Monday, January 24, 2011

The "Patch"

I created this cake this weekend for a lady who was ordering it for a client's birthday. NOW, by looking at the picture, I'm sure you can tell what this client does for a living. For those, who are a bit confused, up here in the North in Fort St. John, life basically revolves around the oil and gas industry, even other industries like farming, forestry and manufacturing, all seem to tie into the oil patch.
Cake flavours were vanilla with Italian Meringue buttercream filling, iced in traditional buttercream and then covered in fondant. I topped off the cake with black fondant to resemble oil. Completing the cake was a chocolate oil derrick with chocolate spewing from the top.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mud Bogging Jeep

A couple of weeks ago I received a call for a jeep cake from a lady for her boyfriend. She emailed me a picture of a cake and wanted something similar except she wanted lots of mud, rocks and their pet dog.

Sculpted cakes are always a challenge since I receive very few requests for these type of cakes. But, I was up to the challenge, and since I loved going 4x4ing myself, I found this cake lots of fun.

So I built up the hill from vanilla cake filled with raspberry buttercream iced and carved it and then covered it with a blend of green and brown fondant. The jeep was carved from chocolate cake filled with buttercream and then iced and covered with black fondant. All the rocks, jeep accents and the dog were molded from fondant. The mud was pretty easy to do just by spreading on brown royal icing. The jeep wouldn't be complete without mud splatters all over the front and tires. Lastly, cookie crumbs were sprinkled all over to resemble dirt.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Fort St John Bridal Show Part A

This month I participated in Fort St John's 14th annual bridal show. The bridal show was well attended with over 50 brides accompanied by their bridesmaids, moms, sisters and occasional reluctant groom.
Over the years I have been working on achieving a certain look and feel to my booth and I think I am finally getting there. It's hard to believe that this was my 5th bridal show and when I look back, I cringe because I still remember my first booth - 4 cakes with red and white balloons in the background. UGH!!! I really loved how my booth turned out this year complete with black skirting, lavender tablecloths and lavender draping. I even got a new sign made this fall too.
Overall the show went very well, I was busy answering questions and handing out tons of cupcake samples. I made over 400 samples consisting of red velvet with white chocolate cream cheese, chocolate with traditional buttercream, and vanilla with raspberry buttercream. I went home at the end of the night with about 2 doz samples to the delight of my family who quickly devoured them.

Part of this years bridal show, I handed out these great coffee mugs designed by Imagine That to all the brides who stopped by my booth. Each mug had a few pictures of my cakes complete with logo and contact information. The words "Bride" were written on each mug for that personal touch.

White Victorian
Since I have a soft touch for anything old, vintage and Victorian, I designed quite a few of my cakes for the show around this theme. The cake below featured white drop strings, piping and borders traditional of the 80's. To contrast the white look, I topped the cake off with deep red roses with a spray of pearl beads.

2011 Fort St John Bridal Show Part B

Here are the rest of the cakes I created for the Fort St John Bridal show.

Vintage Suitcase Cake
I created this cake using an assortment of handmade gumpaste flowers overflowing the top. To create a vintage feel, I brushed a mixture of vodka and warm brown gel paste on numerous times in varying strengths. Adding to the charm, latches were created from molds from some of my treasured brooch collection.
Simply White
This simple cake was created just for the sake of simplicity. I wanted to show brides the option of having a simple, yet elegant cake. Flowers were silk and the cake was decorated with a simple ribbon and scroll work.

Redneck Wedding Cake
This cake was created with a very specific couple in mind: my niece and her boyfriend. We are always teasing them about "when they are going to tie the knot". I always have said that if they were to get married, I would do their wedding cake. So, I thought why not design it for fun for the bridal show and show brides how they can personalize their cake. Since my niece is into horses, I designed the middle tier for her going with a denim look complete with belt, buckle and gumpaste flowers for the added feminine touch. The bottom tier was created just for him. He is a total fan of John Deere machinery and loves working with dirt and rocks. The top tier was to combine their love of hunting and shooting. I topped the cake off with modeled figures of the couple holding guns in their arms.

Ivory Brooch
This cake I ABSOLUTELY love, it is my favorite to date. The whole world of molds opened up before me when I was designing this cake. First of all, I wanted the look and feel of ivory and gold. I just love how those two colors go together. I then got out my trusted brooch and button collection and started playing around making molds. After narrowing down my design, I got to work and put all the elements together. The overall design included quilting, gold swiss dots, gumpaste bow, gold painted scroll work and hand molded cameo brooch and buttons.

