Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Post of A Different Kind

My brother and his fiancée, my Mom and our friend from England, and my two younger siblings watching the fires from a safe distance.

Good morning all.
This post is sure to carry a significantly different tone than my usual musings. 

As many of you already know, my beautiful home of Colorado Springs is burning as the Waldo Canyon Fire rages along the Front Range. I, along with 32,000 others, have been evacuated from our homes, and it is already confirmed that some of those homes, along with some beloved landmarks, have been burned to the ground. 
I can only be thankful that, as of yet, there are no reports of casualties or serious injuries. I am also thankful that my family is safe, and mostly together. My Dad is working out of the country at the moment, and we will be relieved when he joins us. We cannot express our gratitude to our dear friends who have taken us in, along with other families. It is a full house here, and their generosity is greatly appreciated.
We have yet to hear whether our house is still standing, but we have no reason at this time to believe that it has burned, so we are thankful for that.

My little brother hoses down the walls and roof before evacuating the house. The sky glows orange, and thick smoke and falling ash obscures the trees in our next-door neighbors backyard.

The fear and tension are tangible in this town, as thick as the smoke that was blanketing our neighborhoods. Please keep Colorado Springs (as well as several other towns in and around Colorado, who are also being affected) in your thoughts.

I would like to take a moment to show my gratitude and respect for those brave souls who are working so tirelessly to protect what they can, and to fight this terrifying firestorm.

Please let the heat relent and the rain come, and let this nightmare come to an end.

Please click here  if you want to and are able to provide help to those affected.
Please click here for current fire information.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Braunnika Wedding Cakes

A year ago yesterday, a dear friend got married. I was quite honored when she asked me if I would make her wedding cake. In honor of her and her husband's anniversary, I would like to share it with you...

The top tier was chocolate (the Chocolate-Coffee-Whiskey Cake) and the others were lemon cake with raspberry filling. Annika (the bride) specifically requested square tiers, and peach and white flowers to match the wedding decor. Roses seemed perfect. We pinged a couple ideas back and forth, and settled on some floating tiers with roses in between. Very romantic. Each tier was frosted in buttercream (vanilla for the lemon/raspberry tiers and chocolate for the chocolate tier), and then covered in white homemade marshmallow fondant. A silver fondant ribbon (cut with this nifty little guy) was added to the bottom of each tier (actually it was white until I painted it with metallic silver luster dust mixed with lemon extract (you could use vodka, but anything with a very high alcohol content will work)). The whole thing was then brushed with dry pearlized white luster dust to give it a fancy sheen. Purdy. The tiers were stacked on top of these "hidden pillars" to make them float a couple inches apart (I had to trim a couple to make them the right height for the cake tiers plus the fact - these little guys are quite sturdy. Some knives are just not cut out (pun intended) for trimming this kind of plastic).
Once the tiers were stacked, the fresh roses (which, thank goodness, were still fresh and gorgeous by then) were trimmed and added to the cake. The stems were trimmed to a couple inches below the flower and then inserted in between the cake tiers. Another fun fact - adrenaline helps get this done really fast, especially when you start hearing the music from the wedding starting, and you are still doing it. And you're not dressed for the wedding. Time management is not one of my strongest attributes.

The cake was topped off with a pretty silver monogram of the couple's name.

This is what it looks like in between the tiers when you take it apart to cut it...

A fun addition to this project was the surprise Groom's cake that accompanied the traditional tiered white Bride's cake. Strawberries were something the bride definitely wanted incorporated into the dessert scene somehow. Chocolate covered strawberries immediately came to mind (to be honest, they never really leave my mind...), but I didn't like the idea of having a little plate of chocolate covered strawberries (can I call them CCSs? No, that's totally lame) just sitting there all lonely-like. Sooooo, put them on a cake. Obvi. Thus this surprise groom's cake was born. Chocolate (duh), with a few CCSs as a rather elaborate garnish (don't judge me, it makes sense). This cake was also the Chocolate-Coffee-Whiskey Cake.

Some face time for the CCSs...

Oh, here's a fun picture. I had access to the church kitchen to finish off the cakes on the wedding day. It was great. I mean, it wasn't Kitchen Stadium, but I was psyched to have access to mondo counter space and a couple industrial ovens (that did a top-knotch job of baking that last tier for me). It kind of made me yearn a little more for an industrial kitchen of my own.

There was more counter space behind the ovens, to the right of the edge of the picture, and about 30 feet of counter space behind where the photographer was standing (my Mom!).

Happy Anniversary to the Brauns! All my love to a beautiful family!