Monday, October 26, 2015

Halloween Fun!

I can't believe it's been 4 months since I've written a post, but alas, sometimes life gets in the way.

There are so many events and cakes I need to catch up on but let's get to the holiday at hand... HALLOWEEN.

Halloween is my second favorite holiday after Christmas. This year I decided to try my hand at some spooky themed cookies. I used Haniela's sugar cookie recipe because it doesn't spread very much while you are baking it and Wilton's royal icing recipe.

These cookies didn't take too long and were tons of fun to make.

Keep on baking!

Melanie (One Tier At A Time)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gelatin Squares Tutorial

gelatin squares Elsa Frozen cake tier

As promised, here is the gelatin square tutorial (my way) that I used for the Elsa inspired dress tier on the Frozen cake. I did try another gelatin making tutorial that I found online but it didn't seem to work as well for me.

So here is my step by step tutorial.

Ingredients and Tools required:

packet of unflavoured powder gelatin (I used the Knox brand)
water (as directed on the package)
microwave safe bowl (I used a ramekin)
silicone mat
cookie sheet
knife or some spreading device
gel color (optional)

Step 1:
dissolved gelatin in water in ramekin

Dissolve the gelatin in water in a ramekin as directed on the package.  This is where my tutorial is different than the others I've seen.  I tried the various ratios of a few tablespoons to gelatin and I found the gelatin never really dissolved enough.  Finally, after several failed attempts I decided to just try what it said right on the package and it worked!  In my case, one package of Knox brand gelatin (7g packet) is dissolved in 1/4 cup of water.  I let this stand for like 5 minutes.  WARNING: this stuff smells!!!

Step 2:
gelatin in ramekin after it has been in the microwave

Micorwave the gelatin in very short increments.  I did 10 second increments and while it was tedious it was better than burning the gelatin.  The trick is that you want the gelatin to dissolve completely and become this very clear liquid but you don't actually want it to get hot.  So KNOW YOUR MICROWAVE!  Microwaves are deceiving with how much heat they give off.  

Step 3:
white foam of gelatin on silver spoon

See that white foamy substance on top??  You want to remove that (with your spoon) after each time you microwave.  Keep doing it until you get as much of this white foam off as possible.  This is what makes your gelatin look murky and not clear.  Be patient!  You won't get all of it but try your best.

Step 4:
small dab of gel colour on toothpick

If you want your gelatin coloured, now would be the time to do it.  You don't need very much BUT keep in mind this gelatin isn't clear.  It does have a slight yellow hue to it so might affect some colours.  Just stir it in until it's all dissolved and you don't have any specs of food colour left.

You should get something that looks like this:
gelatin mixed with blue gel food colour

Step 5:
gelatin thinly spread out on silicone mat that is sitting in a cookie sheet

This is by far the hardest step! There is definitely a learning curve and I haven't passed the curve yet.  So you want to pour the gelatin on to your silicone mat that you've put on some sort of hard surface so you can easily transport it (I used a cookie sheet).  The trick is spreading it not too thin and not too thick AND you don't have much time.  You can just faintly see in this picture how some places have more of the red mat showing through while some look way more blue.  It's definitely hard.  I will say this... the thinner the better.  Those parts that look like it's not on the red mat at all, were actually the best parts in the end.  Trial and error my friends. Trial and error.

Then you leave this to dry overnight or until the sheet of gelatin starts curling up.  It'll completely detach itself from the silicone mat so you'll know when it's ready.

Here is the finished product.  

dried gelatin sheet

Now to get the textured effect of some of the squares I used I just flipped my silicone mat over and it had a textured side to it.  

finished textured gelatin sheet

I had actually made this sheet first and you can see in the picture it just looks much stiffer and rigid....because it was!  I spread the gelatin WAY too thick.  And while it was still useable for my application since I was going to be cutting it up...many of the squares actually snapped in half because the gelatin was too hard. 

So thin is your friend.  If done correctly, this gelatin sheet acts just like a piece of regular paper.  You can bend it and it won't break, cut it, etc.  The possibilities are endless.

I've never tried this with flavoured gelatin (like Jell-o) but I'm curious to see if it works because honestly these gelatin squares just tasted like nothing.  It was like eating a cellophane bag or something.  

Let me know if you try it out and I'd love to see your creations.  Make sure to post them on my Facebook page

Keep on baking!!

Melanie (One Tier At A Time)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Is it cold enough for you? I'm FROZEN!

