Most of my work is inspired by fashion, or at least design outside the culinary world. Yet people always ask me to make a cake that looks like their purse. Why do you want to eat your purse! This blog can be a learning tool for you and an outlet of self expression for me:) No more purse cakes! Enjoy!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

To Margaret...my hero


The picture above is a cake I made for my cousin Jenn's wedding....look familiar?  It was based on Baroque in Patent Leather, a cake that graces the cover of this beautiful, inspiring, and (at least for me) life changing book.....


I made Jenn's cake when I was a baby cake designer.  I was living in New York at the time and was totally obsessed with the woman I call my hero.....Margaret Braun!  If you don't know who Margaret Braun is....first of all....shame on you!...and secondly...she is the woman who changed my life.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it is true.

In 2002 (I was in college a the time), I found this book.  I must have read the book 100 times in the first week.  I was consumed with ideas and found myself practicing my piping skills everyday.  I would tape a piece of parchment paper to my dorm room wall and practice over and over using toothpaste.  What?  Listen, I was a poor college student and toothpaste is cheap....and it actually looks and pipes like royal!....but you have to get the super cheap, pasty kind.

Now, 12 years later.....here is what my book looks like today....


She's been through it....just for the record, I eventually bought another copy so I could try to preserve what was let of this one.....because it is SIGNED!!





...and yes...I have had many, many adventures in sugar!  She signed my book at a demo at Macy's in NYC.  As a young cake designer....it was one of the best days of my life.  So naturally, much of my early work looked very Margaret-like......


God this picture is old!  Sorry for the quality..I think I used a disposable camera.  

The best thing about Cakewalk, is that it taught me to be fearless and try to push the limits of cake design.  It gave me chance to understand the importance of detail and develop my own style!  This is when I understood that MY cakewalks were the fashion shows, magazines, and pop culture I loved to obsess over.  I started to pull inspiration from everything around me.

Okay enough about me....let's talk about the work.   Here are a few of my favorites from Margaret...


Seriously, she even managed to reinvent the polka dot!



   Chalice toppers are a signature Margaret statement.




I love this fashion cake by Margaret....


Gorgeous!  It was inspired by Italian designer Rene Caovilla....check out this shoe he designed...


This is everything!...cake inspiration for days!!

And we can't forget her movie work...

Meet Joe Black


Bride Wars


And this showstopper from Rachel Getting Married....


That could not be more awesome!

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me to create an over the top baby shower cake....something that didn't scream BABY!  Ha....so no blocks or strokes.  I was looking though my fashion archives and realized this was the perfect time to pay respects to the woman who I have always looked up to!

Margaret is known for her sculpted tiers, hand painted cakes, and signature cake toppers.  I have to get all three things on this cake.....and my added touches with some fondant texture.

I started by sculpting the top edge of each tier...




I run my knife along in a wave pattern.  Then I coat the cake in white chocolate ganache.


I know...it looks funny....stay with me...

Next I smooth the ganache, cover in fondant, and use my fingers to pinch and define this top edge.




I add some texture...you guys have seen this before in my Stella McCartney cake....

It's time to paint....


I am using pink food coloring, white to tone it down, and then a lightly damp craft sponge to wipe the color off.


I paint color into the lines....


Then I use the craft sponge to wash the color over the surface...




I added some embellishments.  Once again....it still looks a bit crazy...stay with me;)

Let's talk about the topper.  I need to make an ode to a chalice without actually making a chalice.  I am gonna try to make a golden rattle.  I start by making a chocolate piece from my Pavoni mold.  It needs a hole though so I can feed it through the dowel.  I am gonna use a bubble tea straw.



I dip the straw in chocolate...


Place it into the top of the mold and hold it to dry so it remains level....


Then I popped the top off and filled the mold with chocolate....





Okay I got a couple air bubbles but I'm gonna gold leaf this thing so it won't matter.....


The cake is stacked and ready to paint....



With the middle tier I wanted to add some polka dots but in a different way than Margaret does them.  So I gave them some texture...

I also added some bows based off this cake Margaret made for Puff Daddy's baby shower....




It's coming along!!  Here is the finished topper....


I just continued to paint until there was nothing left!!!



And here she is all together....


Yay!  I love her!....and she will be on TV later this year....I will keep you posted.

Margaret Braun will be teaching a class in November at my friend Chrissy's school in Kitchener....click the link below for all the information....



Karen Portaleo and I will be teaching there as well in September!!



I would like to send a huge thank you to Margaret Braun for being my hero, giving us this amazing book, and allowing me to do this blog post.....because....by the way....Margaret is super down to earth....watch this Master Class....



That's all for now;) Bye!!
























