Friday, June 3, 2011

Update from Shell

Already another two weeks have passed and I'm left wondering how time flies so quickly.
On our last week of filming Neen and I were hit with the task of managing all the online orders so the other team members could be made abailable to work on some other crazy complex cakes. Lucky for us, we employed the help of Kylie to take on the role of the interns-intern. She was more than willing to help as we spent the first day of the week ganaching our hearts out.

Although I had a number of cakes to work on, My biggest challenge assigned was to create a 3D snoopy cake. Not having worked on many (or really any) 3D cartoon cakes, I knew this would test my skills. I started by meticulously measuring up my reference picture and shapping the cake. At the end of the day when I stood back and looked at the cake I knew something was wrong... The length- right, the height- right, the basic shape - right, but as a whole it was definetely not right. I went home in the hope that in the morning I would be in a better place to figure out what was going wrong.

I have to say, one thing I've noticed about making great cakes is that there comes a time in you planned schedule that you have to make a decision. Do you continue with the cake you currently have got that perhaps isn't perfect but you have already invested a few hours in and you know will still end up looking really good, or do you decide to abandon said plan and take the time to redo what has been done and blow out your time schedule and accept what you know will result in a few late evenings of decorating. For me my snoopy cake I opted for plan B and after taking the time to re-look at it with some fresh eyes and then requesting some advice from our resident Queen of all things 3D - Margie, I finally found out what was wrong was my cake. It was flat. So I ended up re-shaping it again to round out the edges of the cake. After that I was happy and could move onto the covering.
For covering this type of cake I knew I would end up with ALOT of extra icing. I could have slowly worked the folds down around the cake but I had a think about my design and thought about where I could create some folds in the icing for me to cut away and then ultimatly cover the join lines with other details. For me and snoopy, these areas were under snoopy's ears and arms. This method meant covering Snoopy was as less stressful as possible.
Throughout the whoile process of making this cake I refered back to my reference picture and measurements as often as possible to make sure all the elements on the cake were in proportion and correct. I think in the end I think he turned out great... even when looking through red tired eyes...

With the cameras and filming finally behind us, I was happy to start the week with a strange, but very much welcomed calmness in the air, and for the first time since starting at planet cakes almost 2 months ago I was only assigned two cakes to work on. Although the number was low, Paris was keen to test my attention to detail with designs that relied on very sharp and straight finishes to achieve great results.

The 3 tier wedding cake actually proved challenging due to both the difficulty in covering the extended height (particularly the top tier) and the placement of the ribbon. I must admit right here and now that I made the assumption that I could wrap the ribbon around the cake in no time at all. The reality, and trust me I'm not over exaggerating, but almost 2 hours after starting I employed the help of Neoko to help me finish the job because it was driving me coco banana's! Yep, that's right, over 2 hours! My advice- don't design a round cake with ribbon wrapping around it, leave it to the square cakes. Round cakes really don't lend themselves to having geometric lines wrapped around them, especially when you need to achieve straight lines so if doesn't end up looking like you were drunk while placing them.

My other cake assigned was the ever popular cube. Unlike the unforeseen challenges in the wedding cake I knew the square was a particularly time consuming design and in fact a design that I was most nervous about creating. To begin with I needed to prepare support for a double stacked 8" cake, and although I didn't realise it at first, I needed to set up a centre poll and also have a second cake board in the middle if the cake to ensure it would stay secure.

After ganaching and measuring every side to ensure a perfect square I have to say covering the undercoat was remarkable easy. I stated by covering the two side panels separately and then the last three panels with one long sheet of icing. By cutting off the excess at the joins you end up with quite a straight finish.

Next, I needed to create the pale blue coloured frame around the edge of the block. For this to look great I knew the lines needed to be perfectly straight. I know there are a numbers of was people do this but for me I worked on one section of the frame at a time starting with the top 4 lengths, then moving onto the four side lengths and finishing with the bottom found lengths.

This method is probably a little more time consuming, but it worked for me. I actually used this method to also cover the little blocks, which took up almost half a day to make. Like I said, this cake is deceivingly very time consuming, but my most proud accomplishment to date.

Shell's weekly tip: STOP, LOOK and LISTEN

If you know that things are just not going right and your groove is MIA, just STOP! Sometimes when you start getting frustrated you can start making things worse than they already are. Re-LOOK at what you are trying to achieve. Perhaps re measure your cake or refer to some new references. If you've re-looked at things and it still dosent seem to be quite there, then use your life line and phone a friend. If you don't have someone close by then jump on the planet cake tea party forum and get some advice and LISTEN to what other people have experienced in the past, their advice is priceless!

By the way - To find out more about the other MEGA cakes that were made by the rest of the team in the last few weeks you will unfortunatly need to wait for the TV series to come out later in the year. Trust me, the wait is definitely worth it!

Happy caking,

Shell xx

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