On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


The quickest yeast bread I’ve ever made, and I liked it, a lot

Natalie and the family were coming over, predominantly to try the Chocolate Mudcake I’d made as a practice cake for Cameron’s 21st.

After discussing times I suggested they come for lunch and Mr Fussy gave me a few ideas for what I could make. I went with the Ginger Gems, but I wanted to make a pesto bread. Have wanted to make one for a while now.

Rather than fish out the recipe I’ve saved (haven’t a clue where, perhaps Pinterest) I went in search of a recipe, starting with Pinterest.

I came across this recipe from Jamie Cooks it Up.

I read the recipe a couple of times because I couldn’t see where you let the bread rise twice before baking.

This was not a traditional yeast bread recipe. I liked the idea of not spending so much time in the kitchen, it gave me more time for a run rather than procrastinate and using time as a reason not to get out the door.

After a very chilly run through the forest I made it home in time to do the usual Sunday chores and then get busy with the bread.

Can you believe this is the first time I’ve used Instant yeast. I use the active mix all the time for the bread I bake weekly, and the other active yeast (yellow lid, little capsules) for every other bread I’ve baked.

Look what I made.

Made in under 2 hours

Same recipe used two different ways.

I wont bore you with too many photos. Jamie has a really good step-by-step photo shoot on her blog.

Easy dough

When Jamie says to leave the dough in the mixer a few minutes there’s a really good reason why. It’s sticky. It doesn’t look sticky in the bowl but as soon as you grab it, it grabs you back. And I did wait the few minutes before halving it. After I had equal amounts (yes I weighed it) I left it on the baking sheet as instructed, for a few more minutes and was really surprised when I next touched it. It really wasn’t sticky at all any more.

Spraying the bench was something I’d never done before, but it was necessary. The dough rolled out beautifully. And it sliced nicely too. The only worrying moment as how I was going to pick up the braid and put it back on the tray. It was long and supple. But it worked out ok, even though I had Mr Fussy at the ready to give me a hand.

Making and filling the braid

I’ve never made a braided bread before. I soon realised I needed to tuck the top and bottom under the braided pieces which required a little reshuffling of the filling.

I used the other half of the dough to make Pesto pinwheels. I was going to put parmesan cheese with it, but got too lazy. The filling is Pesto, diced up semi dried tomatos, Colby and Gruyere cheeses. I’m not giving measures, I used the left over Pesto I had in the jar, the last of the sundried tomatos, I grated too much cheese for the first loaf, and I used the left over Gruyere cheese from yesterday’s lunch. I reckon most people can make up their own fillings to suit their needs, or leftovers Smile

Pesto pinwheels

I used the nylon thread again to make 12 slices. This time I kept the roll together as one and started by making the first slice half way through, then I cut that half in half, then the quarters I sliced twice. I had no trouble pulling the thread underneath the dough log each time. So long as you’re pulling it taught it just glided. Having a oiled up bench probably helped.

I used some of the beaten egg wash on the pinwheels. I don’t know they needed it, and it only made it tricky to get them out of the muffin tins.

Baked Braided Bread

The spicy apricot sauce I used had just started to ooze out. Quite possibly because I made a slits for the braid a little bit longer than needed meaning my centre was a little narrower than it should have been.

I had the oven on fan bake and the braid in the bottom. I swapped the breads after 20 minutes of baking and turned them around at the same time. Everything bakes faster (and browns quicker) at the back of the oven. You can see here the left side is a little browner.

Baked Pesto Pinwheels

The pinwheels look really great. Well I think so. I really thought they would require more baking time since the dough was wrapped around. I was really surprised that they were baked (and rose better as well) before the braid.

Bread textures

Yum yum. This was good bread. I am thrilled at how quick this was to pull together and with the flavours in the fillings the bread tasted really good.

There’s a lot of scope for this type of bread dough. I’ll certainly be baking this again. Simple and quick and a trouble free yeast dough. There’s so much to like about this recipe.

One last comment. I mentioned earlier I’ve never made anything with Instant yeast. Our sachets are 8gm where as all the American recipes for bread I’ve read and made use 7gm measures. That’s a bit of a pain. I now have a very small jar with 1gm of yeast in it. I’m not throwing it away. I’m confident that I’ll be making another 6 yeast loaves in the not too distant future and I’ll have enough yeast from each of those to make another loaf. Up there for thinking!


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Modelling Chocolate my first experience

Some weeks ago now, pre-Craftsy membership, I came across Jessica’s blog. Then she post about modelling chocolate, and I saved the post.

The came Craftsy and I paid for a class called Clean & Simple Cake Design, which Jessica teaches.

I’m like many people, I like free things, and there’s a lot of information imparted in those free Craftsy classes, but Jessica’s class is a paid for class. It’s packed with so much information and for me, money well spent. Plus it’s 50% off via Jessica’s blog, Jessicakes. Jessica also has a Q&A post on Modelling Chocolate.

Before we delve into this, I’ve looked up the Internet and you can spelling Modelling or Modeling. Modelling just feels right to me, so that’s what I’m going with.

Modelling chocolate is incredibly easy to make. But I strongly suggest you buy Corn Syrup if you can find it (I found it at Spotlight in the chocolate section AFTER I’d made 3 batches of modelling chocolate), or add a little bit of water to your Glucose Syrup before you heat it up for using.

My arms feel like they’re going to drop off. They are so sore, my pecs ache and my abs remind me I have them as I’m moving about.

You will get a good work out from making and kneading modelling chocolate with glucose. I can’t say whether the pliability of modelling chocolate is easier to work with, when using Corn syrup. But I will find out since modelling chocolate is in my immediate future.

Preparing modelling chocolate

I found Wilton Candy Melts at Divine Cakes and I know they sell them at Living & Giving and online at Cakestuff. I didn’t have time to order from Cakestuff, but have just put in another order which includes colours that I really want to work with.

I had a very limited choice of colours at Divine Cakes, so orange, yellow and blue it was.

I made the yellow first. There was very little oil that came out and I didn’t dab it with a paper towel. I used probably a minute bit more glucose with the orange (I probably managed to scrape the glass jug a bit better) and did dab it a little, but it wasn’t really oily by any stretch. I left both to firm up (and hour) while I got on with other things (making a mudcake and ganache).

