On to the plate

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


Muesli Bread

Another weekend goes by where I’ve not baked. Ok, that’s not quite true. Last weekend I did make a batch of muffins, but hardly anything to shout from the rooftops.

Missing some slashes

Muesli Bread minus the slashes (I forgot)

So far no baking this weekend either, and I can’t imagine there will be.  It’s close to dinner time and tomorrow I’m out at Lindy’s taking a handpainting class with Amber from Wildberry Cakes. That’s handpainting on fondant. So while I’m not making a cake to practice some new technique, I will be doing something within the “cake decorating” realm. I hope I don’t suck at it completely. It’s been some years since I did anything remotely artistic with drawing. And even then (despite having won a prize) it was as a child and I can’t imagine it was really very good.

Anyhow, I do have a recipe to share, something I made a couple of weekends ago, something that I’d spied several months ago and was itching to make if I could convince Mr Fussy it would be alright, and he wouldn’t die from trying.

2014-02-07 20.13.51I did convince Mr Fussy, but had to concede a few ingredients to make it palatable for him. I upped the amount of dried fruit and skipped the almonds. Instead I added some apricots (the start with A, so it’s a fair replacement – right?) and more fruit, up to one cup max.

Dumping in all the seeds/nuts and dried fruits

Dumping in all the seeds/nuts and dried fruits

Although the recipe didn’t say you could leave the dough overnight in the fridge, that’s just what I did. I went to the original source of the recipe and King Arthur Flour where it was explained you can leave the dough in the fridge for many days before using.

Talk about another easy yeast bread to make. I added everything together in the same bowl. Once it was mixed I did a few stretch and folds of the dough before covering the bowl with Gladwrap, leaving it in the fridge until I was ready the next day.

About 3 stretch and folds. It's sticky so you'll need to oil the bench.

About 3 stretch and folds. It’s sticky so you’ll need to oil the bench.

I made a few mistakes in preparing it for baking. I didn’t have it out as long it should have been to rest and I forgot to cut the slashes into the top.

I used half of the dough for our lunch and the remaining half the following day for lunch. Yes, both times I forgot the slashes.

Slow rise overnight in the fridge

Cover and leave to rise slowly overnight in the fridge

The bread was really lovely. Despite not having any spices in it, it had a surprising spicy flavour to it. It reminded me of hot cross buns. It was a bit baffling I have to confess, since I new there were no spices in the ingredients. I can only put it down to using the Jumbo Raisins (I’ve found them at Pak ‘n Save and New World supermarkets). There seems to be 3 varieties in the raisins and eating them raw, each has a unique flavour.

Try to let the bread rest 15 minutes after removing from the oven. It's hard to resist but do your best.

Try to let the bread rest 15 minutes after removing from the oven. It’s hard to resist but do your best.

My MIL really liked the bread and Mr Fussy also didn’t mind it. I think I might even get away with making it again!

We ate it all!  Each slice loaded with butter - of course.

We ate it all! Each slice loaded with butter – of course.



Claire Bowman’s Cake Lace Product and Mats

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Claire Bowman Chantilly Lace Mat

Have you seen a cake decorated in sugar lace? Sugar lace is fairly new, but all the rage. It’s so very beautiful. There’s lots and lots of cakes I’ve seen that are so elegantly decorated with sugar lace.

Before Christmas I ordered some Sugarveil mix and a silicone doily designed silicone mat from Lindy. I still haven’t used the Sugarveil mix. From what I can gather Sugarveil was the first “lace” product on the market. People have been trying to work out what the ingredients and proportions are and there’s been varying degrees of success.

Different thicknesses of silicone

Demonstrating differences in silicone thickness and pliability.

I’d heard about Cake Lace from the reading some comments on the NZ Cake Decorators Facebook page. I’d looked at the wonderful mats and I almost put in an order. I hate the cost of shipping and that put me off.

Then new Claire Bowman mats were released just recently and I went in search again for the prices. This time I decided not to deny myself and ordered a starter kit and a couple of extra mats. I also put in an order for a couple of Dab mats that I’d spied.

This blog post is about my experience using the Cake Lace product by Claire Bowman.  I used the Cake Lace in Claire’s mats, the one mat I used for the homemade recipe and the new Dab mats that had recently arrived. I was so excited by this experiment.

Some of these photos, the ones were I’m using making the Cake Lace and filling the silicone mats were taken with my phone, the ones after the lace has been removed from the mats are with my dSLR.

