Icing Smiles – Nick’s Birthday Cake

Rhonda Bakes - Fondant Covered, hand-painted, fishing theme, icing smiles, angelfish

In my fledgeling career as a baker/decorator of custom cakes, one of the things I’m most proud of is my involvement in Icing Smiles!  Yesterday, I had the honor of delivering a celebration cake to Nick for his birthday.  This was my first cake for the organization and I admit, I was so incredibly nervous (Andy can attest, I was an absolute bear while we were packing up things to leave for the 1.5 hour journey to St. Pete!).

Nick is a fan of Cake Wars and other cake-related shows, so he had a good idea of what he wanted from the beginning!  This was great for me, because it gave me a great jumping-off place.  He requested a Vanilla cake with Raspberry filling (yummy!) and since it’s my favorite flavor combination as well, I was thrilled to oblige.

He also let me know that he preferred a fishing theme, and I really wanted to deliver him something special. Typically, when donating a cake for Icing Smiles, the servings are limited to about 40. This lets the organization set realistic expectations for their recipients and helps the baker/decorator to accurately design for the family.

Because Nick was such a fan of the cake decorating process, I wanted to deliver him something special for his celebration.  I worked to think of elements that I knew that he’d appreciate – In order to do that, I got just a little creative with some of the elements of the cake and finalized a design with a 14″ x 14″ square dummy tier for the water and a 10″ x 6″ cake tier for the land.

Rhonda Bakes - Fondant Covered, hand-painted, fishing theme, icing smiles

Celebration Birthday Cake by Rhonda Bakes – Icing Smiles – Vanilla Cake with Raspberry filling, covered in Fondant, Fishing Theme

I also went completely out of my comfort zone on this cake by deciding to model a figure for him.  I don’t think I did horribly for my first attempt, and I believe the little fisherman really added the finishing touch.

All cake deliveries are nerve-wracking to be sure – the transportation of the cake alone can be enough to make a baker a nervous wreck.  This doesn’t even compare to the “I hope they like it” thoughts that are running through your head for the entire trip.  Andrew was my co-pilot, as usual and he keeps me grounded during the delivery process – Have I mentioned lately that I adore this man?!

Rhonda Bakes - Fondant Covered, hand-painted, fishing theme

Celebration Birthday Cake by Rhonda Bakes – Icing Smiles – Vanilla Cake with Raspberry filling, covered in Fondant, Fishing Theme

It took us a little while to find the Ronald McDonald House – but find it we did!  Nick was in the lobby, so I got to meet him right away – What a kind and sweet boy he is!  The kind ladies from the desk went off to find his mom, Julie, and we took a few pictures before transporting the cake to the area where the birthday celebration would be held.

They loved the cake and were so excited to have a special celebration cake for the Birthday Party – I left feeling warm and fuzzy and the entire experience solidified my commitment to this terrific organization.  I can’t wait for the next one!

If you’re looking for worthwhile charities or donation opportunities, please consider contributing to Icing Smiles or the Ronald McDonald House – Both organizations are superb, and they show a true commitment to caring for families.

Luebke Wedding

Rhonda Bakes - Buttercream covered, tulips, roses, hydrangea

Being asked to design and deliver a wedding cake for my dear friends Matt and Gladys Luebke was nifty for a couple of reasons.  First, Matt and I have been close friends for nearly 20 years, and his fiancee Gladys has quickly turned into one of my favorite people!  Second, Matt was the best man at my wedding and this means that I’ve now had the opportunity to create the wedding cakes for both my best man and my maid of honor (Alyssa Rose) within the same year!

Rhonda Bakes - Celebration Sweets, Tampa Florida - Wedding Cake

3 tier, almond swiss meringue buttercream covered, with roses, carnations, hydrangea and tulip sugar flowers.

