On to the plate

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

So much more than cake


I’m beginning to write this before I’ve finished decorating the cake, but the full rose will take an hour to dry properly so that gives me a chance to edit photos and start to write.


Love how the ladybugs knew where the roses were Winking smile

Cameron’s cake was a Chocolate Mud Cake, which got me to thinking about a White Chocolate Mud Cake. I love me a lot some white chocolate.

I found a recipe that had heaps of great reviews and like the Chocolate Mud Cake, the flavours mature and the cake is best eaten 3 days later (today!).

I made the cakes on Thursday evening, a 4” and 6” round cake. I need a break from oversized cakes for a while, and there’s just the 3 of us at home. I’m sure we can manage two smaller cakes. It’s sort of my birthday project, after all, everything about this cake is what I want to do, something I want to try. And if I stuff it up, well it’s OK. It’s only for me. Even if it looked ugly and was ruined, we’d still be able to eat it. Just with our eyes tightly closed.

I made White Chocolate Ganache on Thursday evening, I was a 100gm shy of what I needed so in went the last of my Lindt White Chocolate balls.

I had to say that Whittaker’s Chocolate is just not cutting it for Ganache. It’s great for baking with, but not for Ganache. I wonder where other people buy their chocolate from. I’ve just ordered some Callebaut White chocolate from Australia, and Natalie is hopefully going to have time to drop into Bake Boss and buy me some white chocolate buttons from there. That will give me a chance to try a few different brands.

Two different ganache techniques

I don’t have a perspex cake board for the round 4” cake so I had to cut out a circle from a Wilton cardboard cake board. Needless to say it wasn’t perfectly symmetrical which is why when it came to getting the top perfectly flat I went for the upside down method. The 6” cake I added quite a bit of white chocolate ganace to the top then put the top perspex board on and then levelled it. But it still wasn’t quite right. I needed more ganance in the middle because I had a few pockets where the ganance didn’t quite reach the top.

Smoothing the top

I wanted the ganache a little runnier to make it easier to fill in the small gaps. Basically the fat separated from the chocolate making it really greasy. But we got there in the end. I also had to spend quite a bit of time smoothing the smaller cake. It was a bit untidy given the cardboard circle wasn’t quite as round a it needed to be.

I took the cakes out on Saturday morning so that I could cover them in fondant that afternoon.

Getting sharp edges on the teeny cake

It is significantly easier to cover a tiny cake (and a round one) in fondant. I turned the cake upside down (I know, you can clearly see that) and then used the fondant smoother to gently coax the fondant down to the board to make a nice edge. Well there was one little bit that I didn’t get quite right. On the whole I was happy with the technique and how it turned out.

Then it was time to move onto the 6” cake. We had taken a trip out to Westmoreland to pick up an order I’d placed with Cake and Sugar Art and I picked up some pink Bakels fondant. I really had no idea how I wanted to decorate the cakes. I knew I’d end up using some of the left over grey fondant and pink goes with grey. Anyway, that pink. Wow. It is bright. I had to add 2/3 white fondant to it just to tone it down somewhat. I also bought a quilting patchwork cutter while out at Westmoreland. Then I used the black balls I bought to add to Cameron’s top tier (which I didn’t in the end) to stick around the cake. Despite it being only a 6” cake, I think I’ve got move than 210 little balls.

Pretty in pink

You can see how thick the ganache is on the cake. I think the 4” is about the same. The cake had shrunk a bit during cooling and I only had the 4” cake tin to use as my guide for cutting out the board. I used every last little drop of ganache that I had on these cakes. None was spare.

One of the things I wondered about using on Cameron’s cake was Bubble Tea Straws. I’d heard they were really good and better than wooden dowels. I chickened out though. I was sceptical that the straws would manage to penetrate through the thick gananche. I’m not sure if these cakes have a thinner layer or not, but the bubble tea straws worked fine.

Bubble Tea Straws

It’s funny how the middles have filled with the fondant. I can’t pick it out so it’ll stay there, obviously.

I’m having such fun trying new techniques and design ideas. There was a lot of safety in mucking around with my cake. I wish I could be relaxed like that when it came to making a cake for someone else. I really didn’t fret about anything at all. And so far everything has come together as planned.

I went to bed last night still not knowing how I would decorate the grey cake. I had started to make a gumpaste rose last night but it didn’t quite work. Well it worked but the gumpaste wasn’t elastic enough and I couldn’t get the frill I was trying for with the ball tool.

