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Review | “Learn Fruit & Vegetable Sculpting” DVD with Chef Ray Duey

Fruit & Vegetable Carving by Chef DueyFruit and vegetable carving has been growing in popularity lately, so I decided to give it a try to see if I could learn this interesting art form.  My first step was to buy the video  “Learn Fruit & Vegetable Sculpting” by Chef Ray Duey, C.E.C.  I wanted a video that allowed me to learn some basics without investing in a bunch of expensive equipment. This particular video has quite a few projects that I could do with just a simple paring knife by adjusting the techniques taught a little. Continue Reading →

Edible Embossing

Reported by Anam Stubbington

All to often, craft supplies get relegated to the particular craft they are labelled for in the shop, but there are so many cross-over opportunities, not just in the paper craft work. We have yarn and paper crafts mixing with crocheted flowers on scrapbook layouts; oil pastels and watercolors for making your own paper backgrounds for cards; and fabrics used for texture in clay work.

Today I decided to use my ProvoCraft Cuttlebug Embossing folders for something new. I use and abuse my folders because they are just so versatile and easily cleaned – a big bonus in my book.

We have all done the inking trick with the embossing folders, used them on velvet to extend their usability and used them on fimo and clay to make jewelry pieces. I had made the traditional clay ornaments with them – perfect for the Christmas season – I gave them as party favours using handmade air drying clay to match the invites I made also using the embossing folders.

(don’t know why the purple one looks dirty but in real life its got a gold and silver sheen)

In making these, I thought that I would try and see if I could continue the theme onto the cupcakes using icing and chocolate. I have the basic standard embossing folders so all I added was a rolling pin.

Turns out the embossing folders are awesome for making edible decorations – and I cleaned mine by sticking them in the dishwasher afterwards.
I started with Ready-to-roll icing because I will admit that I suck at baking. It was super easy – decide what folder you want and if you want the image in relief or embossed into the icing – remember with text plates, the relief version is in reverse when you place it down on the icing.

If you have a steady hand, you could even color the embossed images with food coloring. Food coloring though does not stick to the folders so you cannot coat the folder and then emboss like you would with an inkpad (which admittedly was a disappointment for me).

Then cut out your shapes either by hand or use cookie cutters to make awesome cake toppers.


Imagine the fun you could have with the whole image embossing plates for the tops of cakes or as frame bases for cake flowers.

I then tried chocolate to see how much fun I could have with the folders. I tried a few ways to do it and found these two worked best.

  • Firstly melt your chocolate to a runny dough consistency – I would suggest you buy proper cake chocolate so the chocolate stays harder longer once it is solid as my very yummy milk chocolate melted in my regular kitchen temperatures.
  • Add a little oil or cake release to your folders – I used olive oil and no-one mentioned any taste issues.
  • Put the folders on a flat tray with some greaseproof paper underneath them.

Option 1 is to pour the melted chocolate on top of your folder and allow to harder. once hard you turn the folder over and peel the plate off the chocolate – it should come over very easily. You can then use a cookie cutter to cut out the shapes you want – I found it worked better with a metal cutter that was heated in some hot water first.

Option 2 is good when you only want a specific part of an embossing folder. Place your cookie cutter (slightly oiled) on the area you want as your image. Pour the chocolate into the cookie cutter and allow to harden. Once hard, you can remove the plate and then pop the chocolate shape out – this way seemed to give me thicker shapes.

I left them in the fridge for a few hours and then added them to the cupcakes just before I served them. That said, some of my guests decided they would have happily eaten the chocolate toppers on their own so maybe make them with dark chocolate and serve with coffee for adults?

Remember to leave the cut shapes for a little while to dry out if you want them to be used flat or standing. Making cupcake toppers with the folders was so easy and would be a great addition to anyone’s DIY arsenal of tricks for wedding or party cakes.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Lots of designs available
  • Easy to clean afterwards

Cons:

  • Not all designs work well
  • Have to work in small batches due to size of folder
  • Lots of chocolate left that needs to be eaten

I hope you also find uses for those crafting supplies in the kitchen!

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Cricut Cake Part 2

If you read Part 1 (yesterday) you will know that my Cricut Cake and I were not fast friends. However, I was determined to master it and I did. So I wanted to share my tips and discoveries with all of you.

This is a cake I made for Super Bowl Sunday:


We were a house divided so I had to make a half and half cake.


I used my Everyday Paper Dolls Cartridge for the little football players, goal post and footballs.


The side has a banner from Cake Basics and then I added the little footballs. I FINALLY had enough time and energy to do a bit of “finishing” on this one and added dots of yellow buttercream around the top and bottom. Kevin said this was the best one yet…it was also the easiest!

