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


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ANZAC Day 2014

Lots of people have made the most of having Easter Monday being the same week as ANZAC Day (Friday) and have taken the 3 days off to give them a 10 day break. That’s smart thinking. We’ll just wait out the 9 weeks we’ve got left before a 6 week trip over the other side of the world. We’re ok with going back to work for 3 days.

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ANZAC Day cake

I try to do something ahead of time for an upcoming holiday or special event, so I made use of the extra time at home to make my cake for ANZAC Day. I baked the cake on Friday and froze it overnight. I wasn’t sure the cake would turn out because I botched the recipe (it was another variation of a box mix) adding a packet of instant pudding that I didn’t need, and doubling the water (the recipe was actually for 2 cake boxes and I only needed one, so I needed to halve everything but kept the water at the original volume). That cake took 65 minutes to bake and I still wasn’t sure, but I had enough of getting up and down to the sound of the oven buzzer every 5 or so minutes.

As it happens, the cake has a lovely flavour and it has the right sort of texture I would expect.

Gumpaste poppies made using Bakels Red fondant with tylose.

Gumpaste poppies made using Bakels Red fondant with tylose.

I started the poppies on Saturday late afternoon. I figured I’d make enough for 3 poppies expecting some breakages but I should still get one good one from it. After dinner on Saturday I ganached the cake. Round cakes are such a breeze to ganache by comparison to square cakes.

Closer look at the handpainting at the front of the cake.

Closer look at the handpainting at the front of the cake.

I got up early on Sunday to cover the cake and cake board. I knew I needed the fondant to dry out 24 hours before hand painting. But I got impatient and decided to airbrush the board and cake just after lunch time. I didn’t have a problem with doing either. The cake board had more airbrushing because the fondant I used was a mix of autumn gold and white which gave this really cool marbled effect. I didn’t think the colour of fondant I used would matter given I was going to airbrush it. But the yellower fondant meant that the green I thought I was going for, ended up a more avocado colour.  I never expected the colour of the cake to blend seemlessly into the cake board so I wasn’t phased. Just calked that one up to experience and know for future that while it wont matter what colour I use, I need to compensate for it when I make up the colour.

This was the first time I’d used the airbrush on fondant. Mr Fussy was assisting. He was holding up a long sheet of paper towel behind the cake to catch any overspray. I took the lightly lightly approach. It’s better to have less colour because you can continue to build, but it turned out pretty well. I also had to hold a round piece of parchment (for lining a cake tin) on the top to lessen the chance of spray ending up on the top of the cake. All in all I think we did just fine. If anything I should have had more of the side with green, I thought I had until I started to hand paint the poppies and realised how much blue I had.

This is the first poppy. I hadn't realised just how many times you'd need to wind the black thread. This was a bit sparse.

This is the first poppy. I hadn’t realised just how many times you’d need to wind the black thread. This was a bit sparse.

Sunday afternoon, after packing up all the airbrush stuff (always so much stuff!) I got around to making the poppies. I dusted them (which is something I really don’t enjoy) and then made them up. Those things are tricky to make. The thread wanted to get caught in the florist tape and I was finding it difficult to get the tape up to the very top of the wire. But it turned out fine and I didn’t have any breakages. I even went so far as to steam the flowers. I went the whole hog aka completing the job. The new steamer I bought from Nicholas Lodge is the business. It’s very fierce. Heaps of steam. Which is a lot better than waving the flower over a pathetic excuse for a steaming jug. Still, it’s probably a good endorsement for a jug, you’re unlikely to get a steam burn.

I was doing well for time and everything so far was working as I had planned. That just left the flowers to hand paint today. I spent a little bit of time looking at images for fields of poppies. That had been what I wanted to do. I didn’t really know how to start things. Do I build up the green field and then add in the flowers. When should I paint the stems? I had no idea, and I feel like the painting process was a big clumsy. I think I should have begun with building more green.

Because I’m not an artist I had a few practice runs with using a pencil and paper to get the “flow” of drawing a poppy. I had a few variations, and I knew that if mine weren’t an exact replica it wouldn’t matter. No one would know what I was basing my poppies off.

