Sunday, November 6, 2011

How To Make Dog Hair The Easy Way

When I do a dog cake I usually do the fur with either an icing tip or candy clay. The icing bag will kill your hand really fast, and the candy clay takes longer, so there isn't a really good solution to how to make it. I do think that the candy clay looks better than icing, though, so I prefer to use that.

When I use candy clay I usually use a clay gun, but the last time I needed to make hair for a dog cake I decided to try my garlic press. I think that it was a gift from Christmas a few years ago, but I've never used it (A chef's knife is much more effective for mashing garlic, as far as I'm concerned.)

This is by far the easiest way to make hair for an animal cake that I've found. The secret is the Zyliss 12040 Jumbo Garlic Press with Cleaner , which has a plastic plunger-type bar that presses the candy clay through on the inside, so nothing sticks to it. It's really easy to press the clay through, and it cleans up with almost no effort.

I did a dog cake fairly quickly using the press, and my hand doesn't feel like I ran it through a wringer. If you're looking for a good tool that won't result in your hand looking like a claw, I'd definitely recommend this.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Friday, October 14, 2011

Product Review- Olympus Digital Recorder

I know that I’m not alone in having moments of pure inspiration that I then forget about ten seconds after the thought occurs to me. You know, the walk into a room and stand there thinking “why am I here?” moments.
I’ve tried carrying a little notebook around in my purse to write things down, but that usually doesn’t work too well for very long. I’ll forget to bring the notebook, not have a pen when I need it, or whatever.
Then I started blogging. It’s fun, but you’re always looking for things to write about, and if you’re like me your best ideas come when you’re in a situation that isn’t conducive to writing, like when you’re doing 70 on the highway.
I finally decided to admit defeat and buy a little digital voice recorder. I found the Olympus digital recorder at Staples for $30 after their awesome rebates (I don’t know why anyone buys anything full price at Staples, they have such good sales all the time you don’t need to.) It retails regularly for only $40, so even if you didn’t get it on sale it’s reasonable. You can also find it on Amazon listed as the  Olympus VN-7000 Digital Voice Recorder 142645 (Silver)

It’s really easy to use, and it has several folders that you can use for different things. I’ve been using two of them, one for to-do list items, and one for blog entry ideas.
Before I wrote this I went through the things that I’d put on it for blog articles, and I had forgotten that I’d recorded half of them. Hearing them again reminded me of topics to write about, so it’s proven to be useful already.

One thing to note is that this doesn't have a way to download files onto a computer, so it's best for memos to yourself and other short things that you don't need to transfer.
It’s small and lightweight, and it has way more recording time than I’d ever need. My son was mocking me for buying it, but I told him that it would be a good thing to have if you wanted to record a school lecture while you slept through class, so I think he saw the value of it after considering that scenario.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review--One Perfect Day

This isn't a new book, but it's an interesting read for anyone who has a wedding-related business.

One Perfect Day: The Selling Of The American Wedding by Rebecca Mead is a look at how the American way of getting married has been commercialized and transformed into a huge industry, partly as a response to the changing role of marriage in American society. It was published in 2007, and I read it then.

I remember that when I first read it I was offended at parts of it, since I didn't see a lot of the blatant commercialization that she was describing in my area. However, four years later I'm seeing it, and it can get pretty disgusting.

As someone whose business deals with weddings, I've noticed a huge shift in the "wedding industry" landscape in the past couple of years. There's much more selling to businesses in the form of seminars, magazines telling you how to market to brides, consultants willing to maximize your website traffic, etc.

One person speculated that this is because a lot of people lost their jobs during the recession and created their own businesses instead, so there's more business-to-business selling. Someone else theorizes that it's because of the explosion of wedding-related tv shows. From cakes to planning to brides behaving badly, weddings are all over the popular culture scene.

In addition, there's a much larger emphasis in recent years on the "styling" of weddings and people telling brides what they HAVE to have to achieve that "one perfect day." The faked-wedding photo shoots that show up all over the internet are a prime example of this. Brides are told that they have to achieve a level of detail that requires an army of coordinators and stylists (which I find strange to begin with) in order to impress their guests.

Regardless of the reason for the change, I think that this book is an interesting read, especially for brides. It's important to remind yourself during the Getting-Sucked-Into-The-Wedding-Machine process what you think the wedding is actually FOR.

When Ms. Mead asked a group of brides what the wedding was for, they had a hard time answering. That's pretty pathetic, but it shows that there's a lot of pressure put on brides to achieve an image that's been put out there solely to sell them something. Instead of focusing on the wedding they're focusing on the package that's being presented to them as what they "should" do.

This book is available on Amazon...If you want to give it a shot keep an open mind! I thought that a lot of her perspective was biased toward having a courthouse wedding and keeping it totally simple, which obviously isn't for everyone. A lot of the things that she looks at do make a lot of sense, though, so it was an interesting book to read.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Monday, August 8, 2011

Crystallized Pearl Colors

Here's a new product that I got at the ICES convention...Crystal Colors has been advertising a food-safe version of luster dust for a while now, but I hadn't bought any yet.

