Elsa Cake (Buttercream tutorial) and an Ice-themed Birthday Party

December 13th, 2016

Elsa Cake Buttercream tutorial

I had a request for a very special birthday this year. An Elsa cake. I’m sure many parents out there have had the same request after the much loved Frozen movie was released back in December 2013.

Elsa Cake

There are some amazing tutorials out there for both buttercream and fondant for Elsa cakes. Although, as my family are not huge fondant fans (and I am not hugely confident with fondant), our cakes are always decorated in Vienna/Buttercream icing. It does limit some of the effects you are able to create, but I (almost) always love a challenge and a bit of problem-solving.

Elsa Cake

Elsa Cake

Elsa Cake

Elsa Cake

To start with, I needed an Elsa whose clothes could come off, and even better – the one I chose had a printed on bodice. I bought mine online here – you may find something similar by searching Elsa sparkle doll. I found the ones in store didn’t look as pretty as the one I ordered.

Elsa doll

To make the cake, I used a combination of my mum’s Dolly Varden tin as well as a square 20cm tin (you could probably use a round 20 or 22cm tin). For the Dolly Varden tin I used 2 x packet cake mixes (I used Green’s Golden Butter Cake, with a dash of vanilla added to it). This took about 1 hour 20 minutes at 170C (check every 20 minutes, and 10 minutes toward the end). I wrapped the tin in foil/damp newspaper wrap to try and make the cooking a bit more even. Here is a good tutorial to make one. I also made another 2 x packet cake mixes for the square tin + 18 patty cakes. I made the additional cake, as didn’t want to take the legs off a doll I had bought as a present.

Elsa Cake

Once the cakes were cooled, I cut out a rectangle toward the front of the dolly Varden cake big enough for Elsa to fit in, scooping out the cake with a fork. I then placed her into the cake, making sure her bottom half was covered with plastic wrap. Here is a good fondant tutorial for an Elsa cake, which i based some of the carving from. Once the rectangle was cut out (and both cakes reasonably flattened), I froze both the cakes – to make carving easier and less messy later – and it’s much easier not having to make the cakes the day before the party.

The day before the party I decorated the cake, using 3 x quantity Vienna cream. (There was more than enough for the cake and some of the patty cakes as well).
375g butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups icing sugar (I used icing mixutre)
3-6 Tablespoons milk
Beat butter until fluffy and very light in colour. Gradually add the icing sugar and milk alternatively until nice and fluffy. Add colour pastes as required, mix well.

To get the right colour I kept adding a combination of Wilton Icing colours (pastes) – Sky Blue and Royal Blue, until I was happy with the colour of the main part of the dress.

Remove the cakes from the freezer, add some icing between the two layers (you may need to add more icing here, depending how high your cakes rose and where they come up to on Elsa’s legs) and start to carve. The main carving is needed from the square cake, although i made the front of the skirt a little flatter, and took a little off the back as well.

Elsa Cake carving

Elsa Cake carving

Elsa Cake carving

Elsa Cake carving

I iced the skirt with a crumb coat (place some icing in a bowl and coat – this way you don’t need to worry about crumbs getting into the small bit of icing in the bowl). Smooth the skirt and place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the fridge and smooth well with a slightly warmed palate knife. Next ice on top of the skirt with another layer of icing. To get the striped look, use the small offset palate knife to stroke down evenly along the skirt.

Elsa Cake Crumb Coat

Elsa Cake smoothed

elsacake10

Elsa Cake smoothed

Here is a Wilton tutorial of the cake I was basing my one off.

Once you are happy with the main part of the skirt, you can add more of those two coloured pastes until you have a darker and nicely contrasted blue. This is then used for the base decorations and the ruffles. For the base I used 1cm nozzle in a piping bag and piped 5 rounds of icing, then use the small offset palate knife to pull some of the icing upwards (not too far though). Continue around the skirt until it is complete. Do the same pattern offset above this pattern.

Elsa Cake

Elsa Cake Skirt base

For the ruffles at the top, I used my Wilton tip 104. There are many tutorials on how to use these tips to make beautiful ruffles. My suggestion would be to do a rough outline (either using a template or freehand) to mark where to do the ruffles. My original ones were too small and looked silly, so I had to wipe them off and start again. I’m also not sure whether they were totally even.

