Sunday, February 24, 2013

Adventure Time Cake

I think I've figured out a way to measure how old I'm getting. See if I know what cartoons are "cool" right now.

First it was Bubble Guppies, then someone told me about Ninjago and now this... Adventure Time? How do you keep up with the play if you don't have children?

Don't get me wrong, I loved my late 90's early 2000's cartoons. Give me Hey Arnold, Doug or Pinky and the Brain cake and I'd know exactly what you were talking about but nowadays it's all new to me!

Adventure Time Cake

As I was feeling a little out of the loop I Googled for ideas for this so called "cool" cartoon. I emailed photos to my friend whose son the cake was for and we threw around some ideas.

I found out his favourite characters were the penguin and the boy then decided to do my own research and watched an episode.

Adventure Time Cake
Adventure Time CakeAdventure Time Cake

So it turns out Adventure Time is pretty cool. Random is probably the word I would use to describe it.

I'll do my best to explain: So there's this boy who is friends with a stretchy dog who can turn himself into anything. In this episode I found out that the dog has a girlfriend who is a Rainicorn (a rainbow unicorn, of course) he is meeting her parents for the first time but is very nervous as they are pretty much racist against dogs. Heavy stuff. So it ends up with lots of nonsense and throwing of sauce. But it ends well and I did find myself laughing out loud.

adventure_time___treehouse_by_abrsdk-d46tkk0

I decided to make the cake sort of like the house-thing they live in. Which is a tree (of course?)

I tried to make the top look like the leaves of the tree which were oddly squarish. I made the dog and the boy (who are best homies) hugging, with the dogs freakishly long arm stretching far over for the hug.

I made sure I included the infamous penguin (sad that he didn't feature in the episode I watched) and I thought the rainicorn looked perfect to wrap around the side of the cake, though she wasn't easy to create!

I finished the cake off with the Adventure Time logo and sword (don't even ask, I didn't!) but of course with the birthday boys name, Ziah.

Happy birthday Ziah!

Adventure Time Cake
Adventure Time CakeAdventure Time Cake

Maybe I should set aside some time to catch up on what is "hip" in the world of children's television. Since I posted on Facebook about this cake people have been requesting a Regular Show cake. Whatever that is.

Oh man I'm getting old.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chocolate Rosette Cake

I've been trying to eat healthy for the last few weeks only to find myself eating (what felt like) my body weight in cheese and chocolate in the weekend at a fondue night.

My bad.

So here I am forcing down a tuna salad and snacking on grapes. The joys of healthy eating.

Healthy eating doesn't usually go hand in hand with baking. Is it just me or does healthy baking sound like an oxymoron (love that word!)

Chocolate Rosette Cake

I attempted to make some healthy muffins today only to find they didn't come with a baking time (who does that?!) and tasted like I was being punished for my weekend-fondue-binge.

I went through what I now am going to refer to as "bakers depression" and almost put Lydia Bakes on indefinite hiatus.

Not long after, I was trawling my baking photos and found some old cake pictures from late last year. I found a very plain-jane cake that took me a few minutes to create which I posted on Facebook and received awesome feedback on.

Chocolate Rosette Cake

Positive re-enforcement. That's just what I needed. I couldn't remember what the cake was for so I checked the Facebook post. That's when I re-read everyone's comments. Oh the love! No more feeling sorry for myself and my terrible terrible muffins.

So I thought I might as well share this 'amazing' cake. The recipe is just my plain (mix in one bowl) chocolate cake recipe and you can use the rose swirl cupcake decorating technique just the same on the sides.

Thanks to everyone who left me encouraging and empathetic comments. Every now and then you just want to have a moan and it's nice to know you listened and made me feel loved!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mark & Leanne's Wedding Cake

As you're probably aware, I'm not much of a wedding cake maker. There has been the odd occasion, my best friends wedding, my cousins wedding and now to add to the list I have created wedding cake #3, Mark and Leanne's wedding cake.

Wedding cakes usually sound alarm bells in my head. I think of the immense pressure and expectation, not to mention all the things that could go wrong.

It's only for the special people in my life that I actually feel safe enough to venture into this scary territory!

Wedding Cake

Mark and Leanne are very special to me. Mr S has been BFF with Mark since they were teenagers with long hair, skating, listening to metal and trying to pick up the ladies (unsuccessfully I guess?) So their bro-mance goes back pretty far.

