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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
And this is how I recreated it:
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).
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.
I 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.
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.
Ever since I had a lavender scone on Kangaroo Island, I’ve been interested in trying something else, and I’ve stumbled across a few recipes lately that use lavender.
This recipe, from Love Bake Nourish, by Amber Rose, is first up.
I took a few heads of lavender from mum’s garden yesterday.
It was meant to be a gluten free cake, but it turned out I had about half the amount of almond meal that I needed, and some weevils had taken up residence in my polenta. Devastating to have to throw out a whole packet of anything. I replaced the remaining weight with plain flour. So it took a little longer than recommended to cook through.
I got the tick of approval from my neighbour, though. The lavender is very subtle, hardly there; the lemon is much more obvious. A nice cake to have with a cup of tea, especially on a rainy weekend.
One of my friends is turning 16, and her mum asked me to make her cake (up until I arrived at her house, she didn’t think she was getting one). She loves cheerleading; I wasn’t game to try and make a little cheerleader out of fondant, so here I what I came up with…
Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
Fondant toppers with glitter (who ever died from eating a little bit of glitter?), and paper (don’t eat the paper). 16, pom poms, and A for Ashleigh flags.
It matched their colour scheme perfectly.
Happy Birthday Ash!