Zoe’s Pillow Cake

Completed CakeI’m sorry there was no post on Thursday. The cake in the photo above is the reason for the delay. I got a last minute call requesting for a pillow cake for 42 people and pretty much spent my week either at work being a dentist and managing a practice at the peak period of school holidays and coming home to work on this cake. To say that I am exhausted is an understatement. Truth be told, I don’t even know how I managed to get both jobs done. Adrenaline, I assume.

As a result of that experience, I have decided that I will only be posting once a week on Sunday instead of twice as I was doing previously. The reason is obvious – I just don’t have enough time and as my posts and projects increase in complexity it takes more and more time to complete as well.

Anyway, on to the cake! It was not my original idea as the client had this cake in mind, so the structure and colour scheme of the cake was already prescribed. However, the finishing touches were and my favourite part of it was definitely the tiara which I designed from scratch at 1am on Thursday in bed, trying not to fall asleep.

Zoe’s Pillow Cake

Chocolate Tiara

Ingredients and Materials

40g white chocolate, melted
Disposable piping bag
Waxed paper
Tiara template (available for download here)
Edible pearls
Tweezers

Method

Watch the YouTube video below for full instructions:

Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients (for 2 tiers, one 8 inch round and one 10 inch square)

LIST A
750g dark chocolate, chopped

750ml water
840g brown sugar

LIST B
600g butter, room temperature

840g brown sugar
12 eggs
1080g self raising flour
60g cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced).
  2. Line all baking tins with baking paper.
  3. Combine all ingredients from List A in a microwave safe bowl and cook in 30 second intervals until ingredients are melted, stirring in between each interval. Mixture may look like it has split slightly but that is okay. Set aside.
  4. Working off the ingredients from List B, cream butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl down between each addition.
  6. Pour warm mixture prepared from List A into the bowl and mix. Add self-raising flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Mixture will be fairly runny.
  7. Bake in baking tins – two 8-inch rounds and two 10-inch squares. Baking time will vary – about 50-75 minutes depending on the size of the cake. Cake is done when a skewer when inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Wrap cakes immediately in cling wrap after they are removed from the baking tins and freeze.

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients

500g butter, softened
500g icing sugar
125g dark chocolate, melted (my favourite method for melting chocolate outlined here)

Method

  1. Cream butter and sugar together in mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Pour melted chocolate in and mix until well incorporated.

Assembly

Progress shots

Ingredients and Materials

3.5kg fondant (I used Satin Ice)
Dowels
Decorations as desired
6 inch round cardboard base
8 inch square cardboard base
13 inch square cake board

Method

  1. Roll 1kg fondant into a 14 inch square and use that to cover the cake board. Leave to set for at least a day before placing the cake on top of it.
  2. Stack round cakes fill with buttercream. Cake should be sitting on a 6 inch round cardboard base with a punched hole at the center for dowel to go through
  3. Trim into a shape of a pillow using a serrated knife and cover with buttercream. Put into fridge to firm up. Roll 1kg of fondant into a 17 inch disc and cover the cake.
  4. Repeat with square cakes, rolling 1.4kg of fondant into a 19 inch square before covering.
  5. Place 4 dowels into the square cake to support the weight of the round cake above.
  6. Place square cake on cake board. Insert a taller dowel that spans both tiers into the cake and slide round cake down onto it to prevent movement of tiers.
  7. Decorate as desired.

And that’s it! Other decorations that I used included fondant flowers, quilting the fondant with a stitch tool and ropes for the tassels and trim of the white pillow. The pink pillow was trimmed with royal icing.

I apologize – the photography of this cake was not what it should have been. I had about 10 minutes to photograph it before delivering it thus the very substandard image!

It was quite an experience, but what is going to be an even more exciting experience is when I go to London in a couple of weeks! I will be attending a cake decorating course there so it’s going to be pretty exciting to learn more techniques and improve my skills. Can’t wait to go – I fully intend to check myself into a day spa for a couple of days to unwind. The last few months have been overwhelming.

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Cupcake Decorating: Flamingo Cupcakes

Flamingo CupcakesPink is for flamingo. According to Google Search when I typed in ‘pink animals’ in my search for something to match my pink cupcake wrappers. It was either that or weird looking sea life and insects. So flamingo cupcakes it is!

I wanted to name them but could not think of any names that rhymed with Flamingo (my preferred method of naming objects. For example, I’m currently typing this post on Claire the MacBook Air). Ideas, anyone?

