Oct 26, 2011

How to CRUMB COAT a Cake!

Hello everyone and welcome to my tutorial on crumb coating a cake. I often get asked by friends and family how to crumb coat a cake and to get a nice smooth finish on the cake, so here is one of my techniques.
I know you are excited to jump into decorating your cake, but I need to clarify a few things about frosting. First, there are many different kinds of frosting, the kind Americans generally use is an American buttercream. This is the ultra sweet frosting made with powdered sugar, butter and sometimes shortening. There are also Meringue buttercreams which are a little more difficult to make, but totally worth it. For this tutorial, we are using an American buttercream.
 Before you begin, make sure your frosting is stiff, you should be able to scoop it up with your spatula and turn it upside down over the bowl without it falling or sliding back into the bowl. The frosting should hold its shape perfectly.

So, what is a crumb coat? That is a good question. A crumb coat is the base coat of frosting on a cake. Generally there are 2 layers of frosting spread on a cake, the 1st is the crumb coat. It seals in the crumbs, so that no crumbs can get into the second layer of icing and made your cake look dirty.
These are the tools I use to crumb coat a cake. A leveler, an off-set spatula and a scraper. All of these materials can be picked up at a craft store near you or on line. I also use a turntable and I ALWAYS have a separate empty bowl, which I will explain in a minute.

 The 1st thing you need to do is level your cakes. All cakes need to be leveled or you will get cracked cakes that will not hold there shape. I use a leveler which I bought at a craft store for about $4. If you do not have one you can also use a long knife and very carefully cut the top off your cake. If I have to use this option, I use the longest NON-serrated knife I have. I do not like to use serrated knives on cakes because the tear the cake and make more crumbs.

 Once you have topped all of your cakes, you are ready to start stacking. Start by spreading a thin layer of Frosting on your cake board so it will stick to the bottom of your cake.
 Place your 1st layer on and plop a big dollop of icing right in the middle! That was a weird sentence. Anyway, spread the icing carefully. I think of spreading frosting like spreading peanut butter on bread, you have to be very careful or it tears the bread, same with cake and frosting. Always add more frosting that you think you need. You can always take off frosting, and it is much easier and cleaner that trying to add frosting.

Once it is nice and flat like the picture below, you can stack the second cake. If you only have 2 cakes, turn the cake over so the bottom of the second cake is now the top of the cake. This will greatly reduce your amount of crumbs.

 As you can see, i repeated everything for the second cake and flipped my top cake so it is upside down.

Once you have filled your cake, use your off set spatula to smooth your excess frosting into the cake. This is where you fill any gaps on the sides, if there are any and make sure your layers are stacked properly. This is also the time to get out that extra bowl I told you to have ready.

 One of my tricks to getting a really nice crumb coat is to have my extra bowl. Anytime I get crumbs on my spatula, I wipe the frosting into my extra bowl. I always make sure to keep my frosting bowl crumb free, by putting my crumb covered frosting into a separate bowl:) It is the best way to reduce crumbs, I promise!

Note the angle of the spatula in the picture above. You want to keep you spatula at a 90 degree angle while spreading frosting.
 Now that we have spread the excess frosting around and off the cake. See my square pan has my crumby frosting in it (Above) We can begin spreading on the crumb coat. Again always start with more that you need. I like to spread frosting on the sides of the cake, then the top. Turn your turntable with one hand while you hold your spatula at 90 degrees. To get this right, it can take a while. if you see gaps of holes, fix them and keep going. Once you have a nice thick coat if frosting, use your scraper and hold it flat on the turntable so it is against the side of your cake (sorry I forgot to take a picture of that) then turn the turn table and the scraper will make a perfectly smooth coat of frosting.

 After finishing the edges of the cake, you will have peaks on the top edges of the cake, use you scraper or spatula to draw the peaks into the center of the cake, Then smooth again.
Once you have finished the crumb coat you are ready to cover the cake in fondant, or if you are making a buttercream cake, let the cake rest for a few minutes in the fridge and the coat it again the same way.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! Please let me know if you have any questions and enjoy caking!
Good Luck,

Sep 28, 2011

MINI Cakes or Cakes for 2

For the past few months I have been contemplating the idea of Cakes for 2. These cute little cakes are completely customizable, but are tiny and only feed 2-6 people. I love making Over the Top cakes, but I understand that not many people need that much cake. Unless you are getting married or having a huge birthday party, which is always fun, cakes seem like too much.
So my answer to this dilemma, make small Over the Top Cakes!

