Mum’s of small children have opportunities to make fun colourful cakes for their kids, if they want to. But for those of us without children we’re left without any excuse to do something fun and frivolous, for those that want to.
I know Jo through work. Jo and I worked together many years ago and have more or less kept an eye on each other through Facebook. Jo asked a couple of months ago how I felt about making something for her son, Riley. She said he’d love an Angry Birds cake.
This is where I admit to totally sucking at the game, and since I wasn’t getting my way, a long time ago I uninstalled the game. What a waste of my time (and patience).
I’d seen my fair share of Angry Bird themed cakes and cupcake toppers on Pinterest.
I replied admitting that I didn’t know if I could do it, but I’d try first before committing to making a birthday cake.
This was my trail at making Angry Bird characters. I wasn’t overly serious about putting this on my blog and didn’t bother with trying to get many photos, and resorted to using my camera phone.
I actually thought they turned out not too bad, and at the time I didn’t think they took too long to make. I used a cake I’d previous frozen and made balls about of it, using frosting to bind it together and then covered the balls with the fondant.
Cameron at work let me know that it wasn’t a very pleasant eating experience so I decided then that I’d give up that idea and promptly tossed out all the other frozen cake balls in the garbage.
In the end each of the 3 characters you see here took on a slightly different look. The pig, which I liked the look of, was replaced for the King pig, I found another image for the blackbird and used that as my guide, in the image he had his face up as if he might be squawking plus he grew just a little in size. Apparently he’s bigger than the others. And the red one I used an actual screen shot I captured on my phone when running the game. Yes I downloaded the game again, and had to play a few rounds in order to get the screen shots. The lengths I’ll go to
I’ll start with some of the different views of the characters I made.
In the end I made a few changes. The colour of the eyebrows for the blackbird and the yellow bird were a mix of red and a tiny bit of black fondant. All the characters are totally fondant, and all mixed with and equal amount of gumpaste, except the black and red which I added tylose powder. Adding gumpaste to the black would have turned it grey, and as you can imagine, the red would turn a shade of pink.
I also used a tiny nail art brush to add the black pupils and eyebrows on the King pig and the white dude.
The yellow guy was so hard to shape. I looked at a variety of photos/pictures and I just couldn’t decide what his shape was. I knew front on he looked like a triangle, but was he? I shaped him several different ways and none really seemed quite right.
Last Monday I coloured all the fondant I expected to need and shaped the bodies. At that time I used one of my fondant tools to make little holes in the tops of heads and backs where feathers would need to be placed. The yellow guy’s head feathers should have been closer to the front, in my opinion.
Working in a lint free environment proved to be impossible, and I’m afraid the odd little strand of lint could be seen in almost all of the characters. While I didn’t want to have any, I also didn’t really think any of the characters would be eaten given the gumpaste, and expecting that would alter the flavour – for the worse.
I wasn’t overly happy with how some of the tail feathers worked out. I needed the yellow guy to have more pointed feathers. It was only later that I realised I should have used the scissors to do that rather than my fingers to try and shape them. I could have saved myself some time and agony trying to get the right look.
And belatedly I also realise I should have made the beaks (they caused a bit of stress) in two pieces, the top and bottom. I would shape a beak and use the craft knife to make a slit and then try and prize the beak apart. Of course having rest the beak on its side to cut meant that one side was flattened.
Making different shapes and lengths of beaks was interesting. But we got there, and the birthday boy was happy with his cake.
The Angry Bird characters weren’t the end of my challenges. While in Melbourne I visited (twice) Bake Boss and on one of the visits bought and impression mat in with a bark pattern. Have you tried to impress something that needs the pattern on all sides. When you get to the 4th side you’re pressing the pattern out of it in order to get it on the underside. And each time you press you’re altering the shape. It was a fine line to get enough of an impression and not alter the shape too much. Jo mentioned they looked like flakes. Now that would have been ideal, and again saved me some angst.
The nest was made making little sausages and a having flattened a ball of fondant to make the base. Then it was simply a case of winding the individual sausages around in a haphazard way to get a nest look. The eggs of course were just white fondant which I rolled into the shape of eggs.
That ends the fondant characters which were all done on Tuesday evening. Then it came to the other parts that I’d mapped out for the rest of the week. Wednesday was tempering chocolate to create a base which the characters could sit on as a stand. This would allow Jo to transport the cake separate to the decorations, then easily add the decorations once she’d reached her destination. Of course there’s no such stand which tells you my tempering experience didn’t end up where I expected.