I found the yellow to be so crumbly, each time I gathered it to knead it, bits would flick out. I even tried to add a little more glucose to a small bit of it, the following morning. In the end I kneaded in some yellow fondant I had recently bought. It brought the modelling chocolate together nicely and it finally reached the type of workable consistency I expected. Although it did firm up again and to work with it needed to be microwaved 10 seconds to enable it to again be kneaded.

The orange was mostly ok, but I still added a bit of gumpaste to it to smooth it out a bit better. I also found that when I stopped kneading the modelling chocolate the oil would come to the surface. It gets absorbed though.

The blue, which I made last, after having kneaded the yellow and orange, I added a bit more glucose to. It was a little more oily and needed to be dabbed with a paper towel. And again, when I came to use it, it had gone rock hard, needed microwaving and then a little gumpaste kneaded into it. And it got a little oily once left, which again was absorbed.

I know this is sounding like a hassle, but I really think it’s worth it, and hoping that once using corn syrup the whole process will be simpler and less kneading in of gumpaste or fondant will be needed to reach the pliable consistency needed to roll and then cut.

I’m hanging in there. I’ll let you know whether the corn syrup solves most of these problems I’ve experienced.

Modelling chocolate ready to use

The blue stars were a mix of gumpaste with the blue modelling chocolate. I didn’t need much gumpaste. I had 40gm of modelling chocolate and 10gm of gumpaste. I needed more gumpaste/fondant with the yellow and orange so I’m a firm believer that the more glucose/water used in making the modelling chocolate will get you a better finished product. But find corn syrup. Even though I can’t say it will be better, it MUST be better. Certainly Jessica has no problem with it, and has been using it for years. But I’m also not the first to have found it crumbly which is why Jessica has suggested kneading in some gumpaste or fondant, which definitely works, but changes the consistency a bit. I had no problem with the consistency though. It still rolled and cut like a dream.

My problem, if a problem at all, is my pasta machine not rolling as smoothly as I’d have liked. You can see little ripples when you look at some of the photos.

I used Jessica’s Waxed Paper Transfer Method, which I mentioned last weekend. I used the method to apply the boarder on my first practice cake.

The star you see were made after leaving the rolled out modelling chocolate several hours. I was so excited to use the modelling chocolate that I used the 10 minutes I had after arriving home from Spotlight and before rushing out the door to the vet, to roll out a little bit to see how it worked. It was never oily after having rolled it out, but a later piece I made (for the new stars on the top of the cake) did get oily. I should have left it to absorb back in before cutting out the rest of the stars. This is all about learning though, and I’m learning a LOT.

I had no real ideas of what design to go for, and I wanted to give Natalie a couple of different looks so she could see how modelling chocolate could be used and help her to decide what she might like to see on Cameron’s 21st birthday cake.

I grabbed those two stars and put them on the top of the cake and questioned what I should do with the top. Those two stars inspired Mr Fussy to say it looked like stars from the Southern Cross from the New Zealand flag. He was really keen to see the New Zealand cookie cutter used and then the remaining stars made. The end being a bit of a retro design of what the New Zealand flag could look like. They’re still questioning what it could change to, right? Maybe I’ll make a submission Winking smile

Here’s the different views on all sides. 

Retro NZ design

The top view. And this is a good look at how wonky the sides are and uneven the top is. Each bit of modelling chocolate was cut to 8 1/4”. That was the height of the part I measured. I didn’t realise just how much the height fluctuated around the cake.

Front view

I think this was the second side. I realised the width of the cake wasn’t what I’d measured either. So this allowed me some slack as to the placement of the vertical stripes so that they started and ended right on the corners. But you can see that they are too high. But once they were placed on the cake it was too late. I really really wanted to get the blade and cut each to the appropriate height, but I knew I’d end up damaging the stripes. So I did something I found very uncomfortable. I moved on and started on the 3rd side.

Right side horizontal stripes

This is the third side. Have a look at that terrible left corner. Eeek. This side was deliberately left with a gap in the middle to show up some of the grey. I had placed those top two strips at the finished height of the first side I’d measured. So yeah, it was going to finish higher than the top of the cake. I managed to bring the top edge down a little before properly adhering the stripes and then used the ruler to straighten it up. The vertical and horizontal stripes were adhered using Sugar glue where as the other two sides were totally covered so I smeared shortening on the fondant first.

Left side

This was my first side. And those two yellow strips on the sides were not planned, but were added when I realised the measurement I took was too short . Can you see that teeny tiny bit of blue on the top right corner? Can you imagine how difficult it was to keep that in place given the side of the cake was shorter?  It was really fiddly, but I didn’t give up, as you can tell.

I purposefully made the stripes different widths. Mr Fussy and I agree that this was the best side, and so I used the same design for the last side but with the lines going in the opposite way. I didn’t plan for the stripes lining up or anything. I was on the homeward stretch and I was happy that it was coming together, so don’t expect the final side to be perfectly matched. You can see the ripples in the stripes from the pasta machine. The pasta machine is essential in my opinion. When using lots of different colours you can’t afford to have uneven thicknesses. That will just look bad (says she looking at a cake with so many flaws).

Back view

And the final side. What did I learn for this side?  Not to have a teeny tiny bit of fondant in a corner, and to shorten the depth so that it finished at the height of the cake, and that it was also as wide as the cake. It only took 3 sides to learn Winking smile

Wrapping paper design

This morning I mentioned to Mr Fussy that putting the sides on the cake was a bit like a tilt slab building. It wasn’t difficult to get it on the cake, or to peel the waxed paper off. In fact I used the same piece of waxed paper for all sides, having reapplied a bit more shortening each time. I used a brush to brush off the extra shortening that was visible after peeling the waxed paper away.

Yes this is a bit of a gaudy looking cake design, but when I arrived home after my run this morning (in what was reported as “feels like –5), and seeing the vertical stripes first, I decided it looked like a happy cake.

I thought that the stripes might crumble as the cake was being cut but am happy to report that the knife cut through it (the sides with the diagonal sides) nicely and nothing slipped or fell off.  Win!

It’s been decided that the bottom tier of Cameron’s cake with have this diagonal design which is reminiscent of wrapping paper I’ve used before, but it will be in black, grey and red. Again with random strip widths.

