Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cake Fails and my First Giveaway!

Well, that was one heck of a week! This was my first week at university studying Early Childhood Education. Although it won't be like this every week (usually we just do one day and one night a week) I cannot believe how absolutely physically and mentally exhausted I am! I feel like I haven't used my brain since I was 18 so that might have been the reason why! I did have a great week though, I made lots of new friends and I'm really looking forward to starting the proper study and working in an Early Childhood centre. I can't wait to sleep in tomorrow and have a tiny bit of relax time before starting again on Monday!

So, now about my failed cakes which I'm sure you're all very excited to see. Well, I’m a perfectionist (in case you didn’t know) which actually comes in handy when decorating cakes and baking as it’s all in the details. It does, however, mean that I don’t always show you when I make mistakes, which by the way, happens ALL the time! Like last week, I made some lemon cupcakes for no reason in particular and they turned out SO dry and yucky, luckily I filled them with lemon curd. Thank goodness for lemon curd, it makes everything better!

Mechanic Cake
Mechanic Cake Fail

Well I made a cake for Mr S’s brother a few weeks ago and just couldn’t bring myself to show you the photos. I suppose the cake isn’t THAT bad but it’s just that it ended up looking like his brother had been run over by his own (very dodgy looking) car rather than working under it (he’s a mechanic you see). So you can see my embarrassment. Mr S on the other hand, says that’s what makes a good food blogger, when they show you your mistakes…I’m thinking, what do you know about food blogging?! But, he’s probably right. I do like seeing other peoples mistakes (does that make me evil?)

So here goes *takes deep  breath* some of my cake fails over the past three years that I haven’t shared with you because, let’s face it, I want you to think I’m perfect!

My earliest cake fail was for my (poor) sister’s 26th birthday. It was a bit of a joke to start with, I asked her what she wanted on a cake and she answered anything with pirates or ninjas or dinosaurs would be cool so I decided to incorporate all three. I tried my hardest to make a boat cake, I did my research and everything and still this happened…
I cried, I had a tantrum, I cried some more then eventually (and I mean this took a long time to get to this point) I laughed. I had to. I mean, LOOK at it! Barf!

Cake Fails!
Pirate Ship Cake Fail

My second fail I actually DID post on my blog, it was so much hard work but still ended up a wobbly mess. I think I almost had a heart attack delivering this shaky cake to its recipient. All sorts of things went wrong with this cake but I think it all started off with its massive size. I think if I were to do this again I would have at least halved the size of the cake. If there were more people to feed I could have just added cupcakes… *sigh* ah well! You live and you learn!

Cake Fails!
Thomas the Tank Engine Fail

At some point along the way I learned that it would be a good idea to practice before trying a technique for the first time so now we come to all the “firsts”. First time painting fondant, first time making fondant people, first time using a stencil on a cake. All I can say is I’m SO glad they were all practises!

Cake Fails!
Left: Fondant version (the one I used) Right: Painted version (my test version)

Cake Fails!
My first attempt at fondant people

Cake Fails!
My second attempt at fondant people

Cake Fails!
Practising stencilling onto a cake...good thing I didn't do this for the wedding cake! 

Lastly, this cake I made for my mum’s 50th birthday which was a Toy Story themed party. You may have read the post on the amazing Toy Story dessert table that Danelle and I put together one painstakingly long weekend. Well, the cake was made from new recipes that were gluten free where I tried new things like sticking cherry jam in the centre of the top tier cake and drawing (freestyle WHY OH WHY did I go free style?!) lines on the fondant covered middle tier then there’s the giant 50 that just would not stay on top. At least if you squint your eyes the mistakes aren’t as obvious and I don’t think it took away too much from the rest of the amazing table. Whew!

Cake Fails!
Toy Story Cake Fail

So now you know my cake mistakes, please don’t judge me or never ever come back to my blog again for fear of returning to another scary post like this one! I promise the next post will look much prettier than this!

Now for the give away. I'm very VERY excited to announce this is my first giveaway and it's an awesome one! The amazing team at The Home Store Milford have provided me with a lovely Fondant Prize Pack from Little Venice Cake Company valued at $102 to give to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on this post to get in draw. To make me feel better, tell me about your baking or cooking fails and you'll go in the draw, easy as that! Please be sure to include your name and email address.

Congratulations to Di who won this amazing prize pack, I hope you enjoy decorating cakes with these handy tools!

Fondant Prize Pack includes:
Beginners Fondant Tool Set
Modelling Mat
Small Silicone Rolling Pin
Scribing Tool
Fondant Smoother

Be sure to check out the Little Venice Cake Company on Facebook to get decorating tips and check out their photos, with some of their clients being the likes of...THE QUEEN! Whaaaa?! They're pretty famous! Also, don't forget to head into The Home Store Milford for all your cake decorating supplies. They also have some awesome cake and cupcake decorating classes at really good prices!

Fine print:
Sorry, competition is only open to New Zealand residents. Competition will be drawn on the 3rd of August 2012 at random using the generator. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Elmo Cupcakes Tutorial

Decorating cupcakes for children is quite possibly the most fun you can have with a cupcake.

I feel like that is what cupcakes were invented for.

One of my favourite techniques to use on cupcakes is to make Cookie Monster or Elmo cupcakes because they look so cool and yet they're so easy to make!

The best thing about these cute cupcakes is that you can swap out any of the decorating supplies for things you have readily available to you, for example instead of piping red fur on Elmo you can coat it with red coconut. Easy as!

