Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Rainbow Bunny

April has been a busy birthday month! 
I'm usually oblivious to it. Well, no. That's not quite right. There's just not much I can do about those birthdays, as I'm usually too caught up in the busy-ness of Easter classes. But with those wrapped up in mid-March this year, and no classes booked for April (too many holiday weekends and other functions on the calendar), I've had the time to pay attention to some of our family and friends' birthdays this month. And take the opportunity to make their cakes and toppers. (Must. Create ... Can. Not. Stop!) 

This one was for Summer, my daughter's friend. 
I enthusiastically volunteered to make her a cake topper based on her favourite fluffy toy, a bunny. And then discovered that it was rainbow coloured. Hmmmn...that's a challenge!  
But I'm so glad it was, because (after some pondering) in the end the way to create the look was straightforward, but rewardingly creative (I always feel so arty when I get the paintbrushes out!)  

I made the body out of white fondant/ modelling chocolate blend. Then dry-brushed the shades on using Rolkem dusting colours. Really simple. But pretty and effective, don't you think?


If you do try something similar, make sure all your pieces are shaded before you assemble your creation. It's just easier to get good colour coverage that way.  And it helps you avoid dusting over wet glue. (And you'll know why you don't want to make that mistake if you've ever done it!)

Happy decorating!


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Giant Cupcake

I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make a giant cupcake! You don't see them around much anymore.  It's been about two years since I last made one ... which was probably already at the edge of their trendiness! These days it's all elegantly drippy and naked cakes.  
There's something quite pleasantly "bouffant" about a giant cupcake, though, isn't there?!
It might be too soon to re-introduce them as retro, but with the speed at which the world is going these days... who knows... maybe they're already vintage ;o)

The very first one I made was a bit nightmarish. I spent over an hour covering the base in vertical stripes of fondant. This was before I knew much about fondant. Let alone working with stripes! Now of course, I won't touch a stripe that isn't made out of a fondant/ modelling chocolate blend. But I won't cover the base of a giant cupcake like that again, anyway. Making a pure chocolate case for the base is very easy, and very cute. 
See how here

(The recipe I use for the sponge is this one:

And if you decide to leave the base uncovered - that's fine too. Naked cake is trendy, right? ;o)

Happy baking!


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Quilled Fondant

I've wanted to try my hand at quilling for a while (with fondant though - not paper. Although I might give that a try too, now!) It looks like a lot of work, but it's actually a very simple technique. And you end up getting completely absorbed in the process. It's hard to stop!

I made this cake for a friend's 40th. She hadn't asked for a cake, but I decided to make one as a gift... honestly, that was my motivation - not that it was a good opportunity to finally try some quilling!

If you'd like to give it a try, here are some tips: 

  If you've only got a wide strip cutter like this one from Jem Cutters, just make your first impressions, then shift the cutter to the halfway mark, and press down again... narrow strips! 

I use a strip cutter to mark my strips, then a clean sharp knife to cut them; you get cleaner edges that way.
It helps to work on a cold surface like granite, as chilled strips of fondant/ modelling chocolate blend are really easy to work with. 

Check that your subsequent strips are the correct length with one trial one before you cut the rest.  

Let your design firm up well (overnight preferably) before placing 
on the cake.

Use pins to keep the decorations in place once glued on with CMC glue

Sterilize the pins first in a little vodka. Drink a shot too, if you need to steady you hands... ;o) 

See, I told you - once you start, it's hard to stop. (The quilling! Not the vodka!!)

Happy decorating!


Monday, 4 April 2016

Amarula and Almond Ice Cream

I've been wanting to post this recipe for home-made ice-cream for a while now, but it's quite a challenge to take decent photo's of ice-cream in mid-summer (apparently professional food stylists use ice-cream substitutes made from play-dough, potato starch and icing, amongst other things..!)
And when it's cooler, the motivation to make ice-cream fades...

But when it was was just too hot to bake last week, and I had to make something for my husband's birthday, an ice-cream cake seemed like the perfect solution.

Of course, on the day of his birthday, the temperature had dropped by 20'C, but this ice-cream is so good that we ate it despite the cold weather (well, it was the only cake on offer - so I wasn't giving anyone any other choice, anyway!)

Amarula and Almond Ice-Cream 


500ml fresh cream
1x 370g tin condensed milk
4 egg whites
50ml Amarula
1 tbs coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g sliced almonds ( or use whole raw almonds sliced lengthways)
80g dark chocolate - finely grated

Place the bowl of a stand mixer into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill, then use this bowl to whip the fresh cream until soft peaks form.

In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff.

Dissolve the coffee in the Amarula and then mix this into the condensed milk. (You can microwave the Amarula and coffee for a few seconds to get the granules to dissolve). Add in the vanilla.

