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    Thursday
    Apr212011

    Pretty as a picture

     

    Lately I have been inspired by pretty, vintage lace, pearls, dusty pink tones, and wanted to make something incorporating these themes.

    I have also been wanting to try a few different caramel recipes (as i am the worlds biggest caramel freak!) and have a go at making and piping royal icing.

    So after rave reviews on the net I decided to try the Taste.com white chocolate mud cake. I replaced the castor sugar with brown, and added 1/2 can of nestle top'n'fill.
    Then, a caramel ganache, mixed with white chocolate ganache....yummmmm!!

    Caramel Ganache

    1/2 cup cream 

    3/4 cup sugar 

    250 g white, milk or dark chocolate

    1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 


    Boil the cream and set aside [keep it warm].
    Combine sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Whisk well. Melt the sugar over med-high heat. Stir as the sugar melts. It will go from a clear liquid to a light brown. [Should take 7-10 minutes.]
    Add 1/2 hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. The mixture could bubble and froth up. Careful! Add remaining cream. Let cool 5 minutes. Return to heat, whisking, until smooth.
    Grate or crush the chocolate. Pour the hot caramel sauce over chocolate. DON'T stir. Let sit 2-5 minutes. Begin to stir, from the centre, in one direction, until all the chocolate is melted. [seems fussy but it is necessary..]
    Let cool. Refrigerate or use..

     

    So I had been working on my roses lately, and although not perfect, I was pretty happy with the result..very time consuming though..

    I actually had some cake offcuts that I decided to make into cake pops...first time for that too!!

     

    They turned out ok, although I need to work on my decorations I think.

    In the end I was so pleased with the result, and, after borrowing my mother-in-laws lovely teacups, I think the photo totally captured the essence of what I was trying go create.

    Now I just need an excuse to have a tea party!!

     

    All Photos © Michael Tristram Photography    www.mbtphotography.net

    Monday
    Mar282011

    My little cookie monster

    What to do on a rainy Friday afternoon, with a three year old attached to your side.

    Maybe something we both enjoy...cooking!!

    We would seriously spend at least a couple of afternoons a week in the kitchen. Ever since Joel could stand by himself, all he has wanted to do is "help mummy". I think it's great. We never put a safety gate in front of the kitchen, he was always welcome. He knew what drawers he was allowed to open, what was out of bounds, and he learnt very early on what 'hot' and 'sharp' meant.

    So i have been dying to try these sugar cookies for ages now, ever since I saw them on the 'bubble & sweet' website, and this was the perfect opportunity. Especially since I had my little helper!
    Did he have a good time or what. I gave him full range of my cookie cutters. Naturally there was more than the fair share of dinosaurs cut. I snuck in a few flowers and doves here and there, so in the end we were both happy with the mix.



    VANILLA COOKIES (recipe provided by CRe8acake)

    125g unsalted butter
    125g caster sugar
    1 egg
    1/4 tesp vanilla extract
    1 cup plain flour
    1 cup SR flour

    Preheat oven to 160C
    Line a baking tray with paper
    Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy
    Add egg and vanilla and beat well
    Fold in the flours to form a soft dough.
    Roll to 5 mm. Cut with cutters.
    Bake approximate 8-12 min
    Cool on wire rack

    After the cooking, I inserted cookie sticks into the flower shapes while still warm.
    24 hours later and it was time to decorate!!

     

    All Photos © Michael Tristram Photography    www.mbtphotography.net

               

    Monday
    Mar142011

    The Silver Seventy

    "Can you make a quick cake for a 70th, don't mind what you do, as long as you have 70 on it somewhere"
    Hmmmm....
    Sometimes having all creative control can definitely do your head in! What to do for a 70 year old man you don't know terribly well?

    Well, the first thing is,obviously, to bake the cake.
    The trick to a perfect flat and evenly baked cake is a little thing called "baking strips'.
    You can buy these in the shop, but it's just as easy to make them.
    Take a long strip of al-foil, and place a long folded strip of paper towel down the centre.
    Wet the paper towel, then fold over the al-foil, containing the wet paper.
    Wrap this around the cake tin, securing the ends with bull clips. Cook as normal.

     

    When the cake is ready, remove from oven and cool in the cake tin, covered with a wet cloth.
    I then wrap in cling wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
    The next step is to carefully slice the cake in three, and brush each slice with a sugar syrup.

