Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Top Ten Cakes of 2014!

Well, here we are again, at the end of the year of 2014. I absolutely cannot believe how quickly this year has flown for me.

I have been SO busy with my  business that my last blog entry was in August 2014, when I filmed my very first video tutorial on Youtube.

2014 marked a beginning of opening my business to the help of others. Since 2008, I have been a one-woman show and now being back in Malaysia, the business has just grown so quickly that I cannot possibly do it all by myself anymore. I decided to hire an intern, to assist me with my day to day duties. It's been the best decision ever. An extra pair of hands makes so much difference!

I was also featured on a local television programme, Women's Zone on NTV7! The crew came over my home studio and filmed a 7 minute slot of me, baking, icing, and decorating a 4 tiered cake. It was such a fun experience! You can view the episode on www.tonton.com.my if you are in Malaysia. Go to Women's Zone and I am in Episode 13 Season 6. 

So if you are based in Kuala Lumpur, have some basic cake decorating experience, be reliable and highly motivated, please email me jessica.ting@miss-shortcakes.com
 
So today is the 31st of December 2014, and I would like to share my Top Ten Cakes of 2014. It's going to be a hard one, but I can already pick a couple which were just stellar designs and took me out of my comfort zone.

10. Butterfly and Blossoms

The cake that started the Floral Ball trend amongst my clients. Love this one for the subtle colours, textures and details.
 
9. Hungry Caterpillar

From the iconic children's story book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake. Something I can totally relate to, because my son is a huge fan and so are millions of children all over the world. I had so much fun painting the colour palettes and creating the shapes and decoration. Comments on my Instagram were, "Best Hungry Caterpillar ever seen". *grin*

8. Nursery Rhymes

This cake was based on invitations designed by my favourite girls at www.mint-events.com
I created this 3 tiered Nursery Rhymes cake for a regular client of mine, who's daughter was turning 1. It had Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Humpty Dumpty as they were Daevinna's favourites.


 






















7. Emerald Ombre


Gorgeous, gorgeous cake!! This was a Maggie Austin design originally, and I changed the arrangement and type of sugar flowers, to include a Magnolia, frilly Ranunculas, and Tulips.
The colour was a mixture of black, green, blue and then it was shimmered with pearl. Loved this colour. The beads were placed one by one with edible pearls and dragees in colours to suit the cake.

6. Black and White Striped Mad Hatter


This cake was for a wedding anniversary, ordered by one of my regular clients as well. She left the design completely up to me and wanted sugar flowers as a must. I decided to do something out of the ordinary with the addition of edible wafer print on the surface of this cake, accented with black and white stripes AND a Mad Hatter shape. The bold colour of the orchids just brought this cake to life. It is my most liked photo on Instagram to date. 

 5. Ivory and Gold Ruffle 




An elegant ivory and gold wedding cake created for Sharmiah. Her theme was vintage and set amongst the beautiful gold and bronze ballroom at Cyberview Resort. This is the cake that started the ruffle trend and led me to create my first Youtube tutorial on how to make these simple, but effective scrunch ruffles. You can view it here Scrunch Ruffle Youtube Tutorial


4. 4 tier Hexagon 

Created for the TV show, Women's Zone, for NTV7. They wanted something tall and elegant, and basically a showstopping showpiece. This design is based on a wedding cake created by Simple Sweet Cakes and Cupcakes from Toronto. I changed the artwork and sugar flowers. Still one of my favourites.

3. 7 Tiers!!



Enough said. I still can't believe I did this all by myself!


2. Watercolour Flamingo

Photo courtesy of Jokee Tan of Coochicoo Lil Mama
Jokee from Coochicoo Lil Mama, and I came up with this Flamingo cake for her Tropical Paradise wedding event. She wanted something very unique and showed me a photo of a wedding cake that had this shape and the orange marbling effect. The artwork that was used at the reception had parrots and flamingos. So I suggested this watercolour effect flamingo, surrounded by gold scroll work. Jokee made paper flowers with crepe paper, to finish off the cake. It was so slim and heavy, that I was so nervous delivering the cake to the venue. Thankfully, it arrived in tact.