I’m hoping that I can pre-prepare the modelling chocolate onto the waxed paper several days ahead and that it will still peel nicely from the waxed paper when the time is right. Being able to make up the stripes ahead of time will be a real time-saver for me. And I’ll grab any extra time for Saturday, when I have to complete the decorating and stacking, that I can.

Jessica has made some amazing cakes using modelling chocolate. Have a look at her blog, I’m sure you’ll be impressed at how well modelling chocolate works.


Another practice cake–square cakes are not my friend

You might be wondering what all this practicing is about. I’m making my nephew’s 21st birthday cake (gulp). Because Cameron is currently working just outside of Sydney, and has a 6 week break between his work (he’s in outdoor adventure and they take a break half way through the year) his birthday is being celebrated early. In two weeks time. A month before his actual birthday.

Last weekend I had a go at an explosion design. I might try something different this week to see if I can pre-make the explosion, and use modelling chocolate as the interior colour. This will (hopefully) help with the interior colour bleeding along the edges of the cake fondant where the cuts are made, and get crisper slices.

I needed a cake recipe, and I was determined to use modelling chocolate in the decoration.

While Cameron has no ideas for what his cake should be, Natalie is keen on having two square cakes, one on top of the other, looking like boxes. The top having the explosion with stars bursting out the top.

My thought was to have it appear like the boxes had been covered in gift wrap. There wont be any fluffy bows, it’s a blokes cake after all Winking smile

The colour scheme is black, silver (grey) and red. Now you’re starting to see why last week’s cake used those colours, but I had no idea of design at that point just wanted to start using the colours.

This post is (meant to be) about the cake recipe I tried, the ganache recipe I used, and the the perils of getting nice crisp edges on a square cake.

I have enrolled in Jessica Harris’s Craftsy video, Clean and Simple Cake Design. It’s not one of the free classes by Craftsy, but from Jessica’s blog, Jessicake, you can get a 50% discount on the Craftsy class. Which is what I did.

The link to Jessica’s blog will take you to her post on the Mudcake.


Jessica had mentioned that this cake is best 3 days after baking. That suited me to a “T”. and in my mind, had me wondering how I might go about making the cakes for Cameron’s birthday where I wasn’t scrambling at the last might, completely exhausted and too tired to stay up past 9pm during his 21st celebration.

I made the cakes, 2 8” square cakes, on Thursday evening.

Got to love a cake that doesn’t require a cake mixer. And I’m loving my recently purchased Stevens milk saucepan. It has a teflon coating and a pour spout on both sides. And a handle, a proper handle, unlike my saucepan set, which I also love, but find it impossibly difficult to hold and pour from.

I used good quality ingredients for the cake. There’s Dutch processed cocoa and Whittaker’s chocolate. A mix of 50, 62 and 72% went into the cake recipe.

Batter consistency

This is what the batter consistency is like. It worried me a little because my cake pan was lined only with baking paper, and the bottom was a separate piece to the side. I worried the batter would leak out and some sit between the baking paper that was lining the side and the tin.

Jessica was very patient with me when I asked on her blog a couple of questions about the size of her cakes for the cake recipe. And I used that measurement along with the CakeOmetre website to convert the recipe from 2 8” round cakes, to 2 8” square cakes.

And I can say that the conversion worked beautifully. Though not all ingredients come out in a nice easy divisor. For instance I needed 3.8 eggs. Not going to happen Smile

Crunchy like a brownie

In the end, thankfully, I had no dramas with leaking batter and the sides lifted away easily, and the cake released nicely from the tin. Jessica had mentioned the cake is a bit like a brownie. I was hoping for that, and not the dense heavy type cake you get with Divine Cakes. Not that there’s anything wrong with their cakes, just that I don’t like how dense they are, and how sticky they become, especially with cutting them, which is my job, at work (my inability to observe people butcher the cake cutting without having heart palpitations).

See all those little holes?  That’s me testing to see when the cake was done. I started with 25 minutes, then went another 3, then another 3 and then a further 2. So 33 minutes all up for me. I was pretty confident that it was completely cooked, but you’ll nice I never actually tested the very centre.

Top and botttom

When I turned the cake out I couldn’t help but noticed that darker, slightly undercooked middle. And I should have turned the cake back up the correct way because that centre dipped, as you can see, and never came right after flipping the cake back up the correct way, once cooled.

The second cake, baked the same amount of time, after checking the centre this time, but still had a smaller section in the middle that looked a little undercooked. I wasn’t worried (other than the dip) because a brownie is meant to be fudgy and I’d see enough toothpicks come out clean that any more baking and I might have been overcooking the rest of the cake. I’m using the cake tin I use for making the Christmas cake, it’s proper tin and really retains the heat. I was keen to get the cakes out after 10 minutes of cooling because I was concerned the heat in the tin was continuing to cook the sides.

Even though the top of the cake is flat, it was still slightly raised to the sides, so I had to level it a little before ganaching. The top was lovely and crisp and I was having no problem snacking on it while I ganached the cakes on Friday evening.

Thursday evening I made the cakes, the modelling chocolate (in 3 colours) and made the Ganache. It was like having a full-time job, after my full-time job.


I’ve watched Michelle’s YouTube videos (set of 3) on making the ganache, ganaching the cake and covering the cake in fondant, several times. You can see Michelle’s video’s here.

I used another tool, found on CakeCentral’s website for working out the quantities of Ganache I’d need for the cake.

I used Michelle’s microwave method for making the ganache. It worked out just fine, except that my bowl is just some plastic bowl from the $2 shop and did heat a bit, where Michelle mentioned that hers don’t.

Whittaker's 72 percent chocolate Ganache

More Whittaker’s 72% chocolate. I was a bit worried the chocolate would be too bitter, but I really wanted the higher percentage.

It was a very late night on Thursday, waiting for the cakes to cool and the ganache reach room temperature before putting in the fridge. I put both the cakes and the ganache into the fridge before they were all room temperature, but most of the heat had gone from both. They were just slightly warm to the touch.

I used 5, 250gm blocks of Whittaker’s chocolate blocks between the cake and the ganache.

Thursday evening I dropped into Divine Cakes to look at their cake boards and grabbed quite a number of things, and got my own Cake Decorators discount card. I felt so proud. Well chuffed.

The board I bought was 9”. I really needed two 8” cards so that I could have trimmed the cakes to be a few mm shy of 8” and then I’d have been able to get the ganache on better with the sides being perfectly straight, and the edges square.