Black Victorian
I know it sounds weird, especially in today's cake world, BUT I still love the look of the traditional cakes from the 80's. You know the ones with all the piping and scroll work. So, I decided to go with the design but give it a modern twist and make the overall cake BLACK with contrasting piping. Out came the molds again, in which I added molded draping, cameos and buttons to the design. To add to the final look, I brushed pearl luster dust on all the adornments to give it a polished look.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Zebra Stripes & Black Diamonds

This past weekend we created these 2 cakes for two lucky ladies. The first cake was created for a little girl turning 7. Her favorite color was pink and even though she was into the whole "girly" thing, she also wanted something modern and trendy. I designed this cake with pink fondant with the bottom tier draped like a dress with zebra stripes. I added black hearts for the top tier, wrapped a bow around it with a "bling" center. Lastly, a touch of lime green was added for contrast. The other cake created this weekend was for a sweet 16 party. The birthday girl chose one of my previous designs. Since I really don't like replicating my past designs "to a T", I changed it up a bit my adding a "Queen of Hearts" topper, some fondant rolled roses and some whimsical fondant cut outs at the base of the cake. The birthday girl chose red velvet with white chocolate cream cheese filling and chocolate cake with cappuccino buttercream filling. The entire cake was iced in Italian Meringue Buttercream and covered in fondant.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Wedding Cake Revisited

I love receiving customer feedback telling us how amazing their cake was. I created this beautiful scroll work cake for JD and Shelley for their wedding this past summer and Shelley sent me a wonderful letter expressing her gratitude. Fast forward 6 months later, and Shelly wrote on Facebook these kind words,

"The cake was perfect. I still dream about eating the delicious spice cake layers. Thank you Tara for exceeding my cake dreams!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Resolutions: In with the New & Revisiting the Old

I know this is a bit late, but I sometimes say "Better late, than never", but I wanted to wish everyone a belated "Happy New Year!" I can't believe 2010 has come and gone. I mean, was it just me or did it fly by WAY TOO FAST? Maybe, it was just me, cause I was so darn busy cak'n. By far, 2010 was the busiest year for Just Like Gram's. The number of wedding cakes we created this year more than doubled from previous years. I also got the chance to fly to Toronto and learn the art of sugar flowers from Ron Ben-Israel. Once I got past the first day of recovering from air sickness, I really enjoyed the course. I loved meeting so many people who shared the same addiction to cakes as I did. Not only did I learn about sugar flowers, I also got the chance to learn so many little tips just from talking to other cake designers.

So, looking back at our 2010 resolutions, how did we fare?

Resolution 1) Marketing:

  • This year we launched our new and updated website. I ABSOLUTELY love my new website. It so much more easier for me to maintain, plus the look is more sophisticated and elegant compared to my older more simpler version.

  • We also participated in some on-line marketing on Fort St John's community website

  • plus we added a Facebook and Twitter page.

  • participated in several community trade shows

Resolution 2) Delivery

  • Well, I think this is going to be one of those issues that is going to be on-going for me and will never truly be resolved. Obtaining a store front is just not an option right now. Part of the reasons for this is my schedule is very eratic right now. My children moved to a new school which is in a rural area in the opposite direction from the school they used to attend. I am up at 5AM to get them ready for school and we leave at 6:45 to drive to catch their 1 1/2 hr bus ride. Combined with their after school activities, I sometimes have to pick them up at either 2:30 or 4:00 depending on the activity. So for now, I am just giving customers the option of picking up thier orders and if they want delivery, I charge a delivery fee. One exception is wedding cakes, delivery is included with all wedding cake orders within Fort St John and Taylor.

Resolution 3) Personal: Weight Loss

  • This year it was my goal to try to lose some unwanted lbs. So far, I have gone down 1 size and lost 9 lbs since Sept 2010. My goal is to lose 6 more lbs. by the end of February.

So what about 2011? What plans do I have for this year?

  1. Marketing still.... I plan to continue various forms of on-line advertising, plus participate in various trade shows. I recently purchased these cute sticky note pads to hand out to clients. I really loved how they turned out.

2. Blog MORE, MORE and MORE.... I am absolutely terrible for keeping up with this, so this is my resolution to attend to my blog on a regular basis.

3. Try new recipes. Last year I did so much cak'n, the last thing I wanted to do was bake for my family. Well, I got some new recipe magazines with neat cookie recipes, so I plan to try at least 1 new recipe a month.

4. Lose those last few lbs by February.