Sweet Leaf

Finding Beauty through Baking ~by Susan Baxter-Peace

Elsa August 24, 2016

Filed under: Baking - Desserts,Decorating — sweetleafsusie @ 1:33 pm
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This is loooooooong overdue. Our daughter’s birthday was in June and she is very much into Frozen, particularly Elsa. We had a party for her with a few of her school friends, all of whom also really like Elsa. I think every gift had some form of reference to the movie! Not surprisingly she asked for an Elsa cake for the party.

I saw several designs I liked, most notably a round cake with Elsa’s face in the middle, then using piped buttercream for her hair. I can’t even remember now what made me change my mind, but I decided to make a marzipan Elsa instead, much like the pink power ranger back in April.

It took some planning, but I drew it all out, coloured the marzipan and cut and shaped all the pieces. I had used marzipan instead of marshmallow fondant because one of the girls coming to the party couldn’t have the gelatin in the marshmallows. The marzipan dried out more quickly and was more difficult to make fine details, but it still turned out pretty good. As happy as I (and she) was with it, I kind of hope our daughter is into something else next year!

 

Travel Baking Challenge June 14, 2016

Just over a month ago I signed up for our local Make-a-Wish Foundation’s Rope for Hope, where I need to raise a certain amount of money for the Foundation in order to get the chance to rappel down the side of a city skyscraper. As incentive to make donations I offered my donors various amounts of baked goods for various amounts of donations. (You can check out my spiel by clicking here). The response has been amazing!

I started honouring some of the baking requests last week in a bit of an unconventional way. Two of the generous donors were my brother and his family, and a longtime friend and her family, who all happen to live on the west coast. It also happened to be my brother’s 40th birthday last week. So I decided to surprise him for his birthday and delivered his stuff, and my friend’s, in person! I travelled from London, ON, to Vancouver, BC with several dozen cookies and two birthday cakes in my suitcase!

I made the cakes and decorations ahead, froze them, then packaged them up as securely as I could on departure day and hoped for the best! It all went surprisingly well. Following is a photo essay of the adventure.

V1

Fondant Dog: For my friend’s three year old son, he wanted a cake with his ‘doggy’ on it.

V2

Fondant Running Shoes: For my brother, who has gotten into running over the last year.

V3

Prepping the fondant pieces for transport.

V4

All the baking accessories I would need to assemble the cakes once I got there.

V5

Fondant ‘doggy’ getting wrapped and ready to go.

V6

All the fondant decorations wrapped and ready to pack.

V7

Three cakes (2 spicy chocolate, 1 plain chocolate) frozen, stacked and prepped for packing.

V8

Cakes snuggly packed into cake carrier.

V9

My suitcase, with more baking supplies than clothes! In addition to the cakes and supplies, there is a container of chocolate mint sandwich cookies, and a container of cardamom ginger cookies.

 

V10

Doggy cake all done!

V11

Such a cute puppy 🙂

V12

40th Birthday Running Shoe cake all done!

V13

Close-up of Running Shoe cake.

 

 

Go Go Power Rangers! April 15, 2016

So I thought Power Rangers were a thing of my childhood, but apparently they’re actually still a thing, and I had a request last weekend from a little girl turning six for a Pink Power Ranger cake. It took me a bit by surprise, and I was a bit intimidated at first, but of course I said “of course!”

After some searching it didn’t seem so intimidating, especially when I searched “pink power ranger clipart.” I printed off an image, enlarged it and went from there. I decided to make a fondant decoration for the top of the cake rather than trying to shape the whole cake like a power ranger. I think I made the right call!

I made a big black circle of fondant for the background, and carved out the other pieces by tracing through the image I had enlarged on each section of colour. The outline was indented into the fondant and I used a knife to carve out all the pieces. Then it was just a matter of sticking them all together on top of the black circle.

A chocolate cake was requested, so I made a 14-inch round chocolate cake, made the black circle 10-inch, and fit the power ranger to an 8-inch space. I put a thin layer of frosting to help the fondant image stick to the top of the cake, then piped pink frosting all around. And to garnish I used pink sugar and some silver dragees.

I think this is one of the few times I have been almost completely happy with how a cake turned out. The perfectionist in me was feeling pretty proud when I boxed it up, and the birthday girl seemed pretty happy with it too – which is always the best part!

 

Hoops, Anyone? March 30, 2016

We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays over the weekend. They’re both part of an intramural basketball team and were spending the weekend following the NCAA’s March Madness. I immediately knew I wanted to make them a basketball cake!

This was my first attempt at a sphere shaped cake. I suppose I could have just decorated a flat round cake, but where’s the fun in that?! It went pretty well, but the fondant around a sphere was quite challenging.