Friday night I kept working those edges. I would sit for a while, think, research and get back up and try again. It was an arduous task. I thought what I ended up with was pretty decent given how hard I’d made the job for myself by not buying the right sized cake card. I’ve put that right by putting in an order from CakeStuff this afternoon.

Saturday all I had planned was to cover the cake in fondant. Nice and easy.

I had to rush to Spotlight, I’d tried getting there twice during the week. They close at 5:30pm. Such unsociable hours for people who work until 5pm and have to travel there. It’s not like their shop is central. And it’s not like Christchurch has anywhere that is a hub anymore.

I rushed to Spotlight to see if I could get some piping gel, quilters ruler and stitching tool, amongst other things. And I needed to be back by 10am for taking the cats to the vet with Mr Fussy. I only decided to rush to Spotlight at 8:15am. That has got to be the quickest shower I’ve ever had. I promise I did actually stay in there long enough to get washed Smile

Fondant with The Mat

I also wanted to see if they stocked grey fondant. They didn’t. They stock Satin Ice (as to Divine Cakes) and it would appear it isn’t made in grey.

I had to mix a very small piece of black fondant, and an even smaller bit of yellow, into the white Bakels fondant. And I could tell that I’d overworked the fondant. It had a funny texture on the surface. I knew I should let the fondant rest for a while (probably overnight) but I didn’t have time. I did leave it about 90 minutes.

I seasoned The Mat and got ready to roll out the fondant. I didn’t knead it anymore, I didn’t want to keep re-working it.

But guess what?  You know that builders saying, ‘measure twice, cut once’?  Well I should have done that. I got to 14” relatively easily. But it wasn’t the size I was aiming for. I was aiming for 20”. I had my measurements wrong. I kept rolling and rolling and sighing and thought I was never going to get there. And finally I did. After almost having to undress because it was so hot, and I was almost burning my hands with the friction from rolling my wooden rolling pin. And when I finally got my 20” all round I finally stopped and my brain kicked in and I realised I’d just rolled the fondant way too thin. I had the right amount of fondant, but rolled it big enough for a 10” cake of 4” high. The fondant was way too thin. So I had to gather it up and knead it slightly and start over. Reaching the 14” was reasonably quick, but again I could see the funny inverted bubbling on the surface of the fondant.

The the thing about using The Mat, the fondant is, not sticky, but without any cornflour or icing sugar, the fondant smoother was catching on the surface and not gliding across it nicely. So I had to sprinkle a little cornflour over the top in order to use the fondant smoother on top.

As for getting nice sharp corners. It never happened. I pulled the fondant into the corners like I’d seen, which caused a little bit of gathering of fondant along the sides, but I more or less got it right. Again because I was using a cake board that wasn’t the right side I had to work around a bit of a lip which I think didn’t help me trying to get the fondant nicely against the very bottom of the cake. It was a real hassle and I was very disappointed with the finish. I’ve covered the Chrismas cake better than that, and not watched any videos on how to. But the Christmas cake is on the Tupperware base and which gives plenty of flat surface. I will say that there was no tearing or pulling on the top corners.

While I thought I did a pretty decent job of ganaching the cake with what seemed like straight sides, the fondant covering showed up every little imperfection.

I couldn’t wait to cover the cake so I didn’t have to see those awful corners. I was going to decorate on Sunday but I finished the cake off Saturday afternoon (next post).

Cake texture

Cameron got a quick lesson in cutting the cake this afternoon. And I warned him about the resistance he would feel when he got to the ganache middle. And explained the bottom cake (for his birthday) will have 3 layers, so there will be two points where there will be some resistance. And then he was instructed about how to hold the knife to get a nice clean cut. He did ok, but was probably really baffled about all the fuss.

The cake was good. Phew. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the recipe turned out a dud like last week’s Vanilla Cake disaster.

The Craftsy classes (even the free ones) have resources and one of them is a sheet that explains how much fondant you’ll need for the shape and size of the cake (and has been spot on for me on both cakes I’ve covered these past few weeks). I was using it as my guide for how big I needed the cakes to feed 80 people. This 8” square cake, of 4” high (mine is 3”) said it would be 25 pieces, and that’s cutting around 1” wide. I can’t see how you’d get 8, 1” wide slices and come out with 25 but maybe it’s been too long since I was at school.

I had been doing all sorts of combinations over the weekend and reckoned that I’d end up getting 8 x 1” x 2” slices. That would net 32 pieces. The 10” cake I’ll be doing for the bottom tiers will be 4” high given I’m making that 3 layers, too keep the proportions right, otherwise it would look a bit squat.

As I cut the cake to get 8 slices for lunch we decided that the cake was actually too rich and 1” x 1” would be plenty. It was a really nice flavoured cake, and my worries about the ganache being too bitter came to nothing. I shared that concern but Logan assured me it was just right, and I also didn’t think it too bitter. And thankfully it was just perfect with the fondant, the fondant didn’t come across as being too sweet. Though I had a 1” x 1” centre piece with just that size piece of fondant on it.

What I am pleased with is how even the fondant was rolled. Looks good to me. Not that anyone else would probably give it a second thought. And of course the cake is great. Three days on and it was still moist and had great texture and flavour.

The plan now is to bake the 8” and 10” cakes next weekend, ganache them and then they’ll go straight into the freezer. I’ll collect one of them on Thursday, with Natalie taking it out of the freezer during the afternoon, so that all up it will also be the equivalent of 3 days at the time it will be eaten.

I’ll cover one cake on Thursday evening, collect and cover the other on Friday evening, and probably start decorating Thursday’s cake (10”) on the Friday. That should alleviate most of the pressure of having to fully decorate and deliver the cakes on Saturday.

Of course I know there will probably be something that doesn’t go as smoothly as I would hope for so I don’t for a moment think I’ll be cruising through Saturday, but you never know Winking smile

Fudgy consistency

You can now see how fiddly it was to cover the cake when I ended up with a really tiny bit of cake board in the way making the job quite fiddly. Anyway, the inside, and yes you can see that the bottom cake is a little more dense where it could have done with a little more baking in the middle. No one said it was stodgy, or they were just being too polite.

And that’s a sneak peek of what the cake was decorated like. But there were 3 different “thoughts” of design. That’s the next post.