My experience with using chocolate in new was wasn’t completely over. I used the failed tempered chocolate (it was perfect when I left it out overnight to set, but had bloomed during the night) to make a ganache on Thursday. While with a client on Friday it dawned on me that children would probably find 72% cocoa too bitter. My client was 75 minutes away from home. I had everything ready to completely decorate the cake on Friday evening since Jo was arriving around 11ish Saturday to pick up the cake (there was a mix up on when the party was and I was working to Sunday). The first thing I did when arriving home was to grab the 50% chocolate, add a few teaspoons of honey to the cream and then quickly made the new batch of ganache. I also added some Orange extract which I found at Mediterranean Food Warehouse. My goodness, it tasted so nice. I love orange chocolate so I was hooked. I put the ganache in the fridge while we ate dinner and it had set enough to then whip, which I did by hand. I was still on schedule.
Going way back to the beginning of the week. Monday was our last day of Annual Leave following on from our trip to Melbourne. I baked the cakes on Monday, allowed them to cool completely then double wrapped them in Gladwrap and then froze them.
After my experience with the Strawberry Cake where I sprayed and then floured the inside of the cake tins, only to have quite a thick sticky baked goop on the sides and bottom of the cake, I thought I’d get clever and try lining the bottom and sides just with baking paper. The bottoms are pre-cut parchment rounds that I bought from Living & Giving. The sides I cut having folded the strip into half, then half again and again, then cut through the bottom of the strip to allow for the strip to sit nicely against the sides. I’m not sure if you can see that well.
Anyway, the cakes pulled away from the sides, as you expect, when they’re baked. But what that left me when I went to decorate was this.
We have a sort of hour glass look. That meant ore frosting in the middle to ensure the sides were straight. I do wish cakes would bake perfectly.
All fixed. By the way I’m loving my new cake turntable. It’s smooth and doesn’t have any wobble and it’s a much better height to work with. I saw the same at Bake Boss in Melbourne and it was A$113 which is ridiculous. Or the price I got it for on Amazon (US) was a good buy. Actually I do remember it was on special.
As for the frosting, Jo left that up to me. She just asked it be in keeping with Angry Birds. I really wanted a much brighter green but with the butter in the Swiss Meringue Buttercream it wasn’t going to happen without a LOT of food colouring. Remember this is for kids. Do they really need more additives?
I’ve been watching a free tutorial from Craftys – Modern Buttercream. I recommend it. I learnt heaps of new tricks, including the way to get nice straight layers which I achieved with Dad’s birthday cake. But I also used the recipe for the Buttercream and the method in which it was made. W.A.Y easier than the method I’d been using where you had to reach 75 degrees Celsius or whatever it was. That left my mixer bowl so hot that I had to wrap it in a cold towel. Then the motor got hot because of the length of time I had to leave it running in order to have a room temperature bowl before adding the butter.
I made the buttercream (and altered the recipe for Dad’s cake and think it’s now a perfect blend of sweetness and silky texture) on Thursday night and then beat it again Friday night to fluff it up a bit.
As luck would have it the decorating technique used in the Craftsy video was the same design I’d seen on other cakes and like. And now I knew how to achieve it. But it didn’t really come together the same. Basically I found the height of this cake too short to really achieve the look I was going for. After going around the cake trying the ruffle look I decided it was a bit iffy and then just used my small spatula to make ridges, so a bit more purposeful but still a fairly interesting look. And you may think this is a cop out, but this final layer is the 3rd, the first is a crumb coat, the second is a proper smooth coat, which I’d have left if I were going to decorate with something as a boarder top and bottom. It almost seems a shame to then mess up a perfectly good “final” coat under normal circumstances to achieve this.
Are you exhausted reading all about the trials and tribulations of making and decorating this cake?
As for the cake itself. It’s a recipe I’ve used before, but not posted. I made this recipe at Christmas for the cake I served on Christmas day for family that don’t like traditional Christmas cake. The recipe I found on Raspberri Cupcake’s blog, which originated from David Lebovitz’s blog. I used the correct measurement of salt.
From experience I’ve found 9” cakes not all that high, and looking at Steph’s cake, using 8” pans I guessed I’d need more cake batter to get a reasonable height with the cake I was making.
I took the recipe and multiplied the ingredients by 1.5. This would have been enough batter for 3, 9” cakes. But I used half of the “third” layer in the cakes, and then used the other half to make some cupcakes.
While in Melbourne we went to the Chadstone Mall. Every single homeware store I bought from. They all stocked a wide variety of cake decorating equipment. Unlike what I’ve found in NZ where you have to buy from a specialist decorating shop. In one shop I picked up a set of cutters, both alphabet and numbers. I cut out the Happy Birthday letters and then used petal dust and brushed it onto the letters which I’d had drying out overnight.