Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lest we forget.

Anzac Day is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

It also goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mate-ship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

I remember watching Gallipoli (the movie) in my high school history class. I remember feeling the tension, the emotion, and the heartbreak from the movie's depiction of WW1.

It would have been nothing like what someone who was there- or knew someone who was there- would have experienced...

And that's, I suppose, what we do forget, or choose not to think about.

When an international crisis happens nowadays (I'm already starting to feel old saying that), we all look to the news and internet to decipher what's actually happening, who's to blame, who will survive, etc...

I can only imagine there was a lot of waiting; and all I can do is close my eyes and feel thankful for my life today because of that.

Because today is the day we take a small moment of time out of our days, and our lives, and remember the men, women, and boys, who served, fought, and died for us all those years ago.

And so... I baked.

Using a basic flower cutter, a chopstick, chocolate, and cake pop tray, I made some red fondant "poppies".

Added some basic circular shortbread biscuits iced with white royal icing...

And together, they looked like this:

May we not forget the soldiers that fought for us in the wars.
May we not forget the nurses who cared for those who hurt.
May we not forget that the world is not cut out for World War III.
May we finally remember... This is not how it's meant to be.

Lest we forget.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Princess and the Cake.

Poise. Grace. Beauty. Elegance.
The characteristics of a princess.

Lazy. Tired. Un-stylish. Creative?
The characteristics of, uh, me.

Husband says I have a lot of class... Unfortunately, all of it's low. But that doesn't mean I can't make something princessy, though!

Or at least something pink, and full of ruffles! With a giant bow, of course.

I now formally present to you, Her Royal Highness...

"Princess Cake, of My Kitchen"

The only thing missing is a tiara on top, and a glass shoe underneath ;)

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Fast and Furious!

Occasionally, as a cake maker/enthusiast, you get some slightly bizarre requests for cakes. This may or may not have been one of them: A drag racing sign.

Though there's none of the signs/lights in them, I couldn't help but think of the Fast and the Furious movie series:

I have made (cartoon style) car cakes before, like this Lightning McQueen one, and this accidental Shag-mobile... but this is the first drag/street racing themed cake I've ever made! And it was also the biggest cake I've ever made.

I found this to use as reference:

In my ideas regarding how I was going to make it, I thought that cupcakes would work well for the lights down the sides... Well, little did I realise at the time, that cupcake lights meant that the sign part of the cake was 1 metre long. That's right, 100cm long!

Of course, I broke it up into sections. There were 8 different cakes to piece together. So, piece by piece, cake by cake, I did my best to re-create the sign. It was tricky, it was sometimes awkward, and it was big... So big that I needed to go to my local hardware store and have a cake board specially made.

Once the cake had been covered, it was time to add all the letters, and arrange the cupcakes on the board again. The cupcake cases were glued onto the board to (hopefully) prevent movement during transportation.

Then with the rest of the letters attached, birthday wishes written, and a number plate cake- that was also requested- added to the board, the cake was finished.*

It was nowhere near flawless, but the sheer size of it meant that two people needed to carry it out of my kitchen...

To celebrate the completion of this enormous cake, Husband and I felt it only fitting to go out and watch the movie series finale, Fast & Furious 7.

Happy birthday Michael!

* Well, if there was more time, I would have kept going, adding a few more finalising touches to it.**
** There's generally always more final touches that can be thought of if time is limitless.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Penrith Panthers strike again!

If you know me, you'll know that I'm not really into sports. If you've seen me, you can probably tell that I'm not at all athletic.

But there are lots of people who are into sports and all things active. Some who may be so 'into' sports that their house is decorated in various sports equipment, hats, scarves and banners, and who's never to be seen on a weekend due to a love of playing and/or watching every single sport ever imagined... All at once.

I'm sure if you change 'sports' to 'baking', then I would fit that exact lifestyle. Speaking of which, a few weeks ago I made a Penrith Panthers themed cake!

I had seen the Panthers a couple of months ago, and really enjoyed watching them... You know, "training"... in the pool... wearing tiny little speedos...


But back to the cake ;)

With previous NRL cakes I've made, I've put an edible team logo on top of the cake, team coloured fondant stripes down the sides of the cake, and the same animal that represents the team out of fondant hovering on wire in the middle of the cake.

And I prove to be a creature of habit this time around... Kinda.

I knew that a panther was going to be tricky, but for my friend, I really wanted to give it a go! So using an outline on baking paper and a needle, I 'perforated' the rolled out black fondant underneath.

You probably can't tell from the pictures, but it was a bit rough.

Then with a bit of fondant (for the tail), and mostly royal icing, I used the same technique (perforating the fondant)to trace where I need to fill in with the icing...

It was OK.

But faces are always the hardest! :'(

After a couple of hours of poking and icing teeny tiny bits of fondant, the Panther ended up being way too heavy to go on the cake (it could have been because I had only used one piece of wire).

So I cut out a printed version, and used that instead. Part of me almost wished I'd chosen that option to begin with, but I did learn from the experience (a.k.a. trauma)... I think.

On the delivery of the cake, I was complimented on my ability to match the coloured stripes to the team colours! FTW!

Here's how it went:

I'd started with all colours on the cake: A white background, with purple, blue, and black stripes. It was fine, and I was happy with it...

