Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Funfetti for Hadley Part II

It's been a while. It seems like that's all I ever start these blog posts with. But here is the Part II of Hadley's Birthday Funfetti cakes, only three months after I posted Part I.

She loves girly things, especially when they involve bows and the color pink. So my friends and I made her a pink bow cake! Sarah found this magical glitter which made the cake shiny and fabulous.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Funfetti for Hadley Part I

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

My dear friend Hadley's birthday was last week and if there was ever anyone's birthday to celebrate with style and excessiveness, it's hers. Hadley is the queen of birthdays. She makes her friends and loved ones feel incredibly special on their birthdays and she seeks (and rightfully deserves) a lot of attention on her own.

My friends Nikki, Sarah and I had plans to make Hadley a fancy birthday cake for her Saturday party but I work with her and couldn't leave the girl cake-free during her birthday celebration at our office. I knew I'd make funfetti (my go-to for crazy cakes) cupcakes in cute pink cups and I thought about buying some boring old icing but I wanted to make them special.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

My new rule (except for cakes that are specifically about design/construction), is to never use store-bought icing. In my opinion, box cakes are the bomb. It is hard to master a recipe as good as Betty Crocker and Pillsbury have done so 99% of the time, I use a box or start with a box and make it custom with my own added ingredients. But icing is a completely different story. Icing is 2,423,784 times better (yes, I've done the math) when made from scratch and it is easier and more fun to master. So what icing could I use on Hadley?

It didn't take long for me to start googling peanut butter frosting recipes. Hadley loves peanut butter, as do I, so I could make her happy and have fun licking the bowl while I was at it.

The recipe was simple. Butter, peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract. Et voila! They were delicious!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wedding Cake Styling

In May my friend Kathy, who had gotten engaged two months earlier, asked if I'd like to make her wedding cake. Honestly, I was surprised and a little scared. But I was also excited and happily agreed.

We've been discussing the cake for the past few months and I am doing a "tasting" for her and John, her fiancé, on Saturday.

As this is my first time ever making a wedding cake, and only my second time making a multi-tiered cake with dowels, I will be preparing more for Saturday than one would for a typical tasting. They are going to try my cake and two different kinds of icing. But they are also going to see a mock of the cake, fully iced. This puts a lot of pressure on the tasting. And, since Saturday's cake won't be decorated with fresh flowers and a wedding topper, which theirs will be on their wedding day, I fear that the look of the icing and design will be under extra scrutiny.

But, as one of my favorite sayings goes, there is no growth in comfort. Being nervous about this experience will help me grow as a Cake Stylist. I am flattered by Kathy an John's confidence in me and am honored to contribute something to their special day.

Here's to hoping the pictures I share after the tasting look remotely like the ones above!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Baking: My New Toy

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

As this is only my fourth post on Cake Styling in seven months since I created the blog, I can't help but feel like I'm writing this to nobody. But I'm making an effort to be a better blogger, both here and over at Sweating In Style. I have a new toy that will help immensely with motivation....

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography
My wonderful aunt and uncle gave Josh and I this Professional KitchenAid Stand Mixer as an early wedding present. Barbara and Ken have always been an important part of my life and, over the past few years, Josh and I have enjoyed many nice visits with them as adults. They live in Raleigh, NC and we stayed with them on our drive to and from Florida in December. On the return visit, as we enjoyed a plentiful cheese tray, Ken brought a big box over, wrapped in silver and gold paper with a pretty bow on top. 

Though I've wanted a mixer like this for years, it never even crossed my mind that it was what the gift would be. I was shocked when I pulled back the paper and saw KitchenAid written on the box!

Barbara is a great cook and baker herself and she said that she knew, from the time we got engaged, that they wanted to give Josh and I the mixer. Since I have some exciting (scary) cake jobs coming up, they thought they ought to give it to us early so we could start playing with it. And play with it we have!

I can't promise that I will include many lengthy tutorials on this blog or that I'll pour my heart out. But I do plan to share a combination of photos of old cakes I've made, beautifully and inspiring cakes I find on the internet, and adventures in using my mixer. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Julip Made- The Cake Version

My friend Julie's birthday was last week and she invited some friends out to her parent's country house to celebrate. She and I have been friends a long time but, somehow, it has never worked out for me to make her a crazy cake. This year, that would change.

I had several ideas for what to make her including something dog-related, fall/mountain related, or blog related. There were several key things to consider about this cake though:

1. It had to be small enough for me to carry on my lap in the car for two hours.
2. It had to feed 12-15 people.
3. Julie has good taste and really likes pretty things so it had to be amazing.

I presented these considerations to my friend Hadley and she told me, without a doubt, to make her a blog cake.

It was fairly simple. baked two funfetti cakes and cut them up to make as big a rectangle as would fit on a cookie sheet. I iced it and covered it with a layer of white fondant that I purchased at Sur La Table. Since I discovered that fondant could be purchased there for $11.99, I have never attempted to make it again.

I dyed some fondant pink and rolled it into letters for the header. I considered writing them with icing but knew they would be more messy that way. Making them with fondant was quite the labor of love but I was happy with how they turned out. I used icing and a bag for the lines and all of the gray text. Then I used a paint brush for the background of the pics and fondant for the glasses. In case you haven't seen it, I modeled the blog after this post. It was the perfect birthday theme!

