Monday, May 31, 2010

Cricut Cake back to basics

In Reply to a lot of the queries I've had for Cricut Cake , I am going to set out some basic observations and discoveries I've made. Where I mention one product being better than another, I have road tested several options and these findings are in my humble opinion what I found to be the best.

The edible adhesives (for sticking the icing to the cutting mat)
Vegetable shortening - Crisco was the best product I tested (and is the product reccomended by the manufacturer). Any one purchasing Cricut Cake from Kiwicakes will be supplied Crisco free of charge. The reason we are supplying it with the machine is, it is not readily available in New Zealand (In the USA, you can purchase it at the supermarket). I have cut hundreds of pieces of icing over the last week, and I have barely put a dent in the top of my container, as you use it sparingly. It has a shelf life of aprx 1-2 years once opened, so you need not worry about it going off. Kiwicakes stocks Crisco, should you ever need to top up.
Crisco has the consistency of margarine, so you spread it on straight from the container with a pastry brush.
In New Zealand we only have access to Kremelta (in Australia they have Copha), which as you'll know is solid as a rock - this means you need to melt it before use, you cannot brush it on hot, so you need to wait for it to cool, I got tired of waiting for mine and got busy doing something else, when I remembered it, it had set again ARGH! It also has the tendency to set back to solid, unlike the Crisco which remains soft.

Spray oils
I hadn't thought of this - but it seems many of you have. By Spray oils, I mean the ones sold in an aerosol can. The coating of oil was just too fine the icing slipped and slid and did not actually ADHERE.

Yes! the Gumpaste (or sugar flower paste or modelling paste) works great. I find 100% gumpaste tiresome to roll out, as it is so springy - but I did it for you all. I cut out this simple Koru type swirl, amongst other things, from the Cake basics cartridge (this cartridge comes with the machine at time of purchase) I couldn't resist picking up part of the design and giving it a wee twist. I then let it air dry. However at 7.95 for a 200g pot, unless you actually make your own, I would just use fondant. However there is a need for gumpaste some times, especially if you need your elements to stand up on a cake. The piece I created here - without the twist, could easily be made in to Koru for a wedding cake (teamed up with some of the koru type borders). And don't forget, with cricut cake, you can make them anywhere from 1 inch up to 12 inches wide (In quarter inch increments).
With gumpaste, when you have finished cutting pick up all your scraps knead in to a ball, wrap in plastic and return to an airtight container. If it becomes a little dry. Simply knead in a little Crisco - it is a great gumpaste reviver.

FondantI road tested many brands of fondant. I had a pretty good idea before I started, that the fondant that came out on top would be the winner. However in case I was able to prove myself wrong, I went ahead with the tests. The supermarkets offer up quite a few brands to try, I stock 2 brands myself at Kiwicakes and there are yet more at speciality stores around the country. The brand that came out on top was Bakels Pettinice. The reason I suspected it might, was due to reading online posts about what was working in America, the brands they were suggesting worked the best, have similar working properties to Pettinice. For those of you that haven't tried Pettinice I'll endeavour to explain. Pettinice is somewhat elastic, when you pull it, it stretches quite a bit before it breaks, other brands I found to be more granular and "sugary" for want of a better explanation, when pulled they break with a coarse fracture and little stretch. This elasticity also meant when the Pettinice was being lifted off the mat, you could do so by lifting at the edge and peeling it off. Other brands of fondant broke when I tried to do this - to get them off the mat, I had to use a spatula like I was moving a hot cookie from a baking sheet.

Pettinice also required a much shorter resting time before it would cut cleanly (if you cut too soon, you get a jagged edge). In all of the reading I have done regarding people having trouble with fondant, the advice that seems to be consistently offered is to either freeze it or let it rest for one hour (and in some cases overnight). I wasn't too keen to freeze my fondant on the cutting mat, as I felt no matter how careful I was in my freezer, I would likely knock some ice crystals on to the icing, resulting in it getting sticky or wet. On top of this, the icing is so thin, it would thaw quickly and by the time I reached the end of the sheet with my cuts, it would be a different consistency to when I started (meaning I would need to adjust my cutting times/speeds). Based on my assumptions, I decided to skip the freeze test all together. I tried cutting all of the fondant immediately, with varying results from very bad, to slightly jagged. I found the Pettinice required only 15 minutes to air dry, before it cut nicely. I thought about my cake decorating habits. I figured if I rolled my icing out on my mat first up. Then proceeded to unpack my other cake decorating items, plug in the cricut etc, it would just about be ready for me. Whereas if I had to wait an hour, it might be a bit too much of a wait. I do think when I get my own Cricut Cake, I will invest in an extra cutting mat, so I can have more than 1 sheet rotating at a time. (I have to wait for mine, just like the rest of you)

Many posts suggested adding tylose or Gum trag, my testing was WITHOUT - i wanted to try the fondant under more difficult circumstances to see which performed best.

