I have recently had the pleasure of making some golf themed cakes for some 60th birthdays. Both were a challenge for completely different reasons! The first was for a man and we decided on a 60 shaped golf course cake. This cake involved a hell of a lot of fondant icing! The big challenge was the lake which i made using homemade piping gel - very pleased with myself! The tress and bushes were all modelling paste and the bunker was soft brown sugar.
The second cake was slightly more abstract - the brief: Lady golfer on the top tier with her head in a bush looking for a golf ball meanwhile the bottom tier needs to have a boat on it churning out the birthday message in it's wake. Oh and a squirrel somewhere holding the lost golf ball.... Here's how it turned out:
Much better than I expected. And yes, the squirrel just had to be driving the boat...
Brooklyn Blackout cake
I was tasked with making a birthday cake for my office colleague and friend Neal this weekend. Now Neal is not fussy when it comes to cakes, doughnuts, pastries etc - simply put he eats anything. Despite this I thought quite hard about what I was going to bake because I wanted to be a very manly cake, fondant wasn't coming near this project!
A couple of years back my bestie Laura made our gang a cake from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook - Brooklyn Blackout cake. The history behind this cake is that is was originally made by a local bakery in Brooklyn during the war years when they regularly practised blackouts. I remember when Laura made this cake i was hesitant as heavy chocolate cake really is not my kind of cake but it was light and absolutely delicious. The cake was perfect for Neal as the dark frosting and crumbled cake topping make it look very blokey.
The secret behind this cake is that it actually does not contain any chocolate! I know, hard to believe but the flavour and colour comes from cocoa powder. The incredibly shiny filling and frosting is eggless chocolate custard. This is made from a combination of boiled sugar, cornflour and cocoa powder with a splash of vanilla and some butter mixed in. I had never made it so was slightly nervous of the process but it came out perfect with a super high gloss shine.
The recipe did not give the cake quite the height I was after, but the quantities of mixture in the recipe were never going to produce a 4 inch high cake. Next time I would add half the quantities again to produce a taller cake. Conversely the eggless chocolate custard element of the recipe gave me double what I required so I had way too much leftover!
Neal was very pleased with his bloke cake and general feedback from the office was overwhelmingly positive. Alison even had a second slice... Happy birthday Neal!
Hello Kitty cake
This post is somewhat belated but my little girl Eloise, who makes frequent guest appearances on this blog, turned 2 at the end of February. I know what you are all thinking, i look way too young to have a 2 year old (cough, cough) but it is true.
Now Eloise has a lot of favourite things. Her favourite movies are The Lion King, Monsters Inc and Beauty and the Beast. Her favourite cartoons are Scooby Doo, Peppa Pig and Tom & Jerry. Her favourite books are Winnie the Pooh, Chocolate Moose for Greedy Goose and The Bravest Ever Bear. But one if her all time favourite things is Hello Kitty. She has everything Hello Kitty from her little table and chairs to pyjamas. So it had to be Hello Kitty. Plus it is pink which pleases me.
You'll see in my gallery i have made a few Hello Kitty cakes but i think the simplist and most effective is the face cake. The cake was lemon which is Eloise's favourite and i sculpted it from a 12'' square. The key is to make sure the edges are slightly rounded and the ears are a little lower than the rest of the cake. I use a slightly thicker icing to make sure i get a smooth finish. This cake needed to be extra special so i made a 3D bow out of modeling paste and left it to dry overnight before adding to the cake. The final touch was black icing whiskers which i made using flower paste and my special icing press. The detail could just as easily have been achieved with thin chocolate sticks (such as the box of matchmakers i had on standy)
Eloise was beyond excited about her cake and enjoyed blowing out the butterfly candles twice!
Here she is relaxing whilst enjoying her cake on the soft play equipment! Now to start planning next year... Life size Simba maybe?...
Oh no! It's a gruffalo (cake)!
Before i start this post i shall hold my hands up and admit i haven't shared Eloise's second birthday cake with you all yet. Terrible of me as it was 2 months ago now but i promise to this week. In the meantime it was Eloise's BFF Ben's second burthday last weekend. You may remember his mum Laura (my BFF) and I made Ben's first birthday cake together. This year Laura flew solo and made Ben a cake representing his favourite storybook character The Gruffalo;
For those of you not familiar with The Gruffalo it is a very popular childrens book. The main character is a little mouse who during a walk through a forest encounters dangerous animals who all intend to eat him. The mouse invents a character called The Gruffalo to scare off the predators. Imagine the mouse's surprise when he stumbles on a real Gruffalo! To avoid being eaten by the Gruffalo the mouse claims to be the scariest creature in the forest. To prove it he walks back through the jungle with the Gruffalo and all the animals he met along the way run away and the Gruffalo believes the mouse really is the most feared creature in the forest and doesn't eat them.
So it is a childrens book about cunning and deceit (and how not to get eaten).