I struggled a bit with the shading, and I had to keep reminding myself that as I drew and filled in with colour not to be put off with how things were shaping up. I was far from finished and it would start to come together as I added more detail. And on the whole I was happy with how the flowers were finished. Of course there’s some I don’t think are as well drawn and others that are my favourite.

This is one of my favourite handpainted poppies.

This is one of my favourite handpainted poppies.

Lastly I had to figure out how to place the poppies. I had spent some time thinking about it. Initially I was thinking 3 in a row, same height. But then I decided that might be a bit too ridged. So I added some stronger florist wire to two of the flowers to both strengthen and give more height so that I could stagger their height. Thankfully they still fit into the little straws I had (I think they’re for making cake pops).

I always knew I would set the cake to the back of the cake board, and I had measured the space I had to place the ANZAC sign/plaque. On Thursday I’d found a font that I thought was similar to the NZ Army font and I printed that out. I then used the tissue paper transfer method to get the writing onto the “plaque” I fashioned from a rectangle and heart cutter. And again because I have no patience, I did the transfer last night immediately after having rolled the fondant. A little of it pressed the fondant but not enough to distort the shape. I also used one of my colour shapers to tidy up the ragged bits from the cutters. It worked nicely.

So there we have it. This year’s ANZAC Day cake.

For those of us not enjoying the long long weekend, there’ll be cake at work tomorrow.

And now for an overload of photos, because I wanted to capture ALL of the handpainting, including the “back” of the cake which has the field of poppies, which Mr Fussy was really keen on, but I felt like it would mess up the clean look, even if it wasn’t truly a field look.

The beginning of the field.

The beginning of the field.

The end of the field. There's a lot of work trying to blend greens and add in the out of focus poppies.

The end of the field. There’s a lot of work trying to blend greens and add in the out of focus poppies.

The full view of the back of the cake - the field

The full view of the back of the cake – the field

Handpainting 3

Handpainting 4

handpainting 5

If there was one thing I could change, it would have been a nice piece of ribbon to go around the cake board. Despite having some lovely ribbons, nothing was suitable. The shiny silver irks me a bit. I couldn’t be bothered heading to the shops and have instead enjoyed a lazy afternoon catching up on some TV programmes, you know, spending quality time with Mr Fussy 😉

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Love is in the air

Some weeks back Sam asked Jasmine to marry him. It was a question asked without doubt of the answer. It was a question lots of family knew was coming. I’ve had a few chuckles at how Natalie must be feeling. It’s a sobering thought when you realise that what she’s going through is what our own parents went through. Now if that doesn’t make you feel old I’m not sure what will.

Cake topper made from modelling chocolate and silver cachous.

Cake topper made from modelling chocolate and silver cachous.

I wasn’t sure if Jasmine and Sam would want a cake, and they certainly didn’t have to feel obliged to ask me, but if they did, I needed to know, and know quickly. Last Friday the email arrived with a picture of a cake they’d seen and liked the look of. And it was Friday I grabbed all the bits from the supermarket.

Before getting to the supermarket we had a bit of a quick discussion and we ironed out a few details and came up with some different ideas given limitations. The cake would be 2 tiers and not a double barrel meaning we didn’t have height to play with to taper in the bottom. I knew I would be practicing a few things to help Jasmine and Sam decide what they did and didn’t want. They just wanted to keep the cake fairly simple.

Friday evening I started out by colouring fondant. Jasmine and Sam had picked out from a colour chart the shade of teal they wanted. I used the ratios in the chart and ended up with something very dark, darker than jade. I spent a lot of time trying to lighten it by adding more and more white fondant. I really dislike colouring during the evening. Natural light is a must for matching colours. Jasmine didn’t want it too blue, or too green. But I had no real reference other than the little block of colour on an online colour chart.

While the colour seemed ok, in the light of day it was quite a greyish blue. I spent time using different impression mats and taking lots of photos to see if we could narrow down the pattern J & S liked.

Fondant on the right, modelling chocolate on the left.

