On to the plate

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


Gingerbread Cookies with faces

FacesI’m really enjoying decorating cookies. Last Christmas was the first time I really got involved in cookies. While I’ve not spent a lot of time over the last 12 months decorating cookies, it’s something that I often want to get back to doing.

This weekend I didn’t have any plans for cakes while meant I was free to tinker about.

Last weekend I stumbled across SweetSugarBelle’s recipe for her favourite Gingerbread. It had been my plan to bake these cookies until I spotted her recipe for Orange Gingerbread. Yum!

I made the cookie dough Thursday evening. It was very soft, just like the recipe said. I wish I knew what the dough was meant to look like. I worried mine was too soft but how would I know? I had nothing to compare to.

What I did like about the dough being this soft was being able to more or less spread it out onto waxed paper. This would make it significantly easier for me to roll, after all the job was mostly done.1311_Gingerbread cookie dough-2-2

Even though the dough had been in the fridge for 24 hours, it was still soft. It had firmed but by the time I had rolled and then cut shapes (3 trays) the dough has softened so much that it was just about impossible to work with. I couldn’t for the life of me get the cut shape pulled away from the surrounding dough. I was almost beside myself with frustration. I got to the point I figured I’d have to toss the dough back into the mixer and add more flour to it.

I had managed to get one tray of cut shapes and the extra dough had been re-rolled. I grabbed my Angel cutter (thanks Mum!) and floured the cutter. I’d not done that with the 3 trays already cut out and put back into the fridge to firm up. What I noticed was how much easier the Angels came away from the surrounding dough. It was enough to give me hope that all was not lost. I got to re-cutting the shapes I’d made with the floured cutter and was now putting the dough into the freezer.

I’m not going to lie, it was still a very fiddly and delicate process, but it was working give or take. I was able to pull away the surrounding dough easier and ease the shapes off the waxed paper (I swapped to baking paper, a safe guard in case I couldn’t get the cookies off, I could at least just shove the whole lot, as is, into the oven). The cookies baked for 7 minutes before I turned the tray away and then cooked a further 2 minutes.

This was the first time I cut dough without a cutter. I know it’s not an alarming event, but it was something I’d not done before. Add to that I modified a cookie shape, it was a night for all out kitchen adventure.

I used my ornament cutter but then used a small egg shape cutter to lop off the pointed end of the ornament to make a nice rounded oval shape.

I had seen these cookies on SweetSugarBelle’s blog and I was going to try my hand at them.

It wouldn’t have hurt me to re-look at the faces again. I’m way off on the eyelashes. And talking of eyelashes. I made an absolute mess of the one girl (far left). I covered it up by applying more of the same flesh coloured royal icing over top, but as you can see, it’s still hideous. And none of the eyelashes are right. Oh well. There’ll be another time I’m sure, and I’ll learn from this experience 🙂Boys and Girls

The egg cutter was used for the boys faces. Because I’m really bad at piping lines I used another round cookie cutter and my PME scribe tool to mark the shape so that I could use it as a guide when I piped the icing. I did this one the girls faces also. It worked well.

The royal icing I made last weekend I didn’t like. This weekend I used the recipe off SSB’s website, but I replaced the Meringue powder with the egg albumen. I halved the recipe too. Because the recipe is in cups, I had to weigh out ¾ of a cup of egg albumen to work out what half of that would be in grams. So to save you the worry, it’s 33gm for a ½ recipe, or 66gm for the full.

So far I’m liking the royal icing. I’m finding it to be the best to move and coax into a more smooth curve or line or whatever the shape it is I’m trying to follow. What I did find is that it had softened overnight. When I made it, it was so stiff that even as I was shaking the whisk attachment it wasn’t budging the peaks of the meringue. The recipe said to whisk for 7-10 minutes but I had reached the right point (no pun intended) at 5 ½ minutes. Next time I’ll whisk longer so that the next morning (this assumes I’m not using it immediately) it’s still stiff enough that it’s “medium consistency”. Before going to bed (and it was very late thanks to the drama with the cookie dough) I had added orange juice (I used the juice from the orange that I used the zest for the cookie dough) to thin the RI out a bit. I felt it was still stiffer than what I really needed, but given it relaxed overnight it was perfect for 20 count flood consistency. The only down side was I didn’t have any medium consistency RI. I’ve had to add more icing sugar to the colours I need as medium consistency.

