Saturday, 18 November 2017

Antique Green Buttercream

Am I reluctant to leave these cupcakes from our Roses and Succulents class behind? 
Oh, yes.
 Because the only classes left for the year are Christmas themes. Christmas, Christmas, and more Christmas! 
Which I am actually really looking forward to... But really, Christmas?! 🙈

So, before we move onto all things Christmas, a final bit about these cupcakes...


To get "succulent" green for the pastes (see the previous post for pictures) I did my usual trick of adding a touch (just a tiny touch) of black to antique the shade.
 But I was wary of doing that with the buttercream, so I used a bit of purple instead. 
If you've ever washed black gel colour off anything, you'd have seen how much purple there is in black. So I knew that it would take me in the colour direction I wanted without making the buttercream look too flat and grey (and inedible!). 
Also, purple minimises yellow tones, which is helpful with buttercream because of its inherent warm undertones. 



This buttercream is coloured with leaf green, turquoise and a little regal purple (all Cake Flora or Americolor gel colours).

To get the subtle two-tone effect, smear just the inside of the piping bag with light purple buttercream, and then fill the bag with the green.



 Pretty huh?

Happy decorating!

xxM

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Roses & Succulents Cupcakes

I made cupcakes similar to these back in June for a private class. And thought then that I should include them in the general schedule for later in the year. And now later has arrived. A lot sooner than anticipated!


Are you also asking yourself - Where has this last half of the year gone?!
Do we say that every year, or is each one speeding up exponentially (until we'll be baking our Easter cupcakes at the same time as our Christmas cookies?!)

So, let's just pause and smell the roses for a minute.
Or better, make a sugar succulent to go with those roses... 😉



For this mini succulent, the paste used is CMC or Tylose paste, coloured with mint green, turquoise and black (just a drop of each!)

  • Roll the paste out thin. (Yes, succulents are fleshly, but still - make it a thin, ok?!) 
  • Cut out 2 of the largest blossoms, and one each of the medium and small. 
  • Use a bone or ball tool and a foam pad to cup the petals. 
  • Pinch the tip of each petal with your fingers. 
  • Place a large blossom in a flower former/ egg tray with a dab of tylose / CMC glue in the centre. 
  • Stack the next large one on top, positioned so that the petals (are they petals or leaves?) are in the gaps created by the previous layer's petals.  
  • Repeat with the medium blossom. (Remember the glue in the centre). 
  • Pinch the smallest blossom at its base so that it resembles the tight centre of a succulent.  Glue it in place. 
  • If you need to create a bit of space between layers of petals, use small rolled up pieces of paper towel to support them as they dry. 
  • Once completely dry, dust the edges of the petals with purple dusting colour. 
  •  Place onto a fondant disc, or directly onto a swirl of buttercream 






Happy decorating!

xxM

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Buttercream Halloween Pumpkin

One of my favourite Halloween cupcake of 2017? That purple monster. 
So very simple using a "grass nozzle" (Ateco no. 133) and popping on two eyes made from a  modelling chocolate/ fondant blend. 




Apart from pretty swirls and grassy tufts, though, buttercream is not my favourite medium.
But because most people find it more palatable than fondant, it's great if you can use it as the primary decor on a cupcake.  


So here goes:
Piped Buttercream Pumpkin


(It's probably not a good sign to start with excuses, but...
These tutorial photos were done quickly as an afterthought at the end of a class, with the real dregs of the icing... 😅)





Buttercream Pumpkin Picture Tutorial :

The stripes of buttercream are piped using a closed star nozzle (Ateco 152). Make sure to align a gap in the nozzle's tines with the centre of the cupcake to create that central ridge.
The leaves are piped with an leaf tip (Ateco 67) and the squiggles with a plain tip (Ateco 03).

The eyes, nose and mouth are cut out of a modelling chocolate / fondant blend. I used a diamond cutter for the triangles - cut the diamonds in half; and used a small square cutter to cut out the toothy bits from the mouth.

And I think that's really all I have to say for Halloween 2017!

Happy decorating & happy Halloween! 

xxM 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Cat-in-Pumpkin Halloween Cookie

EEEK!
While I may have been elbow deep in orange, purple and black icing these past couple of weeks, Halloween isn't a day we really get to celebrate... 
I'd gladly take the kids trick-or-treating, but as there's not much buy-in for this (American) holiday from our (South African) neighbourhood, they'd come home with pretty empty bags.   


So, when my son told me (months ago) what he'd like to dress up as for Halloween, I responded with  "Great idea" and didn't think much more about it. 
 Now though, a few days before the 31st, he's still fixed on this idea. And it dawned on me that he's probably expecting mom (i.e. me!) to get the costume together for him ... him being nine and not yet able to drive himself to the store...  EEEK! 

Ok, so I'm not on-top of the costume situation, but at least the cookies (which no trick-or-treaters are going to coming knocking for) are done...



