Who doesn’t love birthdays? My own love for these annual celebrations has been well documented, as has my fervent belief that all birthdays should be celebrated with cake. Preferably coloured pink. So what did you think I would bake to celebrate the first birthday of this beautiful little blog?
A pink birthday cake of course!
Note to self: be less predictable.
As I pondered the possibilities of decorating this cake, the work of Yayoi Kusama came to mind. Kusama is a famous Japanese artist who has a penchant for spots with a dash of craziness. Of the very psychedelic variety. See exhibit A:
I first stumbled upon her after buying a t shirt in Japan with her face on it. I had no idea who she was, or even if she was a real person, until a Japanese girl in an art gallery asked me if I was a Kusama fan. Smile and nod.
She brought an exhibition to the MCA in Sydney a few years ago which was clever and playful and ticked all the right boxes. So, while not quite as ground breaking as her work, I thought I would break out the polka dots for my blog birthday cake.
So far this year has been gooooood. I feel more like a proper grown up every day. Ha ha. Only joking! But I have been having a bit of a run of good luck and am also reaping the rewards of a bit of hard work. A few major goals have been ticked off so lets have a tally of where things stand in Katieland
Tally of Amazingness
Full time job – Yes!
New car – Yes!
Green P License – Yes!
General feeling of good health and wellbeing – Yes!
And what better way to celebrate all this newfound goodness but with cake. As if that was a surprise to you! But first we need to narrow our focus. The subject of this cake was always going to by the acquisition of my new car and green Ps. Why? Because it was only a few years ago that I was adamant that I was never going to get my license. Ask the boy. Ask anyone! I had no need for one, and certainly had no need for a car. I have the luxury of living on two very well serviced public transport routes as well as having an army of very obliging friends and family who all drive. Somehow, the prospect of having a lower license than the students im teaching scared me deeply. Hence, the green ps, and…
This baby! And yes, that is me at the wheel.
I’ve been working on my fondant skills and I have to say that working with a different type of fondant really helped the process here. I bought some fondant from Cake Decorating Central in Castle Hill where the sales assistants were super helpful.
Not a bad price either (I think?) The brand was Bakels and it was much smoother than the Orchard white fondant that I have used previously. The fondant didn’t stick to the mat or the pin when I rolled it out and it was just generally much much nicer to work with.
But first things first. I started with the standard Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Layer Cake and used chocolate buttercream to fill and dirty ice it. I thought I would be sneaky and try to get three layers out of the cake.
*cough* yes, I cut the layers too thin. Yes, it broke.
But I fixed it! I was always good at jigsaws
So then we went through the usual steps…
Roll out the fondant and cover the cake
Trim off the edges so its all pretty
Add a nice windy road (they’re so fun to drive on!)
Have a crack at making a car.
Now I know that my car is pretty dodgy, but cut me some slack! First time car sculptor here!
Add some pretty flowers and you’re set!
And yes, I added some little green P plates to my car.
Keeping it real.
I did learn some lessons from my last foray into cake decorating, namely
1. Roll the fondant slightly thicker
2. Less icing in the dirty icing stage
3. Don’t try piping again until I have some practice under my belt 😛
So, my lovelies, what have you achieved so far this year? Tell me something you’re proud of!! Then make a cake to celebrate. You know you want to.
When I was growing up, my favourite movie was Four Weddings and a Funeral. I thought it was hilarious and loved that the first word to be uttered in the film was a profanity. Followed by a liberal scattering of profanities throughout the film. I loved the music, I loved the actors and I loved the storyline. I did think it was strange though, that Hugh Grant says midway through the film that he is pleased to be spending his first Saturday in forever NOT going to a wedding. Having never been to a wedding myself I was awed at the number of weddings he must have been to. Where were all these people getting married? How do you even know enough people to be spending all this time at weddings? Seeing as the actors were much much older than me, I figured I would never have to worry about this (at least not for many many years). Until a few years ago.
It started with a close work colleague. Then a friend of my sister. Then a friend of my boyfriend. Then cousins, friends, acquaintances were all getting married! Makes me wonder what i’ve been doing with my time…
Clearly I haven’t spent my nights and days becoming a Piping Pro…
But I did think it was time to conquer my fear of covering a whole cake in fondant! Hooray!
And what better time to do it than to celebrate the engagement of my old high school friend Viv? As I missed the dinner where she made the engagement announcement, I thought a congratulatory cake would be in order. Turns out it’s not a scary or difficult as it seems (hmm am I about to use fondant as a metaphor for marriage? I hope not). As long as you leave yourself plenty of time and resign yourself to making quite a few mistakes, the road to a pretty fondant covered cake is relatively smooth sailing (well I didn’t say I wouldn’t mix my metaphors).
First you have to put on your funky apron
Yes, I bake in my pjamas…
Then you must bake a cake. Any kind of cake really. It should be relatively sturdy though so probably not a sponge. I baked a vanilla cake from this Magnolia Bakery recipe and I only baked a tiny one because if it was a screw up, at least it wouldn’t be a huge screw up!