Usually I post photos of a recipe I’m following, but there’s no need. Claire had a very thorough YouTube of making up her Cake Lace as well as how to use it with the silicone mats.

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After Part B, finally it’s getting some volume

What I found was  the amount of lace I was making was almost too small for the KitchenAid mixer, but this is the same mixer Claire demonstrated, using the same quantity of ingredients. I had to scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times because the whisk attachment wasn’t reaching it (I probably need to adjust the height/position of my attachments). Once I added part B things improved and the mix increased in volume making it much easier for the whisk attachment to do the job of whisking.

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Ready. Perhaps I should have waited for more bubbles.

The smell of the mix is really intense, a nice sweet aroma, but don’t let that fool you into dabbing your finger in the left over Part B that’s on your measuring spoon. Being the curious creature that I am I just had to have a little taste. It was so strong, and I’m not sure what it was meant to taste like, but I do NOT recommend a taste test. But if someone told me not to try I’d still do it 😉

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Just how much do you really need to apply to begin with? It wont take long to get to grips with that.

Using the mix on the mat is pretty simple. I had a bit of trouble trying to work out how much would be enough. I didn’t want to plop too much on the mat and end up having so much it was running off the sides. I didn’t want to waste any of the mix. I needed to add more than I thought but it was easier to figure out just how much once I got going.

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The excess scrapes off so easily with the spreader/knife from the starter kit. See the top photo.

As you’d expect with using delicate patterns, some of the mix doesn’t quite site neatly into the tiny grooves on the first pass. You need to go over some bits of the mat several times. It’s not difficult, you just have to keep an eye out and make sure the mix has filled the design fully.

Using the sweeping motion back and forward and sometimes up and down as Claire mentioned (a paddle sort of motion) was meant to help get any air bubbles out. I must admit this was the most disappointing part of the look of the finished lace for me. Perhaps I haven’t got the technique right, or maybe I should let the lace mix rest for a while, like you do with Royal Icing, to encourage the air bubbles to the top.

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Unwelcome air bubbles.

I was being a bit cautious with the mat, it’s very supple and I was worried somehow I’d end up tipping the lace out of the design, but I soon realised that I needn’t be quite so careful. Not to be reckless, but I didn’t have to be so precious about shifting the mat from the bench to the baking tray, or just shift it out of the way while I prepared another mat.

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Top two mats from Claire Bowman. Bottom 2 (left) Dab and the doily was the original mat I purchased. Unsure whose it is.

I put the first mat (the one with the 3 lanes of complementing design) in the oven while I worked on the other mats. I left it in the oven at 70 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. When the time was up I thought the mix still looked too glossy, but it had flattened in the mat, so the mix was no longer sitting flush with the mat, it had shrunk down. Does that make sense?

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This is what you expect to see when the lace is ready for removal.

I pulled at the edge of the mat but it didn’t look to me like the lace was separating so I put the mat aside and put the remaining mats into the oven.

When the 15 minutes was up the other mats looked more likely they were dry enough but I put the first mat back in the oven with the oven turned off, then about 5 minutes later I decided to return the 2nd sheet as well, just to be absolutely certain.

All up the first mat had been in the oven 15 minutes of active baking/drying and 15 minutes with the oven turned off. The second tray was 15 minutes of active baking/drying and 10 minutes with the oven turned off.

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It still looked a bit flimsy, like it wasn’t quite ready, but it was. I didn’t use the spreading tool on this first bit and ripped a little bit of it.

This time the first mat showed more promise that the lace would separate from the mat. I wasn’t completely sold on it and was a bit haphazard in my approach to extracting it. In fact I had the mat half way in the middle of the bench and was leaning over the bench to reach it and then tried to pull it away. I was not doing what Claire showed, I was not using the knife/spreader and not surprisingly, the lace tore. But then I realised it was actually good to go so I got serious about the task at hand removed the rest of it properly.

Use the knife to assist in extraction

The bit I tore by not following Claire’s instructions. Pay attention.

I was thrilled how supple the lace was.

The Dab mats were harder to get the lace from and I ended up tearing a tiny bit here and there, but it is easy to place and not tell it’s torn.

Dab lace

The bubbles are noticeable, well to me. These two are from the Dab mats.

The heart mat wasn’t difficult to extract from, but due to the design, there was one part that wouldn’t pull away from the mat as it was being bent back. Just that tiny little scroll, the photo from my phone shows the best.

