Posts Tagged ‘fondant cake’

Making a Fruit & Chocolate Stacked Wedding Cake

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake

My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake of fruit & chocolate cakes

My final cake order in London was for a wedding, which was such a nice way to leave London! It was a big order too – wedding cake, cupcakes, and mini cheesecakes. The wedding cake comprised of 2 double height tiers, a 6 inch fruit cake tier and an 8 inch chocolate cake tier. I don’t get a lot of orders for fruit cake (or double height tiers) so I thought I’d blog a bit of a step by step guide on the creation of this cake to show the differences between covering a fruit cake versus covering a chocolate or sponge cake.

For the top tier, I baked two 6 inch fruit cakes. The good thing about fruit cakes is that they can be baked and decorated reasonably far in advance as they keep for so long unlike sponge or chocolate cakes, which are the  two most popular cakes I make. I made a HUGE amount of white fondant and coloured it a cream colour, reserving a little of the original white to create circles with later on.

To cover the top tier, I first had to cover each cake individually with fondant (normally I would use marzipan but the bride’s brother has a nut allergy). I’ll go over this process now for the first cake.

The very first step is to turn the fruit cake upside down and secure it on the cake board with some royal icing or wet scraps of fondant. The bottom of your cake always has a nice flat surface with fewer lumps and bumps which is better to cover and decorate. The top of the cake often has a small “hump” caused by the sides of the cake cooking faster than the middle due to contact with the heat from the tin. So when you place the cake on the board upside down, this hump causes a small gap between the cake edge and the bottom of the cake board. To fix this, take a piece of fondant or marzipan, whichever you are using, and roll it into a sausage shape then wrap it around the bottom of the cake to fill in the gap.

Next up, I inspected the fruit cake for any large holes and patched these with small bits of fondant. Then I used my smoothers to make sure the fondant bits and the bottom sausage of fondant were lying flush with the surface of the cake. Doing this should give you a nice smooth surface to cover with the marzipan/fondant.

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

After rolling out the fondant I then brushed the cake surface with sugar syrup. This does 2 things – helps to make the cake more moist and makes the surface sticky to help secure the fondant.

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Then I covered the cake with the rolled out fondant and trimmed it to size, then went over it again with my smoothers. I covered the second fruit cake with it’s first layer of fondant as well then left both cakes overnight to dry.

The next day, I stacked one fruit cake on top of the other, using royal icing to secure the cake board of the top cake to the bottom cake, then I brushed the cakes with sugar syrup and covered them both with one big, thicker layer of fondant to create the illusion of one very big cake. White ribbon was wrapped around the base of the cake.Then this was again left overnight to dry.

While the fondant was drying, I cut out some circles from white fondant and let them dry slightly as well. Once the fondant on the cake was nice and set, I used sugar glue to stick on the circles, very carefully measuring the distance between each circle and the distance of each circle from the bottom of the board to make sure they were all accurately spaced and at the same height. This sounds easy but takes quite a while if you want to be exact! I found a side scribing tool very useful in height placement.

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Once all the circles were on, I made a batch of royal icing and filled a small piping bag fitted with a number 2 tube with some of the icing. Then I piped small dots around each circle in a kind of starburst pattern. This can be quite time consuming, especially on a larger cake. By the time I had done both the 6 inch and 8 inch tiers my arms were quite sore!

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Close up of the dots being piped

Close up of the dots being piped

The next day, it was time to bake the two 8 inch chocolate cakes to make the bottom tier. I cut each cake in half, secured one to a cake board with wet fondant, brushed each layer with sugar syrup, then stacked them on top of each other with chocolate buttercream in between each layer. Notice that I did not put a cake board in between cakes or layers, this cake is quite light and spongy so the cake boards were not necessary. Here is a picture of the first 3 layers stacked and buttercreamed (yum):

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Then I covered the top with chocolate buttercream, smoothed it out with a large palette knife, then put loads of buttercream on the sides. Using a turntable and a metal side scraping tool, I got the sides as smooth and perfect as possible. I didn’t have to patch any holes here with fondant, firstly because you don’t get as many large holes due to lack of fruit and nuts in the cake, and secondly the buttercream will fill any holes that are present. If you get the buttercream incredibly smooth you don’t have to roll the fondant out as thickly as there are virtually no lumps and bumps to hide with a ghastly thick layer of fondant.

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

I let the buttercream crust, rolled out a reasonably thin layer of cream coloured fondant, spritzed the cake with water to make the buttercream slightly tacky so the fondant would stick to it, covered the cake with fondant then placed the ribbon around it and left it overnight to dry. I repeated the circle sticking and dot piping process, then inserted dowelling rods to support the top tier. The top tier was a monster, weighing in at 2.5kg, so I decided to err on the side of caution and used my usual 4 dowelling rods near the edges of where the top tier would be plus an extra one in the middle.