A layer of buttercream goes between the cake and the fondant (you can use ganache if you like). I used the Magnolia Bakery buttercream recipe but I substituted the vanilla essence for musk flavouring. Far out… musk buttercream is one tasty icing!
After colouring and kneading your fondant, roll it out and drape it over your cake making sure you smooth it over the top and down the sides. Press firmly to make sure the fondant sticks
Trim off the excess (more neatly than I did!)
And decorate however you like. I attached a strip of white fondant around the base of the cake then folded two loops and joined them in the middle with a third piece of fondant to make a bow.
Now, I wish I had stopped there. But no, I was on a roll and figured I would try my hand at a little piped message on top of the cake. However, with my short memory I forgot how bad I am at piping. So the end result looked a little something like this…
I now realise that tiny cake + large piping tip x enormous word = disaster
While it was not bad for a first attempt, I will endeavour to do better! And it did celebrate the occasion nicely.
So a huge congratulations to my beautiful friends Viv and Louis, I promise to make you a prettier cake in the future!!
She says hello. I first saw her before Christmas 2009 in David Jones and foolishly thought I would come back and purchase her another day. A few days later all the reindeer were gone!! I couldn’t believe my luck when I visited the shop again in November last year and found a little herd of well dressed reindeer waiting to take up residence on my dining room table. Even though it is well and truly past christmas, I can’t bring myself to put her away in a dark cupboard for the next 11 months. Poor thing 🙁 So, in an attempt to extend the season, here are a few things that made me happy this Christmas.
Chocolate Christmas Crackers
I bought these Jessica Walker Chocolate Christmas Crackers from David Jones a few days before Christmas. Although they don’t make a “bang” they are filled with delicious milk chocolate balls. The chocolate is in the same style as the Lindt balls (of which i’m not a fan) but taste infinitely nicer. Plus, it was fun to yell out “bang” (despite them being ‘crackers’) when pulling them.
Who doesn’t love gingerbread? Well… the mothership for a start. Ginger causes her to malfunction so although she loves the way my gingerbread makes the house smell, she does not like to eat it. Every year I make a gingerbread house but this year was all about trying new recipes so I made some simple gingerbread biscuits decorated with royal icing and my awesome piping skills /end sarcasm.
Some christmas trees, stars and love hearts. Three fantastic things that all come together at christmas!
And then there are presents….
I received quite a few presents this year that are very relevant to this blog (and quite a few that are not but I might just post about anyway due to their extreme awesomeness). First up was an incredibly thoughtful package from my sister containing…
A Wilton icing turn table – a bit like a lazy susan that you can use to spin your cake around while you’re icing it. Here I was thinking I was just particularly unco when icing cakes but I spied Buddy using something similar on Cake Boss which seemed to make things much, much easier. Here’s hoping!
Several silicone sugar art moulds – in the shape of a bow, reindeer, flowers, hearts, happy/sad drama faces and a high heel shoe! Can’t wait to try these out!
And even though in my excitement I didn’t take a picture of these, I also got several bottles of artificial flavourings including Musk Flavour, Raspberry Flavour, Rose Flavour, Orange Flavour and Lemon Flavour. Oh the possibilities!!
From the beautiful Mr and Mrs S…
Amongst other things
A set of Palette knives, one little and one big one. But both are very useful for the icing of cupcakes and big cakes
A set of modelling tools (bottom right hand corner) for intricate detailing
A silicone mould for many different types of leaves (which goes very well with the flower moulds from sis. Serendipity!)
A Wilton decorating triangle, which you can’t see properly in the picture but is a plastic triangle with different indents on each side to make patterns in soft icing
Some super cute cookie cutters in shapes every girl needs – shoes, dresses, lips etc
A set to make Jam filled cookies!
And a few silicone baking sheets which will be less wasteful than covering the trays with baking paper each time I make cookies.
Far out, my baking drawer is very well stocked now!! I also got some gorgeous gifts from my super thoughtful boyfriend. Prepare to be very jealous of my…
Personalised apron! How cute is this! Argh it makes me melt a little inside each time I put this baby on I love it so much! And in case you cant see the part that is personalised, here is a close up
And have you met Jessica?
She’s my other christmas present from the ever thoughtful boyfriend. I’ve always wanted to start a collection of Royal Doulton ladies because im such a sucker for their pretty dresses and elegant poses
and the shoes! Did I mention the shoes? So dainty!
Little Jessica here goes with the Holyrood pattern from the Royal Albert 100 years collection. The Holyrood was the first tea set my mum bought me out of this collection and she gave it to me as a graduation present back in ’07. Its lovely to start my lady collection with the same pattern. Now I need to work on finding a beautiful (and safe!) place to display her.
So that was my Christmas (minus a few recipe posts I am still to write up) and it sure was a great one. I may even have to go out on a limb and say best christmas yet! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas!