Sugar Cookies on Sticks recipe

The recipe to use is from the Wilton instructor manual from a cookie blossom class


Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup softened butter 1 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 tsp vanilla 2 teaspoons baking powder 3 cups flour

Stop mixing when it’s still crumbly, and knead it to come together
Thicker than the stick
Too thin = brown edges

Next time I’m going to substitute almond extract for vanilla to up the flavor game.

Check out my other recent post about the cookie blossom arrangement. (Link)


Brandi Janine

Cookie Blossom Fail

Hi cakers! I hope everyone is enjoying this gorgeous Autumnal weather we’re having! The leaves 🍁 change to their golden splendors so fast, and fall before we know it. I try to get as many hikes as possible to enjoy the colors of the season.

So much inspiration in nature!

We attempted to make Cookie Blossoms in Cake Class last week. I had grand plans.

Last semesters cake class cookies

To be honest, I’m not a fan of making cookies. They take a TON of time to decorate. Royal icing is crazy finicky. I’ve been turned off from cookies for several reasons, including ( LINK to blog post about the disaster disney cookies) . So every time this class rolls around I remind myself of the benefits of practice.

As I was going through my lesson plans for the cookie week, I came across a couple pages from teaching a cookie class at JoAnn fabrics back when I was a Wilton Method instructor!

(Pic of cookie blossom from 2013)

I was excited for the class and excited for my students to make their own cookie creations! We did use fondant on the cookies back then, and I’m just not a fan of fondant on cookies. Way too dry and tough.

In order to have the most success with cookies on sticks, it’s best to use a recipe that is going to hold up. A Sturdy solid sugar cookie. (Link to recipe).

Royal icing – pick one, these 3 are very similar, I cant Tell a concrete difference yet. Thin consistency

Rather than trying to make Black royal icing I bought the wilton black cookie icing. It was a runny mess.

For everything else I used the top recipe, be prepared to make these pretty far in advance. They took another student a full two days to dry. My children ended up eating our cookies before the icing even dried. The icing settled nice and flat and smooth, matte .

I made sure to make notes for the class to have boxes and containers that allow all their cookies to lay flat. I did not do that myself and I had sticks sticking in icing and messed up cookies. All that work Ruined. Luckily they were just for fun and weren’t for an order or anything.

I knew right away by the vultures in the kitchen that the cookies weren’t going to last long. Apparently everyone skipped dinner and was starving for anything they could get their grubby hands on.

They were already claiming which ones they wanted and I said “just wait until I can get a few pics and then You can choose what you want”. This meant I had to hurry. So even though the cookies weren’t anywhere near dried I attempted to shove them into an arrangement of sorts. The styrofoam ball I had used was the right size for this project, but NOT the right density. Meaning it was real hard to shove a stick into. I used a chopstick to first poke a hole but that just broke off the chopstick tip. I gave up on it soon after the pumpkin started crying.

Spencer happily eating cookie fails

I’m so impressed with my students cookies!! This class is so talented!

Let me know if you try to make a cookie blossom and how it goes!!


Brandi Janine

The Wedding Cake that Didn’t Make it

This is one of the hardest posts I’m going to write. Whenever I’m asked to spill the tea on cake horror stories, this one hurts so bad that it usually doesn’t even come up. This is the cake that I thought was going to end my career. So pull up a seat and a drink for story time.

Top two tiers. Ivory fondant. Cake lace. Sugar pearls/ dragees. Fondant jewels.

I started decorating at a professional level in 2010. This cake went down in the summer of 2016, my first wedding season at the bakery. This was one of the brides I inherited when I started working at the bakery. I had spent two meetings with her and repeatedly assured her that I was just as good as the decorator I had replaced. Clearly I was wrong. This cake broke my heart and I was ready to throw in the towel. I thought I had done everything right, to the best of my ability.

This wasn’t the most expensive cake (the guitar 🎸) I had made to this point, but it was the most expensive Wedding cake I had made at that point, and possibly the first 4 tier wedding cake.

I hated that topper and took pics of the cake before adding it to the top.

