If you’re a Zelda fan, or just generally have a finger to the pulse of the gaming world, you’ll probably know that late last year the latest game in the Zelda franchise was released: A Link Between Worlds. Of course I had to have it straight away, and as soon as I had it I did nothing else but play it until I’d beaten it. A feat that took an usually long time because I got crazy addicted to the baseball mini game. Saving the multiple worlds in chaos can wait, man, I’ve got some Octorock baseball to perfect! I don’t think I have spent so much time getting sidetracked by a mini game since fishing and horseback archery in Ocarina of Time.
In the course of finally getting around to beating the game, I came across the very Turtle-centric dungeon aptly called Turtle Rock. To access the dungeon you must rescue three adorable baby turtles and return them to mummy turtle. They then play stacks on, allowing you to climb on top and go for a ride to the dungeon entrance. Waiting for you on the other side of the dungeon is the boss fight, wherein it completes the other turtle-themed bookend with a turtle boss. This lava turtle is much less happy to see you.
Now, “I’m so gonna cake you” is probably not a normal thought to be had when trying to avoid being either smashed or burnt to a crisp by a giant lava turtle. But it was the one I had nonetheless. Right alongside the internal debate of whether it would more accurately be called a tortoise because of its limbs, or a turtle because it’s swimming through lava. And does lava even count as liquid enough to make Grinexx a ‘water dwelling’ turtle anyway, or would he still be a ‘land dwelling’ tortoise because he’s dwelling on melted rock?
At some point I stopped wondering about his taxonomy and how the cake would be structured and got around to actually defeating it. I put the cake idea on hold until the next round of Link’s Blacklist arrived. Long-term followers of the blog will remember this as the collaborative fan art project I’ve been involved with. I’ve made a Furnix cake, a Beamos cake and a Mad Scrub cake for Rounds 1-3 respectively. Grinexx was my entry for Round 4.
This was a cake I was commissioned to do some time ago for a surprise 21st birthday celebration. It was one of those rare moments when the recipient of the cake has no idea what they’re getting, which is both kind of exciting and nerve-racking. The customer mentioned they’d seen the octopus cake I did for a friend, loved it and wanted to get a cake from me as well. Most of the people who’ve contacted me about ordering cakes lately have all been recipients of them as guests at the party of the customer. I have this constant paranoia that my food photos simply flatter my cakes and that maybe they’re not really as good as all my lovely readers tell me they are. So when someone has seen it in person, eaten it, and then decided they want one too is such a wonderful confidence boost for lil ol’ low self-esteem me.
The cake they were after wasn’t quote so complex as an octopus. In fact is was a relatively simple concept: they wanted a cake made to look like a wheel of cheese.
A few weeks ago I was chatting to my sister about cake, as we do. We were discussing previous cake orders and I mentioned how every toddlers birthday cake I’ve been commissioned to do was for a little boy. I kinda missed pink. Pink and frills and all those other things customers will say they absolutely do not want on a cake for a boy. Not half an hour later, my cousin messaged me asking if I could make a cake that ticked all those boxes.
Her niece’s birthday was approaching and she wanted something Minnie Mouse. I was so excited! These are the kinds of cakes I can’t make for customers because of copyright law, so when someone in the family wants one we can go nuts with ideas.
This last month has been pretty cake crazy, and with a number of family events around the corner it’s about to get crazier. Every time I finish a cake project, another one appears. When I finished the owl cake I was relieved to have a break from impending deadlines, but then the next Link’s Blacklist Project round opened for sign ups. Oops. Maybe one day I’ll be able to return to my own giant list of fan art projects that’s steadily growing my the moment.
Last month I got the opportunity to step away from all that and make a birthday cake for an occasion, rather than an art project. This family had been at the birthday party of another family who commissioned a cake from me. They liked what they saw enough to want me to make a cake for their son’s birthday, too. That’s always an incredibly flattering way to receive a commission, knowing the person has seen and tasted your work and wants more of it.
The idea was as simple enough: they wanted a colourful, two tiered cake adorned with all their son’s favourite toys.
Over on deviantART I joined an art project called Losing Altitude. The project is a collaborate art book both celebrating the beauty of, and raising awareness about the plight of, endangered birds. You can hear more about it and see some of the work by contributing artists by peeking at the Kickstarter.
Over 50 artists from varying backgrounds were involved in this project. As with most art collabs I’ve been involved in, that majority of the art was drawn, though there were a few of us repping the artisan crafts community. Given that I’m an absolute novice at digital art, I of course turned to my strengths. I contributed two pieces to the project, both of them endangered native species. The first was a papercraft of the Helmeted Honeyeater. The second was this cake.
