A Fresh New Look for Honey Crumb!

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Honey Crumb's new look, and new website, and I'd also like to extend a warm welcome to all the new blog followers and Facebook fans. To my regular blog readers, welcome back, and I hope you love the new look as much as I do!

You can follow Honey Crumb in various formats for the latest updates on what's happening in the cake studio:

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

Flickr

 

Things are gearing up for wedding season and I've been sketching dozens and dozens of custom designs for my clients these past few months -- stayed tuned to the blog to see those designs come to life as real, edible centerpieces.

Cheers to a fantastically sweet Wedding Season 2014!

Sugar Bow Wedding Cake with Edible Brooch at Newcastle Golf Course

Bernadette and Henry were married back in June and chose a three-tiered square cake as their wedding confection. I quilted the fondant on the top and bottom tiers and added tiny sugar dragées at each intersection. The focal point of the cake's design was a handcrafted sugar bow (in a deep lavender-purple hue) and sugar brooch (painted with edible silver luster). 

The couple recently shared some lovely feedback with me about how much they enjoyed their cake, and kindly sent me some of the professional images from the day, captured by Azzura Photography. Here they are:




It was a stunning summer day and the elegance of Bernadette and Henry's reception was evident in everything, from their floral arrangements, to the lighting in the Prestwick Terrace, to the choice of linen, and of course, to their pretty cake!

Congratulations, Bernadette and Henry! I look forward to making more cakes for you in the future.

Ombré Pink Buttercream Rosettes for a Salish Lodge Wedding

We're approaching peak wedding season here at Honey Crumb and I'm pretty much in the kitchen 24/7. Just the way I like it!  I received a wonderful e-mail from one of my clients, whose wedding cake I delivered to Salish Lodge on July 4th, so I thought it'd be sweet to update the blog with her feedback and a photo of the cake I created.

Taryn and Mark's cake showcased their ombré pink-and-coral palette, with the addition of some sparkle from the rhinestone trim on the middle tier and a silver monogram topper. The middle tier was covered in a thin layer of fondant; the remaining tiers were adorned with piped Swiss meringue rosettes in coral and blush pink.

The three-tiered cake provided 60-70 servings. The top two tiers were Pink Champagne cake filled with cream cheese and fresh organic raspberries; the bottom tier was Red Velvet cake with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream.


Here's what Taryn said to me about the cake:

"We loved our cake! It was absolutely gorgeous, and it didn’t last long either! Mark’s aunt had to grab us 2 big slices and put them in our room so they didn’t disappear! More than a handful of guests told me they took seconds! And it was a major hit, and what a surprise for us to come in after the ceremony and see this work of art, I really feel like you captured us as a couple and our elegant event all in one beautiful cake!  Thank you again, and maybe next year when we have another baby shower (fingers crossed) we will be in touch again for another one of your world famous cakes!"

Thank YOU, Taryn. Clients like you make being a pastry chef the best job in the world.




Rose Petal Cascade Wedding Cake at the Woodmark Hotel

Lauren and Rob were married last Saturday at the Woodmark Hotel and Spa in Kirkland. I remember waking up that morning and looking outside the window to find a magnificent blue sky! The message was clear: Spring had arrived. Lauren and Rob certainly couldn't have wished for more beautiful weather than that for their wedding day.

Their four-tiered cake provided servings for 150-160 guests in three different flavors: Cherry Almond (moist almond cake with an organic cherry mousseline filling), Dalmatian (vanilla buttermilk cake studded with dark chocolate chips, filled with chocolate truffle cream), and Peanut Butter Cup (dark chocolate cake, filled with peanut Swiss meringue buttercream and chopped Reese's peanut butter cups). 

Each tier was generously frosted in bourbon vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream before being covered in a thin layer of off-white fondant.


I created the rose petal cascade using Ateco's teardrop cutters in various different sizes. The petals were crafted from gumpaste (a pliable sugar dough that holds its shape when dry) and were dusted delicately with edible powdered pigment in rose pink.


Lauren and Rob's smashing photography duo, Loren and Kim of Alante Photography, put together a same-day slideshow for the couple, which you can view HERE. (Note, the pics above are *my* shots of the cake, not the professional ones!)
Wedding design and coordination: New Creations
Floral design: Sublime Stems

Coral Pink Swags and Sugar Flowers in White and Pink at The Edgewater

Hello again, and. Happy 2013 to you all! It's almost the end of January and things have been wonderfully busy in the cake studio. I've met SO many couples this month for cake consultations, and have six (SIX!) scheduled for this weekend. In other words, my desk and pinboard are thoroughly plastered with cake sketches and design ideas, and the year is off to a magnificent start! I think a little catch-up blog post is entirely in order, no?

So... let's get to it!

Ramus and Fahm were married at the Edgewater Hotel last July (on Seafair day, actually, which meant getting through the crowds and circumnavigating the blocked-off downtown streets, with five boxed cake tiers in the car, was nothing less than a nail-biting adventure). Alante Photography (oh, I love working with friends!) captured some fantastic images as I assembled the couple's five-tiered cake on site during the cocktail hour. Kimberly (of Alante) even put the cake-assembly shots into a slideshow for me! Click here to see the video!

