Thursday, December 13, 2012

30th Birthday Cake

This cake was for a co-worker's surprise 30th birthday party. He's an avid runner and flag football-er, both of which we wanted to incorporate in his cake. Credit for the design goes mostly to his best friend from college who also works with us and planned the whole party. I promise the "hill" aspect of the cake was an unintentional coincidence but given the fact that he was turning 30, it just seemed oh-so-fitting. The cake is vanilla bean pound cake with a cookies 'n sweet cream filling.

The cake is covered in [green] Italian buttercream and the road is made out of crushed Oreos.

The banner, running trophy, and football are all handmade out of gumpaste and fondant. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vegan Rehearsal Cupcakes

I am not vegan and I do not pretend to be. In fact, my diet is pretty much the opposite of vegan. But I do love a good challenge, and I am excited to expand the repertoire of Morgan Phillips Cakes to encompass all types of diets and food allergies. Last week I had the chance to do just that while brainstorming and preparing a Vegan Thanksgiving rehearsal dinner for a new family of 25 - complete with cupcakes for dessert.

I created a menu of vegan appetizers and desserts for the hostess to choose from with the theme of Thanksgiving and their dietary restrictions in mind. Together we decided on three appetizers and four desserts. I prepared them all on the day in advance, and then delivered to the site of the dinner where the hostess re-heated and served. They had two different types of cupcakes: one a [regular] pumpkin walnut cake with maple cream cheese frosting and the second a vegan banana gingerbread cake with a fresh squeezed orange glaze and candied ginger.

 Aside from cake, the appetizers for the event included quinoa, walnut and sage stuffed mushrooms, roasted red pepper and asparagus wraps with balsamic glaze, and chick pea and sweet potato sliders with vegan chipotle mayo. The other two desserts are crust-less apple pies served in hollowed apples and cranberry pecan brittle.


When I say I'm up for a challenge...I mean I'm really up for a challenge.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Naked Cake

Frosting makes a cake look finished and offers endless design possibilities. As a cake decorator, I love how frosting covers up little mistakes like cakes not coming out of the pan perfectly or ending up a little dry. I especially love the Italian buttercream that I use to cover my wedding cakes with because it creates a smooth finish and isn't too super sweet. Frosting is a cake decorator's best friend. Lately though, I have been  infatuated with a new fad in cakes: the Naked Cake. It still has frosting, but rather than trying to cover up imperfections, the 'naked' style shifts the focus back to the cake itself. The frosting is more a compliment in flavor than design, and the result is a beautifully rustic stack of cake- with nothing to hide.

A good cake begins with good ingredients. Here's a picture of my pear and ginger cake, stripped down to its  skivvies:


This cake is so full of flavor and moisture, you won't even miss the extra frosting. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

October Birthday Cakes

 When I started my office "day job", I found a whole new cake market that has been so good to me for the past few months. Last week I even had two birthday cakes in one week- a first for my little business! I'm also loving to get to practice birthday cakes more frequently, because it is a different skill set from wedding cakes and it's a new challenge. The first of the week was a pink lemonade 1/4 sheet cake with citrus cream cheese frosting. I decorated with lots of little gumpaste flowers and yellow sugar. There's a Mamita somewhere with very happy taste buds:

The second was southern red velvet with cream cheese frosting, decorated with stucco texture and a chopped chocolate wave for Randi:

Here's to staying busy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Winter Wedding Cake Tasting

Tastings are honestly one of my favorite parts of my job. I love talking designs, flavors and wedding plans, not to mention it usually means I get to reconnect with an old friend too.This particular cake has had me excited from day one. New Year's  is one of my favorite holidays and Winter is my favorite season. I've always wanted to do a wedding cake for that time of year. The wedding has mostly winter-y details, which we incorporated in her cake down to the flavor. Here is a sneak peek of the tasting we did a few weeks ago in Northern Virginia:

From left to right/top to bottom: Spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese filling, vanilla bean cake with vanilla buttercream filling and chocolate bourbon cake with homemade caramel mousse filling. The cupcakes are chocolate bourbon with espresso buttercream and confetti cake with champagne buttercream.