It was a marriage made in heaven, so to speak. The cake was stunning!! I loved making it and this also created a big stir on my Instagram page.

And now for the Cake of the Year...

1. Grand Piano 

It is without a doubt in my mind, that this is it - the Cake of 2014. And what a way to finish off the year! Just created a few weeks ago in December 2014, for a lucky man turning 60.

The client wanted a 3D Grand Piano cake, and it had to be as realistic as possible. This is the first time I created a cake on a platform base and upped the ante for complex novelty designs!

I was so nervous and anxious leading up to the cake and it took almost a month of planning to ensure, that this cake would make jaws drop.

My friend, Rob, who's a product designer helped me cut the MDF and base needed for the support of this cake. Thank you thank you thank you!!! Once that was done, everything else fell into place.

It took me 13 hours in one stretch, to decorate and finish the cake.

And here it is!



There will be a blog post to follow this that will show you how I created this masterpiece. My Instagram went nuts as soon as I posted the work in progress shots! This must be THE proudest moment of my entire career. 

2014 Wild card Cake

Only because I couldn't keep it to only 10 cakes, I threw in a wild card. This was a corporate  cake for a jeweller in Malaysia, turning 100. Edible jewels and black scrolls  framed the gold company logo. 


 

Thank you to all my amazing clients who entrust me with their wedding and birthday cakes. I can't tell you how honoured I am to be a part of your special day. Most of all, thank you for allowing me to have artistic freedom. And of course to all my fans who religiously like, comment and share my work from all corners of the world. It is you, that gives me the motivation to keep up the posts.

I'm so looking forward to 2015 and to more exciting projects. Watch this space.
More cake adventures and bigger steps to a brighter future.

xx Miss Shortcakes





 



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scrunch Ruffle Video Tutorial

So I've decided to embark on a Youtube tutorial journey and my first video is on, "How to make scrunch ruffles". 

I make them quite a lot and they give a wedding cake a beautiful vintage touch. It's very time consuming but the end result is well worth it.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial and feel free to leave me a comment!

You can view the video by following the link below to Youtube and don't forget to subscribe to my Miss Shortcakes channel as well, as I will be uploading more tutorials in the near future!


Scrunch Ruffle Video Tutorial 

Thanks for watching! x

 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Miss Shortcakes Profile Video


It's finally ready! We've been working on this video for months now and it's been a real labour of love. 

I basically wanted a profile video, as a peek into what I love doing. Being a cake decorator has been such a rewarding career for me, not only do I get to see naked cakes, transformed into works of art every week, but I also get to stay home, and watch my son grow. 

video


Miss Shortcakes has been a part of my life for the past 8 years, and to have "her" where she is now, is a dream come true. It started out very modestly, from my tiny 2 bedroom apartment in Sydney. I didn't even have a proper table to roll out icing. I used 2 coffee tables and joined them together, and rolled on my knees! What a nightmare, that was! I kept my day job as a pastry chef, and attended a few night courses and then friends started to order cakes from me. 

Then, I got a job as a cake decorator through industry contacts, and that's when the love really became apparent. I got better and better and discovered, there is SO much to learn in cake decorating. 8 years on, I'm still learning everyday through trial and error, and attending courses overseas, at least once a year. 

Some days, I have to pinch myself, because I can't believe how my little home business, has grown into a real business. 

And to be dubbed as, "The talk of the town"...well, that is simply amazing.

Thank you to everyone who have helped me along the way, and given me encouragement to keep going. When you are passionate and believe that it can work, you'll do whatever it takes, to make it happen.

To all my loyal supporters and fans here in Malaysia, and around the world, well, you guys are just, simply amazing.

Stay tuned for more exciting projects!

xx Jessica



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Choosing a Wedding Cake

Everyone often thinks, "It's just a cake. Why do I have to spend so much on something we are going to eat, anyway?"

Let me tell you that it's not just cake, but it's a statement. The wedding cake is just as big as a statement, as choosing the right gown on your wedding day. It's part of the wedding ceremony, where the bride and groom cut the cake, and feed each other a piece of the cake, as husband and wife. This provides endless photo opportunities for the photographer on the day, and having a beautifully executed cake, that match the details, makes the day complete.

