Monday, April 12, 2010

Chocolate Fondant and Lilo & Stitch

A couple weeks ago I learned how to make Candy Clay aka Modeling Chocolate which can easily be turned into chocolate fondant. The main ingredient is Candy Melts which come in various colors and tastes deeeelicious!
I found this to be a very valuable can be cheaper than fondant/gumpaste, it comes precolored, I can use the melts to make candies, and it SMELLS and TASTES LIKE CHOCOLATE!  The weekend after I learned this recipe I had a request from my Auntie Tett to make a birthday cake for her nephew, PJ, who happens to live in Oxnard.  I knew this cake had to sustain a 1 1/2 to 2 hour drive, so I had to cover the cake in some kind of durable exterior.  Buttercream or any type of cream frosting has the potential to melt if it's not chilled properly. So obviously I wanted to try out this new recipe on this cake.  All they asked for was a simple round marble flavored cake that read "Happy Birthday PJ" to feed 10-15 people.  So this is what I came up with...

Last year, on April 7th, two of my cousins had each given birth both at the same hospital in was a girl (Chloe Bella) and the other a boy (Edward Julius). We call these two cousins "The Twins" and "BFFs".  Since last month I had been anticipating their 1st birthdays and wanted to make their special cake.  To get the ball rolling on party planning, I started throwing out ideas to their mothers (my cousins)...they both really liked the idea of having a "Lilo and Stitch" themed party, so I made a Lilo and Stitch cake!

Here is their invitation... cute, right??
 I started off very ambitious with this cake especially since there's so much imagery to work with this theme....Hawaii, beach, surfing, flowers/leis, Elvis, hula, sand, and the many character of the Lilo and Stitch Movie. After some sketching I simplified the final design.
Since I worked on the Yo Gabba Gabba and Disney Friends characters, I felt a lot more confident working on Lilo and Stitch. It helps a lot that I'm a huuuge Lilo and Stitch fan...I even named my doggie Lilo :) First, I worked on Stitch.
Once I  painted on his eyes and details, it really made Stitch come alive.  I molded his ears but I learned my lesson from the Mickey, so I put them on last and adhered them on stronger.
Next, I worked on Lilo.  Luckily I have a figurine that helped me work out the details and body proportions of each character.  I decided to make Lilo with her Hula outfit because she would look more animated.
 After the figures were made, it was time to work on the cake. 
I knew that I was going to have two sized round cakes separated with cake pillars creating height and levels.  The concept for this idea was give an "island" feel...the bottom cake would be blue to represent the ocean and the top would be green to represent the land. The pillars would be turned into trees that are such a big part of the imagery in the movie.  
 I used surfboards to personalize the cake for each "twin" and gave Stitch his ears.
Time for the final masterpiece...
I took the previous pictures before delivery making sure the characters stayed on well and I could make the proper all I had to do was stick them in their places at the party.  They were taken off for damage control during delivery.  The party was in Bakersfield making this a 2 hour delivery like the last cake but with a lot more fragile pieces to worry about.  I'm happy to say that Stitch's ears stayed on and the only casualty was a couple strands from Lilo's grass skirt.
I also made cupcakes because I had Lilo and Stitch rings to place as toppers. The cake was Fudge Swirl and the cupcakes were red velvet with cream cheese frosting. I also made a reusable cupcake stand using decorative plates and a margarita glass as a platform.
Chloe Bella and Edward Julius had to take a nap before we sang "Happy Birthday" and present opening. 

 During the party, our other cousin Maggie gave birth for the first time and we were able to visit her at the hospital to welcome our new niece to the world.  Jahlizza Maguita Lodevico 4/10/2010 at 4:10pm, 6lbs 11oz, 19 inches long :) I'm pretty sure I'll be making her 1st Birthday cake.

Aloha and Mahalo for stopping by and reading my blog. Up next I'll be making a surprise cake, a baby shower cake, and hopefully an ice cream cake. Please stay posted.

~Abs of Cakes~

Monday, April 5, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba and Disney Friends

I feel like it's been a while since I last blogged, and boy, do I have a lot to share!  First off, I'd like to say "Happy Easter" and I am very happy that I now get to eat rice!! I was able to survive lent without eating a single grain of rice. Hallelujah!......Now on to some cake news.....

