Sunday, 19 November 2017

Paw Patrol "Master Class"

I don't always make cakes, sometimes I help others make cakes for themselves.  This blog entry is one of those and was not made by me, but I want to showcase it anyway.

A good friend of mine needed help to create this wonderful Paw Patrol creation. I had previously made a number of cakes for her, check them out here:

But this time, she wanted to go it alone.  She's a pretty good cook anyway, so the chocolate sponge and accompanying chocolate buttercream was certainly not the issue here.  Her issue here was with the crumb coating and the ultimate fondant cover and decorations.

By the time I had got there, the sponges has already been baked.  I showed her how to top them off so they were level, simple syruped them, then she removed the middle of two of the three sponges, filled them with chocolate buttons whilst stacking.

The crumb coating session went without a hitch.  Of course, as you'd expect, speed was slow but everyone has to try something for the first time and, as yet, I've never found a speedy learner.

We chilled the sponges then covered them in the chocolate buttercream and chilled again.

As with most people I have encountered that are looking for a frst time fondant project, they purchase a low cost brand - I've even done this myself - check out what happened here, it's an awesome read!

As expected, the budget brand fondant was not the greatest of help. It cracked, broke and fell off the cake! However, this was the only major, physical intervention I had. Obviously my friend was upset when this happened, after all, this cake was for her grandson, so she had put a lot of pressure on herself.. However, I managed to claw back and rescue the fondant cover.  This was all from my own experience with the budget brands.

The end product showed a scar where the fondant had cracked. However, she had purchased printed icing sheet decorations, so she used some to cover the scar and, as you can see, the final result shows nothing of its battle :)

With next to no intervention, only 'show and tell' tuition and supervision, everything was completed and not by me. I'd go as far as to say that this was a successful 'master class' with a brilliant 'student' 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Fondant Grinch

I wanted to showcase this handsome fellow to show that, using a previous step-by-step process post on my blog, that it can be method can be used for other characters too. 

Click here for the method on how to DIY 2D Fondant Character Faces

This one is not my best work however, I didn't use modelling paste, jut plain fondant, and that was a big mistake. I should have listened to instructions :-)

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Slow No

I'm going to call this month "Slow No" because it's a slow November! I only have two projects this month.

My first project was my cat's 13th birthday cake and another project at the end of the month. I had better not give the game away just in case the recipient somehow reads this before hand. The resources are being collected for that rather special cake.

In about the middle of the month, my friend has asked me to shadow her and offer assistance, if needed, for her own cakey bakey experience. She's already a pretty cool caker, but she wants to try fondant and decorate it herself.

If she allows me, I'll showcase her finished piece here for your viewing pleasure.

Now, next month, that's manic! I have nine projects!!!!!

There's five rich fruit celebration cakes for festive decoration. Check out last year's:
There's one sponge cake, check out last year's:
And then there are the festive cupcakes, about three dozen. Here's last years:
Then I'm back to the preparations for the wedding cake I have in May. Yes, I know it's early, but with five tiers, this is my biggest challenge to date.

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with my work in progress.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

'Cake' for my cat's birthday

Yep, you read that quite correctly. I have never before, and probably will never again, make a cat food birthday cake lol.

This is intended to be a fun entry!

I make lots of cakes for people but, the one special guy in my life is my cat, and he is celebrating his 13th human birthday (I'm not sure how old that is in cat years).  So I'm making a birthday cake for him. Unfortunately he can only share it with companion here and us humans will just be having coffee and cookies - no cake thank you.

Cats should not really eat people cake and most definitely should not eat sweet stuffs like fondants, I'm not sure if they like that anyway, they'll get tooth decay. Anyway ...

I purchased five 85g tins of gourmet wet cat food and pates.  Three of the tins were salmon flakes, one tin was turkey pate and the last was a salmon pate. Absolutely no baking went on here!

