Friday, December 5, 2014

Wafer Paper Cake Design

It's all 'bout that cakey eye candy!

Ready for some eye candy action? Who doesn't love those sweet, behind the scenes, close up shots? Well, I most certainly do, and I've got a whole bunch of 'em for ya!

Hold onto your pants, maybe visit the loo before viewing (you know, 'cause excitement can be too much for some of us), and grab a cuppa.

I present, "Kara's narrated walk through some super cool pictures from my CakeMade class."

That was weird.



Oh me. Me and my beauties. I'm so proud of these cakes. I've got a cute story behind the smile in that image, though...

So I've gotten to know the staff at CakeMade rather well and there is one person there who I worked pretty closely with, Rosemarie. The production crew and producer knew this. While we had been chatting personally the whole time the cameras weren't rolling, the producer was paying attention to me, what mattered to me, and what clearly made me happy. Not 'cause I'm a princess or anything... But because he needed to be able to elicit certain things out of me at certain times. Like a genuine smile. Not forced, but natural.

So, for this shot, he mentioned my kids and one of the crazy stories I had told of them... It wasn't working. He was quick on his feet and told me "Hey! Rosemarie is coming to visit you tomorrow!" HUGE SMILE!

Offspring = no smile.
Rosemarie = giddy excitement.

Don't tell my family.


Oh! Look at the pretty flowers!

Or look at that neat little mesh wire holder the cherry blossoms are in! SNAFUs happen. They happened while I was there. Things just didn't go the way they had been laid out in my noggin. SO I improvised. That wire thingy? Yeah. It was holding the bad coffee and condiments in my hotel room before it became a movie star in my course.

You never know when you'll get your big break!

And the upper shot of the poppy and anemone: when one of the awesome crew guys was setting that shot up with me, he said "Hold those two flowers in front of you and well get a really nice shot against your dark apron!"

Ok. Sounded good. SO I picked them up as he was fussing with the camera, adjust settings. And when he looked back up to begin framing his shot and arranging me, I was hold each one at my boobs. Like they were boobs. (Insert HUGE goofy smile and proud of my funniness moment here). He was taken back a bit, but must have realized I'm just abnormal and let it go. LOL Those shots do not exist.

Right, Scotty? Right?



This shot... Perhaps it's my signature color. Perhaps it's those impossible close ups. But this shot makes me swoon! My little cherry blossoms! These are available as a FREE mini tutorial HERE, or at the bottom of this post.



Anemones. These are seen on this cake (which was the subject of inspiration for half of this class!)...

As featured in the Winter 2014 issue of DIY Weddings Magazine. Titled "Ever Thine, Ever Mine, Ever Ours."
This cake did double time! Busy little lady it was. I think those anemone were my favorite flowers.

Maybe.

But the again there's THESE!



My sweet poppies on my Simply Stunning Poppy Cake! I named each cake. I give names to just about everything.


My Bling Fantasy Frill Cake. THOSE FRILLS!!!! They are soooo very soft. I pet this cake. I think I got (or made) the production crew pet it as well.

I already admitted I was weird. You were warned.



And what would be "bling" without that edible silver leaf? It gets along with wafer well. Really well. AND you can curl it after! DUDE! I owned that silver leaf. you know, in the "You work for me!" kind of way. Of course I purchased it, so it was mine in that way, too.




These words... I got choked up when I was creating the downloadable course materials for you. I got choked up making the original cake pictured above. I got choked up on camera trying to film this segment... I'm not sure if it shows or if the team was able to edit me, but those words are sooooo sappy! So perfect for a wedding. There's 5 pages of text templates for your edible printer with the class, but I take ZERO responsibility if you print them out and start dripping sappy tears on them and ruin them.

But I may offer you a Kleenex.

So that's that. My newest project and baby. I'm proud of it. I love the wafer techniques explored in my four cakes:

Simply Stunning Poppy Cake
Fantasy Frills and Bling Cake
Antique Floral Cake
Romantic Monogram Topper Cake.