For my beginners I will point out, it does not matter if your fondant is coloured, this will not affect how it cuts. any coloured pettinice behaves the same way.

I also tried Chocolate Pettinice, this I was a little apprehensive about. For those of you that have used the chocolate before, you will know it is stickier than the other fondants. I had some left over from the chocolate cake I had made earlier in the day (see yesterdays post). I took it from its plastic wrap, rolled it directly on the mat and walked off to check my email. I'm unsure as to exactly how long I was gone, but it was under half an hour. It was dry to the touch and cut BEAUTIFULLY. I was ecstatic, I wanted to do the dance of joy, right then and there.

For those of us, that have deocrated cakes in the height of summer or high humidity, you'll know how sticky icing can become, I do believe when the weather is like this, some additional icing suagr will be required for dusting the surface or kneading in. I had no adverse weather conditions during my testing.

I have examples of my work with chocolate Pettinice, but its too dark to photograph them right now, so they'll come along a little later.

At this stage I think it is wise for me to point out, you need not worry about rolling your icing out exactly to the shape of your mat, you can use any shape, as you can direct the blade, to where to start cutting.

Edible image sheeting (is another post in its entirety still to come)

I wish I'd had time to cut pie pastry, cheese slices & pizza dough, like some of the posts I'vebeen readin - but I'll have fun with some of those crazy things, once I get my own machine in hand.

What I learnt about Cricut Cake & more

Today sadly I had to return the Cricut Cake machine to the distributor, alas, they need it to demo to others. I do feel honoured that I was trusted with it, for such a long time. I really put the machine through its paces, I've yet to share everything I did with you and all the machine is capable of. However I have received quite a few questions and requests. I shall endeavour to answer some of them here nd over my next few posts.
What I have learned

Cricut cake exceeded my expectaions

It is addictive

The cartridges are awesome

I wish this machine was in my life years ago!. It makes many things, such as lettering much more simple. This is where I discovered the hidden depths of a cartridge, for example - this picture below is what we the consumer are shown for the Birthday cartridge. Yet I cut the "Have a Sweet day" on the side of yesterdays chocolate cake from this cartridge. Now there is nothing to indicate, there is anything that cool on there!

So take a look at each icon on the birthday cartridge. Look closely they are small. See that tiny little icon for a princess. Well if you hit the font tab for that You can cut out "Happy Birthday princess with a crown" just like my cupcake cut out from yesterday (or my tea party below).

Press the cowboy button with the font button and you can cut out "Howdy Partner" Not only that, you can cut out a shadowed background for the writing to overlay on (You can make the shadow cut out for any/all phrades, not just the cowboy one)

Press the teapot button, not only can you cut the teapot you see, but use the font buttons and you can cut out "Tea Party"

The cartridge states you can cut about 600 different things from it - I sure believe it!. It is all explained in the accompanying booklet that comes packaged with the cartridge. Each Cake Cartridge wil also cut letters singly. Yesterdays cake with "I" heart "Cricut Cake" was cut with letters from the Cake Basics cartridge (this is the cartridge that comes with your machine when you purchase it here in NZ. The elegant cakes cartidge, has a lovely scrolly alphabet (stay tuned to see that on a cake that is almost finished)

Scrapbookers with paper cutting machines will already know the hidden depths of a Cricut Cartridge, but for those of us coming to Cricut for the first time - it's all new. Basically I could sum it up as - look at that little icon on the cricut cartridge and assume there are lots of things themed around icon. Font is not the only thing on the sub menu. As I share more posts with you - of my cutting adventures from the last week, I hope I will begin to be able to explain just how it all works.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Love Cricut Cake

I couldn't let today pass without an update on the Cricut Cake, for all of you waiting to hear more. I've quite a few icing cuts I've finished, but not yet photographed. I have to return the machine tommorrow, so wanted to spend the time cutting rather than photographing. It will be a long 3 weeks until the "Big Day Out" when I'll have the machine again to demo, the day is being hosted by the Waitakere club, but is open to all. If you're free Saturday 19th June - do come along. I'd love to see you.

I can whole heartedly say I adore Cricut Cake. It has exceeded my expectations (and I already thought it was pretty awesome). It was not as difficult to use as I thought it would be, after reading some posts online, about troubles people were having - and that others were too scared to take it out of the box.

