My turkey cake platter  *photos by http://www.vintodphoto.com

Ever since I started baking, I’ve heard: “Why don’t you make a TURKEY CAKE for Thanksgiving? Oh, you know what would be a really creative idea for Thanksgiving? OMG if you made a cake that looked like a TURKEY! You should TOTALLY make a turkey cake. Turkey cake turkey cake turkey cake!”

Well, I succumbed and made it.  Ta daaaaaa:

Top view of my turkey cake and stuffing platter

For the Thanksgivings that preceded this eventful turkey cake, I kept responding with, “Um… it’s going to take a lot of time…” And surprise.  IT DID.  Thanksgiving 2015 was on Thursday (as always, duh) November 26; per usual, I took my sweet @ss time getting started and stayed up super late to rush and finish the damn thing.  I actually made two cakes instead of just one for Thanksgiving.  Mind you, I’ve never tried making a poultry platter cake before so why the hell not make TWO cakes because I’m clearly insane.

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Vin's sneaker cake

Vin’s sneaker cake

*Because I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say “Just Do It TM” in the headline.

OK, this is a SUPER LATE post, but I figure it’s fitting since VIN IS RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON SOON!!!  This counts as carb-loading, right???  Now look at the pics….

Another year, another birthday for Vin. He started running last year for health reasons and now he’s one of those obsessed runners (meanwhile, I’m still a lazy bum that sleeps all the time as pointed out by the NYT), so the OBVIOUS cake this year was a sneaker.  To be specific, a replica of his sneaker.  The obsessed runner is very particular about his running kicks, and I wasn’t able to check out his actual shoe at home (we are physically glued to the hip when I’m not traveling and Vin is not running) so I sneakily asked Vin, “Oh heyyyy, baby… what’s the style name of your sneaker?  I think I saw it on sale and I know you wear a certain style so I wanted to make sure it was the same one…” So he told me, I looked it up, printed out enlarged pics of every angle of this shoe in black, and then hid the images under a pile of junk mail on my work bench.  (Vin NEVER looks through the stuff on my work bench; he only looks at the mounds of random shit piling up with disgust and dread and wants to throw it all out =P)

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First baking projects post move!

My precious...

My precious…

Let’s just be quick about it, shall we?  I had to bake for 2 special little boys: one hasn’t even been born yet, and the other is one of my super cute, super crazy godsons.

Underwater cake collage

Underwater cake collage… complete with a lurking shark!

The theme for the baby shower cake was the ocean, so I played around with some ideas to use on a small cutting cake for the parents-to-be.  The first order of business was to ice the little cake in blue frosting.  I was going to cover it in fondant, but liked the effect of the bubbles in the frosting, so I just cleaned and sharpened the edges for my canvas.  Light brown sugar was pressed along the bottom of half of the cake; for some reason I didn’t want all of it covered in sugar and liked the half-and-half effect.  I had used star cutters to make fondant starfish before and they worked wonderfully, so I knew I wanted starfish.  Then I found leaf cutters meant for roses, but used the shapes haphazardly to create these great seaweed/algae pieces.  I bought a whale cookie cutter from my new favorite store, Sur La Table but it ended up being rather disproportional to the algae and starfish.  I mixed a small piece of grey fondant and shaped a shark fin on top, and carefully placed little schools of fish sprinkles around the cake.  I don’t even think it’s ecologically correct… I mean, do starfish hang around the bottom of the ocean and cling to seaweed like that?  Who knows.  It looked cute and was a nice and quick little project.

Ta daaa!  A crappy 360 video clip of the cake

The order included cupcakes, so I swirled the same blue frosting over vanilla cupcakes (side note: I LOVE my new oven.  It’s huge and bakes everything so evenly AND I don’t have to guess the timing and temperature anymore!  #inheaven) and used extra pieces of seaweed and starfish as cupcake toppers.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the cupcakes BEFORE bringing them in =(

handmade fondant starfish

handmade fondant starfish. eww, what dry hands have I.

seaweed cupcake

seaweed cupcake

 

For my oldest godson’s 3-year birthday party, I whipped up a little bowling pin cake.  This little boy is one of the cutest little human beings on the planet, and he’s also one of the craziest.  haha  Since he’s my godson, of COURSE he gets special treatment and I just had to make a little SOMETHING for his party.  He’s currently obsessed with bowling and planets, so bowling pins and a ball that had Jupiter-like swirls it was.  And when I say whipped up, I mean, I hand shaped and cut 10 bowling pins with stripes and a bowling ball during the time it took for Vin to go on his morning run.  I iced that baby in minutes and added extra fondant stars, and voila… a little cake with knocked over pins.