Some stills for ya, of Ramus and Fahm's cake under construction:






The towering cake served 200-plus and was covered in a thin layer of white chocolate fondant, before being painstakingly adorned with a combination of gumpaste 'string' swags (created with skinny ropes of sugar dough in coral pink) and actual piped stringwork in coral pink Royal Icing. I accented the swags with piped dots, and finished off each tier with narrow satin ribbon in pale pink, as requested by the bride. Ramus and Fahm had asked me to decorate each tier in a slightly different way, aiming for a look that blended the traditional with the contemporary. I think the 'clean' nature of the swag-and-dot design successfully achieves that balance between modern and classic.

Sugar peonies in white, sugar tulips in dark pink, and five-petaled blossoms in fuschia (also made from gumpaste) were arranged into a lush floral topper with some green sugar leaves for some contrast. I loved working with Ramus and Fahm, and wish them a long, joyful marriage!

A little sun-soaking, and contemplation, in a land I love

Hello sweet readers, if you are still there...

I've been away on vacation for the past couple of weeks. Rose and Shawn's wedding cake (at the Arctic Club on November 3rd) was the last one I created and delivered before stepping on the plane, bound for South Africa. Their cake was an utter joy... and as I was setting it up, while their guests enjoyed cocktails below us in the Polar Bar, Rose and Shawn were in the Dome Room, earnestly practicing their first dance. The inimitable voice of Norah Jones echoed in the ballroom as this beautiful couple slowly stepped in time, growing freer and more confident with each other each time the DJ hit "repeat"...  (I think the song was played three or four times until Rose and Shawn felt sure-footed about repeating the dance with a larger audience than just their wedding coordinator, photographer, and pastry chef.) I sneaked many peeks at them in the process, which was easy since the cake was displayed in front of a mirror...  It was so sweet to feel their love fill the room and hear their giggles as Shawn stepped on the train of Rose's gown; meanwhile I had five tiers to assemble and the overwhelming urge (as I often do) to keep tweaking the sugar flowers on the cake top long after I might call myself "satisfied" with their placement.

So... I am on vacation. A strange feeling!  After all, the 2012 wedding season was incredibly busy for me -- some weeks, I could barely pop my head above water to draw breath. But these past two weeks, I have had a lot of time to sit and read and play guitar and contemplate. I find myself really longing to get back to the cake studio... and I realize the extent to which it is a haven of creation and creativity for me. This long vacation has given me the gift of a reminder, that I am doing the work that I love. My work IS my joy, it is my art, and it feeds me. It is by no means my only joy in life... after all, I do not define myself by my occupation. But it has been so beautiful to see, within myself, this growing excitement about the cakes I get to make, the sugar flowers I will get to sculpt and paint, the amazing couples I'll get to meet in consultations, and all of it, when I return to Seattle next month.

I came back to South Africa for a month to spend time with my parents and other beloved people in my life. This is a country I adore; while I no longer call it my home, it is still home to me in many ways. Throughout my childhood and teens, growing up here, South Africa was a sort of mirror for me. It still is. When Nelson Mandela became our president in 1994, it was a sort of babyhood, a period of enormous celebration and hope and love. And then the country went through a stunning identity crisis, a period of self-doubt, and some terrible growing pains... just as I was in the throes of my teenage years, experiencing the same. Now, I am an adult and can return to visit this place with a greater sense of objectivity. I feel great compassion and love, but I know that I am also keeping a sort of distance from this country. After all, I have two other homelands that occupy space in my heart: Germany, my beloved (and the country of my citizenship), and now the United States. I can see South Africa's fragility as a nation, even its decay... and I see the fear in people, that perhaps the great leadership that South Africa needs most is simply not there, or there is not enough of it. As a grown woman now, I am again looking in the mirror. The self-doubt of the teenage years is gone; there is greater self-assuredness and stability, but there is a sense that one has SO MUCH left to do before it is all "right"!

Meanwhile, Obama has been re-elected in the US (I heard the news soon after my plane touched down in Johannesburg), and my feeling was, and is, complete elation and relief. The tide has turned for the country I now call home. So many good things... and the first that springs to mind is that gay marriage is legal in Washington. This is a beautiful, glorious thing. I think that in a few decades from now, we humans will be ashamed of ourselves that we ever made such a fuss over something like the love between two human beings and how they choose to celebrate and share it with their families and communities.

See you all in December.

And yes, there will be cake photos on this blog again!

Buttercream and Blush-Pink Peonies at Melrose Market Studios

Megan and Matt's wedding cake was a classic, rough-textured buttercream tower adorned with blush-pink sugar peonies. I delivered the cake to Melrose Market Studios, an amazing venue on the west edge of Capitol Hill (get this: exposed brick, Douglas fir beams, shiny concrete floor!), two weekends ago.

The couple chose three flavors for their cake (roughly 70 servings of each for a total of 200), namely: Coconut-Coconut (coconut milk sponge with coconut Swiss meringue buttercream filling), Strawberries and Cream (vanilla buttermilk cake with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream, organic strawberry preserves, and fresh chopped organic strawberries), and Pink Champagne (with whipped champagne frosting).

The antique porcelain cake topper was passed down to Megan and was of great sentimental value to her, making it the perfect topper for the cake. 



Doesn't that wine barrel make a fantastic cake table?  I placed the cake on a transparent acrylic round instead of the usual ribbon-trimmed cake board, as I didn't want it to compete with the gorgeous patina of the barrel.

The cake was frosted generously with bourbon vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, before being textured with an offset spatula. As you must know (if you read this blog regularly) -- I luuurve making sugar peonies... and these blush-pink ones were especially rewarding to create!




