Browsing Tag

cake decorating

Happy 1st Birthday Cooking Crusade! (and a ruffle cake.)

Uncategorized January 27, 2011

Wow. Well I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started this blog. Time seems to have gone by so quickly! I still feel like I’m definitely still a beginner in many aspects of cooking and baking but I like to think that in the last year I have made some bigger strides towards improving my baking. Certainly my love for all things cake decorating only really began to flourish this year – as did a large increase in my baking tools. In the last year, I got a cake turntable, proper icing tips and bags, and tried out a bunch of fun new techniques.

I got a whole bunch of fun new cookie cutters, I tried piping with royal icing for the first time.

I even tried feathering icing for the first time, too. I love this technique.

I tried a whole bunch of new cake recipes (finding a fave with Pioneer woman’s sheet cake).
I made marshmallow fondant for the first time and made a Bulldogs themed cake with it.  I made my first animal themed cake for my God-daughter’s second birthday.

I made my first two, heck, three tier cake. (Mind you I am still yet to venture into the world of using dowelling.. for some reason it scares me.) I even made rice pudding for the first time. I even made ice cream for the first time (well technically the second time. I made it once in high school for Food Tech. But this was this first time with an ice-cream maker anyway.)

My strawberry decorated cakes went from


to this.

My piping went from


to this (that second post was the first time I managed to successfully pipe a buttercream shell border. One of my proudest moments as a cake decorator!! Also made chocolate curls there for the first time, too.)

So, I guess on’s first birthday, it’s only appropriate that I post about something new that I haven’t done before.

And that thing is Ruffle Cake. The first time I saw this was from the blog,  My Sweet and Saucy. I then saw it on I Am Baker, who said she had found it on Martha’s site and well.. I guess it’s out there a lot more than I thought (even though  I’ve never actually seen one in Australian bakeries before. Believe me, the first time I saw this cake, I had no idea at ALL how they had managed to make such a delectable, sweet looking cake. They uploaded a youtube tutorial on it and wow. Who knew it could be so simple?? Guys, if you have time check out that video, it’s such an easy and pretty technique. It is one of my new favourites and I will definitely be using it again in the future!

I used a swiss meringue buttercream to pipe the ruffles on. It was the first time I had ever made a swiss meringue buttercream and it was worth it. For those of you who haven’t tried it yet, please give it a go! It is gorgeously silky and a lot easier to make than I originally thought. Dyann Bakes has a wonderful and very easy to follow youtube tutorial on this (I will be posting on it myself later on.)

Onwards to ruffle cake!

This cake is incredibly easy.

Basically, bake and cool your cake (whatever flavour/mix you desire). I’ve found its a lot easier to decorate cakes after they’ve been in the fridge for a day or so (or frozen) since they aren’t warm from the oven and prone to crumble as much – and they’re a lot easier to handle (and torte.)

If you are going to fill your cake, cut it in half with a serrated knife or a cake leveller and fill with your cake fillings. Place top half of cake onto the fillings and ice the cake with a thin layer of buttercream icing (you could use a simple buttercream icing instead of swiss meringue if you please) onto the cake, to capture all the crumbs. Refrigerate for about 10-20 minutes or until the icing has formed a crust. Take it out of the fridge and apply a thicker layer of icing to the top and sides of the cake. Don’t worry too much about the sides as you’re going to cover them in ruffles anyway so the imperfections won’t be as noticeable.

Using a filled piping bag with a flower tip (skinny side of the tip facing towards you), pipe the icing against the cake in a zig-zag motion from bottom to top. You can make the ruffles as fat or thin as you like, just make sure they are of a consistent size with each other. Continue this pattern until you have covered all sides of the cake.

Cut into wedges and serve.

I love how gorgeous these ruffles are! (PS if you’re wondering why the colour change of the icing, i blame two things.. 1) the lighting in the first and second shot and 2) the icing seemed to change colour a tiny bit in the fridge! it was weird).

Enjoy and hope you all had a great Australia Day!




Giraffe Cake

Uncategorized December 10, 2010

It was my God-daughter Talei’s second birthday coming up and I had to decide what kind of cake to make her.

Finally! An excuse for me to start using my copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Kids Birthday Cakes. I had been looking forward to this moment for a long time.

For the cake, I tried a new twist on Pioneer Woman’s sheet cake (yes I know I use it all the time, but its an excellent recipe and what’s more, I always have all the ingredients in my cupboard. Plus there’s no pesky melting-of-chocolate involved, which adds heaps of extra washing up, boo.)

Instead of making it a chocolate cake this time, however, I removed the cocoa powder and added in a good two teaspoons of Queens Vanilla bean extract (with actual beans, as opposed to just the alcohol). I also had a spare egg that needed to be used up so in that went as well. The result was quite good – it was a very moist dense vanilla cake that did not have a very strong flavour (which was great for the kids). 

For the frosting, I just made a simple buttercream (butter, a teeny bit of milk and icing sugar) and tinted it orange. 

To make the ‘spots’ on the giraffe, Women’s Weekly suggested melting chocolate, pouring it onto a lined cookie tray and then slicing it into diamonds when it was half set. 

To cut the cake into the perfect size, Women’s Weekly had a special printout which you copied onto baking paper, cut out and then placed on the cake to use as a guideline. You could easily trace a design onto baking paper yourself or make a smaller version with just an A4 piece of paper. You can see that the outline is quite simple to draw.

Then cover it with frosting and start decorating.

Ta daaa! To decorate the rest of its face, I just used extra pieces of chocolate – I had plenty to spare, so this also went onto the sides of the cake. For the feet, mane and the top of the giraffe’s head, I used dark chocolate bullets. The eyes were M&Ms and piping gel. The choc diamonds were just choccy melts. 

