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:
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A few weeks ago I was commissioned to make this cake for a birthday party. The cake itself is nothing new. It’s my triple ripple joconde: a choc peppermint ripple cake, encased in chocolate mousse, wrapped in a joconde sponge and topped with chocolate ganache. It’s something I came up with for my sister’s birthday and has been labelled a favourite since.
I was making a bunch of hemispheres to adorn the cake with and thought it would be a good opportunity to show you guys how to get a metallic effect when chocolate making. I’ve seen lots of stuff around that involves painting the chocolate with lustre dust after it’s set, buts it’s messy and falls off any time you touch it. You can also use gold leaf, or the imitation stuff, but this is cheaper, easier, and is set right into the chocolate.
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I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve never tried pumpkin in a sweet dish before. With Halloween around the corner I decided it was a good change to change all that. I bought a stack of pumpkins on the weekend and started having some fun.
My first stop was incorporating pumpkin into cake. I absolutely love all the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, so I just knew I was going to love these. But I also wanted to incorporate some of Halloween into them as well. Here’s where the ghosts come in.
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This tutorial will show you the most basic and least equipment-heavy way of baking the concentric layer cake as seen in both the Earth cake and Jupiter cake. You can stop at half way and just make a hemisphere cake, or make two hemispheres and join them into one as in this video.
How big you make the cake is up to you. For the Earth cake I baked the largest layer in a 2 litre pudding basin. As the Jupiter cake one was for a tute and not for a group of people, I only baked it as big as a 1 litre pudding bowl. There’s no other reason why I baked the sphere smaller – you can make it as big or small as you like.
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It's that time of year again where you can barely take a step outside the house without seeing chocolate eggs beckoning from every corner. It's also that time of year where warnings about products that contain not-so-animal-friendly ingredients flood the news feed of every social networking site, advising you who to support and who to boycott. Or maybe that's just because half my friends are Zoologists? Either way, it can be daunting trying to remember who and what is safe to buy from. I find such an appeal in making my own Easter eggs. Knowing exactly what's going into them and knowing that they're definitely palm oil free is a big plus for me.
But the best part is they're so fun and easy to make. You get to pick your own designs, colours, flavours and fillings. The only limit is your imagination.
If you've never made chocolate eggs before, here's a basic tutorial to get you started. After this, you can let the creative juices flow and add your own twist to it!
Let the chocolate making begin!
I receive baking questions from people almost on a daily basis, not just here on the blog, but the various mediums I'm part of. Right from my personal Facebook account through to deviantART. Some of them are to do with recipes I've posted, others asking for tips or troubleshooting, but almost half of them are fondant questions. Why it has taken me until now to write a fondant tute, I'll never know. So instead of typing out my experiences each time I answer someone, I'm going to document it here to save a heap of time.
This fondant recipe is more expensive and time consuming than marshmallow fondant. If I'm just covering a cake and doing simple decorations, I use marshmallow fondant. My recipe for regular fondant fluctuates based on the need. Sometimes I use a recipe that involves gelatine. If I want it to dry hard, I'll use gum trag in the recipe. This tutorial will give you my main recipe for regular fondant, as well as all my tips for a successful first time working with the stuff.
This said, for me it's not all in the recipe. For me, the most important thing is the quality of ingredients you use and learning what fondant should feel like. I always use CSR sugar because it is high quality and tastes nice. This recipe ends up tasting like fairy floss, which comes down mostly to the ingredients chosen.
Meringue is one of those Achilles' heel things for a lot of bakers. So many people have trouble with it or flat out avoid it because they are afraid of it. I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be scary. It's actually a really simple thing to make.
All of us bakers have something, or sometimes many things (guilty), that trip us up. I guess I was lucky in that I took to meringue pretty quickly. I had it collapse on me once and I knew why and made sure never to make this mistake again. Let me share with you the tips and tricks to getting a perfect meringue every time.
Meringue step-by-step + Swiss Meringue Tutorial…
This tutorial will show you how I created the flower used for the topper on my birthday cake. This technique is so unbelievable easy that anyone can do it. And I mean anyone.
This makes use of an age-old technique that has been used in craft projects to create a whole plethora of hollow, spherical objects. Most of us have used this to create papier-mâché creatures or ornaments at some point in our lives, so translating this process to the world of edible creations is a small step.
This technique can be used not just for flowers, but also for making edible dessert cups.
Time for a photo-spammy tutorial…
Cake layering is one of those things a lot of us hate. It takes great knife skill, a great knife and practise. Many of use end up spending lots on cake decorating equipment to make the process perfect.
I was one of them. I wasn’t too bad at eyeballing it, but my knife would often dip towards the back and I would be left with a cake that had to be stacked exactly how it was cut in order to achieve a remotely level cake. For tiered cakes, this just did not cut it (whoa, pun). So I spent $50 on Wilton’s Large Cake Leveler and I can unreservedly say it is the biggest waste of money I have encountered since emptying my pockets on cake decorating equipment. It sits at the back of my cupboard collecting dust. The blade simply bows and what happened was that I ended up with cakes that were cut on a massive diagonal. The beautiful, flawlessly layered cakes it promised are, I am convinced, unachievable with this contraption.
So what if I told you you could perfectly layer a cake with this…
After posting my Spotlight cake, commented saying saying she'd had trouble with the MMF. I'd heard a lot of people say the same thing in the past. So here's a blow by blow account how I do it, with pictures included.
Disclaimer: I always cook by feel, rather than exact quantities. Fondant especially cannot be measured accurately. Hence, I cannot give you exact amounts, but I can give you a rough ratio from which to go by.
Here we go!