Monday, 1 August 2016
My dad's favourite hobby is cycling, and when it came time to make a cake for his birthday we knew that it needed to have a cycling theme. I've unsuccessfully tried to make bicycles from sugar before so quickly ruled out designs that needed any kind of bicycle. In the end I settled on this more achievable jersey\t-shirt shape.
This cake was very much a family affair - made in collaboration with my mum with even some decorating assistance from my husband. We settled on the template style from this blog which seemed to both minimise the amount of off-cut wastage and also involved joining few pieces so the cake would still have some structure.
The left image below shows the template and how the jersey can be cut from a 12" x 10" cake - the largest we could make in a 12" adjustable cake tin. The right image shows the proportions on a 14" cake board.
Mum baked the two massive sponges and soaked them with syrup before allowing them to firm up in the fridge overnight. This step was really important given the cakes were to be carved. They needed to be cooled properly or would have been be too crumbly. The next day she sliced the cakes into layers and filled them with jam and buttercream. Mum then cut around the template and rounded and softened the edges to make a less angular shape and finally coated with a generous layer of buttercream.
I decorated the cake whilst Mum got on with preparing the rest of the food for the family barbecue.
As usual I covered with a layer of marzipan then a layer of sugarpaste. As the shape was weird this didn't go around the arms smoothly but with a bit of trimming, coaxing and polishing then it eventually looked good.
I've struggled in the past to make really deep black or red icing so to keep things simple I bought Squires Kitchen ready coloured icing from the supermarket. I added some Tylo powder to the coloured icing so that it could be rolled really thinly. For the black decoration I simply wrote out 'DAD 50' in a word processor and printed that out. I used scissors to cut out the letters as templates that I placed on the icing to cut around with a knife. The circles were cut using a round cutter. After cutting I left the shapes to dry for 10 minutes to firm up before transferring to the cake and sticking down with edible glue made from more Tylo.
Monday, 13 June 2016
I'm a big fan of so many things about Japanese culture and one of my favourites is the idea of a 'hanami' party to welcome spring and celebrate the blossoming of the trees. Cherry blossom (sakura) and plum blossom (ume) are just so pretty! I really hope to visit Japan in the spring and enjoy a hanami party and drink sake under the blossoms some day. Until then you may find me in the garden in spring having a wee sake by my very own cherry tree...
I wanted to bake a Japanese themed cake for my friend Steph who spent six months working in Japan and was lucky enough to partake in the hanami festivities. I've previously made the below blossom cake for my cake decorating certificate. This time I wanted to make something with more impressive flowers using sugar florist paste.
The design is very much based on the fondant fancies in from Peggy Porschen's Cake Chic. Given how much I love blossoms I'm not sure why I've not made this before!
It's a normal 6" cake decorated with pink fondant. You can see my other blog posts here with instructions on how to bake and decorate the basic cake.
It's been quite warm and humid this week which complicated things. The buttercream was very runny and struggled to be whipped so I had to refrigerate it to firm it up. The heat also made the marzipan and icing extra pliable and easy to stretch and tear so I may resort to lightly chilling them the next time I bake in summer. I'll certainly be allowing extra time when baking when it's warm in future.
The petals are made from sugar florist paste. This is an icing with added gums that mean it can be worked very, very thinly. I first rolled the paste and used a blossom cutter to cut out the simple flower shape. I then placed the blossom on a cake decorating sponge and gently thinned further using a ball tool. The tool should be rubbed over the flower evenly until it is consistently very thin and almost see-through. Finally to really flute the edges I rubbed the tool with a fairly firm pressure just over the edge. I left the flowers to shape and dry in an an artists palette that had been dusted with corn flour to prevent it sticking.
Once dry the next stage was to give the flowers a light dusting in the centre with some dusting powder. I used a tiny brush and a small drop of claret dust which I'd lightened with some white dust for a more subtle finish.
I then made and coloured pink some royal icing which I added to a small piping bag with a tiny 'no 1' piping nozzle. I piped tiny dots of royal icing in the centre for the stamen.
I then piped a larger dot to the back of each flower and used that to attach the flowers to the cake.
Sunday, 17 May 2015
This cake was a christening gift for our friends' baby Alexander. His mum had asked for a two tier blue and white cake with rocking horses, bunting and baby blocks with his name.
I considered making a 5" and a 7" tier but that didn't seem substantial enough for the big party so I settled on a 6" and 8" tier for a truly massive cake. This is the first two tier cake that I've made since we bought a new stove. It seemed a great opportunity to try out the side oven, in which, I'd been assured by the salesperson, I could bake four tiers at the same time and they'd all cook evenly. This oven had only been used for cooking many frozen pizzas so I was certainly pleased to put it to a more worthy use. In this case I'm pleased to say that the salesperson was correct! They look a bit sunken in the picture below but I think that was more to do with me shaping the batter in this way before they were baked.
The letters and rocking horses are cut from a modelling paste made of sugarpaste and CMC. If there's a way to use the cutters to cleanly cut out pieces such as these then I do not know it! This time I've found that the easiest way to use them without distorting the letters is to cut each letter but not remove them from the surplus icing until they have been left to dry overnight. I then needed to use a scalpel to carefully neaten up the edges; a time consuming but ultimately rewarding task.
I fashioned a template for the bunting swathes from a piece of greaseproof paper and used a scalpel to etch a line onto which I could glue the bunting triangles and pipe the rope. I haven't practiced piping royal icing in over a year and it does show, but I'm reasonably satisfied with the overall result.
The rocking horse on top of the cake is made from two cutouts glued together only in the top half. The bottom halves were then held apart as the model dried. Finally I added a saddle made of modelling paste and piped eyes, a mane and tail.