A good timeline to give yourself when choosing a wedding cake, is a minimum of 6 - 8 months prior to the wedding. This will give ample time for yourself, and the cake designer to bounce around ideas and to start planning. Some items may need to be ordered from overseas, or if there are any changes to colours or themes, this timeline is realistic enough to make any necessary adjustments.

Most cake designers are booked well ahead of time, so it's always best to get in as early as possible. Once, I got a phone call for a wedding cake for 300 people on a Thursday afternoon, and the wedding was for that Saturday! I was in utter disbelief, especially when the person over the phone could ask me, "How long does it take to make a cake?!" 

Ahem. For 300 people? Sure, let me see what I have in the back. 

Riiiiight.

Always browse through the portfolio of your cake designer. This will give you an idea of what his or her style is like. You may be after something clean and simple, or romantic and vintage, or traditional and conservative. Most designers these days are willing to replicate a photo, but it will never be exactly the same as the original. Always choose your cake designer for their style, because this will ensure that your cake will illustrate, what they do best.


Top left : Photo courtesy of Mint Events, Bottom left:  Photo courtesy of McKay Photography

Once you have selected the designer, then it's onto the design requirements. The first place to start is how many portions you would like the cake to feed. Do you want it simply for photographs, or would you like each and every guest to have slice of cake? If it's just for photos, then more often than not, you can opt for styrofoam tiers. The bottom tier will be the edible cake, and the rest in sytrofoam. Your guests will not even know the difference. As for cost-wise, it will work out to be slightly less expensive. But having said that, the decorations on the outside still remain the same, which is where most of the time is spent. 


Some brides like to match their dress to their cake, and providing swatches of the fabric and photos of the dress, help the designer recreate it, as close to as possible. From gorgeous ivories to pearl whites, lace work to embroidery, these days almost everything can be replicated into icing and cake. 

I did a Steampunk Wedding cake a few years ago in Sydney. Steampunk was an exciting era of new inventions, corsets, metals, and strong bold colours. What could be more fitting than a cake in rich red, gold, bronze and copper?


Top left: Photo courtesy of Everylastdetail.com, bottom left : photo courtesy of Etsy.com, Steampunk cake by Miss Shortcakes
Left : Photo courtesy of Brides of Adelaide and Cake by Miss Shortcakes

Left photo courtesy of Wedding Inspirasi , dress by Vera Wang, Cake by Miss Shortcakes

Wedding flowers and invitations are also elements which can appear on the wedding cake.  It's best to match the wedding flowers with the sugar flowers or fresh flowers used on the wedding cake. Continuity is key. And also ribbons or textures that were used on the invitations, can be added onto the cake. It's the smallest details that make all the difference.

Here are 2 cakes which were derived from the Wedding Invitations
Some couples also like to customize their wedding cake, in a more personal manner. Below is an example of a personalized wedding cake. The bride was Chinese and the Groom was German. Hence the use of the Chinese lacquer box and German-themed travel stickers on the luggage. Both of them loved to travel and have lived in many places all over the world. 




The most important thing to remember when choosing a wedding cake is, to ask yourself, "Does it suit the theme of the night?". You may like to get a cake with red roses and black detailing, but if your wedding is filled entirely with blush pink and ivory, the cake would look out of place. So in this case, perhaps you can keep the same details of the cake, but change the colours instead. Easy peasy.

A reasonable-sized budget is also a good idea when planning for a wedding cake. As cake designers become more and more skilled at producing extraordinary cakes, the price tag may seem steep. But don't forget, it takes days of preparation and production, some times, weeks, just to execute the cake from baking to final product. The hours and hours of consultation and follow-up's before the baking starts should also be accounted for. 

And finally, have fun with it. Choosing the right wedding cake should be the most enjoyable task of all. At the very end of the night, there's a delicious wedding cake to be devoured! 