Three tier Frozen themed cake

Last month was a busy month for me; we're all April babies (my husband, my sister, my god daughter and myself all have birthdays spanning two weeks).  While this makes for a fun time, it also makes for a hectic time with organizing and planning several cakes.  BUT, being the best god mother ever (if I may say so myself) I knew that the focus needed to be on my god daughter's 8th birthday party.

And what theme does every little girl want...... A Frozen themed cake of course.

My god daughter and I started working on her cake design at Christmas.  She's always very heavily involved in the creative process, as she's a baker herself and has some of the most fabulous ideas.  She challenges me to do things I never think I can do and this cake was no different.  We didn't want the standard snowflake covered cake that was out there, so we put on our thinking caps and tried to move outside the box.

What we ended up with was a design that was 3 tiers high (only the top tier needed to be real since the cake wasn't actually going to be served), there would be a candy table to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth and a "decorate your own cupcakes" station.

The bottom tier would feature the pattern of Anna's dress in fondant cutouts.

Detail of cake tier Anna dress Frozen

The middle tier would feature gelatin squares made to represent the top of Elsa's dress with a cape made of fondant that had snowflakes on it.  

Cake tier Elsa dress Frozen gelatin squares

The top tier would represent Olaf but have gumpaste antlers sticking out of it to represent Sven. 

detail of Sven gumpaste antler Frozen

We'd then add all the figurines to finish everything off and a big fondant snowflake topper with her name on it.

detail of large fondant snowflake topper with child's name

The cake came together pretty quickly.

It was the first time I had ever worked with gelatin.  I'd seen many tutorials on making gelatin "paper" that you could then cut with kitchen shears just like you would regular paper.  I followed these tutorials and found they just didn't work for me.  I decided to just follow the instructions on the packet of gelatin itself and it worked beautifully.  There was a learning curve (and still is, as I never perfected it) to getting the gelatin spread out in just the right thickness (or rather thinness) to make a sheet that isn't too brittle and thick when you try to bend it, but enough worked out right to be used on the cake.

I was proud of how this cake turned out and it didn't look like all the other Frozen cakes I'd seen and that's always the goal: to come up with an original design.  I really feel that's the fun part about being a decorator.  Doing something no one else has done before.  I won't say it's easy, but it's definitely rewarding.

My god daughter was ecstatic with her cake and that's all that matters.

happy smiling child

My next post will feature the gelatin tutorial (my way) and close ups of the sweet table.

Stay tuned and Keep on Baking

Monday, March 9, 2015

Top O' The Morning To Ya

White chocolate covered oreos with fondant shamrock

On March 17 we're all a little Irish and hopefully, all a little lucky ;)  Celebrations for St. Patrick's Day often include parades, getting together for some drinking and of course, wearing green and many, many shamrocks (or clovers).  You might also see a little leprechaun floating around but don't try to find the pot of gold, I'm convinced it doesn't really exist!!

This year I thought I'd try out something new for the day.  

The latest trend has been chocolate covered Oreo cookies.  Easy to make using simple melted chocolate (I used white candy melts for these), Oreo cookies and a cupcake pan as the "mold" (there are actual molds you can buy if you wish), it took very little time to put these all together.

White chocolate covered oreos with fondant shamrock

I don't have progress shots but they are simple enough to figure out using only directions.

How to make:

Melt some candy melts and fill the cupcake pan about 1/8 full (I have a metal non-stick cupcake pan.  I did not use any liners, nor spray the pan with anything).  Put this in the fridge for five minutes to set.  

Take the pan out and pop an Oreo in the middle of each cavity in the pan.  Pour melted chocolate over the Oreo so that it's eventually covered.  

TIP: the Oreo sometime shifts out of place.  Just move it back in place.  

Tap the pan so that the chocolate is sure to go around the sides of the Oreo and attach to the first piece of melted chocolate that is now hardened.  

TIP: when you tap the pan you might find that you'll need a bit more chocolate to cover any Oreos that become exposed.

Put the pan back in the fridge for a good 15 minutes.  If you're paranoid (like me) leave it in there a good 20 minutes or longer (longer never hurts).  When time has passed you can simply turn the Oreos over onto a cookie sheet or the counter and they should just pop right out of the cupcake pan.  If they don't come out on their own just give the pan a little tap to help them out.

White chocolate covered oreos with fondant shamrock

Totally customizable with anything you wish on top.  Any cookie cutter and a piece of fondant will do the trick.  The possibilities are endless.  Let your imagination run wild!

