Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Short and sweet today. Here are two cakes I made for love!

The first is for my father in law to take to his volunteer job at the local old Courthouse in Mornington, where we have an information centre, staff entirely by volunteers.

I thought they deserved a special cake this christmas. The cake itself is strawberry white chocolate mud cake layered with white chocolate ganache and strawberry jam.

All the decorations are made from fondant, including the bow/ribbon.

Enjoy Norm and the vollies!

The second cake is for the Workaholic's workplace. It started off its life going to be a white covered cake with a 3d christmas tree with presents around the base and a snowman on the top.

But I was watching/listening to the Channel 7 Domain Carols on Saturday night while I was doing these two cakes and looked up and saw their visual identity and wanted to give it a go. Talk about design and execute on the fly!

I just checked in at every ad break to see if I had it vaguely right. LOL! I then added the tree base and the balls around the bottom.

Often people have a theme or an invitation design for their event that they would like transferred or carried through on a cake. I guess this is what happened here!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas................

How much fun is christmas? I love this time of year. In fact, I am sure I blabbed on about how much I love christmas in this blog twelve months ago, so I will try and keep this short and sweet.

I have been fairly slack this christmas with my baking and christmas preparation in general. Just so much going on - renovations for my cake room, end of year school functions, parties, life. All the stuff that other people have too but it has caught up with me this year. Just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. It is so bad, that for the first time EVER, I have not written a single christmas card. So, if you are expecting one from me, "Merry Christmas, hope it's a good one and can I please have this year off? I promise I will be good next year!" Thanks!

I did spend a late night during the week making a present for Oscar's teacher. You know I could never buy something, I have to bake it, create it or something silly like that.

So these are the results. Tada! I may have said this before, but I will say it again. Designed, individual face cupcakes like these take an incredible long time to do. They are so fiddly, time just rushes by. I know some fellow cake people charge $20 each for these. I used to think that was OTT, now I think they are being generous. I may just act like a supermodel in regards to these individual babies and say I wont get out of bed to make them for anything less than $X. Ah, funny.

Anyway, these are so cute, I would do them again in a heartbeat. They seem to take on their own personality.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh Max!

Oh, I had such fun with this cake. For those of you old enough (but ageing gracefully, thankyou!), you will recognise the theme from a popular American TV series - Get Smart.

An old work friend, Liz, contacted me when I was still in Alice Springs, lamenting that I wouldn't be around in Melbourne to make her partner's 50th cake. Well, as circumstances have it, I was, and I am glad I was, it was a beauty to work on.

When talking to me about designs for the cake, they were just wanting a small shoe phone on top of a cake in a very minimal way with some writing on it. I said "how about the shoe is the cake" and off we went. And so did lots of big ideas!

At first, I thought I had bit off more than I could chew (nooooo, you? I hear you say!). But I got right into the research of the old episodes, the Workaholic's brain (which is full of old TV, he watched ALOT when he was young, misspent youth and all that), and various fan websites.

The more I researched, the more the cake grew. Really, I could have gone silly on this but I had quoted the cake based on the original design and as much as Liz and Trev are a gorgeous couple and I enjoyed making this one and taking a hit on the costings, there was a limit.

The Workaholic, now he is not so much of a Workaholic, keeps sticking his nose into my cake designs and he actually finessed this design for me on the run. Turning into quite the apprentice he is.

So, to refresh your memory on Get Smart, what you see on the cake is:

  • the red line leading Max into the building at the opening of the show
  • the first of a series of doors, this one is meant to look like lift doors, but actually open up into a stair case
  • brick walls signifying the hallway and walls around the doors
  • one of the secret agents in a letterbox. It could have been a phone box, locker, cupboard, washing machine, ship fog horn etc. Options were endless. They were always in the most bizarre spots.
  • the cone of silence. According to much of the footage I watched, this changed a number of times, sometimes the Chief and Max sat together under the plastic and other times they had their own domes.
  • the shoe phone. This was the hardest to find pictures on for reference. I have no idea why. There are also a number of versions of this phone but I decided to go with the earliest version.
  • a classic line from the show

I adored making this cake. It was quite big in the end. The bottom cake was a 10inch square turned into a 15 inch by 10 inch rectangle. The shoe phone was a 8 inch square but I finished up probably only using half of it.

