Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

back to the basics

I didn't really have anything to bake in the cake or cupcake department, so I was open to suggestions tonight. Chocolate chip cookies were shot called and I haven't made any in over a month now! That's a really long time for me- I usually keep some readily available at all times.
Here is what I came up with... and had some mishaps along the way-
which NEVER happens. I have this recipe down... but a month really was long enough to get me out of practice. I'll explain below....

I've taken years and countless BAD batches of cookies to come up with this recipe. Over the last 8 months I finally FINALLY got it right. I didn't adhere to ONE major step and that is to refrigerate the dough before scooping it. so the cookies spread way too much while baking (I didn't include a picture of those because it was shameful). I tried to adjust the butter content, then the egg content, then the buttermilk content... sigh, all to no avail. Seriously, it was because I didn't refrigerate the dough! My recipe is pretty secretive at this point so don't even bother asking. All's I'm saying is that there are some pretty strict steps to making this cookie and if you skip out on one or half a** it, they won't turn out the same. Period.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

She's Pink AND Happy :)

The kiddies are going to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live! in a couple of weeks. In preparation I had some shirts made for them to wear to the show (yeah, I'm that crazy). I went on Etsy and found this talented woman to make shirts for the kids. They arrived today in the midst of the helmet making and Moochie was super stoked. Seriously- I showed her the Foofa shirt and she broke into the biggest grin! I had to put it on her right away.
Isn't this shirt awesome! The Foofa is made of felt and I had her sew sleeves so it looked like a layered shirt. She did a wonderful job!!! She also made a Toodie, Brobee and Muno- ALL of which came out amazing. I'll put the pictures up shortly. In the meantime, check her out on Etsy:

Hail to the Victors!!! Happy Birthday Joe!

Here it is! The final cake alongside a real Michigan football helmet.

And this is my favorite angle- The "Money" shot :)

SO, the face mask.... Three days was def. not long enough for it to set up. Every single one of the ropes of fondant cracked or broke while I was trying to assemble. Thankfully I made really long ropes so I had something to work with. I almost resorted to gluing the pieces back together and gluing the cross bars for stabilization. I ended up tossing one of the ropes all together and using 6 toothpicks to make it work.

I assembled it, said a prayer and a wish and sent it down to Ann Arbor for Joe's 30th birthday party. Apparently it traveled well and arrived in one piece! Yay! And some of the diners at the restaurant asked for my business card! Are you kidding? I was so pleased when I heard that... now to make some business cards....

....and now back to the show!

OK, made the marshmallow fondant and then as I was hunting down some black icing I found MORE white modeling fondant I had tucked away. argh! But, at least it was all set up and I could use it asap.

Anyhow, the cake is for #1's Godfather's 30th birthday. He played football in college and his number was 73. So as an homage I added his number to the back of the helmet:

Here is what the front looks like:

and now for the white stuff. I wanted to add a white border around the black face area so it would look like the padding on the inside of the helmet. Plus, it tidied up the lines between the black and the blue.

The other part I needed white fondant for is for the nameplate on the front of the helmet. I needed the black icing for this- to write out the word "Michigan"
I don't think I have a close up of this on purpose because it didn't look very good. Again, I should have done this with edible paint- but I just used icing and then various tools to make the lines 'cleaner'. This and the face mask (to come shortly) took FOREVER.

And here is the completed helmet. I feel sneaky showing you the final cake with the addition of the face mask without the steps in between. The face mask was hands down the hardest part of the cake.

I'll elaborate more on the next post....

More helmet-ing

I started bright and early today.. I didn't have to work at the bakery as my mentor is running a race so she wouldn't be there for me to shadow. I got to 'sleep in' on a Saturday! When did sleeping in mean 7 am?

Breakfast with the kiddies, coffee for me and I set to work. I also brought out a real helmet for some inspiration (You can spot it in the background of some pictures)

I warmed up the fondant so it was pliable and then laid it on top of the cake that had been refrigerated overnight. It was a little bit harder to shape than just a regular cake and also I was afraid I hadn't made enough so it was a little tricky.