As the top tier was unusually heavy I also decided to be cautious in transporting the cake too and transported the tiers in separate boxes and stacked them at the venue. You can see the dowelling rods in the pic of me assembling the cake at the venue below (they’re the white “dots” in the middle of the cake):

Stacking the cake at the venue

Assembling the cake at the venue

Here is a pic of the finished cake along with the cupcakes I made on the dessert table at the wedding reception:

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The bride left a lovely comment about my cakes on my Facebook page the day after the wedding, which was so sweet of her. She seemed really pleased with my work, which makes me so happy! A great way for Delicious Cake Design to end it’s tenure in London wouldn’t you say!

Squires Kitchen 5 Day School – Day 2: Sugarpaste

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Me and Paddi Clark with my finished cake

Me and Paddi Clark with my finished cake

Day 2 of the Squires Kitchen 5 Day School with Guest Tutors was Sugarpaste with Paddi Clark. Having my own cake business, I already know a fair bit about covering cakes with sugarpaste and sugar decorations, so most of the things taught in the class I already knew. I did pick up a few good hints and tips from Paddi though. Paddi is a senior tutor at Squires Kitchen and has been cake decorating for “thousands of years” (her words lol). She is the author of Sugar Flowers for Beginners and her work is featured regularly in magazines. I found Paddi to be a great teacher, extremely knowledgeable and a lot of fun! Now normally I wouldn’t say ‘sugarpaste’ but fondant or rolled fondant, but out of respect for Paddi I’ll refer to it as sugarpaste in this blog post.

For this class, we were given a cake decorating equipment box, turntable, mixing palette, trex, sugar glue, 4 inch dummy, rolling pin and rolling out board. The sugarpaste and flower paste were also provided. Anything else we needed we had to buy and we also shared some of Paddi’s equipment. There was some waiting around to use the shared equipment which was a little bit annoying, especially since I had all of the items at home but hadn’t known to bring them! It wasn’t really a huge deal though. Here is the equipment each of us was given for the class:

Equipment for our sugarpaste class

Equipment for our sugarpaste class

We started off with a demonstration of how to roll out sugarpaste using spacers and how to cover a cake with it. We all covered 6 inch dummies (which were secured to cake drums) with sugarpaste. Next we were shown how to cover the 4 inch dummies without the aid of a cake drum to hold it still. A bit trickier, but we managed it. Here’s Paddi showing us how to roll out sugarpaste:

Paddi showing us how to roll out sugarpaste

Paddi showing us how to roll out sugarpaste

One neat trick she showed us was to get some sugarpaste and wrap it in cling film and use it as a curved buffer for the top edge of the cake. Handy if you don’t have an edge smoother.

Paddi then showed us how to cover our cake boards and create thin sausages (called a connector) with a mix of flower paste and sugarpaste to hide the unsightly join between the bottom of the 6 inch cake and the cake board, and we all had a go at doing that.

We then moved on to making daisies and butterflies. After lunch, we finished up our daisies and butterflies, then cemented the 4 inch dummies on top of the 6 inch dummies with royal icing. Paddi showed us how to do a little bit of draping with sugar paste to hide the gap between the 2 cakes, but I opted to do the same sausage type connector as on the lower tier. I like the way it looks better, it seems more symmetrical and elegant to me and that is what I usually prefer to do, where as the drapery was intended to give a more rustic feel. Here is my covered cake, ready to decorate:

My cake covered and ready to decorate

My cake covered and ready to decorate

Next we were shown how to dust our daisy centres to give them more dimension and depth, and to paint detail on our butterflies using dusting powders mixed with water and a very fine paintbrush. Here are some of the daisies I made after they were dusted:

Sugar daisies I made

Sugar daisies I made

Paddi then showed us how to mix sugar glue with sugarpaste to secure our flowers and butterflies to the cakes. Once the demonstration was finished, we all went about adding our daisies and butterflies to our cakes. Here is my cake, all finished:

The daisy cake I made in the sugarpaste class

The daisy cake I made in the sugarpaste class

Everyone did their swag draping and arrangement of butterflies and daisies differently, and it was fun to see them all lined up together on display. Here is a pic of the finished products (mine is bottom right):

Everyone's daisy cakes

Everyone's daisy cakes

You can see in the back row in the picture that someone else in the class had the same idea I did and produced a very similar cake! Great minds hey 🙂

All in all, a really fun day even though the bulk of the things taught I already knew. It was nice to try out different techniques though, and I picked up some great tips and tricks. And it was such a delight to work with Paddi!