Somewhere along the line, although I started of doing classic formal cakes, I have morphed into quite a bit of novelty. Not sure which I like the best yet. Just have to keep experimenting!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beer o'clock

This cake was lots of fun.

It was ordered by a work collegue from my previous life in Marketing, many years ago.

Her best friend, who is turning 30, has a thirst for beer. Unfortunately, she is pregnant at the moment and can not enjoy her beverage of choice on her 30th.

This was the next best thing.

The cake itself was a white chocolate mud. The beer bottle is modelled from fondant and is edible. The colours covering the cake tie into the colours on the beer label. The beer label was a bit of a cheat job, but effective- it is soaked off a real beer bottle and stuck on the bottle.  One day I will get around to trying a icing print sheet!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dessert Table - farewell Alice Springs :(

Okay, this is going to be a tough one to write. Not just because it is almost three months after the event, but because it is safe to say that deciding to leave Alice Springs was one of the toughest decisions the Workaholic and I have made in our 11 years together.

We love Alice Springs and the Northern Territory. Our lives, values, dreams and a whole lot more changed for the better when we moved to Alice Springs. The outback just suited us. The people suited us. We miss it everyday.

Someone, who had returned from 8 years in the outback said that to me once, that she missed it everyday, before we lived in Alice Springs, and I thought "well, if you miss it that much, go back, it's that easy". Oh, how niave I was, how uneducated. I cringe now at that thought! I wish it was that easy! (I apologise for my thoughts, Jo ;).)

But it's not easy, it's complicated. Complicated by kids and extended families living in other States and opportunities for kids that are completely different to opportunities in Alice. I still haven't figured out which opportunity is best, and I don't think I will ever know. What is good in Alice is bad in Melbourne and what is good in Melbourne is bad in Alice. Or something like that. It is not black and white. They are polar opposites, neither right nor wrong. Complicated!

Alice, the place just gets under your skin, it calls to you. And those that don't live there are going to think I am nuts. But it is magic. The indigenous people of Central Australia know what I am talking about. Many of our Aboriginal friends have said to us in our final weeks, "them ranges will have you back". And I am sure they are right. We will be back, even if it is in many years to come. There is a belief in Alice that if you see the Todd river flow three times you will stay for life. We saw it flow many more times than that. My brother thinks we singlehandly broke the drought when we moved there! We will be back.

Anyway, I needed to farewell the Workaholic's workplace with a bang. They had been so much of our lives for 3 years. They had tasted everything I had baked while reigniting my passion to bake. They had shared our family and my husband. Many of them laughed with us, cried with us, camped with us and will be friends for years to come.

I decided to make the final bake about everything my Workaholic loves as well as the thing that started this whole "Baked by Kate" thing - cupcakes. So, I searched around for lollies, and lots of them. The Workaholic loves them. There was not a lollipop to be found in Alice Springs, so I sent away to Adelaide. I cobbled together trays and jars and lollies from everywhere. Then I made my own fudge for the first time ever. Between me and you, I don't see the point. But the Workaholic loves it.

The office loved it, I even provided lollie bags for them to take home to their families. Sugar highs all round town that day. It was a great send off, our kids where there, as they have been throughout this journey.It took them a couple of hours to come down from the sugar. Poor mites.

Dessert Tables are all the rage at the moment, so I got to experiment again. To be honest, it was hard work. Supplies are thin on the ground. Having been back in a major city, I can see that it all could have been pulled together in a mere few hours here, with much more aplomb.

However, isn't that just the point of the whole Alice Springs experience and why we love it so much -  it's not about having everything you could ever need, it's about trying to make a difference to those who have so much less and that we all muck in and help each other out. It's about community.

At the time of baking for the event, this was just to be a "change of jobs" farewell, not a farewell from town, however during a holiday up to the top end directly after the party, we spur of the moment decided to leave the Territory the way we came - very quickly!

So it is with much sadness and fond memories I say goodbye to Alice Springs.

