Show Cakes

Friday, 17 November 2017

Because it’s been a while since I’ve entered anything, and because I had time to do it, I’ve also got two Christmas cakes which are headed to the Huon Show tomorrow.   


Let’s call them The Knitted Cake (left) and the Wrapping Paper Cake (right). 

The Wrapping Paper Cake took quite long time to create - what with a double layer fruit cake and all the different greens and time consuming techniques I was using. On the other hand I pretty much threw together the knitted cake on a whim one afternoon last week.

Although to be fair, that cake actually has quite a history.  I originally wanted to do a cake that looked like a christmas pattern on a jumper, like this:

So in December last year I started investigating how to get a knitted effect on icing. Firstly I sent away for an imprint mat from a regular cake shop. The stitches looked authentic but the overall knitted effect was actually so small and fine that it wasn’t suitable for a big cake - it was suited to jumpers for these gingerbread men though.. god rest their delicious gingerbready souls…

On the hunt for a larger imprint thing I scoured the entire internet and found just one option - there was someone in the Netherlands who made their own imprint mat and sold them. In euros. Via international bank transfer only (no PayPal). Sigh. With no other options I went ahead with a 16 euro purchase and we won’t talk about the shipping.  Having said that, I must add that the seller was actually really nice and helpful thoughout the transaction.

Anyway, it arrived a few weeks later, but as I suspected, the result was actually more of a crochet/knotted effect than a simple knitted effect. I really wanted big clear knitted stitches.

There was no other option, I had to make my own. After some time spent with the institute of You-Tube I felt confident I could make the actual silicon mold part, the greater challenge was to find the thing to make the mold OF - Let’s call this the ‘knitted-positive’.  Obviously I couldn’t just press silicon up against a wooly jumper as it would be too soft and impossible to release once the mold was set. I toyed with the idea of spraying layers of varnish over some knitted garment and using that once it was dry but after consideration I decided that it was likely to be very messy, and Jon (the owner of the garment) would probably not be happy with the end result.  So it was back to the internet to find something that was both knitted, and hard - and I found this - an ugly knitted looking plastic basket - perfect!  Another purchase and some more shipping costs later and I had my starting point.

To make my knitted-positive I cut the ugly basket up into rows, trimmed them,  and lined them up on some wood.

The size of the stitches actually changed from the top of the basket to the bottom, so I tried to adjust for that as I stuck them down. Then I used a silicon-cornflour mixture to make the mat, pressed it down as hard as I could, and left it to dry. The first go wasn’t great (below left), but the second attempt went really well (right). Yay! After many purchases and many months I finally had my knitted-imprint mat - yay me!

Then it was time to test the concept of using it with actual icing to make a jumper pattern and I quickly found out that it was very hard to any sort of pattern, in fact it was going to be impossible to do what I had originally planned. dang.  

So I put the whole lot back into the stupid ugly half cut up basket and pushed it to the back of my cake shelves.  

It was only last week (some six months later) that I had the strength to pull it all out again and try to create something. Originally it was in order to justify at least some of the hard work (and expense!) that had gone before it - but in the end it was simply quite fun to create something using my hard-won knitting imprint mat.



The funny thing is that there's absolutely no way anyone will look at that cake tomorrow and guess its complicated past!  


If it has to be fruit cake...

Sunday, 25 June 2017


As a sufferer from Dried-Fructophobia I don't like fruit cake.  I don't like making it, I don't like decorating it, and I absolutely wouldn't eat it. 

However when Denny asked me to make a cake for Rob's birthday breakfast,  I thought that adding a heavy chocolate mud cake to the feast of yummy breakfast foods might be a bit much, so I suggested I make a cake-shaped-fruit-sculpture instead. 

I was confident in the concept, but the whole process was a bit nerve wracking -  I couldn't really practise it beforehand (due to winter fruit prices). I just had a vague idea in my mind (inspired by other creations on the internet) but I didn't know exactly how it would work, or even how long it would take to make. Until the day before I wasn't even sure I'd be able to buy the fruit I needed - although as it turned out everything was available including a whole watermelon.  In the middle of winter - amazing!

So after shopping for the fruit the kids helped me cut up half the fruit and we put togther a few test pieces the night before.


I wasn't sure how I was going to support the skewers but luckily I had enough bits and pieces of foam around the place, so I carved something that would fit into a cake tin..


Arranging the structure in a tin turned out to be quite clever as it stopped it dripping everywhere. 

On the morning of the party I got up at 6.30 and continued cutting fruit and making fruit skewers. My intention was to have two tiers of the skewers but it wasn't really working out, so I tried out a few other ideas and eventually settled on the watermelon middle tier and blueberry top tier which I think worked really well. The number 40 is carved out of watermelon skin.


The whole process was pretty messy and time consuming, but I just had time to finish it off before we had to leave.. 



The party itself was really good - Denny had done a lot of work with decorations and the rest of the food, and I think the cake was a success. Aside from being unusual, once it was cut people were able to help themselves to the fruit skewers and slices of watermelon. There wasn't much left by the end and the spare bits of fruit that I didn't use were served with the pancakes.   Perfect.