Chocolate on the left, modelling chocolate on the right. Teal ribbon above.

After The Food Show on Saturday I nipped around with the mats and ribbon I’d bought at Spotlight to see if we could agree a few more details. I came home and re-did the fondant to make it more the colour of the ribbon and re-did the two choices Jasmine had narrowed the choices to.

I came home and baked an 8″ square Chocolate Mud Cake (The Planet Cake book) but it didn’t rise as high as the cakes rose when I used the same recipe for the 6″ circles (the recipe makes one 8″ square cake or one 9″ round cake. One 9″ round cake will make two 6″ cakes). No worries. I still had time to bake two cakes on the Sunday. I increased the recipe by a quarter and the cakes baked just as I wanted. The 10″ cake took around 2 hours to bake. I didn’t use a rose nail (to get more heat into the centre) so I was being very cautious with the slow long baking to ensure the cake was properly baked.

The Planet Cake chocolate mudcake.

The Planet Cake chocolate mudcake.

On Sunday I grabbed various green and blue shades of modelling chocolate I had in the fridge and had a crack at making teal. I was having a crack at making a brooch type thing. You see during Sunday morning I spotted my heart necklace. Going along with the theme of being slightly off centre and a little abstract, I thought my own necklace would be a good starting point. Anyway after I made the brooch, and used a fantastic silver paint to mimic the metal edges of the brooch, I decided it was a bit too old looking for such a vibrant young couple. Natalie arrived after lunch with the 10″ tin, at this point I’d moved onto getting a feel for making the hearts. I was using a lighter green colour of modelling chocolate. I wasn’t worried about the colour because I expected to have the framework completely covered in silver cachous. The first crack at the design was a bit chunky and I learnt that the cachous wouldn’t stay put. But it was all a learning experience. It’s not like I do this every other week. I’m glad I trialled everything I wasn’t familiar with. It meant that on Saturday I pretty much knew what I was doing and how I would do it.

Anyway, getting back to the fondant. Sunday morning I took the ribbon and the new Teal outside and it wasn’t a good enough match for my liking. I really wanted it to be brighter than it was. But brightness doesn’t necessarily mean lighter. I was a bit stuck and I was almost paralysed standing there trying to work out how I could brighten it. Finally I got the electric blue and electric green Americolor gels out and I began to add until I was finally happy.

The embossed teal strips and cake use a rose impression mat.

The embossed teal strips and cake use a rose impression mat.

Monday after work I dropped around again and took fondant strip samples of using the newly coloured fondant with the impression mat J & S had decided on, and I took the necklace and the first attempt modelling chocolate hearts to see if the concept was getting close to what they wanted.

Monday evening I went home and practiced covering a square cake dummy. I have to admit to feeling slightly unwell when I realised the cakes would be square. The christmas cake was the last square cake I covered in fondant but it wasn’t ganached. That would be awful on a fruit cake. The one prior to that was Cameron’s 21st cake. I wasn’t very happy with how that turned out, and the more I learn and better I become with different things the worse I feel about his cake. It was a very dense mudcake, the ganache covering was too thick and it was very difficult to ganache.

I used a razor blade to get rid of any little jagged bits of chocolate ganache from the edges.

I used a razor blade to get rid of any little jagged bits of chocolate ganache from the edges.

Talking ganache, I made the ganache on Saturday night. Jasmine has very strong feelings over her chocolate and she doesn’t like dark chocolate. I was making a milk chocolate, which means more chocolate because there’s less cocoa solids. Everything was going along swimmingly. Sunday I took it out of the fridge. It was a bit softer than I had been expecting. I smeared a bit onto baking paper, about as thick as I expected it would be on the cake to see if it would set up and dry out. After many hours it was still tacky and I knew that spell trouble and increase the chances of air bubbles after the cake was covered in fondant. A few questions online and I was back to melting some 60% chocolate and adding it to the ganache. I tried some of that and it was giving the results I needed. Phew.

