Saturday, 15 September 2012
Righto - first off you must excuse my dreadful high school French in the title...hahahaha.
I know I have kind of disappeared off the planet for a few weeks but life sometimes just steps in and has other plans for you doesn't it. Ive been busy in the cake world making both the macaron tower and the Speedo Swimming Man. I also have another cake in the midst of completion right now in the form of a 'Give Way' Sign...
OK well first things first. We lived through the trial and error of making macarons using the French Method NOT the Italian Meringue Method and have made peace with it and found a groove with it somewhat with many more successes than failures.
With the macarons all made, I researched how best to construct the tower and there were two options for securing the macarons to the cone - you could either mount them to the sides by sticking them on with ganache or you could mount them on toothpicks inserted into the foam inner of the cone.
I opted for the toothpick version as I wanted the birthday girl and her friends to be able to pluck the macarons easily from the tower without the delicate shells cracking or breaking where they were adhered with chocolate.
I filled all the macarons the day before delivery and fortunately as it turned out I had made just enough. I used a small knife to pierce the board covering the foam cone then inserted each toothpick on roughly a 45 degree angle and then skewered each macaron in place. I carefully worked my way around the cone using the turntable definitely helped with manipulating it smoothly.
The base was a thick polystyrene slab covered for the job in a classic design. Upon completion of the last layer I was wondering how best to tie in the birthday girl's name etc and my Husband had the brainwave of the beautiful place card in front. Elegant and in keeping with the design and feel of the creation.
My only caveat with this job was that it was insanely difficult to move by car. I made my husband drive at approx 40km/h all the way to the delivery destination (fortunately no motorways were required!) Every little bump or jolt in the car had me holding my breath as I held tightly to the base and the top of the cone. A couple of the bottom Macarons slipped off but were easily slid back on when we arrived.
I am thrilled with the result it was absolutely perfect. The birthday girl adored it and they started eating with gusto.
Flavours from bottom to top were:
Lemon, Lavender, Raspberry, Coffee, Mint, Blueberry, Strawberry, Coffee, Mint, Raspberry, Mint.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
I've been thinking a lot about these little babies lately... They really are all the rage right now with everyone trying their hand at them - me included of course.
When I want to know about something I will read and read, search the internet, watch Youtube videos and practice practice practice.
The lists of the do's an dont's are as long as your arm with Macarons. But these things I have found to be true this week as I have churned through 8 different batches of them in 2 days: Remember I use the French Macaron Method - not the Italian Meringue Method.
- Don't get too hung on up your measurements - Ive started using about a 50/50 mix of Almond Meal to Icing sugar but I guess the split between two batches. What Ive found is that its more about the 'Macaronage' (the mixing) than it is about the proportions in your mix.
- Ive discovered - thanks to my friend Karen - the BEST BEST way to sift that flamin almond meal is to firstly measure it out and combine it with the measured icing sugar then blitz in the food processor for about 2 minutes. Ive discovered this works for 2 reasons. Firstly it makes it all a lot finer and secondly, the dry Icing Sugar helps dry out the somewhat moist texture of the almond meal making it easier to sieve.
- Get yourself THIS sieve! I could sieve almond meal all day long with this. The key is to add only a few spoonfuls of it in at a time. If you put to much in it glugs up. I used an icecream scoop and scooped 1-2 scoops of mix in at a time to sieve and hey presto finished in a few short minutes.
- Macaronage : The artful part of creating that elusive texture just right for the macaron to be perfect. Crisp on the exterior and beautiful on the interior. Don't be too delicate here. I must have watched about 15 videos on YouTube of people mixing macarons. What was just the 'right' consistency. The best tip I picked up was when you think you are runny enough but not too runny - get a teaspoon and take a spoonful of mix and drop it onto a small plate to make a macaron shape and see if it settles properly. Any ridges should be assimilated by a quick tap or shake. If not - then go back and work a few more turns thru your mix then test again.
- Piping the perfect circles: I found a wonderful template online which was free to download and you just slide it under your baking parchment and you cover the dots with your mix - hey presto uniform shapes. Just google 'Macaron Template". Also I have found greater control piping with a smaller Wilton Nozzle on my bag.
