Cupcake Bouquets

June 2016

While I was at home baking as Event Cakes Pgh the bakery had another decorator. I knew of her from the Midwife Centers Let Them Eat Cake contest/ charity event. She’s an incredibly talented artist and I was bummed that she left before I got there because I wanted to work with her. This shifted my role at the bakery from General Manager, which I was hired on as, to cake decorator. There were so many orders and so much work that I couldn’t do both positions. Maybe I could have when I was younger or before kids. But it became apparent that the artistry that goes into decorating custom cakes just isn’t something anyone off the street can do. We tried to find someone else to hire to no avail.

There were a bunch of orders that were already taken before I came on board. I was able to pick up where she left off for the most part but there were a few orders that didn’t work out as planned.

The inspiration

The bride was very concerned, especially with the switch in staff. She asked me to make a mock up to try it.

I had done this before, and I have since successfully pulled off cupcake centerpieces for my cousin’s wedding. It was a huge production and I’ll write it’s on post on how to achieve that.

A year prior I had taken a Craftsy class on cupcake bouquets. I made this arrangement for my sister-In-laws birthday . The leaves were homemade fruit leather! American buttercream. Tips 2D and 1M . I love the colors and the variegated look of the flowers.

January 5, 2015

Now I knew there would be challenges for this order. Such as – all that red dye is going to stain people’s mouths. How are the cupcakes going to stay on and how do we stop the icing from sliding off? Our cupcakes are so soft that they would fall apart. The swiss meringue buttercream melts so easily. How do we transport them? How long would it take to assemble each and can we accomplish this on site? How much icing would we need to bring? We were trying to figure out delivery boxes like what florists use to deliver arrangements.

Trial

I explained that I didnt want to waste all that red dye for the trial, and asked her to ignore the color. Even still, she wasn’t comfortable with me pulling it off and she canceled her wedding order with us.

Fail.

I felt horrible about losing the order for the bakery but in all honesty I’m sure it saved a lot of aggravation. It was a hectic and busy time. I hope it all worked out for the couple!

Brandi Janine

July, 2018

Here are some tips and tricks I learned from doing my cousins cupcake centerpieces. There is a lot of prep work that needs done ahead of time. Baking the cupcakes, of course. And making tons of icing, coloring and prepping piping bags. I also has the flower cupcake liners and some filler tissue paper glued to the styrofoam ball ahead of time. I hired 3 extra people to help assemble on site at the reception. We could have used more. We used two toothpicks in each spot, angled out. To put the cupcakes on we squeeze the toothpicks together, insert the cupcake and let go. Pipe on the icing after it’s attached. We also tried piping it before affixing it. I dont remember if there was a difference, but each of us cake decorators has slightly different techniques. I also had a massive cake at the reception so I was stressing out about assembling that too. I’ll get to that in another post.

All in all, cupcake centerpiece bouquets can be done successfully with a ton of planning and preparation. (I’d prefer not to do that again any time soon)

All the Fall cakes!

This is my absolute favorite time of year! The colors of nature are truly brilliant and remind us of the magnificence of our earth. Especially here in Pennsylvania!

Buttercream!

Swiss meringue buttercream. Floral cakes. Fall flowers. Roses. Rosettes. Mums. Leaves. Sprinkles. Dragees. Borders. Swags. Ruffles. Drop flowers. Stars. Watercolor.

Darker colors. Fall colors. Shades of orange and yellows. Purples and reds, burgundy. Dark blues and greens

Supplies used: spatula, piping bags, couplers, scissors, turntable, gel colors, Buttercream, cake, Cake board, box, rags, and a smile 🙂

various tips: Rose, leaf, star, mum, dropflower, rounds

Orders and “case cakes”

There’s always a reason to celebrate!

Cheers!

Brandi

The Ultimate White Wedding Cake

When I was first learning how to become a better cake decorator I needed a lot of cakes to practice on, and then to teach with, and then I quickly started selling and had a business. We tried a million different recipes. They were all delicious and we gained a ton of weight. This is the recipe that was tweaked just the right amount that I stopped playing around with it and ran my business with it. A doctored box mix that allowed me to sculpt and tier with confidence. Where I can call it my own recipe since I’ve tweaked it a bit, but is also still the WASC-White almond sour cream cake recipe that we Bakers love. Us Americans love the box cake mix. It’s light and fluffy. We think scratch cakes are too tough, and they’re often likened to a cornbread consistency and we think that they’re dry. Whereas Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines know what they’re doing. This is almost a no fail recipe, and baking at home with a full house leads to its fair share of mishaps and mayhem.

