Showing posts from 2013

Road Test: Coloured Fondant

It wasn’t such a long time ago when the only colours cake decorating fondant came in were white and ivory. Then Cake Art came on the scene and introduced vibrant red, brilliant green and black fondant.

In the past couple of years two new players have entered the market – Satin Ice and Bakel’s Pettinice, and I think it’s high time we took a look at coloured fondant and how it has performed in the jobs I’ve completed over the past year.

I first bought Cake Art’s red fondant when I thought I would decorate a Christmas cake with all red instead of traditional white. I chickened out at the last minute, not confident I could pull it in the dead heat of summer. When I finally got around to using the 1 kilo roll of red fondant, I noticed it was very wet and somewhat grainy. My supplier (Hollywood Cake Decoration) told me it was possible to add up to one third white fondant to Cake Art’s intense red fondant, and it would still have the same deep colour. I didn’t need to expand the bulk s…

Barnacle! Quasi! Peso!

When I was asked to make an Octonauts cake for a little boy's fourth birthday, I was very relieved to have all the coloured fondants from the Bakel's Pettinice range on hand to use. A year ago I would have had to mix up all the colours myself, which is incredibly time consuming. Having pre-coloured fondant to work with saved me a massive amount of time in creating the colourful characters from the cartoon series, Octonauts.

I made this cake on the same day as the purple 30th birthday cake, so I still had to struggle with the hot weather. Once again the ganached cake had to be set in the fridge. And I also had to work cornflour into the fondant to ensure it would go on the cake. Unfortunately, I think I put a bit too much conflour which changed the chemical composition of the fondant, which in turn caused cracking and scarring on the sharp edge. While I was able to recover the fondant this time, I found out a couple of weeks later that too much cornflour can actually wre…

Birthday cake with a bow

I haven't been blogging a lot lately because it has been a summer of utter cake avalanches. Some weekends I have been doing two or three cake jobs and had absolutely no time to share photos or stories about it. One of the greatest challenges has been keeping the cakes under control in the hot Australian summer. I work from home and I do not have airconditioning, so I've had to work out how to get cakes to stabilise instead of turning to mush.

I made this cake for a 30th birthday and got myself very tangled up trying to get the ganache to set. I made it about 12 hours before I needed to use it, which normally would be enough in winter to get it to the right consistency. But in summer it never achieved better consistency than thickened cream, so I had to put it in the fridge. Once I started covering the cake it had to go in the fridge every 20 minutes to get each layer to set. Overall this took me two hours, but remove the waiting time and, using the barrel ganaching t…

Caking in extreme weather

If you live in Sydney, Australia, you will know that it has been a summer of extreme weather. We’ve had two extraordinary heat waves where the temperature has reached over 45 degree Celsius. And then there have been a few occasions when we’ve suffered through extreme monsoon rains.

Both types of weather create conditions for cake baking which change almost everything I know to do in the kitchen. During the heat I left the butter on the bench and it warmed to almost melting, then I used it to bake cupcakes. The result was an incredibly rich, thick cake batter which produced about six more cupcakes than usual – a surprising, good result.

In the monsoon rain I created a selection of cupcakes as samples for a wedding, with four different designs using buttercream, fondant and royal icing. The buttercream never set – never even formed a shell on it which is really necessary to help it hold its form. Mean while, the fondant absorbed the moisture from the air until it became sticky and…

No Bake Lemon Slice

What can I say about lemon that I haven't said before?

I've told the story of my mother's lemon tree that fruited three seasons of the year. And I think I've told the story of the minature lemon tree my husband and I were given for our wedding (which incidentally has fruited more lemons this year than we've ever had from it before).

Lemon is one of those classic flavours that just cannot be outdone. It's up there with chocolate and vanilla in my opinion.

When I was pregnant, I was surprised to find I craved lemon (and tomato). I would happily have eaten nothing else, which probably wouldn't have agreed with me since both are so high in acid. Yet those were the two flavours I wanted most.

I've had friends say in the past that a vanilla cake with lemon icing is the next best thing to heaven. Lemon when it is allowed to retain it's simple nature is a beautiful thing in cooking. So all hail the humble lemon! Here is my mornng snack tribute to l…

Chocolate Coconut Slice

One of the odd things about being a part time baker is, while I'm busy supplying quality baked treats to cafes and customers, I then get a cafe cake from the espresso bar where I get my coffee at work. I always find the choice limited and the quality questionable.

So this year, I've decided to be my own customer for cafe cakes. It means I get a treat to go with my coffee that I know will be good, I'll save about $3.50 a day which adds up to $17.50 a week. Plus I will keep my husband supplied with morning snacks too - although I think he eats the snackies I make him in the afternoon.

So here is my first cafe cake for the year - chocolate coconut slice, which has yielded 18 slices. We only need 10 for the week, so eight can go in the freezer and be enjoyed some other time.

2 cups plain flour
2 cups desicated coconut
1 cup caster sugar
4 tblsp dutch cocoa powder
370g butter, melted
1 tblsp vanilla essence

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a…

Three Cheese Potato Bake

In 1998 my friend Sophie came to visit from France. It was the second time we met face to face, having been penpals since we were high school kids.

Sophie came armed with a swathe of genuine French recipes, which we attempted to cook for a dinner at my mother's house. While Potatoes Au Gratin had been served in our home before, the recipe we'd used was not like Sophie's. Hers was based on beef stock and creme fraiche, which unfortunately was unknown in Australia at that time (or at least in Penrith). It also had bacon interspersed through the layers of potato, and if I remember correctly, needed topping up with more creamy stock as the potatoes cooked.

My mother and I messed with Sophie's recipe so much, I don't think it resembled the French version much at all. And don't even get me started on the disaster of a cherry clafoutis, which we had no idea how to handle! It turned out rubbery and we could tell by the look on Sophie's face that it wasn't…