Oh! That monogram? The letters on it are "a & e".

Any clever guesses as to who's initials they are??? My wifies may know ;)


Wafer Paper Cherry Blossom FREE mini tutorial


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cake Tools Holiday Wishlist - What'choo GOTTA Have!

Oh it's that time again!

Everyone starts reeeaallyy considering what to put on their wishlist (you know, just in case). So I'm going to help you out with a few of my must haves.
*The links included under the pics will take you to my Amazon Affiliate store, in case you're looking for those exact items. :)

You'll see these things in most of my tutorials and they are they things I think my caking life would end without. Things that get me in an immediate panic if I can't figure out where I last stashed them... The first had me in a TIZZY the other day when it went missing.

Let's begin, shall we?

Offset Artist's Freestyle Painting Knife...
or as I call it, my Everything Tool.

Get Artist's Painting Knife HERE http://bit.ly/1rFHWfO
I use this to pick up slightly stuck pieces of gumpaste and fondant from my cutting surface, it slides right under without damaging the soft sugar. I also use it to place small details onto my cake that would be difficult with clunky fingers. I scoop petal dusts out of my little jars, paint on my cakes, adjust rose petals for detail once placed onto the bigger flower... It's always at my side.


Kitchen Scale...
because every ounce matters.

Get ia Kitchen Scale HERE http://bit.ly/1pzxe9r
I am a staunch advocate of weighing out your recipes. Every time. It will make your caking life sooooo much better! I even have a fabulous article to show you how to take your tried and true recipes and convert them once and for all HERE. Take your caking (and baking in general) to the next level. You'll thank me. Promise.


Wafer Paper...
not a "tool" but definitely something you'll need to explore soon!

Get Wafer Paper HERE http://bit.ly/1z3C7rn
Haven't tried it yet? Check out some of my tutes on this awesome, user friendly at any skill level material, like my Wafer Ranunculus, or my Wafer Love Ruffles and Painted Lace tutorial. (pssst! I have a new all wafer paper class coming out in TWO DAYS with CakeMade! Click HERE to get to the page and save it! :) )



Edible Ink Printer and, well, the Edible Ink
My most fun toy  best investment purchase this year!

Get the Canon Pixma 5520 Edible Ink Printer HERE  http://bit.ly/1yuRJpk

Get the Edible Ink from InkEdibles HERE http://bit.ly/1FFTrVd
If you are already a wafer paper lover and have been wanting to try printing your own color sheets or text, or patterns/designs to create with, this is a must! The cost of ordering them from someone online is astronomical! That was my tipping point in diving in and getting one myself. The cost for 9 sheets would have been the same as one printer on sale. No-brainer for me and my love of wafer paper. And the ink is the only trusted edible ink manufacturer that I can identify in the caking community. These two pictured above are the standard. Those cartridges don't fit other printers. They kinda go hand in hand. I have some beautiful printed paper that I use in my new CakeMade course launching December 2nd, 2014... You can save this link and get it HERE.


Craft Punches...
A wafer paper working accessory. I swear it wasn't just a craft-hoarding purchase.

Get a variety of Craft Punches HERE http://bit.ly/1pzB95T
I use this particular punch for some of my texture wraps on cakes and for flowers. There are multiple sizes and shapes, and even nice decorative ones to make boarders! No need for edible lace with some of these awesome punches :) (though I do love playing with edible lace... food fun!)


Color Shapers...
The sculpting tool taking the cake world by storm.

Get Color Shapers HERE http://bit.ly/1vwcnVb
Oh my... I first saw my friend Shawna use these and I was intrigued. I am a fine artists first and always and originally had set out to become a fine arts teacher k-12. Art based tools are such a wonderful thing for me and they have soooo many applications in cake work! These were meant originally for clay sculpting but they do amazing things with fondant, gumpaste, and most particularly modeling chocolate. Seriously. One of those endless tools in your arsenal. The tips are made of silicone and they won't absorb food color or fats. They are amazing. I use them to paint with food colors and cocoa butter as well.


