Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Teddy Topper {Tutorial}

With Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought I'd make a tutorial for a Mother's Day appropriate cake topper. Meet Theo, a charming little Teddy with a big bunch of flowers for his amazing Mum.

This little guy is made of modelling chocolate - his body is made with milk chocolate, and I mixed in a bit of white modelling chocolate for his muzzle. His nose is dark chocolate. The eyes and flowers are made of gum paste.

If you would prefer a Thea, the addition of a pretty little gum paste bow makes it a little Teddy girl.

I have tried to include as much detail as possible in this photo tutorial, please just ask if anything is unclear. It is in 3 parts (3 separate images) - just click on the image to get a a larger view.

One thing to note: Modelling chocolate sets really hard quite quickly, so it is not necessary to have any internal support structure inside. Just after working with it it is very soft though, so let the legs, body and head set for a while, until it feels solid, before assembling, or you may find that they deform. If you find that the legs and head don't stick well to the body, you can use uncooked spaghetti to strengthen the join. I do find the edible glue strong enough, but I usually leave the figurine overnight to set, before handing.


Have fun!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Party {Tutorial}

I got to make another Very Hungry Caterpillar cake! This one was for my BFF's little girl who has just turned one.

This cake  is completely free of any fondant. Four layers of moist chocolate cake (recipe) are sandwiched together with creamy chocolate icing, then covered in vanilla buttercream.

The fruit and caterpillars on the cake are vanilla sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, then hand painted to add details.

 The cake has 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plumbs, 4 strawberries and 5 oranges on it. As well as both a tiny little caterpillar and a big fat one.
The Eric Carle style spots are made by stencilling coloured buttercream on to the cake.

Start with a smooth buttercream finish on the cake which has been well chilled in the fridge.

You will need a stencil (I made mine myself by cutting a few holes in a plastic sheet), a small spatula and various colours of buttercream.

Load the back of your spatula with a little bit of buttercream - scoop up a bit of one colour, then a bit of a second. Holding the stencil firmly against the cake, spread the buttercream over one of the holes, making sure you fill the hole right up to the edges and get a reasonably smooth finish. Clean off the spatula, load it with another two colours of buttercream, and spread it over the next hole in the stencil.

Repeat until all the holes are filled with different colours and carefully lift the stencil away from the cake.

Shift the stencil along and repeat until the whole cake is covered.

You can get different effects by loading the buttercream onto the spatula in different ways and by changing the angle of the spatula as you spread the buttercream onto the cake.

I made a few spots on my counter top to better demonstrate the technique (it was easier to take photos).

I did not make this cake on my own, my BFF did a lot of the work. The Birthday Girl lent a hand too!

Can you believe this is her first time decorating cookies?

Once the royal icing was fully set on the cookies, I hand painted the details on with food colour gel.

The cookies were then attached to the cake with royal icing.

The whole party was set around The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. This is the invitation we made.

And the Birthday Girl's outfit. The design on the top is drawn on with fabric markers. The tutu is made from strips of organza.

The decorations were all red and green, and mostly spotty. The food was all based on foods that the Hungry Caterpillar ate in the book. Except for the mini sandwiches - they make up a caterpillar, with a tomato for his head. Paper plate caterpillars crawled all around the room, and the party bags were finished with pictures of the butterfly he becomes. Guests were also given fruit badges to wear, which split them all into teams for various party games (you can see some of them on the green plate on the right).

This is me with the Birthday Girl - she is telling us that she is ONE!

She got the entire top tier of the cake to 'smash'. She had a great time pulling it apart and eating it!

Happy Birthday sweet girl!!

Thank you to my BFF for letting me help with all your party preparations, I had a wonderful time, and I think we make a great team!

Visiting Teaching Thought for the Month March 2015 {Handout}

This month's Visiting Teaching message is all about patience - one trait upon which I have much improvement yet to make!

I remember being told in a talk once to be careful when praying for patience, because you may not get what you expect. Rather than giving you an instant gift of patience, the Lord is more likely to send you trials that test your patience, thereby increasing your patience through experience.

