The Violet Cake Shop™

Sharing inspirations for my designs and tips I've discovered along the way in my caking journey! <3


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Tsum Tsum Mickey with Rainbow V-Petal Ruffles

Carlington's 4th - Tsum Tsum Mickey Rainbow - IMG_6223 - ii

My baby turned 4 yesterday boohoohoo…

It’s SO bittersweet as she is now no longer a baby and she is my last so I’m gonna miss that aspect, but by the same token she is now onto a bigger, better and more adventurous phase of her life!  She has always had such a big personality though with SO many interests so it’s hard sometimes to come up with one theme for her cakes.

The last three cakes were completely up to me, so I have been lucky that I got to do what I wanted to with the designs haha.  Of course I always tried to include things I know she loves like characters from her comforter for her 1st birthday, Mickey Mouse and the gang on her 2nd birthday cake and purple and yellow, two of her favourite colours, on her last cake.

Carlington's 1st Birthday CocaLo Jacana Themed - twmpm

Carlington's 2nd Birthday - Minnie, Mickey, Daisy and Donald - Closeup - twmpm

Carlington's 3rd B-Day - watermarked

This year though, I was really stumped…  She loves alphabets and numbers but I felt that might be a tad boring for a cake.  She loves Legos and Minecraft but I really didn’t want to do either of those because of all the potential dots or piddly squares which in either case, would entail a case of total “tedium-boredom” with the addition of crossed-eyes for weeks haha.  She loves all kinds of shows but there isn’t one clear cut favourite.  She does love Mickey still and always has, but again for selfish reasons I wasn’t inclined to do another Mickey cake either.

So I decided to just let her design her own cake this year by telling me what she wanted it to have.  Well she had very clear and specific ideas and was very thorough too!!  Score!  All I had to do was come up with something that would tie in a blue coloured cake, a rainbow or rainbow colours, a number 4, green flowers and (dun dun dun…) Mickey on top…sigh, lol.  Ok, well I had to concede on that last request as it WAS her cake and I WAS letting her design it this year, after all.  It was not going to be easy but I was determined to come up with a design that would tie it all in while still being cohesive and girly!

And Fate intervened on her cake too, kind of sort of…  We were out shopping a few weeks before her birthday and her brother (Mr. 11) saw a Tsum Tsum Mickey plush toy at the Disney Store and knowing how she loved the Tsum Tsum short videos on TV, suggested that he get it for her as her early birthday present (awww so sweet, I KNOW!)  Well, she has not really put down her Tsum Tsum Mickey since and EUREKA! I had a replacement for the 3D Mickey I was going to have top her cake (YAY!!)

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There was a tiny mishap with the topper though, not because of the last minute change but more because of my bad habit of procrastination…

The topper did not have ample time to dry completely, so it was still a tad soft when I assembled it and stood him up.  It would have been fine had I just left him to air dry the rest of the time before the party, but I thought I’d be smart and do one extra step to avoid having the purples on the cake fade, by covering it with a black bag even though it wasn’t necessary given my trick for adding extra deep pink (see this previous blog post on preventing your purples from fading).  Well, I did NOT account for the build up of humidity inside the bag which in turn, softened the topper further so that the ears drooped forward and eventually cracked and fell off.  Luckily it was a personal cake so a lousy patch job was all that was needed and voila! the topper stood again.  Lesson learned for next time though.

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To incorporate the rainbow aspect of her request, I decided to use my V-Petal ruffles (see previous post for the mini-tutorial).  After I came up with those, I immediately wanted to try it with rainbow colours so it was a win-win to use them on my daughter’s cake…well, she didn’t say it HAD to be an actual rainbow lol!  The colours are tedious to mix but it was much easier than mixing from white with gel colours because I used the Satin Ice pre-coloured fondant.  I wanted slightly less intense colours so most of them I had to remix with either white to tone down the intensity, or with other colours to get the tone I wanted.

Carlington's 4th - Tsum Tsum Mickey Rainbow - IMG_6223 - ii - close crop - watermark

Here is another angle of her cake.  It just shows the topper a bit better because the number 4 plaque on the first pic kind of makes the Tsum Tsum Mickey topper look like his mouth is wide open in surprise haha!

Carlington's 4th - Tsum Tsum Mickey Rainbow Ruffles - IMG_6247 - ii - watermark.jpg

And here is my baby with her Tsum Tsum and her cake…

IMG_6260 - ii - watermarked

Thanks for reading and Happy Caking Y’ALL!!

 

 


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Simple Way to Prevent Purple Fondant from Turning Blue

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I first shared this tip on my Facebook page 2 years ago but have been utilizing it since the very beginning of my caking journey which is almost 8 years now and it has served me long and served me well!

