Cake Utopia

All Occasion and Custom Cakes in Kalamazoo Michigan by Nicole Kalmbach

Babies and Birthdays February 27, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 10:23 am

Wow, what a week!  I must have had some intuition as to what we were in for last Sunday.  I started making the gum paste characters for yesterday’s baby shower cake then.  Good thing, because an ice storm rolled in on Sunday.  We  lost our power around midnight on Sunday, and we didn’t get it back until late Tuesday night.  With the impending shower cake due yesterday (Saturday), I was seriously nervous, especially since initially they weren’t calling for us to get power back until late Thursday night.  As you can see below, everything worked out just fine!

This cake was delivered to Freeland, MI.  Freeland is about 3 hours and several very bumpy roads away from Kalamazoo.  This is my furthest delivery, yet, and I was so excited that it made it in one piece.

The base cake is a 16″ white cake with raspberry filling covered in Almond-Vanilla Swiss Merengue Buttercream.  The topper is the exact same cake, but it is only 6″ and chocolate fondant is hiding the buttercream.  The design for this cake was inspired by the quilt that will be in the babies room.  The animals are handmade of gumpaste and are entirely edible (except for the walrus whiskers).  The circles and argyle squares are made of fondant.  I don’t care for the taste of gum paste or fondant, but if I am making something that is likely to be eaten, I really try to make it out of fondant.  Although not great, fondant does taste much better than gumpaste.  If you click on the picture below, you can see more pictures of the cake, characters, and the inspirational quilt.

This cake was especially special because it was made for a friend of mine that I have known since before I was born.  Congratulations to you, Katie, and Sam!

Yesterday we also celebrated my birthday and Steve’s Dad’s birthday with our free birthday dinner’s at Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth.  I made the cake below for Steve Sr., but, unfortunately, we forgot to bring the cake to Frankenmuth with us.   With all of the commotion last week, I was so excited that the big shower cake got done, that I seemed to forget about all else.  We did enjoy celebrating last night with Steve though and missed Karen (my husbands mom – we hope you feel better soon)!  Happy Birthday to Steve!

Click on this picture for a few more detailed pictures!

In case you are wondering what one sleeps in when they are without electricity and their house is a very balmy 46 degrees, take a look below.  I wore this hoodie (with the hood up), long sleeve t-shirt, pajama pants, and socks.  We did manage to stay warm with the help of our down comforter and dog, though!

Coming up:  Finding Nemo Cake mid-March, graduation cake for April, and a few birthday cakes in between.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! February 15, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 10:05 pm

Yes, I know, I am behind!  But, at least I’m only 1 day late!  This last weekend was just about as busy as I have been and I just didn’t have the chance to get these Valentine’s treat posted yesterday.

The picture on the top is of gingerbread cookies decorated a la Valentine’s day and the second picture is a chocolate lava cake with fresh vanilla bean whipped cream adorned with a fondant heart.  I made the cookies for work and the lava cake was for a Valentine’s Day party that was hosted by some good friends of ours.  Click on either picture above for more pictures.

Occasionally, I like to intertwine non-cake related pictures into my postings.  The flowers below are real.  They were given to me by my fabulous husband Saturday morning.  We have been together for 7 and a half years and we will be married 5 years in July.  While the love is felt in our house every day (not just Valentine’s Day), I’m not going to lie that it feels great to be surprised and appreciated on special occasions!

 

Elmo

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 10:05 pm

A friend of mine placed an order for an Elmo cake for her son’s first birthday.  Happy Birthday Jackson!  When I receive orders for something so broad, it really gives me an opportunity to test my skills and see what I can do.


The cake is white with raspberry filling and swiss merengue buttercream frosting.  The decorations are made of gum paste and fondant.  The small Elmo on the “smash” cake is made of gum paste.  I used a few pictures from some books as well as samples from the internet of what others had done.  Overall, I was pleased with how he turned out.  I do think that his upper body and arms are relatively large.  I call him upper body builder Elmo!

The big Elmo is made of a Rice Krispie treat base and covered in traditional buttercream frosting.  His eyes and nose are made of fondant and his “fur” is piped with the grass tip.  This was my first attempt at modeling with rice Krispie treats.  I used the traditional Rice Krispie recipe from Kellogg’s.  I did some research and most people said to exclude the butter to get a more firm treat, which holds up better for modeling.  I added some butter (but not all that the recipe called for) and found that as the treats cooled, they became very firm.  Rice Krispie treats are an interesting medium because you can truly sculpt with them.  After I had a basic shape for Elmo, I carved out his mouth, added black fondant for the mouth, and let him rest in the fridge overnight.  The next day I covered him in red buttercream.

Making the buttercream red was, in itself, quite an adventure.  Swiss Merengue Buttercream has some quality about it that prevents colors from becoming very vibrant, so I knew that I would not be able to use that for fur.  I decided to go with the traditional buttercream that mainly consists of powdered sugar and butter.  After using 1/2 bottle of super red gel past coloring and another 1/2 bottle of no taste red, the frosting was still a salmon color.  I did some quick research and discovered that adding a tiny bit of black to the red brings down the color.  I also found that after I let the frosting sit for a bit, the color deepened considerably.   One saving grace of this project is that Elmo has quite messy fur, which made piping the fur really quite easy.  I did end up taking off his hands and feet and “gluing” them on with the red frosting one at a time, so that they were more defined.  As you can see in the picture, they aren’t really that defined, so,as you can imagine, they would be virtually unnoticeable if I had not glued them on separately.   The eyes and nose are held in place with 3 toothpicks that I screwed into the Krispie treat.  These are  THE only inedible parts of the entire cake.

Overall, I am happy with the cake.  That being said, there were definitely some things that I would have changed if I had more time.  I did learn a lot and can’t wait to do more projects like this.  Pushing my limits and exploring what I can do are two things that really draw me in to the art of cake decorating!  I also love problem solving.  Inevitably, every time I work on a project, I run into some sort of road block.  I approach these road blocks with the mentality that there is a solution, I just have to figure it out.  As you can see, I haven’t met a road block that I couldn’t take down yet.

Click on the picture above to see some pics!

 

Cupcakes Round 2

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 10:05 pm

Since cupcakes seem to be the “thing” to do lately, I thought I would try my hand at them again.  They are also much less time intensive, and I can use my new cupcake tree for a spectacular display!

Click on either picture above and you will be transported to a land of more cupcake pics.  These cupcakes were made for two different celebrations, both birthdays.

The picture with the red heart is cupcakes that are chocolate with peanut butter filling and ganache topping.  The other picture is of chocolate cupcakes with various frostings.  The brown frosting is peanut butter, the green is swiss merengue vanilla bean, and the white is red velvet cake frosting (I googled the actual name of this frosting, looking for something like buttercream, but every recipe just calls it red velvet cake frosting – so that is what I shall call it too!).  I believe that I have now perfected the chocolate cupcakes.  The real key is to not overcook them.  I have found that 19 minutes at 350 works just perfect for my oven, but, remember, all ovens are different!