I have been told in many blessings lately (as I have struggled with the injury to my right shoulder) to have patience and remember the the Lord works in his own time. I have felt many times that this patience I have had to endure was passive - literally sitting around waiting for my arm to heal so that I could get 'back to normal'. However, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, tells us “Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something … even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”
“Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith. It means being ‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father’ [Mosiah 3:19]. Ultimately, patience means being ‘firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord’ [1 Nephi 2:10] every hour of every day, even when it is hard to do so.”

So I thought about how this applied to my current situation, and realised that it is in my attitude to my circumstances that I can 'endure well', rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself and 'failing to act', I can still find ways to play an active roles in my family, community and church, even if they are different from those I am used to.

Click here to download the pdf of this month's Thought for the Month.

If you would like to make fridge magnet pegs to display your Thought for the Monthclick here for the printable and tutorial.

Click links below for previous month's Thought for the Month

Monday, 23 February 2015

Melting Moments Cookies & Choices {Recipe}

Melting Moments are crisp, shortbread-like cookies that are tender to the bite, a little crunchy, but then melt away in your mouth. They are simple, unassuming little cookies, but definitely moreish! And I think they look rather pretty with the bright red cherry in the middle!

I had a bit of fun with these cookies. I made a big batch for my Young Women lesson at church on Sunday - everyone really enjoyed them at the end of the lesson, and we had the Young Men appearing at the door looking for their share too.

Some of the cookies however, had a little extra, not so welcome ingredient - dirt. I presented a platter of dirt infused cookies at the beginning of the lesson and gave the girls a choice, they could eat a cookie if they wanted to, but I made them aware that there was just a little bit of dirt in each one. Only a tiny bit of dirt though, it probably wouldn't even really be noticeable if you were to eat the cookie, the few tiny visible specks could surely be ignored - the cookies still looked really yummy. Unsurprisingly, they did not rush to eat them. I then compared eating the contaminated cookies with making choices to do things that were mostly OK, hoping that the tiny little bits of 'bad' involved in those choices wouldn't affect them.

If you would like to make your own Melting Moments, here is the recipe (don't worry, I left the dirt out ;)
Melting Moments       PRINT
Makes 30 cookies


225g butter - room temperature
175g caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 TBSP vanilla
270g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

60g rolled oats

15 red glacé cherries


Pre-heat oven to 180ºC
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper or silpats.

Beat butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla together. Add the flour, baling powder and salt and beat in until you get a smooth batter.

Spread the rolled oats out on a plate.

Scoop out about a 1 1/2 inch ball of dough (either with two table spoons or with a small ice cream scoop), and drop it onto the rolled oats.
My little ice cream scoop measures 1 1/2" across, I use it for all of my drop cookies, like chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles. It's just the right size and using it means that my cookies all come out uniform in size and shape.

Roll the ball of batter around until it is coated in oats.

Place on a baking tray and flatten slightly, then top with half a glacé cherry.

Repeat until all the dough is used up - you should get about 30 cookies - 15 on each baking tray. Ensure there is space around each cookie to spread out when cooking, about 1 1/2” space between cookies is enough.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until just going golden around the edges.

Leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes, then lift onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Best eaten within 48 hours.

Happy Baking!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Pink and Purple Girly Cake

One of my Young Women (at church) have a birthday this week, so she came over to my house and we made a cake for her together over the last couple of days.

She learned some new skills and we had a great time working together!

I love the silk-like finish of painting a cake with cluster dust!

This is how it looked before it got covered up with all the pink. I will definitely be using this technique again, so pretty.

Aimee LOVES pink, so we had to cram as much pink on the cake as we possibly could. I think we got the final cake pretty close to the design too.

The cake is chocolate (8" bottom, 6" top), filled with chocolate buttercream and coated with chocolate ganache before being covered in fondant and decorated.

Aimee aslo loves my Gingerbread Cookies, so she made a big batch, under my supervision, with a healthy helping of royal icing on top!

Didn't she do a great job on those cookies?