Friday, December 7, 2007


Happy Birthday, Lori! This was by far the fastest one of our cakes had come together, start to finish, to date. It's also much smaller, since it only needed to feed five people. The shape is fairly simplistic and the handles are just cut out of cardboard and covered in fondant, so overall it was more an exercise in piping than anything else. I had to take a little creative license with some of the Louis Vuitton designs, but kind of got a kick out of drawing them all the way around. In fact, I think that's my favorite thing about carving these cakes--the 360 degree view of the final product that you (or at least, I) just can't seem to capture on film. The staging was Tara's idea, as were the two handles (apparently, a purse with only one handle has to have a flap instead of a zipper).

Thank goodness one of us knows things like that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Harvest Pumpkin

This one was for a classroom celebration. We were able to recycle some leftover red fondant we had saved from previous work, just by adding yellow (that is, a lot of yellow). There are four layers of cake, but just one circle of cardboard in the middle; it's not really tall enough to warrant multiple levels of scaffolding. Usually, we level the cakes after they cool by cutting the rounded tops off with our electric carving knife (which we use for sculpting, too), but this time we left the top and bottom layers alone and just turned the bottom one upside down. That gave us a bit of a headstart towards the rounded look. The stem is actually a piece of cake that got cut off as we shaped the pumpkin (use everything!) that we covered in fondant and literally just set on top. We notched the ridges before adding icing or dowels, but in retrospect I should have waited because the layers lost a lot of structural integrity before I ever started handling them.

The kids liked it, but kept asking me how we made the "skin."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lego Pirate

The school held a Fall Festival, and folks from the community were encouraged to donate services for the silent auction. Our custom cake offering was won by a woman who requested a cake to celebrate both her 5-year-old son's and 25-year-old brother's birthdays, which both fell on the same day. When asked what interests they had in common, she replied, "Legos. Oh, and pirates." Thus was the Lego Pirate cake concieved. The legs, torso, and head are cake, whereas the arms, hands, and hat are molded rice krispy treats. We put a cardboard platform between every two layers (there are ten), but the wooden dowels inside the legs gave out sometime the night before delivery. That realization was a dark, dark time in our lives. We picked up a small PVC t-joint at a hardware store and used it to run posts through the "shoulder" and "neck" areas. The arms and head/hat were then pressed onto the exposed beams. Also, due to a last minute pre-fondant fiasco, there's kite string underneath there holding the head together. The artwork on his front midsection and hat are pieces of dyed and manipulated fondant (Tara's handiwork) glued on with water, and we used edible cake markers to draw the trademark face.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Big Toe

Mamaw and Papaw Flemings bought a knick-knack in Gatlinburg many years ago--it was a pink, porcelain foot inscribed with "I got a kick out of Tennessee!" The big toe was sticking up, just like Mamaw's always did, so it became something of a family treasure. Its oven-fresh doppelganger on display at their 50th wedding anniversary said, "Still getting a kick out of each other!" The big toe is cake, carved and fondant-ed separately; it was a pain and a half to get just right, especially pinned to the base at an angle, but the end product turned out pretty darn close to the original.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


The first faculty meeting at a new school seemed like a fine time to make a good impression. Nothing too fancy, but we started getting better at smoothing the fondant--that and the bright red color are particularly eye-catching. The stem, leaf, and banner are fondant, and the worm (my favorite part!) is a wire coat hanger inside a bendy straw. When we stuck him in after the rest was done, the whole creation took on a sort of cartoony style that I really dug.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Roll Tide

Tara's brother is a huge Alabama fan, so I had to swallow my Tennessee pride for his birthday. This elephant is probably my favorite, if not solely because I never believed he was going to stand up on his own. He's completely edible, but only his torso is cake. The head, tusks, ears, and legs are molded rice krispy treats. To make the legs strong enough to hold the thing up, rice krispy treats were wrapped around some decorative plastic pillars (meant for show, but oh well). The other non-cake pieces are pinned to the body with long toothpicks. Everything is coated in fondant, of course, and the sheet draped over his back is a separate piece. I cut and pasted the "A" instead of trying to paint it on, which I think turned out really great.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


My father-in-law's birthday followed soon after. In addition to being a full-time pastor, he has gone back to school to pursue a Master's degree in History (his specialization is in Native American studies). We started carving our cakes with an electric carving knife, and staged this one on a bed of graham cracker crumbs. The cactus was simply made of wood and covered in fondant, while the tepee "posts" are cinnamon sticks. I like this one not only because of all the different dyes we used, but the tent flaps are really folded back, held in place with broken toothpicks. The designs are piped icing, but the pelts are fondant Tara cut out and pasted on with water. (You can't see it, but one of them is supposed to be a beaver, so she put a crisscross texture on its wide, flat tail.)


We had more fun with this cake than any of its predecesors, mainly because of the staging. My father has worked in the mushroom industry for twenty years, and this is essentially what a crate of compost looks like with tiny buds sprouting up (except, of course, for the gigantic monster 'shroom in the middle, which--stem and all--is the cake here). The "compost" is crushed-up Oreo cookies, and the other tiny fungi are leftover mini marshmallows. Each layer sits on a cardboard platform which is in turn supported by plastic dowels. The fondant was super simple, since it didn't even need to be dyed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stack of Books

Another graduation a few days later; this time my sister's religion degree inspired this stack of books. Here we ventured into the world of fondant, which looked nice but tasted terrible. At the party, though, a friend gave us the new recipe we now use, which tastes great (basically just marshmallows and powdered sugar). This cake started out as two sheet cakes cut in half, so you're looking at literally four individually iced and fondant-ed books. It has some nice piping on the spines, too, and unfortunately taught us what happens when a mutli-tiered pastry lacks internal support.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Our brother-in-law's graduation gave us our first chance to get creative. The top of this cake is actually a large cookie cut to fit its cardboard platform, the tassle an untied and reworked twizzler, and the button on top a soft after-dinner mint. We also used a homemade icing, even though the colors didn't match quite right.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Model Classroom

Another one made before we discovered fondant. This was to congratulate my fourth graders for qualifying as a model classroom in math and reading scores. The icing is sloppy, and there's not much to it, but I think it's a good sample of our piping work.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Perfect Pear

The first cake we made--for Easter, I think. No fondant, just carved up and iced. The stem is a straw filled with caramel, and yes, that's a bay leaf.