Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Fondant Ruches and Ruffles

One of the reasons I like vintage and shabby-chic is that it lets me get away with (I confess)... shabby?!






really admire cake decorators who produce works of flawless perfection.

I'm thinking about 2 of my favourite cake-godesses: Jessica Harris (jessicakesblog.blogspot.com) and Sharon Wee (weelovebaking.blogspot.com), to name but two.
But I'm also completely intimidated by them, and just don't know if I've got such precision in me - insert sad face here.
So, if a project calls for lots of ruches and ruffles, I'll tackle it - knowing that I'll probably be able to hide the inevitable imperfections  - insert happy face here!




I based these (very do-able for mere mortals like me) ruffled flowers on a tutorial by Melissa Diamond over at mycakeschool.com  http://www.mycakeschool.com/blog/pretty-pink-flower-cake/

Happy ruffling!

xxM





Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tiered Cookies (Cookie Stacks)


First, I'll make a quick trick brick stack

You'll have seen similar cookie stacks before, I'm sure. There are a number of variations out there. But aren't they all gorgeous in their simple perfection?
Mine aren't perfect - far from it. But the idea - oh, I wish I could come up with such things! Maybe one of these days. Until then, I'll blame my be-fuddled brain and its need to borrow inspiration on years of sleep deprivation and too much Dr Seuss...
; )



Then I'll make a quick trick block stack


Anyway - you too can make a quick trick cookie stack....


You'll need:
Paired biscuits in 3 sizes
Royal icing
Royal icing or gumpaste decorations

Outline and flood the biscuits - pay attention to the edge, as you want to outline relatively close to the edge but not flood over it.
Allow to dry.
Stack once dry - use a blob of icing in between the tiers to glue them together.
Pipe on some dots.
Finish off with a pretty iced flower (or gumpaste flower) on top.


You can make a quick trick chick stack

You can make a quick trick clock stack


Happy creating (or re-creating!)

xxM

(With sincere apologies - and appreciation! - to Dr Seuss, Fox in Socks)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fondant Kimmidoll

Oh, so little time...so much to make!
I had planned on making a little bevy of these beautiful characters, but haven't yet gotten past the first one.


I saw "Kimmidolls" decorating a market stand selling washi tape (love!!) and immediately knew that I'd have to reproduce them in sugar. They looked simple enough. But the hair confounded me!

In the end I used with this shape, and moulded it to her head. It still isn't perfect, but I can (have to) live with that : )

I stepped out of my comfort zone and hand painted her dress, I'm not sure if she likes it...


And now she's living on my kitchen dresser, waiting for a few friends to join her. I think she's resigned to a long wait...
: )

xxM

Friday, 18 October 2013

Butterscotch Apple Cake

Ah, spring rain!

With all my frequent allusions to the weather on my blog, you'd be forgiven for thinking I was a meteorologist in my previous career - I wasn't! Growing up in SA, the weatherman on TV was always the weather man never a glam weather-girl, so I never felt any pull towards that profession.
But now I'm a baking-girl, and the weather and the seasons have such a strong influence on what I bake and the classes I run, that it's a matter of daily concern.
 And that is something I must remember to be very grateful for! In my real previous profession I would have spent most of the day in an air-conditioned, artificially-lit environment; with few or no windows on the outside world. Unhealthy, huh?!
Now, if the rain is playing havoc with my royal icing, I can just choose to make a comforting butterscotch apple cake instead : )

And with its ingredients of apples, oats and pecan nuts, you can be comforted with the belief that while it may be cake - it's good for you. Really!



Apple and Pecan Cake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup veg oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups finely chopped apple
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans (save a few to scatter over the top of the finished cake).

Beat together the eggs, sugar and oil.
Sift the dry ingredients together.
Mix into the beaten egg mixture.
Fold in the oats, nuts and apple.

Divide batter into 2 round cake pans (I used 7inch pans)
Bake for 35 - 40min, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.




