Monday, 22 April 2013

Sugarpaste Cameo in Two Colours

I'm hiding from the destruction that is happening in my kitchen. Today is a big day:  (more) walls are being knocked out and *shudder* my hob and oven are being removed.
So I'm feeling a little rudderless.
I've cooked my final meal on that stove. It was oats for breakfast. Talk about going out with a bang! Ha Ha!
I don't know why I feel a little teary at the thought - it was a very tricky oven to get to know. But it has seen me through the past 8 years, and just when I feel that I have finally figured it out, it's getting dumped. Sob!

Anyway, this is a no-oven needed  tutorial that I put together after I saw a question about doing this on Facebook:

How to make a Sugarpaste Cameo in 2 Colours. 

You will need a small amount of tylose paste in the two colours of your choice - in this case, white and avocado.
 And a cameo mould.

1. smear a small amount of Holsum/ white vegetable fat into the mould 

 2. Using the white paste, fill the figure part of the mould. Only a very small amount of paste is needed. 
I fill outwards first, pushing into all the corners. 

3. Then, carefully work the paste back inwards into the margins of the figure - I just use my fingers, but you could use various fondant tools or a toothpick to help.

and just a little more....

4. Now, using the second colour, make a vagulely oval shape out of the tylose paste

5. Place it onto the figure, and work it back from the edges of the mould so that it forms a neat oval. 
(if your paste is dry, a touch of tylose glue will help to stick the two parts together)
6. roll over the paste with your small fondant roller.

7. Remove paste from by bending the mould and peeling the cameo out. 
If you've used tylose paste and a bit of Holsum you shouldn't have any trouble getting the decoration out of the mould. 

8. Finish off by surrounding the cameo with sugar pearls

A classic Beauty. 

I hope that makes sense!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

"Ole'!" Colours

Our home was a hive of busy-ness today:
Builders, carpenters, plumbers, tilers. Lots of noise and dust and activity.

I was hiding away in my tower, doing some alchemy.
Well, that's what I pretended to myself. Actually I was sitting in the dining room, mixing royal icing colours for our "Ole'!" Mexicano cookie class. But it did feel like I was dabbling with exotic potions! A touch of this and a little of that and - voila!

LilaLoa (great cookie artist and guru of colour  color!) posted recently about how she mixes her royal icing colours:
Read all about it here: "Let's Talk about Hue - Make your Colors Match." (11 April 2013)

So that's what I tried with the icing for the "Ole'!" class we have coming up.
And it worked! Of course ; )

I've chosen a pretty vibrant colour palette for the theme, with boldly contrasting hues.
Using Georgeanne (LilaLoa) 's tip of mixing a tiny bit of each colour in with the other colours (read her post if you want that to make sense! I'm dabbling and babbling - she's the pro!) just helped to bring the hues together.

What do you think? I really should have taken a before-and after-picture, but hey-ho - I didn't!

For the royal icing recipe I use, go here
For some tips on working with royal icing, go here (which, co-incidentally, I wrote after my very first batch of "Mexican" cookies). 

Can't wait for the class - Ole'!


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Madhatters, Monkeys and Mayhem!

Well, I should have expected it: the theme of our classes this fortnight being Alice in Wonderland, there was bound to be a little madness and mayhem around.

It started with me melting ...yes, melting... all the demo toppers that I'd made for the first "Alice" class.
We get raided by monkeys almost daily, and they'll eat or destroy anything edible left lying about. So I put the toppers in my oven to keep them out of harms way - I often leave cookies and rusks in there to dry, and I've gotten into the habit of checking to make sure there is nothing in the oven before I pre-heat it to cook or bake. But coming home in a rush last Friday, thinking only of getting two tired tots' supper cooked, I'd completely forgotten what I storing in there....until opening the pre-heated oven's door and a tray of very sorry looking decorations appeared.

The Dormouse in the teapot was surely the most tragic...

Then, avoiding the pitfall of the oven again, I hazarded leaving the take#2 cupcakes out on the dining room table, but the inevitable happened and monkeys made off with 2 cupcakes ....and an apple. At least they still have some healthy habits.