It has been awesome getting to know both Mark and Leanne over the years and we consider them as part of our family now.

Wedding CakeWedding Cake

You may remember a purple engagement cake I made a couple of years ago, as you can probably guess this is the same people! How exciting, making an engagement and wedding cake for them!

It has been so exciting following them on this journey. Their wedding was absolutey beautiful, Mr S made a wonderful best man's speech and everyone loved the cake (huge sigh of relief).

Congratulations Mark and Leanne, we wish you all the very best in your future endevours and can't wait to be part of your future together! xx

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Conversation Heart Cookies

It's Thursday today but I'm feeling unusually refreshed. Yesterday we (New Zealand) had a public holiday so I finally got a day off in the middle of the week.

This has made me think I am made for part-time work.

Too bad there's that little thing called money that we so desperately need, ah well I guess that's just the way the cookie crumbles (heh!) speaking of cookies, I managed to whip up a batch of these cute sugar cookies in anticipation for Valentines day.

Conversation Heart Cookies

I know I'm getting in early but I just can't wait to show you this tutorial on how to decorate these loved up cookies!

I'm not even sure if many people actually celebrate Valentines here in New Zealand.

I know it's very American and oh so cheesy but there's something cute and fun about a day focused on showing your other half just how much they mean, especially when it's in the form of food.

Conversation Heart CookiesConversation Heart Cookies

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients:
3 T Meringue Powder (you can get this from speciality baking stores)
4 C Icing Sugar
5-6 T Lukewarm Water
  • Sift meringue powder and icing sugar into a medium sized bowl.
  • Add 4 Tablespoons of water to the mixture and mix on a medium speed until mixture is looking lumpy.
  • Add the remaining water and beat on high for 7-10 minutes (this is when a stand alone mixer comes in handy) until it looses its sheen.
Royal Icing Notes:
Royal Icing is a kind of meringuey icing which means everything you work with needs to be oil free.
There are different consistencies of royal icing, when you first make it up it is at the stiff consistency and the more water you add to it the runnier it gets. So when you want to fill up a space on a cookie you will want to outline it first with the stiff consistency icing then "flood" the cookies with the runny consistency.

Conversation Heart Cookies

Piping the Outline

You will need:
Royal Icing (stiff consistency)
Gel colouring of your choice
Toothpicks
Small bowl or cup
Teaspoon
Damp teatowel
Piping bag and couplers
#2 Tip (or small writing tip)
Glass of water
Small paintbrush (one that is food safe or not been used on paint before)
  • Prepare piping bag before using and fit with a #2 tip.
  • Spoon half a cup of royal icing into a small bowl or cup and tint with gel colouring using the toothpick, remember this is very concentrated so you won't need much.
  • Once you have the colour you want spoon royal icing into piping bag. If you have any remaining icing, cover with a damp teatowel.
  • Pipe the outline of your cookie.
  • Touch up your outline using a small amount of water on your paintbrush and lightly dabbing the icing. You will find that you can slightly move the icing around and can even out marks and the joins, just make sure to work quickly as the icing dries quickly!
  • When you are not using your piping bag, place it into the damp teatowel to ensure the tip does not dry up in the end. You can also place a damp paper towel in a tall glass and hold the piping bag in the glass, face down.

Conversation Heart Cookies
Conversation Heart CookiesConversation Heart Cookies

Flooding

You will need:
Royal Icing (stiff consistency, in the same colour as your outline)
Water
Teaspoon
Squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with #3 tip.
Damp teatowel
Toothpicks
  • Add water in small amounts (about half a teaspoon) until it reaches the 10 second consistency. This is where the icing sinks back into itself completely when you pick it up and drop it on itself while you count to 10. If it takes longer than that it is still too stiff, if it takes less time then it is too runny.
  • Fill squeeze bottle or piping bag with runny icing and pipe into the middle of the cookie.
  • Using a toothpick, spread the icing to the edges of the cookie to attach to the outline.
  • Gently tap the cookie to release any air.
  • Pop air bubbles with a clean pin or toothpick.
  • Remember to place your piping bag or squeeze bottle in a damp cloth to avoid it drying up and clogging up.
  • Leave icing to dry and harden up for approximately 1 hour before piping words on top.

