You’re Never Too Old For An Animal Party

This epic cake was for a young lady who turned 18. Her party’s theme was ‘animals’ and she herself was going as a unicorn, which I applaud because you should never ever lose your silly side just because you grow up.

So I searched for animal cakes, and found one that served as my basic inspiration. Given more prep time, I would have ordered more specific fondant and created better decorations and figurines, but given the resources that I had, I think it turned out OK.

I decided on a three tiered cake. If you are a baker and ever find yourself having to bake a cake for a large number of people (50 in this case) and no idea how much cake you actually need, I highly recommend signing up to this website: www.bakingit.com. It’s free, so long as you’re using it on a computer, and it will basically design your cake for you, once you put in your specifications (shape, number of portions, etc).

The largest tier was a marbled vanilla-chocolate cake, with fresh strawberry icing. This icing is DIVINE.

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I covered it in white fondant, and decorated with strips of black to emulate a zebra’s hide.

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The middle tier was a chocolate mudcake, or as my father calls it, brownie cake. Given its’ richness, I decided to simply cover it with dark chocolate ganache, as a tree trunk.

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I punched out lots of leaves both in dark green and bright green fondant, and lined the top of the middle tier. I used three different sizes, first the big ones, then I used middle sized to fill in the gaps.

Once I placed the final tier on top, I used the tiny sized leaves to hide the edge. The final tier was all vanilla, and decorated to look like a giraffe’s skin.

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And lastly, I did make a small elephant and panther head, because after all, it wouldn’t be much of an animal cake if only two animals were represented. I found this handy tutorial to teach me how to make an elephant; the panther came straight from my imagination ^_^

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I had a blast making this cake, even if it did stress me out, I had bad luck finding the right gluten-free flour, and I was up at all hours of the night putting it together. But the look on Lucie’s face when I delivered the cake was definitely worth it.

Happy Birthday!

A Spring Twist: White Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

Upon our return from Spring break, we celebrated our final two birthdays of the year. Seeing as I’d made several chocolate cakes before, I gave a twist to this one, and made it with white chocolate instead, and iced it with fresh raspberry buttercream.

I searched online, as usual, for recipes that would suit my ideas. I used this recipe for the white chocolate cake. It works quite well, although I would urge you to absolutely follow directions and lay down a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan. The cake is quite sticky to get out, and I lost one layer in the process. This meant I had to bake another batch of the recipe, which resulted in the cake having three layers instead of two (which worked out very positively in the end 🙂 ).

Once baked and cooled, I disregarded their white chocolate frosting, and instead used a delicious, fresh raspberry buttercream recipe instead. When you first add the raspberries to the butter, don’t get discouraged that the mixture looks very sloshy! The icing sugar absorbs it all, and the quantities listed are perfect.

Here is the cake, firming up in the fridge with the buttercream:

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While the cake was setting, I melted a whole bunch of chocolate over a double boiler. I think I melted about 160g. This was to make the beautiful lace collar I planned to place around the cake. For a great tutorial (with pictures!) on how to make one, click here. I love the little pan I used with the pourer bits on each side. I knew I would have to pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag, so that made it much easier and mess-free.

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I cut a piece of wax paper in half, and stuck the two ends together to get a long collar. I laid it out on the counter, and once the chocolate was cool enough in the piping bag so I wouldn’t burn my hands, I piped random swirls on the wax paper.

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In hindsight, I would cut a slightly smaller hole in the piping bag, as some of these lines are really thick, and it took twice as long for them to set than what the tutorial said (1 hour, instead of 1/2 an hour). But I finally was able to carefully press the collar around the cake.

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Obviously, it was a bit taller than I estimated. I put the cake in the fridge, and left it overnight to set completely.

The next morning, I very very carefully peeled away the wax paper, and added fresh raspberries to spice up the top decoration.

