Fall is my favorite. In fact, over here on the McGreevy homestead, Fall is EVERYONE’S favorite.
Why? Well, I live in the Northeastern United States… and if you’ve never experienced Fall over ‘ere in our neck of the woods, then I dare say… you’ve NEVER experienced Fall.
The trees are enough to make you cry out of sheer beauty and joy… and I’m really not all THAT sappy about plant life, usually. But the glowing yellows, oranges and reds of our tall old trees in the autumn are a true sight to behold.
I’m lucky enough to live on several acres of maple trees that can… well… bring you to your knees this time of year. It’s THAT beautiful, yes.
What else? The air is crisp. Not cold enough to chill you to the bone (mostly) but crisp enough to warrant stoking up the fireplace inside, after a long walk, outside. A walk in which you were decidedly NOT accosted by a single bug… ’cause they’re all dead now. (I’m sorry, was that a bit harsh? Bugs and I… well, we don’t really coexist super well. But I digress…)
One more thing. Fall is pumpkins.
Pumpkins on the front porch… pumpkins to decorate the house… pumpkin spiced tea… pumpkin latte… pumpkin pie….pumpkin pie CAKE (check out the DELICIOUS recipe I have for that in my recipe box, HERE)…
bright orange and even pretty white pumpkins EVERYWHERE. And there’s just something about them that gets us all giddy over here. Maybe it’s that they’re a sure sign of the kickoff of the season… that we can now get our fall boots on and our corduroy jackets out, and rake up a pile of leaves to jump into.
Whatever it is, pumpkins mean Fall. And we love them. And I thought it might be fun to film a class on how to make a lovely pumpkin cake or two to help you celebrate this glorious season.
So I did.
This cake is a great cake for any level cake decorator, including beginners, as it’s relatively easy to make, a good introduction to the wonderful world of modeling chocolate… and the design is about IMperfection. It has room for error… no precision with this one, required!
In this class I show you, step by step, how to make this pumpkin cake, cover your board, and also how to make some pretty leaves and berries to embellish it. I also show you how to alter the original design and turn it into a cute little cake to bring to a child’s fall party!
There are tons of ways you could design your pumpkin cake… to be used as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table or even at your next Halloween party. And it’s a fun, easy cake that will have your guests wondering what ELSE you’ve got up your sleeve.
This full length video tutorial is now available for $5 in my tutorials shop… or you can click on the picture below to check it out now…
If you do decide to give it a go, post a photo of your finished pumpkin to my wall on my Facebook page. I’d LOVE to seeeee!!
And I wish you a very brisk but cozy, leaf glowing, pumpkin spice sipping, beautiful boot wearing, GLORIOUS Fall, everyone! Xx
Some affiliate links that may be helpful…
And see more of my FAVORITE tools in my Tools Shop, HERE!
Alright, I’m going to be completely honest here (and I run the risk of seeming totally oddballish… as if that’s something new… but I digress)… I DON’T like spooky. Or scary. Or creepy. Or gross. (I don’t even like Halloween! GASP!! shhhhh….)
(painting video tutorial at the bottom of this post)
I know. I’m a weirdo. But here’s the thing…
You know how you grow up (well, some do anyway ) and in the process you develop certain… ISSUES? Yeah. Well, one (of the thousands) I was riddled with was a severe “fear” issue.
No, really… I mean a large and IN charge, FEAR issue.
As a tween, I started reading Stephen King novels. Now, my parents were pretty strict… I couldn’t just watch anything on TV, and there were some pretty set regulations in our house concerning… well, ALL things, but my dad did have a love for “the scary”, you see.
He loved Stephen King and Peter Straub stories… and he LOVED scary movies. But HE wasn’t a scaredy cat. It was fun for him.
So, naturally, he was completely fine with me reading such novels. In fact, he would tell me which ones to read first, next, and so on.
But I am of a different breed, apparently. It was thrilling in a sense to be scared, yes, but I simply was not of the countenance to “just have fun” with it and let it roll off of me. I took it all in. With EACH book, and EACH scary movie.
And eventually, I just became chock full of fear… sceered out of my GOURD of the things that go “bump” in the night.
It was bad. Let me just say this… I couldn’t walk up the stairs alone at night. EVEN when I was in college. (See… I told you it was bad.)
But then I met Thomas.
I still don’t know what I did to catch this guy… but I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that he has “saved” me in so many ways.
And he was NOT into scary. And he saw what scary had done to me. And he WASN’T havin’ it.
The man cut me off from all things scary. No more scary movies… no more scary books, NOTHING that was going to feed my fear. And really, he’s not the type of guy who forces his will upon me or anyone else for that matter. But he saw how bad it was for me, and he knew something had to be done.