Now, I had to look through my equipment to find if I had anything I could use that I would no longer need for food use.  I managed to find a large misshapen cookie cutter (that I hadn't used in such a long time) and a cake card that I would not be able to use for anyone's cake anyway.
  • I mixed together the three tins of salmon flakes and divided it into two.  
  • Half was placed onto the cake card in the cookie cutter, flattened and smoothed out.
  • On top of that, I added one of the pates that I had mixed up a little.
  • Then added the remaining salmon flakes onto the top of that.
  • Last, but not least, I mixed up the other tin of pate and placed it onto the top in misshapen balls of sorts
  • All that was left was the candle.  I never buy candles so had to make an effort to go get some for this cake.
  • I chilled the 'cake' a little before I put the candle in it. These flakes were not the best option for a cat's cake I don't think 
  • Once I blew out the candle, and to prevent the devastation that I imagined would be left on my floor if I left it on the cake card, I spooned it into his new cat bowl - which he had for his birthday too
This, I can assure you, is not the kind of content that will make it regularly into my caking blog, but I just wanted to share the experience with you all.
This is definitely the last cat food cake this Grandma will be making lol
It might not even make it to my growing portfolio 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Delicious and simple pumpkin spice cookies, great for baking with the kids.  You can leave them plain or decorate with some writing icing and / or decorations.

You will need:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tsp pimplin spice*
  • 125g butter or margerine
  • 175g soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4tbsp golden syrup
* If you don't have any pumpkin spice, why not make your own - see here

How to:
  1. Sift and mix together all the dry ingredients.
  2. Rub in the butter to this mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Gently beat the egg with the syrup.
  4. Add this to your breadcrumb mix and stir in until such a time that you can et your hands in there - the mix should clean the bowl of all lose ingredients
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C / 350*F / Gas #4
  6. Leave the mix to rest in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes
  7. Line your baking tray(s) with grease proof / parchment paper
  8. Roll the dough to about 5mm or 1/4 inch thick
  9. Using your cutters, cut out your shapes and place them on the trays, leaving a gap in between
  10. Bake for 12*15mins or unil light and golden.
  11. When cooked, leave on the tray for about 10mins then move them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  12. Decorate as you wish

Saturday, 21 October 2017

PJ Masks Birthday Cake

I researched as many PJ Masks cakes before I made this one for my Great Nephew. There was an obvious theme with the ones I found: All the cakes were a shade of blue, they all had a skyline with a moon and each of the three PJ Mask characters featured on the sides. So, It was my turn!

All the black, window-lit skylines I saw on other cakes were straight.  I decided to do mine round. Which was not without its own issues. I used about 500g of black modelling paste, rolled it out to about 8mm thick, cut of the skyline and wrapped it around a six inch baking tin, covered in parchment paper.  I used the six inch tin because my cake was a 10" one.

The moon was cut using a standard cookie cutter with the fondant covered in clingfilm first, this will give a nice edge as it will be on show. I keep promising myself that I will, one day, add to my varied collection of cutters with some basic shapes like squares. But, alas, not yet, so I cut the windows out individually. When will I learn?

I you're interested it a details step-by-step process of how I made the city-scape and the moon, please check out my Instructables post here

Base colour fondant: Renshaws Turquoise dry brushed with navy gel food colour

I made each of the character's faces myself, I have another blog entry to show how I did that here.  The process was simple but fiddly and I think it could cross over to other characters too.

I made some stars from modelling fondant, allowed them to dry a little bit before I inserted wire into them so I could make the star burst above the skyline.

My daughter twisted them together for me so I could place it into the centre of the cake when I'm done decorating - They'll be the last to go in.

Before I added the character faces  and stars, I dry brushed the cake with navy blue food colour gel to get a better finish rather than the flat colour of the fondant.

Now, the backside of the cake is not pretty, but then, I've never seen a pretty backside on anything much, but I did add a little wording to distract from the cavernous hole left by the circle skyline piece.  I'm not sure what I can do with this, maybe fill it with candy, I'm not sure.

