Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Quickie (No, not that kind!)

 
With all the rain we've been getting, we take no sunshine for granted.  If it's a nice day, we make the best of it, whether making a trip to the zoo, having a picnic, checking out a new playground or just exploring our own backyard.  The boys are loving their bikes this year, and getting better at balance and speed.  I got this shot after a small bike race up our neighbors super-long driveway, hence the helmets.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE how the boys are skipping along (and Andrew is airborne!)  They were holding hands off and on, too.  So sweet.

We've reached the hitting, smacking, toy-stealing stage and I feel like I'm constantly reminding the boys that they are brothers. Twin brothers.  ...and how that is something super special. I tell them repeatedly that they need to look out for one another and have 'gentle hands' towards each other.  Seeing their cameraderie captured in this photo totally warms my heart.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

{Wedding Cake Tutorial} Cakeballs vs. Fakeballs

Behold, the fake-ball cakeball wedding cake!

Good friends of ours tied the knot a few weeks back and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  After the very long, tiring and stressful week prior, I was well overdue to party-it-up and shake-what-my-momma-gave-me.   Luckily, my week-long-in-the-making exhaustion did not affect my ability to cut a rug at their wedding.  Why was it a long week, you ask? My dad had open heart surgery.  A double by-pass, to be more specific.  Super scary and defineitly an eye-opener as to how his heart got so bad.  I'm thrilled (and utterly amazed) to report that he came home (a mere 4 days after surgery) and is on the slow road to recovery.  I'm also thankful that I was able to join my hubby, out-of-town, for a less-than-24-hours, whirl-wind of a celebration honoring a truely awesome couple.
Ready to celebrate.  We clean up well.
...and now onto explaining the title of this post.  I'm sure many of you are aware of the cakepop craze that began with Bakerella several years ago.  Just when you thought cake was greatest thing since, ...well, ...sliced cake, Angie Dudley (the adorable-baking-genius that she is) found a way to make something that was already awesome, well... more awesomer, if you will (...and you will!)  She even wrote a book about it!  No longer was there a need to fight over pieces of cake based on the amount of FPSI (Frosting Per Square Inch, duh).  Angie's cakepops allowed everyone CTF (cake-to-frosting, duh) equality, along with the added bonus of chocolate candy coating.  What could be better than CTF equality?  Not much, I assure you.  Thank you, Saint Bakerella.

So every group of friends has a go-to person for certain things, right?  Shortly after we first met, Caitlin became our group's very own Cakeball Girl.  Cakeballs are cakepops, minus the stick (Hey, a tree dies for every popsicle stick used.  It's an epidemic, I tell you.  Just kidding.  Maybe.)  Cakeballs are just as good as cakepops, and the advantage that the ball has over the pop is that there's no chance of losing part of the cakeball off the stick when you pop the entire thing in your mouth in one giant bite, right?  Taking bites of cake off of a stick may result in cakeball casualties, and no one wants that.   ...and eating the entire cakepop  (on a stick) just isn't publicly acceptable.

Alright.  So Caitlin, (the bride-to-be-turned-bride in this story) is our Cakeball Girl.  I am our group's Crafty Girl. Self-proclaimed, yes, but I'm sure some, if not most of my friends will back me up on this one.  Caitlin asked me one wintery day if I'd make her wedding cake.  Out of cakeballs.  1.) because that's her thing, and 2.) because cakeballs are awesome.  Challenge accepted.

The more I thought about it and perused Pinterest for ideas, the more I realized that there was no way I wanted to be responsible for making a giant, heavy wedding cake (this would be my first outside of the occasional birthday cake like here and here) and then making/adding cakeballs to it, and then transporting it four and a half hours to the location of the wedding.  Something was bound to go horribly array.  I have the worst luck ever, and this had all sorts of red flags attached to it.

I did some more research and ran a new idea by Caitlin.   I was going to make her a fake cake. Made of inedible cakeballs.  Fakeballs, if you will.  She approved, and I started working on it.  Caitlin took on the edible cakeballs, herself.  Those were displayed with the cake, and served off of platters.  The cake table looked absolutely gorgeous (you'll see in photos at the end of this post).

Before I get into the cake tutorial, I must tell you that I also made the bride and groom cake pops (on sticks) for the cake cermony.  No trees were harmed, I promise.  These were edible, and turned out super cute... See?
The picture may be fuzzy, but the balls are not!
 
Cake pops for the new Mr. and Mrs!!