The fondant letters faded a bit on the sunny drive out but Julie seemed to love it and the cake was enjoyed by all!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Graduation Cake for Nathan

Ten days ago, my brother will walk across the stage at Towson University and become a college graduate with a BA in Film Studies. He has always been a really smart and curious kid with many interests and a thirst for knowledge. But he has not always been the best student because, for a long time, he didn't get the point of doing homework and, when he did do it, he'd usually forget it at home. But as soon as he got in a college setting, school became easier and I don't think he saw it as such a pointless obligation. He became passionate about film and, two days after graduation, with college diploma in hand, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in it.

I am a little sad that he'll be at fewer of our family Sunday dinners but I am very proud and excited for him and can't wait to visit him often in New York!

This momentous occasion, of course, called for a crazy cake. But also one that I could make a day in advance, transport by foot, on the metro, and in the car to Baltimore. I decided to make a simple round cake in Towson's school colors (black and yellow), with edible grad caps inspired by these, coming out of it.

I added yellow food dye and black sprinkles to boxed vanilla cake to fill the inside with school spirit and baked it in two round pans.

While the cakes cooled, I began working on my candy grad-caps. I was inspired by this recipe from Bakerella but I made a few modifications. I used about 25 mini reese's cups, 25 square ghirardelli chocolates (I used dark chocolate for both), chocolate morsels for melting, sour gummy worms, lollipop sticks and round yellow sprinkles.

I unwrapped about 22 reese's and 22 ghirardelli chocolates, being careful not to break or peel any of them. I restrained from eating all of the rich, dark chocolate adorning my countertops. That was, by far, the hardest part.

Then I cut 15-20 sour worms in halves, thirds, or fourths, depending on their thickness and shape.

I poured chocolate chips in a bowl and zapped them for 66 seconds.

I stuck my sticks in the chocolate and then gently stuck them into the wider end of the reese's cups. Make sure, if you're doing this, that the cups are room temperature when you put the sticks in or they will likely crack under pressure. Repeat in all the cups and put them in the freezer for a few minutes so the chocolate can harden.

Next, I took the ghirardelli squares and painted a thin line of melted chocolate across half of the flat side of each. I stuck a yellow sprinkle at the end of the line (in the middle of the square) and stuck a sliver of the worm to each. Repeat this on each chocolate square and you have the flat tops of your caps!

Put these in the fridge or freezer for a little while and allow the chocolate "glue" to harden. When they're hard, take them out and flip them all over. Now paint the underside of the squares with more melted chocolate and stick the smaller end of your reese's stick to the square. Leave them upside down and put them back in the fridge/freezer to harden. 

Now for the cake! I stacked my two layers with dark chocolate icing in between and around them.

I dyed my fondant (pre-made by Sur La Table) yellow and rolled it out. On the first attempt at picking it up, I ripped it so I had to roll it a second time. I got Josh to help me and we successfully plopped the sheet over the cake. It was actually the smoothest, most pretty fondant experience I've ever had.

I decided to flatten the extra and roll it into a little diploma to go over the top with graduation cheesiness.

On top, I wrote "Congrats Nathan!" but felt that it needed something more personal. So, inspired by one of our favorite family stories about Nathan's schooldays, I wrote "Way to Focus Pocus", his signature line from first grade, on the bottom. My parents got a kick out of that one.

And, of course, "2012" went all around the outside.

My prep work was done and the cake went in the fridge overnight!

We got to the restaurant before Nathan and I stuck 11 grad cap sticks, for the 11 of us at dinner, in the blank spots on the caked (I left them that way intentionally). My mom and I broke off the bottom 1-2 inches of each stick to make them shorter. We worried that they'd be too top heavy and topple over at their full height.

We had a lovely dinner and we did a lot of laughing. Nathan was very pleased with the cake and with his many random graduation gifts.

We cut the cake and it was less black and yellow inside than I'd planned but it was quite delicious. Nathan ate almost the entire diploma all by himself.

After dinner we walked around Fell's Point, a wonderfully quaint Baltimore neighborhood and stopped at the harbor for a while to take pictures.

It was a successful night complemented by my most successful fondant-cake to date! Congrats again to Nathan and dream big in NYC!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Hello and welcome to Cake Styling! On this blog, you will read about my adventurous, messy, and sometimes chaotic attempts to style fun, unique cakes for every occasion. I don't claim to be any sort of expert in baking or decorating sweet treats. Most of the time I use a box of funfetti and pre-made fondant. My goal is to be as creative as possible and to make the person on the receiving end of the cake happy.

I have been styling cakes for years, on a small budget and I've just recently begun to take the task more seriously. I had considered blogging about my endeavors but I write another blog, Sweating in Style, about fitness, style, and life and it seemed like too much.

Then, when my friends and I designed a cake that brought us five minutes of wonderful fame, I decided that the world might care more than I thought they would about these cakes. We made our preppy, South Carolina girl friend Sarah a Jack Rogers cake for her birthday in late March. She tweeted a picture of it to @JackRogersUSA and they loved it so much that they sent her a free pair of their high-end, $110 sandals!

So, with a boost of confidence, and a desire to spread my unique cake style with more of the world, I decided to make this official. And now, a month and a half later, with graphic design services from Julie and photography lessons from Joshua, I present you with the launch of Cake Styling. I plan to share stories and pictures of the cakes I make and of ones I've made in the past. I am usually too covered in flour and food dye to stop for pictures but I'm going to try my hand at photographing the whole cake-design process and sharing tutorials on how each one is done.

And if you ever feel like my stories make you want to eat too much cake, head over here for some fitness inspiration!

I am looking forward to this adventure and I hope you will join me! Happy day!