I am often asked where I get my ideas for cakes from and how I make them, so I thought I would walk you through the making of my cake for the Gidgegannup show. This is also the first cake that I have had an audience and also a helper – my almost 4 year old niece!
I have acquired a number of cake decorating and cupcake books over the past few years and often rummage through them to get ideas. Or if it is for a specific person I sometimes ask for suggestions or work out what they like, then I use Google to get even more ideas!
Once I have the theme for the cake I then work out how big I want to make it and get out the best cake board so I know what I am aiming for. If it is for a big cake, or a cake with lots of sections, I sometimes draw it so I know how big to make the sections or figures. And no I do not colour the drawing in (which my niece asked me last week), but I do sometimes write notes of things to add to the cake or colours I need etc.
Most of the time I use White Wings or Green’s cake packet mixes, as I am more interested in decorating the cake, although I am a pretty good cook and can make a cake from scratch if I want to.
For the cake I made for the Gidgegannup show I made a fruit cake. I had a plan for where the cake was going to end up (who it was going to be eaten by!), so I made a fruit cake since they last. You’ll have to wait for Part 3 to see who got to enjoy my Gidgegannup show cake!
I need to get a bit better at planning my cakes. Each time I go to make a fruit cake and read the recipe, I only then remember it recommends soaking the fruit in brandy for a week!!! Sometimes I am lucky to remember the night before… sometimes I let it soak for an hour or so! (And I forgot to take a picture of the fruit! My niece helped me pour all the fruit into the bowl and then tip the brandy in. She got brandy all over her little hands – don’t tell her Mum!!).
In the past I wasn’t a big sifter, I think I got that habit from my Mum. My cooking has never really failed because I haven’t sifted the flour etc! But since I was making 3 fruit cakes I thought I better do it properly in this instance.
I love using dark brown sugar. It smells like treacle and I love the way fresh brown sugar moves with you pour it out of the packet. It seems to settle slowly in the measuring cup. Like it is gradually seeping into the corners, getting comfortable.
The Christmas in July Cake (http://michelleslabyrinth.com.au/wordpress/cakes-for-all-occassions/xmas_3/) was the first fruit cake I have ever made (section of the cake shown above on the right). And boy it was yummy if I do say so myself. I had a Lions Fruit Cake last year, the first one in a number of years, and it just didn’t taste as good as I remembered. My Mum is going to give me her Christmas Cake recipe, which was passed down to her from her Mum, this year and I cannot wait to make it! But if you ever want to make an easy yummy fruit cake, use this recipe: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/15039/christmas+fruit+cake
While the cakes are cooking, which is usually 40-50 minutes (or 3.5 hours for fruit cakes!) I start to colour my fondant icing. I buy my fondant (Bakels White Icing Pettinice Ready to Roll Fondant 750g) from Balcatta’s Cake Tinz and Thingz (http://www.caketinznthingz.com.au/) and over the last few years I have also gathered a nice collection of colours!
I use the fondant to cover the cake and also to make my figures. My niece kept calling it Play-Doh, and sometimes I do think that it is like I am playing with Play-Doh! This is the first cake that I have covered the cake board with fondant. I noticed on Cake Boss and the cakes at the Perth Royal Show had their boards covered. I thought I did a pretty good job, but by the time the cake got to the show and put in its place there were cracks around the edges of the board.
So as you make have guessed from the title of this blog post, the theme I chose for this cake was pirates! And as you can see I made 3 fruit cakes! And the next step is to cut the cake to shape, if required.
Here is the finished product of my pirate cake!
My niece knows all about pirates from Walt Disney’s Peter Pan and as she was playing with some fondant I gave her, she was chatting away and mentioned a parrot and an anchor! Brilliant ideas!
I also remembered to include a figurehead at the prow of the ship – a mermaid of course!
Johnny Depp is one of my favourite actors if you haven’t guessed that already So of course the captain had to be Captain Jack Sparrow. While making this cake I watched the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. I did have to put the second one on hold when my niece was around. Her Dad told her it was just make believe, but I thought I would pause it after a while. I had to re-do Captain Jack’s legs, as he was almost a centimeter shorter than the other pirates, and that just would not do!
You’ll have to wait until Part 3 to see why it was important I included ponies on the jetty part of my cake.
The treasure chest is on of my favourite parts of this cake. I was pretty happy how it turned out and the gold and silver paints came out quite well.
I’ll let you know in Part 2 how I went at the Gidgegannup show.