Monday, July 14, 2014

Making realistic tree bark

I started with ivory fondant that I then added extra AmeriColor ivory to darken it. 

Then using the Oak Tree Texture Mat I rolled out a section at a time to cover the cake. 

I place the fondant over the mat and roll until I can barely see the texture through the mat. 

Then I flipped the whole thing over and peeled off the texture mat. 

I then cut the sections to the height of the cake plus approximately 1/4".  Using some "glue" of your choice attach to your cake. I just used water to attach to my buttercream. 

I forgot to get a photo of the sections on the cake prior to dusting.  So, here is one on the table showing how I dusted.

To color I used Penzey's Spices Dutch Process Cocoa powder -- any cocoa powder or a brown petal dust will work -- along with some corn starch to get the variegated colors you want. 

Blend the two items together and brush on the cake with a nice fluffy brush.  Making variations in the colors as you dust will make the cake look more natural.  ** Emailed question -- Which direction did you brush on the the color to get the best natural coloration?  Answer -- I didn't brush in any particular direction.  I brushed with the bark grain, sideways, in circles -- basically I was ubber messy in my dusting.  This of course required major cleanup on the board -- but a little Everclear on a napkin and it wiped up nicely.

As you can see in the photo below the left half is the undusted original fondant piece and right half has been dusted with the cocoa powder/corn starch. 

DTC Products Used:
Oak Tree Bark Large

Similar DTC Products:
Pear Tree Bark

Don't like fondant and want to use the mat with some buttercream?  Check out the this blog Silicone Texture Mats and Buttercream

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wide Floral Lace

Thank you Sandy Swart for the great blog post for today!

Our preacher's wife was retiring from teaching from our parochial school after 18 years of teaching.  She is a North Carolina gal and has never lost her accent.  I remember years ago that she mentioned that dogwood were her favorite flower so I decided to use dogwood on the centerpiece cake for her retirement reception at the school.

The plates the school board was providing had a light aqua background with soft pink roses and a creamy hydrangea type flower printed on them.  I was supposed to create something that coordinated with the plates.  I knew that dogwood wasn't on the plates but really wanted to put 18 dogwood flowers on her cake - each dogwood symbolizing 1 year of teaching at the school.  I decided to incorporate the aqua color by using two lace pieces diagonally across two corners of the sheet cake.

The Border - Wide Floral lace press that I purchased from Decorate The Cake at a cake club DOS in Council Bluffs, NE, was the solution to my design challenge.  I mixed aqua MMF (left over from graduation time) with white fondant, rolled it out to #3 thickness with my KA Pasta roller.

I placed this over the lace mold cavity and pressed the second part of the press into it until the edges cut the fondant.  I removed the lace mold piece and cleaned up the edges by using my finger to gently pull any fondant along the edge to the middle of the lace piece.  I removed the lace piece by placing the mold and lace face down and rolling the silicon mold back to release the fondant lace.

With a little dusting with luster dust, I place the ribbon on opposite corners and trimmed the lace to the angle of the cake edge.  I chose those two particular corners so that my dogwood branches and lace pieces would leave me an open area in the bottom left of the sheet cake to write the message.

I piped the branches on, placed the gumpaste dogwood flowers on and then piped a few leaves with green (again coordinating with the green in the paper ware). Since there was a predominate color of pink on the plates, I chose to print the salutations in pink to incorporate the color onto the cake design.  Since the parochial school is preschool-8th grade, I chose to print the words  so that the younger children could read it.  We all call her Amy but the children address her as Mrs. Hofman so I decided the message should be:  "We will miss you, Mrs. Hofman!" 

When I look at a lace mold, I immediately contemplate in my mind how I would use it on a wedding cake.  Sometimes we just have to "think outside of the box" or our "norm".  I was happy with the end result on this sheet cake using Border- Wide Floral  silicone mold from 

For Step-by-Step directions, with photos on using a lace press, check the  Lace it Up! blog post.

Any questions?  You can contact me through Sandy Swart Cakes on Facebook or at
Albums of my decorated cakes can be seen at:

DTC Product Used:
Border - Wide Floral

Monday, June 9, 2014

Creating an Isomalt Pond

Today we will make the base pond and add the elements created in previous blog posts to get a great little pond scene.  

First use some aluminum foil, you will want to use a non-stick foil or if you do not have a non-stick foil use foil that you spray with cooking spray and then lightly wipe the excess off leaving a thin layer of spray.  

Wrinkle the foil up a bit, then smooth it back out.  The wrinkles add additional dimension to the back side of the isomalt.  Next manipulate the foil to build a dam to keep the isomalt contained when pouring out the pond.  Place the foil onto a silpat to help protect your workspace.

I used CakePlay Blue Isomalt Nibs, but you could use clear and add blue food coloring.  Place the nibs in a microwave safe container with a pour spout to melt, warming in 15-30 second increments until fully melted.  Stir with a bamboo skewer and let sit to allow bubbles to dissipate.  Then pour the isomalt onto your prepared foil.  Maybe you can aim better than I do and actually keep it all in the dam.  

You don't have to fill the entire area -- this is just a guide.

Once the isomalt is fully cooled gently pull the foil away from your pond.  

Invert onto a silpat and peel back the foil.

