Friday, December 3, 2010

"Something Sweet" A Baker's Dozen with Lisa Bugeja of Flour Confections

As all of my faithful readers know, I recently spent a few days in beautiful Pickering Ontario where I studied under the amazingly talented Ron Ben Israel.  The class was hosted by Lisa Bugeja, owner if Flour Confections.  Lisa graciously accepted my invitation to complete a Baker's Dozen.  Read on to see what she has to say about running a successful business, competition, and not eating cake!


Lisa and I at Flour Confections in Pickering Ont.  For RBI's class

Morsels By Mark: Hi Lisa.  Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!  What drove you towards a career in cake design?


Lisa Bugeja: It really came about as a combination of my 2 loves – art & dessert! I have been drawing, painting, sculpting things for as long as I can remember and almost went to Fine Arts school. I have also always helped out my mother in the kitchen – she is a great baker. When I was in my 20’s, I travelled to Europe to look at art & to eat dessert – so it seemed like combining the 2 loves made sense! I took a 10 day course on cake decorating at McCall’s and immediately got a job at Loblaws in the bakery as a part-time decorator. It was here that I learned how to fill & ice cakes with speed. After a year there, I went back to University to finish my BA and then starting working at American Express. After working in the corporate world for a few years and being miserable, I convinced my husband Scott that I needed to go and give baking a try, so I enrolled at George Brown College for Baking & Pastry. After graduating I worked in a few places, but soon became pregnant and the standing all day became an issue.
      Once my daughter was born, I quickly grew tired of being only a “stay at home mom” and was desperate for a creative outlet. So I decided to get back into cakes. My 1st cousin was the one to really launch my business. He was getting married and asked me to make his wedding cake. This was to be my very first “live” wedding cake! As I had to deal with the venue, I needed a business name and Flour Confections was born. That was back in 2004 and I haven’t looked back since!



MBM: Not only are you a designer, but you also run a successful store and school. What prompted you to branch out?

LB: Thank you! My love and passion is cakes & cake design – but I was running out of room and growing tired of working out of my dedicated basement kitchen – and I wanted out of the house! As you may know, we cake designers acquire many tools and toys and they take up a lot of room – and I was tired of not having my home just my home.
      However moving out of the house would mean overhead and I needed to find a way to make up for the slower cake times. One of my “pet peeves’ was that there wasn’t anything in the East end of the city in terms of cake supply or retailers. And being that I had a small child, I had to make sure I got out and back before the bell rang – this was a difficult task. It took a few years of convincing before the expansion took place. Scott and I worked out a business plan to see if it would all be doable, and once we decided it could, we looked for our first location.
     Shortly after opening our first store…we realized we were going to need more space and pronto! We grew more quickly than we expected – seems like that void I always felt in terms of cake supply was widely felt and people came in. You know the saying “if you build it, they will come” well that’s exactly what happened! Our retail opened first, then we got going on the online – once that opened up the business took off and we haven’t looked back since. Scott quit his job and came on full time.
      This past November we moved into our 2nd location and it’s still growing…who knows what the next 2 years will hold??!!

MBM: You have competed and have been judged by such amazing artists as Kerry Vincent. How does that feel?

LB: Just to be clear – Kerry Vincent is the organizer/founder of the OSSAS show – she doesn’t judge the entries – she looks at them, will even comment about them if you ask her, but no judging ;)  How does it feel to be judged?? Hmm I never really think about it – I go into these competitions maybe a bit differently than most – I get excited about the theme, find a source of inspiration and challenge myself to do something new to me each year – so the only judge that I’ll ever listen to is myself – and I’m probably the worst one ever!! I see every single little flaw, error, mistake, you name it I see it and criticize it to death!

MBM: How did you get into the competitive side of the art?

LB: I really love to branch out and try something new. I also love to see the art and how others interpret things – it’s my favourite part of the industry. I get to make a cake for me and me alone – and that is what drove me (mind the pun) to trying out for competitions

MBM: Please explain your design process. Where do you go for inspiration?

LB: My design process is so convoluted I don’t think I can even express it! LOL! Seriously I go ALL OVER the place when I’m seeking out inspiration – it’s like I know what I’m looking for but can barely visualize it until I see it – do you follow me?? My main source is Google – I love Google! I type all sorts of combinations of words in the theme and go searching madly through the images – saving as I go in a folder of inspiration for each year’s theme. Each image then takes me on another path and my original search gets lost as I get inspired by other things….lets just say it takes me a while.
     Once I find my “inspiration” I get down to designing…and sometimes in this stage I scrap the entire thing and start again. I can't ever commit to a cake design until I have all the tiers planned out – they might not STAY that way in the final design, but I need to love it before I commit. After I settle on the design I get to thinking about execution and transportation – and this is often where I scrap ideas and even come up with better ones….not one of my last 3 years entries have gone from sketch to final cake exactly as planned – and I always thing they turned out better in the end.

MBM: What is your favourite aspect of the industry?

LB: That the industry is so widespread – people from all over the world have a passion for cake – and each area expresses their passion a bit differently – it’s fascinating! I have friends in Australia , Germany , all over the USA , the UK …and our common bond is the art of sugar! Using social media and cake forums, every sugar artist can share instantly with the world – and it’s amazing to see all the creations!

MBM: What is your least favourite aspect?

LB: Even though social media is an amazing way to instantly share your creations with the rest of the world, it’s just as easy for others to take those images/ideas etc and “claim” them as their own. I’m really tired of seeing people stealing images of cakes and placing them on their websites as their own – even going to the trouble of removing watermarks or changing colours! It’s pretty low – and it is happening more and more… to the point there is now a blog called Stop the Cake Thief so you can “report” these websites when you find them.

MBM: What is your preferred type of cake to work on (ie Wedding, celebration,...)?

LB: Wedding cake – by far. In fact in 2011 I’m phasing out most other options, and focusing on weddings and more elaborate cake designs such as sculpted cakes.

MBM: You have had many celebrity instructors teach you and teach in your classroom. Who would you like to still learn from?

LB: Yikes – the list will be endless! There are so many talented people out there whom I would love to meet or learn from – and for so many reasons too. Hmm lets see if I can narrow down to my top 3 – in no particular order:
Planet Cake – I would love to travel to Australia to take a class or three at Planet Cake
Debbie Goard of Debbie Does Cakes – her design & sculpting skills are MAD!
Rebecca Sutterby of Sugar Creations – she is a really good friend of mine and a SUPER talented lady – I would love to learn some of her secrets to perfect fondant and execution!
Ooo another one Margaret Braun…piping queen!

MBM: As a teacher, how do you pick topics for classes? Is it purely dictated by what your customers are asking for?

LB: Sometimes it is based upon what the customers are looking for, but lots of times it’s things that I feel would be fun to teach and give good value. I feel that even though everyone may not like piping, it’s a skill that you should try not to fear – so I like to share tips that have helped me along the way. And even though sculpted cakes or sugar flowers may look scary to many, when broken up into small segments and achievable goals, they are not that bad! I never show one way or say “this is the ONLY way to do this technique” because that is not my way. I like to show options for all levels and hopefully one of those options will work best for the student. I always say you need to “train your brain” meaning you may not get it perfect or even right the first time you try it, but when you go back at it, you’ll find it a bit easier and you might even find your own way to do things – so long as the end result is what you are looking for, who cares how you get there??

MBM: With such an influx of “cake” tv out there, have you ever thought about having your own show?