In hindsight it was a recipe for disaster. Our bakery’s soft moist decadent cake. Our fragile swiss meringue buttercream. Heavy Fondant. Slippery raspberry filling. Delicate Cake lace. 4 tiers. Delivered almost 2 hours away. In the humidity of Southwestern Pennsylvania and heat of the summer. Outside In a barn. All the tell tale signs of a disaster in the making. The fondant was sweating and sticky as I stacked the top two onto the bottom two tiers. I had a bad feeling about the cake as i drove away, up the bumpy windy farm road, but i never could have imagined what was to come. I had a feeling the fondant was going to get air bubbles and no one would know that they can just be popped with a pin and resmoothed. That was my biggest concern. I hung out a bit longer than usual after the delivery but all seemed well enough when I was taking pictures.

Picture perfect wedding

I didn’t find out about the disaster until the next day, on a well earned day off, my friends were in town and we rode the incline and visited the bakery. The venue had called and left voicemail messages the evening before. We had the absolute worst telephone system.

The couple was on their honeymoon and I didn’t hear from them for a couple weeks. The unknown was torture. The bakery owner wanted to rectify the situation and offer a refund. Our contacts terms and conditions talks about how the heat, nature, weather and any post drop off problems isn’t really our responsibility.

She took it in stride. She thought she was being punked. Luckily the venue was still able to serve the cake. They tore it down before it fell -to keep it from falling. I’m going to now post all of the venue/ event planners emails and the pictures. I made $20k in wedding cakes that year. When I started this blog I was worried that if I were to post the Fails then I’d lose my legitimacy and future clients, not to mention other wedding industry professionals contacts and referrals. However, In the spirit of teaching, here goes it.

I believe the biggest problems were heat, humidity, moist soft cake mix, fragile all butter buttercream, slippery wet filling. Straws are just as strong as wooden Dowels, that wasn’t the problem. I’ve read a physics study about the strength of jumbo straws. When I was still learning I have had layered cakes shift in delivery from mousse fillings and fruit fillings. Dowels could be helpful to keep them together.

I also spoke with the venue and the bride on the phone, but everything was pretty much consistent with the emails. I have heard from others that in some situations that things can get stickier. Since after the Caker leaves the cake at drop off, that the responsibility lies with the venue. That’s what our contracts say. I have heard that Venues are not going to accept that responsibility. I have seen horror stories from other cakers where the florist or the heavy flowers have toppled cakes.


I don’t even know what I could have done at that point if we had gotten the call to come back. I’m going to share with you in another post about yet another 4 tier wedding cake that fell and how we fixed it before the reception.

Emails from the venue to the bride, shared with me from the bride. 1 of 3
Correspondence between event planner/ venue and bride. 2 of 3
Correspondence between event planner/ venue and bride. 3 of 3

Tail between my legs I had to tell my new boss that I would learn from this and not have to refund another $700++ to any more couples in the future

Changes were made and implemented. 4 tier cakes get an extra $75.00 support system charge. There is a future blog post planned detailing supports and dowels. We invested in cake delivery in coolers and ice packs. They’re completed and refrigerated over night the day before delivery. 4 tiers are stacked on site.

We changed the tier separators to make sure our cardboard rounds are wax coated, and not just cardboard getting soggy with grease and wilting. The wedding contract was updated to ask if the cake was going to be outside or inside and if there was air conditioning. Delivery times are adjusted and time is cut real close to when guests are arriving for outside events. 2 and 3 tier cakes can sometimes be kept in the event venues coolers or fridge until guests start to arrive.

The real gravity and scope of the importance of a wedding cake, the significance of the cake, especially to a bride that wanted a showpiece, weighs heavy. I was ready to call it quits, throw in the towel. It took years to get over having ruined someone’s wedding day. If I can share some wisdom and cautionary tales to help save future cakes then I guess it helps balance the scales. We were fortunate that the bakery has other income other than weddings to offer a refund. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without using my personal finances, as a home based business owner. We were fortunate that the bride was so incredibly understanding and empathic to the situation.

Still standing, last pic I took before away, Flower insertion vases . Humorous Topper .
I sent her pictures of the cake so she could see what was hand crafted and intended for her 😭

Sometimes cakes fall.

That really is the moral of the story. Accidents happen. Mistakes are made. Learn from them and move on. Learn more. Do better. Teach others.

Happy Anniversary

And there you have it. I am now Going to go outside and do a yoga rinse under the moon light and hopefully, finally, put this disaster behind me for good.

Thanks for stopping by and having a read.

Good luck and blessings for all of our future wedding cakes!


Brandi Janine

1st Birthday beach 🦈 theme

Hello! Welcome back and thanks for following along with my cake adventures! Today I want to share a cake order success! We got rave reviews on this one. A lot of times we don’t hear back from customers and generally no news is good news. They’ll tell us they liked their cake the next time they come back to place an order, or they’ll tell the front staff and I dont find out about it. No big deal. They just think we hear it all the time. But I especially want to share some great reviews since the blog is still in its early days and I need some more credibility before I drop the bombs with the cake disasters. Check out my Instagram to see my portfolio.

Cakesburgh Instagram QR code
Instagram QR Code
1st birthday party
Beach themed 1st birthday party
I didnt end up liking the writing and probably should have wiped it off
Shark fin cupcakes!

Shark fin cupcakes! the shark fund were made out of fondant. I rolled it out about 1/4 inch thick and and cut to shape.

The cupcakes were an undertaking and i enlisted the help of talented crafty my mom and sister. The palm trees were pretzels sticks that I bought at a local candy supply store that sells “unbroken pretzel sticks” by the bag. These are shorter than the average pretzel too. We tried both with cutting them and buying the shorter ones. They worked equally so/so.

The palm trees 🌴 leaves are green white chocolate. Melted and piped free hand onto wax paper. I was worried that they would be too heavy for the cupcakes. They weren’t inserted into the cold cupcakes until at set up.

The number one cake was 2 layer sheet cake, in a 1/2 sheet board. One layer of filling.

Pro tip: I like to draw the number on a piece of parchment paper and then use that as a template to carve.

His little smash cake was a surprise. They were planning on using a cupcake 🧁 but since I had all that cake scrap carved off I threw that in as a bonus.

I love the scrolly waves on the sides and the different shades of blue made with our delectable swiss meringue buttercream.

Scrolling through my pics Im getting all kinds of ideas for a beach themed blog post, a shark post, a carved number cake post. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if you liked this post, found it helpful in any way, leave me a like, comment, subscribe, follow, all of it to get notifications for more content!

Yours Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

My Favorite Tools

In no particular order- Will reorganize the list after I can log back in to my account on a computer. I swear passwords are going to be the death of me.

Spatulas ! Must have: 13″ angled, 9″ angled, 9″ tapered, cake smoother.


Also great: 13″ and 9″ straight Spatulas

13″ angled spatula

Wilton Icing Spatula, 13-Inch, Angled Cake Spatula

13″ & 9″ angles, 11″ straight

Wilton Icing Spatula Set for Baking, 3-Piece – 13 and 9-Inch Angled and 11-Inch Straight Spatulas


Tapered spatula

Wilton Tapered Spatula, 9-Inch

Cake boards

30-Pack Cake Board Rounds, Circle Cardboard Base Boards, 8, 10 and 12-Inch. Perfect for Cake Decorating, 10 of Each Size (Gold, 30)

Edible Image printer.

We’ve had a lot of luck with the Canon pixma printers. We buy our printer paper from Pfeil and holing. Make sure your paper, ink and printer are compatible. Any printer can be an edible image printer as long as it’s brand new and has never had regular ink installed.

Couplers! You can pretty much never have too many couplers. Please have at least as many couplers as colors of icing you’re making.

Straws to dowel a 2 or 3 tiered cake

Fondant supplies

Must have: fondant smoother, having 2 is nicer.

Fondant tools: 2 fondant rollers, mat, exacto knife

Tip storage!

This is what we use at the bakery and it’s great. Notice the little flower scissors on the screw below it, and a color wheel nearby and handy. (Hardware store)

You can also see handy- scotch tape, masking tape, sharpie, post it’s to remind you you are amazing and to breathe. Fondant letter cutters, heart and circle cookie cutters.

Any tip organizer that works for you and your space is a winner. I love the tools caddy tackle boxes. I have one for buttercream supplies and one for royal icing. I guess they’re retired now but can be found on the 2nd hand market.

My favorite little flower scissors are also great for fondant work.