Thank you, you have made me the person I am today.

See you next time mate!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Jake's shark cake

One of the advantages of me back in Mornington, for my friends here anyway, is my ability to make birthday cakes. One of my best friends pounced on me the moment I was back with a "I'm so glad your here, you can make Jake's cake!"
Jake's dad is a big time fisherman and diver, loves all things sea, hence his little boy is following in his foot steps. He had already requested a fishing boat or a shark for a cake. He knows everything about the sea and its creatures. For him, sharks are not sharks, they are gummy sharks, hammerhead sharks etc. He has that much detail at 4. No pressure though!

To put the next bit into context, we did move house this week and the Workaholic started a new job so it was full on. Cake decorating in the middle of boxes. My how I stressed over the detail in this cake. So much so, that the night before when the Workaholic was strolling by the kitchen and he said, "more like a whale, than a shark" and then wandered back in later, closer to midnight, when I had thought I had resolved the issue, and he said "more like a dolphin, than a shark", I spat at him "YOU DO IT!" To which I gave him a crash course in fondant and modelling and off he went.

So this cake is a joint effort! Well the shark is anyway, he moulded the body and I did all the rest. He is turning into quite the handy apprentice. He has had "do a pottery course" on his list of hobbies to do for so long, maybe this can be his substitute.

I was happy with the cake, I really like doing cakes with a bit of a scene. I loved the sand and the pier. Could have gone nuts on this cake if I had some more time that week.

The workaholics meddling brings me to another subject. How critical my family have become of my cakes. No longer is it "wow, that is fantastic", I get a bit of "oh, there's a crack there" or "you should have done a stingray". Spoilt, all three of them. They spend all there time dreaming up bigger and better cakes for me to do.

Anyway, back to the main story, the shark cake. It went down a dream, was showcased at the party and my name was exchanged with the guests, while I was left cutting up the cake. Is there anyone out there who makes cakes that doesn't have to then cut up the cake if they are at the function too? If there is, I would like to meet them. LOL!

Happy 5th birthday Jake!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spring time 106

Ah, the final cake in my week at Planet Cake. As the teacher, Jessica Pedemont says, the training wheels are well and trully off!

This cake is huge! Three cakes for the base, followed by one and a half cakes for the top. VERRRYYY TALLL! Major learnings in stacking and ganaching the cake, not to mention the covering of such a tall cake.

Seems to me, many people treat Spring time 106, like a competion and go all out with fancy designs, as the design is entirely up to you.

I decided, given this was moving week in the Wotherspoon household, and I also wanted to get as much out of this as I could, that I would keep it simple and work on my flower making (oh, the dreaded flower making). I also worked with "Bling" for the first time. Love it!

The roses are what they call "quick roses" but given the humidity that week, they could have been called troublesome roses!

Anyway, I had a ball, loved every minute of the week and made some great new friends. Thank you to Jessica, Effie and Katrina (the cleaning fairy). Jessica and Effie, your capacity to share your knowledge is appreciated.

The Workaholic's zebra cake

Poor ol' Workaholic married to a cake maker! It was the workaholics birthday in the middle of my Planet Cake week and our moving house week, so the pressure was on, and time was tight.

I had asked him weeks before what sort of theme he wanted. Beach, motorbikes and a few other things were thrown into the conversation. Not sure why I asked, as I did what I wanted and he ended up with Zebra stripes!

You see, each family members cake (ie unpaid cake), I use as an opportunity to try a new flavour or technique I want to try. In this case, the Workaholic got his flavour (caramel mud) but that's where the love stopped!

You may have noticed my love for black and white. It is actually quite hard to pull off. For starters, black is very sticky on account of all the colour required. Secondly, one touch of the black on the white and you have a unsightly mess. Also, thr cornflour needed to roll out your icing, looks terrible if a speck of it gets on the black. All things you need to be mindful off.

So with some left over black and white icing from 105, I decided to try my hand at some painting on to a cake, something I haven't done before. It worked okay, but next time, I will be a bit more heavy handed. Seems I was a bit delicate. I have since seen some hand painting in action and you can add so much more colour.

