Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jesus!!

Today my youngest daughter's preschool class celebrated Jesus' birthday.  I made a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and then sculpted the Holy Family out of fondant to put on the top.  Jesus is laying in a manger filled with "hay" made from shredded coconut tinted yellow.  (Just in case you were wondering - I made sure to take the figures off the cake before anyone ate baby Jesus!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Daisy Girl Scout Cake

My middle daughter Rebecca is a Daisy Girl Scout this year, and we just celebrated her troop's Investiture ceremony this weekend.  I wanted to make a special cake for the occasion, so I borrowed this idea from my sister-in-law Jules, who had made this cake for one of her own daughters.  It's a chocolate cake in the shape of a Daisy tunic, decorated with fondant.  I had so much fun making all of the little petals and insignia!  And I enjoyed hearing the girls' squeals of delight when they saw the cake after the ceremony!  So cute!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mr. Bill Cake

I made this cake for my dad's birthday this weekend.  He's a long-time fan of Mr. Bill, so I wanted to somehow incorporate Mr. Bill into the cake.  Since Mr. Bill is always being flattened by something, I thought, why not have him get flattened by a birthday cake?  Poor guy.  The cake is chocolate chip rum cake with chocolate glaze, and Mr. Bill is made out of fondant.  Dad loved it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Cake Measures Up!

A friend asked me to make a cake for her brother-in-law, who likes to fix things.  She suggested a tape measure, which I thought would make a really cute cake!  This one is vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, covered with yellow and black fondant.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cupcake Bouquet

I had so much fun making this cupcake bouquet.  It was purchased for a couple's wedding anniversary by their daughter and son-in-law as a surprise.  Isn't that sweet??  I love the way it looks, and I can't wait until I have the opportunity to make another one!  I think it would be fun to make a Christmas one with red poinsettias as the flowers.  This one has a mix of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, frosted with vanilla buttercream to look like flowers.  YUM!

Friday, November 19, 2010

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!!!

This week I got to make my first set of cakes for twins - Mickey Mouse cakes for twin boys turning 3.  I made two 6" round layer cakes, one for each birthday boy.  The blue cake is vanilla, and the red one is chocolate.  I used all buttercream frosting to decorate them, and I created the Mickey faces using the FBCT technique.  I also made a dozen coordinating cupcakes for the party guests to eat (when it comes to 3-year-olds, cupcakes are much easier to eat than a slice of cake!)  I love how they turned out.  Happy Birthday, Bradyn and Dalton!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

1st Birthday Fun

I love working with what I call "the perfect client" - someone who has a vision of what they would like their cake to look like, but who also gives me creative freedom to design the cake myself.  The woman who asked me to make her son's first birthday cake this week fit the bill exactly!  She sent me photos of the party ware she had picked out, as well as a photo of a cake she liked.  We discussed a few ideas about how to tie everything together (like putting stripes on the bottom tier, and dots on the top), but then she pretty much just let me run with it.  She had already purchased little jungle animal cake toppers to go on the cake, so we added those after I'd already taken the photos of the cake.  The bottom tier was chocolate cake, the top was vanilla, and the whole thing was covered with vanilla buttercream and then fondant.  I felt a little sad handing this cake over, because it was so cute I just wanted to stare at it a little longer!  So, without further ado...

Here are the plates:

Here are the napkins:
And here is the cake!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ladybug Cake

I made this cake for a friend's daughter who turned one last week.  Happy Birthday, Leah!!  The ladybug is vanilla cake covered with fondant.  I will DEFINITELY be making another ladybug cake sometime - probably for one of my own daughters!  I still can't get over how stinkin' cute that little ladybug is!!  The larger cake on the bottom is two 10" rounds of peanut butter cake with chocolate filling (YUM), covered with vanilla buttercream and fondant decorations.  I love how the frosting "grass" turned out, although I had a serious hand cramp after all that piping!!  The most rewarding part of making this cake was seeing my friend's reaction to it...she loved it so much that she didn't want to eat it!

