My Cake Decorating Gallery

Monday, February 20, 2012

Maria's 1st Birthday Cake with Gum Paste Butterflies

I was over at our friends' house discussing an upcoming birthday cake for their daughter Maria and we discovered that Maria likes butterflies. Well, that is a perfect theme for a cake and we looked up some ideas. First, we decided this one would be a great (and easy to manage) cake for me to bring over to the party (From the website "":

Then, once home, I got to searching about other butterfly cakes and came across several other, more elaborate ones. Finally I came to this awesome gum paste butterfly tutorial and beautiful cake to go with it (from

I loved the way the color scheme worked on that cake and the tutorial made me realize that butterflies would be super simple to make and they'd look way cooler too because they'd be 3-D unlike the above cake. (Though the above cake is still nice, no offense!) I purchased all of the supplies on Amazon as noted in the tutorial, and even some glittery "disco dust" in purple and pink. Too fun!

One Sunday when The Husband was ice fishing and The Son was sleeping, I made 41 gum paste butterflies during nap time, and let them dry on racks. That night after The Son went to sleep, they were dry enough to paint them all. I looked online for some inspiration and also took some ideas from this photo I found on
So here is what I came up with - it was pretty easy to roll out the gum paste and easy and fun to paint them, also! I followed the gum paste butterfly tutorial from Clockwork Lemon which was super helpful. I even bought the same butterfly punch, a slightly different butterfly cookie cutter, and a few colors of disco dust based on this tutorial. Everything worked out pretty well except that purple punch didn't make sharp edges in the gum paste so I ended up having to go over many details with the tip of a sharp knife.. so that was a bit more work but still do-able. I would just stick to cookie cutters in the future.

I used vodka to apply the paints (most of them were liquid paints) and adjust the colors and tints. I also used vodka to apply the disco dust/glitter (edible!) - the vodka quickly evaporates leaving the colors bright. Water will cause gum paste and fondant to become sticky so it is a no-no for applying color. I used varying colors of pinks with accents of purple and yellow and I used black for outlines and details. I thought the monarch-painted ones were the most interesting looking yet time consuming. I would do those again, though.

The gum paste butterflies aren't really meant for eating (though they are edible) and last for ages so I did them about a month before the party. When you have a toddler, it's better to plan ahead time-wise! I baked some basic yellow cakes - two layers of 12in rounds for the "adult cake" and one tall 6 inch cake for the "smash cake." I made some simple buttercream and colored it pink. This was the filling for both cakes (along with raspberry preserves) and also the outside frosting for the smash cake. We had a request that Maria's dad had to have chocolate frosting so we decided we'd keep that for the "adult cake" and skip it for Maria's cake. 

I made two double batches of chocolate ganache. The first batch I let cool completely and then whipped it in the kitchenaid. It turned a lighter brown and I used this as a crumb coat/first layer for the adult cake. It took pretty much the whole batch to make a reasonably smooth cake. The cake could sit like this for a while before applying the final coating of shiny chocolate ganache. I did the shiny coating of ganache the night before the party. 

Friday night, after having applied the last layer of shiny chocolate ganache and smoothed it as best as I could, it was time to place the butterflies and do the last minute decorations. I didn't have any free time to look for a new piece of ribbon at the store but luckily I had some leftover with the right colors from my owl cake (see a few posts back). I actually believe it would've looked nicer without the ribbon but in this case, I was just trying to tie both the smash cake and big cake together since they were different colors. I think the pink ribbon took away from the butterflies and was too busy on the large chocolate cake, but at the time it was faster than piping a border.

After doing a color coordinated spray of butterflies on both cakes - hot pink melting into light pink then some yellows and finally fading into purples and blues - I also did a little piping on top of the cakes to say Happy Birthday and such. Then, yay, it was done! I took some pictures and had some boxes that fit the cakes reasonably well, so I didn't even stop at the cake supply store this time! I didn't get a photo of the inside of the cake (oops) but everything made the trip to Maria's house OK and everyone seemed to like the cake. It was a lot of fun to try my hand at some gum paste adornments.

