A month of cake venturing madness..

Phew what a month it’s been! I think November 2011 will go down as one of the biggest cake months in my personal Cake Venturing history..

It was also crazy because of the number of international visitors who were in Sydney this month. One of my best mates was in town from London, an ex-colleague was visiting from Amsterdam, old friends and colleagues were also in town for a mid-week wedding. To top it all off there’s been 4 birthdays in the family including my husband, my grandfather-in-law, my father-in-law and my brother.

So needless to say the month so far has been totally nuts and this Venture Cakerist is quite tired (even as I am typing this my eyes keep wanting to shut on me).

Those reading this who have tons of experience might think 4 cakes in 3 weeks is a walk in the park. But with a full time job, it’s been quite full on! Many late nights of work meant I’ve also started to develop a “He-Man”  right arm from the endless beating, stirring, kneading, rolling and ganaching work..

First on the list was a Star Wars Death Star birthday cake.  The cake was a caramel mud cake with dark chocolate ganache… yum. It was a birthday gift for my brother who is a big Star Wars fan. For those of you have no idea what this is, it’s Darth Vader’s spaceship in Star Wars…If you’re a Star Wars geek, don’t look too closely at the detail, you may get disappointed!!

This is how it started out in its perfectly shaped and ganached state:

What was supposed to be a very easy cake (aside from a spherical structure) turned out to be more complex than I thought. The baking, shaping and ganaching was all going very well… Then I had to manage my first “Cake Kryptonite” moment: humidity and heat.

After covering the cake with grey sugarpaste, the little concave part collapsed slightly because of the heat and you can see how the ganache started seeping through the bottom of the concave part…I had to do some emergency repair work and re-piping the day the cake was due to be delivered.

Hand painting each of the piped details with royal icing and silver lustre dust was also super time consuming. A couple of 2am nights and a bit of patchwork later this was the final cake:

The birthday boy’s reaction when he saw the cake:

If you’re wondering what the green thing is, it’s apparently some kind of ‘death ray’ but in my mind it was a useful way to hold up a side of the cake that was not liking the heat!!

Before cutting:
After devouring:

For my first spherical cake, I was pretty happy with the effort!!

The next cake for the month was a jungle/baby animal themed Baby Shower cake with 30 cupcakes for one of my closest girlfriends, Hayley. The process started with the animal toppers first which I made from coloured sugarpaste.

They were quite fiddly little things and again the heat ended up making the animals look a little pregnant… but I figured that was pretty appropriate for a baby shower anyway!

I made a last minute decision to create a dummy tier for the animals so that the mum-to-be could box it up as a keepsake. This is finished cutting tier and the assembled tower:

I ended up making a few carrot flavoured cupcakes for the Hayley’s Mum as she didn’t eat chocolate. These were decorated with some simple buttercream swirls and miniature sugarpaste roses.

My latest (and brightest!) cake for the month is a giant pair of “funky psychedelic” flip flops for a beach themed 60th birthday. This was requested by a friend from work for her mum Libby and the brief was “the brighter the better and if possible get the colours clashing!!” I couldn’t quite manage to make the colours clash and ended up making it actually look quite rainbow…

I ended up tinting 8 colours of sugarpaste for the stripes which was a big effort for someone who hates tinting sugarpaste!!

The flip flops with sides covered before the stripes went on.. Covering the carrot cake with white ganache was especially challenging in the heat and whilst you can’t tell in this picture, the inside of the left flip flop also melted and crumbled a little I ended up having to crumb coat the left one and do some major ganache reinforcement..

And voila.. The finished cake! The straps of the flip flops were held up with acetate strips – a neat little trick I picked up from the Planet Cake book.

Click here for a pic of the birthday girl’s reaction! I love seeing feedback like this – makes all the late nights caking so worthwhile and rewarding!!

In between all the cakes I managed to finally perfect my macarons. These are time consuming little things – on average 2 hours per batch because of the amount of processing of the almond/hazelnut meal and sifting required, not to mention the drying time (also known as croutonage) and huge amount of washing up afterwards. I made these for my husband’s grandfather as his birthday present and as a welcome home present for my best friend – glad to say i think they went down quite a treat!

Here’s a peek into my oven during baking:
Left to Right: Plain almond macarons, Hazelnut meal macarons (really yummy)

I’m so proud of those little feet on the macarons!! I actually did a little dance around my kitchen when they formed perfectly. Here are the finished “vintemporary” macarons:


All in all a month of some great baking and caking.

What I’ve realised is that flexibility in my job has been paramount to managing the caking madness. It’s been really challenging but so much fun at the same time. There really is nothing more therapeutic for me than creating a sugary delight…

And the fun’s not over yet..

I have one more cake planned for November – a Corset Cake for a bridal shower, should be really fun to make! With Christmas around the corner, I’m also looking forward to doing some really cool Christmas cakes so stay tuned!


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