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!


Thursday, 17 March 2016

Rich Chocolate Brownies

Tomorrow I'll be making these brownies for the 4th time in 10 days. So they've qualified for getting shared with you. Well, the recipe at least - you'll have to come over on Friday afternoon for the real thing!
The first time I made them was for a weekend away; the second was for the Easter cookies class tea; the 3rd was to bribe my colleagues at the hospital to get going on time with the caesarean we needed to do quickly before the Easter cookies class, and this 4th will be for my daughter's birthday party.

That first bake (weekend-away-brownies) was meant to be this brownie recipe, but I was out of dates, so substituted that fruity flavor with apricot jam, instead. And it worked really well (judging by the response to Easter-class-brownies and can-we-please-get-this-caesarean-done-by-8.30-brownies...). The idea to use jam came from these chocolate cupcakes.  That's why I've called them "rich".
Good brownies should be rich, so it's a little redundant. But it sounds more appealing  than "apricot jam" brownies, doesn't it?

Rich Chocolate Brownies
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C 
Grease and line a brownie baking pan. 

400g chocolate - broken into small even-sized pieces 
80g butter
80g flour
140g smooth apricot jam
100g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract

Melt chocolate and butter together (use a double boiler or the microwave on low power.)
Set aside to cool slightly.  

Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy. 
Pour the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract and apricot jam. Beat on low speed until incorporated. 
Sift in the flour and salt. Mix. 
Fold in the pecan nuts. 

Pour the batter into the prepared brownie pan and bake at 180'C for approx 35min - a skewer inserted into the centre of brownies should come out with sticky crumbs stuck to it.  

Now I'm off to finish my daughter's birthday cake. 

Happy baking! 


Thursday, 3 March 2016

Monster (Decorated) Cookies

I made these  monster cookies for my son's Grade 2 cake sale. 
And, yes I had those 7-year olds' faces in mind when I decorated them... 
(Just their cute gap-toothed smiles, of course! What did you think I meant?!)
I wasn't expecting the positive response that these cookies got on Facebook. 
So, it looks like a Monster Cookie class has been voted into existence.  I'm very happy about that.(Yes, that's me, in the corner with the big smile. Ha ha!) 
Monster cookies are super-fun to make. It's an excuse to go wild with colours and shapes, and think out of the box a little.        


So, I won't do a detailed photo-tutorial now because there will be a class coming up (not because I forgot to take some key tutorial pic's along the way, obviously...!), but's here a couple of things to bear in mind: 

Monster eyes: 
Only pipe on the eyes once the background icing has dried. 
Eyes are done wet-on-wet: pipe the white orb, then immediately follow with 
the iris (coloured area); then the black pupil, all with flooding consistency icing. 
You can add a little spot of white onto the edge of the pupil to make it look more alive. 
If you are doing two (or more!) eyes, wait for the first orb to set before piping the eye next to it. otherwise you'll get a cyclops that you hadn't intended, as the icing runs into the adjacent eye. (Although this is  probably one of the few times you'll get away with it...! )

Monster mouth:
If you want to create a wide open mouth, fill it in before you flood the cookie.   Allow to dry before flooding the rest of the monster's face.  This area will appear slightly recessed in comparison with the rest of the face, and therefore more realistic... because we're aiming for realism here, right!   ;o)

Or you could just wait for the class...!

Happy decorating!