On to the plate

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


Another year, another cake

Happy Anniversary

A public display of affection

Better late than never, right?

This post is dedicated to the cake I made and decorated for our Wedding Anniversary. It was mid March, a little over a week ago. Not too late, surely.

I made a White Chocolate Citrus Mudcake. I used this recipe, and it was my first time making this cake. I’m not really one to leave a recipe alone. I barely made a change. I added some Mandarin rind and then put mandrin sugar syrup between all the layers when it came time to decorate the cake. I’d also frozen the cake having made it some weeks ahead of time. I was a bit skeptical about how easy/difficult it would be to torte given the drama I had with David’s birthday cake, a  Chocolate mudcake. It turned out to be reasonably straight forward by comparison.

I used a different Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe. This time I whipped the butter before making the meringue. I was curious whether it would help reduce the yellow colour you will get when using so much butter. I even went as far as to add a dab of Sugarflair Violet to the creamed butter. Did it make any difference? Not to me. I stared so hard but I really couldn’t see a difference.  I also added a dab more when it came time to mix the whipped butter into the meringue. Nope, still couldn’t detect any lightening of the frosting.

The SMBC was very nice. It was really light. Since I’ve never made this particular SMBC before I can’t say if the recipe is like that made as instructed, or it became lighter because I whipped the butter prior. I added Cointreau to try and get an orange flavour. I added about 3 tablespoons but couldn’t taste anything. I’m starting to think I’m getting old. Can’t see a change, can’t taste a change. It’s a slippery slope I’m on 😉 Anyway it worried me that adding so much liquid might make the SMBC go sloppy. So I gave up on adding further liquor.

As is normal for white mudcakes I bake, the cake itself looked a little dense and wet after having added the sugar syrup. Maybe I was a bit heavy handed.

Pink and blue to match the front design

Pink and blue to match the front design

I had decided a couple of weeks before our wedding anniversary how I wanted to decorate the cake. I had seen a technique of a Facebook page a I like and I planned to use that technique in a slightly different manner.  This link takes you to the photos I’d seen.

I didn’t know how the technique was achieved so I just ploughed on and did what I expected to be the most logical way to go about this. I didn’t even crumb coat the cake. I only realised that after I’d applied the buttercream. I’d sort of crumb coated the cake from the excess filling from between the layers. And I ordered the colours incorrectly. And if I hadn’t said anything the chances of anyone looking thinking it was wrong would be slim (I hope).

Beneath the cake card is the layer of purple, you can just see it sneaking out.

Beneath the cake card is the layer of purple, you can just see it sneaking out.

After having left the cake overnight in the fridge with the final buttercream layer, the next morning I took the cake out and immediately carved out a cavity for where I would add the different colours. I wanted a sort of blend from blue into purple into pink. It sort of worked.

While I had a really nice smooth finish on the cake prior to carving bits out and then having to smooth the new colours in, with using the scraper to smooth the colours I ended up marking the cake. I’ve become a little less picky. Ok, I pick, I see, it irks me a bit, but it’s just a cake, it’s only for me, it’s mostly an excuse to try new techniques. It’s all practice, and I enjoy the process – most of the time.

I pulled out several pokey type implements I wasn’t sure which would make the best job of carving words.There’s lots wrong here. The sloped Y, not putting the words so they were evenly spaced top and sides. And then the little “extra” message almost hidden, should have started under the main “I love you” wording. This is a little insight into Mr Fussy and my playfulness. We don’t argue. I don’t know if that’s abnormal, but we don’t. What we do, is playfully insist to the other that we love the other “the most”. So for us, saying I love you is not the end of the subject, it’s always followed by “the most”. You may be able to see that, if you squint and cock your head.

The most

Our quirky little “add on”

With the cake pretty much decorated, I decided I had time to make a fantasy flower. I’m not good with fantasy flowers. And I ended up making the layers too thin. It wasn’t a gumpaste rose, it was meant to be whimsical, and it was hard to get it to ruffle being such large pieces of gumpaste. I’ll know for next time! I put the flower into the hot water cupboard to help it to dry quicker, and it worked nicely. The flower was dry enough to dust within 24 hours. Dusting is not something I do well with. I try to hard I think. And I don’t like blending colours and I like things perfect and not too abstract. So my dusting was really hit and miss on this. I had a pinkish purple and a bluish purple and tried to evenly apply it. I had good intentions. We’ll leave it at that.

