A Naked Cake

naked cake 1

Last weekend I decorated my first naked cake.  Honestly, I wasn’t terribly crazy about the cake to start with, but I ended up loving how it turned out, and it was absolutely perfect for the setting—it was a barn wedding.

However, the barn was NOT perfect for the cake.  The first thing I noticed when I arrived was that the table wasn’t level, and there was no possible way to level it.  The floor boards were wavy and varied in elevation by up to two inches.  It was crazy.  I did the best job of scooting the table around to get it as level as possible, but it was definitely still leaning.

If that were the only problem, things would have probably been fine.  But it gets worse.  The barn floor was not supported, so anytime someone walked across the floor, it bounced, shaking the cake.  And I’m talking minor earthquake level shaking—the cake jiggled a couple inches back and forth if someone didn’t tiptoe.  I actually had to pause while putting berries on until people passed through because it was shaking so much that I couldn’t get them on.

However, there was nothing to be done—no way to add floor support at that point!  So I finished the setup and hoped for the best.  In the end, nothing came crashing down (except for a few berries).  Once people started walking from the ceremony to their seats, though, I’m told it had to be held up with a spoon!  It was the first wedding in that barn, and the family tells me the owners have now realized the floor needs support to continue doing weddings there.  It’s always fun to be the guinea pigs! 

Luckily, the bride and groom were super laid back and loved the cake anyway.  I’m really glad it was this type of cake and not a more traditional one.  I think if it had had iced sides, the icing would have fallen off, and if it had been one with pillars, I probably could never have set it up in the first place.  With all of the bouncing, it was like doing a cake on a boat!

As far as the decorating, though, this cake was super easy.  The hardest part was making it sloppy.  The bride really liked the messy look, and I kept having to stop myself from smoothing out the icing blobs and just let them ooze out over the edge!  Honestly, I may make a very pared down version of this for a summer party sometime.  Since the icing didn’t have to be perfect, I had a little freedom with ingredients/flavors, so it tasted extra good, and the fruit really made it special—perfect for a summer wedding.

naked cake 2

This was the wood cut cake topper the bride chose—perfect, right?

naked cake 3

a 10th birthday tie-dye cake

Recently a friend of ours asked me to make a birthday cake for their little girl’s tie-dye themed birthday party.  The father has been so helpful to us with our home remodel (he’s a contractor) and so generous with tools, etc. that I decided to do it for free.  I’m definitely glad someone didn’t pay me for this cake.  It’s passable, but it’s just not one that I finished and was really happy with.  It’s just kind of “okay.”


I used the Wilton Color Mist Spray   to get the look, but they just aren’t as rich of a color as the airbrush system I used when I worked at the bakery.  I had never used the Wilton sprays before, and while they aren’t as good as the several hundred dollar system, they are a good alternative for home bakers.  I was happy with all the colors except for the red, but red is a difficult color to achieve in icing coloring alone.

To give it a more authentic tie-dyed look, I made an asterisk pattern out of yarn to make sure there were some white spots.  It worked fairly well, but the yarn blew around some from the force of the spray, so it didn’t give me as stark of a white as I was hoping for.  Also, by the time I got the message and a few flowers on a 10-inch cake, it pretty much covered up the design part of the tie dye.

IMG_5352     IMG_5353


Still, it could be much worse, and I think the birthday girl will be happy with it, which is what really counts.  I did add some edible glitter to the top of the cake over the message and flowers, and I’ve always thought that sparks a cake up like nothing else will.  I never used it until I worked at the bakery, and they used it on top of every message and flower cluster.  It gives it an extra special touch (and helps distract from anything that may or may not be a bit unsightly!).


a 65th anniversary cake


June 20th was my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary.  We had to have a party, of course, because 65 years is quite an accomplishment.  Not only is it rare these days for couples to stay married that long, but when you get past 50 years, both people sometimes just don’t live that long.

Anyhow, we had a pitch-in (or potluck for those in other regions) party in the evening held outside.  The weather cooperated fairly well.  We’re having a drought in Indiana, and there was a 20% chance of rain that day.  So, we chanced it and went ahead and set all the tables up with plastic tablecloths.  All of a sudden, the thunder started up, and it began to totally pour.  It didn’t last long, but everything really got soaked.  Luckily, everything was plastic except for the cake tablecloth, so we just left everything and then went out to dry things off when it was over.  The sun took care of the rest, and by party time, everything was great.


My mom and I made a cake for the occasion.  I love doing cakes with my mom—she bakes the cakes, makes the icing, and I get to decorate.  I’m faster at decorating than my mom because of my work in the bakery, so it works well that way when we do it together.  I always feel like I get to do the fun part without all the other work!

My grandmother wanted pink flowers on the cake, and we had to choose a more traditional design that would appeal to an older lady, so the style isn’t something I’d choose myself, but it turned out nicely, and my grandma loved it.  We already had it decorated but had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby for the topper, and I found these little pearls in the wedding/floral department.  I think they really sparked things up.  The cake stand also came from Hobby Lobby.  I’ve used it so often, and I just love it.  It’s sturdy, easy to carry, and it makes any cake look a bit more elegant.