I’ve always loved creating cakes and designs that feature the colour purple because, well (obviously), it’s my MOST favourite colour (like) EVER!  So whenever I have free reign over a design or am creating something just for me, I almost always choose to work with some shade of purple.  Therefore, I have worked with it a lot AND been frustrated by it A LOT!  I quickly realized as most do, that purples have a tendency (ok, inevitable likelihood) to fade to an unsightly pale-ish grey/blue.  It’s not the beautiful kind that sits pretty and pristine, but instead the washed out looking kind, like you’ve just left it out in the rain or something and all life has drained from it lol!  Ok, I might be getting a BIT overly dramatic…

Here is one of my cakes from early on (circa 2009), where the purple had already faded a considerable amount within less than an hour (forgive the poor picture quality and contrast…what did I know back then? lol)…

Valerie's 1st - front - Flowers &amp; Polka Dots - wm TVCS

Well, I immediately went on a quest to find a way to keep my purples from fading or at least to still have a nice purple tone to it after it does (inevitably) fade.  I had done some research and found a little blog article (sorry, forget now where I found it) on using baking soda to prevent fading.  I tried this but it never really worked effectively enough for me.  It would require A WHOLE LOT to make a significant difference and it only lengthened the staying power of the purple by a few hours, at best.  Its theory seemed sound but it just didn’t pan out for me and wasn’t quite effective enough.

I then decided to try and see if I could come up with my own solution.  First, I had to figure out what was the likely cause of the colour change.  I quickly determined two things: that (1) the purple, once faded, lost its vibrancy and looked drab and dull and (2) that the spectrum of the purples that I really LOVED, were ones that had more of a pinkish tone to them.  So I figured, the vibrant part of the purple that faded MUST be the pink component.  This seemed to make perfect sense because guess what other colour notoriously fades?  Pink!

To test this, I added extra deep pink (specifically Wilton Rose) to my fondant that I had first coloured to the perfect shade of purple, in hopes that it would maintain a lovely purple shade even after sitting out for  more than a day.  EUREKA, it worked!  I still had a lovely shade of purple fondant the next day, even when exposed to normal light.  Of course, it did still fade from what I’d coloured it to originally, but at least it did not have an unsightly greyish-blue tone to it like it would have, had I not added that extra bit.

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The first pic above was from early 2010 and at this point I was already adding extra deep pink but not quite enough so you can see it still fades to a slightly bluish tone.  The second pic was after I stopped being so timid about it and it makes a huge difference.  When you think about it, blue and red (or pink in this case) make purple. So when purple fades and becomes blue, it’s the red component (or pink) that has faded. So it makes sense to add in extra deep pink to combat the problem.

Nowadays, I always add extra deep pink to my coloured purple fondant and always colour it to a slightly more pink-toned shade than I want to end up with knowing that some of the pink will still fade out, leaving me with the perfect (or nearly anyway!) shade of purple every time (mostly).  The amount you’ll need to add will depend on what shade you want to end up with after, so you will have to play with this method a bit to get more comfortable in gauging how much.  I actually share this and many of my other colouring and decorating tips in my Craftsy class, Cakes in Vivid Color, which is always on for half price using my Instructor’s discount.

So, hopefully this tip helps out some of you who are starting out.  Others may have figured this out already by now, on your own, or have another method that works better for you.  Like I always say, there’s more than one way to do anything and no one way is the best for everyone.  I’ve heard that there are some companies that are coming out with fade-proof or fade-resistant shades of purple and other people swear by using powders to colour their fondant to prevent fading.  If you have a steady hand and a quality airbrush system, airbrushing is another alternative.  Personally, I’ve never tried any other brand other than Wilton and Americolor so I cannot comment on the merit of the fade-resistant brands.  And the powders that I have tried have never worked as well as this method, requiring way too much powder to be cost effective, and sometimes left a grainy, pigmented look to my fondant.  So this is my tried-and-true go-to method.

But wait, “hold your horses,” you might be thinking…what about red?  We all know from basic colour-theory (and mentioned earlier), that purple is essentially a combination of blue and red so why, you might ask, do you not just add red?  Well, in my experimentations I did try this first and it actually DID make for a deeper purple but it resulted in more of a murky plum-like tone which was not the desired result.  Mind you, if you were going for plum purple, it would totally work haha!