Thanks for reading x 

Do stop by my Facebook page for more updates here www.facebook.com/msshortcakes

   

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Learning From The Best (Part 2)

I became aware of Karen Portaleo's work when I stumbled upon THE Octopus cake online. I was instantly amazed at the genius behind it. The sculpting itself would have taken forever and Karen nailed it. Every curve and tentacle was so well executed, you could stare at it for hours, and wonder how the heck did she do it out of cake.

Words fail me whenever I see this cake. It's unbelievable

January 2014, Karen Portaleo was teaching 2 classes at the Mother of Cakes Academy, Pennsylvania. I could not miss it. I signed up for the Indian Dancer class, and that soon sold out. Despite the polar vortex hitting the East Coast quite hard, we all got there in time! Although, I heard Karen was stuck in Georgia and her flight was delayed 4 times! She eventually got to Pennsylvania at 4pm, when her first class was scheduled at 9 am!

I took the bus to Pennsylvania from Port Authority NYC the day before class was due to start and it took just under 2 hours. It was quite an easy journey as the scenery was lovely, albeit being slightly hungover. Why do I always do this to myself before travelling! Hahah! 

Everything was covered in snow and it was refreshing to see the countryside, so serene and calm. I could have kept going...

My suite. It was so comfortable. I looked forward to it every night. It was only missing a fireplace.
Outside the Homewood Suites by Hilton. There was nothing around us!


The next morning, class started at 10 a.m. The lovely Sarah Myers from High Five Cakes kindly picked me up, and took me to the academy. I had seen so many photos of the MoC school online and was thrilled to finally be there! Tanveer, our host made us all feel very welcome, and she really is like a Mum of the Academy! (Thanks Tanveer x)

It was a full house. Students had travelled from all over America - LA, Seattle, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Maine, NY, NJ, and of course, myself, from Malaysia!! I had come a loooong way, so move over - Im'ma gonna take lots of photos and ask a million questions!! ;)




The Panda, Karen's other class project
























We kicked off the class constructing the armature for the bust. Armature and I, are have this unrequited love. We met at the Galloping Gus course with Kaysie Lackey Sydney, 2013. I had never worked with it, and we dove into a very advanced structure. Right into the deep end, and I had to swim. Once again, everyone in this class knew what they were doing with the armature.

Karen explaining how to do prepare the armature

For me, it was revisiting the horror. You gotta break out the drill, the spanners, the nails and screws and hammer. Connect the flange to the board with the 1/4 inch screws, then insert the 2 1/2" nipple to the 3" elbow, tighten...*say what? As if I'm already not lost, using cm's would help, too!*

So we get busy, carving out the foamcore, attaching the flange and screwing on the pipes etc. This structure was way simpler than the Galloping Gus cake, and soon, my internal structure was ready.

Then, they broke out the Rice Krispie Treats. Hah! Something else I knew NOTHING about. I'm used to good ol' styrofoam. I was pleasantly surprised though. They used ready made sheets of RKT and I found it very easy to sculpt and carve with. It was less mess than styro and much easier to work with. I definitely need to explore this medium a little bit further on my cakes in KL.

The target of the class was to create a face sculpture, so using RKT was the medium to do so. We could spend as long as we wanted on the face, and eventually take our project back with us, and it'll be fine for months on end. Using cake, would have shortened its shelf life, for sure.

I for one, was very keen to learn face sculpting. We used modelling chocolate, another medium I was not that familiar with. But I will need to experiment here in Malaysia with it, to see if it'll work in hot environments as well. Karen proceeded to demonstrate the face sculpting. And of course, with ease, she created a face from a lump of modelling chocolate!

Her techniques were incredible and with the use of 2 tools and her hands, it was sheer poetry, just watching her work.


From this...

To this!
Karen is a wonderful teacher and was always calm and ready to answer anything you threw at her. She explained everything to us very clearly, but what I would have liked was perhaps a step-by-step demo. More like a demo of the eyes first, then a break for us, to go and do our eyes. Then she could move onto the nose. So this way, she could also keep watch on what each of us were doing with our face. It was a lot to take in, all in one hit! My head was overloaded with mental notes of what she was doing to the face!

