Saturday, 28 June 2014

Barney is a T-Rex!

Barney is a T-Rex! That profound paleontological insight struck me just recently.
I'd had a flurry of interest in Barney cookie cutters. (And by a flurry I mean 3 people. But that's unprecedented!). I don't have Barney cutters. But then I looked at the T-Rex cutter and that's when I saw Barney, and his true nature became clear to me.  Fascinating, huh? Huh?

Anyway... Although I don't like doing character cookies, and I consider myself fortunate having avoided the big B-Rex so far, I just had to give him a try. I only made 2, thankfully. So my sanity remains reasonably in tact. All things being relative.

Sketch on the outline with a graphite (non-toxic) pencil or with an edible marker

Use piping consistency black icing and a fine nozzle (Ateco 00 or PME 1.5) to pipe on the outline.
Leave to dry.

Pipe on the stripes of white icing for Barney's distinctive smile (that impossibly toothless toothy grin).
Leave to dry.

Outline and flood his body with purple  - remember to leave his tummy out, it's going to be green.
While the body is still wet, pipe the green dots on his back and tail.
Allow to dry.

Flood the green belly area.

Pipe on an eye, and a nostril.
And a few yellow spots for toes.

Once the eye is dry, a purple arch above the eye helps complete the face.

Air dry for 24 hours before packaging.

Maybe not a "dinosaur sensation", but he'll do.

And that's my Barney tale. 

; )


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lemon Macarons

Are you ready for some more of my imperfect macarons?
These were even less pretty than the previous batch. I'd under-mixed the batter slightly. Probably folded it 33 times instead of 34... Ugh, fussy things.
So, most of the macaron shells had little nipples (sorry, this post has a PG16 rating!).
The perfectionist in me wanted to toss them and start again, but I didn't have time. And in the end, filled with home-made lemon curd and sprinkled with poppy seeds, they were still pretty - pretty tasty : )

Lemon Macarons 

3 egg whites (100g-110g), at room temp. Aged for 2-3 days.
2 Tbs caster sugar
200g icing sugar
125g ground almonds/ almond meal
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
A few drops of lemon extract
Yellow gel/ powder food colour
Poppy seeds for sprinkling

Prepare baking trays with parchment. Make sure that the parchment is flat and that the trays aren't warped.

Put the almond meal and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until well mixed and finely ground.  
Sift into a bowl. Discard the large granules which don't pass through the sieve.

Whisk the egg whites at low speed with an electric beater until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and caster sugar.
Beat until soft peaks form, then add the lemon extract and gel colour.
Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. 

Sift the almond meal / icing sugar mix into the meringue in two batches  - folding in between. (Fold about 10 times after each addition.)
Once again discard any large granules of almond meal.

Use a spatula  to gently fold the batter until it is loosened and falls in "ribbons" from the spatula (about another 10 folds). 

Transfer to an icing bag with the tip cut off or one fitted with a large plain round icing nozzle (not more than 1cm diameter).

Pipe small dots of batter beneath the corners of the baking parchment , to keep it in place on the baking tray.

Pipe your macaron rounds - about 3-4cm diameter, about 2cm apart. Pull your piping tip to the side - this leaves a tiny tail, which should settle. 
Rap the tray twice on the counter to release any hidden air bubbles. 
Sprinkle poppy seeds over the rounds.

Turn on the oven preheat to 150'C

Leave the macarons to stand for 15-30minutes until they form a "skin" - ie. when touched with a clean, dry finger they aren't sticky.

Bake at 150'C for 15-20 minutes.
Check that they're not browning as the end of the baking time approaches.
Remove from the oven.

Leave to cool for 5 - 10minutes, then remove from the trays. If they are undercooked, they will stick to the parchment. You can pop them back into the warm oven for a few more minutes just to dry out a little more.
(Macarons are best after being filled and left for 24hrs - the filling rehydrates them a bit.) 

Lemon Curd

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
75 ml lemon juice
115g butter, cut into cubes (about 16) 

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth.
Add the lemon juice and zest. Mix well. 
Place the bowl on top of the pot of gently simmering water. 
Whisk until mixture starts to thicken.  It should "coat the back of a spoon". 
Pour the mixture through a sieve into another bowl  to remove the zest. 
Add the butter a cube at a time, allowing it to melt before adding the next. Mix well. 
Store with a layer of cling-wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Refrigerate. 

When the lemon curd has set, pipe it between pairs of macaroon shells. 

Refrigerate the filled macarons, but allow to come to room temperature before serving. 

So, when life gives you lemons...



Friday, 20 June 2014

Cosmetics Cookies

I'm trying to be on top of things - I really am. Working on projects a couple of weeks in advance (how organised is that?!) because things are going to get a little crazy around here after next week.
Surviving school holidays; hosting Dot Klerck's classes, running a class of my own, and making a baby shower cake for a friend. Listed like that it doesn't sound so bad. Or does it? Maybe I'm not thinking straight...delirious from anticipation/apprehension!

But, for now: simpler things. Tomorrow is the second and final Corsets and Cosmetics Cookies class...

...and in case you missed them "live", here's a quick note on adding dimension to your cookie >

If you want adjacent areas on your cookie to be visually distinct, then you need to flood them at different times. It's pretty obvious when you're working with different colours, or areas that have to look different; but it is also a very effective technique when only using one colour in one area of a cookie. 

Here's an example:

These areas were outlined with piping consistency royal icing using a small plain tip (Ateco 00 or PME 1.5), then flooded with 15second icing using an Ateco 1 tip.

(For an explanation of royal icing consistencies see here and here.)

Then those segments are left to dry for about 20minutes (depending on the ambient humidity) before flooding the remaining segments.

And there you can see the clear distinction between the areas that dried separately.