I was given free reign with the cake – when questioned, the only requirement from Gladys was that the wedding was flower themed and that the colors were blue and purple.  Oh, and her favorite flowers are carnations!  I immediately started gathering feedback and doing some Google searches on “natural” blue flowers.  Purple is easy, blue not so much!  After much research and experimenting, the primary focal flowers were selected: Hydrangeas, Tulips and Roses.  Carnations and small blossoms would be used throughout the design as filler flowers.

Oh, and the wedding venue is in Virginia!  Since I’m in Florida, planning was key – I spent a couple of weeks before travel making all of the gum paste flowers.  In order to make sure that I could take all of my tools to the mountain lodge venue, I decided to drive up rather than fly.  This would also allow me to keep a very close eye on those flowers and mitigate any breakage!

Rhonda Bakes - Celebration Sweets, Tampa Florida - Wedding Cake

Top tier, almond swiss meringue buttercream covered, with roses, carnations, hydrangea and tulip sugar flowers.

The cake itself was a three tier white cake with fresh strawberry filling and almond swiss meringue buttercream.  I was able to spend the Thursday before the wedding dusting and putting together all the flowers, Friday was baking and icing day, and then early Saturday morning the whole thing came together.

Winkles Wedding

Creating the cupcakes and top tier for the Winkles wedding was a lot of fun – not only did I get to bake, but I got to put on my “carpenter’s daughter” hat and build the display.

Jennifer requested fondant covered cupcakes embellished with tiny roses and pearls.  She also wanted a cake topper to save for her and Kyle’s first anniversary.

The cupcakes were red velvet with a cream cheese filling and chocolate with ganache filling.  The top tier was a vanilla cake with swiss meringue buttercream and fondant ruffles.

Rhonda Bakes - Celebration Sweets, Tampa Florida - Wedding Cupcakes

Fondant covered with pearl and rose embellishments.

To display all of these lovely goodies, I built, painted and covered my own stand.  By taking this extra step, I was able to make sure that the display could withstand the weight of more than 100 cupcakes and the top tier.  No one wants their wedding cake crashing down around them!

The wedding itself was outside, and in Florida that can be iffy in October.  We did have a pretty warm day, so the cake and cupcakes were kept inside until they were nearly ready to serve.

Comfort Wedding

Rhonda Bakes - peony cake topper

The Comfort Wedding!  June in Michigan – what a beautiful time of year to be in my home state, and what a special time for our family as we all gathered to celebrate the wedding of our Alyssa Rose to Jake!  I admit, it was pretty stressful for me, since I’d been entrusted with probably one of the most important cakes I’ll ever make – Only perfection for my princess!

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Urbanczyk Wedding Shower

Rhonda Bakes - Bee Topper
Rhonda Bakes - Honeycomb cake

Comfort Shower 2015 – Bee themed cake with honeycomb, stripes, polka-dots and bees, of course!

After dropping off the Routh’s wedding cake, it was time to head home and finish packing for the drive up to Michigan and prepare for the Urbanczyk wedding shower.  The next cake is one that is special to my heart since it was for my niece, Alyssa – If you have spent any time at all around me, you know that there are not many people more precious to me than this child of my heart.

The shower was bee themed and let me tell you, baking cake in a kitchen not your own is a little different – Of course, I’d brought my specialty equipment, and had already prepared about 50 modeling chocolate roses to top the cupcakes that were being served in honor of those who are not fondant fans – In addition to the cake and the cupcakes, with the help of the bridal party and the family, we also put out a gorgeous dessert table, using the 3-tiered cake as the centerpiece.

The cake itself was challenging, but it was important to me that it be beyond special – All three tiers were covered in white fondant and embellished with modeling chocolate – The honeycomb was being a little difficult and the hand-drawn heart on the top tier had me quaking, but I believe it turned out lovely!  Alyssa was happy with it, and that’s all I need.

Both Alyssa and Jake loved the cake, and I loved making it – Of course, my thoughts immediately turned to the star of the entire show, the wedding cake I’d be making for them in June. No pressure, right?

Rhonda Bakes shower cakes

The dessert bar at the Urbanczyk shower.

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