Last weeks batch of RI, also made with egg albumen, had a slightly weird taste. Adding the orange juice to thin this batch out overcame that, and adding more icing sugar also does the same trick, it masks that weird taste. So with a few tweaks to how long I whisk it, I think I’m about as close to getting the best RI I’ve used to date. And I’m very happy to have a recipe that works with egg albumen rather than meringue powder.

Back to the cookie dough. It really spreads. I mean look at these photos. What a shame. I all but lost every part of definition on the bear. This is a cookie cutter Yvonne bought back from Holland, and my first time using it.1311_Speading out-2-2

The 3.5” circles (to use to make snow globes like these from SweetAmbs) ended up larger than the next size cutter up. The first snow globe shapes I made were the ones that flatly refused to seprate from the waxed paper, in the end I had to place the shapes onto the Silpat upside down and then peel the waxed paper off the shapes. You can see that they’re pretty rough, no nice smooth surface from being rolled over. It wasn’t really a big deal given they’d be covered in RI. But you can see the difference between those early shapes, then those that I re-cut with a floured cutter.1311_Expansion-2-2

When I went to bed my mind wouldn’t stop working (plus I was feeling really sick) I wasn’t happy with the amount of spread and the loss of definition. I also wasn’t totally sure the cookies were cooked as much as the smaller shapes. I decided I would put them back into the oven in the morning which would also have the edges soften then trim them up. And it worked pretty well actually. I don’t have a photo of them because they’re in a state of half decoration. I had one last tray of cookies in the freezer. You know even having been in the freezer all night, they were still not frozen.

I have to say the cookies taste so nice baked. The dough unbaked had a strong orange taste, the orange essence (it has orange oil in it) was almost overpowering. But baked these cookies are so close to Griffins Gingernuts that if I were blindfolded I’d not have been able to tell the difference other than the consistency of the cookie. These aren’t quite so tough to bite into. They certainly have a crunch, but not that dense worry that you might actually break a tooth before you get the upper hand of a Griffins Gingernut. Or am I the only one that has those thoughts eating a Gingernut?

I had no guide or idea how I was going to decorate the “boys”. All I had to go on was the etched circle that I’d made to ensure I didn’t botch the icing. The easiest thing for me to do was to do what you see. Make winter hats.
Girls and Boys

Icing is a very slow process. When you’re not doing wet on wet you have to wait a sensible amount of time to let the colour dry before you add another colour next to it. This way there’s no running into the colour and can achieve a more 3D/texture.

Decorating cookies isn’t really for those who don’t have patience, and an ability to leave enough alone. It drove me nuts. I just wanted to get on with it. Even when I thought I’d waited long enough, it still wasn’t long enough. The little white nonpareils still adhered to the blue “hats” even though they showed no sign of being wet. Using a soft brush to sweep the white should have knocked them off, but they seemed to be stuck by some invisible glue.

Despite some ooops moments they’re not too bad, and they were kinda fun to decorate.

I’m looking forward to finishing the snow globes tomorrow. I’m itching to them finished but I have to wait for the RI gingerbread men to completely dry out. As you can imagine, I’ve tested “doneness” several times during the course of the day and I’ve managed to crack one (I made spares) in testing, so I’ve resigned myself to this being tomorrow’s activity.

As for the Orange Gingerbread recipe, I made some changes:

  • Swapped molasses for golden syrup
  • Swapped brown sugar for Muscovado sugar
  • Used 1/8 teaspoon of ground white pepper (noticeable in raw dough, not baked)
  • I only have normal Crisco (who knew there were differences?) so added 1 teaspoon of Lorann Butter emulsion

I’m going to tinker with the recipe. I love the flavour, but I’ll cry if I have to work with that consistency again, and I’m not fond of the amount of spread. I’ll go to the Lila Lola recipe I’ve used and combine the spices, swap the all sugar for the sugars and golden syrup and add more flour. I’m ditching the baking soda in place of the baking powder in Lila Lola’s Vanilla Variation Cookie recipe.

