Showing posts with label fondant decorating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fondant decorating. Show all posts

Monday, 1 April 2013

Collingwood Football Club Cake Number Two!

Birthdays come but once a year, but even that is way too often for me, given that my boss is a mad Collingwood fan.

Last year I made him a cake with the Collingwood logo, which you can see here. This year, even though I hate Collingwood with a passion, as most sensible Australians do, I decided to revisit the theme in a slightly different way.

 I did a Collingwood guernsey together with an Aussie Rules football lying next to it.

 This is how the guernsey started out. I had made a rectangular chocolate mud cake, to my favorite ultra-rich recipe, and had ganached the surface to make it smooth.

I then looked up the interwebs for a picture of a Collingwood guernsey lying flat, to get the basic shape. As you can see in this pic, I needed only to cut three slightly curved portions from the cake for the neckline and the arm holes, and then I had to cut the tops of the shoulder-pieces at a slight angle.

After I had got the shape right, I ganached the edges I had cut to get a smooth surface and rolled out black fondant to cover the whole shape.

I haven't covered many 'shaped' cakes before, and I'm very pleased to report that the fondant - handled very carefully - stretched over the edges beautifully.

After I had covered the entire top and edges in black fondant, I cut some 1cm wide white rolled fondant stripes, being careful to try to copy the pattern carefully (i.e., the number of stripes and the relative distance of each to the other).

There is a bit of balancing between trying to follow a design exactly, and being able to simplify it so it's clear and crisp. You don't want to get bogged down in difficult detail that you won't be able to do very well, so it's best to leave out really tricky things.

In this case there were some logos on the front of the guernsey that you can see in the pic above, that I decided not to go with. Too fiddly. I did, however, cut into my black fondant for the neckpiece and placed a white half-moon piece in there for better detail.

The trusty ol' Sherrin footy was made entirely of fondant icing. I rolled it in a fabulous substance called tylose powder, which basically hardens up the fondant as you work it so that large shapes can set harder and not lose their shape.

Confession: despite watching my fair share of footy, I was about to make the ball in a brown colour, and checked at the last minute to find that Aussie Rules footballs are bright red, and have been for about 50 years. Observation fail!!

I did the 'stitching' marks in four lines with the end of a pin.

The final cake with football had the footy with its famous maker's name, 'Sherrin' printed as neatly as possible on the side.
It brought a smile to the boss's face and horror to all other opposing team supporters... Happy Birthday to Collingwood's No. 1 fan!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Light-Up Bomb Cupcakes for Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot....

Well, that's the rhyme I grew up with, and it's about poor old Guy Fawkes who, it seems, was actually innocent, and didn't in fact plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Being a rebellious left-winger who no doubt would have got on famously with Mr Fawkes, I decided to help him along a bit by creating light-up bomb cupcakes for the fifth of November this year:
 They were carrot and walnut cakes topped with cream cheese icing, then decorated with an irregular red 'boom' kind of fiery explosive pattern and topped by a big block bomb....

 ....Which had a sparkler for a fuse, and lit up spectacularly!

I'll get to the cake and icing recipes later, but let's start with the (very simple) process for decorating!
I mixed up some red fondant using gel colour. This is the gel colouring being put on and shows the quantity I used relative to the pize of the fondant piece. I kneaded this until it was a solid red, then broke off a little bit and added yellow colour to get a more orangey shade. Then I kneaded them together lightly to try to get a reddish-orange marbled effect.

As you can see, the marbling didn't really work - the colours weren't different enough. However, I rolled it out and began cutting roughly star-shaped pieces out of it. This was meant to sit underneath the bomb, to give an impression of a fire starting underneath (it also gave the cupcake a touch of colour which it really needed).

This picture shows you the dreadful mess that in the end involved the entire bench, floor and the front of my clothes. However, I did manage to get twelve red stars out of it.

These went onto the tops of the cupcakes and I stuck them down with a bit of water. I also 'painted' the tops of them with water, which is a bit of a no-no usually, because the colour is liable to run and the surface becomes sticky, but I had got so much cornflour on the surfaces during the process of rolling and cutting that they looked really dusty and this cleaned them up.

Then it came to making the bombs. I bought a ready-coloured black fondant for this, because I HATE mixing black fondant - it takes ages and leaves black smudges all over everything.

I hand-rolled balls of black fondant about the size of a big marble...

....Until I had twelve of them, one for each cupcake.

Then I rolled a long sausage of the black fondant and cut it into small cylindrical lengths. I stuck one on each bomb - this is the little bit of the bomb where the fuse attaches.

(I know nothing about bombs, so I have no idea if that is actually right, but this is what I imagine when I picture an old-fashioned bomb.)

