Friday, August 17, 2012

Steampunk, Baby!

What an adventure this last big cake has been!

Orange and lemon cake, raspberry, strawberry and vanilla buttercream...copper gears made from hand-piped royal icing, peacock feathers, flowers and ivy vines made out of sugar...and yes, even fondant work for a cereal treat false-tier, hand painted and carved.

Sound a little overwhelming?  Yeah...I thought I bit off more than I could chew this time...but it turned out just fine. 

Here's the big reveal...lots of pictures to save my hand from cramping up.  All that piping takes a toll after a while!

Isn't she maaaahhhvelous, Dahling?

Peacock Feathers!  All original gum paste work up top. 

The Corset:
Cereal Treat, Fondant, hand painted
Rose: gumpaste

One of my trademark lilies...all metallicized and steampunky

Royal Icing Gears!  Those were a labor of love fo'shizzle.

Arrrround behind...what did you call me??

When nerds party...

When nerds marry...
Check out my fascinator!  Love that thing:)

The Groom (aka the husband's super double plus good friend)

Cutting the Cake!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Cake So Nice I Baked It Twice

Last weekend, I went through close to 20 pounds of sugar and 15 pounds of butter.  Perhaps gallons of vanilla extract and a million joules of electricity have passed through my kitchen. 

I have all but exhausted my capacity to bake, not to mention my poor oven, which sadly looked like this mid-morning on Saturday:

Oh yes, yes it did.  Whilst pulling the most perfectly, evenly baked cake in the world...I slipped, the cake flipped and onto the burning hot element it went.  Cry...cry a little.  I did.

Not only did I get to re-bake my Grandmother's birthday cake, I also got to give my oven a spa-day.  Thankfully, she approved of the treatment and the second cake turned out beautifully. 

Only wish I'd taken a picture before this happned:

It was really very pretty...white cake with vanilla butter cream.  I even went old school and got out my petal tip...piped out some roses...

Sorry you can't see them better.  They were much prettier in person...and you know, before they were smooshed around and nudged to make room for the knife. 

It was a pretty little thing.  Glad I could show you how pretty it was on the inside at least!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Time for a Cupcake or 60

Just finished topping five dozen cupcakes with icing rosettes.  They look a little something like this:

And three dozen of them are gonna be stylin with some toppers that look a little like this:

Should be a pretty beautiful display for a bridal shower!  Hopefully I'll have a picture or two of the final product, but it's not likely.  I'm not responsible for set up on this one, so I'll be at the mercy of the party planners.

Also - I have EXTRAS - so I'm running a special right now:

SPECIAL: LIMITED TIME ONLY! Try an assortment of Bake Lore cupcakes, 4 for just $6.00!!

Each box contains one Buttery Yellow, one Lightly Lemon, one Chocolate Delight, each with Bake Lore's trademark butter cream and one Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese butter cream.

First come, first served! Delivery is FREE in Greene County!  I'll also throw in a Terre Haute delivery if I can get at least four orders. 

And if you want a different assortment, just ask.  I can hook you up.  This is a great deal!  Don't miss out!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cake and Census-ability

I have been wading through census data all afternoon.  ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz

Yes, I'm getting to the nitty-gritty, facts and figures sections of my business plan, and despite the horrible needle-in-a-haystack work that it is - I am learning a ton about my market. 

I'm focusing on women - now, male readers, feel free to say "hey, what about me??!!!" - cuz if you're out there, I would love to know.  In the three or four years I've been doing this, my customers have been almost exclusively female.  Twice I was contacted by a man - and both times they seemed a bit dazed and confused by my questions.  Usually, if there's a party to plan and food to be eaten, the ladies are taking care of that.  Am I right??

Ok, so I'm narrowing my research down to a nine-county region I think most likely to order from me on a regular basis.  I have the occasional call from the Indy region, sometimes from the hinterlands of Illinois, but mostly, I'm heading to Terre Haute and various other nearish-by destinations. 

I hit up census data for Greene, Vigo, Clay, Owen, Lawrence, Knox, Daviess, Martin and Monroe Counties, and I've learned a ton.  We all have a general idea of where the population centers are near us, but it's a bit more impactful to see it in government-font black and white. 

Not surprising anyone here, but my main market is focused on three cities: Terre Haute, Bloomington and Vincennes.  There are more pastry chefs than I can count in B-town, so I am not going to spend overmuch time there.  But Terre Haute and Vincennes, I can make some noise there. 

Looks like the future holds a few conversations with campus newspapers, taking out an ad or two, and maybe someday, if my cake-ship comes in, finally having the moolah to join the Wabash Valley Bridal Society.  Le sigh...

Make no mistake, I'm still a Greene County gal - and this is a Linton business.  But with only 2,598 women between the ages of 20 and 34 living in my little corner of the state, I have to think bigger or not bother. 

