Great Gatsby Inspired Wedding

I had the honor and pleasure of making a beautiful cake for Joy and Troy, one of the nicest couples I’ve ever met. They chose an elegant Gatsby theme for their wedding at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MD. The ballroom was beautifully lit and the decor was perfectly executed. Trisha Cranor of Working Brides and her amazing staff did a wonderful job coordinating the event. It was really interesting to see them all in action throughout the evening. What a treat!

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I wish I could take credit for the design of this cake. The couple had seen a photo of the original, designed by Leslie Bruckman of Nom Nom Sweeties. I tracked Leslie down and asked if she’d mind my copying it. She was most gracious and gave me her blessing. I was most thankful, too!

I did my very best to do Leslie’s design justice. Here’s a quick photo I took in a rush. I can’t wait to see the photographer’s version. I’ll post that as soon as I get my hands on it.

Sunday Sundae

I’m not big on ice cream, but when I crave it, I REALLY crave it! Which is what inspired today’s new cupcake flavor. Dark chocolate cake topped with vanilla bean buttercream, chocolate ganache, colorful sprinkles with a cherry on top. They were delicious! Can you smell it? Taste it? Try them for yourselves and let me know what you think.

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Where’s the bacon?

Maple bacon cupcakes are all the rage these days. I’d never tried one before until recently when I visited a new cupcake shop in Tyson’s Mall. While I really enjoyed it, I couldn’t help but think that I might be able to make it even better.

As some of you may already know, we’ll soon be launching a new cupcake delivery service. You will be able to order cupcakes and have them delivered to your place of business during early business hours, Monday through Friday. There will be a two dozen minimum order, with free delivery from Rockville to Frederick.

So, back to the bacon. I tried my hand at my own version of these, and now I can’t get enough of them! Moist maple cake with chopped pecans, topped with maple buttercream (no shortening here folks!) and crispy maple bacon. And if that isn’t enough, they’re drizzled with maple syrup. What’s not to love? They’re so irresistable that I’ve decided to add this flavor to my new cupcake line. If you’re drooling right now, by all means call and order some. That way I can justify making extra for myself. They are that good!

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To order your cupcakes, contact Clara’s Designer Cakes at 301-624-0027.

Is that a CAKE?

When I’m not driving my coach, I’ve got my hands in one cake project or another. It’s fun to have creative freedom when doing what you love. Here are some of my latest creations.

This was such a fun cake! I took these photos with my iPhone so they’re not great. Can’t wait to see the photographer’s version. This boombox cake was a surprise for both the bride and groom. The bride wanted a groom’s cake that would pay homage to the ’90s. She placed her trust in me to come up with the design. She left the choice of the cake to me. I narrowed my choices down to an Atari console or a boombox. The console cake has been done often, but rarely have I seen a detailed boombox cake. I commend the bride for ordering a cake and having no idea what she’d be getting. Brave, I say. Very brave!

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Everything on this cake was entirely edible, as it should be when it comes to cakes. You can catch a glimpse of the fuschia and white wedding cake in the background. That was lovely, too, but I suspect the boombox cake stole the show.

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Here’s a surprise cake I made for my brother. It’s a replica of his beloved military truck. It’s the latest addition to his man toy collection. As a joke, I added the ‘I love my sister’ bumper sticker ūüôā

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Below is a pic of his actual truck without the tarp in the rear.

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Here’s the cake version, only with the tarp in place since this is where the bulk of the cake was. My brother has been wanting to trek his truck through the mud (boys!) so I decided to make it look that way. What you can’t see in the photo are the mud tracks on the board.

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This was one of the most difficult cakes I’ve ever made to date. Seeing the look on my brother’s face was priceless! Well worth the long hours and every single curse word I used throughout the process.

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This is what a ragged, sleep deprived baker looks like at 2:00am with hours of work still left to go. Many thanks to my friend Lidia Miller, a very talented photographer, who always makes time for me! I am forever grateful to her photographing the difficult task of working on a cake in a hotel room at two 2:00am with limited supplies and hands. I love you, my friend. Thanks for being there for me.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” -Yoda.

You’ve seen those decals on car windows with the figures of the family and assorted pets and thought about how tacky they are, haven’t you? So have I. Until, that is, I found these Star Wars ones! Yes, I’m a huge fan. I was thrilled when my son decided he wanted a Star Wars themed party this year for his 8th birthday. This was one party I was really looking forward to executing!


First I had to design the invitations. I found some great ideas online. The minute I saw light saber invitations, I knew they’d be perfect. The black envelopes were addressed to either a Jedi or Princess (Jedi Max, or Princess Sophie) using a silver pen.


