Saturday, April 24, 2010

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them...............

Making this cake this week has stirred up all sorts of emotions. ANZAC Day triggers of all sorts of memories and connnections for me and making this cake meant I had a long time to think about them.
Firstly, my grandparents were in the Air Force, that is where they met, thanks to the stars above! They are amazing people, full of love, loyalty, family focused and with that typical have a go Aussie attitude. More importantly, they loved us unconditionally and were incredibly interesting people to grow up with. Oh, the stories they can tell. They just lived in a different era and have been through a lot, and their stories are always fascinating to me. I love them with all my heart. Thank you to the Air Force for bring them together and allowing me to know them.

Secondly, I have very early memories of standing in freezing cold darkness for the Anzac day service in Melbourne with my parents, whose friends served in the Vietnam War. Not much needs to be said about the mixed feelings that war stirs up in people, especially the poor servicemen that had to serve in it and the changed way many of them came back.

Thirdly, ANZAC day conjours up very recent memories of good times spent with close friends and family celebrating all things great about Australia and what these people fought for. Football! In Melbourne, ANZAC day means attending the dawn service, a BBQ in the carpark at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground, for the uneducated), before the BIG GAME of Football inside the hallowed ground!! Collingwood v Essendon. Not to mention the parade of the service men, who fought in the war and played football, around the ground and the playing of the Last Post. Always a great day, the ground is filled to capacity and the emotions are high.

I am really missing Melbourne and the traditional game this week. Wish I could be there. Sharing the day with my family and friends. Not that ANZAC day isn't big in the Alice. We have the service on Anzac Hill with beautiful views of the MacDonnell Ranges and the town. We have a parade and then the RSL goes off! It helps that we have an operating American/Australian Base just out of town, Pine Gap and current servicemen.

Anyway, what ever you are doing, do it with style and remember and celebrate all the reasons this country is mostly, so great!

Phew! Back to the cake....

This one is a white chocolate mud cake. I have never really got this cake. To me it just tastes like a rich pound cake. However I am a convert. Not because of the cake, still think it tastes like a rich pound or butter cake, but because you have to ganache these cakes in white chocolate before covering it. The ganache really lifts the cake! Helps bring out the flavour. So I guess the morale is, don't eat white chocolate mud cake unless it has white chocolate ganache covering it!

I basically started with a 8 inch square cake and trimed it to a rectangle by cutting some off one side and putting it on another. I then carved in the flag shape. It was my second attempt at carving and my first attempt free hand. I was surprised how easy it is once you relax and remember to breathe! I also think it helps if you have refridgerated the cake beforehand.

Missed all this photo wise but here is a snap of the shape ganached.

Then on with the blue icing. Can I tell you, this icing colour was quite tricky to achieve and I had to let it rest for a couple of hours until I could come back and try again, it sort of went teal before it went blue. And this colour leaves a mighty blue stain on your tongue! It is fascinating working with fondant icing, the more experience I get, the more confident I get (er, duh!).  You can just manipulate it so many different ways, like into the shape of a flag! LOL.

Then on to the other elements of the flag - the stars, the union jack, the pole and rope.

In theory the rope should be gold but I don't have all the supplies a decorator needs yet, so lets just call this one the "poor man's" version. Everything on the cake is edible.

I have never looked at the Australian flag so closely. I wanted it to be authentic, many of the cake examples I have seen are not. For example, the stars. Who knew they had seven points? All my star cutters have six or less, so I hand cut these ones. Most other people just go with what they have got. I think it was my OCD coming out. Gosh it's tiring sometimes!

Also, the small red stripes on the Union Jack do not line up or just go straight through. So it is not just a matter of a "X".  You need to put them on opposite sides of the white stripe once you cross the "cross" in the middle. Confused yet? Google a flag, or look closely at this one, you will see what I mean.

Here are some more pics of the finished product. My piping was good on this cake, but then I had to paint over it in red to make it stand out and that is where it went dodgy. I will go with a different plan next time.

I hope you like it.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The birds and the bees..................

How cute are these?!?! My girlfriend's little girl turned 2 last month, well, I think it was last month......seems like a long time ago!

The family was interstate and we didn't get to celebrate, so today was the day! She is a real little cutie and I decided she needed some cute little cakes to match.

Not to mention that I just wanted to have a go at these. They are featured in Planet Cakes book, which is a great book to get ideas from and have a go at relatively simple cakes and work your way up to 3D cakes. They explain the process of setting up a cake to decorating a cake from go to woe. It also helps greatly if you have done some of their courses too!

