Friday, August 27, 2010

Baby Belly!

Ok, I first saw this cake on I thought it was such a cute idea! But the baker of that cake said she used the Wilton ball pan for the belly and the mini dome (doll dress) pans for the boobs. I considered buying the pans. Ok, really, I went to a couple of stores looking for them. Not Hobby Lobby which I know would have it or the cake store which, being a cake store, would likely have them. I went to Joanns and Walmart. They didn't have them. I took that as a sign I should spend the pan money on a new mixer instead!

So, I decided to wing it. I'm a fairly resourceful person by nature, so I figured I could do this. Somehow. I have a bundt pan which I used for the belly and I picked up a couple of ceramic souffle cups for the boobies. I have never baked anything in ceramic before. So I thought I could just overfill the cups and they would mound up like boobs. Wrong. What I got was a baked mess and a pile of burnt cake batter on the bottom of the stove. Thankfully, for once in my life I thought ahead and had a pan underneath!

After making the main bundt and two completely flat souffle cakes, I wrapped them tightly and stored them. Ihad a few days to finish and I wanted to plan how to make this happen. I originally thought I could just ice or fondant over the bundt hole and make it a belly. But I had visions of a perfect cake developing a hole as I drove it to the party. Ok, more like nightmares!

So, what I came up with was to put foil over the small end of the bundt "hole" and fill it with batter, baking a core cake.

This worked much better than I had imagined. I also found little pot pie pans that are made to be disposable for about $1 which were perfect toppers to the souffle cakes.

I was so amazed how well it worked together when I did the first buttercream layer to set it all up.

Next I rolled out fondant and covered the whole thing in a dress. The mommy-to-be loves pink so I wanted to make it pink. In retrospect, I think that was a bad idea because it basically looks like skin and when you have flesh-colored boobs on your cake, it's taking a turn towards bachelor party. But luckily, I was not bothered by the jokes that came with. Actually, it was part of the fun ("Did you get some boob? Oh, and did you have any cake?")

In the end, it turned out so well I was so impressed with myself! At first, everyone thought I bought it. I think that's the best compliment I could ask for at this point!

Cupcake Madness!

So, since I'm getting (a little) better at decorating cakes, I thought I'd shift my focus to the cake flavors. I decided to try out a few different recipes and choose my favorite. I'm actually still not sure which is the best. But in the process, I made a million cupcakes this week. Both of our coworkers were pretty happy about that since we each brought in trays of cupcakes. I can't have things like that around the house!

I also found a very cute idea from a message board on about sushi cupcakes. The poster had actually bought bento boxes and that green "grass" plastic that comes in sushi so hers looked very real. I made a more candy version for my sister-in-law who just came home from a year in Japan.

I used a green tea cake recipe which was a hit all around (I also took that to work) and I iced it with a maple ginger icing. The icing tasted great but was a recipe that was a complete fail. It is supposed to start with warm milk & flour and make a paste. Mine made more like clay with flour chunks. so I just kept adding things to make it better. It still had some chunks, but no one (except me!) seemed to notice.

I had another failed icing recipe for peanut butter frosting from This is one of my favorite sites to go to for recipes. Usually. Sometimes you get a dud. Well, it was pretty basic, with peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar and a little milk. But mine basically turned into a peanut butter crumble. So, once again, I just kept adding things. Mostly more sugar. Then I decided to add 3 egg whites that were beat stiff. That was perfect!! This is my new go-to peanut butter frosting recipe which is made up and everyone LOVED it! Especially when I topped the double chocolate cupcakes with it!

So, this is round one of cupcake craziness as I search for a perfect cake & frosting recipe. I expect I'll have to do this again soon as I read more. In the meantime I have a couple of occasion cakes to make...

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My girlfriend at work asked me to do her little boy's 7th birthday cake. He is apparently obsessed with Mario. I was so excited to do this cake! I decided to not even try to make Mario himself since I really didn't want to mess it up. Besides, wouldn't it be more fun to get toys too? So I ordered some figures off eBay (yes, I am an eBay addict....) and got to work designing the background. I found some great ideas online, but in the end just decided to stick with the game background for the cake.

