Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wedding cake with flowers on top

I recently completed my third wedding cake. It was a smaller affair than the other two (3 layers, 8 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch); however, like the other two, I was more-or-less given a cart blanche to do whatever I felt like. This might seem like a great situation for a cake decorator, but I feel it's more nerve racking (maybe because I'm still new at this?). What if what I choose to do doesn't appeal to the couple, or what if my design idea doesn't work out in the end, etc, etc. I was given colours: red and white, but that was all. I opted for flowers, as it seemed the easiest/most appropriate, and chose to make them from fondant rather than icing (also due to ease). Below are pictures of the process.
The middle layer fondant-ed up. The red was so soft I was worried it might melt if the day was too warm.
I got free fondant at the end of my cake decorating course (so I suppose it wasn't really free since I paid for the course...). I figured a) if it was taken away from me at the airport it didn't matter; and b) if it turned out to not be very good I could just buy more. It nearly was taken away at the airport (they didn't know what it was, and seemed really concerned by it) and I ended up having to buy more white as the free stuff was too dry to roll out without cracking. The red as noted above was really, really soft, which made it easy to work with (getting it on the cake was a cinch) but it also meant it was really droopy. Some of the first roses I made with it turned to mush. Later on I added more icing sugar to it, which seemed to help strengthen it up.
My small army of fondant roses...I'd already used some by the time I took this picture. I think there were over 40 all told.
I was rather proud of my roses, the mottled ones in particular I thought looked really pretty. Andrew helped by rolling and cutting out of the petals while I did all the shaping. Making the flowers took...a couple of hours (I did make 40)? But setting them out on the cake took minutes.
The cake top after the first round of flowers.
At first I wasn't too sure how many flowers I would use throughout the rest of the cake, so I limited them on the top. Once I stacked it I realized there wasn't space for adding flowers on the other layers so I just kept arranging more on top.
The cake about 92.5% done, just a few finishing touches to add on the actual day of the wedding.
Once the cake was transported from my parents place to Andrew's parents place, I stacked the cake (transporting cakes is just a blast...really...) so it could sit in the fridge for the next day and a half. When I'm in Ontario I prefer to bake and apply the base layer of fondant at my parent's place as they have a lot of space (including multiple fridges), then I stack and decorate at Andrew's parents (or actually at his grandmother's). Being a small cake the staking took about five minutes and I used straws as supports--they're way easier than dowelling. You just slide the straws in, then snip them off at the desired height.
Completed cake. More flowers on the top with a few on the bottom section (partially to hide an unsightly mark), and ribbon for trim.
I added a little bit of shinny Christmas wrapping ribbon to trim the white layers and hide the bumpy edges at the bottom of the cake. Also, as you can see I did some quick, easy scroll work around the red cake layer. I think it gives the cake a bit of 'funk' and keeps it from being too traditional or boring. Also, at this point I can cover a whole cake in free-hand scroll work in about ten minutes, so it was a bit of a comfort zone-thing as well.
The full view from the side of the cake. I think the middle layer with the scrolling was really effective.
One more close-up on the flowers. This was actually the first time I made fondant flowers. They were fairly easy to do, even without the special flower tools (the ones that kind of look like dental equipment).

That's about all I've got. Unfortunately I didn't stay at the wedding for the cake cutting (did I mention that above? It was a family wedding), the term used to describe me after dinner was 'peeky.' Both Andrew and I have been fighting off head colds, and I didn't get much in the way of sleep the night before and simply couldn't stay. The drive from the wedding, which took place in Acton (why yes, it is worth the drive--Ontarians, you know what I mean, everyone else, you can scratch your heads) to our lodgings was around an hour and I fell asleep on the way.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Let Their Be Height: Firefly Circus and Theatre School

Last Friday night (June 10th) Andrew and I attended Firefly Circus and Theatre's fundraiser cabaret show. As new students it seemed appropriate to support the school, plus we enjoy watching aerial performances (hence why we decided to learn the skills in the first place). Thanks to a tip from a co-worker of mine we headed out early and arrived at the theatre at Faculte de St. Jean around 7:20. The show wasn't scheduled to start until 8:00, but the theatre was already over half-full, with little space at the tables on the floor, so we decided to head up. We got pretty good seats, actually, first balcony off on stage right, and we didn't have to crane our necks to see the show.