But the cake was so tall, I felt that it needed something bigger around the base. Something more than little balls of fondant like I've done with previous sports team cakes.

So I decided to wrap the bottom with a thick black ribbon, and once I'd decided this new plan of action, I removed the black fondant stripes, and replaced them with more purple fondant stripes:

I had hoped that it made the cake look less lanky, and more... sturdy. Like an NRL player.

The final pieces of cake decoration were the stars, and the [paper] Panther :)

Aaaaand because I have this niggly little thing called anxiety, I had a moment* believing that this massive cake in front of me wouldn't be big enough to feed 30 people.

... So I made some football biscuits as well.

And I know it's the wrong football, but at least you can tell what it was this time**!

Happy birthday Ethan!! :)

* Okay, meltdown.

** Unlike my "elephant" rabbits.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Feeling bunny!


Today is Easter Sunday, a day filled with love, hope, chocolate, eggs, and bunny rabbits. Lately I've been feeling a bit creative due to the Easter season, and wanted to share what I've been up to.

Bunny Bum Cupcakes.

I made these for the school staff on the last day of term (gosh, that's gone so quickly!). I had seen some varieties splashed over the internets during my Easter clicking, thought they were super cute, and wanted to mimic them for the occasion.

I used big and medium (a.k.a. normal) sized white marshmallows. The normal marshmallows were cut in half and stuck to the big marshmallow to be the bunny's feet, like so:

It was at this moment in the cupcake production line when Ben (11) walked past and asked if I was making elephants!


Boys, right! Holding back the welling tears, I managed to tell him to come back once I've added more detail, which included pink royal icing 'footprint', and a white royal icing 'tail'.

Ben soon came back and told me that he thought they looked like bunnies now, but I didn't believe him. Though time consuming (as most baking-related things are), the bunny bums were fairly easy to construct!

The bunny bums all sat very patiently while I piped green buttercream icing onto the cupcakes, and sat them into the middle of the 'grass':

I really like the green, white, and pink together! The grass was initially meant to look, you know, like proper grass... But with the right piping tip and lack of time, it turned into super quick thin spaghetti grass instead.

Hopefully the teachers didn't notice!

Easter Hat Parade 'Bag'.

Next was a really simple, budget DIY 'Easter Hat Parade' bag for little Jonathan. I used an empty Milo tin, which I washed <cough-rinsed-cough> and de-labelled. I sticky taped some white paper around it, drew on a bunny face, and stuck inside a bunny ear headband, which also acted (I hope) as the handle. And to look like I made an effort, I filled it with eggs.

Jonathan was instead happy with the bag he had already made at school, which nullified me running back home after the school bell rang to finalise the bag, and run it back to school along with a new school shirt for him, as the one he was wearing was covered in bolognese sauce from the previous night's dinner.

Boys, right!

So I figured that I deserved those eggs, and ate them instead.

My final creative moments I had were from this beautiful and sunny Easter Sunday morning...

Bunny Footprints.

Due to my terrible addiction to Pinterest, I see many things (in particular at this time - Easter things) that I know if I don't do now, I will have to wait a whole year to be able to do them again (when there'll likely be bigger and better ideas by then anyway!)

Like baby powder bunny footprints, leading up to some Easter eggs for my kids.

But, since I also suffer from extreme laziness, there was just one set of bunny footprints (not like those really crazy people who shake powder onto footprint templates that lead their kids from the bed, to under the table, to the bathroom, to the couch, to behind the bookshelf, down the hallway, to the car, around the letterbox, back inside, and back to bed where the eggs probably were the whole time)... No, no, no. There was just one pair of footprints in our house - which was on our table.

And both footprints came off quickly with a baby wipe, and I didn't have to vacuum at all!

Bunny Bum Pancakes.

Yesterday, I was one of the people who panicked about the shops being closed. I made sure we had each meal for the public holiday planned out correctly, and when I asked Husband if there was anything he wanted from the shops, he said "Maybe some ricotta, in case we feel like making ricotta pancakes in the morning."

In case??

Well, I got that ricotta, and I made those ricotta pancakes! And I shaped them (again, something I'd seen on the internets) into bunny bums. But since I'd forgotten to get blueberries/strawberries for the footprints, I improvised with chocolate melts, melted chocolate, and (though it looks like a big marshmallow), whipped cream for the tail:

And lastly, after a fun Eggstravaganza hunting, catching, and painting eggs, our church's Easter event moved from the park to where we meet for church, via some chalk bunny footprints that I was in charge of:

See! Even the Easter Bunny came to church this morning to celebrate that after Jesus suffered and was crucified on Good Friday, he did not remain dead, but rose again to new life. Hallelujah!

You can read about the Easter Sunday story here, here, here, and here.


Friday, 3 April 2015

"It is finished."

As a Christian, Christmas and Easter are key moments to understanding what we believe and why. They are the crux of Christianity, demonstrating love, hope, grace, and sacrifice.

Today is Good Friday: the day that Jesus lay down his life, paying the penalty for our sin, so that a broken humanity can once again be right with God.

Since I often express myself through baking, I have created a Good Friday cupcake design.

A [melted chocolate] crown of thorns:

Because on the day Jesus was crucified, he wore a crown of thorns. You can find the whole Good Friday story hereherehere, and here.

I probably wouldn't have designed it had I not been bringing something for morning tea after church this morning, and for that I am also thankful.

He was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5