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Upon taking the wax paper away, I could see that, ideally, I should have placed the chocolate a little lower, so that it would be aligned with the bottom of the cake. But for a first attempt, I was very satisfied with how it turned out.

I didn’t have time that morning before leaving, so I put the leftover buttercream and my piping tools in the bag, and piped an edge around the bottom to hide the gap. My original chocolate centerpiece also cracked, but luckily, I had made several and had a back-up, for when it was time to serve the cake.

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And the inside looked just as delicious 0.O

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Thank you for reading! ^_^

Jo x

 

Decadent Chocolate Roses

Today’s cake is a rather decadent chocolate layer cake. Months ago, my friend Emily sent me a picture of a cake with large chocolate rose swirls all over it, and I resolved to make it for her birthday. Well, her birthday eventually came around (as birthdays do), and she got her chocolate cake.

The cake itself is a simple cocoa devil’s food cake. which I iced with chocolate buttercream, both between the layers and on the outside. Then I made another batch of buttercream for the large roses.

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To help break up the monotony of constant brown chocolatey-ness, I whipped up a mini batch of vanilla buttercream and colored it pink. I added tiny swirls of pink ‘flowers’ to complement the brown.

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And of course, I got to practice my piping writing. Although I did forget to cross the ‘t’ in birthday! O.O

Sorry this was a bit of a short post this time around – I didn’t take many pictures of this cake, and it was a fairly simple confection.

Thanks for reading,

Jo x

 

Chocolate Bouquet

This cake is for chocolate lovers. It was my third epic cake in two weeks, and I don’t think I will ever get myself into that situation again unless I am a full-time baker. Jenna requested a chocolate cake, and I had to top the one I made for her last year, which was modeled to look like a box of chocolates (tutorial by Gina on deviantART).

After a Google search, I came across this image, and thought it good inspiration for my own cake. Unfortunately, my cake pan was wider than this, and I couldn’t find chocolate fingers to make the “basket” so I simply used chocolate fondant.

First, I looked up how to make chocolate roses. I made three batches of chocolate “plastic” (I don’t like that term), one in white, milk, and dark. This recipe was easy to follow and worked very well, but make sure you use cooking chocolate, not eating chocolate. I couldn’t find cooking chocolate for the milk and used Cote D’Or, which ended up crumbling easily when I made the roses. Then, I followed this step by step tutorial on how to form the roses.

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It was very similar to forming fondant roses, but the chocolate hardens with exposure to the air, rather than softens after more manipulation, the way fondant does. It was easier to form the waves in the petals and curl them back because they were simultaneously hardening. With fondant, I find it is hard to get the thinness needed because it tears, and just falls off.

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I made three different size roses, and started placing them on the chocolate buttercream covered cake. It was a mostly random arrangement, with a lot of tiny roses to intersperse the larger ones.

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As I got closer to the edge, I realized I needed to place something to help tie the bouquet together. So I rolled out a long snake of dark and white chocolate plastic and twisted them together to make a border. Then I continued filling in the space as much as possible.

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Jenna was super pleased with the cake, and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. In the future though, I know I need to prep A LOT more tiny roses than I did initially. Covering an 8″ cake takes a lot of roses and a lot of patience.

Thanks for reading ^_^

Pink & Purple Ombre

This will just be a short post, and nowhere near as elaborate as my last one, but I want to share this cake with you anyway. It brought me to tears, despite its’ simplicity.

I made a pink and purple ombre cake for my colleague’s birthday this week, right after my mountain cake. I drew inspiration from Glorious Treats’ Purple Ombre Mini Cakes, and figured it would be an easy and simple cake that would still look pretty.

And it mostly was! I doubled my easy vanilla cake recipe and split it first in half. That was my first mistake: I eyeballed instead of measured. With each half, I then dyed it with the lighter colour first, and then the darker. Overall, my colours were just fine… but the heights of my cakes definitely were not.