Here are a few other examples of my purple cakes, all coloured with Wilton Violet to start, then had different amounts of extra Wilton Rose added depending on the final shade I wanted to achieve…

My 39th Violet Dragonfly - twm

Naomi's Team Umizoomi - front - wm TVCS

Peyton's Purple Polka Dot Safari Animals - wm TVCS

Karen C's Punta Cana 2010 - wm TVCS

Zoe's 1st Birthday Party Hat Monkey - wm TVCS

Carlington's 1st Birthday CocaLo Jacana Themed - twmpm

Jo's 26th - Vintage Purple Giftbox Style w Mixed Tiers &amp; Big Flower Topper - wm TVCS - twmpm

My Radiant Orchid Steampunk XLIV B-Day - watermark

Sam &amp; Satoko's at Venue

The Violet Cake Shop - CC Fashion Inspired - Abed Mahfouz - IMG_3286 - ii - watermarked

Carlington's 3rd B-Day - watermarked

IMG_4246 - ii - closeup - watermarked


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Colouring Tip for Wafer Paper – How to Get Even, Rich Tones Without Special Colours or an Edible Printer

Saffron Coloured Wafer Paper Rose

(this was coloured after the flower was made, using thinner brushes for the inside petals)

I did it, yep!  I jumped on the wafer paper bandwagon and I am loving it!  Wafer paper is so versatile and gives a special delicate look to whatever decorative element you’re making.  That’s why it’s so effective for creating flower adornments because it has an airy effect to it which is reminiscent of one of the natural qualities of a flower.  However, with flowers comes the need for a bit of colour!

Now I’ve seen other posts that lament about how hard it is to achieve any type of decent colour on wafer paper, or how it requires special tools and equipment like an edible printer or special candy colours specially made for chocolate or candy melts.  Others have settled for just using a good dose of petal dusts to try and colour wafer which mostly just leaves a VERY patchy appearance, especially when viewed up close.  Often, it requires A LOT of petal dust to achieve any sort of decent depth of colour at all but alas there is still the patchy or spotty appearance, which is ok from far away but up close…fuggedaboudit!  Using tons of petal dust can become quite EXPENSIVE too!  All of this is frustrating to say the least especially considering how beautiful and delicate wafer paper adornments can be.  Straight petal dust on wafer was the first method I tried too, like many others and I was really not satisfied with the results.  Not only was it patchy, but the colours were also muted, not very vibrant at all.

Straight Petal Dust – several coats:

Straight Petal

So I set about trying to find an inexpensive way to colour wafer paper, that did not require any special equipment or colours, that could achieve a look that was not patchy, and would be a lot more VIBRANT…a method using colours that most people would already have.  I knew I could not steam my dusted wafer paper flower because that would just warp the paper or worse, dissolve it to nothingness lol.  So I experimented with any other method I could think of…I’d already tried using a single coat of straight dust, then several (and I mean SEVERAL) coats of straight dust, then dust with alcohol, dust with a touch of water, I even tried dust with shortening…

Then I tried straight gel colour, gel with alcohol, gel with a touch of water…I even tried straight airbrush colours…none achieved the look I wanted.  Problem with gel colours is that they are concentrated.  So if you wanted a nice colour on wafer paper using a gel colour that did not have much water content (to avoid warping the paper), you got overly dark or goopy looking results…not very appealing.  You would need to dilute it to get a nice even shade or tone but the normal ways to dilute most colours just don’t work on wafer paper.  Gel colours with even just a touch of water (although vibrant and even results, colour-wise) still warped the wafer paper enough to change its pure delicate quality.  Other times, depending on the colour, you might get a streaky covering.

I found though that some gel colours worked better than others.  Some, with two coats looked good but you needed to use a heavy hand and LOTS of gel colour in order to MAYBE achieve an even cover on wafer paper.  But that would not be a very cost effective method because it would require A LOT of it to say colour a whole sheet.  Some gel colours depending on the brand and colour, actually contained enough water to still end up warping the paper even if you did not dilute it, so it still was not ideal.  Alcohol mixed with either, although effective when working on fondant because of the speed at which it dries, proved completely disastrous when used on wafer paper!

Here is an example where a straight gel colour had too much water content, that it warped the paper even when undiluted (AmeriColor Sky Blue):

Straight Gel water base twm

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Seriously, I tried almost everything my mind could think of…methods that would normally work on fondant or gumpaste…but none of them got the effect I wanted on wafer paper, which was an even, deep or rich colour.  I almost relented and considered buying special candy colours but then that would be ANOTHER set of colours which was getting costly…already had gel colours, petal dusts and airbrush colours…couldn’t really justify getting another set at a good chunk of change JUST to use on wafer paper.

Then I had a eureka moment and thought…hmmm what is it that makes candy colours work with wafer paper?  Well, it was because they were OIL BASED, and oil does not warp wafer paper nor dissolve it in the same way water does.  Why is that?  I don’t know the science behind it but like with regular paper, oil is less destructive than say water.  If you get water on regular print paper, it will warp it straight away and with enough water, it will weaken it to the point it is easy to rip through.  Oil on the other hand is not nearly as destructive.  It does absorb into the paper, but it doesn’t break it down the same way.  Well the same properties seem to apply to wafer paper.  Wafer paper is made up primarily of potato starch and vegetable oil after all.  Water is involved in the process of making wafer paper, but the mixture is dried to the point where there is zero water content in the final product, which is a similar process used in producing print paper.

