Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Old School Basic....

Dear Sugar Diary,
 Good morning...today is one of those days where a fake smile takes the place of a true one and you have no idea how to feel. But as my momma always says "La Vida Continua" ..."Life goes on" and I guess she is right.
  I should be getting sketches drawn out for potential cake designs(Yes I am an old fashioned girl and still sketch by hand) ....I should be getting pieces cut for a project on the 2nd....but here I am slowly sipping coffee and pecking away at the keys on my keyboard.
  I am awake and breathing and that in itself is a triumph. The first message I read today asked if I could share my buttercream recipe.....of course I can....it is very basic and old school....but yummy!;)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sugar (sifted)
2 tbsp milk
That is really basic huh? I have also made it from shortening but the taste and texture is very different. Making it from shortening is good for our desert weather in the summer.....it holds up better.....but you can totally tell it isn't butter. I also play with flavors .... coffee....chocolate...rum....berries...you can do pretty much any flavor with a basic buttercream recipe....don't be scared to experiment...and stray from recipes a little....but be sure to document it as you do...every last drop of anything you add should be accounted for. So the next time you make it it will be the same. Why is this so important? Because you may have made an amazing batch of icing for one party and someone had some and they are now calling you for a cake with "THAT AMAZING ICING" they had and if you didn't keep track of how you made it then your in a predicament! =\ Write it all down! 
I never know how to end these entries....for now I will say until next time....I have a lot to get done this morning and should get to it!  Keep experimenting and writing everything you do down in full detail! My notes always look like something that came from Nasa....lol.....chicken scratch that only I can understand! Be daring and try something new today!=)

Monday, February 27, 2012


Dear Cake Diary,

    Good Morning....just woke up...and feeling like today is gonna be a productive day. =)

Today I would like to address an email question I have gotten repeatedly. The "Chocolate Ganache" question....lets say it together... "Ga-Nashhh"...lol...it sounds fancy huh ? It just means "chocolate and cream" ...but let's face it- anything we say in french is going to sound fancy! Chocolate Ganache is very simple to make and virtually fool proof. (I say virtually because I have messed it up ;P ). The way I make ganache is this : I put 2 cups of cream in a little saucepan and let it sit on medium heat till right before it is about to boil.....in another bowl I place the chocolate (about 16 ounces) all chopped up nicely then you take the hot cream and pour it over the chocolate ... I let it sit for a minute so it starts melting...then with a wooden or plastic spoon I stir it till it is smooth. (no lumps!) Then put it in the fridge , chilling it so you can spread it. This part may take a few hours and you will need to watch the kitchen because once the kids spot it there may be no ganache left for your cake! lol
  Chilling the ganache overnight is  best in my opinion...but if you don't have time for that start it at least 4 hours before you have to use it. Also..remember that the better your chocolate the better your ganache will be....=)   You may find lots of recipes calling for extra steps....or giving brand names ...this is merely what I do and what I have had work for me. It has turned out great and I will stick to this . You can also lace it with liquor....If your going to add liquor remember that you need to reduce the cream! Let's say you add 1/3 cup of your favorite liquor to the ganache...then reduce the cream from two cups to 1  3/4 cup. =)
 So there ...I hope the whole ganache mystery has been solved and I hope you try it! It is delicious! Happy Ganache-ing!=)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Patience ,Focus & Pride

Dear Sugar Diary,
    Hi again...I had some time between now and my next project so I figured I would sit and see what came out=)

    Have you ever asked yourself "What would I be doing if I wasn't doing ___?(insert your job)...I have!...Lots of times...and for some reason right now I don't have an answer. Honestly, I have no idea. I have done so many different things & caking is by far the BEST job role ever...It doesn't FEEL like work at all so maybe that is the whole secret...=) .... I am not an expert by any means ...or anything like that...(even though my 8 yr old thinks so;)But I absolutely  LOVE the whole caking world and all it has to offer!!! I have worked as a waitress too many times.....bartender for way too long......in the hotel industry(Marriott & Hilton).....I managed a Deli.....I taught Spanish.....I was a painter for store fronts in Puerto Rico......I worked at a tattoo shop....collections agency....I worked at Target... at Ross....and I guess the one thing each of these jobs have in common is PEOPLE.

