Thursday, 20 December 2012

My attempt at an engagement cake :)

Rating: Easy
Time: nearly 2 hrs to cook the mudcake, about an hour tops to decorate.

Finally a pretty cake that I did myself! This one was to celebrate my (and my partner's!) engagement as well as my birthday.

You will need:
- a chocolate cake of your choice (I used a rich mudcake) baked in a round tin
- Roll-out fondant / Marshmallow fondant (your choice - usually I'd use mmf as it tastes better, in this case I had no time so used packet roll-out stuff)
- Marzipan
- 3mm ribbon - I picked up a 6m roll for 99 cents, otherwise get about 2-3 meters depending on the circumference of your cake. (you can also get a couple of colours if you'd like - I match the ribbon to the flowers which is why it's pink for this cake. I don't like pink much, but they were the roses we had out at the time)
- new (or sterilized in boiling water) dress-making pins (I used a new box of 60mm pins, without pin-heads, unless you want to get pearlescent ones to look like it has pearls attached, otherwise plastic pin-heads look really tacky)
- Fresh flowers and leaves from the garden :)
- A piping bag with shell and normal nozzles (I only had a shell nozzle, which  is why the lettering looks crappy on the top - it'd have been better with plain piping, but I ran out of time to fix it)

To start off, I baked a round rich chocolate mudcake the night before I needed it and wrapped it in clingwrap and kept it in the fridge.
Come the morning, I leveled it out (cut off the top), and flipped it upside-down to have a nice flat top. I then plugged up any gaps with marzipan, and covered it (as much as possible before I ran out) with the remaining marzipan. If you're going to be doing this a few days before eating it, sealing it up properly with the marzipan is a must. I was doing this a few hours before it was to be eaten (indeed guests began arriving before I'd finished the cake) so it wasn't so much of a problem for me.

Next it was working the fondant until it was soft enough to roll out. But it should have been to cover the cake in a sugar syrup. Forgetting the sugar syrup is why I had problems getting the fondant to stick to the cake, and why it wasn't as smooth as I'd intended... At this point you can smooth it out as much as possible as well by rubbing your hand gently in sweeping arcs across the cake - the warmth from your hand should help smooth everything. At this point I also piped on a shell border around the cake, and the lettering on the top. The lettering would be much better if I'd had a plain nozzle as well, but I didn't have time to fiddle with zip-lock bags to make one (guests were arriving!). Unfortunately the royal icing was a little runnier than I'd like, so it flopped a bit. *sigh* piping fail... it looked ok, not perfect but... pictures:

Once the piped icing had set, it was a case of securing ribbons. To do this, I cut 2 lengths that were just greater than the circumference of the cake. I pinned these to the cake, with the ends just overlapping, about a centimeter apart (see left-hand photo below). I then took 2 5cm(ish) lengths, doubled them over into short bows, and pinned them over the joins. This is why pin-heads are not pretty on these cakes! I'm not clever enough to join them up without showing the pinheads, although I'm sure I could work it out if I'd had more time (perhaps if I do a similar cake again...). Once I'd done the ribbon, I went and raided the garden for flowers (just make sure the ones you pick are non-toxic!!!!! if you're unsure, use something else!). I ended up with white star-jasmine and tiny pink roses, so used a couple of rose leaves as well.
To do the flower arrangements, I took a couple of large loops of ribbon and pinned them to the cake (over the spot where the icing was crappiest). I then arranged the flowers in and around the ribbon loops. I left the ends of the ribbon trailing as I thought it looked nice.

In hindsight I'd have made the arrangement longer and would have swept it further around to the left (it looks a bit short for the cake from these photos, I didn't really notice it at the time but it's bothering me now!). I also do regret not at least trying the zip-lock bag (nick the corner to make a small hole then use it as a disposable piping bag) to do the lettering, I really do think it would've looked so much better than the chunkier outcome. At least the flowers looked nice though :)

Overall I was surprised at how easy this was to do. I'm told it tasted good (I didn't take a piece when it was cut, and then when I went to get some later it was all gone, so I'm assuming it was good!)

In a word? Imperfect*

*Due to lack of time. But certainly not impossible!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

My younger sister's wedding cake...

So now I present the second of three cakes that will appear in this blog that I didn't make (all 3 are made by my Mum. Well, one (my own wedding cake) is yet to be ;) ).

This one is my younger sister's wedding cake, and was again decorated with fondant flowers.

This one was a more simple design than my other sisters'. Lilies, Bouvardia and purple Lisianthus make up the floral pretties. The theme was royal purple, hence the ribbon.

Difficulty: Very Difficult
Time: Several months (for the flowers), a week or so to put it together

Anyway, now pics! (apologies for the crappy quality, the lighting wasn't good and my camera was on the blink too)

In a word? Purple!