Sunday, April 22, 2012

Internet Cake Friendships

Dear Sugar Diary,
    Hey again! How is it going?? Things will be back to normal soon and I will blog more I promise! Thank you for still finding time to email me ! You all are always so encouraging and just awesome! I have been at my table making decorations while having my "forever full"cup of coffee and answering all your emails makes me smile. I know we are all online and in different parts of the country and  world even but it really has sparked some friendships that make me wish I lived everywhere! A true cosmopolitan citizen of the world! I laugh with you via "lol's" and "ha ha ha's" and we are sad together via "=( or ='(" We even get happy for each other via "Yays! and Hooray's!"  We exchange pictures and critique each other and even just chat about whatever...not even cake related.

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on my Facebook Fan page asking what group or clique you belonged to in high school....I was looking for a common thread ....something that may link all of us even if we didn't bake or decorate cakes back then....and the most common pattern that kept recurring in answers and in emails was this: Most of us weren't the "cool" kids....or the most popular kids.....we were creative geeks...and the ones that had friends in many circles. I myself was a friend of every group.....and very artistic and creative. It is nice to NOT be in High School anymore..but sometimes Facebook makes it seem like we still are huh? You start noticing certain cliques and friends that "hang" together popularity contests....and rivalry. It really is all so funny to me now that I am in my 30's. I don't bake to make anyone upset and I don't bake to get approved by anyone. I don't post pics because I am striving to have a pic "liked" the most .... I have friends and family and clients that  really do want to see what I am up for them I post. Pictures and video are the only way to get noticed for what you do online. I mean ...I could describe a cake in words but I don't think it would have the same effect as a pic...LOL!

All in all the online caking community has been amazing....a place to go where EVERYBODY knows what you are talking about all the time. If I was to call a non-caker friend and say:
" I just spent 2 hours answering email orders and then spent 2 more hours re ordering supplies online...and 4 hours making batches of fondant".....they would (and have) most certainly look at me and say "Well..Shey it sounds like your life is very HARD...chit chatting with and playing with play-doh..while some of us actually get up and GO TO WORK" =\  ...=\

But at any time of the day I can come here and say that very same thing and everyone is sooooo understanding and awesome....saying things like " Can't wait to see what your working on..." or "What site do you shop on? Such and such site is cheaper!"

                                            You guys make my days happy!

You get me. You sympathize with me. You get it....all of it! And for that THANK YOU! So with that said I will have to wave goodbye for now......I am supposed to be making a cake but I fell asleep and just woke up! Ciao! I will be back shortly! Keep those emails comin! =)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes!

Dear Sugar Diary!

  Wow! I am soooo sorry ! I haven't blogged in like FOREVER! It wasn't intentional...I promise! I was swamped here with cakes! Big cakes..small cakes...round cakes...square cakes! I feel blessed business has picked up. I made 7 cakes in 7 days....and then 1 more last night...and I have 5 more orders lined up for this week! Phew! I remember daydreaming two years ago of having more than one cake a month ... I used to put together montages in my head of me in a frantic baking frenzy....flour all over my face....dirty bowls and spatulas stacked up in the sink....the fire alarm going off.....(sounds like an episode of I Love Lucy ..LOL!) Now I get to be IN the montage! People don't even look at me weird anymore when I run into the supermarket in sugary clothes with a crazed look in my eye....Ha! They know it's just THAT one lady(me) that runs in ...grabs an insane amount of ingredients WITHOUT a cart and makes a mad dash for the cashier....!! I had back to back orders .... sleep came in two and three hour spurts...deliveries were a very sleepy me holding my breath and whispering curses at every speed bump/manhole/sharp turn and red light.... as I was driving to the different events. But again...every single cake made it and no tragedies occurred. Yay! Here are some of the cakes I made while on my crazy cake making binge....I think I need an intervention! lol....Enjoy:)

I made most of these last week....and the Oscar theme cake last night. I will post again soon! =( When I finish the cake I am currently working on=) Pokemon! =) I have some exciting projects coming up that I am super excited to begin! I promise to meet you all back here soon! Thanks for taking a couple minutes to stop by and read. =) Tootles!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mission: Find the YUMMIEST sugar cookie recipe....Status: Accomplished!

