Friday, 26 October 2007

Outdoors Madhatter

My nephew JJ turned 2 on the 19th of October. Last year for his first birthday, we planned lovely big party at a park. I made some really cute invitations, I got some edible images printed for some cookies to give the guests, and planned planned an awesome cake fitting for a picnic. A big cupcake tree with bugs and snails and all cute little things suitable for a 1 year old.

One week before the party his paternal grandfather got really sick and we had to cancel the whole thing. :(
He was also sick with gastro, and couldnt even eat the tiny little two tier cake I ended up making him. Poor snookums!!!

This year after attending the course at Planet Cake, I decided that I would make JJ a Madhatter cake for his 2nd birthday regardless if there was a party or not, and regardless if anyone would eat it or not. At the time I booked in two anual leave days just before his birthday in order to get the masterpiece i had planned done.

I sketched and planned. I had seen some outdoors style cakes with lots of details, and I wanted to do something similar in a madhatter.

I baked the cakes a couple of weeks before and froze them. Two white chocolate coconut mudcakes. I wasnt able to take the Thursday off in the end because of work committments, but in the end it didnt matter. I spent all of Friday carving, filling, ganaching and covering the cakes in fondant. On Saturday i did the rest.

I made two sketches of it, but it didnt quite turn out the way I had envisioned. Im still happy with it, especially since the last part of it was done while i was feeling very ill. The last tree next to the pick up truck, doesnt have enough leaves, but I ran out of royal icing and felt too sick to make more, so there it is, half naked. JJ didn't mind, he didn't even realise.
My favourite part of this cake is the number two, it turned out a lot better than i was expecting. 2 days work for something that was completely destroyed in a few hours. It was yummy :)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Fat elephant & Submerged CROC

The customer I made these cakes for was one of the best customers i've ever had. She rang me about 4 months ago, asking if i'd be able to make her a cake in the shape of an elephant eating cake for her 30th Birthday. Ok, sure no problem. She told me she had a sketch. I told her that she could come over to my place after work one evening, but she told me that it was difficult for her because she travelled by public transport (the public transport in my area sux)

So anyhoo she came to meet me at a coffee shop near my work with one of her elderly friends. She was turning 30, her friend was at least in her 70's. I thought it was sweet. So i tell her i will send her a quote by mail later (she doesnt have a PC)I send her the quote, it was quite high for this area, but lower than i would normally charge for a cake like that. She calls me and tells me that if i could possibly make another cake as well, that her nephew is turning 6 and she wants the croc cake on my website. I said no problem.So i took thursday and Friday off work in order to decorate the cakes, the cakes needed to be delivered in the afternoon (friday before 5.00pm)I didnt have any issues, and i was finished with both of the cakes (except for minor trimmings) on Thursday night.My dad came over today and said that the crocodile didnt really look like it was sitting in water, so i decide to go ahead and put the jelly i had made previously in lieu of piping jello. WTF was i thinking!!! By the time i got there the fondant underneath was melting and there was jelly all over the place. Of course this didnt happen with the previous croc i had made because i used piping jelly and it has a much lower water content. What a MORON!!!!The customer, her parents and all her friend's who were setting up the church hall for the party tonight were all oooohs and aaaaaaaahs and totally rapt with the cakes. I cleaned up Mr Croc and went on my way.Natalie (the girl) told me that Jack (her nephew) loves Steve Irwin, and that was why he got the croc cake. One of the cousin's said that when Jack saw the cake he would cry for sure. Natalie gave me a kiss and thanked me for everything. aaaaaaaaaah how nice The croc is a jaffa mudcake covered in ganache and fondant, the elephant is vanilla buttercake with coconut and caramel filling..hope they taste good. Now i can go to sleep in peace, so i can go to work at 2.00am Saturday

Thursday, 16 August 2007


I made this cake for an ex work colleague who turned 30 last week.

The cake was made with a 7 inch (4 inch high) dark chocolate mudcake, a 3 inch cake baked in a tomato tin and another cake baked in a round stainless steel dessert bowl.
The arms legs and hands are fondant.
Although the cake itself is not very big, because of the length the board is actually 30 inches by 13 inches.
The cake is torted and filled with dark choc ganache too. hmm yummy.
Although the head is not quite Benderish enough, im happy with the results.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Rowena's Birthday Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for Rowena's Birthday on the 1st of July. Here are the recipes for these cupcakes.

Almond Buttercake Cupcakes

100gms Margarine
200gms Castor sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup full cream milk (metric cup)
240gms self raising flour (sifted)
1/2 teaspoon Valencia or Almond essence.