LB: Ha! Um no – haven’t thought of having my own show! I’ve considered what it would be like to be a contestant on Challenge, but not sure if it’s my cup of tea or not….but I never say never!

MBM: What is your favourite flavour of cake?

LB: Honestly?? I rarely eat cake – when you have worked with it for as long as I have it really doesn’t tempt me – give me a crème brulee or gelato any day! But if I had to choose, I’m partial to Red Velvet myself – or something extremely chocolate – deep chocolate cake with chocolate truffle finished in chocolate ganache!


MBM: What one piece of advice can you give the readers about the world of cake?

LB:  Don’t take it too seriously – it’s ONLY CAKE!

Thanks Again for hosting the class Lisa, we all had a blast.  Readers, checkout Lisa's online store :

On a side note, I have added a newsletter feature.  To join, click the link in my favourite places on the left hand side of this page.  I have also added class info to the store tab at my webpage

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First class.......AWESOME!!!!

So as you all know, I taught my first class the past 2 weekends - Gumpaste Poinsettias.  I had a blast, and so did my students.  Their enthusiasm really made me realize that 2011 is the year I focus even more on cake art, teaching and my dvd!  I had a total of 10 students over the course of the 2 Sundays.  Thanks to Icing Inspirations, we gave away ALOT of door prizes - everyone left with something!  Below are pictures of the class:

Set up of door prizes

Students stations all set up

The Store

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for Snack

Students hard at work

Assembling our flowers

I didn't get great pics of the finished flowers (crap camera), but my students are supposed to be sending me some.  My first class for 2011 is Gumpaste Baby cake toppers in the Anne Gedes style.  More info to come!  Stay tuned later this week for another Baker's Dozen with Lisa Bujega of Flour Confections.  Also on the pipeline - an intervioew with Edna De La Cruz and in the New Year, Ron Ben Israel!

Until Then,
Happy Caking!

Friday, November 26, 2010

And The Winner Is........

Lorrie Gauthier!  Congratulations Lorrie, you have won the Santa and Reindeer Karen Davies mold.  You can pick it up in class on Sunday :)  Speaking of classes, I have strated planning for next year, so if there's anything particular you'd like to learn, please let me know!  I will be posting Sunday night or Monday pics and a rundown of the Poinsettia classes.  Thanks again to Chrissie and Icing Inspirations for sponsoring the class and providing door prizes!  Thanks also to Random.org for helping to choose our winner!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baker's Dozen - Icing Inspirations' Chrissie Boon & Giveaway

Hello Cake World!

I am pleased to bring you another edition of Baker's Dozen.  This time with cake designer extraordinaire Chrissie Boon of Icing Inspirations.  Chrissie is not only a designer but also a savvy business woman.  Chrissie and I talked about what drove her to opening a retail outlet as well as the importance of having a work-life balance! 

Morsels By Mark: What inspired you to build a career in the cake world?


Chrissie Boon: My cake/baking career started with cookies. My mom made Christmas cookies every year and sold them at local schools and businesses. When I was in grade 9 I took over and the baking just bloomed from there. I took a cake decorating class during first year university and shortly after left my studies to pursue cake full time.

MBM: How did you make the decision to start Icing Inspirations - your online store?

CB: To be honest, it started from two things. First, the desire to be spending more time with my family. Taking 10 cakes a weekend was getting to be too much and I was never home. I wanted to be able to do something that would supplement the cake income and give me more time with the kiddies.
Secondly, a need for product in this area. I was tired of having to make the trip into Mississauga or Toronto all the time even if I'd forgotten the littlest thing it meant packing the kids up and fighting traffic. By the time all was said and done it was always a full day between getting there, shopping, usually stopping for food (cause we'd have been gone so long.. adding to the cost of my supplies) and getting back.

MBM: How do you choose which products to carry?

CB: We really look for product that is unique. There is a lot of great cake supply shops out there and we want there to be a reason for people to still shop everywhere. We carry the basics of course, but finding something different leaves a market for everyone. And of course finding product that we would use ourselves at the shop.

MBM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

CB: Where don't I draw my inspiration from? Lol . We'll be sitting at a dinner and I'll look at my husband's food like it could be a cake. Or when it comes to my kid's birthday cakes,  I'll be looking at their toys and thinking about which is their favourite that I could make into a cake.

For weddings it's a little different. I talk to brides about their hall, their flowers, their dress... every little detail and find what makes their wedding different. Then draw from that. Or we'll come up with a cake based on their interests. I always tell couples that they should feel free to do anything they want with their cake. That sometimes it's the one place in the wedding people feel okay with being different.

MBM: What is your favourite thing about the cake industry?

CB: The tight knit community. Meeting cake decorator after cake decorator -from beginners to big celebrity cake artists -everyone wants to do the same thing - Cake! And everyone does it in their own way. It's opened a lot of doors and I've met so many wonderful people. Meeting the cake celebrities and seeing how humble and gracious they are is amazing. I'm thrilled to have them and always so amazed at how humble they are about coming. Most of them have had this "I can't believe you want me! Who am I?" type opinion of themselves. Its not what I expected and its very refreshing.

MBM: What is your least favourite thing about it?

CB: The amount of time I spend away from my family. My family means everything to me. As much as I love cake, I hate having to be away from them.

MBM: You are a very busy lady - wife, mother, cake designer and the store/online store.  You also teach cake decorating classes. As a budding instructor myself, how do you overcome the nervousness, and do you still get nervous?

CB: Not as much as I use to. I get more nervous with smaller classes then with larger ones. And I get nervous when everyone in class is quiet or doesn't have questions. I usually joke around about it and that helps set me at ease.

MBM: What is your favourite class to teach?

CB: Right now, gumpaste flowers. The other day I had a student who looked like she was going to burst into tears when she looked at her flower. I was worried and thought she was upset. She turned and looked at me and told me she couldn't believe she had made something that looked so lifelike. It was the most amazing feeling to see her so proud of her work.

We have a exciting new class we'll be introducing very shortly. I'm hoping that will be my new favourite ;)

MBM: Congratulations on being named the administrator for the Kitchener branch of the CCDG. What prompted you to add that role to your growing list?

CB: Thank you :) Well,  last fall we started getting together a small group of cake decorators once a month for cake "play dates". We talked cake and worked on projects. It was a great way to socialize with other local cake decorators. A number of them started encouraging me to open my own cake club. So we speant the summer asking people if they would be interested in being part of something like that. When we got a great response we decided to seriously consider it. When we heard that the Guild was opening up more chapters we figured that was a great way to go. Work with other groups from all over Canada.

MBM: What is your favourite cake flavour?

CB: Right now, raspberry swirl. We've been putting a raspberry syrup into our cake batter and it's my new fav! I usually don't like fruit flavoured cakes but love this one!

MBM: What is the one cake toy you cannot live without?

CB: Can I name 3?  My Agbay, angled spatula and MY rolling pin. It's a pin from Linens N Things unfortunately and it's not available any longer. So we fight over it in the kitchen. Everyone wants to roll fondant with it :)

MBM: You have brought in some very big names in the cake world to teach at your store.  How does it feel knowing that you are helping bring attention to the Canadian "Cake Scene"?

CB: Oh its so exciting! It's again something that has opened up amazing doors. Not only has it been an opportunity for Canadian cake decorators to learn from these big names without having to always travel to the US. But it has also brought the chance to be be promoting Canadian instructors in the US. I will actually be travelling to the US in 2011 and 2012 to be teaching as well.

