Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to make a Lego Cake - Tutorial

Right, due to popular demand; here is the tutorial for the Lego cake.  Now I have to admit, there were some issues with this cake in terms of it's construction, and I think future versions would require quite considerable engineering work to ensure it remains stable (and survives a car journey, unlike my original attempt!)  I would recommend using dowels and base boards for the individual cakes as you would with any stacked cake.  Why this didn't occur to me initially, I'll never know!

Start by making a tray bake sized cake (or whatever sized cake you require).  This was a 3 egg recipe.  Once cooled, cut the edges to give you nice corners and straight sides, then split horizontally into two halves.

Put raspberry jam on one half, and buttercream on the other half, before sandwiching them together.

Next comes the mathematical bit!  You have to use your judgement, and try out a few circular cutters to make sure you get the most 'bricks' out of your cake as possible.  I used a 1.5 cm diameter cutter to help me mark out the bricks in the top of the cake, scoring where I'd need to cut.

Next the cakes are cut into individual bricks.  I found it helpful to have some Lego bricks with me to use as a guide, so that they would look proportionally accurate.

As the cake had risen slightly more in the middle than on the edges I used some of the cake trimmings to try to build up the slightly slanting edges of some of the bricks, by placing slivers into the filled section of the cake.  I'm not sure if this made a great deal of difference I though it best to make things level from the start.

Once you're happy with your cake shapes it's time to cover with buttercream.  I used quite runny buttercream and applied it with a pallet knife to try to get a smooth covering.  It's inevitable that crumbs will mix into the buttercream, but try not to manipulate it too much as bits of the cake (i.e. corners) might come away from the cake.

Next came the detail on top of the bricks.  I opted to create this by cutting out circles using my chosen cutter, from fondant icing rolled to around 8mm thick.  I initially rolled my icing out too thinly so doubled up on my 'dots'.

The dots are then placed in position on top of the covered bricks.  They should stick nicely to the buttercream.  I used a cake smoother to press them flat into the buttercream, and again to try to make them level, but this is optional.

Once I was ready to roll out my chosen icing to cover the bricks, I painted each of the disks with boiled water to create a 'glue' between the two layers of icing.  I chose primary colours for my bricks.

I ended up covering bricks in two different ways, so feel free to try whichever works best for you.  The first way was rolling the fondant flat, quite thinly (around 3-4mm), draping this over the brick, then guiding it over the dots and down the sides and corners.

 This did create a puckered corner, which needed to be smoothed with a tool and patched up using boiled water and icing sugar.

My next attempt was to roll the icing equally thinly, but this time cutting into the shape to create slightly overlapping sides, which avoided the bulk of icing at the corners.

I measured the top of the brick, then allowing an edge of around 5mm, cut darts into the corners.

These pieces of fondant draped nicely over the bricks, and I found that it was easier to smooth the cut corner seam, rather than patch up the corners where the fondant had folded.

Once the bricks were covered it was time to prepare the board.  I cut out various shapes and colours for the tops of bricks, and stuck cut outs of the dots on to the top.  This actually looked really effective, and I think I would consider using this method for the bricks if I was to do this again, as it gave more definition.

The bricks were then places on the board.  I mentioned at the beginning that there were structural issues with this cake.  The final version involved a separate 2-dot brick being provided in it's own box, which was then placed on top at the last minute.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spot the cupcake!

Had a fantastic night at two Ladies Pamper Evenings in the last week.  One at the Royal York Hotel and the other a JCT900 Volkswagen in aid of St Leonards Hospice in York.

A film of the latter has just been released, and my cupcakes feature!  I didn't even notice them filming!

Both were really fantastic evenings, even with a fire alarm at the hotel!  I'm hoping to be involved with a major charity event in the near future, and you'll be the first to know the details as soon as they emerge!

I'll leave you to play spot the cupcake!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Make a wish....

Guess who's got a birthday this week?  Me!  

