On to the plate

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


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David’s birthday cake

David2I’m a few weeks late in getting this post written. I had two cakes that weekend. This is the first. Then last weekend I made a start of Mandy’s farewell cake, all of which I’ll post. It’s just been a bit crazy between end of tax year for work with oodles of software upgrades to complete with a shortening window of time, and then cakes. Oh and Easter cookies.

But first of all was David’s birthday cake.

Layers of White TruffleI really wasn’t sure what to make, other than it was going to be both chocolate and vanilla. Mr Fussy said he wanted a Jaffa cake for our Anniversary cake (he probably didn’t want cake at all, but he knew I was going to make one anyway, so might as well play along). So half of each cake would be used in David’s cake, and the other half our cake. However the Sour Cream Vanilla Bean cake was left as vanilla for David’s cake.

How do you decorate a cake for a bloke? You can’t really have lovely frilly delicate flowers. But I needed to have something. And as per usual, the idea I had was a fluid one, and that what I initially thought I’d have changed a little over time. That’s the beauty of not having a particular design you have to create, you can go with the flow and be lead by how well (or not well) things are progressing.

White TruffleI’d been itching to try out the Bakels White Chocolate Truffle. I’d been following several posts on various FaceBook pages where it was discussed. I just wanted to know if it would set up sufficient that you could drape fondant over it and it remain stable underneath.

TopDavid’s cake was the perfect experiment for me. I warmed the truffle up and it was quite runny by comparison to usual ganache. But I was surprised how quickly it was firming. That gave me some confidence that it might set up firm. I used my usual upside down method for ganaching the cake. So putting all the weight onto the top (with the cake upside down) didn’t prove to be difficult at all. However the process for ganaching the sides means putting a little ganache on the top to basically secure the lid to use as a guide for getting a smooth surface on the sides. When I “popped” the lid off a bit of the cake under the ganache pulled away. Now I’m not one for waste, so I managed to scrape the cake off the lid and then pop it back where it lifted from. The upside down method worked really well and I was pleased with how it looked when I turned the cake up the right side and peeled the waxed paper off to reveal the perfectly smooth top. I went to bed.

Bubble topNext morning I noticed this bubble on the top. Everywhere else was perfectly fine. I think the bit of cake that had pulled away, which I fixed might have been responsible. It’s the most logical explanation. The ganache hadn’t set solid overnight as I expect of dark chocolate ganache so I was able to sort of apply a little pressure and see that it was able to move a bit. I used a needle and put a little hole in the top to then try and push the air underneath out. It worked well. Sadly I started doing so with just my fingers (like when you’re popping an air bubble in fondant), but the warmth of my fingers was starting to make the chocolate tacky. Belatedly I realised I should have used waxed paper and my fondant scraper to ease the bubble to the pin prick, that worked perfectly.

SucculentsNo harm done, I wasn’t leaving the cake top bare. I’d been making succulents over the week. And this morning I realise I actually had a Craftsy Class where Nicolas Lodge teaches how to make Succulents. But did I look? No. I instead scoured the Internet for instructions because doing things the hard way is sometimes the only way for me 😉

Chocolate paintingSaturday morning I set about adding some texture to the cake. I used a paint brush (only used for cake decorating) to slap the chocolate on. I had also used my Americolor Flocoat to mix a gel colour into the white chocolate to make a green that would be in keeping with the succulents.

Texture and colourEven when I’m trying to be random and haphazard I find that I have to work at making it look that way. Mr Fussy reckoned I should have attacked this stage blindfolded. For all that I achieved the look I was aiming for so it was now time to dust the succulents. That also was pretty easy. I certainly enjoy the look of gumpaste flowers having colours added, but I really find the whole dusting of petals my least favourite. I can colour royal icing and gumpaste to my hearts content, but dusting petals and leaves or, in this case succulents, is something I pretty much have to psych myself up for.

Petal DustSucculents all dusted and my “twig” made it was time to place them into the cake. Trying to arrange flowers or whatever is a daunting tasks for me. I am never happy with the process and I am never happy trying to wire them into an arrangement. I feels (and looks) awkward. I’m not at all confident with this phase and I really struggle.

David1For all of that, I was happy with the overall look of David’s cake. And of course the flavours were wonderful, although a little on the sweet side with all that white chocolate truffle.

Now to come up with some new ideas between now and the next birthday.David3

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The ah-ha moment

Neat tricks from Craftsy classes.

Neat tricks from Craftsy classes.

In preparation for a number of upcoming cakes I took advantage for the Craftsy call and enrolled for 3 new classes. I still have classes I’ve not yet had time to watch.

I started by watching the Monogram class by Nicolas Lodge. Nicolas is a Pastry Chef trained in the UK but lives in the US. I reckon in the first 5 minutes I learnt about 5 valuable lessons and it was like a light bulb went on.

I’ve mentioned numerous times the awful cratering problem with royal icing. What I hadn’t really thought about was colours have glycerine in them and that softens the royal icing and also meringue powder only has about (I can’t recall exactly) 35% egg white and is not as strong to use as raw/pasteurised/egg albumen.

I looked on fascinated with putting your royal icing out onto the work surface and using a small spatula to paddle the air bubbles out and to smoosh any bit of icing sugar that hasn’t dissolved properly. Why on earth hadn’t I thought of doing that before?

Look ma!  No craters. And they're nice and shiny

Look ma! No craters. And they’re nice and shiny

Then it was onto using parchment cones and making sure you cut the end off to allow for half of the piping tip to seat into the end to ensure there’s no “leakage” between the paper and cone, and to write the tip number on the parchment cone so that you can tell what you’re using.

Those five minutes were priceless. And last night I put all of it into action and I’m one happy camper with how things turned out. I will say that I still put a bit of tape around the cone and tip because I wanted to be doubly sure.

Nice and neat does it.

Nice and neat does it.

I also tried out a new cookie sugar recipe. I often look at picture of naked cookies and wonder if the author has used some really clever photoshopping/filter to make their cookies look so pale. I don’t know what it appeals to me but it does. Anyway having mucked up my recipe last week I decided I’d give another recipe a shot (it wasn’t the recipe’s fault you understand, I made a boo-boo). This time I turned to Sweet SugarBelle and whipped up her recipe Friday night. The recipe says you don’t need to chill the dough but I wanted to have it ready for baking Saturday and with a long list of things I wanted to achieve this weekend I was making this Friday. I also only added 1 teaspoon of baking powder.