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That little bit there will catch, watch for it. It’s easy to extract, but it wont come away cleanly with the main part of the design.

Now I have all this near perfect cake lace and I’m not sure what I’ll use it on. I was in awe of how flexible it was. I had heard it was, but most photos I’d seen were of cakes already adorned with the cake.

So here are quite a few photos to show just how bendable, flexible, pliable the cake lace is. I even got to draping it round and round my wrist and it never tore, it didn’t crack, it didn’t do anything but drape like it was a piece of fabric.

Very flexible

Wrapping the lace is a breeze.

Lots of movement

Flexible, supple, bendable.

Like a lacey sleeve

It really does look like lace, especially if you drape it over your arm like a sleeve.

I’ve stored the cake lace as directed by Claire. It’s been wrapped in both waxed and baking paper and stored in a box (which isn’t sealed). Yesterday I grabbed the doily one just to see if after almost two weeks (two weeks is on Monday/tomorrow) it had remained soft and supple.

Storing cake lace

Stored ready for when I dream up a cake to decorate with this product.

The verdict? Yes! I did find I had to peel it off the paper, I hadn’t expected that. I’m not sure why it sort of stuck to it, but it wasn’t difficult to remove. The doily feels and behaves every bit the same it did the day I made it.

So is there a downside? Yes. There are two:

  1. The cost
  2. The air bubbles

I don’t know what to say about the cost. The product has to come to NZ from the UK and then there are duties and taxes that have to be paid, so it’s not cheap to buy. It seems so unfair when it’s not the equivalent cost (with the exchange rate taken into account) for people to purchase in the UK. As it happened I bought mine directly from The Cake Decorating Company in the UK. At the time I hadn’t been aware that KiwiCakes was now stocking the product. I’ve done a few sums and even with the exchange rate (at the moment) and the cost of shipping, for me it is still more cost effective to buy from the UK. It’s a sad predicament because I far rather support NZ business, but when it comes down to it, I don’t do this as a business, I can’t write off any of the costs. If we were talking just a few dollars then it would be a no-brainer. I’d buy locally.

As for the second, the air bubbles, I’m not sure if it was my lack of experience/technique, if perhaps I should let the mixture rest for a while to see if the bubbles would just work themselves out, or whether it really doesn’t matter because unless you’re studying the lace you probably wouldn’t see them.

Cake Lace moulds

Beautiful, delicate lace.

I’m not sure how much I will get out of the rest of the Cake Lace mixture, but I love using it. Now I just have to dream up some cake or cupcakes that would be worth of decorating with this lovely product.


Something sweet for Valentine’s Day

all the cookiesSince Mr Fussy prefers cookies I made a batch of Lilaloa’s  End-all chocolate cookie recipe.

I made a bit of a boo-boo. Imagine that. Instead of ¾ of a teaspoon of baking powder, I put in 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. I just grabbed the wrong two spoon measures.

I was puzzled when my cookies spread since the blog post was adamant the cookies wouldn’t. Obviously I’ll have to make them again since I botched this batch. For all that, the spread wasn’t more than I’ve seen with other recipes.

tiny bitesThe cookie dough is really soft. There is a warning the dough will be soft, and you’re encouraged to refrain from adding extra flour if you’re going to chill the dough. I finally did as instructed 😉

I did my usual and rolled it out between two sheets of waxed paper and put the 6mm sheets of rolled dough into the fridge. The dough would have been in the fridge for more than 2 hours when I grabbed the first sheet to cut out. Before I had finished cutting out the last of the dough the cookies at the edge of the sheet had begun to soften making it a little tricky to pick them up and place them on the baking tray. I also popped them back into the fridge before baking them.

Cake lace decorations

Cake lace and chocolate transfer hearts

For all that they taste good. I didn’t add the shortening, I used all butter. I didn’t want the cookies to be soft. Since they usually last a whole week or more I didn’t want to get a sense that they’d softened and perhaps not as fresh as they should be. The cookies aren’t hard or crunchy by any stretch of the imagination so I’m not sure how soft the shortening would make them, if added.

As for the royal icing, I used the last of my Wilton meringue powder and was short a few grams, I made the balance up with dried egg albumen. I really didn’t think it would make a big difference, after all, I’ve made a full batch with egg albumen. That turned out fine, but it had a slightly odd taste.

wet on wetAnyway, the reason I’m making a note of all this, the royal icing didn’t set. I’ve never had that happen before. I didn’t realise until I was picking up the cookies and accidentally nudged one and then saw that the icing was more like marshmallow.