I also had a great time watching Maria dive into her cake, she really tore it up but didn't really eat any, and it was fun to watch her make a mess (but not too much of a mess!) Happy Birthday Maria! Glad I could be a party of your special day. Now that I have all these butterfly making supplies, I look forward to making some more for other cakes!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Asian Marinated Salmon

I just was looking through my photos that I hadn't written any blogs for yet and came across this "Asian Salmon." This was a real quick Friday dinner that ended up being really good so I took a picture. We are not big on seafood but do ocassionally enjoy salmon, walleye, perch, sushi, tilapia, crab, lobster and the occasional shrimp. We love fishing so we often have seafood on hand.. but much of it, especially the pan fish, get sent over to Grandma and Grandpa's. Anyway, I "caught" this salmon over at Nino Salvaggio's and used a purchased marinade that I had never tried before - Soy Vay. Has anyone ever tried Soy Vay? It has a funny story about the company on the back - an Asian and Jewish mix. Anyway, the marinade is excellent and they do have a few flavor variations, too. The basic one is teriyaki and since that salmon, I have used it on pork and flank steak also. I also purchased a spinach salad which you see there on the side, which Nino's throws in those crispy sesame crunches, bacon, egg, honey mustard, etc.. all good stuff. I boiled up some thin spaghettini and dressed it with sesame oil, garlic and scallions. Anyway, I just thought I'd point out that the Soy Vay stuff is pretty good and makes great salmon - this was a really quick dinner but provided a lot of flavor and nutrition! Here is the Soy Vay website - I've seen it in most all stores recently; Here is what it looks like (from

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Martha's Birthday Cake and My Mom's Surprise 70th Birthday Party

Ever since we saw the episode featuring the "Martha's Birthday Cake", my mom and I had thought "wow that would be yummy!" We both love meringue. I don't think I remembered that it had apricot as its main fruity flavor but I know my mom loves apricot preserves in her cakes and tortes also. So for my mom's 70th surprise birthday party, I decided I was going to try and pull off this unusual-looking cake.

The cake after having been torched
I followed the recipe to a T because I wanted it to be excellent. To be honest, I'll never make this cake again, especially not the cake recipe. A box cake would have been more enjoyable! I would definitely try a round-cake again and as far as the meringue topping, I would never do that again for a cake I was going to travel with nor in the summer. It got sorta soft and weepy over the course of hours. The meringue needs to be chilled or served right away after browning. The frosting underneath was a good recipe and I'd make that again. I'm sure I did something wrong to make the cake so dense however, Martha, if you'd just put weights for your recipes, this would eliminate any variation in that realm. That's why if I'm making a scratch cake, I like recipes with weights the best.

The smoked BBQ pulled pork and fixin's

I think my mom was generally pleased with the cake or at least all the effort it took to put it together. On top of that, my husband was stuck in the office all days leading up to this including that day, and I had a baby to tend to who refused to nap that day in particular, also. I was coordinating a secret list of invitees and also all the food, including pulled pork that had been smoked for 20 hours in our smoker, and all of the typical BBQ fixin's to go along with it - homemade baked beans, colorful coleslaw, fresh corn and bell pepper salad, and more. I also made some cupcakes and I was able to buy a few dishes at Nino's and a few guests brought some things and everyone showed up so it was a great success.

The dessert table

As for my mom, she was quite upset once I arrived and announced that "sorry I'm late and I should mention that in 45 minutes everyone will be here so you might want to put on some lipstick..." and she threw a little fit. However once people arrived and were there to celebrate, she got into the groove of things and was quite pleased and appreciative afterwards. It was a little hard to listen to all of the complaints and yelling while setting up after hours and hours of hard work to pull it off; but as they say - "in one ear and out the other" and I knew that it will work out in the end. Some people do not like surprises, I guess!

Martha's Birthday Cake
The recipe for Martha's birthday cake and directions can be found here on

Using vanilla beans for the cake batter
The buttercream frosting and meringue
The frosted dome cake

The cake now has meringue piped onto it and is ready to be torched