Archive for the ‘Techniques’ Category

Merry Christmas from Delicious Cake Design!

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I’ve been neglecting the Delicious Cake Design blog, very naughty of me! But hopefully Santa will forgive me as I have been extremely busy making cakes to celebrate Christmas like the one below.

Christmas cake with trees, snowflakes and snowman

Christmas cake with trees, snowflakes and snowman

I am turning my hand to making Christmas cakes that are NOT fruit cakes. The cake pictured above is actually a butter cake (my most popular cake). Butter cake is fantastic as it is delicious and keeps for a reasonable amount of time (about 3 – 5 days if stored in an air tight container, whereas sponge cake must be eaten on the day). I had a lot of fun making this cake, I am a huge fan of Christmas so decorating this cake whilst listening to Michael Buble crooning Christmas carols was such a joy. The only thing missing was the log fire!

I also got to use my Snowflake edible lustre powder, which is an edible glittery powder in a lovely silver-blue. As the name suggests, it’s perfect for dusting on snowflakes to give them a wonderful glitter and shine. I also used a snow drift tool to make marks in the icing for snow drifts, and I handpainted the snowman in the forefront. Rolled fondant was shaped on the cake board to look like snow piled on the board.

Traditionally fruit cake is used to make Christmas Cakes, but here at Delicious Cake Design, we are not big fans of fruit cake! In fact, I have only ever had one request for a fruit cake this year. Interestingly enough, the majority of people I’ve encountered don’t like fruit cake and will only opt for it out of a sense of tradition rather than because they like it – they think they “have to” as it’s traditional. When I tell wedding clients that these days it’s more than acceptable to serve sponge or chocolate cakes instead of fruit cake, they are ecstatic!

I also made some ultra yummy cupcakes for Christmas. These were for my Facebook Fan competition winners.

Christmas cupcakes

Christmas cupcakes

As I am so full of the Christmas spirit, I ran a competition for all the fans of Delicious Cake Design on Facebook. Two names were drawn at random out of a hat and these lucky winners each received half a dozen Christmas themed Strawberry & Cream Cheese cupcakes with Cheesecake Cream Frosting. These are my favourite cupcakes, so I made a few extra for us to have at home, which my other half Nick was extremely pleased about.

The response to these cupcakes was overwhelmingly positive, with the winners commenting “Beautiful cupcakes!” and “these are the best cupcakes we’ve ever had!”

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning free cupcakes, cakes or cookies, why not become a fan of Delicious Cake Design on Facebook!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Tips on making your own wedding cake

Monday, October 26th, 2009

One of the hardest things about planning a wedding is trying to achieve the wedding of your dreams on a budget. At Delicious Cake Design, we are very mindful of this and aim to provide couples with a wedding cake that meets their budget as well as their design requirements. There are several things we can do to help this process, such as opting for flowers that are simpler to make, providing extra undecorated cutting cakes, or simplifying designs so they are still stunning but less time consuming to create.

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

Making your own wedding cake requires attention to detail and a steady hand

But what if you have a budget that won’t buy even a basic wedding cake from a professional cake maker? Some brides (and grooms!) in this situation make their own wedding cake to save money. This can be a good idea, but there are many things to take into consideration before coming to a decision.

Firstly, do you have the time? Bear in mind that you will most likely still be putting finishing touches on the cake during the week leading up to the big day, and if you are not making a fruit cake and are opting instead for sponge or chocolate, the cake (or cakes) will all have to be baked no earlier than 3 days before the wedding. This gives you only 2 days to decorate the cake. With all the other things you will have to do that close to the wedding, will you have time to spend a whole day baking cakes, and up to a whole day (or more!) decorating? Not forgetting as well you will have to put time aside to go and buy all the ingredients and source all the decorative elements, which is not an easy task.

And more importantly, do you want to put up with the stress of making and decorating a cake when you’re trying to fit in dress rehearsals, manicures, last minute dress alterations, guests arriving from afar, and all the other bits and pieces that tend to pile up in the week before a wedding?

Do you have the necessary skills to make a wedding cake? At the very least you should have some competency in baking. An eye for detail and design plus a steady hand would be advantageous as well. If you are the kind of person that considers cooking to be making toast, which you somehow always seems to burn, perhaps it is not a good idea to take the risk!