Now, back to those census reports...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beautiful Cake, Beautiful Bride

What is it about a really great wedding?  It makes you weep and laugh and by the end you are thoroughly exhausted if you had anything to do with the months of prep leading up to it.

I so appreciate the confidence a bride puts in me.  It's not some thing I take lightly, and I do everything I can to make her special cake a true centerpiece at the reception.  When that bride is a friend, you do even more. 

This very special cake took me through every skill set I need in this buisness - fondant (for the ribbon at the base of each tier), gum paste (for the originial topper and flowers), piping...and piping and piping, and of course from-scratch baking and butter-cream making.

Turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself:).

Original cake topper, gum paste, hand painted, 100% edible!

Red Velvet (the kind you actually want to EAT!)
with cream cheese butter cream and Chocolate Fudge
with vanilla buttercream, fondant accent.

The center food table - there were red roses everywhere!

Back of the topper - I love the silver swirls.

From the back...

My beautiful friend and her new husband, cutting their cake!

Ready to eat - mmmmmm

Thursday, July 19, 2012

(Spoiler Alert!) Here's to the Bride

Yes, don't look if you don't want to know what I've been working on this week!

I just can't leave this one alone. 

I've had these lovelies on my drying rack for a while now...still a bit of wet "paint" before their final dusting of color.

Bake Lore sugar flowers drying...just a small peek at the
original topper debuting on Saturday
This is a sneek peek of one really unique, gorgeous cake topper.  Can you tell I'm excited about this one?

Let me tell you, though, it's not just about the flowers.  It's about the bride.

I met this amazing woman when I moved home from a few years of east-coast insanity.  Talk about beautiful, inside and out.  You become fast friends with the people who are walking with you through times of extreme change, and this lady was part of the whirlwind of life that surrounded me when I got married. 

Partnered with her equally awesome best friend (who I hope will get her own Bake Lore post one of these days), she threw me a beautiful wedding shower and helped make my wedding invitations.  She was a charter member of a briefly convened group we called "The Hot Mammas Club," and she helped me, on more than one occasion, survive my incredible propensity to get lost WHEREVER I GO. 

She's gonna marry a hunk of Latino preacher this weekend, and I couldn't be happier for her.  She's made me wait a long time to enjoy blessing her a little bit in the same way she has blessed me.

Here's to you and all the Hot Mammas out there - love and miss you all!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Baking Matters: The Rant Part Two

Pausing from another marathon of cake baking, building and beautifying, your friendly neighborhood cake maker returns to finish her long-overdue discourse on why baking matters.

Did you feel yucky after reading about the grocery store S.O.P.? 

I did. 

But I don't feel yucky anymore...because I've got a house full of fresh, flavorful, baked-from-scratch cake that I'm about to turn into a gorgeous wedding confection. 

In case you were wondering about the life and times of a Bake Lore is your window into the oven.

First...I collect the best possible ingredients.  I use dry goods almost exclusively from the Dutch Pantry in Odon, throwing some love to my local shop-keeps.  Thier cake flour is fantastic, and they have all the hard to find things - in bulk! - any time I need them.

Clearly prepping for a cake for the husband
The man can't get enough PB and cocoa:).
I spend a day or two baking from scratch - I use Fat Daddio pans (awesome!) and I don't rely on timers very much.  Once my cakes have been in the oven for about 30 minutes, I check them constantly to make sure they are never over-baked.

Using a great technique for level cakes:
soaking long strips of linen in cold water,
wrapping around the pan, securing with pins.

When they cool, I level the layers - each Bake Lore cake has 4 layers.  They call that torting, I do believe, and for me, it's part of the inner beauty of the cake.  It's pretty inside and out. 

Four layers...minus a bite...who can wait when there's cake to be eaten?

For a wedding cake - yes, I freeze the layers!  But never for longer than a day or two.  These cakes have to travel, they have to hold up all through a wedding and a reception, and the colder they are on delivery, the prettier they are in your pictures.  They are always completely thawed and ready for action when served.  They also spend some quality time in the fridge, aclimating to the perfect temperature for travel and eating. 

The butter cream is next - this gorgeous stuff lasts weeks in the fridge, so it can be made well in advance.  I use an Italian merangue butter cream - starts with stiffly beaten egg whites, then I add molten sugar and loads of real butter and vanilla...or whatever the taste-du-jour may be.

Mmmm...Bake Lore butter cream, as inspied by the one and only, Sylvia Weinstock

I then layer the cake and butter cream, add a crumb coat and a final perfect finish of butter cream before the decoration begins.  Sometimes it's a flourish of fondant...sometimes a gallery of gum paste...sometimes just piped perfection. 

Then I deliver, set up and (sometimes) serve.

Setting up in the reception hall!

Depending on the size of the cake, it's never longer than a week from start to finish.  It's always in the window of peak freshness, and it's always been met with rave reviews and smiling guests. 

Speaking of which...I have some work to do.  Delivery day is coming!