Recent Posts

Something new: Kiddie summer decorating classes

Something new: Kiddie summer decorating classes

Ever since I had a cookie decorating activity for kids/toddlers in October 2014, I’ve always wanted to teach kids how to decorate cookies and cupcakes. Since I have no children of my own, helping unlock a child’s creativity and potential is a happy experience for me. I also think […]

Mixing IMBC

Mixing IMBC

When I first started cake decorating, all I ever used for frosting was American buttercream. I used Wilton’s recipe and added a bit more of my own modifications in order to come up with a stable mix that would withstand the intense heat in the […]

Mothers’ Day Mini Cake Tutorial

Mothers’ Day Mini Cake Tutorial

It’s Mothers’ Day in the Philippines this coming Sunday, May 8, and I am pretty sure that we are all now trying to think of gifts to show our appreciation to our dear mothers. What better way to say “I love you” than with cake?

mothers day buttercream floral cake
Buttercream floral cake for Mothers Day 2015

 

Mothers’ Day is one of the busiest days for any baker/cake decorator. If you’re still looking for Mothers Day gift ideas, I have some for you! You may check out my previous post about cake designs for mothers. Or you can check out my mini cake tutorial below:

 

 

Please take note that I used royal icing flowers in this tutorial. Why? Because using royal icing to pipe flowers will allow me to prepare ahead of time. Besides, it’s extremely hot these days, and I don’t want to risk my cakes. I use a pretty stable Italian meringue and American buttercream, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

 

royal icing flowers
Royal icing flowers just look like buttercream flowers. If I didn’t tell you that these are made of royal icing, I bet you wouldn’t notice.

 

So how did I make these royal icing flowers? I simply piped them as I would pipe buttercream flowers. I used Wilton’s recipe for the royal icing, but I added a bit more water, just enough to make sure that the royal icing isn’t too hard but it’s not runny either. In other words, the royal icing has been thinned down a bit, but it can still hold its shape.

You don’t know how to pipe buttercream flowers? Do not fret! Go to my favorite cake blogs, Cake Style, and check out their Youtube tutorials on making buttercream floral cakes!

If you want more buttercream floral cake ideas, check out my post on my first few cakes with buttercream flowers for Mothers Day 2015. Enjoy!

Mothers Day Mini Cakes for 2016
My other mini cake designs for Mothers Day 2016 inspired by the Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes’ latest book, One Tier Buttercream Wonders (check out the Amazon link on the left side of the page)
Learn from one of my favorite cake blogs!

Learn from one of my favorite cake blogs!

I’ve stumbled upon a fabulous site for buttercream cakes specializing in wedding cakes. It’s called Cake Style TV – check it out! These guys are huge Cake Artists in Australia and are now taking their fabulous classes to the world online! I got totally hooked after watching their first […]

My buttercream journey: the beginning

My buttercream journey: the beginning

(*I originally posted this in my Cakesdecor.com blog, but then I realized that I haven’t written about this here. So I am reposting it, but with a few revisions and additions.) When I first started making cakes, I avoided buttercream piped cakes. All I could […]

My cake pop journey: lessons in making cake pops

My cake pop journey: lessons in making cake pops

I’ve always wanted to make cake pops. Aside from being cute, making cake pops is the best way to utilize cake scraps and leftover cakes. However, I’ve been baking and decorating cakes for 4 years now, but I’ve just started out making cake pops. Why? Because it took me this long to finally succeed in the process of making it.

When I first tried cake pops about three years ago, I had extreme difficulty in melting the chocolate. I’ve wasted several bars of chocolates already, but I still wasn’t successful. When I finally figured out what I was doing wrong and I finally got to melt the chocolates, I found that the chocolate cracked after I dipped the cake ball into it. Then sometimes, the chocolate would harden too fast, and sometimes the chocolate would just drip, drip, and drip off the stick! After about several pathetic tries, I gave up on cake pops. No, I didn’t want anything to do with it. They aren’t just my thing.

cake pops sprinkles
One of my first attempts at making cake pops. I had to cover it with lots of sprinkles to hide the cracks.

So I moved on with my baking and cake decorating life without ever attempting to make cake pops ever again. When a client would ask for them, I would always refer them to other cake artists in our city. I always told people that “I’m sorry, but I don’t make cake pops. I haven’t mastered them yet.”

However, that excuse has gotten old over time. I no longer want to say it to the growing amount of clients that I had to turn down. I didn’t like the feeling of just giving up on it. It made me feel like loser, and I hated it. Deep inside my heart, I knew that I just had to keep on trying to make those damn cake pops. Plus all those cute cake pop designs that I see on Instagram just made my hands itch.