- Righto - now we come that part where you want to get the little 'skin' on your macaron. The skin is important in order to create the 'feet'. However in my many experimentations I have also found it can also be the cause of cracked shells. So, here's what you need to do. Its a fine balancing act between leaving them long enough to sit to form the skin - anywhere up to an hour they say but Ive never had to wait that long. But....here's the catch. On pain of death do not wander away - start some other activity or get distracted.... because if you leave it too long and the skin starts to dry too much, you get a thick skin that will cause a cracked shell when it hits the oven. So keep an eye on them. Pop back and give them a nudge every few minutes or so.
- Here's another little nugget of gold info I learned. Some recipes say to get rid of any lingering little holes or peaks on your shells by slightly wetting your finger and then pressing them back in. Yep this works on the uncooked shells - but BEWARE - if you accidentally leave any water on the top of your macaron - you will get a 'bubble' on the top of your shell when you put it on the oven. So just be careful if you use this method.
Right - thats all I have to say on the matter for the moment. I am by no means an expert but in the past few weeks I have made so many batches that I felt I wanted to share what I have learnt along the way. Remember trial and error is all part of the learning process and to be honest thats why I love baking. Its like an experiment. Everything from the number of strokes you use to mix, to the warm and cold spots in your oven, to the relative humidity in your day or kitchen plays a part in how any given baked good will work on any given day. Thats the challenge!!!
Happy Baking. Above are the macarons I have created which will form the Macaron Tower I am in the process of completing. Pics will follow next week of the completed tower - with NO MORE macaron ramblings I promise.
Saturday, 18 August 2012
So, I've been hanging out at this great little cafe lately that serves a lot of Raw Cakes. I always used to pass them by thinking they looked nice but wasnt very interested. However, since getting on my sugar free kick, I've been very intrigued by the whole Raw Food Thing. Your tastebuds just re-adjust to life without sugar. Natural things seem beautifully, naturally sweet - an apple, a banana and if a turbo charged bit of sweetness is required perhaps a date. Now we're talking!
Anyway, I digress... I have been looking at a number of raw food recipes lately and thought the deserts looked just beautiful. Jewel colours, great textures, and on the good nutrition scale - off the chart ! I wanted to experiment today with a Raw Strawberry Cheesecake. The bases are a mixture of nuts and natural Medjool Dates which provide both the sweetness and the 'stick' to make it all hold together.
The fillings tend to follow a set pattern too. A mixture of ground nuts, sweetness in the form of honey, agave nectar, rice syrup or maple syrup, the setting and binding agent to hold its shape is usually virgin coconut oil and your flavouring of choice - fruit of some type.
I can't help thinking that raw food would have been diabolically boring before the advent of the modern food processor as it is this little beauty that transforms these usually bulky ingredients into smooth pastes and workable textures.
OK so here's how it goes - and when I say its simple - believe me its super simple.
You could make this in one springform cake pan as one large cake or I used stainless steel food prep collars to create 4 individual serves. To be honest the four single serves could easily have been halved and served as a moon shape with a scoop of my raw strawberry and banana 'icecream'. Perfect serving size.
Raw Strawberry Cheesecake
1 Cup Raw Macadamia Nuts
1/2 to 1 Cup Raw Almonds
8 Fresh Medjool Dates - stones removed
1 Cup Raw Macadamia Nuts
1 Cup Raw Pecan Nuts
1/4 Cup Virgin Coconut Oil at Room temperature ( either liquid or soft)
1/4 cup raw honey (if you prefer it sweeter just add a little more to taste)
10 fresh hulled strawberries
1 Also used one 15g Sachet of Nutrafresh Freeze Dried Strawberry Powder (you could easily just use the rest of your punnet of strawberries in stead)
A little cold water to help get the consistency right - add this last and just a little at a time until you get the desired consistency - remembering it will firm up upon chilling.
- Blitz your base ingredients in your food processor until combined. Remove lid and check if it holds together when you squeeze some between thumb and forefinger. If it does - you're done.
