Thursday, April 30, 2009

Full Circle Cake

I am baking a cakelette today for a couple.

The boyfriend bought a cake from me 3 years ago, when he saw my cake in Domino Magazine.

His girlfriend contacted me since they just got engaged, and wanted to celebrate with a reproduction of the original.

How sweet and full circle cake and life can be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Inspiration Board-late Spring

The last few warm days have brought a gush of summer inspiration. I recently updated my inspiration board that hangs in the kitchen, bringing a constant source of thoughts and ideas.

summer grass, peonies, the color white, Michelle Obama, Prada gold coats, country weddings,

chunky jewels, sparkly cookies, secret paths in the forest, cotton candy, pastel ice cream cones...
cant wait for the beach!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I like to call my small wedding cakes a 'cakelette' because they are special little works of art.

I am making a cakelette for a couple who are getting married this weekend, and it is simple yet bright.

Their palette is purples and pinks, so for the cake I thought a white cake with colorful flowers would reflect on the table settings but not compete

Something about this vintage print inspired the colors as well;

Especially since the centers will have antique gold, similar to the frame.

And just to make it a little more sweet, I handpainted some detail inside the purple flowers.

Happy Wedding!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Kite Cupcakes

Every Spring my son's school PS 132, has a kite festival in Brooklyn.

Among craft tables, music, and face painting (myself as a volunteer), there will be a bake sale.

Ruby and I coordinating our outfits to facepaint

The festival is planned for a sunny Saturday, and I'm betting parents are upping the sugar level intake for the day. Got to make them look good so the kids will whine, beg, annoy, until they get them.

So I whipped out my Royal Icing as an experiment, and piped kites and hearts. Surprisingly they had to dry for almost 24 hours until dry, and its not even raining here.

In the blazing heat, the royal icing kites softened and didn't stand stiff in the blue-sky buttercream as I had hoped. They still looked pretty but were definitely outdone by the cookies, according to Clyde. My son's betrayal...

Thankfully someone is on my team...

I have learned over the past school year that PTA bake sales do not enjoy some choice ideas that I have, such as earlier donations of dark chocolate/almond/bacon lollipops, or espresso whipped cream cakes. Time to tone it down a notch!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yellow China Cake

I love beautiful china plates. Not the ones that seem very austere and sterile, but ones that give you a feeling of beauty that you want to look at, and when food is placed on them you remember that it is a plate, and that food goes there, and it excites you even more.

One plate that makes my heart sing is the Jasper Conran Green Chinoiserie for Wedgwood. The colors are a strong mint with navy, and a palate in between.

For a few years, I have tried to figure out how to create a cake from this china without being so literal as to copy the same colors, and images.

So I saw this yellow toile print, it came together. Why not a joyous bright yellow with navy to offset it. Handpaint the cake, as the technique is done with real china, and have the flowers be the only dimensional element of the cake.

The flowers are a pale blue gumpaste, and I handpainted the centers in layers of dark royal blue to give them a ceramic, lacquer feeling.

I recently re-did this cake for a magazine that is coming out in the Fall in bright colors, and am excited to see how it turns out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Homeade Easy Playdough

My homemade Playdough is a secret mom weapon. It prevents Lego related meltdowns, cures cases of the "Imbored", and relieves you of having to ever buy a plastic container of Playdoh again. After you make this once, you will feel empowered; share it with your friends and make some for your next playdate.

Clyde measuring with the precision of a future Jewish surgeon...

Its simple enough that a child can help measure and place all the ingredients in the small saucepan. Everything goes in at once, and is cooked together for a few minutes, and its done.

Ruby's Cookie Monster hybrid

The texture is smoother than Playdoh and without that strange yet nostalgic smell.

I use my cake professional food grade colors for mixing, but regular or natural food coloring will work as well, although the color may be more faint. It has a nice pale buttery color to it if you are feeling au natural.

Dough with a streak of deep pink food coloring

The fun lasted for a while, and ended in a giant blob of all colors, and two happy children. The perfect ending to vacation.

Homemade Easy Playdough

1 cup all purpose organic flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Add all ingredients to a small heavy bottom saucepan.

2. Using a whisk, combine ingredients, and stir frequently over medium-high heat, until mixture begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.

3. Keep mixing until mixture is so thick and begins to clump.

4. Remove from heat, use your hand to grab balls of dough to tint separately.

5. Tint with crazy colors, and keep in a covered container so it doesn't dry out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Janet and Ethan's Wedding

I am making a cake next month for a couple who are having their wedding at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. A place I dream of living at, where I could run out to the field to pick my veggies and then grab some eggs from the coop for a cake.

Their cake is inspired by her bouquet, a mix of white flowers with touches of green.

I thought to do a pale green cake, with a tumbling of white flowers, including dianthus, carnation, and a mix of other made-up flowers that I wish existed.

Perhaps a pale dusting of green in the center, feeling quite refreshing.

I also am making a sheet cake for the guests, a dark chocolate cake with espresso whipped buttercream filling. Each piece will have a small hand sculpted flower with a dusting of the green color in the center.

