Monday 16 December 2013

Christmas Party Bakes

I love baking at Christmas time!

I went just a little over the top for our Ward Christmas Party this year. I had so many ideas in my head that just needed to get out, if only I had more time!

My first creation this year was the Christmas Cake: 

The main cake is traditional fruit cake (without the alcohol), and the tree is filled with cereal treats. All the decorations are modelled from modelling chocolate, except for the white, which is fondant. I also used a small set of battery powered led lights to add a bit of drama.

My idea was to portray Christ as one of the gifts under the tree, since He is the greatest gift we have been given. All the rest of the characters from the nativity appear as ornaments on the tree.

I created the seal on my cake using a personalised stamp that I bought from The Cupcake Company.

My next project was a gingerbread nativity scene. I was going to make a gingerbread house, but decided to keep that for my family Christmas, and do something a bit different for a change. It is made up of various layers of gingerbread decorated, and glued together, with royal icing. If you would like to make this yourself, I have shared my pattern and a tutorial here.

Next up is a candy tree, something I have wanted to make for a couple of year and finally got round to making a reality. People loved it so much they refused to pick the candy off of it and eat it!

And last but not least was my Santa's Grotto. I styled it as a gingerbread house, and covered it in gingerbread men and candy canes that the children could pull off and eat (each gingerbread man is wrapped in a cellophane bag).

Needless to say, I had to bake a lot of gingerbread men!

Inside the grotto:

All in all, I had a fabulous time. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Out of Office - Retirement Cupcakes

A friend asked me to make her some cupcakes to share at work on her last day before retirement. She wanted her desk top computer to feature, as well as the "Out of Office" message, this is what I came up with:

Sunday 17 November 2013

Missionary Send-off Cake

This week  I made a cake for a wonderful young man in our ward who is leaving for his full-time mission in a few days.

He loves "all things chocolate," so I baked my favourite rich chocolate cake and filled it with smooth, creamy chocolate icing. The giant missionary badge is made of black modelling chocolate and the lettering is piped on in white chocolate. The little missionaries are also made of modelling chocolate (except for their shirts which are pure white fondant), so this is an "All Things Chocolate Cake!"

We wish you well and hope that you have an amazing couple of years serving the Lord!! 

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Dragon atop a Castle - a Medieval Cake

I was asked to make a medieval cake for a surprise 40th birthday party. I was given completely free reign to design the cake, as long as it fit the medieval theme (to match the venue) and the budget. As soon as the word "medieval" was mentioned my mind went to dragons, I was also asked to make cupcakes with flag toppers, so I though those should be represented in the cake somehow.

So I put pencil to paper and came up with a quick sketch of a dragon perched atop a tower. The client loved it, so the work began.

For ages now I have been dying to try using modelling chocolate, but I just never seemed to get around to it, so I decided that the time had come. I bought some chocolate, made some bright red modelling chocolate (following varied online advice), and began to play. I sculpted a little red dragon in the style I wanted for the cake and was very, very pleased with the result!

Modelling chocolate is a wonderful medium! (Once I figured out how to stop it turning into an oily mess). It sets quickly, but can still be worked and changed, and it is easy to blend different parts seamlessly. It is also very structurally strong, and elastic enough that it can take reasonably hard knocks without breaking. Why did I take so long to try it?!

Next came the baking and assembly of the cake itself. The main tower of the castle is made of rich dark chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing, the small tower and dragon are both vanilla cream cheese pound cake (which stands up to carving very well) with vanilla buttercream and rice krispy treats. The completed cake stands just over 2 foot tall (65cm), the structure is stabilised by two large vertical dowels firmly screwed to the cake board. This worked exceptionally well, the cake arrived at the venue (a 2 hour car journey away) completely intact.

I wish I had taken more (and better) photos of the whole process!
Crumb coating and final icing was done with my trusty vanilla buttercream. The castle, and all it's details, are crafted from fondant, while the dragon is made of modelling chocolate, dusted (and painted) with gold lustre dust.

At about this point I decided to add some little figurines - a knight and a damsel in distress. These had been mentioned in the 'consultations,' but I hadn't yet included them in my vision. Looking at the nearly finished cake, it was crying out for some extra detail towards the bottom of the cake to balance the 'busy-ness' of the dragon sitting atop it.

I love how this cake turned out!

A 360ยบ video of the finished cake:

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Flying Pig Cookies {tutorial}

Last weekend our ward participated in our local Stake Roadshow, the theme this year being "Don't Stop Believing." Our script writers came up with the story of a little girl who believed that her pig could fly, and no matter how many people told her how ridiculous that was, she did not stop believing in her little pig and went on to show the world, on a live TV talent show, that he could indeed fly. We had a wonderful time putting our little production together, and it really paid off because not only did we win (joint with another ward), but we also took home half of all the other awards, including best theme/content, best music, best scenery, best pre-show act and my daughter won best actress!

As a thank you to all the cast and crew involved (as I was the director), I decided to make them all some flying pig cookies. And here is how to do it.

Prepare a batch of Gingerbread Cookie Dough, then cut out little flying pig cookie shapes using two different cutters - a pig and an angel's wing. The wing is a very simple shape and could be cut by hand if you don't have an appropriate wing cutter to hand.

I decided that I didn't like the shape of the angel's wing, so I cut it off to a point.

Bake the cookies and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, mix up some pink and white 20 second royal icing and get it into piping bags or bottles. Once the cookies are completely cold, you can begin icing them.

  1. Start with the pink icing and a size 3 tip. First outline the pig (1a), going around and missing out the wing area, and immediately fill in (1b). Use a toothpick to pull the icing into corners and tap the cookie firmly on the counter a few times to get a smooth finish. Repeat for all the cookies and leave to set until the icing no longer looks shiny (if you are doing quite a lot of cookies, by the time you have completed this step, the first ones will be set enough to proceed with the next step.)
  2. Outline the wing area with the white icing using a size 2 tip (2a), then fill in (2b). Allow the icing to set as before.
  3. Using a size 2 tip and the pink icing, outline the pig's body, completely avoiding the wing. Add details, including a snout, ears and a curly tail.
  4. Now outline the wing with the white icing and size 2 tip. Add eyes with an edible marker.

Package in a cellophane bag and tie with butchers twine or a ribbon.