Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Madhatter! Amanda's Basics 109 blog

Over the weekend I completed the 3rd of my 4 courses – the Madhatter. Being my 9th day straight of cake courses I was starting to feel a little caked out and slightly loopy, so the irony wasn’t lost on me, trust me. How very appropriate.

Now, madhatters scare me. Done badly they look like a total train wreck and I’ve never been brave enough to attempt one. But it was a skill I was itching to learn and no one does them better than Planet Cake.

You may look at our little 2 tiered cakes and wonder how on earth they could be harder than the Tapered Spheres and Squares cake, but let me assure you, it sits exactly where it needs to be in the Basics series level of difficulty.

Still, I was blissfully unaware of just how hard it was and I had all sorts of amazing design ideas running around in my head only to walk in on day 1 and be told very firmly that we had to stick to the set design and could only choose our colours. I couldn’t help but be a little miffed I must admit, but let me tell you – my attitude soon changed! That is one hard cake to cover!! There were screams and expletives coming from every corner of the room and we were all more than happy to be covering that bottom tier in stripes! What rips? What tears? Never happened.

Luckily I had much more success with my top tier but only practice, practice, practice will build my confidence on this one.

I went with a very bold colour scheme which came from by fascination with doing a peacock inspired cake this week (and yes, I had the Katy Perry song rolling around my head the entire time). I attempted to replicate the pattern on the tail in the balls at the base of each tier. Or as Anna Maria would say “I’m making an experiment” (in her adorable Austrian accent). Would I do a cake again in these colours? Probably not. But it was a fun experiment to make 

Having gleefully conquered that madhatter and after 10 days of caking straight, I had definitely earned a day off to rest, recover and psych myself up for the grand finale, the pinnacle, the piece de resistance of cakes – the 4 day topsy turvy.

And rest I did. My final Planet Cake course and completion of my Masters begins today and I am ready for it. Bring. It. On.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

108 update from our guest blogger Amanda!

Friday marked the half way point in my 2 week stay at Planet Cake completing the final 4 courses in my Masters, and also my completion of one of the most fascinating cakes in the whole basics series… the Tapered Squares and Spheres cake. I have always wondered how on earth this cake was done – is it really possible to construct a cake with the biggest tier at the top and smallest at the bottom? With no centre dowel?? I just couldn’t get my head around it. Wouldn’t it just topple over?? Well no… and yes. But more on that later.

I have to preface this whole blog by saying that this course has never actually been taught at Planet Cake before. So we were the human guinea pigs. Suffice to say Anna Maria was more nervous than us. Could we stick to the time line? Would our cakes align? Would our designs work? Could we assemble these cakes without them toppling over??

The most challenging part of this cake was the carving and ganaching of each tier. There is no room for error in ensuring that each tier aligns perfectly to the one below. At this point I’d just like to apologise to my high school maths teacher as it turns out that yes, I should have been paying attention, because yes, angles, gradient, algebra and the square root of pie are useful in real life, and really would have come in handy while carving this geometric puzzle of a cake! We had to have every measurement correct down to the last millimeter or it just wouldn’t work.

As I mentioned in my last blog, the most exciting part of advanced courses is having the freedom to design your own cake and effectively choosing what skills you want to learn. However you actually have the opportunity to learn endless techniques because everyone’s design is different and the teacher demo’s every skill for everyone to watch. I was absolutely blown away by the creativity of everyone’s design and could not wait for day 3 to seem them all come together.

Do things go wrong?? So glad you asked. On day 2 I somehow managed to flick a huge blob of brown colouring onto intern Shell’s beautifully covered white cake. I was waiting for her to call sabotage, as Anna Maria quite calmly whisked the cake away and washed it. Yes, you can a wash a cake. Great learning outcome. Ahem, yes, of course, I meant for that to happen.

But undoubtedly the most dramatic moment of this whole course happened in the last hour of our last day, as our assembled 3 day masterpieces were all lined up for the class photo. We were all gazing at our works of art in absolute amazement, when one of my fellow student’s cakes slowly started toppling backwards into my cake! There were gasps and screams and a massive scramble to the table to try and catch the falling tiers, but it was too late. Amazingly, my cake was the only one damaged and I was devastated, but I put on my bravest face, pulled up my big girl pants and just smiled. These things happen in the cake world and I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened to me. Luckily this cake wasn’t set to go anywhere so it didn’t matter that it was damaged.

The cake toppled because it had not been set up properly. It was stressed to us how important it was to have everything correct for this cake, and this is why. One measurement slightly out and the whole cake can crumble. On the bright side, the fact that my cake had been hit by another cake and didn’t crumble, is testimony to how stable the cake can be if done correctly. Luckily the lovely Shell was able to lend a hand to fix the damage on my cake and it was almost as good as new again. Almost.

