Monday 23 March 2015

Yu-Gi-Oh Cake - Harpie's Pet Dragon

My son is a Yu-Gi-Oh card collector and player, so this year he wanted a Yu-Gi-Oh cake. Featured on the cake is Harpie's Pet Dragon...

...and the Harpie, who controls the dragon.

The Harpie and the Dragon are both created by cutting their shape out of rolled out gum paste and  then painting it with Sugarflair colour paste.

I created the cosmic background by spraying the cake black with my airbrush, leaving white crosses for the large stars and white and grey areas to create the nebulae (the cake was covered with white fondant). Then I sprayed over with yellow, red and blue, mostly filling the white areas (except for the centres of the large stars, which I left white). A bit more spraying with black helped to soften and blend the colours in. Finally, I 'splatter painted' Americolor white onto the surface to create all the tiny stars. I absolutely LOVE how this turned out. So much better than I dreamed I could do, especially considering I was just making it up as I went! I tried to convince my son to let me leave it just like that, but he really wanted those Yu-Gi-Oh characters!

Some wire in the head and neck of the dragon allowed me to give the dragon a bit more dimension.

This cake was so hard to photograph! With all that black and the curvature of the cake, it is so hard to capture what the cake really looked like.

My favourite part of the cosmos ended up on the front of the cake - almost completely covered by the dragon, but this side doesn't look bad either.

Happy Birthday!!

Slaying the dragon.

The bottom cake was a 8" dark chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream, the top cake was a 6" vanilla pound cake with vanilla buttercream, both were covered with milk/plain chocolate ganache.

Doctrine & Covenants Apples to Apples Game {Free Printable}

My Seminary students love playing games, and are very competitive! Whenever they get together, out comes the Risk, Playing Cards, Apples to Apples, etc. Games have become quite a significant part of our Seminary lessons too, it keeps my students engaged and interested in the lessons. Never do they read and understand scriptures better than when doing so earns them points or some kind of advantage. Now, I understand that not everyone thinks that games belong in Seminary lessons, but it works for the particular students I have right now. I try very hard to make sure they are not just games for the sake of games, but rather use them to enhance the lessons or build on Scripture Mastery knowledge. I am finding that the students (and I) are getting tired now though, as the Seminary year has progressed, so I have introduced a new game that isn’t specifically linked to Scripture Mastery, nor any one lesson, but on the Doctrine and Covenants as a whole. I use it as a short game either at the beginning or end of a lesson, to either wake the students up, or give them a break and a bit of fun.

My game is based on Apples to Apples by Out of the Box and Mattel, and is played by the same rules. Each player holds 5 Red cards, one player - the Judge - picks a Green card from the pack and places it in the centre of the table, face up. Each of the other players choose a Red card from their hand that they feel best suits the word on the Green card, then place them face down on the table. The Judge collects all those Red cards up, shuffles them then lays them face up on the table. They then decide which of the Red cards they think suits the Green card best. While they are making their decision, the other players try to convince the Judge to pick their card - here is where strategy comes in, you don’t want the Judge to know which card is yours! Once the Judge has picked a card, the player who put that card down ‘wins’ the green card. The played Red cards are discarded. Those who played a Red card draw a new one from the pack. Play continues with the player to the left of the Judge becoming the new Judge. The winner of the game is the player who has the most green cards at the end of the game (we never play to a certain number as it takes too long, but rather play to a time limit).

While playing, my students may only use their D&C / church knowledge to ‘help’ the Judge choose a card. Once the Judge has chosen a card, they must justify why they chose that card - again, using their D&C / church knowledge. Any Scripture Masteries are to be quoted. If a student gets a card they don’t understand, they may use their scriptures to look it up (or a dictionary if it is not a gospel specific word).

My class is small, so we can all play the game together. If your class is large, perhaps you could make multiple decks and your students can play in smaller groups. I am sure there are other ways that the game can be played - please comment below if you have any good ideas!

These are the cards I have made, click HERE or on the image above to download the pdf.

For a set with American spellings, click HERE.