If you do decide to take the plunge and make your own wedding cake, preparation is the key. I would recommend doing some research as far in advance as you can. There are many good books out there that give clear, step by step instructions on covering and decorating cakes. If possible, make at least one practice cake that you have baked yourself and covered and decorated. The last thing you want is to try it for the first time the day before your wedding and find yourself with a lopsided cake that has pleats and folds in the icing when it’s too late to do anything about it!

Although mass produced rolled fondant (also known as sugarpaste or regal ice) doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as the homemade kind, rolled fondant can be very tricky to make especially for first timers. It might be best to stick to the store bought variety in this instance.  Avoid the kind you get in supermarkets if possible as they are very difficult to work with and taste awful. Specialty cake decorating shops sell much better brands which taste better and are less finicky to use.

Covering a cake with rolled fondant can be very difficult for beginners, especially achieving a smooth, perfect finish. One of the most common questions I get asked is “How do I get the pleats/folds out of the icing when I cover the cake?”. This takes quite a lot of practice! So in the months leading up to the wedding, practice covering the back of cake tins until you get it right, then try it out on a real cake. Covering a real cake is a very different experience to covering a tin as you will have crumbs and imperfect surfaces to deal with.

Be mindful of food safety and hygiene in the kitchen. You don’t want to end up giving your guests food poisoning, or end up with grains of last night’s supper in the cake.

If you know someone who would be willing to take on the task of making your wedding cake (mothers are often a good source for this!), and who you trust to produce a result that you will be happy with, then an alternative is to ask this person to make the cake. You can even suggest they make the cake as a wedding gift.  Be understanding if they say no, as making a wedding cake is a huge responsibility which they may be reluctant to take on.

And of course, don’t be afraid to get a quote from a professional source, such as Delicious Cake Design. I aim to be as accommodating as possible in trying to fit your budget and you may be surprised at what you can get for your money!

Good luck, and happy baking!

Stop rolled fondant (sugarpaste) sticking to the work surface!

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Hello everyone!

It’s been quite a tiring week, I was ill for 3 days which was a bit of a downer. But on the other hand, on the days I wasn’t sick I did make a baby shower cake and stocked up my freezer with some more sample cakes for cake tastings. I also met with a lovely couple for a tasting and to discuss design ideas for their wedding cake.

I even had dinner with some of the lovely ladies I trained in cake decoration with. It was great to see how their own cake businesses were progressing and to see some pics of their latest creations. It was also nice to hear that some of them have been keeping up with my blog – thanks guys!

So despite the fact that due to illness I had basically a 4 day week, it was still packed with lots of activity.

Meanwhile, my new non-stick board arrived early in the week, and I absolutely love it! It’s huge and it was expensive but already I think it was definitely worth the money. Rolling out fondant on my current glass topped work surface has been the bane of my existence. Despite the fact I do keep moving the fondant as I roll it out to try to stop it from sticking, and sprinkle icing sugar on the work surface, it always seems to stick at exactly the point when I am ready to lift it onto the cake. Which means after all the hard work of rolling out my fondant so it’s nice and smooth and the right size, I have to re-knead it and start again because the middle is stuck to the work surface. And this usually happens 3 or 4 times, which means I’m quadrupling the amount of time it should take. Having used the new non-stick board several times now, I must say I am really impressed with it. The fondant peels off so easily!

If you can’t afford one of these miraculous boards, there are several other things you can try if your rolled fondant is sticking. Firstly, don’t use a glass surface – believe me, it’s a nightmare. Make sure you knead your fondant enough to stop it from sticking and to warm it up to the right working temperature from the warmth of your hands. Add more icing sugar and knead it in if it is ridiculously sticky after a few minutes of kneading, but don’t overdo it or you could end up with stiff, unworkable fondant. Make sure you keep moving the fondant often while rolling out. Use a little bit of icing sugar to dust the work surface, but not too much as this could end up changing the consistency of your fondant and could leave streaks in coloured fondant. Consider using fat e.g. Trex instead of icing sugar if you are working with a particularly dark coloured rolled fondant.