Making a 3D Snoopy Kennel Cake

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Last week I made a 3D cake of Snoopy lying on top of his kennel and it is possibly my new favourite cake. It consisted of a kennel made entirely of cake, with a sugar modelled Snoopy a lying on top of the roof with a little sugar modelled Woodstock perched on his tummy.  I had a very similar Snoopy money box as a child which I loved, so I jumped at the chance to re-create it in cake. It was a fair bit of work, but I loved the end result and it was a big hit!

To make the kennel, I baked a 10 inch square madeira cake. I tried creating the kennel at first with butter cake and it was a disaster, really horrible to carve. It seems madeira is a lot easier to work with if you are going to be carving to make a 3D cake. I halved and buttercreamed the cake, then took a sharp, long bladed knife and cut off bits to make a triangular roof shape. I did this quite precisely, measuring length and angles as I went to ensure a uniform and balanced roof. Here is the roof (you can see some of the bits of cake that were cut off in the background):

The roof of Snoopy's kennel carved out of cake

The roof of Snoopy's kennel carved out of cake

I took the remainder of the cake and did a little bit of measuring and carving to create as perfect a rectangular piece as I could for the kennel base. I spread buttercream over the top of the kennel base and stuck the roof on top of it like so:

The kennel cake assembled and ready to cover

The kennel cake assembled and ready to cover

Then it was just a matter of crumb coating and covering the base with white rolled fondant, colouring some fondant red and covering the roof, and using a knife and a ruler to cut some shallow lines along the fondant of the roof and kennel base. I then left this to dry.

While the kennel was drying, I moved on to creating the sugar models of Snoopy and Woodstock. I did each bit of them in separate parts – the head, nose, ears, torso, arms, legs, etc were all done as individual bits. I included little details such as indentations on Snoopy’s paws to show “toes” and “fingers”, and little feathers on Woodstock’s wings. Woodstock was quite hard to make as he was so small and very fiddly! After they had dried a little I used sugar glue to stick Snoopy together and secure him on top of the roof and did the same with little Woodstock. Here’s a close up of the assembled Snoopy and Woodstock:

Close up of sugar Snoopy and Woodstock

Close up of sugar Snoopy and Woodstock

Next I took a tiny bit of fondant, coloured it black, rolled it out thinly and cut out an arched doorway which I sugar glued on one side of the kennel. I then coloured the remaining white fondant green and covered the cake board. While the fondant on the board was still wet, I took an icing tip to it to create grass texture.

And voila! Here is the finished product, a cake of Snoopy and Woodstock on top of Snoopy’s kennel:

Sugar Snoopy and Woodstock on top of a kennel made of cake

Sugar Snoopy and Woodstock on top of a kennel made of cake

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!

Hippo in a Hot Tub Birthday Cake

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

It’s been a while since I made a cake, having taken 3 months off due to my own wedding :). But now I’m back in the game, and my first cake this year was a great one to start off with – the Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake.

Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake

Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake

The client for this cake is actually the same person who placed the first ever order for Delicious Cake Design. She ordered a birthday cake back then, and this year she ordered another. She was very trusting and left the design of this year’s cake up to me, which was very kind of her as it meant I could try out some new ideas I’d been thinking about and also have a go at some new techniques. I really enjoy sugar modelling and had received a lovely book from my new in-laws about character cakes. I just fell in love with a cute hippo in the book and was dying to try it out myself. So this was the perfect opportunity!

Modelling the hippo out of sugarpaste turned out to be a little tougher than I thought. After an hour, I had attempted the hippo’s head four times and each attempt ended up looking like a lumpy gorilla made from Play Doh by a kindergartener. I was following the instructions exactly but it looked nothing like the adorable hippo in the book. My fantastic new husband saw my frustration and came over to give me some words of encouragement. He also gave me a very good suggestion. Instead of following the written instructions, which clearly was getting me nowhere, why not just copy what I could see in the pictures of the hippo parts? I followed his advice and voila, a perfectly adequate hippo.

I adored the detail that this hippo had – curly black eyelashes, grey eyelids, rosy pink cheeks, a blue towel turban, pink pads on the soles of the feet. I threw in a few extras as well to complete the picture – little bottles and jars sitting on the edge of the tub, a blue towel hanging off the side, and a back scrubbing brush, all handmade from modelling fondant. I also sprayed the “tub” with pearl lustre spray to give it a shiny, enamel like finish and to help distinguish it from the white fondant bubbles in the tub. I’d bought the lustre spray on a whim and not for a purpose, so it was another item I’d been uber keen to try out. I have to say, it worked quite well and I didn’t end up with a streaky finish at all. Much easier than using lustre powder dust.