Sheet Gelatin...
Because Edible Gelatin Sequins.

Get Silver Leaf Gelatin HERE http://bit.ly/1xWvJ32
Have you made my edible gelatin sequins yet? If not, see me FREE tute for theme HERE. They have kinda become one of those signature things I've done and it was purely an accident. I left a drop of gelatin on my counter (bad cleaner I am) and a day later I had this neat little circle of shiny, reflective, loveliness. I figured I would go about dropping a bunch more. Intentionally this time. This is the only brand and strength of sheet gelatin I use. No need for Gold level, it'll just cost you a bit of extra money. I do have a powdered gelatin method that you can find HERE. As well as some of the powdered Knox brand gelatin I use HERE. But If you haven't played with sheet gelatin, you don't know what you're missing!


Nut Shells...
No, not a tool or toy. Just my thoughts.

So that my Must Haves list. They are my faves (for now at least) and things I would put back on my wish list any day 'cause I couldn't be without them. Have questions about how I use them or want some more specific answers? Comment below and I'll help!

As always, thanks for reading! If I've been helpful (even if your significant cake other doesn't think so...) share the blog and share the cakey love!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tutorial: Mini Modeling Chocolate Ice Cream Cone... Two Scoops, Please!

Who loves ice cream?????

I can pretty much be convinced to do anything if ice cream is my reward. (I hear the gears turning in your noggin'... No taking advantage of my weaknesses!)

Well, I had a project recently that required an ice cream cone in modeling chocolate. But it needed to be about 3 inches tall. At the most. But y'all know me, I like detail and playing with my food.

So I thought. And I tried some things. And I threw some modeling chocolate across the kitchen, and started over. A few times. But then it happened!

I FIGURED IT OUT!!!

Watch my tutorial below :) A list of tools/materials is below the video. 'Cause I know you're gonna be adding ice cream cones to everything you do now. The waffle cone is too stinkin' cute to avoid!

 

Tools and Materials:

  • Plastic canvas (fine sized)
  • Scissors
  • Clear tea lights, wicks and holders removed
  • Microwave safe ceramic dish (or small sauce pot)
  • Shallow ceramic or plastic dish
  • Avalon Cake's DIY Mold Material (tute found here)
  • Pan spray
  • Small silicone bowl or large ceramic mug (microwave safe)
  • White modeling chocolate
  • Brown modeling chocolate
  • Pink modeling chocolate
  • Small rolling pin
  • Sugar glue (Tylose/CMC and water) you can also use piping gel or corn syrup
  • 2 Paint brushes
  • Size 804 round piping tip (large hole, tall tip)
  • Cornstarch dusting bag
  • 3.5 inch round cutter
  • #40 portion/cookie scoop
  • Americolor Ivory Gel Paste 
  • Chocolate Brown Americolor Gel Paste
  • 1 twig of dry spaghetti... Yes. It's technichal term, as per ME, is "twig" If you have a better name, leave it in the comments :)
  • Optional: styrofoam dummy, wire rack bumpy foam, skewer
*Seems like a lot... Really, it's just very detailed. Most of everything here is standard in most sugary people's kitchens.

OH! Outtakes at the end!!!!! It was the most fun for me to create ;) And my littlest one, Munchie, debuts in his first sugar tute!

Enjoy! And share your creations in the comments here or on my Facebook page!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kara's Favorite Drunken Jam - Plum Riesling

Oh yes! This is a drunken jam. And it's flippin' fanTABulous. It's the only jam the hubs and kids like and I make tons of it every July/August when the black plums are in season, enough to last me the next 12 months. If you've watched my video tutorial on how to apply my Edible Gelatin Sequins, you'll see that I teased a bit about possibly sharing this recipe with you. Well here it is :) Enjoy!

