On to the plate

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

Another birthday, but bucking the traditions somewhat


It was my MIL’s birthday on Friday and for birthdays on that side of the family, the tradition is to have KFC and Christmas Pudding. I kid you not!

Mr Fussy and I have run away the last few years for our birthdays, and I can tell you we’ve not missed that birthday meal one little bit. I was a bit shocked that my MIL decided against KFC this year too. But first we’ll start at the beginning which involved Waffles for breakfast using a recipe I’ve previously posted, and Caramel Sauce. I’ve also posted that too. Waffles aren’t necessarily “special” in our house, they don’t require some occasion to be made, but they’re not made every weekend either. Having Caramel Sauce on them for breakfast, is a little decadent and that did make them just a bit special. Just one note on the caramel sauce, I used the full measure of Fleur de sel salt. It really is a bit more salty than I’ve previously had, but I think that’s because the salt doesn’t dissolve and it seems to settle at the bottom of the spoon or jar, so you’re left with the last mouthful giving a full blast of salt.

Waffles with Caramel Sauce

Given that it’s still winter (but it’s on the way out) the berries were Sujon frozen berries. I drained the juice into a pot, added a few teaspoons of sugar and after it came to the boil added a bit of cornflour which I’d mixed together with a spoonful of the boiling juice. I let boil again for a few more minutes. It made a nice little sauce. Two sauces, now that’s getting a bit carried away.

I wont come as a surprise to you that I was pretty much over eating (and over-eating) at the end of afternoon tea.

During Thursday night I torted and crumb coated the cake. I used the White Almond Sour Cream (WASC) cake with lemon extract. And I used the left over Swiss Meringue Buttercream( SMBC) from Dad’s 70th cake. I realised that SMBC wasn’t quite the same as it had been pre-frozen. It almost looked like it was weeping some liquid. And I realised that despite adding a bit more icing sugar, it would be too soft to take the weight of fondant.

Friday night I made a buttercream out of Butter, Crisco and icing sugar, and I made it quite stiff. Funny thing is, I could take a teaspoon of the frosting and then roll it between my hands and make a sausage from it. And believe you me, I used it like that. With the stiffness of the normal buttercream, and the slippery SMBC, I was having a really hard job getting a good coverage. The buttercream kept pulling away from the cake as I was smoothing it. I kept at it and in the end just had to give up. I used paper towels to try and even things out and smooth as much as I could. But it wasn’t a flash job and I expected the fondant to show up every one of those uneven surfaces. I also expected the fondant to bulge, that the SMBC would burst through the buttercream and have its wicked way causing all my fears to be realised. But that actually didn’t happen.  There’s a lesson to be learnt here. The SMBC I made is perfect for use the day it’s made, but not suitable for freezing and re-using.

Covering the birthday cake

You can see how the teal SMBC has come through the outer layer frosting. I did end up with a few air pockets around the side (and one I missed from the top) but managed to press them out. The scissors were made with a silicone mould and took a really long time to get the gumpaste/fondant to fit and sit right given I had to basically cut out the finger holes before putting the mould into the fridge. I think each one (there’s only 5) took around 10 minutes each. I had coloured the gumpaste/fondant lilac. I had read purple fades and sure enough, these are now grey, a really non-descript colour anyway.

I managed to find a way to make some gumpaste Tulip flowers in secret. Not easy when your MIL lives with you and is always around when you’re home.  Unfortunately you can’t see the really nice dusting of white sparkle and the yellow and green powder around the base of each flower and up the centre of each petal (the yellow).

TulipsBut I got there, having to hide them away in a wardrobe out of sight. In fact, when I was making the Mexican paste patchwork scissors I had Mr Fussy on guard duty to tell me when my MIL was returning from church and then I hurriedly moved the lot into our bedroom and then had to wait until the coast was clear again to finish them off. It was tiring being all covert.