Small Cakes

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

As I tell everyone who asks how my cake business is going*, I only really make cakes for friends and family nowadays.  Here are a couple of little cakes I've done for friends and family recently..

The first one is for Paul and his friend Roger's birthday which they were both celebrating on the overland track this year - so the cake had to fit into a plastic container..


The second one is for some friends who got married a few weeks ago in a very small ceremony.  This little cake was my gift for them to enjoy privately after the celebratory drinks we were all invited to (even though they'd said no gifts) ..


Anyway - I enjoyed making both cakes, it was nice to be creative. 

* it's surprising how many people do ask me - even though I'm pretty sure I've had the same conversation with them about how I'm not making them anymore,  every year for the last 5 years. 

Treasure Chest Cake

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Zali has been baking up a storm in the last few weeks, in fact we often come home to the smell of something delicious in the oven and the kitchen not too messy. It's been really great - we've had donuts, cinnamon scrolls, cakes.. more donuts.. yum.

Anyway - she was keen to do a cake with me for Jamie, so after enquiring with Denny (who gave us free choice) we decided to do a treasure chest, something I haven't done as a full cake before - the closest I've come was a mini-one on top of Jett's pirate cake back in 2010. 

Due to there being lots of other things to do on Saturday, I didn't get Jamie's cake into the oven until after 8pm on Saturday night. While it was baking I coloured the brown icing and made the chocolate ganache and watched Naked Dating. Time well spent I'm sure you'll agree.

The next morning I was up early to do the shaping and the initial covering. Ideally the cake would be frozen at this stage - it's so much easier to carve and cover, but I just had to cope with it crumbling all over the place - I figured family would be much more forigiving of any wonkiness anyway (as opposed to commercial customers for which I'd be a lot more precise - and allow a lot more time too!).

The next stage was to make the wood look like wood, by scoring it with a knife - then Zali and I painted on the wood grain (which was caramel brown food colouring). The end result was really satisfying.   

Both Zali and Jett then got onto painting the oreo biscuits gold (I couldn't find chocolate money in the supermarket on Saturday and I recon these turned out better anyway),  while I quickly got the black bits onto the outside of the chest - again, if it was a commercial cake I'd be doing a lot more measuring and it would all be a lot neater - still the overall effect was quite rustic which was nice too.

With the lid on, it was a matter of cramming in the treasure and making the paper scroll/map. Zali had great fun doing this although she was too nervous to do the lettering so I did that part.  


With some dessicated coconut 'sand' we were done! Laree actually got a good photo of the entire chest on her phone (above right)- I've stolen it off Facebook - thanks Laree!

Jamie was pretty happy with the end result. Zali and I had fun. Wins all around.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

I think it's safe to post the full cake picture now.

I'm pretty happy with it - I wanted it to have a formal sort of structure, suitable to a regular 60th party, but then have the octopus busting out of it because David comes up with all sorts of wacky ideas. I'm happy with the result - particularly as the sides are sort of test-pattern-ish - colourful but with restrained order. Suitable for someone who thinks up crazy ideas for hilarious cartoons.



Friday, 21 March 2014

This is what I've been working on most evenings for the last few weeks - it's arguably my biggest cake ever, comprising six individual cakes iced as 3 double height tiers. I've never made a cake that I couldn't lift before, but this was definitely a job for Jon. Normally I would remove the top tier for delivery then set it up at the venue but due to the placement of the flowers, it was impossible - it had to travel in once piece.

 Aside from the fact it weighed more than a cow, delivery today was complicated by the fact that it was also raining. Rain, or more broadly,  water, is the enemy of smooth wedding cake icing as the smallest drop can leave a pock mark which is not ideal.  So the cake needed to be wrapped up like a mummy, then covered in a garbage bag in a most undignified manner.

Happily this isn't a story of cake delivery gone wrong, rather a story of a happy ending - here it is arrived safely..



Christmas Couch

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

 Ok - I was probably still feeling a bit guilty when Jon asked me to cover him a Christmas cake in the shape of a couch - luckily no job is too hard for Super Guilty Woman!


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Just to prove it's not all jelly brains and eyeballs around here, here is a cake for  a Burlesque/Can-Can themed 40th birthday for 2 doctors, one of whom plays the piano..



Re-post of Gross

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I'm just looking through some photos of Zali's Creepy Party from 2011 for something to illustrate Jett's party invitations with (he wants a 'Gross' party - somehow it is different?).

I think I found the perfect thing - I know I would have posted this at the time but I think it deserves a re-post - as this cake was a masterpiece if I do say so myself. I seem to remember the kids bunching up at the party food table as far away from the cake as they could possibly get.. job done me.


Jamie's Cake from wo to go..