Then I added some black dye to the navy fondant so I could cover the face area in black.

Then I set to work on the yellow fondant and began making the signature "wings" of a Michigan helmet:

Then I realized I needed some plain white fondant for the next steps and what do you know, I colored the last bit I had in yellow. Sweet. Pause while I make some more fondant.... This is the commercial break of the show, queue music...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let the games begin....

Started work on the helmet cake tonight... So far, fairly simple. I looked up some 'how to's' on the internet this week and got the basic idea. I began working on the face mask on Wednesday night and I haven't touched since. I'm trying to let it dry out so it will be hard enough to attach tomorrow before delivery. As I learned with the Wubbzy cake, these stand alone pieces really need time to dry out. They suggested a full week on the 'how to', so hopefully 3 days is enough. Crossing my fingers.

Here is how I started:

This is a 4 layer cake- the first 3 layers are chocolate banana cake with banana flavored ganache (6 inch round) and the top layer is half of a ball cake, just plain butter/yellow cake.
I started to carve out the front...

Then I dirty frosted w/ the swiss buttercream I am so fond of :) (thank you Zingerman's!)

And then spent a ridiculous amount of time getting the fondant navy blue. Seriously, it took forever. That is my least favorite part- dying the fondant and kneading. This is what it looks like rolled out...

I think that's about it for tonight, more in the a.m. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lightning McQueen Cake, Final "cut" :)

Another side view of the lightning bolt...

Adding 95 to the sides

Adding the Rust-Eze spoiler on the back, and the start of the Rust-Eze logo on the hood...

Pulling it ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL together...


This was a fun cake to make. I'm really proud that I was able to accomplish this in about 6 hours of total work. The detail work is really what makes the cake- in my opinion. The best thing about it was that while I was working on it this afternoon, #1 knew exactly who it was. "That's lighting aqueen mama!" sigh... I love him... and I can't wait for us to cut into it. I'm drinking a celebretory Dogfish Head 90 minute and mentally patting myself on the back. Not gonna lie, it feels really good to do this. And to see #1 light up after seeing it finished. way way cool.

Lightning McQueen take FOUR

I'm going to have to do this on a couple of posts.. and get Flickr set up so I don't run into this problem again. But- here are the next 5 steps... It's all just detail work from here on out.

lights, lightning bolts, windows and red accents on tires.

rear view....


Lightning Bolts on sides and 95 on top... more discussion on this below

ok, I should have started to paint the details at this point. The color gradation on the number 95 and on the lightning bolts on the sides. Also on the eyes too, but I had some blue fondant to use so I went that route. I didn't have a few tools necessary to make that happen- a fine paint brush and vodka... and all the powder color for the lightning bolts. So I ended up just mixing yellow, orange and red fondant and rolling it out. It did the job, but didn't look amazing.

Lightning McQueen take THREE and more cinn roll's

The never ending cake! Actually, Wubbzy was the never ending cake, this one has been a pleasant experience so far!
I have some errands to run this a.m. in preparation for #1's bday so I only got to do a tiny bit this a.m...
And also make some Cinnamon Rolls! I made GIANT Cinnabon style ones and they were good. If i do say so myself ;)

cream cheese frosting.. so so good!

Down to business. First, I used a cooke cutter and punched out the wheel wells...
Side note- I tasted the red fondant for the first time at this point. And, it was good! seriously, it tasted really good.

Then, I used some of the scrap cake I had left over from the large 9x13 cake and punched out the tires....

And then apparently I forgot to take pictures of what I did next- but I rolled out black fondant and covered the tires and placed them in the wheel wells. Next I rolled out white fondant for the windshield/eyes and his smile...

