Rainbow Cake

Making a Rainbow CAkeThis birthday cake was an experiment all around. I researched several rainbow cakes that were carved, trimmed and decorated to look like rainbows or were  covered in rainbow colors. I wanted something different. This was my best attempt to capture a rainbow in its most classic form and incorporate it with cake.
Layered rainbow cake The layers of the cake were rainbow colored too! It was easier than it looks to make. Here are the steps for making your own.
Making a cake rainbowMake the rainbow decoration a few days ahead of time using Royal Icing which dries hard as a rock if you give it enough time. This picture shows how I first drew the rainbow on paper and worked out all of the design issues before ever attempting to work with frosting. I tacked it down to my counter top and covered it with waxed paper. This made  a transparent work surface to trace. It was really easy.

Royal Icing Recipe
3 oz. fresh pasteurized egg whites at room temperature
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the powdered sugar followed by the lemon juice and whip for 5-7 minutes until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Cover or use immediately. It lasts for just a few days if refrigerated well.
Royal icing rainbowHere is what the rainbow looks like when you have piped the royal icing on to the waxed paper. Make sure not to leave any spaces between the colors – it will weaken the structure and cause it to break easily after you put it on the cake. Let this dry overnight to harden. When you are ready to attach this to the cake, line the bottom of the cloud with frosting to adhere it to your cake board and gently push the rainbow into the top of the cake.

Batter for a rainbow cake To make the cake, you’ll want to separate the batter evenly so that each layer is the same size. Start by measuring the entire amount in using a food scale, then divide by the number of layers you want to bake.  In this case, I measured 4lbs. 4oz, and divided it evenly into 6 bowls each containing a little over 14oz.
Coloring rainbow cake batter This is what the cake batter looked like when all of the measuring and mixing was complete. I love using gel food coloring in all my baking. It doesn’t add too much moisture to make frostings runny, and it is never lumpy or difficult to mix in. If you don’t have these, you’ve got to get them.
Baking rainbow cakes Don’t panic if the colors seem to brown up after you bake the cakes.  They remain vibrant on the inside. I took this picture with some of the top layer peeled back from each cake to show the difference. Once the cake is layered and stacked, you’ll never notice the brown stuff.
Making a rainbow cakeEach layer needs to be trimmed and  leveled across the top before stacking and layering.  This cake is not covered in fondant – just soft and tasty buttercream.
Birthday Rainbow CakeThe end result is a simple cake with a vibrant accent that leads to the colorful surprise waiting on the inside.

Refashioning a Toddler Dress

Toddler dress sewingThis year for Easter, I could not find that perfect dress for my little girl. This cute little sun dress from Old Navy was very friendly on the budget, but it lacked some flare.  With just a few tweaks, I was able to make a custom design akin to the ever-so-desirable styles from J-Crew from an otherwise blah looking outfit.
Hand made fabric flowers Here is a close-up of the flowers that were attached to the collar of the seater.
Fabric flower To make the flowers, I cut a strip of white fabric and held it up to the sweater to get a rough idea of the right size. I then folded the strip so that each square would make a duplicate of four. I sized the squares so they can be stacked four layers on top of each other, each one smaller than the last. Once the  squares were sized, I cut each square into a circle. Notches were cut into the circle to shape flower petals. Finally, each petal was trimmed so that it was round on the edges.
Making flowers out of fabricTo assemble the flowers, I stacked up the cut-outs in varying sizes and also used a little trimming from the dress itself as the center. With a needle and thread, stitch the layers together by hand. If you are using new fabric, as I did, the flowers may lay a little too flat. You want them to curl and look a little rough around the edges. I rinsed these flowers in the sink and used a blow dryer to rough them up a bit. Then it’s time to sew the flowers onto the sweater.
Refashion waistbandThe next step to refashion this outfit was to “replace” the pink waistband on the dress with a white one to match the flowers. In fact, it was as easy as sewing right over the existing waistband. Here is where I started, having cut a long strip of fabric and ironed the rough edges in on themselves.
Refashioning a dress This dress had a zipper on the side. I began pinning the waistband at the zipper and continued around the dress until it reached the zipper on the other side.
Sewing a toddler dress After pinning, sewing the waistband on the dress was a breeze.
Refashioning a bow While getting ready to sew on the waist band, I also removed a bow that came with the dress and thought I’d try to make it into an accessory hair piece. It was scary, but I cut right into the waist band and removed it.
Refashioning a bow After removing the bow, it was a simple few steps to wrap the middle knot with white fabric and hand-stitch it together in the back.  The last step is to hand-stitch the bow to the hair clip. This may be a bit cumbersome, but it will result in a very sturdy hair accessory.

