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Wendy DeBord

Tales of a Cake Decorator

74 posts in this topic

I just wanted to bump this all to thank you for your invaluable help. Last weekend I baked a wedding cake for a dear friend, and was helped by the numerous questions I posted on this forum. It was an orange buttermilk cake with orange buttercream filling and chocolate ganache icing, decorated with royal icing and chocolate plastic. It made it from my apartment to the reception site intact, firmly anchored by bamboo skewers (thanks for the tip, chefpeon).

I just wanted to post a picture of the finished product. The wedding colors were pink and brown, and the ceremony took place under the Brooklyn Bridge, which was supposed to be suggested by the cake:

i8487.jpg

I also got a lot of compliments from people saying it was the best wedding cake they had had. :biggrin: And asking if I did cakes for a living (I don't. I'm about as amateur as they come.)

I also wanted to picture the cake I baked for my own wedding, over a year ago.

i8488.jpg

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I've been lurking for a while, although had posted some questions in the past, but have been reading and enjoying all of the posts and wonderful information that's shared here without posting much. I just read this thread tonight. It's incredible to see how much talent there is amongst sugar artists here, some who I recognize from ICES, and other boards. I also make my own fondant- have been making it for 17 years now. At times, I think I'd rather start using the commercial fondants, just for the ease of it, but then I am so used to the flavor and texture of the fondant I make. I really enjoy working with gumpaste, making flowers, and figurines. I've started "playing" around with some blown and pulled sugar, and my dream is to take a course, sometime, with Ewald Notter. I hope you don't mind, but I figured I'd share a link to my website sharon's creative cakes

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I hope you don't mind, but I figured I'd share a link to my website sharon's creative cakes

Great cakes, Sharon! Beautiful work.

I may have overlooked it, but I didn't see any indication of where you're located.


B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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Great cakes, Sharon! Beautiful work.

I may have overlooked it, but I didn't see any indication of where you're located.

Thanks bkeith! Actually, I'm an American, but am presently located in Ontario, Canada (with hopes of moving south again in the near future).

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I thought I'd see whether I could resurrect interest in this thread by bumping it back up. I read it all the way through yesterday and was completely inspired. Just for fun, here's the most ambitious cake I've done recently. It was for a young friend's first birthday party, and it's decorated with mousseline (Italian meringue) buttercream and piped chocolate decorations (a la Whimsical Bakehouse).

gallery_32228_1335_95020.jpg

What are you all decorating these days?

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Wonderful cakes everyone. It's fun to see what everyone else is doing. Anne - your chocolate cake is unique and elegant - one of my new favorites. Do you mind if I try something similar when I get the chance?

I'll add to this thread by sharing one of my favorite new cakes - http://www.kathyskakesllc.com/weddingcake122.html

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Kathyf, your cakes are gorgeous! And all so different. I would have liked to complimented you on one in particular but I couldn't choose. Thanks for sharing your work.


Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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Wonderful cakes everyone. It's fun to see what everyone else is doing. Anne - your chocolate cake is unique and elegant - one of my new favorites. Do you mind if I try something similar when I get the chance?

I'll add to this thread by sharing one of my favorite new cakes - http://www.kathyskakesllc.com/weddingcake122.html

Kathy, your cakes are stunning! Thanks for posting.

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Well, >>taking deep breath<<Clicky here for some pictures of my work. It's not a slick website but I did crash the computer trying to figure out how to post pictures in the first place, so I get a little creative credit for that. :rolleyes: This is just some stuff I've done in the past two years or so. I still have a few stuck in the camera too. :laugh:

This is a really cool thread here that I missed during it's first run. Umm, everyone's work is amazing. I have loved Kathyf's work forever, those clean clear artsy lines with such expressive creative interuptions. I love Ruth's happily animated cheerful menagerie. C'mon, ChefP, on the cutting edge as usual, gorgeous embroidery, artful dramatic technique.