Left: Look at that perfectly straight and clean edge. I'm GOOD.  Right: Fondant bowling pins for Timmy!!!

Left: Look at that perfectly straight and clean edge. I’m GOOD. Right: Fondant bowling pins for Timmy!!!

As soon as he saw it, he wanted to stand them up but didn’t quite get why I said no and that they’d be all sticky.  Later on, he was throwing a tantrum about having to take his shoes off and started yelling and crying, so I picked him up and took him to look at his cake.  Within in the span of 2 minutes, this little guy ate about 6 of the bowling pins.   Such an insane but adorable little kid.  <3

The birthday boy and his cake

The birthday boy and his cake

It’s that time of year again, you guys; Memorial Day, the start of summer, Vin’s birthday, a.k.a. the making of the most awesome cake of the year!!! Vin really is the best. He’s worked so hard to get in shape and become healthy, his food critique brand is really taking off, he’s always always thinking of me, and even after five years of marriage we’re still goofy and mushy and hold hands wherever we go. (And that’s NOT just because I’m clumsy and will probably trip on myself if I’m wearing heels.) I really love being with this guy, and one of the few things better than hanging out with my husband is enjoying delicious tasty food with Vin. InstaGr1st

Seriously, this is all cake and sweetness (except for the bowl and chopsticks)

As you may know, he is Mr. Johnny Prime, steak connoisseur. However, his reviews have expanded to include all really good food and great restaurants in general. Given that this past winter was so brutal and long, we were on a ramen and noodle soup kick, and nothing can warm your cold bones better than some delicious hearty soup! Of course this gave me the idea MONTHS ago to make Vin a ramen cake for this year’s birthday, but according to him, he TOLD me he wanted a ramen cake. Details, details. Haha So I started planning out his ramen cake… Read More

Right after I won a prestigious NY news behemoth’s holiday party (and still wondering if it’s a conflict of interest since I work @ ANOTHER famous and notable NY-based news media organization), I had to bake for my company’s finance department holiday party.  Since I was really busy trying to wrap up year-end testing, I just planned on whipping up simple bite-sized eggnog cupcakes the night before the event and figured it would be quick and easy and get me off the hook for dessert. (I had threatened to go buy Chips Ahoy! cookies since I heard, “Oh, you should bring in a big [holiday themed item] made of cake for the Finance party!” 2345 times and I could refrain from blinking/staring/pointing @ the occupational hazard of dark bags under my eyes only so many times.)

Tasty, festive, sweet balls

Tasty, festive, sweet balls

HOWEVER… my friend A in the newsroom (a super talented pastry chef whose baked good photos should be in “Food & Wine”) told me about the annual dessert contest that happened to ALSO be the same day as the finance holiday party (it’s open to everyone at the company but the participants tend to be from News/Marketing/Sales).  At first I was like, “Whhhaaaaaaaa???!!!  Why didn’t you tell me sooner?  It’s less than 2 days before the contest! OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME AAGGGGHHHH!!!” But after a brainstorming session with my esteemed baking buddy, I narrowed it down to a few ideas and thought maybe… just maybe, I can pull something off…

Quick shot of the winning display

Quick shot of the winning display

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A small, summery cutting cake for the bride and groom.

A small, summery cutting cake for the bride and groom.

Summer means wedding season, and I absolutely love baking and decorating for special occasions like these.  A family friend asked if I could bake for her son’s wedding brunch, and I couldn’t refuse, especially since it was such a simple request: 36 packaged cupcakes as wedding favors and a small cutting cake for the bride and groom.  At first, she wanted simple vanilla cupcakes with sage green swirls and nice wrappers, but after seeing this, she asked if I could make grass and flowers on each of the cupcakes.

Pretty white picket fences for the pretty little garden cupcakes

Pretty white picket fences for the pretty little garden cupcakes

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You know that annoying trait some couples have where they are like, “Ohhhhh my GAWD! We are so perfect for each other because I started saying, ‘I haven’t eaten all day and good thing it’s dinnertime because I’m—‘  and you just KNEW I was going to say ‘starving’ and finished my sentence so you’re totally my soulmate! Yay!” and you just want to simultaneously roll your eyes and punch them at the same time?  (OK, not necessarily both of them, but it’s usually the chick that says it.) That cutesy sh*t irritates me to no avail.  (Side note: Hyperbole and a Half is back so I feel more at ease being evil and sarcastic.)