I know I’m jumping about a bit, but I’m backing up to covering the dummy cake. I covered the dummy with Crisco and then I took my two 750gm packets of Bakels fondant and kneaded it like I’d read in The Planet Cake book. I think previously I was “pummeling” it, as described in the book. I was pretty much kneading it like dough, and overworking fondant can lead to the cracks and elephant skin. So I kneaded it like playdoh. Although I really can’t remember how to knead playdoh. But I wasn’t pummelling it, and that was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I also flattened it more by hand before placing it between the sheets of The Mat to finally roll it out. I was a little bit relieved when I covered the dummy well and without fuss or bother. Phew. The only thing is I was left with what I’m describing as pock marks. I didn’t have an answer for it. I’ve never had it before. I’d also bought Satin Ice fondant on the Saturday and I hoped that it would roll better.

Tuesday morning it was bucketing down so instead of going for a run I decided I’d hand pipe some hearts onto the dummy cake so that J & S could compare and decide which type of heart embellishments they wanted (which was really for my sake, in case I ended up with tears in the fondant and needed to disguise them). I also added some lustre to the cake. I was doing this all backwards. I had the cake covered, the embossed “band” attached and some cut out hearts and now I was trying to paint the base. That wasn’t going to go easily, and it didn’t. The brush strokes left too many streaks. And I was applying this at 6am with my running torch on trying to see what I was doing. In the dull light the silver was looking quite grey. So it was back to Natalie’s Tuesday after work as well. Jasmine wasn’t there so I had to wait to see what she and Sam liked. But more photos were taken and shared. We have a Dropbox album where I added photos to help them get a feel for things.

Word came back that they liked the hearts but would prefer the colour to the same as the band. I totally agreed, and it was my plan that if they liked the heart design I’d re-colour the modelling chocolate to get close to the teal colour. I couldn’t believe how much colour I had to add to the modelling chocolate. I was being as careful as I could to knead it in, but there came a point where the MC was becoming a bit too soft and I didn’t want to risk overworking it and have it crumble when it “rested” and then be completely unusable. I was very pleased the next morning to see it had hardened up perfectly overnight. I still needed to work the colour in a little more but we had a winner.

I wasn’t totally sold on the size of the hearts I’d made on Sunday, or the chunkiness so Wednesday I started over again. This time making the larger heart much larger knowing the MC covering would take up some of the distance that would be between the larger and smaller heart. I also used a heavier gauge of florist tape, and this time white. See, always learning 🙂

Using my necklace for inspiration.

Using my necklace for inspiration.

Before fluffing about with the MC I covered the cake board and used the same impression mat to emboss the fondant. I was using the left over Bakels fondant. As well as that, I was also ganaching the 10″ cake. It was going quite well. The corners weren’t perfect but I planned to work on them further once the sides had set so that I could use them to help guide the bench scrapers up the sides to achieve true corners.

Thursday morning I was up at 4:45am to head to Wellington. I touched the side of the cake and it had dried perfectly. I was thrilled. I flipped it over and pulled away the waxed paper from the top. The top was almost perfect too, but I knew I would need to do a little tidying up.

When I arrived home Thursday night I tidied up the top of the cake, made sharp corners (it was pretty simple after all) and then got stuck into preparing for the 8″ cake which Mr Fussy had collected from Natalie’s to bring home. The 10″ cake I’d pulled out of the freezer on Tuesday night and left in the fridge all day. So when I came to ganaching it, it was still quite a firm cake. I was very pleased I’d levelled the top Sunday night, but I left the top on, and it made it tricky to pull it away cleanly. The 8″ cake I’d instructed Natalie to leave out of the fridge when she got it from the freezer Thursday morning. It was room temperature when I was working with it. The only thing that was slightly nerve-wracking was lifting the whole thing and turning it upside down onto the waxed paper which had a thick coating of ganache (which is how I get the top to be smooth and level). The cake had some give it it because it wasn’t nice and firm from the fridge. But it wasn’t much of a bother. The 8″ cake covered as simply as the 10″ and I was sitting down by 8:30pm, even after covering the new hearts in silver cachous. That was a bit of a fiddly job. Those little round silver balls didn’t really want to stick to the piping gel that I’d brushed all over the hearts. Mostly because MC is waxy and trying to get anything liquid to adhere was never going to be easy. I knew there wouldn’t be a complete coverage, which is why it was important to get a pretty good match to the teal band/ribbon. At one point I even got the tweezers out to try and individually place cachous in gaps I thought were too big. Next was to wait and see if it would set up and firmly stick. I wasn’t really keen to give it a good shake to test things out.