MBM: What tip can you give to all of the budding cake artists out there?

CB:  Don't be afraid to try something different. There are so many exciting new trends and techniques. Always want to grow your skills. Never stop learning :)

Thanks again Chrissie for taking the time to answer these questions.  I can honestly say that even though we haven't met in person YET, you are probably me BCF (Best Cake Friend)!  Now boys and girls, it is time for our giveaway.  Not only is Icing Inspirations the sponsor of my first sugar class, Chrissie was gracious enough to send me a prize to give away to one lucky follower.  We are giving away the "Santa and Rudolph" Mold by Karen Davies.  Karen's molds are super cute and great quality!  To win, you have to first be a follower of the blog.  You also have to head on over to Chrissie's Online Store, and leave me a comment here telling me what your favourite item is at Icing Inspirations!  Look everywhere, I'm sure you'll have more than one!

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

RBI is THE MAN!!!!

Hello Cake Boys and Girls!


What an AMAZING 3 days I have had! As you all probably know, I have been in Pickering, Ontario (outside of Toronto) studying under the Maestro of sugar flowers – Ron Ben Israel. Ron is one of the most genuine, nicest people I have ever met! And I'm not saying that because he will be reading this – that's right, I found out on day 2 that Ron reads the blog!!!! I was stunned and amazed at the same time when I found out. It is unbelievable to me that one of my cake idols has seen this blog! He kept forgetting that I had no online access at my aunt's house, and kept asking if I blogged yet about class :) So Ron, this one's for you - I'd love to know what you think!

The class took place at Flour Confections, one of my favourite places to shop online! Lisa, her husband Scott and their terrific staff were courteous and made me (and the rest of class) feel welcome and at home. They gave us delicious lunches everyday along with Lisa's delicious cookies – one of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had! Lisa if you ever want to share the recipe.....

Day 1 brought the introduction to working with gum- oops I mean flower paste. One of the first things Ron established was that “gumpaste” is not a nice sounding word and we should refrain from using it. Ron taught us his recipe for making the best paste I have ever worked with along with a bunch of secret tips for developing the colours! I will not be sharing this with you, for the simple reason that if I do, Ron will come to Montreal and kick my butt! In all honesty, Ron's class was well worth the money and I will definitely take the secrets I learned to my grave! We started with the Peony petals and closed centres. From there we worked on the pistil of the Calla Lily and the Stigma of the Cattleya Orchid. We also made Sweet Peas using Ron's custom cutter! At the end of class, Ron made time for a short Q&A session where we learned some tips about structure and stability in stacked cakes.



Day 2 was INTENSE! It started out with a discussion on molding techniques for making our own silicone molds (a 3 day class in itself). We made the throat, sepals, and petals for our orchids, and frilled without a ball tool! Instead, Ron had us frill our orchids using a special technique – again, very top secret! This brought us up to lunch, and then the orchids were followed up by completing our Calla Lilies and making rose leaves. We were then treated to a demo on how to actually make the flowerpaste, followed by another Q&A session that lasted almost an hour and a half. We talked about delivery, refrigeration, and various tips for running a successful business.


Day 3 was no joke! Ron told us that there would be tears on day 3.....he was right. They were tears of laughter though – Ron is truly an entertaining instructor, providing us with funny stories and anecdotes. On day 3 we started with the rose – the JFK rose to be specific. We learned various stages of the rose and how to make it using Ron's “rose making machine” which can be seen on Youtube. That filled our morning. In the afternoon, we dusted our flowers and steamed them. We also learned how to assemble them. The colours we used were very vibrant and well enhanced with dusts. My favourite is probably the sweet pea – I really like the way they turned out! The class ended with an autograph and picture taking session. It was definitely sad to leave the class and all of my new friends behind. I am looking forward to Ron's potential return next year!



This was such an unforgettable experience that will resonate with me for a very long time. Stay tuned to the blog for a Baker's Dozen segment with Lisa of Flour Confections, as well as one with RBI himself! That's right! Ron has agreed to do a Baker's Dozen as well. He is a very busy guy though, and it may be a little while before he gets his answers back to me.  For now, I have to get cracking on this week's orders and I have to finish dusting the flowers we made in class so that I can photograph them.

Stay tuned for a new Baker`s Dozen and giveaway in the next few days. Until then, Happy Caking!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let The Countdown Begin!

Hello fellow cakers!  What a crazy few weeks!  I can't believe that 7 days from today, I will be at my Aunt's house in Ajax, ON patiently waiting to start my classes with the amazingly talented Ron Ben Israel.  So, needless to say, this week better fly by!  I have some last minute things going on this week including the final fitting of my new Chef's coats (more on that another time). 

This week will also be busy making sure everything is ready for my set of Poinsettia classes.  I am also going to be giving the course in French at a local cake shop as well. 

The biggest news this week though, involves my "Baker's Dozen" feature on the blog.  One of the biggest names out there has agreed to do a "Baker's Dozen".  Keep posted for more news on that.

I love getting comments from you guys.  This week, I want Feedback - I wanna know what topics you all would like covered in future classes.  I also wanna know if you'd like tutorials posted on the blog!  I am waiting to hear from you.

Happy Caking!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

So Busy!

Hello my dear readers!  Sorry I've been MIA in a while, but the "day job" has been keeping me busy along with the kitchen renos that still aren't done!  I just wanted to keep everyone up to date and my goings on:

- I will be satrting to give classes at Creations Gourmandes.  The first will be a take on my upcoming Poinsettia classes.  Anyone interested in the Poinsettia classes, check out my website - there are still spots open for the November 21st class!  The 2 classes from my home are being sponsored by Icing Inspirations who are also providing me with fantastic dorr prizes for the 2 classes!

- I have also been busy getting halloween chocolate ready for sale this week

- I am so excited - 3 weeks and I will be studying under the maestro of sugar flowers - Ron Ben Israel!

- Lastly, I have finally had time to send my questions to Chrissie over at Icing Inspirations - I will post the interview not long after I get them!

That's it for now cake boys and girls!  I am off to enjoy a Wii Just Dance 2 party in our basement!

Happy Caking :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In The Meantime and In Between Time

While I work on a bunch of different projects, I thought I would take the opportunity to announce that my first teaching gig is underway - the gumpaste poinsettia!  The most amazing part of this is that Chrissie K over at Icing Inspirations has offered to be my sponsor!  On top of helping me secure cutters and veiners for my students, Chrissie has generously offered to provide me with door prizes for both of my sessions!  Although I've never met her in person, for the time that I've know her, Chrissie has always offered friendly and professional advice and I have never had any problems getting merchandise from her site!  Chrissie, if you're reading this, you are an AMAZING person that I am honoured to be able to call FRIEND!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And The Winner Is........

Hi Everyone!

Although  I am in the midst of kitchen renovation chaos, I am holding true to my word - I have chosen a winner for the Jen Dontz DVD.  LetThemEatCakes is the lucky follower who has won the DVD and was chosen using random.org.  Congratulations!  Please contact me with your address and I'll get the DVD out as soon as it arrives.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  I plan on having more contests and interviews soon.  So soon in fact, that I will be working on the questions for my next two interviews - the very talented Chrissie Boon of Too Nice To Slice and owner of Icing Inspirations, as well as Edna De La Cruz thanks to many requests from my readers.  Both amazing ladies have agreed to let me interview them and I am eager to get this going!  I'm off to sand and prime the kitchen so the cabinets can go up - I cannot wait for this madness to be over!