Raptorial birds have always been amongst my favourite critters. I seem to have a fierce love of top order predators in general, but there’s so much to love about them. I’ll spend some time telling you all about these guys, why they’re endangered and how you can help. Then I’ll talk about how I made the cake.
If you’re a fellow Aussie, or have been paying attention to our lil’ continent of late, you’ll be aware of how scorching this summer is turning out to be. Off the back of our hottest year for over 100 years, we’ve delved into a 2014 that doesn’t look much better. In three weeks we’ve already had two major heatwaves. It’s not a huge deal if you have air con. I don’t, which makes the heatwaves much harder to cope through. Last week the room temperature of my house didn’t sink below 30°C at night, and that was in the room we were dedicating all our cooling efforts into. It led to a lot of sleepless nights and exclaiming at 5am, “How is it still 35°C!?”
Needless to say, cooking and baking have been so far out of the question. My diet has largely consisted of watermelon, ice and anything that can be quickly cooked on the stovetop, which is also why the blog has stayed quiet for longer than planned. Too hot to make food, or eat food, or open a curtain to photograph food, or to sit in front of my computer talking about food.
So when my cousin asked me to make a Mike Wazowski cake for her son’s 3rd birthday, I said I’d keep an eye on the forecast and let her know. We were blessed with a relatively cool week the week she needed it, so I said it would be no problem. I baked the cake, carved it, covered it in ganache and let it set overnight, ready to be fondant-ed up the next day. That’s when the forecast changed.
This is the last cake from the month of cake madness. This is Grug cake requested for a kids birthday party.
I doubt anyone not from Australia will have any clue who Grug is, and even a lot of the Australians amongst you may not remember him. I’d, admittedly, forgotten all about him until I was asked to do the cake. Grug is a character from a series of illustrated children’s books written by Ted Prior. Though there have been no new books published since I was a little kid, you can still find them amongst the kids book section of most any book store or supermarket.
A few months ago, a friend of mine asked if she could commission me to make a cake for her birthday. I was, of course, incredibly excited to be given the task and promised to save the date. Little did I know at the time how insane November was going to be for commissions, but I was fortunate that they all fell on different weeks and I didn’t have to turn anyone down.
I know this friend through Uni. We did our Zoology undergraduate degrees together, and we also started our Zoology Masters degree at the same time. When she first asked me, I had no idea what sort of cake she was going to ask for. But when she later approached me with the idea, I figured I should have known. While all of us Masters kids have a passion for every animal, great and small, we all have our groups of fauna we navigate towards. We tend to think of ourselves as being in two groups: the terrestrial and the marine halves. Her passion, and her research, is marine biology, so I perhaps should have guessed that her cake would be along those lines.
As soon as she asked me for not only an octopus, but a blue-ringed octopus cake, I was practically bouncing with excitement. Given that I was on a tram on my way home from work it probably wasn’t the most appropriate time to become hyper, but I was thrilled at the chance to try it.
Once the excitement wore off, though, I had to work out how the hell I was gonna make this thing. Realism presents an exciting challenge, but it also terrifies the living daylights out of me. To the point I tend to actively avoid it in most forms of art I try. When you’re going for a stylised or cartoon version of something, you can get away with a lot. But when you’re aiming for realism, it becomes so much easier to miss the mark, and so much easier to pick out every fault.
This cake is another of the commissions I was working on last month. I was contacted by the family of a little boy for who I made his first birthday cake. I actually couldn’t believe an entire year has passed since then. I still think we’re in April most days.
After a bit of back and forth we worked out a design that would suit the occasion and I got to work.
Depending on which corner of the world you call home, Catching Fire is either out or about to be out. Here in Aus, it came out today. I have to wait until tomorrow night to see it. If you’re wondering if I am going moderately insane having to wait an extra day, then yes. Yes I am. I am so excited I am quite literally bouncing. A lot.
To celebrate, I decided to make some Catching Fire themed cupcakes. Not that I need more sugar in by vicinity right now, but I couldn’t resist.
Having only seen the trailer (more times than I am going to admit) I thought I’d go for cupcakes that were symbolic of certain characters, rather than trying to depict actual objects from the movies as I’ve done in the past. I also wanted to do it in the least spoiler-ey way possible for those of you who haven’t read the books. So all these cupcakes mostly depict things we’ve seen in the trailers already.