The next step was to sew an authentic Jedi costume for my son. ¬†Who knew there were so many pieces to a Jedi’s outfit? The belt and pouch are made of pleather, and the buckle (while not like the original) came off the ends of an old computer bag shoulder strap.


When I completed my son’s costume, my husband decided he wanted one, too!¬† In this picture, most of the outfit is hidden under the robe. I made them as close as I could to the original costumes. While still a Jedi, my husband’s was modeled after Anakin’s whose outfits got darker and darker in color over time. Eventually, he wore the familiar dark robes you all know as Darth Vadar’s outfit.


Once I completed the the costumes, I began work on the outfits for the invited guests.  By the time I finished, this rack was full.


Each boy and girl received a Jedi or Princess Leia robe that was theirs to keep. 


It took about a week, but I finally completed the 24 costumes, each with a matching belt.


Of course, no Jedi is complete without a light saber, so we provided those as well. ¬†Yes, yes, I know Princess Leia didn’t have a light saber, but I thought it might be a better option than a gun! These LED light sabers I found online were perfect and affordable. They even came with batteries and, much to my surprise, stood up to the fierce Jedi battles they were subjected to. During the party, our mechanically inclined friend Sam was able to repair any light saber mishaps easily and quickly with a pocket multi-tool. Thanks, Sam!

The party would not have been complete without the help and generosity of my family and friends.  


Lidia Miller from Lidia Miller Photography set up a green screen and took photos of anyone who wanted to pose. ¬†As always, Lidia always goes out of her way to do a stellar job doing what she does best. She’s a great friend and a talented photographer. She took almost all the photos you see here.


The green screen photos would later be edited to add galactic backgrounds, and once printed, sent as a thank you gift to each guest.


My son in law, Brian, owner of Excessive Beats, was our resident DJ at the party and came dressed as a Jawa. He had all the girls jammin’ to the latest kid-friendly tunes. He also did a great job preparing the food and setting up all the tables. You rock, Brian! Thank you so much.


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My daughter Jennifer helped me with everything from shopping to baking cookies, and did an extraordinary job of listening to me complain about the amount of work I’d undertaken and how the next party would be at least FOUR years from now.


And then Darth Vadar arrived!


He challenged the young Jedi’s to show off the skills they’d learned earlier in the Jedi Training Academy session. ¬†


Poor Darth.  At one point, I was saving him from several overzealous Princess Leias who were beating him with their light sabers all at once.  He was quite the champ, for a bad guy, that is.


Designing the candy table was fun. I knew I needed props. ¬†That was easy! ¬†I just raided my son’s toy room. ¬†


I wanted a backdrop to hang behind the table so I made one using a large foam core board that I inserted LED lights into.  Once plugged in, it added great dimension to the background.  


I couldn’t find square black cake stands, so I made my own using plastic cups I bought at Walmart (4 for $1) and some 12×12″ boards. Then I glued gold ribbon around the edges. I sealed the tops with acrylic and several layers of a non-toxic sealant. Four of these cost me under $2.00 to make.


The black cake stands were perfect for displaying the cupcakes. I made the Star Wars cupcake wrappers using gold and black sparkle craft paper.  


The cupcake picks were from a cupcake decorating set I purchased at Williams Sonoma.


I made a variety of cake pops, including Darth Vadar and Storm Trooper heads.   I covered the lollipops with free printable wrappers I found online.


The gold cakepops were hand painted with edible gold dust.   The cake pops were filled with chocolate cake and chocolate Oreo Cookie buttercream.  They were delicious, if I do say so myself!


I baked about 150 sugar cookies adorned with different Star Wars characters as well as various space vehicles.  Have you ever bitten into a buttery Boba Fett head?


I removed the labels from small sized Sprite soda bottles and added my own.


I found these small Deer Park Spring Water bottles that were perfect for small hands to grasp and added my own labels to these, too.


At the last minute, my husband made some custom labels that we wrapped around some Hershey Chocolate bars. He had designed much fancier ones, but Office Depot printed them incorrectly and at the last moment, we had to improvise.


No party is complete without a pi√Īata! ¬†Yes, I handmade made that, too.


I couldn’t find a Death Star pi√Īata¬†anywhere, so that was one more thing I had to make myself. ¬†Do you know how hard it is to find a beach ball in late October? Luckily, I found one at a local Dollar Store. Good thing I still remember the paper mache making skills I learned in elementary school.