Congratulations to the sweet couple!  Oh! Readers: do yourself a favor, and click here to see the jaw-droppingly beautiful images from Megan and Matt's engagement shoot, by photographer Andria Lindquist. These two lovebirds are just amazing together.

Wedding Cakes: Another Little Catch-up Post

First in line tonight for our catch-up bonanza post? Kate and David's wedding cake, which I assembled on site at the Seattle Asian Art Museum last Saturday. I'd never met the bride or the groom before the actual wedding day (they live in CA); instead, everything was arranged via e-mail (and during an in-person consultation with the bride's parents and the couple's wedding coordinator extraordinaire, Kelli Bielema of Shindig Events). Kate and I were so happy to meet face-to-face at last (she came out for a sneak peek as I was stacking the second tier) that we each spontaneously jumped forward with arms outstretched for a huge bear hug!



This cake drew a lot of attention from the museum staff (and banquet waitstaff) as I was setting it up. One person grinned broadly at the tongue-in-cheek toppers (a sugar handlebar mustache and a pair of juicy red lips), and commented that the cake was the most unique one he'd seen in a long time, adding that it was a "treat for the eyes." Love that!


The Art Deco stencil work on the cake's sides (in pale taupe Royal Icing) contrasts with the metallic sheen of the golden-bronze luster that I painted on the top of each tier. We added the black ribbon trim to tie in with the black mustache topper and anchor the design. Each tier is floating slightly above the one below (I used 3/8" foam core for this purpose, rather than pillars, which would've given us a bit TOO much separation). The toppers were handcrafted from gumpaste and were securely wired, so that they could be removed and preserved as keepsakes (perhaps for fun honeymoon photo ops, and the like...?).



Kelli (the amazing coordinator, remember?) called me this morning to discuss upcoming FUN things (you HAVE bought your tickets to the Wedding Preview Event this Sunday, haven't you?!), and the first thing she said was, "I ate a lot of cake on Saturday night. Damn, it was GOOD." Thanks, Kelli!

The cake served 100; 50 guests ate a slice of Lemon Pucker (vanilla buttermilk cake with lemon-zest moistening syrup, filled with layers of cream cheese and lemon curd), and the other 50 enjoyed a slice of Dalmatian Cake (vanilla cake studded with bittersweet chocolate chunks, filled with truffle cream -- which is essentially a silky, rich, whipped ganache).

...

Changing the tone of things from metallic and whimsical to soft and floral, next up tonight is Irene and Eric's classic wedding cake with sugar flowers in soft hues. I delivered it to Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club back in July, and I'm sorry I don't have a better photo of it (I had to snap a super-ultra-quick shot and then high-tail it out of the venue soon after setting up, as the ceremony was scheduled to begin in half an hour).


The ivory fondant cake, with edible gold sugar bands around the base of each tier, was displayed on a Lucite cake board atop an ivory porcelain cake pedestal (on loan to Irene and Eric from my own collection). The sugar peonies and rosebuds on the cake were accented with lilac hydrangeas (also sugar) and delicate peony leaves in a softer-than-usual shade of green. I loved this color combination, and the gold bands set it all off so nicely. All 80 servings were gluten-free vanilla buttermilk cake, filled with layers of cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream, lemon curd, and chopped fresh mango.

Here's a better pic of some of the sugar flowers I created for their cake -- a delicate peach peony, soft green peony leaves, and pale blush-pink tea roses:
  

The third and final cake on the blog for tonight belongs to Amanda and Troy, and was delivered to the UW Club (also back in July!). When I met them late last year for a consultation, they were pretty firm about an all-buttercream cake (no fondant!). However, the cake design they loved most (as well as the summer wedding date they'd picked) meant fondant was the better choice. So, I brought a sample of my yummy white chocolate fondant for them to try... and lucky me, I won them over!

The cherry blossoms on their cake (in shades of fuschia and plum) were individually wired so that I could style them more easily around the chocolate branches that wound their way up all three tiers. This sweet little cake (5"-7"-10") served 60-70, and was Red Velvet (with cream cheese, naturally).


And, here it is after I added the sweet little wafer-paper butterflies and Double Happiness topper that Amanda and Troy provided for the cake: 


The lovely bride, Amanda, wrote me a wonderful review after her wedding day. I really treasure this kind of feedback!

"I knew pretty much what I wanted my wedding cake to look like after I saw a photo online. I took it to Carla and she was confident she could create it. After tasting the most delicious flavors, my then-fiancé and I decided that her red velvet with white chocolate fondant on top of buttercream icing was the way to go. Fast forward 6 months to our wedding day, and what I saw on our cake table was exactly as I had pictured - so very beautiful and romantic, and the best cake I've ever tasted. For our one year wedding anniversary I will surely be ordering a miniature of our wedding cake to experience Honey Crumb all over again. Thank you, Carla!"

My heartiest congratulations, and deep gratitude, to all these couples: Kate and David, Irene and Eric, and Amanda and Troy!

Sparkly Wedding Cake at Sahalee Country Club

Nancy and Scott's wedding cake was an extravaganza of sparkle, and fit in perfectly with their glamorous reception décor at Sahalee Country Club last Saturday.