Tastings with me are design consults too. I did six mini sketches for Susanne and Kevin, showcasing all the different ideas I had for their cake. They wanted to go more 'winter' than 'New Year's' with the design elements of their wedding, so I did a lot with snowflakes, icicles, beading and texture.

Stay tuned for their wedding cake this New Year's!

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Just Because" Cake

I could give you a hundred occasions to buy a cake - weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, bridal showers, graduations, office parties, bad days, national dessert day [Oct. 14!] - to name a few. Above all, though, my favorite reason I've made a cake is the simplest: just because. One of my co-workers put an order in for this cake to bring home to his wife on a Friday as a weekend surprise. When I asked them if they had anything special planned or if that was a big anniversary weekend for them he said no, the cake was just because he loved her and he wanted to tell her in a different way. I'm not sure of the official standings, but I'm pretty sure he was at the top of the running for husband of the weekend that Friday. He even gave me specific directions for decorating it that were sweet and to the point:

The cake was classic red velvet with cream cheese filling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

This cupcake is refreshing even in the heat of summer, and it is the perfect way to toast the end of it. The cake is raspberry-lemon, dense and slightly sweet with a tart punch. The frosting is sweet and fluffy in contrast, cream cheese infused with citrus. Topped with fresh lemon slices, yellow dusting sugar and punched with a striped straw, these cupcakes look and taste like summer party show stoppers.

This cake is also a post to introduce my new seasonal menu. Click on the Menu tab above to check it out! The seasonal menu was created to highlight local, seasonal produce and to incorporate flavors and spices that change with the weather. Most of my cake flavors will be available year round, but these three or four extra will be available in their seasons only to deliver the freshest product possible. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jimmy Buffet Birthday Cake

A cupcake tower that gives a nod to the kitschy, tropical, parrot-head culture. What's special about this cake are the unique flavors and handmade sugar decorations. There are three varieties of cupcake: the plain jane (vanilla with vanilla buttercream), classic red velvet (with cream cheese frosting) and dark chocolate chambord (a tipsy, chocolatey cake filled with raspberry preserves, fresh raspberries and iced with chocolate ganache). The 6" cake topper is also chocolate chambord.

All the flowers, leaves, bamboo and flip flops are handmade out of fondant and gumpaste.

The parrot was an online find, and he is the only non-edible decoration on the cake.

It was a cupcake tower in paradise.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bali Rehearsal Dinner Cake

These lucky newlyweds, Alia and John, are headed to Bali this week for their honeymoon, which provided the inspiration for their completely custom and completely edible rehearsal dinner cake. This cake showcases what I can do with sugar work and decorations while not sacrificing the taste and quality of product. Alia is actually not a big fan of cake (Usually, I just stare blankly at people when they say things like that), so I consider her stamp of approval on my frosting a major success! Their cake was rich dark chocolate chiffon with creamy peanut butter filling.

We started the cake planning process with their honeymoon location. A sheet cake suited their event the best, which naturally led us to use the shape of the island to set our scene:

I shaped two layers of chocolate cake by making a poster board cut out in the shape of Bali to "trace".

After filling, icing and decorations:

Handmade out of gumpaste and fondant figures for the bride and groom- sugar surfer girl and scuba dude.

Alia and John at their Rehearsal dinner with the cake

And then he bit off her head...

Congrats Alia and John! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Country Wedding Cake

A few months ago one of my oldest friends (we're talking 9 or 10 years old here) contacted me about making a cake for her wedding reception in June. Erin and her husband, Jon, have one of the greatest stories I've ever been a part of and I am so excited to share it. Erin and I grew up swimming together along with two of our other friends and we were quite the fearsome foursome. In fact, I found out at her wedding that ten years later we still own relay records in our summer swim team league (how's that for longevity?). Although we don't always keep in touch regularly, these three girls have carried me through some of my fondest childhood memories, and now we have one more to add to the books.