I’ve decided to try to take a photo of my photography set up from now on. As long as I can remember to photograph it because I am terrible at reminding myself to do things. A few people have requested that I show my set up and I figured… why not. As long as nobody tells me how messy my apartment is!

Alright – onto the recipe and tutorial!

Flamingo Cupcakes

Flamingo Tutorial

Flamingo

Equipment and Materials

Floral wire
Wire cutters
Fondant
Pink food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Black edible ink pen
Small brush
Knife or fondant tool

  1. Tint some fondant pink and roll into the general shape of a flamingo’s body. As a guide, I had Google images open with a variety of flamingo photographs to hold my lump of fondant up against to get the right general shape and size. Leave to dry for a few hours.
  2. Dampen the tip of some floral wire with a brush and some water and insert into the base of the flamingo’s body.
  3. Roll a small ball of fondant into a teardrop shape and using a fondant tool or knife, gently mark some lines to mimic feathers.
  4. Brush some water onto the flamingo’s body and attach the wing.
  5. Paint some yellow food colouring on the flamingo’s face to depict the beak.
  6. Using a black edible pen, mark lines for added detail.
  7. Attached a tiny amount of white fondant for the eyes. Using the pen again, draw in the pupils and eyebrows into desired expressions.
  8. Paint the floral wire pink.

Cupcake

Ingredients (makes 9 cupcakes)

100g butter, room temperature
100g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
100g self raising flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160° Celcius (fan forced).
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until light in colour and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add zest and eggs and mix until combined. Mixture may look slightly curdled but nothing to worry about.
  4. Add flour and mix until well incorporated. Pour batter into a piping bag.
  5. Pipe mixture into cupcake liners in a cupcake pan (fill 2/3rds of the way up).
  6. Bake in oven for 18-20 minutes or until cupcake springs back when pressed gently.

Glaze

Ingredients

Juice from half a lemon
100g icing mixture
Blue food colouring

Method

  1. Mix all ingredients together to form a smooth glaze.
  2. Add more icing sugar or lemon juice depending on the consistency desired.

Note: Glaze will form a dry surface but will not be completely set underneath.

Assembly

  1. Pour glaze onto cupcakes carefully, using a skewer to move the glaze into the corners of the liner. Dip a skewer into some blue food colouring and swirl glaze around to create a textured blue surface. Leave to set.
  2. Stick flamingo into the cupcake in desired spot, making sure that it is fully embedded and right down to the base of the cupcake for maximum support.

Photography

Flamingo Setup

I set my cupcakes on my piano stool. I know, I know! White leather is highly impractical. But, I’m a grown adult – I can look after things! Famous last words before I spill red wine all over the seat, no doubt.

I then propped up a wooden serving tray as the background (from Wheel & Barrow) and a olive green ribbon for the styling. The white piece of cardboard on the left is there to help reduce the shadows. What you don’t see is my hand holding it up. Main light source from the right (sunlight).

Photographed with the following lens and settings:

Canon 60mm 2.8f
ISO 100
f 2.8
1/50 seconds
Focus point: Front flamingo’s head

How To: Make Fondant Daisy Flower

There many daisy tutorials out there but most seem to be the ones that have fairly sharp angles and imprints. I decided to make something a little less angular and if you’re interested read on to see how I made mine!

I actually used them on my Daisy Bee Cupcakes in combination with bumble bees. Please refer to the bumble bee tutorial if you are interested in learning how to make that too!
Fondant DaisySupplies needed

Daisy cutter
Fondant (coloured to the shade of your choice)
Small rolling pin for rolling the fondant
Tiny rolling pin for flattening the petals
Flower sponge
Small sable brush
Some water
Sieve or meshy object

Steps

  1. Roll the white fondant out thin – you should be able to see the colour of the surface that you’re rolling on through the fondant. The thinner you roll it the more delicate your flower is going to be.
  2. Cut two flowers shapes using the daisy cutter.
  3. Using the tiny rolling pin, roll the petals outwards, thinning them further.
  4. Move the cut out onto the flower sponge. Place the rounded tip of the tiny rolling pin on the tip of the flower petal and draw inward towards the middle of the flower – this will curl the petal. Repeat these steps with the second flower cut out.
  5. Roll a pea-sized amount of yellow fondant into a ball and flatten. Press against sieve or any other textured mesh to create a textured surface for the daisy’s heart.
  6. To assemble, brush some water in the middle of a flower cut out and pop the second flower cut out on top of it, staggering it so that the petals do not overlap. Brush more water on top of the second cut out and press the textured circle in the middle.
  7. Leave to dry for a few hours before use.