Once she was done with her face, then it was our turn. The first step was very hard. Once I had the chocolate on the face structure, to make that initial first imprint was crucial. I started with the eye indentation and then moved onto the nose. Eventually, a couple of hours later, I had the face done. I wasn't thoroughly happy with it, but at least now, going back at all my photos, I know where I went wrong.

Sculpting a face is not a walk in the park, and getting all the proportions right are absolutely vital! Mine had a lopsided brow and her eyes weren't balanced :( I always have a problem getting the left eye to match the right!

We ended the day around 6.30 pm and I was exhausted. I just wanted my bed. We were due to get back to class at 8.30 a.m the next day, so I needed my rest. We had a full day of painting to look forward to! 

Bright and early the next day, it was time get a move on. Karen gave us some time to add on the top of her saree and jewelery to get things going. So I decided to make a peacock green colour (my favourite at the moment), and added a hand moulded choker to her neck. I didn't want to spend too much time on the embellishments, because I can do that at home. I wanted to concentrate on her face.




Painting the details onto the face was next and I couldn't wait! I love painting! As soon as Karen's hands touch a paintbrush, the magic begins. The first eye she painted on, just brought the sculpture to life. Look at it. It's so real, it's almost eerie. Then the other went on and whenever I walked by, I could almost feel her eyes staring right at me. Everyone felt that. She was so real. So real, that one could not help, but be drawn to those enchanting eyes.
 


I just went for it and didn't even hesitate. I tried my best to replicate Karen's eye, but like all hand made products, it will never be the same as what you've been taught.

I was quite happy with the painting on mine but yet, the flaws on her face still bugged me! Her eyebrows were too close together, the brow bone on the right side, is lopsided, and her eyes are not the same size....damn it. 

The class ambled along and soon our Indian Dancers starting to take shape. We rolled and we embossed, we moulded and we draped, and bit by bit, some had hair, some had the veil on, and some even started painting the gold jewellery on.

It was another late night and we ended the day around 6.30pm again. Tanveer had updated us regularly on the weather report. Heavy snowfall was due the following day, all day and we were warned that those leaving that night, might experience delays. So we were advised to come in as early as possible to avoid getting stuck at our hotels.

Right. So it was an 8 a.m. start on our last day.

And this is what I woke up to...

It's around 7.15 a.m

I couldn't resist a picture in the snow. It was so soft and lovely :)

Hotel grounds all covered in snow

At the MoC carpark. Snowed under. No one was there yet at 8 a.m. There were 3 cars with other students all waiting to get in.

In America, everything still kinda runs when there's heavy snowfall. Everyone just gets out their shovel and starts shovelling away. Snowplows work the streets fast and clear the roads after the snowfall. It's quite remarkable actually. So here at MoC, it's business as usual. Everyone gets to class more or less on time, and we get busy.

It's the final day and we can spend all day adding the finishing touches and Karen also had a surprise for us. She brought in lots of new toys for us cake decorators. It's Sugarveil! Sugarveil is a form of confectionery icing used to create intricate lace work and patterns. It's a revolutionary product that creates delicate lace work that is pliable and flexible. I've seen more and more decorators use this product on their cakes, so I was keen to learn how to use it!


Applying the sugarveil onto the mats






I really hope I will be able to use this product in Malaysia. It's wonderful! It can test your patience, but if you have it on a good day, it really has that "WOW" factor!


All day long, the snow kept falling and there was a certain calmness in the air at the MoC that day. Everyone was having fun and working on their cakes, and having the best time. I loved it.


So when we had all finished our work, it was time to group together and take photos! 


Karen and all the students' work!

Karen and Sarah

My sculpture, against the snowy background.

Karen and I

Karen's masterpiece
Not only is Karen a talented cake artist, she's also the sweetest and nicest person! I loved learning from her and was so inspired. I couldn't help but give her a hug, after she had shared a video time lapse of her Gypsy Warthog cake with us. It was awe-inspiring to say the very least. One day, I hope to be as great as she is.

Thank you Karen Portaleo for sharing your talent with me and for being the mind-blowing artist that you are! 

And to Tanveer, for being such a gracious host. Your staff worked very hard to keep us all happy and I shall be back soon! 

Thanks for reading and do stay tuned for more updates.

xx Jessica