Elsa Cake Ruffles

For the piping at the top and bottom, I used a size 4 Bakers Secret nozzle. I just used what I had on hand and what I thought would suit this size skirt – as the cake ended up being quite big (without looking out of proportion).

Elsa Cake

Elsa Cake

I hope this tutorial has helped anyone planning to make a lovely cake for a special someone in their life.

Some of the other things I made for the party included meringue snowmen and a lime pie (topped with snowflake icing decorations). These snowflake decorations were just made using some flower paste and using cutters that are available on ebay.

Elsa Cake Lime Pie

The decorations in the centre of the room were a combination of balloons, tissue paper pom poms and hand made snowflakes – always a fun craft to do!

Decorations

Elsa Cake

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Five-hour Roast Lamb with Beans and Olives

September 10th, 2016

Five Hour Roast Lamb with Beans and Olives

Wow! This was amazing. A wonderful aroma filled the house as this cooked, the meat fell apart and all the lovely juices soaked into the veggies.

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

The original recipe contained dried white beans which were cooked in with the lamb the whole time, although I found the liquid evaporated too quickly and the beans stayed dried and started burning. I think the roasting tray used in the original recipe was a bit smaller than what I used, so I decided to use canned beans the second time I made it, to make sure they weren’t crunchy, and they absorbed all the lovely flavours.

Five-hour roast Lamb with Beans and Olives

Recipe adapted from Taste (first found in Coles mag)
Serves: approx 6-8

1.8kg-2kg Lamb Shoulder (with the bone left in)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2-4 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
12 small oregano sprigs
12 small rosemary sprigs
2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
400g can white beans / cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2-4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (approx 1.5-2cm cubes)
200g green beans, ends trimmed, and chopped in half
200g cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (80g) kalamata olives
Oregano leaves, extra, to serve
6-8 wholemeal or wholegrain wraps, to serve
Hummus, yoghurt or tatziki, to serve
(Alternatively serve with roasted or steamed veggies)

Preheat oven to 140C. Place the lamb on a clean work surface (or in the roasting pan you are using). Sprinkle with paprika. Use a small sharp knife to cut twelve 2cm-deep slits in the surface. Push a garlic slice, oregano sprig and rosemary sprig into each cut. Season well.

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Place lamb in a large deep roasting pan, add chicken stock around the lamb. Tightly cover with foil. Roast for 4½ hours or until lamb is very tender. Depending on the size of your roasting pan, you may need to add some water around the 3-4.5 hour mark to make sure the base doesn’t burn, as the veggies will be cooking in the base. (check after 2 hours, if there is no or little liquid left, add a cup or two of water and check in another hour).

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Increase oven to 200C. Uncover, add the potatoes and cannellini beans and roast for 20 mins or until lamb is golden brown (the potatoes should be almost cooked). Arrange the green beans, tomatoes and olives around the lamb. Roast for a further 10 mins or until beans are tender and tomatoes begin to collapse. Set aside for 10 mins to rest. Sprinkle with extra oregano, if desired. Pull apart the lamb using two forks or tongs and serve with veggies, or serve on wraps with your choice of toppings.

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

Five Hour Roasted Lamb with Beans and Olives

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Sugar Flowers and An Amazing Birthday

July 15th, 2015

Sugar Flowers

Last year I decided to make my birthday cake. I was inspired by a beautiful cake by Sharon Wee, which had an amazing number and variety of sugar flowers on multiple levels of the cake. I had bought a number of new flower and petal cutters and watched videos, pinned websites and read books and tutorials on making sugar flowers. It took me a number of months to make them all. Each time my child went down for a nap, I would make some petals or assemble a flower, or colour flower paste.

Sugar Flowers

I tried a number of flower paste recipes, and I found I couldn’t quite get the right consistency. They would either dry too quickly and crack whilst I was using it, or take forever to dry and I couldn’t assemble a flower over a short period of time. Some also had issues with tearing whilst trying to thin edges. I am still on a look out for the perfect recipe.

