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Martha Stewart Cricut Cake Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the ProvoCraft Martha Stewart Cricut Cake Machine and cartridges…
Gwen Howard said…
How cool to be at the show live! I’ve always wanted to be there. Love the pillow created with a stencil made with punches. Would love to win her tool give-a-way and your Cricut give-a-way! Hope to join you today for the Tweetchat.
If you are our lucky winner, just email your name and address to info{at}craftcritique.com.  Please put Cricut Cake Winner in the subject. Thanks everyone for your great comments and stay tuned for a complete recap of our Martha adventure!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Martha Stewart Cricut Cake (article 2 of 2)

Reported by Dana Vitek

Taylor did a great job of telling you what was in the giant box that arrived compliments of Provo Craft, so I’ll just jump right into my projects and lessons learned by my trials (and errors) with my new Martha Stewart Cricut Cake.

After watching the included DVD and scouting around online for pro-tips, I picked up some Cricut Cake Gum Paste at my local Michaels, as well as a bunch of Wilton frosting colors, and some fondant.

For my first project, I envisioned a stacked cake with the dragon from the Pagoda cartridge on the top, standing guard. I used my polymer clay mixing skills, and started swirling colors together in an attempt to make black gum paste. It turned out to be more of a marbled green, but I really liked it. After I got the color mixed, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill out. I prepared the mat by brushing shortening on it (I used plain Crisco), and then rolled my chilled (but not too hard) gum paste directly onto the mat. I stuck it in the freezer for as long as I could bear to wait (probably 5-7 minutes) and then loaded it into the machine… here’s what I wound up with:

The gum paste cut perfectly… I was thrilled! I put him back in the freezer to firm up a little while I planned my next project. I managed to get him off the mat in one piece (admittedly tricky, even when frozen), and set him aside to dry overnight. Unfortunately, I picked him up a few days later and accidentally dropped him. Dried gum paste shatters, friends. It’s the nature of the beast. Literally.

Not one to get discouraged, I tried coloring and cutting some fondant. I had less luck with this media; fondant just is a little more gooshy than gum paste, even when frozen. It started out great,

but by the time the design (from the Cindy Loo cartridge) had finished cutting, the fondant had thawed too much, and sort of got squished:

The best part about your frosting media getting messed up is that you can ball it up and start over. I let it chill for a little while, and then rolled it out as thin as I possibly could directly on the mat. Thin, thin, thin.

I let it sit in the freezer, while I decided on a doily from the Martha Stewart Seasonal Cake Art cartridge. I cut a heart shape out of some sheet cake I’d already made, and covered it in white fondant. When my pink fondant was good and frozen, I quickly got it into the machine. I got a little nervous as I watched, but this time it was a success!

Right out of the machine:

Close-up:

Removal of the extra bits (I used a dinner knife, but any pointy, pokey thing would work):

And here it is in place, with candles for my daughter’s birthday!

With that success under my belt, I wanted to kick it up a notch… a tiered cake with a snowflake theme. I made a three-tiered cake, and covered each tier with white fondant. I colored up some blue and brown Cricut Cake gum paste, and then I rolled, and froze, and cut, and rolled, and froze, and cut, and you get the idea…

In the machine:

Out of the machine:

Because I only had one cutting mat to work with, I did a lot of transferring the finished motifs to parchment paper. This actually helped matters when it came time to start putting them on the cake; I was able to cut the parchment and use it to help smooth the cut gum paste into place.

This is the snowflake motif for the top of the cake:

And here it is all together:

Not too shabby for a relative novice, if I do say so myself.

Okay, so having used this machine quite a bit, I can offer my own (semi)pro-tips:

  • Thin. Roll whatever you’re using super-thin. Then keep rolling.
  • Cold. Freeze that super-thin stuff. 
  • Hold your breath while it cuts. This won’t help, but you’ll probably be doing it anyway, so consider this validation.
  • Freeze it again before trying to get it off the mat.
  • Buy an extra cutting mat or two.
  • Use just a little dab of water to get your cut motifs to stick to your cake. 
  • Rookie mistake: covering your cut gum paste with a damp paper towel to keep it from drying too fast turns it into a very pretty puddle of oobleck. Waxed paper would be better.

There is a learning curve when it comes to figuring out how different media are going to act under the blade. The Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine is a tool; it’s not magic. I had to learn the ins-and-outs of gum paste before I could get it to do what I wanted it to do. So if you’re investing in this machine, you’ll need to invest the time to figure it out.