So then I thought I should comment on everybody, apology in advance if I miss somone.

Wendy, I think I actually had a fringed, (chocolate/suede) purse very similar to your first one--each one so awesome--then to tie them all together with the single serving minis in production--way way awesome. Hats off.

Tepee, adorable puppies, the paw prints I think are genius. I love those Mother's Day cakes you made too--breathtaking work.

**Idea>>

If I can I try to design and produce my decorated boards well in advance like a week or more ahead of time. Because it's true, you are so spent by the time you finish a cake there's no mental or physical energy left to do one more thing except hope you hit the bed when you fall over. And usually time is gone too. So I do my boards first when possible. Just a thought for anyone.

Sharon, I love your work, cutting edge, floraliferous, those bubbles too cool--really admire your stuff.

Alanamoana, great tip about sliding messy bags into new clean ones.

Oh yeah, Marilyn, The Croquembouche I Love it, so tall and stately, so ethreal covered in the spun sugar--great stuff.

Lydia, Can I get a slice of lemon heaven for breakfast, jeez those look so droolingly good.

BKeith, I loved yah before I knew yah. Your work is stunning and your great heart to teach and share is legend to me. Thanks!

Marjorie, That pink & gold quilted cutie is beautiful. Love the treasure chest! Once upon a time I was gonna do a bunch of dummies so I could put out a proper website blah blah blah--well, somehow all the chocolate coins for the treasure chest cake 'disappeared' in the meantime :raz:

Sharon, I forgot to gush about the castle cake, oh my total gosh on that one, what can I say, Camelot should look so pretty. wow

And Marjorie, you got a great write up--how cool was that??!!

TracyK, drop dead gorgeous flowers. I really like Scott too. My husband and I met him once--very cool, nice person, generous teacher.

>> Idea

The very old fashioned method of sugaring plastic pillars takes them to a different level, I think. Just brush pillars and plates for that matter with lightly beaten egg white then hold over a wide container, sheet pan or something & sprinkle plain old white granulated sugar and they become glistening and fresh and very different than the plain old plastic. Just a cafeteria thought, take it or leave it. :smile: Also covers the yellowing glue or yellowing plastic.

Tepee, I want to wash down my slice of lemon heaven with a slice of your chocolate heart cake--except the flowers are too pretty to eat. I love that rose.

Oh, Amuse Bouche, the Broolyn Bridge cake is soo cool. What a freaking boatload of work you did on that! I love it. And you did your own wedding cake??? Multiplied congratulations, my friend, it looks Lenox-y like fine china. How beautiful. (Plus you made it to the ceremony too???--just gently teasing :laugh: ) But seriously, big kudos to you.

CRC, Love your lovely arrangement--again, what a boatload of wo-ork. The pot of flowers, the handbag, the polka dotted hat and all the many pretty details. >> where's the sweat pouring off your brow smile face << Great stuff!!

So three pages later :rolleyes: let me add one more idea.

**Idea>>>I've been doing cake for decades from shops and bakeries professionally. I do not have hand or arm issues from decorating. I of course I hold the bag with my one hand and guide it with the finger of the other hand, but I decorate (pipe) with my shoulders. Just a thought...

edited to say one more idea:

But I hate having to constantly refill the bag and worse I don't like to handle slippery bags. But inevitable mine gets frosting on the sides and I start to loose my grip. Anyone have a way of avoiding that??????

Here is an idea. Before it gets out of hand, like after the first coupla fillings lay the bag on the counter with the opening toward you, the tip pointing away from you. Insert your clean spatula into the bag, not quite touching the payload down there, just into the icky top edges there that you want to cleanup. Hold the spatula edge firmly against the table through the bag. With your free hand, cross over the spatula and pinch the bag so you can roll the bag up thus cleaning the insides, repeat to get all the way around the bag. It's a jif to do--rather painstaking to describe. You are just rotating the bag between the table and the spatula edge. Just keep the spatula pressed against the table so it wipes off the inside of the bag, as you pull the bag around it, y'know?