The main cake (on display) served 100, and I provided additional cake servings for 50 guests (these were undecorated, and were plated in the kitchen). Nancy and Scott chose three flavors: Classic Carrot cake with cream cheese filling, Coconut Passion (coconut milk cake, coconut Swiss meringue buttercream, shredded coconut, and passion fruit reduction), and Caramel Toffee Fudge (dark chocolate cake, caramel sauce, chocolate truffle cream, and English toffee bits). 


Each tier was covered in white-chocolate fondant, then painted with piping gel and coated with sparkling sugar.The styrofoam separators were wrapped in rhinestone mesh ribbon, and the cake was finished off with a handcrafted ruffle rose (in ivory gumpaste, airbrushed with edible pearl luster).


Here's the back view of the cake, which gives you a better idea of the cake's proportions (6"-9"-11" diameter rounds, with 2" tall separators):


And another shot of the cake, just for fun (note the reflection of the silver stand on the sparkling sugar-coated cake!):


Now: onto the subject of the Wedding Preview Event. It's in less than two weeks, at Seattle Design Center, and if you're getting married, don't miss it! It'll be a fantastically immersive experience, and best of all, Honey Crumb will be there, with a Punk Rock-themed display cake and scrumptious bites of cake for all guests (Lemon Raspberry cake, and Nutmeg Spice cake with rum-spiked buttercream). Also, there'll be Basil and Lime macarons in the gift bag for each of our VIP guests.

Here's how to get your tickets:

1) Visit the Wedding Preview Event tickets page: http://www.weddingpreviewevent.com/event-locations/seattle-wa/seattle-event-tickets/
2) Order your tickets in just a couple of clicks ($15 for general access, $20 for priority admission, and $25 for a VIP ticket... it's a sweet deal, folks).

See you all there!

A Bunch of Late Summer and Early Fall Wedding Cakes

So, I got some pretty exciting news last week. Another of my cakes has been commissioned to appear in Seattle Metropolitan Bride & Groom magazine in a few months' time. Can't say any more, but I'm thrilled!

In other news:

It's been a madhouse here at Honey Crumb this season. Actually, I shouldn't say that, because the studio is usually rather peaceful, even during the busiest weekends -- I have to keep it that way, or I'd lose it entirely. I mean, FIVE WEDDING CAKES, ON ONE DAY?! AND ONE MERE PASTRY CHEF?!

You wonder, how is the illusion of peace created here? Well, my friends, I was not simply born in this state of mind. I have music to thank for it.

And no, I don't listen to Cake, although that is an amusing thought. My albums-of-choice are Away from the World (Dave Matthews Band), From the Choirgirl Hotel (Tori Amos), Love is Hell (Ryan Adams), 29 (Ryan Adams), Before These Crowded Streets (Dave Matthews Band), and Pokhara (Yannick Noah). These are in near-permanent rotation, although occasionally, there's some Yann Tiersen in there, some Johnny Clegg, some Regina Spektor (especially Far), some Habib Koité, and some Talking Heads. So: if you want to be my pastry intern, you will need to tolerate the constant vocal presence of these people, at a volume that is high enough to drown out the sound of a batch of Swiss meringue buttercream being whipped in an industrial mixer. (I have other requirements with regard to interns, but the music bit is key.)

Preamble aside, tonight's post is a bonanza of recent cakes that have been clamoring for their little moment on the blog. Leave me a post if you feel inspired, and let me know which one's your favorite -- I'd love to hear from you!

First up is Lisa and Jeff's wedding cake, with pressed fondant lace in ivory, and handmade sugar roses (airbrushed with edible pearl luster for shimmer):



All 100 servings of their cake were Lemon Pucker flavor (vanilla buttermilk cake with lemon moistening syrup, layered with cream cheese and zingy lemon curd). The couple's reception was held at the Hollywood Schoolhouse in Woodinville -- a fantastic venue with oodles of character, and really friendly staff. (It gets an enthusiastic recommendation from me, for sure.)

Getting a little closer with the camera helps you see the details on the fondant lace, and the sugar roses:



Lisa also ordered a surprise groom's cake for Jeff, who is a drummer and owns a black kit. I crafted the crash cymbal and drum sticks from gumpaste. The cymbal was painted with edible golden bronze luster, and the gumpaste details on the drum-shaped cakes were painted with edible silver.

He LOVED the cake and they each left an amazing review for me on Yelp. So sweet!



Here's an all-buttercream cake for Carly and Erik, who were married at Frog Creek Lodge in Lakebay, WA (it was quite a drive!). The geometric circle pattern on the base tier was taken from their quirky invitations (designed by the bride, who is a comic-book illustrator, among her many other talents). The most prominent sugar flower in the arrangement was inspired by a poppy, but given the unfussy feel of this cake overall, I wasn't trying to get too literal about it. Having said that, I must've decided that botanical correctness was apropos for the sugar poppy leaves in this cluster, because I dipped them in confectioner's glaze to get them all waxy-looking, like the real thing. (I love what that glaze does, I just don't love cleaning my sticky workbench afterward.) If you scroll down, you'll get a closer look at the darker green sugar hydrangeas I also created for the cake.



The cake served 25 guests at the couple's intimate lunch reception, and was dark chocolate cake with cream cheese filling and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

Details of the sugar flowers:



Kate and Jack were married last weekend (September 22) and hosted their 75 guests at Urban Light Studios in Seattle (those who've been there will recognize the venue's distinctive background, visible in my cake photos). I designed the cake to complement the couple's contemporary aesthetic (clean, inspired by graphic and textile design) and their unique color palette (slate grey and curry yellow).