This is a slice of a 2 layer 8″ white cake with strawberry filling that Josue made at the bakery. Yummmmm. Demonstrates 2 layers

I couldn’t figure out how to use the recipe plug in so here’s the recipe not formatted nicely, so i could quickly get it out to the class:

The Ultimate Wedding Cake Recipe:

18 Oz white cake mix

1cup plus 2 Tablespoons Cake Flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup White sugar

3 whole eggs

1.5 cups warm water

1/2 cup melted butter

1cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla/ almond extract

1. Weigh box mix, measure dry, sift together in a large bowl and set aside

2. Melt butter

3. Add butter, sugar, water, extracts, and sour cream to a mixing bowl.

4. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time .

5. Add eggs.

6. Beat on medium high for 2 minutes.

7. Add to cake pans, 2/3 way full or measure batter and use a chart:

https://www.wilton.com/cake-serving-guide/cms-baking-serving-guide.html

Tips:

1. Pan release! Options:

A. baking spray that includes a grease and flour.

B. Make your own mason jar full with equal parts shortening, oil, and flour. Mix in mixer until creamy, spread on bottom and sides.

C. Grease and parchment paper

D. Grease with Crisco shortening, coat with flour (or cocoa powder for chocolate cake)

Recipe customization:

2. Extracts: can substitute any flavor.

3. Can substitute water with milk or creamer, I like french vanilla coffee creamer

4. Can substitute white cake mix for vanilla, or any other flavors.

5. Can make a true white cake by substituting the whole eggs with egg whites.

6. Chocolate cake can substitute box mix and cocoa powder for cake flour.

Let Them Eat Cake

The Midwife Center for Birth and Women’s Health has an annual cake walk fundraiser.

The theme was “Once Upon a Time”. This is my fifth year participating, my first time at the swanky Kimpton Hotel Monaco. When I went before it was at the Pittsburgh Opera House in the Strip district.

There’s a silent auction, hors d’ouvres, drinking, beautiful cakes on display and tons of cakes to sample!

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the work I put into this cake:

https://cakesburgh.com/the-brothers-grimm-inspired-cake-behind-the-scenes/

Here’s the cake:

Ravens and a bloody Heart topper

Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning wheel, spinning hay into gold

Big Bad Wolf chasing Red Riding Hood

Hansel and Gretel fleeing the Witches gingerbread house after they throw her in the oven

Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair

I wish I couldve gotten a better picture inside the house with the witches legs sticking out of the top of the oven

That little bag on the table is where the guests put their slips in to vote for their favorites. There were a few in there, but I didnt win. But we had a really good time drinking and eating cake!

Here’s are the other competitors amazing cakes!!

Profession 2nd place winner

Professional 1st place winner

Amateur 1st place winner

Amateur 2nd place winner

Taste Cakes:

Here’s our chocolate cake with cherry filling and cherry Swiss meringue buttercream. Yuuuummmm. There were some reallly delicious cakes to sample!

Hard to enjoy it too much after our scrumptious dinner at Sienna Mercato. Shawn and Sara are fabulous dates!

That’s that! Now there’s another cake to display at the bakery! A baker I met there suggested taking my cake to the White Rose cake show competition coming up in a few weeks. We’ll see how my orders look that weekend.

Here’s a look at my previous cakes entered to Let Them Eat Cake :

None of these cakes won either. But it’s always a good idea to stretch your imagination and push your own limits and grow as an artist and try out new techniques.

Thanks for stopping by!

I’m glad to have the opportunity and space to share my art with yinz!

Buttercream kisses 😘

Brandi

The Brothers Grimm inspired cake: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes!

The Making of the Brothers Grimm inspired cake, progress photos.

A sketch:

4 tiers and a tree with an owl 🦉

Heart topper, Rice Krispie treat

Whoooo whoooo

Tree stump. Working at my regular cake station at the Grandview Bakery. Notice my “Radiate Positivity” note. There’s also a reminder that says “You are Awesome” 🙂 Cakes are a hella stressful business. It’s good to look up from your work and REMEMBER to BREATHE.

Background painting with Airbrush colors and gel colors mixed with Everclear. Moved to the Party Room to sit and work.

Little Red riding hood and Rapunzels tower

Heart on top

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?! Wire to keep his arm up while he dries/ hardens.

RKT Ravens/Crows, black fondant, wafer paper wings. On wires

Packed up and ready to go dahntahn n’at!!

She traveled great! Set up for display at the fundraiser!

Cakes on display

My heart went into this cake, and a lot of time…..

Friday’s hours didn’t even make it into the list, that was probably another 6 hours to a 12 hour day. and add another 1-5 hours for picture editing and social media, blog posting, etc

If this cake were an ordered decorated cake it would cost the customer approximately $1000.00 !!!

Thanks for stopping by my page!! Let me know what you think!! Enjoy your day!!