Vanilla cake disaster

I said there would be some good times and some not so good times.

The cake I covered in fondant turned out to be one of the not so good times. At least trying to chew through it and force it down my throat wasn’t something I especially liked. I had to tell Mr Fussy he didn’t have to eat it. Bless him, he said it was just a big piece of cake.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to throw the rest of the cake out, either that or use it as a door stop. But since it’s winter, who wants the doors left open?  Winking smile

I mentioned in my other post, about making and decorating the cake, that using buttercream as the base of a fondant covered cake can end up bulging the cake due to it becoming softer and moving under the fondant. Well guess what. It happened. The house is hot so I guess it’s not really a surprise.

As I was preparing dinner Mr Fussy came out to the kitchen and said “is it meant to have a crack?” So here’s where it happened.

Cracking me up

Vanishing SMBC

And I’m pretty sure you can see from the side view, this is not a great cake. Look how dense and dry it is. So many people have commented favourably on the Cake Central site about the cake. I can only assume I did something wrong. But I wouldn’t call myself a novice baker. I did make a change. I lowered the oven temperature and baked the cake for a few minutes longer, but it was still cooked.

Dy and dense

I would also say that flattening the cake top wasn’t such a good idea, well not for this cake, because that seems to be the part here the cake looks undercooked.

Before I had sat down to eat my slice, I asked Mr Fussy if he could taste the flavours. He nodded. But the flavour was only obvious in the SMBC and the ganache. There was no flavour at all in the cake.

So this is a tale of looks being deceiving.

I think I’d rather remember this cake for its looks only.

Explosion Cake

While it’s disappointing the cake isn’t edible, the whole exercise has been valuable, including a failed cake recipe.

Put your ear plugs in people of New Zealand, I’m about to drop the cake in the wheelie bin. It’ll be an earth shattering experience, not that we need any more tremors in Christchurch Smile

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Parmesan Pesto and Pinenut muffins

Last weekend, for Dad’s birthday afternoon tea, I wanted something quick and easy as a savoury addition.

I wasn’t overly worried about making something, I had a fall back plan, but I wanted to find something a bit different and new. A quick search online and I came across this link.


I think this recipe had everything I love in a savoury dish.

I didn’t have buttermilk so did the usual and added 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar to a measuring cup and then filled it with milk to measure a cup.

I also decided to add some cherry tomatos I’d had sitting for a week.

Ready to bake

Because this was an afternoon tea I used my mini muffin tins (the above is my normal sized muffin tin). I got 24 mini muffins and 8 normal sized muffins.

My mini muffin tins were a little fuller than what I filled the larger muffin tin. I was actually worried they were rise so much and spew over the sides, but miraculously they did not.

They were a real pain to get out of the tins though. That parmesan cheese really stuck to the sides and I had to use a knife to cut around every single one of them.

Mini muffins

We had lots left, so we just kept snacking on these for dinner. I froze all the normal sized muffins, and the few left over minis. We had them for lunch today. They thaw and reheat nicely. They’ll smell wonderful, but that’s not an indication they’re warmed through properly, so I found out. I reheated with the oven at temperature on 150 degrees.

Little savoury morsels

Love those pinenuts, but they wont stay put once you bite into them. I also toasted mine before adding them to the mixture.

So my very small changes:

Toasting the pinenuts

Adding cherry tomatos

Using more cheese than is called for, but I’m always going to do that Winking smile


PS, the link for the recipe wasn’t working at the time I grabbed it for this post. Hopefully it’s just a glitch which will be resolved soon, because I’d like to make the recipe again.


Okay the recipe is still on my phone’s browser so here it is, in case the problem with the website is a bit more involved in fixing.

Pesto Pine Nut and Parmesan Muffins


Oil or butter for greasing

2 cups standard flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup pine nuts, divided

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

6 tablespoons sunflower oil or melted butter cooled

2-3 tablespoons pesto

4 tablespoons freshly grated paremsan chees


Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.

Using a fork mix in the first measure of parmesan cheese

Toast all the pine nuts then put 1/4 cup aside for the topping.

In a medium bowl or jug lightly whisk the eggs and add in the oil or butter and buttermilk.

Make a well in the centre of the bowl holding the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.

Very gently fold in the ingredients together. Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough. It’s ok to have some dry ingredients showing.

Spray muffin tins. Spoon mixture to fill 3/4 full.

Top the batter with the second measure of pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out.

Serve warm.


Practice run–a fondant covered cake

I’m loving the Craftsy Classes I’m enrolled in and I wanted to have a go at putting some of the new techniques into practice.

I only ever cover a cake in fondant once a year, at Christmas. It’s an 8” square cake and round cakes covered in fondant scare me.

But I’ve been watching a few videos, and I bought “The Mat” while in Australia (the massive one) and the Mini Mat from CakeStuff the other week (I see it’s sold out, at least that size). I felt ready to tackle a round cake.

Here’s what it looked like when completed. Stick around if you want the blow by blow breakdown of how I got there.


Just about everything I did here is something new.

  • Cake recipe
  • Levelling/flattening the cakes
  • Butter emulsion
  • Ganache filling
  • Reusing previously frozen Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)
  • Levelling the top of the cake, properly
  • Buttercream beneath fondant
  • Covering a round cake
  • Wax Paper Transfer Method (WPTM)
  • Explosion

“Decoration idea”

  • I used tools I’ve not used before:
  • The Mat
  • Fondant smoothers
  • Sugar Flower Glue
  • Pastry Brush

And not everything went smoothly. Not by a long shot. There are so many lessons to be learnt. But that’s what a practice is all about. Making mistakes and finding ways to avoid them for next time, and ways to hide them for this time.

We start with a cake batter I’ve never used before. It was thick, not like the cake batters I’ve been baking the last 6 or so months. This was the type that doesn’t smooth down in the pan without some help.

Cake batter

I’m still “off” the idea of using a baking spray and then lightly flouring the sides and bottom of the cake pans. There’s nothing more here than baking paper. And I had no problem with the cakes sticking to the pans, or the paper, despite the almost 1 cm gap I had around the side of one pan.

I have spent some time reading Jessica’s blog. I have signed up for (and paid and watched) her Craftsy class and many of the techniques here come from her class or blog.