There's some play with proportions here (the top tier is 3" tall, the middle is almost 5" tall, and the base tier is a whopping 6" tall).


The top and middle tiers were Lemon Pucker, and the base tier was Chocolate Raspberry. The abstract floral design on the middle tier was an appliqué of edible slate-grey cutouts on a base of white fondant, and I created the flowers (a large open peony, sage-green foliage, and some wired five-petal blossoms) using gumpaste.



Oh, and how perfect are these pieces of wall art that Kate made for her reception? (While you're looking, note the crazy-awesome exposed brick at Urban Light Studios...) 


The contemporary, bold, abstract, and appliqué theme continues with Melissa and Scott's cake, delivered to one of my all-time favorite Seattle venues (Herban Feast at Sodo Park) last weekend. The cake served 140 and the servings were divided between Strawberries and Cream (vanilla buttermilk cake with fresh strawberries, Swiss meringue buttercream, and housemade strawberry preserve) and Caramel Toffee Fudge (dark chocolate cake, truffle ganache cream, English toffee bits, and caramel sauce).



I created the shapes using a variety of floral cutters and three different shades of gumpaste (eggplant, deep crimson, and caramel). I painted some of the caramel-colored appliqués with edible copper luster dust so that they'd shimmer in the candlelight. Unfortunately, the copper shimmer doesn't come across in these photos, but it was beautiful in person and made the whole design appear cohesive with the venue and the copper tones in the centerpieces.



That's it for tonight, but I'll be back tomorrow with another cakey post and some useful info on how you can get your tickets to catch Honey Crumb at the Wedding Preview Event at Seattle Design Center in two weeks!

Piped Pearl Cake with Purple Sugar Rose at Sahalee Country Club

Lucia and Danny were married last Saturday at the gorgeous Sahalee Country Club. Shortly after I arrived, the bride's father, the photographer, and the videographer gathered near the doors to the ballroom in anticipation of Lucia's first appearance in her gown and veil. I loved this idea, of a "first look" between the bride and her father (and not just between the bride and groom, which is becoming increasingly popular). They both cried and laughed, and it was really sweet that I happened to be assembling the cake in the ballroom at that moment and was able to witness it all.

The couple's four-tiered cake served 150 guests, and each tier (which was covered with a thin layer of white fondant) was piped with hundreds of tiny white Royal Icing 'pearls'. I used a slightly damp paintbrush to go back over each piped dot to flatten that annoying little peak that appears when the piping nozzle is lifted away -- it's time-consuming, but the result is a perfectly round, smooth pearl without a pointy tip. Much better!


I created the enormous sugar rose (5" in diameter) using gumpaste tinted deep purple, to coordinate with the bridal color palette (purple, white, and silver). The sugar leaves were created with pale green paste that was then handpainted with moss green edible gel color to create the slightly waxy sheen that real rose leaves have.



The servings were divided between coconut cake with milk-chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, vanilla buttermilk cake with cream cheese and lemon curd, and gluten-free coconut cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. (In fact, the top two tiers of the cake were entirely gluten free.) Also, per Lucia and Danny's special request, I tinted the cake batter purple, as a fun surprise for their guests.  I wish I could've seen the cake slices all plated (perhaps Lucas Mobley will send me a photo), but the interior of the cake really was a gorgeous shade of lavender.



A friend of the couple created a polymer clay topper for them, of two snails dressed as a bride (with blue eyes like Lucia's, and a sweet little veil) and a groom (complete with top hat and bow tie!).



Here's another shot of the adorable snail topper, made by the couple's friend (isn't it sweet?!):



Finally, for the couple's vegan guests, I baked a dozen dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting (tinted purple), topped with vegan chocolate pearls. After much experimenting, I think I've got the recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes perfected -- I'm not vegan, but they were moist and very chocolate-y... indeed, ridiculously good. And, while real butter is a non-negotiable ingredient in the rest of my baking, you'd never tell that the 'butter' in the frosting was Earth Balance...!


Congrats to Lucia and Danny!

Blush Pink and Black Wedding Cake with Sugar Anemones

Renée and Alan met me for a cake consultation back in June, and were able to book the very last opening on Honey Crumb's full-to-the-absolute-brim August calendar. I'm so glad they did, because getting to know them (even briefly!) and being chosen to create their wedding cake were among the highlights of my summer season. 

The design process began with a color swatch (a pale blush pink from Vera Wang's "White" collection of bridesmaids' dresses) and a few images that Renée had saved as inspiration for the cake. Uniquely, those images included a photo of an etched glass lantern with metal scrollwork trim (cake inspiration really can come from anywhere!) and a bouquet of gorgeous blush-and-ivory anemones tied with black ribbon:




She and her groom were brave enough to let me bring that beautiful blush-pink hue right into the fondant that enrobed their cake, rather than simply using it as an accent color on a traditional white base. I tinted the fondant using Americolor pink and Americolor peach, with tiny drops of Wilton brown and Wilton black. The covered tiers were then given a very light airbrushed coat of edible pearl luster to tone down the pink and amp up the cake's photogenicity ever so slightly more. 

I know, "photogeneity" sounds better than "photogenicity" -- but the former is a made-up word, and the latter is actually in the dictionary.

What a nerd.