What I will say is the dough cut beautifully. I roll my dough between two pieces of waxed paper and I do it immediately. I then chill the dough already rolled out. The previous weekend I had an epiphany after I’d completing cutting the cookies out. I usually have to use my offset spatula to prize the cut cookie dough from the bottom piece of waxed paper and it can get a bit of a drag. I realised that I could peel back the top layer, place it back over the top, flip the whole thing so the bottom is not the top, peel back the now top piece of waxed paper and the dough would now come away cleanly from the waxed paper without the aid of any other kitchen implement. Yay, another win for me.

A little bit of growth but looking good.

A little bit of growth but looking good.

The cookies did spread a bit, but I expected the would. They were lighter than my usual batch, and I noticed any pointy bit on the cookie of course baked quicker and therefore darkened a bit more. After the cookies had cooled I packed them up into a Tupperware container between layers of paper towel and as expected, this morning when I checked there’s splotches on the paper towel from butter leaking. It something that seems to happen no matter what recipe you use. I wasn’t expecting it would be different with this recipe. No worse, no better. Now the cookies are tucked up into the freezer and will be decorated next weekend ready for Mum’s birthday afternoon tea on Sunday.

My practice piece of wafer paper and a bit of dusting.

My practice piece of wafer paper and a bit of dusting.

What else did I do?  Ahh yes. While in the States I had a couple of Amazon orders delivered to the place we were staying at in San Francisco. One of those orders happened to be a bit stack of water paper. It seems to be quite difficult to find in NZ, but I will say that it’s becoming more popular and more and more of the cake stores are now selling it, though usually in packs of 5, or singularly. I bought a massive stack of 100 (I think). Friday I night I decided it was high time I tried out some of the craft punches I had. When I say some, I mean the two I have. The wafer paper cut so nicely. I was especially thrilled at how well the patterns looked. Tonight I tried dusting them to see how well the paper would take to dusts. It seems it’s ok, but it’s fairly faint, not that they are strong colours, each was a pearl/lustre.

Trying to decide on a colour.

Trying to decide on a colour.

It’s been like a little voyage of discovery this weekend. I’ve done so much, I mean I was on the go all day yesterday doing all sorts of things for next weekend and just getting a few things in my head sorted so that I know what does and doesn’t work for cakes I’m planning. Including covering two dummy cakes. My word I’m out of practice rolling fondant. This morning I’ve woken up feeling very sore. My arms are heavy! I’ve come to the conclusion that Bakels fondant is so much harder to roll than Satin Ice. On that note I’ve bought several 1kg pails of Satin Ice fondant for when it comes time to do Jasmine and Sam’s wedding cake.

Using up the last of the transfer batch of Royal Icing.

Using up the last of the transfer batch of Royal Icing.

So much more has happened but I can’t share all of it because some of it relates to Mum’s birthday cake and I want to keep that until next weekend. And in case you’re thing has gone swimmingly well for me, I will admit to making a caramel syrup where the recipe said not to let the sugar burn, but I did. It was taking forever to reach the correct temperature that I turned my back for a few seconds too long and it was all over. All sorted though, a second batch was made and it worked out in the end.

Another something new. That pearl white is not really all that white in the finish.

Another something new. That pearl white is not really all that white in the finish.

Now, if only I could find enough time in the weekend to watch all those Craftsy classes I’m enrolled for.

 


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Snow globes and other cookies and stuff

Phew, order has been restored to the kitchen. All the tiny glass bowls are in the dishwasher and the icing nozzles cleaned out. All the left over RI (not red, green or white) has been combined and made a milk chocolate brown. I’m following SweetSugarBelle’s suggestion of adding all left overs together to give a black RI a bit of a head start. All the RI is now in Glad zip lock bags, inside a larger one tucked in the freezer.

I’m not sure when I’ll be decorating cookies again. I don’t have any immediate plans, but nice to know I’ve got some colours all good to go when the time comes.

Snow GlobeI finished the Snow Globes this morning. I had piped the white over the first one and dipped it into the nonpareils and moved onto the second when I looked back and saw to my dismay, the weight of the nonpareils and the consistency of the RI was now slipping right off the sides of the cookie. Boo. Well that was quite a mess. I did what you’re discouraged from doing. I added more icing sugar to the white RI to thicken it up and then got to work with the last two. And I can tell you, peeling RI decorations off waxed paper isn’t as easy as Amber from SweetAmbs demonstrated. I bet the waxed paper in America is different from ours. I’m coming back with a suitcase full of Press ‘n Seal when we’re in the States in July.

I also had to thicken up the red a bit too. I had no problem piping the base of the Snow Globe, and thankfully I had plenty more cookies to decorate that I wasn’t hovering around waiting impatiently for the icing to dry enough before I added the next section of icing.

I had so many gingerbread cookies. I’ve got a whole other Tupperware Sweet Keeper chocka full of cookies that haven’t seen any RI.

Here’s the other cookies that I pottered around “decorating” to keep me occupied this morning. Gingerbread men Gold collection Squiggles

Yesterday I made LMF, that stands for Liz Marek Fondant, Liz is the lady whose recipe I followed, though the recipe had been shared on another blog in metric, so I went with that. Today I decided to add some Americolor Sky Blue to it. I’m just tinkering. It’s good to know how easily fondant will take colour, and I’ve got to say it was really easy. The fondant is still sticky and I had to continue to use my bench scraper to assist me in kneading, only to save my hand from a build up of fondant (this is only necessary when the fondant has warmed up through kneading). I wanted to know if it would roll as nicely as the recipe I used from Jessicakes Craftsy class. Here’s the YouTube for Jessica’s recipe, and the one for Liz’s. Actually there’s not a huge difference to the core ingredients. Jessica’s recipe has some corn syrup where Liz’s recipe has some commercial (Wilton) fondant added.

The fondant does roll nicely, and I am still in awe how smooth it polishes up. I used and impression mate and rolled the fondant over it. I couldn’t get the fondant off in one piece. I tried a light dusting of potato starch and still had difficulties. I tried rolling the impression mat over the fondant. This was much better. You can see how I used the fondant as a different type of decoration on the gingerbread cookies.Fondant covered

And to round out the day, I used Little & Friday’s recipe for Sweet Shortcrust Pastry. I had browsed through the cook book on Show Weekend and snapped a few photos because I was too lazy and didn’t have time to write out the recipe.Vanilla beans

This recipe requires 2 hours of refrigeration before use. And again the dough softens quite a lot by the time you’ve finished rolling it out. Thank goodness I have a tart press, or whatever it’s called. I opted for mini Christmas Mince Pies. Given how many cookies Mr Fussy is going to consume over the week, I think a smaller version of a Christmas Mince Pie will be just fine.