Sugar Flowers

I haven’t had much experience with making cakes that are scrumptious – and can be made a couple of days in advance, and covered with ganache and fondant, and still taste great. So I decided to try a new white chocolate mud cake recipe and a new white chocolate ganache recipe (I bought some fondant). I tried very hard to make the edges on the ganache nice and sharp – it was extremely hot weather, and I just didn’t manage this. I also tried to get the edges of the fondant sharp, again with no success, and I tried to do a luster effect on the outside of the cake, which also didn’t turn out how I would have liked – perhaps I used the wrong brush, wrong ingredients or too small an amount.

Sugar Flowers

I also didn’t have the patience to make up some royal icing, and place the flowers into straws before inserting into the cake. The flowers weren’t in the cake very long, so we just ate around them 🙂

Sugar Flowers

Amongst the flowers I made were peonies, roses, freesia, Phalaenopsis orchids, cymbidium orchids, a magnolia and anemones.

Sugar Flowers

Apart from stressing myself out making the cake for my birthday, I had also made some Pavlova Ice cream, and also asked for help making our own waffle cones – not the best decision, due to the number of people eating ice cream, and the heat of the day. The main meal for lunch was slow cooked pulled pork and coleslaw rolls. All in all a wonderful day. My birthday cake for this year is unlikely going to have the same amount of time and effort put in 🙂

Sugar Flowers

Peony

Peony

Peony

Orchid

Orchid

Sugar Flowers

Orchid

Magnolia

Orchid

Poppy

Pavlova Ice Cream

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Iced Vovo Pavlova

June 15th, 2015

Iced Vovo Pavlova

I saw the January Taste Magazine’s Cover whilst looking over a number of my food-related emails – it was an Iced Vovo Pavlova – it looked amazing! I made sure I bought the magazine as I thought this would be lovely to make for Australia Day celebrations.

I didn’t choose the best day to make meringue though, a hot and steamy 30C+ day in Sydney. So sweating in the kitchen I persevered and managed to get it all done. Luckily I took the photos straight away, as it starting weeping and melting in the heat (as it was a lot taller than I expected, and didn’t fit in the fridge).

Iced Vovo Pavlova

As for taste, I was surprised at how similar to the Iced Vovo biscuit it tasted – due to the combination of coconut, raspberry jam and marshmallow, with lovely cream layers and crunchy pavlova. My only issue, I found it a bit too sweet. I would have liked a cake/sponge/biscuit layer and less meringue, but that’s just me – maybe something to create in the future.

You can find the recipe on Taste if you wish to try it yourself 🙂

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

Iced Vovo Pavlova

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Spinach, Bacon and Rice Pie

June 12th, 2015

Nick’s veggie beds have really taken off, he has built 5 lovely raised garden beds (quite a while ago now) for his vegetable beds, and we have already had loads of onions, beans, tomatoes, peas, beetroot, pumpkin and even corn!

One of the easy veggies to grow is silverbeet, and we were very happy when ours lasted two seasons! After previously using it in Spanikopita, we decided this time around we would try out some new recipes.

I searched the web and found a very interesting one that had spinach and rice in the pie. To me that sounded a little odd – although I am certainly glad I tried it! It was a lovely pie, the bottom pastry didn’t go soggy, as the mix was not too runny, and all the flavours worked beautifully together. We have already made this pie a couple of times now and it’s great when you have extra silverbeet growing.

Spinach, Bacon and Rice Pie

Recipe adapted from Taste

Serves: 8

1 cup rice
2 cups water
2 sheets frozen, ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen, shortcrust pastry, thawed (you can use extra puff pastry if you prefer)
1 bunch English spinach or silver beet, washed and shredded
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cups tasty grated cheese
4 rashers bacon, chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk, for glazing

Place rice and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil then simmer, covered, for 10-12 minutes (rice should be almost cooked). Rinse under cold water. Drain.

While the rice is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the onion for 5-10 minutes, until soft (and caramelised if you like), add the bacon and cook another 2-5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. (Cooling is not that important if you are rushed on time).

Preheat oven to 220°C. Line a lasagna dish with 2 sheets of shortcrust pastry.