Me with the Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl and her cake (she just woke up, hence the sleepy/sad face.. lol).

Happy Birthday my beautiful God-daughter.


Bulldogs cake

A Bulldogs Cake.

Uncategorized November 26, 2010

I’ve finally put a bit of time aside to blog about that Bulldogs cake I was talking about in my previous post (A Fight with Fondant.)

The stats:
The cake was a Pioneer Woman Chocolate Sheet Cake (can’t go wrong there), sandwiched with a whipped hazelnut and chocolate ganache (cream cheese + a lot of nutella, blended together… cooled in the fridge until quite solid and then whipped again, quite airy) covered with home-made marshmallow fondant (melted marshmallows and icing sugar) and coconut (well, that was the grass decorations).

The cake topper and the edible NRL image I got from Little Dance Decorations online. The only problem I had with the little bulldog guy was where to stick him in the cake. He wouldn’t stand upright… So I made him a little fondant pedestal to stand on in front of the

This was the first time I had ever used fondant, so my results were a bit wonky. I also did not have a fondant smoother which apparently, complicates things. In addition to the fact that I used a somewhat slippery ganache did not help matters.

But hey, a first’s a first.

To be honest most of this cake was a mistake. I hadn’t actually planned any of it, but I was inspired to make goal posts out of long skewers (which also helped stop the cake layers from sliding away, again, slippery ganache!) The dyed coconut grass was actually to hide a multitude of sins (i.e. messy fondant.. lol). Everyone seemed to be quite surprised when I mentioned these were all mistake-hiders,.. so I guess some mistakes are a good thing sometimes? I tend not to plan out my cake decorating (usually when I do, I almost always forget something and get disappointed when I remember it later.) So generally now, I kind of decorate out of instinct (by which of course I actually mean, what’s in the cupboard.)

Have a great weekend!


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A Fight with Fondant

Uncategorized November 2, 2010

I had the fun of experimenting with fondant for the first time the other day. I had planned on making an NRL themed cake for a friend and was planning on buying the canned fondant stuff (the Orchard brand) for Coles to make that part of the plan a bit easier on myself. Somehow I ended up at a shopping centre with no Coles and only a Woolworths and for some odd reason, Woolies does not stock any kind of fondant or similar. I ended up making a panicky phone call to a friend to ask her to google how to make marshmallow fondant (which I had previously read about as being quite easy to make). Apparently it consisted of only marshmallows and icing sugar – pretty easy right? So I stocked up on marshmallows, sugar and food colouring and went home with, well, the best of intentions.

Ok, so the end result was pretty good. It tasted great, coloured well and gave a fairly smooth finish.

The problem was getting there. I melted the marshmallows, as per The Internet had informed me, stirred in blue dye, added the due amount of icing sugar and mixed. And mixed. And mixed. It was still waaay too sticky. At this point, The Instructions had said, it should be too difficult to mix and should seem somewhat like a sugary dough. My mixture was still goopy.

I added half a cup of icing sugar. Made no difference. Abandoning all hope of being neat, orderly and properly measured about this, I threw the rest of the icing sugar from the whole bag into the bowl. It was hard to mix. That should do it, I thought, pleased. The instructions told me to put the mix onto a flat surface and knead with icing sugar until smooth and no longer sticky, like bread dough. Sadly, since I was doing this at my boyfriend’s house and I do not trust any surfaces to be hygenic enough to actually lay food on, I had to do this all on a small, freaking chopping board.

“Ok, I can do this”, I thought.

I dusted the ‘dough’ with extra icing sugar, ditto my hands.

Idiotically, I dove in with both hands. and attempted to knead it.

I came away with two covered in blue goop hands. It was very hard to wash off.

I sighed and added another half a cup of icing sugar. Still not much success. Finally, I broke off small pieces of the marshmallow fondant and kneaded them separately with icing sugar until I finally reached a desired consistency.

By this time, both I, the kitchen stove and all the heating elements, the floor and the bench were all heavily dusted with the dust that is powdered sugar. There was probably some sweat and a vague sense of failure mixed in with that too.

Did I feel like giving up sometimes? Yes.. But there was no way I was wasting the cake topper and miniature Bulldogs figurine I had bought from and I was going to finish this damned cake, even if it killed me!

Finally, I got to the stage of rolling out the fondant to cover the cake. First batch stuck hideously to the chopping board (which I had lined with baking paper to try and avoid this, surprise, surprise – it did not work), so I threw out that piece of paper and tried again. This time with a slightly more insane amount of icing sugar on top of the paper. This batch rolled out with slightly more success. Finally! Using a rolling pin (just like they do on TV!) i laid the fondant over the cake. There were a few cracks (unavoidable.. sadly also unfixable, sadly) leaking chocolate icing, waay too much fondant on one side of the cake and a bit less on the other, bit ruffly bits and yes, the cake layers were tilting (this is what happens when you don’t have even layers and runny icing.) But it was finally ON the cake. In a vague attempt to disguise all of the well.. let’s call them ‘character flaws’, I added balls of fondant around the base of the cake, stars around the sides and ‘grass’ (flaked coconut dyed green) to make the cake look like a football field. In an attempt to keep the sliding cake layers straight, I added goal posts (made of wooden skewers and tape… lol). In the end, it looked okay. Not great… but ok. I wasn’t really 100% happy with it, but hey, it was my first attempt with fondantt. I can’t pretend I’m like all the other baking blog geniuses who make works of art from day one (much as I’d like to be!)

Disaster? Possibly. Do I need more practice? Absolutely. Do I still love it, despite the constant setbacks? Of course! Bring it on, baby! Here’s to not being so disasterfull in the future 🙂

Pics to come 🙂

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