On to the plate

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


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Breast Cancer Awareness – 2014

In order to make up for the silence of the last couple of weekends I’ve got not one cake, not two, but three cakes. Am I off the hook?

And since you’ve had to wait for so long, I wont waste any more time, here they are.

Pink ribbon stencil. A trial of a new mud cake recipe

Pink ribbon stencil. A trial of a new mud cake recipe

Hope and butterflies. A cake for a special lady.

Hope and butterflies. A cake for a special lady.

A splash of colour using rose spirit and petal dusts

A splash of colour using rose spirit and petal dusts

I made a 6″ American Mud Cake, thanks to Summer’s recipe which you’ll find on her blog, Cake Paper Party. I also made a 8″ American Mud Cake (cakes 1 & 3 pictured). The middle cake is another of Summer’s recipe, one I’ve baked before, her Sour Cream Vanilla Bean cake.

I actually made a 6″ and 5″ cake from the one recipe, the 5″ cake is already filled and ganached and sitting in the freezer waiting for an occasion to be used. And it turns out the new mud cake recipe is a hit. It’s a little less heavy/dense and a little more cake-like for a mud cake, but it works beautifully still with ganache and fondant.

Both 6″ cakes had been filled and ganached and put in the freezer (cakes 1 & 2) and the 8″ had been frozen too, but was frozen as separate layers. The two 6″ cakes were taken from the freezer Thursday morning and I covered the 2nd cake in fondant that night. Cake no. 1 was covered the following morning (I couldn’t sleep). All were easy to cover in many ways. I’d given up on my The Mat and instead rolled the fondant directly on the bench. It rolled so quickly it was great. And I even rolled the fondant around the rolling pin. Previously I’d been concerned that I might leave impressions on the fondant from where it was rolling on itself. So while it rolled nicely, and wrapped around the rolling pin without any nasty marks, I did end up with a little bit of elephant skin going on.

My acetate smoothers had finally arrived from the UK. I didn’t think I’d end up using them as the ones I’d fashioned from a chopping board had done a good job on a previous cake, but the smoothers from the UK really did a lovely job of smoothing out most of the elephant skin. The acetate is thinner than the chopping board I hacked up which probably makes the difference. Anyway I managed nice sharp edges on all 3 cakes without having to work too hard for it. I’m so pleased that it’s all working out now, including having finally managed to get the ganache on just (about) perfectly. I had been having problems keeping the bottom of my scraper straight up and down, it was firmly on the board but it trailed at the bottom and it was causing me to have the bottom (which is the top – I ganache upside down) to taper in. So this last cake (no. 3) I used the acrylic rounds on both the bottom and the top and instead of spending 20 minutes trying to keep things even, I reckon I took about 5 minutes to ganache the cake. It was so easy, so simple, so quick. And it looked a lot better, like it was seemless. Other cakes have been fine, but a bit patchy in application where this looked like I started at one point and managed to get around the complete cake in one sweep.

The Friday night I covered the 3rd cake, it was looking really good. And of course it would, it was the only cake that would be completely covered in more fondant and didn’t have to look perfect underneath (Murphy’s Law). I also had two 10.5″ squares of acrylic which I had lightly covered in Crisco and then covered in white fondant. I covered these with a large zip loc bag. The bags were also 10.5″ so I couldn’t slip the acrylic inside and had to settle with placing the bags over the top to prevent the fondant from drying too much. As it turned out the edges had dried out a bit too much so I didn’t use those bits. But considering the fondant had been out for over 12 hours it worked nicely. I just cut the fondant into strips and then used a little palate knife to slip between the acrylic and fondant to manoeuvre the strip and then place against the cake. First I also applied a thin layer of Crisco onto the side of the cake so the fondant strips would adhere nicely. The design idea came from a post on The Cake Blog, a beautiful cake by AK Cake Design. Although I loved the process, the colours are brighter than I hoped they would be. Next time I’ll know better.

As for the Breast Cancer heart cake, that idea came from a cake Erin O’Brien had made. And then the 1st cake, my practice cake, I used the same colours as used in cake 3, but just what was left, and then “watered down” more with more rose spirit. It didn’t quite work as nicely as I wanted, it was a bit patchy, but again I’ve learnt a few things for next time. The plaque was made Friday night too. I rolled some fondant and the placed my Pink Ribbon stencil (for cookies) over the fondant, adhered a little by Crisco (without it the stencil slipped about and moved) and then I rolled it a bit more which let the fondant push a little through the stencil. While the stencil was still on the fondant I used a brush which had a light coating of petal dust and dusted over the pink ribbons. I removed the stencil and used the plaque cutter to cut out a section of what I’d stencilled. Lastly I placed the plaque onto a piece of waxed paper and then put that against a dummy cake so that it would dry with the right curve to fit nicely on the cake later.