How To: Make Bumble Bees

I have finally gotten round to making a tutorial! A video would probably be better but for now sequential photos will have to do – I’m already very proud of the fact that I didn’t miss any crucial steps the way I usually do. Baby steps!

I have actually made these bees  before in the past (Bee Lime Tart) but never made an actual step by step thing on it. Anyway, here they are on my Daisy Bee Cupcakes! Please refer to my Daisy Tutorial if you are interested to learn how to make the flower too.

Bumble Bee Tutorial

Supplies required

Floral wire, medium gauge
Sugarpaste
Black edible ink pen
Yellow and black gel food colouring
Pink lustre dust
Cotton buds
Fine sable brush

Method

  1. Tint some sugarpaste with the yellow food colouring and roll into teardrop shapes approximately 1.5cm long.
  2. Wrap the floral wire around a pen or cylindrical object to shape it into a spiral.
  3. Dampen the end of the wire and insert into the sugarpaste teardrop shape. Leave for at least 12 hours to dry and firm up before moving onto the next stage.
  4. Using a black edible food pen or black food colouring and a brush, paint stripes onto the body of the bee.
  5. Pinch a very small amount of white sugarpaste and roll it in between your fingers. Use the tip of the brush to dampen the surface of the eye area of the body and then stick the white sugarpaste on.
  6. Roll some small amount of sugarpaste into a ball and flatten into a teardrop shape to form the wings. Dampen the top of the bee and place the wings on, making sure they take on a curved shape. Leave to dry.
  7. To finish the bee off, swab a very small amount of lustre dust onto the bee’s cheeks using a cotton bud. Then, using the black edible ink pen, draw in the features as desired.

The most fun part of this project is definitely the features as it gives the bees some character. It is not too difficult either, just a little time consuming due to the wait in between drying times. Hope some of you find it helpful!

 

Squirrel Coffee Walnut Cake Recipe

Squirrel Coffee Walnut Cake
I used to bake 8 inch cakes. I then baked 6 inch cakes because we didn’t need so much cake. I took it a step further and decided to bake a 4 inch cake because let’s face it – two girls experiencing the sad slowdown of metabolism in their late 20s do not need to eat any more than what’s absolutely necessary.

Broke out my trusty chocolate cake recipe and decided to go with a coffee flavoured buttercream. I was extremely pleased with how the flavours turned out – a nice balance of chocolate and coffee with just the right amount of moistness.

Then came the decoration dilemma.

I tried to pipe swags and failed miserably – I’m still not quite talented enough for that sort of thing. I then tried to pipe cornelli lace and failed miserably on that front too!

Things were getting desperate. After more brainstorming I decided on a walnut border at the bottom. And then it hit me – I’ll have a squirrel holding a walnut as the cake topper!

Squirrel Coffee Walnut Cake 3

Squirrel walnut silhouette 

Once again, I apologise for my extremely non step-by-step series of photographs of this cake. I just can’t remember to stop at every step to take a photograph!

Squirrel Coffee Walnut Cake Recipe

 

Squirrel Coffee Walnut Cake 2

Chocolate Cake

The recipe used in this cake has been outlined in my previous post, Caramel Spiral Cupcakes. It makes 2 rounds of 6 inch cakes, enough to complete a layered 6 inch cake.

Coffee Buttercream

Ingredients

250g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 packet instant coffee

Method

  1. Dissolve instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of boiling water and leave to come to room temperature.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale in colour and increased in volume. Add instant coffee solution into batter slowly, mixing until well incorporated.

Chocolate Squirrel

Materials

Squirrel template (click link to download)
25g chocolate
Plastic piping bag
Walnuts

Method

  1. Melt chocolate (my favourite technique explained here).
  2. Placed melted chocolate into piping bag and snip a very small hole at the top.
  3. Place squirrel template under waxed paper. Pipe squirrel outline and then flood entire area.
  4. Press a piece of walnut into the squirrel’s hands before the chocolate sets and leave until fully hardened. Peel off wax paper carefully and leave to set.

Assembly

  1. Fill cake with buttercream and cover completely.
  2. Press walnuts into the bottom of the cake to form a border.
  3. Place squirrel on top of cake – squirrel should be able to stand on its own. If not, prop up with a walnut.
    photo

I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did making it. I thought the cake turned out quite well and it’s a simple technique that can be applied by anyone.