Jessica had mentioned that she’s never had to level a cake. Had to believe. So I read her post about the method she uses and gave it a crack.

Flattening the dome

As you can see the cake is domed. I used two sheets of paper towel and just dampened them. Then I used the lid of a Sistema container to then gently push he dome down, and when I had the dome down I went around the edges of the cake to try and flatted it all over the top. It mostly worked, but the top was still higher than the sides.  And later the cake had sunk a little, so I wonder how much I really needed to press to flatten the domes. Despite the top still being higher than the rounded sides I went with it.

I figured the ganache would fill in the sides and with the ganache and buttercream both being the same colour (depth varies) I wouldn’t curse too much about seeing a different colour as a “dam”. The ganache had been the original one I used for Riley’s Angry Birds cake, and then thought better of. This one was 72% chocolate, a bit too bitter for kids. I added to the ganache some Orange extract. This stuff smells so intense, but just like orange juice. There’s no artificial smell to it.


I used a 1/2 teaspoon of the Orange extract and the Butter Emulsion to the Vanilla Cake recipe as well. I was going for a lovely Jaffa flavour, one of my favourites.

Our inside freezer is jammed with frozen frostings, citrus juice of every variety, and zest, royal icing, pastry dough and fillings and ganache as well. I removed the chocolate SMBC I had in there from when I made the Double Chocolate Layer Cake for our new neighbours, on Friday morning. The ganache I removed Saturday morning, knowing I was likely going to warm it through enough to be able to whisk.

Ganache filling

I ended up flip flopping between warming it too much, putting it in the fridge to set up a little, finding it again too set and rewarming it. I did this several times and the last I set the timer on the oven for 5 minutes and grabbed it from the fridge after that. I then let it sit on the bench to soften just a little and began playing with fondant and my new patchwork butterfly cutters. I noticed that the ganache was ready and had to put everything aside to make sure I worked with it before it began to set again. You can see how much ganache I had to use to get the sides straight and disguise the slope from the top of the cake down to the sides. And I wasn’t happy with the level of the top. Out came my little spirit level. Its first use.

I was able to immediately cover the cake in SMBC.  The SMBC beat up so nice. I was thrilled.

buttercream layer

But covering the cake was a real pain. Every time I used the bench scraper to get the sides even I’d end up seeing ganache poking through. I didn’t know how I could have so little of the SMBC on the sides for that to happen. I fussed and fluffed about and gave up after having spent way too long. I put it in the fridge and resigned myself to having to do a 2nd layer of SMBC, which hopefully would go on much better with a first coat.

It did. There’s a fine line between getting the sides all nice and straight and dealing with the little bit that raises above the side of the cake that still has to be dealt with. And all that time getting the top nice and flat was pretty much ruined with the SMBC. I couldn’t put the spirit level on it because the frosting was too soft. That was probably my problem. I should have put it in the fridge for a few minutes. The house was too hot. In the end I was reasonably happy with the cake. And I remembered to put the bench scraper into a bowl of hot water and use it around the sides and top of the cake to be very sure it was all smooth. That’s why you can see such a difference between that glossy SMBC in the bowl and the finish on the cake.

That frosting was so good. Even Mr Fussy who’s been recovering ALL WEEK from a gastro bug came out to swipe a little bit more. But not nearly as much as I’d been snacking on. I had it bad!

It had been my intention to cover the cake in fondant Saturday evening. But with the house so warm and the buttercream threatening to smoosh within 10 minutes of being out of the fridge, I decided I’d tackle it first thing, before the fire went on.

My worry was the cake being too cold to put fondant on, and ending up with bulges because the buttercream at room temperature would end up expelling a little air.

Fondant layers

While laying in bed this morning I decided I would tackle an Explosion design. Clearly it was a very last minute decision because I had nothing to explode out of the cake. Since decorating the cake I’ve found a few picture tutorials of other methods. When I explain the BIG mistake I have here, you’ll understand why next time I’ll be using a circle the size of the explosion only, and not the entire cake top.

As you can see I had black and red.  Good Canterbury colours! I had a circle of both the same size as the cake. Between the black and red is a smaller circle of baking paper. I’ll explain what I did, then follow up with what I should have done.

After placing the red circle on the black, covered with baking paper, I rolled out the white fondant, using my new Mini Mat. It took quite a bit of work. The centre is a bit thicker and I was having a hard job pushing it out. When I had my 32cm “round” it was time to hold my breath and see if the fondant would drape nicely over the cake without dragging and tearing and God forbid, ending up with elephant skin. You can see a YouTube of how The Mat works, here.

The Mat worked as it should, but of course I went arse about face (now that I relook at the beginning of the video) and it might have gone much better had I reviewed the video again.

Getting the slits in the fondant wasn’t too difficult. I had a second piece of baking paper cut into a circle which I’d drawn lines (in pencil) as guides to where I was to cut. And I knew to cut from the outside in to reduce and drag from the knife.

Fondant flourishes

Getting the first slit up was the hardest. It was hard not to misshapen the burst.

So here’s what went wrong, and a BIG boo-boo.

As I placed the fondant over the top of the cake, unbeknown to me, the red moved and shifted and was now about 1cm down the side of the cake, on one side. Crap! There’s a couple of things I could do here differently next time. Moisten the edges of the black with water or sugar glue and then stick the red on top and press lightly to adhere. Actually I would also do a little more to adhere the black to the top of the cake also, but I think it was mostly stuck in place. I’d had to go around the red and black with my craft knife to shave over the little bits that were over hanging, and I’d had to press some of the black where it didn’t quite meet the edge of the cake, I think that helped fix it in place.

Or, I’d cut smaller circles, just the width of the star burst, which would mean I had a bulge in the top of the cake, but this would be hidden once the bursts had been turned out. On looking at the pictures above I think I like the bursts laying on the cake. But then by the time you have something exploding from the cake it might look better.

I took a long piece of Gladwrap and scrunched it up into a long thread and then gently lift the bursts up and placed the Gladwrap underneath to give it something to rest on and allow it to set a bit. I had to moisten the red and fix it to the white on a couple. It’s a mucky job and it doesn’t look very neatly done. The white fondant is thicker (it’s the centre which I was having trouble rolling out) and the red is a bit thinner, so the red has some drying and it tore at the ends. So no nice sharp peaks to it. From this distance it looks decent though Winking smile

Top view

I had also only just managed to cut through the black on cut. Getting the baking paper out was really simple though. That’s the bit I expected to spend time fussing over.