The next stage was the sparkler 'fuse'. Obviously, sparklers are a bit long for a fuse of this size so I needed to trim them down. REAL TOOLS (i.e., a pair of pliers) were required for this step....

....And for the next step, which was to trim the top end of the sparkler (the bit that sparkles). I did this very carefully, away from any food, and made sure there were no 'sparkler' crumbs that fell onto the cupcakes - I know they're often stuck onto cakes, but I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to be eaten.

(Safety note: when trimming/using/disposing of the remainders of the sparklers, remember they are flammable and don't place near open flames.)

 The cut-down sparklers can then be pushed gently into the bombs' 'fuse receptors'...

...Until you end up with something like this.

I liked my little bombs all lined up and ready to explode.

The finished result.....

...And again, on a cupcake stand...

....And when the fuse is lit.... voila!

Recipe for carrot and walnut cupcakes with cream cheese icing


225g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder/bicarb soda
2 large eggs
100g light brown sugar
pinch of salt
175ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
150g carrots (approx 2 medium size carrots), grated finely
200g walnuts
zest of one lemon
zest of 1/2 orange or mandarin

125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
Squeeze of lime or lemon juice, to taste

Set the oven to 180C and line a cupcake tray with cupcake papers.

Beat the sugar and the vegetable oil together with an electric mixer, then add the eggs, one by one, and beat again.

This is the mixture with the eggs added and beaten in.

Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt...

...Then grate the carrots finely - I use a microplane grater because they are fast and get a great, very fine grate.

Chop the walnuts roughly and gently stir in the grated carrot and walnuts.

Then zest the lemon and orange.

I was finding the orange extremely difficult to zest, with very little zest actually making it through to the other side of the zester. This bewildered me....

... Until I realised that I had been 'zesting' a small oval sticker that had been on the skin of the orange.
Way to go, food producers that put stickers on fruit.

Stir in the zests and spoon the mixture evenly into the cupcake cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer stuck into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.

For the icing, combine the icing sugar and cream cheese with a fork or beaters, then add some lemon or lime juice to get the consistency and flavour you want.

That's it for the cupcakes for today!
Happy Guy Fawkes Day from Dr Cupcake!!



Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas cupcakes 2: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

If you've made Santa cupcakes (see here) then you really need to make some reindeer to help the poor ole guy out. This is Rudolph.
Rudolph looks a bit worried. I think that's entirely reasonable, it's his busiest time of year after all.

I made a strategic error when planning these cupcakes. I thought that red as a background colour would look suitably bright and Christmas-y. But with a red background, Rudolph's beautiful red nose doesn't really glow like it should. I would have been better to do a dark green background.

Oh well - there's always next year.

For Rudolph's face, you need to roll out some dark brown fondant. You can get this pre-coloured and chocolate flavoured and that's what I used here.

Cut out some circles approximately one third to half the size of the top of your cupcake, then use a slightly larger circle cutter to take two elliptical 'bites' out of the sides of the circle, as shown in this picture. You're aiming for an hourglass shape that is wider at the top than the bottom.

Once you've made the cuts, round the corners by hand until you have a smooth shape. This will be Rudolph's head.

Stick the head onto the top of the cupcake, leaving a little more room above it than below it (remember you need to fit the antlers above the head). Fix it with a few drops of water.

Here are all the cupcakes with heads on.

Roll two little balls of white fondant and stick them on - these are Rudolph's eyes. Make little holes in the centres so that you can stick the pupils on.

A little tip to help you make a pair of eyes that are exactly the same size: Roll a ball of fondant larger than you need, then cut it in half exactly with a sharp knife and re-roll two separate fondant balls. This way they will be exactly the same size.

Roll two very small balls of black fondant and stick them into the indentations in the 'eyeballs' with a tiny drop of water. Beware if you use too much water next to black fondant, the colour will run.

Roll a ball of red fondant for the nose and stick it in place.

I suddenly realised after I'd made these that there should really be only one Rudolph with a red nose, the other reindeer should all have black noses. So if you wanted to be more historically accurate (if you can say that about reindeer pulling a fat man's sleigh through the air all around the world in one night) you could do seven black-nosed reindeer and one beautiful, shiny red-nosed one.

For the antlers, I used a leaf cutter, cutting out a leaf shape and then slicing it in half vertically and 'feathering' the straight edge with a sharp knife. In this pic you can see the cutter on the right, then the leaf shape and on the left you can see the finished antlers.

Fix the antlers in place and decorate the edges with some cachous if you feel like it. They provide a bit of colour variation and they are nice and shiny. I wanted to use green ones but I only had a kind of aqua colour. I like to think they look green though.

All the little Rudolphs looked rather frightened. I love how they're all looking worriedly in different directions, like they're not sure exactly what they should be scared of, but they're keeping a close eye on everything.