Birthday typewriter cake

Birthday typewriter cake

YET, it relates to this cake post because this is all about Vin’s birthday.  And, as much as I hate to admit it, he and I take that sentence finishing crap to the next level because I like, OMG, can totally read his mind, too!  I can tell the exact moment when he wants to spit out gum, the exact words he’s going to say about shows watching TV (think Gob and Tony Wonder from the new “Arrested Development” season where they’re like “…same”), and the best example: when we were getting frustrated designing wedding invites during lunch hour @ our respective jobs, and I got fed up and drew a picture of discharging male genitalia in Microsoft Paint and scribbled “Come to our wedding.   Vin & K” and emailed the “invite.jpg” file to Vin, only to get an email reply 2 seconds later that said “OMG I was seriously drawing wedding invite mock ups with penises and pubic hair before hahahaha!!!”  At first, it was kind of creepy and I’m pretty sure I weirded Vin out (“How did you know that???” was said a lot), and it probably freaked him out more when I deadpanned, “I read your mind.”  Now it’s just normal  <3

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I took a few weeks off to go on vacation (*sigh*  one week of vacation is too short) and to gear up for the rest of this summer’s baking projects.  This past weekend I had 2 orders for birthday cakes.  Coincidentally, both requests were for predominately yellow and black designs, making me think of the monstrously large bumblebees we saw in Playa del Carmen.  Thankfully, they were harmless.  I just remember them being very vividly yellow and shiny black, and they were my inspiration for the colors I mixed for this weekend’s cakes.

Black and yellow themed cakes – cheerleader pompoms and city skylines

The first cake was for a coworker’s bf’s birthday.  She wanted something symbolic and since they have a long distance thing (she’s in Manhattan, he’s in Chi-town), she was thinking of incorporating things from both cities for the cake.  Her first idea was for me to make a 3-D airplane to signify the mode of transportation to see each other. Instead, I suggested that since this was going to be a small cake, why don’t I just do a silhouette of both city skylines around the base of a small cake and have the buildings morph into each other.  This would totally fit a 6″ round and it was basic yet meaningful enough.   She picked chocolate cake with vanilla icing for the cake flavors and wanted the background in yellow with a black skyline.

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My sleep schedule has become completely out of whack b/c of this weekend.  Ever since I didn’t sleep the night before Em’s wedding to work on her cake, I feel like I’m becoming a vampire and wanting to sleep (or @ least nap) during the day and stay up all night.  On Sunday night Vin and I were getting ready for bed around 1 am and I just couldn’t fall asleep.  Vin was already passed out, so I snuck out of bed and tiptoed into the kitchen to take out these containers holding hunks of extra red velvet and chocolate cake, along with 2 tubs of cream cheese frosting.  I couldn’t catch those zzz’s so I might as well work on Vin’s birthday cake, right?

Canon DSLR camera cake

I guess I blew my cake decorating wad last year when I made him that steak cake platter, and so I needed to make something really great for this year.  My husband is an amazing photographer so I had this outrageous idea to make him a camera cake.  Really good cameras and equipment are $$$$ and making a camera in cake form was the only way I could afford to give him a sweet @ss Canon DSLR.  I already bought him some smaller gifts of things he wanted, and I knew Em’s cake would be priority for this weekend, so I didn’t know exactly how much time I could actually devote to Vin’s cake. Even so, I printed out pictures of every single angle imaginable of the meagerly priced $15K (yikes!) Canon EOS 1D C and studied how I’d make each part, the relative external dimensions, noted the areas where there were indents and ridges, where there was texture for the grip…  it was pretty elaborate.  I didn’t know when I’d be able to make it or how long this would take, but I scribbled out my plans anyway.

Camera angles and notes surrounding my work station

Luckily, the cake was all ready to be cut and shaped and spackled with frosting when I started that night.  I had mixed the leftover chocolate and red velvet cake batter from Em’s cake and had baked it into a square pan and 2 small rounds on Thursday night.  I cut it into 6″x 3″ pieces and stacked 2 cake layers on top of each other like a bricklayer using cream cheese frosting instead of cement.  I sliced up extra cake pieces for the top ridge where the viewfinder and flash bracket would be, the hand grip on the right, and the ridge on the base of the camera body.  Indents on the corners and hand grip were carved out, and I dirty iced the entire cake to hold it together.  For the lens, I layered 2 pieces of the rounds and took a chef’s knife to pare out the concave shape for the front of the lens.