It is a 24 page file - 8 pages of Green cards, 14 pages of Red cards and 2 pages for the backs of the cards (352 cards in total). Print out the first 22 pages onto white card, then put them back into your printer and print the backs using the last two pages (make sure you put them into your printer the right way around!) Each A4 page has 16 cards on it, and I have made them edge-to-edge, so you can just evenly divide the page in to 16 (4x4) and cut it up (I use a metal ruler and an exacto knife, that way I can cut many pages at once).
If you use a different page size, just scale the image down to fit your page, then trim any excess off before splitting the page into 16. I haven't included any cut lines because I found that my cards all came out slightly different sizes when I did that (printers don'y print exactly straight) and I got a better result without cut lines. If you would prefer to have cut lines, just let me know and I will provide a copy of the file with them.

I hope you enjoy playing - let me know what you, and your students, think! And if you feel that I have left any cards out, comment below and I can add them to the pack.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Making Madeleines

My husband bought me some Madeleine pans last week, so this weekend I tried making these yummy little cakes - or are they cookies?

I made 2 batches with the same recipe - I used a "chill the batter in the fridge for hours" recipe.
Batch 1 tasted OK, but the texture was a little bit coarse. As you can see from above, batch 2 has a softer, more spongy texture. Th flavour was also better in the 2nd batch.

Batch 1: Hand mixer and Stork margarine.
I beat the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer for 8 minutes. The mixture was thick and light, but had quite big bubbles. By the time I had added all the flour, it was quite a loose batter. The melted margarine was quite hard to incorporate, and made the batter even more runny. Even after leaving in the fridge for 4 hours, the batter was soft, and spread as soon as I  spooned it into the mould.

They baked OK, though they spread even more, spilling over the edges of the moulds and the tops came out nearly flat (I trimmed the irregular edges off - I thought I had taken a photo before I did that but I can't find it now).

The kids and I thought batch 1 were quite nice, though my husband didn't like them at all, he said they just weren't right.

Batch 2: Stand mixer and Butter.
This time I beat the eggs and sugar in my KitchenAid Artisan mixer. After 8 minutes the mixture was light and fluffy with a much more silky texture than in batch 1. After the addition of the flour the batter was really thick. The butter was easier to incorporate and the batter was still quite thick. After leaving in the fridge, the batter was thick enough to hold it's shape, though still soft and fluffy. My son said it looked a lot like mashed potatoes.

This time they baked beautifully, with that classic dome in the middle.

Unfortunately, my oven does not bake evenly, so I end up with a range of golden browns across the batch.

A little bit of lemon glaze and they are ready to eat. These ones tasted great, even my husband agreed.

I want to try another recipe, one that includes lemon zest in the batter and doesn't require a glaze. I'll let you know how that works out...

Friday 6 March 2015

Graffiti & Gum Balls

I had a last minute cake to make for one of my son's friends today. The whole thing, from baking to decorating and delivering had to be done within 9 hours, so the cake needed to be kept quite simple. There was no particular theme, but I know the young man likes chewing gum, so I got the idea to fill the top of the cake with gum balls, but then wasn't sure what to do with the rest of the cake.

I had a chat with my friend, hoping that bouncing ideas off of her would either help me find inspiration, or that she would come up with something brilliant. Well, I think we ended up with a combination of both, I'm not sure who actually said the word first, but we finally settled on the idea of  putting GRAFFITI around the sides of the cake.

I got an airbrush for Christmas (well, an early Christmas present... that I bought for myself), so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to play with it a bit. I've only used it for simple stencilling and solid colouring so far!

I have to admit, I felt really nervous sitting in front of this blank white 'canvas'. I sat staring at it for quite a while before I finally took a deep breath, pulled back on the trigger and started laying down colour. I'm not 100% happy with the result, but I don't think it's too bad for a first try?

I made my favourite dark chocolate sponge for this cake - i'ts my reliable go to cake. I can mix it up in minutes and it comes out moist and delicious every time. It is my most requested cake flavour by far.

I filled the cake with soft, fluffy chocolate icing, damming the edges with chocolate ganache.

I didn't make quite enough ganache to properly finish the cake, and didn't have time to wait for the new batch to cool to the right spreading consistency, so I dumped it all out on my cool granite work surface and just spread it out to cool quickly. It worked like a charm! Instead of waiting 3-4 hours, my ganache was ready in about 10 minutes!

Happy Birthday Walter!!

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!