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Beat margarine and sugar until creamy, add one egg, keep beating until well incorporated, add other egg and beat until incorporated.
3. Beat in essence.
4. Lower the speed in your electric mixer and alternate the flour and the milk until all incorporated. You will now have a thick batter.
5. Spoon into patty pans (makes about 20) and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out completely clean.

Choc Hazelnut Buttercake Cupcakes
100gms Margarine
200gms Castor sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup full cream milk (metric cup) mixed with
1/3 cup of double cream (metric cup)
200gms self raising flour (sifted with)
40gms good quality cocoa
20mls Frangelico Liqueur
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Beat margarine and sugar until creamy, add one egg, keep beating until well incorporated, add other egg and beat until incorporated.
3. Beat in liqueur.
4. Lower the speed in your electric mixer and alternate the flour cocoa mix and the milk/cream mix until all incorporated. You will now have a thick batter.
5. Spoon into patty pans (makes about 20) and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out completely clean.I covered these with ganache made with 600gms of Callebaut chocolate and 300gms of thickened cream. The musical notes are made from gumpaste.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A trip to Sydney, a course, and broken cakes.....

After months of planning and anticipation we finally set off for Sydney for our Planet Cake course. We were going to step into the hallowed ground of one of the best commercial celebration cake suppliers in Australia.
Planet Cake is in Sydney, about 800kms(500miles) from our home in Melbourne. Three of us set off on our trip, Fran, Min and I.
The course was a two day Mad Hatter course. Planet Cake (in my opinion) makes the best Mad Hatters in the world. Yeah, big claim, I suppose it’s all up to personal taste. I was never very thrilled with the original Mad Hatters they had in their website. They were rounded but the ones they’ve been doing lately have been simply amazing, sharp edges that seem impossible to achieve in cake, let alone fondant. The secret is their newly acquired Mad Hatter queen.
Anyway, so Fran and I booked all our stuff together, our other friend initially had other plans of going visiting some other friends, so she booked her stuff on her own.
We left Saturday morning on an 9.00am flight, arrived in Sydney at around 10.30am. We were expecting to get a nice brekkie on the flight, well at least I was. All we got were these dry biscuits and a cuppa tea. YIKES!!!
We arrive at our hotel, and manage to get connecting rooms, the lovely concierge upgraded our room so that we would be able to get connecting rooms. We had a view of the Opera House from our window.
Our class was to start at 1.00pm, and it was still early, so we went to the exec club to have some nibbles (Membership to the executive club was part of the room fees).
My husband was saying before we left that the course was just an excuse to get away with the girls. To tell the truth it was a little for me, as I NEVER expected to learn soooo much on a single weekend.
After our snacks we got a taxi to Planet Cake. Their shop front is small, but very lovely and neat. The front room, which I guess is where they must see their customers, has a table with chairs all around it, and it has lots of display cakes. Every single one simply amazing.
At the back the place is huge, we get taken to the class room, which is where they make their cakes. WOW, there was a 10 tier cake there which was supposed to be a replica of Jessica Simpson’s wedding cake. My goodness, I have NEVER in my life seen a cake that big in person. It took them quite a bit of working out to get it out and into the delivery van. It was pouring down with rain at the time. The thing had piping all over it, and 300 gumpaste roses, along with all these other filler bits and pieces!!! WOW, sooo much work.
A while later we meet the owner, Paris Cutler, what an absolutely lovely lady, and then we met the master Anna-Maria Roche, an Austrian pastry chef, who is the lady responsible for the most fantastic Mad Hatters I've ever seen.
So she shows us the sample cake she made. I'm thinking NO WAY am I going to be able to pull that off in two days!!!
Our tables were all set up with equipment, aprons and cake. We got started straight away. We finished at around 5.00pm, we cut up the cake, crumb coated it and left it ready for decorating the next day.
I left in absolute awe of the Anna-Maria’s talent. We went back to our hotel, had showers, and got ready for our dinner at Forty-One.
We were starving, and our booking wasn’t until 8.30pm, so we went back to the exec club for Hours’Dourves. That was a very silly thing to do!!!
We arrived at Forty-One a few hours later, wow it was gorgeous!!! It was on the 42nd Floor of the Chiffley Tower. Just outside the lift on the 42nd floor, there is a gorgeous Japanese garden. The restaurant had a wonderfu atmosphere, the service was fantastic, and the view was out of this world.
While waiting for our meals I was still dreaming of my cake back at Plane Cake!!! Hahahaha, I was a woman obsessed!!
We chose to have a tasting menu which had 6 courses. We thought that a tasting menu would be that, tasting, small serves. OMG, by the time we had gotten to the second course we were completely stuffed!!!! By the time I got back to the hotel at around midnight, I thought I may explode!! The food was delicious, but definetly too much and too rich!!
I spent most of the night tossing and turning in a strange bed (which although was very comfortable) was still not my own.
First thing the next morning we were off to have buffet brekkie at the exec club, it was delicious, but I am still wondering how it was I could fit in breakfast after that huge dinner. Ok so i’m a PIG.
We packed our stuff, checked out, and went back to Planet Cake to finish off our cakes. Anna-Maria showed us how to apply the stripes and how to assemble the cake. We were going well, until it got to the part of making a bow. I always make bows with gumpaste, and although i'm no expert at it, I can do it usually after one go. I made my bow about 7 times, and could not get the darn thing to work. In the end Anna-Maria finished off my bow.
Fran, made her cake with colors selected by D'arcy, the cake was to go to her art teacher that was retiring from school this week.