Hope these tips were useful! Have a good week everybody.

My Panda on a World Globe Cake

Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Panda with suitcases on a world globe cake

Panda with suitcases on a world globe cake

So here is the panda cake I said I would be making in my last blog – it was thankfully a success! Despite the fact I said I was intending to do a “normal” cake with modelled sugar pandas on top, as you can see the shape of the cake is not really typical!

This is because in discussions with the clients about design ideas for a panda cake, I mentioned an idea I’d had to do a cake shaped like half a world globe with a panda holding some suitcases sitting on top. I’d thought of this as the cake was being made as a surprise for their colleague who was leaving on an overseas adventure and a year teaching in Japan. I was just throwing around some ideas and didn’t really think they’d take to that one, but boy was I wrong! They loved the idea and were astounded that such a feat was possible. Mind you, I’d never tried to make a half sphere shaped cake before, but I’m always eager to try new things when it comes to cake making, so I agreed to do the design.

But then of course I had to figure out exactly how to accomplish this! A half sphere cake is no easy thing to make, finding the right shaped cake tin proved to be a challenge. Looking around the internet, the closest thing I could find were the Wilton ball shape pans, but they were way too small at only a 6 inch diameter. The cake had to feed around 30 people so that wasn’t going to cut it. I considered baking a normal round 10 inch cake then carving bits of it from the side to achieve a dome type shape. I wasn’t too confident that I would achieve a nice even and symmetrical shape that way, so decided against it. In the end I decided to try baking the cake in an oven proof pyrex mixing bowl, and that worked a treat!

I used a 3L bowl that I greased and floured, and the same quantity of cake batter as for a 10 inch round cake. This proved to be the perfect amount and the cake rose nicely to almost the top of the bowl. I cooked the cake at about 120 degrees celsius, much lower than usual, and for just over 2 hours, much longer than usual. This is because the middle of the cake was much deeper than the sides, so the sides cooked much faster than the middle. I wanted to avoid having burnt sides and a mushy middle. So cooking at a lower temperature for longer was the solution. Turning the cake out of the bowl was very easy, it slid right out thanks to the greasing and flouring beforehand.

I used my handmade rolled fondant (sugarpaste) to cover the cake and to create the countries on the globe. Geography is not my strong point, but thanks to my wonderful other half, the countries were all placed in roughly the correct places! He also came up with the fantastic idea to put the ‘Good luck Meg’ lettering on the globe. I had originally intended to put it on the cake board which was covered with white rolled fondant, but it looked so much better on the cake itself.

I used modelling fondant to create the panda. Thanks to my practice the previous weekend, I knew pretty much what to do to achieve a nice panda! This time the eyes worked out really well and the modelling fondant created a nice smooth finish. I also created the little suitcases with brown modelling fondant. The handles were pretty tricky, but I got there in the end. I ran a skewer through the centre of the cake then speared poor panda through it to secure him to the cake. A little bit of edible glue ensured he and the suitcases weren’t going to move around.

And voila, a panda with suitcases on a  world globe!

And thankfully, as soon as the cake was presented at the going away party to the lady being farewelled, she exclaimed, “That is the cutest cake ever ! I love pandas!”. So people didn’t make the mistake of thinking I was too stupid to know pandas are native to China and not Japan!

Why I will never use edible liquid gold paint again

Sunday, July 5th, 2009
Purple and gold ribbon cake

Purple and gold ribbon cake

I created this cake for a 30th birthday. The client was someone who liked a bit of bling, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use the edible gold paint I’d bought recently and had been itching to use. She was also not a girly kind of girl, so pastels and pale colours were out. She struck me as someone who would appreciate bold colours so I chose royal purple and gold.

I had quite a limited time scale (2 days) for this project, so I opted to use real ribbons instead of making them from fondant (FYI: Just so you know, in Australia we refer to sugarpaste as fondant, so that’s what I’ll be calling it from this point on). I’d done several cakes previously with fondant ribbons and bows and wanted to branch out and do something a bit different while still retaining the kind of “gift” look as the client quite liked it. Also, I didn’t have enough time to find the right paste colours to achieve a nice deep purple and proper shiny gold, and certainly didn’t have time to experiment with trying to achieve it. The safest option was to find ribbons in the exact colours I wanted. Thankfully, Cakes-4-U is relatively close to my location and they are a wonderful source of ribbons and other cake decorating needs. They had exactly the ribbons I needed.

