Local Heart, Global Soul

November 1, 2017

The Real Stars Of The Show Were The Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this last post from my night out learning how to decorate a cake, I set out with my fellow classmates to try and make  decent decoration with fondant.

I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve because I’d seen something on the internet but no real clue about how to go about it.

The first thing was to choose two blocks of ready-mixed fondant colours from the shop stock,  there were small amounts of other colours available from our tutor or we could arrange swaps around the table with other classmates.

I managed to get brown from the tutor which was pretty much all I needed. I wanted to sculpt a the head of a giraffe from my fondant, so with a print from the internet to go by, I set to work.

I found it easier then I expected in some ways, harder in others.

For instance sticking on the flat brown pieces was harder than it looked because you had to paint the back of the fondant piece with just the right amount of water: too little and it didn’t stick, too much and the piece would slide down the cake. I ended up holding quite a few pieces whilst they dried out a bit and this took up precious time. Time in fact was my biggest enemy, if I had tried this at home I would have sat down at a good moment when I had some energy and worked slowly.

The unused fondant pieces keep, and can be stored in a plastic bag so they don’t dry out so this would be an ideal project to have completed over a week. Instead my effort is a bit of a rush job, which is why my giraffe looks more like a dragon instead of a giraffe.Still, as a first attempt it was a learning project and if you got into doing this regularly (which I am not) then you would learn how to use the modeling tools and would get better at it. This was a strange mix of “I knew I could have done better’ and “not unhappy for a first attempt”.

The shop has every tool, cake form and item imaginable for cake decoration. There are even edible coloured powders, two of which I used (brown, and then a hint of gold) to dry ‘paint’ onto my cake. Again the time constraints didn’t help but practice would make perfect there too.The real stars of the show however, were the students cakes; some were for upcoming birthday parties or special occasions, my friend was going to gift hers to her neighbour who always helped her out if she needed a cake pan or other item. The rest, like mine were just heading home to be looked at and devoured…  what good is a pretty cake after all if it can’t be eaten!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 30, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part I.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As usual I am all up in the air when it comes to concentration.

In yesterday’s post about Step-By-Step Tutorial: Fondant Cover Your Cake, Wrinkle Free, Part II    I managed to miss out quite a few photographs near the beginning that will probably be helpful.

This is why I have labeled this in the title as “Part I” and amended yesterday’s title to ” Part II”.

When I discovered my error I had  several options: leave them out and hope that anyone following my tutorial manages to muddle along anyway (duh, No!), re-do the post completely or, since there were quite a few photographs missing, make a new post detailing what was missed.

Of course it goes without saying that the last option was the only realistic one I would take.

The photographs concern the first part of when the fondant goes onto the cake, and since as the saying goes ” a picture is worth a thousand words” here are the photographs you will need if you are following this tutorial. The block of fondant is kneaded with the heel of the hand until it is soft enough to pull out without breaking off.After using the rolling pin to transfer the fondant to the cake you use the same technique as in yesterdays post to slowly cover the cake.

The real part that I missed was that when the fondant goes over the rim of the cake, use the inside edges of both hands to bring it in neatly. Then very gently pull out the fondant (but not stretch it!) so that the wrinkles are removed from the section you are working on, pat that section in neatly and then keep turn the cake on the turntable a small distance and repeat the easing out, patting in neatly, turning, making sure that you are slowly heading evenly towards the bottom of the cake.

It’s important to read these two posts as one instruction as a whole rather than attempting to do everything in one post and then everything in the other. Apologies for the jumbled up intermingled parts, my brain was not in gear when I labeled the many photographs I took , hence the mess. The last photos are the efforts of my friend and I: if we could manage to do this first attempt, then so can you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 28, 2017

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Filling And Preparing Cake For Fondant Layer…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in March of this year my best friend took me out for an evening workshop: to learn how to decorate a cake!

It was her treat and so having arrived and gotten acquainted with our tutor and fellow classmates the lesson began.

My New Zealand Grandmother always held to the idea that people interesting in cooking fall into two categories: Cooks and Bakers.

She was a Baker, I am most definitely a Cook. I can do biscuits (cookies) these days with help, but leave me alone with a cake recipe and I break out in a cold sweat.

After all, I hold the family record for once baking a cake that was flatter when it came out of the oven than it was before it went in.

In my naivety I did panic that we would have to bake our own cakes first but was assured to see pre-baked cakes wrapped in cling-film on the table when we arrived. Gone these days is baking every cake from scratch: all of these cakes are made with a special mix. I suppose that it is this way for speed and efficiency but somehow I would miss the ritual of creaming butter and sugar and tasting the batter at the end of the process: especially in my case because the batter is in all likelihood going to be better than the finished product.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since pain and medication mess with my memory I documented the process in several parts and yes, it’s taken me until the end of the year to sort the photos and make a step-by-step tutorial. Better late than never.