 This New York Giants cake feeds about 6 people. The cake itself is Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese icing. The football is made of rice cereal treats and covered in modeling chocolate. I delivered this cake to the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World and had it delivered to my clients room, so when she and her boyfriend returned to the hotel from a great day at Epcot, his birthday cake was waiting for him. She said it was a great surprise and it was fun to be a part of it.

This cake fed 2 -3 people and was made for my very tall brother-in-law who loves to camp!

Cakes for 2 can be a great way to surprise a loved one for an intimate birthday, anniversary or just to say I love you! They are personalized, fun and say I love you and I am thinking about you in a very SWEET way.

Let me know what you think of Cakes for 2.

Aug 29, 2011

Monkey Cake Tutorial

Welcome to Wendy Woo Cakes 1st Tutorial!

A few months ago I was asked to make a monkey and banana cake, with lots of bananas all over the cake. We made the cake and it was a huge success. The family loved it! Last week, we were asked to make the same cake for a baby shower, so I thought this time I would do a tutorial for the cake. Please let me know what you think, and if you have other topics you would like to learn about, I am always happy to share what I know.

All cakes, of course need to be crumb coated. This is the top tier which is Red Velvet cake with Madagascar Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream...say that 3 times fast:)

Smooth out the icing and place it in the fridge to chill. While it is chilling, cover your board in fondant.

 After chilling for about 30 minutes in the fridge your cakes are ready to cover. Just a reminder...your fondant will only be as smooth and flat as your buttercream and cake underneath. If the buttercream is lumpy, your fondant will be too.
 Cover the cake carefully and cut away the excess. I like to use a sharp steak knife that IS NOT serrated at all! Or sometimes I use an exacto knife. It depends on my mood.
 After your cakes are covered give them a few minutes (20 minutes) to sit and rest. The fondant needs a few minutes to start to harden. If you cover a cake then try to move it too soon, the fondant will slip, stretch, slide, or bunch and all of those things are not pretty.

I usually take this time to get my other supplies ready or make other decorations. Cut your dowels for your bottom tier. You will need at least 4 dowels inserted into your bottom tier to hold up the top tier. I forgot to take a picture of this step. If you don't want to use dowels you can also use large staws (Tea Straws) they can be found at craft stores or kitchen stores.
For this cake and most cakes, I also cut a long dowel that will run the height of the cake that can be hammered through all of the tiers to help with stability in transporting the cake.
For this I use my "gardening" shears, a utility knife and a hammer, all of which are only used for cake purposes and have never been used outside. I sharpen one end of the dowel with the utility knife, you could also use a pencil sharpener, just make sure it hasn't been used for pencils.

For this cake, make the dowel a few inches taller than the cake itself, so it can support the palm tree on top. Then using the hammer, pound the dowel through both tiers (through the cake board) and into the base. Don't be scared, it really will work and it wont hurt your cake. Although I will admit, it is terrifying every time you do it.
 After the cakes are stacked, decorate the cake the way you want it. If you look carefully you can see the dowel sticking out of the cake.
 For the top palm tree, I wrapped modeling chocolate around a large straw, then cut out tear shapes and started at the top of the tree and worked my way down, covering the entire tree trunk in "bark".
Now that it is finished, you can simply slide the straw over the dowel and down into the cake.
 After the trunk is in place I stuff modeling chocolate down the top of the straw. Once it hardens, it will help hold your wired leaves in place. The bottom trunks are made of all modeling chocolate with no straws or dowels. The leaves go on last. Leaves are a whole different tutorial:)
 The monkeys and bananas are made of modeling chocolate. I made the bananas the night before.  The leaves are made of gumpaste and were made the day before as well.

 I also used brown food coloring mixed with a little white coloring to paint the tips of the bananas to help them look a little more realistic. Add the leaves and viola!!! You have a super cute monkey cake!
Please let me know if you have questions.

Wendy Woo
email me at wendy@wendywoocakes.com

Aug 16, 2011

Vroom! Vroom! Jeff Gordon!

Jeff Gordon's 2011 Cherry Red Car!

Happy Birthday to Phil, and a huge thanks to his wife Lori, who loves to challenge my abilities as a cake artist. She also ordered the Armadillo Cake. We love repeat customers!

