Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend heading back to work just a week or two after the birth of your first child. But like many of my friends and colleagues that own small businesses, especially cake designers, we all have this gene within us that makes us do crazy things. I had to pass on segments on Oprah (yes the Oprah), Good Morning America and a Food Network Challenge but I just couldn’t say no to a recent cake.
One of my wonderful clients that we have done cakes for before had purchased a cake at the silent auction for a charity I support every year called C-CAP . Out came a two-tiered holiday cake with a gnome theme.
While feeding my new baby, running back and forth between home and bakery (with gum paste and fondant in hand) the cake was completed. And I could not have done it without the help of my amazing assistants who baked and built the two cakes, and made all the arrangements.
Now I have to go cut some brownies but after this I am REALLY taking maternity leave…at least I think I will.
Friday, November 27, 2009
On November 17th my husband and I introduced our daughter Sophie Pearl Ricks to the world. She weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. She is by far my greatest and most creative endeavor to date.
Thank you to all my clients, students and friends who have sent good wishes.
I will be on sabbatical from teaching, making cakes and Food Network Challenges until February but will keep you updated with a few events here and there. I will be giving a demo and teaching a class at The NY Cake Convention in January.
I have already started thinking about Sophie’s first birthday cake but luckily I have some time before then!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Two weeks ago I taught a class at the Center for Advanced Pastry Studies (CAPS) at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), of which I am a proud alumna. These classes are extra special because everyone in the class has at least a working knowledge of sculpted cakes and some have their own businesses. It was a three-day intensive hands-on class...I didn't let them sit for a second! As you can see from the photos they did an amazing job with the gift box cake. It was such a wonderful group of people filled with terrific questions, work ethic and a sense of fun!
My next group class will be at the NY Cake Convention held in New York City on January 2-5th, 2010. I'll be doing a demonstration on Saturday, January 2nd from 9AM-11AM and a hands on class that same day from 1PM-4PM. Sign-up here. There will be many amazing cake designers from all over the world.
And did I mention our first book, The Confetti Cakes Cookbook is in its fifth printing?! Thank you to everyone who has bought our books and for all your wonderful feedback!
Here are some great reviews.
1) Latest Addictions
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Everyone is busy, especially during the holidays, so this is a perfect dessert for those who have short amounts of free time. You can make the snowmen ahead of time and then whip up the cupcakes and frosting right before the festivities begin! Just make sure to buy your cupcake wrappers ahead of time so you are ready to go.
People will be blown away by the cutest, most delicious dessert they have ever had.
* If you don't have or can't find rolled fondant for the snowman you can use, marzipan or marshmallows and white gumdrops with other candy.
*For a tangy touch you can pair the cake with a rich cream cheese frosting by just adding 1 cup or 8 ounces of cream cheese, and cut the butter in half of the original frosting recipe.
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Monday, September 21, 2009
A few years ago I did a cake for a wonderful client who had a beach wedding but was celebrating their marriage in New York City with friends and family with a party. The concept for the cake, as well as the entire event, was created by the amazing team at David Stark Design. The cake we created for the party was a lobster coming out of a pail, with a shovel, and shells, sitting on top of a sandbox.
I think the cake came out great but it was before I was really using an airbrush. The lobster was good but definitely lacked some depth. I still do not use the airbrush very often, usually just to cover a large area of cake (think Lego Batman or six-foot tall sock monkey) but every once in awhile a cake calls for it.
Last weekend we made a similar version of the Lobster cake for a 60th birthday party at a beach house. This time after I made all the pieces of the lobster in orange gumpaste, instead of just dusting it I went ahead and created the shell effect by using layers of airbrush spray. I first started with a coat of yellow, then orange, red and finished with a touch of green to give the darker areas some contrast. Make sure that if you use an airbrush you do not use regular food coloring gels, you need airbrush color.
I also used some disco dust on this cake for the stars, which gives a nice glitter effect. We actually layered the cake with cupcakes around the base, with brown sugar "sand" and sugar shells, sand dollars and star fish but here is the final version before it left the bakery.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Today, Thursday, August 20th, I will be on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius Satellite for the Living Today show. This interview will air LIVE from 3-3:30pm (EST), I will be taking questions from our listeners all about baking! The show's title is "Cake Baking Tips". This will be during their weekly Baking Segment, so while we will definitely discuss cakes, people are welcome to call in with all of their baking questions. I will also offer the top FIVE quick tips people should follow in order to make baking better!
