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.
I’ve had a bit of a mini blog hiatus, largely because my computer basically just says “nope” every time I turn it on. It seems to be agreeing with me monetarily so I thought I’d pop by with a little cake post. this was a cake I was asked to do for an 18th birthday.
The brief was for a cake to fit two occasions. they wanted a large mudcake fit for a large party. On top it was to be decorated with a smaller novelty cake that could be removed and saved for a celebratory family gathering to follow.
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.
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.
The saying ‘it never rain, but it pours’ has never felt so appropriate for me as it has this last month. While I’m more often approached for quotes, it is actually quite rare that someone (outside my family, at least) commissions me to make a cake for them. But this last month has been nothing but commissions. I’ve spent all my spare time in the kitchen staring at cake and icing, crafting things of someone elses imagination. It’s most of the reason I’ve been so terrible at getting back to all your lovely comments and emails lately, something I keep promising myself every morning I will catch up on.
I’ve had to set aside my list of fan art cakes and such I have planned, but it’s been a fun change. It’s wonderful when someone entrusts you with the task of bringing to life the cake that exists in their minds eye, something that it for an important occasion, something to share with all the people they hold dear. It’s equal parts nerveracking and I never quite stop stressing until I see their overjoyed expressions, and even then I still panic. I’ve got a heap of cakes to show you guys over the coming weeks, alongside the usual recipe posts, so here’s the first one.
The family this cake is for is one I’ve made cakes for before. They were one of the first people to ever commission a cake for me. For their son’s first birthday I made them this jungle cake for their private celebration and this one for the larger birthday party. This year he was turning three and they approached me about making another cake for him. This time he was old enough that they were able to ask him what he wanted, and he answered straight away: a race car.
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.