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Michelle Anderson

Michelle\'s Cake Decorating Blog

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Spring Cake

Monday March 31, 2014
Used under license from iStock

It is not yet spring in Northern Ontario even though it is the last day of March. By not spring I mean there is still about 3-4 feet of snow, more snow expected and many degrees below zero temperatures. Other parts of the world are in full bloom with flowers, green grass and tender leaves popping up everywhere.

So here is a glorious spring themed cake to boost your spirits no matter where you are on the temperature scale. That is the lovely part of cake design, you can create your own worlds from your imagination or change the seasons with sugar. In this case whip up a light fresh orange or lemon chiffon cake and decorate it with It is accented by lush peonies in pink and white which can be made with gum paste if you are at an intermediate level. This cake makes me think the snow is eventually going to melt away.

Simple Cake Idea

Monday March 31, 2014
Used under license from iStock

My oldest son is taking what we would have called Home Economics but now is labelled Nutrition and Food. All they have done in the last few weeks is bake and decorate cookies and cakes which should have been easy for him due to my experiences. I was not expecting anything truly interesting to come home.

On Friday he brought home the cutest cupcake, or what could be called a cupcake, in a wide mouth glass jar. They had created a nice simple vanilla cake batter and then tinted it five different colors. The kids then scooped spoonfuls of different colors into jars so that they filled the jar about halfway up. When they baked their cakes the colors merged and spread creating an interesting tie dye effect.

After the cake was cool they decorated the top, still in the jar, with piped designs, swirls of icing, fondant figures and sprinkles. When he brought it home he simply screwed the metal top onto the jar. This could be a fabulous idea for showers, birthday events and event wedding desserts. The effect could go from charming to elegant depending on your decorating.

Thinking about Easter

Sunday March 30, 2014
Used with permission from Michelle Anderson

Easter is fast approaching and you might be planning a wonderful cake for a family event or kid's party. Easter cakes can be cute, elegant, religious, intricate or simple. You need to create a design that matches the event and your skill level. A perfectly executed simple cake can be more effective than a complicated cake that is not completed well.

Unless the cake is for a client, it is best to remember that the time spent with friends and family is the most important part of the holiday. The cake is just icing on the cake so to speak!

Happy National Black Forest Day!

Friday March 28, 2014
Used under license from iStock

Black Forest Cake is the first real cake I learned to make and sell. I created 15-20 cakes for a popular farmer's market every weekend to pay for expenses for university. It took work and I constantly had jars of marinating cherries in my fridge.

It was first mentioned in the press in 1934 and is called Schwarzwälder Kirschtort. It is actually not named for the Black Forest in Germany but rather for a cherry liquour called Schwarzwälder Kirsch.These lovely rich cakes are definitely worth the effort so give a recipe a try and use the cake for your next event.

Cake Decorating TV Shows

Friday February 28, 2014
Used under license from istock

It is difficult to miss the proliferation of cake decorating shows on TV these days because they seem to be on every channel. As a cake designer and baker I find it difficult to tear myself away when I come across any show featuring cake design, sugar work. There are many types of shows from reality TV featuring cake and cupcake shops, cake decorating contests of all types, simple tutorial shows and everything in between.

These shows can be invaluable to showcase different design techniques and provide inspiration for your own projects. They can also highlight what you should not attempt with sugar and cake although watching hours of work topple over because of too little internal support or soft icing is tragic. My kids are even hooked on cake decorating shows and always want to try the recipes and piping work pictured up on our screen with varying success.

Some of the best cake decorating shows are:

  • Fabulous Cakes
  • Amazing Wedding Cakes
  • Cupcake Wars
  • Planet Cake
  • Cake Boss
  • DC Cupcakes
  • Food Network Challenge

Easter Countdown

Friday February 28, 2014
Used with permission from Michelle AndersonEaster is on its way already although it feels like the snow and cold will never leave! It is time to think about cute decorations and what flavor of cake or cupcake you will be making to delight family and friends. There is really no set type of cake that goes with Easter celebrations but some flavors can work better than others. Great Easter cake or cupcake recipes to try can include: Now that your cake is baked, cooled and iced; it is time to decorate it for the occasion. You might celebrate a "chocolate bunny" style Easter or follow a more religious interpretation of the day so feel free to find decorations that work for you. You could try:

Insect Cake Decorations

Thursday February 27, 2014
Used with permission from Michelle Anderson

These are not cake decorations in the shape of insects like ladybugs, grasshoppers and butterflies but rather cake decorations printed on a 3 dimensional printer using "insect flour". 3D cake decorations are not really a new innovation using printers although it is not a mainstream technique due to cost and the fact most home cake designers don't have three dimensional printers. So ground up insects won't replace fondant decorations any time soon.

Ground up insects such as mealworms mixed with fondant make great material for the printer as well as dung beetles and crickets. You might wonder why someone would do this for cake design and if this is a new trend. It is an experiment called insects au gratin and a London South Bank University is piping futuristic designs with the sweet mixture. Insects are an incredible source of protein and other nutrients so this insect flour might be the solution to a growing food crisis. So if these potential cake decorations sound unappetizing, don't worry because cakes covered with these insects are still far in the future.

Interesting Wedding Trends

Thursday February 27, 2014
Used under license from iStock

Wedding cakes in past decades were often monochromatic or all white with simple elegant design work. The cake was never supposed to be the center of attention but blend in to the theme of the event. This has definitely changed as couples became very individual and cake decorating techniques have grown in leaps and bounds. There is really nothing that a talented or amateur designer can't do with icing, fondant and a little patience.

Wedding cakes in 2014 are colorful with blocks of rich color in purples, blues and pinks. They also feature metallic shades and sequins for couples looking for sparkle and a unique color palate. Navy blue is a lovely alternative to brighter colors and black. Navy fondant ribbons, bows and swags are appearing on many cakes in 2014. So whateb

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!

Thursday January 30, 2014
Used with permisiion from Michelle Anderson

It is very strange when your child suddenly towers over you. Suddenly you are left wondering who this young man is and where that tow headed little urchin who wanted to help make cookies went in the last few years! This child is the one who wanted to use my piping bags to make mud cakes, had to smooth out any imperfections (usually caused by his fingers!) in my cake icing, made flour mountains and would sit for hours molding fondant like it was play-dough. Other parents often wondered why he thought real play-dough was so disgusting.

I have created 15 cakes for this charming young man, from Transformers to construction scenes to a lovely sugar waterfall with a kayak on it because he could envision them and I could make them. This year he has no design in mind and like the glorious homemade Halloween costumes, all my sugar work and chocolate will not be needed. I hope when he graduates and leaves home there will be a time again that only Mom's cakes will do for a birthday or someday (far in the future!) a wedding.

Valentine's Day Plans

Tuesday January 28, 2014
Used under license from iStock

People fall into two different camps with respect to Valentine's day: they either hate it or love it. This romance based day can cause stress because expectations can be high and disappointment might be around the corner. Food is often the centerpiece of the evening because couples can bond and create memories over a lovely meal. The exclamation point of this romantic moment is of course dessert.

Valentine's Day dessert should be rich, decadent and luxurious. It does not have to be chocolate but this ingredient is often the first choice. Fresh berries, whipped cream and cheesecakes also make the list of Valentine's Day desserts. Cakes and pretty cupcakes are easy impressive desserts when you want to make a great impression. Try different types of decorations to get exactly the right look for the desired ambiance.

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