Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy 3rd birthday sweet Imara

Yesterday was my daughter's 3rd birthday and the theme this year was Mermaids. Imara loves mermaids and asked if I could please make her a mermaid cake. I made the tiered skirt she is wearing above out of Michael Miller Sea beauties and malibu stripe fabric. The pattern is from Sandi Henderson's Gracie range.
Here is the lovely and ultra yummy birthday cake. This year I tried something new, no more caramel or chocolate mudcake but instead I baked a strawberry jelly cake with vanilla and strawberry buttercream icing. I can't believe how scrummy this cake ended up being, its nearly all finished and it was super duper easy to make.
RECIPE (from the website, slightly altered)
1 x 600g box of vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker vanilla cake)
1 x 85g packet strawberry jelly
1 punnet strawberries, pureed
4 large eggs
120 ml vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp strawberry extract/essence
3 level Tblsp margarine
500 g icing sugar
1 tsp strawberry extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of milk to smoothen the consistency of the icing
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius (mine is non fanforced gas oven). Line and grease a 12 cup capacity dolly varden cake tin.
Beat eggs in a large bowl till light and fluffy, then add cake mix, jelly crystals, pureed strawberries oil and water (I also added 3 extra tablespoons of maragarine to my batter, but you can omit this if you like).
Beat on medium speed untill all ingredients are combined (don't overbeat). Pour into cake pan (about 2/3 up from the rim)
Bake for 63 minutes (they said 45 min, but it wasn't enough time) or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan and then remove and refrigerate (give mudcake texture if you do this). The next day remove from fridge and let it come back to room temperature. The cake produces a lovely moist almost mudcake/banana bread like texture but not as stable as mudcake. I personally wouldn't use this cake if I was to make a novelty cake, which requeres a lot of cutting and shaping.
For the icing, combine butter, icing sugar and milk and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy and pale in colour (almost white). Add colouring and strawberry & vanilla flavouring.
Place some icing on the bottom of the cake and secure to your cakeboard/serving plate. Ice the cake and quickly sprinkle soft brown sugar to represent the sand. If you wait till the frosting is dry/set, the brown sugar will fall off, so make sure the icing is still wet when you sprinkle the brown sugar. Now you can add your cake topper and water effect (I normaly use blue tinted Royal icing) and shark fins.
For the mermaid topper I tinted about 1 cup of Orchard fondant (you are supposed to use modelling or flower paste, but my children do not like the taste) with Wilton copper (use a tiny bit, or the skin will be too dark) I then moulded the body, two arms and a nose.

I then attached the head, arms and nose using sugar glue (bought from cake decorating store) I shaped the hands, adding fingers and added eyes with a kebab stick, the mouth was made using the bottom end of a piping tip. Using a straw, I indented the "scales" on the tail of the mermaid.
The mermaid is then left to dry completely, in this case two weeks, modelling paste dries much quicker and becomes much harder when dried.

Next I shaped a top out of some fondant tinted grass green and added some grooves using a toothpick to look like creases. Stick the top down with some sugar glue and let it dry. I also made some purple flowers out of purple tinted fondant using my blossom cutter and then "glued" it down onto her hands. Let it dry completely. The tail was brushed with edible green chalk (I grated about three different greens and blended the colours using a soft new paint brush) finish off with lustre dust (I used white lustre dust)
Once the mermaid was dry I placed her on the cake and added her fins (green tinted fondant) and hair. For her hair I tinted some fondant brown and used a clay extruder to make her hair. I then added her hair a section at a time (begining at the back of the head, so she wouldn't end up bald!) using sugar glue to stick it down. The reason I did this after she was placed on the cake was so that her hair wouldn't break if I tried to move her, ditto with her fins on her tail.