The host of the show is, Mario Bosquez. I've been on his show a few times before and he is great and is actually a great baker himself. The last time I was on his show he made our hydrangea cupcakes from our first book, The Confetti Cakes Cookbook.
If you won't be around today and would like a copy of the interview, you can sign up for a FREE 7 day subscription at http://www.sirius.com/freetrial/register , and record the interview while it’s LIVE onto your computer. Feel free to record it on your own!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I am leaving one big city (New York) for another (Chicago) this week to attend my very first ICES
(International Cake Exploration Societé) convention. ICES is probably the largest member based cake organization in the world. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get to the annual convention. I am going just to check things out and to see the lay of the land. Maybe next year I will be able to take some hands-on classes or even demo myself. I plan to see lots of cake friends and students from all over the world so it should be really exciting. There is also a big vendor hall so I hope not to overdo the buying. I’m not sure if I am allowed to take photos but if I can I will report back with what I see.
Since we are talking about cities I thought I should post about one of our more recent cakes we did with a NYC theme. It is for one of my all time favorite clients. I’ve done many events in her family including other family birthdays as well as her sister-in-law's Bridal Shower cake and wedding cake. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of so many special events in their family.
In fact it was that wedding cake for her brother and sister-in-law, that needed to be delivered in Pennsylvania that almost sent my now husband running. I think we were only dating a month or two when we took that journey. Poor thing did not know how stressful (and COLD!) it could be to deliver a five-tiered wedding cake. Yep, my poor hubby got a taste of what was to come....four years later he still HATES to be associated with ANY part of a delivery. I can’t say I love it myself!
Join ICES here !
Monday, June 22, 2009
You wouldn't think that New York City is the place to find wildflowers but in the last few weeks two separate projects sprung up with them.
The first is The High Line, found down in the meatpacking district. It is a beautiful new park that was created on top of an old elevated train track that runs through Manhattan. It opened just two weeks ago with the help of NYC, The Parks Dept. and Friends of the High Line.
The second project blooming with wildflowers was a small wedding cake we created for Elegant Bride magazine. The official photographs will come out this Fall in the magazine but here is a preview. All the flowers are made of gum paste.
Monday, June 1, 2009
One would think that making a cake in the shape of an old-fashioned Black and White cookie would not be too difficult, after all it is round and has just two colors of icing. But what if I told you that the cookie’s diameter was well over two feet and would serve close to 200 people? And did I mention that we do not have a walk-in freezer, therefore we had to build it in four separate pieces all the while making sure it formed a perfect circle, had the sloped sides of a real cookie and the domed middle. It was especially challenging because once the four cakes were “glued” together with buttercream we had to make sure that the “seams” would not show.
I love making cakes that look like real life objects, but I especially like making cakes in the shape of food. We have done sushi platters, a Philly cheese-steak, hamburgers, fries, lobster, etc.
The best way to do this is to go out and buy a smaller version of the item and copy it. You can see our “models” below.
We hope Dan was surprised because apparently Black and Whites are his favorite cookie!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I can't believe it's already a week ago that I was in Pittsburgh. The Market District store was just amazing. Usually it's the country folk that are amazed by our lively New York city but my husband and I were totally amazed by this Mega store. Not only do they have amazing produce and prepared food, along with the cafe they also have dry cleaning and childcare AT THE super market. This is unheard of in NYC...just amazing. And they also had a beautiful kitchen in the round where many famous chefs have held demonstrations.
I had a great audience with lots of great questions and they didn't even boo me off the stage once my cake had some "melting" issues. I swear if something goes wrong with my cakes it is always during a demo (or live television!) Let this be a lesson to you...even if you stay up all night worrying that there is no mini-fridge in your hotel room AND that the cakes are getting too hot, you are probably right. So as you can imagine, my cakes were not cooperating but I think the audience got a lot out of my hour long demo (I hope so!) One of the things I always talk about is being organized when starting any project, here is a great article from the Pittsburgh-Tribune talking about that.
