Thursday, 16 September 2010

Cake Bakery

A few months ago, my very good friend Lillah asked me if I would make her daughter Daisy's first birthday cake. Before this, my experience (almost entirely documented in this blog) with cake bakery, let alone decoration was entirely elementary.
The thing is, one of my favourite things in the WORLD to do is make things as gifts for other people. Whether it be jewelry, clothes or chutney, I want whatever I'm making to be the best I can possibly do, because I'm doing it with love.
So for weeks, I Googled images of daisies and cakes, hit up my ridiculously talented cousin Lucy for tips and supply sources and set about ordering plunger cutters, fondants, colours and dusts. I practiced making daisies out of fondant (instead of gum paste, because I didn't know any better) and made a few practice cakes, which my guys were happy to taste test for me.
Daisy Cake 

I made the 12" bottom tier a lemon cake, drizzled with a lemon syrup, filled with lemon butter cream and raspberry jam.
The top 8" tier was a dairy-free vanilla cake with vanilla syrup, dairy-free vanilla butter cream and cherries and berries jam.

The dairy-free tier I felt was a little on the dry side, so I'm going to see if I can find a good alternative to the sunflower oil spread (Pure) I used. The other drawback to using the non-dairy spread was that it's not as firm as butter at room temperature, so it was harder to keep the fondant as flat and smooth for a long period while it warmed to room temp while I was decorating it.

This was my first properly decorated cake, so I gave myself a couple of days to work on it. I used recipes from Eric Lanlard's mediocre Glamour Cakes cookbook, which I tweaked to improve the flavour and moistness.

The daisies were made by using a PME plunger cutter, then rolling the petals with the end of a small paintbrush to give texture and depth. I made the centres with flattened and textured balls of yellow fondant. I should have taken some close-up pics so you could see the ladybugs, bees, butterfly and dragonfly, but I was too excited to think straight. Grrr! They were all made by hand, as was the grass and the daisy leaves.
In total, it took me about 16 hours to decorate the cake, not including the first batch of daisies that I ended up tossing, because I wasn't happy with them.
I immediately texted my cousin Sharon to ask if i could do her daughter Poppy's cake in November. I'm hooked. I never thought I would find myself this excited about cake decorating of all things
Daisy cupcakes

I made some simple vanilla cupcakes for my cousins Jenny and Sharon this past weekend and topped them off with some pink gerbera daisies and ladybugs. Of course I'm still every bit as obsessed with savoury cooking, but I'm really enjoying the novelty of this sweeter side.

It was my step mum Judy's birthday at the beginning of the month, so I made her this chocolate cake, layered with a coffee and hazelnut praline mousse, covered with a dark chocolate ganache and decorated with roses I made from dark chocolate with milk chocolate leaves.
I used the chocolate cake recipe from Eric Lanlard's book and it was depressingly dry. I will definitely be testing some other chocolate cake recipes in future, because it doesn't matter how pretty a cake is, if it tastes like loft insulation :-)
Dark Chocolate Roses Cake