Here are the nekkid cakes, before décor and stacking:



Inspired by the black ribbon around that bouquet of anemones, the black trim on the glass lantern, and by the chic black sashes that the bridesmaids would be wearing around their waists, black was a natural choice as an accent color for the cake, to add drama and contrast. We played around with shapes (including oval and round) and proportions (including normal- and extended-height tiers) before settling on a design that included a double-height middle tier with scrollwork stenciling (in a paler shade of blush pink than the fondant), flanked by regular-height top and bottom tiers piped painstakingly with black Royal Icing in a similar design.

The pièce de résistance was a trio of sugar anemones, which I handcrafted from ivory gumpaste. Their centers (and stamens) were jet black, and the base of each petal was gently dusted with blush pink edible pigment. Renée had dearly wanted anemones in her bridal bouquet, but they weren't available, so why not have them, in sugar, on the cake?






The entire cake (125 servings) was Mocha flavor (dark chocolate sponge, filled with alternating layers of truffle ganache cream and espresso Swiss meringue). 

Alan and Renée's photographers, Brittany and Joe of Blue Rose Photography, took some great shots during the reception (at The Manor, in Everett) that they willingly shared with me:





Now, seriously, how beautiful is that couple? Wowza.

If you'd like to see the rest of Renée and Alan's wedding album, by Blue Rose Photography, it's accessible here, on Facebook.

This is what the sweet groom had to say, on behalf of both of them: "So glad you already received some pics from Brittany and Joe. What an amazing job you did! It was hard to cut into such a pretty cake, but we were rewarded with all its mocha goodness. It was truly a work of art and we're happy you and your work were part of such a special day to us."

I'm a lucky soul.

Congratulations to you, Renée and Alan!

Trio of Floral Cakes in Pale Green and White at Snoqualmie Ridge

I've got so many cakes to catch up on here -- there are plenty from this incredibly busy wedding season that haven't even made it to the blog yet. I'm even further behind now, since NINE cakes left the cake studio last weekend, including five wedding cakes, one groom's cake, and three birthday cakes. So, let's get on with it! First up: a floral wedding cake "trio".

Noelle and Michael hosted an extremely elegant reception at Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club last Sunday, and I created three cakes for them (we called it a "cakescape" during the consultation process!).

The centerpiece of their trio was my version of the eternally popular Sweet and Saucy "petal bomb" cake, which seems to be popping up even more frequently than usual in recent weeks (I've seen variations of that design on the Martha Stewart Weddings FB page, on Style Me Pretty, and on the FlourGirls website). There's a reason why Melody Brandon's original has been such a hit: it's a gorgeous cake! It's feminine, bridal, and sophisticated without being fussy.

I loved making the sugar petals (they're white gumpaste, with a dusting of pale sage-apple green towards the center of the bloom), and I loved arranging them on the cake even more; it was one of those peaceful moments of cake creation when I simply get into my 'zone' and keep tweaking the placement until it looks just right.


The cake was Red Velvet with cream cheese filling, covered in a thin layer of white fondant and trimmed with satin ribbon at the very base only (I used white Royal Icing to 'caulk' the seams between the other three tiers, for a clean look).


The "cakescape" looked like this:


Noelle borrowed the three white cake stands from my collection. The stunning purple backdrop (which looked like thousands of satin ribbon roses stitched onto sheer tulle) was already in place when I arrived, which made me so happy, as the contrast really helps give the trio of white cakes some 'pop' in photos.

This cutie was adorned with sugar hydrangeas and five-petal blossoms, dusted delicately with the same sage-apple green petal dust as I used on the main cake. It was Coconut Passion (coconut milk cake filled with coconut cream Swiss meringue, passion fruit reduction, and shredded coconut).


The sugar peony cake was gluten-free Coconut Passion (for the top tier) and Mocha cake (dark chocolate sponge with espresso Swiss meringue buttercream filling) for the double-height base tier. I don't always love the process of covering these beasts (even an 8" diameter double barrel, at 9" tall, needs a 26" diameter sheet of fondant), but I do love how much drama a super-tall tier brings to the party! 


Another shot of the trio, with their pretty backdrop:


This is what the lovely Noelle had to say about her tablescape: "Our wedding cake was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined it would be. Thank you so much!"

Well, what more could I ask for?  A happy bride = a happy pastry chef.

Watercolor Botanical Appliqué and Sugar Roses at Georgetown Ballroom

Alysia and Josh were married last Saturday, the first day of September, at the Georgetown Ballroom in Seattle. I arrived to assemble their cake about 90 minutes before the ceremony was due to start, so I landed right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle as their reception venue was styled and set up. The assembly took me an hour, as this cake was HUGE. It served 300 people, and weighed 50-60lb.

When Alysia first approached me to discuss options for her wedding cake, she showed me a photo of a design by Maggie Austin Cake that had taken her breath away. I recognized the cake immediately (Maggie LaBaugh has an unmistakably distinctive style). Alysia said it was the perfect cake for her, and I told her the design would get a little Honey Crumb artistic twist, but would remain largely untweaked.

So, early last week, I began sculpting a small garden of sugar roses, in various watercolor hues:


The cake's top tier started out with some gumpaste relief work, in a whimsical botanical style (I love this in white on white):


Finally, with the addition of some edible 'watercolor' paint on the botanical appliqué, and several rows of paper-thin sugar ruffles on the cake's massive square tiers, it all looked like this:
   

The sugar flowers for the top were all wired to create a sort of arc:


I had trouble with the dim lighting at the venue (I may have a DSLR but that doesn't make me a photographer!) -- so, apologies for the icky white balance (among other poor qualities) of these shots:


A little side view to show you the roses perched on the corners:


The entire cake was Strawberries and Cream (moist white cake, filled with layers of cream cheese, organic strawberry preserve, and fresh chopped strawberries). My mother-in-law, who is a dancer and poet (among other things), said the following about the cake, and I couldn't describe it better:

"There is a sort of 'antique' feel to this, old romance, and also the soft blue roses and relief work seem so very familiar to me... as though I recall this in my distant past... unusual but with a warm assurance."

