Long Time No See!

Rhonda Bakes - Experiments

It’s been a while, my friends!  I’ve been travelling quite a bit in these last few months and have been extraordinarily busy at my “real” job.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been making cake and experimenting with new techniques, it just means that I haven’t had a lot of time to chronicle my adventures!  So my apologies for the absence, and here’s a little recap (along with pictures) of what’s been going on. » Read more

A Busy Week!

Rhonda Bakes - Experiments

It’s shaping up to be a super busy week – Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on Saturday I’m presenting three special cakes for our annual summer party – Finally, I got the hibiscus flowers done yesterday (yay me) – they’re not as sturdy as I had hoped, but with practice, I’ll nail them –
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Hibiscus Petals and Mosaic Tiles

Rhonda Bakes - Cake

It’s been a while!  Damn that real job for taking time away from my baking – Over the last two weeks or so I’ve spent a week in Washington, D.C., which grinds any baking to a complete halt (if only the Homewood Suites had ovens instead of just stovetops).  I’ve also spent untold hours trying to perfect the hibiscus flower for my birthday cake.

First let us discuss those evil, evil hibiscus.  They are one of my favorite blooms and I was beyond excited to be including them on my cake.  I purchased all the molds, dusts, wires and other supplies I’d need to shape the perfect petals…  I rolled that gumpaste like a champ!  The petals were lovely…  Just the correct amount of veining, stunning yellow with hints of plum…  I was gazing at them so proud of myself for “getting it” on the very first try.

Then I tried to put them together.  All I can say is that it was hideous…  my gorgeous petals had wires poking out the back, the petals spun endlessly on the wires, the flower just would not hold it’s shape, and before I knew it each and every petal was broken off where their wires ended.   Was I deterred?  Oh no!  I decided I’d start again tomorrow!

Round two – I have decided that I failed because I was using 22 gauge wire rather than the recommended 26 gauge wire.  Since I didn’t have any 26 gauge and neither did my closest craft store, I went with the 32 gauge wire that I was using for the pistils.  That should work, right?!

Wrong.  These petals again looked lovely just lying there, but as soon as I tried to create the full flower they just did all kinds of frightening stuff.  The smaller wire did not help – letting the petals dry longer did not help.  So, Andy (who I like to call my sous chef, he’s not really, but he’s a HUGE help with troubleshooting and out-of-the box ideas) and I stared at those sad little broken petals and started some experimenting.  I believe I have the solution and will be working on them tomorrow to see if it works!  Let’s just say that when a famous sugar flower artist recommends 26 gauge wire, you believe him.  Hopefully, I’ll be posting some pictures of success on Monday.

In the meantime, to restore my sanity and confidence, I did some experimenting with mosaic tiles.  This was very time consuming, but a ton of fun!  Because it was my first effort, I definitely learned some valuable lessons for the next one, and I will be making another at some point.  It’s a six inch square cake paneled in mosaic tiles with a succulent flower adorning the top.  I put this together for the lady posse to celebrate Laura’s birthday.  It was a smashing success, so it helped restore my ego a bit ;)

Rhonda Bakes - Celebration sweets in Tampa

Step one of the mosaic – laying the darker tiles on the panels

Rhonda Bakes - Celebration Sweets in Tampa

Step two of the mosaic – adding the lighter tiles to the panel.

Key Lime Macarons

Rhonda Bakes - Experiments

Each week I don’t have a special order to deliver I experiment with something new – whether it’s a brand new recipe or just playing with flavor, I get in the kitchen at about 5:00 AM on Wednesday so that I can deliver the finished product for testing on Thursday night – I got some new flavoring oils in recently, so this week’s experiment was in flavor:  Key Lime Macarons – » Read more