Now, back to the cake ... a 10" cake of three layers. each layer used 1.5 of my basic batter mix, which can be found in my online recipe book here.  I'm pretty sure I used three times my buttercream mix to crumbcoat and ice before the fondant went on

Sugarflair paste colours: Christmas Red, Holly Green and Navy Blue.

Each layer a different colour. The image above shows each layer after being topped off, prior to its simply syrup and decaramelising process to take the sides off, the bottom is fine and will be used as the tops.

The matching cupcakes can be found in another blog entry.

Now all that's left for me to do is, get it to the venue in one piece because it's too tall for its box, even with lid risers!

PJ Masks Cupcakes

I'm having a total PJ Masks week this week. With one dozen PJ Masks cupcakes and a PJ Masks birthday cake!    

As this October was a welcome slow one for me, the chance of two projects for the same recipient was a welcome one.

Having secured some 3D printed cutters for the PJ Masks logo, I cut them out in the corresponding colours:
  • Owlette - Red
  • Cat Boy - Blue
  • Gekko - Green
I have but one question though ... I am the only caker that gets stuck putting the last cupcake in the box? I always seem to get stuck!

Check out the birthday cake that went with these and the how to on the character faces on the cake

DIY Character Faces

This is the first time I have ever made 2D characters for a cake. I searched YouTube and around the internet on the best way forward for the task, but ended up using a mixture of ideas, which I will share with you.

I thought it was a scary task at first, but when you see how I made them, you'll soon come to realise just how simple and relatively easy, if a bit fiddly, the process is.

Things you need:
An image of your chosen character, either hand drawn on printed.
If printed, you'll need a printer
Some thick paper or thin card
Modelling fondant
Modelling tools
Edible glue

I found what I needed on the internet, so that's the process I'm going to show you here.

Step #1:
Find an image of your character that you want to make and download it to your laptop / PC etc. 
I suggest that, when searching, you look for 'colouring pages'. I seached "PJ Masks Colouring Pages" when looking for mine. These images are basic line drawings which makes it easier to work with

Step #2:
Measure the size you need the character to be then print it out onto thick pager / thin card.
I suggest printing two - you never know. And you can always use one for reference as You'll be cutting one into pieces.
My character faces were to be 12cms 

Step #3:
Cut the outline only out, do not cut out individual pieces just yet, you'll see why in a later step.

Step #4:
Roll out your fondant, place the full cut out on top and cut around the edges.
You might find that it's not smooth, but you can fix this using your fingers to gently rub the edges and remove 'sharp' cut shapes

You now have the basic, flat shape.  Add some texture here if needed.  For me, I used  the half moon shaped tool from my modelling kit for Owlette's head piece and for Gekko I found the 'B-Side' of one of my cutting boards has squares on.  I turned this about 45*, and impressed this 'diamond' shape onto my fondant base.

Step #5:
Start cutting out the small detail, one piece at a time, either the eyes (see step 6) or headwear - I started with the eyes for Owlette, the crest for Gekko and ears and head stripes for Cat Boy

Use this card shape as a template to cut out and mould the piece you need. 
Place the card onto your base piece of fondant so it matches your shape and then use the blank space left by the piece you cut out to fit your fondant into.
Glue each piece on as you go.

Step #6:
When cutting out the eyes, do not cut away the remainder of the card

Place the card back onto your base piece of fondant, taking care to match up the outline, then fit your fondant cutout into the card cutout. 

I used the edge of a pallet knife and some tools to smooth the edges of the smaller pieces out when they were in place as the base was now harder than when I started. 

Step #7:
Continue in this fashion until all your pieces are in place, remembering each time to:
Place your card on top of the base piece of fondant, glue your new piece of fondant into the void
Then move onto the next piece
Remember to glue as you're going! It seriously helps

Don't forget the fine details like eyebrows and mouths:

You can cut out pieces for the mouth if you prefer, but I just used my tools for those.

