Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Birthday cupcakes

It was my mother-in-laws birthday on Saturday and I toyed with the idea of using it as an opportunity to make a birthday cake but the week didn't really allow time for a full-on cake. So on Friday night, I decided to set-to and make some cupcakes instead (once the kiddies were in bed and hubby was at karate).

I made the cupcakes gluten free so that Jase could eat them too and they didn't turn out too badly. They were much drier in texture than normal sponge cakes and sweeter as I used rice milk instead of dairy milk but still edible. Strangely, they seem to have improved with time, becoming more moist in the cake tin!

I always find that I end up making twice as many cakes as the recipe states with the same quantity of ingredients - how does that work? I made about 18 normal sized cupcakes and 24 mini ones and baked the normal sized cakes in a deep muffin tin which helped stop them splaying too much. I experimented using my daughter's icing plunger to fill the mini cakes and it worked a treat. I have seen a bottle labelled as a cupcake filler and I think I need to look into this further as I do find it hard to not get cake mixture all over the cases and tins! I did notice on television the other day that they used an ice cream scoop (the one with the metal arm that scrapes the ball of ice cream out) so I might give that a go!

For decoration, I used some buttercream that I had stored in the fridge (note to self: useful to keep a supply ready made in case of last minute cake making decisions) and coloured half of it pink. I then used an open star nozzle that I recently bought and loaded pink buttercream in one side and non-coloured buttercream on the other side and piped some swirls. I had enough to decorate eight cakes.

I then cut out some plunger flowers in pale pink and a rose leaf in pale green fondant and arranged on the buttercream swirl. I finished off the flowers with a silver, pink and green edible ball in the centre of each fondant flower and a compulsory sprinkling of sparkle!

I laid them out on a plate and put a pink candle in the middle one. Glad to say my mother-in-law thought they were very pretty.

© 2011 Nicola Noble

Friday, 11 February 2011

Lego stormtrooper cake v.2

I was asked some time ago by one of the mums at school if I would make a lego stormtrooper cake for her three year old's birthday today. I thought long and hard about it (would I have the time etc etc) and decided to give it a go. I worked out the cost of the ingredients and then plucked a figure from the air that I thought she might agree to pay, which she did.

Several weeks ago I coloured some fondant green (I was planning to do orange but discovered I didn't have orange colouring and didn't want to mix my own!), covered the cake board and left it to dry on top of my kitchen dresser. This made it much easier when I came to place the cake on the board this week - no annoying dents caused by finger nails catching the icing!

So on Monday this week I baked the cake and carved the shape and on Tuesday I covered it in white fondant, added the black fondant bits and piped black royal icing decoration. Then on Wednesday, I added the finishing touches of a belt and some lettering cut out of coloured fondant.

The cake was collected on Wednesday evening and I think they liked it!

I did say that I might get to do this cake again (following my first attempt during my cake decorating course) although I didn't think it would be so soon. I learned from my earlier mistakes and made the helmet much bigger this time and added a 3D belt. I also cut out the eye pieces from the white and dropped in some black pieces which worked well.

I also had a go at adding cake pieces to the head (under the fondant) to give some dimension to the helmet which worked well, although next time (did I say next time?) I will be braver and add more across the nose and mouth part to give it more dimension.

© 2011 Nicola Noble

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Barbie princess cake

A friend of mine just asked for some tips on how to make a Barbie princess cake so I thought I would copy my reply to her here for anyone else who might be interested. I made this for my daughter's 4th birthday last year.

There are several ways that you can make the doll cake:

1. You can buy doll's head and torso from most cake decorating shops (made by Wilton) but personally I don't think they look that nice.

2. You can use a Barbie doll and either bake a lot of cakes to stack to the height of the doll, or you can take the legs off the Barbie (most seem to come off quite easily) so that you don't need to make it so high.

I found the following video clip really useful http://www.howdini.com/howdini-video-7075975.html.

I opted for the full height Barbie and made a selection of cakes - 3 medium width ones, 3 small width ones and one shallow one baked in a pyrex bowl to give the curve at the top. Another suggestion for the curve at the top is to use a doughnut or a bagel. I stacked them on top of each other and carved the outside of the stack to give a smooth slope. I think it looks like a dalek at this stage! I then cut a hole out of the middle of each one and re-stacked them with buttercream in between to hold them together. A trick I learnt on my cake decorating course, which would have been helpful, is to align cocktail sticks in each layer before separating for the buttercream. It is then easy to re-align the cakes in the position they were cut.

I used fondant to cover the cake (over buttercream) and had a front panel and then a skirt draped around the back and onto the front panel. That was tricky as it needed a huge amount of fondant to cover the sides and back - much more than you think. It would be significantly easier to cover the whole cake in coloured buttercream (see the video attached) but I just like using fondant.

I also made the bodice in fondant which was a bit fiddly and in hindsight I could have dressed the doll in normal Barbie clothes and then just covered the join with a ribbon (as I did) or fondant flowers etc.

A useful tip is to wrap the Barbie's legs in clingfilm before you put them into the cake so that they don't get covered in buttercream in the middle of the cake. Also my holes in the middle of the cakes were a little too big so I dropped a few cake off-cuts into the hole and pushed the Barbie into these to keep her steady.

© 2011 Nicola Noble