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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Cheerleading Themed Cake

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…

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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!

Stargate cake topper

2013-12-06 19.53.53As per my new tradition, I ambitiously built my own Stargate (from the nerd TV show, for non-nerds), complete with active event horizon.

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to manage this. I had it in the back of my mind for weeks, months even, and eventually drew a sketch. It was inspired by Nerdy Nummies, again, who made her own mini Stargate cookies. She used cookies (obviously) and Jolly Ranchers for the middle. I couldn’t find Jolly Ranchers, so had to come up with something else, and also, I keep failing at making cookies (I did a trial run and realised I needed a new plan).

I did a Google image search and found a couple of clear pictures of the Stargate and the DHD (Dial Home Device) and used these as my guide. I also am working my way through Stargate Atlantis, so I watched that while I did my work.

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2013-12-02 18.07.56I made mine out of fondant in the end – I just mixed white and black together (I had black leftover from my other sister’s cake). I rolled it out fairly thick and placed the paper ring over the fondant, using a sharp knife to cut it out. I have a cookie cutter the exact size of the inside of the ring (conveniently), so that was easy. I also inserted some skewers in, partly for a bit of structural stability, and mostly so that the Stargate would stand up in the cake. I used the knife to press lines in, and a fork for the middle pattern.

2013-12-02 19.08.13Next was the finer detail. I used black writing icing for the symbols, and yes, they are accurate to the picture (as much as you can with icing). I also had red fondant leftover from the other cake as well. I did measure the shevrons, as well, so they’re all the same size and in the right places; those went on first, then the symbols.

2013-12-02 19.07.07Phase 1 complete. I left it to dry overnight, then placed it on a cake rack to dry on both sides. Give it about a week (it wasn’t completely set four days later, when I had to give it to my sister). The ring started to crack as well. I haven’t worked out how to prevent that. It’s difficult because it is so thick; the surface dries faster than the inside. Be careful when moving it.

I also prepared the DHD, which would sit on a chocolate muffin. I got it ready, but didn’t want it to harden, so kept it in an air tight container.

Meanwhile, I needed to do some testing for the event horizon. I decided to go with hard candy. Every recipe I found needed light corn syrup, which they don’t really sell in Australia. So I looked for alternatives, and found that you could replace it with honey or another sugar/water mix. I went with honey, which was a mistake, because it colours the candy, but oh well. Next time.

2013-12-05 17.31.11I’ve never done this before, and the saucepan I started with was too small, so here is a picture of me upscaling. Follow the directions on any hard candy recipe, and make sure you have a candy thermometre.

I also needed to test the best surface to set the candy. Most recipes just tell you to pour it onto a greased cookie tray, but then, they are going to crack theirs and dust with icing sugar, so I needed mine to lift off the tray without breaking.

2013-12-05 17.11.35So, I tried cling wrap, tin foil, baking paper and plain greased tray. I also prepared a mini Stargate to test what would happen when pouring 175 degree sugar into fondant.

2013-12-05 17.34.35Nothing happened to the fondant, so it was still a good plan! The cling wrap melted, and some of the foil got stuck. The baking paper was fine, and I didn’t want a greasy back of the ring, so paper it was.

2013-12-05 18.03.44Even with the honey, it went alright. I think I put about 7 drops of blue food colouring  in. My mistake in the second round was halving the sugar amount but keeping the colouring the same. It ended up too dark, and the honey made it green.

I was all good to go with the final version.

Before I did the sugar, though, I made it shiny, with some silver dusting powder (edible, from the cake decorating section in Spotlight). The black icing didn’t set properly, so you have to be super careful, but it’s doable.

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2013-12-06 19.53.53I made a base, because the cake topper was part of her present and I didn’t want to get chocolate fondant all over it. I let this set for a few days as well, and didn’t do anything fancy to it. I didn’t really try to hide the support skewers either.

2013-12-06 20.31.22And then we put a phone behind it with the torch on and made it glow!

Pretty happy with the result.

Donkey Kong cake topper

Two of my brothers have the same birthday (no, they are not twins). I find it really hard to choose presents, so something handmade sounded like a good option. My inspiration came from Nerdy Nummies, which my sisters had shown me. This girl makes nerd cakes and has a Youtube channel to show you how.

