Shark Attack Cake

I made this shark head cake a few weeks ago, working with my favourite of all things, ganache, and chocolate crispie! I started out with two eight inch cakes, a seven inch cake, and a 6 inch rice crispie round.

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when it comes to carving cakes, just be confident. It is always better to cut off less than too much, but making the first cuts, you just need to go for it, and keep in mind that some of the cake can be stuck back on if it does go wrong!

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Next up was covering in ganache. it gives such a nice solid finish, although in this case buttercream would work just as well.

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For icing it, I did the grey first, then the white, then the red. It is not a bad shape to cover in sugarpaste, although patience for sorting out the red bit in particular was required.

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I made a lot of teeth to fill the mouth, just using white sugarpaste. For the eyes, a few pairs were made to see which looked best – too much black did not look right, which is why this set was just perfect.

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I wanted the board to look like there was a bit of life in it, not just a flat sheet of blue. I put some bumps of sugarpaste on the board before covering it to make it look a bit wavy, and made some blue waves to stick around the shark too.

best shark

With a happy birthday message, the cake was finished. It was served as a pudding following a delicious meal at Lanna Thai, proving you simply can not go wrong with a victoria sponge.

A Pig Birthday Cake

I have awanted to make a pig cake for years now, mainly as they are just so cute, but also pretty simple to make. I used a bowl to bake a chocolate chip sponge, before covering it with vanilla buttercream.

Naked bowl cake

I covered it with the pink sugarpaste, and the board with chocolate glace icing as the mud.

Pink bowl

The trotters and snout were just shaped balls of sugarpaste, with a little sausage rolled up for the tail.

Pig cake

At this point I was confused as to why it did not look cute, or particuarly pig like, before remembering that aside from needing eyes, it also needed ears!

Pig cake

The pig needed to be a bit muddy as well, so had some blobs of glace icing added to his trotters and arround his sides. And hey presto, he was cute!

Cute pig cake

A Minion Birthday Cake

I had seen a lot of cool minion cakes (the character from Despicable me, and Despicable Me 2). Making something that needs to be recognisable, rather than something just from my imagination always adds an extra layer of pressure – there are plenty of not quit right minions on the internet as well.

I started off with a 6 inch sponge. And then decided that more baking did not appeal to me (and the birthday girl does not actually like cake, just icing), and made three layers of chocolate crispie, one of which was done in a bowl for the top of its head.

After covering in butter cream and sugarpaste (not an easy job for such an awkward and large shape), I airbrushed on the yellow colour, and managed to get a nice even coating.

Yellow minion

Next up was dressing the minion in the trademark dungarees. I used a ribbon cutter to keep the straps an even size, and then a different attachment to make the stitching marks.

Minion dungarees

After adding the pocket, came the eye. Considering a minion does not have many facial features, the eye is even more crucial. I started off with a layer of white sugarpaste, followed by brown, black and a small dot of white. I rolled a thick strip of grey sugarpaste to make the frame to the glasses.

One eyed minion

Adding the mouth and tongue made it look a lot more like a normal little minion, and the strap to the glasses.

Minion

For the hair I had rolled small cones of black sugarpaste, which I stuck on with royal icing. For the legs, I used chunky sausages of the blue paste. The arms were a bit of a challenge – I should have had them pre-made and airbrushed so they were stronger and easier to handle, but I had not – so some supportive drying material was brought in to support them in place.

Armed minion

I used black sugarpaste for the shoes and gloves – they only have three fingers so to make the gloves, once I had the basic shape, I just had to make two indentations to make the fingers.

Minion

The minion was finished so all that was needed was the cupcake in front of him. This was going to be made of pure sugarpaste, especially for the birthday girl, who as I mentioned, does not like cake. I made the base, and sprayed it with an edible gold spray. I also hollowed out a spoonful of icing to fill with buttercream. Then that was covered with a spiral of pink sugarpaste, and a few sugarpaste sprinkles added.

Minion cupcake

With a bit of orange ribbon, the minion cake was complete.

Minion cake

All that was left was to destroy it! But the inside looked as good as the outside!

Inside minion cake

That is the first cake of the summer rush down. The next one will require a bit more structural work, but will be featuring a different kid friendly character….

