Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Joey" out of cake!

As I mentioned in my previous post, April 24th was my dad's birthday. What I didn't divulge, for fear of him finding out, was that we planned two parties for his 60th. The first was an intimate gathering with the immediate family, which meant including the dogs as well! We all gathered at The Benjamin Hotel in New York City because they allow dogs. As a decoy I made my dad just a small cake, with his name spelled out in Nautical flags (since he has just bought a boat) and it had his favorite child, his labradoodle Joey squeezing through the number sixty.

The big celebration was a surprise party this past Sunday at my parents' house. For this I made a life-sized cake of Joey. I actually videotaped the making of the cake so I hope to have a short film of it soon. My filmmaker friend, Lisa Stock lent me her camera and is doing all the editing for it as well. You have to check out her website, especially her "Bride of Frankenstein Cake" video. It was difficult making something out of cake that you know so well. I wanted to keep adding fur to make it look more like Joey. My cousin Jordan took amazing photos that captured my dad's surprise as well as the cake cutting. Check it out:http://flickr.com/photos/jpop3000/sets/72157604767410663/show/
My brother Eric made an amazing video and posted it on his own blog too!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Revenge of the Sock Monkey

This is the anniversary week of our winning the Food Network's Extreme Cake Challenge. I will never forget that experience for so many reasons. It was an especially auspicious day since it was my Dad's birthday (April 24th) and he was out in Denver with us. Poor guy was running around getting us breakfast, snacks and dry ice (to put in Mr. Sock Monkey's head) so his ears would steam. And we didn't finish that night until 11pm so the birthday dinner I had planned fell by the wayside.

Unlike any of the other competitions I've done it was so special to be judged by people who actually make sculpted cakes just like I do. Duff, Geoff and Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes and the stars of Ace of Cakes could not have been better judges. Not just to me, but they were complimentary to all the other contestants and Duff really understood the EXTREME stress we were under since he has been a participant in so many competitions too. Even with playing competitive tennis in college I have really never felt so much stress in my life. The competitions are usually great because the weeks before I go I am so nervous I drop at least five pounds.

Overall the experience was so amazing and of course winning the competition against so many amazing cake designers was the real highlight! We couldn't have done it without so many people: our armature welder, Matthew James who is a working artist and came to the rescue in helping us build the Monkey's internal structure;my good friend and cake designer Buddy Valastro who got the sparklers to us before we left and of course my dad who was a constant supporter and gopher, and didn't leave the stadium the entire competition!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Piecing Fondant

It was a number of years ago that I realized when you are covering a huge amount of (or very tall) cake you can't always do it in one try. So I devised a technique that I call "piecing fondant" that allows you to apply fondant to irregular shaped cakes in well, you know, pieces (or sections). I am sure I personally didn't invent this technique although I can't remember where I saw it for the first time. I especially like to piece fondant on objects that would naturally have a seam, like a shopping bag, nap sack or handbags. You can piece the fondant and add some stitching marks and you'd never know it is a cake!
You can also use it for things that have an opening at the top, i.e. Popcorn bags, sand pails, and totes.

If you are in the New York vicinity on May 8th, I will be giving a demo at The Institute of Culinary Education on this technique.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Being a Bride

It was just 6 months ago that I was a bride myself. When I was getting married the first question I was asked was not "who are you marrying?" but rather "who's making the cake?." I am happy to report that we had three wedding cakes (who could decide on just one?!), tons of cupcakes, cookies and brownies too (all made at Confetti Cakes, of course!) My friend Karalee LaRochelle, owner of Cocoa Locoa, made delicious salted honey caramels as our favors. We were married at Blue Hill at Stone Barns so the food was exquisite.
After making wedding cakes for so many couples over the years, I was overwhelmed with all the choices for our colors, flowers, themes, etc. As any good bride does, I religiously studied Martha Stewart Weddings but was happy to find so many fabulous blogs and websites to answer all my questions. Today we are happy to have been included in many wonderful blogs, here are two of our favorite wedding ones! The Bride's Cafe depicts the most beautiful weddings, Janie posted an interview with us today! Blush Events has the most up to date info on "what's new" and featured our cakes from Instyle Weddings. Oh and by the way, just in case you are wondering...I married an amazing guy named Marc. (Photo by Jamie Watts)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gourmet's "Dairy of a Foodie"

I want to tell you all about a television appearance coming up this Sunday, April 6th at 4pm on PBS (Channel Thirteen for New Yorkers). I will be on the show "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie," the segment focuses on Trompe L'oeil: The Art of Culinary Deception. I will be showing viewers how we make our "sushi" cake. What I love about this television show is that it is edited by the actual magazine editors at Gourmet Magazine so it is really foodie-centric! (Yes, I just made up that word but hopefully you get it!) The show also talks about my style of cake: realism. I just love to make cakes look like real objects. One of my favorite blogs, Cakespy talks about this too. Not only is it a great blog with really interesting interviews and travel logs but Jessie also sells beautiful artwork, I am fortunate enough to own a few of her cake pins and a cupcake painting! Check it out!