This is her Donkey Kong cake:

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Looks easy enough. The only problem was, she made the topper herself but didn’t have instructions for that bit. So I went off these:

Fixed_Donkey_Kongf donkey kongI forgot to take photos of how I did it. My basic tips were to make the basic shapes first and then add detail.

Brown: I bought brown fondant gel dye and mixed the colours first, wrapping them in cling wrap until I was ready.

I started with the torso and head as one piece, molding it kind of diamond shape, so you have head, wide shoulders and narrower waist. I pushed in the bottom of the face and the chest area a bit so I could add the tan shapes easily. And I pinched the top of the head and pushed it over to one side for the hair flick.

Then I rolled a long, fat tube and cut arms and legs (the legs were together as one piece, and then bent into kind of a handle-bar shape to put the torso on top). I squeezed in the elbows a little to get some muscle definition. I stuck these pieces together at this point, but may have been able to wait and let them dry and set – the whole thing ends up a bit heavy for the arms to support it so he sank a bit in the drying process.

Tan: I rolled the mouth area into a oval shaped ball and then pressed it down a bit on the table to flatten one side, which I then stuck on with water. I rolled a thin rope, a little thicker in the middle, for the eyebrow. Then four balls for the hands and feet – the feet were smaller and flatter, and the hands stayed pretty round. I stuck these on with water. Roll out a bit more tan in a soft triangle shape for the chest – I tried to get some shape for the pecks, but it doesn’t matter too much because it’s hidden behind the tie (later). I let it sit for about ten minutes before moving on to more detail.

Detail: I used a small sharp knife to draw a mouth and used toothpicks for the nostrils. I just drew lines for the fingers and toes. And then flicked the knife tip many times all over the brown for fur. The eyes were pretty straight forward – I had to make the white bits more ball-shaped than I first thought, because they end up quite deep-set because of the brow. Use the tiniest little black balls for the pupils.

Roll out a little bit of red pretty thin and cut the tie shape from it. Then some yellow quite thin – be very delicate as you cut the letters and use the knife to transfer them to the tie. Use water to stick it all together – then stick the tie to the top of the chest.

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2013-09-23 18.34.36  2013-09-23 18.35.22 I let him dry two nights, the first night just sitting on the board I made him on, then when he was strong enough to handle, I moved him to a cake cooler to let the bottom dry. It still wasn’t enough; I was told four days should do it, but give this guy a bit longer because he’s so fat. I made the leaves as well and turned them over as each side dried.

Assembling the final product was easier. I made chocolate mud cakes (which ended up too tall) and chocolate ganache (dark chocolate and cream). Follow the youtube video for how to put it all together. I found the banana candies at Spotlight – I used two packets. I was going to sprinkle green sprinkles on the chocolate spread on the plate, but it dried on the way to mum and dad’s house (didn’t want to do it before because then my car would be full of sprinkles and bananas). I assembled the final product there.

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2013-09-25 19.27.17My brother took the Donkey home in a plastic container to keep.

Harley Quinn Cake

My little sister turned 24 in August. She had jokingly put a picture of Harley Quinn (she’s a comic fan – this character is from Batman) on her Pinterest.

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She wasn’t expecting anyone to make it for her. With my new found skills, I thought I’d give it a go. Without instructions. So I decided to make my own.

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Make sure you have enough ingredients for lots of cake

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Bake some cakes. My final product ended up a bit short and fat so make them either taller or extra layers.

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Cut your basic shapes. I used a large circle cookie/scone cutter for the top half, and then carved up the off-cuts for the jester ears.

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Pieces assembled

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Prepare the icing for the base – I just used icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract – I don’t really pay much attention to quantities, just taste every now and then and just add ingredients until I have enough of the right consistency.

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Stick your layers together and fill in until the sides are even

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The smaller bits were a bit more awkward. Be careful, because the carved pieces don’t hold the icing as well; they’re a bit crumbly.

Clean up a bit and start with your fondant. I bought a tub each of white, black and red, so I didn’t have to mix colours. It was worth it; it uses quite a lot of each colour.