Cream cheese icing
 (Makes enough for filling and covering the cake, halve the ingredients if just filling between layers and covering the top of the cake. )

2 x 250g tubs cream cheese, chilled (the dense variety - like Woolworths  or Lancewood brand)
200g butter at room temp
1 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
Vanilla extract

Beat together icing sugar and butter until smooth.
Add cream cheese and vanilla and beat until mixed.

Spread on the cake once it has cooled completely.



Butterscotch Sauce

85g butter
30ml brown sugar
40ml golden syrup
40ml cream
1tsp vanilla extract ( or 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla)

Melt the butter, syrup and sugar together in a saucepan. Stir constantly  until all the sugar granules have melted.
Add the cream and vanilla. Mix well.
Boil for 3 minutes.
Stir occasionally.

Don't let the sauce boil for too long - this will make it turn into toffee....which is only a problem if you are planning on pouring it not chewing it...

Allow to cool before pouring over cream-cheese-frosted top of the cake.
(If you've refrigerated it, just soften the sauce by heating in the microwave for a few seconds.)

Scatter some chopped pecans over the butterscotch surface.

Yum!!



xxM





Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Navy Blue

The label on the bottle says it is "navy" blue, but it seems like you've added half the bottle before it bears the slightest resemblance to the colour you're aiming for - don't get blue!
There's a trick to navy blue, and it is called black. And patience.  Okay, not very magical. But there you have it - it works : )


So, If you are using gel food colour to get navy royal icing - add a drop or two of black (not too much) - it may not look very navy at first (more like a dark blueck!), but leave it overnight and that brooding blue will have a chance to come out of its shell and show its true colours - you'll be pleasantly surprised at the result.



Octopus design inspired by Yankee Girl Yummies (and her octopus did have 8 legs - a true professional!)
Beach scene from a tutorial by the amazing Amber of Sweetambs.

Happy decorating!
xxM

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ganache


If you were to ask me what my favourite icing is, I'd have to say it depends. That's a tricksy little phrase that we learnt in med-school. It bought you some breathing space before you committed to an answer. (Of course the inquisitor wouldn't stop there, and would continue to grill you until every last drop of knowledge you possessed on the subject was wrung out of you!) 

So, what does it depend on? What it's going to be used for: 
My favourite icing to eat is chocolate cream cheese icing. 
My favourite icing to pipe is Swiss meringue buttercream 
My favourite icing to use for covering a cake before applying fondant is ganache. (Which tastes heavenly, too - it's definitely a strong contender as the answer to question no. 1). 

I love to use ganache on cakes because it glides on so easily and smoothly, and sets hard - creating the perfect surface for applying fondant. 

simply ganache...

To make ganache you need chocolate and cream. And it must be "heavy cream" / whipping cream - which has a 35-40% fat content.
You vary the ratio between the chocolate and cream, depending on the intended use of the ganache and also depending on what chocolate you're using. 

For covering cakes:
-with dark chocolate use a ratio of 2:1 chocolate to cream - gram for gram/ ml's 
-with milk chocolate use 2.5:1 
-with white chocolate use 3:1 

(Not everyone uses these ratios, but they're the ones I've had success with.) 


Dark Chocolate Ganache


500g dark chocolate, cut into small, even sized pieces.
250ml cream (it must be whipping cream - 35-40% fat) 

Place both ingredients into a double boiler (a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water) OR in a microwave-proof bowl.
Heat slowly, stirring frequently until all the chocolate has melted. 

OR bring the just the cream to boil, then pour over the chocolate. Leave undisturbed for a few minutes, then stir until smooth.

Leave to cool down at room temperature. Place some cling-wrap onto the surface of the ganache to prevent a crust forming. 
Spread onto your cake once the ganache has reached a peanut butter consistency. 
If it sets firmer, microwave it for a few seconds to soften it again. 



If you want to calculate the amount of ganache you need to cover a cake, Jane from "I Want Sprinkles"in Australia has created the Ganacherator to help out:
https://www.facebook.com/theganacherator
Isn't that neat?!


Happy ganaching!

xxM 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Pina Colada Cupcakes


It is so tropically hot and humid today, that I thought these would be a good share.