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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Anne - your chocolate cake is unique and elegant - one of my new favorites. Do you mind if I try something similar when I get the chance?

No, I'm sorry, you can't try it. JUST KIDDING! You'll love the technique....it's so freaking easy!

I got the idea from Colette anyway....it was featured in "Colette's Wedding Cakes" (the Asian fan one). I see you did her "Chocolate Fantasia" Cake. I wish someone was willing to pay me to do the "Chapeau de Fleurs" cake......Man, I love that one.

I love your "Bride and Groom" hearts! Making a heart cake look like a tux is a great idea! :wub:

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WOW! you are all so talented .:) I thought I would share some of my cakes but I havent done that many yet! ( getting there tho!).

This one is a test cake sent to a local Deli to see if it will sell.

gallery_11685_1434_746693.jpg

I am trying to work with chocolate more as I am moving back to Australia and the current trend is chocolate based decorations at the moment. Buttercream is not popular at all.

gallery_11685_1434_45284.jpg

First time working with fondant Roses

gallery_11685_1434_10004.jpg

My Australia day cake!

gallery_11685_1434_33062.jpg

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I thought I would share some of my cakes but I havent done that many yet! ( getting there tho!).

Awesome stuff --doesn't appear as if you're just starting. You're using a lot of different techniques. I love the lillie of the valley, your chocolate cake is to die for, your first fondant roses are A+ but I promise, my favorite is the boxing gloved kangaroo--too cool--great stuff!


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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But I hate having to constantly refill the bag and worse I don't like to handle slippery bags. But inevitable mine gets frosting on the sides and I start to loose my grip. Anyone have a way of avoiding that??????

Here is an idea. Before it gets out of hand, like after the first coupla fillings lay the bag on the counter with the opening toward you, the tip pointing away from you. Insert your clean spatula into the bag, not quite touching the payload down there, just into the icky top edges there that you want to cleanup. Hold the spatula edge firmly against the table through the bag. With your free hand, cross over the spatula and pinch the bag so you can roll the bag up thus cleaning the insides, repeat to get all the way around the bag. It's a jif to do--rather painstaking to describe. You are just rotating the bag between the table and the spatula edge. Just keep the spatula pressed against the table so it wipes off the inside of the bag, as you pull the bag around it, y'know?

All I'm saying of course is stick your spatula in the top and using the table as leverage scrape out the top of the bag. While it is all smoothed out you can wipe it down & dry it off too if you need to. I was doing this today, cleaning out the top of the bag, and I realized I had advised here to cross your hand over the bag to do this & that's not necessary. Just pinch the bag to grab hold of it & pull it up so it rolls under the spatula. Allowing the spatula clean off the inside there.

:biggrin: So many words, so little relevance :laugh:

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My last wedding cake for the year!!! Can you tell I'm excited??? I love doing cakes but between this and the full time pastry chef gig I'm exhausted. Things get really, really busy during "festive" aka Christmas holidays at work so no more cakes until mid January.

Cake details: 15" dummy cake, 12" swiss truffle tortel, 9" lilikoi chiffon w/lilikoi curd and 6" coconut w/caramel all iced in Italian meringue buttercream. All the flowers are gumpaste.

The bride was an absolute PIA to deal with: very little communication and follow through. And even though she was a gazillionaire she refused to take the time to mail me payment. She's the first client I have ever had to threaten with "termination of contract". The reception was at Allen Wong's Club Grille.

The cake table was decorated beautifully: a bed of orchids lit from underneath.

gallery_34185_1689_31770.jpg

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The bride was an absolute PIA to deal with: very little communication and follow through. And even though she was a gazillionaire she refused to take the time to mail me payment. She's the first client I have ever had to threaten with "termination of contract"

AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH!!! I swear, every bride that I've had problems with regarding ponying up the cash on the due date was quite wealthy. It always seems the ones that were struggling with a budget, always always paid on time.....or early. What's up with that?