    Caking is all about people too. From the minute you get a phone call inquiring about a cake or an email...or even just on Facebook....it is all about people...making someone happy and a satisfied client....one that will return for more orders. Even your fans...the wonderful people that encourage you day to day and stop by your fan page to leave a comment . Then there are the people at home ...your family who all morph into specific roles in your caking venture......my fiance is my delivery person....my daughter(12) is my official cake holder in the car....my 8 yr old loves to give me ideas...and my 13 yr old is my official taste tester.=) I consider myself a home body....so connecting to people even if only online is nice. ;)
 What else have I learned from caking? Patience. It is totally new for me. I never had any before. But you HAVE to learn patience if you would like to cake  at all. I have also learned to focus.....you can't have your brain in 10 different places when making a recipe or you will fail. I have, and that's how I know. ;) So I can't complain about what caking has brought into my life.....Friends...Patience...and focus. Oooooo...PRIDE...a pride for my work. Something I can't really describe but I think it looks like when you see a little kid peddle his own bike for the first time all the way down the sidewalk all by himself! That's exactly how I feel when I see my clients happy. So don't let anything stand in your way if caking is your passion....it is a job full of satisfaction....don't loose focus...and be patient....very very patient. You will never learn EVERYTHING....and the things you DO learn will always have room to be improved. So fellow cakers...aspiring cakers....and everyone that LOVES cake: CAKE ON! =D


Dear Sugar Diary,
    Good Morning. It is 6:48am Sunday and the house is so quiet. I am sitting here brainstorming and enjoying some coffee. As I walk into my kitchen every morning I see all the sketches I have of upcoming cakes on my fridge...yeah they are just there hanging on with a magnet.....no high tech system here...lol. I am anxious to work on them but they aren't due yet so I have to wait and sometimes waiting is the worst part! This weekend was an easy weekend....thank goodness....I have time for laundry and sleeping. =)
     I learned 2 things this weekend....I would love to share this with whoever has taken time to read this blog....
     1) When your baking a chocolate cake you can dust your pan with cocoa powder instead of flour! Maybe this is learned in Basic Baking 101 BUT please remember I am self taught and little things like this excite me! ;)
     2) Please keep in mind that every time you bake a recipe you get a little better at it....BUT sometimes something as simple as a basic banana nut recipe may turn out like garbage...don't let that frustrate you....let it be a learning experience...I had a dozen cupcakes (FOR AN ORDER!!=\)come out looking like they went on a diet....they never rose ...looking like hockey pucks! I still don't know what happened because the second batch came out perfect. (Maybe I forgot to add the baking soda ) The recipe I make is Tyler Florence's(Food Network) Recipe for Banana Nut Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I hope you try this recipe and if you do ...let me know how it worked out for you.=)
I picked this recipe for two reasons....It uses everything I already had in my pantry and I LOVE overripe bananas. They are sweeter and "mushier" so I add less sugar to my batter and it is a lot easier to mash them.=) This recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar...I use 1/2 a cup. But you can make it however you prefer.=) I also use walnuts instead of pecans. I ate too many pecans growing up in Texas....lol....me and my dad would go down to the river when I was little and pick them up off the ground and bring home bags and bags of them! I like walnuts better with bananas anyways.

The time now is 7:19am and I MUST get to some chores before the morning slips away! I will be back soon with some more recipes. =) Thanks for stopping by and reading....=) Happy Baking!


Friday, February 24, 2012

SMALL ORDERS pave the way for BIG ORDERS!!

Dear Sugar Diary,
So today on the agenda are 84 cupcakes and a cake. My kitchen will smell like heaven starting this afternoon. =)

Orders Going Out 2/25/2012:
1- Peanut Butter/Chocolate Cupcakes(12)
2-Banana/Caramel Cupcakes(6)
3-Coca Cola Cupcakes.....YES....COCA COLA!(6)
4-Vanilla/Vanilla Cupcakes(30)
5-Chocolate/Chocolate Cupcakes(30)
6- Vanilla Cake/Caramel Buttercream(15x11)half sheet)