Half the batch 410gmI chilled the dough again in the tin before filling and then baking. I also used Vanilla Bean paste, you can see all those flecks of vanilla beans.

The first tray I baked for 11 minutes, the second tray probably closer to 13 minutes. The first tray has a nice crunch to the pastry, but the second has a nicer crunch, but they browned a little more. Not that I think they’ve coloured too much, and let’s face it, if you dust with icing sugar, it wont even be noticeable. I think I’ll split the difference and go 12 minutes next time.

Ready for the fridgeI’ve converted the dry ingredients into weight (I prefer weight, that wont ever change, but a cup of flour is not often the same measure a second time, depending on how you fill, whether you tap it, and if you level it) measures. I also tweaked the method a bit and have given all details.Mini Christmas Mince Pies

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry by Little & Friday

Makes 48 mini Christmas Mince Tarts

Ingredients

  • 360gm or 2 3/4 cups Flour
  • 150gm or 1 cups Icing Sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 250g unsalted butter, well chilled and roughly chopped
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Vanilla extract or vanilla beans to taste (I used ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste)

Instructions

  • Place the flour, icing sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to get air into the ingredients and to combine them.
  • Add all the chopped butter and pulse until the ingredients resemble breadcrumbs.
  • Tip in the lightly beaten egg, lemon zest and juice and whatever type of vanilla you’ve chosen.
  • Pulse 10 times, yes the instructions in the book state 10 times. Just enough to incorporate all the wet ingredients, but not break down the butter into a paste.
  • Empty the pastry onto a clean bench and gather the pastry into a ball.
  • I gently kneaded the pastry to help bring it together, but NO more.
  • Half the pastry (about 400gm each portion) and press it into a flat disk.
  • Warp the pastry with Gladwrap and leave it in the fridge for 2 hours to chill.
  • Heat the oven to 175deg Celsius.
  • When ready to use, roll the pastry out to around 4mm thick, cut your circles with a cookie cutter and place into a mini tart tin.
  • Return the tin to the fridge while you make decorations for “lids”.
  • Use the scraps and re-roll and press out stars or another type of decoration for the top of the tarts.
  • Fill the mini tarts with your choice of fruit mince meat.
  • Add the pastry decoration as the “lid”.
  • Bake for between 11-13 minutes until the pastry has browned lightly around the edges.
  • Turn out of the tins after 5 minutes.
  • I rested a cooling rack on top of the mini tart tin and then turned the rack/tin up the other way and lifted the tin off the cooling rack. With a gentle jiggle the remaining tarts fell out, so don’t hold the tin too high or they’ll crash down onto the cooling rack.
  • A half portion of the recipe yeilded me 24 mini Christmas Mince Tarts. The remainder wrapped pastry can be frozen, you might even make your cases and freeze the whole lot ready to go. L&F say you can take from freezer to oven, no need to thaw first, baking time might need to be adjusted.

1st batch 11 minutes 2nd batch 13 minutesAnd that’s the weekend done and dusted. I’m off on my first (of 9) trip to Hamilton tomorrow night and don’t land back in Christchurch until 10pm Wednesday night. So there will be very little happening in the kitchen this week. I bet Mr Fussy and my MIL will only be using 1 of the dish drawers in my absence. But at least I wont be having to empty 2 dish drawers, I wont have ANY to empty 😀


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Braided Pesto Bread

I’ve had a recipe pinned for a pesto bread for ages. You can see the original recipe here.

Basil Pesto Bread

In the end I didn’t use the recipe at all, rather just the method to achieve the braid.

Instead I used the bread dough recipe from the Craftsy class I purchased, as well as using the Pesto recipe from the Perfect Pizza at Home class. The Perfect Pizza at Home class is free! If you like pizza then I thoroughly recommend enrolling. It wont cost a cent, and you get to see some of the different techniques used to knead the dough. That’s the Stretch and Fold technique I’ve previously mentioned and shared a YouTube video of Peter Reinhart demonstrating it.


Basil Pesto Ingredients

The pesto recipe is in the class materials and it was my first time making pesto. I only made half the recipe because I didn’t have enough basil, but then the half recipe was more than ample and I ended up dividing the left over into two small freezer bags. One of which I used for the braided pesto bread.

Basil Pesto

I wasn’t 100% sure about the bread recipe I chose. It was to make baguettes not a filled bread, but I felt that most bread doughs can be adapted easily enough and when compared to the dough recipe in the original Braided Pesto Bread, I didn’t think there was a huge difference that it would matter.

I love the simplicity of the bread doughs in the Artisan Bread Craftsy class. I used the Marbled Rye bread recipe before, a type of bread I’ve never made but it tuned out great. Other than the fact I learnt I don’t like caraway seeds and it put me off eating the bread.

But this braided pesto bread? Fabulous. Loved it. Will make it again. So simple but full of great flavours, and the bread itself was lovely and soft in the centre with a crunchy outer shell.

Basil Pesto (full recipe)

Ingredients

  • 8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped and tossed in 2 tablespoons (30 g) of olive oil
  • 2 cups (437 g) fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed, and tightly packed into a measuring cup
  • 3⁄4 cup (177 g) grated Parmesan or other dry aged cheese
  • 1 cup (237 g) pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toast- ed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (237 g) extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat a frypan or skillet over medium heat.
  • When the frypan is hot, add the chopped garlic/olive oil mixture. Stir for 15 seconds and then remove the pan from the heat. (You only want to heat and “sweat” the garlic, not brown it.)
  • Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and add the heated garlic/oil mixture.
  • Pulse the mixture until all the basil is broken down and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Run the food processor for an additional 5 to 10 seconds to make a bright green, pebbly-textured sauce, thin enough to spread easily but not so thin as to be runny.
  • Add more olive oil if it’s too thick, or more grated cheese if it’s too thin.
  • Transfer the pesto to a container that can be covered with a lid to minimise oxidation.
  • Keep the pesto refrigerated for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.

