Archive for May, 2010

My Favourite Cakes in May 2010

Monday, May 31st, 2010

My favourite cakes I made in May 2010

Today is the last day of May, and it was a really great month for Delicious Cake Design, one of the best months so far. I’ve made some really interesting and varied cakes, and in this blog post I’d like to share some of my favourites with you. I’ll list them in chronological order here.

First up was the wedding cake I made for myself and my husband. I’ve already blogged about this cake in the post Finally Made My Own Wedding Cake! so I won’t go into too much detail here. Making the huge sugar lilies and smaller calla lilies was so much fun and I loved the end result.

3 tier lily wedding cake

3 tier lily wedding cake



Next up is a cake I made for a keen runner. The design brief was basically, make a sponge cake for a girl who likes to run marathons. So I decided to do this cute little design of a road leading up to a finishing line, with a sugar modelled cartoony version of the marathon running girl sitting on the edge of the cake after crossing the line. The best part of this cake for me was creating the sugar modelled marathon girl as I don’t get to make sugar humans very often! Making the little shorts was a hoot! The client absolutely loved it too, her reaction really made my day.

Little Miss Runner cake



My next favourite cake for May. The design brief was an 8 inch round chocolate birthday cake for a an adult male. That’s it. I have to admit, I don’t get asked for birthday cakes for adult males very often, especially with such a loose design brief (no interests, hobbies or anything!). But I was really pleased with the end result, as was the birthday boy:

Blue and brown circle cake



Next, I was asked to make a cake with black sugar roses as the birthday girl loves black roses. My fingers were stained with black colouring paste for days, but it was worth it to see the look of absolute delight on the birthday girl’s face when she saw the cake. I added some thin, criss crossing black ribbons which were a great effect:

Black Roses cake with criss crossing black ribbons



My last favourite cake in May. This was one I made for a very good friend of mine, so there was no design brief, she said to do whatever I wanted as long as it was a chocolate cake with lots of chocolate buttercream. After making the black and white cake above, I wanted to do something with bright colours and something that really represented her as a person. The design I created was an 8 inch round chocolate cake with quilting pattern on the side (purely so I could try out my new quilting wheel tool), and at the points where the dotted lines crossed I attached a small silver edible ball. On the top of the cake I wrote the birthday girl’s name in funky lettering and painted the letters a sparkly silver. Then I made some simple posies dusted in bright shades of yellow, pink, purple and green, and added more silver edible balls in the flower centres to tie the side design to the flowers. I attached these flowers on the top and sides of the cake. I felt it really conveyed her bright, cheerful yet stylish personality to a T, and she LOVED it!

Quilted cake with colourful flowers



So those are my personal favourites of the cakes I made in May 2010. Hopefully the month of June will be as varied and productive as the month of May!

Air Bubbles Under Fondant aka Cake Farts

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Recently in London the weather has been warming up (shock horror!) which has been causing havoc with some of my cake making. Those of you who work regularly with rolled fondant (called sugarpaste here in the UK) and buttercream know that heat can be your worst enemy when it comes to cake decorating.

Our flat, in typical London fashion, has heating but no air conditioning. The kitchen is near the back of the apartment, as far away from the windows as you can get. So on a warm day, it’s like an oven in the kitchen, somewhat ironically. One of the tricks I use when it’s warm and my buttercream is melting is to put my cake in the freezer once it has the crumb coat on. Just for a little while to let the buttercream get nice and stiff so it doesn’t move around when I put the rolled fondant on it. This usually works really well and helps me achieve a nice smooth covering on the cake.

However, using this method in the heat has meant that recently I have been getting small air bubbles on some of my cakes. This is unusual for me, but not a big deal as I can usually smooth them out without too much difficulty. But then of course, there was the one time this week when it was an absolute disaster!

I made a cake and left it in the freezer for far too long – about 40 minutes! When I covered it with fondant, everything seemed fine. I got a nice smooth covering on the cake and left it to dry. I came back an hour later and found a small air bubble under the rolled fondant. Not a big deal, I smoothed it out and transferred the cake to the fondant covered cake board, cementing it securely to the board. I left it for a half hour then went to put some ribbon around the cake while the icing was still slightly wet. And I nearly fainted when I saw it!

There was not one, but two HUGE air bubbles under my fondant!!! Mice could have crawled under there and set up camp they were so big! (Please note: I do NOT have any mice in my flat). It was a deformed, bubbly  mess. The back of the cake reminded me of a witch’s hooked, crooked nose, and the top of the cake looked like the elephant man. It looked like something that belonged on the Cake Wrecks blog!

I have covered quite a few cakes with fondant in my time and NEVER had this happen before. Which prompts me now to explain how it did happen this time. When you cover a cold cake with fondant, small pockets of air are released as the cake warms up and returns to room temperature. This causes a bubble of air to be trapped under the fondant. It’s what we call in the biz a “cake fart” as the cake is releasing gases! This had been happening a little with my cakes recently due to them being put in the freezer then taken out into a very warm room. A small air bubble is no biggy, but if you have a very cold cake in a very warm room, your air bubbles will be particularly bad and ginormous. Which is what happened in this situation as I’d left the cake in the freezer too long!