Watch this space!

And in case you’ve been sceptical about colouring RI with red and black and never seeming to reach the right depth, you’ve probably heard that the colours intensive over time (usually a couple of hours minimum), well here’s the black. I used Sugarflair Liquorice (love Sugarflair, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before) which made this lovely dove grey, and then this is the colour after it has sat the rest of the day. It’s a bit hard to see clearly through the Gladwrap so you’ll have to take my word for it. It’s black.1311_The passage of time-2-2

Ooh, here’s a couple of “bonus” photos. Here’s the RI corner of the kitchen bench. So many disposable bags. I think 7, plus there’s a couple of Gladwrapped “packages” of RI in the tea towel. Check out how many face clothes I’m using to help keep the RI from drying out. Go me!Kitchen mess

And just when you think you’ve finally reached the end, here’s Santa Mark II. I’m undecided about his legs. His body isn’t attached to the legs so I’ve got time to change them for shorter thicker legs. I just don’t know if I will. I find the shoes really difficult. I don’t know if I want to subject myself to a third pair. I’ll leave making a decision so long that I’ll just attach his body. What a cop out 😉

Santa Mark II



Christmas is coming!

Ok, the Christmas tree is up. Yes, I know, it’s still November. Mr Fussy makes it his mission to wear me down until I am exhausted and the Christmas tree goes up Show weekend. It’s been up for just over a week. It doesn’t make me feel at all like Christmas is coming.

Despite all that, this week I tackled a few Christmas projects. They were more to see how much I still need to refine, and allow me time to do just that. Plus I’m putting off making the Poinsettia gumpaste flower which I have planned for my Christmas cake. I did however get the red gumpaste made. And then used some of it to try my first “human” figurine.

I give you a very ample bossomed barrel chested  Santa. Needless to say he needs some a lot of refinement.

SantaAnd he has a friend. I made Mr Penguin first, he’s a portly little fella. He’s 7cm tall and possibly almost as round. I’d say he’s had a few too many Christmas Mince Pies.

Bluebird's the wordThere’s shots of every angle. And while it took me a while to figure out what didn’t quite make sense, you no doubt have figured it out quicker. His belt is a little insignificant for his waist and well, his waist isn’t anywhere near where his belt is. Yep, this is one of many things I’ll do better next time.

Fondant friends Santa and friendToo many piesFriday night I baked up the last of the VanillaVariation Cookies. I’ve had the dough in the freezer since August I think. I made the dough for the cookies for Cel’s maternity luncheon.

After they baked I rolled some fondant (and put through the pasta attachment) and then cut them out in the same shape as the cookies. You can see the dough really doesn’t spread. Those with fondant I piped last night. I didn’t really know what design to use, but they turned out mostly ok given my limited abilities and lack of imagination 🙂

Powder blueToday I got the airbrush out. My first foray into airbrushing. I’ve watched a few Craftsy lessons, enough to give me a head start. It’s quite tricky to know where you’re pointing given that distance to the object changes how much colour is being sprayed and just where.

These cookies are a mix of airbrush and royal icing, and for some I managed to mix the two mediums. I’d love to add more colours. That would require me spending more time protecting parts of the stencils. I just lacked patience for that today.

Stencils1Royal Icing gives a nice sort of velvet type look to the pattern. Getting the icing applied equally was a bit tricky. As I’d swipe the little flat plastic spatula type thing it would sometimes remove just a bit too much royal icing. I really didn’t think that would happen. I had some mishaps. The managed to get a little royal icing on and then nudged the stencil. Lining it back up caused some smudging. And then there was some bleeding (the red ornament). As for airbrushing, I got a bit too carried away on the bucket of the Christmas Tree and applied way too much. I tried to tidy it up by putting royal icing on it to help. And it did, even though it still looks a bit messy.

