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.
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.
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.