The Workaholic had a great birthday and I got to play with some techniques. Happy wife, happy life!!

Planet Cake 105 - Black and White Chandelier - all time fav!

This cake concentrates on the art of the cube and square. Squares and cubes are much more difficult to pull off than a round cake, because of all the angles, although I quite like the challenge.

The further you go in Planet Cake training the more freedom you get. This cake had to be a two tiered large cube and square cake but the colours and design where up to us.

It was the first time this course had used stencils. Prior to this one it was piping, which I was keen on practicing but am so glad we got to stencil.

I have a bit of a thing for black and white, so I went with that.

We were fortunate to have a generous class mate who had lots of good stencils, along with those provided by Planet Cake, so I borrowed the chandelier design from my class mate, Voula. I also have a thing for chandeliers at the moment too.

The bottom cake is actually two 8 inch mud cakes. I used a large stencil on front and back and a smaller stencil on the sides so there was some difference.

The flower is a peony rose with some leaves and red berries. Rose colour, berry colour etc was ours too.

I loved this course. All of us started with the same base cake and they all ended up so different. Even the three black and white cakes ended up very different from each other. See pics below.

Planet Cake - 106 - Springtime is supposed to be the first time you get to totally create your own cake, but I think this may become the new Springtime, or a mini one anyway!

Love, love, love everything about this cake.

Planet Cake - 104 - 3 tiered wedding cake

I have just spent a week doing some more training at Planet Cake. What an amazing time. I always love going to their courses. Not just for the skills you learn from the brilliant teachers/facilitators, in this case Jessica and Effie. Absolutely talented and gracious professionals. But the opportunity to spend time with like minded cake obsessed people and share ideas and experiences. Invaluable.

I can not say enough about how great these classes are, particularily as you go up the skill levels. In the really early classes I found most of us are so busy just trying to learn all there is to know that you don't really chat, whereas now that I am in the more advanced classes we get on with it AND chat about all things cake. It is both energising and relaxing.

This weeks training gave me more experience in the "basic foundation" series, or wedding cakes. I have, just through customer requests, mainly worked in novelty cakes and I wanted a bit more exposure to wedding cakes and flower work.

This three teir cake introduces the cake decorator to the "tools". You need an electric drill, saw and glue gun to put the boards and dowl supports in to this cake to support it. Fun, fun, fun.

It also teaches a new flower. I have avoided flower work, it is a bit of a weakness, only because I haven't practiced. So I came away from this week with a goal to practice more which probably won't happen now until after Christmas as my days are filling up fast.

My little girl turned 4

I am writing this a good month after the event, so all the feelings I had back then and stories to tell are fading fast. My how time flies when you are moving your life from Territory to State, or desert to beach.

I am also writing this out of order (oh no, you gasp!). I have skipped an entry on the Workaholic's farewell party because the images are locked away on another computer in a box somewhere. This is really messing with my OCD as I like to do the entries in event order. Never mind, the therapy is going well!
Now that I have that out of my system, lets move on.

Alice, my baby girl, turned four about 10 days after we left the Alice. We were living in my parents house and she does not have a friendship group here (obviously, she only arrived 10 days ago!) so combined with Oscar starting a new school that week and hubby looking for a job, I was a bit stressed about giving her the usual Wotherspoon celebration.

Not that we go overboard, but we do have a cake of choice, decorated room and small party with friends. Alice really wanted a Dora themed cake, but with everything going on I had to go with butterflies, flowers and other sweet things and hope she forgave me!

It turned out to be a really great day, with a birthday spread over two houses, my parents and the Workaholic's parents. Both decorated their houses, and some good friends came over for some party food and some quickly pulled together party games.

I discovered the joy of living in the big smoke and having a Spotlight nearby. Without too much trouble, I could wander in and load up my trolley with a complete girls party theme that made the party look great. (boy, wish I could have done the same for my dessert table for the Workaholic - more on that later!).

Anyway, Alice had a great time and I repeated the cake for her with some left over bits and pieces a few days later with her cousins, so she got two for the price of one!

Happy birthday my gorgeous girl!