Custom Cakes NO MORE

I made an important decision a little while back to no longer make custom cakes so that I could focus more on the quality of the product I was putting out.

That being said, here are some pictures of my last custom cakes!

First up is a disco rainbow heart cake!  Lots of questions, I’m sure…let’s just look at the pictures.

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Okay, so this was a good lesson in decorating.  Disco balls are hard to make, like impossible.  What ended up happening was the client replaced my very sad looking painted golf ball chocolate mold disco balls with actual mini disco balls.  It looked a million times better but unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it.

Next we have casino themed cakes, for a casino themed birthday party.

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Now let me just say, these took a long time.  I made all the top decorations with royal icing, and for some reason it did not harden at all….after sitting out for 3 days.  Let’s just say I was mildly annoyed / frustrated beyond belief.  I didn’t really have any other options then to cut around the wax paper and say, don’t eat the top decorations because they’re still attached to wax paper.  Plus after hand painting all the cards the Queen face card decided to smear and run together.  So I left the house with the cake looking like the picture above, and then got to the client’s house with a puddle in my hands. NOT. GOOD.

The last custom order I made were Chanel cupcakes.  This was done completely in buttercream (which is always a nice change to royal icing).

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Did I mention that all of these orders were due on the same day? And that I work 50hrs a week at my day job? And that my kitchen is the size of a matchbox?  Oh and I also had a dozen decorated cookies due two days before?

Needless to say this was my breaking point, and the time I realized I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do, while still maintaining the level of quality that I wanted for my products.

So now my cakes look like this:

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and this:

and cupcakes look like this:

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and I’m ok with that…

– Alexis

Friend / Family Christmas Goodies

How is it already February 11th?!

Seriously, this year is slipping by and it just started.  Will catch you up on my Christmas baking before it becomes grossly late/it already is grossly late.

As I said before I had two types of orders for Christmas this year.  The first type was client orders, which we went through last post.  The second type of order was my order.  Which just meant I made it really hard on myself and tried to get a ridiculous amount of stuff done in a short amount of time while trying to navigate my closet of a kitchen.

So when I first started baking in high school, it was because I wanted to give my friends holiday gifts.  This tradition hasn’t changed after all these years.  Before I’d put a bunch of cookies in a nondescript paper bag and hand them out to friends, but this year I decided to get all fancy with Christmas themed plastic bags.  Another tradition that hasn’t changed since high school is my inability to understand how much work making 6 different types of cookies, plus cupcakes, would be. But oh well, it all got done in the end.

First the cookies: White Chocolate Pistachio Oatmeal Cookies, Cream Cheese Peppermint Cookies, Gingerbread Truffles, Cranberry Shortbread, Gluten Free Salted Chocolate Cookies and Decorated Sugar Cookies.

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And here they are all together, and in their cute little bags.

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I also ended up making cupcakes for my Aunt’s holiday party, which really just meant I used up some extra cupcakes from a couple an order and used some fancy sprinkles/toppers.  Which is fun and easy enough.

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LOOK AT THOSE FREAKING GINGERBREAD MEN SPRINKLES

I also had a couple custom orders for my boyfriend’s family.  I honestly had no idea what to get them, so I decided to decorate some cookies according to their interests.

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The palette was for an artist, and the plane was for a handy man (of course he had to put it together).

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Merry (very late) Christmas everyone!

– Alexis

CHRISTMAS

With Christmas comes baking, then eating, then feeling sick and guilty and then eating more.

I was actually quite surprised by my lack of orders for Christmas time.  NOT that I’m complaining, as it allowed me to focus on things I really wanted to make for my family and friends.  So basically, all my holiday baking stress was put on by myself.  Good job Alexis.

The first Christmas order I had for a Client was an order of decorated Christmas cookies.  They had chosen a 12 color custom color scheme taken from the Client’s newest line of handmade bags. Because of the number of different colors used, I decided to focus more on that and keep the designs somewhat simple.  Well…simple enough, while still adding some dots and sparkle.  The basic Idea was have three different types of cookies (trees, presents, snowflakes) and then use complementary colors for each type, and create three different designs using the same color combinations.  Confused? Believe me, I was too. In fact I had to make myself a “map” to complete these cookies.