 1309_Rising

White bread (full recipe)

Ingredients

  • 567gm bread flour (I used High Grade flour)
  • 11g (1.5tsp) salt
  • 3.5gm  (1tsp) instant yeast (I used the prepackaged sachets of Edmonds yeast)
  • 385gm water at room temperature

Instructions

  • In mixer mix all ingredients on slow speed with the paddle for 1 minute.
  • Increase
 to medium slow (no. 2 on the KitchenAid) and mix for 1 more minute. The dough will be soft and sticky.
  • Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Mix on medium low (no. 3 on the KitchenAid) for an additional 30 seconds. The dough will form a soft, slightly sticky ball.
  • Lightly oil the surface of your bench. Use your fingers to spread the oil around the surface where you’ll tip the dough onto.
  • Tip the dough onto the oiled bench and complete the first stretch and fold.
  • Cover the dough with a large bowl and wait 20 minutes before proceeding with the 2nd (of 4) stretch and folds.
  • Re-oil the bench as needed.
  • Once 4 stretch and folds have been completed (with 20 minutes rest before the next stretch and fold) the dough is ready to rest until it doubles in size, this will take around 60-90 minutes depending on how warm or cold the room is. Remember to cover the dough with a large upturned bowl.

1309_Pesto and Parmasen

1309_Cutting and shaping

To make the braided bread

  • Re-oil the surface of the bench ready to roll the dough into a rectangle.
  • Press the dough into a rectangle and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until is roughly 9 x 13” in size.
  • Spread the pesto over the surface leaving a 1cm gap all the way around.
  • Grate some Parmesan cheese over the pesto, I’m not saying how much you need, just as much or as little as you want, but generally if you’ve covered the pesto you’re good to go.
  • Starting with the long end of the dough, roll the dough, tightly, toward you.
  • Pinch the end to seal it then roll the dough so the sealed end is underneath.
  • Get a large baking sheet around 9 x 13” in size and line it with baking paper.
  • Transfer your rolled up dough to the baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut the dough from top to bottom. Now you have two separate pieces.
  • Pinch the top two ends together and begin to braid by placing one side over the other. I started with the left side over the right meaning the right was on the left side. Keep repeating until you’ve braided the length of the bread.
  • You want to work the braid so the cut side is facing up where you can see all the bright green pesto peeking out.
  • Pinch the bottom ends together and then join the two ends (top and bottom pinched ends) together so you’ve formed a circle of dough.
  • Lightly cover the circle of dough with Gladwrap and let it rest for 30 minutes while the oven is heating.
  • Heat the oven to 240deg Celsius and if you’ve got one, place a pizza stone on the lowest shelf.
  • Remove the Gladwrap and grate a bit more Parmesan cheese over the top of the dough.
  • Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Sometimes when I write up a baking experience several days after I’ve made the recipe (and this was made Sunday last week) it makes me really hunger for more of the same.

I enjoyed making the bread. I had plenty of time in between the stretch and folds and resting times to get stuck into other things (I was making gumpaste from the left over ombre pink fondant from Mum’s birthday cake). The bread was easy to make, I don’t know why people have a fear of baking bread. This recipe and method is so straight forward, and since you don’t have to knead for long periods in your mixer, or by hand, there’s nothing stopping a bread-baking novice giving this recipe a go. You’ll be glad you did.

1309_Baked and served


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The breakdown of making a Fondant Frilled cake (Mum’s birthday cake)

This is going to be a long post I suspect. To try and make it less yawn-worthy I’ll separate it out into:

  • The Cake
  • Ganache and covering with fondant
  • Fondant Frills
  • Gumpaste Peony flowers

But a reminder of what the finished cake looks like, because as you’ll soon read, this cake did not look pretty during different stages, and perhaps more importantly the top tier was not meant to be frilled at all. You’ll read why it had to, if you make it that far.

Finished cake

The Cake

Given the number of really positive comments I’ve had when making the Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla cake using the adaptions from Rose Bake’s post, I was a bit perplexed because I didn’t want to make a box mix, but I wanted all the flavour that came with it, and it makes a really nice moist cake. I wanted all of that, especially because I was making the cakes a week ahead freezing them, then collecting them from Natalie’s on Thursday to begin decorating. I needed a nice moist cake that would retain it’s flavour.

What I had decided to do was make the WASC cake, but instead of sour cream I made up the instant puddings. The 8″ cakes were Butterscotch. The 5″ cakes were vanilla instant pudding with a Lorann Kahlua flavour. I swapped out the milk for buttermilk.

Friday night I made all the cakes. I used my 8″ pans that are 3″ deep and essentially had 4 layers of cake mix in the two pans. I also made the 5″ cakes, also in a 3″ deep pan, but I only had one 5″ pan. It was quite a long night, especially when I made lemon curd, waffle batter and got a crusty no knead bread underway, and all the while keeping up with conversation with Kade and Randall who were staying overnight on a whirlwind stop.

Bake me a cake

The cake batter came 4 cm up the pan and then the cakes rose almost to the top. Unfortunately the 8″ cakes dipped big time, in fact they sunk lower than the 4cm of uncooked batter. I had wondered about using a rose nail to get more heat into the pans, and on reflection I should have done it. The reason I hesitated was when using them on Cameron’s cakes it made the cakes cook on the bottom with a bit hollow, and I didn’t want that either.

8 and 5 inch cakes

After the cakes had cooled I double wrapped them in Gladwrap and then left them in the fridge overnight. The next morning I torted and levelled them, only to find one of the 8″ cakes was still stodgy in the middle. I couldn’t bare the thought of having the cake cut and seeing something that looked slightly undercooked. There was nothing more to do than whip up another two cakes. This time I put the batter across both 8″ cake pans. They cooked up fine. I was worried about trimming them while they were still so fresh and wondered if I should put them in the freezer rather than the fridge to get properly cold. I decided on the fridge.

Ganache and covering with fondant

I was making a white chocolate ganache. I’d found a link on Facebook where a very talented NZ Cake Decorator had provided her recipe. I made the ganache during the week to see what it was like, so I had time to change to something else if it didn’t work out. I have little faith 😉  No, it’s just this was too important to wing it.

torted and trimmed-2

I used the left over Valhrona white chocolate I had used with Mr Fussy’s Devils Dream Cake, some Cadbury chocolate buttons (has cocoa butter) and the balance with Nestles compound buttons. I really liked the method used and I’ll use this method again. I added a Lorann Caramel essence to the ganache. I might have added two. I had Mr Fussy as a taste tester and he couldn’t detect the caramel so I think I used both tiny bottles.  I’m not sure if I’ll use the recipe as is, I need to tweak it, or flag a white chocolate ganache and stick with chocolate with around a 50% cocoa percentage.

The reason I say that is it didn’t firm up as much as I would have liked. It was great to use. I found Ganaching the cakes much easier with this, but the pay off is it not setting firm enough. It does firm up nicely in the fridge, but it softens as the cake comes back to room temperature. And this caused me immense grief when it came to covering the cakes with fondant.

