Pretty In Pink

While I absolutely love to bake and decorate cakes I am the first to admit that I am still only an amateur. Which is why i’m always surprised and alarmed when people ask me to cook something for them for a party or occasion. I normally dirty ice fondant covered cakes with buttercream but earlier in the year decided to experiment with using ganache. I had incredible trouble creating a smooth base for the fondant so the first cake I tried was bumpy bumpy on top and just generally not that great (i’m definitely my own worst critic!). In an effort to curb my ever expanding waistline I brought it into work where the pink/yellow combination caught the eye of the lovely Maryanne who said he daughter would love something similar for her birthday.

This is what I came up with

I was a bit apprehensive about making a proper cake for people I didn’t really know. I couldn’t think of anything worse than disappointing a beautiful little girl on her birthday! In fact, I will admit that I had several cake related nightmares in the lead up to creating and delivering this cake. One involved trying to bake a cake but finding that when I opened the carton of eggs, each egg that I picked up had either a massive crack in the shell or a hairline fracture that made the egg unusable. This picking up and discarding of eggs must have gone on for hours in my dream because I woke up terribly frustrated and upset and needed to go to the fridge and check all my eggs again. I also had dreams of dropping the cake, having to swerve violently when driving and ending up with a smooshed cake.

I should have had faith after seeing the batter. How yummy does it look!

Three layers with chocolate fudge filling

Then dirty iced with chocolate ganache. I know its not super smooth but it is a whole lot smoother than my last cake!

Under a layer of pink fondant

Then finished of with pink and blue hearts as requested by the birthday girl.

From all accounts the cake arrived at the party in tact and was swiftly demolished. The birthday girl was pleased with her pink and blue vanilla and chocolate and everyone was happy. Phew! No cake wrecks for me… yet!

So, my lovelies, can you remember having a delicious/good looking cake for your birthday? I remember my mum making me an amazing pink princess castle for my birthday (good old AWW childrens birthday cake cookbook!). Or did you have a cake wreck? Spill the beans!

 

 

End of Term Sadness and a Textually Dynamic Cake

And so it has been said

All good things must come to an end.

 

For so many students this week marks is the end of high school and the beginning of the rest of their lives. While I finished high school many years ago, this is a little bit of a special time for me as I farewell my own two amazing Year Twelve classes. And when I say ‘special’ I mean it in both ways:

1. It’s wonderful to be part of such an important moment in the lives of these extraordinary young men and to have seen them grow and develop over the past year

2. I turn a bit ‘special’ as I totally forget everything I want to tell them about how proud I am of them and how I have absolutely no doubt that they will do amazing things. Instead I just demand more practice essays. Sorry!

Before I unload all my sookiness, have a look at these cute bunnies!

As a fairly new teacher, seeing a Year Twelve class go through to finish the HSC is much more emotional than I expected and I really didn’t realise just how attached I had become to my classes. I think that this has been heightened by the fact that this is my first year teaching boys and first year at this particular school so my classes have been integral for helping me find my feet and settle in. I often found myself relying on my older students to teach me the culture of the school and help me figure out exactly what I should be doing!

The last few weeks of school are always a bit of a whirlwind and because of various timetable changes I never got to have a proper ‘last’ lesson with my Advanced class . To tell you the truth, I feel like Spencer Tracy in the last scenes of Father of the Bride. Remember the part where his daughter is all married and busy at the reception? And he isn’t able to really talk to her and tell her how proud he is of her because there are so many people around and so much going on? And then she leaves with her husband for her honeymoon and he is sad that he never got to see her off properly? Yes im a sap, yes im a sucker, yes I feel that way about this class. I am just so proud to see the wonderful, intelligent young men that they have grown up to be. Words fail me (and the irony of me being an English Teacher is not lost here!)

I was lucky to have a farewell lesson for my Extension class, and here enters the baking part of this post. The students found out about my blog midway through the year and since then I had promised to bake a cake for our final lesson. However, as these students are particularly great, it was necessary to up the ante. Thus, The Bake Off was born. The theme was ‘Textual Dynamics’ (which was the elective that the boys studied this year and roughly concerns looking at film and literature that challenges societies values regarding authorship, text construction, gender, history etc… and does so in a particularly ground breaking or creative way). I have to admit that I was particularly nerdy and planned my idea weeks in advance. What eventuated was…

Textually Dynamic?