Radiate Positivity!!

Brandi

Lipstick Cake

Lipstick 💄 Cake

The making of the lipstick cake:

Lipstick Cake Lipstick Birthday Cake

1. First: See it in your brain. Draw a sketch to work off of. Figure out the size and proportions- part of this happens during the ordering process, when finding out how many guests they want to serve and determining price. This also includes Figuring out which cakes you need baked and what size board you need.

2. Translate step 1 into reality. It all starts with a couple sheet cakes. 1/4 sheet vanilla. 1/4 sheet chocolate. Whip up some Vanilla buttercream. Double check the order to make sure you have the right cake flavors and fillings. Put it on a 1/2 sheet board, write something on the bottom so you don’t get any cakes mixed up. Measure proportions and make some marks.

3. Start cutting. Refer back to your sketch. See it in your brain again. Like really really see it so much that you can look at the pile of cake and buttercream and see a lipstick instead. Breathe. Carve.

4. Look at it from a bunch of different angles, remember to keep breathing. Don’t cut off too much, but if you do you can fix it with extra cake pieces and buttercream. You can build up on areas too, depending on what you’re making.

5. Cover with buttercream. We call this “base iced”. Move it to the fridge to get it out of the way while you clean up your mess. Sometimes I’ll put cake scraps in cupcake wrappers for bakery samples. Everyone loves free samples.

6. Get a coffee. Work on a couple other orders. Pull it out of the fridge and Cover with another layer of buttercream. Get it really nice and smooth. Keep breathing. Tell your internal critic to be quiet. Put it back in the fridge, clean up and get out the fondant supplies.

7. They wanted it to be black, white and red. I use Satin Ice fondant to cover the cake. This is the part that I always get super involved in and forget to take pictures, which is a shame because there’s a lot of artsy things going on. I used a wilton mold to make the pearls. Other Tools used: fondant mat, Crisco, rolling pins, fondant smoother, scalpel, gloves. As soon as I figure out how to set up a camera I’ll start doing videos.

8. Take a bunch of pics. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to remember that it’s just a cake that’s going to be eaten and even though we’d all like them to be perfect and flawless, it’s still just a cake that’s going to be eaten. It’s a very special labor of love.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my first lipstick cake.

Cheers!

Brandi

The Monster Book 📖 Cake

I have to tell you- I freaking loved this cake! I loved everything about this order.

My cake friend Marissa, another super talented caker in Pittsburgh, sent this man and his cake order my way. We have this lazy Pgh Caker Club (and I say lazy affectionately). We’re all too busy with our lives to actually meet in person other than twice, but when we did meet we all clicked and it was great fun and we all had so much in common being creative people and working with cake and art. If you’re in Pittsburgh and want to join our club hit me up and I’ll point you in the direction of our Facebook group.

NOW Back to the cake!

Check this baby aht!

(Aht is Pittsburghese for out)

Harry Potter Sheet Cake

What?!! Is that crazy or what?!

I made that!

The client sent me a couple pictures of things he liked for his wife’s 30th birthday cake.

Obviously, she LOVES Harry Potter –And even more importantly, he loves her.

I have to be completely and utterly honest with you right now. I’ve never seen or read the Harry Potter series 😬😬

There’s a monster book- it has eyes and teeth and a tongue and tentacles and FUR. There’s a sorting hat. A wand. A scarf. Hogwarts express and a gold flying dragon- coming out of a book.

The making of the cake:

I took a full white almond sheet cake and cut it into 4ths. The bottom layer was a 1/4 sheet double and the top layer a 1/4 sheet single. The double was filed with raspberry filling, and then they were both iced in Swiss meringue buttercream and covered with ivory fondant.

I added texture to sides to look like an open book and stacked with bubble tea straws.

Here’s a video of the making of the sorting hat! (You’ll be redirected to my YouTube- totally worth it to see my ultra beginner video editing)

Sorting Hat

My phone ran out of storage so I couldn’t take any more pics and videos during the process. Otherwise I’d have a full tutorial for you.

The train was also a cupcake on the inside.

I made all the small details out of Satin Ice fondant. The fur is chocolate buttercream with a large grass tip.

Everything came together at the very end. That’s always exciting stuff!

Thanks for checking out my latest cake and blog post! Hope you like it!

Xoxo

Brandi

in Cakesburgh

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SUGAR SHAMROCKS

OH MY GOODNESS

am I excited about these!!!

Here’s a free life hack I learned from my mom. When Christmas stuff goes on clearance, buy it. Either put it away for next year OR separate the red for Valentines Day and green for St Patrick’s Day. You’re welcome. 😉

🎅🏻🎄 = ❤️+🍀

Speaking of Christmas clearance: one day I came home from the bakery and found a box of mini colored candy canes on the kitchen counter. Um…. thanks?