Let’s start with the Christmas trees, and the three different designs:

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And then separated by the different color combinations:

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Next we have the snowflakes, with the three different designs:

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And then separated by color combinations:

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And lastly we have the presents, with the three different designs:

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And again, separated by color combinations:

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I absolutely LOVED the colors they chose, and can’t wait to see the new line!  Check out her store Peasants and Travelers and see all the wonderful bags for yourself.

Next Client order was for a set of decorated cookies (my choice of design), and then an order of Christmas cupcakes.  Now I know in the past you’ve seen me post super fun and custom cakes, but I’ve had to take a break from that.  I am no longer making custom order cakes, but I’ll still be making things fun and festive in a more simple way.  Case and point, my Christmas cupcakes.

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I would say they’re still festive and fun, but much simpler.  I’m very happy with how they turned out, and I think making a simpler “custom” design will allow me to focus more on taste and quality while still creating something appealing to the eye.

I will still most definitely be making custom decorated cookies, because they are just way too much fun to give up.  For this Client, they gave me free reign to do what I wanted.  After watching SweetAmbs make her snow globe cookies I decided to both recreate her cookie, and add my own designs.

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I am always in awe of SweetAmbs, her cookies are beyond amazing and she has been a huge inspiration for my cookie decorating.

In my next post I’ll show you what yummy cookies and cupcakes I made for my friends and family!

– Alexis

Thanksgiving comes before Christmas

More like, I have to post this before Christmas

Thanksgiving time was BUSY.  Like, can’t think straight busy.  But in this post I’m just going to be showing you the Thanksgiving-y stuff I made for an order, and for my own family’s get together celebration.

The Thanksgiving order was for turkey cookies.  Normally when you see turkey decorated cookies, I feel like they all seem kind of awkward/childish/messy/funny.  I dunno, it’s hard to make a turkey cute or elegant or modern looking.  Nevertheless, I pressed on, and decided to go for what I thought would be a fun design, that wouldn’t be too childish.  Here’s what I came up with.

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Did anyone notice the cookie drumstick I stuck in there?

I think the turkeys in profile were my favorite.  I opted for more realistic colors but also wanted to add a little sparkle…so I literally painted on edible glitter.  Thanksgiving needed some jazzing up!

Next up, we had my dessert for our family’s thanksgiving.  Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin pie.  So when I was asked to make a pie, I decided to fudge it a little and make a not-so-pumpkin-pie not-so-pumpkin-cheesecake, but something in between.  I called it a tart, but I’m pretty sure that’s totally wrong.  And even though this nameless dessert was gluten free, it was a total hit!

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I decided to add the “Thanks” to the top, as it needed a little pop.  I made the template out of a couple 3X5 cards and just cut out the word, after placing the template on top of the tart thing I sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar. Eventually the cinnamon I used for the design sunk in and evened out in color.

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A yummy thanksgiving was had by all.

– Alexis

Halloween was yesterday

…or at least it seems like it was.

I figured I’d post my latest Halloween creations since they were made almost a month ago.  Seriously, how the frick is it already the end-ish of November.

I had two Halloween orders; one was a general holiday theme cupcake order and the second was a small cookie order.

First up, the cupcakes.

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Normally my basic party cupcakes are all sorts of colors and drowned in sprinkles.  My Halloween cupcakes were no different, besides the limited color palette.

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The cookie order was complete with ghosts, black cats, pumpkins, and scary spiders, but with all the extra dough I decided to make my friends and I “BOO” cookies.  Also, for the first time ever I made chocolate sugar roll out cookies, which were way easier than I thought they would be.

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I couldn’t tell you which one was my favorite, because they’re all super cute and tasty.

I feel like the “BOO” cookies were something in my head where I was thinking how can you use up the extra dough and how this was a really cute idea, but then when you actually start working on it you realize how much work this is going to be and then immediately regret your decision but you have to finish it because you started and you know the final result is going to be great even if that means you don’t get any sleep.

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SO MUCH BOO

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In the end they turned out BOOtiful.  AHHAHhaha  ha   ha       ha…..hmmmmm, that was horrible.

– Alexis

Congratulations All Around

What do a work party, a birthday, and a baby shower have in common?