Not that I have much experience with cakes, but my few attempts at filling one have been done wrong every time. (Why on earth was I not surprised?).

This tutorial sets me on the straight and narrow when it comes to remedying my errors.  I have always felt that “making do” with implements around the house was more than fine when it came to cakes. Having now used a few specialist tools for the first time I now realise what an enormous difference they make.

Of course you don’t need everything, but if you really want to decorate cakes on a regular basis I can not recommend a rotating stand, and an adjustable wire cake cutter enough.

Before pushing your cake cutter wire through your cake, make a small cut with a knife where the wire will first touch the cake: this gives a far smoother entry point for the wire and your cake won’t “tear’ as the wire goes in. Gently slide the wire through the cake: speed is not necessary, it is more important to concentrate on not accidentally lifting the wire up as you go. Going smoothly, slow and steady will help ensure that your cut section is even all the way through.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After your cake is sliced through (we were cutting our cakes into three parts) we were given a piping bag with Creme Patissiere in it (it’s like a thick custard) and told to first pipe a line around the rim of our first cake layer. This raised layer helps keep the rest of the filling in later.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The second bag was a thinner filling (I am now struggling to remember if it was also Creme Patissiere or not) and once that is smoothed out the next layer of cake is put on top, but then a thin layer of Creme Patissiere is spread on top, filled secondly by a ring of Creme Patissiere around the outside edge. (slightly the opposite of the first cake layer).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This raised edge  gives a boundary that stops the next layer (jam) from leaking down the sides of the cake. The jam, (strawberry in our case) fills the inner part of the second filling layer. This starts to make sense because it will make a tidier outside layer later on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then the top layer of cake went on and a thin, light coating of icing went on to be the “undercoat’ for the fondant layer that is to come in my next post.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post is all about learning how to do the filling between the cake layers first. Nothing like there being good preparation! Since it was too difficult to take the “action” shots whilst working on my own cake, these are a compilation of photos between my own cake and that of my friend, where I photographed her doing the piping etc. My next post will be a step by step tutorial about getting fondant neatly onto your cake without a single wrinkle or a moment of frustration!

October 27, 2017

Having The Patience To Decorate Cakes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Winter is never my favourite season because I am somewhat allergic to short days, long dark nights and cold temperatures.

If Himself and I were to believe in incarnation then I’d hazard a guess that in a previous life I had been a tomato.

Himself was probably a chili pepper, and we are well suited to one another because we would both choose a tropical getaway over a skiing holiday in a nanosecond.

My current situation does not lend itself to getting out and about much, so to kick me out of the house and have some fun my best friend organised for us both to attend a cake decorating workshop in the Hague early in the year.

I have the patience to decorate cakes, providing there are no serious time constraints, and there are not kids underfoot, since I have “Been there, Done that” and can sincerely say that it was not in any way a success, at least on a practical level.

It’s beyond frustrating to see one of your offspring squeezing the last of the icing out of the bags into a puddle on your dining room table just to see how the colours mix.

Of course those exact bags were the ones you had set aside to finish the other half of the big cake you were working on, everything had started well but now you have run out steam,  exhausted, and to add insult to injury the kids have  disappeared leaving you with a kitchen and dining room table that look like a bomb went off in a food coloring factory.

The extension was in the table so that everyone had enough place to work in, now icing is solidifying in the crack between the table sections, the food colouring trail leads as far as the door handle and goodness knows how much further beyond, there are splatters of icing on the floor and you are so tired that you feel like sleeping face down in your incomplete cake.

In the kitchen looks like you used every dish you own (probably did) and the sink is filed to overflowing (my pet hate) so it feels like a day’s work to get it empty let alone start the washing up.

In contrast, in years gone by I could wait until the kids had surrendered to their early bedtime,  then start in peace, all the bits and pieces I needed set out neatly on the dining room table. Then the kids grew big enough to “Help” and chaos ensued. To make matters more complicated, if my offspring were not stuffing their mouths with cake or biscuits (cookies), they were singing the praises of the experience: “This has been great fun‘, “Can we do this again next weekend?”,Mama, I love you, You are the best!”, although to be fair, this bit generally takes place after the wreckage in my kitchen and the carnage on the dining room table has been eradicated by the parents. They know how to choose their moments, my kids. Of course you have to remember too the most frustrating thing of all: I said I had the patience to decorate cakes, .. I didn’t  say I was any good at it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Blog at WordPress.com.