Thursday, March 19, 2015

Going Out In Style

I aspire to retire one day.  So you can understand why I take great pleasure in helping coworkers who have so deservedly reached that milestone celebrate.  Linda Gore is one of the finest 4-H Youth Development Extension Agents in the state of North Carolina as well as a good friend.  When another incredible 4-H Agent asked if I would do the cake I was honored, and needless to say jumped at the opportunity.
I have to admit retirement cakes stump me.  Finding a cake that represents that time, effort, and incredible impact a person has had at their career is difficult.  So I will say I turned to my new friend Pinterest.  After searching several retirement cake designs I combined several ideas to come up with this cake.  Since we were planning for 200 I had lots of opportunity to express what I needed to, but I also had to remember it was likely much of administration would be there so nothing too funny.  So in my mind I planned out the perfect cake, hoping I would come close to what I saw in my minds eye.
About three days before the event the number of folks in attendance was dropped to 100 which made this cake at least one tier shorter and a little easier on me figuring out how to get all the layers into the freezer at one time.  Frozen and base coated I loaded up the cake and headed to Moore County which is about a ninety minute drive.  Once there I worked to construct the cake and finish decorating it.  That included a couple of last minute additions and deletions to my design.  A 4-H clover was added to the side to cover the start and end of the ribbon on the second tier.  The hanging clovers from the top were a whole other issue in patience as the plan I had in my head had to be re-engineered to work.
In the end the three teir off white cake was made with three two layer butter cakes.  The writing on the front, "Linda the end is just a new beginning" was done in pure white to let it stand out from the base off white.  A green ribbon and floating clovers helped accent the cake.  As far as the lady of honor, well she cut her cake and shared it with the masses there to honor her and celebrate her special moment.  She enjoyed the cake and there was just a bit left for her (and anyone else) to take home to remember this special event.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Sweet Taste of Retirement

  I am starting to really enjoy the edible image printer I have and so are other folks.  It is amazing that I now get more orders for folks wanting edible image cakes which is how this order started.  A colleague called and asked if I might be able to make an edible image cake for the retirement of one of her husband's colleagues.  She had designed the invitation and wanted the invitation as the image.  No problem there.  So a quick e-mail later we had the custom image ready to go.  A butter cake to feed about 100 in the colors on the invitation.  Sounds simple right?  It would be except for one thing, Mother Nature.
Thanks to a predicted ice and snow storm the retirement celebration had to be postponed a few weeks.  Fortunately, I had some sort of sixth sense, and an unscheduled trip halfway across the country, that kept me from baking the first cake.  So two days before the rescheduled event the baking began with about a pound of butter, flour, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, powdered sugar, shortening, and other baking goodies.  After freezing the butter cake it was time to ice it.  After successfully placing the edible image on the cake it was time to fill in with borders.  The cake made it to the party and I have no doubt after this send off, retirement was really sweet.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dancing is Just a Little Sweeter

  It's that time of year again around here.  Time for the United Way Dancing with the Robeson County Stars.  The annual event has become quite the fundraiser for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library which United Way of Robeson County coordinates locally.  The first year they found that the big night which includes dinner and bidding was just one of the big attractions.  The dress rehearsal without all the luxuries became a big hit and they were able to sell tickets to that as well.
  To thank the dancers for all their hard work practicing and raising money, United Way tries to make the green room (room where the dancers are until it is their turn to take the stage) a pampered event.  There is food and drink, and of course cake.  For the last several years I have been honored to make the cake for these events.  They never ask for anything too exciting, just a United Way edible image cake each night.  Needless to say, the cakes for each night are not identical because that just wouldn't seem right to me.
Each cake is our popular butter cake.  Making sure the edible image is the most important thing we did a simple white background on a sheet cake and then highlighted the dress rehearsal cake in gold and bordered the cake for the night of the big even in blue with a little writing.  No doubt it will be a great night.  To find out all the step by step information you can check out United Way of Robeson County's Facebook age or follow them on Twitter.