I haven’t asked Mr Fussy how he’s managing to pack a cookie up to take to work. I imagine it’s a bit messy.

The decorations are mostly based on the YouTube Amber from SweetAmbs made.

I haven’t given up on trying filigree, but it’s fair to say I still suck at it. I can’t understand why the piping settles so thick, I’m using a number 1 tip. Must practice at every opportunity.

hearts everywhere

Using the cake lace silicone mat as an impression mat with a fondant decorated heart

While we don’t really do the whole Valentine’s thing, well that’s not entirely true, we love an excuse to go out for dinner, we don’t do gifts, we do exchange cards. I’ll be in Hamilton (I know, I’ve mentioned it before) so I’m still trying to figure out how to get my card to Mr Fussy so it’s not thrown at him as I leave tomorrow morning.

Hope everyone has a nice day, whatever Valentine’s means to you. Cookies are good any day of the week!


Valentine’s Day dessert – early

Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Transfer sheets used to fancy up the decorations

I’ll be travelling from Hamilton on Valentine’s Day. We’re going out for dinner on Saturday, but I wanted to make something nice for Mr Fussy.

Mr Fussy and his “resolution” didn’t want cake. I found a compromise. There’s cake, but it’s not covered in fondant and dressed up prim and proper. Instead this is a dessert, which has cake, and is similar to the Devils Dream Cake, Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice from Strawberry Fare (where we’re dining on Saturday).

This is my Valentine’s Day special dessert, made and served yesterday for some of my favourite people, Mum, Yvonne and my MIL, and of course, my wonderful husband, the love of my life.

For my Valentine

Layered dessert, all but the chocolate sauce.

For a few weeks now I’ve wanted to make a really really chocolate cake. And when we’d decided on a dessert rather than a cake I went to Rosie’s blog, Sweetapolita, to re-read a few of her recipes where she’d made cake for her and her husband. What I decided on was the cake from this recipe and then I went searching for recipes for a dark and white chocolate mousse.

I grabbed the dark chocolate mousse from another of my favourite blogs, David Lebovitz and picked at random another blog for the white chocolate mousse. I really didn’t want to add gelatine to the mousse, but I wanted something a bit more robust than the thickening from whipped cream. This recipe used both egg yolks (to give a more custard type consistency) and cream, but it was the only recipe I found that didn’t use gelatine.

Dark Choc Mousse

Folding the whipped up egg yolks and sugar into the melted and cooled chocolate.

I made the cake on Friday and measured the different round cookie cutters to the inside of the food rings. I had 3 good rings and wanted to get 3 more. I only managed to buy one more food ring. Sadly the kitchen warehouse place I shop had run out. My two sets of round cookie cutters are like a half size between them. I’ve used the cutter before for the Black Forest Dessert I made and it was fine, but the cake seemed to have shrunk a bit after I cut the rings out. I only realised this after having measured out the acetate and cellotaping them to size of the inside of the food rings. When I put the first round of cake into the bottom the acetate was too wide so I had to resize them all. I also had to shimmy them up the cake base so that I could get a little more height for all the mousse.

I made both the dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse Saturday morning and set them into the fridge while I fluffed about with preparing the food rings.

I wanted to make 6 desserts with 3 layers of cake with mousse between the layers, and a thin spread of raspberry puree between the middle layer of cake.

Raspberry Layer

Raspberry puree beneath and above the middle cake layer.

I baked the cake in a 9 x 13” cake pan and only managed 15 cake layers. Eeek, I need 18. I took some of the bigger scraps so I could piece together a middle layer for what would be my dessert and thought I would cut a few layers in half. What I found as I was layering the dessert was the cake layer was too thick. The cake baked 2.5cm which I was thrilled about. In the end I used the 2.5cm thickness for the base, then cut circles of cake through the middle for the middle and top layer of the dessert. I had plenty of cake left.

Thankfully I had left over cake (but no left over raspberry puree) because one of those desserts toppled over. I guess I shimmied the acetate sleeve a little too high and the weight of the mousse and cake caused the dessert to lean and then it was all over. I quickly noticed two others going the same way. There was a shriek and yell for more hands. Mr Fussy came to my rescue and we used the 4 food rings I had to guard some of the desserts that threatened to lean.

White Chocolate Mousse

Rich white chocolate mousse.