Fantasy Flower

My very fine fantasy flower. It was too thin and lacked some oomph.

Mum had popped around during the morning while I was dusting the flower and then trying to apply the flower. Overnight I had been thinking about whether the flower would stay put given the angle and position I was aiming for. I had thought about using a toothpick, but completely forgot that when I was trying to get it to stay put. Mum suggested the toothpick and I almost slapped myself for not having remembered that from the previous night.

Mum suggested I stick the toothpick into the fondant to get thehole ready and then stick the toothpick into the back of the flower and then just feed it into the pre-made hole. Worked a charm and that flower was no longer slipping on the buttercream.


You can make out the glob of fondant. I tried hard to get the rainbow sanding sugar to hide the white, but it wasn’t quite enough.

As far as taste, it was quite lovely. Not at all sweet thanks to the citrus. And as per usual, we had far too much cake. We only wanted to have a slice. The rest of the top layers went with Mr Fussy to work and was dolled out. The bottom section was palmed off to Natalie for her crew to eat. By all accounts everyone enjoyed the cake.

Next cake will be made for Easter. This past weekend I spent time making and decorating cookies. I’ll try to do better this week and get that post up on the blog on Sunday.

Slice of cake anyone?

Slice of cake anyone?




St Patrick’s Day Cookies

Gosh, I almost forgot it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow and I haven’t posted the cookies I made. Not that they’re anything amazing. But following on with the theme of hand painting, I decided to paint most of the cookies that I hadn’t used the wet on wet technique.

I made a batch of the cookie dough minus the cardamom and orange rind, instead opting to use the new Flavacol I bought straight from the New World supermarket while in Hamilton. It was butterscotch.

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Butterscotch cookies

I baked the cookies Saturday afternoon and whipped up royal icing, but I used Color Flow rather than Meringue Powder. And because I make assumption, I treated the quantity of Color Flow the same as I would Meringue Powder (but CF is about twice the strength going by the proportions of the powder to water).

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Wilton Color Flow

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The consistency was thicker than royal icing made with Meringue Powder.

I also was trying Sweet Hope Cookie’s (her name is Anita too) FrankenFrosting recipe. It is equal parts Royal Icing and Glaze. I’ve never made glaze before, well I guess I have, but for bread or loaves, never as a coverage of cookies I was going to decorate.

I used Wilton clear Vanilla and also Butter flavouring. It made a difference to the flavour, I guess it’s an improvement. But it’s still sweet.

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The result of 50/50 RI and Glaze. You have FrankenFrosting.

The glaze is a lot looser, so I guess all up adding that to the double strength royal icing sort of evened things out. Mr Fussy said the icing is the same as normal, so has a crust but still soft.

Saturday night I flooded all the cookies. I used my new PME needle, it’s a bit thicker and it makes the job of gently swirling the icing to get it to move a little further out and to become a smoother edge much easier. Some  cookies I decorated using the wet on wet technique, the rest would be left overnight to dry out completely, ready for painting.

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My new, slightly thicker, PME needle.

I really wasn’t too sure what I was doing, and I was hoping for a more water coloured effect than I got. But I realised I was using normal food gel thinned with vodka and I should have been using my air brush colours (which is a thinner liquid).

It’s all about learning 🙂

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Using Americolor food gels.

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Things got messy.

I started with a plaque cookie and added the rainbow, but there was too much cookie left. I grabbed the Macbook (before it died) and Google searched pot of gold and used an image as a reference. All images are freehand, as if it needs to be pointed out.

Next came a hat which turned out pretty good, but I was using quite a bit of colour to get the shading, and it was starting to make the royal icing dissolve a little. In the end it looks a bit like felt. Not such a bad thing really.

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I was starting to get the hang of it but was clean out of ideas. I had to keep doing Google searches to find something else new to draw. The last one I did was the scroll work with a shamrock. I would have liked to do something incorporating a Celtic design but I’m a long way from being that good.  But practice will help 🙂

Happy St Patrick’s Day, for tomorrow.

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Wet on wet shamrocks.