Friday came and I knew it was D day, or F day, Fondant that is. I was fairly relaxed about it, slightly encouraged by my trial run on Monday. For all that a couple of packets of fondant made it into the shopping cart. See, I even went grocery shopping first. No rushing home in an anxious state slightly panicked by the ordeal ahead of me. I was quite proud of myself. Which is not to say that when I began rolling the first lot of fondant (I started with the 8″) I didn’t get a warm feeling from being either hot and bothered, or just hot from all that rolling.

The edge is a little thin, and you can see the pock marks in the fondant.

The edge is a little thin, and you can see the pock marks in the fondant.

The 8″ cake covered nicely, no problem getting the corners tidy, except that just one corner seemed to be a little bit thin and I could make out the ganache underneath. It was weird that it was the height of the cake. The thing with rolling fondant in The Mat is that it’s quite sticky. It doesn’t stick so much you can’t coax it off the mat, but once all is said and done and you’re ready to smooth out the top, the fondant smoothers just grab and don’t want to move freely. For that I have to end up dusting the fondant with cornflour to easy the stickiness and allow the smoothers to glide nicely. But the pock marks were there. Blah. No amount of smoothing was bringing them together to fill out. Oh well.  Onto the 10″ cake. Eeek. Well the dummy cake and the 8″ cake went without any dramas, how about 3 for 3. And yes, I got 3 for 3. Again no drams. I didn’t have quite as much overhang which I worried might pull at the corners, but we were all good. The other thing that had worried me with the 10″ cake is that I took it out of the fridge on Friday morning and left it on the bench (at 5:30am) and it had condensated, I fully expected that. But I also expected it would dry out during the day and be dry as it was overnight after first ganaching it. But it was slightly sticky. I left my fingerprint in the top as I gave it a light touch. I wasn’t concerned it was a bit sticky, I needed that for the fondant to adhere, but I hoped it didn’t increase the chance of the fondant bulging. Though that’s usually from the difference in temperature and the cake relaxing as it comes to room temperature. The really odd thing is that it was cooler than the 8″ cake. I couldn’t understand it. Why would the cake be cooler when it wasn’t a cold day, and it had been sitting out for more than 12 hours by now. Anyway, all was good. I made sure I poked a hole into the top using a skewer so that if any air needed to escape it had somewhere to go (hopefully).

All covered, and covered. Time to rest.

All covered, and covered. Time to rest.

One of the questions I had for J & S was whether they wanted the hearts if I managed to cover the cakes without any tears or any elephant skin. The answer was yes. With the cakes covered I moved onto making the cutout hearts. I wanted them dry before fixing them to the side of the cake, it just makes it easier to touch them. And I figured if I were going to cover the corners like I had on the dummy cake, well I’d just roll some fresh fondant to be able to wrap them around the corners.  In the end I had over 100 hearts in 3 sizes. I had no idea how many I had, but it filled up the turntable so it was time to call it a night.

Did someone say hearts?

Did someone say hearts?

For whatever reason, I found myself awake during the early hours of the morning. I got up and flipped each heart over to give it a chance to dry out on the bottom as well. And then back to bed.

I didn’t get out of bed until 8am, I thought I was doing well. But it was straight up and at it. I started with rolling the fondant and putting each strip through the pasta attachment to ensure I had an even thickness. The 10″ cake was bigger than the embossing sheet so I had to do a bit of careful matching up in order to make the strip as seamless as I could. I watered down the piping gel to make it smoother (piping gel, or at least mine, is a bit lumpy). I used a wide flat brush to brush it on. Rolling the strip up onto it self without it sticking meant that as I coiled it up I’d have to dust the underside a bit to ensure it unravelled freely and didn’t stick and subsequently stretch the fondant.