See what I mean? (She's going to be hired as the copy writer for my new brochures.)

Congratulations, Alysia and Josh!

Handpainted Wedding Cake at Alpental Lodge

This morning, I broke out the paint palette and some bottles of edible gel color. My inspiration was a wedding invitation (designed by the groom!) featuring an abstract print of some gerbera daisies:



My canvas was Jois and Richard's ivory cake! Here's the handpainted base tier:



And here's the second tier:



Their cake was four tiers, and served 75 guests. Half the servings were Coconut Passion (coconut cake, filled with coconut Swiss meringue buttercream, layered with passion fruit reduction and coconut shavings), the other half were Red Velvet (with cream cheese filling).

The couple's florist set aside some lisianthus, gerberas (in orange and burgundy), and green hypericum for me to style on the cake. Here it is, all set up:






I rarely take photos of the venue when I'm done assembling a cake. What happens most often is that I finish up, snap a few quick shots of the cake itself, then make myself scarce. However, today, I was inspired to capture a little more. Scroll down, and see why:




Jois and Richard, the bride and groom, chose Alpental in Snoqualmie, WA, as their wedding venue. Some pretty draping and a pair of gorgeous floral arrangements pointed guests in the right direction as they walked towards the lodge. The bridge linking the parking lot with the ceremony site spanned a river gorge surrounded by evergreens... it was magnificent!


Where else in the world is there such a breathtaking parking lot?!



When I arrived to set up the cake, the midday sunshine was amazing, and the sky was surreal. In fact, so delighted was I by the scenery around me that I didn't feel at all bothered by the three trips I had to make across the long bridge to bring all my things (equipment bag, cake tiers in separate boxes, glass cake stand, camera bag!) into the reception room. 

Congratulations to you, Jois and Richard!

Royal Damask and a Blue Sugar Peony

I delivered Sarah and Anthony's wedding cake to the Golf Club at Newcastle earlier this evening. Their three-tiered cake served 80, even though their guest count was 50 (that means: lots of cake for breakfast tomorrow, and a top tier to freeze for the first wedding anniversary!).

Their color scheme was black and royal blue, and they requested a damask design on their cake to echo the patterned paper used to wrap their guests' favors. I obliged, and chose the "Royal Damask" stencil (from Designer Stencils) to create the pattern on the top and bottom tier of the cake. (My "paint" for that purpose was black Royal Icing.)   




Both the sugar peony and handcut monogram topper were handmade from gumpaste. I always use a new X-Acto blade when cutting letters or intricate shapes; it produces a much cleaner line! I wired the gumpaste letters for easy insertion into the top tier. The peony's petals were also wired, so that the outer layer could be opened up and styled more precisely in situ. (The purpose here is to disguise the wire-and-floral-tape mechanics of the sugar bloom once it's been inserted into the cake.)



The entire cake was Red Velvet, with cream cheese (of course!). Each tier was frosted with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream and then covered with a thin layer of white-chocolate fondant. 

Here's a closer look at the sugar peony, taken before I left the studio:



I caught a glimpse of the couple as they were having their photos taken out on the lawn. It was so gloriously sunny this afternoon, and they looked simply radiant. Congratulations, Sarah and Anthony!

Lime Green, Coral Pink, and Teal Wedding Cake at Tibbetts Creek

Kellie and Nick were married last Friday at Tibbetts Creek Manor in Issaquah. What a delightful couple! They looked so beautiful together, and I loved that they took a few moments to swing by the cake table and chat with me during setup, before they headed off to have their photos taken.

Their three-tiered cake was adorned with satin ribbon, hand-piped dropwork swags and dot accents (in white Royal Icing), and handmade sugar flowers. The temperature soared to 96 degrees (!!) on their wedding day, so I elected to assemble their cake on site (and keep the tiers tightly wrapped in their individual -- and well-insulated -- boxes en route. Thankfully, the air-conditioned venue was much more forgiving than the sweltering outdoors... and the trip there was only four minutes from my production kitchen. What luck!



Their cake served 100 generously, divided between Classic Banana cake with cream cheese filling, and Chocolate Cream Cheese cake (with fresh organic raspberries folded into the filling).

Kellie supplied the monogram topper. The teal ribbon on the cake matched the bridesmaids' dresses, which were gorgeous. 


I created the sugar flowers for their cake in coral pink (for the hydrangeas) and lime green (for the cymbidium orchids) to coordinate with the floral arrangements throughout the reception venue.

Here's a better look at the hydrangeas (and one of the sugar leaves, too), before I placed them on the cake:


These green cymbidiums were especially rewarding to make. I just love how nature adds a punch of red to the throat of orchids like this -- so unexpected. Adding the deep red with some burgundy gel color and a tiny paintbrush helps the sugar orchid really spring to life!



Here they are, on the cake:



I added a little cluster of sugar flowers on the top, so that the couple's monogram wouldn't look too lonely:



Congratulations to you, Kellie and Nick. I wish you many years of happiness and love.