And of course, adding to the chaos is the state of my kitchen. It is being dis-assembled daily. The floor is gone, and a chunk of work surface with it.

 Next to go is my "KitchenAid" zone.
Do you see how perilously close to the edge it is, already?!

But, have mixer....will bake. At least until it's time for the oven to be razed.
Then what?? Well, I'll be baking until the last minute - you'll see the gouges my nails make as they drag me out of there....
Ok, maybe not ; )

Enough tweedle...

I'm not going to leave you without at least one smidgen of baking info:

Have you ever battled with cupcake cases that have splayed open a little before you've used them? And when you put them in the muffin tins, they don't fit? And then when you put batter in them, they buckle and crease in a most unattractive way?

Does it make you a little crazy?

"Oh, you can't help that," said the cat, "we're all mad here."

The solution is superbly simple:
Just put the cupcake cases in the muffin tins (even though they might not quite fit)
And shortly before you are ready to fill them with batter, place into the pre-heated oven...
Leave for a couple of minutes and when you remove the muffin tin, the cupcake cases will have shrunk back down to a more acceptable size.

No Eat Me / Drink Me potions necessary!

 Wishing you a sane week ...or at least a manageably mad one!

Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Dark Chocolate Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Building and baking doesn't appear to be a very compatible relationship. Don't worry, I'm coping - but I'm definitely a little  testier than usual.
 I like neat and tidy. And it is hard to do neat and tidy when your kitchen is being dismantled around you. And we haven't even got to the major part of the gutting yet - really, it is just one little hole in the wall so far... and no lights to see what I'm doing. Which is tricky, but at the same time it hides the chaos. (Gotta find that silver lining.) The big picture is that I'll have a bright and shiny new kitchen after this, so I'll just focus on that, then...silver lining, silver lining....

So if I'm a little sporadic in my presence on these pages, just know it's because I'm under a mound of plaster dust.

Here's a recipe revisit:

I posted this as cake recipe last year, but it works very well as cupcakes too.
When I wrote it up then, I mentioned that the original recipe called for cream cheese icing, but as a cake it actually needs very little to adorn it.
However, cupcakes wouldn't be cupcakes if they didn't have a swirl of something sweet and sublime on them, so I decided to use Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead.

Dark Chocolate Carrot Cake - Cupcakes 
Recipe from  " From my Oven ", Fay Lewis. Struik. 

185g butter, at room temp
10ml grated orange rind
160g caster sugar
2 jumbo eggs
15ml golden syrup
375ml finely grated carrots (I use the food processor) 
200g self-raising flour
2.5ml bicarb
75ml cocoa powder
200ml milk

Preheat oven to 175'C
Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases - makes approx 15 cupcakes, depending on the size.   

In a mixer, cream together the butter caster sugar and orange rind.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the syrup.

Add the carrots and milk; then sift in the flour, cocoa and bicarb. Mix gently until combined. 

Spoon into the prepared cases. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. 

Remove from the oven, and from muffin tin. Allow to cool completely before icing. 

For the icing; 

The interesting thing (well, I find it interesting!) is that, while you usually add your flavours at the end of making SMB - cooled melted chocolate, peanut butter (or how about both?! Yum, yum - got to try that some time!) doesn't work  with cream cheese. 
For this version, you have to whip the cream cheese and then add the already made SMB slowly to that:

Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
recipe from

2  egg whites
1/2 cup  white granulated sugar
200g butter, cut into cubes, at room temp.
Vanilla extract 1 tub (250g) cream cheese, at room temperature. 

Put the egg whites and sugar into a mixing bowl, and place that over a suitable saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl must not be in contact with the water, and the water should not be boiling.

Whisk constantly, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Move off the stove, and to the mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip until it forms a thick and glossy meringue.

When the mixing bowl feels neutral to touch (ie, no longer hot), change over to the paddle attachment, and add the butter one cube at a time. 
 It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth texture, and holds its shape.

Add the vanilla extract. 

Then, in another bowl, beat the (room temperature) cream cheese until soft and smooth. Then add the SMB to it, gradually.
Beat together until the consistency is like stiffly whipped cream.

Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

...and enjoy!

Wish me luck for the renovations (gulp!)!