Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Shoe How-To

How was your weekend? Ours was great! We had family from Ottawa come and visit for the weekend, and we had a great time! Our oldest son, Tyler, was doing his thing for the Remembrance Day parade downtown this morning. As proud as I am of him, I am always more so when I see him in uniform!

Unfortunately, the weekend is ending too quickly... we're winding down and getting ready to take on the upcoming week, packing lunches and getting school papers together. I have butternut squash in the crockpot for soup to enjoy at dinner. :)

So, let's discuss the latest cake, shall we? This process started a week ago, kind of, but I've been wanting to do this cake for a long time. It was supposed to be a birthday cake in February for one of our Ottawa guests, but plans fell through and we weren't able to get together. But the plan was always in the back of my mind!

So, my first step was getting the pieces cut out. I went here for the pattern. There were basically two sections to the shoe... the heel, and then everything else. Here are some pictures of the process:

The first step, after cutting the fondant pieces of the shoe, was making some kind of support to let the pieces dry in the shape they needed to be in. I bought a piece of foam and my husband cut it into the slope I needed, with the top being flatter so that the heel of the sole would dry flat and stay flush with the actual heel. I placed paper towel over it, to keep foam pieces from sticking on the fondant/gum paste piece. You could also use cling wrap, but I was afraid the bottom wouldn't dry properly.

Next, was taking a ball of fondant/gum paste, about the same size as if you were making a large meatball, and working a log out of one end. This "stem" should be as long as you want the heel to be high... or, the same height as your sole support. It can be tricky to get this right (I still had to shave some of the heel off later to make it fit properly - trial and error). You may need to keep checking it against the height of the sole support and placing the heel part of the sole on the heel portion to test the waters.

When this was done, I pushed a clean lollipop stick right through so it was sticking out of both ends. I inverted it so that the heavy end was on the bottom, and I pushed the stick portion into another piece of foam (covered in paper towel). I left both parts to dry for two days. Then I worked on the cake, which would become the shoe box. I baked a chocolate quarter slab cake, cooled it, and split it horizontally in half, and put a sheet of waxed paper in between the two halves, to keep them separate. Then I froze it.

When I was satisfied that the sole was dried and firm enough, I decided to try attaching the very back onto the shoe. I mixed up some sugar glue (icing sugar and water), and attached the back. I love sugar glue because then I don't have to worry about the pieces falling apart so easily later, and, it doesn't take long to dry. The piece I was attaching was NOT dried... it was still pliable because I stored it in a ziplock bag until I was ready to use it.

When it didn't seem like the pliable piece was going to crash and burn (lol), I felt confident enough to attach the very front.

Doing this for the first time was a little daunting, I couldn't figure out which way was the right way, but it finally made sense to me, and I folded a paper towel to fit in between the sole and the piece I was attaching, for support.

I let the pieces dry another day, and then I mixed up some brown coloured icing gel, and painted spots all over the shoe. I then used black to accent the brown spots and make it look like leopard print. I will not be doing this again withough using vodka in with the gel, because it wouldn't dry, but, on a positive note, the spots stayed shiny, even if they stayed wet.

Then I made a little brown ribbon bow. I REALLY wanted to place it on the back, but because I knew I was using ribbon on the back to make straps, I thought it would be too busy, so I put it on the front.

The cake itself, while it should have been the easiest part, It wasn't because when I took the cake out of the freezer to size it for the shoe (being the box, it needed to be the right dimensions to hold the shoe), I realized, one quarter slab wasn't gonna cut it. I was soooo unimpressed. Dinner, where I would be presenting the cake, was 2 1/2 hours away, and I still needed to cover the cake and put the shoe together, none of which I could actually DO, because I needed another quarter slab!

So, I baked the cake, let it cool on the counter for ten minutes before putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes. It cooled substantially, and very quickly, considering, but this really set me back with my time frame.

For me, there is nothing worse than icing a fresh cake. The crumbs are insane. I know it desn't matter when you bite into the cake, but heaven forbid you have to trim any sides (and I had to trim about an inch from each side), ugh, it was awful to try to make the buttercream stick. But I won! I got it covered, crumbs and all, and made an impressed four layers out of it, and it was the right size for the shoe! I tried to make the sizes as square as possible, but this would have been easier to do if both cakes had been frozen... lesson learned for next time!

I used the instructions found here for the box itself. I didn't like the shoe here, it seemed like a cheater's way of doing it... but I loved the instructions for the shoe box, and it was actually fairly easy, just make sure you measure the fondant for the lid, and make sure the fondant is thick. Mine (the light brown fondant) was pretty thin, and it stretched when I rolled it on, so I needed to trim it again, carefully, once it was on the cake.

The corners... I have to say.. AWESOME! I loved using the scissors to get that clean cut corner! This process needs to be done twice, once for the box itself, and again for the lid.

I had my husband help me put the heel into the cake, after snipping off the lollipop stick protruding from the top of the heel part. I used sugar glue to attach the two pieces, and more sugar glue to attach the front part of the sole to the shoe box (cake).

There was so much more I wanted to do, but I ran out of time. If it hadn't been for needing another cake, pronto, I wanted to decorate the box with some fondant cut outs from my Cricut Cake machine, and I wanted to paint the heel to match the rest of the shoe. I couldn't only do this part once the shoe was all attached and on top of the cake, because the gel would have smudged and made a huge mess. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

That's it, that's all, friends! Hope you enjoyed reading about this experience. I learned sooo much with this one!

Stay sweet!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween Memories

How was Halloween for you? Did you see a lot of Frozen characters? We got two Elsas and two Olafs... but it was pretty quiet overall in our little survey. I think the best costume I saw was a little boy, about two, MAYBE three. He had a Superman costume with a white dress shirt and black dress pants over top, with the shirt unbuttoned so you could see the Superman logo. He was Clark Kent! It was awesome!

So I promised pictures, because my last post didn't have any... in truth, I was still working on a cake, and didn't have time to finish it before the trick-or-treaters came to visit us!

I was really busy last week in the kitchen, baking up all kinds of cupcakes. My youngest son was going to bring in two dozen cupcakes for his class party, and my husband and I were each going to bring in a dozen to work. Plus I had to finish my amazing costume for work.

Here are the cupcakes:

Here's a close-up of the cupcakes:

I did vanilla with vanilla buttercream for Caleb's class, and chocolate with caramel buttercream for work. They were all well-received!

This was my costume! I went as a birthday cupcake! It was SO cool... and a lot of my coworkers thought it was cute :)

And lastly, the Halloween masterpiece.

This one was another fun cake to do! It's a 9x13 cake, cut into three sections and stacked and iced in vanilla buttercream. I used more buttercream to build up the face in certain areas, and dug cavities for the eye and nose sockets. Then I draped white fondant over top, and continued to work the shape of the skull by hand. I refrigerated it overnight, to keep it firm.

The next morning, I rolled out some neon orange fondant, and made roses, a couple of large ones, and a few smaller ones. I added some black fondant leaves to add to the Halloween theme of the cake.

I used black icing gel to paint the eye and nose sockets and used a fondant tool to score the teeth into the fondant.

There aren't many tutorials out there to show how to do a 3D skull cake, so please, if you have questions, let me know! This was not my first try with it, it can be tricky (no pun intended!) to manipulate the shape right... but it was well worth the effort, I think!

Stay sweet!