The theme of the evening was the 1920s. As the show began, a number of the cast members filtered out into the audience (on all levels) wearing flapper-type dresses, chatting with people, posing for pictures, flirting, etc, until they eventually all filed onto the stage for an opening dance number. The opening was well put together (one of the school's instructors has extensive dance-theatre training), but a bit odd at the same time because the music sounded as if it came from a musical (I couldn't quite place it, however) and so there was singing, but not from the cast members. From there they moved into the first number featuring what were likely some of the beginner girls, performing on the trapeze (I assumed beginner, because they performed several of the tricks we've learned in our first two weeks). Novice or not, the group did a good job and we made sure to clap as often as possible.

The show reminded me a little of years ago when I skated in club carnivals. There was an over arching them that carried through the evening, with little interludes here and there, and everyone got to show off their skills. I don't mean to say that I thought the show wasn't very good, or not worthwhile, it's just how I would compare it to my own experiences. The set changes in between pieces were well done with a number of extra girls (who I don't think ever took to any of the apparatus, but I could be wrong) who would rush out (costumed) and pretend to dust/clean/sweep as they pulled out the silks or ropes etc. They kept in character the whole time giving the show an extra level of fun.

Two numbers in particular stuck out in my mind--the first involved our instructor. After the second or third number a 'tin can phone' dropped from the ceiling and began to ring. Out came our instructor, Kim, and in no time at all she'd climbed the rope in order to 'talk on the phone' with the show's MC. It was basically an advert for the silent auction, with the humorous twist that Kim just causally hung out at the top of the rope during the session. This was repeated a second time (promoting more items in the auction) with another performer joining in, also climbing a rope to get to a phone hanging from the top of the set. For the final time they both came out in heels and climbed the rope by doing a twisting-split move instead of simply going up straight. When they got to the top this time they actually performed their number.

The other performer of note was on the tapeze, she did a solo number and definitely shone. She seemed to know how to carry and move her body and did some really cool moves that we didn't see from some of the other trapeze performances (including a summersault over and around the bar). Andrew also enjoyed the last number, which featured four slightly older men (slightly older in that they were probably our age, rather than late teens, like the other two guys in the show) who did a robber/chase sort of number. One of the men climbed a silk using just his hands (legs sticking our at 90 degrees from his body) then proceeded to swing across the stage from silk-to-silk. Quite impresive.

Perhaps if we stick with Firefly we'll find ourselves in the show next year. Even if we don't do an aerials number we can always do a poi routine. For now, we're enjoying our intro class, and we're taking a stretching and flexibility class in July.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Quicky cake post

While I'm still composing my actual blog post, I've tossed up a few pictures of the dummy cake I put together at a 3-day cake decorating course I took from NAIT (Northern Alberta Institue of Technology)--tonight being the final night. I signed up for the course months ago (they fill up fast), even so, I had no idea of what I was going to do until the second class (the first class was spent covering the cakes with the fondant, so no decorating happened). My plans hit a few bumps along the way (a bronze colour that turned out orange, black sponging that ended up all over my hands--and green to boot) and if you look real close, you can see icing oozing out under the pieces.

The quick sketch for my cake plan that I put together last Monday on my lunch break.
The top two layers as the were at the end of the second class. At this point I was convinced this was going to turn out as the fuggliest cakewreck I'd ever made (Why yes, I did just reference my two favourite blogs in a single sentence).
My gears. They took forever to make. All I had were circular stamps so I cut out a bunch of circles, then used a smaller circle to take out the ridges for the gears.
Top view of the cake. The clock face was partially drawn on with plain black colouring. I didn't have a paint brush (I used  the pointed tip of a flower tool, actually), so it was a bit tricky.
Partial side view of the cake. You can catch a glimps of some of the gears I made, and the boarder I dressed up with little circles I cut to look like screws.
More of the gears cascading down the side and a slightly better look at the boarders done in silver and gold.
Full side shot of the four tiers.

It turned out okay in the end (although not as beautiful as I'd hoped), but I seriously thought I had a full-on cakewreck on my hands.