- I then pressed the base mix into the bottom of my steel collar moulds - you choose the depth - mine was about 1cm deep. Alternatively press into your springform pan that has been lined with baking paper for easy removal.
- Now you're ready to make the filing. Start by blending the nuts to a fine texture then add your oil, strawberries and honey and check the consistency once combined.
- If it is a little dry then you can now add a little water at a time and pulsing until you get the right consistency. You don't want runny just creamy.
- Spoon this mix evenly into your pan or in my case the collars. The mix is dense enough that it will hold itself well.
- Place in the freezer for at least an hour or two.
- When ready to serve remove to the fridge for about half an hour prior to serving and they will soften enough to eat easily. This was divine served with my raw strawberry icecream...
Raw Strawberry Icecream
4 very ripe skinned frozen bananas
1 punnet of fresh strawberries hulled and frozen (alternatively use pre-frozen berries of your choice)
- You need to have the bananas and the berries already frozen - so you need to have this recipe started in advance or keep these things handy in your freezer. The riper your bananas are the sweeter your icecream will be. This is the only sweetness in your recipe.
- Place bananas and berries into your food processor and blitz until they chip down, then you continue to blend and they will begin to melt slightly and they will form a beautiful creamy 'icecream'. Anyone would be hard pressed to not think this was the dairy variety.
- You could easily experiment with flavours for this - vary your berries - keep the banana as your base as this is where the creamy sweetness comes from - add raw cacao perhaps, ginger, lemongrass or whatever berries you like - possibilities are endless.
- Once this is blended up I just put it into a plastic container then back in the freezer. It thaws quick in the fridge so just move it into the fridge about 1/2 hour before serving it.
Happy cooking, or not-cooking as the case may be. Play around and discover how wonderful raw deserts can be. No sugar, no dairy, no gluten - just the pure amazing flavours of nature.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
I know I have posted before on the macaron but this post goes a little further towards de-mystifying this elusive creature and also experiments with some sensational all natural colouring and flavourings.
Firstly - only the French could invent something so delicious with the most simple recipe, that if you follow it to the absolute letter - doesn't work!!
Many of you out there, like myself, probably made these once fluked a good first batch and thought pfft whats all the fuss about ? Its simple. Yeah right. Try another batch and see how that works out for you.... Thats where I was. Fluked an awesome first batch - wrote em up and chalked them down to experience thinking I was pretty good and everyone else must be really really stupid.
Well that all goes out the window very quickly when you try to re-create that magic again and again and again and you get, cracked shells, soft insides, no feet, spread mess over whole baking tray, you name it I had it. What was I doing ??? I was following the recipe to the letter why wasn't it working ??? After much gnashing of teeth, reading the internet, getting bogged down in technique, exact measurements I was about to give up. Then I stopped, had a coffee and a deep breath and thought about the macaron. And it is a 'RON' not a "ROON" save the roon for the coconut biscuit - these are strictly the gutteral, unmistakably French sounding ron.
It is French, no ? It looks simple, but isn't, no ? It doesn't like to be copied exactly. Once again...its French! So employ a little French attitude, get a good old shrug happening and the curl of your lip and then tackle them again...
Measure your ingredients up front for the almond meal and the icing sugar (recipe to follow but I use 160g almond meal and 160g Icing/confectioner sugar) then commence the tedious job of forcing this unwilling mix thru a sieve. This has to be the WORST of making the macaron. The sieving is important as thats why the shells are smooth. You will notice mine could definitely be smoother. This is achieved by sieving your dry mix about 3 times. Honestly life is too short for this task to be completed three times and if you have the patience for it - more power to you and your aching hands and forearm!
This entire process is dramatically hastened if you can employ one of those fancy looking plastic scraper thingys you see all the masterchef people using as a spoon will take about 40-45 minutes but the scraper will bring it down to about 30 minutes.
Once you have your dry mix set it aside and we'll talk recipe and flavouring.
I was fortunate enough to be stumbled over in the blogging world by a wonderful NZ Company called Nutrafresh (http://www.nutrafresh.co.nz/) who produce a wonderful array of almost Willy Wonka inspired great tasting sparkling fruit and vegetable powders.
