Macaron Chocolate Cake

My little sister turned 25 in August. As per family birthday tradition, I planned an epic cake. The only requests were no fondant and make it chocolate, please.

Since she has been learning new cooking techniques every week and also enjoy a french food, I went with macarons.

I made the macaron shells a few weeks before, in case they didn’t work and I had to either try again or come up with a different plan. I added an extra surprise on the inside of the cake, with some chocolate mousse. Chocolate overload.

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Wedding Cake – Red Velvet

Thank you to my lovely friend who recommended me to her friend who was getting married!

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first wedding cake. I had met up with the bride who wanted a very simple cake, and enough to feed 150 people for afternoon tea. I am very thankful that she was a unfussy bride and that I was able to produce what she wanted. I’d never done anything on this scale before (I took two days off work to make sure I could manage it). I am also thankful for the use of the church kitchen – it turned out I really needed the fridge space!

All up, I made a 7 inch three layer cutting/photo cake, and three 12×12 inch kitchen slab cakes, all red velvet with cream cheese and mascarpone frosting.

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I didn’t go to the wedding, but I got lots of great feedback from people I knew there. The bride wants to recommend me to someone else!

Macarons

About two years ago, I went through a bit of a phase of trying to make macarons. My second attempt was reasonable. The third was not; I vowed never to make macarons again. Then I helped a friend make them and picked up a couple of tips. It took me nearly a year to try after that. One more youtube clip that made them look like the easiest things in the world, and i was ready. Also, since last time, i had invested in a candy thermometre, non stick saucepan, and electric scales. This is how it went on attempt number four.

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I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Conditions were quite good; it was a cold but dry day. The most difficult thing I had to contend with was my cat.  I lost a few shells to her licking them, before and after baking.
I made them a few weeks ahead. I layer them in a container with baking paper and froze them, then took them out a few hours before I needed them, to defrost. The filling was made the day before.
Confidence restored.

Back on track

Three months ago, I joined a gym. Three months ago, I went to the gym. Three days ago, I went again.

Here are some reasons I didn’t go in between:

  • Too tired after work
  • My lower back hasn’t been strong enough
  • I wasn’t wearing the right socks
  • I didn’t have a padlock for the lockers
  • I couldn’t find parking
  • Have to do something more pressing, so don’t have time
  • I just ate cake
  • Dana (my cat) needs me

All terrible excuses. I know this. I knew this at the time of each excuse.

But, I went again. And my husband persuaded me to go on some walking tracks with him in the National park (I have to get fit so we can climb a mountain in Tasmania in October).

Three weeks ago, the weather was miserable, which made me miserable, and for the first couple of kilometres all I could think about was how cold it was. But I ended up enjoying it and being happy that I struggled less than I thought I would.

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Today the weather was lovely, and the walk was a much easier one.

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P1000679I’ve already noticed the difference in my mood and body that recent progress has been a good thing. I’m optimistic.

 

Yarn ball cake

I’ve been planning my mum’s birthday cake for months (and finally discovered the secret board feature on Pinterest), and gave her cat themed presents as well. This is the inspiration…

yarn cake And this is how I recreated it:

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I start with chocolate cake baked in two half soccer ball cake tins. Word of advice – leave yourself twice as much time as the recipe says. It just takes ages because they’re so deep. Cool completely, shave off the non-round tops to allow a smooth join, and the base of one (so that it doesn’t roll around – also, if your cat tries to eat some of it, cut that off too).

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I used a basic buttercream icing with vanilla, and coloured it a shade of the fondant I was using. Stick the two hemispheres together with icing and fill in the gaps. I balanced the whole ball in my hand, holding the top half while I iced the bottom half, then put it down on the plate to do the top. I wasn’t too fussy about making it really smooth. The cake design is quite forgiving.

P1000624I used a knife to mark the design out and started with the sections that would be underneath. I also wear gloves (latex free) when handling fondant; it makes it especially easy when doing so much rolling.

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And finally I made the cat, and a few more strands of wool. I generally save the topper for last these days. I never quite anticipate correctly just how much the cake grows when you add icing and fondant.

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The end of the tunnel

I’m studying, so of course I have time to write a quick post. Yesterday my boss gave me the day off work to work on my assignments, and I got one completely done. Two half assignments left and 9 days to go. I’m feeling motivated, and keep reminding myself of the things I will reward myself with when I’m done. The list gets longer every day:

  • Bake – donuts, croissants, bread, gluten free apple crumble
  • Research getting a cat
  • Research things to do in Tasmania (for a holiday around our anniversary)
  • Craft – cards and knitting
  • Catch up with friends who I don’t get to see very often and live a little further away
  • Clean and sort my study area
  • Get a hair cut
  • Research the next course – I wonder if I will be able to learn my lesson not to leave the last quarter of the course content to the last two weeks of the year. Leave me alone instant gratification monkey.

I’d rather be…

I’ve been up for two hours, trying to will myself to do an assignment. I really have not made much progress.

Instead, I found this:

procrastinationWhat do I do while I procrastinate? Learn about random stuff, read, knit, make cards, shop online for craft stuff, bake, organise my stuff, make scrapbooks. For someone who doesn’t particularly think they’re creative, it seems I really want to be.