Hawaiian Style in Ombré Turquoise Ruffles (and a Little Darth Vader)

My sweet friends Sara and Donny were married in Hawaii earlier this year, so the cake for their wedding reception in Seattle last weekend needed a touch (well, maybe more than just a 'touch') of island style. The sugar hibiscus blooms I recently posted found their home on a canvas of casually pretty ruffles, in a gradient of color from pale turquoise to mid-saturated teal. 



The flavors, too, were evocative of Hawaii: classic Vanilla-Chocolate Marble cake, layered with a floral passion fruit mousse and rich mango butter. The main cake provided 100 servings, while the groom's cake (I'll get to that later on in this post) served 30. 

The top 'shelves' of each tier were painted with sand-colored edible paint (Americolor brown, Americolor white, and a little vodka for consistency) to echo the beach setting of the couple's ceremony. The ruffles were fondant (with a little gum tragacanth added, for structural integrity), and the handcrafted sugar flowers were hibiscus, plumerias, and deep green hibiscus leaves (I used a hydrangea leaf cutter for those, actually). 




Now, we turn to the groom's cake! Sara's husband, Donny, is one of those rare, courageous souls who sails the raging seas to bring in fresh crab each season. (If you've ever watched "Deadliest Catch" on the Discovery Channel, I believe you'll have a pretty good sense of what he does.) In addition to his love of crab fishing, he has a particular fondness for Darth Vader and golf. The only logical groom's cake (all credit to his bride for the idea): a figure of Donny, in the likeness of Darth himself, holding a club and a crab, perched atop an oval abstraction of his trusty vessel, The Arctic Sea


Darth Vader, the king crab, and the golf club were all sculpted from gumpaste. There's a Styrofoam ball inside his head, to make it lighter -- I figured that Donny would probably be more inclined to preserve the figurine as a keepsake, rather than eat it!

(BTW, the particular pose of my little Sith Lord figurine was inspired by a photo that Sara shared with me, of Donny holding up two enormous Alaskan king crabs. I was a dolt last weekend and left behind the little chocolate frame I'd made to house this particular image -- the intention was to display the photo alongside the cake so that Sara and Donny's guests would get the joke. Let's just say, that frame was a casualty of my five-cake-weekend brain; thankfully, Sara forgave me instantly because she's a sweetie-pie.)




The cake, with its outer covering of ship-steel grey fondant, was dark chocolate sponge with white chocolate ganache filling, layered with rich caramel sauce and plenty of crunchy English toffee bits. The groom loves toffee!

Oh, I should also mention: this cake was entirely a surprise, and Sara and I held a couple of clandestine meetings to plan it out (never mind the fact that we love hanging out with each other anyway!). What really makes my job special is getting to see faces like Donny's, as he sees his cake for the first time, realizes that his wife has planned it all out especially for him (in secret), and discovers the little personal touches and inside-jokes, in edible form, that only the two of them would really appreciate. How wonderful is that?!


Congrats, Sara and Donny! You're the best.

Sugar Hibiscus for Sara

Happy Monday, everyone! (In this line of work, Monday is my Day Off.) To bring some cheer to all you Monday morning worker bees, I'll share a little sneak peek at the sugar hibiscus flowers I recently made for Sara and Donny's cake, which will be delivered to Salty's on Alki next Saturday. (Hi, Sara!)




There'll also be some hibiscus leaves and plumerias on the cake (all in sugar, of course!), but for now, these deep red hibiscus are captivating me from their temporary location in a little vase on my workbench.

Can't wait to show you the rest!

Purple and Green Cake with Piped Pearls at The Plateau Club

Just a quick post to show you Katherine and Ka Wang's wedding cake, which I delivered to the Plateau Club in Sammamish two Saturdays ago. It was an incredibly hot day for this part of the world (91 degrees!), which meant that the original plan -- to frost the cake in buttercream only -- had to be modified to include a thin layer of fondant, for just a little bit of extra heat protection. Fondant is good insurance on days like that!

There was some scrambling around when I arrived at the venue, as the florist was meant to have left a bucket of fresh flowers by the cake table for me to style once the cake was assembled. Said bucket was nowhere to be seen -- there was only a bucket of some white roses, which were meant for the bride's hair. After some frenzied searching on the part of Katherine's family members and the catering staff of the Plateau Club, I was given a corsage box of orchids, some purple carnations, and two heads of purple hydrangeas, and I promptly got to work!

The cake topper was handmade by a member of the couple's family, and was simply precious -- just the perfect touch of whimsy to hint at the bride and groom's bubbly, quick-to-laugh personalities!


The cake served 100 generously, and incorporated a Styrofoam separator between the bottom and middle tiers (to accommodate the fresh flowers). Flavors included Dalmatian cake with truffle cream, Vanilla Buttermilk cake with fresh organic strawberry filling, and Peanut Butter Cup cake (chocolate sponge with peanut buttercream and chopped Reese's cups).

Here's another look at the cute topper, ringed with fresh purple hydrangeas:




Some simple grosgrain ribbon (in dark purple) and piped cascading pearls (inspired loosely by this cake, which Katherine and Ka Wang had seen in my portfolio during our consultation), finished off the design. Their wedding color scheme of purple and pale green looked so fresh and summery, especially on the bridesmaids and throughout the floral arrangements.  

Congratulations, Katherine and Ka Wang!