Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baby Shower Cake

For the last year or so I've gained an interest in cake decorating. I love the process of baking and cooking, but if its something sweet I need to get it out of the house. So I'm a good neighbour to have :)

When I moved here I spent more time than I should have in the local kitchen supplies shop. Seriously, that store is bad for my budget. As in, my budget gets completely ignored when a cute cookbook holder is staring at me.
While in the shop I saw that there was a cake decorating class going on, so I signed up. The objective of the course was to learn the techniques involved in decorating a cake. We worked with sugar paste (sometimes known as fondant), royal icing, learned how to make a piping bag out of parchment paper (which I felt was the most useful tip), piping, gumpaste and different cutters and ways to use them. It was one night every 4 weeks, 2 hours a go. I am surprised how much we fit in considering we only had 8 hours! 
The instructor would start building something and then we'd follow suit. So the first week we learned about rolling out sugar paste and covering a cake and cake board. I also learned to use a crimper to add some depth to the top edge of the cake. In the second week I learned about piping. We were given templates to follow which had a bunch of different shapes to replicate. Most of them involved piping the tiny dots, which were actually harder than I thought they would be, but after practicing a bit it got easier. I need a lot more practice but I was surprised how quickly I got into a groove with it.
In the third week we started working with gumpaste, which is used to make more stable items (the booties, crib and bib on the top of the cake are made from gumpaste). It hardens very quickly which makes it a little challenging to work with, but its very useful if you want to make something that requires some structure (like chairs). We also worked on the lacy frilly things around the edge of the cake, which I struggled with but will just have to practice more :)
In the final class we finished off the cake by using puncher cutters to cut out flowers and stuck them around the cake.
I really enjoyed the class. It was great for learning the basic techniques that I could take away and apply to make the type of cakes I am interested in making, like the Ambulance Cake or the Jersey cake. I wouldn't necessarily make a cake like the one we made in class (I wouldn't cover a cake for a boy's baby shower with flowers or frills, for instance. Maybe ships and bikes or something) but it was really great for learning the basics. 
But I still loved it :)

So have you ever pursued something you enjoyed from afar for ages before taking it up?

Jenn x

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Limerick Jersey Cake

Is March a big month for birthdays in your world? I have my mom, A (boyfriend), brother, and A's mother all in March. Which is great, as I like to get the important ones out of the way, but March does seem to sneak up on me. I keep forgetting it comes after February :)

I decided to make A a cake that looked like the jersey of his county. He is a very proud Limerick fella so I knew I had to make a solid effort to do it well. This is my first cake so it is pretty rough, but I still enjoyed the process.

Here's what a Limerick jersey looks like (courtesy of the online GAA store):

And here's what I ended up with:

Whaddya think? Does it look like the original?

I started out by making a chocolate biscuit cake, which was very easy and was a great medium to work with. Its fairly rich so a small chocolate biscuit cake would go a lot further than a sponge or Madeira cake of the same size.

To make the cake, I melted together 300g of dark (70%) chocolate with 300g unsalted butter and 4 tbsp golden syrup (or corn syrup) in a bowl over a pot of boiling water.

To that I added 450g of digestive biscuits I bashed with a rolling pin (very therapeutic!)
I lined a 8 inch square pan with plastic wrap and poured the mixture into it and stuck it into the fridge overnight until it set. Once it was ready, I cut a chunk off to be left with a 8 in x 5.5 in rectangle and I cut two triangles out of the remaining 8 in x 2.5 in piece to make the sleeves.
I put a section of white sugar paste at the top where the opening for the neck is and covered the rest in green sugar paste.
I then piped on the details and put a trim of sugar paste around the edges as I cut it a little short on the cake.
I really enjoyed putting it together and it went down a storm. I may make one of the county I support for my birthday :)

So what are your hopes for April? I hope you and yours have a wonderful month!

Jenn x
free counters