On to the plate

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

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.


2 thoughts on “4 little experiments

  1. This looks like a great experiment! I love the end result!

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