Elmo Cupcakes

How to Decorate Elmo Cupcakes
Makes 24 Cupcakes

You will need:
24 Cupcakes (any kind will do, we used vanilla)
12 Oreos (have more on hand to be on the safe side)
Sharp Knife
Red Buttercream (recipe below)
Piping Bag
Grass Tip
White Fondant
Orange Fondant
Ready Made Black Icing

  • Split the Oreos carefully and scrape off the icing with a sharp knife. Cut the Oreos into halves so they look like smiley faces.
  • Apply a small blob of buttercream underneath the Oreo mouth and attach it to the cupcake near the bottom.
  • Half fill a piping bag fitted with the grass tip with the red buttercream.
  • Squeeze icing onto cupcake, once it is a attached gently ease the pressure while pulling up and away from the cupcake, stop squeezing and lift off the cupcake to form "fur" that sticks out, it takes some getting used to but keep at it and you'll be a pro in no time! Try piping on different angles to get messy looking fur.
  • Roll white fondant to make Elmo's eye balls and orange fondant to make his nose.
  • Place the eye balls and nose on the iced cupcake.
  • Pipe black icing onto Elmo's eye balls, you can be creative here and make him cross eyed, looking up or in opposite directions which helps bring character to each cupcake!

Elmo Cupcakes
Elmo CupcakesElmo Cupcakes

Red Buttercream:

220g Butter (softened)
2 t Vanilla Essence 
3 C Icing Sugar
Approx 4T Milk
Pink & Red Red Gel Colours

  • Beat butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  • Sift icing sugar into a separate bowl then gradually add to butter mixture one cup at a time.
  • When icing becomes to lumpy and dry add milk one tablespoon at a time until the consistency is soft and easy to pipe.
  • Add pink gel colouring to icing to make it bright hot pink.
  • Add red red gel colouring to icing to make it red.

Decorating Variations:

Roughly icing cupcake with red icing.
Place coconut in a zip lock bag with red food colouring and shake until colour is even and bright red all over.
Place coconut in a bowl and dip cupcakes to cover the entire surface.
Either marshmallows or white chocolate buttons.
Melt dark chocolate in a zip lock bag, snip the corner and pipe dots on the eyes.
Orange peanut M&Ms.

This little guy was made using marshmallows for the eyes and an orange Mentos for the nose.

Elmo Cupcakes

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

Whew! What a week! Things have been pretty hectic for me lately, lots of change happening.

I've been accepted to study Early Childhood Education and will be starting study in late July.On top of that, work has been busy and I'll be saying goodbye to my fellow workmates next week.

Every day when I change the date on the "entered" stamp I think SLOW DOWN LIFE, time is going by so fast!

Sometimes it is nice to take some time out though and last weekend Mr S and I did just that.

We went to see the Flight of the Conchords live. It was a dream come true for us as we had been watching the series (over and over) for about five years now!

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

For those of you who don't know, the Flight of the Conchords are two NZ comedians/singers who filmed a tv show in America and pretty much made it big over there.

They write the most hilarious songs which are random and catchy.

I decided (as I do) to make some cupcakes to celebrate going to the show and we even ate a couple while we were there too!

Even though we had the worst seats ever (not sure how that happened because I booked as soon as they were available) the show was SO good and it didn't matter about being so far away, I was just glad to be there.

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

I realise if I show you these cupcakes and you've never seen the show or heard these songs it'll be a bit like sharing a personal joke so I'll post links to the songs too so you're in on it!

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much I enjoyed making them, now it's business time...

My favourite cupcake is the hotdog sign. In one of the episodes, Bret gets a job holdings signs ("sounds like something a lamppost could do") in the end his hot dog sign is printed to say Flight of the Conchords.

Flight of the Conchords CupcakesFlight of the Conchords Cupcakes

These three cupcakes are from the songs Business Time, Albi the Racist Dragon and the Humans are Dead. My favourite of the three songs is the Humans are Dead "we used poisonous gasses and we poisoned their asses"

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes
Flight of the Conchords CupcakesFlight of the Conchords Cupcakes
Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

Whenever Murray (the band manager and comedian Rhys Darby) has a band meeting with Bret and Jemaine he does a roll call "Bret - present, Jemaine - present, Murray - present" even though it's not really necessary with only two members in the band!

In Murray's office there are posters on the wall advertising New Zealand, these are hilarious! Some of my favourites are: New Zealand, Why Not? New Zealand, Ewe Should Come, New Zealand, Come Visit Us Down Underer.

Flight of the Conchords CupcakesFlight of the Conchords Cupcakes

These four cupcakes are lyrics from some of the songs, Sugar Lumps (which was their finale song too!), I'm not Crying, The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room "You're so a tree" and Faux du fafa (a song about pretending to know French).

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

The last two cupcakes might look like I have very questionable piping skills but they're actually a copy of the cookies Mel (their only fan) makes for each of them. Mel sings her only song in the two series, Dreams, and the two very creepy cookies sing along.

Flight of the Conchords Cupcakes

Monday, July 9, 2012

Japanese Cherry Blossom Cake

Here is a cute little cake I made for my work mates farewell. It says "Good Luck" in Japanese on the top, I made sure it didn't say something random like lucky noodles or something because she would know (she's Japanese).

This cake was only a 6" but somehow it fed so many people I couldn't count! It also got a little cat-walk as my work mate thought it deserved to be showed off to the entire office before being cut up and devoured! Always nice to feel appreciated!

Japanese Good Luck Cake

Japanese Good Luck Cake

Japanese Good Luck Cake