We ate that toppled dessert after lunch, it was very rich.

I bumped up the coolness in the spare fridge and left those desserts to firm up over the next 6 hours.

Mr Fussy cooked a lovely leg of lamb on the rotisserie BBQ, add some new spuds, spring (?) carrots and a fresh green salad and we had a really lovely dinner.

Food rings

Layered and ready for the fridge after a protective layer of Gladwrap.

Mr Fussy doesn’t know how I managed to eat my dessert minus the raspberry since he thought it would be too rich without the tartness of the raspberry puree. Yvonne even mentioned how it was a good balance with the chocolate.

The last touch I added to the dessert were the chocolate transfer hearts. I made them on Friday. It was my first time using chocolate transfer sheets and it was a bit of a learning experience. The white chocolate took forever to set enough that I could press out the hearts using my small heart cookie cutter. And when I thought it was set and went to nudge a heart out of the way, it melted. My hands aren’t that hot, but the few minutes sitting on the bench and it was enough to distort it.

Chocolate Transfer Sheets

Easy to use. Compound “chocolate” would be best for white, or be prepared to wait a loooong time for it to set up.

The dark chocolate was fine, it set up nicely and it cut nicely. And on that basis I decided to use the dark chocolate as the “glue” to hold two hearts together on a tiny straw.

I also made the chocolate sauce Rosie used in her Double Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made a chocolate sauce that didn’t include water or cream. My recommendation is to take it off the heat (sitting over a pot of simmering water) several minutes before serving, when it’s too hot the sauce is thin. I wondered if I’d need to double the recipe, expecting to completely drown the dessert, but I was the only one that was heavy-handed with the sauce and there’s plenty of sauce left. As there is of each mousse. For this dessert you would get away with halving each mousse recipe.

Add sauce

Smothered in chocolate. Now we’re talking.

We have enough that I’ve made 6 more desserts. I’m going to need to diet after all this chocolate overload.

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More chocolate mousse desserts. Mixing it up with dark then white, and white then dark mousse. Using up all the left over shards of chocolate. Nothing is wasted.

I just want to add a note about the dark chocolate mousse, the rum flavour is very prominent. I would have liked to swap rum for Cointreau but that wouldn’t go with the raspberry puree. I think you can probably omit any alcohol. I also used Bushells Coffee & Chicory essence instead of brewed coffee. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so I have no idea on what a rich or dark coffee is. I find using the coffee & chicory to be easier to get a handle on.

Like the Double Chocolate cake that called for ¼ cup, so did the mousse. For both recipes that was 40ml of the coffee & chicory essence with the balance made of water. Mr Fussy said the coffee was what he found more obvious than the rum.

Also with the cake, I didn’t have enough dark muscovado sugar, I had 130gm and made the balance up with brown sugar.

Those are the only changes I made and I have to say that cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. I love the little chocolate chips through the batter. I can’t wait to make it again!

Yvonne & Mum

Blurry photo aside, great company and a rich dessert with Mr Fussy’s Moa Pale Ale front and centre.

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Being a Kiwi

Little Kiwi Birds

I had two sketches in mind for my Kiwi cookies. For the most part they both came out pretty close. I had hoped to put a bit of brush embroidery along the edges of the above Kiwi cookies to give a bit more texture and life to the edge of the Kiwi, but my attempt turned out pretty ugly. The good thing about “ugly” is that it can be dealt with swiftly. It tasted good 😉

What I remember growing up during my teenage years was stubbies. Stubbies were worn by men (and boys), so I’m not sure why it sticks in my mind, but everywhere you turned men were wearing stubbies. I’m not sure if outside of NZ or Australia people know what stubbies are, or whether they were worn forever (so it seemed) by the men-folk.

My second design, the more fiddly, included a bit of a Kiwi bloke look. Singlets and stubbies. I used an Americolor edible marker to draw the fern onto the singlet having let the cookies dry overnight.

Both cookies were fairly simple to pipe, but the bigger Kiwis had more pieces where I needed to pipe a section, wait a good 30-60 minutes before coming back to pipe another part. I didn’t want the parts to flow into each other, and I wanted to see some definition between the sections.

I made these cookies the weekend before Kade and Randall’s wedding. And I think this week Mr Fussy has finally finished them off.  Oops, he says no. And he’s confirmed they’re still alright. I used the recipe I cobbled together, minus the cardamom. I bet they tasted fresher a week or so ago, but seems Mr Fussy isn’t so fussy after all.