Kara's Drunken Plum Riesling Jam
Yields: 8 cups (64 fluid ounces)


Ingredients:
3 lbs. black plums, chopped fine*
7.5 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweet Riesling (my favorite is St. Urbans-Hof)
1/2 tsp. butter
1 pouch Certo Liquid Pectin (3oz)

The Certo Method (with my slight differences noted at the end):

1. Bring a boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

2. Pit unpeeled plums. Finely chop or grind fruit. Place fruit in saucepan; add the Riesling. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 min. Measure exactly 4-1/2 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.
 
3. Stir sugar into the prepared fruit in the saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly.** Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
 
4. Laddle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Kara's notes: 
* I don't 'chop finely'... I slice a bit thicker than that, like just under a quarter inch. I like bigger pieces of fruit to bite into. Cut the fruit to your liking.




** I boil the mixture after the pectin is added until the spoon drip test works. ----> dip a round spoon into the mixture, remove it and hold it over the pot on its side; if two droplets of jam form on the ends and come together to form one drop in the middle of the edge and then drop into the pot, it's ready to go. If the droplets that form on the ends of the spoon just drop individually back into the pot, it's not yet there. Like wise, If the jam doesn't move on your spoon, it's gone too far. Better to under do it, and apply heat a second time than to over process it.



I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's really one of my favorite things to make and it's kind of an event every summer since the fruit is only available for a narrow window of time. Food traditions are good :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Photographing Your Cakes To Look Awesome

Pictures! We all take them because, well, they are the only record we have after our delicious and beautiful masterpieces have been devoured. A knife, a fork, and a hungry mob is all it takes to wipe the memory of your tireless hours of work into oblivion. (A little dramatic? Maybe.) But I'm trying illustrate to you the importance of documenting your efforts, and more importantly, your skills.

It doesn't take much to go from "Ehh..." to "WOW!" And who really wants to hear "ehh" about their cake?

Exactly!

So let's talk about some basics.

Where do you take your shots?

Think about it for a second. If any of these words come to mind and are true for you, it's a good thing you're reading this post: kitchen table; counter; at the party; in a box, standing over top of it...  ***RED FLAGS HERE!!!***

The general clutter and unnecessary stuff that exists in these places are competing with your cake. Your cake should have center stage and be the star of the photograph! Ask yourself this: "Do I want to remember the laminate counter and the cream colored tiles around my cake, or just my cake?" "Does that printed plastic table cloth sporting Buzz Lightyear reeeaallllyyyyyy help my cake stand out?"

The answer is no. Let me show you.



















Yes. I know. You can already see why the first image is problematic. There's a GORGEOUS girl stealing the limelight. That, and the white molding on the wall behind her and the deep shadowed area in the upper right-- both distracting. Every one of those things competes with my Wall-E cake. The image on the right is better (it's still not great, but a definite improvement). Why? White background; Wall-E POPS off the screen because he is the only interesting thing there.

Better yet, consider some back drops like these recently purchased ones from Ink & Elm:

To read about this image and why I chose THESE specific backdrops, click here for my blog post!


 In my Skull and Crossbones cake you can see I used two of the backdrops shown above. My Pink ranunculus cake I used what has become my go-to, FAVORITE backdrop: a roll of photographer's paper, which you can find HERE. It's available in tons of colors, shades, and sizes. It's a roll of paper, so as it gets used and worn you can just snip of the end portions. The length is what I love most!

 




Lighting matters! More than you know.

"Lighting" does not merely mean there IS light versus there ISN'T light. The type of light is very important.

All lighting is NOT created equal. Do your photos have a blue hue to them? Or perhaps a yellow hue like in the '70's and '80's? Well, if you're not going for vintage or sepia toned replications of your cake, learning some basics about light and your camera helps.

Again, let me show you.


You may remember this cake from the Luck's Edible Image contest I participated in on Cake Central last year. The first image on the sky blue backdrop was ok. But it maxed it's awesomeness at "just ok." I re-shot it against my new favorite back drop, at a different angle to catch light differently and from a different lighting source. The angle of the cake changed the way my camera recorded light. It was kind of muted and grayish. The gold highlighter on some of my floral spray was blown out with light in the first image, but reads as glimmering gold in the second re-shoot. I never really realized it until I used my newly acquired skills from the book below. My cake wasn't recorded as beautifully as it could have been.