Till next time!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Basics 108

It is always with some trepidation that we trial a new workshop here at PC. This year, for the first time ever, our Basics Marathon included our new and improved Basics 108 - Tapered Sphere's and Square Cake. Looks easy? Think again. This modern inverted cake requires serious engineering techniques in order to insert the support poles, and if not executed with precise accuracy can look a total mess.

Yesterday, seven advanced students took the challenge, among them our own two interns, Neen and Shell as well as regular student, friend and guest blogger, Amanda. There were some pretty serious faces around the traps as the girls raced to finish these ultra-personalised cakes in time. The results, however, speak for themselves.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Guest Blog from Amanda Eising of Cake Delish

I am in Cake Decorator Heaven! 6 days ago I left my beautiful little country town in Central Queensland to soak up the amazing talent of Planet Cake and complete my Masters in cake decorating … and I’m bringing you all along for the ride. I will be completing the final 4 cakes in the series while I’m here, making me only the 10th person have ever completed the Masters series… and blogging all about it along the way!

But firstly, I have to admit…since I got here I have been nothing but star struck!

Aside from the usual talent you find walking the Planet Cake halls, day 1 began with me walking into the room and discovering that I’d be working alongside my long time idol Greg Cleary of Sweetums Designer Cakes! I did my best – failing spectacularly – to contain my excitement, but to have the opportunity to work alongside Greg during my first course was a major bonus to say the least.

Add to this the uber talented Jaqueline Butler from Petalsweet Cakes in America teaching in the next room, and I was finding it rather difficult to concentrate! But concentrate I must, as I was about to embark on the most challenging cake I’ve ever faced… the tapered vase cake.

This gravity defying cake presented a huge challenge. If we thought setting up, ganaching and carving the cake was difficult, day 2 – covering - was about to make our little minds implode. Under the experienced guidance of Anna Maria we all took a deep breath and dove into the challenge with gusto. Fast forward a few hours (and not as many tears as you might expect), we were all looking rather chuffed to have conquered the covering of that vase.

Once you reach the higher level courses with Planet Cake you are encouraged to create your own designs and day 3 had the room filling with ‘oooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ as we all saw each others creations coming together. There was lots of airbrushing, painting, flower assembling and lilly pad making …. meanwhile, I was piping, piping, piping.. oh, and did I mention piping?? It’s a skill I like to practice while learning under Anna Maria as she is the Piping Queen (in my opinion) and to be honest… piping scares me! But several hours and even more hand cramps later, I was done.

The end result was a class filled with AMAZING cakes that were by Anna Maria’s admission, some of the most creative vase cakes she’d seen. We won’t disagree!

I won’t be able to take any of my cakes home with me so I have decided to donate them all - my vase cake went to the South Coogee School to be auctioned off to raised money for their library – I hope it raised heaps!

Stay tuned for my next cake – the Tapered Square and Spheres Cake. Today was day 1 and just wait till you see the amazing designs everyone has come up with for this cake… it’s worth the wait!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jacqueline Butler is in the building!!

At long last, the month of the Majestic Sugar Flower has arrived. It is with very, very (did I mention very?) great pleasure that we welcome US-based sugar flower queen, Jacqueline Butler to Planet Cake, to impart her flower wisdom on us. Honestly, I have never seen our students arrive so early, so as not to miss a minute of the day! The girls are currently dusting away at their petals, and I can't wait to see the finished results. In the mean time, here's a little look at what happened in her yesterday...

The lady herself

Channel 7 Morning Show

Each year I look forward to Margie's annual Channel 7 Morning Show birthday cake. This year was certainly no disapointment!

As always, Kylie and Larry were extremely grateful for the cake, which featured on air this week with a host of fabulous celeb's:


It feels like only yesterday we helped them celebrate their 1st Birthday, and I thought I would go on a little trip down memory lane of the cakes of Larry and Kylie, past...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Online Competition Hots Up

I mentioned a few weeks back that we are running a competition here at PC, to design the new online best seller. After an initial slow start, the entries are now absolutely rolling in, with our crew of artists battling to outdo one another. From the novel to the classic, the guys have put forth a collection of cakes which range in inspiration from fabric and stationary to pop culture. While we're having trouble deciding which ones we love the most, what we're really interested in is what you guys think? 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Basics Marathon Kicks Off

There's only one kind of marathon I'm interested in and that is Planet Cake's annual Basics Marathon. Forget intense training and pre-dawn wake-up calls, get into excercise PC style. Each year, in June, we run our entire Basics series back to back. Kick of was this Thursday with Basics 101.