Hat Box Cake

The last cake of 2103 was for a friend whose birthday falls just after Christmas.  I was given free rein on the design and took the opportunity to try working with edible printed sugar sheets.

Black & White Hat Box Cake with Roses & PearlsThe cake was a four tier vanilla Madeira cake, layered with strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream.  The entire thing was covered with white fondant then cut panels of pre-printed edible sugar sheets applied.  I really liked the effect, and how easy they were to work with.  It would have looked even better if I’d done a more proficient job of levelling the top of the cake.

Hat Box Cake Lid & BowLustred fondant pearls and Belgian chocolate roses.  Don’t be too impressed by the roses – they’re bought white chocolate ones – all I did was tint and lustre them!

Ribbon & Gift TagStrawberry flavoured modelling chocolate was used for the bow, ribbon and tag.  This time I worked out that the modelling chocolate could be worked a lot thinner that I’d previously realised.

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I thought the Champagne bottle shaped candles added a lovely finishing touch to this cake.

The femininity and elegance of it made me want to wear a pretty hat and a floaty dress…I enjoyed doing it so much…it really was a pleasure.

You can see how my technique had improved too…the sides of the cake were much straighter and neater than the ones from earlier in the year.  A lot of improvement still to make though.

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Beef Wellington – simply the best pie ever?

I’m going to interrupt this parade of cakes to show you the glorious Beef Wellington made by Petit Man for our Christmas dinner in 2013.

Beef Wellington 2013His first time making this and and would you just look at what he produced – is that not a thing of beauty?

Beef Wellington Cut 2013Unfortunately due to my poor photography skills, and the fact the mushroomy goodness has covered part of the beef in this picture, you can’t see the perfect pink that it actually was.

Served with roasted vegetables, some creamy mash and a to-die-for gravy that involved a lot of red wine, beef stock and reduction, this was one of the best Christmas dinners ever.

Of course, the fact that I didn’t have to cook it just made every mouthful all the more heavenly. 😉

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Up on the roof

In December of 2013 Petit Man announced his assumption that I would be making him a birthday cake.  “After all,” he said, “if all these other people are having lovely cakes made by you, I don’t think I should have to have a supermarket one.  You’ve spoiled me now…I know what a good cake tastes like!”

Fair point I s’pose.

Petit Man Birthday 2013Time was limited so I came up with this relatively simple to create roof cake, made using layers of vanilla Madeira cake, filled and frosted with coffee buttercream.

petit Petit Man 2013This was my first try at modelling a figure from fondant and the first test run for the face mould I’d purchased.  As he was the first actual human I created, it seems fitting that the first sugar human I created was a petit Petit Man.

As you can see, the construction method for the chimney wasn’t thought through very well, resulting in this squashed on affair…looks like it’s going to end up in their bathroom any second now!

Regardless of its many faults and flaws, Petit Man was very happy with the cake, which in this instance was all that really mattered..

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Cakes for Christmas

Christmas related baking started in a simple enough fashion.  I played with some recipes, piped a few swirls, scattered some gold pearls, thusly:

Frosted Christmas cupcakesHere we have moist spiced orange sponge, studded with juicy cranberries, topped with orange & cinnamon buttercream. Demonstrating two piping styles – one finished with orange zest, the other with gold pearls.  When I came up with these beauties I thought I’d captured Christmas in a cupcake.  But I was wrong.

Christmas cupcakesWhat really captured Christmas in a cupcake was the ‘mince pie’ cupcakes I came up with next.  I used a spiced vanilla sponge packed with dried fruits and orange peel.  Then, when they were still warm from the oven, I drizzled them with a fresh lemon soak. Finally, I topped them with vanilla buttercream and decorated with fondant.

With demands for more flooding in from family and friends I got on a roll (ha!) with my fondant designs, and things kinda snowballed (haha!)

SantasI made worried looking Santas, and some more relaxed ones.

Penguin & ReindeerThere were perky penguins and startled reindeer.

SnowmenThere were snowmen, resplendent in an array of stripy bobble hats.

Christmas puddingThere were Christmas puddings….

Choirboy…and then there were choirboys with mouths that made them disturbingly reminiscent of blow up sex dolls.  I stopped with the cupcakes after that.

