14 December 2014

Transformers birthday cake

It's so funny how fast things can go and to be honest fast is the way I like it. I went to see my friend the other day and I showed her some pictures of the cakes I decorated in the last few weeks. Then she mentioned that it was her son's birthday and asked me if I wanted to make his birthday cake. Without hesitation I off course said yes.

I had two days to plan and put the cake together because on the day of the birthday I just wanted the cake to be done so I could work on some details if needed. I got a carte blanche on the cake since my friend says she trusts my judgement so she didn't gave me any requirements. Luckily  the birthday boy said he loves transformers so I got something to work with.

I checked online for some inspiration and found a cake design that I liked. My classmate wanted to have some practice so he came by to help.

I went and got everything I needed for the cake and on the day before the birthday I baked 2 cakes using the recipe for "biscuit deeg".The first layer would be a chocolate cake with a cherry compote and cherry butter cream filling and the second layer would be a vanilla cake with raspberry jam and butter cream filling. 

For the cherry compote I used a jar of cherries, drained the juice and cooked it till it reduced in half. Then adjusted the flavor by adding sugar and lemon juice. When it was to my liking I scooped some tablespoons in a bowl for my butter cream. Then I added the cherries and let it all simmer. With a bit of potato starch and water I thickened the cherry mixture and I let it cook for a minute or so.

For the butter cream I used:
- 85 gr water
- 225 gr sugar
- 100 gr egg white
- 75 gr sugar
- 500 gr room temperature butter

I stared with cooking the water and the sugar till it was 121C. At around 115C I stared mixing the egg white with some sugar till it was firm. Then when the sugar syrup reached the right temperature I slowly added it to the egg white mixture and continue to whisk it till the bowl cooled. Then slowly bit by bit I added the butter till everything is fully corporate. I mixed some butter cream with the cherry syrup and kept the rest for masking both cakes.

After filling and masking the cakes we covered them with fondant that we already colored. Then we made the details and carved out the transformers logo.
I didn't stack the cakes until I arrived at the party. My friend, her family and especially the birthday boy were very impressed by the cake.
It was super fun to make this cake and everyone loved it! 

Two tier happy cake

It was unbelievable how fast this phase went. And the thing that surprised me most is how much fun I had with royal icing and how pretty the cakes turned out. 

On the last day of this phase we all had to cover and decorate a two tier cake. As the school opens at 9 am we could start as soon as we arrived. 

I started with making some royal icing. I found some very pretty cake designs online and I wanted to combine the designs for my cake. I wanted my cake to be covered in white fondant with blue accents. But first I cut my cake in 3 layers and filled them with a cherry compote and apricot compote. Then I covered it with some butter cream and let the cakes chill in the fridge till the butter cream hardens.

In the meantime we made some piping bags with different colors and we started with rolling out our fondant.  I also made an attempt on piping orchids since they had to dry out for a bit. I made some smaller once and some bigger ones.

I love the color blue and like how it pairs with white and yellow. Since the fondant was white blue and the orchids were white blue with a yellow/red accent I decided to use the same color for my decoration.  
Then it was time to put it all together. After both cakes were covered with fondant I used some pearl colored powder mixed with alcohol to give the cakes a nice shine. After the alcohol vaporized I stuck 3 straws in the first layer of the cake and cut them off about 1 cm above the top. This would be supporting the second layer of the cake. After that it was decoration time! 
At first I placed all the orchids on top. Then I though the second layer looked a bit bare so I removed the bigger orchids and placed them on the second layer. Next time it is better to have a plan first because the orchids were not fully dried yet and left a little stain on the white.
For someone who didn't had a plan of how to decorate the cake I was so very pleased with the end result. And what was more important is that it tasted soooo good! I made a lot of people happy with this cake so there you have it: my two tier happy cake.

08 December 2014

Pressure piping

This class has all been about royal icing; in particular about pressure piping. With this technique you can make the whole animal kingdom, if you wish. The key is to know when to press and when to stop and to know how to build your animal step by step. Most animals are made out of a round shape or a water drop shape. By putting more or less pressure on your piping bag you can give it any shape you wish. 
Here are some very fun and cute samples of what can be done with pressure piping. 

Today was the first day we covered and decorated a real edible cake and as I don't see myself making a lot of animals with pressure piping I decided to decorate my cake with flowers. I have to say I am getting really good at it!
As this module is all about using royal icing for decoration we all got to work with a cake that the school made earlier. It was quite a big cake so I manage to cut it in 4 even (yah!) pieces. On the cake I sprinkled a bit of sugar water. This is just a simple syrup made of 50% sugar and 50% boiling water and to make it extra flavorful we added a dash or two amaretto liquor. After that I spread some cherry jam on one layer and some apricot jam on the other. On the last layer I used half cherry and half apricot. Then I coated it all with some Italian butter cream. This is not simply butter and some powdered sugar creamed together, but made with egg whites, sugar water and butter. Because the base of this butter cream is a meringue mixture it's silky smooth and not overly sweet. I think I can eat a whole bowl of if just by itself! 