Dear Sugar Diary,
Sugar Cookies (made from scratch) decorated by my kiddos<3)
         So yesterday was Easter ..... I was on a quest for the yummiest sugar cookie recipe. And yes....YUMMIEST is a category to me when it comes to Sugar Cookies. ;) I have made about 5 different recipes...all slightly different on amounts of ingredients....and each one was very different from the next. I tried a recipe that produced little thin crispy cookies...when I say crispy I mean CRISPY. I could have used them to patch a hole in drywall. -_- I am by NO means a cookie baker or decorator...but when the kiddos convene and want cookies to decorate one must always comply! I many kids still want to do that nowadays? Mine are 13,12 and 8 whenever they express they want to do something NON-ELECTRONIC I am overjoyed and JUMP at the chance to spend sit down NON-ELECTRONIC time with them!;)  

Ok so the next 3 recipes were all OK....but OK isn't yummiest. So I looked at all my recipes and compared them to the one I hadn't tried yet. There was really only one significant difference...this one I had left to try called for a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar and 3 1/2 cups of flour. I have only used Cream of Tartar in stabilize it...but never in cookie recipes. And a lot less flour. So I happily gathered my ingredients:
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Followed the directions EXACTLY:
  1. Cream the margarine and add the sugar gradually. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt gradually to the creamed mixture, stirring in by hand. Cover and chill dough overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and cut into your favorite shapes. Place cookies onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 6 to 8 minutes or until cookie has a golden appearance.
Immediately with just the dough stage I had that feeling that I was finally on the right track! It was smooth, soft & silky. It didn't stick to everything...and it tasted VERY GOOD! 
I have also learned throughout this experimenting that the "chill dough in the refrigerator" is VITAL in getting your cookies to hold their shape when baking. I always used to skip this part .... being impatient... but they always turned into cookie blobs and that's no fun! I chilled for 2 hours...not overnight...seeing as to how Easter was almost over and the kids wanted to decorate before Easter was over! I rolled out the dough to about  1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes and circles. I placed them on cookie sheets and popped them into the refrigerator again for about 10 - 15 minutes. The oven was already hot by now (I set it to 350...not 375) I baked them for about 8 minutes .. and they looked soooo pretty and held the shapes rather well. I let them cool and harden a little and placed them on a large square cake pan I have. I had already gotten the royal icing ready while the dough had been chilling in the fridge. I use my own royal icing that I have modified to work in my climate....

It is great for cookies as it is runny like "color flow" and it's yummy too! This is how I do it:

 Sugar Shey's Royal Icing Recipe (for cookies):

3/4 cup of warm water
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract(clear)
One 2lb bag of Powdered Sugar
*Food Coloring 

I first place the 3/4 cup of warm water in my mixer bowl and start it on medium..adding the egg whites slowly and let it mix for about a minute until it is all bubbly ...then in high till it looks like meringue all shiny and gooey and peaks on it's own without falling back into the bowl...but not DRY(think whipped cream). Then I add the vanilla and cream of tartar and bring it back to medium speed for about another minute to make sure its all mixed in...then I add the sugar bringing it back to low (or I will have a sugar explosion! ) lol....once all the sugar is mixed up and not loose (remember to scrape the sides of your bowl!) I bring back up to medium/high to get it to a smooth shiny consistency. =) I hadto play with different ways till I came to this one...our weather is kinda strange in Arizona...VERY DRY and this modified by me recipe has endured the test of DRY. =) It doesn't set up as fast as other recipes either allowing for more time to decorate and even to color the icing.
I found the recipe for the sugar cookies on  they are called "Michelle's Soft Sugar Cookies" . I don't know who Michelle is...but if I did I would write her and thank her. I LOVED these cookies and so did my fiance and kids! They ARE soft and YUMMIEST...super simple and easy to handle without breaking. I will be using this recipe forever now. I hope you try it too and add Cream of Tartar to your pantry arsenal. It works great in this particular recipe. Well I have to say "Toodles" for this week is gonna kick my butt! Orders are all lined up and I have a ton of fun creating ahead! I will try to get in 1 or 2 more entries before the weekend! 1 of which will probably be a tutorial....just not sure on what yet! So...TOODLES and I hope you all have a great week! happy Baking and thanks for stopping by! ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

10 Caking Things I have Learned (the hard way) !

Dear Sugar Diary,

There are things you don't know when you get into caking. Things no one can prepare you for. So I have put together a list of the top 10 things I have learned the HARD way since I began caking......