Conversation Heart CookiesConversation Heart Cookies
Conversation HeartsConversation Heart Cookies

Writing

You will need:
Royal Icing (stiff consistency)
Gel colouring of your choice (I used rose)
Toothpicks
Small bowl or cup
Teaspoon
Damp teatowel
Piping bag and couplers
#1 Tip (or small writing tip)
Glass of water
Small paintbrush (one that is food safe or not been used on paint before)
  • Prepare piping bag before using and fit with a #1 tip.
  • Spoon half a cup of royal icing into a small bowl or cup and tint with gel colouring using the toothpick, remember this is very concentrated so you won't need much.
  • Once you have the colour you want spoon royal icing into piping bag. If you have any remaining icing, cover with a damp teatowel.
  • Pipe words in the centre of the cookie. Of course you can write whatever you like, I went with classic conversation heart phrases: Love you, I <3 U, cutie pie, xoxo, kiss me, I'm yours, hug me, hot stuff, be mine and true love.
  • Touch up your writing using a small amount of water on your paintbrush and lightly dabbing the icing. You will find that you can slightly move the icing around and can even out marks and the joins, just make sure to work quickly as the icing dries quickly!
  • When you are not using your piping bag, place it into the damp teatowel to ensure the tip does not dry up in the end. You can also place a damp paper towel in a tall glass and hold the piping bag in the glass, face down.

Conversation Heart CookiesConversation Heart Cookies

So whether you're spending the day with a bottle of wine and your cats or taking "totes adorbs" Instagrams of the ice-cream you and yours are eating together, have a wonderful Valentines from me, Mr S and Pecan xoxo.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sugar Cookies

When I first heard the term "sugar cookies" I thought they were cookies that, when you bite into them, you can hear the crunch because they were so full of sugar.

But, now that I've baked my very first batch of these bad boys I realise they're just the American's term for what I would call "plain cookies"

Valentines Sugar CookiesValentines Sugar Cookies

These cookies were so easy and so plain (which is sometimes a good thing) that they have now replaced my own plain cookies recipe (from the Edmonds Cookbook).

It's so good to have a reliable go-to plain cookie recipe. It means that next time I need to make decorated cookies there'll be no second thoughts or indecision, just straight to the kitchen to bake cookies!

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Plain Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Bake at 350
Makes approx 50 x 6cm cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 cup sugar
225g Butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 Egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and the essences until mix until combined.
  • Gradually add the flour and beat until just combined, don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go!
  • Now the mixture should look like a pile of crumbs, scoop out handfuls and knead together in small amounts before kneading the whole lot together.
  • Take half of the mixture and roll it out on a floured surface to your desired thickness, I went for 1/8” using my Wilton rolling pin guides.
  • Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut hearts out of rolled cookie dough and transfer them to the baking tray.
  • Once you have a full tray, place the tray in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, this is the trick to making sure your cookies keep their shape.
  • Bake cookies for 10 – 12 minutes, keeping an eye on them around the 10 minute mark so they don’t brown too much.
  • While this batch is baking, repeat the last few steps, roll out the cookie dough, cut out hearts and freeze them. I got three trays of cookies out of this recipe.
  • Once cookies are baked let them sit on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • If you decide to decorate your cookies remember they need to be completely cooled before icing.

Recipe Notes: I used the cute Fondant & Letter Impress Set to stamp the words into the cookies, it’s great because you can cover the cookies in fondant and stamp those too!

Valentines Sugar CookiesValentines Sugar Cookies
Valentines Sugar CookiesValentines Sugar Cookies
Valentines Sugar Cookies

I also blogged about these cookies over at NZGirl, head on over there to check out the awesome site (if you haven't before) It's full of everything a girl could need, advice, hair styles, recipes (like mine), fashion, product reviews, you name it! From now on I'll be doing a bit of blogging over there, but don't worry I'll still be blogging just as much as ever in my home-sweet-home, Lydia Bakes. 

Later this week I'll be showing you how to decorate these cute cookies to look like cute conversation hearts, just in time for Valentines Day! Until then, have a great week!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes: Guest Post

Today I am blogging over at my friend, Amanda's blog: Here Comes the Sun. I'll be posting the recipe for the much anticipated Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes.

Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes

Please stop by to check out this delicious recipe and while you're there say hi to Amanda, her blog is absolutely beautiful!

Have a wonderful weekend everybody! xx