Hanging a Frame Collage

Hanging Collage FramesI recently undertook the task of framing some of our favorite family photos and adding them to a display in our hallway. Wanting to avoid my tendency to put everything in a straight line, I consulted the pros for this project.

My dear friend and talented designer Ivette Newport, gave me the idea to cluster the frames into a collage. She guided me to some examples from Pottery Barn, and I ended up finding an incredible resource for tips and how-to materials. Check it out.
Ready for wall frames Although we already had a few photos on these walls, adding new frames meant taking it all down and starting all over again. Barren walls are not pretty!
Rather than hanging and rehanging the frames on the wall, I started by tracing all of the frames on butcher paper. This would allow me to play with the frame shapes and make my collage without having to mess with the frames themselves.
Frame collage on the ground
Here is a spread of what my butcher paper frames looked like. I also made cut-outs to represent the actual size of the photo inside the frame.
Creating a collage of framesA few tips:

Fold the paper frames in half length and width wise to mark the centers. This will come in really handy when you go to hang the frames later.

Sketch the basic images of each photo. This will help remind you of the orientation and subject matter of the photos as you arrange them on the wall.
Hanging collage framesThis is the hallway with the design on the wall.
Hanging Frame CollagesHere’s a few rules that I followed while organizing:

Spacing between frames should be kept as consistent as possible.

Arrange the frames in a stepping stone pattern, as if you were building a wall out of rocks. I like to have small groupings within the collage that are either vertically or horizontally aligned. It gives a little order within the chaos of the collage that makes the presentation look deliberate and well organized.

The overall presentation of the collage should be balanced – not to heavy on one end or the other. I tried to set a center point and have a balance of large and small frames on each side.
Hanging Frame Collage This is finished result. Having done most of the tough work with the paper frames, hanging the actual frames on the wall took less than an hour. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Whimsical Topsy Turvy Cake

Whimsical CakeThis  is my latest experiment making a whimsical cake.  This cake was inspired by the original topsy-turvy cake designer, who also did my wedding cake years ago, Polly Schoomaker in Portland, Oregon.  Although she is no longer in business, her cakes leave behind a legacy and a source of inspiration for all cake decorating fanatics.

Whimsy Cakes from Portland OregonThese are but a few of Polly’s incredible cakes. She brings a level of precision and balance that is unparalleled for an otherwise non-uniform cake.

I started this topsy turvy cake as most others, with a sketch followed up by a computer design. This allows me the chance to play with proportions, designs and colors without having to experiment on the actual cake.
The next challenge is coloring the fondant to match the design. It is very rare that you can find just the right color off the shelf. These samples each contain a mixture of two or three food colorings to get the hue just right.

Birthday cake topper These over-exaggerated candles are the perfect fit to top off the cake.  They are made of fondant that has been rolled, shaped, and ran through a skewer.  The spiral effect on the candles is done by rolling the fondant with the back edge of a knife.

Here is a close-up of the cake. The flowers and colors were inspired by the Hawaiian heritage of the birthday boy. A few little accents like the bright yellow dots and flowers give this simple cake a polished finish.

Edible Hearts

For Valentine’s Day this year, I made a twist on a long-standing family favorite.  A few drops of food coloring and some heart-shaped tools like cookie-cutters and cake pans gave these ordinary treats something special.

I used a heart-shaped cake pan handed down to me from my father-in-law. He started a family tradition of making a Rice Crispy Treat heart for his kids every Valentine’s Day. I made this tradition my own my adding a few of my own touches. They were a hit with everyone!

Classic Kellog’s Rice Krispy Treats Recipe

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
10 ounces regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies

In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add the Rice Krispies and stir until well coated. Using a buttered spatula, press the mixture into a 13″ x 9″ pan coated with cooking spray. Let cool, cut and serve.

My Notes

When melting the marshmallows, add red food coloring to your preference. Darker pink and red tones tend to show up better after mixed with the Rice Krispies. Whether you use a cake pan or a cookie cutter as your mold, be sure to coat it well with oil. I always wet my hands to keep the gooey mixture from sticking to my hands. Be sure to press the mixture well into the form to prevent gaps or holes. You want a nice smooth shape when you are done.