 

Chocolate Barrel Cake

This is a cake that looks great, but is not too complicated to put together. The idea is that you want a chocolate overload, so take a chocolate cake, and cover in chocolate buttercream (or ganache if you are feeling a bit fancy).

Chocolate cake

Then buy loads of chocolate fingers (an 8 inch cake needs three boxes), and cover. How will I always remember that in takes three boxes? Cause I only bought two and had to send dad on an emergency shopping trip!

Chocolate finger cake

Take a giant box of Maltesers and fill in the top.

Malteaser cake

With the rest of the chocolate fingers now in place, I made the wire decorations. I just heated the wire up and it pushed into the Malteaser easily.

Chocolate barrel cake

It is a great cake idea, as you can use whatever you want – like in this version I used Kit Kats, and an assortment of sweeties.

Candy Barrel

And saying that, I feel inspired to do some kind of fudge or marshmallow barrel cake, with my recent discovery of The Ochil Hill Fudge Pantry, and The Marshmallow Lady… mmm, thinking caps on!

 

The Brewdog Gullotine

This cake was made for my friend Graeme’s birthday. You might remember him from such cakes as god is a DJ and the x box controller. What I remember his cakes for is that they are always done with ridiculous time pressures and ambitious ideas from Lewis.

The original thought was around Brew dog beer. A bottle maybe, a glass filled with the beer was a strong contender. Then Lewis struck – ‘let’s make it like this advert’. He spent a lot of time convincing me it was a good idea and entirely manageable.

The actual cake was the easy part. Chocolate cake (unfortunately the thought of making it a brew dog stout cake occurred too late) with chocolate buttercream, and the sides covered in black sugarpaste. Part of the cake was also chocolate crispies – partly because nobody needs that much cake (I think the final thing measured about 7×12 inches) but also because of a late choice of theme, I had only made a small cake, and the crispies would set up quickly.

Then things had to get a little creative. The victim in the advert is a green bottle – unfortunately the shops I tried did not have single green bottles of beer, and I had no desire to buy a four pack. So a bottle of Innis and Gunn was substituted, and also more likely to be enjoyed by the birthday boy than any green bottled beers were. The executioner is a punk IPA bottle, and he needed a mask made from black sugarpaste. I did dust it down after this picture was taken too.

The support for the beers took some figuring out. As the bottles were so small, it would have been tricky getting a dowel right under the one point of contact from the bottle, and if the bottle moved, then the icing would have cracked. So it was decided to use a sheet of card for the platform, as dowels could support that across a wider area, which would then mean it would easily support the beer. I mixed various browns together to make it look wooden, and covered it in one, using a knife to mark on the planks of wood.

Construction of the guillotine took longer than estimated. Without getting very technical and making a serious model, even a simple model was not that straight forward. An assortment of straw and card was struck together and covered in the wood coloured sugarpaste – and a bit of tinfoil for the blade. A set of steps up to the platform was made as well, and then covered in the same wooded icing. In an ideal world this would all have been made out of flower paste or pastillage well in advance, but I think it worked out fine.

This was all followed by a bit of a rush to get to the restaurant of choice, Illegal Jacks. There was also some craftiness involved so we could set up the cake without the birthday boy seeing it in progress. There was some promise that next years cake would be so simple, that we might actually be early for the birthday dinner… then the ideas started coming again, and I figured better late with an awesome cake, than on time with something normal!

 

Animal Covered Hills

For this birthday cake, the theme of sheep and animals had been in my head for a while. Then I saw this wedding cake, and took some inspiration from there too. Taking a weeks holiday and being in a strange kitchen with only the essential equipment, and then discovering I had forgotten a few of the important bits as I went along, only made it more challenging. I don’t think you can beat a cake decorator for ingenuity in a crisis!

As if the decorating challenge was not enough, I was also testing out a new dairy free recipe. It was also American, so all measurements were in cups. And that is when I realised I had not brought my cup measuring set. But with a lot of patience and an unreliable internet connection, I worked out the conversions, and actually got a very tasty cake at the end of it! This is just a bit of a random picture of the vanilla mixing with the oil.

Having covered the cake in frosting, I decided to cover the top and sides separately with the sugarpaste – next time I think I would cover the cake in one, and then do the sides. I rolled out my sugarpaste (in different shades of green) into different sized hills as I went along. Then it was simply a case of attaching each hill to the cake.