Until Next Time
Happy Caking!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Wait Is Over! My New Feature, "Baker's Dozen With" is ready and a surprise to boot!

A few weeks ago, I announced that I was working on a new feature where I interview various cake artists. My first interview ended up being 13 questions, so I decided this would be the format for all future interviews. I am calling this feature, “Baker’s Dozen with…..” . I am very excited to bring you this interview, so without any further adieu, I give you, “Baker’s Dozen with Jennifer Dontz” where we talk about how she got started, and about her brand new dvd - “Sensational Sugar Flowers (vol. 1)!


Morsels By Mark: Hi Jen. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to have you as my first interview! I’m hoping my readers enjoy this feature and I can interview many other talented artists in the future. Let’s start by talking about how you got started in the industry. You were originally a florist, right?
Jen Dontz: Yes, I started in the flower shops when I was 16. I LOVED working with flowers and creating beautiful arrangements that made people smile. I think that is why I enjoy working with the sugar flowers so much. The skills I learned as a very young girl, have helped me along the way with my cakes. My dream was to have my own shop, but then wanting a family made me realize with a shop, one is married to it at holiday times. I did my first paid wedding cake when I was 16 and from there, it just kept blossoming. I came to the realization that I actually could do this art, make money at it, and stay home with my children. Never did I realize the many directions, twists and turns, it would take me :-)

MBM: What about the sugar arts intrigued you to make the switch?
JD: It really was wanting to stay home and raise my two boys and the "passion in my belly" I felt for cake decorating. I really do love it, and still get that excitement when doing a new technique or getting that new cake toy :-) I especially love doing wedding cakes and being a part of someone's special day. Even after 36 years the passion drives me.

MBM: If I’m not mistaken, you are self taught, correct?
JD: Basically yes. I've taken one formal class, but of course, have learned techniques along the way with the help of the internet, tapes/DVD's, books and ICES (International Cake Exploration Society). I started out with a kit from the grocery store when I was 13.... one of those Wilton foil pan, cover with stars cakes :-) I then bought Wilton yearbooks and memorized the tutorial sections and practiced, practiced, practiced..... I started in the age of piping and MORE piping. Now the cakes are different. It's been fun looking at how the styles have changed throughout the years. From piping and fountains to fondant and sugar flowers.

MBM: What is your favourite part of cake decorating and design?
JD: Hands down the sugar flower work. I just love striving to get them more and more realistic. I love seeing the look on people's faces when they realize the flowers/foliage are made of sugar. It blows them away! As far as design, I love the clean, simplistic, romantic look.

MBM: Your sugar flowers are beautiful, very lifelike and rank up there with masters like Nicholas Lodge and Ron Ben Israel. What is your favourite flower to make and why?
JD: WOW!!!! What a nice compliment, thank you! To be named in the same sentence with either one of those artists has me beaming at my keyboard :-) I would have to say I have a tie for first place..... it would be the cymbidium orchid and alstroemeria. The reason being, I think they are the two that look the most real to me.

MBM: Not only do you travel and teach, you also have an online store and teach via your series of Dvd’s. Can you give us a hint as to what the next topic will be?
JD: I have three out now, one that teaches my semi-homemade white chocolate fondant, the second that teaches pearl clay (both recipes I've developed) and the third is on arranging sugar and fresh flowers on cakes. The next DVD is the first of a sugar flower series. It will cover the rose, stephanotis and rose foliage.

MBM: When will it be available for sale?
JD: It's ready now. You can read about it along with the other DVD's on my site, http://www.sugardelites.com/ . When you go to my site and look at the DVD, you will also find a button that links you to a bundle offer on all of the “toys” you’ll need to create these flowers - it’s basically a one stop shop! It really is a good to get the tools I use in the DVD as this way the viewers will get the same great results. As I have said in my classes, I have nothing against people using their own things, but different cutters and veiners do give different results.




MBM: Do you plan on doing a series of sugar flowers Dvd’s?
JD: Yes, I hope this is the first of many.

MBM: I have amassed quite a collection of cake dvd’s. One thing I find myself doing is re-watching an entire disc in order to remember what materials I will need. Have you ever thought of including a supplies list with your Dvds either as an insert or on the actual disc as a bonus feature?
JD: Yes, on each DVD there is either a scrolling supply list used in the video or I actually go through and show each piece of equipment. The sugar flower DVD has a very nice supply section in the menu and also running at the end of the DVD. It shows what section in the store each piece can be found. I liked the way we did it so much on this latest DVD, my guess is, all will be formatted like this. The menu section makes it easy to go right to that section.

MBM: Talk us through the process of making an instructional Dvd. (How do you pick a topic? How long does it take to do the pre-production then shoot and complete post-production?)
JD: Well, the more one does, the better and quicker they get. As far as picking a topic, the first two were chosen because they hi-lighted recipes that I've developed. With the DVD bandwagon happening..... I thought maybe someone else would do a DVD with my recipes, so I didn't want to see that happen. So, that is what gave me the push to do my own. We really feel we put out a quality product. Each DVD is equipped with a menu section so if you want to find something fast, you don't have to go through the whole tape to find it. Another unique detail of our DVD's is they are professionally replicated on to the disk, not burned. They should play in any NTSC player worldwide. We even have a hand sewn case which makes the outer appearance different from what is normally seen. It usually takes a good part of one day to actually shoot the DVD. Then, it goes into editing stages. This time frame can vary depending on how many revisions are needed. Usually it takes about three months to edit. Then a few weeks to produce and get them back. Digital Experience Productions films/edits my DVD's. They do a wonderful job.

MBM: I am pretty much self taught as well, and have had the pleasure of studying under you recently. What challenges do you face when teaching a class of cake artists?
JD: My biggest challenge when teaching is trying to remember ALL the equipment and things needed for the class. Especially if it's a brand new class. I have lists from previous classes, but it always amazes me how much "stuff" it takes to put on a class. Also, trying to determine how much gumpaste we will need. Another challenge is packing. Trying to pack in a smart way, in case a suitcase would disappear in transit. I actually had that happen when I was teaching in Missouri. I arrived, one suitcase didn't. I was ready to have a cow. Luckily, the students had this and that, and we worked through it. But each experience like that, makes me have to rethink the process of getting it all to the class destination.

MBM: What is your favourite cake flavour?
JD: Chocolate :-) I'm a real woman :-)

MBM: What advice can you give to budding cake artists out there?
JD: My best advice is this.... this profession can bring you huge rewards, but be prepared to work. It's very long hours and sometimes the pay doesn't come with that. But, with that said, if you have that "fire in your belly", the love of the art will get you through those long hour days. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would be traveling the world, producing DVD's and be operating a successful online store.... well.... I think I would have told them they were crazy! But life has really been a magic carpet ride, and I'm truly loving it! My e-mail is like opening a present. I never know what opportunity will open up next.

MBM: Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions - you truly are an inspiration to me and many other artists out there!
JD: Thank you, Mark, I'm truly honoured you chose me to be your first blog interview.

OK readers! I am so happy to have brought you this feature, and I hope you really like it! Tell me who else in the world of cake you would like to see interviewed and I will do my best! Keep your eyes posted here for a DVD review of Jen’s latest DVD! Take it from me - I have learned from Jen personally and she is an amazing teacher! I cannot wait for this DVD to arrive so I can watch it myself - Jen shipped me an advance copy which should arrive any day. Jen was also gracious enough to give me an autographed copy of Sensational Sugar Flowers (Vol. 1) to give away to one lucky follower. But in order to win, you must be a public follower of the blog and post a comment sharing a tip with your fellow readers. I’ll choose the winner randomly in 1 week’s time. Good luck everyone!