So I decided to test out my theory that oil (in this case vegetable oil) mixed with petal dust, would create the perfect mixture with which to colour your wafer paper and voila…it worked!  Luckily I tested it some more because it turns out, you need to use just the right amount of oil…too much and the colours can look very spotty and overly concentrated in certain areas, although still more vibrant than straight dusting…too little and it can become too thick and pasty depending on the dust you use, or end up wasting the dust.  The good thing is, you can do more than one coat to increase the vibrancy of the colours if you wanted it deeper.  I also tested gel colours with oil and it worked too but not as well as with dusts.  I found that the mixture never really came together and would be too goopy with some gel colours whereas with others it worked quite well, so it was hit and miss.  Also, some gel colours still had enough water content to warp the wafer paper….again hit and miss.

Here is a quick chart to show the results of some of the testing that was done (petal dust used – Elite Color Hot Pink; gel colour used – Wilton Rose; airbrush colour used – AmeriColor Deep Pink:

Colouring Wafer test

When using dust mixed with oil though, you do get a film on the surface of the wafer paper that, although not visible, does come off on your fingers when handling, and may affect the ability for you to adhere one piece to another.  But if you let it rest overnight, the oil will dissipate enough that you are left with just the slightest amount of oil on the surface.  Then you can still adhere wafer paper coloured this way, with just a bit of water as normal.  I have not tried it with piping gel as the glue, but I would guess that it will also work once it has a chance to rest because the amount of oil on the surface becomes minimal.

When mixing your dust with vegetable oil, you will want to mix it to a paint-like consistency that is not too thick and not too oily appearing.  It’s best to TEST our your dust/oil mixture on SCRAP PIECES of wafer paper to ensure it is the right consistency.  If it is too oily, the colour will appear spotty.  So add a bit more dust until you are happy with the results.  A little goes a long way (unlike with gel colours or straight dusting).  To apply the colour, you can paint with a standard brush.  Or for larger surfaces like a whole sheet, you can use a large wide brush or a blotting method such as wadded up paper towels, a clean kitchen towel or disposable J Cloth.

Side by Side comparison of different mix consistencies (petal dust used – Elite Color Hot Pink):

Mix Consistency

Other things I discovered when testing out this method were that the finer the dust and deeper the colour of the dust, the better the colour result.  Lighter coloured dusts have some white pigmentation included in them so those colours tended to come out more pasty or matte looking.  Also other forms of dust like sparkle dust which is coarser, tends not to colour wafer paper as effectively.  You can get a nice shine but the colour is not very deep, nor even.  Most lustre dusts on the other hand worked pretty well because the dust quality is much finer than say sparkle dust or disco dust.

Example using lighter petal dust with white pigmentation which gives more of a matte finish (Elite Color Aurora Pink):

Light Coloured Dust - ii

Example using lustre dust (Elite Color Blue Bell):

Lustre Dust

Another useful tip is to save your scrap pieces of wafer paper (you know, the pieces that are leftover after you cut out the shapes you are using), to use for testing out the consistency of your mixture.  And it’s always a good idea to test the colour you are mixing to see that you like it before you mix more and attempt to colour whole sheets of wafer paper.  It works even after you’ve assembled your flower.  You just need to use a small brush that fits between the petals you are working on, so the tighter the petals, the thinner or smaller the brush you need to get down deeper.

Side by Side Example of straight dusting (left) and same coloured dust mixed with vegetable oil (right)…(petal dust used – Elite Color Hot Pink)…OH and you’ll notice that the colours from the petal dust/oil mix are even more vibrant in natural light (see picture on the right):

10-04-14 - Side by Side - Lotus - Hot Pink Petal Dust

DISCLAIMER (just in case lol) & VERY IMPORTANT INFO:  I am NOT an expert in wafer paper, nor in all types of dusts or colours.  I have done a lot of reading and played around a lot trying to find a way that works, but do not proclaim to know of all possible types nor methods for colouring wafer paper.  This is just a tip I discovered that worked for me and hopefully works for others.  Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that not all dusts behave the same so best to do a test piece or practice on a smaller surface before deciding to colour entire sheets or a naked flower you’ve worked an hour on.  Some dusts work better than others and what I’ve found is, the finer the dust, the better the results.

I also discovered after more testing that it’s important to make sure there is not too much of the mix ON the brush when you make the first few strokes.  It seems that if there is not already paint on the paper, there is no where else for it to go so if there is too much on the brush, it can concentrate it causing spottiness.  Practice makes perfect and helps with knowing what is just the ‘right’ amount to use so test often until you are comfortable before painting completed pieces.

Happy Caking everyone =D

 

If you’d like to recreate the stylized wafer paper rose from above, I have a tutorial in my SHOP on Facebook that gives step by steps and tips here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Violet-Cake-Shop/95259702360?sk=app_251458316228