Making the butterflies and the “hope” word was probably the hardest. Using tappits and patchwork cutters require quite a bit of patience, even using some new techniques I’d learnt (placing gladwrap over the letters, rolling gumpaste over). Needless to say there were a few busted butterflies and several of the same letters in case I wasn’t able to get the letters to come away cleanly from the rolled gumpaste.

All in all I was pleased with how the cakes came out. The last thing to do was to finish up the weekend by making a few cookies.

Dots Multi coloured roses Single rose

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A tale of two cakes

Cake Paper Party recipes

Cake Paper Party recipes

The heading of this post is a little melodramatic. Although I did bake two cakes today (Saturday). When I began to follow Summer Stone’s blog, Cake Paper Party, the first post I read was her post on American Mud Cake. The thing is I’d already read it somewhere else and hadn’t realise it was Summer’s recipe. Although I’ve found a Chocolate Mud Cake that works well (Planet Cake) I was intrigued by the American version. Since I didn’t have anything planned for this weekend I decided I’d bake the Mud Cake. I’ll pop it into the freezer and use it later in the month. The other cake I wanted to try was the Sour Cream Vanilla Bean Cake. It’s more or less a from scratch WASC cake. Even though I’ve got a couple of box mixes, and bought the White Chocolate pudding mix while in Canada, I’m still drawn to a from scratch cake. My problem was that Mr Fussy let me know on Friday night, after packing away the groceries, that there was no room in the freezer. He didn’t know what my plans were for the weekend, but the lack of freezer space was going to ruin my plans somewhat since I would have no room in my freezer after the mud cakes went in. The only option was to make the cake and then send him off to work with it on Monday.  I’m working at a client site otherwise I’d take it to work. With two birthdays from work colleagues this weekend it would have been warmly welcomed. Actually a cake at any time would be warmly welcomed.

A rouge block of chocolate has slipped into my "ganache" stash.

A rouge block of chocolate has slipped into my “ganache” stash.

The first cake I started was the Mud Cake. I’d pulled the butter and sour cream out for the Sour Cream Vanilla Bean Cake (SCVBC – just because it’s a lot to write!) before heading out the door for a run, but when I arrived back, had breakfast and showered ready to make a start, I realised I needed more eggs than I had at room temperature, I had enough for the Mud Cake, but not for the SCVBC. So decision made. While I wanted to taste test the Mud Cake, and check the texture, I decided I’d just have to forgo that. As I write I realise that was a bad decision, I really do need to know how that cake baked and tasted. I guess I’ll have to make another!

A little something I collected in Bologna

A little something I collected in Bologna

Can I just say I’m so very very pleased with the Magic Line pans I bought. I watch in wonder as the cakes bake so evenly, and near flat. While I can’t say whether it’s the ML pans or the fact the pans are just 2″ that makes the difference, I know that 2″ pans bake so well and I can’t imagine going back to 3″ high pans, unless of course I want to make a Mud Cake that isn’t expected to be layered.

Flat! I have flat cakes right out of the oven.

Flat! I have flat cakes right out of the oven.

I ran the knife around the edge of the pans carefully so as not to gouge out the side of the cake as I’d done with Mum’s White Mocha birthday cake, another of Summer’s recipes. I tipped the cakes out and then righted them up the other way. I was thrilled with how straight the sides were, and while the cakes look a bit wrinkly on the top (there’s sort of an optical illusion going on in this photo), they have remained flat and not sunk. And they’re 1.5″ tall. That’ll make for a taller cake than I’d usually decorate, it’ll come to 4.5″ tall with frosting to be added. But still, I’d rather than them taller and torted them than worry the cake height wasn’t going to be a bit on the short side.

Hmm, hard to explain what's going on here. I didn't poke my finger in it. I really did bake like this.

Hmm, hard to explain what’s going on here. I didn’t poke my finger in it. It really did bake like this. Ok, so this is not perfectly flat, but it’s the closest I’ve ever had and for that I’m grateful.

We can give the Mud Cake a tick. There’s nothing in making that recipe that worries me and I’m very pleased with how the cakes turned out. Of course I have no idea the taste which is important, and why I’m likely to be making this recipe again in the near future. After lunch I got stuck into the SCVBC. While I outside putting the mud cakes in the freezer I grabbed the other 1/2 recipe I had for the sugar syrup that is used to make the buttercream. I poured that from the zip loc bag to a bowl and then put it in the microwave for 20 seconds. It didn’t really warm at all, but it took the edge off the chill. The butter was at room temperature.

Love me some vanilla beans.

Love me some vanilla beans.

Onto cake number 2. All my ingredients were at room temperature but I still zapped the butter for 20 seconds at two 10 second intervals. The method of making the SCVBC is the reversing method, so there’s no creaming of butter and sugar where you can smoosh the butter well and truly before adding the remaining ingredients. It’s important the butter is quite soft so that it will incorporate without needing the living heck beaten out of it. The extra beating that might be required I suppose could over work the protein in the flour and alter the texture of the cake. At least I’ve heard you can do such things.