Even though the strips are pretty uncomplicated in design, they took a bit of time from start to finish. Then it was time to fix the silver cachous onto the seems where the fondant joined at the edges, and lastly to randomly place the hearts. I picked the spots that had the biggest pock marks. That’s how I managed random.

I had another acrylic 21cm square which I used to work out where the top layer would sit and then using the same acrylic square I traced it onto baking paper which I cut out, then went 1″ in to mark out where I’d put the supports. I placed the paper on the cake and using a pin I pierced through the paper at the points and gave the pin a bit of a wiggle to make the hole a little more obvious, then I pushed the plastic dowels in and cut them to size. Oh, what I should have mentioned earlier is that I fixed the bottom tier to the cake board using royal icing. I’ve never used it before and hoped that some 8 hours later it would have set to ensure the bottom tier wasn’t going anywhere.

All doweled up and ready to go.

All doweled up and ready to go.

One of the things I probably spent more time on than was needed on the Saturday was working out what to do with the hearts that were originally across the corner of the dummy cake. I really didn’t want to make it seem like I was masking a mishap like I had intended them to be for, and I felt the hearts didn’t quite blend as well on the corners as I would have liked. I don’t know if I’m sold on the way I used them on the cake either. It sort of reminds me of a curtain opening to reveal something else, that being the silver cachous (in my mind). Anyway it is what it is.

We took the cakes down to the hall for 4pm. I was a little nervous about the cake in the hatch and hoping that royal icing had stuck firmly and the cake itself wasn’t bouncing about in the back unseen to us. I nursed the 8″ on my lap.

I expected it would take an hour to set up, not because I’m slow, but there were decisions that still needed to be made. Did J & S want the left over cut out hearts scattered over the top of the cake. Should I add the ribbon to the cake board or not. How should I place the the heart toppers. I was keen to get the cake set up. Logan was moving around the bench where the cake was mostly on the bench, getting into the fridge. I was looking on nervously and didn’t want him to end up accidentally knocking it as he was putting drinks etc away. We had to go through the whole round or square table, black or white cloth, add the table runner or not. And then as I was getting it set up everyone was moving around the table getting photos hung. It was an interesting time. Once I decided on the height of the hearts I then had to add a little more florist tape and make sure no florist wire was exposed. Even though the topper was sitting inside of a plastic cake pop “straw” I was still being extra cautious. I think in the end the topper might have looked better sitting on the cake rather than a little above. It was a little higher before but as Natalie mentioned, it looked a bit like a lollypop.

Corner details. The draped hearts and graduated silver cachous.

Corner details. The draped hearts and graduated silver cachous.

Both Jasmine & Sam were really happy with the cake. I let them know that I was worried that the cake had turned out quite different to the cake they had originally seen but they both loved it. Jasmine let me know some of her friends had made positive comments about the cake too.

So the cake was cut, then I took it to the kitchen and cut it up some more. We had expected around 160 people, but knew they would be coming and going through the night. Initially we were going to make a 12 and 8″ cake but then I remembered how much cake we had left from Cameron’s 21st. Saturday morning I contacted Natalie and we agreed a 10″ would be more than adequate, and if we thought it wasn’t going to go the distance, we’d just cut them into 1×1″ squares rather than 1×2″ square.

Sooo much cake.

Sooo much cake.

With all the food that Natalie and Sam’s mum had prepared, there was no way there wouldn’t be enough sweet things, so I cut the majority of the slices into 1×1″ pieces. And you can see, there’s plenty left, more than 1/4 of the bottom tier. The top tier completely untouched!

Congratulations Jasmine and Sam, and thank you for the privilege of making your Engagement Cake ❤

Jasmine and Sam's Engagement Cake

Jasmine and Sam’s Engagement Cake


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Busy with bikkies (cookies)

Yep, I know. I didn’t post anything last weekend. Boy the end of the Tax Year (in NZ) is, well, taxing. Talk about rushing about like headless chickens. Our Consulting team has been kept VERY busy. I haven’t enjoyed my usual “breaks” gazing at all the lovely photos people are posting on Facebook of their fantastically designed cookies.