I've been thinking about working on a series of cocktail-inspired cupcakes. But this is as far as I've got. And now I have the "Pina Colada Song"* stuck in my brain (If you like Pina Coladas, and get caught in the rain - on an endless repeat because those are the only lyrics I know! Aaargh!!)


* it is actually called Escape by Rupert Holmes. Just in case you wanted to know ; )

PiƱa Colada Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create


Preheat oven to 180'C
Line 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases (makes 20)

2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk - reserve 2 tbs of the thick cream
1/2 cup veg oil
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
1 mashed banana
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients
Whisk to combine
Make a well in the centre. Pour in the veg oil, eggs and coconut milk. Mix.
Fold in the pineapple and banana.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases

Bake at 180'C for 20-25 minutes / until a skewer comes out clean.





Granadilla and Coconut icing

250g cream cheese
100g butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
2 TBS coconut cream
Granadilla pulp.

Beat the butter and icing sugar together.
Add the cream cheese and coconut milk; beat briefly.

Ice onto the cooled cupcakes and spoon a little granadilla pulp over the top.


Cheers!

xxM

Monday, 7 October 2013

White Chocolate and Fig Brownies (Blondies)


I didn't hesitate to go blonde. Not for one second. Yes, it's different. But oh, so delectably nice!

Personally, when it comes to my hair  (which is not really what we're talking about -  but I know you'll have figured that out already ; )  I'm a committed  brunette. I always have been, and (with a little help from L'oreal) plan to be for another couple of decades.
But I've really enjoyed going blonde in the kitchen, and figuring out my version of a "blondie" (oooh, I feel so trendy!)


White Chocolate and Fig Brownies / Blondies
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Pre-heat the oven to 180' C
Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin / brownie tin

300g white Chocolate
100g butter
120g cake flour
3 eggs
80g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
120g finely chopped dried figs
50g chopped pecans

Melt the butter and white chocolate together in a double boiler.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until very light and creamy.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the melted chocolate and vanilla.

Sift in the flour and salt.
Mix briefly.
Fold in the nuts and figs.

Pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 35-40min or until a skewer inserted comes out with a few sticky crumbs.

Allow to cool, then cut into squares before serving.


The figs and pecans settle in the base of the blondie - and that's just where they should be : )

Enjoy!

xxM

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Owl Cookies

I have a thing for owls. A few people do, it seems. And I've been wanting to do a set of owl cookies (again) for a while. But then it was school holidays, and it's really tricky to find creative head-space when there are yells for mom's attention every 5 minutes.
So, I did these on Tuesday - the kids first day back at school.  It felt very self-indulgent. And such fun!





This is how you create the owl shape for these cookies:

(Basic Butter cookie recipe here)




Bake, allow to cool, then decorate.






Here's a walk-through of one of the techniques (inspired by images of Jill FCS's cookies)


Outline and flood wings using 15sec consistency royal icing



Allow to dry for 20-60min. (The icing won't dry completely in this time period, but it "set's" enough for there to be a textural distinction between this area and the adjacent area which will be flooded next. The time that it takes depends very much on the ambient humidity. See these posts on humidity and royal icing:
 http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.com/2012/08/humidity-and-royal-icing.html
http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.com/2013/02/humidity-and-royal-icing-re-cap.html
http://teacakeandcreate.blogspot.com/2012/10/cloudy-with-rain.html
....yes, there's a few of them. It's an issue, ok?!!

: )


Outline and flood the body.


Pipe dots onto wet background (wet-on-wet).


Take a toothpick and drag from the centre of the icing upwards to create the teardrop shape.



Allow to dry 20-60min.



Outline and flood the top of the owl. 



Allow to dry for 20-60min.


Pipe on eyes - white, followed by a coloured round




then black and a white "twinkle".  All wet-on-wet.


Allow to dry for 20-60min.


Add beak and dots around the eyes.



 (The details on these other owls' tummies were done wet-on-dry):



Hope you're having an owl-fully good week ; )

xxM