So, I started to read up on the subject so that I could figure out what I did wrong those first few times. I began some experiments to test my theories on what went wrong and what I should have done. Then I started accepting orders to try my hand at making customized designs. If you are on a cake pop discovery journey, I’d like to share some of the lessons that I have learned.

basketball birthday party
Basketball themed cake, cupcakes, and cookies together with basketball cake pops

Finding the right type of chocolate to use

When I first started, I bought those locally made chocolate bars (at around 100 pesos per block way back in 2012) that had no brand stamped on their packaging. They came in different colors, which attracted me and prompted me to buy lots of them. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at that time that they were really hard, and therefore difficult to melt. I can no longer remember who told me this, but somebody explained to me that these “chocolates” were mostly composed of sugar and had little “real chocolate” content (that is, cocoa butter), which made them harder to melt. So I searched the internet for more appropriate types of chocolate to use. I found that candy melts or candy wafers were specifically made for cake pops, but they weren’t readily available in my area. I found that chocolate compound is easier to melt and more affordable than real chocolate, and it is readily available at our local baking store. So I experimented with Beryl’s compound chocolate, and I realized that it is my new baking best friend.

(For more information on chocolates, go to http://www.chocoley.com/resources/categories-of-chocolate).

Melting the chocolate properly

The number one thing that you should remember when you melt chocolate is this: there should be no moisture in the chocolate! The bowl that will hold your chocolate should be really dry. Also, don’t store your chocolate inside the fridge as it will “sweat” once you take it out. You can use a microwave oven or a double boiler when melting chocolates. If you use a double boiler, make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water inside the pan. If you use a microwave oven, heat the chocolate at short intervals and stir in between. In using either methods, you can’t let the chocolate get too hot because it might split up or seize. When this happens, you can no longer use the chocolate to cover your cake pops.

Here are two instructional articles that you might want to check out before you get started:

*http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-melt-chocolate

*http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/cooking/tips/g2063/how-to-melt-chocolate/

 

 

cakepops
First set of cake pops I made since I failed years ago; November 2015

Colored chocolate

There are many options available in order to have colored coating for your cake pops. First is to use colored candy melts. However, they are not readily available in the country. Another solution would be to use colored chocolate bars. In the past, I’ve tried a local brand (as I’ve mentioned above), but I didn’t have much success with melting it. Luckily these days, colored and flavored Elmer’s chocolate bars are available in the Philippines. I’ve already tried using Elmer’s chocolate, and so far I haven’t encountered any problems.

Another way to color chocolate is to use oil-based candy colors. I believe that the brands of candy color that are easy to find in the Philippines are Chefmaster and Wilton. Be aware that you cannot directly use the gel colors that you use for your fondant or sugarpaste since water-based colors will destroy your chocolate (remember, there shouldn’t be any moisture in your chocolate). You have to use Americolor Flo-coat, a substance that will turn water to oil and make it suitable for coloring with Americolor gel paste.

You may also want to use powdered food coloring or petal dust/luster dust to color chocolate.

Here are more tips on how to color chocolate: http://www.chocoley.com/resources/how-to-color-chocolate

Avoiding cracks in your cake pops

Cracking is one of the most common problems when making cake pops. So why do some of your cake pops develop cracks? I’ve been wondering too, so I did some research. According to what I’ve read, temperature is key. The cake can’t be too cold when you dip it in your chocolate. If the cake is too cold, it will help the chocolate harden faster; however, as the cake stays out of the refrigerator longer, it becomes warmer. As the cake becomes warmer, it slowly expands inside the hardened chocolate shell, which causes the crack. For a more comprehensive explanation, be sure to read this blog post by Honeycomb Events & Designs.

minecraft cakepops
Minecraft cake pops: Steve, TNT, Pig. I had to cheat on Steve by sticking on a fondant face to the cake pop.

Alternative to covering cake pops with chocolate

Chocolate is tricky to work with, and so I looked for other ways to make not-so-complicated cake pops. I’ve seen buttercream used to make flower cake pops, and I thought to myself, “Yeah why not?” Anyway, my buttercream is pretty stable.

buttercream ruffles
Buttercream ruffle cake pops that match the cake

I decided to place the cupcakes upside down so as to prevent any disaster just in case my buttercream would melt. I brought these cake pops to my friend’s daughter’s birthday party held in an outdoor pool. My cake pops survived! Not a single one melted. Maybe next time, I’ll try it on cake pops that are standing up.

For this Valentines Day, I’m going to try to make floral cake pops using modeling chocolate. I’m also going to see if I can possibly use royal icing for it. I wonder how it would taste like. I’ll surely post an update once I get to do it.

I am still a novice when it comes to cake pops. I still have a lot of experiment and research to do. Do you have any suggestions or questions? Let me know!

 

 

My first cake exhibit/bridal fair exhibit

My first cake exhibit/bridal fair exhibit

I’ve always wanted to be able to make display cakes. Unfortunately for me, my store is too small to accommodate a display window or even a small display case to hold cakes in their actual sizes as samples for potential customers. All I have to […]

No cookie cutter? No problem!

No cookie cutter? No problem!