Stencils2Then I thought I would try and make the edges of the flooded cookies a bit tidier. My ability to pipe a nice fluid circle leaves a lot to be desired. However I’m such a novice trying to pipe boarders. It is what it is, and it could be worse. Given how long it’s been since I last made an effort to pipe boarders with royal icing, I’m going to give myself a 6/10 for improvement 😉

Mr Fussy has a lot of things to eat this week. There’s still Christmas Mince Pies, the Butterscotch cookies, now these cookies and the raspberry cupcakes.


1 Comment

Secret Sauce

I made another Chelsea Winter recipe this weekend. Well her Crispy Roast Potatos tonight, but other than a photo on my phone there’s nothing to show for it but a very satisfying meal.

Eat up

Prepare for more photos than you thought possible for the humble hamburger.

The Secret Sauce is part of the Cheeseburger recipe on Chelsea’s website.

The sauce has, wait for it, Gherkin in it. Now I’m with Mr Fussy on turning my nose up at this, but hand in hand we went to the Mediterranean Food Warehouse and purchased something I never thought we’d be paying for. On the very very odd occasion I’ve had a McDonald’s Cheeseburger, I’ve always pulled the gherkin out. Mr Fussy has never had gherkin, and his interest in having gherkin is less than zero. So it was quite the vision seeing us buying a jar (a rather large jar) of gherkins.

Special SauceWhile we were out we popped into St Martin’s New World and I bought some cheddar cheese from their speciality cheese section. It tasted a bit sharp before it was melted, but more sharp when melted. Is that possible?

I made the special sauce before the hamburgers. I took a very tentative spoonful of the sauce and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. There was a small glimmer of hope Mr Fussy would not only try, but also like. Though he wasn’t at all interested in having a sample before his hamburger was made.

IngredientsSo here we are, the full hamburger. I didn’t use any red onion, but we did have a slice of bacon. The burgers cooked up really nicely and not only that, they didn’t ooze fat and other liquid, something that always has happened with my homemade burgers. I had nothing left on my plate but two crumbs. When I held my plate up to prove it, I was left with one crumb. Oops.

Patties Sizzling burgers Cheddar cheese With special sauce


The Movember Cake

A week has passed since I finished decorating the cake. Perhaps enough time to have forgotten how awfully the fondant was applied. You guessed it, it took me two attempts. Thankfully using Crisco on the ganache makes pulling the fondant off far less nerve wracking than putting it on. I had almost all of it completely smoothed over the cake when a small tear appeared. I couldn’t see a way to disguise it which lead me to pulling the whole lot off.

I suppose I should explain the cake was 5″ high, 6″ wide. That is pretty close to a Double Barrel cake, so I was somewhat nervous before I even go started. And as it turns out, had good reason to be.

I was happy with the shade of “gold” I had for the fondant, but it was 30degrees and probably not the best of conditions to be working with fondant (I think it dried out too fast) or modelling chocolate. I really do know how to challenge myself 🙂

Alright, here’s a photo, and a good close up so that you can see how painful it was for me.

Best Mo

elephants were here

I had a hard time with the moustaches. Not only was the modelling chocolate far too pliable, I couldn’t get mirror images of the moustaches. I tried using the dresden tool to mark the outline of the moustache and used this as a guide to cut with the craft knife. It worked best, but took me too many attempts where I screwed up my face before I had this wee brain wave.  I’ll know better for next time.

If we go way back, the ganache gave me no end of grief either. I used some I had previously made and had frozen (which I think had been another difficult batch). Adding this now room temperature ganache to the remainder I had from the previous week resulted in a curdled ganache. I fixed it using the same method I have previously written about. But on the Saturday morning when I was setting out to ganache the cake, I had to warm it a little to make it pliable, and that was enough to make it begin to curdle again. For all that, it applied just fine, and I’d say this was my easiest and quickest application, and I had a really nice smooth top using the upside down method. I didn’t take any photos because the sides were a little grainy looking, but I knew it wouldn’t be at all noticeable under the fondant. It was smooth, just not baby bottom smooth.

So the second attempt to cover the cake in fondant wasn’t perfect either. I ended up with a thin section which has started to pleat as I was smoothing the sides down during the application.

