merriam-Webster defines it as “having colors or tones that shade into each other —used especially of fabrics in which the color is graduated from light to dark”.) This DIY originally appeared on The Wedding Chicks.
I should preface this post by warning readers about the dangers of consuming raw and/or undercooked eggs. I provided a safer alternative to egg whites that I termed “liquid meringue”, a mix of meringue powder and water. Feel free to weigh in on the safety of these ingredients.
Also, this DIY was created for both non-professionals and professionals alike, so I tried to use easy-to-find ingredients. Although I don’t necessarily recommend Wilton’s meringue powder to professionals, it is the most widely available to home bakers.
What you’ll need
Two cups sugar (or more, depending on the number of colors you want), divided
4 teaspoons (or more) egg white or liquid meringue (1 teaspoons of meringue powder mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water)
Paste food coloring (found at local crafts store)
Large cutting board, baking sheet, or other flat surface, lined with silpat or parchment paper
Baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper
Ateco aspic cutters or small cookie cutters
Small and medium bowls, spatulas, rolling pin, measuring spoons, measuring cups, ziplock bags, butter knife
3 x 4-inch treat bags, colored ribbon, cake to decorate
Place ½ cup sugar in medium bowl. Add a small amount of paste food coloring (we used a combination of Wilton’s Rose and Violet), and mix thoroughly. This will be your darkest color. (Hint: A little goes a long way and will darken once liquid is added in next step.) Add more if needed until desired color is achieved.
Add 1 teaspoon egg white or meringue liquid and mix thoroughly until the mixture resembles wet sand. Be careful not to add too much liquid or you will dissolve the sugar.
Empty contents onto silpat or parchment lined cutting board or baking sheet. Spread with hand or spatula and pat down, then roll over mixture with rolling pin to compress. Ideally, the flattened mixture should be as compact as possible and level, about ¼”. Press heart cutter into mixture and lift up. Place hearts on lined baking sheet. If cutter will not release heart, gently tap with the back of a butter knife. Repeat 10-20 times or as many as desired. If hearts will not hold their shape, add more egg white or meringue liquid in small increments and mix thoroughly. If sugar builds up in cutter, rinse with warm water and pat dry before continuing.
Pour remaining colored sugar back into bowl and proceed to Step 3.
Add ½ cup sugar to colored sugar from Step 2 to lighten. Mix thoroughly. Add 1 teaspoon egg white or liquid meringue. If desired color is not achieved, continue adding additional ½ cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon egg white or liquid meringue and mixing thoroughly until desired color is achieved.
Repeat Step 2.
Continue with Steps 2 and 3 until desired shades and number of sugar hearts are achieved. We recommend at least three to five shades. Leftover sugar can be stored in ziplock bags for future use.
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat hearts in oven for 10 minutes. Allow to harden overnight. Sugar hearts will be the consistency of sugar cubes.
Place 10-20 sugar hearts in treat bag. Staple ribbon to bags. Tie ribbon. Can be given as gifts or used as favors.
For cake: Attach sugar heats to cake using royal icing. Begin with darkest color on smallest tier. Continue with lighter colors.
Special thanks to Brooke Allison of Brooke Allison Photo, a genuine talent and all around funny gal.