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I thought I was done with cake decorating for a while but I had lots of fondant left over from the wedding cupcakes and I needed to make something for the Calf Club day cake stall so . . .

A selection of cupcakes

A selection of cupcakes

There were 24 originally but the dog stole one. Before it was decorated luckily.

They were priced at $1.50 each and didn’t last long. One woman bought 12 of them.


After all the preparations, the time finally came to make the final version of the cake. I picked up the tins on Thursday – a 6″ and a 10″. I made 1 batch of the recipe and divided it between the 2 tins and when those were baked I made a second batch so I ended up with two 10″ cakes and two 6″ cakes. On Friday I levelled the cakes then split each of the cakes in half. I stacked all 4 layers of each sized tier with boysenberry filling in-between.

                                 Berry Filling

   1  1/2  kg               boysenberries
   2  1/4  cup           water
   1  1/2  cup           sugar
   9      Tbs                cornflour

1. Add the berries and  water to a pot. Cook for 5 minutes
over medium-high heat.
2. Sift together the sugar and cornstarch and then stir into the berry
mixture. Cook until the mixture is thick and the berries have broken
down, about 15 minutes.
3. Let cool before using

This recipe made enough for all the layers with quite a bit left over.

Before putting the filling on I piped white chocolate ganache around the edge to stop the berry filling bleeding into the covering ganache.

Once I had both tiers individually stacked I put the first coating of ganache on.

                        White Chocolate Ganache

1.2      kg             white chocolate
 400   ml            cream

1. Melt together using a bain marie or the microwave. Let cool before using.

I warmed the ganache till it was quite runny and poured it over. This worked reasonably well but I needed to add extra on the sides. Once they were done they were put in the fridge till Saturday.

On Saturday I put a second coat of ganache on and got it as smooth as I could. Putting the cakes on a Lazy Susan made this step much easier. After a further spell in the fridge I used the 6″ tin to mark the top of the 10″ cake so I knew where to put the smaller tier. I sunk 4 sharpened dowels into the cake just inside the mark I had made – these were to support the 2nd tier. I had already inserted a longer dowel through the top tier and the foil-covered cardboard base it was sitting on. Once I had positioned the top tier correctly I pushed this dowel through the bottom cake to hold them securely together. I piped some ganache around the join and to fill the hole in the top, then it was back into the fridge till Sunday – the wedding day.

On Sunday I put the cake onto the presentation base using a liberal application of buttercream icing as glue. I then put the cake into a large box with a thin piece of foam in the bottom. The box was then put on another piece of foam in the car and I proceeded to drive very carefully the 20km to the church. I had put a sign in the rear windscreen – “Caution: Wedding cake on board!”. Once at the church the cake was put on the table and I added the flowers, leaves and tendrils. Voila!



When I got to work yesterday I discovered several large piles of new books on the counter for me to use to top up the new book display. One was Divine Cupcakes by Tamara Jane. On the front was a picture of a beautiful cupcake with a rose on top. Given my current obsession with cake and roses, I had to have a look. The book starts with the cupcake recipes (all yummy-sounding and beautifully illustrated), then moves onto toppings and frostings (a great selection) and finally decorations (easy and beautiful). It was while I was reading the ‘toppings’ section that I had a eureka moment (or should that be ‘an eureka’?). The recipe for ganache had 2 variations – one for dark chocolate ganache and one for white chocolate ganache. And, surprise, surprise – the white chocolate ganache had a much higher ratio of  chocolate to cream. No wonder I always have trouble with my white chocolate ganache being too runny. I have been using the wrong recipe!

Armed with this new information I set to work to make another trial wedding cake tier. Following the recipe in the book resulted in a ganache of just the right texture and I was very pleased with the final result.

On Saturday it will be the real thing and I am feeling much more confident now. Watch this space!

Chocolate plastic roses

Chocolate plastic roses

Having trialed the top tier of my son’s wedding cake I thought it was time to start making the roses that will decorate it. I found a site that made it sound very easy [] and with my recent experience making rose buds from fondant, I thought I was set – I even have the proper cutters.