And now it's time to ski-daddle.... so back in the freezer he goes and off to errands I go! more soon...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lightning McQueen Take TWO

So, the frosting was getting hard on the cake and I rolled out the red fondant. I bought it pre-made for a couple of reasons. Yes, I know how to make my own fondant now and it tastes better than the pre-made stuff I had used before (the stuff I bought at Joanns or Michael's...) BUT getting the white fondant a true red is so hard and time consuming. I was willing to fork over the dough to buy it made- it was worth the $20 for 2 lbs of it. I found a cake bakers supply shop on my way home from work so I picked it up the other day. It is the same brand used on the show "Cake Boss".

Let me just say- I was pleasantly surprised. It was soft, moist, pliable and a true red. So, I rolled it out, took the cake out of the freezer....

...rolled the fondant onto my rolling pin and then unrolled it on top of the cake. I only have 2 hands so I couldn't take pictures of this process. It went ok... I need practice and perhaps a lighter rolling pin. Plus I need to get better at knowing what thickness to achieve when laying the fondant on a sculpted cake...

I smoothed it out on top of the cake, and believe me there were some cracks and tears. I waited too long before I rolled it ON the cake and this stuff dries out quickly. Also, because I rolled some spots out too thinly, it tore. More lessons learned ;) I also learned a trick- to smooth out and shine the fondant use Crisco. yeah, another use for good ol' Crisco!

So, I'm gonna call it a night. I'm beat and The next steps are going to be a lot harder and time consuming. It's almost midnight and I did A TON today... Bakery, #1's birthday shirt, sewed some buttons (yah, swear!), finally decorated Moochies room (I'll put pictures up later), wrapped #1's gifts, made dinner, made Oma's bday cake, and now this. It's been a LOOOOONG day... g'night!

Lightning McQueen, Take ONE

I'm really doing this... I did a ridiculous amount of research on how to make a 3D cake. I started with my 9x13 sheet cakte (that I had to make TWICE), and got out my handy dandy Lightning McQueen model. We have so many in the house, but this one was the largest we have in 3D, which is actually bubble bath. LOL!

Next, I chopped off about 3 inches off the end and shaped it into the 'cab' portion of the race car...

Then I carved the hood...

Front view.... (oh, lesson learned: Marble cake, probably not the best idea for this kind of carving cake.)

Then I covered the whole thing w/ buttercream

and then I let it harden up in the freezer before I could go on to the next step. Red Fondant...

Oma's Bday Cake

I had about 12 ideas for this cake. I had very little direction- use fondant, any color, make it 'impressive', flavor/color didn't matter. OK.... At this point, open ended cake directions are not good. I need some focus because my mind races with possibilities of what I would like to try. And then I end up wanting to do too much and then the cake loses its focus.

First, I needed to whip up some buttercream. My bestie came over and kept me company while I got this going. I got to share w/ her the magnificence of watching the egg whites and sugar whip up to pearly white goodness in the Kitchen aid... and she also witnessed first hand the ridiculous amount of butter that goes in as well... yikes.

I've showed the pictures of the buttercream already so I won't bore you with that, or me actually stacking the cake. It is a 6 inch round yellow cake with banana ganache, covered in HOMEMADE marshmallow vanilla fondant in white. I LOVE that I know how to make fondant now :)

Notice the pink bow loops in the background? Yeah.. I should have assembled the bow before working on the cake. Lesson Learned. It needs to harden and set well before placing it on the cake. Sigh... I got too excited.

Then I rolled out some bright green fondant. I decided on making bright pink and green polka dots in addition to the bright pink bow... So I cut out circles in 2 different sizes and started to throw them on the cake...
Then I added the 'ribbons' that I THOUGHT were hardened enough to hold their bend. Two things: 1) they weren't hard enough. Why? I have no idea. They kept falling flat. 2) I should have put these on BEFORE I did the polka dots.
It was at this point that I realized, "Hey I should have assembled the bow by now so I could set it on the cake RIGHT now". Sigh... So I just put the bow together using a TON of frosting to hold it in place and put it in the freezer for a while. Then I put it on top of the cake and Voila!

I LOVE this little cake. I think it's very cute and girlie. Probably too youthful for an Oma, but whatever I had little direction so they get what they get ;) After I put the bow on I threw it in the freezer again to harden up and now on to #1's cake...