And the good news is that our topsy-turvy Bat-Mitzvah cake was delivered with no drama...always a good thing. About five years ago I started making a "styrofoam" base where the candles can fit, it's perfect for the candle lighting ceremony and keeps those long tapers away from the rest of the cake. Olivia's cake and Bat-Mitzvah theme were "Liv life...be happy"...sounds good to me!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The last time I was in Pittsburgh I saw a lot of the city. Over 26.2 miles exactly ! This happened when my friend Ashley got it in her head that it would be a good idea for the two of US to run a marathon together. It was a great experience and it was fun both before and after the race to see some of the sights in the city.
This Saturday I will be giving a demo at Giant Eagle, Market District (South Hills) from 11-1pm. I will be showing how to create our Spring Mini cakes and signing books. The mini cakes are one of the many fun ideas from our second book, Confetti Cakes for Kids. They are perfect for spring but could be easily translated to anytime of year!
We are also busy this week with a Topsy-Turvy Bat-Mitzvah cake, sketching some new cakes for an upcoming magazine shoot in June and getting ready for the demo!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Flour Confections. It is such a great teaching space and kitchen with a beautiful store that is filled with tons of cake decorating equipment. The class did an amazing job and I love all the variety in colors and patterns. It was so much fun and I think everyone learned a lot. Here is a posting about the class from the owner of Flour Confections, Lisa Bugeja, on her blog.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Well, my brother tells me I put way too much thought into my blog entries and he is probably right (after all I am a perfectionist in all that I do) but it has also prevented me from updating the blog often enough.
As you can imagine the last Food Network Challenge took a lot out of me, emotionally and physically. But it’s really the stuff I do everyday, cakes and teaching that have kept me the busiest. I just returned from Toronto, Canada (and yes, you need a Passport to travel to Canada these days…let’s just say I had a little adventure at the NY airport) AND you need a VISA in order to teach there…yes, another adventure was had by myself once I arrived in Canada and was escorted to immigration! More on this class later.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Since the Food Network challenge aired this past weekend I have had many requests for how we make our Anemone Flowers. A large version of this flower was on the dress in the first episode (which will re-air this Weds. at 7pm and again on Sunday) and was featured in my last blog entry.
Pastry and Baking magazine in the first issue of this year. We have been honored enough to be selected to do six separate spreads for this magazine and the Anemone flower is one of them. You can visit the entire magazine online if you don't have your very own copy. Here I give you small versions of the photo layout with the instructions. Good Luck!
Friday, April 3, 2009
"Food Network Challenge: Last Cake Standing," premieres this Sunday!
In this series, six pastry chefs are thrown into a brutal four-round cake competition, where they are faced with a number of arduous tasks and weekly eliminations. The lucky winner takes home the biggest prize in Challenge history, $50,000!
When I was first invited to compete in this challenge I was extremely honored because it was called an All-Star Challenge. So we began the process of preparing for not ONE challenge but FOUR all at once. Along with my assistants Lauren, Liz, and Candice, we began to create a game plan. We even hired a professional sculptor to help with the armature supports. The more I planned, the more I couldn't believe what I got myself into. We had to ship ALL of our cake, and ALL of our equipment for FOUR challenges....and I used to think competing in one challenge was stressful.
But I became alarmingly concerned when I found out the weekend before we left that the name had changed from the "all-star challenge" to a much more dramatic one: The Last Cake Standing.
Regardless, this is one show that will be sure to please and will certainly be entertaining...I'm not sure I can watch it but if you do let me know what happens!
You can catch me and Lauren (and a bunch of amazing cake designers) this Sunday, April 5th at 8pm ET/PT on the Food Network for the first of four episodes.
And if you happen to be walking or driving by Chelsea Market look up...that's my face on a Billboard!
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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Just got back from Austin, TX...and although I didn't see much of Austin the city, I got to experience the hospitality of the people everyday. I was a judge at the annual cake show, That Takes the Cake, where I was joined by an all-star team of fellow judges including: Bronwen Weber, Nicholas Lodge, Jacquy Pfeiffer, Debbie Brown (all the way from England!) and many others. We judged all day Sat. at the Crockett Center, then I gave a demo on Sunday of our gift box cake and on Monday I taught an all day, hands-on class of our sushi cake to 15 students.
All the cakes and the students were so impressive.
Here are a few photos from our class, I couldn't be more proud considering we had less then eight hours!Even one of my students posted about it!
You can see a bunch of photos from the demo's and the actual show cakes on the events facebook profile.
I'm off to Kansas but want you to get ready, the next Food Network Challenge we are in airs in just one month from today! More about it here.
Only in Texas!