Long time no speak…

17 08 2012

Hi blog friends,

Another quick round up of recent cakes and a little info about each of them. I’ve a few extra posts coming up with unusual cakes and it’s my aim to have a back to school blog competition to win lots of lovely baking goodies that I’ve been gathering up for a few months. Nothing too large but lots of fun bits and pieces that any baker would be happy to have in their arsenal. I know I don’t actually get 2 months off in the summer but it starts to get really busy for me come September as the event season arrives in full force and the proper winter weather hits (I know, it’s hard to tell in Northern Ireland when our summer rarely has sun!) There’s always a general feeling of malaise as the darkness descends so what better to cheer up the winter blues than a competition…keep those eyes peeled in the next few weeks.

First up is my first ever attempt at fondant ruffles. This was for my cousins surprise baby shower. She had the fortune to be pregnant at the same time as her best friend so a joint party was in order. We had so much fun squealing over baby clothes and watching them cry while opening a mountain of gifts. I’m not one for sticking to stereotyping but I did go for the classic baby blue and pink combination as it really does work in a two tier cake & it matched in with the invitation. Neither mum-to-be knew the gender of their baby in advance so no surprise pink or blue cakes inside, just a funfetti tier and chocolate tier. The pink is quilted with dragees and the top is ruffled. This is achieved by using a cocktail stick (or the correct modelling tool if you have one!) & rolling back and forth along the edge of a strip of fondant to create a thin ruffled edge. Layer the strips on top of each other and after much cursing and re-rolling you have this beautiful effect. I found the instructions & inspiration here by Bubble & Sweet. How stunning is her pastel rainbow ruffle cake?! Go check out her wonderful blog on more cakes and crafting for her party tables.

Next up is two cakes for my brothers 30th birthday. He had a large BBQ with family and friends and I knew I wanted to incorporate his favourite drink into his cake. At first I just wanted to make a Buckfast bottle cake but then after some research into chocolate cakes that included red wine I realised that I could actually put Buckfast directly into the cake batter and have the cake taste of the drink too. I had so many problems with the construction of this cake. I used a dowel through the whole bottle but it wasn’t thick enough or secured properly to the base board so I had a crazy tilted cake by the time I had finished with covering it in fondant. I ended up propping it up with a large straw at the back and just photographed it from the front. I like the hand painted label but there are plenty of things I’d do differently next time. You really do learn something on every cake! As I was feeding lots of people and not all would be willing to try Buckfast flavoured cake I made my first ever Football Shirt cake. This was plain chocolate cake to appeal to everyone else at the party. It turns out plenty of people tried the Buckfast cake and enjoyed it!

I get a lot of recommendations through Twitter and the following cake was ordered by the sister of one of my followers. She had very specific instructions for the design as she is a huge Jack Skellington fan. I was so happy to receive a lovely email after the party to thank me for fulfilling all her wishes for her dream cake. I must admit I had to make the bow a few times as it just would not dry hard enough to stay upright, there was a lot of additonal work once it had been attached to the cake to ensure it stayed in place. Yet another lesson learned!

I don’t need many excuses to make an impromtu cake for friends and family (if I don’t have any other cakes scheduled!) so when our Student placement colleague was leaving I had the perfect opportunity to try something a little different. I first saw this style on the amazing I Am Baker blog and she has created some stunning cakes over the last few years. She always goes one step further and creates stunning interiors to match how good they look on the outside. I dream of achieving the precise piping and layer cakes that she makes. Instead of attempting a plain rose I decided to try a rainbow rose. This cake is a test in patience, both in baking all the layers and creating the rainbow rose effect. I don’t know if I could do this all the time but it made me appreciate how much I have to learn about buttercream! The cakes were simple vanilla batter, split and coloured separately. I baked each layer individually, carved off the excess and layered them with vanilla white choc buttercream and raspberry jam. To create the rainbow look I tinted small amounts of each buttercream with the colours and painted stripes directly onto my disposable piping bag, I think I should have just added the paste colour as it would have had more vibrancy. Using a large piping tip I piped roses from the bottom up and filled holes with stars. I was running out of buttercream so I lost a little finesse near the end, it was messy in places. Next time I’d make even more buttercream, make it a little smoother, add paste colour directly and use swirls instead of stars to fill the gaps. The recipient was very impressed and it did look really pretty when it was sliced!

I love nothing more than a repeat customer. To know that something I created has left an impression makes me feel that all the hard work is worth it. When I’m up late at night after a long day working 8 hours at my full time job then another several hours working on a cake AND the painful clean up it heartens me to receive a request for a cake from someone that has enjoyed my cakes previously. I have now got a small collection of fans that have ordered several cakes from me. Twitter has been the best source of recommendations but even extended family and friends keep coming back for more. I take great pride in maintaining a high standard for both my decoration and flavours. I’ve said it before but it’s very nice to be in awe of an amazing decorated cake but if the cake inside is bland, dry or hard it doesn’t matter how good it looks, I’m not going to be ordering from there again! I had a request from the father of Adam who was the recipient of my first ever rocket cake. He wanted to surprise his wife for her upcoming 30th birthday. As she was due to give birth the week after her birthday he knew she wouldn’t want to be oganising a big birthday celebration. He asked that I create a book and cup of coffee. The book was chocolate cake and the coffee cup was coffee cake, a nice touch at his suggestion, to make it more cohesive. The coffee cup was re-covered twice before I was happy with it. It’s actually much harder to cover a small cake than something large because there is far too much room for movement. The layers of cake would not settle despite being refrigerated overnight. Once I started moulding the cake the heat made the buttercream melt and unsettle the cake.

And finally (I can hear your sigh of relief from here!) a colleague requested a 1st birthday cake for her son. He is car obsessed and his favourite toy is his cozy coupe. I remember lusting after this style of car in the 80’s, I don’t remember ever playing in one but I’m sure I circled it in the Argos catalogue at least once or twice. I wanted to make the car fully edible and find an alternative to cocktail sticks or skewers to hold up the roof. My wife came up with the inspired idea to use candy sticks (or what used to be called candy cigarettes) Somehow every packet I bought had curved sticks but that actually worked in my favour for the back of the car. I covered them in fondant and let the parts all dry separately and used edible glue to piece it all back together. I am still learning how to make figures in proportion so I was very pleased with my figure for this cake. I think I got my sizing right and was able to focus on the details a little more and make a better approximation of the birthday boy. This cake was a simple vanilla with vanilla & raspberry filling.

 

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