The only snag I had covering the cake with the ganache, came at the top. This is the very first cake where as I separated the cake card from the top (having brushed it with water to make it sieze and therefore “pop” off) it actually pulled the ganache off. I figured it would happen at some stage but was pretty peeved it had to be now. I had to re-warm the left over ganache to get it slightly runnier to more easily fill the void. As I moved the offset spatula around the top it kept pulling at the rest of the ganache. It was tedious work and I sort of gave up. It wasn’t until later when I was thinking about flipping the cake upside down for the fondant frills that I cursed myself not persevering and getting a perfectly flat top. I really needed that flat top when I was tipping the cake upside down.

I was pretty relaxed about covering the cakes. I knew the 8″ cake would have the sides completely covered with the fondant frills so I didn’t have to focus too hard on getting everything pristine, but that’s exactly what I needed with the 5″ cake.

My plan for the 5″ cake was to cover it and leave it perfectly plain, to then spray it with a pearl lustre dust and then pop the peony set on top, allowing the peony to be the focal point.

When it came to the 8″ cake I could tell I’d rolled the very edge of the fondant a little thin. I wasn’t too worried because I suspected this corner to end up as excess drapage.  Mr Fussy pulled the cake toward me and I unrolled the fondant over the top. And very soon the weight of the fondant was pulling and I was starting to see cracks all around the top edge. They smoothed out pretty nicely, but then as I smoothed the sides I could see that the fondant was too thin and I was getting some tearing. I’ve never had that before on the sides. I also had a couple of air bubbles that refused to release the air no matter how many times I poked at them. And then as minutes passed I saw that there were small bulges in several spots around the sides of the cake.

I’ve never had that much trouble with a round cake. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t panicking. You wouldn’t see it, but it would have been better if I could get the bubbles out and resolve the bulges. I put this down to the ganache softening too much.

ganached and covered-2

In the photo above you can see a bulge in the bottom left of the cake, and another right at the front top edge. And I’m not showing you the worst bit, where I attempted to patch a tear that I deemed too wide to leave alone.

As for that 5″ tier that I needed pristine. Well that turned out not to happen. I’ve never ever had to pull the fondant off a cake before, but I had to do it twice! Each time a bit of ganache came with the cake and I had to wipe it off with a paper towel. I ended up putting the cake back into the fridge hoping it would harden up enough to allow me a better attempt. Each time it pulled at the top edge and was actually tearing right off. I put this down to the smaller diameter with the same height as the 8″ cake. It was just too much drag.

While I sat waiting for the ganache to harden I wracked my brain about how I could still get the covering I wanted. I just couldn’t see how it was going to happen. And I’m too inexperienced to know what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of, I made a collar which I then rolled around the sides, and I made a circle for the top. Of course that meant I had a seam down the back, and one around the top. No chance of letting that be seen. Lustre isn’t going to make that disappear. So it was with a sigh of relief I had fondant on the cake, but disappointment that I couldn’t get the finish I was after.

Fondant frills it would be for the top layer too. I prayed I’d done enough smoothing of the ganache after the two failed attempts to make it flat. But nope.

Out of balance-2

So much for approaching the cake covering relaxed. Though if I’d been worried before hand I’d have been a basket case with the way it all played out.

This cake is the first cake I’ve put back into the fridge with fondant on it. I’ve read heaps of people questioning about refrigerating fully decorated cakes and I knew that it was fine, but the cakes would condensate when they were removed, and needed to be left alone to try otherwise you risked leaving fingerprint impressions all over it.

I wasn’t worried about working with a cake that was condensating (is that a word?), I needed to wet the fondant strips to adhere them to the cake, it made no difference to me. I just needed the cakes cold, as Maggie Austin says, but more so because that ganache had another chance to beat me.

Fondant Frills

One of the many Craftsy classes I’ve paid for is Maggie Austin’s Fondant Frills. I’ve seen a number of these types of cakes on Pintrest and I was interested in how the look was achieved. When the class came up on special I decided I’d sign up for it.

Maggie’s “secret” is to flip the cake upside down, you place it onto the upturned baking pan with a piece of cardboard (cake card in my case) between the cake and the pan. This way you get the frills neatly falling the right way, and that first row sitting proudly above the top of the cake.

Ombre frills

I started out with the 5″ cake. I was going to leave it all white with the option to either dust the edges of each frilled layer with a shimmer pink, or use a gold dust dotted here and there.

I pretty much held my breath while I set the cake up for flipping. It was do or die. And to be honest, with all the other things that had challenged me along the way I expected to find a few problems with the cake flipping. But I’m glad to say that it was ok. Okay until it came to flipping the cake right side up again, and only because the cake pan itself shifted a little as I took my hand away and knocked into the top frill threatening to bust it.

Having survived the first cake I was less concerned about the 8″ cake, except how long it would take to cover it with frills and whether the softening ganache was going to give me more problems. I also didn’t know how that uneven top would affect the cake. I did have visions of everything inside the fondant moving about and dislodging. Yes I’d had some worrying times during the Friday at work trying to figure out if there was another way of getting the frills on without having to flip the cake due to the uneven top.

There was, I could add gumpaste to the fondant, or modelling chocolate. But I’d mixed the gradient colours the previous weekend and I didn’t want to lighten them anymore. Adding something to the fondant was not an option. I was just going to have to suck it up. I guess I was slightly relieved when I did get the leveler out and see that it wasn’t as nasty as it felt when I ran my hand over the cake. But it wasn’t great either.

Oh, I should mention how excited I was that my KitchenAid pasta attachment had arrived on Thursday. I’d ordered it from Fishpond, a model you can’t get in NZ. It came from America. Except the first one never arrived and I had to request it be resent. I was expecting it to arrive later and was thrilled it was here in time for Mum’s cake. I practiced on Thursday night since I had fondant out and it was all going swimmingly well.

And then on Friday night it decided to misbehave and it was grabbing at the fondant. I managed to get one row on the 5″ cake before getting the pasta rolling machine out and doing the rest by hand. And I’ve got to say it’s a lot of work and more fiddly having to roll and try to pull the fondant away from the machine. I’m sure I’d have saved a lot of time if I could have used the KitchenAid. All up it took 1hr 20minutes to cover the 8″ cake. I didn’t time the 5″ cake.

Ombre colours

My 2nd and 3rd colours were a bit too close and it’s hard to see the change in the cake. In fact I can really only see 3 colours. The pink was also brighter than I was going for, it made it very girly.