Fakeball Cake Tutorial:
Supplies:
  • 1 3/8 Smoothfoam balls (approximately 300) - cannot be porous foam - must be smoothfoam
  • fondant smoothing tool (optional) - I used the back of a smooth measuring cup
  • 2 big boxes of white fondant (or enough to cover a three tiered wedding cake)
  • 1/4" dowel for cake support (you'll have to trim this to fit within the height of your three layers)
  • fork (optional), paring or other smooth knife, rolling pin
  • 3 Lg bottles of wicker white Folk Art paint (or something comparable)
  • lots of skewers, cut into 4 pieces each - save a few longer ones for the dipping process (i used half a skewer for dipping)
  • wax paper
  • edible white glitter crystals or something similar
  • 3 (ascending in size) cake dummies - Sm, Md, Lg
  • Tacky Glue
  • Crisco
  • powdered sugar (a few cups is more than enough)
Steps: (*note... this takes quite a bit of time from start to finish.) Photos below in the Play-By-Play
  1. smooth the raised hemisphere on the balls by dragging your thumbnail along the line
  2. stick 1/2 of a skewer into ball (reuse this skewer as you are dipping...)
  3. dip the balls in paint
  4. tap excess paint off
  5. remove ball from skewer
  6. let balls dry for a few minutes  (like 10...crystals will still stick to the wet paint) then add sprinkles (gravity fromt he dripping paint will drag the sprinkles down, otherwise)
  7. let paint dry 24+hours, moving the balls onto new wax paper, away from any pooling excess paint every few hours if possible
  8. glue 1/4 skewer into balls
  9. poke hole in center of bottom/largest cake dummy for the support dowel, going only 1/2 - 3/4 way through the foam.
  10. poke hole in center of center/medium-sized cake dummy for support dowel. Go all the way through.
  11. poke hole in top/smallest cake dummy.  Go only 1/2 way through. This hole will be on underside of cake, where it rests on the medium sized cake.
  12. cover cake dummies in crisco (top and sides, only).
  13. roll out fondant (use powdered sugar so nothing sticks)
  14. place fondant on largest cake dummy (**if you're a first-time fondanter, watch a few tutorials on youtube first!)
  15. smooth fondant using hands or fondant smoothing tool (optional) and a little powdered sugar
  16. trim fondant at cake base with pearing knife
  17. dip dry end of the skewer on the already skewered cake ball in glue and shove through the fondant into styrofoam cake dummy
  18.  repeat until you've gone around cake dummy in 3 rows, staggering balls in a honeycomb-like pattern
  19. glue dowel into center of bottom layer
  20. repeat 9-16.  Dowel goes partially into the bottom layer, completely through the center layer and partially through the bottom side of the top layer. **Be carefull not to poke a hole in the fondant of the top layer of cake for the support dowel). 

The Play-By-Play:
I ordered 1 3/8" smooth styrofoam balls from Smoothfoam (455 of them, to be exact - you'll have extra for smaller cakes or even cones or topiaries), bought white  Folk Art craft paint (3 large bottles), lots of wooden skewers, 3 different sizes of round styrofoam cake dummies, 2 boxes of white fondant, Crisco (you'll see why later), powdered sugar, white/pearl sugar sprinkles, wax paper and lots of Tacky Glue.  I realize I just reitterated the supplies I already listed above, but now you know for sure (incase you ever doubted me.)

For the balls, themselves, I tried two methods of painting and drying, and I'll explain them both. I eventually went with the second method for the bulk of my fakeballs.  Each ball has a tiny hole in the bottom as well as a 'hemisphere' where I'm assuming the foam was pressed together.  After trying several differnt mehtods, I just took my fringernail to this slightly raised  hemisphere and dragged it across the hemisphere to smooth it out a bit.  I also rubbed it on a layer of paper towels sometimes if the line was really raised.  If you don't, the paint really clings to this line and it will be obvious on the finished product.  You'll need to do this with every single ball.  Do them as you go along.  Smooth out  ten or so, paint those, then do more...

I started out chopping each of my skewers into 4 pieces, dipping an end into glue, and then sticking it into the hole in the smoothfoam ball.  I'd let it dry for a bit, dip it in paint, tap the excess paint off (just as you would on an edible cakeball dipped in choclate), then stick it in more foam to dry, adding sprinkles to the still-wet-with-paint tops after they had set for about 10 minutes or so.

My second method (my preferred way) was to stick an unglued 1/2 skewer in the hole dip the ball in paint, tap the excess off, and then use a for or another skewer to remove the wet fakeball from the original skewer; adding sprinkles about 10 minutes after paint had time to drip/set. After they dried (well over 24 hours - I would move them to dry wax paper a few times during drying) I'd glue the 1/4 skewer in them.

I had to touch up some of my sprinkles, as gravity tends to drag them down the sides of the wet fakeballs if you put them on too soon in the drying process.

The bottom row of pics is when I glued the skewer in before painting the balls. This works, but I prefered the 2nd way - no glued skewer.

L - No glued skewer.  This way I could move the balls every few hours to get them out of the puddles of paint pooling beneath them.  C - Glitter! (this one from Hobby Lobby) and R - Balls.

lots...of...balls...
Sadly, I did not get photos of me putting the fondant on, but all you do is roll it out, large enough to cover your cake form (start with largest form, first).  Rub Crisco all over the styrofoam cake form to help fnodant stick.  Wash your hands, lift the fondant onto the form and slowly smooth.  (Watch a YouTube video or two for using fondant/ making a fake cake with fondant.)   Sprinkle powdered sugar on the fondant to help you smooth it out and have a bit on your hands, as well.

Don't cover the cake forms in fondant until you have the cakeballs painted and dried, as the fondant will harden and you won't be able to get the skewers through it!  You can do one at a time, just be sure to have a good 100 balls rady to go for the largest form.  You may accidentally put a skewer through a few of the finished balls, so have extra... and the fondant adds diameter to the cake form, so if you originally measured around the base of your cake and figured out the exact number of balls you'd need, you'll probabaly be needing more than you thought!

As soon as the fondant looks smooth and your form is covered, dip the ends of your skewers in glue, stick one end in the ball and the other end int he cake.  Balls all kind of fit together nicely, like a puzzle, or almost like a honeycomb pattern.

Pay no attention to the bearded man photobombing this picture/pretending to eat the fake cake.
 
*Make sure to glue the large dowel into the pieces as you go along to support this monster!
The finished product!

The fakeball cake in action, surrounded by hundreds of his edible cakeball friends!
Who needs Barry White when you have wedding cake mood lighting?!
That's all, folks! Questions?  Feel free to email me via email/envelope button to your upper right ;)
I'm off to work on my next crafty project!