Baking customized cakes, cupcakes, and cookies has turned me into an improvisation queen. There are simply tools and ingredients that are not readily available in my location or I don’t have the funds available to purchase them, which forces me to think of some other […]

My caking problem: Underestimating a cake design

My caking problem: Underestimating a cake design

I am not sure if it is just me, but one of the things I always mess up with is underestimating a cake design. This usually happens when I really like a specific theme or design, and somebody asks me to make it for the first time. Since I am overwhelmed by my eagerness to make the cake and because I have imagined making this cake for a very long time, I think that pulling it off would be “a piece of cake.” But I am dead wrong. Every. Single. Time.

Case in point: this 3D hot air balloon cake that I made for a first birthday yesterday.

hot air balloon cake
Rainbow colored hot air balloon cake with cloud cupcakes

I’ve already talked about my love for hot air balloons and how I want to make a hot air balloon cake. Well, I got my wish when I received this order. I was ecstatic and excited. Finally, I thought, I would get to make one of the cake designs on my wish list! This would be a lot of fun! What could go wrong? After all, only the basket of the hot air balloon would be cake; the balloon itself could be made from a styrofoam ball but I’ll cover it in fondant. That should be easy. I’d request for the lines on the styro balloon to be carved so that I wouldn’t have to measure the size of each panel/portion. I’d cover the cake in buttercream frosting and pipe basketweave all over it. Easy peasy! “This is a going to be a simple but beautiful cake,” I thought. I was WRONG.

Let’s start with the cake basket since it was the first thing that I did. Just before I started on this project, I saw a video by Malaysian food blogger Azlita Aziz where she was piping a basketweave pattern on her cake. (I saw the video on Facebook, but I can no longer find it. Please click the previous link to find her blog. Her blog is not written in English, but the pictures and videos are awesome; you’ll definitely learn from them.) Perfect! It was exactly what I needed! So here’s me piping the basketweave pattern on the cake.

basketweave pattern
I just started, so this looks perfect! (Please don’t mind the styro base. I’ll cover that with ribbon later.)

 

 

basketweave buttercream pattern
I used this scraper to draw lines on the cake as a guide.

The cake is 7 inches round by 5 inches thick, moist chocolate, covered with chocolate American buttercream frosting. The icing I used for the basketweave pattern is reddish brown in color (I just added a few drops of red to my chocolate buttercream), and I used a round tip (it was made in China, so it didn’t have a proper measurement, but it is probably equivalent to a Wilton 2 or 3). I used a scraper to draw lines on the side of the cake as a guide, and I mounted the cake on a tilting turntable to make things easier for me. When I first started, my lines were still perfect, and fresh hands applied a steady pressure on the icing bag. Eventually, gravity took a toll on my right arm, and my lines began to get fatter and more wobbly! And I wasn’t even halfway around the cake! Azlita Aziz’s video made it look so easy. I wasn’t expecting it to be this difficult!

I made a few boo-boos here and there when my hand wanted to give up, but I didn’t stress a lot about them. The pattern is too intricate for those mistakes to be noticeable. The party guests are not going to inspect every inch of the cake! Chill!

After I finished the basket, I placed it in the cake chiller then I moved on to the styrofoam balloon.

hot air balloon cake
Styrofoam balloon in all its naked glory.

I asked a friend to make this for me. I started working on covering this at 3 pm on Sunday afternoon. I thought that what I would be doing is simple: prepare small fondant portions in seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and brown) then cover each panel or portion. As the hours passed by, I slowly realized that covering it is not an easy feat. It was difficult not to touch the other parts as I pushed down and smoothed the fondant. Plus, there were a lot of seams I had to cover up. I used my Walnut Hollow extruder to do the job. I worked non-stop on this part until around 9:30 pm. I made the half-body baby figurine within 30 minutes. My arms, shoulders, and legs (I stand up while working) were all sore when I called it a night.

The following morning, while I frosted the cupcakes and prepared the final touches for the cake, I had to ask my husband to make the structure to hold up the balloon. Being married to a civil engineer has its perks (I am a civil engineer by profession too, but I never practiced. I suck at things like this.) It took him about an hour and a half to complete the support for the balloon. Then off we went to delivery. We assembled the cake on site.

hot air balloon cake
Hot air balloon cake and cloud cupcakes. Pardon the photo quality. I only used my mobile phone.

The most difficult part of this cake was the balloon and the structure. I wasn’t expecting to spend more than six hours on covering the balloon and another hour and a half to fabricate the supports. While I was planning for this cake, I actually thought I would only need four  hours, tops, for both processes to be completed! Well, you’ll never really know until you try. Now I know what to expect when I get another order for a hot air balloon cake.

Sugar cookie troubles

Sugar cookie troubles

The past two weeks have been very busy for me. I was on a sugar cookie marathon. As a matter of fact, I’ll be on a sugar cookie marathon for the entire month of August. As of this writing, I have already made decorated 353 […]