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Start with the block colours, and take care of the details later. Knead the fondant, roll it out and use the rolling pin to drape it over the cake.

 

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I bought a tool to smooth it out and cut off the excess with a sharp knife. I’m not a pro at making it all smooth, but I wasn’t too worried because parts of it would be covered with black anyway.

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I put the top on first and then rolled the red onto it – you could probably roll the red on first (it would probably keep it clean easier). Roll out the black and lay it on the cake. Carefully cut it to shape. It’s okay if the red underneath gets scored – there’s a thin rope along the line to cover it up.

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I did the ‘ears’ as I dealt with each colour. Use water to stick the skinny bits on (not too much water). Leave it to set.

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Roll out more black and use a ruler to measure the strips. I used ten strips of about 3cm each. Use a sharp knife to cut them.

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Measure 3cm increments along the short edge and mark them lightly with the knife. Then use the ruler to score lightly to get the diamond pattern.

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Place them on the cake and adjust before using a little water on the back of the strips to stick them in place. Cut the bottom bits off to make it even with the base.

   Now we’re ready for the face. I had heard a tip that you should deal with the lighter colours first because using the darker ones first will stain the light. I did this, but then left them in open air and had to do it again because they dried out. You could probably do it first and keep it in an airtight container, but my measurements ended up being out anyway – the face ended up looking quite small, so it might be better to wait.

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Knead and roll out the white (I think the icing sugar on the mat protected it from being stained anyway – make sure you wash your hands and dry them completely as well).

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I did some drawings and cut them out to make sure the shapes were the same and the right proportions.

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Use a small sharp knife to trace around the template. Be careful not to press too hard with your fingers as you hold the template in place.

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I ended up cutting the face template up for each shape, and then used the cutting to place them on the face. My pom poms ended up a bit too big.

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I wasn’t sure how to keep the ‘ears’ on – I used both water to glue them, and bbq skewers. It would probably help, when shaping the cake for the top half, to carve off a couple of flat sections so they sit better.

So there you go. My first attempt at a whole cake.

Good weekend

I told a friend who asked, that there are not really any Christian days that are more holy than others, each day is to be given to God, but that Christmas and Easter are still great reminders and chances to reflect on the events of God being born as a human and dying as a man and rising to life again. I’m not one to get emotional or feel a great surge in my heart over what Christ has done, but on Good Friday, I felt particularly thankful. The sermon was so good, so clear and relevant, and so faithful. And there was this one part where our minister seemed to lose a little of the hold he generally (I think) has on his excitement (he’s very enthusiastic) and I had a little tear in my eyes. “Jesus’ death was not powerless or failure, but victory!”

That was just the start to my weekend. Jeh and I then had various family lunches (we got to host my parents on my birthday) and got to spend time with wonderful old friends who we haven’t seen in ages (I got to have tea with a girlfriend whose birthday is on the same weekend as mine). And today I get to have some time to myself to potter and do some projects that I don’t often get time for (I like setting myself projects).

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Mum and dad gave me some plants for my birthday that I couldn’t possibly kill.

FxCam_1364703771715Birthday banoffee tart from my sister.

FxCam_1364415859804My most recent projects – making cards makes a lot of mess, much to Jeh’s frustration. FxCam_1364769764508

These appeared on my dining chair after coming home from coffee with a friend on my birthday. So pretty, thank you Jeh.SAMSUNGJeh took me out to see Jake Nauta to follow up our Playjerise connection.

Space to breathe

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I’ve been craving some time where I can have some space from bring around people. I’m starting to realise that I’m actually quite tired and need a whole day where I don’t have to be somewhere. They’re all good things but the last and next few weekends mean that I can’t have that really good rest yet. I also need time to just sit and process all the things I’ve been thinking about lately, hopefully over the next few days, I’ll be able to articulate some of them here.

In the meantime, there are some things to be thankful for:

– Jeh, who I enjoy resting with, and has done a lot of work in preparation for our future, and who I can read the bible with and wrestle with God’s word together;
– that yesterday (see photo above for where we ate lunch) and today have been pretty quiet at work;
– being able to spend time with friends and family and celebrate a few birthdays this month.