This August I almost thought I wasn't going to get paid for one of the cakes I did. I do a lot of long distance consulting because my town is a "destination" wedding type of place....a lot like Hawaii. Most brides don't live here.....they just come to get married in a pretty place. My rule is that the cake must be paid for NO LATER than a week before the wedding.....or no cakey. I sent an email to the bride reminding her of the due date. She say's OK, it's in the mail tomorrow. So I wait three days. No check. So now it's four days before the wedding. Send her an email.......where's the check? OH! she says, I wrote it but didn't mail it. It's in the mail tomorrow. So now it's Friday before the wedding. Still no check. I send her an email....try to call.....no response. I figure it's because she's here now, and can't check her email, and I have no cell number. Don't know where she's staying......try to call her mother....no response. So, if I follow my own rules, I shouldn't deliver the cake on Saturday.....I mean, I have no money. But, man.....I can't DO that....that would be truly awful.......especially if the check actually was in the mail and got held up somehow. So I make the decision to deliver the cake and hope for the best. Made me nervous.

So now it's Monday after the wedding. No check. No response to calls or emails because bride is now on her honeymoon. Week passes.......Friday....no check. Ok, now I'm MAD. I fire off an email saying that I delivered the cake in good faith, and I really should have had the check the week before the wedding as we'd discussed CLEARLY. If I didn't receive the check soon....I would have to take "further action"......I was polite but let it be known I was pretty annoyed by being blown off like that.

So Saturday comes. I get the check along with a sweet note saying the cake was everything and more than she expected and thank you so much!!!

Shit.

I felt like crap for sending the annoyed email, but what was I supposed to do? I really thought I wasn't getting paid. So I fired off an email right away thanking her for the payment and the note, but I probably looked like a jackass anyway.

I really hate it when I'm put in that position!!!! :angry:

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My policy is "paid in full 4 weeks prior to the event". You know how you just get a feeling about a bride? Well, my intuition was definitely waving the red flag. I knew it wasn't an issue of not having the money; it was more an issue of my time not being as valuable as her time. If you have the money to rent out the entire Club Grille for a Saturday night, you certainly have enough money for the cake!

Next time I will listen to my intuition sooner. It's so stressful to do a cake last minute because you didn't get paid when you should have!

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You know how you just get a feeling about a bride? Well, my intuition was definitely waving the red flag.

I sure do. I get "feelings" about all of them, and still, to some point I ignore my intuition and

figure I must be wrong.....but I never am. You'd think I'd learn.

I think perhaps requiring the full amount one week before is probably too lenient and not to mention risky. I think I'll take your advice and make it three or four weeks before. Thanks for the tip. :smile:

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Mpshort, that's an incredible shot! What a dream cake table......

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Yes, mpshort, that table of underlit orchids is crazy beautiful. Your cake is exquisite. And they held off on payment? Dirty bums.

I have a three week paid in full policy on cakes I do from home. I was lucky enough to get to do a cake for a double wedding--really cool. However, one bride paid, one didn't. Heh heh heh heh ($%#&@). So how about just deliver half the cake :biggrin::angry: they were like intertwined, y'know stacked right next to each other--cascades running hither and yon.

Well, I debated & huffed & puffed and decided it would hurt me more, like blood pressure & upsettedness to screw them than to go ahead and deliver, so I delivered it. There was no complimentary 5" cake, decorated to match all boxed & ready for the freezer - not for either of them. The cake was definitely not pimped out. I mean they got what they ordered but obviously I was not in the mood. No magic for you!

So eventually I got paid. But I was right. I felt so good after I delivered. If I had only delivered half of it, what I had been paid for, I would have felt like sh*t. Probably had a nervous breakdown somewhere waiting for the fallout.

More weeks ahead of time gives you a chance to let the check clear too.