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's a Pack Kind of Thing

  I love getting a call asking if I can make a particular cake and knowing I have the perfect pan to do it in.  That's how this cake all began, with a phone call from this birthday's girl's mom (who I once had the privilege of working with).  She said her daughter needed an N.C. State cake, and knowing that I am quite the Virginia (as in Wa hoo Wah!) fan and wanted to make sure I was willing to do this.  For those of you who know me you also know that my main paycheck comes from NCSU so years ago I made a deal not to pull against NCSU, unless they were playing Virginia.  My main focus in my missionary work (as my father used to say to folks), is to convert Tarheels to Cavilers.  So I have nothing against NC State and have made one or two items associated with the school.  So needless to say, I knew I had the perfect pan to make a cake for her daughter and it would be appropriate for a wolf packer of any age.
  This is a traditional butter cake baked into the shape of the block S logo that NC State is recognized by.  The thing about these logo cakes is that most are done in a silicone baking pan which does not always leave the cleanest edges behind when they are pulled out.  That was the case this this cake.  So what I did was a smooth N and C while doing a star tipped pattern to fill in the S and hopefully elevate some of the rough areas on the surface of the cake.
  When it was all said an done a young lady had her name added and it turned into quite the party.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Sweet Goodbye

  Sometimes the right cake can make things a little less bittersweet.  That was the goal with this cake.  You have seen this cake before, it is the butter rum cake with chocolate rum icing.  It is a cake that melts in your mouth and one that I truly only make for special occasions.  Having mentioned that before one of my co-workers who has no aversion to rum (or other alcohol's as I could tell) thought this might be the cake for her.  For a almost a year I have been saying, "maybe one day," on fixing one of these cakes for her then the day came.  She told us she was leaving for a colder part of the world, where she would be closer to family and had a pretty sweet job.  With a sigh it was time to wish her well, but not before we gave her a proper send off.
  With a couple of ingeniously creative co-workers it took no time to come up with a lunch farewell for her.  Baked potatoes and chili were on the menu with a few helpful sides and additions.  Enough to please any and every one.  Now you know I could not pass up a chance at making a cake and I find retirement and goodbye cakes the most difficult ones to do.  After much up and down I decided it was finally time to make the infamous butter rum cake.  Then, with my brain working overtime, thought I better come up with a teetotaler option as well.  So besides the cake that day were a dozen butter cupcakes with white icing.  Nothing exciting just a little something to please everyone.
  After the small tokens of our appreciation and a good meal we did bid ado later in the week.  Still can't bring myself to say anything other than good luck, definitely not good bye.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Paw Patrol is on a Roll

  It is such a good thing I have friends with young children or I would know nothing about pop culture.  For example, when this friend came to me and said her sone wasn't sure what cake he wanted this year but they were leaning towards Paw Patrol.  I must admit this is my first brush with the patrol but I am might impressed.  I have learned about all our puppy superheroes and which ones are each person's favorites and why.  I unlocked an entire sub culture working on this cake, and I must admit it was fun.
  Since I could not do one specific Paw Patrol member, and sort of had to create this one from scratch I was thrilled for my edible printer, which keeps me off the cake wrecks blog and Facebook pages.  I found a picture with all the members of this elite team and printed and edible image that should make everyone familiar with this team happy.  Having found one of their famous sayings it took nothing to finish this cake off for Jackson on his birthday.  Just hoping he had a great birthday and the opportunity to, be on the roll.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Edible Art

I must admit I have a neat job and some really neat hobbies that let me meet interesting and talented folks.  I met this gentlemen a long time ago in a previous career when he was painting a mural for the city and offering art lessons for kids.  Years later I met him through his wife who volunteered in the program that I am blessed to be a part of.  Not only was he painting (one of his landscapes actually hangs in my home) but also writing.  He wrote a series of science fiction books inspired by his son.  I must say I was honored when he asked me to edit the Jack Ryder series and throughly enjoyed reading them.
What brings us to this post and ultimately the cake, is his most recent medium of spray can art paintings.  Only limited by his imagination Jim Hurst has created a series of incredible paintings using, not paintbrushes, but spray cans.  Not only have I seen him adjust his craft and hone it over the years now I get to see him achieve a level of success not many artists achieve.  Today Jim is opening up his first public exhibit at the Carolina Civic Center.  The Carolina Civic Center is a historic theater in downtown Lumberton, North Carolina.  A Mecca for performing artists for more then a century this theater is pleased to offer a venue for visual artists as well.  You can read more about his work and this exhibit in the local paper that spotlighted his exhibit.
When Jim's wife asked if I would do a cake for the opening of the exhibit I was so very honored.  The instructions were simple, a butter cake which would appeal to all segments of the cake eating public. Then they asked me to make an edible image cake utilizing any of Jim's paintings.  Although there were many paintings I loved, getting the images downloaded to print caused me some challenges.  I was finally able to get an incredible painting he did utilizing the Cape Hatteras light house.  I was struggling how to make this a Jim Hurst original cake (customizing it with more than the painting image) and as an artist realized when I am done with a painting I make it forever mine by signing it.  So I did my best to emulate the Hurst signature at the bottom of each of his paintings in icing.  I utilized the same black icing to create a rope frame around the photo and voila!  Jim had his own work of art for his art opening.  We hope he has a successful exhibit and enjoys the success that this talent artist deserves.