I figured I’d leave them there for a couple weeks and then sneakily throw them out.

UNTIL I came across this Macaroni Kid article:

https://robinson.macaronikid.com/articles/5a6dfad1c0fa8266762308e9/diy-valentine-suckers

Brilliant!

I thought: this is exactly what I’ll do with them!

BUT then I was so busy with everything else that week that I didn’t get to it .

So i figured again I’d throw them away – except I didn’t.

And every time I cleaned the counters I had to move them.

I still thought maybe I’d try it out before I pitch them and then if it worked I’d make the time to make them next year.

Cause when you’re short on time there’s no room for experimenting and playing around with hot sugar – like that’s when accidents happen.

And then the genius lightening bolt hit!

(I may accredit it to meditating)

We dumped out the bucket and Spencer helped me unwrap some candy canes.

Shamrock candy cane

If you don’t know me (yet) :

I LOVE everything

St. Patrick’s Day

My house is decorated with 🍀clovers & shamrocks ☘️ & Irish sayings – year round.

Both of my parents had Irish, my husbands moms side has Irish, my nephew is an Irish dancer, I have a shamrock tattoo, we have tons of Irish friends, we had a great big Irish wedding.

😂 You get the idea 💡 –

We’re obsessed.

and Soon they were Ready for the oven!

They get sticky so make sure you use parchment paper (parchment paper is NOT the same as wax paper)

300 degrees for 3 minutes.

Set the timer for 3 minutes.

Sugar shamrocks

You have to pinch the ends together and reshape it a bit. It’s hot when it comes out, but not too hot. Gloves would probably help, but if you’re in the kitchen a lot you can handle the heat.

Or not. Please don’t burn yourself. It IS hot sugar.

Then let it cool and VOILA!

Sugar shamrock

I’m thrilled!

It was FUN and I love it!

Spencer’s (my five year old baby) was more of a #nailedit kind of project:

#nailedit

This was mostly my fault for leaving them in too long. Pretty neat to see what happens when you don’t set that timer.

He didn’t mind.

He’s going to eat them anyways.

So I did a cool thing,

took some pics,

blogged about it,

And NOW I can throw the rest away guilt free!

What’s that you ask? What am I going to do with them now? I’d love to say I’m going to put them on a cake, that’s the master plan. BUT in reality Im busy this week and probably going to just let the kids eat them.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever made something like this or using this technique?!!

Thanks for stopping by!

You

Are

Awesome!

Xoxo xoxo

☘️ Shamrock Kisses,

Brandi

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Construction Party 🚧

Fletcher’s Fifth Birthday Party 🎈

Happy 5th Birthday Fletcher !

Construction Party

My family LOVES to party.

And the parties are always planned around FOOD.

This is basically the whole reason I started making cakes.

Digger cake

 

Fletcher (my oldest baby) was super into everything construction and fireman related.

 

(We had the fire truck party for his 3rd birthday)

 

Very much a boy boy boy, no matter how full of stuffed animals his bed is.

 

He would play with his trucks for hours.

 

He turned five in August and started kindergarten a few weeks later.

 

I wasn’t sad though. He was super ready and I was happy and excited for him.

 

But maybe throwing him this big party took my mind off of it a little bit.

 

We had a great big party at the YMCA where Fletcher went to Preschool, with a bunch of his little friends.

 

And it’s so cute seeing them all grow up and become their own little people through Facebook.

 

 

I was just starting out with my home licensed cake business,

Event Cakes Pgh.

 

So I kind of had a lot to prove,

 

and also wanted to show off a little.

 

I used a tutorial that I found on Yeners Way

(It’s also possible that I found the tutorial and planned the party around the cake because i wanted to make it. )

I had a monthly subscription to Yeners Way and I learned as much as I could as fast as I could. << that’s an affiliate link if you want to check out the tutorials on the site. 

So when I’m asked if I’m self taught – the answer isn’t easy.

I submerged myself in tutorials and videos and tried out techniques constantly, and still am.

I’m also super creative and crafty though (you should see my collection of scrapbooking supplies) and a lot of things I just figure it out and wing it.

(I’m not sure I’ve made cake pops since this set. Cake pops are kind of a pain to make. Totally worth it when they’re this cute- but I gotta be honest, they should cost $10.00 each for all of the time that goes into them. )

 

 

I’m just saying –

We know how to throw a great party!

>>>Shout out to my mom and sister! <<<

….

An AMAZING cake

takes an AWESOME party

TO THE NEXT LEVEL!

…..

 

Thanks for stopping by!

You’re awesome!

 

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? Cause I’ll drop a line in your inbox when I put out another blog post.

 

Xoxoxo

Brandi