I couldn’t really let it go like that. I needed to do something to lessen the wincing I was doing. Mr Fussy was called upon for some ideas but had none. I’m not surprised 🙂 I didn’t want to add another colour, I loved the colour. So as you can see I made two sorts of collars. And I managed to get the fondant rolled through the pasta attachment on the KitchenAid in one piece. Hoorah!

The bottom collar was using a PME broderie anglaise cutter. My first time using it and it pressed nicely. I then rolled the fondant collar up and then unrolled it against the cake, having first brushed a little water to ensure it adhered. The top thinner collar was made using a friller cutter with a scollop and then once I had the top edge on I used one of my gumpaste tools to make the little fan-type impression.

Gumpaste tool impression

It still didn’t disguise all that awful elephant like texture, nor did adding in the modelling chocolate pieces. I just had to close my eyes and accept it was what it was.

Anyway, the cake and cupcakes went to work with Mr Fussy. He delivered them to Grant who was unaware that I was making a cake for him. Grant organises the Movember campaign for their work. He gratefully accepted the goodies and got busy with a bit of marketing and sold the cake slices and most of the cupcakes collecting some money for their Movember team.

MarketingI had filled the layers with Italian Meringue Buttercream I’d made some weeks ago and had frozen. It re-whipped up fine and smoothed nicely between the layers. I was itching to know when the cake was cut, whether it would be nice and dry or whether it would look a bit damp. After all, the cupcakes, which were thicker than each individual layer of cake, were baked perfectly. I was eagerly waiting for the verdict. But alas the cake looked damp. I can only put it down to the buttercream separating/weeping. I’ve been told the cupcakes were “delicious”, but no one that had a slice of cake made a comment to Mr Fussy. Mr Fussy works in a different section to Grant, and the “sale” of cake/cupcakes was made to Grant’s team first. Mr Fussy’s team leader sniffed out the baking and bought a cupcake and passed on his comment.


Where does that leave me? I’m happy with the cake. It really has the most pleasant vanilla flavour. I’ve made it agains this weekend and used Raspberry Emulsion with it. I’ve got the 4 individual 6″ cake layers double wrapped in Gladwrap and in the freezer.

Again I made cupcakes with the other third of the cake batter. I got 15 cupcakes, for some reason the batter this weekend yeilded more than last weekend. Mr Fussy says it’s the air temperature. The only changes this week were the use of the emulsion, Mainland unsalted butter instead of my favoured Lewis Road Creamery butter, and I didn’t quite have 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk, probably about 20ml short, which I added cream to make up the balance. But I wouldn’t have thought those very minor changes would have made the difference.

2013-11-23 16.30.46

I’m back to the drawing board with the Ganache. This weekend I’ve made another. I’m using a different method, a method that required me to fish out the candy thermometer. I’ve used Whittaker’s 50% chocolate and Meadowfresh cream. It wasn’t looking good. Well it was looking glorious when I made it and put it into the container. But this morning the ganache was really soft. I doubt it hard hardened at all. I popped it into the fridge for most of the day. I pulled it out as I was preparing dinner. It certainly had gone solid. And I’ve just checked, it’s room temperature now and it would need a little warming to make it spreadable. I was a bit disheartened this morning when I checked it, but perhaps it will be right now that it’s been in the fridge to harden. I’m crossing my fingers!

2013-11-23 09.01.29As for the Raspberry Emulsion, it’s from Lorann, it has a sort of honey/raspberry flavour. When I sniffed the bottle it smelt like it had almond in it. But I can’t detect that at all. While there’s “something” in the flavour of the cupcake, I can’t taste it’s raspberry (Mr Fussy’s favourite berry fruit). Going back to that dreadful batch of ganache, I remelted some of it and used it in the last of my frozen (but now room temperature) Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC). The buttercream re-whipped up nicer than the one used for the Moustache cake. I’m not quite sure why, other than I left it on the bench for several hours rather than having popped it into the fridge to thaw out overnight before then leaving on the bench.

2013-11-23 09.23.26The chocolate added to the IMBC was a little bit warm and as it whipped it had a few grainy bits which played havoc with the 2D Wilton tip. It clogged it up. I had to scrape the buttercream off and re-pipe it with the 1M Wilton tip. But boy it tasted so good, so so good. Loved it. Mr Fussy said the cupcake in all its splendour did have a raspberry taste. Perhaps it needed that chocolate IMBC to bring out the flavour better.