When it came time to hang the pi√Īata, we realized that the 20 ft. ceilings would make that impossible. ¬†So, I gathered all the children in one area and chucked it as hard as I could against the hardwood floor. ¬†Luckily, it cracked easily and the candy frenzy began.


And, then there was the cake. ¬†Months earlier, I asked my son what kind of cake he wanted. ¬†Of course, this is the most important aspect of the party for me for obvious reasons! ¬†He first said he wanted a Millennium Falcon cake, but ¬†later said he’d be happy with anything. ¬†I debated. ¬†R2D2? ¬†Easy, but overdone. ¬†Same for Darth Vadar. ¬†Just about all of the main characters have been done over and over again. ¬†And done well, too, so it didn’t really matter what I chose. Four days before the party, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to make. ¬†Then it hit me. ¬†Yoda!


I really like this guy. He’s old and wise, and √ľber cool! ¬†Most importantly, he presented a challenge for me. A challenge, you ask? ¬†


Yes, because I’m not much of a sculptor. ¬†I have friends who specialize in sculpting, but not me. ¬†I dabble on occasion, but only when I absolutely have to.


Given the time crunch and all the many other things I had to do for the party, I was really under the gun to get the cake finalized. ¬†I had first made a ‘test head’ which kinda, sorta, looked like Yoda if you blinked a whole lotta times really, really fast, but not so much. ¬†It was more like a cross between a Ninja Turtle and ET.


I knew the color was wrong, but I had some dark green modeling chocolate on hand and I thought I’d do a practice run with that. The further along I got, the more I thought I could just use the test head. I could have passed it off for Yoda once the ears were attached, but that would have gone against everything I feel so strongly about. I believe one should strive for their best as much as possible so I decided to start again and give it another try. ¬†This was going to be my last attempt before I decided on something else.


It’s at times like this that I wonder where and how I make these things happen. ¬†I started working on that second head and before I knew it, Yoda was coming to life before my eyes. ¬†I felt like a woman possessed. ¬†Possessed by someone far more talented than myself. Perhaps I was channeling a tiny little bit of Stuart Freeborn, Yoda’s creator, who looked down at me from heaven, and after seeing my first attempt, took pity on me. It’s not perfect, but I was very pleased.


Soon, the cake cutting buzz began and everyone gathered around the cake and candy table.


I really loved watching the faces of the children and adults alike when I finally cut the cake. ¬†As much as they wanted to eat it, they felt badly about cutting it. ¬†While I’ve long lost that cringe factor when seeing one of my cakes being cut, I have to admit that it hurt to have to cut this one in particular. ¬†Yoda just stared at me, taunting me, daring me to make the first cut. ¬†I hesitated a bit. ¬†I told everyone how hard it was to slice him up, but then I remembered the yummy deliciousness on the inside and finally went for it.


Everyone wanted to know if there was really cake inside. See for yourself! The birthday boy chose the flavors: Vanilla Bean cake with Chocolate Oreo Cookie buttercream. The bottom tier was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. My son asked for two different options ‘in case people don’t like one, they can have the other’. He’s knows the deal!


All in all, the display looked just as I had envisioned it in my head. It’s at moments like these that I remember the pretty cakes my mother would make me for my birthday when I was a little girl. Things sure have changed since the days when a plastic ballerina topper was the envy of all your friends.


All in all, the party was a great success.  All the late nights and early morning hours of work definitely paid off.   An afternoon of family, friends, and a great sense of accomplishment is the best I could wish for. Hugs, kisses and words of gratitude from my son were MY icing on the cake.


Wonder what the young Jedi got for his birthday? A vintage Kennar/Hasbro Millennium Falcon toy. ¬†My husband and I came across this toy while shopping at Toys R Us and we couldn’t resist. I was thrilled to see a remake of the original. ¬†I will never forget my son’s face when he opened that box on the morning of his birthday. ¬†He was quite speechless, a very rare occurrence. ¬†

Happy 8th birthday to my little man. In the words of Darth Vadar, “The Force is strong with this one.”

KC Cakefest Rocks!

The KC Cakefest was quite the event. A cake festival like no other, it was a breath of fresh air. Unlike the rigidly managed and controlled events hosted by ICES every year, the KC Cakefest was open and, simply put, FUN! Among many ongoing scheduled events throughout the weekend, there were two major cake competitions. Each competition featured four teams made up of four decorators, one lead and three assistants. For the past two years, the theme of the competition has been ‘Kansas City: Past, Present and Future’. Rather than go on and on about it, here are some of the amazing cakes that were created before a crowd of over 1000 spectators at the Kansas City Convention Center. Oh, and for the sake of getting a real glimpse at the fun, I’ve added a few extra behind the scene pics!