Anyway, in my usual style lately, I only took finished product photos, I just get so carried away and caught up in the moment when I am decorating, I forget all about it.

I have decided decorating cup cakes in this manner is just plain hard work. Much prefer the bigger cakes for this style of decorating. Cup cakes are for putting swirls on, not this elaborate work. Speaking of which, must away to fill an order for 24 yummy snickerdoodle cup cakes! Yum, yum, yum.

Enjoy the pics. The cakes were a hit with VERY big kids and little kids alike.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One for the footy lovers.........

I am very excited! This is my first paid cake that I had to come up with a design concept and carve out a shape from a cake on my own.

The customer is throwing a surprise 40th for her partner, Jeff (obviously, he is called Jeffro in typical Aussie fashion!). He loves the North Melbourne Football Club and she asked me to build a theme around that.

I came up with three designs. One design was really ambitious and involved carving out a kangaroo! Thank goodness she went with my recommendation of a jumper.

I loved the idea of using the jumper to celebrate his birthday.  I had seen a few cakes on the internet but all of them looked pretty square and were of the front of a footy jumper. I wanted something with more shape.

Enter, the Workaholic! I found the shape I wanted from a footy site and he got the tools out and carved it from one of my masonite boards using my paper template. Love your work, workaholic. This made it so easy to carve the jumper shape out of the actual cake later.

This cake is pretty big. It is actually 2 x 10 inch cakes, cut and built back into a rectangle before the carving. I had seen notes on doing a rectangle using an 8 inch cake but I am really glad I went with my instinct and went bigger.

Turns out the carving and ganaching were the easy bit. You then need to do a white fondant layer. This was surprisingly easy too. Amazing what happens with practice.

Then the hard bit. Creating the jumper. To do it in the right "Planet cake" way, you actually have to do another layer of fondant icing, piecing together the jumper. So I measured and divided and added and then cut out individual stripes, sleeve edging and neck edging. Almost like a sewing pattern I guess. Then you need to work super fast, because you need to place all the pieces on the cake and then smooth the joins together before the icing starts to harden. If you take too long the joins wont smooth together.

This is probably were I need more practice because some of the joins are a little dodgy but I don't think the untrained eye would take too much notice.

After I got the jumper pulled together I hand cut out some letters and numbers and made a cardboard template before hand cutting them from the icing. Hate the lettering part. Wish they made cutters that were half decent and came in lots of sizes instead!

The cake was finished on Thursday and then I basically had to hold my breath and hope my little people didn't touch the cake or I didn't accidently knock it over until today, Saturday. I hid it in the guest room but I am angling for my own "cake room" that no one can enter. The kids are just so interested and inquisitive about the cake's progress and it is really making me anxious having my hard worked on cake finished and just sitting there! Yes, the control freak is alive and well!

My favourite part was delivering it to the customer and seeing her face. First, the Workaholic and I had to debate over who would hold the cake and who would drive. The cake is really heavy so we went with me driving and the Workaholic holding. It was the slowest drive I have done in a while. LOL. Then we get to the gate of the property, just outside Alice Springs, or in the Rural area, as they call it, and it is a dirt road with lots of pot holes from the recent rain! Oh no! But we, and the cake, survived.

The customer's reaction was priceless. She gasped and her hands went to her mouth. I think the delivery is going to become one of my favourite parts of the process.

I didn't take many photos at all as I was so intent on doing the actual cake, but here are a couple I did take. Must remember to take a breath and take more "in progress" shots.

Pre numbers and other finishing touches.

My cut out paper numbers and the process I go through to decide what size and proportion.

All in all, I was very happy with the cake and can't wait to dream up the next idea.

Until next time.........

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ahha me hearties!

......or whatever it is Pirates say to each other!

I have heard from a few people that they are eagerly awaiting my next post, so here it is! 

It will be short and sweet because as the Workaholic has said, I am an overachiever, and that usually translates into, overcommitted or just committed too! LOL.

Volunteering to cut out 50 butterflies for Oscar's class, along with the usual 6 hours I do in there, doing two paid jobs this week and quoting for two more, as well as unpacking from the road trip, has seen me a bit manic.

These little cuties are something I wanted to try after my previous baby faces. I had an order pre Easter for the babies and dragon flys and threw in a couple of these for fun.  I made them pre road trip (ie, visit to the big smoke for supplies) so therefore didn't have the exact materials I require but I improvised and all the kids were impressed.

The lady I made them for sent me some photos of her grand children devouring them. It was so cute.

Anyway, here are a few more shots of the pirates and the others.