We've all watched them on Masterchef make the puree, dehydrate or freeze dry it then blend to powder to create intense colours and flavours - well now we can have it at home all done for us. No chemicals, no additives just 100% fruit puree or vegetable juices dried and powdered to give intensity in flavour and colour. As soon as I saw these powders I thought of the humble macaron and thought - Oui! Thats gonna work brilliantly and you know what- it did! Thank you Nutrafresh!
Here's What I did. Using the French Macaron Method - notoriously more fickle than the italian meringue version but a lot simpler.
French Macarons - Using Nutrafresh Fruit & Vegetable Powders
160g Almond Meal
160g Icing / Confectioner Sugar (pure icing sugar not Icing Mixture which can have thickeners added)
65g Caster Sugar (approx)
About 4 Eggwhites...
1 level tsp Nutrafresh Fruit or Vegetable Powder of choice to colour or a little gel colour.
These measurements make approx 2 batches of approx 10 Macarons (20 shells) each batch
- Measure your dry ingredients in a bowl and if you have a food processor blitz them for about 3-4 minutes with the blade attachment to try to make it as fine as possible.
- Using a plastic food scraper (not a spatula) or large spoon, press the mix thru a fine sieve. This is laborious but there is no way around it. If you have the time and/or patience 3 goes thru the sieve is optimal for really super smooth shells.
- Set your dry mix aside and here's where you need to go a little on trust. Make a meringue - thats all Im gonna say. Think about it. Break about 2 eggwhites from large eggs - not the super XL ones - approx 60g but don't get hung up on that. Whisk until they form the soft peaks. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of caster sugar in and keep beating until it starts to go a bit glossy. Add about another spoonful of sugar keep beating and see if your peaks are getting good and stiff. Taste your mix, is it sweet enough - if you want it sweeter add a bit more sugar. If you are colouring your shells you add it here. I used approx 1 level tsp of Nutrafresh Beetroot Powder for pink shells. When I made the other batches I used 1 tsp of passionfruit for Yellow plus a little gel colour to deepen the hue. Check its stiff enough that you can hold the bowl upside down briefly.
- OK here is where you have to trust your instincts and your feel for the mix you are about to create. This is 'Macaronage' Magic time...
- Take approx 1/3 of your dry mix and add it to your coloured eggwhite mix, and using a spatula start incorporating it by pulling your spatula thru the centre of the mix to the edge of the bowl then scooping and turning it over on the the bottom. Repeat about 25 times. Look at the ooziness of your mix. You are not looking for runny cake mix, you're not looking for too dry or solid. It should be smooth with a little movement as it settles after each drag and turn. Adjust and add a little more dry mix if its too runny. DON"T overmix it - you shouldn't need more than 40 drag and drops - if you do - then you may be wondering why you have issues with the macarons later on.
- The next step is the piping of the circles. If your piping skills need some practice then draw your circles onto the baking paper then turn it over so you can see them thru the other side. The shouldn't really spread too much. I usually get about 5 in each short line. Fill your piping bag with the mix. You'll know straight away if its too runny as it will be hard to fill. I bend over the nozzle end of my piping bag and seal with a small rubber band then stand it in a super tall glass - easy. At this point turn your oven to about 120C - its a slow oven you want.
- Pipe your circles. If you have little tails on the top of the shells - when u have finished wet your finger slightly and push them down. Now you need to let the macaron develop its skin. No skin means no feet - remember that. You need skin then feet will follow. Sit the tray aside for anything up to half an hour. Depending on the weather on the day skins may form quickly, but after half an hour they are still sticky - it's just not gonna happen - so bake them anyway they'll still taste good.
- Pop your tray in the oven. Some people say never use your fan..bah blah bah - I always use the fan and its fine. Just know your oven and know that you want a slow oven so they won't cook too quick on the outside but not so cool they won't rise.