And the remaining dodgy ganache was used tonight to make a chocolate sauce. In the sauce you can’t tell there was anything wrong with it. Waste not, want not.

Next year, if I’m still playing around with cakes and decorating, my Moustache cake will surely be better. I am almost of the belief that the homemade fondant has a little more elasticity and forgiveness since it applied much easier on the Canterbury Show Day cakes.

Grant also had a sausage sizzle during the week. I’m thinking he had quite a good week for fundraising for Movember. I’m glad the cake and cupcakes were able to help in a small way.

Sorry for the mix of photos from various devices/sources.

Leave a comment

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

I’ve had a bag of Butterscotch Morsels hanging around for several months. I bought them from Martha’s Backyard.  I wanted to see what they were all about. I’d read plenty of American blogs that used them in all manner of baked goods.

My plan had been to make this recipe for fudge. But I couldn’t bring myself to open my tin of Evaporated Milk only to use a small bit of it.

Tonight I went in search of other recipes, having discarded the recipes that are printed on the packaging.

This recipe covers things I like (Butterscotch) and Mr Fussy likes (Ginger). Could it really fail?


Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies adapted from Yummly.com.


  • 375gm (3 cups) standard flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt (1/2 if you’re using salted butter)
  • 226gm unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups packed Muscovado sugar (you can use normal brown sugar)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup Golden Syrup
  • 155gm Butterscotch morsels
  • chopped up uncrystallised ginger (optional)


  • Heat the oven to 150 deg Celsius on Fan Force, or 165 deg Celsius on bake.
  • In a medium bowl add all the dry ingredients and run a whisk through to combine.
  • Into a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and Golden Syrup until combined.
  • Add the egg and beat well until the mixture lightens in colour.
  • Turn the mixer onto low and add the dry ingredients spoon by spoon (don’t dump it all in at once) and continue to mix on low until all the dry ingredients have combined.
  • By hand, mix in the butterscotch morsels and cut up ginger if using.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper, or equivalent, and take rounded teaspoons of the dough and drop onto the tray. Do not flatten.
  • Place the tray into the oven for 10 minutes or until the cookies have firmed up around the edge and browned a little.
  • The cookies will be soft and need to sit out on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Cool the baking tray before spooning out the next dough for baking.

Perfect scoopsMy Notes:

  • The cookies will puff up a bit while baking, and almost immediately deflate after you’ve removed them from the oven.
  • The original recipe calls for light brown sugar and molasses. Instead I used Muscovado sugar and Golden Syrup.
  • The original recipe also called for the full bag of morsels, but many of the reviews said the cookies were too sweet.
  • The cookies will crisp up as they cool, but the centres will still be soft and almost unbaked in texture.
  • I accidentally added a full teaspoon of salt when the recipe called for ½. The recipe didn’t specify whether to have salted or unsalted butter. I used unsalted and can’t taste the salt as a stand out flavour.
  • If I hadn’t added the uncrystallised ginger, I think the ginger would be a bit lacking for our tastes. You could bump the measurement up to 2 teaspoons. Many of the reviewers commented the spices were a bit too subtle for their tastes. Obviously it will depend on what you like.
  • These are more-ish. I’ve eaten way too many than I want to admit. You’d be horrified.
  • I got 59 cookies using the small scoop I had (which helps get a nice uniformed cookie). The size baked is around the size of a Super Wine biscuit.
  • The dough is really soft, this is why you don’t need to flatten the balls. The heat as they are baking flattens them out perfectly.
  • And lastly, the pairing of ginger and butterscotch really does work. Who knew.

 Baked cookiesThese cookies were to save me from being bored and restless tonight and turning to a chocolate bar. They did save me. Just a shame I’ve scoffed so many of the cookies. Who can resist a still warm cookie?


4 little experiments

I get a bit of a kick from experimenting in the kitchen. Does that make me sad?

I have too little experience to be so “wild” in the kitchen, but I read a lot and I have problems others have had in the past. Why not capitalise on someone else’s hard work and reap the benefits.