After lots of photos, we left Planet Cake, all happy in having learnt so much, for me it was so much more than I ever expected. Also, left in awe of how absolutely lovely every single person that worked there was. How giving and willing to share information they all were.
Anna-Maria is now my new cake idol, STEP OVER Mr. Ben-Israel, hehehehehe.
The lovely folks at Planet Cake did their best to package our cakes, which were on 18 inch boards and weighed a ton, for air travel. The air travel would prove NOT to be the problem.
We arrive at the airport, all feeling exhausted, after too much food, lots of work, and very little sleep. There is a girl on the queue for check ins, that is an utter COW, she treated us like trash. We got to the counter, and the guy was lovely, he managed to get us on to a different flight, a bigger airplane, where we'd be able to have a free seat each to carry our cakes. If the flight was not over booked, those seats were ours, and if they were booked the plane still had plenty of on board storage to fit our cakes.
We proceed to security, we have to leave our trolleys behind, and put our cakes on the conveyor belt so that they can go through an x-ray machine. ARGH!!!!Red alert, red alert, I put my cake down, after Fran's, Min was behind me, as soon as I put my cake down, some old bag screams at me to move my trolley out of the way, so I have to leave my hand bag, backpack with all my possessions and cake going through the x-ray machine, and I have to go and put away the trolley. COW!!I walk through the door, and I beep, I am made to take off my shoes, and put them in the x-ray machine!!! I walk through again and all is fine. I get to the other side and find Fran beside herself, they have broken her cake, the top tier has completely fallen off. I was fuming. I turn around, and my box is still in one piece, but I look at the conveyor belt and Min's cake is coming through UPSIDE DOWN. The security people couldn't give a rat's what happened to our cakes, they didn't apologise, and looked at us like it was OUR FAULT, that they were absolute morons and killed two cakes. Min says to me, is my cake the right side up, I look inside the box and see the bottom of her board. I turn it over, and somehow the cake is still in one piece, banged up and smooshed but the tiers are still together. Fran's is not. Fran has an argument with the security guard, who goes ballistic, Fran walks away. I am just amazed that these people can be so careless, complete and utter SCUMBAGS. I explain to the security guard that was going crazy, that from the moment we stepped into the airport we were treated like trash. No one cared.
Franny's cake ended up in the bin, I tried my best, while she was talking to her husband, to repair it, I managed to put it back together, but like she later explained, repairing it at home would be very difficult, matching the colors in order to patch it up would be almost impossible. The cake was in the trash!!! ARGH!!!!
From that moment on, the whole trip home was a pit of darkness. My heart was palpitating because I was just so full of pent up rage, I just couldn't get over it.
We had such a fantastic, out of this world weekend, just for a couple of absolute, no-life morons to ruin our whole weekend in a few seconds.
My cake managed to get here in our piece, but it's no joy to have it, when both my friend's cakes, which they put so much work and love into, were completely destroyed.
After this rant, and maybe a few letters to Qantas and the Sydney airport, I am going to move on from this, and try to remember only the wonderful time we had learning from a true master, the special time we had in Sydney, before the untimely end of two very beautiful cakes.
In the group shot, Fran's cake is the second from the left, the blue, green, yellow and white one with the white polka dot bow. Mine is the brown one, Min’s is the black and white one on the left.
Luckily as well, the very clever Franny, took her super dooper camera and took pics of all our cakes before leaving Planet Cake. At least we all have wonderful pictures.