Cake

When people order cupcakes for a birthday, I like to jazz them up a bit even if there isn’t technically a theme.  I’ve shown you my basic party cupcakes before…

cupcakes6and I recently got a cake order for a “congratulatory work party”, so I decided to go with the same kind of general fun theme.

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Pre Words – polka dots galore

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Next, I decided to do a similar theme for a friend’s birthday, but with a twist.

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HANGING POLKA DOTS

At the party the cake made a tightrope walking friend, and thus the cake was called the tightrope cake.

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Normally if someone gave me no theme to work with I would go all out polka dot for a baby shower, luckily this client gave me a theme to work from.  From looking at the below picture, I decided to make a cake and matching cupcakes.

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All of the designs on the cake were made with buttercream. Yes, I believe things look much cleaner/neater/prettier/perfecter when you use fondant, but honestly I’m not a big fan of it.  I just don’t love the chemically marshmallow taste.

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The matching cupcakes: cupcake toppers were made with royal icing and simply placed on a frosted cupcake.

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Everything all together!

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Riley Anne is definitely one spoiled little girl, and she’s not even born yet!

– Alexis

1 (make that 4!) Big Orders

Orders seem to all come at once.

When it rains it pours, and in my case when it rains it pours copious amounts of dirty dishes into my sink….but they’re fun baking dishes, so it’s ok.

First order up was golf themed cake…for a 10 year old.  Can I just say it’s amazing that a 10 year old wanted a cake themed by what I always assume is an older businessman’s sport.  To make the cake a bit more age appropriate, I did what any baker would do, add sprinkles.

Try and figure out what the birthday boy's name is!

Try and figure out what the birthday boy’s name is!

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Decided to add a bouncing ball on the side of the cake

Oh, and did I mention the matching cupcakes?!

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SPRINKLES!

SPRINKLES!

Moving on to the next order, I was given the task of a back to school theme cupcakes, and I went completely traditional.  Well…kind of.  I decided to make pencil and paper (with an A+ grade, of course) cupcake toppers for the chocolate cupcakes, but for the vanilla I decided to make whole apples, or at least the illusion of whole apples.

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* bite *

* bite *

Going back to school is totally worth a celebration, and so is an Anniversary.  For this order the client asked that I use the couple’s initials to decorate the cake, and I love me some monogram.  The client also wanted cookies with the order, which included inside joke sayings from/about the couple…..the sayings were interesting.

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Blank cookies

Blank Cookies

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Everything all together

Everything all together

While I was working on this anniversary order, I had another cookie order at the same time.  This was a very simple but sweet and fun design. Hearts, muted colors, and polka dots.  If you can’t tell by now from seeing pictures of my stuff, I like polka dots.  More like, love them….a lot….too much.

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I have a polka dot problem.

– Alexis

Birthdays on top of Birthdays

I forget that every day is someone’s birthday. Which in theory, means that I could be making a cake for everyday, FOREVER.  Thank goodness that isn’t the case.  One day maybe, but for now I’ll stick to once or twice or three or four times every couple of weeks.

First birthday cake was a fun one.  The client asked for turquoise polka dots (which I’m always up for because I.LOVE.DOTS.), but instead of doing all the dots the same shade of turquoise, I decided to go with ombre.  Not just because it’s a fun word to say (om-bré, \ˈäm-ˌbrā\, derived from the French, past participle of ombrer to shade), but also because it added some dimension and interest in something that might become boring if all done the same way.

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Second birthday cake was actually from the same client, but something totally different, doughnut cake.  For those of you who are new to this blog, doughnut cake is something I thought up from my twisted sugar obsessed mind. The process goes: cake – frosting – doughnuts – frosting – cake – cover cake with frosting – top with doughnuts.

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Third birthday cake (same client – she must really like my cakes), the client asked for something I had never heard of before, an ikat patterned cake.  What’s ikat you ask?  Well, I was asking myself the same thing, but after a quick google search I realized it’s something I’ve definitely seen before.  It’s a kind of native looking pattern, very pretty, but also a challenge for a cake.  If I’m like most cake decorators (and I’m assuming I am), then we have a sort of, how do you say, PERFECTIONIST tendencies.  Ikat is anything but perfect, but I still loved the final result.

