Sunday, December 20, 2009

AT-AT Walker Surprise

Let me start by saying that I'm violating one of my basic blogging guidelines by posting this entry. I'm a stickler for sequential blogging but I'm just soooo excited about this cake and there's too many blog items in queue before this one, lol.
Some of you already know that my husband, Dennis, has three great loves in his life. He loves me the most (at least that's what I tell him); he loves Porsches (especially the Porsche 911 Carrera); and he loves Star Wars. More specifically, he loves the old-school episodes IV, V, and VI and even more specifically, he loves Imperial Stormtroopers and AT-AT Walkers. So when it came time to start planning for his birthday in December, I knew immediately that I wanted to make him an AT-AT Walker cake. I had already made him a Stormtrooper cake, a Porsche cake, and a Porsche cookie so I guess I was saving the best and most difficult for last.

Dennis' birthday is on December 26th (which totally sucks eggs, btw) and we usually have a fairly quiet celebration since everyone is either out of town or busy celebrating Christmas with family. This year, however, I decided to throw him a surprise birthday party the friday before his birthday while friends were still in town. All the guests did an amazing job keeping the secret and it's an understatement to say that he was simply surprised walking through the door. I have an awesome video of his reaction but for the sake of my marriage, I dare not post it, lol. It was a bit stressful making the cake in secret but the expression on his face when he saw his AT-AT cake more than justified the 50+ hours I spent slaving over it. Without further ado, here is my dear hubby next to his birthday cake holding my present to him, the LEGO Motorized AT-AT walker he's been denying himself.
It took a few minutes to convince him (and some guests) that the cake needed to be cut and eaten but finally he conceded and stabbed it with the cake cutter.
Inside was a moist almond cake with cream cheese buttercream filling. Yum!!
Making this cake was quite a challenge for me since I usually rely on my husband (who has an engineering background) to build my cake supports. Left to my own resources, I'm delighted to see that I've actually picked up some construction skills of my own :). Below is the basic framework after the underside and legs were decorated.
.....with the cake carved and iced with buttercream.
TIP: When making a scale replica of anything (especially for your engineer husband), it's always helpful to seek out blueprints and enlarge them to the size. Finally, please forgive me as I post too many photos of the this cake - there's just so many interesting angles.
Some close-up shots with better lighting.
Happy Birthday, hubby!!!
P.S. I accidentally left out a few details on the AT-AT but you won't notice unless you're a Star Wars fan. There's not too many of those out there, right?

Lien Sanchez
Crazy Cake Company

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Versatile Circle

So my sister, Tran's birthday was in August and of course I made her a cake. I love making cakes for my sister 'cause every year I ask her what she wants and every year she says, "whatever you want to make me" <--- cake designers love this answer :). Like me, my sister loves bold colors so last year, I made her the below two-tiered cake with simple red flowers that remains one of my favorites to this day.
This year, I noticed that Tran had accumulated a lot of green stuff (clothes, bags, accessories, etc.) and made a comment to that affect. She responded by saying that green was her favorite color and I instantly felt like a heel for not knowing my own sister's favorite color. But, I quickly got over it and decided to make her a green cake for her birthday to make up for it. =D

My sister's big day fell on a busy week, so I chose a design that was fairly quick to execute. In terms of cake design, fondant circle cutouts are unquestionably the most versatile, not to mention virtually foolproof design element a designer can use. It's as simple as cutting and pasting, literally. Circles can be placed in a myriad of patterns to achieve designs that are cute, whimsical, modern, retro, and just plain cool . For my sister's cake, I went with the traditional "pretty" with the extra bit of oomph coming from the oversized gumpaste flowers I had made the week prior.

Here's a shot of the cake with the flowers placed to the right. .....and now to the left. I prefer the flowers on the left, don't ask me why.

I've seen this circle pattern used many times on other cakes but mostly done with very pale colors on a white background so that the tone on tone coloring almost resembles a texture. With the darker colored circles that I used, your attention is definitely more drawn towards the negative space left by the circles. The overall effect calls to mind gingham checks, no?......which immediately makes me think this cake would be fabulous done in red for a country wedding, maybe displayed on a bed of apples. But, I are some close-ups of the gumpaste flowers.
I had loaned out my 12" cake stand but still wanted an elevated look for this cake so I MacGyver'd a cake stand by placing a flat serving plate on top of an upside down bowl. And to prevent slippage, I threw in a small square of grip padding. Ta-da!
So the moral of this blog post? Fondant circles are your friend and you can make a cake stand with almost anything. To end, a pic of my beautiful sister and her equally beautiful gal pals :).
Lien Sanchez
Crazy Cake Company

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Less is more....

September passed by almost in a blur and boy do I have a lot of blogging to catch up on. First off, I must write about Amy and Kendall's wedding cake back in August. Amy loved the simple beauty of the April Reed style of cakes and showed me one in particular that she wanted to use as inspiration. Since she wasn't a fan of fondant, however, she asked if the smooth look of fondant can be achieved without actually using fondant. And always looking to please, of course I said yes.

