Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rainbow Cheesecake and Persian Fairy Floss


So, my daughter requested a cheesecake for he birthday (the actual day, not her party), so I decided to be ambitious and make a RAINBOW cheesecake. This was actually only the second baked cheesecake I have ever attempted, so I am quite delighted with the result (the first one was not pretty at all!)


To make matters even more complicated, a friend posted a video of a Unicorn Cheesecake (by Cake Style) on my FaceBook wall the other day, and I just LOVED the Persian Fairy Floss on top, so I just had to try and make that too (as you do).


My floss didn't quite turn out right, but it looked pretty and tasted delicious! It created a lovely contrast in texture when eating the cake.


The cake itself wasn't perfect either, I believe it could have done with a little bit more time in the oven. It sure was pretty though! And tasted divine, very light with a delicate (not too cheesy) flavour.

I managed to get a hole in my tin foil, and a little bit of water got in, so there was a bit of a soggy base and cake collapse on the one side (though not too bad). I will double wrap next time.


Persian Fairy Floss (Pashmak).

I used a video tutorial by Henrys HowTos to make my Fairy Floss.

Attempt 1:
Syrup looked OK, but crystallisation set in when cooling and the entire puck clouded up.


Attempt 2:
The syrup was perfect, but I still got some crystallisation in the very centre. I tried pulling it anyway and it was promising to start with, but then didn't go well. Only managed about 4 folds.




Attempt 3:
Again, my syrup was good, but before the puck was cooled properly I could see some crystallisation happening! I quickly scooped out the crystallised bit (it looks like it forms on the thin pouring ribbons right at the end of the pour) and worked the bit of sugar that looked OK.


It was going so well! But my technique needs work. After about 7 folds my strands kept breaking until I couldn't work it in a loop anymore. I pulled it a few more times as straight strands, but the ends started clumping together and the strands were becoming more and more uneven. It was a really good attempt though. I thought, if I gave it one more shot, I was sure to get it right!


Attempt 4:
Well, it was an utter disaster. Apparently my sugar thermometer decided to stop working! It said that my sugar was about 10 degrees away from where I needed it when suddenly I noticed a burnt sugar smell and the sugar started going brown. Sigh. Oh well, I'll try again another day...




Happy Birthday Karate Girl!!



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Alyssa's Bridal Shower


This weekend I put together one of my most ambitious parties yet, with the collaboration of my most awesome partner-in-crime, Claudette. This was a Bridal Shower for Alyssa, the lovely daughter of our other bestie, Lisa. Alyssa will be getting married in America, and then living there afterward, so this was our chance to celebrate her upcoming nuptials with her, and we wanted to do it in style!

Since Alyssa would be relocating we though a travel theme would work really well, and it all just snowballed from there.
First I created the invitation:


The map with the wording "Travelling from Miss to Mrs" was the first step, then when deciding whether to make the invitation a folded card or to make it postcard style, we realised it would be really cool to make it not only postcard style, but to look like an actual postcard!

Next was to design the cake. I would really have loved to make Alyssa's wedding cake, but since that can't happen, I decided to make her a formal cake for the shower. I knew I wanted to have an element of lace (to reflect a wedding dress), I just had to figure out how to fit the travel theme/map into the cake design too. I remembered that a friend of mine has an edible printer, and a design formed in my head (she printed both icing sheets for the bottom tier and wafer paper sheets for the flowers).
The cake turned out almost exactly as I had imagined it!


I would be trying three new techniques on this cake - wrapping cake with printed icing sheets, stencilling lace with royal icing and making wired wafer paper flowers!


The bottom tier was American yellow cake with chocolate buttercream, covered in chocolate ganache and then ivory fondant. The printed icing sheets were applied directly to the fondant, the joins covered with fondant button detail. The top tier was my rich dark chocolate cake (a firm favourite of all my friends) with cherry chocolate buttercream, also covered in chocolate ganache and ivory fondant.