After the cake was covered it has to be chilled in the fridge for a bit so the butter cream can firm up. In the mean time we kneaded some white fondant and since I love blue I added some color to it. 
I spend the afternoon making flowers and decorating my cake. 
And I was very pleased with the results.
I even had time to decorate a ginger bread house!

30 November 2014

Mini cakes for one

I was so exited about working with royal icing that I decided to bake a couple of mini cakes so I could decorate it. From class I took home a batch light blue royal icing so I thought it would look great on some dark blue marzipan. I also had some purple and pink icing left we used for roses.
As we were told that we would be covering and decoration a real cake next week I thought I'd get some practice first. I have never covered a cake before so I wanted to start small first. 

So I baked the cake on a sheet tray first and with a round and square cutter I cut out two pieces so I could fill and stack them together. To keep it simple I only used some cream patisserie and some strawberry jam to fill it. And I made a batch of butter cream to mask the cakes. 
I rolled out the marzipan between two layers of plastic foil and when it couldn't get any thinner I covered the cakes. After that I used some royal icing to make decorations. 
I used some of the purple and pink icing for roses that I made around a jelly bean on a toothpick. I think it is a lot easier to make roses if you already have a center you can wrap the petals around. 
I'm using the piping tips I have at home and they weren't as nice as what I use in class. But I am still very pleased with the results.
And this is just to show how small the cakes were.

Cake decoration

Today it was all about making flowers and decoration with royal icing. Every day so far has started with making a batch of royal icing. From this basic mixture you can make it thicker by adding more powdered sugar or to make it more runny by adding more liquid. 

We had to use royal icing to mask a cake, meaning that the royal icing has to cover the top and the sides. For practice we all had our dummy cake and since the royal icing has to be a bit thicker for masking the cake we put just enough powdered sugar to make it the similar consistency of Greek yogurt. 

We started with putting some royal icing on the top and with a spatula we evenly smeared it out by turning the cake around. Then it was time to do the sides. We used a dough scrapper to make it all look smooth. It looked pretty easy but it was harder then I thought. I am confident that, with a little more practice, it would look much better.
Then it was time for royal icing roses and other flowers. For this the royal icing had to be as thick as concrete. Or at least thick enough for the petals to keep its shape.
At the end of the day this was the result. Next week we'll be decorating a real cake!

23 November 2014

Color flow icing

I have to say that I wasn't a big fan of royal icing. That was before I knew what possibilities there were. This class totally changed me.

We were asked to bring a picture of whatever we liked in two fold. One was to work on and the other one was for comparison. 

The class started with an explanation of how to transform royal icing to color flow icing. Basically what you do is you make your basic royal icing, mix it with the color of your choice and use lemon juice, liquor or water to make it thinner.  
We started with practicing on cookies, just to get the feel of it. 
We used several colors, mixed it with lemon juice and liquor and let our creativity flow. They turned out very pretty. The icing was still wet and shining. After it dried the colors would be a bit darker and not glossy anymore, but still pretty.

After practicing on the cookies it was time for the real deal; our pictures. 
As Christmas is around the corner I picked a picture that would fit in perfectly. This took me almost a whole day to make but it's true when they say "practice makes perfect", because the second one I made only took me half an hour or so. I finished right before class ended. It also helped that I could borrow some left over colors from other people. Unfortunately I didn't make a picture of the second one and both of them are in class waiting for me. Can't wait to put on the last details. 

Royal icing

Day 10 was the start of a new phase; Royal Icing. I have never made or worked with royal icing before, but basically it is egg whites, powdered sugar (suikerbakkerspoeder= powdered sugar with dried glucose) and a pinch of cream of tartar. It's been used a lot for decorating cakes and cookies. While working with royal icing it has the consistency of very thick yogurt. But after it dries out it gets really hard.  

We started with a masterclass on royal icing and were showed how to make it and what the right consistency is. From this basic mixture it is possible to make the icing more or less runny simply by adding water (or liquor) or more sugar. 

After receiving a lot of information we used the rest of the day playing around with royal icing. We used:
- 180 gr pasteurized refrigerated egg whites
- about 1 kilo shifted powdered sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar

To the egg whites we added 2/3 of the powdered sugar and the cream of tartar. On very slow speed using the flat beater we mixed everything together. Then after that spoon by spoon we added some more powdered sugar till the icing has the right consistency. The right consistency is when the icing on the beater forms a nice peak that is flexible enough to still move back and forth.    

We used several different piping tips making borders, flowers and anything we could think off. We also made some colored icing. 

I practiced a lot on flowers and leaves.
It was a bit of a slow day with lots of information and a bit of piping practice. It didn't feel like we did a lot, but I manage to make this. 

This day was purely to let us practice with icing and get the feeling of it.