Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Christmas flowers

This week on my cake decorating course we made a selection of christmas flowers and leaves in fondant icing. We were shown how to make winter flowering jasmine, variegated ivy, holly leaves and berries, mistletoe and berries, poinsettia and christmas roses. I had a go at making the first three.

The jasmine was made by using a pulled flower technique. A ball of yellow icing is pushed and rolled onto a pointed stick and five slits are cut up from the bottom edge. Then the icing is removed from the pointed stick and the five petals are pulled apart. The petals are left square shaped and the middle of the flowers is marked with a star pointed modelling tool.

The ivy was made using cream icing and an ivy plunger cutter which cuts the shape and also adds veining to the leaf. The leaf was then draped across crumpled silver foil to give it some shape (so it's not flat) and once dry it was then painted with diluted food colouring (the gel type colouring diluted with water or alcohol). Firstly a lighter shade of green was painted almost to the edges, then a darker shade was painted up the middle of each part of the leaf.

The holly was created using a holly plunger cutter which cuts and veins the leaf. I think this would be good if you wanted to do a flat wreath on top of a cake but for a flower display it just wan't right. The colour of the green icing wasn't dark enough and I think my icing wasn't rolled thin enough. If the icing had been thinner then the leaf would have taken on a more 3D look when draped onto the crumpled silver foil. Using a simple holly cutter and a separate veiner might have also made it more realistic.

I didn't have a cake board small enough to put the display together so I improvised and used the bottom of a cardboard box. I covered the bottom with white fondant and pricked around the edge with a fork for a border then stuck the arrangement together using royal icing in a piping bag and number 2 nozzle. The holly berries were a bit too dark (I added too much black when I tried to tone the red down) and it would have been nice to have had a bit more colour to it (perhaps arranging it on a darker background although I'm not sure what colour would have worked) but overall I am quite pleased with the finished look.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Christening cake decoration

Last week on my cake decorating course we had a go at using moulds and garrett frills to create a christening cake decoration.

Firstly we coloured some fondant flesh coloured. Creating the baby from the mould was quite fiddly and it didn't help that the tutor's mould was very old and cracked but by the third or fourth attempt I had a baby I was relatively happy with. The baby was made of a front and a back and the excess fondant was cut first with scissors to the baby shape then trimmed vertically so that the front and back fitted together cleanly. The join then had to be worked which was the tricky bit as it was hard not to squish the baby's face and to get a good shape on the head. Sadly my baby had no ear but I like to think the hair covered it! The join on the body was left as this was covered with a fondant blanket.

The baby's features were then highlighted with watered-down food colouring painted on to create the eye lids/lashes, mouth and hair. The colours we used weren't quite right but it turned out okay.

We then used a garrett frill cutter to create the blanket. It's so hot in the room we do the course on that it is hard to work the fondant as it gets too soft and I managed to tear a frill I'd created so I cut it off and put the straight edge at the top of the baby and placed the other better frills onto the cake board. Using a cocktail stick the blanket was decorated with patterns of three little dots which was very simple but very effective.

Once the baby was placed on the pre-covered cake board I then added more decoration. Another skill we are learning is piping with royal icing and I had a go at bows and lily of the valley flowers. I then added pink fondant flowers with white royal icing centres.

The moulding, garrett frills and piping are all something that definitely need more practice but I was quite pleased with my first attempt. I now need to find occasion to use the skills learned. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

Halloween success

Well, my earlier concerns about making too many skeleton biscuits were unfounded as I managed to shift over 50 biscuits in about 30 minutes!! And all my hard work was worth it when I heard a number of the trick or treaters say "oooh cookies, cool!"

Mind you, Justin managed to get through a few of them - he just couldn't understand why we were giving the biscuits to people at the door and yet he wasn't allowed them. He did manage to sneak a few in when the bowl got low enough for him to reach in ...