One of the texts studied this year was a novel by Italo Calvino called If On a Winter’s Night A Traveller. A highly unconventional novel, the opening of this book goes a little something like this:

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, ‘If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller’. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.”

I wanted the cake to look like the magnetic poetry kits that you can get to go on your fridge and re-write the opening to be more baking appropriate. I used the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cake and filled it with musk buttercream.

Tah dah!

I really didn’t have any expectation that anyone else would bake but was happily surprised to have THREE other entries!

Jack and Nathan’s take on the Salvador Dali melting clocks

(perhaps otherwise titled “The Sponge Cake That Wasn’t”?)

And Dan and Pat’s amazing brownies. I really had no idea that these boys had such hidden talents in the baking arena!

To my Extension boys, you have been such a source of energy and creativity this year. It has often been a relief to see you all after some particularly crazy junior classes, particularly in the afternoon! The intellectual depth to our discussions has really blown me away and it has just been such a privilege to have been able to teach such insightful and generally amazing students.

This has been a rather text heavy post, so if you made it this far though im very impressed! I really just wanted to say thank you to all my Year Twelve students and tell you all just how proud I am of you and how honoured I am to have been able to teach you this year. Good luck in your final exams!

Happy Easter To You!

Firstly, before you read any further , I want to wish you happy easter and offer you a cupcake

HAPPY EASTER!

Now, on to business. Ever since I was a little girl i’ve always been a fan of movies that contain singing and dancing. I’m sure it all started with Disney and the Disney Princesses who I have, of course, still watch outgrown. Ok, i’ve never been a good liar, I will happily sit down to a marathon of The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast. But what girl wouldn’t?

However, for the sake of my job (in answer to the ever popular question from teenagers “miss, what’s your favourite movie?”) I have had to come up with some more adult sounding favourite movies.

1. Rush Hour

2. Any of the following: Grease, The Wizard of Oz, The Holiday Inn, The Easter Parade, Moulin Rouge, any kind of musical (i’m always living in hope that they will make Wicked the movie)

Thankfully, many musical movies end up being tied to a particular holiday. Exhibit A:

The Easter Parade

After all, what is a holiday without Fred Astaire? The addition of Judy Garland only elevates this movie from amazing to absolutely amazing! And so, every year when Easter rolls around, you will find me humming the tune to the Easter Parade. Humming because the only lines I can ever remember when singing it are

“here’s a hat that is trimmed with lace – happy easter”

and

“happy easter to you”

I clearly have a very short attention span.

Thankfully, one thing that can keep me focussed is baking, while watching The Easter Parade of course! So what did I bake for easter? Well, firstly I made some pretty little Easter Cucpakes

Here they are baking in the oven. Lookin’ pretty cute!

And here they are all iced with chocolate eggs.

The yellow and white ones are vanilla, the pink ones are musk and the blue ones are violet. Who says I can’t diversify?

For the cake and icing I used this Magnolia Bakery recipe which is always a winner. I also added a few drops of flavouring to each icing mixture t make them all different.

But something was still lacking. There had been a little idea for a big easter cake growing in my mind over the past few weeks. The cake version of the easter bunny basket. I used the same recipe as for the cupcakes above and it made two good sized cakes that could be cut in half to make four layers.

So first comes the basket.

This was my first attempt at basket weave and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the results. A little wonky but nothing some more practice wont fix.

Then come the decorations!

And a better shot of the easter bunnies and eggs with better lighting and a better camera!

And the vanilla-y chocolatey innards!

It’s not really wonky, I carved the sides a little so that it would look more slopey like a real basket would. Ho hum.

So, all in all, it was a pretty happy, delicious and relaxing easter. How was your easter my lovelies? Did the easter bunny visit?

Dear Blog, Happy Birthday! Love Katie

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.

First came this chocolate cake and ganache

Apologies for the blurriness.

Then came the spots.

A spot over here and a spot over there and a spot in my ear and a spot in my hair

Well that was just overkill. There were no spots in my hair or ears…

All in all, not a bad effort! Apart from the lumpy ganache, but hey, its not THAT obvious is it? *whistles*

And with a bit of double cream and a cute cake fork, what better way to celebrate a birthday?

So, happy birthday blog, and thank you for keeping me sane over what was one roller coaster of a year! Here’s to many more exciting years together ¬†xoxo

So, my lovelies, what is your favourite kind of birthday food?