This week is a cake I made for a young boy celebrating his 8th birthday. The initial brief was for a replica of the cake on the cover of Marshmello’s Light It Up single. As we discussed it, though, their’s son’s love for Minecraft came up and I was asked to incorporate the TNT, and then some other Minecraft elements. It evolved into the original cake pixelated into the Minecraft style.
To compliment the cake I 3D modelled and printed a Minecraft cake topper. I’ve since made them available to purchase on my Etsy store. So if you need one customised for yourself or a loved one, pick it up here.
Inside the cake was a little different. It needed to be not only a rainbow banana cake, but dairy free and low sugar. It’s a request I get often enough when catering for young birthday parties due to an idea that all the sugary foods send the kids a little hyper. [A little science trivia for you: it’s the excitement of the event that sends the little ones so loopy. Both sugar and food colouring have no effect on hyperactive behaviour!] It’s also steeped in concern for maintaining a healthier diet at a young age, too.
The issue when it comes to baking is that sugar is an important part of the leavening process in dry flour mixes. Simply cutting out the sugar can make for one flat cake! Combining that with dairy-free is a challenge, but one I’m used to. So for this one I adjusted my favourite vegan cake recipe to get the right results.
If you’ve been hanging around this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I’m an insane Zelda fan. I have been ever since I could hold a controller. I love pretty much every game in the franchise, but the Nintendo 64 games hold a special place in my heart. As a kid our parents could never afford the latest consoles or games, so a lot of my childhood gaming took place in stints at the houses of friends or cousins. But when the Nintendo 64 came out my dad managed to pull together enough to get one. I still remember seeing the commercials for Ocarina of Time and just hoping, only to be greeted with the most amazing surprise one day after school. The same was true by the time Majora’s Mask came out, but by then I’d gotten the entire family hooked on Zelda with our frequent group play-throughs and they were all just as excited about getting it. A lot of my childhood was spent playing those two 64 games over and over. I’d complete the game in its entirety, reset the file and start again. Other days we’d just spend hours playing the mini-games together and see who could catch the biggest fish or get the best score in archery.
When more recently Nintendo re-released Ocarina of time on the 3Ds I was so excited I went out and bought the console, the first handheld console I’d been able to own. The same was true when late last year they announced the 3D remake of Majora’s Mask along with the limited edition console. Since it was released last weekend I’ve been playing it at every possible opportunity on the gorgeous Majora’s Mask-themed console. It’s absolute perfection wrapped in a little bubble of nostalgia.
But while I was biding the time until the game was released, I couldn’t help but make a celebratory cake. I was kind of tempted to make a Majora’s mask cake, but since I’ve done that before I decided I should try something new. The next most significant thing aside from the mask has to be the creepy moon that looms above Termina for the 3 day duration of the game, threatening to obliterate everything in sight.
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.
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.
It’s no secret that I have about 300 fandoms too many. Ever since I was three years old I’ve had my head in a book. Novels have always been a favourite form of escapism: if I don’t have a book on the go I feel completely lost. Every so often a gripping story comes along that spirals quickly into an obsession. An obsession I feel the need to talk about. Constantly. A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as Game of Thrones, is one such obsession.
My other half isn’t so big on reading. Mostly he feels like he doesn’t have enough time to read and never gets around to it. I know dragging him into my favourite worlds via the written word is a lost cause, so when a great adaptation comes along there is much prodding and poking to get involved. He’s endlessly lovely about it, so he always placates me by sitting through it. Often he enjoys it, sometimes he loves it. But rarely does he match my level of obsessive addiction. Until Game of Thrones.
By the time he watched it with me, all three seasons were out. His constant plot questions indicated he was getting into the show, and then randomly quoting his favourite lines. But I really knew he was hooked when he began requesting to watch the next episode until we were watching 6 in a row. And then when he wanted to watch all the seasons over again. And again. For someone who is usually a casual one-episode-a-week-is-plenty kind of fan, it was a huge deal. Now we watch it together all the time and chat about it constantly: it’s become our ‘thing’.
Yesterday, the first episode of season 4 premiered. The wait had been agonising and we were endlessly excited. It also happened that the episode was airing in Australia on my birthday. The occasion called for some celebratory cupcakes.
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.
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.
By way of cake, a lot of my loves and obsessions end up making their way onto the blog. One that has yet to much such an appearance is my fierce love of football. And by football I mean Australian Rules Football, the only real football. Just ask any Melbournite. I’ve always been a fanatical Carlton supporter and am now also a Carlton member. I’m not sure where my love of the Navy Blues came from, as no one in my immediate family follows them. My dad’s a rabid Essendon supporter who tried but failed to get me on side, and most everyone else was just apathetic. I don’t remember ever making a decisions to follow them, it was always just the natural conclusion. When I got older and saw my birth certificate for the first time I discovered I even get to utter the ‘born and bred’ saying with extra gusto as I was actually born in Carlton, so perhaps it’s always been innate. AFL is my religion, and Carlton Football Club are my Gods.
It’s September and September here means footy finals fever in Melbourne. It’s been a pretty exciting finals series thus far. Even so for my team. We’ve been fairly average and frustratingly inconsistent all year. We’ll have quarters where we look as though no team in the contest would stand a chance against us, then follow it up with a quarter that brings us completely undone. We won and lost by small margins, and wins and losses were often a matter of a few seconds or a few centimeters difference. We were set to just miss the finals this year, but when a drug cheating scandal saw our historic rivals Essendon scrapped from the finals this year, we got a second chance.
Some of you will already be familiar with the Link’s Blacklist project, my undying love for it, and my previous cakey creations for it. It returned for a third round, and of course I signed up as soon as I was able. I love any excuse to make a Zelda cake, and I love any excuse to join in a collaborative project and show everyone that art isn’t just drawn.
For those not familiar with the project, Link’s Blacklist is a collaborative fan art project that focuses it’s attention on the baddies of the franchise. Each time a select amount of artist are permitted to sign up for the project [this time it was 45], and all get to claim a different baddie. The places available disappeared within the day, which is a testament to how popular it’s becoming. It’s run by Game Art HQ and coordinated through deviantART, which is how I first got involved. These days I’m a community volunteer on deviantART, helping to look after the Artisan Craft galleries, so I prodded as many artisans to get involved as possible. I hope to encourage more fans from different artistic genres to get involved and diversify the fan art a bit.
As for my claim, I was pretty set on a Deku this time around. I love making sugar leaves, and the design felt a bit more achievable that some of my previous adventurous attempts. I settled on making a Mad Scrub, simply because I love the autumn palette in it’s design. I also love covering the basic enemies. A lot of people go for the big bosses, but I like the under-appreciated.
I’ve got a jar of dirt. And guess what’s inside it?
I love jar food. It’s so quirky and cute and rustic and just ticks all my aesthetic boxes. It used to be so rare to happen across but now it’s everywhere. It’s even all over MasterChef, and once MasterChef is doing it you know everyone is going to be doing it.
But I have a serious problem. Every time I see jar food, I get a particular sing-song voice stuck in my head. I’ve got a jar of dirt. I’ve got a jar of dirt. And then it’s stuck in my head all day, until I start singing I’ve got a jar of dirt and it gets stuck in everyone elses head. There was only one way to deal with it, and that was to replicate it with food.