Tommorrow I will be back, with details of what I've learned and just what it is about this wonderful machine that makes it better than awesome. I'll leave you with this little cake I whipped up this afternoon (yes it's a real cake)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A sneak peek at paper dolls (in icing)

Remember paper dolls from when you were a child?. What could be more fun than edible paper dolls. I read with interest that the Cricut Cake could be used to cut sugar cookie dough. I am envisaging sugar cookie people (chocolate & vanilla) and giving kids (and grown ups too) edible clothes to dress them with - but today I will have to satisfy myself with just icing. I chose some edible icing images from the Kiwicakes range

Here's a look at some of the cut outs, prior to assembly. I haven't got that far yet, as I still have hair & hats to make. When I first started cutting, I wondered what the slits int he clothing were for, then it dawned on me, to slip the arms or legs through (doh!)

My favourite has to be this dress - I think the photo has some witchy magic working, no matter how many times I flip it, it loads sideways - so I'm leaving it this way - cue head turn to the right!
For those of you with an edible image printer at home, the options are endless. They are actually now very inexpensive to buy, compared with the pricing some years back.

Some of the layering I promised you

Here are some photos of the layering I promised you yesterday. The umbrella & paisley are both from the Cricut Cake basics cartridge which comes with the machine when you purchase it. I cut the white shapes, and then used the shift key, to cut out the lay-outs for both. The base is white edible image sheet and I cheated for the top, I wanted pattern on my icing, instead of a plain secondary colour, so I grabbed an already printed edible image and let Cricut Cake, cut randomly from the red patterned edible image Click here if you want to see the one I used from the Kiwicakes range - to get an idea how the colours were, before it was cut up.
The layering for the umbrella is cut in 4 separate pieces (the paisley is a one piece lay on)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Today I received my SPCA Cupcake Day registration pack

Have you got yours? Click here to go to the SPCA Cupcake Day website to register and help this wonderful cause.

Today was all about layering

Today I felt the Cricut Cake & I were more in tune - I guess I am more familiar with everything. I've begun to figure things out so much more. I've worked out how to get in to the sub menus of the cartridges, which has opened up a whole new world. I had thought today I would be doing fondant (yesterday was gumpaste). But I fell in love with layering. Up until now, I've been doing single layer cuts. Rememebr that lovely big cupcake shape?. Well today I cut a striped cupcake wrapper for the base. Photos will follow over the next few days, I ran out of daylight to get photos today. I can tell you I've been having a heap of fun with "paper dolls" and have a vast array of bodies, outfits & hairstyles, all awaiting pairing up.
Just so you don't feel you've missed out on photos today. I have a great selection of photos of cakes, made by Audrey O'Kane Marshall from Alexandra. Audrey is the talented lady behind Cake Occasions She has been using the paper cutting Cricut adapted to work with icing for some years now. Audrey kindly agreed to let me share her work with you.

Audrey is very handy at paper work with the Cricut also - look at these stunning cupcake papers!

And boxes

And bags!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This machine is so addictive

Today was mouse free luckily (see yesterdays post). However I did find regular work got in the way of play time, and I wasn't able to get the Cricut Cake turned on until 11.30am. However the parcels must go out! Today was gumpaste day (yesterday was edible image sheets/frosting sheets). I am still slightly overwhelmed by the number of shapes I can cut, and as I'm still in test mode, I decided to cut out some shapes, that I had already cut in frosting sheets - so I could easily compare their properties. The posts of gumpaste will be updated here as time permits, as unfortunately for this blog, I still have a few hours work to put in tonight. However I do have time to share with you some of my day. This afternoon I had a visit from my lovely long time flickr friend Lisa who was visiting Auckland & Whangarei, on a short business trip. Lisa and her lovely husband Donald are the wonderful couple behind Denheath desserts in Timaru. If you have never tried their custard squares, cheescakes or E-squares, you simply must - do you remember the box Lisa sent me? (oh dear, I feel my credit card twitching, I feel a mail order coming on). I urge you to check out their website, their overnight service for awesome edibles is second to none and a great way to send a gift to a loved one, in another city.
I was able to show Lisa & Donald just what this wonderful machine can do. I am sure Lisa won't mind me sharing , that she was impressed with the fine filigree it can cut out.

Despite the fact I was late in getting to Cricut cake today, we still had time to break for afternoon tea, whilst this only consisted of store bought lamingtons, I thought I would surprise Grandma Kiwicakes and give afternoon tea, the Cricut experience. A daisy for each - and who could resist an edible lace doily for underneath.
I couldn't decide initially round or square doily?
In the end, I think square won!

One of the things that impresses me most about Cricut cake, is you can cut a daisy such as this from very tiny, going up in 1/4'' increments, right up to 12''. That's around 50 different sizes for just one shape!

So if you saw this cake photo, you could not immediately guess the size of the cake - it could be 4'', it could be 12''.

Ok so it's 6'' - this gives huge scope for custom favours, to match a cake, for any wedding party or special occasion

I said to my dear hubby Vaughan when I got home today - this machine is more addicitve than wine!