Star Wars Lego Cake

I had a great time making this Star Wars Lego cake last week.  I've already made one other Lego cake, so I knew how to make and decorate the "bricks," but this was my first time sculpting Star Wars Lego figures! I printed out some pictures from the internet (thank you, Google) and then used fondant to sculpt the figures.  When they had dried for a day and firmed up a little, I used edible food markers to add their features.  I was so happy with how they turned out!  I think R2D2 is my favorite, although Luke is pretty cute, too. :)   

Friday, November 5, 2010

FCMOM Vendor's Night

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a Vendor's Night sponsored by FCMOM (Fairfax County Mothers of Multiples.)  It was a fun way to advertise my Party Fairy business and to meet a lot of other moms who run their own home-based businesses.  Plus I won one of the raffle prizes!!  And I never win anything!!  Of course I won stuff for my girls and not for myself - some sparkly hair doodads and a pair of ruffled bloomers for my youngest daughter. :)

But I digress.  The vendor's night was a fabulous success - I handed out a lot of business cards, as well as four dozen free cupcakes!!  The flavors I made were "Darn Good Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting" and "Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting."  YUM.  Here are some photos of my table.  (The bag in the first picture is where people could put their raffle tickets - the prize I offered was a custom birthday cake or cupcakes.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Farmville Cake

This weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday, so I surprised her with a Farmville cake.  She is an avid player of the game, and my daughters love it when she shows them all the virtual animals and plants and buildings that she has on her farm.  As for me, I had fun making them out of fondant!  I baked a cherry chocolate sheet cake and frosted it with vanilla buttercream, and then I went crazy adding all kinds of fondant details, from carrots and cauliflower to piggies, cows, and pink polka dot trees!  I made the fence out of melted candy wafers, which I piped into fence shapes and allowed to harden in the fridge.  Finally, I built the barn out of cake scraps that I "glued" together with frosting.  This was definitely one of my favorite cakes to make, and I was so happy with how it turned out.  Plus my mother-in-law gave me the ultimate compliment when she said it was the nicest cake anyone had ever made for her in all her ** years!  (I didn't think she'd like it if I posted her age out there for the world to see.)  Anyway, happy birthday Pam!!

The cake

Closeup of the animals

Hard at work!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Cake

Here is the book cake that I decorated for the girl whose book invitations I made a few weeks ago (scroll down to see photos of the invitations).  It was lemon cake with vanilla buttercream.  I carved a 9x13 sheet cake to look like an open book, then frosted it and covered it with fondant for the "pages."  I used edible food markers to write the words.  The "bookmark" is also made of fondant.  To finish off the cake, I piped the sides with white frosting (using a serrated tip) and then added a blue border around the edges.  I was really happy with how it turned out, especially since it was the first book cake I've ever done!

Fall and Halloween Cupcakes

Here are some photos of my most recent cupcake creations...

Fall cupcakes for a bake sale:

Halloween cupcakes for the church bazaar:

Cupcake transportation tip:  24 dozen cupcakes fit perfectly into the bottom of a pizza box!  I lined it with black paper and then put the cupcakes on top.  Since I was dropping them off at church, I didn't want to worry about having to get a container returned to me, so the pizza box worked great!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blue Dog Cake

This weekend I was asked to make a "blue dog" cake for twin girls who were turning 7.  (Not a Blue's Clues dog, just a blue dog.)  The mom gave me complete creative freedom (love that!) and I had so much fun figuring out how to make this cake.  I baked several 9-inch layers of vanilla cake (tinted blue) and carved them this way and that to create the body parts of the dog.  Then I "glued" the parts together with buttercream, coated the entire cake with buttercream, and covered it with shredded coconut to create the "fur."  I used the leftover cake to make a little dog bowl, and then sculpted some bones and dog toys out of fondant.  The bones say "Megan" and "Bronwyn," the names of the birthday girls. :)  The dog's features were also made of fondant.  So...(drum roll please!) is the finished creation:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adventures in Egg-Free Baking

This week I had my first opportunity to make an egg-free cake, for a friend of mine who is allergic to eggs.  She wanted an anniversary cake that she and her husband could eat for dessert on their special day.  She had suggested a boxed vanilla cake mix by Cherrybrook Farms, which is egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free.  I had never tried making an egg-free cake, so I was interested to see how it would look and taste.  Well, I will be perfectly honest and say that I was skeptical of the thing as soon as I poured the mix into my mixer bowl.  It was grainy looking and dark yellow in color, almost like corn meal.  And adding the water and oil didn't help looked like I was making cornbread.  Not to mention that it smelled kind of weird, too.   But I reminded myself that I was trying to keep an open mind!  It baked up just fine, and looked pretty much like a "normal" cake when it came out of the oven.  After letting it cool for awhile, I turned it out of the pan.  I sliced off the dome to make the top even, then broke off a piece so I could do a little taste test.  Um, let's just say that my reaction was less than positive.  I immediately knew that there was no way I was going to give this cake to my friend!  The texture was grainy and dense and oily, and the flavor was tinny and tasted like chemicals.  Yuck.  When I relayed this information to my friend, she said, "Oh, surely it's not that bad!  I don't even remember what real cake tastes like, so it'll probably taste fine to me!"  Well, even if you have nothing to compare it to, this cake still doesn't taste good!  So I decided to go on a hunt for an egg-free cake I could make from scratch.