Natural light (from the sun) is always best. It can be elusive and finicky at times, but it out-performs any and all artificial light sources no matter how sophisticated and expensive they may be.

*Shameful confession: I bought a lighting system less than a year ago and I've used it once because it killed my cakes. It was awful. Never again. My youngest now uses the box to climb on to get onto my bed. 

Avoid the following at all costs if you want your cakes to be beautifully preserved forever by your camera: fluorescent lighting, lamp or overhead lighting (like typical kitchen lighting), straight on lighting, lack-of-light-lighting.


Know thy camera and what you're doing with it!

Yes. Camera. NOT CELL PHONE. Yes, I meant to yell there. And here's why: when you make beautiful cakes, and have a good setting and good lighting, you may get noticed. That's good and it feels FABULOUS to have your hard work recognized like that. Perhaps you participated in a collaboration that required "High Resolution" photos or "Professional Quality" photos; or maybe you have been asked by a print magazine if they can include your cake in a feature...

Cell phones will NEVER be able to shoot at high enough resolution to be acceptable for these purposes. Not at all. No exceptions. Please read that again. And one more time. I can't stress enough: just because it looks good, and sharp, and crisp on the monitor or on your smart phone screen does not mean it is high quality or professional quality.

There's this thing associated with digital photos called DPI , Dots Per Inch (equivalent to PPI/PPP in some countries). On the computer/internet the standard at which you see crisp clear beautiful images is 72-96 DPI. That is actually very low resolution. It is standard and suitable for the web. If something needs to be "high resolution" or "professional quality" it needs to be at least 300 DPI. Printing requires more information to be contained within the digital file. You cannot get this resolution with the camera on a phone.

Does your camera already have any of these features shown below?

That dial has meaning! It allows you to do a HUGE variety of things... Simple things! Like choose your Aperture, Shutter, a Programmed setting, Manual settings, User defined setting, auto selection by the camera, fast motion (because you know cakes get up and run around like banshees sometimes)... This dial is one of the coolest things about your camera, and even simple digital cameras give you these options! I mostly use my Manual settings as I like to have the most control I can over the look of my pictures.

If you have low lighting, that little circle with a dot and a line will be your best buddy: a timer. You can set (in many cameras) it to a 2 second delay or a 10 second delay so your hands don't need to be on the camera if the shutter is going to stay open a bit longer to allow more light in in low light settings. That way, you don't get fuzzy pictures. Slight hand movements on the camera cause poor focus. That flower? A close up setting that allows you to capture reeeeaaallllyyyy small details. It's called Macro. It's different from just stuffing the camera closer to the subject. My favorite extra on my camera. Hands down.


ISO has to do with light. And without getting all photog technical on you, just know that the quality of the information that is recorded by your camera can be vastly improved just by tweaking this setting. You don't need to know the specifics, you simply need to know when to change it.

Did you know those things about them? If you don't, you should learn. It doesn't take much, honestly! But knowing what these little things can do for the quality of your pictures is priceless! They can control sooooo many things that you likely won't need photo-editing software (though I've been addicted to Photoshop since I was 15... I'll never be without it).

Even the simplest of point-and-shoot digital cameras can help. You may be an equipment junkie like me and want a more advanced DSLR and that's fine, too.

But just pinky swear to me right now that you will back away from the cell phones for shooting your cakes. Pretty please?

So many truly beautiful cakes have been denied inclusion into some print magazines simply because they weren't "high resolution". Most of them were shot with cell phones... insert regret here.

All that points you here...

This. This e-book. It really changed the way I shot my cakes. The difference from 18 months ago to now is startling. I cringe now at how I used to shoot my cakes and at how "ok" I was with it. I wish I could go back in time and re-shoot them knowing what I know now. I feel like I lost the opportunity to document my work as best I could.