In the last few days, I have learnt an increible amount, about all things cricut, this is thanks in part, to the wonderful Audrey & Flo. Who have been very kind in sharing their vast knowledge bank with me. I'll be sharing more from Audrey & Flo, as we go along. Thank you ladies!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cricut Cake machine & my adventures today

Today the Cricut Cake demo machine arrived at Kiwicakes. BUT and there is a big BUT, I was over an hour late for work today. OF ALL THE DAYS I could pick to drop a 1kg container of Chicken stock in the pantry, it had to be today. I have no one to blame but myself, I used it last night and didn't put the lid back on properly. How you ask?, did I manage to do this?. WELL! for over three weeks, we have been having a visit from a mouse at home. I have had a trap in the pantry for 3 weeks, which it had been ignoring. Until last night!. I moved the chicken stock by the lid - to check the trap - and yes! today we had a mouse, the surprise caused me to jolt dropping the chicken stock. I screamed as the chicken stock fell (not because of the mouse). My three year old came running "are you hurt Mummy?" & then "OH DEAR! - what a mess". BOY that was some clean up job!. The upside is, my pantry probably hasn't looked so clean in a while.
When I unpacked this wonderful machine, I found not only had I been sent the machine, but I also had a wonderful selection of cartridges to play with.

The Cricut Tool Kit, I feel is fantastic value at 49.99 for all you get, all of the tools would easily be used in other Cake decorating work.
Now I have my own versions of each of these tools, but the small spatula works much better than any I have, when sliding it under the frosting sheets. And how cute with the Cricut logo on each tool.

And you also get this great little poking stick - in case any pieces get stuck in those super fine holes.
So on to what I achieved today

Well there is this

and these

and this

now I wouldn't want to cut this by hand.

So today I could sum in a nut shell how I was feeling as

No lets make that - LUCKY with flashing lights and bells on (that's purple glitter all over the letters - up close and personal, they were far pettier than my photo portrays - but light was failing by the time these beauties had their photo taken)

Today I decided to start with frosting sheets - also known as edible icing sheets (I'd lost so much of my morning already - I decided to start with the quickest product first - tommorrow I will be test driving gumpaste) That's right, these are the sheets of icing you put through a printer to make an edible image. And through my adventures with this machine today, testing multiple brands of frosting sheets, I have discovered what I feel to be the perfect brand to work with this machine. Some brands were too thin, others just didn't cut as well. I have done hours of testing and feel confident of my final choice. I will be adding the sheets I have used today, in to the Kiwicakes product range. As I am high on Cricut excitement, in a fit of madness, I have decided to add in frosting sheets for all preorder customers, so you can be as happy as I am today, when you first test your machine. We will also have these sheets available for purchase.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New release Dora & Spongebob Squarepants cake pans

Today the new release Dora & Spongebob arrived. Both of these pans have been made in other styles previously, but these are all new designs.

Wilton character pans just arrived

2 new character pans just arrived today Elephant & Dump truck, priced at $31 each.

New Cupcake wrappers just arrived

These 2 new styles of cupcake wrappers have just landed today. I think the Olivia sea blue-green wrappers would be perfect for Paua or beach themed weddings as the wonderful photo below shows.

Or perhaps Sophia in Cheetah design, to let you show your wild side.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fondant Quilting

I often get asked how to do quilting on fondant - I just saw this snazzy wee post on Wilton for how to Click to go to Wilton's how to It uses the fondant cutter embosser tool and this great tip is one of hundred in the book Celebrate with Fondant.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Somewhere over the Rainbow

I just love to announce price drops - I think this one could even be classed as a price plummet. Just in 10 colours of floral tape. Now only $4 per roll (previously $6-$8.50 per roll)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Testing! Testing! 1-2-3

Recently I've had a special feature added to the Kiwicakes website, which allows me to offer discount coupons throughout the year. And I need to test it out. Until 24/05/2010 enter the coupon code BLOG at checkout, to receive 10% off orders over $50. (excludes gift vouchers - limited to one per customer). Offer does not apply to orders processed before or after this time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Books Books Books & more Books!

New book titles continue to pour in. Today sees the arrival of Peggy Porschen's Cake Chic & Romantic Cakes As well as Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes and Mich Turner's Couture Wedding Cakes So many pretty cakes - I am in book heaven!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pretty party cakes by Peggy Porschen

I am pleased to be expanding our book caetgory at Kiwicakes. Just arrived today Pretty Party cakes by Peggy Porschen. Over the next few weeks we have some more great titles by Peggy Porschen due in, as well as other well known cake decorating authors.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Decorating Tools Demystified – Lily Nail Set

Wilton has a fantastic recent blog post on how to use a lily nail set. Well worth a look from both the experienced & beginner. Click here to read the full post
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