Ratcheting pipe cutter, hardware store. Cuts the thicker dowels easily for 4 tier cakes.

Zantlea Pipe and Tube Cutter, Ratcheting Hose Cutter One-hand Fast Pipe Cutting Tool) Ratcheting cutter

A Turntable is an absolute must!

I’m spoiled and have had several turntables, my absolute favorite is this lightweight metal one, it’s sturdy but also turns super easily.

Low profile turntable is great for tiered cakes!

This handy cake carrier is Wilton, it’s a cake carrier and turntable. The handles lock the turntable in place and the dome is tall enough for a wedding height cake with decorations on top. It’s big enough for up to a 10″ board, which an 8″ or 9″ cake would go on.

Food safety is a top priority! Also remember to pull your hair up, wear a hair net or cap.

This is the cake rubber/ shelf liner that you don’t want to get. You want the thicker puffier kind.

Any tip set is going to be good. They’ll all come with at least the basic rounds, stars, Rose tips, leaf, Mum, drop flowers.

Here’s a very popular set: Wilton tip set Master Decorating Tip Set, 55-Piece decorating tips

Happy decorating!

Brandi Janine

Wedding Cakes and Custom Cakes Contracts

When I was baking at home my company was Event Cakes Pgh. I’m going to be sharing my contract and all the other ins and outs of my decade in the cake industry on this site.

The majority of problems that cake newbs come across with clients can be solved with a solid contract and non refundable retainer. Retainer is a down payment. A deposit can be refunded. A retainer covers all of the work you do leading up to making the cake, the sketch, the planning, the communicating. All of that takes time and time is money. Don’t sell yourself short! We have to charge for our time! Our industry doesn’t magically not have labor costs just because most cakers don’t charge enough to cover their own pay. #realtalk

Cakes take a lot of time to make! I  would schedule at least an hour per tier minimum – just for stacking and decorating. Most cakes are 5-10 hours on average depending on the complications and skill needed for decorating. That doesn’t include baking, making icings, sourcing supplies, delivering, consultations. And you better be charging at least $10/ hour minimum!

You also have to charge for supplies! Butter is expensive, Fondant is expensive, boxes, boards, tools, ribbons, dragees, all of it cost money. Making cakes is expensive. Please please please don’t make cakes at a loss! It’s bad for you in the future and all the other cakers out there. It’s bad for our industry. Yes you should charge less when you’re starting out, but less means like $12/ hour instead of $15/ hour. It’s hard to figure out how long each cake is going to take. That was my biggest trouble in figuring out prices. I’ll make another blog post more about how to charge for cakes, showing my price charts and such, so stay tuned for that.

This one is about the contract. It’s useful in remembering to get all the information needed, to track payments, and everything else. My wedding cake contract at the bakery was 4 pages and more comprehensive. Ill post that too for yinz below.

I’m not a lawyer, haven’t had these looked over by a lawyer, so idk how iron clad it is in that aspect. Luckily I’ve never needed it for that. Going over the terms and conditions is just good business practice to make sure everyone’s on the same page. During the wedding consultation and cake tasting I’d suggest they read over the fine print while I    go to into the kitchen and gather their tasting trays. I’ll have another post about that!

Why would someone need a refund? Mostly because of a wrong flavor or filling. A cake that fell. Maybe the wrong size. Accidents do happen. It’s people making the cakes and not machines after all. We have gone out of our way to rectify problems at the bakery as far as refunds go. At home I didnt have the capital to offer refunds. The payment was already spent before the cake was finished. I’ve had a cancellation and gave a credit towards a future cake rather than a partial refund.

Here it is! Two different contracts that I developed and used in my cake businesses. Feel free to make it your own. Just don’t hold me liable for anything!

Event Cakes Contract .pdf – Google Drive
— Read on   

Grandview Bakery Wedding cake Contract

Wedding Cake Contract

Please Let me know if you find this info helpful!!! What other topics do you want me to go over for you?

Leave a comment, share, like, follow, subscribe.



Brandi Janine

Geode Wedding Cake

Oh my beautiful Geode! How lovely and serene. June, 2017

I loved this bride. She was gorgeous and so lovely. We bonded over laughter about how some geode cakes, with pinks and red rocks look like vaginas.