Until next time,

Happy Caking!

 

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pink First Communion

Last weekend I made a first communion cake.  I know, a strange time of year for a first communion, but a cake nonetheless.  The client asked for a two tiered cake and provided me with a picture of a cake her daughter liked.  The cake was vanilla bean covered in fondant and adorned with shimmery pink blossoms, a pink fondant fabric swag and bows.  The cross on top was gumpaste, decorated with gumpaste pearls and jewels.


As mentioned earlier, I am still working on the Jen Dontz interview as well as a review on Sharon Zambito's Back to Basics DVD.  Until next time, Happy Caking!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who Ya Gonna Call?

We all know that everything that's old becomes new again.  With the recent success of Ubisoft's Ghostbusters game for the Wii console, a new generation has been exposed to this great franchise!  I was fortunate enough to be asked to make a Ghostbusters cake for the son of one of my customer's.  She picked the base cake from another website and I used it as a jumping point.  Here is the finished product:

The top tier was covered in fondant with fondant buildings.  The bottom tier is covered in buttercream.  Staypuft and Slimer are hand modelled in gumpaste.  Slimer is covered in tinted piping gel to give him a "slimey" look.  The ghostbusters logo is an edible image super imposed on gumpaste and sprinkled with disco dust to give it that something extra!  The cake itself is vanilla bean and is filled with "Slimer green" buttercream.

More cakes coming up - the next few weeks are booked.  On the pipeline for my faithful blog followers is a review of Sharon Zambito's Back to Basics DVD as well as an interview with Jennifer Dontz.  If there are any tutorials or anything else you'd like to see on the blog, leave me a comment.

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DVD Review: Stargazer Lily with Edna De la Cruz


The Stargazer Lily gumpaste flower tutorial by Edna De la Cruz is the first in Edna's line of tutorial DVDs.  Edna is a very talented sugar artist who sprung to fame through a series of tutorials on Youtube as well as a lot of helpful advice she gives in the forums at Cakecentral

Edna starts the lesson with a breakdown of all of the tools needed to make the flower.  She then walks you step by step through making the individual components of the Stargazer Lily.  Once the parts are made, Edna teaches how to color your flowers and assemble.  The menus are very easy to navigate and allow you to watch a certain scene over or start at a certain scene if you so choose.  This is a feature that is lacking in alot of cake decorating discs out there.  There are also alot of pictures of completed flowers to provide inspiration for your own projects.

Anyone who has seen Edna's tutorials online knows how amazing a teacher she is and this DVD is a definite must have for any cake designer.  The finished flowers are beautiful and make for a really elegant cake.  If you are interested in purchasing this dvd, you can do so here.  Edna also sells alot of the tools you would need to complete the flowers.  Her prices are reasonable, her shipping is fast and her customer service is great!

That's it for now.  I'll be back this weekend with a post about a cake that has gotten me very excited - want a hint?  It's bound to be "more than meets the eye".  I am also attending my first meeting of the Canadian Cake Decorator's Guild which I think will be a lot of fun!

Until next time,
Happy Caking!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

GINORMOUS News!

It has been an exciting week!  Last week, Flour Confections advertised that they will be hosting the "King of Sugar Flowers" - Ron Ben Israel.  Ron has been featured in such reknowned publications as O, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot to name a few.  His creations have also been featured on the small and big screen!  The course is costly, but well worth it.  It took me alot of time to decide to go, and when I did, it was too late - the class was sold out!  That is until Ron was convinced to add a second set of classes the week before the first set.  It looked like I wasn't going to make it, but the cake Gods were smiling down on me, and the scheduling was able to work itself out!

Needless to say, I am booked for the class, and have started the countdown - 137 days to go!  I have started fundraising to offset the costs of the course - there will be a different treat being sold each week at work, not to mention the fact that I have started taking orders for sugar flower arrangements that people can display in their homes.

Happy Canada Day and Happy Caking!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sugar Flower Heaven

Hi Everyone!  Sorry for my blog absence recently, but I've been super busy.  I just got home from beautiful Ottawa, Canada.  I was in our Nation's Capital to partake in a sugar flower course given by the ever so talented Jennifer Dontz of Sugar Delites.  Jennifer has got to be one of the sweetest, funniest people I have ever met, and man did I lear ALOT!  The flowers we covered in class included Cosmos, Gardenia, Tulips, Dendrobium Orchids, Alstromeria, and Hydrangea.  In class, we worked with three new types of sugar paste, all of which will replace what I am currently using.

My favorite flower of the class was probably the Alstromeria - it required us to use a new paste from the UK called platinum paste which can be rolled tiisue paper thin and has a longer dry time allowing for great petal movement to make flowers that are more realistic.  Best of all, it can be colored before it is even dry!  We also dipped the wet petals to give them a waxy look - AMAZING!


Not only did I learn alot, I met alot of really cool people.  I can't wait to join them all again for another class.  The trip was so worth every penny!

I am on vacation this week, which means my wife Jaimie has me doing chores around the house.  It also means a day trip to Plattsburgh (read as GLOBAL SUGAR ART).  I will also be working this week on a graduation cake and a batmobile cake!  I am also pleased to announce that I am going to be demo-ing the Cricut to the decorators at the local store where I get my cake supplies.  At the same time, I will be discussing the details of something major!  That's right - I am taking the next steps in following my cake dream - I am going to start teaching!  More on that to come.....

For now, it is time to go lounge by the pool with an icy beverage - maybe something strawberry flavoured in honour of the great Ms.Dontz :)

Until next time,
Happy Baking!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Retailer Review: Flour Confections

I was happy to get alot of emails telling me that people enjoyed the Reatailer Review post I did a couple of weeks ago and decided it will become a regular feature to the blog.  This time around, we're featuring another great Canadian Online Retailer:
Located in Pickering Ontario, Flour Confections offers a wide range of cake decorating products ranging from basic tools to edible image supplies to the brand new Cricut Cake!  FC is owned and operated by the very talented Lisa Bugeja and her husband Scott, who I am pleased to say are very helpful and friendly when dealing with customer enquiries.  Their prices are very reasonable, as it the very quick shipping.  Some of the products that I love include the green disposable pastry bags and the vast selection cutters.  I am very excited about their new range of petal dust colors exclusive to FC - the colors look to be very intense and I plan on ordering them very soon.

Not only is Flour Confections an amazing online retailer, they also offer a variety of hands on classes taught by Lisa, as well as a bevy of celebrity cake artists.  This year alone, FC has hosted the likes of such talent as James Rosselle, Bronwen Weber and Mr.Amazing himself, Mike McCarey!  Early next year, they will be hosting a Muppets cake class with the 1 and only Lauren Kitchens, competitor in the recent Sesame Street Challenge on Food Network.  I have yet to take a class at FC, but do have it on my list of places I'd like to learn - doesn't hurt that my aunt lives a mere 10 minutes away in Ajax - now if my day job schedule wouldn't interfere with the FC class schedule :)

Take my word for it, head on over to http://www.flourconfections.ca/ and see for yourself the amazing things you can get.  A couple of things worth checking out are the Edible Image Systems (I actually told a local supplier about the deal at FC because their own system had died on them, and they still thank me for telling them about it because the system is working great) as well as the silicone plastique used to make your own molds.  I also love that they carry SugarVeil and am intrigued by the new edible crystals they are advertising!