I also designed the invitations for the party with My Digital Studio from Stampin’ Up!  It was a very simple design and took me about ten minutes for the entire thing:

carmichael anniversary-001

I always love looking at the wedding pictures of older couples I know now.  After all these years, my grandparents still hold hands and kiss each other goodnight and goodbye.  I hope, if I’m lucky enough to live as long as they have, that I’m still as happy with my husband as they are with each other. 


Making my own wedding cake

My own wedding was almost six years ago, well before I started blogging.  However, my recent posts about other cakes made me decide to do a quick recap of my own wedding cake.

I decided to do my own cake first because it would be much cheaper, but second because the only wedding cake bakery in town (other than walmart or a grocery store, and I was not going to go to one of those) was the one I worked at, so I could, in theory, end up doing my own cake there anyway.  Also, if I did my own, I would get exactly what I wanted, and I’d be in total control, so there would be no surprises.  While I wasn’t picky about everything, cakes are one of my “things” so I knew I would be harder to please than the average person if we ordered it somewhere else.

I was very happy with the result.  The most time consuming part was making all of the green fondant sprigs.  it took literally hours of rolling them out into snakes and winding them around straws.  I won’t ever do those again, and if someone does want them, I’ll be charging by the hour!

The rest of the cake was very easy, and I chose a setup that was very sturdy and stable since I knew I would set it up the day before the wedding, and it was going to sit overnight by itself.  It stayed perfectly, and I didn’t have any problems the next day.

The other major cake undertaking was making a mini wedding cake for each table as the centerpiece.  I then made a small cake box for the guests to cut the cake to take a piece home as the party favor.  The centerpieces were all yellow cake with chocolate fudge filling.  I decorated each one differently but all with a pink and white color scheme.  I made these in the week prior to the wedding, and we boxed, saran wrapped, and froze each cake. 

The day before the wedding, we set them all out on crystal pedestal cake plates (also all different, collected both from relatives, and goodwill), and they thawed overnight.  Some of the pictures look “wet,” because of the condensation while thawing, but the next day they looked totally normal, and tasted as if they’d never been frozen in the first place.  Luckily, this worked well because I hadn’t personally frozen a frosted cake before, but we had at the bakery where I worked, and I assumed if it worked for them, it would work for me.

My husband was a huge help in making the centerpieces.  We both had the week prior to the wedding off work, so I taught him how to make icing, and he kept me supplied with frosting while I worked– what a guy!

A wedding cake DISASTER

I’ve been doing wedding cakes, both at a bakery and on my own for over ten years now.  In fact, I’ve even made this particular cake three different times already. Fortunately, I’ve never had anything dreadful happen…until yesterday.

I was making this cake for my brother-in-law’s wedding in which my husband was a groomsman, and my little boy was the ring bearer.  The wedding was over an hour away from my home, and I had about an hour window in which to set up the cake before I had to take my little boy in for pictures (my husband had to be there earlier).

On the way there, the highway we were traveling on was unexpectedly closed.  Unfortunately, the detour took us on some very twisty, very bumpy country roads.  This was the result:

And a close up of the carnage:

I didn’t find out what had happened until we arrived at my sister-in-law’s house.  She was going to babysit my little boy while I went to set up the cake.  At that point, I was starting to panic.  From that far away, there was no way to make another cake or even more icing (I had brought my standard bag full of icing to fix minor issues).  My sister-in-law has a small mixer not capable of making icing, and no cake pans the right size, and all of this occurred in Indianapolis, with heavy traffic, which meant that buying supplies would take literally hours.  In short, there was no way to replace the very damaged cake.

I kept calm for the most part and tried to assess the damage.  The tier that did a face plant was salvageable, thank goodness.  The chocolate one, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  I wanted to try to find a styrofoam dummy cake and decorate it, but I didn’t have enough icing or supplies for a cake that big.  My mother-in-law was the one who came up with the solution:  put it up on pillars.  I needed more height since it was the back tower.  I’m not sure she even understood the mechanics of it all, but nonetheless, once she mentioned pillars, the somewhat obvious solution just worked itself out in my head.  I ran with the idea, and this is how it ended up:

If you didn’t know there had been a problem, you’d probably never be able to tell something went wrong.  The chocolate cake was supposed to be in the very back, and the back cake up on pillars should have been stacked directly on that chocolate cake. 

The bride doesn’t yet know (her groom does, but I swore him to secrecy at least until after the wedding), but I’m still hopeful that she won’t find out for a while.  She was a bride concerned with everything going perfectly.  Of all weddings for this to happen on, this was one of the most difficult.  First, I was much further away from home than I usually am.  If it had been in my city, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place because the transport time wouldn’t have been as long, and even if it had, I would have been able to bake and decorate a new one in time for the wedding.  My little boy as a ring bearer also complicated things. 

Still, everything worked out in the end, and hopefully this will be the last of my bad cake luck for a while!  To end on a good note, here are some ring bearer pictures.  He was pretty grumpy by the time we drove another hour to get to the picture site:

Although, once the snacks came out, he was a happy camper. 

Snacks make everything better, don’t they?  We were so rushed between the cake issues and pictures that neither my husband nor I ate all day long.  Around 5:00, I sent my husband out to the van for something, and he came back in licking his fingers and told me the cake was good.  He had grabbed a snack off the van floor– ick!  Talk about desperation.