Combine rice, spinach, oil, onion, cheese, bacon and eggs. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon mixture into lasagna dish. Brush edges of pastry lightly with water. Top with remaining puff pastry. Press edges of pastry together (Use any left over puff pastry to decide a criss-cross pattern on top). Brush pastry top with milk. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and crisp. Serve hot or cold.

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Baby Shower Dessert Table

June 8th, 2015

It seems forever ago now, but I still wanted to share my baby shower photos with everyone. My family went to such a great effort to make my baby shower dessert table… and yes, even though it was my baby shower I just had to make some cakes! This was my chance to decorate a couple of cakes, using the ruffle icing technique, my new fondness of sugar flowers and some sugar baby related decorations.

First up, I made a chocolate Guinness cake (in advance, and froze the cake). On the day I decorated it with cream cheese frosting ruffles! and the first peony I managed to make at home, in a beautiful coral colour (I’m loving everything coral!)
Here are two great tutorials on how to create the ruffle cake:
tutorial 1
tutorial 2

Next up, this was as close to decorating in fondant that I get (coming from a family who doesn’t really enjoy fondant that much). I made the baby carriages and horses out of sugar paste in advance, and stuck them on the Vienna cream icing. Unfortunately they became quite soft reasonably soon after being placed on the cake. I ordered my cookie cutters from here.

Mum’s lovely almond butter biscuits, easy to make the day before.

Cupcakes and tiny teddies decorated with pink and blue mm’s.

Caramel slice, chocolate mousse and red velvet cupcakes.

Armenian nutmeg cake and chocolate brownies.

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Balsamic onion, pear and walnut pizza

June 5th, 2015

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

I have recently been going through my dozens (and dozens) of food magazines. Unfortunately i just don’t have the room to keep them all, and even if I did, once they get stored away, I don’t look at them. I’ve torn out hundreds of recipes I’d like to try and (sort of) ordered them into different categories. The plan for a while, was to cook at least 2 new recipes per week, although I found I kept losing some of my favourite recipes. This pizza is one of those new favourites.

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

It’s a very easy pizza to make (you can make the caramelised onion in advance, and make the bases if you like – or buy them). It is a wonderful combination of flavours and is lovely and sweet. A great pizza to make for a change to the more common toppings.

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Balsamic onion, pear and walnut pizza

Recipe from delicious magazine, also available on Taste
Serves: 4

2 tbs olive oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60ml) caramelised balsamic vinegar (bought or homemade)
1/4 cup (65g) store-bought pesto
1 Afghan bread or 2 thin based homemade pizzas
2 beurre bosc pears, peeled, cored, sliced, brushed with lemon juice
150g mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup (25g) walnuts, toasted, chopped
Handful wild rocket leaves

Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat the oven to 220C.

Heat oil in a frypan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, then cook, stirring, for 10-20 minutes until softened and caramelised. Add 2 tbs vinegar and cook for a further 1 minute. Set aside.

Spread the pesto over the bread (or pizza base), then scatter with the balsamic onion and top with pear and cheese. Place on the hot baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until the base is crisp and the cheese is golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the walnuts and rocket. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tbs vinegar, then serve

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

Balsamic Onion, Pear and Walnut Pizza

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Pink Sugar Roses

June 3rd, 2015

I have a lot of hobbies (some may call them obsessions). Food, flowers, photography. What’s great about these hobbies, is that they go so well together. I do seem to add and add and add though, rather than replace. One of my most recent hobbies has been sugar flowers. I’m not sure where the obsession started… although I think it was possibly viewing one of the many gorgeous posts from Bake in Paris. Such a beautiful job with all the sugar flowers, how could one not be in awe!

This led me to join a community college course in cake decorating, in which I learned many valuable techniques, although it only touched on sugar flowers, and not enough for what I wanted to achieve. I later went to a 2 day course at Planet Cake and learned how to make a peony and hydrangea arrangement. I bought a book and pinned lots of tutorials, although have only just started to play and learn.