Beautiful cake batter.

Beautiful cake batter.

It’s a pretty easy cake to make, in fact I like not having to cream butter and sugar. Once it was ready to go I weighed the batter and then did my sums. While the recipe uses three 9″ cake pans, I wanted to have some of the cake to try but not all of it. I figured out I could use 7″ cake pans (using .77 of the full cake batter) and the remainder would be split across two 4″ cake pans.

Even just nudging above the top of the 2" pan these baby 4" cakes still rose and baked flat. I'm so excited!

Even just nudging above the top of the 2″ pan these baby 4″ cakes still rose and baked flat. I’m so excited!

As it turned out, the batter in the two 4″ cake pans was a little more than 1″ before baking. I had expected the smaller cakes to bake quicker but it turned out that the 7″ and two 4″ cakes took 35 minutes. The other two 7″ cakes took 30 minutes. Go figure. I think the oven temperature had dropped just a bit, clearly enough to make a difference. It wasn’t until I tipped the 7″ cake out onto the cooling rack that I realised I’d not run the knife around the edge. I shook my shoulders and threw caution into the wind and repeated the same with the 4″ cakes. They all just slid nicely out of the pans.

I probably didn't need to add some electric pink to the frosting. Oh well.

I probably didn’t need to add some electric pink to the frosting. Oh well.

The three 7″ cakes are in the fridge and will be filled and covered tomorrow. Not sure how I’ll cover them, but Mr Fussy has requested the Passionfruit flavour for them, and the smaller cake to be strawberry. I’d ordered Nutrafresh freeze dried powder during the week and was eager to try it. I bought Raspberry, Blueberry, Strawberry and Passionfruit. I whipped up the 1/2 portion of Swiss Butter Cream. It takes my KitchenAid a lot longer to emulsify the butter and sugar syrup than Summer describes, but eventually we got there. Again I had my face pressed close watching for that magical moment when everything starts to get all cohesive and I knew it was going to work. I’ll use the same method tomorrow for the passionfruit frosting. Update, well it’s hardly an update when you’re reading this all at once. It’s Sunday and I’ve finished the 7″ cake.  I made the frosting and it took a very long time of nothing much happening. I knew that it wasn’t ruined, I just needed to add a bit more butter. I could see the texture changing very slowly and found that slowing the mixer rather than increasing the speed worked better.  I reckon it took about 15 minutes before I added more butter, and then after that had been worked in I set the timer for 4 minutes. If it hadn’t worked after 4 minutes I was going to add more butter. As if by magic, right on the dot of 4 minutes the buttercream came together. Phew. I did have to add more passionfruit flavouring, so all up 2 tablespoons.

Great texture. These cakes have baked so nicely.

Great texture. These cakes have baked so nicely.

I didn’t need the full batch of buttercream. I knew I wouldn’t. I coloured some of it, but when I was finished and took the cake outside to the fading daylight I could see the buttercream was still too green for what I thought it was inside. I’ve got left over buttercream now in the freezer waiting for another round of cake baking/testing.

Love how the lighting makes this cake look all shiny.

Love how the lighting makes this cake look all shiny.

As for the design of the cake destined for Mr Fussy’s workplace, I had been puddling about with a piece of fondant I’d left out to dry over so I could basically finger paint. Well I wanted a watercolour effect but I have to admit to touching it with my fingers and pushing some of the colour around. I wanted to see how easy this “look” was as I have plans to use it for my Pink Ribbon cake. I first saw this design by Allison Kelleher from  AK Cake Design on The Cake Blog. Anyway adding this to the cake was a bit of a last minute idea. I’d previously cut the fondant strips out and had them measured at 4″ tall.

A small portion of the fondant I painted with edible dusts and rose spirit (not Vodka this time).

A small portion of the fondant I painted with edible dusts and rose spirit (not Vodka this time).

The 7″ cakes I had trimmed to 3cm in height and added minimal frosting between the layers. I really thought the cakes would have been higher than 4″ finished. Sadly I didn’t check before I started to place the fondant panels around the cake. Oh well. It was just some practice and rather than tossing the “art” out I managed to find a way to use it even though it hadn’t been my plan initially.

A little sandwich after dinner. Still a very light but moist cake after a day hanging out in the fridge.

A little sandwich after dinner. Still a very light but moist cake after a day hanging out in the fridge.

As for waste not want not. The left over cake that was torted I sandwiched together and that become pudding. I was pretty pleased with the texture of the cake given it had been in the fridge for a day. Hopefully it’s still just as good tomorrow but I wont know, and Mr Fussy is likely to try palming the cake off without having to have another slice himself. I suspect 3 days in a row might be pushing it. As for me, well I joined the gym today. Last day of sweet treats for me. I’ve got 2kg to lose in 2 months and it’s time to knuckle down and reduce the amount of cake and increase the amount of exercise!

Dessert.

Dessert.