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Spider and a Mouse

First off, thank you to the people who either commented or wrote me to tell me that they like the review features!  Last week's cakes were so much fun to do!  The first was a 3D mickey mouse-type head.  I used RKT for the ears and nose, everything else was cake and covered in fondant.  I used gumpaste and my handy-dandy cricut to cut out the letters:

The cake was all vanilla bean with vanilla bc filling.  The birthday boy's name was Kalel.

My second cake was a bust of Spiderman:



Spidey is completely edible.  The head is RKT and the body is cake.  The webbing and logo are made from sugar veil.  If you'd like me to do a tutorial on this, let me know and I will put one together - the technique is good for any superhero and I am thinking of doing an Iron Man for my upcoming birthday. 

Not much going on this week - I could use the break.  I am however getting ready for next week's cakes.  I'll be back later this week with another dvd review (as long as the US postal service doesn't lose my package) and/or another store review.

Until then, happy caking!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Retailer Review: Icing Inspirations

Hi fellow Cakers!  This week I thought I'd start a new feature - Retailer Review!  I am extremely limited in Montreal (surprising!) in terms of finding decorating supplies.  I mean the few retailers around here have wilton colors, tips, boards and boxes, but to find cutters, veiners, etc;, I need to shop online. 

The first retailer I'm going to review is Icing Inspirations.  Icing Inspirations is owned by a great woman named Chrissie, and is located in Ontario Canada.  They carry a wide range of products, icluding a large range of products from the UK.  The shipping and handling fees are very reasonable and quick.  Chrissie always has something on sale, and sometimes has deals on shipping.  This month, she is offering $5 shipping on orders over $50 for Canadian residents. 

Some of the products I love from Icing Inspirations are:
Pollen Dusts - these come in a variety of colours and give your stamens such a lifelike appearance
Rainbow Dusts - terrific glitter, shimmer and petal dusts in a huge range of colours
Petal Craft cutters and veiners

Icing Inspirations is more than an online store - they are a school as well and often feature "celebrity" cake designers including Carrie Biggers and Courtney Clark.  For more information or to place in order, visit them at http://www.icinginspirations.ca/

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Friday, April 16, 2010

DVD Review: Sheet Cake Secrets by Sharon Zambito

If you're anything like me, you do not have the opportunity to take alot of cake classes - they are far and few between even in a city as big as Montreal!  The way I have been learning has been to purchase DVDs online and watching them over and over.  I have started building an extensive library and decided I would start a new blog feature where I revies these discs to help my fellow cakers realize the wealth of knowledge available in DVDs and give them an idea of which DVDs are worth investing in.  The first dvd I'm going to review is Sharon Zambito's Sheet Cake Secrets:


This two-disc set covers everything you'll need to know for taking an ordinary sheet cake and turning it into something extraordinary!  Sharon walks you through various techniques for adding that WOW factor to your sheetcakes.  Most cake designers, myself included, would cringe at the fact that a client would ask for a sheetcake.  I mean honestly - other than an edible image, how sensational can a sheetcake really be?  Now, I find myself trying to talk customers into ordering a sheetcake instead!  Sharon teaches the following techniques for making your sheetcakes pop include:
  • run sugar
  • chocolate transfer
  • frozen buttercream transfer
On top of these key techniques, Sharon teaches how to enhance these designs with various trims from fondant ribbons and strings to fondant cutouts and flowers.  My favorite part of the DVD is the airbrushing techniques, especially using magnets to block bleeding through.  Everything Sharon teaches in this DVD set can basically be done with tools you probably already have in your arsenal.  If not, the tools Sharon uses in the DVD are also available at her website.

For more information or to order this DVD, click here.  At 35.95 (plus S&H), this DVD is worth every penny.  Sharon's customer service is some of the best out there.  She processes orders quickly and her shipping is just as quick!  If you are looking to invest in quality cake education at a reasonable price, this is the place to start!

Until next time, Happy Caking!!

C is for cookie......

I know, I know.....it seems like forever since my last post!  I cannot wait for the day where I can leave the office job behind and cake full time :)

Last week was a busy week!  A couple of customers needed 2 cakes for same person, but having 2 parties.  It started with Twilight.  I was asked to do a simple cake for a family dinner mid week celebrating a birthday for a 10 year old.  This is what I came up with:
It was an 8 inch round covered in buttercream.  I did a blood red ribbon border in bc trimmed using black bc and my open star tip.  The Parrot Tulip is gumpaste and is inspired by the flower from the cover of one of the books.  The plaque was printed on wafer paper using the twilight font and was mounted on a piece of fondant.  The birthday girl was jumping up and down with excitement and actually cried when she saw the cake.....that reaction reminded me how worth doing what we do is!

Her second cake was a sheet cake with an edible image for her party with her friends:

The greeting is cut using the cricut and twilight font.  I lightly dusted Edward with bright white luster dust to make him shimmer like he does in the books and movies.

Another 2-for was for my cousin and his girlfriend.  Their son was turning 1, and they wanted a Cookie monster theme:

It started with cookie monster cupcakes for daycare.  These were really fun to do and are covered in bc with real cookie crumbs and fondant eyes for decoration.

His party cake was a 2 tiered fondant covered cake.  Cookie is sculpted from modelling chocolate and all of the decorations are gumpaste.  The lettering was all cut using my cricut - I am really starting to looooove that machine now that I'm used to it! I spelled the birthday boy's name on the sesame street sign as I thought it would be cool:
I always do a free smoosh cake whenever I do a 1st birthday, of course it had to be a cookie monster head!

I also had another Super Mario cake based on the one in my last post - I made a couple of changes to the layout of the gumpaste decorations and made the pipes curved for a bit of extra dimension:


Easter weekend, I spent alot of time working on a 3D My Little Pony:

I'm not going into too much detail on this one, as I took some pics along the way and plan on turning it into a tutorial if you are all interested!  Post a comment and let me know!  I'd love to hear what you all think!

The last cake I'm going to post was done this week for delivery yesterday (I actually have a cake-free weekend this weekend and plan on taking advantage of it to reorganize my cake room, make some sugar flowers, and try some new recipes).  It is my 1st attempt using the chocolate transfer technique from Sharon Zambito's Sheet Cakes DVD which can be found here.  It is of Wolverine from the X-Men.  The lettering is gumpaste using (you guessed it) the Cricut.  I love the web - it allows us to find so many great things - including the same font used on Wolverine comics:

The cake itself is covered in bc, with the chocolate transfer on top.  The red x-men logos are gumpaste brushed with red luster dust.  The letters got a dusting of super blue luster as well!  I love Sharon Zambito's dvd's - they are really helpful, and have let me bring my skills to a new level!

My next post will be sooner than later - I plan on doing a feature where I review a cake decorating DVD.  I have a small collection of material to work with and plan on doing 1 a week.  If there are any requests for a particular sugar artist or dvd, let me know and if I have it, I will review it for you.

Until then, HAppy Caking!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kickin' it old school!