So I stopped. I no longer indulged in anything of the sort. In fact, I haven’t watched a scary movie in almost 15 years… and have ZERO desire to do so.
‘Cause, the truth is, he broke the hold fear had over me. (Well, with the help of God, he did anyway.) It worked. And I’m just not afraid like I used to be.
Now don’t get me wrong… I still have the normal “parent” fears and all. But those are more of the “worry” sort… you know, worrying about my kiddos and my family and such. But the FEAR of the creatures that lurk the alleys and cellars is gone. With the wind. And I like it. A LOT. And I have a lingering distaste for all things scary, now, because of it. (But please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not judging anyone who loves “scary”…heck, my father and brother still love their scary movies now and then. I’m just not counted within their ranks, is all… and that’s the way I need to keep it, ya know?)
(Ohmygersh, I talk too much.) Ok, WHAT IS MY POINT?! My point is this… how could I participate in a “scary” cake collaboration with all of THAT baggage?
I found a way. First off, Avalon made it clear that our project did NOT have to be scary. So for last year’s project, I made a She-pirate… which was a bit more “stern” than scary. For this year’s theme, though, it did have to be “twisted”. So I got the wheels turning. And THEN I saw the new movie, “Maleficent” in the theaters.
You know… Maleficent, the Mistress of all Evil (*whoooooowaahhhhhhhaaaahhhaaahhhh* <—evil, scary laugh)? Well, GUESS WHAT?? Disney went right on ahead and TWISTED the whole story all around… and ol’ Maley AIN’T evil anyomore!! Turns out (according to the new, IMPROVED version of the story) she never was!!! (Just a bit upset, is all.) I LUUUUUUUURVED the new story… I LUUUUURVED how they twisted it!!
And Avalon DID say “twisted” was this year’s theme, right?
So I did what any self-respecting, ex-fear-fighter would. I got out my paints and went to town.
And I created my second Sugar Spooks Cake Collaboration piece…
Maleficent… the Mistress ofAll GOOD. (Yes, she had her moments… but don’t we all?) Xx
(Oh, and I thought I’d video the process of her being painted, as I was using a new medium this time and thought maybe some of you might kinda sorta wanna see? So if ya do, here it is… )
Some affiliate links that may be helpful…
And see more of my FAVORITE tools in my Tools Shop, HERE!
They nearly lose all self control with the first snowfall… begging to get their snow “gear” on the moment they see it. And, as in numbers (four to be exact), they are a force to be reckoned with, I immediately bust open the “winter” chest and start tossing out the gloves and hats and scarves and snow pants… and the frenzy begins for another season.
They never quite tire of the snow.
But, once they are thoroughly frozen, from the tips of their toes to the icicles under their noses, they come tromping back inside, starting the strip down of their gear, and looking forward to the next part of this tradition as much as they did the snow frolicking.
They pull off their socks, situate themselves upside down on the chairs in front of the stoked, wood burning fireplace (highly inefficient but something we simply can not live without) so that their feet are basking in it’s heat…. and EAGERLY await their beloved mugs of hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate. The good stuff. Winter simply is NOT winter without it.
And that was the inspiration behind these steamy little toppers I made a few years back. A symbol of something most of us Buffalonians hold dear… the sweet warmth in the midst of the frigid.
I put together a little video tutorial for you, back then, of how I made these guys. They’re actually quite simple and easy to make if you use the silicone pan I show you in the video.
And they always impress the crowd. ’Cause whether you actually drink hot chocolate or not… somehow, the sight of it just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You know?
Here’s the video…
( You can click HERE to for a link to the silicone pan used in the video.)
AND, these little mugs can even be adapted to a pretty tea party theme… for spring… when the thought of more snow actually makes you want to vomit. (What? Spend ONEwinter over here, and you’ll be singing the same song. I guarantee it. We are cold-hearty… but even WE have our limits.)
Some affiliate links that may be helpful…
And see more of my favorite tools in my Tools Shop, HERE!
When I first started out the whole business of caking (I know…caking? The cheesy adjective many of us use to describe all o’ this craziness. But it’s quick and easy, and it just works… so of this cheese, I shall partake) I was DEATHLY afraid of fondant.
Yes, it’s true… my first ever cake WAS covered in fondant… and though it was a sad, slightly strange little cake, I was ,like, RIDICULOUSLYproud of the thing. And I am CONVINCED, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God sent down his most talented angels to surround me that day, and make their best effort to guide my arms, and hands, and BRAIN into covering that cake without a hitch. So that I would actually enjoy the episode… and start this crazy cake journey I’ve been on.
‘Cause I didn’t know WHAT on Earth I was doing… but that first cake covering somehow worked out well for me.
Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way for about another… oh, TWOyears after that.EVERY time I tried to cover a cake with fondant from there on in, it was a complete and utter disaster. Each one was an epic fail. And so I stopped. And let the fear take over.
But I still loved making cakes.
So I focused my energy on another path. BUTTERCREAM.
I dug. I researched. I attempted. I cried. I dug some more. I attempted again. I got close. (Prolly threw a few things across the room, here and there. Maybe.) I scoured and scoured, researched again. I practiced some more. I tweaked and adjusted. And I FINALLY got it.
And then I turned myself into a buttercream finishing MACHINE. (‘Cause the Lord knew, I wasn’t touching fondant again with a ten foot pole.)
All of that to say… almost all of the cakes I made for the first two years of my “caking” were finished in buttercream! (Which, incidentally, my customers seemed overjoyed about.)
Did I KNOW that actually it was harder to work on a cake finished in buttercream than one covered in fondant?? No.
Did I KNOW that covering a cake with fondant could actually be easier than trying to get a perfect buttercream finish? No.
I didn’t find these things out ’till years later, when I finally opened myself back up to the idea of the dreaded, nasty, evil fondant. (Fear will blind you to many a thing. Trust me. I’m an expert in that realm.)
But in the end, I must admit… I’m happy that I started off this business learning how to master a buttercream finish. ’Cause I now have that under my belt… and there’s a good chance I would have skipped it all together if I’d gotten the fondant thing down off the bat. And then I’d have one more thing to be scared about.
(And quite frankly, tackling your fears is awfully exhausting… especially when my “list” to tackle often seems much more like a short novel. But I digress…)
I gave an online class on achieving a smooth, (near) perfect buttercream finish last year, and I recorded it… so now I have a class video on how to tackle this beast!
In the video, I show you how I level and fill my cakes, how I achieve the smooth buttercream finish, and also how I pipe on some fun buttercream ruffles to add a li’l “pretty” to your project. It’s also chock full of little tips and tricks I use to make most of my cakes… and I’m making it available to you now for only $5.
SOOO… if ya ever wanted to know how to get one o’ those smooth, pretty finishes on a buttercreamed cake, you can click HERE, or on the picture below and get a full length video of me showing you how I do it (talking… working… with a bit of laughter mixed in) for, like, the cost of a trip to Starbucks.
Well, the cost of one of MYtrips to Starbucks, anyway.
(Oh, and I’ll eventually be moving this video to a platform that allows payment by PayPal… but if you NEED to pay through PayPal right now, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll work it out for ya.
Some affiliate links that may be helpful…
To see more of my favorite tools, visit my Tools Shop, HERE!
I am SO STINKING EXCITED to give you to you the FAAAAAABULOUS Elisa Strauss’s (of Confetti Cakes)BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW, NEVER SEEN BEFORE Goth Bag Cake tutorial… HERE!!!
It’s just so fantastic that I could… I could… I could just SCREAAAAAAAAAAMMMMM!!
But I won’t. ’Cause I’m the calm, cool, and collected sort. *snort* But I digress…
I’m so excited about this tutorial, that I’ve gone and got me some of her CRAZY awesome Marvelous Molds (links below) and I’ma gonna make me my OWN bag cake! (And pray, desperately, that is comes out 1/100th as awesome as the master’s, here.)
Aaaaaaand now YOU need to make one, too.
‘Cause you ain’t got an excuse not to, anymore. Knaw I mean?
K. Time to get to it!! ENJOOOOOOOOY, y’all!!!
(OOOOOH! And make sure to check out the bottom of this post, too. Some PUUURTY cool coupon’s for her RIDICULOUSLY cool Craftsy classes!! Gosh, this day just keeps getting better and BETTAH, I tell you.)
Elisa Strauss’s Goth Bag Cake Tutorial
One of the things that I find most difficult about making sculpted cakes is thinking of all the elements that need to dry AHEAD of time. The best thing about this sculpted cake is that nothing has to dry before you start! It is also a great design to embellish how you see fit- instead of a skull put any favorite number, letter, symbol and you’ll still have a very special cake.
What You’ll Need…
Two 9-inch by 13-inch sheet cakes
8 cups Filling
One pound gum paste- I suggest Satin Ice Brand
Food-coloring gels: Buckeye brown, Coal Black
Shortening (for rolling out gum paste)
Two pounds of chocolate fondant
Metallic gold dust
Gold disco dust
Templates for cake
Small rolling pin
Lizard Impression mat
Paring knife or X-acto knife
Small soft paintbrushes
Two 18-gauge covered wires
Large rolling pin
One 7-inch by 3.5-inch foam core board shaped to the base of your cake
One 5-inch by 2.5-inch foam core board (for separator)
One 12-inch round cake base (made from three pieces of foam core or store bought)
Before you start…
Dye the gum paste chocolate brown to match your fondant color.