I also like to try my hand at things I’m ill-equipped to do, but I laugh in the face of uncertainty and sensibilities and limitations. And sometimes I really disappoint myself and wonder what the heck I think I’m doing and why do I do it to myself. But I keep coming back for more.

Anyway, these little experiments were fairly harmless.

  • New recipe
  • Tinting fondant
  • Turning yellow into white
  • “Drawing” on fondant with food gel colour

Harmless, but important little experiments, especially that new recipe. I was making my Movember Cake this weekend, and if the recipe failed, well there’d be no cake.

The recipe I found while meandering through the Internet “likeing” pages on Facebook of extremely talented bakers and cake decorators. I came across the blog of Three Little Blackbirds. I’d actually been to this blog a very long time ago. I remember because there was the video on ganaching a cake. It was the first video I’d watched on that technique. I ended up re-watching it during the week and picked up a few tips along the way. As in learning anything new, the first time it’s information overload, but it’s amazing what new things you pick up when re-visiting that once new technique.

Right, the recipe.

New Yellow Cake RecipeIt turned out great. The recipe is for 3 single layers of a 9” cake. The Movember cake was going to be 6” (my favoured size). That took care of two of the layers. I’d also thought it would be nice to make some cupcakes which I planned to then paint moustaches onto. I’ve been keen to try my hand at “painting” onto fondant.

The cakes were baked as single layers, as Erin explains, it’s to lessen the time they’re in the oven, which could dry them out. I’ve got to hand it to Erin. These are really tasty, and the texture is terrific too. Mr Fussy and I shared one, he was cleaning windows at the time but I was hand feeding him. He really enjoyed them. When it came time to fill the Movember cake I asked what flavour I should make the buttercream. He strongly suggested I not flavour it at all, the cake had such a wonderful vanilla flavour he didn’t want it disguised.

Ok, recipe gets the big tick.

The cake was taller than I was anticipating, instead of a 4” high cake I ended up with 5”. I needed more fondant than what I’d anticipated last weekend when I coloured it “gold”.

I’d taken some yellow fondant I had left over from my MIL’s birthday cake. I’d already toned it down adding white to the Bakels yellow, which is a vibrant yellow. I’d read that adding 1 part ivory to 3 parts yellow and a bit of chocolate brown food gel would render gold. And it did.

3 shades of yellowWhile sitting at the laptop trying to recall where I’d read that (I couldn’t remember the proportions) I was looking into the dining room at my magnolia. Looking at the centre and suddenly realising the centre was pretty much the gold I was wanting to re-create, I knew that all I needed to do was add the Autumn Gold Sugarflair colour to it. Ta-da!

In the photos you can see the gold fondant I made last weekend and the yellow that I started out with, and the small sausage shape I had tested the Autumn Gold with, again starting with the yellow. The Autumn Gold gave an even better gold colour than I got with the ivory and brown last weekend.

Love SugarflairAnd we get a second tick.

Finally came the hand painting. Now I say hand painting loosely because this is NOTHING like the skill shown by many others when they delicately paint flowers onto cakes. All I had to do was paint a few moustaches onto a small piece of fondant without needing too much artistic ability (thank goodness).

I used the left over fondant I had from last weekend, this was the marshmallow fondant I made (and have a great respect for, wait till the Movember post). It takes a bit more kneading to get it soft and warmed up but it rolls so nicely and it’s supple.

I’ve never covered cupcakes in fondant like this before. I’ve made little fondant toppers but not to cover as a dome.

But before I get to that I wanted to try something I’d read about. How to turn buttercream from yellow to white. I guess the primary reason people add Crisco to buttercream is to tone down the yellow.

I decided to give the yellow to white a whirl. I bought the Sugarflair (I love that brand!) Violet/Grape food gel and carried out my own experiment so that you can see what we started with and how far we got to achieving white.

Buttercream experimentI used the Lewis Road Creamery butter (which I also love). You can see the colour change just with beating it a few minutes. I’ve got that roll of paper towels there as a reference point. Even if the colours change as the light in the room does (I never used my flash) I thought the colour of the paper towel would be easy to remember.