So, this weekend I had the opportunity to do a cake I've been wanting to do for a very long time....a Super Mario Bros. themed cake:

This cake has been on my wishlist of themes for a while.  The cake itself was chocolate with chocolate mousse filling.  Using a few of the ideas and techniques that I learned from Sharon Zambito's Successful Sheet Cakes Dvds, I brought this cake to the next level!  The entire cake is covered in buttercream with an edible image on top.  The coins and supporting characters were all edible images cut out, mounted on gp and left to dry.  The pipes and pirranha-plant heads are fondant with tylose as are the brich strips that line the top and bottom of the top of the cake.  I used a brick impression mat to give the brick feel and used the same mat to emboss the bc on all 4 sides.  Needless to say, the client was thrilled, and the employees of the venue the party was being hels at said this beat any sheetcake they've ever seen brought in for a party.  I posted the pic to my Facebook profile and group before I delivered.  By the time I got home from the delivery, I had a message from someone requesting that cake for her son's party in 2 weeks!  (Too bad I threw out all of the extra brick and character pieces I had - lesson to all, don't throw leftover pieces away - you never know when you'll need them!)

I learned another valuable lesson this weekend.  A few weeks ago, an acquaintance messaged me on facebook and asked about a cake for her daughter.  Friday morning, before leaving for the office, I was checking fb and she had posted on my wall asking if a cake for Saturday was pushing it.  I didn't have any plans for Friday night, since my other cake was for Sunday, and agreed.  I gave her my office number and told her to call with details.  Low and behold, my phone rings at 8:30 and it is a friend of hers calling about the cake.  I had already agreed, and couldn't back oout now hearing that it is for a first bday and their previous cake decorator (a friend of the baby's mom) had backed out last minute claiming illness.  So I continue emailing the client back and forth, and am told they want a 3D replica of the baby's favorite stuffed toy, a dragon named Scorch:


Really cute, right?  The client says they only need it to be a smash cake, so something about a foot long would be great.  As the day went out, I was continually distracted by one thought - Mark, you haven't carved alot of cake, are you going to be able to do it that small?  By mid-afternoon I realized it - NO SLEEP TONIGHT!!!  The cake ended up being 100% cake (save a small piece of foam core to support the head and 4 toothpicks that held the wings in place), about 5 inches tall and 18 inches long (approximately, I didn't think to measure it).  I was happy with the final outcome:



Even though I didn't charge nearly as much as I should have, I just had this gut feeling that told me I was doing the right thing and that this cake would make an AWESOME picture.  Not only did the clients like it, the birthday boy had a huge smile when he saw it, and I may have added some new clients to the roster!  All in all, a very satisfying day, considering they mentioned an upcoming wedding that they'd like me to do their cake for! 

I started this year telling myself to head Duff's words, "Make it bigger, make it badder, make it awesome", and this would be the year that I start the five year plan towards my own shop!  Until next time, Happy Caking!

PS:  Exciting News!!  I registered this week to take Jennifer Dontz' posies class this June in Ottawa - I am super excited (especially since it is the weekend after my birthday)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Thug's Life

So last week, I had to do a graffiti cake for a very good customer. Her cousin's daughter wanted a brick wall with "Happy 9th Birthday Tiashia" written on it. I am by no means artistically inclined, and was a little worried about the graffiti part. I did some research online and was able to download a few alphabets in various graffiti forms. I found the one I liked best, cut each letter out from gumpaste, let it dry and then airbrushed in pink and purple per the Birthday girl's request. The brick wall was easy enough - fondant cut out and laid out like a brick pattern then airbrushed red:





I was very excited this week to receive the latest DVD in Sharon Zambito's collection. It is all about SHeetcakes and new techniques to liven this former grocery store fodder up a bit. Many cakers detest sheet cakes, and I for one used to feel they were so boring to do. Until now. I didn't have much time to really pay alot of attention, but picked up enough to come up with this:



This cake was for my niece, Sara's 4th birthday. She wanted Wow Wow Wubbzy, and she got him. This was done using Sharon's run sugar technique. It was Chocolate cake with cookies n cream mousse filling.

The rest of my weekend will be spent making assorted goodies for next weekend's craft fair. I've got this good nervousness going on, and can't wait until next weekend! Before I go, I am thinking about starting a new feature - DVD reviews. If you're anything like me, you don't have much access or enough $$$ to travel and study with Cake greats. I spend my cash on DVDs - that way I can always go back and review, and I still get to learn from the greats. If this is something that interests you, post a comment and let me know what you think.

I'll try and post next weekend after the craft fair with pics and a detailing of how it went.

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Always Coca-Cola!

This past weekend, we celebrated my wife's uncle's birthday. He is a collector of everything Coca-Cola, and has decorated his family room with all kinds of Coke paraphanelia. This cake was my wife's idea. When I got my Cricut for Christmas, she had the idea to do the can of coke cake. I liked her idea, but thought a closed can of coke would be boring. Instead, I opted to do a spilled can of coke. The cake was chocolate filled with white chocolate vanilla bean caramel ganache. The cake was airbrushed in red shimmer for that metallic effect. The top and bottom of the can were airbrushed gold. The silver tab (to open the soda) was done in silver - unfortunately the close up of the tab didn't come out as well as I thought. Needless to say, the wife's uncle was really happy with his cake and was even comparing it to a real can of coke.

This was my first time making my own mould using silicone plastique. SP is a 2 part putty where you mix equal parts of the white and blue componunds and roll it out. I had an over-sized tab from a fruit cup that I placed in the compond and allowed to set for about an hour or so. I then removed the tab and now had a mould that I could fill with gumpaste. Can't lie - I love this stuff and am now obsessed with thinking of other things to mould.

The SP was bought from Flour Confections, an online supply store located here in Canada and owned by acclaimed sugar artist Lisa Bugeja. Flour Confections has so many cool cake toys, that it is hard to not constantly spend money there :) Not only does Lisa offer great cake items, but you can also find fantastic instructional DVDs and info on all of her courses including those given by celebrity instructors. I am dying to visit her in Pickering to do a class, just waiting for something that can fit my schedule. Visit Lisa over at http://www.flourconfections.ca and see for yourself the array of goodies for sale. Lisa has amazing customer service, reasonable prices, and fast shipping. She also ships internationally, and is now taking pre-orders for the new Cricut Cake machine.

Until next time, Happy Caking!

Friday, February 26, 2010

C'mon Spring

So, while my friends south of the border are getting nailed by crazy snow storms and bad weather, we are getting warmer than normal temperatures the past few days. Spring is in the air and I personally cannot wait for the snow to be gone. The cake that I had to deliver yesterday really helped get me in the mood for the warm weather! How could this cake not?



This cake was HUGE and weighed a ton! It was 4 tiers - 16",14",12" and an 8 inch sphere. The bottow was chocolate with raspberry buttercream, then vanilla bean with orange bc, followed by lemon with white chocolate bc and the sun was raspberry swirl with white chocolate bc. Everything was covered in fondant with gumpaste accents. The cake was a corporate cake for the company I work for. They were celebrating the retirement of 3 long time employees.

On another note, I'd like to give a shout out to Sharon Zambito of SugarEd Productions. Sharon is an amazing cake decorator and teacher. Lately, Sharon has had a string of bad luck with getting her new website up and running (no thanks to her incompetent web guy). Despite all these difficulties, she was kind enough to sell me copies of her 2 new dvd's before the site was fixed and functional, just so I can try to use some of the new techniques on my niece's birthday cake in 2 weeks. I plan on doing a review of all of her dvd's in an upcoming post - kind of a tribute to a great teacher and inspiration to me!

I'm off to work on my next cake - a can of Coca -Cola. Until next time, Happy Caking!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Almost Spring!!!!

