Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cakes on a plane!!

.......or on a train or in a car, no matter how you transport a cake, delivery is always the most stressful part of the job.There's nothing like laboring over a cake for hours or days , even, only to have it damaged in transit.I know there are some cake designers who say they have never had a cake disaster and to that I say either, "congratulations "or,more likely, "bullshit!".Even the most careful driver cannot account for crumbling infrastructure.What you can do though, is try and learn from each experience.Everyone makes mistakes, but the trick is to try to not make the same mistake twice.My first cake delivery disaster was way back in the old days when I was still using buttercream exclusively, a time from here forward I shall refer to as BF (before fondant).I had worked so hard replicating a vintage MG car (wait aren't all MG's vintage? anyhoo....) all systems were go. Then came time for the delivery.If you have not been to San Francisco , likely, you are well aware of the terrain.Long ,90 degree sloping streets make for lovely vistas but are cake delivery nightmares.Creeping along, we inched towards the address , of course situated at the very top of a hill. To make delivering cakes in a big metropolitan area even more exciting, add in the dearth of parking spaces :fun times! So, naturally we had to circle around to find a parking space and had the pleasure of traversing that same geometric nightmare a second time.
Finally, we arrive at the house. Tip: always, always check the cake first before presenting it to your customer! We manage to get the box inside , only to lift the box lid to reveal a nice bit of front end damage. So, it turns out that a cake cannot defy gravity afterall. I must say that my client was so very gracious and told me that the birthday boy had actually crashed the car and damaged that very same front end. Regardless of her, her good nature, I was crestfallen.Even if the cake will be destroyed as a natural part of it's life cycle, it's my responsibility to deliver an intact cake.I returned her money despite her objections and went home to do some serious soul searching.Was I cut out for this job? Did I suck? I let myself wallow in cake induced misery for a while then I set about trying to learn from my mistakes.
1• always refrigerate a cake when possible, it makes the cake more sturdy for transport
2•try to have detailed delivery instructions , keeping in mind the terrain
3•never, ever present a cake without inspecting it first
I now had my own post traumatic stress trigger: car cakes! Now, subjected to such circumstances any cake would have been challenged , but it wasn't any cake it was a car.For the longest time I could not shake this thought.Over time however car cakes have become the cake deliveries I worry about least..Making them is an entirely different story! So, in light of this cake life lesson and because this week happened to be car cake week at DDC here are a few of the many that prove you can successfully get back on the horse (or car whichever the case may be).
Delorean from Back to the future Herbie the Love bug!Smart car.... woulda' had no parking issues with this one, but it would have had to have been a cupcake delivery!Karman Ghia , very similar to the MG, whose pic BTW was deleted from my camera (it was cursed I tell you!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I lobster and never flounder

If you got that reference, my condolences, either you're from the South or your entire record collection came with an "as seen on tv" sticker.For those of you who aren't familiar with the reference, search for Pinkard and Bowden on youtube. You'll thank (?) me later. But , I digress,this is not at all a post about semi obscure novelty musical acts, but a post about food cakes! I mentioned earlier how much I adore making cakes that look like other foods. One of my projects this week was a pair of lobsters.Clutching claws, the inscription read "With this claw, I thee wed", so clever. So , inspired by this week's latest food cake, I will take this opportunity to share some of my favorite , what my friend Mel calls "sneaky food cakes".
close up view of Mr. Lobster
My first "food cake' ,it's buttercream, back in the old days. I used to feature this on one of my business cards, prompting many to ask "Oh, you do catering too?" love that.
here's another buttercream one, and one of my faves. This roast beef was super convincing in the fridge. A fun one was the carnival foods cake:

steak cake, well seasoned

fried eggs and bacon......

Was super excited about the Big Mac cake but even more excited about the to scale box, honestly the box alone took me two days, it sure was fun though.

I almost forgot this one: a platter of exotic fruits, including the much maligned durian..... thankfully this one smelled much nicer than the real thing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Airbrushing Naked

.......naked cakes that is. That's my name for cakes that are awaiting airbrushing.If you know my work, you know that I airbrush everything, EVERYTHING.
I've been interested in airbrushing since the 80's. Many of you also know that I have had absolutely no formal cake training, but you may not know that I have also never had any airbrush classes, but I came close. In 1986, I think it was, I actually enrolled in an airbrush course but surprisingly it was closed due to low enrollment. I don't know why, maybe everybody who might have been interested was already set up on their street corners with their t-shirt airbrushing booths. Don't knock it, when this cake thing dies out I might be hanging my custom t shirt shingle out too, anyone up for a Lady Gaga portrait t ?
Anyway, while I am still making cakes, I thought it might be fun to have a look at some "naked" cakes and the finished product. in my opinion, there is no technique that has the ability to add more "life" to your work. Oh and technical queries?? I use Iwata airbrushes exclusively (hear that plug Iwata???) specifically, the Iwata Hp-B plus double action airbrush.
Oh yeah and I have so unartfully edited out my junk in the backgrounds because I'd rather you see me actually airbrushing naked than have you see my kitchen mess.

Friday, January 1, 2010

I don't get out much

I can still clearly remember, 4 years ago thinking, "Wow, now that I work for myself, I'll have lots of time to go places and do fun stuff!" um....... what was I smoking???? Oh, if only I could credit some delusion inducing drug on my naivete.... As those of you with your own businesses already know , it's nearly impossible to leave work. Sure, you may go home, but in this age of smart phones, you're never really "clocked out".
These days I find myself immersed in research for the latest cake project, and sometimes my personal interests intersect. Thank goodness for this , because I feel so sequestered sometimes, my only exposure to new things often comes from cake orders. When I had time to do fun things, I was quite the collector.I love to see things in multiples. Everything looks better in groups, I think.I guess I have always been a collector . Since childhood I have obsessed over one thing or another from miniatures to smurfs. I later moved on to vintage lunchboxes and my most recent love is urban vinyl and designer plush. But, again, I don't get out much anymore, ha ha! So, I was extra excited about my newest cake because it is a character called Tare Panda. Tare in japanese means lazy, so Tare Panda is a somewhat deflated, droopy panda who moves around via rolling. What's not to love? My client also wanted to incorporate the birthday girl's love of rock climbing too, so Hey, it sounds antithetical to me , but one rock climbing lazy panda, coming up!
So here's a glimpse at my lunch box collection, plush toys and the cake that reminded me that there's more to life than cake. Hush my mouth!