After attaching all the hills, the board needed covered. I decided to keep with the different shades of green, in a fieldy sort of look.

I had a smaller 6 inch tier of Victoria sponge which was decorated in the same way. As I said, the ingenuity of a cake maker – I had a smaller cake card for underneath the cake, but normally put that on a larger board when decorating so I can be messy and move the cake around. After discovering I had not packed any extra boards, the frosties box was sacrificed.

Surprisingly, all that went pretty quickly. As I should have known, making all the wee animals took far longer than I had expected. First up were the sheep. I used marzipan mainly because I had a lot needing used up. But also, it is really good for modelling. So the bodies were rolled out of marzipan. I then sat and made a huge number of tiny balls of sugarpaste to act as the wool. Marzipan is quite sticky, so these were stuck on without needing any extra glue.

I also gave them a white disc for the face to be added to. This is when I realised I was without my vodka – not for me, but for using to make a paint. Thankfully, my peppermint extract has a high alcohol content, and can be used for the same job – it is just a more expensive way to do things. I also realised I had not paint brush for these details, but a cocktail stick worked well as they were so small. So that was mixed with a little of my gel colours to create eyes and a nose, and then I added some ears and a little tail.

Next up was a family of pigs. Again the bodies were rolled out of marzipan, but covering them was easier, as I just rolled out a patch of pink sugarpaste and covered them in that. A disc was added for the nose, a couple of balls shaped into ears, and then some eyes.

The family of highland cows were again made from a marzipan body, and covered in brown sugarpaste, marked with the lines for their hair. Two little horns were added, and I had to let go of my desire for perfectly matched horns – after all nature is rarely that symmetrical either! I decided as well as eyes, these guys needed little eye brows.

There was a brief interlude as we drove back to Edinburgh, with the cake carefully packed in the car. As the animals had had some drying time, they were reasonably fit for transport, but it is always a good idea to be extra careful with models. Part of the cute roundness of these guys is that anything standing on legs would have been more likely to get broken on the long journey. So my limited origami skills came into play to make holders for each family in a cake box lid.

Once we arrived in Edinburgh, I gave the pigs their tails, and the highland cows got noses, and I went over their hair lines again to define them a little bit more.

Then the great assembly began. The icing on the cakes had had some drying time, so that was helpful in getting the second tier placed on top of the first. Animals galore were then placed on the cake, and I piped on the ‘happy birthday’ message. Extreme flash is never good for a cake, but without it we would have been looking at some very dark and dim pictures!

 

The Lion Cake

This cake was made back in September 2011, for a friends birthday. I had bought a tutorial from Extra Icing a few weeks before, which I had not used yet, and did not have any particularly wonderful ideas for the cake so decided this was the ideal time to try it out.

I decided to go for chocolate sponge, with chocolate chips – you can not beat real bits of chocolate in your cake. I also used chocolate ganache under the sugarpaste because it makes an excellent undercoat. I find it pretty easy to work with, and it makes it easier for me to get a nice clean edge too. Plus it is properly rich and indulgent, so perfect for a grown up cake!

And so with the cake basics sorted out, I got on with the lion. It was so straight forward, although it did take a bit of time to get things just right. Lorraine McKay’s tutorials are always well explained, with each tiny step broken down, so I would say you are always pretty likely to have a finished product that looks pretty good.

One of the challenges is that I did not quite have all the stuff she used in the tutorial. But sometimes it works out really well going off track. I do not have a clay extruder, so the mane was a bit of a challenge. But I have used this trick before – pushing the sugarpaste through a sieve. It was working pretty well anyway, but then as I was finishing up I found it was working better to kind of push the paste through by pushing the paste across the way rather than straight through.

By the time the lion was done, and the cake was covered there really was not any time to actually decorate the cake. However, I think keeping it simple made the lion the centre of attention. I might have had more time if I hadn’t wanted to do cupcakes as well – I only managed two zebras and two lions, but it was still pretty cute, and made for a nice display.

And since it was a birthday cake, coloured flame candles are a fun finishing touch.  Another bonus is that the lion will keep pretty much forever, this one now lives in a nice little box.

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