Gabriel wanted a white cake with vanilla frosting. A little plain for me, but what the birthday boy wants, the birthday boy gets! So I made a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I did the filling layer and the crumb coat in white icing and dyed the top coat a sky blue. I then used marshmallow fondant to create the scene.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good picture of the cake with the figures on it because I didn't want to ruin it just so I could post about it. But I have a little picture from mom's camera phone she sent me. Gabriel loved his cake and I really did have so much fun making it. I can still hear the music from Super Mario Bros.......

Alex's Airplane Cake

The first occasion cake I've made is for my girlfriend's little boy. He is also 3. I asked her if I could do it because I thought it would make great practice. Boy, was I right! I made a delish chocolate cake with a dense chocolate layer and whipped cream icing on the outside. The whipped cream icing posed a challenge as it began to crack when drying out on top of the chocolate icing. I'm not really sure why. I haven't made another cake with the whipped cream icing since, but I definitely will because it's pretty tasty!

The fondant airplanes worked great, for the most part. I was so used to working fondant on fondant, I got the pieces moist when I applied them. I didn't consider that the icing itself is very moist. What happened was the pieces began to "bleed" and color was running down from the planes on the sides. Like I said, live and learn.

Combine that with the whoops that happened during the drive, and we had a not-as-cute-as-I-wanted cake! But the birthday boy (and his mom) seemed to think it was great. So thank goodness for friends! LOL!

Past & Present

So here are some cakes from the beginning, and some more recent examples of what I can do. The decorating of cakes is so fun to me. That's why I'm doing this. Being a part-time student, full time lab tech and overtime mommy, I don't have many things I get to do just for my own entertainment. Not that I regret my life - quite contrary, I love it! - but sometimes mommy needs a little break from Yo Gabba Gabba!

Anyway, I love bringing my creative side out in such a delicious way and I really really love the reaction I get when I give a cake to someone. It's so nice to spread joy.

And skills develop...

I have been using fondant on fondant, and on icing and everything in between. I have tried drying it out, getting it wet, rolling it, smashing it, you name it. I have spent hours working with it and reading about it to learn how to master this mysterious devil. I have definitely learned a lot along the way.

Biggest, most important lesson - marshmallow fondant is not only easier to work with but much much more tasty than the old fashioned stuff. When I thought about it before, I would invision wedding cakes with .5 inches of fondant covering the delicious cake underneath. Like having brussel sprouts on top of potato chips. Why make the outside so unattractive to the palate? I get that it looks pretty, but I want to eat it too. Doesn't that make more sense???

So, I'm pretty much settled on only marshmallow fondant (with the occasional flavoring added for extra yum!) So now the issue is which cake recipe. I have baked so many cakes in the last few weeks, I could probably give a starving nation diabetes. Seriously. It's getting a little out of hand.

But, living up to my name, I have discovered the basic chemistry of a cake and found that the addition or substution of ingredients makes a huge difference. I also have discovered how to rescue a cake or icing recipe that would otherwise be a failure. And so my education continues....

The Cake Chemist is born!

So a few weeks ago I made a cake for my daughter's birthday. I had never worked with fondant, but had logged many many hours with Chef Duff and Buddy, so I thought I had a good background education. Well, maybe not, but I found many websites that encouraged me to try and I did. Now I'm hooked! Here is the cake that started it - (from our Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 3rd birthday party)

I was impressed for a first time try. Not perfection, but not too shabby if I do say so myself.

Since this masterpiece (ha ha) I have been making cakes at an amazing rate. I learn something each and every time I make one. It has been so much fun! I try to make each cake a little better than the one before and I think I am succeeding.

So, let me explain the name. I am a scientist by day. I am very into chemistry. I was a chemistry major in another life and have always been fascinated with the way simple ingredients can merge to create something completely new and different. Chemistry is all around us, but so much more in the kitchen! Every new tasty treat is a successful reaction.