Monday, September 27, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

I made a Strawberry Shortcake themed cake for my niece Michelle who turned 8 last week. Strawberry Shortcake herself and the miniature strawberry shortcake on a cake stand in front of her are made of gumpaste. (*phew* that's a lot of "cake" in one sentence!)

I really enjoyed making the miniature cake. I might just make some more for fun! :)

So anyway, the main cake is madeira cake, strawberry flavoured of course, with strawberry jam filling. I then crumb-coated it with buttercream, and covered it with fondant.

I found these oh-so-adorable, green-striped cupcake cases. So, I of course had to make some matching cupcakes to go with the cake. These are just madeira cupcakes with strawberry flavoured fresh cream topping.

I'm happy to report that Michelle loved the Strawberry Shortcake figurine. Only the kids are not so crazy about the cake. So far, American chocolate cake seems to be the most loved. So, I'm now going to work on finding yummier cake and frosting recipes which are also firm enough to hold the weight of fondant.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Forever Friends

I was surfing the net for cake ideas as usual, when I came across a Debbie Brown wedding design. It was a pair of Forever Friends bears, sitting on a sofa, holding a bunch of roses. It was just soooo adorable, I had to have a go at it.

The sofa is carved out of orange flavoured madeira cake and covered in fondant. I made the sofa a little too big though, so it's not a snuggly and comfy looking as the one in the original design.

The super cute bears are made from gumpaste. I love Forever Friends bears, they're so plush and cuddly. I only wish I had pink petal dust to give them rosy cheeks. This is the first time I've tried ribbon roses and they turned out to be very easy yet pretty!

I stuck on some heart sprinkles to make them look like scattered rose petals. I think it increased the romance level a notch. Hubby reckons it also helps fill up the empty space of the too big sofa.

We gave this creation to a couple of friends who tied the knot over the weekend. I hope they liked it! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gift Box Cake

We celebrated Grandpa's birthday last Wednesday. I never seem to know what cakes to make for men. For children, there are plenty of cartoon characters or cute animals to choose from while flowers are pretty safe for women. A cake itself is so feminine, in my opinion. I think if men could have it their way, they'd prefer a birthday burger or birthday steak or something! :)

Anyway, after some thought, I decided to go with the classic bow cake, but with more 'manly' colours. I went with a square so that it would look more like a wrapped gift.

The cake consists of two 8" square American chocolate cakes. I leveled and torted the cakes and filled them with a mint flavoured fresh cream. I also crumb coated the whole cake with the mint cream before applying the fondant. The chocolate cake and the delicately minty and light fresh cream went very well together indeed. I might try this combination for cupcakes someday.

The chocolate fondant was made by using store bought fondant and adding plenty of good quality cocoa powder. I just kept kneading in more and more cocoa until it reached the right shade of brown. (It was quite a fair bit of cocoa powder!) When the fondant became too dry from the addition of the cocoa, I added a few drops of brown colouring. It turned out pretty yummy! Definitely nicer than ordinary plain fondant. It was like chewy chocolate candy!! :) Didn't I tell you chocolate makes everything yummier??!!

Anyway, the cocoa powder did not affect the texture of the fondant much. It was still very pliable and soft and I covered the square cake very easily, even though squares are so much more scarier than rounds!

I made the bow pieces from gumpaste around a week ahead so that they would have time to dry hard. Then I assembled everything on the day of the birthday dinner itself.

I think this classic bow cake is simple and impressive at the same time. It's not too hard to assemble, so I just might do some more of these in different colours in the future!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate Eclairs

Had a hankering for cream puffs the other day. Hubby and the kids also love cream puffs, so I decided to make a batch.

I've made puffs filled with fresh cream and also creme patisserie (vanilla pastry cream). I might try custard one day. This time however, I wanted to try making chocolate eclairs. There is a bakery near my shop which sells super delicious cream puffs filled with fresh cream. I decided to do the same but throw in a chocolate glaze to make them eclairs, since I adore chocolate and chocolate just makes everything even yummier dontcha think??!!

You can find the choux recipe for the buns here in my old post. Small round buns are called profiteroles and the larger ones are just choux buns. Eclairs traditionally come in finger shaped buns. Here are the recipes for the creme patisserie and chocolate glaze.

To make the cream patisserie:

1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam. While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.

Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture. Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk, continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and chill before filling pastry.

To make the chocolate glaze:

4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl and set aside. Heat the heavy cream just to boiling over low-medium heat and remove from the heat immediately. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until it forms a thin, smooth consistency. Set the chocolate glaze aside at room temperature for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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