Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kid's Birthday Cakes - The Little Mermaid

Ok, I've made a few cakes during my cake decorating classes but this is by far my favourite cake!  It's not the most complicated or technical in execution but it's the prettiest!   The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney cartoon and Ariel is my favourite Disney Princess back in the days when they didn't market the Disney Princess as a separate product.  

The cake was made with the Disney Princess Ariel Wilton cake pan and then decorated with buttercream.  The sides were iced with the Cake Icer Basketweave tip #789.  Then we outlined the face with black coloured buttercream and we filled in the banks with the Open Star tip #16.  The challenge was drawing the outline, filling the face in is time consuming and tiring but not too difficult.  Decorating the sides of the cake was equally as fun.  Creating the waves, starfish, fish and octopus just completed the mood for the cake.

  This cake just makes me happy looking at it. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Cover Cookies with Fondant

This year was the first time I celebrated Halloween.  It was never a celebrated holiday in Malaysia or other parts of Asia and neither was it a popular holiday in the UK, countries which I spent some time in.  So I never really had the opportunity to celebrate it.  When I was young, I read about it in Archie comics and of course there was TV later.

Well this year my family was invited to a Halloween party and as it was potluck we were all encouraged to bring something.  I decided to make some Bat Cookies.  I used sugar cookies as a base and thought it might be easier to cover them with fondant instead of messing around with Royal Icing.  I hadn't tried flooding or decorating cookies with royal icing before so thought I'd wait for another time to experiment.

You will need:
Ingredients for Sugar Cookies. (recipe) 
Skewer/Thin dowels

First soak your skewers in water for half an hour to ensure that it doesn't burn when you put it in the oven.  After soaking, dry it a bit so you won't have water dripping everywhere when you insert it into the cookie.  I've done it without soaking the skewer before with no problems, but if you're concerned, the soaking helps.  You aren't baking the cookie for more than 12 minutes anyway.
Follow the recipe and roll out your cookie dough to about 2/3 cm thick.  You don't want it too thin as the dough will split when you insert the skewer.  The cookies were quite small so I used skewers instead of the thin dowels that you can get at the baking market or some supermarkets.  If the dough is too soft and won't hold it's shape, put it in the fridge and chill for 10 minutes and then try again.

Using your cookie cutter, cut out the shapes.  Once you have pressed the cookie cutter down, try gently aggitating the cutter a little by moving it side to side or back and forth while pressing it firmly down onto the surface of your work table. This will help neaten the edges when you remove it from the cutter.

Next, gently insert the skewer through the center of the cookie, using your finger to feel it through to make sure it doesn't go in crooked and the skewer appearing at the back of the cookie.  I'm a bit particular about these things so if I screw up, I tend to start over with a new cutout.

Next place onto the baking tray that has been lined with a baking sheet and bake according to the instructions.  Make sure you leave at least 2cm of space between the cookies as they do expand a little bit.  Once they are done, cool on wire racks.  Now you need to prepare the fondant.

Knead your fondant to soften it and then mix the colour of your choice.  We can start assembling the cookie now.  Fondant dries quite easily and hardens when exposed to air.  It's best to use the fondant in small portions and wrap the rest in cling film and then put it in an air tight tupperware or zip lock bag.  Using a small portion, roll it out with a rolling pin for fondant (you only need the small one for this) and using the same cookie cutter, cut out the shape.  Don't aggitate the fondant this time like you did with the dough.  Peel it off slowly from the cutter or the table and shape the edges so it's neat.  Next, you can do one of two things.

You can either use a small brush and brush some water onto the fondant then placing it on top of the cookie OR you can use some edible glue like Tylo (CMC + water) and brush it lightly onto the surface of the cookie and place the fondant on top.  Both works fine although of course the Tylo gives a more secure hold and it is easier to brush the glue on the cookie than brushing the water on the fondant which is more wieldy.

Press the edges of the fondant outwards onto the cookie to get a nice neat finish.  For my bat cookies, I added some 100's and 1000's for the eyes which were really a handful to do as they were so tiny and hard to get onto the fondant.  I didn't have time to make some royal icing otherwise it would have looked cooler if I drew in the mouth and teeth and wings.  Have fun!

Add a little ribbon for a finishing touch.  More Halloweenish.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sugar Cookie Recipe

This recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and the recipe is the base for all their holiday cookies. Roll it out and use shaped biscuit cutters to make your own festive cookies – great fun for the kids to make. See the next post to cover the cookies in fondant!

Makes about 20

200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
280 g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
400 g plain flour
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Royal Icing
1 egg white
½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
310 g icing sugar, sifted
food colouring, optional
shaped biscuit cutters
4 baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

2. Put the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and cream until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

3. Add the flour, salt and cream of tartar and mix well, but don’t overmix. The dough should be light, soft and easy to handle.

4. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Cut out shapes with your choice of biscuit cutters.

5. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking trays and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Check them regularly to make sure they are not burning. The cookies should be very light golden on the outer edges and paler in the centre.

6. When you are happy that they are cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

7. For the royal icing: Beat the egg white and lemon juice together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk). Gradually start adding the icing sugar, mixing well after each addition to ensure all sugar is incorporated. Whisk until you get stiff peaks. If the icing is too runny, add a little more sugar.

8. Stir in a couple of drops of food colouring, if using, and decorate the cookies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pirate Ship - Talent Seems to Run in the Family

My sister sent me some messages last night on chat telling me she wanted to make a Pirate Ship cake for her boyfriend's birthday today.  The picture she sent me looked complicated but she was keen to go ahead.  So I gave her some advice and she surprised me with the fabulous job she did!

It seems this knack for cake decorating seems to run in the family!  I've asked her to be a Guest Blogger and write a post on how she made it for those of you who would like to try, so look out for that! : )

Side view

Back View

Front View

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Carrot Cake Anyone?

Have I mentioned that I love carrot cake?  There used to be a little sandwich shop near my uni that sold these little bars of carrot cake.  I used to buy my Crab Mayo baps there and one day I decided to pick up one of the carrot cakes.  I had no idea what that yellow frosting was but it was love at first bite.  I later found out it was cream cheese. Before that, cream cheese was absent from my diet and since then it's been here to stay!

There are many versions of the carrot cake, some have fruits like apricot and mandarins inside or in the layers and some add chopped walnuts.  For me, I like the nuts on the outside and nothing but carrot on the inside.  The recipe I use is from the Hummingbird Bakery bakebook that my friend got for me for my birthday.  I tweaked the recipe a little so it's not quite so 'spicy' and the recipe gives me a really moist cake.  Couple with the Cream Cheese Frosting... divine!