Remember the little highlights in the eyes

And noses:

This nose isn't quite right, so I moved it more to the side as this image is almost a side-looking view.

You will have areas that need touching up, regardless of whether you cut with a craft knife, a scissors or a kitchen knife.  Don't stress, modelling paste is forgiving enough to put up with it, but do them all before it dries out!

The Instructables post will also explain how to make the city-scape and moon.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

World's Biggest Coffee Morning Cupcakes - Macmillan Cancer Support

I am a keen supporter of a number of charities, with Macmillan Cancer Support being one of them.  

I was unable to host my own Macmillan Coffee Morning, but gladly agreed to help another host with hers - for free!

I was asked to make 60 cupcakes! And, whilst my basic sponge and buttercream recipes does not change, I wanted to showcase the five boxes I made, including a box of gluten free. With the exception of the chocolate cupcakes and their buttercream, these cupcakes are vanilla.

Gluten free with small silver balls (above)

Triple pink roses with pink sugar sprinkles (above)

100s and 1000s surrounded roses (above)

Chocolate and vanilla frosting with a Malteser topper (above)

Chocolate through and through with curled chocolate sprinkles (above)

As with most of my baking exploits, I'm never without a drama somewhere. Two boxes of cupcakes were made using more expensive cases (the pink and yellow càses), but they have proved to be of no use. I have never suffered with the cases coming away from the cupcake before, unless I've used these cases. Safe to say, I won't be using then again!

I hope the fundraiser was a success for the host!

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Spongebob and Fireman Sam Joint Cake

Oh my gosh, I'm so proud of this one! I made the Spongebob and Patrick myself too!  Once again, I found myself being asked to make a cake for a young man aged four and a young lady, aged five.  

Not your regular request for a young lady in my experience, but she wanted Spongebob! The young chappy wanted Fireman Sam, but I was so time-poor, I had to commissioned one from a cake shop / supplier. It arrived in good time too, thankfully.

As with all my previous joint cakes, see my first one here, it all starts with ensuring the cake is measured correctly, marked out and covered to the half-way line is the required fondant colour.

It also means, like before, I get to take more images, usually ...

However, not exactly in this case. The Fireman Sam has a 'design' flaw! I's way too head-heavy! If you take a look at the second image just above (the one with Fireman Sam half on the left), you will note how far he is starting to lean to the back, or toward Spongebob. 

I was unable to take an additional 'above' image for the Fireman Sam half as the topper was leaning so far back that it began ripping the fondant off of the cake! I had to take his head off to make him stand upright.  

An additional piece has since been added in an effort to ensure he does not fall over. I made a tree stump and secured it with two cake-pop sticks as well as about five cocktail sticks.

After fixing it to the cake and allowing the edible glue to harden, I secured Fireman Sam's bottom half to the stump.  I made the stump out of a thick shape of paste and covered it in a thin layer or chocolate flavoured fondant, added a little branch, highlighted the wood grain with gold edible paint and simply hoped for the best!

This cake was transported with Fireman Sam headless and have it fixed back on when I got to the venue. Unfortunately, a leaf broke during transit, but I took some edible glue and fixed it back on when I got there. No one knew, until the little one picked it off lol.

For the additional decoration, I handmade each shell, from multi-coloured standard fondant myself to add where the cake meets the board and where once side meets the other. For the Fireman Sam side, I used an extruder to make a red 'fire hose' to line where this portion of the cake met the board and where it joined to the other half.

This 10" vanilla sponge cake required:
  • Four times the mix of my sponge recipe, two for each layer
  • Three basic buttercream mixes
  • Two kilograms of Renshaw fondant, one in yellow and one in green.
  • Miscellaneous fondants for the shells and additional decorations.
  • Red and white Renshaw modelling paste for the numbers and names.
  • Plus a little dash of magic, which goes by the name of lustre dust
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