As for whether or not cookie cutters wouldn’t be less work, well, that’s true. But a cookie cutter can’t adapt to exactly the size you need, nor can you match the motif on your cake to create paper invitations or matching decorations for your party. While you shouldn’t cut paper with your Cricut Cake (not saying you can’t, just saying you shouldn’t… there can be heavy metals in scrapbook paper; you don’t want to ingest that dust), you CAN use the Cake cartridges in your regular Cricut machine.

Carrying coordinated motifs all the way through your event, from invites, to cupcakes, to goody bags… it’s a good thing. 

Pros:

  • Beautiful designs to coordinate your event decorations from start to finish.
  • With some time invested, you can really create some impressive cakes.
  • Mistakes can be eaten reused.
  • People have probably been calling you “Martha” for years anyway… here’s one more way to live up to that!

Cons:

  • Time. This is not as simple as slapping some paper on a mat and pushing “cut.” The learning curve can be steep.
  • Rolling the gum paste that thin can be difficult. I’m going to invest in a food-only pasta machine (which sounds ridiculous, but my pasta machine is dedicated to polymer clay).
  • Freezer space. I’m lucky to have lots of freezer space, but that’s something you should consider.

GIVEAWAY
The kind folks at Provo Craft will be giving one lucky winner their very own Martha Stewart Cricut Cake!  
To enter, just leave a comment on one of the “Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Cricut ” article. Answer any one of these questions in the Comments Section right below this article on our website.

Do what would you use the Martha Stewart Cricut Cake to cut? Are you a professional cake decorator or a hobbyist?

One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Sunday, November 21st 6pm CST to enter.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Review & GIVEAWAY!: Martha Stewart Cricut Cake

Reported by Taylor Usry

I was recently lucky enough to get the chance to test drive the newest toy available – the Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine. This is a match made in heaven! I literally heard angels singing the day it arrived – I am pretty sure my FedEx guy thought I was nuts. The machine came with everything I needed to get started (minus the food materials):

  • A 12″x12″ food-safe cutting mat (complete with grid marks in inches and centimeters, as well as circles in inch diameters up to 12″)
  • Blade assembly
  • Silicone cartridge plug and skirt (to prevent food from getting in there)
  • Blade cleaning basket and cleaning brush
  • Power adapter, several manuals/quick start guides and a keypad protector (also made of silicone and designed to go over the entire display and keypad)

In addition to all of that the machine came with the All Occasion cartridge (I believe this comes with the purchase of all machines); mine also included the Elegant Cake Art cartridge (both are shown below).

There are several other gorgeous cartridges available. The cartridges all retail individually for around $69.95, although you can find them cheaper at some online stores. The machine itself retails for approximately $400.

All Occasion Cartridge
Elegant Cake Art cartridge

The Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine itself is absolutely gorgeous. A total kitchen appliance work of art. My husband is a nut for anything kitchen-related, but never crafty stuff. However when I pulled it out of the box even he was impressed! One great feature is the pop-up digital display. That makes viewing it from any angle very handy. You can also see, in the picture below, how the silicone keypad protector hangs down over the keypad area slightly.

The Cricut Cake has all of the functions that its paper-cutting cousins do, plus a few extra. The basic functions (Load/Unload, Real Dial Size, Shift, Set Cut Area, etc) are all pretty self explanatory. There are 6 new gray keys in the upper left corner of the keypad. These “Creative Feature” keys vary between cartridges, but basically they allow you to create alphabets, phrases, and even more decorations.

The first thing I tried in my machine was cookie dough. This is the thing I was most excited about – churning out tons of cookies just in time for the holidays! I did both made-from-scratch cookie dough as well as the pre-made roll of Pillsbury cookie dough (you just add flour to it to stiffen it up a bit). I did extensive research online before I tried this to see what tips other people had to offer. And I took a few deep breaths, because even the ProvoCraft instructions say to expect a learning curve.

I rolled my dough out as thin as I possibly could to still have cookies. It was about 1/8″ thick – not much wider than a nickel (which I read was the ideal height to be under). As recommended by the people at Provo Craft (but not written in the instructions; I spoke to them directly) and several people online, I froze my rolled out dough for 3-5 minutes before attempting to cut it.

As you can see, it started cutting beautifully. But the dough thaws quickly (very, very quickly) and as it curved back around it started to get a bit jagged. I’m not sure it would be able to cut a whole sheet of these because although it cuts quickly, the machine just can’t cut faster than the dough thaws.