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With catering, I require a 50% deposit to "reserve the date," 25% a month before, and the remaining 25% with the guarantee. If it's planned less than a month out, it's 75% to reserve the date and the remaining 25% with the guarantee. That way I have some money in hand before I am even obligated to get started on the event. If I don't get a check, I just gently hint that I have other interest in the person's date. But then I'm a one-woman shop and am not yet in a position to book more than one event at the same time.

A week before the wedding for 100% of the cake expense seems extremely risky to me.

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A week before the wedding for 100% of the cake expense seems extremely risky to me.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I get a 50% deposit up front. The other 50% is the part that's due the week before the wedding. But like I said, a week before really isn't enough time. I'm going to move

it to four weeks.

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A week before the wedding for 100% of the cake expense seems extremely risky to me.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I get a 50% deposit up front. The other 50% is the part that's due the week before the wedding. But like I said, a week before really isn't enough time. I'm going to move

it to four weeks.

Yeah, me too, I shoulda said the balance paid in full ...

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I want to cry because I can't see ANY of the pictures you're posting Ann (Chefpeon). I'm sure they're wonderful. I even tried cutting and pasting the link in a new window and I can't. I went to your website and still can't see the pictures on the site. I just get those darned white boxes with red x's. :sad:

But I'm still enjoying reading your posts and everyone else's. And eveyone else's pictures! I love this place!!!

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      By 1930, the public fascination with dance theatre began to fade as America was lured by the intrigue of other forms of entertainment like talking motion pictures. But the early concepts and the heritage established by the Cakewalk endured throughout the twentieth century and into the 21st, namely, as a contest to raise money at church socials and school functions. The Cakewalk also delivered new words into the American vocabulary-“take the cake,” and “it’s a real cakewalk,” are terms used to refer to something that is “the best,” or a job easily done. Cakewalk software is a cutting-edge firm today that produces award-winning digital audio and recording software to the music industry.

      + + +
      I’m nearing my 54th birthday in November, some 46 years removed from my second-grade class. I had been lost until that Cakewalk at Yoke’s, yet now I’m found. I’ve learned a lesson in respect through the Cakewalk -- a lesson that taught me how emancipation allowed the enslaved to express themselves through music and dance. A lesson that freedom is an unalienable right bestowed upon all Americans. I’ve gained a deep appreciation for the place that this little ditty we call the Cakewalk plays in the history of America, opening our eyes to a world that was color blind.

      I found my personal truth in the Cakewalk -- a truth far richer and deeper than the dreams of a boy winning a cake.

      * * *
      David Ross lives in Spokane, but works a one-hour plane ride away. When he's not tending to his day job -- or commuting -- he writes about food and reviews restaurants. He is on the eGullet Society hosting team.
    • By JohnT
      I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
       
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
       
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
       
        
    • By Tennessee Cowboy
      I'd like help from anyone on making the best Pistachio Ice cream.  This forum is a continuation of a conversation I started in my "introduction" post, which you can see at 
      I recently made Pistachio ice cream using the Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook.  I love Pistachio ice cream, so I've launched an experiment to find the best recipe.  I am going to try two basic approaches:  The Modernist Cookbook gelato, which uses no cream at all, and ice cream; I'm also experimenting with two brands of pistachio paste and starting with pistachios and no paste.  Lisa Shock and other People who commented on the earlier thread said that the key is to start with the best Pistachio Paste. &nbsp;  
      Any advice is appreciated.  Here is where I am now:  I purchased a brand of pistachio paste through nuts.com named "Love 'n Bake."  When it arrived, it was 1/2 pistachios and 1/2 sugar and olive oil.   I purchased a second batch through Amazon from FiddleyFarms; it is 100% pistachios.  I bought raw pistachios through nuts.com.  The only raw ones were from California.  If anyone has advice on using the MC recipe or on best approaches to ice cream with this ingredient I'd appreciate them.  I will report progress on my experiment in this forum.
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