I used the wrap technique to cover both of the cakes with the fondant. I find that when covering such tall cakes, this gives much sharper corners and more uniform sides, which were necessary both for sticking the maps onto the bottom tier and stencilling the top tier (and both techniques would easily cover the join down the side).

The stencil I used on the top tier is a beautiful lace mesh stencil I purchased from Evil Cake Genius. I attached the stencil to the cake using straight pins, then used a spatula to apply the coloured royal icing and a plastic scraper to scrape the excess off again. I had to add quite a lot of white food colouring to the royal icing to make it opaque enough for the detail of the design to be seen (a bit of trial and error before touching the actual cake). It was brilliantly easy to use and the results look incredible - so detailed! Once stencilled I added just a touch of edible glitter for some sparkle.


Next up I need to make the wafer paper flowers. I used this tutorial by Sharon Wee Creations. Again, there was a bit of trial and error here. I had completely forgotten to buy piping gel, so I decided to use a bit of tylose powder mixed with water. This did work very well, but I had to vein the petals while the tylose glue was still moist, or the wafer paper was susceptible to cracking quite badly. My petals also seemed to be a bit stiffer than hers in the final product and more curled (no idea if either was due to the use of tylose glue or not), though also very tough (much stronger than the original wafer paper), which is a good thing! I also found that I could not spray water (with the airbrush) onto the printed side of the wafer paper (it changes colour), so for the printed flowers I used one layer of white wafer paper and one printed, and glued them together with the tylose glue, then before veining I would spray the back (white side) of the petal, leave it for a few second for the water to seep in, then spray the back a second time and press he petal in the veiner. I cut all the petals by hand, making each one just a little bit different.


Next we focused our attention on the party itself. Maps would be needed for hall decoration, as well as flags, suitcases (especially vintage ones) and, of course, what party would be complete without fairy lights?


Since we wanted this to be a classy event, we decided to serve canapés. I made square devilled eggs and chocolate spoons with raspberry mousse. Claudette made fruit skewers, pastry pinwheels and 2 different ritz cracker canapés - chicken with cream cheese, chives and balsamic vinaigrette (which she was told by one guest were the best thing he had ever eaten); and cherry tomatoes with mozzarella and pesto.


The biggest trick up our sleeves, however, was out "Make Your Own Mocktail Bar!" We had ingredients, equipment and recipes for three different Mocktails that guest's could have a go at making themselves - Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri, Virgin Pina Colada and Virgin Mojito. As well as some jugs of Virgin Pimms. This was so much fun, and a delicious treat. A few guests even had a go at creating their own mocktails.



YUM!!! Those virgin strawberry daiquiris were especially popular!


Finally, no Bridal Shower would be complete without some games / activities.

We started the party off with a game we called "What Did Zach Say?" We prepared 12 questions in advance that we got the groom to answer on video. We then asked Alyssa each question and she had to try and guess how Zach will have answered the question. Neither our bride nor her mother knew we had collaborated with the groom, so this was an extra special surprise for them. She did very well indeed, only having to pop a few sticks of gum into her mouth (when she got a question wrong). It seems the groom deliberately answered some of the questions with the aim of throwing the bride off. So funny!

There was a station where guests could create "Date Night Idea" sticks, writing unique (and some naughty ;) date ideas onto wooden sticks and decoration them with washing tape. Along with the party invitations, we gave out blank recipe cards, so had a box for those to be put into.


The favourite game of the evening had to have been "Kiss the Groom," it sure produced a LOT of giggling!!
I made the stamps, used for 'kissing' the groom, myself. Three of us each kissed a plastic rubber/eraser with dark lipstick and I carved them out with a craft knife, then glued it to a wooden block to make for easier stamping.


We also played "Don't Say BRIDE or WEDDING", each of us wearing a plastic jewel ring and trying our best not to say either of those words. I am hopeless at that game, and lost my ring within the first few minute of the party! The winner had quite the collection of rings on her fingers by the end of the evening.