Laura wanted to make a cake which represented the Gruffalo himself but the design was tricky. She didn't want to fall into the trap of ending up with a sloppy brown mess (there are a few pretty shocking Gruffalo cakes found on Google search, hopefully they are homemade not professional disasters but if they are i'll leave it to Cake Wrecks blog to publically shame them) The best thing to do was to simplify the design down to a few key features which would instantly be recognisable as the Gruffalo without being too fussy or complicated. Laura decided to make a brown cake and add on the big orange eyes, hairy eyebrows, big ears and horns. She then used food colouring to detail around the eye area. Finally she covered the board in green fondant to represent the forest.
I was very impressed with Laura's fondant finish covering the cake. It was only her second cake and she didn't even need to ribbon the bottom of the cake as it was so neat. The modelling also was very effective and Ben instantly recognised his cake as a Gruffalo! Despite a false start with a silicone baking tray disaster (mental note not to try turning out until cake completely cool) the chocolate cake inside was deliciously moist and tasty. Happy Birthday Ben and well done Laura!
Frank meets Frank
As promised a picture of Frank meeting the real Frank Connolly on his 66th birthday! Luckily Frank was able to be saved from the top of the cake and now has a new home with his doppelgänger.
Happy 66th Frank!
Frank's armchair cake
I thought I would share some pics of my latest cake which was for a friend's dad's 66th birthday. The brief was to model her dad, Frank, seated in his recliner chair wearing a suit and gold slippers. Being Irish the colour scheme had to be green!
The topper was the biggest challenge as I don't often make character cakes. I mixed fondant with flowerpaste to get a nice, pliable texture to the paste. I built the chair first then added Frank's throws over the back and side of the chair. I then made Franks body seated in the chair and dressed him in a green suit and white shirt. For the head and hands I tinted some white colour paste to give it a flesh tone and placed some wire glasses on his nose and the TV remote in his hand. Royal icing gave Frank a moustache and hair. The slippers were sprayed with edible gold spray paste but attaching them was tricky as the kept falling off so I had to stick some wire into Frank's legs and pin the slippers on!
For the main cake I stacked up vanilla sponge with buttercream and jam then covered in white fondant. Green fondant stars decorated the cake with the colours fading as they moved up the cake towards Frank. The iced board featured 'Happy 66th Birthday' written on stars and a green ribbon finished the design.
Watch this space for pictures of Frank with Frank!
May the force be with you
Happy birthday to my friend Kat who turned 30 this weekend. We celebrated in style - Karaoke!
Kat's sister Jenny made the cake and it was an epic Starwars theme. The Milemmium Falcon was reproduced in all it's grey glory and my favourite bit was the lego Hans Solo figure on top next to the gun turret.
Never before has the Millenium Falcoln looked so glittery!
18th chocolate heaven
What do cake do you get a boy for his 18th? Answer: A giant chocolate cake!
This 18 shape cake was made from chocolate sponge filled and iced with a chocolate ganache. To decorate i dusted with gold shimmer and added some silver stars.
The board was iced with white fondant (try keeping that clean when chocolate ganache is about) and more silver stars.
To ganache... or not to ganache.
I don't very often get requests for chocolate cake but this week i had an 18th birthday cake and a wedding cake tester cake to make. I have made chocolate butterbream before but this was my first encounter with ganache.
It seemed simple... in principle. Take equal parts of high quality dark chocolate and double cream (i.e. 200g choc to 200ml double cream) Chop the chocolate. Heat the cream to just before boiling and pour over the chopped chocolate. Wait a few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then whisk the chocolate and cream into a lovely runny mixture. Either pour over the cake now to get a thin coating or leave in the fridge overnight then bring out and allow it to come to room temperature and ice the cake like frosting.
As i say, sounds simple. Not in practice.
My ganache was rock hard even at room temperature and resembled solid truffles not ganache! It also tasted so strongly of bitter dark chocolate that it was virtually inedible except in small quantities. I had to rectify this situation so i made another batch of ganache, this time using milk chocolate. I mixed the new warm ganache into the dark chocolate ganache and it immediately loosened up the mixture. It also gave a sweetness to the ganache that was missing from the first batch.
It passed my husband's taste test getting a 10/10 score and it worked really well icing the cakes. Lesson learnt for next time!
Shapes nursery 1st birthday party
Eloise's nursery celebrated it's first birthday today and i was kindly asked to make a special cake for them for the party.
We went for a rectangular lemon sponge cake split twice and filled with lemon buttercream icing. It was covered in white fondant icing and decorated with the Shapes logo on top and colourful shapes around the base all in fondant.
The logo was tricky as it involved so many different colours which all had to be very accurately cut to fit together. After several false starts it came together with only an 11pm finish!
All the kids had a great time at the garden party. Eloise loved the clown but insisted on standing up whilst watching the performance! Hopefully she didn't block anyone's view!!!!
Mum. Wife. Artist. Baker.