Click HERE to visit Pinch of Yum and preview the e-book


But now I'm passing the torch of knowledge on to you. Right here. The book is a whopping $19. It will take you through the basics of shooting food successfully including: basics of DSLR and simple point-and-shoot cameras and how to make them work for you; utilizing home spaces to shoot; angles; light; editing; streamlining your entire process so it doesn't take you forever to get "the shot". It's written in terms that anyone can understand, so you won't feel like it's over your head with terminology and for more advanced users- it's not.  

I spent 2 years as a professional photographer, mostly with portraiture and sports. I photograph my wacky kids daily. Food photography, and specifically CAKE photography, is distinctly different. I thought I already knew it all.

Man, was I wrong. Best $19 investment in business in a very, very long time.




Lastly, I have to inform you as per federal law that I am a PinchofYum affiliate. What's that mean? If you get the book, I'm compensated. Like I said before: you click the button, the monkey gets a banana. Those bananas keep me chugging along. Things like Tae Kwon Do lessons and beginner's soccer lessons (that I'm not sure will continue based on my child's insistence on picking the ball up with his hands...) and more fun stuff to make more tutorials for y'all. But also as I've stated before, my word is all I have to rest on. I don't review things I don't like, I don't believe in being negative or harming a company. But I won't recommend something that I don't like. I've turned down recommending some big things by big people, because they aren't in line with my work or my word. Scout's honor.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review - Nicholas Lodge's Mastering Modern Sugar Flowers on Craftsy


Kara's Review:

I am biased. I spent time with Ron Ben-Israel as an intern and his sugar flowers are my standard of excellence so I was a bit reluctant to "jump ship" and take a Nick Lodge class (found here: http://bit.ly/ModernSugarFlowers).

There I am being hard headed, as usual.

In the class he teaches many variations on each of three flowers: succulent, ranunculus, and the dahlia.

Succulents are all the rage right now (oh, that cliche... Smack me if I use corny cliches like that again) and I love each of his three methods for making them. He also has a fabulous section on fun uses outside of cakes, super cute!



If you know me at all, you know whose ranunculus I'm partial to. Mine. :) But as far as  sugar ranunuculus go, his method is good and easy to follow. He's particular about botanically correct recreations of them which I really respect.

The dahlias are what I was most excited for! I LOVE them and he teaches three varieties: classic, pompom and spider. The spider one was my fave despite it bearing the name of one of my biggest fears... *shudder* He makes them so easy that I may just whip one up when I have a spare moment one evening. Just for fun. Check it out!


Lastly, and I think for me, one of the best topics he goes over is arranging the flowers, both on and off a cake. I don't believe there is a caker out there that hasn't struggled with this. It can be hard to visualize, they just don't seem to sit together in a pretty way, or they look awkward. Fear not my sugar flower friends! Nick Lodge helps you :) It's a whole class section.


He's my kind of teacher, and a great instructor for learners of all levels. Yes. This is a Master's Series class. But if you have any experience with sugar flowers and a bit of time, you'll pick up his techniques quickly. He has tons of information and talks you through every last detail (I don't think he breathes through this video...).

The class is expensive. But when Craftsy has it for 50% off, grab it up! It's worth the $30 investment for any sugar flower lover.



*This class was gifted to me in the hopes that I would write a review. I don't review things I don't like - I like to keep it positive. If you don't see a review here from me, I either dislike it, haven't tried it, or am indifferent so I don't recommend it. If you click the link above, I am compensated if you purchase the class. It's pays for things like materials for tutorials. And for the kids to be budding soccer players and Tae Kwon Do champs. So, in the words of one of my favorite mom bloggers, Amber Dusik of Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures (funny, funny stuff) "You click the link, the monkey gets a banana."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to Make Your Cake Shimmer

I love shimmer and shine. I cannot get enough! So when I was asked by a good friend for a recommendation on a tute for adding shimmer and shine to a cake I figured I would make one for her. (Love my Candace!)