I baked four 8″ round cakes, two chocolate, two vanilla, and layered them with ermine frosting. Then I froze them in the stack. Once they were well frozen I started trimming and shaping with a knife. It became clear pretty quickly that it was going to be very hard to shape a round top and have enough cake left to make a good sized basketball. So I mixed the trimmings with some frosting and molded it onto the top to get the round shape (T-Rex style, see here). Once the sphere was shaped I did a crumb coat all over and put it in the fridge to chill.

I took it out shortly before putting on the fondant, so it would still be cool enough to hold its shape, but not so cold that it would sweat and make the fondant droopy. This batch of fondant was a little dryer than usual, and as a result it made the difficult sphere shape even harder because it all started cracking as I rounded it down to the bottom. It looked great until I got about halfway down the sides. I tried to smooth the cracks, but I couldn’t get it smooth enough without squishing dents into the cake. So, because it was for family, I opted to leave the cracks knowing that they would probably be okay with it. Once the lines of the ball were marked, I rolled out the black fondant and attached thin strips with meringue powder glue.

Overall I was quite happy with how it turned out. It was a fun challenge to do a sphere, and now I just need to practice keeping it smooth around the bottom!

 

T-Rex Leftovers February 8, 2016

I had some cake pieces, frosting and fondant leftover after the T-Rex cake last week. We ate some of them just on their own, but the rest I decided to make into little treats to celebrate a couple birthdays in the daycare.

I crumbled what cake was left, mixed it with what frosting was left, and shaped them into bite sized cubes – about the size of a two-bite brownie. Then I rolled out some fondant and wrapped each one, hoping to make them look like little presents. The fondant was a bit bulky on the side folds, but I wasn’t going for perfection here, I mostly just wanted to use everything up.

I cut out some flower shapes for a decorative topper and stuck them on with some ‘meringue powder glue.’ They remind me of a less refined petit four – a cute little bite of dense cake with a yummy, decorative coating. A new variation of the popular cake-pop, perhaps?

 

 

October Birthdays – Double Feature October 19, 2015

October is a very busy month for birthdays in our family, two of which are my son and my husband within a week of each other. Although we celebrated them both with family over the Thanksgiving weekend, I made one cake for my son for that celebration, and I made one for my husband on his actual birthday at home.

My son is really into trains right now (are you surprised??), and of course, particularly Thomas – it’s like an inborn addiction that all little boys seem to have no matter how much or how little exposure they actually have to Thomas. Anyway, I wanted to make him a cake with Thomas on it, but with all the other preparations for Thanksgiving (we were travelling as well) I just didn’t have the time to create a Thomas. However, as he was only turning two, I figured I would probably still be safe with any kind of train, so I made a simpler train out of fondant for the top of his cake. I didn’t hear any complaints, especially since he got to eat parts of the train!

For my husband’s birthday the next week I decided to do an ice cream cake. My husband isn’t into sweet things, like cake, as much. But he does like ice cream. How many of you remember when Dairy Queen had a Nerds blizzard? You know those crunchy little candies that are oh so tangy and yummy? My husband LOVES Nerds candies, and often talks about those Nerds blizzards and how you can’t get them anymore. Well, I decided to make him a Nerds ice cream cake. Pretty straightforward, I got some vanilla ice cream, some Nerds, put them together with a crust and chocolate layer, and voila, a Nerds ice cream cake. It was a pretty big hit; my daughter even put in a request for the same cake for her birthday – next June! We’ll see if she remembers 🙂

The Nerds ice cream cake.

The Nerds ice cream cake.

 

4th Birthday Party! July 10, 2015

My daughter recently celebrated her 4th birthday, how time flies! You may remember back in February I made a blue race car cake for a friend of ours (check it out here). Well, ever since then my daughter has been saying that she also wanted a race car cake for her birthday, except she wanted it to be pink…5 months of her asking about this pink race car cake! And her biggest emphasis was on the cookie wheels. I think she really just wanted the cake for the wheels. I probably could have just made a whole bunch of fondant covered Oreos and she would have been satisfied. But I digress.

So I brought out the race car design, changed the lightening bolts to flowers, and voila, little girl’s 4th birthday pink race car cake was created. It was kind of nice to do a design I’d already made, a lot less legwork. And I also knew how to improve it. For example, tripling the cake recipe instead of just doubling it, so that the car wouldn’t be quite so squat! It still took a while to make, but definitely went faster the second time around.

I won’t go into a lot of detail, you can read that on the blue race car cake post, but I will post some pictures of the pink race car cake, including the cookie wheels!

You can check out her previous birthday cakes here:

1st Birthday

2nd birthday

3rd Birthday

 

 
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