Monday, April 11, 2011

Adventures in Gumpaste

So, I tried to use the newest batch of gumpaste that I made the other day.  It was very stiff and tough to work with the ball tool while trying to make flowers today.  I re-kneaded it, and added in a lot of crisco (yes, again).  Re-wrapped it in Stretch-Tite and set it aside for a while. 

It was a little easier to work with.  I used it to make the flowers for today and it seemed fine.  I had asked some cake-friends for some advice on what to do (other than make a new batch with less sugar, lol), and one of the suggestions was to knead in some water, a few drops at a time.

I had to color a bit of the gumpaste, so decided to knead in the water while I was kneading in the color (have I mentioned I hate kneading??).  I think it loosened it up a bit.  I also kneaded in some more Crisco and coated it in Crisco before wrapping it up for the night.  I will tackle it tomorrow and see how it is.

Miraculously, I need to make more gumpaste!  I have used almost half of the batch I made the other day (yikes)!  I will need quite a bit of green for leaves and calyx's, so I'm considering coloring the gumpaste a light green before adding in the tylose.  Hoping it will make my life a little easier, lol. 

I can't wait for you all to be able to read the posts about the cake!!!  I am faithfully writing up the posts, and will post them (as promised) once the cake has been judged!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

BCC Skills USA Cake Show

Today I attended a cake show that is near my house.  It is put on by the local Community College.  It features a wedding cake portion, as well as a Divisional portion.  Entrants range from Novice to Professional. 

I did not enter this show, I have been too buys getting ready for Great American at the end of April.

Here are some of the cakes (and portions of cakes) that I saw!

This was a cool nautical-themed cake.  Check out the "rope" on the base, the "wooden" ships wheel.  The coral is cooked isomalt (a type of sugar substitute). 

This cake has gumpaste shamrocks on it!

This is another nautical-themed cake - it was pretty impressive!

Some exquisite piping!!!

Beautiful cherry blossoms!

Really cool beach fence, complete with seaweed!!!

This boardwalk looks like it came right from the shore!!!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I mentioned yesterday that I had to make gumpaste today.   Amazingly enough, I actually made it!!!  It was that, or run out and have to make it anyway, lol.

I linked to Nic Lodge's Gumpaste Recipe yesterday, and don't feel comfortable posting his recipe here (I'd rather link to it like I did), so if you would like the see the recipe, please check out yesterday's post.

I use my Kitchen Aid to make my gumpaste, I find it the easiest way to do it.  I seperated my eggs and put the whites in the bowl and turned the mixer on high to break them up.  Then added almost two pounds of confectioner's sugar (I sifted it, but I don't know if it makes a difference).  This is basically a royal icing, and once it was at soft peak stage (or med/stiff peak - depending on whether you forgot it was running), I added in the tylose powder and turned the mixer on high until it stiffened right up.  I then scraped it out of the bowl and onto the counter, so that I could knead the remaining sugar into it.

I know what you're thinking..............and I, too, was skeptical that this mess was going to turn into gumpaste the first time I made it.

Miraculously, it took me less than 5 minutes today to knead this all together into a cohesive blob.  I did not end up adding any of the extra sugar, however, that is not the norm.  I usually have to knead about half the withheld sugar in, and it should be a little more because my gumpaste usually ends up too soft the next day.  I suspect I did not need to add any today because I managed to let the royal icing get to stiff peak stage before adding the tylose.  Hopefully, I won't be making more gumpaste tomorrow!! 

Once you finish kneading the gumpaste, it needs to be wrapped airtight and bagged and put in the fridge for a recommended 24 hours, then taken out and let come to room temp before using it.  Mine is going to end up being in the fridge for about 20 hours before it will be taken out and brought to room temp.  I believe it take a few hours to come to room temp, but I really have no idea, lol.

I'll try to post pics tomorrow of what it looks like after coming to room temp :)


Thursday, April 7, 2011

More gumpaste........already?!?!?!

Yup!  Hard as it is to believe, I am about to run out of the gumpaste I made for the project (only 1 batch, lol), so I must make some more.  I prefer to make my own gumpaste, rather than purchase it or alter fondant (add tylose powder or Gum-Tex to fondant until you get the proper consistency).  Altering fondant is fantastic in an emergency, but is not my preferred method.

I make my own gumpaste, using Nicholas Lodge's recipe.  I got it when I took a class a few years ago, and it was published on his website.  I have found it here (about half way down the page), on the First Impression's website though, if you wish to try it.  It's really not hard to make.  Plus, I'm a lazy decorator, I fully admit it, and even *I* make my own gumpaste, lol, so it can't be hard!

I probably should have made it tonight, but wanted to get some flowers finished.  So, I'll make it in the morning :)  It is recommended to let it sit for 24 hours, so it's probably good that I have some gumpaste left, lol.

I added up the total number of individual flowers (of various varieties) I am supposed to be making for this cake.  It was a scary number!!!  Tonight, I added up how many I have finished so far, and was surprised to find that I'm almost 1/3 of the way there!!!  I still haven't made a list of all the other things I have to do for this cake.....I think I'm afraid too, lol!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sometimes it's a struggle.............

Ever start making a flower and realize you really don't like making it????   Yeah.....well......that happened today, lol.  I could only make 1/3 of what I had planned to - will have to try to finish them tomorrow :)

I have two of the varieties that I am planning to make, all done!!!!   They look awesome, and haven't even been dusted yet - can't wait!!

Contrary to how I usually "attack" a show cake, I have not written up a timeline for getting everything done.  I don't know why, I just haven't.  I usually do one for every show cake I do.  I start with a very comprehensive, detailed list of what needs to be done for EVERY element in a cake/showpiece, and then decide how much can be done in a day, etc....   I think one of the reasons I haven't done that yet for this cake, is I'm really not sure how long it takes me to make flowers.  Oh well....I am starting on them, and that's the important part!


Saturday, April 2, 2011


So, it should be no surprise to anyone that knows me, this next competition cake is going to be heavy on the flowers.  I LOVE gumpaste flowers, and feel that I am pretty good at them.  I recently took a class on dusting flowers, and was amazed at the difference using more than one or two shades of color on the same flower can make!!

These are the flowers from the class I took (and they ALL started out WHITE, except the leaf):

I have typed up a list of all the flowers (and colors of those flowers) that I am planning to make for my cake.  It is quite a daunting list!!!  There are almost a thousand individuals flowers that I'm going to be making - small flowers, regular flowers, buds, leaves, etc..  There are thirteen varieties of flowers, in a multitude of colors.  I have a feeling they are not all going to fit on the cake, in that case I'll have quite a few leftover competition-worthy flowers! 

I have decided, rather to write up a blog post for each day of working on the flowers, that I would write one up on each flower I am making.  There are other elements to the cake besides just the flowers, and there will be posts on each of those elements too!  The cake show is the end of April so, unfortunately, you'll have to wait until then to see them - but rest assured I am writing them as I work on the flowers!!