One of the things frustrating me was that a moist finger (Maggie’s instructions were to moisten the edge of the fondant strip with a little water to your finger tip) used to then place the strip against the cake was sticking to the fondant. So when I was taking my hand away I ended up pulling a hole into the strip. You can’t see any of them because the next strip covered it. But my advice is to try using a water pen. I bought a set on Saturday having learnt my lesson. Though I can’t promise it will be the answer, but surely it will save you having to wipe your hands dry after moistening each strip prior to placing it on the side of the cake.

One of Maggie’s sayings is “embrace the imperfections”. Good gracious, there’s so many imperfections in this cake and the decoration that there’s a whole lot of embracing going on.

I know it sounds like just about everything fell apart, almost every element caused me worry and extra time and Mr Fussy a lot of questions I knew he couldn’t answer. But really it was ok. I’m glad I did it, I’ve learnt there’s a lot of questions, but not necessarily immediate answers.

As for that 8″ cake. When I was finally done with covering it I had Mr Fussy help shift the lazy Susan that I’d been using while adding the frills, while I flipped the cake and then manoeuvred the cake up the right way to sit it on the lazy Susan. Mr Fussy wanted to take the cake pan from the top as I was lining up how to place the cake onto the base and I said it was ok. Famous last words. As had happened with the 5″ cake, the cake pan slid and this time it did knock the top layer of frills, and bust them. So I spent some time trying to get them upright and standing on their own. If only I’d allow him to help me some more. Oops.

Fondant Frills

I was a happy camper when I got up on Saturday and saw no more damage had been done and the broken frills were still where I’d left them. I just had to decide what to do with the 5″ cake. Should I leave it as is or add some colour here and there? In the end, after adhering the ribbon (I had a tiny bit of fondant with a few drops of water and mashed it up, then painted the sticky glue to the bottom edge of the cake and the ribbon went on easily, for the cake board I used double sided tape), I sent Natalie a few photos and we exchanged emails and I decided to place the cake onto the 8″ cake, using bubble tea straws and melted candy melts as the “glue” to stick the top cake tot he bottom, before deciding whether I thought a splash of colour would make or break the cake. I decided, obviously, that it was fine as it was. I think more colour would have been a bit too distracting. And since I wanted the peony set to be the focal point the whole less is more thought sprung to mind.

Gumpaste Peony flowers

I loved making the flowers. I had a ball. The only thing was the how long it all took. Well it didn’t take long I suppose, but there’s so many stages.

  • Make gumpaste
  • Glue a styrofoam ball and florist wire (I hate my glue gun!), then use florist tape to cover the wire (there’s 3 x 20 gauge wires)
  • Roll gumpaste, cut, vein and frill. Adhere to the ball, then repeat.
  • Leave it to dry.
  • Colour
  • Steam
  • Glaze
  • Then pretty much repeat for the leaves
  • Attach leaves to the flowers and tape together.

This peony is not as large as you can make it. You can add another 3 layers of 5 petals, but they’re all wired. Not that I was against wiring, but I felt the size of the peony with the bud and leaves was in proportion to the cake.

Pink peonies

While I only used one Peony and bud, I made 3 sets in different shades of pink. I wasn’t sure which colour I’d used, but I decided on the lightest pink since the cake was an ombre cake finishing in a blush pink colour (on the 8″ cake). I also made some extra petals. Maggie often has extras to put on the table or stick onto the side of the cake. But as it happened I didn’t have space on the cake and I wasn’t staging the cake on a table so adding extra petals wasn’t needed.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with the extra peonies. However I was looking at lots of images of Peonies to see how other people have placed them on cakes, and came across a picture of a peony that was being sold on Etsy. This person was selling them for $50. I don’t know whose currency that was. And they didn’t have any leaves, I’m not sure about a calyx since I didn’t look further.  No, I don’t think my flowers will ever be good enough for sale, and I’ve not considered it.

Pretty in pink

While I made a couple of full set leaves (there’s 3 parts to them) I didn’t have room for it on the peony set since the flower itself was going to be placed almost on the surface of the cake, and the leaves would usually be a little beneath the flower. Or at least that’s how Nicholas Lodge showed assembling the flowers. I also signed up for his Craftsy class Classic Sugar Flowers.

Here’s a shot of the back side of the peony set I had on Mum’s cake.

Underside of the Peony set

While I’ve made a better job of wiring the leaves, I’m still from perfect. You can see the wire which you shouldn’t. I love how the flowers really come to life after steaming them.

Ok, so that’s a blow by blow account of making the cake. I am pleased with how it looks in the end, and glad my choice in decoration has hidden a multitude of problems. And you probably wouldn’t have known unless I gave a very (long) honest account of making the cake.

Sugar Peony

Last words, not that I’m promising it will be short.

Travelling to the restaurant was going really well. I was in the back of the car with a 16″ cake board on my lap with a large piece of that rubber type mat with the cake on top of that. The very last corner we rounded and the top tier dislodged from the cake and went skidding toward the frills. I hate living in a city where the streets are a mess. I guess I should be glad that we got that far before it began to unravel.

Natalie took the cake from me and then I spoke with the restaurant staff about the delicate nature of the top tier. They were quite keen to put the cake in the chiller and I asked they not. I knew the fondant would soften and droop. They really wanted to put it in the chiller since they couldn’t think where else there was enough space, but they said they’d find a way. Phew.

Then when the plates had been cleared from dinner the waiter serving our table realised the “delicate cake with the flower” was for our table. I spoke with him and again mentioned the top tier having come unstuck and said he’d need to be careful picking it up and putting it down. He said he’d have me help. But then he turned up with the cake, the whole jolly lot. The 16″ cake board with the rubber non-slip mat. Still you can’t really expect a young man to have thought that the cake wasn’t meant to be presented with all of that.

Unfortunately the cake was much too moist. Somewhere along the line the cake seemed to have gained some moisture, the cake wasn’t cakey as it had been when I’d torted and levelled it. I can only assume that some of the moisture in the Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream and/or the ganache went into the cake itself.

Well that’s it for official cake “decorating” for the year, or at least until Christmas. I have no more birthdays now. It’s been a big year I guess. Cameron’s 21st, Dad’s 70th and Mum’s special birthday.

I’m going to be scratching my head looking for reasons to practice my new found skills. There’s only one way to improve, and that’s to keep giving it a crack. And given the amount of gumpaste I’ve made today, there’s a LOT of flowers to be made. But they better be pink and yellow. I see roses in my future.

