Monday, February 9, 2015

Chalkboard Love

It's that time of year again!   Sweet Times in the Rockies, 2015 edition.  This is a cake competition that is held at the Denver Convention Center, during the Denver Home and Garden Show.

Lately this competition seems to be one of the few times I am able to cram making a cake into my schedule (being a mom to three young kids is crazy busy!), but I am SO glad that I do this every year;  being able to be creative and stretching myself to make something beautiful.  


The design was heavily influenced by The Sweet and Saucy Cake Shop, mostly the top and bottom tiers with the little black and white ropes.  But I wanted to add some of my own elements, like the chalkboard, all the wafer paper roses, and the stripes from modeling chocolate.
For the strings on the top and bottom tiers, I used a walnut hollow clay extruder to make long strands of fondant.  I then (carefully) twisted them together.  This is tricky, and sometimes the strands will break, which basically means you will probably need to do this several times to get it to work.

The striped tiers were done in alternating strips of white and black modeling chocolate.  I made several batches of modeling chocolate, but unfortunately none of them turned out.  I think it was due to the dry climate here in Boulder, which made my modeling chocolate crumbly.  I ended up purchasing some Fondarific modeling chocolate that worked great! 

To get the stripes even and straight on the cake, I used Jessica Harris's Wax Paper Transfer Method.  It is such a wonderful technique, and everything comes out looking clean and perfect, without a ton of extra work.  I would have never, EVER, gotten my stripes on like this is it hadn't been for that method.  I rolled out the chocolate with my pasta roller, on the thickest setting.  And then just ran that through my fettuccine cutters so that every stripe was the same exact size.  Makes for quick work.    

The chalkboard element was one of the easier components of the cake.  It is a simple panel of black fondant, and I used a very small paintbrush with white food coloring to paint on my design.  One fun thing about chalkboard elements is that they don't have to be perfect.  It's OK to even wipe a little powdered sugar over the black to make it look like a chalkboard that's recently been erased.  I love the idea of that!  Slightly distressed looking.

The wafer paper flowers were very time consuming, though.  Because I don't have a food coloring printer, I had to hand paint each petal.  (I wanted a more saturated color than just dusting with petal dusts.)  To do this, I used Summer's (from Cake Paper Party) tutorial.  I made my own colors with petal dust and vegetable oil (maybe I've been out of the loop too long, but I could not for the life of me find Americolor oil based colors anywhere), then dabbed a make up sponge onto the paper to get a good saturation.  It takes time, but the deep richness of the colors makes it worth it.

The smaller flowers are ranunculus, and the largest flower is a rose.  The little tiny flowers around the chalkboard are rolled roses.  I learned how to do them from Stevi Auble's Craftsy class.  I like wafer paper so much better than gumpaste.  There's no making the gumpaste or rolling it out, or trying to figure out how to stick all the wires into your cake, or worry about breakage.  You get perfectly thin petals, that are easily moldable into something lovely.   

All in all it was a great weekend!  Looking forward to it next year.  

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