Stir the condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream.  Mix well.

Fold the egg whites into the cream/ condensed milk mixture. Fold gently but thoroughly - the mixture should be a uniform consistency, with no steaks of egg white visible.
Fold in the nuts and grated chocolate.

Pour into a suitable container ( I used a silicone cake mould, but an a loaf pan works well, too) and freeze. You should stir the ice-cream once before it sets completely (after it's been in the freezer for about an hour), but if you forget this step it will be fine!

Note - it's melting's real! 

Try playing around with the flavours. The original recipe called for brandy and pecan nuts, which is also delicious. I've made a peanut butter and chocolate version. And next I'm going to try rum and raisin.  Yum!



Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter Cookies 2016

 I had great intentions to bake and decorate a cake for Easter this year, but we've just come home from a couple of days in the 'Berg and the humidity back here in Durban has made the thought of any baking and decorating, well... unthinkable!
So, this is all I have to offer:  this year's decorated Easter cookies.

Last year's Easter colours were bright and bold, with teal and brown dominating (teal was definitely my go-to colour for 2015). This year it was time to revert back to pretty pastels.

Actually, back in January when I'd scheduled the classes,  I'd had a very clear idea of using a particular combination of purples and greens for these cookies, but by the time March arrived that clarity had disappeared and pastels were the fall-back option. But now looking at these pinks and greens together, I'm quite pleased I forgot about the purples.
What do you think?

Here's how I did the "Hoppy Easter" plaque:

Sketch bunny on cookie (I use a non-toxic graphite pencil)

Outline plaque and fill in a couple of white areas 

Once the white icing has dried, outline the pink head and body and flood the body 

Once the body has dried, fill in the surrounding green with flood consistency royal icing, 

                                                   and add wet-on-wet white dots.

Once the background has dried, flood the bunny's head with pink.        Doing it in this order makes the bunny's head stand slightly proud of the background cookie.

Once the icing of the face and body has dried, use SweetAmbs's teddy tutorial to create the fur texture on the bunny. 

And... of course I forgot to take pictures of  how to pipe on the rest of the bunny's face. Yes, really - again! Sorry... 
So baaaa-d! 

But I think you can figure it out - if you can't,  leave me a comment after this post. 

That grassy look is created using this cookie moss technique. Which you'll find is a very comprehensive tutorial ... with photo's of every step....! 

Happy Easter! 


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Cat Cookies

It's just a few days to go until Easter, but we're not quite ready for rabbits here, yet. We're still on the subject of cats...
(I really hope that the Easter Bunny is going to pitch up this year though, because I haven't had a chance to gather all my eggs in one basket yet!)

My daughter's recent  paw-ty was more glamour-cat than cute-kitty (apparently she turned 16 instead of six), but the ultra-cute cat cookies that Flour Box Bakery  recently posted were the perfect  purr-fect inspiration for the party favours I was planning.  I just changed them a little by giving them beguiling kitty eyes.

Now, I have a serious problem with symmetry; so this little template helped me position the eyes (I marked their location onto the cookie with a scribe tool). 

Then followed Flourbox Bakery's video tutorial for the rest of the cat face. 

When the background area had dried, I filled in the eyes. First the whites; 

then the irises (wet-on-wet);

followed by the pupils (also wet-on-wet).

Added a spot of white for the glimmer in the eye, 

and once the eyes had dried, piped on some glamourous eyeliner 

But, if that's a little complicated for you - cute little black kitty eyes, are just fine too! 

Happy decorating!


Sunday, 20 March 2016

Cat Themed Cake

You know you're getting older when it takes you a day and a half to recover from a party.
A kid's party.

Admittedly I did do a vast amount of running around on a sweltering day to get it all done. But still. I'm getting old... er!

And so is my daughter: it was her 6th birthday. A cat themed celebration, as you can see.

And like last year, I had put aside the week of the party for all the party-prep and decorating, but then got caught up in work demands; school events, seminars,etc, and had to squeeze the cake decorating into a short few hours. On the hottest day of the week. 
But, it all got done in the end; at price of a few (more) grey hairs....

The cake was inspired by one done by Sweetlake Cakes (design used with permission). 
The cat topper tutorial is available from Crumb Avenue
Here is how I achieved the even spacing of polka dots on the top tier (which was a 4 inch dummy cake). 

You can see where I placed the initial dots, then decided not to just wing it! I drew out the grid on baking parchment, and used a pin to mark the placement of the subsequent dots onto the underlying fondant.  If you're very smart, you'll start by measuring the circumference of the cake, then divide that exactly so that your spacing at the end is synchronised with your spacing at the start. Mine wasn't, so that part  is hidden at the back of the cake! 

Almost purr-fect!

Happy decorating!