Merry Christmas from Dr Cupcake!!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Cupcakes 1: Santa Cupcake

Christmas is rolling around again... how better to celebrate than making some cupcakes of Santa!

These cupcakes are my favorite chocolate mud cake with lots of 70% dark chocolate in the mixture to make them super yummy and moist.

To make a Santa cupcake you need to start off with a base of ivory or skin colour covering the top surface of the cupcake.

You can see here that I have mixed up some bright red and some black fondant icing too.

Cut some skinny white crescent moon shapes, using the same size of circle cutter as you used to cut out the circle covering the top of your cupcake. This picture shows how you make the crescent shape - you use the same cutter twice, moving it about a centimetre on the second go. The crescent shape will be Santa's beard.

Fix the crescent shape in 'beard' position at the bottom of the 'face', attaching it with a few drops of water.

You also need a long triangle of red fondant (hat); a thin strip of white fondant (hatband); two small elliptical white shapes (moustache); a ball of red fondant (nose); and two tiny balls of black fondant (eyes).

Here are all the shapes lined up ready to go on the face:

After you have attached the beard, position the moustache pieces and attach.

These are my little santas with their beards and moustaches attached.

Next punch three small holes in the face where the nose and eyes will go.

Leave plenty of room at the top of the face for the hat.

Attach the nose and eyes into the holes with tiny drops of water (beware! If you get water around the edges of black fondant it will run, and your santa may look like he's been wearing mascara and crying).

Finally, stick the red triangle onto the upper third of the face and attach the white band on top. Fold the red 'hat' over onto the face, and if you like, roll a little white ball of fondant as a pompom for the tip of the hat and stick on. You can snip this with little scissors or a knife to make it look 'fuzzy'.

Happy Christmas!!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Fishy business... a birthday cake for a fisherman

Our wonderful head of office has a birthday coming up. He is good at lots of things but particularly good at fishing, and spends a lot of time up at the lakes, trout fishing. So in thinking of a theme for a birthday cake, I knew it had to involve fish in some way, shape or form.

At first I wondered if I could do a cake in the shape of a fish. I've seen some really impressive ones on the interwebs, But doing a really good fish would take a culinary airbrush to get the colours right, and I don't have that kind of equipment. So I decided to do a fisherman, surrounded by a tackle box and a few fish, and a little pond in front of him with a fish still in it.

This was a simpler plan than a cake shaped like a fish, but still quite complex for me, because I haven't had much experience in doing figure modelling. As the name of my blog suggests, I'm mostly a cupcaker. But I like a challenge so I decided to go for it. Fisherman ahoy!
How do you make a fisherman? Well ... you start at the boots and work upwards.
I was at a disadvantage here because my last experience with fishing was when I was approximately nine years old (I had a great time until we actually caught something, when I became very distressed for the fish, and never went near fishing again). So I had little idea what fishermen (let alone Josh) actually wore on their expeditions. 
I guessed gumboots and started with that. I had some chocolate-flavoured, dark brown fondant so I used that, reasoning it was close enough to black.

For most of this figure, I mixed magic stuff called tylose powder into the fondant. This makes the fondant dry harder. You don't need a lot, you just sprinkle about half a teaspoon for each walnut-sized piece of fondant. You can get tylose powder from cake decorating shops. 

Next I needed to make a fashion decision. What should Josh be wearing? Again I had no idea but I thought I'd give him shorts and a tank top. So I needed some legs - specifically, the bit of leg from mid-calf to mid-thigh. I tried to indent the knee and shape the legs a bit. 

I stuck the legs to the gumboots. They looked surprisingly leglike!

It was time to create some shorts. I had a grey-blue fondant already coloured which I thought looked quite workmanlike. I had no idea how to get started. In the end I made a sort of oblong shape, flattened both long sides, and cut a triangle out of the middle of one side. 

In the meantime, I stuck lollipop sticks down through the middle of the legs and gumboots. I would need this structure to make the fisherman stand up. 

The shorts were very plain. I put some indentations where the fly and pockets should be, and a thin band of fondant for the waistline, then slid them carefully onto the sticks. 

The attaching of the separate pieces onto each other via the sticks was quite challenging. As I wanted each piece to be slightly malleable still (so that I could push the edges together and adjust the shapes a bit) they were prone to being compressed vertically when the sticks were pushed into them. A couple of times I had to remodel them to repair the compression. I also used some water to stick the pieces together. You can see a bit of the water glistening around the tops of the boots in this pic. 

Next came the tank top. I really wanted khaki, but my colour blending skills are poor at best. I had green and asked Mr Cupcake if I mixed some black in, would I get khaki? He felt I may get purple, which indicated to me that his colour blending skills may be worse than mine. I didn't risk it and stuck with green.