The monster, cookie that is.

The monster, cookie that is.

But I did find time to bake and decorating some cookies a couple of weeks back, and then again last week.  A few weeks back it was decorating with royal icing and trying a few different techniques. I really want to improve my piping so that was my focus, plus one GIANT cookie that I made using a Royal Icing transfer.

Last weekend it was more about handpainting designs (well flowers, I don’t want to keep you guessing too long) onto the cookies.

I’ll try and describe a few things as I post different photos.

Starting at the top then. I hand cut this cookie, it’s a giant of a thing. The elephant is a royal icing transfer I made tracing around the elephant cookie cutter (it’s a mini cutter). The next day I added the ear and used an edible marker for the eyelash. The white royal icing didn’t want to behave and I had a crater at each layer. After the 3rd layer it was getting out of hand so I just let it be. This cookie (all of the ones made the same weekend) went to work. I gave it to a workmate who has a little boy (3yrs). He saw it and with an amazed voice said “wow”. I also hear he really enjoyed eating it.

Frankenfrosting is too soft to use for a glazed crack effect.

Frankenfrosting is too soft to use for a glazed crack effect.

I was keen to try Ambers cracked effect. The Frankenfrosting (mix of glaze and royal icing) doesn’t harden as much, it crusts over and it wont get damaged if you place another cookie on it, but it doesn’t set hard like plain royal icing. So when I used my scribe tool to scratch the surface it went too deep and the icing flaked. But I was all in, I carried on and continued to make things worse. I couldn’t brush the petal dust evenly and then the glaze just sort of went on too thickly (I needed to thin it with vodka – so I’ve read today). The other thing I need to learn is to make smaller leaves. Also in this picture is the mini elephant cookie and the 2nd transfer I made, it was my backup in case one of them didn’t peel nicely off the waxed paper.

White rabbits and pink noses.

White rabbits and pink noses.

I was aiming for a Wedgwood blue, I’m not sure if I hit the mark or not, perhaps the mere fact I’m questioning it means I probably didn’t. Anyway I had first piped the outside of the rounded bits intending to then fully flood the cookie and into the rounded bits. I decided I did a reasonably tidy job and I’d leave it that way for something different. And while in the mood for trying to smarten things up I added the little dots. The rabbit was piped on the dried cookie following a silhouette I’d seen on Google search. the other bunny was wet on wet for the ears and eyes. The cheeks/whiskers were added the following day, and some 30 minutes later I added the nose. And there’s a crater under those whiskers. It was one of those days 🙂

Fiddling about with piping.

Fiddling about with piping.

Some people have stunning work on their cookies. I know it comes from practice, and some may have a more natural talent, but this is me giving it a bash. I struggled to get even petals, and my lines are spaced too wide (this light blue cookie is closer than the first one I tried – you’ll see). I still can’t pipe a scroll fluidly, but I’ll keep trying. The light blue cookie did NOT go to work. Mr Fussy had that one. I explained it would be inappropriate for me to expect anyone at work to accept it 🙂

Sugarflair Extra Red. It's the business.

Sugarflair Extra Red. It’s the business.

I love the Sugarflair Extra Red. It didn’t take as much gel to get a decent colour (it deepens overnight, as does other brands red) and the great thing, it didn’t make the royal icing bitter. That’s a BIG plus. The red royal icing was an experiment, but when I realised it was good, and tasted good I just had to use it, so I added the apple cutter to the collection when I baked up the cookies.

Wet on wet technique

Wet on wet technique

Paisleys take more imagination than I have, but I’ll work on that. I just knew they needed to be brightly coloured. But they should be more patterned than this with swirls and what-not. Next time. The sweetie was piped in flood consistency, in lines of different colours rather than flood in white then add the lines. This is the first time I’ve covered a cookie like this. It worked well. The following day I added the piping consistency lines to try and give better definition to the wrapper.

