On to the plate

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

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.


4 thoughts on “Waitangi Day Celebration Cake – 2014

  1. Another gorgeous creation. I think you have captured the colours and patterns of the paua perfectly. Oh for your patience and “outside of the box” thinking.

    • Thanks so much Alison. It’s funny you say “out of the box” thinking. I often feel as if I’m struggling for something unique and interesting so I’m glad this time I pulled it off. Cheers.

  2. Love your Paua, they are ataahua xxx

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