Autumn Cake Update

15 10 2012

A quick picture roundup of cakes I’ve done over the last few months. I’m just coming to the end of a self imposed cake break of a month and I’m ready to get back into the kitchen. I will also get the competition up on the blog that I promised many weeks ago! I’m such a bad blogger!

First up is a fun Adidas themed cake for a 40th birthday. A friend on twitter was asking if anyone could make a trainer cake and I put forward my information and the lovely Gill contacted me to describe the surprise she had planned for her husbands 40th birthday. She sent me some pictures of his favourite Adidas trainers and I researched to find some close up images. As these were the focal point of the whole cake I wanted to be as detailed as I could. I also knew he would be scrutinising the detail as he owns so many pairs of this brand. The shoes are fondant covered rice crispie treats, all the detail is fondant or edible paint.

The majority of my cakes are for family and friends and they are always kind with their comments. Despite believing that they wouldn’t lie to me about my abilities there’s always an edge of self doubt that they might just be saying nice things because they know me personally. I welcome all nice comments but there’s something different about someone with no obligation telling you how happy they are with their cake. I received the following email from Gill and as I’d had a hard day in the batcave this was such a wonderful end to the day:

“Just want to thank you for the cake, my husband loved it and was most impressed by your attention to detail . I have to say it also tasted as good as it looked, you did a fantastic job and when I’m next in need of a fabulous cake I will know who to call.”

Comments like this make every second of hard work covered in icing sugar late at night worthwhile!

Next we have a celebration cake for a family friend.  Her daughter picked the design and colours and I think she may have chosen every single thing I love to make a truly fun cake that totally epitomises a celebration. The stars are on florist wires inserted into a few cake picks hidden underneath rainbow sprinkles. All decoration is fondant.

Next up is a repeat customer. A friend that I used to work with wanted a cake for her Mother-In-Law’s birthday. It had to be golf themed, include a figure of the birthday girl and the name of her favourite golf course. I’m still learning when it comes to human figures but they do improve each time a try a new one. All decoration is fondant except the cocktail stick flagpole and the card glasses.

Another colleague has ordered a cake from me every year for her son’s birthday and this year was no exception. I love how each year it has been his current favourite childrens TV programme. This time it was Postman Pat. A fun character to make and I’m happy with how it turned out. All decoration is fondant (except Pat’s glasses which are florist wire)

Something a little different than cake. I have been so excited about an event that was due to come to The Odyssey Arena (aka the batcave/ my workplace) for several years: Walking With Dinosaurs. If you ever get a chance to go and see the tour please do not hesitate for one second, it is absolutely worth every penny. We aren’t ashamed to admit that we went without children and thoroughly enjoyed every second of the production. I had seen these moulds a few months ago and knew I had to try and make something Dino themed for the week that Walking with Dinosaurs was here. These chocolates are a mix of dark, milk, orange chocolate and various coloured candy melts.

And finally, a Lime & Coconut loaf that I made for my colleagues. I was itching to make something without chocolate or vanilla. Don’t get me wrong I love both those flavours but I rarely get to make a cake these days that doesn’t incorporate either or both of them. This is a refreshing change, a hint of summer as we enter the cold and dark nights of winter. The recipe can be found here on the collaborative baking blog 52 Weeks of Baking that I participate in.


A turning point

4 01 2012

Fellow bakers/ cake aficionados; have you ever reached a point in your cake odyssey where it all suddenly clicks? I’ve experienced those moments of divine clarity on various cakes over the years…the first time I covered a cake in fondant without it cracking, gaping or tearing, the first time I made a topper that didn’t collapse or sag, the first time I used colours to paint directly onto fondant, etc. We have moments like this on the journey but I’ve recently had a huge revelation in terms of my cake creations. 

For the last 2 or 3 years, each cake I designed would come out quite differently than I envisioned. Sometimes I sketched ideas on post-it notes when I had a few minutes to spare in work, other times I just created a picture in my mind. About 99% of the time the finished article would be similar to that vision but never close enough to satisfy me. It has occurred to me in the last few months that my visions are almost being realised in their entirety. Aside from a few niggles (that most other people claim not to notice) the cakes I am currently producing are as close to my visions as I can get. I learn something new every single time I make a cake. I suspect that will continue for many years to come. However, I want to embrace the feelings I am having now. I am at a point where I know how my materials work for me, I know how to plan the cake more carefully, where to source the right materials. I’m still figuring out portion sizes and learning how to judge amounts of fondant (that’s one I haven’t mastered just yet) but now when I’m taking pictures I’m not fighting to find an angle that hides the messy part at the back. There are still parts that won’t hold up to intense scrutiny but they are becoming less and less frequent. 

I have never claimed to be an expert but practice in anything will give you more confidence in not only your skills but in your ability to share your knowledge with others. I have made all those mistakes too many times to count. I’ve cried & screamed over a number of cakes and yes, I’ve thrown out quite a few too. I’ve scoured so many blogs that I’ve had to rein in the panic at seeing such perfection, such skill & such attention to detail. What the blogs don’t show is the hours of work, frustration, mistakes and rejects. I understand why; we all want to present the best of everything we do. I do exactly that right here on this blog. This isn’t a segueway into a post with all my rejected cakes. It’s just a timely reminder, as much to myself as to my readers, that baking and the whole world that surrounds it, is as much about hard work, practice and many many mistakes as it is about the finished (almost perfect) cake.

Everyone asks how I do what I do. There is obviously a passion there, and yes, I did an Art Degree but that means nothing compared to just getting out there and trying. I’ve come a long way from having only one wooden spoon and mixing bowl & no scales but you don’t need much more than that to get started. The rest will come with time.

Cake roundup

9 09 2011

It’s that time again, a quick catchup with my recent cakes. Apologies for the abysmal photo quality, a combination of bad lighting where I’m currently baking and using the camera on my phone.

Up first is Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The head is vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream & the body is rice crispie treats covered with fondant.

Up next is a cake I made for my friend Emma‘s 30th birthday. This was fun as I got to make lots of different fondant pieces depicting her favourite things. She’s got such a wide range of interests that I could have probably added even more. I think she liked the ones I picked! Cake is vanilla with Galaxy chocolate buttercream and all decoration is fondant.

A few more close-up shots of the different elements on Emma’s cake:

And finally I was lucky enough to be asked to make a 2nd birthday cake for my workmate’s son. I made his 1st birthday cake last year, I’m hoping this will be an ongoing tradition! The Handy Manny cake is vanilla sponge with vanilla & raspberry filling, all decoration is handcut & hand painted fondant.

The saw was my favourite tool to create, so much character in those features.

Until next time folks.

Cakes Galore

3 08 2010

Since I jumped back on the baking wagon after my exam imposed exile I have been swamped with cakes.  It’s a tough balancing act with work and the rest of the mundane tasks that suck up all your time outside of work.  I’ve enjoyed some of the new skills I’ve had to employ though and am relishing trying new things and look forward to the different designs I have yet to create in the coming weeks.

This is pretty much a picture post with just a quick description of the cake designs.

Check out the rest of the pics after the jump….

Read the rest of this entry »