I made my chocolate plastic and put it in the fridge as specified. After 3 hours I took it out and let it sit on the bench for an hour before trying to knead it. It was quite hard and when I tried to knead it, it just crumbled. The only departure from the recipe was the addition of some powdered colouring as the bride wanted red roses. I wondered if that had mucked things up. Or perhaps my ingredients weren’t quite right. I used corn syrup but wasn’t sure whether it was ‘light” or not.  I did a bit of googling and found a site that recommended zapping the chocolate plastic in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm it up. I did that a couple of times and was then able to knead it.

Chocolate plastic roses

Chocolate plastic roses

As I suspected the finished product was pink rather than red but the bride and groom are quite happy to have a mix of pink and white roses.  I made 5 roses before heading to bed and will make the rest tonight and tomorrow. I was quite happy with how they turned out but I think they look more like camellias than roses. The book recommends having a total of 20 roses in various sizes – I think I will make slightly more white than pink roses and will make more than 20 so I can use some on a second practice cake.

trial wedding cake

trial wedding cake

The date of the wedding is approaching much too fast but I have been working on some things.

ringbearer's cushion

ringbearer's cushion

 Having been asked to make the ringbearer’s cushion, I headed to the library (of course) and found a book with a suitable design but then had trouble finding the right laces and ribbons or even some red satin. In the end I sewed 3 strips of wide satin ribbon together and place the lace so it covered the seams.

I decided it was time for a trial run of the wedding cake – the top tier at least. The bride is now on a low-fat diet due to gall stone problems which creates a bit of a problem with the plan of using a white chocolate ganache for the icing. After a bit of lateral thinking, I suggested that I make egg-free, low-fat, beautifully decorated cupcakes for the bride and groom and the flower-girls. This would mean that I could use my tried and true chocolate cake recipe for the main cake and ice it with chocolate ganache.

I should have remembered the last time I tried to make white chocolate ganache! I followed the recipe in the wedding cake book only to find that it was far too runny – deja vue! Even refrigerating it overnight  didn’t thicken it enough. I added the rest of white chocolate and then some icing sugar until finally it was thick enough. I had used all the white chocolate so I couldn’t try making the roses. I think I need a bit more practise with the icing and you couldn’t really taste the raspberry jam I used between some of the layers. One of my Foodlover friends pointed me to a recipe for a filling using fresh (or frozen) berries so I think I will try another cake using that and see if I can do a bit better with the icing.

trial wedding cake - cut

trial wedding cake - cut


On Wednesday, I celebrated  finishing my first assignment for the semester by going to a cupcake decorating class at the Culinary Council. In the 2 hrs we were supposed to make 3 different cupcakes but we ran out of time for the last one so ended up making a variation of the 2nd one. It was lots of fun and my family were very impressed with the results but I think they looked better than they tasted – too much icing for my taste.

butterfly cupcake

green cupcake







rose cupcake

I have always been keen to waste as little food as possible but the art of recycling leftovers has become more important than ever in these straightened economic times. Winter is an ideal time for this pursuit because a multitude of leftovers can be added to soup.

The last week I made a South East Asian style soup for dinner a la Linda’s Asoupsian Inspiration. For the stock I used some chicken bones that I had squirreled away in the freezer from various chicken meals and added the contents of the vegetable stock bag that also lives in the freezer (this contains onion ends, carrot peel and ends, herb stalks etc). When the stock was done I used about 2/3 to make the soup adding the various Asian flavours recommended by Linda. I put some udon noodles and thinly sliced pork in the boiling stock and let everyone choose their own assortment of vegetables to add to their bowl. There was some soup left over so I chopped the noodles, added the rest of the stock, a can of tomatoes, cooked kidney beans (from the freezer), a couple of left-over sausages, chopped potato and carrot, peas and chopped mizuna (no cabbage ready in the garden). Lo and behold my Asian soup was transformed into Italian Minestrone!