After that whole area dried, then the top of the perfume bottle was piped on, and the royal icing rose added.

Happy decorating!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sour Cream and Amarula Chocolate Cake

At the end of very fuzzy-brained week (with my upper respiratory tract playing reluctant host to a nasty virus), at least this was one thing I didn't have to think too hard about: what to bake for Fathers Day. This is a very "masculine" cake; perfect for the hard-working man in your life ; )

It is not the first time I've used the chocolate and Amarula combination, but instead of  just using  Amarula in the cake, this time I've doused the icing with it, too.
I was a little more heavy-handed with the liqueur than I'd normally be - my sense of smell and taste are AWOL - but it works. Apparently!

Sour Cream and Amarula Chocolate Cake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line 2x 20cm cake pans

125ml (1/2 cup) boiling water
125ml (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
30ml (2 tbs) vegetable oil
60ml (1/4 cup) Amarula Cream liqueur
360g cake flour
11/2tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
165g butter
275g caster sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
250ml (1 cup) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the cocoa powder with the boiling water and oil and set aside to cool slightly. Then stir the Amarula into this mixture.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a bowl.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.
 Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beat well between additions.
Add the vanilla extract and the cocoa mixture. Beat well.

With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the flour and the sour cream to the butter/ egg mixture. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Spoon into the prepared cake pans.       
Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out just-clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Amarula and Chocolate Icing
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

375g cream cheese 
100g butter
3/4 cup sifted icing sugar
3/4 cup sifted cocoa powder
120ml Amarula Cream liqueur 

Beat together the butter and icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the cream cheese. Beat until soft. 
Beat in the cocoa and Amarula. Beat until combined. 
Use to ice the cake once it (the cake) has cooled completely.

The flavour matures with time, so if possible, store this cake overnight before serving.

If you'd like to see the other chocolate / Amarula cake I've made, find it here:

Happy (belated) Fathers Day!


Friday, 13 June 2014

Superstitions Toppers

How's today been for you? Full moon, Friday the 13th?!
I generally don't give any consideration to these things. I'm not a superstitious person, but the two ladies who couldn't make it to my class today - one had locked herself in her house, the other couldn't get her car to open - might feel differently about the date.
Perhaps, though it wasn't bad luck; maybe it was good luck. Because for some reason, maybe they were better off not being on the roads this morning...  O_O  !

 Anyway, after those spine-chilling thoughts,  I thought it appropriate to share some "Superstitions" cake toppers that I made for a friend a couple of weeks ago.

I'd love to be able to say that I made a photo tutorial for these, but it was all a little rushed  - so I'm just going to talk you through the mirrors. Is that ok? 

They are made out of tylose paste. 
The paste for the background  mirrors was white; for the frames, the paste was grey. 

What really helped was having sets of plaque/ frame cutters in various sizes.
I used the largest to cut out the mirror; the same one to cut out the frame, and then one size smaller to cut away the inside of the frame.  
The paste for the frame was embossed before the frame was cut out. 

The mirror surface was scored with the edge of a palette knife to create the cracked effect, while the paste was still soft. 
That was left to dry, then silver luster dust was dry brushed onto the surface. 

 Once the frames were dry, they also got lustered.

The frames were secured in place on top of the mirrors with a little tylose glue. 

I hope that you can visualise all that?!
(Note to self - take work-in-progress photos in future!)

You can find a tutorial for the umbrellas here:

Have a lovely (and lucky) weekend!


Monday, 9 June 2014

Jam and Cream Cupcakes

My husband took the kids to the farm for the weekend, and it was really nice to be able to switch off mom-mode for a bit. But it was pretty strange, too. The house was so quiet. So neat!
And oooh, I like neat. I like tidy.
But with a 4 and 5 year old ruling running around, neat and tidy is something I can only aspire to.

So, I have an embarrassingly joyful appreciation of neat solutions when I find one.
How's this:
Using an apple corer to take out a plug of cupcake to make room for a secret centre. Sooo neat!
It works best with a dense cake. Crumbly is not so neat!

Here's the combination I used...

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam and Whipped Cream Frosting

White Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 160'C
Line 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases (makes 24)

250g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
300g white chocolate
200g butter
250ml milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1tsp vanilla extract 

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter and chocolate in the milk. Stir until smooth. 
Set aside to cool slightly. Then whisk in the vanilla and the eggs. 

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. 

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Then beat on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake cases. 
Bake at 160'C for 20minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. 

Allow the cupcakes to cool, then use an apple corer to remove a plug of cake. 
Spoon strawberry jam into the hole. 

Whipped Cream

250 ml whipping cream
2 TBS sifted icing sugar 

Place both ingredients into a mixing bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes. 
Whip on high speed until stiff. Don't overdo it! 

Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.  

Wishing you a neat week (if that's the way you like it!)


Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bollywood Cupcakes

We wrapped up the Bollywood Cupcakes classes yesterday, and I so enjoyed working with those colours and designs (I love paisley!) that I haven't had the heart to bin them yet.
Maybe a post about them will help me to get a little closure before I move onto the next theme?!
But what can I say about them? Think, think...

Ok, here are two random bytes:

Firstly, luster dust:
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about dry brushing a stencil design onto fondant.
You can use the same technique with luster dust to get a more "bling" effect.

And you can read a post here, on how to make a gold paint with luster dust.

(top left cupcake is the dry brush technique with a stencil;
top right and bottom left are luster paint)

Second, random share:
 Leave your teal/ turquoise icing - buttercream, fondant and (especially) tylose/ CMC paste - overnight for the colour to mature. It goes from teal to teal-on-steroids. Very Bollywood.

Ok, I'm done. The cupcakes can go in the trash now. Well, tomorrow. Maybe.

; )