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Time for kick off

30 Dec

Andy's football cake

After a bit of a break doing many other things, here is the latest cake offering. This one was for Andy’s 25th, resplendent in the yellow and green of his beloved Norwich.

To begin with I baked a very large sponge in my new expandable cake tin set to its biggest. Then I simply iced with pre-coloured green fondant icing, including the board.

Next up, the icing – unfortunately I didn’t have the royal icing quite thick enough (I should have added a touch more icing sugar), but I’d started so I was going to finish! Having said that, I was pretty chuffed at my ability to ice in a straight line – which was probably the hardest part about this one.

After that I made a football out of white icing and drew the classic hexagons on with a black edible pen, made candle stands out of more white icing and little corner flags from red icing and cocktail sticks.

The final task was to locate the players – genuine Norwich Subbuteo men from the ’70s – don’t they look just spiffing?

Subbuteo men on the football cake pitch

And the final task? Blowing out the candles…

Candles lit

No, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten it… this cake was pretty simple, so the Cake-O-Graph skill level line has plummeted quite significantly. But I do think it was also pretty effective so you can see that the quality line is flattening out…

Cake graph

In deep waters

27 Oct

Canoe cake

And so we begin cake number three.

Having taken a bite out of the burger of success, I was sure that this cake making business was plain sailing. I couldn’t have been more wrong – I was just about to hit troubled waters…

With this cake I was challenging myself, not only was I going to attempt the infamous royal icing, I was also going to attempt to carve and ice a ‘non-standard’ cake.

My friend Steve kayaks, so the obvious cake was a kayaking cake (although I do believe this is more like a canoe). “Easy!” I thought, “Just cut down the sides, then slide the icing on. Bob’s your uncle.”

Bob, however, is most definitely not my uncle. This was hard. Cutting the cake was shockingly hard and crumbly (I should have left it to cool for longer really, but patience is not my strong point!). Icing it was also a little taxing, but I got there in the end and, using one of the most tried and tested methods of cake decoration, I set about covering my mistakes with various adornments.

Namely rocks and water. As you can see, my first attempt at royal icing wasn’t quite thick enough, so I didn’t get the true choppy effect. But it was OK….

And so I continued with constructing what lovingly became known as “Half Ton Steve”. He is a little fat in this cake. For the sake of Steve I would like to confirm it isn’t in any way to scale. This was the first person I’d made, and to all accounts I didn’t do too bad a job. He looks a little like he might benefit from some extra tuition, but good on him, he’s made it into the canoe and is paddling away in shockingly shallow waters.

There you have it – happy EXTREME birthday Steve! I need to improve my cake writing as well…

As you can all see this wasn’t the most successful of my cakes, but I was happy I’d tried out a few of the more difficult ‘caking’ techniques. I thought a good way to show my progress at this point was with a Cake-O-Graph:

Here, we see that although the overall finished quality of the cake has reduced, the skill level required has increased. There is also a definite improvement in both quality and skills since the bowling cake. This is an entirely self-rated Cake-O-Graph and I will happily take comments and ratings in these categories. If you would like to see more categories please let me know, the Cake-O-Graph is a (semi-)interactive product. Watch out for it in all future blog posts!

Baking Burgers

15 Oct

fininshed burger cake

And so for cake number two: the burger. This one was for Debs’ birthday BBQ, and it seemed fitting to make a burger. This one was inspired by one of my mum’s many cake books.

Now, time to begin. I was feeling confident – I’d made three thin, round sponges, and iced them with pale brown (for the bun) and dark brown (for the burger). This time I managed to get pre-coloured icing, which pretty much removed any chances of a speckled burger. I made some lovely lettuce using green icing, left to set on scrumpled up tin foil to give it that wrinkly effect; some tomato slices with dark and light red icing, a cheese slice and some accessories. These were a spatula (effectively glued to the board as it was a rather delicate affair and fell apart on tra) and a napkin, which was given ‘realistic’ folds by wedging tin foil underneath the corners.

Let the layering commence!

Napkin, bun, lettuce, burger, cheese slice. Note the army of tomatoes preparing for assembly.

burger cake with cheese slice

Next to add the mayo (just royal icing tinted beige). This was actually a really useful glue throughout the whole process, so there’s a layer of mayo at every stage – just not always this much!

And then another layer of lettuce and the tomatoes (something you would not find on any of my real burgers)…

Finally the bun ‘lid’ was added on top (this was another sponge covered in icing), I used my spare extra tomatoes for the candle holders, decorated the napkin and painted the spatula silver…

And for one last finishing touch – no burger is really a burger unless it’s in a sesame seed bun…

There you have it, I’d say it looks good enough to eat!!

My First Cake

10 Oct

 

 

Sponge cake designed into a bowling alley

My very first cake!

 

As I mentioned in my earlier post, my first cake was for my housemate (Rachel)’s 23rd birthday. She was having a very retro bowling party, so the obvious cake was a bowling alley!

I began by baking a lovely sponge (Delia Smith’s all-in-one is always a winner) and filling it with some scrummy buttercream and jam. Then to the task of icing the cake, and the start of what one might class as a comedy of errors. I only had white rolling icing, so I had to colour it brown (for the alley), but this was not as easy as I’d hoped – the icing was pretty hard and I didn’t get a very even coverage. (see above). Why not? Apparently, I wasn’t massaging the colouring into the icing enough.But it all adds to the effect of wood I told myself. Then I realised (just a little too late) that I’d iced the wrong side of the cake – you wouldn’t get very far bowling down that! As my mum informed me later, I should have flipped the cake over so it had the smooth bottom as the top. Rookie mistake.

Carrying on in the face of cake adversity, I moved on to the lanes – drawing the markers and lines with my best freehand. Those who knew me in art class can vouch for my prowess (or lack thereof) in this form of artistry. Nevertheless, I separated my lanes with a gutter made from two ‘sausages’ of black icing and created some amazing bowling balls to try an disguise some of my mishaps. Finally, I made some smashing bowling pins using a mould which I wedged firmly into the cake with cocktail sticks.

As you can see, I had no cake boards, and so made excellent use of my bread board. The lessons from this cake? A lot of ‘What not to do’s! But it went down well, and tasted great (even if I do say so myself)… Here’s to the next one!

Sponge cake, side on, in the style of a bowling alley

First cake, from the side