I had a cake request from my sorority sister, Elaine and her husband, Goose. Their son, Aries had turned two years old on March 28th and to celebrate they were having a Sports themed party. They wanted to incorporate some of Aries' favorite characters from Yo Gabba Gabba and Disney Friends.  And being fellow Lakers fans, they requested the characters to be dressed in purple and yellow.  In case you're unfamiliar with YGG (Yo Gabba Gabba), here is how they look:

Elaine and Goose had a very clear vision of how they imagined the cake to look.  Since Aries likes both YGG and Disney Friends, they liked the idea of a "3 on 3 basketball game" on a rectangle cake that would resemble Staples Center (Home of the LA Lakers)....they chose Foofa, Muno, and Brobee to represent YGG; Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy to represent Disney Friends. I obliged and was excited to finally have the opportunity to make figures out of fondant/gumpaste.  

The process and prepping for this cake started off a little differently. I wanted to first practice my sculpture making skills to make sure I was competent enough to make the characters recognizable and as accurate as possible. So along with character research and sketching, I also sculpted using Sculpey clay....I only sculpted Mickey because I knew he would be the most difficult and if I could sculpt him, then I could also do Minnie.
Once I felt familiar enough with the characters and the potential look of the cake, I began sculpting with fondant.  I decided to start with Muno (the long orange bumpy Gabba) because he has the simplest form.  I had to knead various colors into the fondant to get just the right orange. I was happy with how Muno turned out, and he ended up being the least fussy and my favorite one! 
I quickly found out the differences between the two mediums: Sculpey is a lot firmer where fondant is really easy to knead; Fondant will start sinking and take the shape of whatever it's placed on where Sculpey is stiffer and will hold it's shape better....both still requires an armature to act as a frame or skeleton to keep the components like arms and legs intact. It was critical that I made all these characters early in order to have ample time for them to set and harden before going onto the cake. The next figures I made were Brobee (the green striped monster) then Foofa (the pink one with the flower on her head).

 These figures took longer that I anticipated, but I really enjoyed making them.  I wanted to get them just right and they were the main component of this cake so I didn't care that they took a while to create.  After a full night of working on the figures, I stopped working only to find my doggie, Lilo asleep on the couch that put a smile on my I took a picture of her to share :) hehe.
The next days I continued to work on the figures.  I was in such a zone that I forgot to take pictures of Mickey and Minnie's process like I did with the YGG bunch.  The Disney characters are not the best, but I did my best with them and I'm happy that they are still recognizable.  Originally I was going to include Goofy as part of the Disney Friends team, but I ran out of time and materials for him.  
 After working meticulously on the characters, I was actually ready to switch gears and start baking the cake.  Elaine had a last minute request for a chocolate dobash cake, so I found a recipe and now have a new flavor to add to my arsenal.  In my last blog, I mentioned that I've wanted a KitchenAid Stand Mixer ever since I was in middle school.....well, guess what?! I FINALLY bought one.  It was all good timing really, serendipitous if you will...there was a sale at Target for them, I had just received my tax refund, and I have been baking cakes more than ever, making my decision a no brainer.  She really is beautiful.  I'm thinking I should name her.....any suggestions?
This chocolate dobash cake was the first to bless this amazing machine...
While the cake was baking, I prepared the dobash frosting...
Time for the decorating...Elaine and Goose are not big fans of fondant so I used buttercream to decorate with, meaning the cake was a lot more prone to damage during delivery.
I completed the cake the day before but the characters had to come off the cake during transport, otherwise I risked more damage.  Mickey and Minnie were the fussiest figures and I kept having to fix them....if you notice in the picture above, Minnie is missing her arm, and Mickey is missing his hand.  This was my first cake delivery with such fragile pieces, so I was very nervous and on edge.  Every little bump on the road was magnified. 
The cake received a few dints but nothing major. The biggest casualty was one of Mickey's ears which had fallen off, so we claimed that he "injured himself while playing". We had to snap pics and sing "Happy Birthday" faaast because all the kids were reaching for the figures especially the birthday boy himself.  I took that as a compliment and assurance that I got his approval :)
This cake was really fun to make and I really learned a lot during the process.   I feel honored to have been trusted by Elaine and Goose to make Aries' 2nd Birthday cake. Mahalos for the opportunity.

~Abs of Cakes~
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