I am currently constructing a custom stand for a cupcake order....and have begun decorations ......I have a friend....(I will change their name in this Blog to "Jane" ....
Jane asked me: "Why do you take so many small orders....and you don't even post all the pics online anyways?" Well Jane....for starters SMALL ORDERS pave the way for BIG ORDERS.....SMALL ORDERS keep my business IN business.....and to me no order is a SMALL order.....sometimes a small humble order is being taken to someone who will be surprised by it and the gesture....sometimes a small order is for saying Thank You....or Sorry for Your Loss.....sometimes these SMALL orders make a world of difference to the one receiving it...so I have no problem making a single order of 12 cc's for someone. I have even baked and decorated 4 cupcakes for someone...that led to 2 full cake orders....Sometimes people just want to sample your product before committing to an actual cake. So you see....I never turn away an order because of "size" or quantity. =) If you are in business out of your home like I am.....you know that not everyone wants a giant cake for every occasion...sometime a cute delicious cupcake is enough....I mean ....biting into peanut butter buttercream (from scratch and kid approved) and then finding the surprise of dark chocolate inside your cupcake must be very nice...;) I like surprising my clients......=) So I must get back to work....I may pop in later and post pics of progress....=) Have a wonderful day fellow cakers and friends....Stay Busy and look sexy the whole time! =)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Dear Sugar Diary:
    I am having a super late dinner....and thinking about the things I hear on a daily basis...some are genuine....some are insulting....some are just outrageous! So I will share my list :


1- "Hi Shey... I was wondering how much for a cake?"
...yup just like that...no details...no explanation...just the cost of a cake in general I guess.....-_-

2- "Hi Shey...can you make me a cake for tomorrow Morning? ...I know it is short notice but..."
Current time is 8pm...What goes thru my mind:  Hummm...yeaaaahhhhh..-_-..IT IS SHORT NOTICE .I wasn't thinking of sleeping ..eating or even bathing this weekend......Let me wave my magic spatula and whip that right up for you.....-_-

3- "Hi Shey ..My name is so and so and you made a cake for my friends blah blah blah.....I would love to have one of your cakes at MY event....well I was thinking...a 3 tiered cake in these specific colors...for 80+ guests...with bells and whistles....and a txt banner with LED lights saying blah blah blah blah.......and I want each tier to be a different flavor and I would like it to be delivered and set up by you.....how much would that be?" ....
Me: " Well 80+ servings? That would start out at $$$.....and bells and whistles are $$$ and all different flavors? and a txt banner? Well some more $$$....and delivered to WHERE (somewhere way out of town)and SET UP?? That will be $$$. Usually this is followed by a moment of silence before I hear " How much would a 1 tiered cake be in those same colors?" -_-

4- "Hi there I am so and so and was wondering if I could bake the cakes and you would decorate them for me?

5- "Hi I would love a cake for such and such date...I am going to pay you with a personal check...could you not cash it till next Monday?"
 "Okay ...well how about I just bring you that cake next Monday?"

Okay Okay Okay! Don't get the wrong impression! I never answer that way! I don't!(pinky promise ;) I usually take every single last minute order as long as my work load isn't already super full....BUT sometimes you just wonder about what people think I do all day.....I love baking and decorating but I also have 1,000 other things to do in between. lol, It is called MY LIFE. I don't think it is fair to take time away from a clients cake who placed their order 2 months ago for next Friday when you wait to order yours next Thursday! Also if you have no idea what it takes to create a cake time wise and money wise I suggest you research first.  Idk ...people are just different and think different....These were just examples of things I get asked and told daily and I hope you get a chuckle out of it. Well I better get back to my prep for weekend orders! Hope you all have a blast making your weekend orders....I know I will! =)  I love my clients!!!