As you see I made the tank top a bit too thin. It was hard to get the shape right. I made the neckline with a circle cutter, and rolled and cut a tiny square for a pocket. Do tanks have pockets??

This is what he looked like from the back. At this stage, feeling the shorts were too plain, I added some pockets. These are the same as on the tank above - tiny oblongs of fondant, cut with a knife, with strips at the top for an overfold. I used a needle to prick stitch marks around the edges. 

I made a teardrop shaped piece of ivory fondant for the chest and neck and moulded it into place by hand, connecting it to the tank top with moistened edges and a toothpick that would provide a straight line between the tank, the chest, neck and head.

Separately I made a head and hat from two half spheres, one of flesh coloured and one of brown fondant. I cut a small circle of rolled brown fondant for the brim of the hat, and stuck the three parts together with drops of water. I did some hand shaping of the hat and the brim, and stuck on a tiny oval ball for the nose.
I let the Josh man dry and then I stood him up and you know what? His arms were wrong. Completely. They sort of curved downward awkwardly and were all wrinkly where they bent inward. 
Desperate measures were required to save the situation. 
I made some new arms and this time I was more careful. I tried to make the arms forward-rotating rather than bent out sideways. This time I was happier with the arms. 
So at this point I modelled some little fishies. 

To mark the scales, I needed something tiny and curved. This miniature glass from my shadow box collection of small small tings fitted the bill perfectly. 

After the fishies had dried hard, I experimented with colouring. I painted them with liquid colouring - I use gel colour for mixing into fondant, but liquid colour for painting because the gel stuff is too intense and sticky and doesn't dry when painted onto a shape. 

Mr Cupcake saw these and commented that they looked more like carp than trout. Admittedly the colour was very orange. 

I ended up going over it with a darker colour - orange with some green mixed in - which got me a dark brown, more appropriate to trout. Then the trout got eyeballs which were tiny balls of white fondant, and I dotted pupils with an edible pen.

This was how the tackle box started off. I cut out a solid piece of white fondant with a metal cutter, then rolled out some orange fondant and covered the white oblong. 

I added a white lid and an orange handle and clasp and the tackle box was finished. 

I confess I didn't even attempt a fishing line, trout net or flies. I just couldn't see how to do them on this kind of scale, Anyone out there with ideas, let me know!

I was buoyed (see what I did there?) with the success of my tackle box so I started on a bucket to put some fishes in. However this didn't go so well. I couldn't get the shape right, I tried moulding it around things (like in this pic) and I tried a few other things but I wasn't happy, so eventually I abandoned it. 

There was a bit of a gap between the figure modelling and the actual cake decorating. The great thing about fondant figures is that they keep really well so you can make them in advance if you want - in this case there was a couple of weeks between making the fisherman and making the cake for him to stand on. The only thing you need to be careful about - well, there are a couple of things: don't get them wet or keep them in a very humid environment, as they will soften; and don't leave them in sunlight as the colours may fade. 

Anyway - the cake. I made a gluten free chocolate mud cake and ganached the surface smooth (for detailed instructions, see here). 

Another cake view of the ganache surface. Needs to be smooth as possible. 

I missed out some pics here, sorry. First up I rolled out some white fondant and hand cut it into an uneven 'pond' shape (the shape of the blue pond in this pic). I stuck that white shape direct onto the ganache, where I wanted the pond to be, and dusted its top with cornflour. Then I covered the whole cake with a light green fondant and smoothed it off and trimmed it around the base. 
So then I had a green cake with a slightly raised area where it had white fondant underneath. Next step was to cut away the green fondant over the white bit, so that I was left with a white 'pond' with a raised green edge. Then I filled it with a mixture of clear and blue edible candy gels. 

Mixing the gels made it possible to get some swirling colour variation in the water. 

This is a detail of the finished pond, complete with a fish popping up and a couple of recent catches on the edge of the pond. 

The fish are shiny because I sprayed them with edible food glaze. I only remembered to do this at a late stage, when the fish was already in the pond, so I had to do it in situ, using a very wonky shield of baking paper to prevent spraying the green surface at the same time. I was able to remove the other fish from the cake surface and spray them and then put them back on. 

This cake needed to be transported and the figure wasn't stable enough to withstand it so I packed it carefully in its plastic container like this, for assembly at work. 

Note, I have already positioned the figure on the cake and used toothpicks to provide an anchor - they are stuck halfway into the underside of the gumboots, and have made holes in the cake surface. You can also see around the holes the indentation of the edges of the gumboots. 
I took off any fishes that I thought might accidentally slide or move. 

When assembled, the view from above was this: 

You can see how the fisherman's arms are better than before. 

For the face, I put simple features on with an edible pen and brushed the cheeks with some rose petal dust. 

This was the end result. 

Happy birthday Josh ... here's hoping you get some great catches up in the lakes this year!