The cookie turned out decently; it’s pictured above in the undecorated form. A word of caution – refreeze the dough before you attempt to remove it from the cutting mat. Otherwise the dough will tear or wrinkle in on itself because it is so thin.

Next, I tried fondant, both made from scratch and the store bought Wilton sheets. Like the cookie dough, I rolled it out to about 1/8″. That did NOT do the trick even though I froze it before cutting the edges were still jagged. I emailed the super helpful people at Provo Craft again, and they recommended rolling it out thin enough to barely see the grid lines beneath it. I’ll admit I thought they were nuts, but it worked like a charm! The same thing holds true for the fondant as the cookie dough, though. You need to refreeze the fondant before attempting to take it off the sheet.

It didn’t turn out as smooth as I wanted it to when I put it on the cupcake, but that’s because the top was slightly rounded. But as you can see with the butterfly below, rolling out the fondant super thin and freezing it for about 20 minutes prior to cutting it made all the difference.

After five minutes out of the freezer, I tried to cut the more intricate doily design shown below. The edges cut just fine, as did the majority of the smaller inner circles. But when I tried to get it off the mat it just sort of fell apart. This happened with all of the more intricate designs I did. I’m not sure if I didn’t let them freeze enough, if I rolled it out too thin, or what I did wrong.
I also tried some of the longer designs to make a border to go around cakes. I’ve seen some gorgeous ones online, but again for me they just didn’t work.

I didn’t try gum paste, which seems to yield amazing results. I did get these two tips directly from ProvoCraft (and they apply to any material you are cutting): 1) Roll it out as thin as you can, so that the lines on the cutting mat are barely visible beneath the material; and 2) Freeze the fondant or gum paste for 30 minutes prior to cutting it. Those two things make all the difference, I promise!

A few tips I learned through trial and error:

  • Invest in more than one 12″x12″ cutting mat. This way you don’t have to wait while you freeze (or refreeze) your fondant, cookie dough, or gum paste.
  • Be very careful to not go over the guidelines on the edges of the cutting mat (trim them back if you do) – if the roller picks them up it’s a mess!
  • Roll your material out as thin as you can get it, and then roll it a little more. It works best to roll it directly on the cutting mat, so nothing tears when you have to transfer it.
  • Always remember to apply plenty of shortening to the cutting mat.
  • Refreeze the material before removing it from the mat – this helps avoid human error 😉

And now for the cleanup. Really, who likes this part? I know I don’t. But the Cricut Cake surprised me – it cleans up like a dream. Soooo easy! The blade can go in the basket (remember the tea steeper I mentioned?) and straight into the dishwasher — just the blade, not the housing. All of the mats and silicone covers can be washed with warm soapy water, and clean up really easily. As for the machine itself, there is a small brush about the size of a toothbrush, with stiffer bristles, that will brush off dried food particles from the rollers. Just press the load/unload mat button to move them. Once the rollers are clean, you can wipe them with a damp cloth.

According to the ProvoCraft FAQ section on cleaning, it may be necessary to manually move the carriage (cutting part) to the left side of the machine to reach the right side rollers. If you do this, the carriage will return to the proper place once you turn the machine back on. If only cleaning the rest of my kitchen was this quick and easy!

Overall, this is a great machine. The variety of cartridges will create beautiful art for cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. I’ll be totally honest and say that the learning curve is pretty steep, but with practice and some tinkering you can get good results. I think this is an excellent addition to the kitchen of any serious baker! The ProvoCraft site has a fabulous FAQ section with all sorts of tips, hints, and suggestions about the machine, and if you contact them directly they are equally as helpful (and friendly)! I’m really glad I got to try it out!

Here is a video demonstration about the Cricut Cake machines:

To wrap it all up, here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Very sleek design – it looks great on the counter
  • Easy to clean
  • Allows you to make uniform design elements for cake/cupcake decorating, as well as cookies.

Cons:

  • Only comes with one cutting mat, which can slow things down
  • It is necessary to do reading online in addition to the manual before operating the machine
  • Requires a lot of counter space to use. The recommendation is 12″ clearance from the edge of your table/counter and 24″ behind for proper movement of the mats.

GIVEAWAY
The kind folks at Provo Craft will be giving one lucky winner their very own Martha Stewart Cricut Cake!  
To enter, just leave a comment on one of the “Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Cricut ” article. Answer any one of these questions in the Comments Section right below this article on our website.

Do what would you use the Martha Stewart Cricut Cake to cut? Are you a professional cake decorator or a hobbyist?

One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Sunday, November 21st 6pm CST to enter.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!