A gift for Sabrinah

Look at the lovely goodies I made Sabrinah for her up coming 1st birthday. These are felt cupcakes with buttons for cherries and beads for spinkles. I popped them in a cupcake window box complete with polkadot ribbon.
Nat asked me to create this birthday sign for Sabrinah's sweet shoppe party, the idea being that the sign could be kept as a keepsake afterwards. I used mixed media for the canvas, some items like the letter S and writing was painted on, while the cupcake and lollipop was made from felt.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Its been three years since I last painted....

Three years! What a long time not to pick up a paint brush. But after the arrival of my 3rd and 4th child, time just seemed to slip away from me and I never found a spare moment to paint anything. So since a good friend of mine was getting married and I wanted to give her something unique and handmade I jumped right in and did this painting. I was a bit apprehensive at the start, all that white space and what if I stuffed it up :-O It was a bit difficult at first, I had forgotten how quickly acrylic paint dries, I'd forgotten how to blend and shade my colours quickly and forgotten to "see" my subject. I ended up turning the painting upside down so I could see the colours properly and stop being so anal about the detail lol I only turned it right way up once I was finished.
I am happy with the result and thus wrapped it up with a big bow to give on the wedding day. I chose red because the recipient had a lot of red items on her gift registery list (that and brown), so hopefully she likes the colour and its not one she hates lol

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy 3rd birthday Lucy!

What a gorgeous day to have a party in a park. Today we went to Wattle park to celebrate Lucy's 3rd birthday (Nic from my mother's group, her eldest daughter) and ofcourse I just HAD to make something for the birthday girl. The invitation did say no gifts required, but this is edible, so not really a gift ;-) A few days back I bought some plain white cupcake boxes from the internet as a trial, to see if my cupcakes would fit. Well they do, as you can see from the pic above.
I made 12 vanilla sponge cupcakes, 6 with cherry buttercream icing and the other 6 with vanilla buttercream icing. I had some left over fondant after making Imara's mermaid topper so made these cute roses, crowns, letters and pixies.

The pixies were fairly easy to make, one thing I did learn though, is to first start the "hair" at the back of the head next time, followed by the fringe and THEN do the side curly bits. These pixies have a little uhmmmm, bald spot at the back lol I used flower cutters to make their dresses and a template for the crown. I want to invest in some good number cutters (used a paper template for my number three and it was a bit fiddly to cut out), a clay extruder for the hair (mine is a toy plastic one ;-)) and more variety in flower cutters for the dresses.

I made these from Orchard fondant not modelling paste like I was taught in cake class because I find I don't like the taste of modelling or flower paste. I figure if its got to look nice and then it must taste nice too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mad, mad January

So my new years resolution for 2010 was going to be that I was going to take it easy and do less, HA! Not! This month has been pure madness, I've just been so busy with crafting I haven't sat down for even a second. I've just completed this lovely parcel to be posted to my nephews in the UK, not everything was made by me (just did not have the time) but most were. I sourced a few items from Etsy (esp the monogrammed items) and ordered some extra 2D zoo blue fabric and zipped up a few items to match.
I've also completed 2 playmats (quilted) and some bunting for 3 other babies born this month but photo's will follow after the mum's have received their gifts ;-)

Then it was on to Imara's items, I made this super cute dress for her to wear at a recent group/combined 3yr old party. The fabric is Sea beauties and Malibu stripe by Michael Miller. I also made a matching skirt + T-shirt which she will wear on her actual birthday, pictures to follow.

This is a pirate ship I made for our mother's group combined birthday party on the 17th January. I made the fondant figure a week in advance to let it dry properly, but since we had 40+ degree heat it was fun and games trying to shape the figure without it going mushy.

The actual ship was the hardest part of the whole cake. Since I made a dairy free chocolate cake it became a complete PITA to shape and ice. I ended up stuffing the cake in the freezer for a few hours before shaping it very quickly with a serated knife, I then iced the cake twice to make it look a bit smoother and to hide the fact the darn thing was breaking apart. In the end when I added the royal icing water and fondant shark fins and paper sails the cake didn't look too bad, phew! Next time I will make it from mudcake which is what I usally make when I do novelty cakes.