Patchwork scissor cutter

I made the cookies last weekend and put them into the freezer. I then used a silver dusting powder with vodka to paint the blades. I made sure the dust was non-toxic and food safe. But I forgot to check the petal dusts I used for the coloured handles. The magenta ones are NOT suitable for eating. The petal dusts were awful to use with Vodka. The dust clumped and wouldn’t brush on easily. The magenta on the other hand was really nice to use. I guess what makes it easy to apply is what makes it unsuitable for eating. I iced the cookies Friday night too (make caramel, ice and cover the cake, make waffle batter and ice and decorate the cookies – it was midnight before I got to bed). I thought it would be nice to pipe the royal icing to mimic the scalloped edge of the cookie. Yes it would be nice, if I could do it. I was busy getting my phone to take a photo of how badly I was doing when I dropped the phone onto the cookie ruining the royal icing. See that yellow cookies?  That’s fondant. I scraped the royal icing off (the next morning when I had a brainwave of how I might be able to recover my faux pa) and then cut out fondant using the same shaped cutter, just one size smaller. Then I added the white dots in the ugly scallops I’d piped. The cookie bottom left, well the disposable bag actually slipped right off the coupler. I decided that was the last sign I needed to pack up and call it a night. Not my best work. But I learnt some valuable lessons, and no one pointed and laughed – thankfully Smile

I woke on Saturday far too soon for someone who didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. I slipped out of bed to the kitchen to see how bad the cake looked, fully expecting the fondant to have bulged due to the soft SMBC. But it hadn’t. Win!

After everyone had left me to it in the kitchen I put in the plastic dowel so that I could then feed the wires from the Tulips into the cake.

Attaching the flower arrangement

This is called a floating arrangement. The stems are fake. They are a plastic tubing. I melted a Wilton Candy Melt to put over the cut end to make it less obvious what it was. I should have used royal icing or softened fondant but that was too much trouble for the time I had available. The ribbon is covering up the join from where the flowers and leaves are then attached to the fake stems.

We skipped lunch, really who needed it knowing afternoon tea was coming. I spent a little bit of time knocking up the Rosemary Flatbread and then it was time to lay it all out for afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea

After the cake was cut Mr Fussy was asking why I wasn’t taking a photo. See, everyone now knows that all food must be photographed. I was reluctant, it gets a little embarrassing, but I took his question as permission. So here’s the cake, and the only reason I’m really showing the photo is to show how much the buttercream and fondant are a perfect match. See I did something right, and I wasn’t even trying Open-mouthed smile

A slice of birthday cake

I was a bit disappointed in the flavour of the cake. I had flavoured it with lemon extract. I knew it didn’t have that flavour when I torted the cake and took a nibble of the discarded top. I flavoured the buttercream and I could taste that. Without the buttercream it would have been a pretty bland cake. So I’m not sure I’ll make this my vanilla cake of choice. Back to the drawing board.

And as if we’d not had enough sweetness in the day, dessert for dinner was not Christmas Pudding (which we do have in our pantry – bought after Christmas when they’re on special, with the sole purpose of having for birthdays), but a variation, a fruit mince tart. My MIL requested Silverside for dinner since it’s something my BIL doesn’t often get, and she knew he’d enjoy it. Anyway the point of mentioning this is the crockpot was in use with the piece of silverside, so I was without the usual warming method for a Christmas pudding, hence the fruit mince tart.

This side of the family don’t have any warm pudding without custard. Oh my, as if my belly wasn’t already full, custard as well? No thank you! I put a spoonful of whipped cream on mine. Yeah I know, hardly doing without the extra empty calories Winking smile

Fruit Mince Tart

I’ve now used the last portion of the pastry I made for the Lemon Meringue Tart. I should have made fruit mince tart in a smaller flan dish to give a little more thickness to the pastry since I emptied 3 pottles of Tasti Fruit Mince into this shell. And as you’d expect, once I cut into the tart the filling oozed out.

Boy, what a huge day eating non-stop. Well it felt like non-stop. There’s been left over tart for pudding tonight. At first I vowed not to have any, then as I was rejuvenating the custard I decided I’d finish off the last of the prunes and have custard with it, which progressed to me nibbling at the pastry since the tart was directly in front of me. I have no restraint when it comes to desserts. None at all.


2 thoughts on “Another birthday, but bucking the traditions somewhat

  1. I can’t believe how busy you have been! What a sweet DIL you are to make a lovely afternoon tea and gorgeous cake for your MIL. How special she must have felt. All living together must have it’s moments but you obviously have got it sorted out. Good on you!

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