This video shows a candy glaze that you can use to give a little bit of shine to your gumpaste. It's made from corn syrup, water, and food coloring, and it dries slowly but is less toxic-smelling than confectioner's glaze, plus it's a lot easier to wash off!
Here's a video showing how to use the two-piece acorn mold to make a realistic acorn for fall wedding cakes or rustic wedding cakes. The key to this is to make sure that the nut part is dry before attaching the caps to them.
I was having a craving for oatmeal cookies, and my daughter is vegan, so since she was home and I knew she would want some I needed to make them dairy and egg-free.
The easiest thing to do when you're looking for a vegan baking recipe is to start with one that uses oil, not butter. I found this one on Cooks.com, so I started with that as the basis for the recipe.
The changes that I made to the recipe were pretty limited since it didn't have butter to begin with. I use Ener-g egg replacer when I bake vegan recipes, and I usually use a little more than the instructions call for and let it sit for a bit before I add it to the recipe. I also add a little extra flour and beat the batter longer than I usually would for cookies, because that will increase the gluten. The increased gluten takes the place of some of the structure that you lose when you take out the eggs.
So the recipe that I ended up following was this (and yes, they were good!):
1/2 cup vegetable oil 3/4 cup light brown sugar 1/4 cup granulated sugar egg replacer equivalent of 2 eggs 1/3 cup water 2 cups unbleached flour 1 tsp. vanilla 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare pans lined with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix oil, sugar, vanilla, water, and egg replacer. Beat well. Stir in dry ingredients and beat well. Stir in oats, and add raisins (optional). Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls or a scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. They should be set and not mushy when you touch the tops, but not too dark at the base. Use an insulated cookie sheet if you have one to prevent overbrowning. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies using a #30 scoop, or 4 dozen Tbsp. sized balls.
The worst business advice I ever heard was all about the pricing, but the best wasn't about the mechanics of the business at all. Well, not really. It was more about the reality of having a local business when I was doing wedding cakes.
When I started doing wedding cakes in Richmond, I was relatively new to the area and I didn't know much about how to start getting my feet wet. I don't remember how I set it up, but I contacted a local photographer and asked if I could ask her some general questions about the wedding industry in town.
She was nice enough to get together with me, and that was the most valuable meeting I'd ever had with anyone. She basically gave me the lay of the land when it came to what to do to get my name out, what not to bother doing, and where to get started. It was all locally-based information, nothing like "post on Facebook ten times a day" or "put an ad in The Knot." (Facebook wasn't around back then anyway, but you get the point.) It was advice that was specific to the wedding market that we were in, not generalities that may or may not have worked.
I'd suggest that if you're starting out, or even if you're not starting out, but you want to get a new perspective, that you find someone whose business parallels yours somehow. Whether it's another wedding professional in the same area, or another cake designer in a different city (or both), find another professional who's willing to clue you in. It doesn't have to be a formal mentor type arrangement, but it will be worthwhile.
Here's a quick look at how to make some chocolate leaves. I actually used candy melts for these, but real chocolate would taste better! Make sure to temper the chocolate correctly if you use the real thing so that you avoid the dusty-looking bloom on them when they cool off.
Start with some leaf presses or veiners, or some real rose or lemon leaves. It's best to use leaves that have no pesticides on them if you use real ones. If you're lucky enough to own some tacky plastic-leaved artificial plants from the 1970's, you can use those leaves, too!
Melt the chocolate or candy coating.
Using a clean paintbrush, paint a layer of the chocolate onto the BACK of the leaf. You want to use the backs so that the veining shows up the right way when you take the chocolate off after it cools off.
After the leaf is painted, paint more chocolate onto it so that it's about 1/8" thick.
Put the painted leaves on a piece of waxed paper to allow them to set up.
Using a leaf veiner is the same process. Paint the veiner and set it aside to set up.
After an hour or so (wait longer if you can to make sure they're really set up and ready to be removed) peel the leaves off of the chocolate carefully to expose the imprinted side of the chocolate leaf.
You might have to pick the edges of the leaves off if the leaves tear a little when you remove them.
And here are the leaves:
To remove them from the veiner, peel the veiner off carefully to detach the chocolate from the veiner.
This gives you some really nicely detailed leaves that people can actually eat. It's pretty easy to do, and it gives you a nice result.