Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big cakes are fun!

More and more we’ve found ourselves turning to big cakes for fun, and with our son’s first birthday approaching, Mark and I decided to put our imagination to the test.

It started back in March when our friend Noah turned one. We begged his Mum to let us make him a jungle cake – a four tier high chocolate cake with fondant shaped like a canopy of leaves on top, sugar tree trunks up the side and animals looking out through the tree branches. It was such an easy and fun cake to make, we knew immediately we could adapt the design to lots of different ideas.

We had a chance to repeat the jungle cake shortly after for a friend’s fifth birthday – albeit it without dairy. We were delighted to find replacing the butter in both the cake and icing had no impact on flavour or shape-ability. We swapped out the fondant tree tops for a piped royal icing instead and voila, our cake began to evolve.

For our boy’s birthday, we knew we wanted an under water theme. I envisaged a blue cake with mottled blue and white icing on top to emulate waves, a wrap around the bottom to indicate sand, and a host of sea creatures plastered round the sides. It was so much fun shaping starfish and an octopus out of fondant. We used fish lollies for extra fun, and shaped dolphins out of pastilage for the top.

It was so much fun making a cake like this, I’ve decided to hold a “Build A Birthday Cake” class next year. It would be a four week class – three to make the various decorations, and a final one on one tutorial and people’s home to help them build their final cake. Stay tuned for more info further down the track!

Update: we finally had a chance to try this design out on what we've dubbed the Fairies of the Forest cake. A friend's little girl was celebrating her birthday and christening on the same day. Her grandmother was baking the birthday cake so we were charged with creating a christening cake big enough to feed 80 people! Enter the Fairies in the Forest, complete with toadstools, dragonflies and a multitude of butterflies!

Continuing on with the stacked cake theme, we were lucky in December to land an order for a Batman cake. Since my husband is a mad Batman fan, he had a personal stake in the outcome of this cake design. We put our heads together and came up with this cake for a little boy's fifth birthday celebration:

We also made a bunch of mini cupcakes for him to share with his friends at school. Apparently he found it hard to give the Batman rings to his friends - since it was his birthday, he thought they should all be his!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cupcake classes at last!

I've been talking about it for years and finally it's happened - Kitchen Alchemy's first cupcake classes took place in June this year. With the help of a very organised friend, 11 ladies attended at classes presented by yours truly to learn how to decorate cupcakes.

Because time was of the essence, no baking was included. However, cupcake recipes were provided for vanilla cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes and raspberry almond gluten free cupcakes. Each recipe was extensively explained to ensure when attendees tried their hand at baking at home, they had every chance of success.

Since many in the class were Mums whose kids were approaching a birthday, two of the designs demonstrated were kids cupcakes. A tiger in the grass for boys, and a butterfly design for girls. But I also demonstrated how to decorate my double dutch chocolate cupcake, now that chocolate snaps are available again. And we finished off with a simple white glaze on the gluten free cake, dcorated with silver cachous and almond flakes.

It was a fun night for me - imagine having 11 people sitting around PAYING to hear me talk about cupcakes for two and a half hours. I'll post here again soon when I know another class is going to be scheduled.