Live long and prosper – David’s birthday cake

I realise I’ve become quite lazy with taking photos. Don’t get me wrong. I’m taking lots of photos, but from my phone. Setting up shots is really time consuming. And when it gets to the point I don’t want to bake because I want to take photos, then something has to change. So you’ll get the same number of photos (overload), but they’re from my phone, unless it’s something I deem to be quite special, then I’ll take the photos on the dSLR.

Ok, that out the way, not only are these photos from my phone, my Macbook had packed up (I’ve had it just 6 months) and has gone off to Apple to be checked out. It’s no longer charging.  So these photos haven’t seen Lightroom either. I don’t have Lightroom on my work laptop.

Phew, now I’ve come clean, let’s get onto David’s cake.

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Live long and prosper

I had made the Planet Cake Mud cake a few weeks ago and popped them in the freezer in anticipation of David’s birthday. I made two 6” cakes. The recipe is for a 9” cake.  You get two 6” cakes out of one 9” cake. It’s the first time I’ve made the mud cake recipe and I was pretty pleased with how it baked and cooled in the tin. I’d ordered the Planet Cake cookbook, but you can find another blogger who wrote out the recipe here.

I used a frosting recipe I’d spotted, probably over a year ago. I’m not sure why I decided now would be the time, but it was.

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Thick unappetising white sauce to become a silky frosting in another life.

The recipe makes the frosting starting from a white sauce. I know. Sounds disgusting, right? But it was weird and I like weird so I knew it was only a matter of time before I gave it a crack.

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Add that white sauce to the whipped butter and sugar and you end up with something quite unexpected.

Well the frosting turned out pretty good. It really was light in texture. The only thing is that there were a couple of small globs of the white sauce. While it seemed like it had all whipped up together (and it whipped up nicely like Swiss Meringue Buttercream) as I was frosting the cake, I spotted a couple of small globs.

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Texture of the mud cake.

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Oops, we’ve got problem. The ganache kept it all together.

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Crumb coated of sorts and ready for some frosting.

Getting back to the cake, Mr Fussy took the cake out of the freezer Friday morning (I was in Hamilton) and popped it in the fridge. I torted it Saturday when I was ready to frost it. Boy, that is one sticky cake. I got my knife stuck in the first layer (the bottom) on more than one occasion. So much so that in my desperation to extract the knife a bit of the side of the middle layer broke away. I wasn’t happy with that and it was putting me off the cake big time. Thankfully the middle cut and the cut to level the top layer (3 layers) was much easier. The cake really is as Kathrin said, like a brownie. It also had a much stronger taste of coffee than I expected. There was a lot of coffee (25gm of granules) but usually that disappears during baking and acts only to deepen the flavour of the chocolate. I don’t like coffee (and I don’t drink tea), so for me it was a little too much, especially when I hadn’t been expecting it.

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This is what I was aiming for at first, then Dave’s suggestion saw an addition of “Live long and prosper”. Very fitting for a birthday.

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Up to the second trace, now to trace the pencil (2B) outline onto the fondat by tracing over the same markings.

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Looks weird, and takes a bit of looking backward and forward between fondant and original picture to make sure you’re filling in the right sections.

  Backing up a bit, as I mentioned, I was in Hamilton Friday. When I got home the only thing on my mind was to hand paint the top of David’s cake. On the Monday I had cut a 6” circle of fondant and I’d printed out a black and white image of Spock. Dave at work spotted the image on my screen and suggested that I add “live long and prosper”. Good idea. I had to then decide where I’d place that, and what font/size I wanted, then I had to flip the whole thing over (I use Snagit, a screen capture (and more) application we use at work). The reason you flip it over is that you then trace the image onto baking paper and then the baking paper is placed onto the fondant, and you re-trace the image again, over the image you first put onto the baking paper. And when all is said and done, you’ve drawn the image 3 times. Twice on the baking paper (one each side) and then finally the traced image on the fondant.

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A sort of side-by-side comparison. Pretty close.

 I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. The only thing is that I didn’t get a very even coverage of Spock’s hair. I had some thinned out Sugarflair Liquorice which applied nicely to larger areas, but I ran out before I finished the hair, so I used the food gel without thinning it. That’s what did me in. I shouldn’t have been so lazy and I should have made up a little more thinned down black. You live and learn. And while it wasn’t quite as smooth as I’d have liked, over all I was pleased with how the image came out on the fondant, and I enjoyed the process. I must remember that I can take a bit of artistic license and could make some changes. I was thinking of adding some blue into the top but with the image sitting a lot to the bottom right it seemed like it would be trying too hard.