Saturday’s Competitors:


Team Charity



Team Eric (Yay! I was so lucky to be a part of this team!)



Team Debbie



Team Pat (and the winner of Saturday’s Challenge).


Sunday’s Competitors:


Team Anna (Anna Echols’ team came together the night before the competition. Even as a last minute venture, her team did an amazing job. While you can’t see it in this photo, her cake had different elements that paid homage to each and every cake designer in the competition, even me!)



Team Bob (Bob Brougham was the winner of Sunday’s Challenge)



Team Wayne (I have serious love for my boys Wayne and Chuck)



Team Peggy


And for some behind the scenes fun…


Cake Decorators Gone Wild! No, not really, lol. We were riding the party bus back to our hotel after a fabulous dinner compliments of Carey.  From left to right:  Debbie Goard, Becky Rink, Peggy Tucker, Wayne Steinkopf, Chuck Hamilton, Michelle Boyd, Chris Hirniesen, Carey Iennaccaro and Mike Elder.



The beautiful Elizabeth Wheeler and I enjoying ourselves at the Celebrity Chef Party hosted by The Whole Person.



Long lines waited to fill these 1000 seats each day.



Hot Rod Huey and Mike Elder designed this unique Grand Prize Trophy.



Carey putting some last minute touches on the edible race car before it hit the streets of downtown Kansas City to be put to the test.


Wayne and James chillin’ out before the competition. Yes, that’s right. Our entire team started the competition with a drink in hand. Did I mention the KC Cakefest is FUN?



The crowd devoured the delicious race car!



Hanging out in the Green Room with the boys from the band and enjoying the gifts left to us by the Bacardi sponsor.



Eric Woller, great sport that he always is, volunteered to let us sling cupcakes at him to raise money for charity. I chose to sling all the hot pink cupcakes at him.


The charming Chris Hedlund and Patty Woller ramping up for the competition.



Jay Qualls and I in the ‘war room’. Jay competed in these shoes, then auctioned them off to the highest bidder. The money was donated to the charity.



Chuck hard at work on his Steam Punk Time Machine in the ‘war room’, prepping for the competition.



Carey in her edible race hat getting ready to race the car cake along the streets of downtown Kansas City. She set the record at 28 miles an hour.



Here are some of the cakes featured at the show.



Just like Dorothy, Bob’s red shoes worked their magic and Bob won the competition on Sunday.



True champion that she is, Anna was asked only hours before the competition, to pull together a team and compete in Sunday’s challenge. She and her makeshift team pulled it off and I was VERY impressed!


At the end of the day we sat and relaxed, finally able to unwind and catch our breath. From left to right: Patty Woller, myself, Leigh Grode and Eric Woller.


For more information about Mike Elder’s Kansas City Cakefest, visit www.kccakefest.com

Kansas City Cakefest Event!

Don’t miss the second annual Kansas City Cakefest, hosted by Mike Elder of Black Sheep Custom Cakes, taking place this March 3-4 in Kansas City, Missouri. Best of all, admission is FREE! Interested in learning the tricks of the trade? Sign up for one of the many cake classes taught by some of the most talented cake artists in the country. With a live cake challenge scheduled for each day, you’ll be able to see the action live and in person!

There will be live demonstrations throughout each day, a live band, cupcake slinging and all kinds of events. Enter your cake to put on display, or visit the many vendors that will be showcasing their products at the event. Last year, almost two thousand people attended and even more are expected to attend this year. This year, Cakefest has moved to an even larger venue and will be held at the new Kansas City Convention Center.

Best of all, all monies collected at the KC Cakefest will be donated to The Whole Person, an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities. If you’d like more information about the KC Cakefest, visit their website at:

www.kccakefest.com
www.thewholeperson.org

Io Amo ‘Un Amore’ Designs!

For those of you who don’t speak Italian, Io Amo means ‘I love’ and Un Amore means ‘A Love’. Un Amore is also the name of a little gem of a business that I recently discovered. I have been drooling over these beautiful and very masterful creations for some time. I couldn’t resist showcasing these pieces of ‘working art’.

Meet Nicole (Nick) Dinardo, Artist Extraordinaire

Nick Dinardo can turn your ordinary KitchenAid mixer into a unique work of art. From retro-chic to custom labeling, Nick’s work boldly stands out.

I was so excited when KitchenAid began to manufacture their stand mixers in a variety of colors. Their extensive color palate was so new and fresh. They were most welcomed by those of us who work with these appliances day in and day out and for those home cooks who love nothing more than a splash of color where it is least expected. What could make it even better? Well, once you see Nick’s handiwork, you’ll see what I am going on and on about. It’s best to just show you rather than try to explain as my meager description simply cannot do her work any justice. Here are but a few samples of an amazing combination of original colors and designs that come together beautifully.