She was Laid back but also an artist so she was particular but also really appreciated what went into making cake. This was Both of their second marriages. The geode cake was actually the second wedding cake I made for them. The first one was a beach themed cake for their beach ceremony in Baltimore. She was worried it would come out too much like a kids birthday cake and not a wedding cake. I was worried about the cake making that big drive! Her car was packed and She kept it on the floor of the passenger side. In a box, obviously. Buttercream with fondant accents. I used the wilton seashell fondant mood and satin ice fondant. She had a special custom cake topper. She sent me a good pic with the topper at that dinner and I’ll add it if I come across it.

March, 2017

Here’s a few progress pics i took during the making of the geode cake.

Wedding tiers are four layers of cake and 3 layers of filling. You can see one of the tier supports, jumbo bubble straws.

Carved for shape, cut the cardboard tier separator round. 6″ top tier, 8″ middle, 10″ bottom. The 10″ stayed in the fridge while the top two got worked on.

Covered in buttercream and fondant. Use an edible marker to outline where you’ll cut. Carve it already stacked so you’re sure it lines up.

piping gel is the glue that keeps the sugar rocks glued in. Layer of piping gel on top of the buttercream and then you’ll want a piping bag of piping gel to use as you go.

Rock sugar colored with airbrush color. I used the airbrush color instead of gel color because it’s already so liquid y. If i had needed to use gel color I would have diluted it with everclear. It didn’t take a lot of color, the sugar rocks took the color brilliantly. I needed three shades of purple and this was the darkest. I divided them and stirred more .Here i moved into the other room so i could sit while i worked . You can see the brides’ geode on the table, she lent it to me to look at while I worked. This was a tedious task, inserting each rock individually with a pair of long tweezers. Darkest color in the center gives added depth and shadows.

This took several hours of work to complete. The bride even stopped in with her friends while I was working on it to check out the progress. They were big geode buffs and fell in love with the cake.

The rock cave gets outlined with gold leaf, and the inspiration cake she liked best had that big section of gold leaf. Gold leaf has a slight learning curve, but is easy to use as long as there is no breeze. A dry fan brush helps to smooth it out, but the wrinkles add another dimension too. Make sure you get the single Individual sheets. Gold leaf isn’t exactly edible, but it is non toxic.

Finally, at the reception. The bling band bottom border, topper, and cake stand really bring it all together.

Photo credit goes to Flip. He was the first person to get a new phone with the new portrait mode. 😻

This is the inspiration cake, seen in a store window on a vacation. I think i knocked this one out of the park.eliminated that very top 4th tier,

The inspiration cake from a far away land.

I don’t like to copy other artists cake designs exactly, but I don’t mind at all if someone else makes one of mine. It’s great to make adjustments when and where there’s room for improvement and if i can get the client to go along with the changes. She was pretty set on this style. We eliminated that very top 4th tier and used amethyst rocks instead of blue.

A picture one of the guests took and sent. The cake matches well with the chandeliers of the LeMont. – that’s a super fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh with incredible views of the city.

The bride Emailed me From her reception!

I felt pretty good about this cake, but it’s always magnificent to hear from the client when they enjoy a commissioned art.

My mom didn’t like this cake. Our oldest baker didn’t like it either, on a personal matter of style or taste. It stings a little anyways. It was my first geode cake after all.

A week later she sent this:

Thanks, Brandi!

I have yet to get the photographer’s photos & will pass those along, (including the 3/18 cake images), in a WELL DESERVED thank-you note…

Your incredible talents added SO much to our 3/18 wedding & 7/21 reception.

I ran into her again a few years later and she still raves about the Cakes. It means so much to be so appreciated. An amazing reminder of how truly important your cakes actually are.


Brandi Janine

60th Gourmet Cupcakes & disappointing 80s colored cupcakes

1 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Assortment of gourmet cupcakes: almond torte cupcakes, carrot cake, red velvet, coconut, peanut butter, and vampire bites.

This customer was disappointed with her number cupcakes when she came to pick it up. She was taking it to a fancy dinner and she said it wasn’t fancy enough.

