Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter rush....

 This Easter was definitely the most rushed and "unholiday-like" that I have experienced!  All work and no play as the saying goes.  Unfortunately it was so busy that almost the only quality time I had with my daughters was just prior to Easter when I thought to include them in the Easter cupcake process.  With no tutorials and armed only with our imaginations the three of us sat down to create some Easter chicks and bunnies for cupcake toppers.
 We worked hard, laughed a lot and made an unholy mess of my "studio" and came up with some cute little figures.  I then baked and iced some cupcakes and again gave my daughters free rein to decorate the cuppies as they wished.  This is what they came up with.  I thought they were adorable and this box was proudly presented to my brother and niece when they stopped by for the night on their way back to England.
 Easter weekend continued at a frenetic pace with three birthday cakes to complete.  Below is my first ever attempt at a Barbie cake.  I wasn't happy with the draping of the over skirt, realizing after the cake was done and delivered that I could have first made the over skirt and then added the draping separately. Aah well, we live and learn!
 I also got to make another Minnie Mouse cake, which was interesting to compare to my first attempt a year ago.  Looking at it critically I feel that although this one has a far better finish and looks more professional, the proportions aren't as perfect as on the first one.  The ears are too close together, the bow is too narrow, etc etc etc.  I also experimented with my extruding gun to make the "piping" that trimmed the face and formed the letters.  I bought the extruding gun when I was at the Lorraine McKay course in Maastricht earlier this year, but except to make hair I haven't had the time to play with it to see what else it can do.  I really liked how easy it was to make "piping" and saw the beginning of a long and meaningful friendship with this handy little gadget.
 Easter Sunday was spent creating yet another birthday cake, this time for a colleague of mine.  This cake was challenging on so very many levels that I found it hard to know where to begin.  The cake had to be gluten free.  The flavour was to be a complete surprise, as was the theme.  The cake had to include marzipan and be as "fondant free" as possible.  I decided to recruit the help of my colleague's husband and instantly regretted it.  He wanted the cake to have a "Strandkorb" which is a German beach chair for two that can be folded away into a huge basket.  The beach had to be reminiscent of the beaches on the island of Sylt in the North Sea.

Originally I thought to cover the cake in marzipan to represent the sand, but the only marzipan I could find was very dark, and since the sands of Sylt are almost white I rejected that idea.  However, the problem remained on how to incorporate marzipan into the cake.  Hmmmm.....Finally it came to me:  A chocolate cake made with rice and corn flour, filled with marzipan and raspberry coulis.  So after much experimentation  on how to soften the marzipan and much consultation with experts on the internet, I concocted a marzipan spread out of brandy, heavy cream and marzipan.

Now came the next problem; what else other than marzipan can one use to cover a cake that is not too sweet?  White chocolate ganache!  Whipped up to lighten the texture and to enable me to make it look like sand.  The sand dunes were made of white chocolate modelling paste which I placed on the cake prior to icing it with the ganache.  I used MM fondant dyed blue to make the waves and to cover the board.  I made shells out of modelling chocolate and used them to decorate the base of the cake.

The Strandkorb was hugely challenging as I had to work out the construction in a way that it would be properly supported.  In the end I had to create a sand dune out of modelling chocolate to support the back rest.  Even so, it was leaning far more horizontally than I had originally intended it to be!
So that was my Easter.  Busy, busy, busy, but oh so much fun!

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