At a swim meet a long time ago, being the 14 and 15 year old girls we were, we dared Erin to get the phone number of the cute lifeguard. Erin was the fearless one in the bunch so of course she followed through. Immediately, nothing really came of it except a little teenage flirtation. But fast forward five years later and Erin was sending us all a message telling us that she was dating a guy named Jon, and didn't we remember that time we dared her to get his number at a summer league swim meet? They had re-met randomly and now, they're married! You can imagine how excited I was to reconnect with old friends over wedding cake of all things.

Erin and Jon's reception was a laid back, mountain lodge affair outside of Charlottesville, VA where we grew up. She came to me knowing that she wanted a cake that was chocolate and reflected the same relaxed vibe of their venue. We created a pinterest board to bounce a few ideas back and forth before creating a cake that was unique to Erin and Jon. This was the final product that I delivered to Charlottesville for them:

The cake was layers of dark chocolate cake with alternating tiers of whipped chocolate and chocolate-almond mousse. 

The flowers on the sides and the topper were provided by Erin's Grandmother.

The top and bottom tier were decorated with a 'stucco' buttercream finish and the middle is smooth finish with a brown fondant band detail. 

Having some fun with the cake :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vineyard Vines Birthday Cake

A friend of mine recently asked me to re-create a birthday cake that she saw online in the shape of the Vineyard Vines whale. The result was a deliciously simple, vanilla-on-vanilla version of the company's logo paired with prep-tastic cupcakes to match. If you're not familiar with the clothing brand's miniature marine icon, click here to see how I did!

 The cupcakes were also vanilla bean pound cake with vanilla butter cream frosting. I dipped the sides in sugar and garnished with handmade fondant bow ties and pink whales. 

Thanks to Michael's for selling the perfect pink and green plaid cupcake liners to go with this theme.

 The water spouts are made from sandwich toothpicks and are not edible.

This cake will certainly satisfy even the preppiest of taste buds.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuxedo 21st Birthday Cake

This cake is the ultimate 21st birthday cake. You might have a little more than just a sugar buzz after polishing off a slice - if you can stop yourself there. I've made this cake for several different occasions over the past six months and have finally gotten the recipe perfected. It has four layers of intense chocolate cake made with Guinness Stout beer. In between each is a mousse-y, whiskey caramel filling (that is also AWESOME as a sauce over ice cream...) and the whole thing is topped off with espresso buttercream. The cake is super moist with a spongy texture and a not-too-sweet flavor. The Guinness really comes through and gives it an after taste that makes you go, "hmm...," in the best way. The rich filling compliments it perfectly and the buttercream ties all the flavors together. This particular cake has an extra drizzle of dark chocolate ganache over the top, just in case you weren't already sold. It's chocolate, it's Irish, it's alcoholic. What more can you ask for as a new member of the 21 and over crowd?

**All alcohol evaporates in the baking process and only remains in the cake and filling as flavoring**

I recently entered this cake in the Today Show's Quest for the Best Birthday Cake challenge. Here's to hoping that something comes out of it, but either way this cake is just plain wicked. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lemon Lime Wedding Cake: Mark + Cassie

Remember these guys from their tasting in February? Well, they got married last weekend! Mark was my swim coach in college for two years, and he met Cassie at McDaniel college where they both were on the swim team as well. In addition to a beautiful day and beautiful venue for their wedding, they also had this beautiful cake as a centerpiece on the dessert table:

The theme of their wedding, if you remember, was lemon and lime- perfect theme to tie in with the cake. Each tier is four layers of vanilla poundcake sandwiched together by a tart lemon/lime curd and covered with Italian buttercream. The topper idea was a find on pinterest that I recreated with a real lemon and lime and a little help from Michael's. 

Wedding cake #2 for June was a success! I loved the clean design and simple topper. This cake very much reflects my own taste in wedding cake style as well as Mark and Cassie's. 

They told me it tasted as good as it looked! Congrats Mark and Cassie, I was so honored to be a part of the big day.