I mashed together all the pieces of leftover fondant from the wedding cake (pink, blue, green) and added black gel coloring to cover the camera.  If you look closely @ the pics, you can see that the color came out more bluish grey than black for some reason.  Compared to the huge tiers of the wedding cake, putting fondant on a smaller area was a breeze.  I rolled out the fondant and shaped it onto the camera body like a pro; all the dents and ridges came out BEAUTIFULLY.  I mean, seriously… look @ the groove on the right where your right hand would grip the camera… see how the top ridge where the flash bracket goes is just so even and curvy.  And I did it in one perfect shot (pun!).  The seams were a little sloppy; I should have checked out how to fix that before I fondanted the cake, but oh well.  I took a toothpick and started drawing outlines on the camera where the textured grip was, the outlines and borders of shapes, and marked where all the buttons would be.  I layered rolled fondant on the lens piece, but since I kept handling it too much, the fondant started to get too soft and I had to put a double layer (this time in strips) of fondant to repair it.

Crappy phone pic of the shapely camera body + lens

For the glass components (lens, viewfinder, screen) I WAS going to make them out of sugar, but I just didn’t have time to make molds and shape out wax paper and perfectly melt the sugar.  I ended up rolling out a bit of white fondant and cutting out the screen and lens pieces, then dusted them with silver petal powder to give it a shiny sheen.  The powder was annoying and got everywhere; it kept sticking to the black fondant on the lens.

I rolled out the last piece of white fondant and took a toothpick to basically outline the “Canon” logo by hand.  I formed the signature “C” by poking. one. hole. @. a. time. Then made dotted lines for the rest of the letters, putting painstaking detail in my freehand work to make them look as close to the logo as possible.  I took a sharp chef’s knife (I realize a knife and toothpick are my favorite fondant tools) and carefully cut out the letters by following my dotted lines.  I figured if this didn’t come out nicely, I’d just cut out the logo from one of the pictures and stick it on the cake.  haha  Luckily, the letters came out great and didn’t crack or break!  I let those dry out and used tweezers to stick the letters on.  I think after the camera body shape, this was the best part and my favorite component of the cake.

My dot work in fondant and "Canon" letter cutouts

With the last of the dark fondant I punched out circles for all the camera setting buttons with cake tips.  I took some cut up straws and poked it in the front of the camera body so I could insert the lens.  I took a knife and scratched lines into the front of the lens and rolled out some red fondant to make stripes for the lens.  You know, I was considering buying one of those fondant ribbon rollers, but I heard they weren’t that great and for some reason the metal pasta ribbon cutters (which would work great on fondant and gum paste) are obscenely expensive.  Then again, I realized I cut pretty straight lines with–you got it!– a plain old chef’s knife so those tools were unnecessary anyway.

I left the cake out and crawled into bed to snuggle with Vin for a couple hours and nap.  When he woke up, I was like an excited little kid jumping up and down dragging him out of bed: “Baby, wake up!  I made you a present!  It’s in the kitchen!  Are you going you look @ it? Go to the kitchen!  Don’t you want to see what I made you?  Look!  Look!  Look!”  And he was impressed.  =)  I knew it wasn’t as good as the steak, but this was more complicated as it wasn’t a flat cake.  Unfortunately, the weight of the cake started pulling the fondant down and it started to fall and tear a bit, and all of a sudden these stupid air bubbles came out to warp the shape and the lens started to flatten and sag…  *sigh*  It was nice while it lasted.   Bummer, dude.  =(

Canon DSLR cake taken by a Canon DSLR - front view (ignore the lens sag)

Vin took pics of this Canon camera WITH a Canon.  He posted a couple cell phone shots on Facebook and when his dad saw them, he asked if Vin had bought another camera and said, “It looks like it’s an underwater camera…” then burst out laughing when he realized it was a cake.   haha

Canon DSLR cake taken by a Canon DSLR - back/side view

It wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be, but I’d say it was a special enough cake for Vin’s birthday.  I mean, I did it in about 6 hours, which was half the time I spent on the steak last year.  Next year… that’ll be a tough one.

Canon DSLR cake taken by a Canon DSLR - top view

Happy birthday, baby!  Thanks for putting up with all my cake craziness this weekend.  I love you!  =D