To finish the evenings activities off (before cutting the cake), we played "Say Yes to the Dress!"
We split into 5 groups (and spectators) and had three toilet rolls and a glue stick with which to create a toilet paper wedding dress. This is actually the first time I've played this game, and it was hilarious!! The problem with cheap toilet paper - it tears really easily! The dresses produced, however, were very creative and quite impressive! One even had gummy rings stuck all over it (I won't ask how they got them to stick Lol) and we had a little flower girl too.



It was a wonderful evening and I hope it was very memorable for our beautiful bride and her gorgeous Mum. I love you guys and wish you all the best for your future with Zach, Alyssa. We will really miss you xx




Wednesday, 30 November 2016

#LightTheWorld Advent Calendar Cards

"During Christmas, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
This year, we have an amazing opportunity to share that light by resolving to do the things Jesus Christ did. Every day leading up to Christmas, we [can] focus on a different Christ-like behavior and [look] for ways we can emulate His example." (from Mormon.org)

This year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants us to

#LightTheWorld

In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days.


We are challenged to share our light and make the world brighter by participating in acts of service every day for 25 days, starting on the 1st December and finishing on Christmas Day. Mormon.org have provided a printable Advent Service Calendar with suggestions of acts of service you can participate in. You can find more details about this at Mormon.org.uk or Mormon.org

I decided that I wanted to encourage my children to participate in this, and since they each have a home-made Advent Calendar which I fill with goodies and scriptures/quotes each year, I thought I'd redesign the Service Calendar to fit into our existing Advent Calendars, and add a scripture for them to read to each day.

These are the cards that I made.


And here they are in my children's Advent Calendars, along with some chocolate, ready for tomorrow morning (1st December).





And I thought, since I'd gone to all that work, I may as well share them so that others can make use of them too! Just print the off, laminate them and  cut them out.

I made two different sizes to fit into our two different Advent Calendars:
The SHORT cards each measure 5.5 x 7 cm (2.2 x 2.8")
The LONG cards each measure 4.5 x 9 cm (1.8 x 3.5")

So, here are the links to download the pdf's:





This is a much bigger card measuring 14 x 20 cm (5.5 x 7.9")

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I'd love it if you would comment below and share some of the service experiences you have had through the month, or projects you have planned. That way we can inspire each other to serve, learn from each other, and share service ideas.

#LightTheWorld

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Unicorn Cake


I was quite worried about making this cake. Because of my shoulder problems, I've not made very many cakes over the last few months, and certainly none as complicated as a 3D sculpted Unicorn! As the time came nearer and nearer to start work on it, the less I actually wanted to do it! Finally, it was time, I got stuck in, and thoroughly enjoyed myself!


I am so very happy with how well it came out, far better than I dreamed I could achieve!



I decided to use polystyrene to form the head and neck, to reduce the load on the structure, therefore allowing the structure to be less complicated. The body of the Unicorn would provide more than enough cake for the party goers, and more. For the structure itself I used cake frame rods, with cake cards in between to support the polystyrene pieces, as well as to separate them from the edible parts of the cake.


I coated the polystyrene forms with ganache, then cut my chocolate cake to the right general shape for the body, sandwiched with buttercream and trimmed to match the curve of the body. I crumbed the trimmings and mixed them with buttercream and used this mixture to form the Unicorn's back.


Once I was happy with the shape, I coated the whole thing with ganache, and left it to set. Then the fun began! I used partially set ganache to sculpt the Unicorn, incorporating as much muscular detail as I could manage.


At this point it looks like a chestnut horse walking through still water :)


Because my shoulder is still an issue, I enslaved my son to knead and roll out all of my fondant. He also mixed the colour for the pink fondant. Once the whole Unicorn was completely white, I had added the ears, horn and legs (all fondant) and I was reasonably happy with all of the seems, I left the whole thing to set up overnight.


Next morning I tacked the shading (with petal dust), colouring the horn and hooves gold and painting the eyes (with Americolor gel), and adding the tail and mane.


It really didn't start looking right until that mane was added!


The birthday girl was thrilled with her Unicorn for her 18th Birthday. Happy Birthday Aimee!!