1) Everyone  is NOT going to be nice to you. Not everyone will like your cakes...and not everyone will have something nice to say. And it will get you will fester for a while and hurt your feelings...You will need to grow a tough skin and do what you do...because in the end there is more friendly ju-ju out there than negative....use the negativity as creative fuel.

2) Not every recipe you bake will turn out brilliantly. And it isn't always your fault. Sometimes weather...ovens...geography...mood....and ingredients conspire against us....and sometimes it IS  our own mistake....don't let one botched cake drag you isn't the end of the's time that cake will turn out delicious and you will be a better baker for it.;)

3) Don't try to be a caking super hero. Trying to do more orders than you can handle will only reflect in your work....if you can handle 5 cakes in a weekend then fine ....but if you can handle 1 ...that's fine too! Your clients are after quality quantity isn't really important.

4) Don't compare yourself to other bakers/decorators. You are YOU...and what YOU have to offer and what you bring to a project is YOURS and unique and amazing. Sure we get inspired by our peers and their work....but if you are trying to "compete" your going about it all wrong and should re-evaluate your priorities.

5) Be honest about your skill level and abilities. Don't try something NEW on a real project ...a real order.....leave the NEW stuff for practicing at home when you have the time....

6) It's OK to spend time on caking ...its ok to set time aside to practice...but don't forget that you have a life OUTSIDE of cakes while you have projects...make sure you set some break time in there for your family ... your pet....and your friends...or you will be one lonely caker. 

7) Remember that your non-caking friends don't get your passion as much as your caking buddies do. Try not to bore them with cake talk....I get that we have a million things running through our minds...ideas we want to try out...but if it is ALL you talk about people stop listening.....

8) If your not in a caking mood...if the vibe isn't there on any given day...don't try out that "THING" you've been wanting to try...because if the mood is off you are only going to be frustrated .... so cake when your in your caking mood...=)

9)Saying No to an order is don't have to take every single order that comes your way. You may not have the time...or are already booked. Let your client know...tell them in a nice way that while you appreciate the inquiry you are unable to accept at this time and hope they keep you in mind for next time. I promise people won't hate you for that...they actually appreciate your honesty. 

10) Have fun. In baking patience is a requirement....almost a law. Breath and remember to have fun...after all when you decided to be a caker....the "fun" aspect of playing with buttercream and fondant is what pulled you in. If it isn't fun anymore then something is wrong .... find out what is wrong and fix it. Cakes are meant to be fun...=)

I hope this helps a little if you are experiencing any of these things.....we are human....and I really believe that projects should be fun and satisfying...NOT frustrating. Happy Caking !! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Raspberry Curd

Dear Sugar Diary,

Raspberries. I like raspberries. Red ones... and golden ones....I just like raspberries! Did I mention I like raspberries? (he he he) 
I wanted to share a recipe for raspberry curd. A fruit curd is basically egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and/or zest that you cook together until it thickens. The fruit taste is intensified . Usually you will see that tart fruits are used when making a lemons, limes, oranges and raspberries.  OK- this recipe I am about to explain is great with dark chocolate cake....and can be used in cupcakes as a filling. It is also great for writing text on cakes or cookies. =)
  Raspberry Curd:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
4 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 egg yolks
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
This is what you do: 
First I puree the raspberries in my blender, I guess you can try the food processor, but I can't really tell you how that will go because I never use mine. After I puree the raspberries I run them through a strainer because I want the puree to be as smooth as I can get it. You need at least 4 oz of raspberry puree.  Pour that into a "non-reactive" pot with the sugar,egg yolks,and lemon juice. (By non-reactive I mean any pot that is NOT aluminum or copper. You CAN use stainless steel, clay, enamel,  glass or plastic.)
Now that you have all the ingredients in a proper pot...cook it over medium heat until you see it is starting to thicken and starts to boil. Take it off the heat and mix in the butter. Strain it one last time and then you can put it in a plastic container and cover tightly .. you can also place plastic wrap directly onto the surface so it does not form a skin. Put the container into the fridge and let it cool off completely. After it is cooled it ready to use. However way you would like.=) I hope you enjoy this raspberry curd as much as I like it. I also like that it isn't messy to make and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. The only thing you will probably have to go and get at the store will be the raspberries. This curd is GREAT as a cupcake filling...especially chocolate cupcakes...but vanilla will also be yum. So I hope that if you have never made a curd you will find this easy and well explained and find the time to experiment.=) You can basically change the raspberries out for lemon, lime, or orange ....You can't zest a raspberry but you CAN zest lemons. limes and by all means...DO SO! It can be to your taste or liking. =) Happy Curd-ing! =)