I can’t believe how easy it has turned out to be to use my Cricut Cake machine. I really struggled with it at first and I know a lot of others have as well so I will go through all of my steps:

1. PLAN YOUR DESIGN – it is really the best to plan your design and lay it all out in Design Studio. I make a file for each color of gumpaste I will be using. I use the cake pan size as a guide for sizing my design. By doing this you can cut your gumpaste quickly before it warms and softens when you take it out of the freezer. Resist the urge to weld one long border piece – it will be MUCH harder to move and put onto your cake!

2. Make your gumpaste sheets (not fondant.) – I have been using the Cricut Gumpaste in the tub and have been very happy with it. I use 3 mats when doing this but I may need more….be sure to knead your chunk of gumpaste really well to get it soft and pliable. Now put on some latex gloves, rub them all over with a bit of crisco and start coloring. I use Americolor coloring gel a drop or two at a time…knead it really well to get the color smooth and not streaky.

3. Roll it out on a flexible plastic mat (Cricut mat if you have enough) dusted with a mix of half cornstarch and half powdered sugar. Roll it really thin. Like really thin. Then roll it thinner.

4. Cover your Cricut mat with Crisco – you want a good thorough coating so your gumpaste will stick and not move around. Lay the mat on top of your rolled gumpaste and then flip your “sandwich” over and carefully peel your top mat off.

5. Trim the gumpaste so it is within the borders of your Cricut mat. Now roll it out some more – I can usually get it even thinner at this stage. Trim again to keep from gunking up your rollers.

6. Now put the mat in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. I do ALL of my mats at once so they can all sit in the freezer. You can put some saran wrap over them so they don’t dry out.

7. Once the gumpaste has chilled you are ready to cut. Since you have your design laid out in Design Studio you can cut all your items from each color quickly. Once each one is done remove the excess gumpaste and put it back in the freezer.

8. Now you need to put your layers together. I used some “glue” I made by dissolving a bit of gumpaste in water. I painted it on the back of my layers as I put them together. Once done I put them all BACK in the freezer, covered, until I was ready to put them on my cake. This way they would be a bit sturdier when I move them.

9. Bake your cake and ice it – I highly recommend Rick’s Special Buttercream – THE BEST.

10. Now simply add your gumpaste cut-outs to your cake!

Does anyone else have a Cricut Cake machine? Do you use yours? Do you have any other helpful tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know.

Cricut Cake Part 1: Cookies

I have been the proud owner of a Cricut Cake machine since it came out. However, it has not come without a long learning curve, so I am here to give you the lowdown on the machine as I have experienced it.

I have been a cookie maker/decorator for many years so I was honestly more excited about the cookie possibilities than I was about the cake decorating possibilities. So how did it do?

Fall cookies made using the Doodlecharms Cartridge and frosted with Royal Icing. Cupcakes in the back with little matching Fondant leaves.

Ladybug cookies with Royal Icing base and Fondant top layer

These little gems did NOT come without frustration.

First cutting the cookie dough. I ALWAYS use Martha Stewart’s basic sugar cookie recipe and have for years. Tastes delicious and DOES NOT lose it’s detail or puff out when baked.

As shown above the dough MUST be put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before you try to cut it or your edges will be ragged. In addition you must be sure to roll it out thin enough to fit under the roller bar of the machine. In addition I found it better to cut the SHADOWS of each shape out of the dough for you cookies.

Next I put the royal icing base on. Now, I have always done the entire surface of a cookie with Royal Icing – details and all. But, I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could do layers with my Cricut Cake instead? Commence disaster….I used fondant. I rolled it out nice and thin (I thought) and tried to cut. The fondant did NOT stay still on the mat despite having used Crisco like I was supposed to. I put it in the freezer for half an hour and tried again. I had much better luck with the actual cutting:

Getting it OFF the mat was another story altogether. The fondant was sticky and stretchy and I found it nearly impossible to get it off the mat without it being distorted. I would put it in the freezer but it would thaw back out quickly and get sticky so I was putting it back in constantly and it was very time consuming. After spending an entire day trying, I only had the three ladybugs that turned out well. Here are a couple others I tried to do but gave up before doing all of the layers.


You can see how badly the fondant layer matched the base shadow layer.

I finally admitted defeat with the fondant, but not the Cricut Cake. I was determined to master it and I did. Tune in for part 2 tomorrow to see what I finally learned for perfect results every time.

Pros:

  • I can cut a huge variety of shapes in all sizes without the expense or storage headache of individual cookie cutters.
  • I knew once I learned – I would be able to make the layers for each cookie shape quicker and easier and better than I could with Royal Icing
  • Works with ALL of the regular Cricut Cartridges.

Cons:

  • Cricut Cake has a learning curve – you cannot take it out of the box and be an instant decorator. (Of course this can be accomplished and then this con goes away).
  • It takes a lot longer to cut cookies this way than the traditional cookie cutter way.
  • Supplies can be tough to find.

Do you have a Cricut Cake? Do you like it? Do you use it? Have you thought about getting one? Why did you or did you not get one?

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