So how did I fix the problem? Removing the fondant and re-covering is really a very last resort, especially when you’ve already fixed the cake onto the covered board. So what I do is sterilise a very thin pin or needle, then poke a small hole into the air bubble at an angle. I then get my cake smoothers and push the air out of the offending bubble, then smooth over the area with the paddles. If the hole is very noticeable, you can cover it with decoration such as a flower or ribbon, but if it’s somewhere on the cake that isn’t going to get covered with decoration, you can also mix a small amount of rolled fondant with water and fill the hole in, then smooth with your smoothing paddles. And voila, it’s like your air bubble never existed!

I don’t have any pictures of the cake fart disaster to show you as I was in such a panic at the time that I didn’t even think to grab my camera and document the moment. But here are some pics of another cake which had an air bubble which I fixed with the pin method:

Before – you can clearly see an air bubble has formed around the wooden post

After – air bubble, what air bubble?

 

UPDATED 2016: This is by far my most popular post! I’ve noticed that some of you are confused between cake farts and normal air bubbles. The cake fart is different to a normal air bubble, it’s caused by a dramatic enough difference in temperature between the fridge/freezer and the room temperature and it usually forms some time after you’ve covered your cake if you covered a cold cake. So you’ll cover your cake perfectly and come back later to find HUGE air bubbles that weren’t there before.

Many cake makers cover cakes straight from the fridge or freezer with no problems because the room they take the cake out into from the fridge/freezer isn’t too hot. I usually can’t because it’s so hot and humid in Australia and I don’t have a temperature controlled room (no air con, it’s brutal!). I use ganache instead of buttercream now and always cover a room temp cake so cake farts are a thing of the past.

Normal air bubbles form straight away as you cover your cake. I get these either because I missed a spot when wetting my ganache before covering the cake or the fondant didn’t quite stick down to the surface in a spot when covering the cake, these air bubbles are usually quite small (cake farts can be humungazoid). I don’t know any cake decorator that doesn’t get these kind of air bubbles, but they’re easily taken care of with the pin trick as soon as you cover your cake. Air bubbles are all but impossible to get rid of once your fondant has set hard.

Check out the comments for other people’s ideas and solutions.

Finally Made My Own Wedding Cake!

Sunday, May 9th, 2010
3 tier lily wedding cake

3 tier lily wedding cake made to celebrate my marriage

Those of you who have read this blog before probably already know that I didn’t make the cake for my own wedding overseas a couple of months ago. I made the sugar flowers and leaves used to decorate the cake (see my blog post Sugar Flowers for My Own Wedding Cake), but the actual cake itself I left to a local baker we hired in Hawaii. I don’t regret that decision at all, I was so busy in the week before the wedding that I’d hate to think how I would have coped trying to make a wedding cake on top of everything else I had to do!

But as a professional cake maker, you do feel a bit ashamed if you don’t make your own wedding cake. I wanted to remedy that. We knew we were going to have a small celebration on our return to London for people who couldn’t make it to Hawaii for our wedding. So my plan was to make a proper 3 tier wedding cake complete with hand crafted sugar flowers for that celebration (even though there were only about 40 people going!). I made a 6 inch fruitcake tier (for my husband who loves fruitcake, I loathe it), 9 inch chocolate cake tier, and 12 inch sponge cake tier.

Crumb coating the 12 inch sponge cake layer with buttercream

Crumb coating the 12 inch sponge cake tier with buttercream

Design wise, I wanted to do something different from the cake at our wedding. A style I have always loved is a cascading floral arrangement going from the top of the cake in a diagonal line right down to the bottom, so I decided to do that. I also wanted to steer away from roses – I love roses and think they are perfect for weddings, but we had roses on our wedding cake in Hawaii and roses are the most popular flower I make for Delicious Cake Design. This was an opportunity to make some different kinds of flowers. I chose lilies – beautiful yellow throated white oriental lilies and elegant calla lilies.

Some of my hand crafted oriental and calla lilies

Some of my hand crafted oriental and calla sugar lilies

As I make a lot of cakes, I have developed some tried and true recipes and methods that always work. But I am addicted to cake making so do a lot of reading and research on various other techniques. I decided this would be a good opportunity to try some new methods and play around with some of my rolled fondant recipes, as the cake wasn’t for a paying client so the only person I would be disappointing if things went wrong was myself. So I experimented, and let’s just say that now I know now not to experiment again!

Just kidding. Some of the new techniques worked quite well, others were flat out disasters. The rolled fondant recipe tweaks were filed under the “must-never-do-again” category. But it’s good to try these things out! One great new technique I will definitely use again was covering the wires on the flowers with lots of florist tape to make sure the wires didn’t come into contact with the cake itself then inserting them into the cake without flower picks. Much more secure and flexible!

Placing the sugar lilies on the cake

Working out placement of the sugar lilies on the cake

I was really pleased with how the cake turned out. Perhaps the biggest compliment I got was that the guests all thought the flowers were real! They were amazed when they found out they were actually sugar and I got asked a lot of questions about how they were made. And then of course they were clamouring for the chance to eat one!

And despite having such a huge amount of cake for such a small number of people, there weren’t actually that many leftovers!