The cakes was a Sour Cream Vanilla Cake with Almond Meringue Buttercream and Raspberry Filling. The cake is covered in fondant and all of the "stickers" are edible. The tires are gumpaste. The checkerboard is also done in fondant.
Phil loved the cake...here is what Lori emailed me after the party.
"It was AMAZING AND MOST MEMORABLE!!!! Phil was so very surprised and stood in awe of the race car actually being a cake.  He couldn’t wait to bring the boys to look at the cake when they first arrived at the house!  Pictures of the cake were sent all over cyberspace (Jax, Connecticut, New Jersey, etc.) by him showing everyone who wasn’t at our home and, of course, to all our race car fans!!!  The checkerboard board was a huge hit and again appreciated the effort and attention to detail!
    He did not want at all to cut it but to preserve it!  However, he finally relinquished and cut the cake in half lengthwise – he took the #24!  Of course, Jeff also came in second place at Brickyard!
Delicious and just over the top of any and all expectations.  Just know your name is out there now!  Can’t wait for the next “challenge” opportunity for a party and always let there be CAKE/an art masterpiece!

Thank you again to Lori and Phil!

Jul 14, 2011

My Armadillo!

Introducing Armando the Armadillo!!! He is our latest creation and we are so happy to have him! I wish everyone could have seen him in person, because he looked even better. We were so happy with the way he turned out.

So, did you just have a flash back to Steel Magnolias? Yes, well you are in luck...cut him open and you have a bleeding Armadillo. He is made of VERY Red velvet cake and Red Raspberry filling, with Vanilla Buttercream dyed red of course.

His head and tail are both make out of Red Rice Krispie Treats. Did you know you can dye marshmallows? Just add the dye once the marshmallows are melted and you can color them any color you want. I was also very worried that his head would not stay on, so I melted red (white) chocolate and covered his head in it. It worked perfectly!
 As for his color, I have an amazing friend who is an amazing artist named Martha Stoetzer. So I finished the cake and he was a really cute gray armadillo and then she came and faux painted him using food coloring mixed with piping gel. He is completely hand painted. I sat in awe as I watched her take him from a really cool gray armadillo to an amazing realistic replica and bringing him to life. Thank you Martha!!!

Below is the structure of our armadillo, built by my very talented husband! I couldn't do any of these cakes without him. I am so grateful for him! 

Thanks for looking!
Have a wonderful Day!

Jul 13, 2011

Monkeys and Bananas!!!

 Happy Birthday Logan!!!
I don't think cakes can get more fun than this!!! I was thrilled when I was asked to make this 1st Birthday cake and the Smash cake for a cute little boy named Logan.

The monkeys were inspired by the invitation and I just loved how playful they look.

The monkeys and bananas are made of modeling chocolate, as are the tree trunks. The leaves on the trees are gumpaste and the leaves on the ground are fondant. The top tier or the cake is Banana cake and the bottom is Vanilla both with Vanilla buttercream.

 Here is the back of the cake. Can you see the monkeys tail on the top of the cake?

 And here is the smash cake, just for Logan to dig into. Yum!

Happy Birthday Logan!!!

Jul 12, 2011

Celebrating 40 with STYLE & BLING!!!

Many people spend their 40th birthday depressed and sad that they have reached yet another milestone in their lives.
 But NOT Kim!!!
I was so excited when Kim called and asked if I could make her 40th Birthday cake and her instructions were to put as much BLING on the cake as I could. It was a pleasure working with Kim and her husband Craig.

If you look closely you can see that the fondant sparkles and shines. Go ahead click on the picture, it will get bigger and you will see it better. It's really pretty.

 The hanging jewels are made of sugar and the Roses are gum paste. When Kim said she wanted bling, the first thing that popped into my mind was a beautiful hanging chandelier of edible jewels.
Again, if you look closely you can see the beautiful finish on the fondant. The broach is real as well as all of the zebra print ribbon, but they went so well together. I just love it!

Craig's Cake
During our first meeting Kim sent Craig on an short errand and then quickly explained that she also wanted a surprise cake for Craig. I was happy to oblige. Kim knew what cake flavors she wanted on her cake, but Craig was trying to talk her into other favors, so we set up a cake tasting, pretending it was for Kim, so we could find out what flavor Craig wanted:) It was really neat to see how well he treated her. She would look at him and say, "Well, which one would you want?" he would smile at her and say, "What ever you want..." She would ask again and his response was the same. After about 20 minutes she had run out of ways to ask his opinion on the cake, because he would "just want her to be happy" or "want her to have what ever she wanted". Finally, I jumped in and asked, "If this was your cake, what flavor would you choose?"
Vanilla cake with Almond buttercream and Raspberry filling. DONE!

Kim's cake was Chocolate with Cream Cheese Icing and Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

So, a huge Happy Birthday to Craig as well! It was a pleasure to meet you both!