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

 

Birthday Boardgame Bonanza

Hello everyone!

Apologies for my absence. Things got very very busy and it was hard to find time to sit down and write a proper post. Of course, that means there is a lot to catch up on! So without further ado…

I made three cakes for Zak’s Boardgames Birthday Bonanza. The lesson I learned? How to appropriately size cakes for a given number of people. There was WAY TOO MUCH cake (wait, is that even possible?).

Given his recent foray into Minecraft, the first cake I decided to make him was a cake that looks the way cake does in Minecraft.

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This was a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. I genuinely looked up a picture of a Minecraft cake in Google so I could place the red sprinkles accurately. This was a relatively simple cake, although cutting and placing the white fondant was tricky. It was fun, although some people at the party were confused about it.

I also made Minecraft cake pops: chocolate of course, and made to look like blocks of dirt or with mine-able materials.

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The second cake I made, was of Zak’s favorite boardgame of all time: Pictionary.

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This one was purely vanilla: cake and buttercream icing. Again, a simple design, covered in fondant. I got to use my brand-new writing tips to pipe the white outlines and words. While you can’t tell in this picture, my writing is still a bit wobbly. To help make the lines straight, I used a piping lace decorating tip from SweetSugarBelle “Piping Lace on Cookies” (A side note: I’m really excited to try piping lace too!).

Also, the reason the colors are a bit off on the board, it’s because it’s hard to cut a rectangular board into five equal areas, and I had very little orange/purple-blue fondant to work with. Covering the cake boards was a rather last-minute idea.

The final cake I made, was based on the Settlers of Catan. I ordered a hexagon-shaped cake pan and had to make four times my regular vanilla cake recipe. I put chocolate buttercream between the layers. I covered the whole thing in fondant, hexagons the exact size of the game pieces. I made my own Robber. I even made dice! I’m pretty darned proud of this cake.

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To help with the placing of the resources, I generated a game on my iPad version, for complete authenticity. Although the cake isn’t big enough to show the full game, the resources are placed randomly, as are the numbers.

So, three cakes, when really, the Catan cake would have fed us all.

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So the birthday boy was very happy, and I was pleased to pull this off, even if I do need to seriously reconsider cake quantities etc.

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Thanks for reading!

Jo

PS. I know this post isn’t as detailed as to the making-of for each cake, but I thought it would simply be too long, and I didn’t like the idea of splitting it into three posts. Suffice to say there was a lot of work involved but I’m pleased with how they all turned out ^_^

 

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 ^_^

A Gift from Me to You

Hello everyone,

First, I apologize for my absence the last few weeks. After my birthday, things got very hectic at work (Winter Concert and other festivities) and at home (upcoming Hanukkah and Christmas), and I hardly had a minute to myself, let alone the time to sit down, sift through my photos, and write a decent blog post.

So here I am, on Christmas Day, catching up! Merry Christmas!

It is fitting, then, that my post today is a cake in the shape of a gift, and ironically, for my colleague whose actual birthday is today. Happy Birthday Conchi 🙂

I got all my tools out, and I looked up how to make a bow out of fondant. This video was extremely helpful. The first bow I made, I used the exact dimensions the lady used. That one was WAY too big for my small cake, so I adjusted, and made a second one.

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Keeping with the festive season, I made a velvet spice cake, with chocolate buttercream frosting. I did not make my own fondant this time – I used store-bought white instead. I decided the “wrapping paper” would be green, so I set to kneading green food coloring into the fondant.

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This is arguably what took the longest out of the entire cake decorating evening. There was a lot of fondant to dye, and I had to make sure it was even. But I eventually got there, and covered my cake:

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Next, since my bow had “ribbon” that was 5cm wide, I had to make sure the “ribbon” wrapping around the cake was also 5cm wide.

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I used edible glue to stick the “ribbon” into place. Looking back, I could have made the ends slightly narrower, but the overall effect was still what I wanted. I added the bow. Then, I rolled out some more white fondant, and punched out snowflakes with my smallest plunger, and stuck them on with edible glue.

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Close up of snowflakes:

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I’m very very pleased with how the cake turned out ^_^ It wasn’t difficult as far as cakes go, and the whole decorating process probably only took about 1 1/2 hours. It was fun to decorate, and I would definitely do it again!

Thanks for reading!

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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! ^_^

Pre-Wedding Cupcakes

Hello again,

About a year ago, my boyfriend and I got an invitation to a colleague and friend’s pre-wedding garden party. She was getting married this summer, but wanted a big get-together with all the people that wouldn’t attend the formal wedding. A few weeks ago, I was chatting to one of her friends who was on the committee to help provide the food and drinks. That’s when I found out that this committee were all contributing to part of the culinary aspect of the garden party, and they wanted my advice on where to get cupcake decorations, tips for icing, and recipes. So I gave them my go-to basic vanilla cupcake recipe (you can’t go wrong with it!) and offered to make some fondant roses as decorations. I wanted the practice, and I thought this would be a nice way to help out.

Somehow, miscommunications ensued and I got put on the list to bake and decorate 20 cupcakes. My colleague said she was awful at decorating, so she suggested we team up – she would bake 40 cupcakes, and I would decorate them. Since I had just ordered a 1M piping tip from Wilton, and I was making the roses anyway, I agreed.

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So this entry is more about my epic decorating job than actual baking. It took me 3 days to make the fondant roses (I made my way through 4 Disney movies – Cinderella, Princess & the Frog, Wall-E and Tangled) and about 3 hours of piping and decorating. But I was very pleased with the results.

I made chocolate and vanilla buttercream, and iced half the cupcakes in each, so people could have some choice. The theme colours of the garden party were purple and yellow. I took a short-cut with the fondant and used store-bought yellow and pastel yellow. The pink was left-over from the pink champagne cake. Since I find purple a difficult color to blend into fondant (and preserve the color richness) I decided pink would do just fine.

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The garden party was lots of fun, and Michaelynn loved her eclectic mix of cupcakes in lieu of a pre-wedding cake!

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Can you spot my cupcakes? 😉