Planning

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And finally, my last birthday order was for my dad.  My parents were in town for a couple weeks, and I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with my dad on his birthday, which hasn’t happened in a couple of years.  My dad absolutely loves lemon meringue pie, or at least I hope he does because he gets two of them every year for his birthday from my aunt.  SO, instead of trying to compete with my aunt’s lemon meringue pies (which are the best ever made), I decided to try a twist on the classic.  Lemon meringue pie CAKE.  using lemon curd as filling I used a lemon angel food cake recipe in hopes that the lightness of the cake would mimic the texture/taste of the traditional egg white meringue on top of the pie.  Top all that off with yellow tinted buttercream, and you have a winning lemon meringue pie cake.  I was beyond happy with the result, and I’m pretty sure the birthday boy enjoyed it as well.

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"You Rock" card for my dad

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– Alexis

Mini Cakes for Mini Peeps

Let’s just say, it’s been a busy couple of months….hence no posts.

There were definitely some fun orders that made up these busy months, and I’d like to share some with you now.

First off was three birthdays in one, if that makes any sense.  A coworker of mine was having a joint birthday party for her son and two of his friends.  She decided mini cakes for each of the birthday people and cupcakes for the rest of the bunch.  These mini cakes may be tiny (think less than 4″ tall), but they definitely pack a punch.

Let’s first start with the cupcakes.  A bunch of cupcakes is nice and all, but a bunch of cupcakes with sprinkles is better.

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…and even better with handmade cupcake toppers.

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But we’re not even to the fun part yet.  Next up were the individual mini cakes.  Each cake was specially designed (theme-wise) by the birthday person, including type of frosting, type of cake, color, and decoration.  Each kid knew EXACTLY what they wanted.

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Shea, the lady of the trio, wanted everything princess.

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Anderson wanted Oakland A’s everything, and let me tell you that logo was NOT easy.

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And finally, Lane wanted Dinosaurs.  I have to say, this turned out to be my favorite.

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It was nice to make something special for each birthday kid while also making something everyone could enjoy.  I think this is a fun take on a traditional birthday cake.

Alexis

June Birthdays Galore

Apparently, June is the “it” month to be born in.

FIVE birthdays in TWO weeks is quite a lot.

But of course more birthdays mean more birthday cakes, and that, along with celebrating amazing people, makes me happy.

First up was a cake for one of my best friends.  Every year I’ve tried to make her a weird/crazy/cute cake, and each year I’ve managed to top myself.  This year I decided to not make a cake but cupcakes.  My friends and I seem to always go out for a stereotypically girlish sushi dinner. So, for this friend’s birthday, I decided to make her sushi cupcakes…but not using fish, because that would be gross.

Here’s where we start, wrapping the nori seaweed around the mini cupcakes (I used a textured black paper and hot glue to put everything together). I baked some of the cake in a loaf pan to create nigiri sushi (which isn’t wrapped in nori), and then cut into small rectangles to create the rice block.

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I added rice to the cake by slathering on some vanilla bean buttercream and dunking the cakes into white jimmy sprinkles. The blank and un-sprinkled spaces you see are space for the sushi toppers I made the night before.

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Here are the final cupcakes!

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See if you can spot all your favorites: spicy tuna, futomaki, umeboshi, ikura , maguro, ebi nigiri, tamago.

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Second up for birthday cake was my boyfriend. When I asked what he wanted me to make, his response of “whatever” made me feel like doing something sneaky.  And sneaky I was.  I flat out told him I was making a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting (both true statements), however, I did not mention that I would be putting letters and confetti sprinkles in the cake.  I saw this idea on A Subtle Revelry via Pinterest, and thought it would be fun.

I modified A Subtle Revelry’s technique by making a letter “rope” instead of cutting out letters for two reasons; one, I don’t have letter cookie/fondant cutters and didn’t feel like buying them and, two, I wanted to make sure that with every cut of the cake, you would be able to see the word.

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Though my rope technique required a little 3-D thinking and may have taken a bit more time, it totally worked out for the best.

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Needless to say, when I presented the boyfriend with his plain vanilla cake, all he could do was laugh and say “Yay”.

Alexis