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Quilted Blue Chanel Handbag Cake

A friend asked me if I could make a cake for his wife’s birthday.  He wanted ‘something special’, said she likes handbags and her favourite colour is blue, then left it up to me.

Actual Chanel bagMooching on t’internet I became inspired by this Chanel Handbag, and having looked at a few ‘How To’ articles, decided to give it a go.  This is what I made…

Cake Chanel bagI am still so proud of it!  My friend’s wife was thrilled with it, and he told me that their daughter spent ages examining it very, very closely before announcing, “I don’t think you can eat it Mummy.  I think it’s real!”  When they did eat it, they loved it 🙂

Made to the same dimensions as the actual bag, this cake was a five layer Madeira cake, filled with strawberry jam and strawberry buttercream, covered with fondant.  The chain and linked ‘C’ emblem were made using gumpaste.

The very best part…making this cake was a doddle!  The quilting worked out well and easily, the chain behaved itself, nothing tried to fall over or dry out…quite remarkable.  I actually think it might have been a fluke and am a bit worried about being asked to do another one like this in case I can’t recreate it 😉

This cake was pure pleasure to do and boosted my confidence right back up.  It was also the cake that generated sufficient interest for me to start contemplating the idea of doing this baking and decorating malarkey for money, rather than just for my own jollies.

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Busty Bertha

A work colleague asked if I could make a cake for his girlfriend’s birthday.

“I want you to do her an enormous pair of tits”, he said.

“I don’t think I’m good enough to do specific bird species”, I replied.

Actually, I didn’t, but I would have amused myself if I had done.

What I really said was, “Is this cake for you or her?”

Eventually it was agreed that the required mammaries would be clothed, thus making it appealing to both parties.

Corset cakeThe preferred colours were yellow, green and orange but I decided to omit the orange for aesthetic reasons.

‘Ice cream’ was requested for the cake flavour.  I’d just like to state, for the record, that ‘ice cream’ is not actually a flavour.  My interpretation of this was to use a vanilla/cream soda flavour for the cake, then cover the boobs with chocolate ganache (as a good friend said, who wouldn’t  like boobs covered in chocolate ganache), finally covering the torso with strawberry buttercream, thus creating a sort of Neapolitan ice cream effect.

This cake came together remarkably easily, which was balm to my creative soul after le catastrophe that was the diabetic shoe box cake.  I thought covering the boobs would be much trickier than it was…just a little patience and coaxing required.  Of course, by this time I’d bought a decent rolling pin, which helped no end with manoeuvring the rolled fondant from the work surface to the cake.

This was the first time using dome shaped cake tins.  Unfortunately I baked for too long as reports back told me the boob part of the cake was very dry.  I wasn’t too down about it though as the cake was enjoyed anyway, and making it gave me another dose of useful learning experience.  And it gave me the chance to use my (then) new wheely toy for the first time, creating great stitching detail on the corset.

Just a little aside: the cake tin I ordered for making this arrived with a dent in it so I needed to take some photos in order to claim a refund.  Google+ did this with them…

IMG_5630-MOTIONI’m childish.  It amused me.

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Q: How much pain can a broken shoe cause?

A: It is immeasurable, particularly when coupled with a low fat, low sugar, reduced carb chocolate cake with choc/mint filling, suitable for a diabetic*!

*There is no such thing as ‘suitable for diabetics fondant’ – clearly the outer covering of fondant would need to be removed from this cake before a person with diabetes consumed it.  But I’m sure I didn’t need to tell you that.

completed shoe cakeWhen I agreed to do this cake I must have been under the influence of a full moon or something.  Making it was a horrible experience that took me through full scale tantrums (not a pretty sight) and left me with my confidence shot to pieces.

On the plus side, I learned some extremely valuable lessons.

Trial diabetic cakeOf course, the first thing I had to do was to come up with a cake recipe suitable for diabetics.  This was really difficult and took a LOT of trial bakes.  Trust me, when it comes to cake there is no such thing as a good sugar substitute…my experience was that they either made the cakes look great but taste vile, or the cake tasted ok(ish) but didn’t rise properly.  In the end I managed to come up with something suitable using a mix of xylitol, fructose and a tiny amount of muscovado sugar.