Singlets and ferns


Waitangi Day Celebration Cake – 2014

This coming Thursday is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. I know I have visitors from near and far, so for those of you not from this side of the world, it’s the sort of like the Forth of July in America in that it’s the day we celebrate as a Nation, though the Treaty of Waitangi is a hot topic and is very controversial. It holds more meaning to some than others. I just like to think of us all as being Kiwis and being united in how awesome we are for such a small country.

Waitangi Day NZInitially I had planned to paint onto the cake. I had planned to paint Koru around the cake but the fondant hand-painting class I had enrolled for was cancelled (I’m attending the 2nd class end of February).

Time to come up with another idea. Rattling around the back of my head had been paua. I hoped all that modelling chocolate I’d made a few weeks ago would magically come together into a paua look.

I had few clues as to how I would achieve the look so began with taking bits of different blues, greens and pink/purple and twisting the colours around each other as if I were going to marble fondant. It more or less is the same sort of look but I wanted mine less mingled together than marbling is.

Once I had the look I rolled the MC out and then got my NZ themed cutters out to make the shapes. I wanted to make paua shells too but didn’t how to do it, until I realised the egg cutters would do the job, I just needed some way of forming them into a shell shape.

Paua closeupI realised the look was almost there but paua also has black through it. MC is waxy so painting was out of the question, it would just bead. While in Hamilton I got to searching and after a bit of reading worked out edible markers would be my best bet.

Friday I arrived home and got ready torting and layering the cakes. I was using four 6” cakes I’d had in the freezer, along with strawberry buttercream (made with Fresh As Strawberry freeze dried powder). I expected to use both the 6” cakes and the 4” cake I had. In my mind the size of the North and South Island would be too big for the height of the 6” cakes, but with the amount of buttercream I had I was all good. I had wanted the island to sit just above the top of the cake. And the size of the islands was smaller than I remembered.

I was holding my breath about getting the black lines on the MC. Now when I say holding my breath I’m talking figuratively. I’ve come back from my trip to Hamilton with a cold and it was ramping up. I was feeling pretty miserable, but determined to get the paua drawn.

Everything was coming together well, the cake was the perfect height, I’d gotten it all ready for ganaching on Saturday, and I had achieved the markings on the MC.

Saturday I got everything prepared to ganache the cake, and I’m happy to report that it took more time to line cake boards with waxed paper and get the other equipment out than it did to actually ganache the cake. For whatever reason it was a breeze. Although I was still a little suspicious the ganache wouldn’t set as firm as I wanted. I left the cake in the fridge a bit over 2 hours before getting it while I prepared the cake board.

Other bits and bobs

I made some Peony leaves for a fantasy flower that broke, and also some broaches from modelling chocolate, with a flourish of different lustre dusts.

I had recalled buying ribbon at the Paper Tree thinking I would use it for the Moustache Cake. It was a good match for the type of gradient colours of the paua, well I think it works. I used double sided tape to fix the ribbon to the board.

The paua was coming along nicely with the addition of lustre dust. I dry dusted the MC, and at the last minute realised that I had a pink shimmer dust that would help draw out the pink/purple tones in the paua. The shells came to life really well, but the flat decorations are hard to see the shimmer unless you move around the cake.

While I was fluffing about rolling out the fondant for the cake board I noticed the condensation on the ganache. I’ve never seen that before. I wonder whether the new fridge is set a bit cooler than the inside fridge.

By the time I had finished the cake board, kneaded and rolled the fondant for the cake, an hour had passed. I used cooled boiled water to brush the cake to allow the fondant to stick. The brush strokes were leaving marks so I knew the ganache was a bit on the soft side.

Paua Shells

Finally a cake where I achieved sharp edges

The cake was 5.5” tall on a 6” wide cake. It was so close to being a double barrel cake. A cake size I find really hard to cover without the fondant cracking on the top edge, or pulling down or the sides not having adequate coverage. I had one shot at this so I chose to clear the coffee table so I had better control over the cake allowing me to be more above it. Mr Fussy was helping to guide the fondant (I used The Mat) so that it sat just to the bottom of the cake. And away I went. Strangely everything was working out nicely. I was getting the fondant nicely smoothed on the sides and not pleats or tucks and I had adequate coverage everwhere. There were no tears along the top edge. I began to breathe again (my cold is worse so that was a difficult moment ;-))

I’m not sure why I waited to add the decorations, I guess having had mixed results with fondant covered cakes I know there’s a chance of a bulge. I waited over and hour and it all looked good. On went the decorations. I used candy melts piped to the back of the decorations to add around the cake, and fondant for the shells on top, which I brushed with the Antique Gold and Pink Shimmer lustre dusts to help it look so obviously plonked on.