I made these roses and white flowers using gumpaste which just did not handle well (this was the second time I had tried making gumpaste, each from a different recipe). Although I was very happy with the results, especially compared to my first ever rose I tried to make (I found patience was the key here, originally I tried to make the whole rose in one day – it just doesn’t work, you need to let the paste dry and harden inbetween layers).

This cake was a poppyseed cake, with orange frosting (as fondant isn’t enjoyed by my family). A lovely, yummy cake chosen by my Mum, as this was a special cake for her birthday weekend for a very special birthday.

I look forward to continuing to explore my passion for sugar flowers (and cake decorating) and will hopefully make some tutorials when I am happier with my results.

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Ferrero Rocher Cake

January 18th, 2015

Ferrero Rocher Cake

We had an amazing cake tonight to celebrate my sisters birthday. It is called a Ferrero Rocher Cake, and it certainly captured the lovely flavours of one of my favourite chocolates.

Ferrero Rocher Cake

The cake was a lovely hazelnut sponge, light and fluffy and not too rich, with layers of hazelnut chocolate cream/icing and wafers. It was decorated with Ferrero Rochers and wafers (hazelnuts on the outside would have also worked very well, although the heat was affecting the icing and time was running out for us, so we decided against using the hazelnuts).

Ferrero Rocher Cake

We made the cake the day before, and had a bit of a failed attempt on our first batch, as the eggs were not beaten for long enough – causing the mixture to split and not rise. The second attempt, we used the whisk attachment and whisked it for a long time and it worked very well.

Ferrero Rocher Cake

We kept the cake in the fridge after decorating, which helped reduce some of the sweetness. I’m not sure how long you could keep it in the fridge before it affects the crunchiness of the wafers. I would definitely make this again.

Ferrero Rocher Cake

Ferrero Rocher Cake

Recipe from Let the Baking Begin

Cake Layers

7 large eggs, room temperature
½ cups sugar, granulated
2 cups finely ground hazelnuts or hazelnut flour
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder

Frosting

300 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
2¼ cups (360g) chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
½ cup (120g) Nutella

Also

1.5 cup (40g approx) wafers, crushed

Decorating

10 Ferrero Rocher Candies
¾ cups hazelnuts, chopped / or ¾ cups wafers, crushed

Instructions
Cake Layers

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm round pans with baking paper.
Sift flour, cocoa & baking powder. Stir in ground nuts.
Whip eggs on high speed (in a stand mixer with whisk attachment), until frothy. Slowly add the sugar and continue whipping until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
Fold dry ingredients into the eggs , in 3 additions.
Divide the batter evenly between 2 x 20cm pans and bake at 180C for approximately 20-30minutes, turning half way, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Once baked, leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Make the Frosting

Melt chocolate in microwave, on low heat, in short intervals, stirring each between each time. Bring to room temperature.
Whip chocolate, butter & Nutella until thoroughly combined. (I used a stand mixer with beater attachment)

Assembly

Once the cake is cool, split each cake in 2 even layers.
Crush wafers by putting in a ziplock bag, then going over them with a rolling pin or something heavy.
Reserve ¾ cup frosting for decorating.
Place a dab of frosting onto a serving platter.
Put 1 cake layer on top and press to adhere.
Put ¼ of the remaining frosting onto the cake and spread around evenly. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the crushed wafers.
Repeat above 2 steps with the remaining cake layers.

Ferrero Rocher Cake
Ferrero Rocher Cake
Ferrero Rocher Cake

Pipe 8 stars on top of the cake.
Cover the cake sides with reserved frosting.
Press the crushed wafers or chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
Place 1 Ferrero Rocher candy on top of each piped star.

Notes
Keep refrigerated if not serving right away. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Malteser Cake

January 11th, 2015

Malteser Cake

After seeing a cake covered in maltesers, how could you NOT make it? And what better excuse than a birthday.

It looked lovely and tasted lovely – only very very rich. I couldn’t get through my piece, and neither could a number of other family members. The cake was rich and the icing, very sweet and there was lots of it.

I would definitely consider decorating another cake in maltesers, as it looks lovely – and I love maltesers…. but I wouldn’t make this recipe again unfortunately. Just too rich for me and my family.

If you would like to try it, I used this recipe from Taste.

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