An Evolution of Holiday Cakes

xmascake2013So this is kinda out of season (however, given the horrendous snowfall we received yesterday, perhaps it is just giving the white Christmas we should’ve had instead of that ice storm back in December). I decided to dig up some old photos of some of my earlier attempts at holiday cake decorating. I would never say I’m a pro now but it is quite humbling to see how I started and how much I’ve learned through the years. So if you’re attempting to make a cake and it just cannot hold itself together, don’t get discouraged. We’ve all been there; pre-crumbcoat. Practice makes more practice perfect.

Pictured above is the cake from Christmas 2013. The tree is made from an ice cream cone and presents are shaped using rice krispie treats and wrapped in fondant.

Now brace yourselves for this blast from the confectionery past (2006 to be exact). I believe this was my first multi-tier cake, and believe me, there were multi-tears alright:

wondayxmas2006Well, you gotta start somewhere!

Next up is 2007’s holiday cake where I learned to dial back the crazy a bit using cones for trees for the first time, and a gingerbread house that was actually made with graham crackers:

xmas2007Then in 2008, I went back to the lab kitchen to experiment with decorating again. This time using wafer paper for designs. Looking back on this, I think I can execute this better… and by “better” I mean do it completely different:

xmas20082009 was a trying year – due to an accident, I was out of commission for a while but I was determined to have an epic cake comeback with multi-tier cake with a spinning snowman! Suffice to say, I’ve had all evidence of its existence destroyed.

There were many other cakes since then that have helped me hone in my skills. Perhaps they’ll eventually find their way to this blog but until then, Merry Cakemas!

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A Couple of Ways to Dress a Vanilla Cupcake

vanilla cupcakeI tend to judge a Chinese restaurant by their fried rice, a Thai place by the Pad Thai, a pizzeria by its pepperoni and cheese, and a bakery by its vanilla cupcake. The beauty of its simplicity lies in how versatile it can be yet how it can stand alone as a dessert show-stopper untouched. Two ways I’ve played with this recipe is first by giving it a tropical flare by topping it with toasted coconut and candied dried pineapple, and then filling the cupcake with something (in this case, some candy… more on that later).

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Shrek-themed Gingy Cake

ginegy1The cake is the Magnolia Bakery vanilla recipe (yes, this Gingy Cake is not a ginger cake). I also used my usual pudding filling with a splash of bourbon for between the layers.

Now let me explain this cake design: a friend at work has expressed his hatred for the Shrek movie franchise on a number of occasions… so naturally, his birthday cake was going to be Shrek-themed. Shrek’s face was too hard and hideous to construct so I took the easy route and fashioned Gingy out of actual gingerbread cookie. This would have been great if my friend had actually seen a Shrek movie and got the reference

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Minecraft Cake

This Minecraft requires two 8″x8″ square pans, a vanilla cake recipe (or chocolate but I used vanilla), 500 mL heavy cream, 1 package of instant vanilla pudding, 2 batches of marshmallow fondant (one batch tinted light brown, the other white), one batch of buttercream frosting (enough to coat the cake… it’ll be covered in fondant), some red and brown pearl dust and a little bit of vodka for painting. If you have gray petal dust for a little bit of detailing and shading, have at it!

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Luau Themed Cake

This cake design is from 2008, when I was still unsure about using fondant and relied heavily on icing for decoration (though the lei is made from fondant and the pink and white flower and the ears are made with gum paste… clearly I had no idea what I was doing).

To get the shape of the pig, I used a medium and a small stainless steel mixing bowls. The texture of the pig is created by piping star-shaped dots.