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I admit: I cried a bit. I had a mountain of stress, a huge cake I’d finished the day before, and now this simple cake reduced me to tears. But, I still put it together, because honestly, what else was I going to do?

It actually turned out OK.

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Unfortunately, the skinniest layer was supposed to be the second, so the ombre effect was a bit off, but the cake overall looked good.

I covered it with simple vanilla buttercream roses.

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And the cut slice still looked pretty cool ^_^

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But for next time, lesson learned: Don’t double from the start, and measure accurately when separating the batter.

PS. Apologies for the darkness in the photos. I don’t have very good photo lighting in the apartment, and it was dark outside.

Soccer party for 20, coming up!

Today I’m excited to share with you all my first cake commission. At the Birthday Break last week, when I brought out my Rainbow Cake, a colleague asked Josh who made the cake. He pointed her in my direction, and she asked if I would be open to baking a cake for an event: her son’s birthday party. Josh was going to run the soccer themed party with fun games, so I figured, why not? Sunday birthday party meant I would have all day Saturday to work on the cake without time worries. Well, life got in the way a bit with that plan, and I unfortunately had to turn down going to watch the rugby (Luxembourg-Israel, practically down the street from me) but let’s move on. Cake.

Luckily, the cake boards I ordered from England (The Craft Company) arrived on Friday so I didn’t have to worry about lending out a foil-covered chopping board. (The amount of packing space in the box was absolutely ridiculous).

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I searched for soccer-themed birthday cakes online, and found a great one through Google Images. It linked me back to this website. I shared the photo with my colleague, who thought it looked great and worried it was too much trouble. Since I’d not gotten to use my piping grass tip since I bought it back in March, I was super excited to try and represent this cake.

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So I prepped my cakes (double batch of Devil’s Food Cake) and used chocolate buttercream icing to put the layers together and crumb-coat the whole thing. I used Wilton’s Sports Ball cake pan to make the ball.

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Then, I had to cut pentagons and hexagons to cover the soccer semi-ball. Wanting to do this right, I actually looked up a Youtube video. I had all kinds of mathematical operations to do to get this right, including using a protractor. Never thought I’d use one of THOSE in baking!

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Then, I got to the fun part – tessellation! Late Saturday night, after a lovely dinner with Josh’s parents for his dad’s birthday, I came home, cut careful shapes from fondant, and tessellated the soccer ball.

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This morning, I whipped up a double batch of classic white icing (using shortening instead of butter) and tinged it with A LOT of green food coloring to get a nice field color. I set myself up with The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel’s Beginning to keep me company while I iced, and got to work.

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I started by icing the sides of the field with a knife. That part was going to stay smooth. Because the cake and chocolate icing were room temperature, I had to be careful not to scrape any of the chocolate into the green. Once the sides were done, I put my grass tip on the piping bag, and started piping “grass” on to the top of the cake, around the ball.

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When I made the green icing, I unfortunately forgot to save a bit of it in white (before adding the food coloring) that I was going to use to mark out the basic lines on the field. I then remembered I had a bag of white Candy Melts, and looked up online to see whether it was possible to pipe them. Luckily for me, they are, although I will avoid it as much as possible because it includes putting them in the plastic piping bag and microwaving it until they are soft enough to knead to the right consistency and pipe. But for the purposes of this cake, it all worked out, and I piped the white field lines directly onto the icing.

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I finished this with a couple of hours to spare before the cake was to be picked up, and lots of spare melted Candy Melts so I piped a message onto wax paper and stuck it in the fridge, just in case. The cake looked fine without it, but this was a birthday cake after all. So after the letters hardened, I carefully peeled them off, and gently pressed them into the icing on the side of the cake.

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Overall, I was very happy with the cake. There are a few things I would change if I were to do it again (like adding a small cake board under the half-ball for extra support) and perhaps making a buttercream frosting for the white grass, for better consistency and taste. The parents were impressed with it, and Josh told me it was a success and delicious.

Thanks for reading! ^_^