Chirstmas Forest Update: The teddy bear tree is well underway, the Christmas Forest installation is Tree minus 7 and counting down. 125 plus Teds are in the attic waiting for their debut, trays are painted and waiting to have tea sets applied. The tree topping tea pot is drying , the tea table has been found, and the most fun of all so far is CUP FAKES!
What’s at tea party without treats? Pretty dull all around. The problem was how to make fun treats that looked real but weren’t. After dredging around on the internet I came up with a few ‘recipes’ and here is the first ‘treat’ result and the how to for your own. Won’t these be fun hung on the tree?
The first thing to consider is what are you going to use for a pan? I went to Good Will and scrounged around for some muffin pans because I try really hard not to combine food and chemistry if at all possible. I picked up cup cake papers in vibrant colors and popped them in each hole of my pans.
I read on line about the perils of expanding foam. This is the stuff you use to fill holes and for insulation around the house. It really does expand and its horribly sticky and gooey. Rubber gloves, paper towels, acetone and all kinds of goo removers were encouraged in each ‘recipe’.
Strolling down the aisles of Lowe’s Home Improvement store I actually found some foam that was water clean up, Daptex Multipurpose foam sealer, which promised not to expand hugely. A shot in the dark. Would it work as well? I thought it was worth a try.
My gal pals aka, elves, were in the studio sticking tape to tea pot trays and we all had a try at filling the muffin pans. The result looked rather like angel food cake. I put them aside to dry after reading the instructions that the foam would be cured in 24 hours.
Word of advice: this foam has a lot of water in it and I discovered the next morning that the cupfakes were dampish on the bottom and firm on the top. I simply flipped each one upside down in their holes and let them dry another two days. This foam does not get crispy and hard like the tan horribly gooey stuff that is also used for expanding foam purposes. This stays somewhat pliable which has its own set of problems and rewards.
When everything was dry it was time to make them look like cake. Cake is not white, cake is golden, I wanted to seal the tops of the foam ‘cakes’ so painting them with acrylics seemed to be the two-birds-in-one solution.
I used two colors, including one that looked orangey:gold ocher, and a brown: burnt umber, I also put a blob of white on the plate to mix with. I used a little cup of water to rinse my brush and thin down the paint. I wanted to cover them not frost them with the paint.
I used a stiff bristle brush and did not drag really hard on the cake tops because this softer foam will get soggy and it will tear if addressed with heavy-handed enthusiasm. A light touch works best. I put the painted cakes away to dry overnight.
For frosting I used a quart container of Dap patching plaster. In hindsight I’d like to find something a little stiffer next time. This stuff took two hours to harden up enough to put in a piping tube. I’m not sure if it was because of the addition of paint as a colorant or if it is just really squishy when you stir it.
I made a batch of pink cupcake frosting and a batch of green cupcake frosting.
It was fun getting the plaster into the piping tube. I used a big rose tip that cost me $1.49 and I also picked up a batch of disposable bags to make easier. I found a collar thingie that holds the tip for $2.49. (Michael’s in the Wilton section) This I scrubbled thoroughly after I used it because it will work for pretty cool real cupcake frosting in its sterilized and now plaster free state.
I used a big old silver spoon to ladle the plaster into the bag while trying not to get it all over me. I did a test run on a paper towel and then piped a long spiral onto each cupfake. I started on the outside and wound the piping around and then pulled it up into a peak by just pulling the piping tube up and away. It really is easy.
I piped one color of frosting on all the cakes that I wanted green and then cleaned the bowl and tip and did the same with the pink, again waiting for it to get a bit stiff so it would hold the shape I was piping.
While the cakes were good and wet I put a cherry on top of each one. My ‘cherries’ were made of Crayola air dry modeling foam. Great stuff, weighs nothing and easy to use. I couldn’t resist, I had to roll my cherries in German glitter….
I finished all the pink ones last night and the green ones today. Note to self: small pearls don’t work worth a darn. I had to go back and glue them on one at a time.
Solution: I took a long piece of wire, made very sure it was very straight and ran it from the top down, taking care that it exited the fragile paper wrapper in the middle of the bottom of the cupfake. I pulled it all the way through with about three inches showing and laid the cake on its side. I put a little bead on the bottom and then did a wire wrap finish. I pulled the finished wired up firmly above the cherry and wrapped it and clipped to create a hanging loop that looks polished and perfect.