After packing away some of the equipement I decided I’d make use of the natural light and begin to take photos. Mr Fussy was helping me out by holding up different items of my work clothing to add as the background. It was surprising how many of my dresses had the mottled colours of paua. After all the fluffing about we both agreed that only one dress was suitable, and it added a bit of a moody look that we both thought gave the idea of New Zealand being “the Land of the Long White Cloud”.

KiwiHaving taken photos of all 3 sides it was back to the front when I spied the beginnings of a bulge, right where the Kiwi was sitting. I was disappointed, but not beaten. I removed the Kiwi and started to prick the fondant with the sterile sugical needle, that wasn’t cutting it. I got a normal pin, that wasn’t having any effect, so I went all out and put that sucker in and moved it around to widen the hole. And I waited. And waited.

I made dinner, not that I felt like it. I was miserable. My head was hot and hurting, my nose wouldn’t ease up running, my eyes were watering, and I was in the kitchen following a new recipe for dinner. Needless to say it took a bit longer to pull dinner together than normal. Mostly because I’d be sneezing and my nose would run and I was constantly grabbing at tissues.

When I thought the bulging had stabilised I used the fondant smoothers to push the bulge out flat and stuck the Kiwi back on. Then while watching TV I kept eyeing the cake and I was sure it was beginning to bulge again.

Paua FernI was very thankful I’d taken the photos during the day and not left it until today. And because I was feeling miserable, I almost didn’t care what happened to the cake. I was too embarrased to give it to Mr Fussy for work, I didn’t want anyone to see the unsightly bulge.

I’ve had 3 hours sleep and at 3am I got up to get more Sudafed and Panadol and took the opportunity to look at the cake. It had worsened, but that didn’t stop me grabbing my acetate to try and push the air out into a new hole I’d poked into the fondant. The poor Kiwi was being pushed out and was at a really odd angle, tipping toward the cake board. At 5am when I was still awake and beside myself I got up again and had a drink. The cake hadn’t magically fixed itself and the tear in the fondant seemed to have worsened.

Still awake at 6am and no sleep in sight I got to reading some articles on Lightroom, and I learnt how to use the spot removal tool. Having given up on sleep I got up at 8:30am and set about touching up my photos to remove the little tell-tale sign at the front of the cake that might have given a clue the bulge was coming. Oh and I learnt about adding a watermark. Not that I think my photos are fabulous and sought after, but hey, I like this cake, I really liked this cake. I got a sharp edge, it covered well and the decorations came up better than I dared hope, so I don’t want anyone taking my photo and passing it off without credit where credit is due. Go me 😉

So there we have it, my Waitangi Day cake for 2014, quite a different cake to last year, and that cake has been pinned quite a few times on Pinterest. Who would have guessed.

Land of the long white cloud

Using my dress as a backdrop, getting that cloudy look.

Later in the week I’ll post the Kiwi cookies I made a few weeks back, they were fun, and cute.


The naked

It’s ok, you can look. I promise the photos don’t come with an R rating. We’re talking cake here, naked cake.

Bare cake

Really really naked, not even scantily cladded with ganache.

This cake is one I never thought I’d make. A friend from Dunedin had once suggested I make a chocolate and zucchini cake and I said there was no way Mr Fussy would entertain the idea. And that was the end of that suggestion.

Imagine my complete surprise (shock) when Mr Fussy came home the other day with a  couple of zucchini. A lady from his work was giving them away and since I’d bought a few with the weekend fruit/veg (meaning to make corn fritters – which by the way Mr Fussy will turn his nose up) he thought he’d grab a couple more.

I’d been sneakily looking at Chocolate Zucchini cakes, there’s a couple I pinned on Pinterest, and this cake is a combination of those two recipes. I mostly used the cake from this recipe, and the frosting from this one.

Topped with chocolate ganache

Ganache and defrosted blackcurrents

I’ve made a couple of changes to the cake and frosting. I’m in one of those phases where I hate seeing food go to waste, well it’s never my goal to be flippant about food going off, but right now I’m doing my best to use ingredients that appear to be forgotten in the fridge.