- You'll know in the first 8 minutes if you have success, watch for the feet. If you got a skin the feet will begin to form as the tops rise pulling up the skin creating the feet. Then you just need to keep a watch - they will take about another 5-8 minutes cooking after the feet to ensure they''re cooked thru.
- When you remove them pull the baking paper off your tray onto a wire cooling rack. I never wait too long before loosening them as I fear they will stick. Mine never stick. Get a knife or a metal spatula and gently run it under each and just lift slightly. Always pull a little to the side not straight up or you might just leave its insides behind.
- When they are cooled they are ready to fill.
- Repeat with the other half of the mixture.
Macaron Ganache Fillings
Blueberry + White Chocolate (enough to fill 10-12 macarons)
200g White Cooking Chocolate
100 ml Pure Cream
1 Level tsp of Blueberry Nutrafresh Powder for colour and flavour
50g Fresh blueberries cut in half
- In your microwave - place your white chocolate squares and the cream and heat on 60% power for approx 2 minutes - remove and stir with a fork ensuring chocolate is fully melted.
- Stir through your Nutrafresh Blueberry Powder until fully incorporated.
- Mix in your halved blueberries - these will just add some extra texture and interest
- Allow the mix to cool and it will start to thicken slightly. When thickened but not hard, use it to sandwich your shells together.
Passionfruit + White Chocolate Ganache or Beetroot & White Chocolate Ganache
Follow steps as above but omit the blueberries. Unless you are serving your Passionfruit macarons immediately - do not be tempted to add fresh passionfruit to the mix as it will make the shells too soggy.
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Its been a weekend of two cakes. Two very very different cakes. Both very definitely gluten free from beginning to end. Both Chocolate Mud Cakes. Both beautifully moist and totally de-railing my sugar-free run of the past month or so...doh!
This first cake was obviously a 21st cake but it was also my very first 2-tier cake which was a bit exciting. The cake is in actual fact 3 cakes. Two larger cakes on the bottom, leveled and filled with dark chocolate ganache, then crumb coat sealed with dark chocolate ganache. The top cake was a double quantity baked in a smaller tin but with the sides lined high. The top baked a little crisp but this was easily carved off when the cake was leveled, halved, filled with ganache then crumb coated with the same ganache. Here are the finished cakes before assembly.
The brief for the cake was to incorporate both the underwater world as seen through the eyes of a diver as the birthday girl has just completed her Dive Master's course, and an above water element capturing the beach, lifesaving etc in which she was also very competitive.
I was able to make a great many of the elements well in advance of assembly so that the final put-together would be more about placement rather than flat-out construction. Here is a pic of many of the creatures and elements as I was making them.
I experimented with a new type of fondant on this cake too.
Its apparently quite new and has just arrived from the USA. Rather than your boring non-descript coloured fondant- you can now choose your colour and your FLAVOUR with which to compliment your cake. It was wonderful to work with. It goes a long way, is not as sticky as traditional fondants but I have one word of caution. If you are using it to create fondant figures that will require rigidity - this fondant will not give you that. I created the Wooden Sign using this fondant and it looked fantastic. Just the right colours - I was able to write on it clearly and easily but it just would not become totally rigid. After two failed attempts at getting the sign hard enough to stand I had to resort to painting the back of the sign with tempered chocolate which then added the rigidity needed to keep the sign from tipping over. Flavour and texture wise it is beautiful and ALL Gluten Free!
The cake was then covered in tinted blue fondant. As I was using traditional fondant this time I decided to experiment by adding a flavouring to the fondant and added a few drops of butter flavouring to the plain fondant and it just lifted the flavour from plain sweet to something a little more interesting. Both cakes were covered and then I stacked them. I did not use dowels in the cakes as the Mudcakes on the base were so dense I was in no fear of any sinkage or collapse but I did have a cakeboard under the top tier cake.
OK - now we're talking. Everything always looks so hokey as you assemble it. I edged the cakeboard with black satin ribbon, centered the cakes then applied a light application of heated jam to the board to have the brown sugar stick to. The light brown sugar was then sprinkled evenly all over the board. This dries hard and stays well in place and looks exactly like sand.