P/S: I’m obsessed with Instagram at the moment, admittedly a little late to the bandwagon but better late than never, apparently! If you’re interested in random photos from my daily life as well as my projects click here.

 
 
 

Carved Carrot Rose Cupcakes


Carrot Rose Cupcakes 5So I got it into my head that I could carve carrots if I wanted to after watching this video on YouTube. Sure, I didn’t have the right knife (used my smallest utility knife that was still too large) and I’ve never had any experience carving carrots and it was rated as an Advanced Lesson. But hey, I can cut vegetables – surely I can carve a rose! It’s practically the same thing! Right?Carrot Rose Cupcakes 2

As you can see from my rather indelicate roses, no – they are not quite the same thing. I actually tried to practice a little more and try to make a more respectable specimen but failed miserably. I would like to think they still echo the vague idea of a rose, but you can be the judge of that.

Carrot Rose PrototypeMy first attempt. Very blocky result. 

I nearly decided not to post these up but I decided that I should show my failures as well as my successes. After all, not everything I make is going to turn out the way I want them to. In this particular case, I really do think the knife was to blame (poor workwoman blaming her tools) because the blade on mine was just too thick and wide to make cuts that were as delicate and curved as they needed to be. I might have to try to bring home a surgical scalpel next and see if that helps.

Carrot Rose Cupcakes

I still had fun and I think I will try to acquire a Thai carving knife before pursuing any more carving projects in the future. However, the cupcakes tasted great so I guess it didn’t really matter. Recipe below:

Carrot Cupcake Recipe (makes 6 cupcakes)

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup self raising flour
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 160 Celcius (fan forced)
  2. Combine all ingredients and divide into cupcake liners.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until skewer comes out clean after insertion.
  4. Leave to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar

  1. Cream all ingredients together until light and fluffy.
  2. Transfer to piping bag with a large round tip and pipe a spiral on the cupcakes.

Chocolate Cage Cake

Chocolate Cage Cake 2

I had been lamenting that I would love to make more cakes but there would be nobody to eat them so there was no point in me doing it. As a result, one of my friends offered to purchase a cake from me for her sister’s birthday to help keep me occupied. After much thought, I decided that I would try my hand at chocolate cages. I loved the idea of a lattice sitting around the cake – it would be intricate and delicate at the same time.  Well, in my mind it was intricate and delicate.

I decided on a 8 inch chocolate cake and covered it with chocolate buttercream. The design for the top of the cake was done with the now in vogue petal buttercream technique, which I have since made a video tutorial of on a different cake:

Recipes for the cake and buttercream available on my Caramel Spiral Cupcake post. I think from now they are going to be my go-to recipes – they work really well together. Rich flavours and soft crumb with moist texture with a very workable buttercream texture.

Then it was time to decide on how the cage was going to be. I wanted a lattice that was intricate, strong and at the same time easy to pipe. After much indecision I came up with this design. I have since made it into a PDF, available here – for download. Much neater and clearer, even if I do say so myself.

Lattice Template for Chocolate Cage

Chocolate is quite runny for piping, much more challenging than royal icing I feel – it would be near impossible to pipe it properly vertically. I decided to wrap my template and waxed paper around the only thing in the house that was 9 inch round – a pot – and hung it off the leg of one of the chairs in my house and rotate it as I went around the cake. I have tips on how to melt chocolate quickly and easily if you are interested.

Let me tell you it was no easy task – the pot would rock a little every time more chocolate was added on due to the weight. I guess my career as a dentist came in handy – I’m quite used to working on moving patients so was similar to working on a patient that was fidgeting in the chair.

PhotoGrid_10_08_2013 8:36 PM

Once it was all done I slid it off the pot and peeled the waxed paper away. The chocolate cage broke in a couple of spots in the process but that was okay. I carefully placed it around the cake, lined up the seams and piped more chocolate to make it whole again and voila – my project was complete.

Chocolate Cage Cake 3
If I could redo it again I’d probably make a 4 or 6 inch cake and make the cage 2 inches larger than the cake. I probably only had half a centimetre of gap in between the cake and the cage and I feel a little more would have been more elegant. I would make the cake slightly shorter too – I was caught off guard by how tall the tiers stacked up!

Overall, it was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps the next time I’ll try a different pattern and do it in white chocolate instead.