And in actual fact, the zucchini I bought from the fruit/veg market had (one) started to go mouldy. It’s ok, don’t freak out. I cut that nasty bit off.

For the cake

  • I swapped the white sugar for raw sugar (I use raw sugar for Carrot cake, I figured it would add a bit of depth to the cake – but I would suggest you ground it up in the food processor – I can just see some granules in the top of the cake, but none in the cake).
  • I used Dutch-processed cocoa – my Valhrona cocoa has a best by date of October 2014. I don’t know how I managed to let that slip past the BB date.
  • I weighed the flour using 140gm/cup, so 350gm total.
  • I didn’t add the walnuts, it was probably bad enough that I kept the cinnamon in there, I’m sure Mr Fussy will tell me he can taste it (I draw comparisons to his ability to detect cinnamon to the Fairy Tale, The Princess and the Pea).
  • I replaced the milk for an equal amount of buttermilk.
  • I Googled 4/5 confectioners sugar to be 100gm.
  • I used Fresh As freeze dried blackcurrent powder – I used 1 tbs and 1 tsp.
  • I replaced cream fraiche with sour cream because I had sour cream and not cream fraiche. Because I was traveling on Friday (our shopping day) I missed out adding a few things to the shopping list.
  • If you do the same and make a 6″ and 5″ cake, expect the 5″ to take around 27min and the 6″ 30min, though all ovens vary so begin to check 2-3 minutes before hand.

For the frosting

  • Rather than baking 1 two-layer 8” cake I made a 6” and a 5” cake, both are two layers. A 6” cake is 60% of an 8” cake and a 5” cake is 40% of an 8” cake.
  • To assemble I torted all of the cakes and then measured out equal proportions (using the 60/40 split for the 6” and 5” cakes) of the frosting to go between the layers only. This cake is what is termed a Naked Cake i.e. it’s not covered in frosting.
  • For a naked cake I felt it was especially important to have equal quantity of frosting between the layers, it was going to be obvious if one layer had more or less than another. My 6” cakes had an allowance of 180gm per layer, but I found with the 5” cake the amount of frosting was a bit too generous and I was already puzzled how I would cut the cake without the frosting spewing out as soon as any pressure was applied.
  • So the 6” cakes had 150gm of frosting between each layer. The 5” cake I assembled first and it had 120gm of frosting between each layer.
2014-02-02 12.04.49

Nicely domed, which is great in a cupcake.

The cakes baked and domed quite a bit really. I used an old tupperware container to gently press the tops until they flattened out. It worked out well, and the cakes are none the worse for wear. And against better judgement I torted the cakes while they were still fresh-fresh. I didn’t even put them in the fridge first. And I didn’t measure the height. I was being reckless with a capital R. It all worked out.

2014-02-02 13.11.20

Look what’s hiding out here – a large piece of zucchini

What I did spot in one of the torted cakes was a big piece of zucchini that hadn’t grated. It looked, well, I think you can see what it looked like. When I took the 6″ cakes around to Natalie and Logan’s (to assemble there, it would have collapsed during the drive) I asked Logan if he’d like me to remove it. He said no. I’m not sure if anyone will taste the zucchini in their household. It’s pretty much smack in the middle so there’s potential for each of them to get a little bit.

And as I write this, I’m about to get the cake out of the fridge – it’s been nestled away for a bit over 4 hours – and try to cut it and then let it come to room temperature. I’m hoping this sort of well-thought out cheat will be my best chance of slicing the cake without a total mess.

Ok, success. The cake cut really well. No dramas at all, well other than the ganache that I used. This was an attempt at ganache using 40% full fat cream, the other weekend. It didn’t work out and so I used all the cream and made a very rich sauce. However it seems to have split a tiny bit, which I think is clear in the photos. The chocolate didn’t drip as nicely as you’ll see in other photos. And since I had the cake in the fridge, the oily bits have set up and there’s little bits of white fat showing.

A slice of cake

Easy to slice straight from the fridge

But, it tastes good and none of us could taste zucchini, and Mr Fussy said he would eat it again, “though I’m not really a cake-y person”.

He was telling my brother-in-law that his resolution this year is to eat less cake. I’m not going to let that influence me though, and certainly as I rattled off all the events and occasions up until ANZAC day there’s a lot of opportunities for cake.

Topped with blackcurrents

Eat up, there’s more where that came from

First thing’s first. Finish this one off. There’s enough for dessert tomorrow night too.