Mike, from SemiSweet Designs, has got a great tutorial on how to add a ghost to a pumpkin cookie (find it here). So I used that concept for both a ghost and a cat in a pumpkin (top row in the photo above).
Visit Mike's tutorial to see  how to make the ghost; but here are a couple of progress shots of how I made the cat version....

Outline the cat's head with detail-consistency royal icing,


then flood with flood-consistency icing, and allow to dry before adding the pumpkin, and rest of the details. (See Mike's tutorial - link above). 




The recipe that I use for royal icing is here, along with a description of the consistencies I've mentioned. 




Now excuse me while I dash to the mall to do some last minute Halloween-costume shopping!

Happy decorating!

xxM

Monday, 23 October 2017

Chocolate and Coffee Layer Cake

As requested...

Alternating layers of chocolate and coffee-flavoured cake, filled with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, chocolate cream cheese icing and salted caramel.
And of course a dark chocolate ganache drip. Yum!


Now you're just going to have to take my word for it that those are the layers.
I don't have any photos of the sliced cake.  
Although I'm sure my nephew wouldn't have minded if I'd taken a slice out of his birthday cake before giving it to him, I didn't! 

Because it's made from two whole cake recipes (see below), there were a couple of layers of each flavour to spare.  I used them to make a small cake for tea and planned to show you that sliced.
Bu-u-t the monkeys found the last slice that I was saving to photograph... 
Life in the suburbs of Durban. 😅



For the chocolate layers I used this recipe.
And for the coffee layers, this cream cheese pound cake with coffee added -  one tablespoon of freeze dried instant coffee granules dissolved in 30ml boiling water.

Find a swiss meringue buttercream recipe here.
Chocolate cream cheese icing here.
Salted caramel here.
Dark chocolate ganache here. (You'll only need 120g dark chocolate and 60ml cream for the drip, though.)



If you happen to make this, take some photo's and send then through, won't you?
Thanks!
😆

Happy baking!

xxM

Monday, 9 October 2017

Chewy Sunflower & Sesame Seed Bars

I do 99% of the grocery shopping in our home.  So I can only blame myself if I run out of a baking supplies.
Every now and then I'll remark to my husband how amazing it is that when we run low on something it'll just miraculously re-appear on the pantry shelves... joking but with a little barb attached!
Ha ha, clever witty me ... until it doesn't miraculously re-appear. And it comes as such a shock... How can I not have any of that item?! Oops!

So, I ran out of oats. I've been making a lot of these rusks lately, and that's where they've gone.
There was only half a cup left, and I needed a whole cupful for the granola bar recipe I was trying.



It sounded like a very versatile recipe, though, so I just upped the amount of seeds, and made these very more-ish sunflower and sesame bars instead:





Chewy Sunflower & Sesame Seed Bars (No -bake!) 
Recipe adapted from bowlofdelicious.com

Line a small square baking pan, 16x16cm or 18x18cm, with parchment paper.
(Make a cross of paper - two sheets at as in the photo, leaving the sides long, extending above the sides of the pan to make lifting out easier).

Ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup oats (traditional rolled oats, not instant oats)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flaked almonds
2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Melt the honey and coconut oil together in a saucepan over medium heat.
When the mixture begins to bubble, turn down the heat and stir in the other ingredients.
Cook on low for 2 minutes. Stirring frequently.

Remove from the stove and spread and flatten the mixture into the prepared baking pan.

NB: Take time to really compress and compact it into the pan - fold down the parchment on top of the mixture, and use your hands, or the flat base of a glass, or another square pan to pre-e-e-ss it in.

Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely (4 hours, or overnight).
Remove from the pan, and cut into bars.

Store in the fridge.
The bars can get a little sticky if left at room temperature, so wrap in cling-wrap if they're going to be added to a lunchbox.




Have a look at the original recipe and suggested variations here. 

Enjoy!

xxM

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Funfetti Cake with Rainbow Buttercream

Are all things rainbow still trending? Well, sure!
So how about a funfetti cake with rainbow icing? 

                       


This is a great alternative to a rainbow layer cake, and it's a cake walk to make. 😉 
Like most things baking / decorating, it's all in the prep work... 




For the funfetti cake, I used this recipe (again!) and added a cupful of cake confetti.  
(Depending on how large your cake pans are, and how tall you want the cake, you may need to double the recipe.)



For the rainbow icing, make a batch of your favourite buttercream (recipe here) or swiss meringue buttercream (recipe here). Make a double batch for a large cake.
Divide it into 5 bowls, and add gel food colours.
I generally use the electric colours (electric blue, pink, etc) because they have a cool undertone, and don't accentuate the butter's inherent yellow.



Put the icing into 5 disposable icing bags with the tips cut off, and pipe concentric rings of the different colours between each layer of sponge. 


If you have any icing leftover, tie the ends of the bags off with rubber bands and freeze until you have use for it.  (Now, isn't that a good tip?!)



I covered the outside of the cake in plain buttercream, with a pink drip, because I wanted the rainbow effect to be a surprise-inside. Such a sweet surprise 😋



Happy baking! 

xxM