I made the gumpaste Friday evening and while it all seemed to come together as per the recipe, it just doesn’t have the elasticity. I’m not sure what I did wrong yet. Anyway I decided I would add some commercial gumpaste to what I’d made. I ended up with a 2:1 ratio of Satin Ice gumpaste to my homemade paste.  And it has worked better, but still not as frilly as the Craftsy “The Ultimate Sugar Rose” online video I purchased. No, I’m not gifted, I don’t know enough about roses to be able to make a gumpaste rose without a LOT of guidance.

Different looks

Despite the top cake being only 4” I’ve decided to give it a couple of different looks. I have been eager to get back and try the brush embroidery technique now that I have the correct brush set but I’ve been too busy with holidays and other cakes. I had some stiff consistency royal icing in the freezer so I took a spoonful of it and then used my rose cutter to imprint the shape on the fondant. I’m hopeless at freeform. I also started out with two roses, the one here is called a mid size rose. I haven’t watched the end of the video yet to know if I was meant to do something more with the calyx. I just cut it and shoved it on the rose.

Ok, so now I’ve finished the rose, watched the part in the video about making the calyx, which is a lot more work than I would have thought and I’ve waited and waited for the rose to be dry enough to put on the cake. It wasn’t quite ready but I was too impatient to wait any longer. So here goes, and I might have a few photos to share because I feel like showing off something new that kinda worked out reasonably well for a first effort.

Finished cake

Here’s a photo of the back of the cake where you can see the rear of the roses. I really never took that much notice of the calyx and the ovary. I didn’t even know a rose had an ovary. It’s been quite a learning experience. The calyx on the single bud has an ovary but it wasn’t made per the video lesson. I really had no clue at the time. The calyx on the full rose has a white and green side and the feathering. I don’t have a leaf cutter and veiner yet. They are ordered and somewhere between America and here but I’m not holding my breath at seeing them before we head to Nelson this coming Saturday.

Rear view

Initially I thought I would have nothing on the top when showing the side I piped the brush embroidery, but I think it’s ok with everything going on.

Flowers everywhere

It’ll be fun cutting into the cake for dessert tonight. I wonder how many of those black balls will go skittering across the bench.

And now you get to see all those little imperfections with this close up. It really shows up things that I didn’t see until I looked at the photo.

Brush embroidery

Working with a small brush to drag the royal icing on the side of a cake is somewhat awkward. And I still managed to smoosh one of those dots. I don’t even know how or when that happened. Just goes to show how delicate everything is. It was likely to have been the waxed paper as I dragged the cake to the edge of the board before I placed it on the cake.

All in all I’m pretty pleased how this turned out. Given I really had no idea what I wanted to do with the cake yesterday morning, it all came together. I think I’ll call this cake my birthday cake. Might has well, even if it’s a little over a week early.

My Cake

Oops, in all my excitement I forgot the link to the recipe!

White Chocolate Mud Cake by Exclusively Food. My cake looks a bit fussy by comparison. I love the simplicity of the photo on the blog post. I don’t think my cake is going to look quite as light as theirs. Even when I trimmed the top I could see what appeared to be smears of white chocolate that hadn’t quite melted, which was baffling given the chocolate was melted before combining with the dry ingredients, and then of course baked. I may or may not take a photo Smile



I expected the 4” cake to go 4 ways. My MIL just wanted a small slice and Mr Fussy didn’t want any. I cut the cake in half and then a half into thirds. My cake didn’t cook nicely like the original recipe. The flower nail to make a heat core didn’t really help much, but at least it wasn’t stodgy in the middle.

White chocolate lovers dream

Look at how much ganache there is! Oh my. I was so excited. I love, love, love white chocolate. My MIL seemed to struggle with her slice but I was done and dusted and eyeing up a second slice. I didn’t.

The other slice is wrapped up for my BIL and the other half of the cake cut into quarters.  A slice going with Mr Fussy and the other 3 for dessert tomorrow. The 6” cake is packed up for Mr Fussy to take to his work. I reckon he’ll get the 14 slices he needs from it. A pity I’m not working from the office tomorrow or I’d have taken it with me.

A slice of heaven

There’s no disguising the white chocolate flavour. It’s not in the cake you can taste it but in the generous coverage of the ganache. A bit of a pity the cake shrunk and a shame it hasn’t cooked as well as the original recipe. I don’t seem to be able to get a mud cake to cook consistently through. For all that the toothpick came out clean, the cake sprung back, and it shrunk from the side of the tin. All indicators of being cooked.

I’m looking forward to another (smaller) slice tomorrow. It’s probably a good thing it’s going to Mr Fussy’s work. It would be lethal to have sitting around at home.