Toothpaste frostingThe next issue was the frosting.  Mint/chocolate was the request but, try as I might, I couldn’t stop it from tasting like toothpaste.  It didn’t help that the sugar free frosting recipe I initially used ended up also having the consistency of toothpaste.  The taste-testers tried gamely but feedback wasn’t good.

In the end I used a packet mix of chocolate flavour sugar free whipped dessert as the base for the frosting, adding a bit of the toothpastey stuff for firmer texture and a touch of mint flavour.  It was passable.  At least it wasn’t green.  I didn’t take any pictures.

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Autumn Cupcakes

During October 2013 I did a fair bit of experimentation with cupcake flavours, creating three new recipes with which I was happy.  I’m happy to verify that relaxed bliss can be achieved by taking any of the following Autumnal creations, adding hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket and a black & white afternoon matinee.

Cherry Bakewell CupcakesCherry Bakewell cupcakes: almond sponge cake, centrally filled with morello cherry flavour buttercream, covered with lemon laced fondant and topped with a cherry.  All boxed up ready to go to Mum and Big Sis.

Banoffee grows upGrown up banoffee cupcakes: roasted banana sponge topped with a puddle of dulce de leche (which is just a posh name for caramel made using a boiled tin of condensed milk), dark chocolate buttercream and a banana chip.  These were incredibly good.

Spiced Toffee AppleSpiced toffee apple cupcakes: fresh apple pieces set between two layers of gently spiced vanilla sponge cake (cinnamon and cloves).  Topped with a cloud of vanilla buttercream, drizzled with dulce de leche and sprinkled with toasted nuts and cinnamon spiced dried apple pieces.

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Downton Abbey Cakes

Mum, Big Sis and I all like ourselves a bit of Downton Abbey.  We’re also quite partial to a sweet treat or two.  Seemed pretty obvious to me that combining the two things would be a good plan, so I came up with these cupcakes for us to eat whilst watching the carryings on of the Granthams.

Downton cupcakes for teaLight sponge cakes, flavoured with Champagne and just a hint of lemon, topped with raspberry Chambord frosting and finished with hand crafted fondant roses, daisies and pearls.  This was my first go at doing roses using cutters, rather than the ribbon method used previously.

Once there was a quilted one...The designs were inspired by the many (far better) examples, of elegant, vintage style cupcakes that can be seen across the internet.  I liked the effect of the quilted one (my first go at quilting) but it didn’t make the final selection, instead getting taste-tested into oblivion by Barn and Petit Man.

The final selectionThis was the final selection, consumed with Earl Grey tea and great company.

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Chocoholic’s Dream Cake

Box of chocolatesIf life is like a box of chocolates, this cake represents the kind of life I’d like to have!

Dark chocolate and white chocolate cake layers, with salted caramel frosting. Covered in chocolate fondant, decorated with chocolates and modelling chocolate.

This cake involved several firsts for me…first time using modelling chocolate (expensive but fabulously malleable and easy to use), the first time tempering chocolate, the first time using chocolate transfers and the first time I covered something other than a straightforward, flat cake.

chocolate lidThe lid was made using a lined, loose bottomed cake tin as a mould.  The sheets transfer was laid onto the bottom of the tin before the orange chocolate was poured on top.  There was then an interminable wait for it to completely solidify before the heart stopping moment of removal.  I was worried it would crack but luck was on my side and the whole thing came out very easily, albeit with some scratches on the transfer design.

Chocolate selectionCovering the cake was really difficult, not least because I didn’t have quite enough fondant and therefore had to roll it too thinly.  I think it turned out not too bad in the end though.

The discs on the sides of the box were made by pouring a thin layer of melted chilli chocolate onto a transfer sheet, then cutting out the shapes with metal cutters just before it had set (too soon and it runs back together, too late and it cracks).  The box is filled with a selection of Hotel Chocolat chocolates, ‘cos we all adore Hotel Chocolat, don’t we?

lifting the lidThe bow, ribbon and trim around the base of the box were made with orange flavour modelling chocolate.  I subsequently realised that I could have rolled this a LOT thinner, and it would still have held its shape…as it’s costly stuff, that’s a good thing to have learned!

Clearly, to enjoy this cake you would need to like chocolate.  A lot.  Fortunately, the friend it was made for really, really does, although it took some time before she and her family could bring themselves to break it all up.  It’s a CAKE guys…its whole raison d’être is to be eaten!

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