Cake Utopia

All Occasion and Custom Cakes in Kalamazoo Michigan by Nicole Kalmbach

Reid’s 1st Birthday Cake! June 22, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 9:17 pm

My, oh my, was this cake ever a challenge!  Honestly, I expected it to be easy, as it really was a simple design.  However, when nothing goes according to plan, the simplest plan becomes so difficult!

The challenges started right from the very beginning.  As I was mixing up the batter, I dropped the ramekin that was holding the eggs into the batter, while the mixer was on.  I was using my turbo powered mixer, so you can imagine the scene in my kitchen with eggs, butter, and sugar flung about.  It was  on the walls, cabinets, floor, kitchen rug, and me!  Fortunately, the ramekin remained in tact, so I didn’t have to start all over again, I just altered the recipe to accommodate the remains!

After the cake was mostly done, I took it out of the fridge to do a few touch ups.  Much to my dismay, as the room temperature air hit the ganache (top layer) and the fondant, the fondant circles began to slide down the ganache.  I had to take the circles off and replace them with much thinner rolled out fondant.  Oh yes, not to mention that our A/C went out Friday night and was barely working, at best, by Saturday afternoon.

At the last-minute, and I mean literally 10 minutes before I needed to walk out the door, I realized that I forgot to put the writing on the cake board.  I just really could not seem to get it together for this one!  As much as I had trouble, though, I do think that my customer was happy with the result… which, of course, is my #1 goal.

The cake consists of a 10″ and 6″ layer.  Both layers are marble cake with Oreo cream filling.  The bottom layer is frosted with blue-tinted swiss merengue buttercream, while the 2nd tier is covered with ganache.  All of the adornments are made of fondant, except the food-safe wires coming out of the top.  The smash cake is also marble with buttercream frosting.  Just click on the picture below to see additional detailed photos.

Megan also ordered a dozen mini bundt cakes.  Here are they are waiting to be closed up and delivered to their new home.

And, finally, to top everything off, we had Steve’s family over for Father’s Day dinner on Sunday!  We had a great time catching up and visiting with everyone.  It was especially nice to see Aunt Kathy, who is in town from Georgia!  Pictured below is our desert of mini lemon bundt cakes with fresh Michigan strawberries, topped with fresh whipped cream.

This strawberry delight is in a Lismore Waterford crystal bowl that was given to us as an early 5 year anniversary gift from Steve’s grand parents.  It is really beautiful and I am excited to add this to our collection that we started when we got married.  It is wonderful to have a Grandma with such fine taste.  We thank you and will cherish it!

On deck:  Jungle sports baby shower cake from today and a sweet 16 3-tiered zebra cake for next week!!


Pirates of the Caribbean Lego Cake June 20, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 9:12 pm

This cake is surely one of my favorites!  The title of this blog is exactly the request that I was given.  The customer pretty much said do whatever you want to get there.  My inspiration from this primarily came out of using up the leftover gray fondant that I had made for the crawfish boil cake.  It just so happened that the fondant that I had already tinted gray perfectly matched the Lego gray.  From there, the design just came to me!

The cake is an 8″ chocolate cake with ganache raspberry filling and is frosted with swiss merengue ganache buttercream.  Each of the gray “stones” that you see were hand cut to varying sizes.  My pasta roller came in VERY handy, once again.  To ensure that my lines remained straight, I started from the bottom and worked my way up to the top.  Surprisingly, I was only about 1/8″ off when I finally made it to the top.  It was easy enough to hide such a small difference.  The top border is just fondant that I cut to meet the width and height of a real Lego.  I used the #10 tip to cut out all 100+ tiny rounds for the Lego tops.  Each one had to be individually attached, too.  Let’s just say that I significantly underestimated how long this cake would take!  It was well worth the effort, though.

The top turret is made out of rice krispie treats (RKT).  I made the RKT turret as follows:  1.  I first lined an empty fondant container with saran wrap.  2.  While the RKT was still warm, I packed it into the container.  3.   I then placed it into the freezer to set.  4.  About an hour later, I tapped the fondant container, pulled on the saran wrap, and out popped the turret!  I frosted the RKT and covered it with the bricks and Legos in the same way as the bottom level.

As much as I would have loved to sculpt the Lego guys, I had to concede and go with the store-bought version.  My customer actually bought a Pirates of the Caribbean Lego set for the birthday boy, so she gave me the characters out of that set.  It worked perfectly and was a real time saver!