At the convention I looked at several different colors that looked very similar in the bottles, but were labelled with different colors. I got some that was lilac, but when you look at it in the bottle it just looked silvery.

I used it on some purple fondant pearls that had been made from purple Satinice, and it turned them a light purple with a definite shine to them, even with a tiny bit of the powder.

Beth Parvu, who is the genius behind the product line, also showed me an example of how you can make edible paint with the crystallized colors to paint on chocolate or fondant. By thinning the dusts out with vodka or extracts you can make a metallic paint to apply details to your cakes.

The good thing about Crystal Colors is that a little goes a long way. The Crystallized Pearl Colors were no exception. This is a definite "BUY" and I'll be getting some more in different colors.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hamilton Beach Immersion Blender

CSN Stores recently sent me an immersion blender to review, and I love it! It's a Hamilton Beach and it's pretty basic, but I've been using it like crazy today and it got to the point where I was actually looking around for something else to puree and realized that I had to stop.

I made a strawberry puree to see how smooth it could get them, and it worked perfectly. I made a batch of cake batter, and I also used the whip attachment to make a truffle, which came out perfectly too. The blender is easy to handle but I wish that there was a button to keep it on instead of just pulse. I assume that immersion blenders aren't designed to be turned on and left on, though. That could get ugly.

The final test was to make milkshakes, of course. My kids were willing to be included in this activity since it involved ice cream. They weren't too thrilled about the blender at first, but after getting the hang of it they decided that it was "epic." The milkshakes were good, too.

I'd recommend this blender as a good alternative to dragging out the regular blender for small jobs. It's convenient, and since it comes with the two attachments, it's multipurpose. It's available at CSN stores online. There's also a model with a case  for those people who tend to lose the attachments.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've had a few people ask what kind of boards I used on the hippo cake, so I thought I'd write about my old pal the Tuffboard!

I don't know when I started using these, but I LOVE them. They're corrugated plastic, so you don't have to worry about covering them with any kind of waterproof paper. They come in tons of different sizes and you can cut them with scissors or a utility knife to the shape that you need.

They're really strong, but if you need to drive a dowel through them you can do that without them splintering. That comes in handy for shaped cakes that need to be dowelled all the way through.

I get mine directly from their website, but you have to buy them in large quantities if you do that. If that doesn't bother you, you can find some real deals on them if you go to their clearance section. That's where they put the odd colors, but who cares what color they are? They're under the tier anyway, so nobody sees them!

I get them in every even size from 6" to 16", and then if I need to cut them to an odd size I just cut off half an inch around with a pair of scissors. I get the sheet cake boards and cut those for weird shapes, and I also buy the square ones. Anything that makes the prep work faster is okay by me, and just going in and grabbing the size board that you need without having to do anything else to them is great.

They also come in what they call a combo board, which is kind of strange, but would be good for space constraints. They're a combination of a round and a square, and I guess you cut off the part that you don't need. At least that's what I do with them. There might be a different use for them, but I don't know what that would be.

There are a few sites that sell them in small quantities, but they can be pretty pricey if you buy them that way. If anyone is in the Richmond area and would like to buy some from me I could probably spare a few...

If you do buy them directly from the website the one thing that does seem to start to add up is the shipping costs, but it's totally worth it in the time saved in not having to cover them, or in worrying that your cake is going to collapse because you used weak, spindly little cardboard rounds.

And the best thing about them? They melt! That's right, you can melt them into the shape that you want, either by using a torch or by holding them over a lit burner on your oven until the area you want to bend softens up. If you have some weird kind of bend that you need to make and it's going to need support, get the tuffboards out. Just don't be a moron and set yourself on fire. You want to bend the board, you don't want to get melted plastic on your stove.

I bent this board to show how strong they are even after they've been messed with. I used a torch to heat the plastic, then I bent it into a shelf shape. Once it cools off it will retain the shape, and it supports a good amount of weight. I had my daughter hold this bottle of vanilla paste that I had sitting around, and the tuffboard held it up without the bend collapsing. The bottle weighed almost 2 1/2 pounds, so I think that's pretty impressive for a little 2" ledge of plastic.

This kind of support is good for the internal structures for computer screens, or anything else that has to be angled out from the main cake. It's also good if you just have a flat panel that needs to be freestanding, and you don't want to cover a piece of cardboard with fondant. Since the tuffboards are waterproof they won't absorb any moisture and won't change shape (unless you melt them yourself!)

So if you've been wondering about tuffboards, I hope this helped!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

KitchenAid 6QT Vs. Cuisinart 7 Qt.Mixers

People always seem to have questions about which mixer is better, so here's a movie of the basic differences between the Kitchenaid 6 quart stand mixer and the Cuisinart 7 quart stand mixers. Each one has its good points, so I hope that this can help make the decision easier if you're in the market for one.