I then added the icing sugar, which again aided in lightening the buttercream. Then I started to add a little gel colour. Even with what you see on the toothpick, I only dabbed it into the icing a few times. The colour did become less yellow, but it never turned white. I wondered what the tipping point was before the icing became the Violet/Grape colour. I added a little more colour after the final photo. It didn’t turn a purple colour, it has taken on an almost caramel/coffee colour. Weird.

Waiting for white buttercreamAnyway, nothing was riding on this experiment. The cupcakes were going to be completely covered with fondant so nothing to lose.

Lastly came the painting.

Moustaches are hard. Trying to get both sides even is very difficult. Each attempt I showed Mr Fussy and he assured me that when he grew a moustache for Movember, his never grew evenly. If I thought I could fix the balance of the moustaches I’d have done it. I feared that trying to make it better I’d make it worse. Sometimes you need to know when to back away.

I used the thinnest brush I have, a 000, and from what I know this is about as thin as they get. But it’s not thin at all when you brush, it flattens out. Perhaps I should be a bit more delicate. Needless to say I wont be rushing out to try my hand at something that’s meant to be fabulous.

Movember cupcakesOk, so that wraps up all the little experiments. Next up will be another agonising accounting of decorating a cake, best not done when it’s 30 degrees Celsius.


No Knead Brioche

Brioche1Have you heard of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day?  I’ve made it once. It was fine, but I didn’t quite get all the hoopla. Which is kinda funny now that I re-read that post. I was quite taken by the whole idea and happy with how that bread turned out. I even said the recipe was “a keeper”. For all that I’ve never made another batch of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day.

Moving on. This recipe for Brioche has some similarities. Similar in that it could be kept in the fridge for several days and there was no kneading. Perhaps that’s where the similarities end, but it felt familiar.

First riseWhat I liked about this recipe is how easy it was for Brioche. That the recipe didn’t use as much butter (which may be the make or break of Brioche) and I could make it at night and it would be ready for breakfast 36 hours later. The recipe says it should be baked between 24 and 48 hours.

In time for breakfast, well, it took the 3 hours for rising and with me popping it in a pre-heated oven (to 50 deg, then turned off) for 40 minutes. By then everyone had risen and we ate normal breakfast while this was baking.

Prepare for bakingBut we had it for lunch.

I really get a kick out of watching bread rise, then transform as it bakes. Once the bread was out of the oven I brushed melted butter over it. I was transfixed looking at this beautiful bread from every angle. I loved seeing how those 6 little rolled balls had joined forces and baked as one.

This is only the second time I have baked Brioche, actually only the second time I’ve eaten Brioche. If it hadn’t been for Mum’s curiosity asking if we’d been served it at breakfast when we were traveling, I probably wouldn’t have looked into it, and tried my hand at baking it.

Baked ready for devouringWith that said, I really don’t know what it should be like in texture, but it looked pretty much like the photo. The reason I’m saying this is that this Brioche went a bit gummy when chewing it. It was perfectly baked, it looked like bread should be, but as soon as I began chewing it changed. I’m not saying it didn’t taste good, but the experience wasn’t what I expected. For all that, I don’t know if that is how it’s meant to be, because I’ve only eaten it from my own baking, and the first time I made Brioche Snails, baked differently than a true loaf.

I might have been a bit stingy, though we all had 2 slices each, but I purposefully kept enough aside so I could try it as French Toast.

I used my usual “recipe” as the base, but omitted the orange peel, and used cinnamon sugar. Mr Fussy doesn’t like French Toast, what’s a bet he’s never had it, and I don’t think my MIL does either.

BriocheAs French Toast it was fabulous. I had enough for French Toast this morning as well. Will I be saying this recipe is a keeper too? Why not. I like French Toast, but I wouldn’t eat it as plain sliced bread from the loaf (maybe it needs toasting?). I think I’ll give Dean Brettschneider’s Apricot Brioche Breakfast Plait a go.

If you are familiar with Brioche, I’d love to know what it’s like to chew. Does it go a bit gummy as you chew or is it just mine? Should it be eaten as is, or are you expected to pop it in the toaster? I image toasting it would solve the gummy problem.