Saturday, 31 December 2011
Lemur, Mander, Alpha Proofing, Laramel, Raptor chick, the Queen, Miss Kitty, SnP, Mander, Bluehaus, Maxler and so many more.... I don't know where I would be. Without the inspiration of new friends, like the Polish Viking, A Canadian Foodie, and others I might not have had the confidence to find my way. I look forward to this next year and all the promises and challenges it holds.
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Alternate title: if this cake had been burnt, this post would be called
The Reburn of the Sith.First I would like to comment on all the attention I have been getting on the interwebs for my Forest of Endor gingerbread project. I am completely overwhelmed by all the positive feedback I have gotten. I can't believe how many people have stopped by my humble little slice of the Internet. I really can't express my gratitude for all the support!
Thank you to all of my old friends, and new.
when in doubt... Vader is the answer
After making the rice Krispie Death Star, doing all the wiring to make it light up, and the structural supports, this cake seemed as easy as pie. Ha! Easy as pie! the biggest challenge for me was definitely Darth Vader. I started over several times making his head. Getting all the angles right, and the proportions aligned is difficult when you're sculpting. It is especially troublesome when you make such an iconic character, the smallest mistakes look huge. Everyone knows what Darth Vader looks like. I have to remind myself that sugar and chocolate and other tasty things are not the easiest medium. I did the best I could in the time I had. At the very least he is recognisable. That makes my inner nerd squee!
My mind swirled with tons of cool ideas, but I had to rein myself in. That is one thing I am getting much better at, NOT over decorating. I realise now that i don't always have to use every single one of my ideas. Sometimes it is better to let afew well done decorations shine, rather than crowd a cake with lots of mediocre stuff. I decided to go simple but striking. Just enough to look cool!. i carved two 6" vanilla cakes with berry Italian butter cream into the shape of the death star. A 10"double chocolate cake was decorated as "space" and of course the edible Darth Vader. I hope the flavors will please the palates of this culinary crowd. I make everything from scratch including my fondant, because i think it really makes a big difference. It is great to make a cake look fabulous, but what is the point if it doesn't taste as good as it looks?
coming soon, baked goods that are not Lucas based.
stay tuned for fondant tips and recipes.
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Alright, people settle in for a long post. Its been exactly one month in the making. Can you guess from the title and the pic above? That's right!!! STAR WARS!!! Edible star wars !!!!
So this year for my Festival of Trees project, I decided to do Star Wars. I know it might not be the most festive idea, but the theme was "Under the Tree" so I mean.... come on... it sort of works? Right? Yeah? Forest of Endor? Lots of trees? Whatever, hopefully it will help raise lots of moolah for the University Hospital! and that's what it's all about. That and challenging myself to learn something new every time. So get comfy, and get ready for the play-by-play of how this idea became a reality. Don't worry, there will be LOTS of pictures.
Once the "trees" were set, I covered the platforms with royal icing and placed them in position above the forest floor. 8) This seems like a fairly straightforward process, right? Well, lets just say there was a bit of a learning curve. In the end all the platform were just fine. The biggest issue I had was the main area, with a BIG platform stretching between two trees. I broke 3 pieces trying to get it to work. Finally, I made it in two pieces and used royal icing to "glue" them together in mid air! I needed a bit of support to make this happen... literally. In the end it all worked out, and I was amazed my design worked.
I mean.... Um.... of course it worked!
Once all the gingerbread was set in place, I covered it in fondant with a wooden plank design. I painted all the "wooden" elements with a bit of colour to make it more rustic looking, and then let it set up.
In the meantime..... DEATH STAR!
Jedi, covered in grey fondant and left to dry out.
One of the coolest parts of this project was Lemur teaching me how to solder the wires together for the custom LED lights we used in the death star. He was absolutely brilliant in his plan to make it light up, and shoot. We (mostly He) wired up a rig of green LED lights, and a battery pack to light 'em up! As well as cutting some fibre optic rods to carry the light. BRILLIANT. I cant say enough great things about my sweet friend, or thank him enough for his help, inspiration, and support.
My trusty dremel makes another appearance to make the appropriate space for the lights and necessary wiring. Then I (for what seemed like eternity,) patiently worked all the little lights into their new homes and secured them with fondant. About this time i started giggling a lot and getting really excited. I may have been mildly ridiculous.
While this step settles, I start modelling my Ewok brigade. My first attempt to make them with chocolate.... FAIL!
I learned from my mistakes and tried again.... and then these little guys were born!!!
I was giggling my butt off, and back to being just a bit ridiculously excited. then it was time to place them around the village! 8)
It was finally time to start final assembly. after spending all my free time for a month on the pieces, it became a whole.
After making the (slightly crooked) etchings into the death star, giving it a couple coats of "paint," securing the fibre optic rods, and hiding the wires, I did a little dance. Finally it was all together, and it was working!!!!
I was a bit sad, cause it didn't turn out as perfectly as I had envisioned. But after awhile, I accepted the imperfections. I would rather challenge myself and push my limits, learning along the way, than make a safe design that is perfect. So by moving the gingerbread up off the ground, i didn't think it would leave the ground looking so empty. I scrambled to fill some of the space up. I also ran out of time to completely cover the wires and finish the bottom area of the Death Star support. My lines were crooked on the Death Star. 8( Once i accepted these shortcomings, it was easier to just focus on the positives and be proud of what i was able to accomplish!
Far from perfect, but still, pretty dang cool!!!
My lovely friend Lara ( A marvelous chef, baker and amigo, BTW,) came over to cheer me on in my final moments of panic, and she even helped me deliver my project and set it up at the Shaw Conference Centre.
A tradition I have decided to continue is "hidden" giggles for people who take the time to look closer. Hiding under the main hut is Yoda, Chewie, and the crash site of a hang gliding ewok.
Lots of little details bring it all together, and the Ewoks chill out in their village.
When it was all said and done, I was exhausted. and it was worth it all. I love doing this project every year. They need more people to join in the fun. All skill levels are welcome, so why not contact them an see if you can get on board for next year? Call or email Elaine here! It is so rewarding! I am completely willing to help anyone i can, who knows... maybe i will work on two again next year!
C3PO and R2D2
My last addition was my favourite. I cant help but smile when I look at this happy fella, so proud of his Stormtrooper helmet collection, lol. The helmets were a much more difficult thing to make than anticipated, but i think it more or less works. if you don't smile when you see him... well : - p
and finally the whole kit and caboodle
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
you know I love 'em.
yup that's pretty much it. It is that easy. I don't have a recipe. just start out with some cake, I have used chocolate, vanilla bean, carrot, even cheesecake! I add in something to bind the cake together, like leftover butter cream, ganache, or fruit. (cheesecake needs to have something dry added to the mix instead of butter cream... like white cake, or cookie crumbs)
you can be creative, make ball, or cones, or whatever shape you want really. then once they are chilled, you can dip them by hand in white, milk, or dark chocolate. or push a stick into each on and dip them in the chocolate.
you can decorate them however you like. there really are no limits.
to be honest I am no expert at these wonderful little bites. the person to check out is Bakerella.
Even if you don't want to make cake pops, you should go check out her blog Bakerella is a personal inspiration for me, as well as one amazing baker. She is just a marvelous woman! Truly! If you are more of a Cook book lover, that is fine to, she has a book now too. Cake Pops is a great book, and a solid intro to cake pops. If you want to learn to do them right, I'm not expert, go see Bakerella, and give her some love!