Before making the burst, I used the fondant smoothers to get a nice smooth top and sides (and hiding the bulge from the red) I spent a bit of time trying to see how I could get a more crisp top edge. I wanted it to look 90 degrees. I tried the method I’d seen but it just wasn’t to be. I need to revisit those videos to see if I’ve forgotten something in the technique. One technique is to flip the cake upside down and use the smoothers or a bit of acetate to push the fondant to the bottom (which is the top). But I was too scared to do that. Plus I don’t have anything solid enough that would have held the cake perfectly flat to flip it.

Anyway, the other boo-boos. Somehow I ended up with a bit of buttercream on the side of the cake. And there was an unhappy tear in the very bottom because I didn’t lay the fondant over the top of the cake straight, so I had to actually try and coerce the fondant a bit to reach the bottom.  So tears, buttercream, slipped fondant. I pretty much had it all going on.

I hadn’t really settled on an idea for decorating the cake. I had some left over grey from the Angry Bird blackbird and thought I’d use that with the black and the red. I needed something that was pretty random because I had odd spots where I needed to cover mistakes.

I decided to use Jessica’s Waxed Paper Transfer Method (WPTM) to do an edge for the cake. I wish I’d seen the video last weekend before doing Dad’s cake, it would have been a lot easier!

Back view

(the back view) I measured the waxed paper around the cake and cut the piece. I used cellotape to hold the paper to the bench, used some Kremelta on the very edge where I was going to lay the fondant. Rolled out a long sausage of fondant and then rolled it. Then using a ruler and my craft knife I cut a straight edge and moved the fondant to sit over the bottom edge of the waxed paper. Then I used one of my new edging cutter thingees butted up to the edge of the ruler (which was placed over the fondant at a particular distance from the bottom) and pressed it down and along the length of the fondant. Then I put a little smear of Kremelta along the base of the cake and held the waxed paper to line up the bottom edge of it to the bottom of the cake, then pressed gently to adhere the fondant to the cake. The start and end overlapped each other as I hoped it would. I then cut though the overlap, got rid of the one side of excess fondant, then peeled the other side back a bit to carefully remove the other sides excess fondant. Then pressed the sides back against the cake where they met perfectly. And the design also was  perfect match. Woo hoo! The only thing with this cutter tool is that the front has a nice soft bevelled sort of cut to it, where you don’t get that at the back. And it’s the back that is facing out on the cake. Still it’s OK, in fact I’m warming to the idea and don’t mind it at all.

Explosion Cake

So there I was placing the spots randomly (purposefully hiding little indiscretions) and I ended up getting too much sugar glue on the back of a big red spot and before I knew it I had a sticky hand pressing the grey inner circle into the side of the cake and at the same time putting red sticky stuff all over it. I also managed to get a black sticky spot as well, that’s hidden by one of the smaller spots. Just as well I had ways to cover up some of the mistakes.

All that’s left is to slice the cake and decide is the taste and texture completes the whole thing.

And I couldn’t help saying that this was a better design for a male than the cake I made for Dad. But fondant. It’s still scary stuff Winking smile


Perfect Party Cake for Dad’s 70th Birthday

I made Dad a birthday cake using a recipe I’ve used before. I made this Dorie Greenspan Perfect Party Cake with the New Zealand/Waitangi Day Cake this February.

Since then my cake decorating skills have improved a little. I’m not ready to gloat yet, but if you were to compare the two cakes you’ll see that I’m making progress in the right direction.

Fondant message

This is what the finished cake looked like, but that came after me trying to use a fondant flower I’d made on the Saturday night, the first that I was actually pleased with. I really wanted to use it. But it made Dad’s cake too pretty. So let’s get that photo over with. And an apology if I flick between the two looks. It’s just at the different times I took photos.

Unused flower

I hadn’t totally settled on what I would make for Dad’s cake during our stay in Melbourne, but on the flight home, on the back of a sick bag, the design took place.

For the cake I knew it couldn’t be chocolate. Dad is not a fan of chocolate baked goods. He loves fruit cake, but I knew Ruth would probably make him a fruit cake. And when I think of fruit cake I think of almond and white fondant and then it starts to become a Christmas cake.

Then the idea came to me to use the Perfect Party Cake recipe again. But I’d fill the layers with Raspberry filling. Dad loves his raspberries.

I also knew the cake would be 8” in size. Since I was having my sister and her family over for an afternoon tea along with Dad and Ruth, I needed a cake that would comfortably serve 10 people.

Birthday Celebration Cake

The Friday night before the afternoon tea I made the raspberry filling. I used the same filling recipe as per the Double Chocolate Layer Cake. I wasn’t really sure it would stretch to 2 layers of filling. I had originally been thinking 3 layers. On Saturday I made Lemon Curd and changed plan to torting the 3 cakes and having 5 layers where I’d alternate between layers of Lemon Curd and Raspberry Filling, and using slightly less filling between the layers.

near perfect layers

I torted the 3 cake layers following the tip that I got from the Craftsy free video, Modern Buttercream. Joshua John Russell instructed to tuck your elbow tight into your side and not move it while you cut around the side of the cake, cutting slightly deeper each turn until you finally reach the middle and have cut through the entire cake. I think I did not too bad really.

Then to each layer I piped a little dam of frosting using the Wilton 12 tip, and then filled the layer with either the raspberry filling or lemon curd.


One of the other tips I picked up was using a simple sugar syrup. I’ve used this before on layered cakes. Its use is to keep the layers moist since they can dry out when you’ve got lots of layers due to the amount of time the cake is out, with cut sides, and also the fridge can dry a cake out as well. I saw that Joshua had his syrup in a squeeze bottle. That seemed like a brilliant idea, and he certainly made it look sensible. I suspect he’s been using this method for a long time and is used to the angle at which he points it at the cake before squeezing. I on the other hand ended up with the syrup squirting beyond the cake where I was trying to start at the edge. In the  got the hang of it.