And here’s where I wonder at what point I lost anyone who began this marathon journey reading this post.


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Mum’s birthday cake

This is a quick post of the photos of Mum’s birthday cake. I’ve been working on the cake (baked and frozen) and the decorations last weekend and finished decorating the cakes last night. Of course I’ve had to keep quiet about it because I want it as a surprise for Mum (who reads my blog and comments on my Facebook Page).

So here it is. Lots to be documented about making and decorating the cakes, and you can be sure I’ll have a follow-up post where I dissect just about everything. But for now I’m posting this (if I’ve worked out how to schedule the post I’ve quickly written during the day) since the cake will be on the table in just minutes.

Finished cake

Sugar Peony

Fondant Frills

 

Top tier


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Another practice cake–square cakes are not my friend

You might be wondering what all this practicing is about. I’m making my nephew’s 21st birthday cake (gulp). Because Cameron is currently working just outside of Sydney, and has a 6 week break between his work (he’s in outdoor adventure and they take a break half way through the year) his birthday is being celebrated early. In two weeks time. A month before his actual birthday.

Last weekend I had a go at an explosion design. I might try something different this week to see if I can pre-make the explosion, and use modelling chocolate as the interior colour. This will (hopefully) help with the interior colour bleeding along the edges of the cake fondant where the cuts are made, and get crisper slices.

I needed a cake recipe, and I was determined to use modelling chocolate in the decoration.

While Cameron has no ideas for what his cake should be, Natalie is keen on having two square cakes, one on top of the other, looking like boxes. The top having the explosion with stars bursting out the top.

My thought was to have it appear like the boxes had been covered in gift wrap. There wont be any fluffy bows, it’s a blokes cake after all Winking smile

The colour scheme is black, silver (grey) and red. Now you’re starting to see why last week’s cake used those colours, but I had no idea of design at that point just wanted to start using the colours.

This post is (meant to be) about the cake recipe I tried, the ganache recipe I used, and the the perils of getting nice crisp edges on a square cake.

I have enrolled in Jessica Harris’s Craftsy video, Clean and Simple Cake Design. It’s not one of the free classes by Craftsy, but from Jessica’s blog, Jessicake, you can get a 50% discount on the Craftsy class. Which is what I did.

The link to Jessica’s blog will take you to her post on the Mudcake.

Ingredients

Jessica had mentioned that this cake is best 3 days after baking. That suited me to a “T”. and in my mind, had me wondering how I might go about making the cakes for Cameron’s birthday where I wasn’t scrambling at the last might, completely exhausted and too tired to stay up past 9pm during his 21st celebration.

I made the cakes, 2 8” square cakes, on Thursday evening.

Got to love a cake that doesn’t require a cake mixer. And I’m loving my recently purchased Stevens milk saucepan. It has a teflon coating and a pour spout on both sides. And a handle, a proper handle, unlike my saucepan set, which I also love, but find it impossibly difficult to hold and pour from.

I used good quality ingredients for the cake. There’s Dutch processed cocoa and Whittaker’s chocolate. A mix of 50, 62 and 72% went into the cake recipe.

Batter consistency

This is what the batter consistency is like. It worried me a little because my cake pan was lined only with baking paper, and the bottom was a separate piece to the side. I worried the batter would leak out and some sit between the baking paper that was lining the side and the tin.

Jessica was very patient with me when I asked on her blog a couple of questions about the size of her cakes for the cake recipe. And I used that measurement along with the CakeOmetre website to convert the recipe from 2 8” round cakes, to 2 8” square cakes.

And I can say that the conversion worked beautifully. Though not all ingredients come out in a nice easy divisor. For instance I needed 3.8 eggs. Not going to happen Smile

Crunchy like a brownie

In the end, thankfully, I had no dramas with leaking batter and the sides lifted away easily, and the cake released nicely from the tin. Jessica had mentioned the cake is a bit like a brownie. I was hoping for that, and not the dense heavy type cake you get with Divine Cakes. Not that there’s anything wrong with their cakes, just that I don’t like how dense they are, and how sticky they become, especially with cutting them, which is my job, at work (my inability to observe people butcher the cake cutting without having heart palpitations).

See all those little holes?  That’s me testing to see when the cake was done. I started with 25 minutes, then went another 3, then another 3 and then a further 2. So 33 minutes all up for me. I was pretty confident that it was completely cooked, but you’ll nice I never actually tested the very centre.

Top and botttom

When I turned the cake out I couldn’t help but noticed that darker, slightly undercooked middle. And I should have turned the cake back up the correct way because that centre dipped, as you can see, and never came right after flipping the cake back up the correct way, once cooled.

The second cake, baked the same amount of time, after checking the centre this time, but still had a smaller section in the middle that looked a little undercooked. I wasn’t worried (other than the dip) because a brownie is meant to be fudgy and I’d see enough toothpicks come out clean that any more baking and I might have been overcooking the rest of the cake. I’m using the cake tin I use for making the Christmas cake, it’s proper tin and really retains the heat. I was keen to get the cakes out after 10 minutes of cooling because I was concerned the heat in the tin was continuing to cook the sides.

Even though the top of the cake is flat, it was still slightly raised to the sides, so I had to level it a little before ganaching. The top was lovely and crisp and I was having no problem snacking on it while I ganached the cakes on Friday evening.

Thursday evening I made the cakes, the modelling chocolate (in 3 colours) and made the Ganache. It was like having a full-time job, after my full-time job.

Ganache

I’ve watched Michelle’s YouTube videos (set of 3) on making the ganache, ganaching the cake and covering the cake in fondant, several times. You can see Michelle’s video’s here.

I used another tool, found on CakeCentral’s website for working out the quantities of Ganache I’d need for the cake.

I used Michelle’s microwave method for making the ganache. It worked out just fine, except that my bowl is just some plastic bowl from the $2 shop and did heat a bit, where Michelle mentioned that hers don’t.

Whittaker's 72 percent chocolate Ganache

More Whittaker’s 72% chocolate. I was a bit worried the chocolate would be too bitter, but I really wanted the higher percentage.

It was a very late night on Thursday, waiting for the cakes to cool and the ganache reach room temperature before putting in the fridge. I put both the cakes and the ganache into the fridge before they were all room temperature, but most of the heat had gone from both. They were just slightly warm to the touch.

I used 5, 250gm blocks of Whittaker’s chocolate blocks between the cake and the ganache.

Thursday evening I dropped into Divine Cakes to look at their cake boards and grabbed quite a number of things, and got my own Cake Decorators discount card. I felt so proud. Well chuffed.

