Yeah, as a phrase it sucks, but it’s Monday morning and I’m blogging so I’m not going to be too terribly picky about my grammar. At any rate, I wanted to show you one of the reasons for my sporadic blogging over the last six weeks or so.
As you may or may not know (or care) I spent a significant portion of my much younger life as a professional cake decorator. Not one of those grocery store types that they love to showcase on Cake Wrecks, either – my specialty was sculpted cakes (I once made the Space Shuttle – the thing had a four-foot wing span and must have weighed 200 pounds) and airbrushed caricatures. My mother, who was an extremely talented woman, taught me and from 1987 to 1994 I was the manager and head decorator at her bakery in Dallas, Texas.
We worked exclusively in buttercream – this was before the big, fancy, fondant-covered cake revolution really hit the U.S. Mom passed away in 1996 at 51, the victim of a lifetime of cigarettes and poor diet, and I put away my pastry bags and my #21 star tips and rose nails for quite awhile. It was something of a relief, to be honest – cake decorating is a stressful profession and can be quite detrimental to your health.
After a few years, though, I sort of came to miss it. I had no desire to return to it as a profession, but as a hobby it seemed like it might be…fun. It also became the perfect opportunity to learn some of the newer techniques that had become so popular in the intervening years, and I jumped feet first into royal icing, rolled fondant and, eventually, gum paste (you can see some examples of what I’ve done here, here and here). Then I discovered Craftsy.com and their amazing array of classes and tutorials on cake decorating (and crocheting and photography and just about any other “craft” oriented pastime or occupation) and I was sucked back in with a quite pleasurable vengeance.
So, for the last six weeks or so, I’ve spent a great deal of time in the evenings and on weekends alternating between crocheting a Spiderman blanket for The G Man (photos forthcoming upon completion) and making, by hand, 15 pink roses, 3 dozen hydrangea, 4 dozen leaves and about 225 baby’s breath out of gum paste for an 80th birthday cake I delivered this past Saturday.
Not the best photo I’ve ever taken (I was using someone else’s camera in low lighting), but you get the gist. No fondant on this one – they specifically asked for frilly and feminine in buttercream – but you can see the three floral arrangements on top of each of the tiers.
All in all, I’m quite pleased with it.
Next on my list to learn? Modeling chocolate – I have a wedding cake and a groom’s cake coming up in October for the son of our beef farmer (who is also one of the fine butchers at Whitefeather Meats). The wedding cake is going to have bride and groom kitties (yes, as in felines) on top, and the groom’s cake is going to look like a raw t-bone steak on a cutting board.
This is going to be fun.