6 layers

In my planning of the cake (on the plane) I had assumed the cake would be 10cm in height. And I knew when I had the cakes cooled and measured the height that it wasn’t going to be close to it (another reason I went for 6 layers, using filling to bolster the height). The change in height meant my original design would need to change. I was going for 4 layers of fondant stripes. The plan was for graduating depths of colour creating a sort of ombre effect, as well as larger to smaller strips of fondant as we went bottom to top of the cake, with a gap equal to the size of the fondant before starting with the next colour/strip.

Ready for decorations

There was one other thing I forgot to do using another tip in the video. I should have put the pastry scraper into a pot that contained boiled water, let the heat penetrate the scraper, dry off the scraper and then scrape the side and top of the cake to help smooth everything out nicely. It was smooth but there were some imperfections which you could see. The heat from the scraper should have smoothed it out a bit.

I was expecting to use some of the texture sheets I bought from Bake Boss in Melbourne for the strips but decided at the last minute to use one of the fondant strip cutters (also purchased from Bake Boss, but available here in NZ). That was on the bottom layer. I pulled out a little fondant wheel I bought on eBay for the middle layer (1cm) but it was useless at actually cutting through the fondant. And it’s not like the fondant was hard, it’s just the edge wouldn’t cut nicely. In the end the middle layer is cut using a pasta cutter I have.

Fondant strips

The top layer I did use one of the texture sheets. This actually a fish scale. It wasn’t too bad trying to join the pattern but not dead easy, and I could spot where the sheet started and finished and the next began.

I had measured the circumference of the cake and knew I’d end up having to make two stripes for each because a single long strip would be too difficult to hold and try to place with the weight of the rest.

I used another tip I had come across and that was to roll the strip so that in my hand I had a coil and then I uncoiled it as I pressed it against the side of the cake.

I also used a Wilton tool that marks the cake. This gave me my guide as to where I’d be placing each strip. Unfortunately the Guide is in inches and I needed the impressions around the cake at 4 and 7cm. With not having the correct position I then had to decide where the strip would lay, would the guide be in the middle of the strip, or just above the bottom, or just below the top. You can imagine that this got a bit fiddly to get the strip even all the way around.

I had cut out a 7 and 0 from the fondant cutter set I bought, but the size was too insignificant for the cake.

I used my new craft cutter (like a scalpel) to hand cut out the numbers. The 0 was more or less an O which I then squished a little to elongate it, but the size was still a little bigger than the 7. And I placed them too close to the edge of the cake.

first slice

Don’t expect that when you cut into a cake that’s got strips of fondant (or some other type of strip) that they will stay put as you cut through it. We nudged them back into place for the photo, but I can tell you categorically they will drag down from where you’d carefully placed them.

And one last note, I had wanted to have a white frosted cake, but with so much butter in the doctored Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe I downloaded from the Craftsy video, I just couldn’t get white, despite putting some Bright White food gel in it.

The colour palette I was using called for blue (100) with equal parts of yellow (40) and black. (40) I have kept hold of this colour guide.

I needed more blue, more than twice the amount of yellow of the butter, and then some black. I didn’t add any yellow obviously, that came from the butter.

I was thrilled that the colour I got was so close to the lightest coloured fondant strip. While it’s not what I had envisaged, it was still a pretty decent cake. And I can say that I’m happy with all the new techniques and tips I’ve picked up over the months and that I made a cake that looked good, but best of all, it tasted so SO good.

We ended up with 4 slices left, sadly Mr Fussy came down with an awful gastro bug which has seen him off work all week. He couldn’t eat anything Sunday, but he had a mouthful of one of the slices left over, on Tuesday. The cake still  had that beautiful fresh flavour. The Lemon Curd offsetting the sweetness of the cake and frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream – slightly adapted from Joshua


  • 10 egg whites (I used 30gm egg albumen and 300ml warm water)
  • 280gm castor sugar
  • 843gm Butter or Kremelta (or a mix of the two as I did) – room temperature, chopped into 1 Tbls pieces
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbls vanilla extract


  • Bring a small pot of water to the boil. The pot needs to be suitable for sitting a bowl on top, where the bowl does not touch the water.
  • Turn the heat down to keep the water at a steady simmer.
  • Place the egg whites (or the egg albumen and warm water), sugar and salt into a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over the pot of water.
  • Use a whisk to keep the egg white and sugar moving. You don’t want to leave it sitting or you’ll end up cooking scrambled egg.
  • From time to time put your finger into the mixture to check if the sugar has dissolved. As soon as it’s fully dissolved take the bowl off the simmering water.
  • Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg white/sugar mix until you reach stiff peaks. At this time the bowl should have come back to room temperature.
  • Begin to add the butter, the meringue mixture will deflate a bit as you add more and more butter. You can keep adding butter before the previous has been added.
  • As you add more butter the colour of the meringue will change and it may begin to look curdled. Keep mixing, it will come together. You will probably hear the sound of your mixer change as the texture of the buttercream changes. I didn’t add all of the butter/kremelta before the texture changed to buttercream. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t need all the butter. In fact I ended up with over 200gm unused. The temperature of your kitchen, and the amount of kremelta used (if used) will have an impact on how much butter is needed to reach the right consistency for buttercream.
  • If you’re wanting to colour the buttercream now is when you should add the gel.
  • Add in the icing sugar and vanilla essence and mix on slow until the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.
  • Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.
  • If you’re not using the buttercream straight away, cover the buttercream and either leave it on the bench (for a day) or in the fridge. If you leave it in the fridge you’ll need to bring the buttercream back to room temperature.
  • Put the buttercream back in the mixer using the paddle attachment and beat it until you reach a soft fluffy texture.

I really recommend watching Joshua’s free Craftsy video so you can see how to make this buttercream. It’s great if you’re a visual person. Joshua’s recipe, which you can download uses 8 egg whites, and less icing sugar. I preferred a slightly sweeter frosting. The extra icing sugar also changes the consistency a bit too, it’s not quite so slippery, but it’s still silky.

I had too much buttercream than was needed, I think even if I had filled the cake with the buttercream I’d still end up with a little too much, but I didn’t want to risk have too little, especially since I had coloured it.

The remainder buttercream is in the freezer and will last 3 months.

If you’re using frozen buttercream, bring it back to room temperature before mixing.

Perfect Party Cake

The one thing that makes me screw up my nose when I look at the cake is the frosting that was used to create a dam. It would have been wonderful not to have seen this bit of buttercream in the side of the cake.

It’s still a great cake, and I would make it again, without a doubt.