Later in the week I made a honey cake which I liked but no. 4 son didn’t so it went stale in the tin. It was recycled into a microwaved chocolate steam pud (an Alison Holst Microwave Cookbook recipe). I served it with custard the first night and with pears and cream the next night.

This week we started off with an Alison Holst slow-cooker barley soup which we had for dinner and then for several lunches. On Friday, I added the leftover lentils from the previous night plus some bacon stock and sauteed bacon, onion and garlic and we had it for dinner. On Sunday, I added the left over beef casserole from Saturday. Now there is enough soup for lunches this week.

Of course you need to be very careful with food hygiene when recycling food like this.  Hot foods need to be cooled as quickly as possible and then stored in the fridge. When they are reheated they need to be hot right through – I usually simmer my recycled soups for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Last week I made the cake from Radience Recipes. The recipe was very similar to the cake I made the previous week but with the addition of half a can of Sprite. The main difference, however, was the cooking temperature. Last week’s 002cake was baked at 160C for an hour whereas the instructions for this one said to cook at 200C for 10-12 minutes then at 240C for another 10 minutes. This temperature seemed way too hot for a cake but I gave it a try. After the prescribed length of time it still wasn’t cooked so I reduced the temperature to the usual 180C and cooked it for another 20 minutes. The flavour was good but the cake sunk and was rather dry – due to the high tempreature I think.

This week I made the  Women’s Weekly cake. This was a pretty straightforward recipe with no unusual ingredients or odd cooking instructions. The cake took a little bit longer to cook than the recipe said and was quite soft – as evidenced by my thumbprint in the top!


The flavour was good but I think my favourite is still the second cake I tried. I will defrost all the pieces of other cakes that I saved so we can do a taste comparison bef0re making a final decision.


This week I tried out the DivineTaste Eggless Chocolate Cake. It was certainly very easy to make and the batter was a much better consistency than the last recipe I tried. The cooking temperature seemed quite low but the cake was cooked after the specified length of time. Something in the recipe puzzeled me – the instruction to preheat the oven at a lower temperature than the cake was baked at. I usually preheat at a higher temperature to allow for the temperature dropping when the cake is put in. I must admit I followed my usual practice rather than the recipe. When it was cooked I put the cake on a rack on the bench to cool while I went to feed the animals. When I came back there was no sign of the cake – my son’s dog had wolfed down the entire thing! Here he is looking as though butter (or cake) wouldn’t melt in his mouth.



Luckily I had another tin of sweetened condensed milk so, the next day, I made another cake. Althou this was described as a sponge cake it didn’t have a sponge cake texture but was instead a reasonably dense cake with definite chocolaty taste. I think this is the best cake so far although my son prefers the first one. One more recipe to try – I must remember to but a can of sprite next week. My rose cutters and icing spatulas have arrived and I have found and bought a great Lazy Susan to use as an icing turntable. I will try to get to the cake decorating shop this week to get some decent white chocolate and some corn syrup to make the plastic white chocolate so I can start practising the roses.



This week I tried the Eggless Chocolate cake on Fun and Food blog. I didn’t have any sour cream on hand so used a mixture of cream and yoghurt. Halfway through making the cake I realised that I had forgotten to allow for the fact that the recipe was using American cups which are smaller than the metric cups we use in New Zealand. I added some extra cream but the mixture was still very thick. I managed to stir it with a wooden spoon but there was no way the mixture was going “to fold and form peaks.”

The recipe specified a 9″ pan but when I saw the amount of mixture the recipe made – only 600ml – I decided to use a smaller pan. I ended up cooking the cake for 20 minutes more than the recipe said- it wasn’t anywhere near done after 25 minutes. This cake definitely had a more chocolaty flavour than the first one I tried but it was very dry. Increasing the amount of liquid in the cake may make it less dry but I think I will try the other recipes first as I may find one that doesn’t need any adjustment.


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