Christmas baking is definitely my favourite kind of baking. And I don’t think it’s just because I’m a Christmas-a-holic (though it undoubtedly fuels the fire). There’s just something about the whimsical nature of treats, and the sheer quantity of excuses to create them that’s so exciting. The recipients always seem that little bit extra excited to eat the treats when they’re Christmas-themed, too.
I’m kicking it off early this year by bringing you a how to for one of the first cakes I did. Over the last year I’ve received a number of requests for a tutorial on it, so I decided to make a little version of this old thing to show you how it’s done (also wow, how horrible were my fondant skills back then?) Here’s the mini version for the tute:
It’s all achieved by carving, so you can use any cake recipe and make it as big or small as you like. I’ve used two of my favourite mud cake recipes to achieve this, but do feel free to use your own if you prefer. Here’s how to do it:
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.
It's been a while since I did a novelty cake, so I decided to give one a go for my birthday party. I couldn't go past the teapot: a group of my friends from Uni, who've dubbed ourselves the co-op crew, used to meet up at the food co-op once a week to indulge in nommy vegetarian food, baked goods and tea (from the mouth of a camel teapot).
Cup of tea?
Wow, Christmas was an eventful one this year. I spent three days baking the week before Christmas then froze everything while I was away on holidays. I came home on the 24th and proceeded to decorate the defrosted goodies and prepare all the canapés for my annual Boxing Day feast and fell into bed at 4am with a whole list of things yet to be done. Spent a relaxing lunch with the boyfriend's family then came home to visit my dad.
Then the storm hit. Amidst the biggest hail storm anyone in the area can remember, me and my boyfriend drove to my house to rescue my puppy who was outside in it. He was thankfully not seriously hurt. But when we attempted the drive back to my dad's in time for dinner we found the roads flooded. People were swimming on the road, cars were abandoned after people had tried to drive through them and shorted their cars, trees snapped clear in half and most people were standing out on the street in awe of the swampland that had been clear in the light of a beautiful summer's day only hours before. Apparently there was even a small tornado right near my house, though we never saw it through the hail. Thankfully we found one road in that hadn't been flooded and made it back in time. Phew!
Melbourne. She is a crazy place to live.
So it was a bit odd the following day when I had mine and my boyfriend's family over for lunch and everything was normal again. As always I made far too much food and filled up every corner of stomach present in the house. It was lots of fun to make everything and lovely that everyone was so appreciative.
I have so much to show you guys. Today I'm going to start with this.
Some months ago I had an idea for a Christmas cake I really wanted to try. I had no idea how to do it or if it could work as I'd never seen it tried before. Oh well, only one way to find out!
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…
The second I heard about the Zoology Master Baker Bake off at Uni, I was so excited at the prospect. To fill in some blanks, I’m studying a Master of Zoology at The University of Melbourne. The associated social club throws events just for post graduate students. Last year, in my gap year, I’d seen the signs for the bake off up around Uni and was so sad I couldn’t partake. So this year I was so excited. In fact, my friends told me they wouldn’t stop pestering me until I signed up.
The only dilemma: what to bake?
I figured a sleepy dragon couldn’t go far astray.
Creep inside the Dragon’s Lair…
This is the first cake I’ve done that someone has actually asked me to do for someone else, from them.
I mean, lots of people have gone all, “Oh wow. Could make such-and-such for me?” But when it comes to the crunch, most people don’t really want to pay for it. Most people don’t understand the days of work behind a cake. But this for friend-turned-housemate, I was happy to make one for free of charge, despite the offer of money being there. This one was gonna be lots of fun.
This one was for her dad. She told me he has somewhat of a Peter Pan complex. So we thought this sunken pirate ship cake would be lots of fun as far as reliving ones childhood goes.
You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of…