I pride myself on precision sharp edges on my buttercream cakes so it was almost painful having to dull the edges to get the more contoured "fondant" look, but I wasn't feeling so bad after I saw how it softened the look of the cake. Below is a close-up. I absolutely love that Amy and Kendall chose to go with the natural look (and not to mention taste) of real vanilla bean buttercream. So divine. :)April Reed's designs exemplify the phrase "less is more" so the only thing needed to accent this 4-tier wedding cake were a few gumpaste peonies. The table set-up. Too bad the floating candles weren't lit, I bet that would casted a lovely glow.The cake table was lined up almost perfectly with a covered cable line on the wall and at just the right angle, we were able to capture this heavenly shot. Love, love, love it!! See, even in photography, less is more. :)

Lien Sanchez

Crazy Cake Company

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Threadcakes Contest: Cookie Loves Milk

After finishing the Byebi cake entry, I had time to squeeze in one last one for the threadcakes contest and I chose to recreate the "Cookie loves Milk" design. Even you have to agree that this t-shirt design is beyond adorable, right?

I swear I had a smile on my face the entire time I was making this cake, especially since I knew that my nieces and nephews would be seeing and eating this cake the next day. You can read the description and see the in-process photos here.
It was a blast making all three cakes for the contest. Hopefully, I'll have time next year to participate again. :)

Lien Sanchez
Crazy Cake Company

Monday, August 17, 2009

Threadcakes Contest: Byebi

As I mentioned in my previous post, I entered three cakes in the threadcakes contest. This second entry is hands down, one of the favorite cakes I've ever made. I would even go so far as to say that if I had to do it all over again, my wedding cake would look very similar to this. I absolutely love the elaborate simplicity (yes, I realize that's an oxymoron) of the bird graphic.

Here's the t-shirt design, Byebi, that inspired the cake. It's too bad that it's currently out of print. :(

And here's my interpretation of the graphic. Again, you can read the description and see the in-process photos here. I made this cake (all the cakes really) because I thought it would be fun but it was really nice to also be recognized with a 2nd place win in the 2D category. Woohoo! Thanks threadcakes!

P.S. Check out all the awesome winners in the 2D and 3D categories here.

P.S.S. I love this cake so much, I think I'm going to reproduce it as a display cake using styrofoam :).

Lien Sanchez
Crazy Cake Company

Threadcakes Contest: A Piece of Cake

If you love cake like I love cake, you've probably heard of the Threadcakes contest. And if you haven't, let me enlighten you - it's an online cake contest held by the awesome folks who run the site. Contest rules are simple, make a cake inspired from one of the graphic tee designs from the site and send in your in-process photos with a description.

With all the awesome t-shirt designs available on, I was really excited to participate in this contest but I was also really hesitant to do so as it seemed like this contest was more meant for the home baker. However, as the weeks passed and I saw the caliber of the submissions, I knew I was in good company so I decided to give in to my desire to recreate some of my favorite designs in cake form.

This first cake I entered was based on the below "A Piece of Cake" design.

Looking at the photo below, it's easy to think that this was a normal slice of cake but this was in fact a 10" slice of cake. And not to be redundant, you can read the description and see the in-process photos here. Oh, while you're there, you should also check out some of the other awesome cake designs. :)

I had time to complete two more cake submissions for this contest, one of which even won 2nd place, so you'll be hearing from me again soon. ;)

Lien Sanchez
Crazy Cake Company

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mike IS amazing

This past June, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from my all-time cake hero, Mike McCarey, owner of Mike's Amazing Cakes in Redmond, WA. Luckily for me, I found out about Mike's two-day modeling chocolate course just in the nick of time as I was just about to register and book travel to the Cake Camp in Las Vegas. The minute I saw that Mike was teaching classes, I knew I had to clear my schedule and make it to one of his classes.

Now, I wasn't kidding when I said that Mike is my "cake hero". There are many cake artists in the industry that I admire and draw inspriration from but Mike's work is seriously jaw-droppingly AMAZING. The level of detail and realism in his cakes are incredible and definitely something that I strive to achieve in my own work. So you can see, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to meet and learn from the best in the business (literally).

I've seen all his appearances on the Food Network Challenges and even own his instructional DVD on sculpting car cakes and from what I can tell, he seemed like a nice guy but I was surpised by how down-to-earth and genuine he is. He was patient with those of us who needed a little extra help, answered all of our questions candidly, and even regaled us with some behind-the-scenes tales of the Food Network cake challenges. The class itself was organized, well-thought out, informational, and above all FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

Let me share with you a bit of what we learned in class.

Day 1 we learned everything there is to know about modeling chocolate (MC for short), including how to make it, how to store it, what chocolates to use, it's qualities and limitations, etc. We also learned about approximately 10 different techniques on how to use modeling chocolate in cake decorating. Below are 4 of those techniques (can't give away everything, 'ya know).

MC takes impresions really well - this one is an impression made from lace.

Unlike fondant, MC doesn't stretch much which makes it ideal for cutouts and scoring: MC is easily marbled:

And since it's tacky with moisture, appliques stick easily to it's surface.

Day 2 included a great many subjects but the main event was learning how to use modeling chocolate to, you know, model. In the below pic, Mike is showing us how to shape the body of the dragon on the lower left corner.We were encouraged to be creative so here's my slightly different dragon (sans pupils).
......and the finished cake.
I've really only skimmed the surface of all that I was able to sponge off Mike's two-day class but take my word that this class is MUST for any cake decorator looking to unlock the magical world of modeling chocolate. Not sure if there's any spaces left for his classes in Atlanta (Oct. 17-18 & 19-20) or Savannah (Nov 13-14 & 15-16) but it wouldn't hurt to check :-)
Having met my cake-hero, you seriously didn't think I was gonna leave without getting a picture with him, did you?
.....and Mike's assistant, also named Mike, who managed to be both incredibly helpful and adorable the entire time.