Place the pond the cake board or a cake top.  Using isomalt as your glue start adding in all of the elements created from out previous blog posts.

Dragonfly Directions
5 Petal Flower Directions

 Butterfly Directions

Log Directions

DTC Products Used:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dragonfly, leaves and flowers.....oh my!

Creating a a two tone dragonfly.

For the body I used CakePlay purple isomalt nibs mixed with a few of the CakePlay pearl isomalt nibs.  Carefully pour down the center of the mold.

Then using the pearl nibs pour in the wing area.

Go back and fill in the body.

To remove the dragonfly, turn the mold over and peel back off the isomalt.

Creating a quick flower!

Using the 5 petal flower mold, pour the isomalt into the half that is concave.

Fill it approximately half full.  This one is a little under filled.  Play with the amount of isomalt you use to get different looks on your flowers.

Place the top onto the mold lining up the notches.  Gently press down on mold.  If any isomalt oozes out use a bamboo skewer to knock off the excess.

Allow the mold to set for approximately  3-4 minutes.  Gently lift the top off.  The isomalt will stick to one side.

Whichever side the isomalt sticks to, pick it up and flex the mold to remove your flower.

Blurry photo -- it did not want to focus on the pearl sheen.

Creating some leaves.

Pour the isomalt onto one half of the leaf mold.  You can go thin or thick on this....again, just play with different amounts.

Coax the isomalt to the edges of the mold.

Lay the second half of the mold on top and gently press.  Knock off any drips that ooze out of the mold.

 Timing will depend on how thick you poured the isomalt.  I like to pull it out while it is still soft so that I can shape it a bit.

If you place it on its side you can then shape and let them cool.

DTC Products Used:
5 Petal Blossom
DTC Alstoermia Leaf Veiner

CakePlay Products Used:
Purple Isomalt Nibs
Green Isomalt Nibs
Pearl Isomalt Nibs

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Beautiful Marbled Koi Fish

To create this cute koi fish we used CakePlay isomalt nibs in orange,pearl and a black.  Start with the orange and pearl, melt the two colors in separate cups in the microwave.  Start in 15 second increments stopping to check the progress and stir with a bamboo skewer.  After the isomalt is removed from the microwave, give a few quick stirs.  If the isomalt was boiling wait until it cools a bit before continuing.  You want the isomalt to flow well but not be so hot the two colors blend into one solid color.

Drizzle in the orange isomal in random spots through the mold.  It should flow well but not immediately all pool to the bottom. See the drop staying in place on the edge as well as the parts on the "fins"?  If it is too hot they flatten more and flow to the bottom.

Then alternately pour in some of the pearl,. in random locations.  Repeat back and forth with the pearl and orange until the mold cavity is full.  

Set the mold aside to completely cool.  I use the end of a skewer to test the isomalt, if it dents it is still too warm.

Invert the mold and remove the koi fish.  

In a small cup meld a few black nibs then using the end of a bamboo skewer, dip the skewer into the isomalt to get a small amount.  If the isomalt is too hot at this point it will drip right off the skewer.  Once it has set a bit, use the skewer to dot a small amount of black onto the eye area of the koi.   

DTC Products Used:
Koi Fish

CakePlay Products Used:
Orange Isomalt Nibs
Pearl Isomalt Nibs
Black Isomalt Nibs

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Isomalt Log using Texture Mats

Today we are going to show you how to make a textured log for your next isomalt scene.

Remember when working with isomalt to take precautions against getting burned.  The sugar gets very hot!  Wear gloves and keep a bucket of ice water handy in the event you get sugar on you.

I'm going to use my Oak Tree Bark texture mat.  You could also use the  Pear Tree Bark texture mat.  For the first step I am going to pour the isomalt onto the back side of the mat.  You may use any smooth silicone mat or silpat type product for this step.

I used clear and white isomalt nibs from CakePlay.  They were melted in the microwave in 30 second increments until fully melted.  Then I added a few drops of brown food coloring until I reached the desired color; using a long bamboo skewer to stir the mixture.  

Pour out a portion of the isomalt onto the back of the mat.  Use a skewer to keep it from oozing off the sides.  

As it starts setting keep folding the mat over folding the sugar onto itself.  

Once the sugar forms together use your hand to roll the isomalt back and forth forming a log.  ** Remember to do what I say and not what I'm showing -- please wear a glove as the sugar may still be warm enough to burn. **

Continue rolling until you get a round log of the desired shape.  Times will vary depending on the amount of isomalt in your log.  The larger log below took almost 30 minutes to cool where the small one only took about 10.

Make sure they are solid and cold before you continue or the log will become misshaped on the next step.

Now heat up your brown isomalt again.  You will pour this onto the textured side of your bark mat.

Pour out an amount that is larger than your log.  Use the skewer to flip the extended ends back over itself as they start to cool.  Allow this to set until it is firm but still slightly soft.  Bend the mold, if it cracks it is too cool, you may use a blow torch to soften the top surface.

Once softened, place the log onto the middle of the area.  Fold the mat over the log.

Roll the texture mat around the log center.  I then used rubber bands to hold in place.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.....

DTC Products Used:
Oak Tree Bark Large Texture Mat
Pear Tree Bark Texture Mat

CakePlay Products Used:
Clear Isomalt Nibs
White Isomalt Nibs