The board I bought was 9”. I really needed two 8” cards so that I could have trimmed the cakes to be a few mm shy of 8” and then I’d have been able to get the ganache on better with the sides being perfectly straight, and the edges square.

Friday night I kept working those edges. I would sit for a while, think, research and get back up and try again. It was an arduous task. I thought what I ended up with was pretty decent given how hard I’d made the job for myself by not buying the right sized cake card. I’ve put that right by putting in an order from CakeStuff this afternoon.

Saturday all I had planned was to cover the cake in fondant. Nice and easy.

I had to rush to Spotlight, I’d tried getting there twice during the week. They close at 5:30pm. Such unsociable hours for people who work until 5pm and have to travel there. It’s not like their shop is central. And it’s not like Christchurch has anywhere that is a hub anymore.

I rushed to Spotlight to see if I could get some piping gel, quilters ruler and stitching tool, amongst other things. And I needed to be back by 10am for taking the cats to the vet with Mr Fussy. I only decided to rush to Spotlight at 8:15am. That has got to be the quickest shower I’ve ever had. I promise I did actually stay in there long enough to get washed Smile

Fondant with The Mat

I also wanted to see if they stocked grey fondant. They didn’t. They stock Satin Ice (as to Divine Cakes) and it would appear it isn’t made in grey.

I had to mix a very small piece of black fondant, and an even smaller bit of yellow, into the white Bakels fondant. And I could tell that I’d overworked the fondant. It had a funny texture on the surface. I knew I should let the fondant rest for a while (probably overnight) but I didn’t have time. I did leave it about 90 minutes.

I seasoned The Mat and got ready to roll out the fondant. I didn’t knead it anymore, I didn’t want to keep re-working it.

But guess what?  You know that builders saying, ‘measure twice, cut once’?  Well I should have done that. I got to 14” relatively easily. But it wasn’t the size I was aiming for. I was aiming for 20”. I had my measurements wrong. I kept rolling and rolling and sighing and thought I was never going to get there. And finally I did. After almost having to undress because it was so hot, and I was almost burning my hands with the friction from rolling my wooden rolling pin. And when I finally got my 20” all round I finally stopped and my brain kicked in and I realised I’d just rolled the fondant way too thin. I had the right amount of fondant, but rolled it big enough for a 10” cake of 4” high. The fondant was way too thin. So I had to gather it up and knead it slightly and start over. Reaching the 14” was reasonably quick, but again I could see the funny inverted bubbling on the surface of the fondant.

The the thing about using The Mat, the fondant is, not sticky, but without any cornflour or icing sugar, the fondant smoother was catching on the surface and not gliding across it nicely. So I had to sprinkle a little cornflour over the top in order to use the fondant smoother on top.

As for getting nice sharp corners. It never happened. I pulled the fondant into the corners like I’d seen, which caused a little bit of gathering of fondant along the sides, but I more or less got it right. Again because I was using a cake board that wasn’t the right side I had to work around a bit of a lip which I think didn’t help me trying to get the fondant nicely against the very bottom of the cake. It was a real hassle and I was very disappointed with the finish. I’ve covered the Chrismas cake better than that, and not watched any videos on how to. But the Christmas cake is on the Tupperware base and which gives plenty of flat surface. I will say that there was no tearing or pulling on the top corners.

While I thought I did a pretty decent job of ganaching the cake with what seemed like straight sides, the fondant covering showed up every little imperfection.

I couldn’t wait to cover the cake so I didn’t have to see those awful corners. I was going to decorate on Sunday but I finished the cake off Saturday afternoon (next post).

Cake texture

Cameron got a quick lesson in cutting the cake this afternoon. And I warned him about the resistance he would feel when he got to the ganache middle. And explained the bottom cake (for his birthday) will have 3 layers, so there will be two points where there will be some resistance. And then he was instructed about how to hold the knife to get a nice clean cut. He did ok, but was probably really baffled about all the fuss.

The cake was good. Phew. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the recipe turned out a dud like last week’s Vanilla Cake disaster.

The Craftsy classes (even the free ones) have resources and one of them is a sheet that explains how much fondant you’ll need for the shape and size of the cake (and has been spot on for me on both cakes I’ve covered these past few weeks). I was using it as my guide for how big I needed the cakes to feed 80 people. This 8” square cake, of 4” high (mine is 3”) said it would be 25 pieces, and that’s cutting around 1” wide. I can’t see how you’d get 8, 1” wide slices and come out with 25 but maybe it’s been too long since I was at school.

I had been doing all sorts of combinations over the weekend and reckoned that I’d end up getting 8 x 1” x 2” slices. That would net 32 pieces. The 10” cake I’ll be doing for the bottom tiers will be 4” high given I’m making that 3 layers, too keep the proportions right, otherwise it would look a bit squat.

As I cut the cake to get 8 slices for lunch we decided that the cake was actually too rich and 1” x 1” would be plenty. It was a really nice flavoured cake, and my worries about the ganache being too bitter came to nothing. I shared that concern but Logan assured me it was just right, and I also didn’t think it too bitter. And thankfully it was just perfect with the fondant, the fondant didn’t come across as being too sweet. Though I had a 1” x 1” centre piece with just that size piece of fondant on it.

What I am pleased with is how even the fondant was rolled. Looks good to me. Not that anyone else would probably give it a second thought. And of course the cake is great. Three days on and it was still moist and had great texture and flavour.

The plan now is to bake the 8” and 10” cakes next weekend, ganache them and then they’ll go straight into the freezer. I’ll collect one of them on Thursday, with Natalie taking it out of the freezer during the afternoon, so that all up it will also be the equivalent of 3 days at the time it will be eaten.

I’ll cover one cake on Thursday evening, collect and cover the other on Friday evening, and probably start decorating Thursday’s cake (10”) on the Friday. That should alleviate most of the pressure of having to fully decorate and deliver the cakes on Saturday.

Of course I know there will probably be something that doesn’t go as smoothly as I would hope for so I don’t for a moment think I’ll be cruising through Saturday, but you never know Winking smile

Fudgy consistency

You can now see how fiddly it was to cover the cake when I ended up with a really tiny bit of cake board in the way making the job quite fiddly. Anyway, the inside, and yes you can see that the bottom cake is a little more dense where it could have done with a little more baking in the middle. No one said it was stodgy, or they were just being too polite.

And that’s a sneak peek of what the cake was decorated like. But there were 3 different “thoughts” of design. That’s the next post.