Friday, 15 June 2012

My sister Denny asked me if I could make a train cake for my nephew Jamie's forth birthday tomorrow..  normally I only ever post pictures of finished cakes but just for a change this is it's full story.. or journey (hahaha)

1) First.. the cake - one I happened to have in the freezer, and the train, supplied by Denny..  It practically looks done already doesn't it - actually this is usually about where I stop with my own kids as I think it's important to keep the bar nice and low..

2) Shaping the cake.  I had a vague idea in my head of how it should look..  which is lucky, cos no-one else would have worked it out at this point..


3) Covering with ganache, which I happened to have in the fridge. Still a cake only its mother could love..


4) Using regular green colouring I coloured some green icing (now I have green hands) and then covered the cake..and put it on a green cake board, as covered boards are a simple way of making a cake look fancy schmancy..  note I wasn't worried about the tear in the top - you'll see why next..

 5) Fondant icing lends itself to good rocks, and really good mountains, so why fight it.. 


6) I added some dark green hills as well for some depth and to hide the messy edges where the side of the cake meets the board..  

 7) On with the track.. this involved rolling out some brown and pre-cutting all the sleepers and letting them dry while we had dinner so they would be stiff and hold their shape when I put them on..  I built a bit of a rustic railway bridge going up the hill with the spare sleepers as I'm always concerned about passenger safety.


 8) Then it was time for the finishing touches - these weren't pre-planned but it was clear the cake needed a little bit of non-green-or-brown colour, so I added the flowers (and more rocks) to the fields at the bottom, and the red end-of-line sign at the top..


And Voila. Done.  How long did it take? Well I started step 1 at about 2.30pm and finished at 9.30pm but in-between I picked up the kids, made, ate and cleared up dinner, and pottered around doing some other little things as well.  During the making I also watched a couple of episodes of 'Laid' and 'Mad as Hell' on iview which probably slowed me down a bit too. Luckily I had leftover brown & yellow fondant already which saved some time as that can take ages to colour.

So there you go, from a brown blob to precarious mountain train journey all in one afternoon..

Sometimes you need an explanation..

Friday, 25 May 2012

I haven't made many cakes lately,  with all our weekend activities it's difficult to focus on cake deliveries and it also means I have to be around to actually make them during the week - so it just feels too restrictive at the moment.

Having said that,  there are circumstances where I will agree to make one.  This one is for a customer of an ex-student who did an order of mine when I realised I wanted to go away - this is basically the reverse situation (she took the order then realised she was going to be away) so I was happy to agree to it. 

So the customer sent me some photos of the home-office belonging to a surgeon and asked me to do something based on that..  The photos showed a very very messy office with piles and piles of books stacked on the floor, on the shelves, anywhere really.. and also files (presumably medical) piled onto the desk..   

So this is what I did.. it's a book-a-lanche.. everything is edible, the desk is the cake, the rest is fondant..



My Cake Disasters

Friday, 2 December 2011

As I'm about to write a post about a cake disaster that happened to another cake maker & venue I though it was only fair I write a post listing a few of my near misses and tense moments in the last 10 years... 


  • Like the time I made a set of figurines where the groom was lifting the bride above his head. All well and good but when I opened the back of the car at the venue the figurines were no-where to be seen. The top heavy nature of them was too much for the soft mud cake and they'd gone flying off the top and rolled around the back (thankfully no injury was sustained and I could prop them back up)
  • Or the time when a chance phone call reminded me that I had a cake to deliver the very next day (which I hadn't started).  I was at work at the time so I suddenly made my excuses and rushed home for a very late night. Again - it all ended well but it was very close to being a disaster!
  • Or the time(s) I delivered a cake to a venue, and got to the cake table only to see a cake already on the cake table. Luckily a day early is a lot better than a day late!
  • There have been a lot of kitchen mistakes too which get fixed before they go into the car - just last week I managed to burn a fruitcake, make and ice a cake in totally the wrong flavour and then make and ice a cake in totally the wrong size - all for the one wedding cake! This is more reflective of my state of mind when it comes to cakes at the moment I think - i.e. I'm generally trying to avoid them - delivering them on a weekend is far to difficult when there are four of us wanting to do different things - the restriction of an absolute wedding cake delivery time is a real pain.



Forgive me?

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

It's been a while between posts I know - but hopefully this Llama cake for a keen mountain hiker will smooth thing over between us..  I must declare that I didn't do the figurines as the cake was a co-production between me and a guy from work for our boss - he did the figurines.

Happy Hikers

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Married happy hikers would be more correct today. I delivered this cake yesterday to a venue 30 minutes south and up a long long very steep and bumpy gravel road.  Happily there were no mishaps and the hikers got their cake in tact. 

Pirate Iconology

Friday, 10 September 2010

Treasure chest : Check, Map: Check, Eyepatch: Check, Skull and Crossbones: Check, Sword through Cake: Check...   This is actually my first ever pirate cake and I'm pretty happy with it.  Jett chose the colour scheme and told me which bits of cakes he liked from a selection of googled cakes.  I did have to persuade him to let me use red on the cake as well as the blue is almost a bit dowdy for my liking..

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