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Ombre sort of affecting lending itself to a sort of planet look. I used Americolor Sky Blue and Navy together and then took some of that colour and mixed it with the buttercream to get a lighter tone.

Instead I coloured the frosting blue. In some ways it reminds me of a planet, and with the theme being Star Wars, that’s kind of fitting. Not that I’d planned it that way.

I didn’t take a photo of a slice of the cake. I had flavoured the cream used to make a milk chocolate ganache with Lime oil. Mr Fussy wasn’t fond of it, but my MIL and I were quite taken with it. It was quite unusual to have such a flavour be quite bold, but not in the cake itself.

Even though we didn’t have the usual Paling family traditional dinner (yes you can laugh, I think it’s crazy – KFC with Christmas Pudding including custard), David was pretty pleased with having a birthday cake.

I put a round of baking paper between the cake and the fondant top so David got to take the top home with him, along with the rest of the cake.

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One last view of the hand painting. I have this on my new PME tilting turntable. Boy it makes it easier on the neck.

Now the frosting recipe says to have the cake the same day the frosting is made, but David managed to stretch the rest of his cake out to Thursday, his actual birthday. I forgot to ask him what it tasted like, and how he stored the cake. I suspect he wouldn’t know to put it in the fridge.

So that’s one cake for March done and dusted. Today is our wedding anniversary and I have made a cake, and we’ve had a slice, so that’ll be next week. Then Mr Fussy has a birthday at the end of the month, but he’s requested the Lemon cheesecake and no cake. Fair enough, and I like that cheesecake too!


A lot to catch up on – Lindy’s Gumpaste Recipe

Despite not feeling like I’ve spent a lot of time at home, I’ve got quite a few new recipes to share. I’m not sure how I’m going to get on top of it all.

Thankfully this week coming is my second to last flight to Hamilton. I now move from flying up Tuesday or Wednesday after work and returning on Friday evening, to leaving Monday after work, and arriving home 10pm on a Wednesday. I think these shorter trips will feel longer. But the good news …. I get to be home during some week day evenings.  And that means I get to potter around doing fun things like making flowers.

So today’s catch up is about Lindy’s recipe for gumpaste.

Some who have been around this blog for a while will know that I’ve tried a couple of different recipes.

I’ve also made Lindy’s recipe before too.

So what’s different this time?

This time I made a “commercial” batch of the gumpaste. The biggest difference to me was knowing the amount of water that needed to be added.

Lindy’s recipe produces a rubbery gumpaste. You can press it and it will spring back. I knew what to look for, but when I make a batch using just 100gm of fondant, the amount of water isn’t a measure and I seem to never quite get the right consistency, although it’s always been usable.

For me there were a couple of tests that would prove whether I finally had the recipe right.


Colours well

Rolls well

Can be fed through the KitchenAid on the narrowest setting (8)

Veins easily and holds the impression

Petal dust colours hold

So not much really 😉

Here’s a bunch of photos to keep you on the edge of your seat while I lead you on my journey.

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Dyocell Gumpaste Recipe – Commercial batch


  • 750gm fondant – I used Bakels, but you can use Satin Ice or other brands
  • 45gm water – heated for 35 seconds on high
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white fat – I used Crisco but Kremelta will also work
  • 29gm Dyocell