Dear Sugar Diary,

Good Morning! Time is 7:11am and the sun is coming up very nicely=) I woke thinking "Are the kids up?" ...and yes they are.=) So then my second thought was a quote from one of my favorite ladies in the whole world....
"If your afraid of butter...just use cream!" ~Julia Child (it was the last thing I read before I went to sleep)
I have to bake a new recipe today and she is a fountain of inspiration! LOL....I need to go to the store later and get some cream!
When I started "decorating" cakes...I wasn't really decorating but more like I was squeezing buttercream out of a bag and hoping it would turn into something! LOL. It never did. It sat in a nice little pile and I stared at it wondering why on TV it looked so easy! I mean hadn't Buddy Valastro iced a cake in under 5 minutes BLINDFOLDED!? Even made buttercream roses?! I began to understand that maybe buttercream wasn't my forte'. Maybe I was destined to do something else....besides more buttercream always ended up all over me and my work area than on any cupcake or cake anyways. So I began a love affair with fondant. I bought some at first...from Walmart...the Wilton brand fondant. I sat down and removed the wrapper....looked at it and asked it "What do you want to become?" I had no plan....I wanted to just get familiar with what it felt like and what properties it had. I fell in love. That piece of fondant became a bunny ....then two bunnies and before you know it I had at least 5 little bunnies sitting on the table and thought to myself "They need a cake to sit on!" So I baked one. And thus my first attempt to bake and decorate a cake happened. Almost by itself. I was hooked. I remember rushing around the house looking for my camera...SOMEBODY had to see this! lol....I took a picture and sent it to Iraq. That's where Josh (my fiance) and Ramzi (my brother) were along with 4 other friends....they sent back positive feedback....I was over the moon. Looking back on my bunny cake....it was simple...not even covered in fondant ...but the feeling of satisfaction I got from creating this cake from a bunch of otherwise lonely ingredients really made me hungry for more knowledge. What IS fondant? What is IN fondant? Google and Youtube became my best friends. I woke up in the mornings ...made coffee and sat at my computer. From 7 to 3pm.....learning....fascinated.
I remember the moment I found I could MAKE fondant at home!!!! Oh the happiness! I think I went out and bought every bag of powdered sugar I could find....and marshmallows lol.....I would spend hours making fondant....coloring fondant and shaping fondant. =) It became the only thing I wanted to do...mind you I have three kids and must do my mommy chores! But the kids saw it as "Now mom is playing with play-doh" lol...and they sat and played with me. That was 2010....so many new things had happened that year....I turned 31....I got a drivers license for the first time ever in my whole life & got engaged(on the same day).....I discovered "caking" and I also lived through the most trying year of my life...waiting for Josh and my brother to come home from Iraq. It was a very scary year and had I not found cakes I have no idea how I would have coped with their deployments. Anyways....2 years later I am still on my quest to learn more....as for buttercream? I still can't ice a cake smooth...but have gotten way better at "almost smooth" lol....ok It is 8:08am .I will write more later diary.....I should be answering emails and checking to see if any new orders have come in.....and check out what is up on Facebook...lol....Ciao!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Dear Sugar Diary,
I am completely new to blogging.....so I may take a while to warm up to this. I am going to treat this like a diary...(like when I was in 6th grade but less dramatic. )
Today was a totally productive day.....I sketched for my life. 3 sketches before 10am....then another 2 by 3pm. It was necessary. I have a nice work load for the weekend....some cupcake orders....and a cake. Oh how I look forward to the weekends with mixed emotion...while "caking" is my absolute passion....it also takes a lot of the time I used to use to do neat things like go Ghost Town hunting with my fiance and kids.
I got into "caking" in 2010....the things that I have done since then are beyond what I ever even thought making cakes could or would bring into my life. I have a ton of new "friends" now who also 'cake" and that alone is amazing. Having a group of people that love what you love is invaluable for the learning process and even just to vent sometimes. Yes...VENT! lol....Cry....Yes CRY! and also laugh.....=)
In this crazy yet fun journey I have "youtubed" my way into fondant...gumpaste...buttercream and the endless creativity that other gracious cakers have selflessly put out there for hungry newbies like myself. I tip my hat to you ladies and gents!!! Thank You! And the shows! The countless shows that cater to people like me!!! All the cake shows.....its like a drug! I can't look away even if it's a rerun!!! I can only pray that the cake Gods will one day bestow that kind of talent into my brain and hands, I hope that one day I will be able to ice a cake smooth or make a gumpaste flower that fools people...lol...but until then I will humbly continue to admire the top dogs in this industry.....I will willingly take advice...pointers...critiques from my peers and continue to grow as a baker ....decorator...student and I will also try my best to stay humble. I will continue to help who ever asks for help or advice...and I will follow my oven wherever it leads me! Good Night Diary.....::yawn:: I am so sleepy! ;) Nitey Nite!
Dear Sugar Diary,                                                                            2/22/12
       Blogging will take up too much time.....I just can't see myself blogging....What will I write about? Hummm..I just noticed there are a lot of "2's" in the date today....wonder if that means something.....Well I guess for a first entry this doesn't really have to say much....or does it? Why am I writing this? Well....maybe just to have a way to keep track of my daily thoughts .... archive what I do (like I don't do that enough already on Facebook) I am Shey......I am 33 yrs old....and I love to bake and decorate cakes....big cakes...small cakes...tall cakes.... short cakes...it really doesn't matter.....If it is cake and it's in my kitchen....It WILL become SOMETHING.......=) So here I will document my journey and hopefully if anyone reads this they will learn something or teach me something.   Thanks for reading and I will post again soon!=)