     

     Now comes the chocolate!!
    Smooth a little ganache on each layer, stacking as you go. Then smooth the outside edge, and finally the top. Sound easy doesn't it.... I can honestly say that it is the most frustrating stage of the whole process. This is where you need all the time you can spare. No kids running around, or commitments to get to..
    Set this overnight if possible, and, using a hot knife, trim any excess ganache that may be on top or sides of the cake. Brush with a little water, and cover with the rolled fondant.
    Smooth down a little and pop any air bubbles you may find.

    There you have it!!

    One amazing cake that tastes as good as it looks!!
    Now what to do.....I decided you can't go wrong with some birthday numbers and stars!! And sure enough it's a hit!!
    So another happy customer, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

    All Photos © Michael Tristram Photography    www.mbtphotography.net

     

     

     

    Sunday
    Feb272011

    Finally, a pink cake!!

    I admit it, I have always been a pink girl. Growing up, my bedroom was pink from top to bottom, and even now I have more than my fair share of the pastel pink in my wardrobe.

    But although I love my son dearly, I longed for the day I could 'think pink'

    Then my wonderful friend Kellie asked me to make her daughter's christening cake. Finally - a little girls cake!!

    What to do...balloons, teddies, booties, sleeping babies, the possibilities were endless. Kellie was easy going when it came to design. Simply, we had to feed 60 adults and 30 children, and she would like chocolate mud. I had the invite for colour/theme matching and the rest was up to me.

    I decided on a 3 tier cake, topped with balloons and teddies, in pink, brown and cream colours.
    If the general public knew just how much chocolate,sugar and butter is used in baking mud cakes, I'm sure they would think twice about going back for seconds....in the cakes alone I used a kilo of butter, 800g of chocolate, and 4 cups of sugar. Not to mention torting each cake into 3, and layering with chocolate ganache. This is definitely not a diet-friendly cake!!!

    Gemma's cake was my first 3 tiered cake, so this week was also an exercise in organization and time-management. Each step of the process, the baking, ganaching, icing and assembly was best done in stages, with 24 hours in-between. This time frame is essential for ensuring a great and professional result.

    Not to mention the making of the teddies and balloons, which have to be made at least a couple of days in advance to ensure they harden properly. Luckily,  modelling fondant is similar to playing with play-dough. And due to having a creative 3 yr old, my play-dough skills are definitely up to scratch.!!!

    So, check out the pictures and tell me what you think? Is there anything you would have differently, colours, or design... I did decide that I would go easy on the pink (a tough decision, I know!), and just have a nice light colour, set off with the ribbon. Too subtle?...still not sure, but I was happy with it all the same.

    Gemma, I hope you loved your cake, I really enjoyed making it for you. And thanks Kellie for trusting me with such a special task.

    All Photos © Michael Tristram Photography    www.mbtphotography.net

    Saturday
    Feb192011

    Planet Cake 101

    So now I had decided that cake decorating was for me.

    Having been a chef for many years, I could bake a cake with the best of them. However if my experience with Joel's birthday cake showed me anything, it was that I needed to refine my technique.

    So off to arguably the most famous and admired cake decorating shop...Planet Cake!
    After fighting with Sydney peak hour traffic, I finally arrived at Planet Cake in Balmain with 11 other excited and slightly nervous women. I don't quite know what I expected, but the others were all of different ages and experience. We did however have one thing in common... a love of all things cake!!
    After the mandatory "Hi my name is..." it was down to business.

    Our beautiful teacher Marianne was wonderful. She demonstrated every stage step by step, and was a fountain of knowledge, more than ready to share her experience and advice.
    We began by learning to torte our cake, which is slicing in three and layering with ganache.Then applying the ganache around and on top of the cake. this is so much harder than it appears....
    Everything has to be perfectly lined up, straight and even, to provide a great platform for our icing.

    Then it was time to learn how Planet Cake achieve those amazing sharp edges. Luckily for us, they are more than willing to share (for quite a healthy price) their secrets!!
    We also learnt how to set up a cake board. It's quite amazing that something so simple as icing the board can make such a difference to the overall look of your cake.

    We finished up by learning how to complete the details, an explosion rip, cutouts on wires, and finalizing the decorations.

    I'm so surprised we actually managed to finish up on time. definitely a credit to our teachers who had us chugging along at a decent pace all day.

    So after a great but exhausting day, I packed up my cake and new purchases and headed off to face peak hour yet again!!

     

    All Photos © Michael Tristram Photography    www.mbtphotography.net