Tulip cutter turned owl

Tulip cutter turned owl

Sweet Sugarbelle has a post about using the tulip cutter to make owls. And that’s just what I did. Again I’ve used wet-on-wet for the chest feather type look. I had first piped the wings and let them set before flooding the body. Later the same day I added the eyes which ran together a bit more than I wanted, and the black was added straight away. What you can’t see is that the eyes sunk. The black has cratered the eyes. I almost forgot to add the beaks. In fact I’d taken a photo already and commented to Mr Fussy that something wasn’t right. He took one look and asked if I was going to give them beaks.  Doh!

Brush embroidery is HARD

Brush embroidery is HARD

This is the second go at trying to improve the brush embroidery – you’ll see in the next photo. I wont give up. I just need to find the right brush I think. I use the same as Amber of SweetAmbs. And the outer petals are somewhat ordinary and don’t look like petals at all. And I used a 5 petal cutter which I traced with edible pen to guide me. Some people need more help than others 😉

Another new cutter

Another new cutter

I’ve not used the crown cutter before. I quite liked the sanding sugar cuff. This is a very simple decoration technique. I was just trying a bunch of different ideas to see how long they took to create.  And the brush embroidery above was my first go. And as you saw in the earlier picture, I tried to make it better. Didn’t pull it off, but I don’t think I made it any worse.

Blossoms

Blossoms

Again this was done with a wet on wet technique. I had a stiffer consistency pink which never settled into the flooded cookie, and that’s what I hoped. The first one was the better (in my opinion), it’s on the right. As I was picking cookies up to pack them for taking to work I dropped a cookie onto it and scuffed up the icing. Never mind.

Bright eyed and bunny tailed

Bright eyed and bunny tailed

More wet on wet. That yellow is as bright as it looks in the photo.This is a very easy cookie to decorate. The white one I added the pink nose after the base had set but the eye was done wet on wet. The pink was the stiffer icing and it hasn’t settled and is slightly raised. Just adds a bit of extra definition.

The monster, cookie that is.

The monster, cookie that is.

As for this one. To begin with I did do a bit of wet on wet to get the grass off to a start but I actually wished I hadn’t. I didn’t like it. I much preferred to use the air brush colours and paint the grass. Unfortunately I cleaned the paint palette before I added the elephant and never got the same colours to paint over his feet. I had hoped it would look like he was in amongst the grass.  I think I should have placed him on first and determined the height better. You live and learn.

Practice practice practice

Practice practice practice

And I’ll need to keep practicing. Even using a PME 1.5 tip the icing seemed a bit fat. The dots are better but trying to make a flower shape wasn’t really working for me. I should have had more tear drop shapes. As I say, more practice. And I will because I really would like to make some of the cookies I’ve seen. I’m in awe.  You should take a look at My Little Bakery’s blog.

And lastly …

Bigger cookie, more room to "play" with

Bigger cookie, more room to “play” with

I used this cookie to try out some “patterns”. Cayley of Sweet Sugarbelle recommends planning the design.  Yep, I’d go along with that. I sort of get something done and look at the empty spaces and wonder how I can fill that up without destroying what I’ve already got. The lines here are far too wide. I’ll work on it 🙂

Ok, I said I’d add in the handpainted cookies too, and I will, but no running commentary this time. You’ll thank me 🙂

Alright, I’ve already reneged. I took all the handpainted cookies into work as well. The women got first pick, then a few men got to take one home for their other halves. And the two animated cookies again went to Robbie and one to Cel’s little boy Zayden.

Handpainting is hard

Handpainting is hard

Zayden's cookie. I transferred the picture and used airbrush colours.

Zayden’s cookie. I transferred the picture and used airbrush colours.

My favourite book, even as an adult. Maybe I've just never grown up :)

My favourite book, even as an adult. Maybe I’ve just never grown up 🙂

I followed a tutorial for this. Hardest of all the handpainted flowers. I can't get the brush to behave for the 4 petals.

I followed a tutorial for this. Hardest of all the handpainted flowers. I can’t get the brush to behave for the 4 petals.