Saturday, 21 April 2012

Carousel Cake

This week my youngest niece celebrated her first birthday.  

I’ve been day dreaming of the possibility of creating a Carousel Cake for the past year and quickly decided to take the opportunity of this milestone occasion to give it a go.   With no specific theme request I could challenge myself safe in the knowledge that if it didn’t work to plan a quick change of direction could easily be arranged and no one need be any the wiser.

This cake allowed me to try many new techniques and immerse myself in elaborate design ideas, a perfect combination if you have the time.   The ornate decoration meant the possibilities were endless and it was great to allow my imagination run wild, even if this had to be reined in on a few occasions.  

A big challenge of this cake was the construction aspect of the design.   It took some time just planning and thinking through the options but everything worked very well, much to my relief.

This was a most enjoyable cake project which allowed me to fully indulge my creativity.   The Birthday Girl didn’t fully grasp the opulence of her cake but her older sister and brother gave it the thumbs up, saying it was “excellent” before quickly reminding me of their upcoming birthdays and the cakes they would like.

Carosuel Cake 18th April, 2012

Carosuel Cake 18th April, 2012

Carousel Cake 18th April, 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Barney Cake

In May, 2011 a little girl turned 2.   My birthday present was the cake.  
At that time the Birthday Girl, like most two year olds, was going through a ‘Barney Obsession Phase’ and so her older sister decided that I should make a Barney cake.
With some merchandise borrowed from my niece and nephew (a musical book and a ‘Singing in the Rain’ soft toy), I set about the task of trying to create the image of Barney and friends in sugar paste.  
Modelling specific characters is not as easy as it might seem, getting the right expression can be difficult.   With this particular cake, I felt the key to getting the look right was to get the very distinctive character colours as close to reality as possible.   Mixing a specific shade of purple took some time but once I got a shade I was happy with I felt the rest would slot into place.

The Birthday Girl loved her cake and, most importantly, recognised the characters.   This was her first chance to really appreciate a day focused completely on her and it was great to see how delighted she was with the fuss and how she proudly referred to “MY CAKE”.
11 months later she is now fully aware of what's involved in a Birthday celebration and has been compiling her wish list of party treats and cake design.   For my part, I just need to focus on the cake, which will again be my present.   Keep an eye on next month’s posts to see this year’s cake.

Barney Cake, 15th May 2011

Barney Cake, 15th May 2011

Barney Cake, 15th May 2011

Barney Cake, 15th May 2011

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Pavlova and Swiss Roll

Today I went to work with a Pavlova in one hand and a Swiss Roll in the other.   One of the girls on my team celebrated her birthday yesterday, so the morning tea break was spent with everyone gathered around the tea station discussing our Easter weekends and enjoying cake.
I’m a firm believer that everyone should have cake for their birthday, so it is now a time honoured tradition in our office that I bake when anyone in my team celebrates their birthday (and if a birthday falls at the weekend we mark it on either the Friday or Monday).

My mother’s Pavlova has always been a double layer of meringue sandwiched with cream and sprinkled with chocolate flake – it’s perfect in my mind and so my version is the same.

I added some fresh raspberries, lightly mashed, to a traditional filling of raspberry jam and fresh cream for the Swiss Roll.   Fresh raspberries always add an extra flavour dimension to any sponge and so I like to add them when they’re available.
Pavlova and Swiss Roll 10th April, 2012

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Horses and Hounds

One of my closest friends turned 40 on the 1st May, 2011 and in planning her party asked if I would make the birthday cake.   The design was left completely up to me, so with the choice of classically pretty or novelty I decided a novelty cake was the way to go.  

The Birthday Girl has 3 horses, is a keen show jumper and dressage competitor so an equestrian theme seemed most appropriate.   My knowledge of horses is fairly limited so a mutual friend kindly offered some ‘technical advice’.  

The original plan was to incorporate the 3 horses into the cake.   Somewhere along the way this idea mutated, with the addition of a show jumping arena and the family’s 4 dogs!!   Not to mention the last minute addition of her wellies.    Needless to say the role of the ‘technical adviser’ changed to that of ‘moral supporter’ many times in the week before the party, as I thought about the enormity of what needed to be done to bring it all together.

The day before the party was spent elbow deep in sugar paste, while watching the Royal Wedding on the television.   A most enjoyable, if somewhat unusual, way to spend a day.

The cake was a hit with everyone and a great night was had by all.

Horses and Hounds Cake
 31st April, 2011

Horses and Hounds Cake
31st April, 2011

Horses and Hounds Cake
31st April, 2011

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Basketball Cake

A friend celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday and I was asked to create the cake.   He plays and coaches basketball so the theme pretty much picked itself.

I decided a three layer 8” square cake would provide the right shape to reflect one half of a basketball court.   In order to give everyone a choice of flavours, I chose to sandwich two cakes together (vanilla jam sponge and chocolate sponge) before covering with sugar paste.

The cake was enjoyed by all, with just enough left over to have with a cup of tea today.

31st March, 2012

31st  March, 2012

31st March, 2012