It is going to be a very delicious and gorgeous wedding.

Monday, April 13, 2009

little hands say it all

A cold rainy afternoon, lots of cookies to be baked.

A list written by Clyde of all the toys he wanted for Christamas (three double-sided pages)

This picture says it all for me...

photo by my friend Johnny Gembitsky

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mice love

Whenever the urge to leave the city for the suburbs comes, I think about my neighbors who live in my building. Its an instant community of like-minded parents and creative people. I think about drinking wine with them watching the Presidential debates. Or the Bastille day party with Moroccan food in the backyard. Or the sardine grilling on the stoop. Or the movies projected on the wall of the park down the street, and the kids dancing on top of the jungle gym.

Sarah and Jamie, my ground floor neighbors, got married this afternoon. Sarah who is French, met Jamie in Berlin and took a chance at love, leaving everything behind to start a new life here. She is an amazing baker and makes jams, preserves, and chutneys that we conspire to sell. Her French sensibility is refreshing in the way she bakes, most things are less sweet, more complex, less familiar.

When Sarah and Jamie planned a wedding, I was excited to bake their cake.

All was going well until Ruby had to be rushed to the hospital with a respiratory virus, throwing my elaborate Passover Seder plans and dreams of fancy wedding cake to the gutter.

After two days in the hospital, she is now back home and healing, and my mind can think again about cake.

With such little time before the afternoon wedding, I decided to go simple and sweet, and to make little mice toppers of the couple as the focus of the cake. My first attempt ended up looking like greasy rats, perhaps a bit too realistic for city life.

greasy rats, not good for the cake

Plan B, a bit more delicate, Sarah had shown me her dress which was a vintage kimono of Jamie's mother, in a pale gold.

I replicated the dress for the mouse, along with some colored circles.

Jamie's two daughters from a previous marriage deserved mice of their own, with matching dresses and red shoes.

the girls and their mice interpretation

The wedding, so touching and sweet at a small bar called Pete's Candy Store, where there is an old stage that makes a soft glow on every one's faces like they are back in time to the 40's. Ruby danced with Sarah before the wedding got started.

Ruby feeling well enough to dance

Clyde playing camera shy

We had to leave before the cake was cut; tired children who needed their dinners and rest. But my wishes of love and happiness to my wonderful city "family". xoxo

Monday, April 6, 2009

Felt Flower Cake Power

The women artist event at Abitare this past weekend was so fun. Where else would I have been able to display my organic treats on such lovely handmade pottery? I made organic shortbread, one batch flavored with Tay Tea caramel rooibus tea, the other with organic Earl Grey. I also made dark chocolate cupcakes with espresso whipped buttercream piped into gold dusted rosettes. The kind of gold roses I would grow if I had a garden...

Earl Grey cookies in the background, gorgeous ceramics by Frances.

I had the chance to meet Frances Palmer and see some handmade whimsical pieces that I wanted to steal, and to shmooze with Llubav who is hilarious and warmhearted. We have become friends since we both spoke at the Greenpoint Design Conference last year.

Llubav holding the first copy of my book, and me in my favorite new dress

Llubav is an incredible felt artist, making flowers and garlands out of bright colored felts.
The colors and modern shapes are so clean, yet still feminine.
She cuts each petal by hand and hand sews small metal sequins and beads in the center of each flower.

Llubav's pins which I should have also stolen

The loose large flower on her ring pillow reminded me of the form of a peony.

Ironically, we have had a bouquet of white peonies in the house that lasted until today. The essence of the peony is so Spring, so fleeting, that it would be lovely to capture it in a cake.

A modern cake with a feminine touch; a white buttercream frosted cake with clusters of loosely formed hand sculpted sugar peonies in a range of colors such as pale blush, shell pink, pale magenta, and pale tomato red.

Sugar Pearls

I am designing a cake for my friend Alicia's wedding. We used to design jewelry together years ago, and her personal style and jewelry is so over the top. Something about lace and pearls is coming to me when I think about her, since she wears lots of vintage clothing and mixes eras together with ease.

I would love to use lace in a way that is not hokey and expected. I have been looking at these silicone molds for lace impressions, that you use with gumpaste. You press a small piece inside, and you put the molds on top and bottom, so the lace is double sided.

Pearls seem refreshing when done right, especially in the late Spring. Her wedding has a slight 1940's vibe to it, and feel like these elements done right will complement the tone. I was so excited to find a mold for making pearls, so they are all even-sized and in a row.

Pearls, made out of gumpaste and dusted with pearlescent dust.

For the first cake, I would wire some of the pearls together, so that it could form sculptural flowers. It would have a pale blush base, with some small pearls shaped like leaves, with the more sculptural pearls clustered around it.

For the second cake, I want to try the look of gold lace flowers, pearl branches and rose gold butterflies. Something sort of chaotic like an Alexander McQueen couture gown, which I'm sure Alicia would wear to the grocery store with converse sneakers if she could.

After thinking of a few options I feel strongly about these and now on to Alicia and her fiancee to look and think about.