Now to start positioning all the creatures and items. This takes longer than you think as you have to think about which side to present it from, how it will look from all angles, what to do with spaces, gaps, uneven areas on the cake that need to be disguised etc.
I placed all the items on and rearranged them quite a few times until I got something I thought worked well. Then I added the accents of the waves. Dusted Silver Lustre Dust onto the waves, edging and some of the creatures to accent them and give them some shimmer. I had to use 3 pieces of heavy grade florist wire which was wrapped. One in the Palm Tree Trunk - to take the load from the fronds; one in the LifeSavers Flagpole; and one in the sign to hold it in on its jaunty angle. My son was more fascinated at how I had managed to get the diver and the shark to 'float'. They were just held in place with Royal Icing and wedged from underneath until dry and hard.
The birthday girl was very happy with her cake and that is the main thing with any creation isn't it ?
Thursday, 2 August 2012
Its been a rough month July. I know many of you were partaking in "Dry July" where you give up the evils of alcohol for a month. Well at my work, being healthy gym-goers and all that, we decided upon Sugar Free July.
I honestly thought it would be a bit of a doddle. I thought to myself, I don't eat much sugar so it won't be that hard. True, I don't snack on lollies/sweets only nibble at the cake crumbs usually and only 'test' the icing or frosting of my creations. I had ditched sugar in my coffee some time ago and artificial sweeteners have been long banished so I figured it wouldn't be hard at all. I was wrong!
The first week passed by pretty quickly and I was ok. I was still having fruit (and don't start on about fruit being full of fructose - I don't care ) I see fruit and sweeter veges such as sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot as natural whole foods and continued to incorporate them in my diet.
Week two came around and by day 10 I was about ready to gnaw my arm off for a bit of sugar. I guess I was hitting withdrawal. I would get up walk to the kitchen, open the cupboards and the fridge - mentally say NO then walk away. If absolutely desperate I would munch on an apple.
By week three I started to notice some interesting things. I wasn't walking to the kitchen 50,000 times a day and night looking for things to nibble. I was actually happy and full with my three meals a day. I noticed my skin was brighter - it seemed happier. I was still having a banana every morning with my brekky and about 2-3 very small apples throughout the day. I pretty much eliminated white bread (GF of course)- which I eat only very occasionally anyway, no rice or GF pasta. No dried fruits just good old fashioned normal meals cooked from scratch.
By week four I started to notice some other new things. I was far more even-tempered. I had no PMS, and strangely no PMS breakout on my chin. My energy levels were through the roof. I felt unbelievably alert - like the equivalent of several coffees alert. All this made me finally see what the fog of sugar addiction had done to me. It has cured my nighttime kitchen meanderings - long may it continue. I have now been prompted to delve further into RAW baking for personal reasons. I still like sweet things but I don't want to overload with processed or refined sugars.
I made a batch of Bliss Balls yesterday to celebrate leaving Sugar Free July behind. They contained no processed sugar or sweetener. They used only dried fruits to obtain their sweetness. I was a little nervous to try one. Mostly because I was worried it would spark the insatiable food monster from within and I would end up on an eating spree - but surprisingly not. I had my beautiful Bliss Ball last night. Ate my usual dinner and was happy. I think I have discovered a new way to eat and to regulate my foodie cravings. Everyone is unique and if you can control your sugar and food cravings - fair play to you - I know I have a tendency to s l i d e down the slippery slope. Im staying on track and gonna investigate this a little further. I may even read Sweet Poison and see what all the fuss is about.
Does that mean I won't be baking anymore ? No Fear!!! I have two wonderful cakes in production right now :-) Both due for next weekend. One is a 2-tier 21st cake with an underwater & beach theme. The other is Scrapbook Cake decorated with edible images. Very exciting stuff. Both are Choc Mud Cakes and GF. I have been busy creating underwater creatures for the cake our of fondant so its been a fun week.
Just so you don't feel cheated on the recipe front - here's my recipe for:
Sugar Free Nutty Bliss Balls
50g Almonds, 50g Ca
shews, 50g Macadamias, 25g Sunflower Kernels, 50g Prunes, 50g Figs, 100g soaked dates, 2Tbsp Virgin Coconut Oil and 4 Tbsp Desiccated Coconut.