I'm now adding these to my product line.  Contact me if you are interested in these for your next event or to add to your dessert table.

Happy baking and Good Luck!!

White chocolate covered oreos with fondant shamrock

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All you need is LOVE!

Valentine's Day chocolate cupcake with fondant heart

2015 is in full swing and it's already February.  This year is flying by so quickly and we're making a few changes.

Firstly you'll notice our blog address has changed.  I've simplified the address to now be my own domain name  Also, you'll notice a gallery tab where you can view our creations.   The website is still a work in progress but look out for regular updates throughout the year.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Let me introduce you to the "Key to my Heart" cupcake set.  6 delicious chocolate cupcakes: 3 topped with a red fondant heart locket and fondant key and 3 topped with solid chocolate heart picks.

The idea for these cupcakes came from searching through Pinterest and finding this gorgeous heart locket with key.  I had originally wanted to reproduce it entirely in cake but decided on scaling it down so that everyone could enjoy it.  

What better surprise to give your sweetheart than the key to your heart?  And they can eat it too!
Valentine's Day chocolate cupcake with fondant heart

If you'd like to order a set of these to give to your sweetheart, send me an email by February 7, 2015.  They are $20 for the set and come nicely boxed.

Valentine's Day chocolate cupcake with fondant heart

Wishing you love and happy baking!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Merry Christmas...cake!

front angled view of Christmas present cake with fondant tree topper

The end of the year is upon us; a time for renewed hope; a time to celebrate all the highs and reflect on what we have learned from the lows of the year.  A time to look around us and notice all the gifts we have.  Not material gifts, but those gifts that cannot be measured: love from others, kindness from others, happiness, joy, humour..the list goes on and on.

Yet, this year I found myself with a lack of Christmas spirit.  I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the stress at work or the gloomy weather we've been having here or the feeling of not being ready for the first time ever and I thought to myself, what can I do to get my spirit back?


And so I decided to make this little gift present to myself, to make me happy.  Baking brings me joy, happiness and peace. What better things to bring back my Christmas spirit?

For those of you who follow along, you may remember the preview I gave of what I was working on for Christmas.  If you missed it, here is the inspiration picture:

I knew when I saw this picture from Pinterest, that I HAD to try to reproduce it in sugar (I chose fondant).  And so the creativity began.  

I used the Wilton baroque silicone mold and took the different parts and started working on a styrofoam cone shape and simply put the random pieces one on top of the other, attaching them where they connected.  I tried not to think about it too much and tried to keep the pattern really random.  Then I made the base out pieces of fondant and let them dry for a few days.  I painted everything with a soft gold lustre dust.  After it was all dry I thought it looked too flat, so I highlighted the ridges with dark gold lustre dust.

The final product:
close up of fondant tree topper

What do you think?  Can you see the inspiration statue in the final product?

BUT WAIT... there's more.

My friend Naomi from Cake Decor Cairns told me that lighting up cakes was the "in" thing to do so I took a little battery operated tealight and stuck it in the tree.

What do you think?

lit up picture of fondant tree topper

If you've made it this far here are a few detailed pictures of the tree:
close up of base of fondant tree topper

side close up of fondant tree topper

And so in closing, I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!  Remember, prosperity doesn't come from having every material thing, it comes from appreciating that which you have already.  I appreciate each one of you and I can't wait to start 2015 with you all.

Merry Christmas and Keep on Baking!

front view of Christmas present cake

BY THE WAY... this was my first cake that made it to the Daily Top 3 on  What an amazing way to end the year!

Daily top 3 badge on CakesDecor

Monday, December 8, 2014

Caramel explosion - Alfajor Rogel

For our annual holiday gathering my friends asked me to make this Alfajor Rogel cake. I had no idea what this cake was or even what it was supposed to taste like, but who doesn’t like a challenge?

This cake is a South American dessert that is essentially shortbread layers with dulce de leche (thick caramel sauce) between each layer topped with Italian meringue. Further research shows that there were supposed to be 10 layers in total and I only put seven, but we live and learn. 
My friend proceeds to send me a recipe in Spanish (you can find it here) and a YouTube video in Spanish (you can find that here). That all sounds quite helpful except for the fact that I DON’T SPEAK SPANISH! So Google translate came to my rescue with the visual from the YouTube video (since the two recipes were totally different) and I present you with this Alfajor Rogel cake.
The cake was devoured completely at the party and the host gave me many compliments and I’ve been commissioned to make it again for his birthday in a few months!
What an adventure!