If you would like to see more details, just click on the picture above.

Up next:  A one year old birthday cake from last Saturday.


Mini Bundt Cakes June 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cake Utopia @ 4:16 pm

I’ve been experimenting this past week with mini bundt cakes.   They are super cute and just right for a single serving.  I really like the rustic look of them, so I usually just use some sort of light drizzle on top, rather than giving them a thick coat of frosting.  Just a few of the flavors are featured below, and they can be yours, in any flavor, for the bargain price of 6 for $12 or 12 for $20.  They are a perfect desert for Father’s Day (which is next Sunday), too!  Order yours today!


Chocolate with Cream Cheese Drizzle

Lemon with Lemon Powder Sugar Drizzle



Chicago Bears Football Themed Birthday Cakes

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 9:59 am

Are you ready for some football???

KJ, my cousins kid or my second cousin, turned 8 last Thursday.  For his pool party, he requested two football themed cakes:  one for a party with kids from school and soccer and one for family friends and relatives.

The football shaped cake below was baked in a football shaped pan.  It is chocolate cake that is filled and frosted with swiss merengue buttercream and covered in chocolate fondant.  To give the football texture, I imprinted it using a plastic needlework sheet after rolling out the fondant.  The football laces as well as the number 8’s are made of vanilla fondant.  The green grass is tinted cream cheese frosting.  I thought that there would be tons of this cake leftover.  Obviously, I underestimated the cake eating power of a bunch of 8 year old boys!  They tore the cake up and a lot of them even came back for seconds.  I am amazed at the contrast between the dainty pieces of cake that adults typically eat and the huge quantities that kids can eat.  Obviously kids know the secret to appreciating a cake baker:  The more of the cake that disappears, the better it is!!  I’ll bake cake for kids parties any day!

KJ, being the lucky boy that he is, actually had 2 parties in the same day.  The cake below is an 8″ lemon cake with lemon curd filling and lemon swiss merengue buttercream frosting.  The football decorations are made of chocolate fondant while the other decor is vanilla fondant.  The Bears logo is on top of the cake.  I made the logo as follows:  I first cut out a 6″ circle of blue colored fondant and attached it to the cake.  To add a sparkle element (though the pictures do not give the sparkle proper justice – if anyone has ideas on how to photograph sparkle, I’d love to hear them!), I painted the round with a mixture of sparkle dust and vodka (don’t worry, the vodka evaporates as the round dries).  I then cut out the white and orange C’s and adhered them to the blue.

You can click either picture above and it will take you to a page with more detail pictures.  Every time I decorate a cake, I learn something new.  Friday and Saturday were really quite humid days in Kzoo.  When I put the fondant on the very cold (refrigerated cakes), it would begin to sweat within just a few minutes.  I had to work quickly with smoothing and getting it in just the right place.  This was good and bad, I suppose.  It did make the fondant very shiny without me having to trick it into being shiny with the steamer, but it did not leave much room for error.

Cakes on deck:  Pirate themed Lego cake for Tuesday and Megan’s 1 year old tiered cake w/ remnants of Mickey Mouse for Saturday.  I have an order for mini lemon cakes for Saturday (see next post), and some kind of cake desert for Sunday, too.  With all of this business, it really is utopia at Cake Utopia!


Piano Recital Cake: Tickling the ivories! June 8, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 11:27 pm

One cake down and 4, technically 5 to go before next Sunday.  Apparently, much to my pleasure, June is cake madness month!

The cake below is a 12″ carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  The piano keys are individually cut and made out of fondant.  I must say that I now have a new found love for my Kitchenaid pasta roller.  It made rolling out the sheets and sheets of fondant so much easier!  When the order came in for this cake, I was really excited to work on it as I did play the piano for about 8 of my formative years.  I have always held the piano near and dear to my heart.  I’ll admit that I do believe “making” a piano is just as much fun as playing it!  Click on the picture below for more detailed photos.


Cake for a Dentist May 30, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 9:22 am

I’ve been procrastinating on this post, because the final product, disappointingly, turned out nothing like the initial vision.  The vision was to make a cake that looked like a giant molar.  I made a base out of rice krispie treats, attached 4 dowels to the base, and covered the dowels with rice krispie treats to look like roots.  I let the rice krispie treats harden in the freezer for maybe 30 minutes.  I then flipped the whole thing over to stand up on the 4 roots.  The structure appeared to be standing and even continued to stand for a while after I put the 8 inch cake on top.  Unfortunately, as I was playing with it, I noticed that it kept leaning.  As I would fix one lean, it would lean another way.  Being the perfectionist that I am, I just could not take the possibility that the cake might fall over, so I scrapped the whole thing.  Next time I will use thicker dowels and allow more time for better construction!