If you are not using fresh dates you may want to place your dates in a bowl and just cover with boiling water and leave for about 10 minutes or so. Drain off most of the liquid then add to your mix.
Blitz in the food processor, roll in coconut and chill
= 110 Calories per ball & 2g Protein.
Made 18 Balls. Keep em in the fridge. Ration them !
Saturday, 14 July 2012
Its been a few weeks since my last post and in that time my son has turned 8 and Ive had a wonderful couple of weeks on the beaches of Phuket in Thailand.
This post is about the cake I created for my Son's 8th Birthday - a Freddy Krueger Inspired affair. Before anybody thinks I am an irresponsible parent - my son has never seen the film, but he is obsessed wtih all things gruesome and Halloween oriented so his choice of cake came as no surprise to me.
I wanted to create the famous hand with the knives on the fingers but that was hardly going to be enough to feed 10 children plus adults. I came up with the idea to create the hand entirely from fondant and mount it on top of a loaf shaped cake like a stand. I then created cupcakes with fondant toppers depicting the words from the wonderful theme song. All inspired thru my searches on the wonderful Mr Google. I used some cool techniques on this little project which I will talk u thru. It is also the first time I have used my airbrush that Santa brought me - what a cool new tool that is !
Ok here goes...
This took a little bit of panning and preparation. Instead of covering a cakeboard, I used a matt black core board that I purchased at Spotlight for about $6. This was only suitable as the weight of the entire cake etc wasn't going to be too heavy. I managed to locate some of the funky candles Ive been admiring on other people's cake creations also. Matt Black cupcake wrappers completed the non-cakey items.
First up - my son isn't a big chocolate fan so the cakes are plain vanilla buttercake all gluten free. I started work on the hand first. I coloured some fondant a light brown colour and used my own hand as a modelling guide. I knew I needed to make the cake and then have the fondant harden before mounting the hand. I also knew I needed to have the hand curved slightly not straight so I dried the hand over the top of some scrunched up baking paper to allow it to hold its slightly curved shape.
While the hand was drying out I coloured some fondant a light grey colour and measured and cut out the knives for the four fingers. Next step was to fire up the airbrush. I used a dark brown in the airbrush to spray the hand and add texture. It looked fantastic. Then I added my silver food grade liquid and sprayed the knives. Once these had dried, I modeled the silver plates for the glove on the hand, attached them and sprayed them silver also. I created the rivets using the end of biro pen. Perfect! Now the conundrum - how to best attach the knives to the fingers without the weight of the knives either a) snapping the knife or b) snapping the finger from the hand... I needed to get the hand off the board and into the air! I made a Vanilla Cake in a loaf tin and covered with black fondant to make a type of plinth and centered it on the board. It would support the length of the hand and fingers.
Using the loaf cake as a stand worked brilliantly. I carved the cake a little on the top to support the slight curve in the hand and the and rested perfectly on it. A couple of the fingers required the support of a toothpick thru them from underneath inserted in the cake just to prevent them cracking off.
The knives were then inserted into the middle of the fingers and held in place using tinted royal icing to really cement them in place. I supported them on toothpicks until hard then removed the supports.
It was then time to really have some fun with the airbrush - getting the blood effect on the knives worked really well and I used a silver lustre powder to bring out the metallic pieces on the hand.
The cupcakes were just a basic GF Vanilla Cupcake topped with a vanilla buttercream icing using the technique in the icing bag of painting stripes of red colour inside the bag so that when piped it would create a red edging - very effective for my ghoulish cakes - then each was topped with its own fondant topper. I managed to find a way to write on the black fondant with a tip from another decorator - I used my silver edible paint and a very fine paintbrush and handwrote the words - worked brilliantly!
Everything was then mounted onto the matt black core board - the candles were held in place with black royal icing and the cupcakes positioned around the hand. The kids absolutely loved fighting over who was going to eat the knives and the fingers !!!
All in all a wonderful party and another cake success.