I know some people in the US are having horrible weather. Luckily, we seem to be experiencing a nice mild stretch here! Last week, my wife's grandmother told us she was able to get me a table at an upcoming craft fair at her retirement club. This is my first time doing something like this, so I am gonna sell Easter and everyday chocolate, and a few other goodies! I'm really excited, and my Sister in law is going to share the table and sell her really cool sock creatures.

I get to take a day off my day job this Wednesday so I can work on a cake for the company I work for. They're throwing a retirement lunch for 3 departing employees - unfortunately, the day off has to come from my vacation time :( This cake is putting me in the mood for summer time though - it is gonna be awesome - I'll post pics later this week. For now, here's a pic of an I-phone cake I did over this past weekend:

The cake was a layer of buttercream sandwiched between a chocolate layer and a vanilla layer. The cake was covered in Chocolate fondant and airbrushed in black shimmer. The screen is just an edible image I printed up. This was my first time using chocolate fondant, and I loved it! It rolled so smoothly and nicely - there was no tearing, and no dreaded "elephant skin".

On the pipeline for the weekend, is a cake shaped like a can of Coca Cola. I have already made a mold of the tab out of silicone plastique, and plan on using my Cricut to do the lettering. The only thing I haven't decided on yet is the flavor - my choice, since it is for my wife's uncle. My policy is, I'll give family cake for free as long as they agree to give me full say over the flavor and design! Till next time, happy caking!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. I am settling down from making 300 chocolate heart pops for 1 order, along with all of he other treats I had to make for sale this past week. Wow, did the product fly! I don't think anything was left after a few hours. It was like that at my office as well as my wife's.! In addition to having to prep all the chocolate, pretzels and popcorn crunch, I worked on my first ever cereal treats sculpture! It was part of a 1st birthday cake for my co-worker's daughter, Riley. Riley loves Elmo, so the design I came up with was Elmo popping out of a bag of popcorn. Here's the finished cake:




Elmo was sculpted from cereal treats and then covered in modeling chocolate - another first for me! Once the chocolate was on, I used some sculpting tools to etch the fur design, Elmo was then airbrushed in a deeper shade of red to give a finished look. The cake was 2 tiers stacked on top of each other and covered in fondant. The stripes were hand painted to give a cartoon-ish effect. The popcorn is all gumpaste made one kernel at a time. I took pictures of the popcorn process and will hopefully be posting my first tutorial in the coming weeks. I am gearing up for a few more cakes in the next week, including an I
i-phone and another corporate cake. I am also anxiously waiting for the news that Sharon Zambito's latest dvd is out so that I can get my grubby little paws on it :) Until next time, Happy Caking!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Whirlwind couple of weeks!

I know I resolved to post regularly, but it has been a crazy few weeks! Let's start off with my grandmother's birthday.

A little back story - my dad's sister has been decorating cakes for as long as I can remember. She is old school - even though she's a sweetheart, she only decorates using the Wilton method - buttercream stars, no fondant, whatsoever. She has made every cake for every big family occassion, and I have never said anything to outshine her. Well, New Year's day, we're all at her house to celebrate Christmas with my other aunt who was in from out of town. We were discussing Nanny's birthday party which was coming up, and my Nanny leans over and says to me in front of people, "I want you to make my birthday cake". To which I replied I'd love to, but didn't want to step on any toes. My grandmother then added, "It is my birthday, I want one of your beautiful cakes, and that's all there is to it". I spoke with my aunt who agreed that my grandmother should get what she wants. I did compromise and offered to let my aunt help me, because I know she likes watching me work with fondant. Unfortunately, my uncle landed in the hospital (he's fine now) and she couldn't make it to help.


The original design was supposed to be a two tiered topsy turvy. I got a little too pre-occupied with another guitar cake, didn't pay attention to how I was carving Nanny's cake, and totally botched the top tier causing it to tip over. I switched the design up a little to make it appealing as just one tier, but we still had plenty of cake, even with huge servings. Here is the final product:

The cake was lemon with white chocolate buttercream. The lettering was done using the cricut (my new favourite toy), and the daisies were all made using gumpaste.


Last week was a rough one. We were getting ready to celebrate my wife's 30th birthday. Early in the week my mom called to tell me her uncle (who along with my great-aunt were a third set of grandparents) was in the hospital. The last time I saw him, he wasn't looking well, but refused to ever see a doctor. I didn't expect him to make it to Christmas, but he did. We learned that he had advanced lung cancer, and on the day they were to set him up for home care, he passed away. He lived a good life, and touched many people with his infectious sense of humor and wisdom.


On the bright side, last week also marked an advancement in my cake career - I booked 2 more corporate jobs. This week, I also struck a deal to possibly start teaching at the shop where I buy many of my supplies. Keep your fingers crossed. This weekend is crazy busy - not only am I working on Valentine items to sell, one of my corporate orders, and baking for a Haiti relief bake sale (Lobster tails and eclairs), I had a very good friend and customer order 3 cakes on Thursday for a Saturday pickup. The easiest was the Princess and the frog photocake. I also did these:

This cake was two tiered red velevet with vanilla buttercream, and the fondant was airbrushed in antique gold. Lettering was done using the cricut again. The letters were then dusted with black disco dust. The billiard balls were also made with fondant.



This cake was definitely a first! My customer said here cousin was requestuing this type of cake because she was turning "Dirty-One". By no means am I a shy person, but this request did make me blush a little. I am just wondering how she liked it!

That is all for now - I'm off to the store to get some Rice Krispies to make an edible 3D Elmo for a cake next week. I'll post all about it next week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's been forever!










Wow 4 months since my last post! I've been so busy with my day job and cakes and the holidays - it's insane! My resolution wasn't to get in shape (already working on it), but instead to blog more often! So here is what has been going on in my world of cake:


Website Change

My webmaster has informed me that his service provider has gone belly up due to the bad economy. I was in the midst of re-doing it anyway, so decided to go with a free site host instead. The crappy thing is that I just had 200 dollars worth of t-shirts made up. Oh well, c'est la vie! My new site (which took surprisingly less time than I thought) can be found at http://morselsbymark.weebly.com/
First cake of the New Year

A co-worker of my wife's had asked about having me replicate her husband's Les Paul guitar. I am quite happy with the outcome! The cake was chocolate with chocolate buttercream and covered in fondant. All accents were done in gumpaste and hand painted accordingly. The cake was a pickup order, so I had to wait til Monday to find out that they were blown away by the cake and never in her wildest dreams did she imagine her husband's cake to be so detailed. I always love the reaction more than anything. Check out the pics of the cake:
Potential Class:
I am trying to decide if I should make the 7 hour drive in May to take a 3 day sugar flower class with James Roselle. It's $825, but I could stay with my aunt who lives nearby. I'm really thinking it would be beneficial, but it is just alot of money! What do you guys think?
My First Competition:
Wish me luck everyone! I have entered 3 winter themed cakes into a contest at CakesCanada.com. It is my first contest and I'm nervous, even though I don't think I'll place. There are 9 other cakes competing and they are really nice! I'm sitting on pins and needles until voting ends on Sunday!
My next post is going to talk about a couple of cakes on the pipeline. I am eagerly looking forward to this weekend, since I am going to Plattsburgh (to read, "Global Sugar Art"). It's like everytime I go, I'm like a kid in a candy store! Alan and his staff are always great, and they are making an exception to open for me on a Saturday to pickup my order - and they are at a new location - can't wait to see it!