Close up of the hippo in the hot tub cake

Close up of the hippo in a hot tub cake

It felt so good to be baking again, and to be designing and decorating a cake. I’d missed colouring sugarpaste, covering a cake with buttercream and fondant, moulding shapes from sugarpaste using just my hands, putting together all the pieces of decoration on the cake, and most of all, seeing the finished product and the delighted look on the client’s face. It’s good to be back.

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!

The Super Busy Wedding Cake Weekend

Monday, October 5th, 2009

What a hectic couple of weeks it’s been! I had to make two 3-tier wedding cakes for delivery on the weekend, which kept me super busy and super stressed! Having never had to deliver 2 wedding cakes in one weekend before, it was quite an experience. Sleeping and eating became a thing of the past. I’ve never been so exhausted and my feet, back and legs were very very sore from being on my feet so much. Thankfully the two weddings were not on the same day, one was on Saturday and the other on Sunday. I definitely would not accept two orders for wedding cakes that were to be delivered on the same day. Celebration cakes, maybe, but not 3-tier wedding cakes!

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

CAKE 1: Light ivory 3-tier wedding cake with floral spray of red tinged roses, sugar leaves and bear grass

The first wedding cake was quite large with 8inch, 10inch and 12inch sized tiers, plus an extra cutting cake. The cakes had burgundy ribbon at the bases. The top tier had a floral spray consisting of 3 large light ivory roses, sugar leaf branches, and bear grass accents.

It was a Chinese wedding, so the bride and groom did not want white flowers as white flowers are traditionally used for Chinese funerals. The colour red is considered lucky in Chinese tradition, so they wanted some tinges of red on the roses. I originally tried lightly dusting the centre of the roses, but the intensity of the colour was lacking and looked more orange than red. Adding more petal dust ended up making them look too red rather than red tinged (it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, painting the roses red!). So I re-made the roses and as I made each centre petal, I hand painted the edges of it with red petal dust using a very fine paint brush dipped in water to make the colour more intense . This worked out much better, but was very time consuming.

For the leaves I used some purple coloured petal dust to give the edges some darkness and definition, then over dusted with green petal dust.

CAKE 2: White wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

CAKE 2: White 3-tier wedding cake with pearl beads at bases and round posy of white roses

The second cake was smaller with 6inch, 8inch and 10inch cakes with pearl beads of different sizes on wires at the bases. It was quite a challenge finding those beads! But I managed to find them at a wholesale wedding warehouse outside of London.

This cake had a round posy of medium sized white roses for the top tier with no leaves or bear grass accents. This was more straight forward than the other floral spray, but also time consuming as it required a lot more roses! I spent several nights sitting at my work bench making rose after rose after rose. I then dusted the centre of each rose with a little yellow petal dust to give each flower some warmth and depth. It was very nerve wracking arranging the posy as I roll the flower paste quite thinly, so the roses are very delicate and fragile and break very easily.

All the cakes were made of my specialty butter cake. Many people request sponge cakes, but I get them to try my buttercake and they usually end up choosing it which is good as it is a much stronger cake to work with. Baking so many cakes was quite a challenge! It made me very grateful for my wonderful new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.

Delivery of the first cake was not fun. A friend kindly agreed to drive me to both venues as my other half was away for the weekend, but her car was very small. We used blankets and cushions to surround some of the cake boxes and minimise movement in the car boot. Driving was slow and excruciating with one cake tier balanced on my lap while I held the top tier in my hands and held my breath at every turn and pothole. The venue didn’t have parking or a driveway, so we had to park on a street nearby and walk each tier over. FYI, 10 and 12 inch cakes are HEAVY!!! I assembled the cake and floral spray at the venue, with my emergency repair kit and spare sugar roses and leaves on hand in case of disaster. Amazingly, these things were not needed.

Delivery of the second cake was surprisingly easy, because the cakes were smaller and there were only 3 instead of 4 cakes to transport. The venue also had parking right out the front – yay! I again assembled the floral spray at the venue, which was very nerve wracking given the fragility of the flowers, and again didn’t need to use my emergency repair kit. A miracle! Though I nearly had a small heart attack when the event staff then decided to pick up and move the entire cake display table to the centre of the room. Thankfully the flowers made it intact.

So delivering two 3-tier wedding cakes in one weekend was a very rewarding and challenging experience. But would I want to do it EVERY weekend? No, I like being able to sleep and eat!