After a little poking around on the internet, I found a recipe for egg-free chocolate cake that looked promising.  It featured "normal" ingredients like sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda (no weird stuff like guar gum, which was in the cake mix.)  Plus it had received rave reviews on, so I was excited to try it.  I baked it yesterday afternoon, and it looked and smelled awesome.  The whole house smelled chocolately and delicious!  When I sliced off the top for taste test number two, my tastebuds jumped up and exclaimed in delight!  It actually tasted and felt like "real" cake!  If you didn't know it was an egg-free cake, I bet you'd never guess.  I gave each of the kids a little bite to try, too, and even Lauren (my non-cake eater) gobbled it up!  YUM.  Success!!!  This recipe is definitely one that I'm going to use again.

So, without further ado, here are some photos of my marvelous egg-free creation!

Doesn't it look just like a "real" cake??? :)

Here it is with the chocolate mousse filling between the layers, 
and the beginning of the chocolate ganache frosting.

And here is the finished cake!  My friend and her husband met in London, 
so she asked me to try and tie in something from London.  I used the logo for the
London Underground and wrote Happy Anniversary on it instead.  
(I was excited to have another chance to do FBCT!!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Party Invitations

I made these invitations for the daughter of a friend of mine, who is having a book-themed party for her 8th birthday.  She wanted the invitations to look like a book, and I am beyond thrilled at how well they turned out.  The front of the invitation has a picture of the birthday girl's favorite book, "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The party details (date, time, place, etc.) are written on the pages inside the book.  Finally, the whole thing is held together by a dainty satin ribbon tied around the fold.  I absolutely love them!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cake Acronym Lesson #1: FBCT

I am a member of several online cake-decorating forums, where I gather ideas, collect new recipes, and learn new techniques.  Like experts in any field, the experienced cake decorators on these sites are constantly throwing around mysterious acronyms.  (I grew up as an Army brat, so I know all about acronyms!!)  Anyway, sometimes I can figure them out myself, and other times I actually have to Google them to figure out what the heck these people are talking about.  FBCT was one of the acronyms that had me stumped.  A quick search revealed that it stands for "frozen buttercream transfer."  Perfectly clear now, right?  Well, um, not for me.  Nope, next I had to figure out what a frozen buttercream transfer actually WAS.

And let me say that the knowledge has CHANGED MY LIFE.

Well, at the very least, it has changed the way I decorate cakes.  This technique opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me!  Allow me to tell you first that my drawing skills leave a lot to be desired.  Like, a LOT.  Like, my skills are limited to stick people and crude, childlike sketches.  So, when a friend recently asked me to make a Super Mario cake for her son, I was thinking "how the heck am I going to do this????"

Voila!  FBCT!!!!

Basically you just print out a photo or graphic or drawing of whatever it is that you want to have on your cake.  In my case, Super Mario.  Then you put a layer of waxed paper over the image and pipe different colors of buttercream frosting onto the design.  When it's all finished, you put it in the freezer for a bit to let it firm up.  Then you flip it over, set it on your cake, peel off the waxed paper, and TA DA!!  Absolute magic!!!  Here's proof...check out my super awesome Super Mario!!  (If you're wondering why  he's flying through the galaxy, there is a video game called Mario Galaxy where Mario, well, flies through the galaxy.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facebook, Here I Come!!

This afternoon I created an official facebook page for my little party business.  :)  It's called "Cards and Cakes by Rachel," since that's primarily what I do nowadays.  There is a link posted on this blog (look on the lower right hand side.)  Click on "Cards and Cakes by Rachel" to be directed to the page.  Then, if you click on the "Like" button, you'll automatically receive all the updates and photos I post to the facebook page!  Yay!  Feel free to pass the link on to your friends and we all know, when it comes to parties, the more the merrier!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Burger, Anyone??

I had a great time making these cupcakes for our church picnic tomorrow - I thought it would be fun to go with the hamburger and hot dog theme, since that's what will be served at the picnic.  The cupcakes are yellow cake with marshmallow frosting and fondant decorations.  Yum!