My Always

Dear Sugar Diary,

Hi again!  It feels like it has been FOREVER! But..Here I am once again...and have a ton of things to share and chit chat about=). How was your weekend? Mine?  It was full. VERY FULL. This past Thursday my fiance went to Bullhead City to visit with his kids....but he left me the van ... & while I was happy he was getting time off to spend with his kids and his momma....I  didn't really get what him leaving for 4 days meant till after Friday. It meant I was baking...decorating and running for supplies alone. Deliveries would have to be made on time by ME. Little breaks would be me - sitting alone-with my coffee for one. If something went wrong no one was there to share my frustration....and no one would be there to suggest anything. But I didn't realize that till after Friday.

I have totally overlooked the fact that while I FEEL like I bake and decorate by myself there is so much Josh does for me that I have completely taken for granted. That made me feel horrible. It made me think about how he must feel every time he hears me say "Ugh..I need to run to the store." because when I say "I " I really mean "Him" . He never says no. As soon as I utter the last word of that sentence I hear the car keys jingling and he always says "Txt me the list." and I do. I txt him the same list every time:


Not always in that order and not always all of it...but basically he runs to the store 3 or 4 times a week for that stuff. We joke that we should move closer to the store or live in it. Then I think about the deliveries....when Josh is here...I finish my cakes and attach address slips and times of delivery to them...then I pass out(after caking all night)  and he always just delivers them...on time every time. We also joke that people may think I don't even exist...because they place orders with me via email and then Josh shows up with the I never meet my clients personally. We joke that people may think Josh's online persona is "Sugar Shey" like a weird Norman Bates thing. LOL! That makes me laugh. (::Side Thought:: We thought our across the street neighbor was like this...he always talks about his wife ...but we had never actually seen her....then when we did start to see her they were never together at the same time...she would leave in her car...return and then like an hour later our neighbor would come out of his house and leave in his Josh came to the very detective- like conclusion that they were one and the same...kinda freaked me out...and like crazy people we sat at the window looking to see if we could catch a glimpse of them together....hasn't happened yet! ::chills::) lol.. Ok ...well enough of my neighborhood watch report.....and back to Josh and his tremendous ability to make my life easier......

He does all the supply runs...deliveries....pep talks when I am in a state of self doubt...and he doubles as my " Blecha Brothers" (the twin carpenters on Cupcake Wars) lol. But he refuses to wear the plaid lumberjack shirt but DOES have a beard!;)

I think what I am trying to say with all of this is if you have a one man or one woman entourage like I do....remember that while YOU may bake your cakes and spend a million hours planning and decorating them ....and while YOU may get all the thumbs up from your peers....think about your behind the scenes crew....that small bunch that are under the same roof with you day in and day out helping you....even if it is that one person that just sits and talks to you while you decorate a cake...or even the taste tester....whoever your person is..Thank them! Thank Them OUTLOUD....appreciate them....and tell them 100 times over how grateful you are that they help....that they put up with your cake talk....your "Cake Wreck" tears....your long hours and messy kitchen.....that they may even chip in and go buy more sugar at 3am because you just made 3 batches of fondant and they turned out bad and now your in a panic because delivery is 8am and you put it off till the last minute!
That's the kind of help I when he went away this weekend....I felt and realized all  he does....and I will never again overlook anything......ever. I will thank him just for existing....and holding my hand through every great accomplishment and even my not so great ones. Because regardless if it has to do with cakes....or just life...He is always there. Always.