 

 

 


If you thought THAT was impressive, check out Nick’s other items. These include beautiful aprons, handbags, handmade invitations and custom painted guitars and cases! To order your custom made, one of a kind mixer (that will surely make you feel like the King or Queen of your culinary domain), visit Un Amore’s website. If you are a Facebook diehard like me, you’ll find Un Amore here.

Those of you in my debt who want to repay me with a really, really nice gift now know what to get and where to get it!

Photos courtesy of Un Amore.

Shoes and Purses Galore

This past weekend I had the privilege of making a fabulous showpiece of a cake for a client’s birthday celebration. The order was booked through a coordinator, so I never had a chance to meet her. Her husband ordered the cake and it was supposed to be a big surprise for his wife. She had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that she liked shoes and purses and she was partial to the flavor Mango.



The cake was 4.5 ft. tall and sat atop a rotating cake base. Everything on the cake was made of sugar with the exception of the champagne glass at the top.




The shoes and purses are actual replicas of real shoes that I found at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue’s websites.





Dolce & Gabanna handbag and David Yurman Jewelry .


Michael Kors bag and sunglasses (to the left).



Chanel purse.

The venue was beautifully decorated, thanks to the very skilled team at En Masse Flowers. The paillettes that adorned the custom made table linens inspired the design on the middle tier of the cake. Catering by celebrity Chef Byran Voltaggio of Volt.

I was very pleased with the end result and thrilled to know that the recipient of this cake was not only surprised, but extremely happy with it as well. It’s not often that we are given free reign to create something this large. It was definitely challenging. I consider it an honor to play a small part in helping to celebrate my client’s special moments. In my line of work, it’s the ultimate payoff!

‚ôę Sherry…Sherry Baby…Sherry ‚ôę

My friend Sherry recently celebrated her *cough.50th.cough* birthday. Her husband Gary asked me to make the cake for her big celebration party. Interestingly enough, Sherry and I share the same last name. We are both married to ‘Gold’ men, although they are not related. Sherry is also a cake designer. Needless to say, I had to make her something special!

My friend Sherry is a major Parrot Head. She has a beautiful Margaritaville themed bar in her home. It’s a sight to see, too. The only thing missing is Jimmy Buffet. She is also a Twilight fan, and an admirer of all beautiful things, like Robert Pattinson. Did I just say that? Anyone that knows me knows I’m a fan. What does this have to do with anything? It has everything to do with designing a cake that represents one of my closest friends. With her husband’s encouragement and blessing, I added a few ‘special’ touches to the cake.

The figure on the top of the cake is supposed to be Sherry, but in real life, Sherry is far slimmer and a great deal prettier. I asked her not to hold it against when I surprised her with the cake. I’ve never sculpted a large figure like that. I was worried. I couldn’t possibly do her justice. I don’t think I did, but given that she loves me, she was very forgiving and appreciative! The figure is made of cake and lots of chocolate, all covered in fondant. The bottom tier of the cake was adorned with various things, from a drunken parrot with a bottle of tequila and a margarita glass, to a saucy photo of Rob Pattinson in his underwear – all made of sugar and entirely edible. The margarita glasses were real, filled with fondant and the rims adorned with sugar.

While the cake may have drawn attention, the highlight of the evening was the birthday girl. The party was amazing. No luxury or expense was spared. Guests were treated to a casino, lobster clam bake, live band, beautiful tented seating and more love than Cupid can muster on any given day. At one point, a conga line started in front of the band and ended up with the participants jumping in the pool. What an amazing party! You could feel the magic in the air as family and friends came together to dance, sing and celebrate my friend. It was perfect, just like her.



In case you are wondering what a ‘Rob Manip’ is, well, it’s a photograph of Rob Pattinson attached to someone else’s body. If you have a sense of humor, I recommend visiting RobNipulations, creators of the photo used on the cake.




(Left to right) The cake, Me and Sherry.




I wanted to give Sherry something tangible that would remain long after the cake had been eaten. I bought her the new Eclipse Edward (life-size) cut out. You know, for those long nights when she’s working and wants some company. Or motivation. Whatever. It works. I know because I bought one for myself. I also made her an edible mini version of the same and placed it on her cake (see pic above).


Edward. He does the body good. Available at www.nordstrom.com


To see Sherry’s cakes, visit www.sherryscakesandbakes.com