Posted in Cakes, tagged birthday, blue, cake, flourless cake, food, penguin, pink, snow, Swiss meringue buttercream, twins on May 25, 2008 |
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Yup! Made for my very close friend (who’s obviously very passionate about penguins) and her twin brother (unfortunately several thousand miles away). I’ve only known them since… hm… all my life - I was almost two years old when our parents first became friends and the then-crawling duo invaded the house, only to spend our entire childhood adventuring together… I *think* she liked her cake very much!
I intended to make 30 penguins, but realized cake was too small to support so many – plus at 2am, that sounds like an impossibly numerous waddle… I made two batches of my flourless walnut cake recipe (by my friend’s request) in 10-9-8” layers, about 1.5” thick. First, about 1/3 of each layer was cut to make another layer, then each layer was torted under an angle similar to the topsy-turvy cakes, for the slope effect of a total of 6 layers in 12 tortes (whew, did I get all those numbers right?). There was a small setback mid-way though the assembly, with the top 6 tortes sliding off as a whole from the bottom group, but such sliding disasters usually prove quite agreeable after sticking butter-based filling in the fridge for a few minutes! Swiss meringue butter crème snow – can you tell I was out of white fondant?!
I had a blast making those little penguins. They’re not hard at all, but they are time-consuming. I’ve seen several penguin cakes and fondant/gum paste penguin figures on my favorite cake website, so I took ideas from there… Each penguin starts as a black ball, gently rolled to shape. Eyes are a heart-shaped white cutout, with black straw-cut tiny pupils. Noses are little tiny dark orange cones. Belly is a white ellipse. Wings/flippers are two leaf-shaped side cutouts from a circle. Feet are also a heart-shaped cutout, in pale orange. Then hats, scarves and earmuffs are just pure fondant fun! I prepped everything first, then just used egg whites to glue the pieces together – line production rules! When deconstructed like this, anyone can make a little cute penguin!
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Posted in Baby, Cakes, tagged brown, cake, chocolate, flowers, ganache, kahlua, pastry creme, pink, topsy-turvy, vanilla on April 7, 2008 |
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Made in two nights for the baby shower of a good friend, to match the crib set she chose and the party decorations at the same time. Sizes are supposed to be 10-9-8, 8-7-6, 6-5-4 inches, though I don’t think I carved out that much from the bottoms. Bottom tier is chocolate with roasted hazelnuts Kahlua ganache, w/ Kahlua simple syrup and espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor of the cake layers (yes, of course the mom-to-be was made fully aware of the potential harmful effects the miniscule trace amounts of liquor and caffeine per slice could have on the developing baby – blah!), middle is vanilla with pastry crème (completely safe!), top is alternating chocolate and vanilla with pastry crème and buttercreme. Covered in SatinIce.
Some more details about this cake, and a picture of the abyss for desert:
… And this is what happens when a 3-tier topsy-turvy gets pastry crème as filling in the middle tier… Bottom was rock solid in its chocolate cake ganache – I think it would have supported the top layers even without the dowels, and the fondant went on as smooth as it ever could! But even while I was filling the vanilla tier, nicely mortared (!), I knew it wasn’t going to survive – I think my pastry crème layers were too generous even with the mortar, and the weight of it all shifted the carved bottom tortes off balance. Still, it survived long enough for pictures…
But that’s not all that went wrong with this cake – or rather this one tier:
– I had to bake one of the vanilla layers twice, as I did cake mix (Dr.Oetker Organics) plus extender, but was on the phone with a friend, and I forgot to add the butter for the extender (!) so it only had the vegetable oil for the mix and its texture would be very wrong – I realized that 5 min into the baking, as I saw my nicely soften butter on the counter – on the bright side, it was ready for the redo, and now I still have two frozen rounds waiting their turn for cake truffles.
– The milk for the pastry crème curdled when I heated it up (with an exp. date 9 days ahead) which threw me completely off schedule as I couldn’t run to the store that instant, in fact not until 4 hours later.
– The white SatinIce was a nightmare… It kept tearing, overstretching, and doing all kinds of weird things, and after the third roll, I decided it was going on the cake regardless – as you can see, it looks like a cheese cloth all over, not like fondant…
Our guests were terrified of losing the cake and wanted me to take it apart right away. I knew its structure had the strength to hold on for a few more minutes, even with the abyss widening, and I was very amused to see their fear of not getting to taste it should it fall over… Well… for a second topsy-turvy (my first was only two tiers) I think it did ok…
Moral of the story for me: I should stick with ganache and buttercream for the topsy-turvies, pastry crème is too much of pain for them, dam and mortar and all, and still a mud slide in the end… But there’s nothing that goes so nicely with vanilla cake as pastry crème, is there?! Maybe next time I’ll throw in a couple of sticks of butter into it, it’s going to keep it firmer, and butter cannot possibly spoil a cake, can it now?!
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Posted in Cakes, tagged cake, flowers, girlie, pink on April 7, 2008 |
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I was in a flowers mood, so decided to play around with some flowers for a 3-year old princess’s birthday, who’s not very much into dolls and frills. Those were some contemporary girlie colors I already had and needed to use them up creatively… Carved the top alike the ballerina skirt cakes just to add some dimension, unfortunately not that visible from this angle…7″ round, 3” thick vanilla cake in 3 tortes, with cream cheese filling and fresh banana slices (yum!), covered in fondant, with flowers 50/50 gumpaste/fondant. It was so much fun to make, I hope she liked it as much as I enjoyed making it! Now that I’ve mastered those flowers… next?!
Title is pun… We used to live in a town called Flower Mound, in fact right behind the so-called place of interest, which while a mound, all right, had very little flowers to speak of, more like an alfalfa meadow, securely fenced off save someone would disturb the town’s namesake… I like my little pink-teal-and-brown rendition a lot better!
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I practically begged my friend to let me make the cake for her daughter’s third birthday party. She had sent out invitations with ladybugs, so I followed her lead. I did read somewhere that red and black were the most difficult colors to achieve in fondant, so at this point I played it safe with pink and brown. I had learned my lesson, and buttercream was solidly preventing any potential of milk-based vanilla cream filling destroying my creation. The process of creating it was relatively smooth and uneventful. Kids and parents alike enjoyed it at the birthday party.
Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…
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