Watch the video. Below is a text recap!





I began with a 6 inch round cake covered in LMF (Liz Marek fondant) and I added:
  • Wilton Pink food color
  • Americolor Super Red gel paste
  • Americolor Chocolate Brown gel paste
Drier fondants are good for this technique. I used LMF because I wanted to. And again, I'm the Princess in my kitchen. :)

The cake is coated first with shortening (Crisco in this video, but you can use what is available to you), and then with two dusts combined:
  • 1 full, small container of Cranberry Luster Dust from Global Sugar Art*
  • Half of one small container of CK Products Super Pearl*

I used a large, very soft makeup brush from the local Target to apply the dusts. The brush was only $2-$3 at most. Just check for it's softness before you buy it. After using it on the cake, wash it thoroughly with dish soap and allow it to dry bristles up in a cup. Don't use a brush that has been used for makeup. (Not that I think anyone would do that... but you never know.)

Work over parchment to catch the excess dust so you can keep scooping it up.

Have fun shimmering your cakes and please share them with me on my Facebook page if you use my techniques :) 

Happy caking peeps!




*No- Luster dusts are not edible. But they are approved for non-edible decor that will be applied to cakes. Look for "edible" versions on line. It is generally accepted to luster dust gumpaste lace applique and apply to the fondant without removing it prior to serving. You are welcome to make your own decisions and come to your own conclusions based on your regional regulating agency.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Applying Those Lovely Edible Gelatin Sequins

Edible gelatin sequins...

They are beautiful.
They are wonderfully shiny.
They have fabulous texture.

But how do you get 'em on the cake?!?

THIS is how :) Enjoy my craziness! And be sure to watch to the end. I'll be chatting briefly about FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and tips at the end. And I make faces. It's kind of ridiculous. Be gentle...



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Edible Gelatin Sequins: Using Powdered Gelatin and General Tips and Tricks

Many people have powdered gelatin more readily available to them (sooooo easy to get at the local super market!) rather than the sheet gelatin that I used in my Edible Gelatin Sequin tutorial. So I'm gonna break down the powdered gelatin method, which is slightly different. Still easy, just different. Below the powdered method you'll find some general tips and tricks on how to get the best gelatin sequins and troubleshooting some common irregularities.


Powdered Gelatin Method

I used Knox Unflavored Powdered Gelatin. You'll find these in a box with four each .25 oz. packets inside. In a microwave safe bowl, pour in 3 oz. (or 3/8 cup) cool water. Sprinkle each of the packets individually over the surface of the water evenly.


The gelatin will get weird and wrinkley looking when it begins to absorb the water. It's normal. Let it absorb as much as possible; there should be little to no dry, light powder left one the surface.


Give the hydrated gelatin a stir. It will become solid as you stir, able to be formed into a ball. Or three balls to make a snowman. But don't play with it too much or you'll incorporate air which will cause more work later. I know because I tried making a gelatin snowman. Now you know not to. :) Use the back of your spatula to smooth out any larger clumps of unevenly hydrated gelatin before heading to the microwave.



Microwave in short bursts of about 15 seconds until the thick mixture becomes very liquid. Give it a stir in between each burst in the microwave break up the solid areas and evenly distribute the heat throughout. 

If the gelatin is liquid but still looks grainy when dripping from your spatula, heat it just until there are no more little grains. Do not over heat it, it should feel barely warm if you dip a finger in-- never hot.



After another 7 seconds in the microwave it was completely smooth and without a grainy texture.


Due to the little clumps that typically form in the gelatin when you sprinkle it you'll want to strain it through a very fine cloth. If you have even the slightest of clumps it will clog your size 1 piping tip and cause you to want to throw the bottle across the kitchen. (Well, at least that's my childish reaction when my piping tips get clogged. But I hear our fabulous cookie friends feel equally tantrum-y when their piping bags and tips don't behave. So. Justified. :) )

This is a section cut from a pair of girls tights/stockings that I got at the dollar store. NO they haven't ever been worn. I'm not the girly type. Wash them with dish soap before using them for any food application. (Why dish soap and not in with the laundry? Dish soap is food safe. We don't use laundry detergent and fabric softener on our dishes. At least I hope you don't.) You can use either the toe end, or if you have multiple sections for different uses you can just securely tie a knot in one end.