Sunday, March 30, 2014

Truffles and Shoes (Christian Louboutin)



This post is dedicated to Christian Louboutin.  He is a household name so I don't have to explain how he is the shoe master.  Here's a bit from Wiki...


Louboutin helped bring stilettos back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s, designing dozens of styles with heel heights of 120mm (4.72 inches) and higher. The designer's professed goal has been to "make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as [he] can."While he does offer some lower-heeled styles, Louboutin is generally associated with his dressier evening-wear designs incorporating jeweled straps, bows, feathers, patent leather, red soles and other similar decorative touches. He is most popularly known for his red-bottom high heel shoes, commonly referred to as "sammy red-bottoms." Christian Louboutin's red-bottom colour code is registered as Pantone 18-1663 TPX.
Despite being known for his celebrity clients, he rarely gives shoes away – offering discounts instead to his high-profile fans. This policy also extends to his personal family, because he feels that giving shoes away as gifts is unimaginative.
His single biggest client is Danielle Steel, who is reputed to own over 6,000 pairs and is known to have purchased up 80 pairs at a time when shopping at his stores.

Wow,  I want my own Pantone color!  And Danielle Steel, can you start buying some cakes please?!;)







These are everything!


I love these too!  Stop looking!;)


His men's collection is fun.  I will take a pair of the red and the green;)




And these babies above are 8 inch heels.  I think you have to be Black Swan to wear them!

Here is the one that sealed the deal!!!... love those studs!!  It's like shoes with rainbow jimmies (or sprinkles...whichever you call it)




So as you can see....amazing style with lots of detail.  I really am digging the studs.  And I think I know just the thing to make.

I started with a company called in2food (and yes...it's supposed to be lower case) in November as their creative guy.  I get to travel around and put on presentations using our products....sweet gig (pun intended).  We import chocolate, chocolate decorations, and many other pastry products from Europe and Asia.....things you couldn't just find in an American store.  One of the lines we carry is called Pavoni.  They are a company based in Italy with some seriously awesome molds!  


The shapes are fun and inventive...this is a dessert made from the Pavoflex molds.  I need something small though, like a truffle mold to create my studs (well... over the top studs).



This truffle is not the shape I am looking for but you can see how unique the shapes come.  Here are some splatter paint truffles I made for a presentation last month......



Pretty fun!!  The mold I used is called Formaflex Micro Savain Quadrato.....sounds fancy;)

Okay let's get started....


I chose this mold (Praline Mold Diamante) because I love the shape and I think it will look cool as an exaggerated stud.  I melted some white coating chocolate and dyed it pink.  I don't like to add gel or liquid color to chocolate because it will start to thicken.  I used this pink powder color and add a small amount of oil to make a paste.  The oil works great because it will not thicken the chocolate and it also allows all the color to "bloom".  If you were to add just the powder to the chocolate, it would have little pink flakes.



Now that the truffles are made, we can start on the cake.  I only want one tier with the studs, so I need to make the other two something fun, but not overshadowing.

I have always wanted to make a cake that looks like this.... speaking of black swan...I bet she's wearing those 8 inch heels!


Yes....it's McQueen...of course;)  Since I am using chocolate, I decided to use another medium that is used in desserts (you know, something other than gumpaste or fondant).  Coconut!!! Note here....you have to use the large flake coconut to achieve this look.

I start by smearing an area of the cake with royal icing and then patting it with my spatula to get a rough effect...


Good.  Now I push handfuls of the coconut shavings into the royal icing.....this is a little messy but super fun!



As you can see.....it doesn't look like the swan dress....but it's a start.  I do this first to get a good base and then I add pieces to get the look I want.....


I am also using rice paper (wafer paper) to add larger pieces.  I cut various strips...


Then I pull them against my scissor blade to curl them....it's like curling a ribbon....but be super gentle!!



Now I am going to add the curly pieces and more coconut by hand.  I pipe bits of royal protruding out....this will give a bit of volume to the texture....


Then hand place my pieces....I know...I am ridiculous...I like tedious work;)


Now that looks way better.  I left the space at the top to add a crystal ribbon and then work my way up to it.


Let's glue the truffles...one at a time with royal.  You can see I added some texture to this tier.


It looks really fun but not enough...this is Louboutin....it's got to be over the top.  I am going to add some white truffles where the texture is...


YYYEEEEESSSS!!!


Here she is all together!!  Drum roll please....



  It's a bit of a departure from my piping and throwing gold on everything!

If you wanna see more from in2food just visit the online store here.  Oh, and I will be doing some "how to" videos next month for our Youtube channel.  I will keep you posted. 

Don't forget the "Craftsy Classes" button at the top.  And also, if you wanna get updates just add your email to the top right corner.....or follow we on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Flikr.

That is all for now!  Bye!