The client wanted a carrot cake, so I made that then let it cool overnight. The next day I split the cake and filled it with delicious cream cheese icing, which was also spread around the top and sides of the cake. I then made the fondant, rolled it out and covered the cake. I let the fondant dry a little bit then measured the ribbons and placed them on the cake, measuring to make sure they were evenly placed, and used a little bit of edible glue to secure them.

I wanted to use white flower paste to make the detailing on the sides and paint them with the edible liquid gold paint. I find the fondant I make doesn’t eject so well from detailed cutters as it is very soft and tends to stretch out of shape easily. I rolled out the flower paste and cut out the “figure eights”, using paste ejectors to get them out of the cutter cleanly. I let them dry a little bit before attempting the painting.

Now this is where it started to go slightly wrong. Firstly, the edible gold paint was not quite the same colour as the gold ribbons. It had a kind of orange hue to it rather than a yellow gold. Not a huge disaster, though it was disappointing. Secondly, it was the dickens to use! It was very very gluggy and seemed to dry very quickly and form little solid clumps which were impossible to get out without leaving a messy hole where the clump had been. Very frustrating! I had to make several of the figure eights to get perfect looking ones.

The next annoying thing came when I went to clean my lovely sable paint brush. Perhaps naively, I went and ran it under running water from the tap. This made the gold paint completely solidify and cling to the hairs of my brush! It was impossible to get out with water! In the end I had to get a paper towel and literally scrape it off. Not too many of the brush hairs came out fortunately.

All very frustrating. Fortunately, the client loved the cake so it was worth the pain. However I have learned a valuable lesson – stay away from edible liquid gold paint! I’ll definitely be using lustre powder with a bit of water from now on (it comes in a variety of shades of gold too!).

Hobbyist Days: My First-Time Fondant (Sugarpaste) Making Disaster

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

The first time I made my own rolled fondant (referred to in the UK as sugarpaste) was an absolute disaster.

This was before I started Delicious Cake Design and took up cake decorating seriously. I’d agreed to make a friend’s birthday cake for a party and decided to give cake decorating with fondant a go.

Being from Australia, I was a devotee of the Women’s Weekly cook books. I had a copy of a Women’s Weekly cake decorating book so I decided to use their rolled fondant recipe, which certainly looked easy enough in the book and had only 2 steps to follow.

I thought I’d followed the recipe exactly, but I had a hell of a time using the liquid glucose which was just too damn thick and would not come out of the bottle. The glucose, glycerine, and gelatine-melted-in-water congealed after I mixed them all together so I had a mostly gelatinous lump of goo, and I ended up heating them on the stove to return them to liquid form. Stirring the now liquid (but very hot) mixture into the icing sugar left me with an incohesive, crumbling mess which just would not come together at all.

I tried adding water, which didn’t seem to help all that much, (I now know of course that adding water is the last thing you want to do as it dissolves the sugar). So then I started adding in globs of liquid glucose. This seemed to help, but I kept adding more and more till it resembled lumpy porridge. It clung to my hands in big clumps making them look like a melting wax work. I was nearly in tears.

Not wanting to give up though, I decided the sensible thing to do was to reduce it’s liquidness, so I started adding more icing sugar. Eventually it came together, though it was very stiff and VERY sweet. BUT it was at least kneadable and I could roll it out (though it was a lot of hard work with such a stiff mixture!). Luckily it was just a practice batch. The next batch I made, I decided to ignore the recipe and make my own one based on the experience I’d gained through the disasterous first batch. Being a baker for many years, I also decided to trust my own instincts, and it turned out much much better!

I have now of course developed my own rolled fondant recipe through a lot of trial and error, which makes fondant that is much more flexible and easy to use. And of course, tastes great!

I am curious though, I wonder what other people’s first-time-fondant horror stories are? And has anyone else used the Women’s Weekly recipe successfully (I’m more than willing to admit I could have been a muppet and done something completely wrong!)?