Place the closed end into a see-through glass and fold the top ends over the outside to create a nice wide opening to pour the liquid gelatin into.


 Carefully pour your gelatin into the open strainer.


Much of the gelatin will move through the strainer on its own. To get the last bit through pinch the top of the stocking between your thumb and forefinger, keeping you hand close to the top of the cup and pull the stocking upward with your opposite hand slowly. Seriously, do it slow. You'll regret doing it fast and say to yourself, "Self, that was dumb. We should have listened to Kara."

And now, your ready to pour it into your little bottle fitted with a number 1 tip and start making sequins!

***A quick side note: if you use highly saturated color like this one (Wilton Rose) the stocking strainer will most likely become stained. Having a colored stocking for applications like this is good. Don't think you'll be able to use this again for anything like white royal icing. Why did I choose white, by the way? I can see if it's clean when I wash it :) I'm a functionality nerd.


Tips, Tricks and Gelatin Sequin Troubleshooting

I found that I got a little fussy about irregularly shaped sequins. I wanted perfect circular little sequins like the ones on my milkmaid costume from my tap dancing recital when I was 5. (I'll find a picture. It's too darn funny to NOT share now that I've mentioned it!) So I played a bit and figured out exactly why I was getting irregular shapes and paid close attention to the qualities and conditions with each tray I created. Here are my findings...

They aren't perfect. But they're so close! What was going wrong with these guys?

Well, two things.
1) Improper temperature. If the gelatin is too warm when you're dropping it onto the non-stick surface, it may fall and run slightly into different directions. It's kinda rebellious that way.

-or-

2) If when dropping the little spots of gelatin the end of your tip touches the non-stick surface you're likely to drag, ever so slightly, the tip when picking it up to move to the next spot. That slight drag from touching the tray will give you an irregular, oval shape as you're pulling the droplet to the side. Make sure they drop straight from the bottle by simply lettting them drip onto the surface.






Another instance of inconsistent shapes. Some of these guys are just so different that it shouldn't be ignored. There should be some uniformity in their appearance. The gelatin here was getting too cool. when gelatin is warm it's really tough to get drops this small, it wants to run and pool in larger amounts. When the gelatin gets cool you may feel like you have more control over it, but you'll have to move slower and much more intentionally to get them to come out of your bottle and to get drops to fall. Just like too warm wasn't cool up above, being too cool isn't cool either.


Now. You may think you're saving space and being reeeeaallllyyyyyy efficient with the use of your tray by getting them as close as possible. Well, you'll learn...

Because you'll end up with merged and VERY irregular drops. The gelatin will naturally spread when you drop it. The drops are so tiny that it's tough to see, but you know it happens when 5 seconds after you've dropped to close to each other, they reach out and begin snuggling, becoming one. Just like at a pre-teen dance, keep some distance between those two!




Last, but definitely not least... The nipple effect. Now guys, this may be ok with you. BUT it's not ok on cakes. Wait... Nipple? Yep. That little dot in the center that you didn't intend to put there? It's air. It's a bubble. But it makes a naughty looking sequin. Some of these are unavoidable, like when you pick up your bottle and turn to right side up and then back down. Air gets caught around the tip inside and can't really move down into the bottle. The gelatin is too thick, so it stays put until you give it a squeeze. But they can become excessive if the gelatin has foamy bubbles when you pour it into the bottle initially. If your warmed and colored gelatin has foam on the top, take a moment and skim it off before pouring it into the bottle. Then, no nipples! :)


And that concludes this installment of fun with edible gelatin sequins! If you have questions or comments, leave 'em below! I'm happy to help. :)



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