Cut out the two foam-core boards. The base board should be a long oval with indents to match the shape of your cake design.
Assemble the cake…
1. Bake your cake according to the recipe. Let it cool completely. Chill the cake for at least 20 minutes before cutting it. This will make it easier to cut.
2. Cut six 9-inch by 4-inch rectangles of cake.
3. Place a dab of filling on the larger shaped, oval cake board and place the first layer of cake on top.
4. Build the first tier of the cake, filling the layers with ½ inch of filling, and creating a tier with 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of filling. After the third layer of cake is on, push down slightly to secure the layers.
5. Cut 3 dowels to the height of the bottom tier, and insert one in the center and one towards each corner, staying at least 1 inch in from the outer edge of cake. Spread the doweled area with a thin layer of filling. Place the smaller cake board (with rounded edges) on top of the bottom tier.
6. Spread it with a thin layer of filling then build the second tier from three layers of cake, filled with ½-inch layers of filling. When the top layer of cake is on, press down slightly to secure the layers.
7. Now you have a block of cake to carve. Begin carving the edges by trimming with a serrated knife, and sculpt the cake into a handbag shape like the one pictured here. Use the template provided to help you (or create your own template!) If the cake is shifting while you try to trim, freeze the cake for at least an hour before cutting. Cut away any cardboard that is showing with a serrated knife or scissors. When you are done sculpting, the cake should be approximately 7 ½ inches by 3½ inches at the bottom and 7 inches by 1 inch at the top. The total height of the cake should be about 8 inches.
8. Crumb coat the outside of the sculpted cake with a very thin layer of filling.
9. Cover the handbag cake with approximately 2 pounds of chocolate fondant. You will use a method called “piecing the fondant”. On a mat covered with some shortening, roll out half the chocolate fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Use the lizard impression mat all over the fondant to emboss the design. Use a template to cut out the general shape of the bag and attach to one side of the cake. If the fondant is too soft, pop it into the fridge for a few minutes to help it firm-up before attaching to one side of the cake, this will also help to keep the impression on the fondant when you smooth onto the cake. If any of the impression comes out of the fondant while attaching to the cake- don’t worry- the mat is silicone and can bend so you can just “touch-up” areas with reapplying the mat to the fondant.
10.Roll out the remaining chocolate fondant to create the other side. Repeat with embossing and cut out the shape before attaching to cake. Use a small brush and a small amount of water to the edges to help them stick together. Pinch the edges together to form a seam and cut away any excess fondant. (Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect- we will cover it later. Just make sure the fondant is completely covering the cake, no air pockets or holes!)
11. At this point I’d glue the cake to the cake base if you are using one. Either use Royal Icing or non-toxic glue. And if you are traveling far, I’d add a center dowel too!
12.Next form the handle. Take the two covered wires, twist them together to make them longer, you can wrap with some floral tape to make as smooth as possible. Curve to create a handle shape and then stick each end into the cake where the handle ends will be.
13. Roll out some gum paste to approximately ⅛” thick, large enough to accommodate two strips that will be 10” x 1”. First emboss the lizard design onto the gum paste and then cut the two strips to size, 10” x 1”. Apply some gum glue to the back of each strip and apply the strips around the wire “handle”. Add stitching to both sides along the edges.
14. Using the gumpaste, create azipper and zipper pull, either using a zipper mold or by hand. Attach to the cake with a small amount of gum glue. Paint the teeth of the zipper with a mixture of lemon extract and gold metallic dust. Paint the zipper pull and attach with a small amount of gum glue.
15. Create the spike piping for the sides of the handbag. I use a spike mold* and made 2 strips using the gum paste. Attach strips to cake using small amount of gum glue and create stitching along the sides using a stitching tool (a.k.a tracing wheel). Use a small brush to paint the spikes gold.
16. Create two large buckles and one large chainusing the appropriate molds. I added stitching details to the buckles. Paint the buckles and chain gold. Attach all three elements with gum glue, one buckle on each side of the cake and the chain centered along the handle. Create two tiny tabs out of gum paste to attach to the ends of the chain approximately ¼” wide, it makes it looked like the chain is sewn onto the handle.
17.Add a symbol that you desire to personalize the cake! Here I added a skull created out of gum paste, brushed with gum glue and sprinkled with gold disco dust. After brushing away the excess dust, I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then attached to the cake with some gum glue. Then added a Vintage Bow to give the “girl” some extra panache.
18. Use white glue to attach a decorative ribbon around the cake base.