16 thoughts on “So much more than cake

  1. Wow! Fantastic work on the rose!

    • Thanks 🙂 I feel like I’ve only half done it. There should be petal dust and a waxy look (from steaming) and who knows what else (I’ve not reached the end of the Craftsy video series by Nicholas Lodge). But I didn’t have time for all that, plus I’m itching to taste the cake!

      • You’ll get there, but even if you don’t, you did an awesome job and the roses looks great, authentic and very, very cute!

      • Thanks. Yep, it’s my intention to do a rose from start to finish. I just need to work all the way through the video and wait for my new bits and bobs to arrive and I’ll be on my way 🙂

  2. Such a lovely cake – I love, love, love the rose on the board – it looks like a Cecil Brunner! Superb work, the colours look great together. You have a real talent for moulding – enjoy it!

    Thanks for sharing – hope it tastes as good as it looks

    • Thanks Alison 🙂 I’m looking forward to being able to do more sugar flowers. It’s another expensive hobby to get started with. The nice lady at Westmelton said she still had her original cutters from 30 years ago so I guess once you’ve got your kit sorted it should last the distance. I’ve updated the blog post with a couple of photos of the cut cake. I very much enjoyed it, but it was mostly ganache and very little cake. Just the way I like it!

  3. I think you’re too hard on yourself, I can’t see half the imperfections on any of your work that you talk about. This cake and the 21st cake you made are just spectacular. Your rose looks real (in the photo anyway). That is a lot of ganache. When I make ganache I use cadbury chocolate, usually just the baking kind they make, but sometimes the eating kind and I have had no trouble with it.

    • Hi there. Yes, much more ganache than should be on the cake. Unfortunately I didn’t have a cake board the right size and had to cut around the cake tin which has a bit of a lip. The cake also shrunk which didn’t help either. I used Whittaker’s white chocolate because it has a higher percentage of cocoa solids (28%) than Cadbury Dream Chocolate. Plus I like to eat Whittaker’s chocolate. I’m not sure what it is about Cadbury Dream, I’ve never taken to it. And Whittaker’s is a New Zealand company. Got to do what you can to help local business! Thanks for being supportive 🙂

  4. I wonder if the cutters from 30 years ago were made by my husband. He had an unexpected trip to the USA for his work and we had no spending money for him. Thinking caps on! We noticed that there were no fondant cutters available locally so he made rose leaf cutters by hand, snipping each wee piece individually. He also made plunger daisy cutters and sets of orchid cutters, can’t remember the rest, but there were others. We then did sales trips to sell them to cake shops and did quite well. I laugh when I think back that we sold them in little plastic bags with hand written labels – so unprofessional! I knitted for a shop and churned out jerseys and cardigans as fast as I could. In the 6 weeks before he went we worked so hard and got enough for him to have a nice time – and to buy us some goodies. Anything from overseas was so special then!

    • That’s very innovative! I’ve just bought a set of Magnolia Petals and a Peony Leaf set and they were both made in New Zealand. That made me feel pretty proud that in amongst all the stuff I’ve ended up ordering overseas over the years we (NZ) can still produce some items locally. If your husband still has a knack for making cutters, I can’t find a metal set of Dogwood cutters here or in Australia. The set I need, which I can purchase from Nicholas Lodge’s website, are out of stock. My sister is bringing me back a plastic set of 3, but they’re not quite the size I need. It’s a wonder you don’t have your husband make you some cookie cutters. Ours have been shipped BTW, hopefully here during the week. Looking forward to making more cookies.

  5. Wow that cake is beautiful… already looking so much forward to the next! Don’t leave it too long! 🙂

    • Hi Abbey. If my order arrives from the US this week I plan to take it all to Nelson with us and work on sugar flowers. I’m away for two weekends which makes me anxious about when I’ll next get into the kitchen to bake and/or decorate. You might have to be patient 🙂 (as will I *sigh*)

  6. Ha! He is too busy concentrating on finishing his steam train – hopes to have it up and running and giving rides by the summer.

  7. omg the cake looks yummy i love how thick the ganache is , is the recipe you used anywhere ?

    • Hi Lucy, I really don’t have a good memory of the ganache. But I mention Whitaker’s chocolate which leads me to believe I did a 3:1 ration of chocolate to cream. My ganache is nothing more than the 2 ingredients. Funnily enough I’ve just made more white chocolate ganache today, same deal, 3 parts chocolate (carefully melted in the microwave) to 1 part heated (almost boiling) cream. Looking back at that cake makes me cringe a little. I’ve also been practicing more sugar flowers this weekend. I’m glad to see that I have learnt a few things along the way and I like to think my technique has improved a bit. Good luck!

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