Fortunately, I had a back up plan, as you see above.  I just took the cake off the top of the base and decorated that.  This is a vanilla bean 8″ cake filled with lemon curd and frosted with swiss merengue buttercream.  The decorations are made of fondant.  You can click on the picture to see a few more detailed shots.

I should also mention that, as all of the local stores were out of premade fondant, I attempted to make homemade fondant, for the first time, to cover the giant molar.  It wasn’t really too difficult to make the fondant, but I think I will stick with the premade stuff.  The homemade fondant tends to be more lumpy and takes a TON of kneading to get really smooth.  My hands just aren’t all that powerful when it comes to this kind of thing, so I will try to plan more in the future and let Satin Ice do the work from now on!

I made this cake to congratulate our good friends Ben and Natalie on purchasing their very own dental practice.  Here is the happy couple at their new practice.

Dr. Natalie Nechvatal is a great dentist and I highly recommend her to anyone who may read this and be living in the surrounding Toledo area!

Last weekend I made strawberry rhubarb pie in lieu of cake, so I thought I would post a picture of that, too.  It was super yummy!  Many thanks to Steve’s parents for the rhubarb fresh from their garden.

Up Next:  I have orders for a piano themed cake for the second week in June, a football themed cake that following weekend, and a 1st birthday for Father’s Day weekend.


Crawfish Boil Cake 2011 May 18, 2011

Filed under: What's new? — Cake Utopia @ 9:53 pm

The annual crawfish boil held by some good friends in Kzoo was last weekend.  Now, last year at this time, I was still really getting into the whole cake decorating scene.  I brought a red velvet cake with some star filled and some cut out crawfish.  This year, I think you might agree, that I have arrived on the cake scene!! Click on the picture below for LOTS of more pics.  There were too many to choose from!

The cake is actually 3 10″ chocolate layers which were torted to make 6 layers total.  I divided the layers into 2 cakes with three layers each and filled each layer with swiss merengue buttercream.  I used about 10 dowels in the bottom layer for support and placed a cardboard round between the cakes to make serving easier.  I read somewhere that the frosting on top of the bottom cake should be hard before stacking the second cake, so that the cakes wouldn’t stick together.  This was a great tip and made serving the cake seamless!

After stacking the cakes on top of each other, I proceeded to cover the whole thing in a crumb coat and then a healthy layer of buttercream.  I let the cake sit in the fridge overnight so that it was nice and hard when I went to put the fondant on.  Getting the fondant onto the cake was definitely a challenge.  Steve helped me transfer the fondant and it took three tries!  First, I attempted to roll up the fondant on the rolling pin.  The fondant stuck to the counter top and began to tear in multiple spots.  The great thing about fondant is that when something like this happens, you can just knead it back together until it is smooth and start over.  For the second attempt I rolled the fondant out onto a mat.  Steve and I flipped the fondant onto the cake, but the only part that stuck to the cake was the top.  Attempt #3 was the charm.  We flipped the fondant onto the cake and I separated it very slowly from the mat, making sure it was securely attached to the cake.  Once I peeled all of the fondant from the cake, I had to smooth the sides, which is seems like it would be much easier then it actually is!

Once all of the fondant was smooth, I painted the cake with a mixture of silver pearl dust and vodka.  Three coats made the dull grey fondant nice and shiny.  The flames were free hand cut from multi colored fondant.  I stressed for some time about how to get the water effect on top of the pot.  Finally, I decided to use piping gel.  Of course, when I decided this is what I wanted to do, piping gel was nowhere to be found!  I found a recipe online that used knox gelatin, water, and corn syrup.  I was actually really happy with the resulting look.

Finally, the stars of the show needed to be created:  the crawfish!  I ended up using a cookie cutter to cut out the crawfish from red fondant.  I embellished them with red pearl dust, detail lines, and eyes.

WOO!  This one was by far the most challenging cake I have done yet.  I learned a lot though, and the cake was a real star at the party!  For comparative purposes, the cake below is what I brought to last year’s party.

Next on deck:  Surprise cake for next week, piano recital cake football themed birthday in 3 weeks, and 1st birthday in a month!  Oh yea, and I am throwing a rhubarb pie in there this weekend!