  • Grease the inside of your stand mixer liberally with white fat along with the dough hook.
  • Pinch of sections of the 750gm fondant into the bowl
  • Heat the water for 35 seconds on high and tip into the mixer bowl
  • Add the 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable fat – I didn’t melt it, well I did, but such a small amount solidified before I had time to add it to the ingredients
  • Turn the mixer onto low – setting 2 on the KitchenAid and continue to mix until it is soupy. I mixed mine until it was all combined.
  • Use a rubber scraper (cover it with some white fat) to ensure all the ingredients have mixed together. Sometimes my KitchenAid mixer will not grab the bits right in the middle of the bowl.
  • Turn the miser onto 1 and gradually add the Dyocell over about a 5 second period.
  • Turn the mixer up to medium high, about 7 on the KitchenAid and mix for about 30-45 seconds. During this time the mixture will thicken and it will become harder for the mixer to work. Don’t overwork the mixer, you don’t want to burn the motor out. My KitchenAid was easily able to handle this mix without any signs of strain.
  • Use some white fat on a flat surface where you will tip the gumpaste out. Add a little white fat to your hands and pull the gumpaste off the dough hook and then using a rubber scraper or similar, get all the gumpaste out of the mixing bowl and onto the bench.
  • Gently knead the gumpaste until it is smooth. Apply more white fat to your hands and bench as needed.
  • Portion out the gumpaste into 100gm amounts. I rolled each portion like you would a dinner roll to reduce the uneven edges that might have a tendency to dry out.
  • At this stage I coloured one portion just to test how much the colour reduced in intensity overnight. You’re encouraged to colour a shade darker than you want because gumpaste has a tendency to lighten in colour as it sits.
  • Place each portion into a Mono lunchbag (yes, Mono brand, I’m being particular because this is what Lindy specifies) and twist the end and tie it into a hook knot. I’m not sure if that’s the real name, but where you’re tying a knot without feeding the end all the way through.
  • After an hour or so take each portion and re-knead it. You’ll notice some little bits of the Dyocell visible as little bumps in the paste. These sort of dissolve more or less during the second knead and aren’t noticeable when you’re kneading the gumpaste ready to roll and cut.
  • Place the bagged portions of gumpaste into an airtight container and leave to rest overnight in the fridge.
  • The following day take the gumpaste out of the fridge and bring to room temperature before using.
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Roll the gumpaste in a fashion that doesn’t leave jiggered edges exposed. This shows how I roll mine after kneading.

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This is the “knot” I’m trying to describe

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So that covers making it and colouring it. And of course tucking those little 100gm rolls into Mono lunch bags for save keeping in an airtight container. I use a Sistema container. Usually I use a smaller one that will hold two packets, but this one works too, for larger quantities.

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Use bacterial wipes to make sure your hands and under your nails are clean before handling the gumpaste. (Nicholas Lodge batch still bagged, top right corner, for comparison of colour for my own requirements)

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So it’s looking good thus far. Now the dusting. It’s a wonder I went this far. I find the dusting the least enjoyable part of making a sugar flower. But the experiment wouldn’t be complete without adding a bit of colour.

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Phew. I think I can comfortably give this “commercial” batch the thumbs up.

The Ranunculus veiner is one I  bought from Nicolas Lodge’s store, and the petal cutter is from a Ranunculus set I bought from Sugar Art Studio.

The pink is Cosmos, also bought from Nicolas Lodge. The method I’m using here to create a Ranunculs is from Jacqueline Butler of Petal Sweet.

And if you love Lindy’s gumpaste, but don’t want to faff about making it yourself, either in a more convenient 100gm portion or the commercial batch, then you can always buy it online if popping out to the shop is not convenient.  It’s good stuff.


Ham and Potato Bake

Early in February I got around to making yet another dish I’d found and pinned on Pinterest. I was keen to make this to use up some of the left over, frozen, Christmas ham.
The original recipe can be found on Exclusively Food, here.
Although I thought I was being careful not to overcook the potato, it still happened. A few of them had started to break apart when I got up to check. And the amount of potato stated in the recipe wasn’t sufficient. Thankfully I had some left over new potato from the previous night’s dinner. They were being saved for my MIL to have for a lunch during the week (waste not want not) but they were called upon to complete this dish. So while I was at it, I added the left over spring carrots as well.
The recipe says to cut the potato 1cm thick, perhaps mine were a bit too thick and that’s why I ran out. I was quite a bit short though. I think there were 4 potatos from the previous night that I used.
I tested my loose bottom 8″ cake pan and it leaked so I had to use my 8″ Fat Daddio cake tin to make dinner. Even though the base and sides were covered with baking paper the fat from the cheese leaked and that left odd stains on the cake tin that still remain. Boo.
I was somewhat nervous about getting the potato bake out of the tin but I recalled Nigella faced with the same problem and just as cool as a cucumber she tipped her thing out onto a plate and then used a plate on the other side (so the potato bake is like a filling between two plates) and tipped it back up the right way. If Nigella can pull it off, surely I could too. And I did.
I’m glad I’ve still got another package of Christmas ham left because I’m already planning on making this again. It was very tasty.