Obviously, that leads me on to the idea of cake!  Though to be honest it doesn't take much!  It is certainly party season as now rarely a weekend goes by without one or other of the children having an invitation to respond to!  Naturally I'm always interested in the cake, though always for the purposes of research!  Purely to find out the most popular themes.

This weekend, has had it's fill of birthdays, each very different but equally blissful!  Those are the occasions which form the memories of children, no matter how young they are.  I love seeing photos from my early birthday parties, with the jelly spilling from the paper dishes, sandwiches and cake.

I was very lucky growing up as my Mum, as any Mum would do, always ensured my brother and I had the perfect birthday cake to accompany our ever changing fascinations and interests!  Fairy toadstools and princesses when I was younger, and pigs in my 20s!  My brother had tanks, trains and even Stay Puft from Ghostbusters.

Looking back, it never mattered to us whether these were homemade, shop-bought or made to order.  All that mattered was that initial thrill of "that's my birthday cake!"

When I had my first son I wanted to make sure I gave him those memories, even if they were relived through photos as he got older.  He doesn't remember his Bob the Builder cake from his 2nd birthday now, but I love that I can show him what I made for him for the party. 
When I mention to people that I make cakes, people sometimes say that they wish they were skilled / confident / creative / brave enough to attempt a birthday cake, and I always want to say that they are!  They are all of those things!  I'd never profess to have any particular talent; just determination, a little bit of eccentricity helps I suppose and lots of practice!

The first birthday cake I made for my son was a chocolate traybake, covered in chocolate icing and plastic toppers.  And he loved it!  Children don't care whether you stayed up to 3am to finish it, or whether you've planned it for months, asked someone to create it for you, or bought it from a supermarket on your way home.  As long as it's theirs, and there are the correct number of candles in it, they will be thrilled!  This goes for grown-ups too! (Hint to other half to take note!)

I know I make cakes to order, but I would never in a million years suggest that that's what people should always do.  My 30th birthday cake was a shop bought Dr Who cake - an edible David Tennant!  What's not lot love about that?!  Make it, buy it, order it; however that cake gets to the "Happy Birthday" moment, everyone will love it!

The cake which launched Curiositea was the 'Gromit' cake I did for my son's 4th birthday.  I loved how thrilled he was when he saw it and I loved the idea that I could help contribute to those moments; create the magic in their eyes and a memory to look back on when they are older.

I forgot to mention an essential ingredient that always goes into birthday cakes, whether homemade, chosen in a supermarket, or made to order; and that is an enormous amount of love.  And the best things about that particular ingredient is, it contains very few calories!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tiers of joy!

My spare time of late has bee consumed by the planning and design of my first ever tiered wedding cake.  Many evenings were spent researching the best ways to construct and support the tiers.  Then followed much consultation with the bride to make sure we were heading towards the perfect design.

Inspired by Peggy Porschen's 'Simply White' cake, we opted for individually made flowers and leaves on piped 'vines'.  The piped dots on the ribbons were requested, along with ivory rather than white fondant.

For the top and third tier we were searching for something along the lines of an embossed or relief pattern, but didn't want anything which clashed with the raised and free flowing flower detail of the other two tiers.  Having searched everywhere for the perfect design, I stumbled upon a technique new to me, which involved using stencils to create a relief pattern on the fondant.  This gave us more choice of designs as well as more options to create the pattern.  We were wanted a vintage lace look, which complimented, but didn't conflict with the floral detail.  Using Royal Icing, I was able to create the look we were after.  Another option would have been to use a colour or lustre to pick out the detail but this may have been lost against the other detail.

The wedding florist ( created a topper to sit on the top tier which was a 4" fruit cake.  The bouquet contained white roses and thistles to compliment theme of the wedding.  The finished cake appeared to float above the classic glass cake stand to elevate the cake further, with no cake board visible.  Though this make manoeuvring the cake treacherous, I'm really pleased with the finished effect.

The groom's reaction on seeing the cake ("That's my cake!" made my day, I just can't wait to hear from the bride to see what she thought!