She was very happy when I brought it back out to her. I didn’t really know what she wanted or how to fix it, other than with writing on the board. Then I outlined the cupcakes with icing (messy messy). Its hard to get around the cupcakes and not bump their icing with the piping bag. I didnt love the way the numbers outline border looked, it wasn’t clean or straight enough. but she said it was exactly what it needed, that it brought it all together.

Phew that was a close call. I’m always glad when I’m able to fix complaints right then and there.

I don’t like cupcake cakes. I have these orders in mind as well as others when I’m taking a new order or reading and interpreting an order someone else took.

So Here we go again.

This was for an 80s themed party. She requested black and white swirl and bright 80s colors.

33 cupcakes, the 8 are chocolates and 0 vanilla. The cupcakes are “glued” to the board with a dot of icing on the bottom. The trick is to set them all out how you want and then carefully lift a corner one at a time and push a dot of icing from a tip 12 between the wrapper and board.

I was not there to fix this one. I thought it was good and what she ordered. A lot of mistakes are misinterpretations of what the order says. Not sure in this case as I had taken the order. She hated it. I’m not sure if we heard from her when she picked it up or after the fact, and I wouldnt have known how to fix it either. Maybe she would have wanted a border outline too. She said they could have done this themselves. In my mind of course they could. Everyone can do all of it themselves. I can teach you how. You’re paying the bakery to save yourself the time and hassle. In fact I think she said her daughter could have made it. Anyways her complaint was also that it was whipped cream icing. We can’t know every time when someone’s never had our icing or if they’ve never had swiss meringue buttercream before, which is what we use. It is NOT sweet American buttercream. If someone places an order and asks about our icing I’ll tell them it’s SMBC and that it’s wedding cake icing not sweet buttercream like Walmart or Giant Eagle. It’s light and fluffy and not too sweet.

(Come back here)

Link to recipe for SMBC – coming soon

Link to American buttercream – coming soon

Which kind of icing is your favorite?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Let me know too if you want to see more cake fails, cake fixes, and customer complaints?

Remember to like, share and follow!!


Brandi Janine

Peacock cupcakes Wedding cake

June 27, 2016

The peacock was made over a course of several days . I guess i lost the rest of the step by step pictures 🙁 It looked cool all white too. It was fun for the bakery staff to watch it come together too, since I did a little bit every day.

The skeleton was a flexible thick gauge Wire wrapped with aluminum foil, then covered with a combo of fondant and modeling chocolate.

The cupcake “feathers” were fondant disks and hand painted, with a mix of petal dusts, airbrush colors, dye and everclear. When fondant dries it gets real hard, so these would have been crunchy sugar. I dont think they would have been pleasurable to eat and I did tell the customer beforehand.

The scrollwork and bead border were done with a stiff royal icing.

Here’s the cake gossip with this order:

The interesting story of this cake was that the man whom ordered it wasn’t the groom, but a friend. I’m not sure i remember this correcting but The Bakery owner told me about how when they first opened the bakery, 5 years prior, this man got away with a free cake and she was still mad about it. She said we were scammed because he claimed he paid when they ordered it and hadn’t or something. Possibly even doing this twice or telling a family member how to get a free cake too. So we weren’t sure if this going to be a real order or not. I give out a lot of quotes that don’t turn into orders. It was hard getting the necessary info from him for delivery. I talked to the groom on the phone once, from the customers cell phone. The cake was a surprise for his partner. I made it clear that it wouldn’t be delivered without payment in full. It took several phone call reminders and he finally paid it off on the cut off day, the week before the wedding.

Their reception was at the West End Overlook. It took two of us for set up, which our boss always hated because of labor costs.

I had gotten so many requests for cakes like this and tagged several times on other peacock cake pics. I would probably do the feathers differently next time . I would change the colors, this teal matched their wedding.

The viral inspiration pic
Another viral pic I was sent

The customer came back on several occasions and asked for me when getting cake quotes. He always reminded me about the peacock cake and how everyone loved it. We never talked about the alleged stolen cake. We did get more customers from that order. I charged a reasonable price but maybe i didn’t charge enough because one such referral said they came to us because our “cakes aren’t too expensive”.

Let me know if you like hearing the back stories of the cake orders? I dont have a ton but there’s a couple juicy ones to share. Thanks for stopping by !!


Brandi Janine