Aug 17, 2014

D322: Ah! Bees!!

There's a buzz, buzz, buzz at the partyyyy...

So I committed to making our new little 2-year old a cake she would recognise and enjoy.  She loves Buzzbee and I'm very glad I chose this option.  It's a character that doesn't change much and I can't very a lot.  He has very few features and only two colours, and is based on a simple shape common to cakes.  He doesn't even have limbs.  Why I deliberated for so long over other options is a mystery.

After watching lots of YouTube videos of people making buttercream, and colouring, rolling and laying down fondant, I decided to dive in.

Two 12" cakes layered with bought ganache.

The cake is one I've previously used and quite like.  Well, love, actually - it's so quick!  I made up a chocolate variation for this cake.
Take one Nigella Lawson Awesome Vanilla Cake recipe; add 3 tbsp of cocoa to the dry ingredients and 1 tspn of instant coffee, dissolved in just enough water, to the liquids.
I used a lined 12" round tin and baked it at 350F for 50-55mins.  See the lighter spots on the top? It's done when those finally appear in the centre.

So I baked one cake during nap, had a shop (of course!) and then baked the second before dinner.

The face was put down first, on a thin layer of buttercream icing.
The features were placed on top afterward.
I did all the decorating and arranging after dinner, which took about 4 hours.

I prepared the buttercream first (a double helping: 800g pure icing sugar to 250g of whipped butter), but didn't colour it.
Then I put the buttercream aside and tackled the construction.

I put down a thin layer of buttercream to help the cake stick to the board, and placed the first cake down.  I took about half a cm off the top of this bottom layer to level it a little.  To flatten it completely would've taken a third of the bulk, which felt like a terrible waste, even though my hovering Hub and MIL felt it would've been very, very worthwhile.  So, while the bottom layer wasn't completely flat, the 500g of ganache did a great job levelling the difference between the layers, and the bottom of the upper layer barely curved at all.

I decided to do the face next, while my brain was still pretty good.  This face used about 750g of fondant and I used gel food colouring for both the fondant and the buttercream.

My post from a few days ago shows the templates I used for this cake.  They were made with a dinner plate for the face and some food containers for the eyes.  I used a Math-o-mat and trial-and-error for the mouth.

I also made a strip of paper that fits inside the top half of the face to help place the eyes.  The strip was a wide as the distance from the edge to the eye (about 15mm) and marked where the top of the eyes should align.

With the yellow band of 'fuzz' on the base.  I patted it with the prongs of a fork
to make it look fuzzy.   The fondant yellow is a richer colour than the bright stripe.

With the black buttercream.  Look at the widdle hand...
I wish I'd made the face features much thinner, instead of the 1/4" of the face.

I asked Hub to stay up with me by this stage, for company and moral support.  He was the one who looked up how to adhere fondant to fondant: with a paste made from melting a bit of fondant in hot water.

Making the black was so much fun.  Doing the two yellows was a careful task, adding a little bit at a time. (Two dips of Lemon yellow plus a little dab of Tulip red.) But with the black... well, you can hardly make it too dark.  That was fun.

The hands and feet were cut without a template.  I flipped the first hand and made the second by cutting around that; ditto with the feet.  I also chickened out of fingers, which Buzzbee normally has.  Midnight brain said no.

...and the widdle feet. 
Hard to see, but the hand on the right side is waving.
We added the antennae on the day - just some 12mm x 30cm black pipe-cleaners curled as you like, stuck into the ganache layer at an angle.

On Sunday morning Bub saw the cake in the kitchen and exclaimed "Wow! Big cake! That's amazing!"  It was a success already!

Aug 15, 2014

D321: Mmaaaadness!

As well sa the Lemon yellow and black, I also bought Tulip red and Sky blue...
Why? Just in case I felt inclined to do something silly...

You know, like breaking a biscuit recipe into six (100g each for this recipe), colouring them differently, rolling them into 30cm long strips, overlapping them by about a third and rolling them up.  The uuuuusual shenanigans...

It's tricky to get something this layered perfectly flat, and then perfectly round!

Slightly reshaped with my fingers.

Yep, oven still dirty, but bikkies going well.
I used this good old recipe, basing my idea on the pinwheel version.

They turned out quite well and are headed for some short guests via some goodie bags.

Hypnotic yumminess

Aug 13, 2014

D320: Guess what's coming?

Bub turns two on Saturday. I'm predicting Sunday's party will be bigger than I expected...

It was a close call between this and a colourful rocket.  But I haven't worked with fondant before so I thought I should take it easy and choose something with just two colours.  It's going to be a 12" cake, sandwiched with ganache. 

Thinking of and choosing cake designs, planning and checking party stuff.  That's how I've spent my creative energy since the Junebug dress. 

Wish me luck.

Aug 2, 2014

D319: complete - Junebug Dress

It's done!

I took an inch off the hem and turned it up 1" then 1.5". I'm thinking of adding a red ribbon near the hem too, but undecided... Still, pretty happy with it!

Pattern: Junebug dress by Jess at her blog Craftiness is Not Optional 
FabricA walk in the dark woods by Zesti, via Spoonflower on poplin

Aug 1, 2014

D316-8: Pins finished, dress coming

I finally stuffed and closed the ball and pins. The bells inside are much more rattley than dingly, but it doesn't matter.  I intend them to be a "Congratulations on becoming a big brother" gift so won't send them off until the event confirms it! I'm not superstitious, but it feels jinxy to congratulate about babies before they're born.

Aren't they special? Getting them to stand will be as challenging as knocking them down!

And the dress! Buttons machine sewn on, sleeve elastic inserted and cased, skirt side seams done, and skirt attached! Only the hem is left to be figured out once I can check it against Bub's height. It seems like this has just popped up, but I've really nibbled at this over a few days.

I used a top stitched neat-finish style to finish the skirt seams.  I probably should've tried a French seam, but don't regret my choice.

 Hub and I both agree it looks huge, but I feel that way about a lot of her clothes. Also, this isn't stretchy like nearly everything else she wears, and it's a bit roomy with the gathering, so it'll be the biggest dress she's ever worn anyway! 

In other news, I still have my cold. It's as strong as ever, at a month old, and keeping me up although I think I have a bit more energy in this last fortnight. I'm beginning to thinking it's a sinus infection but I'm hesitant to see a doctor coz, well, I'm still breastfeeding. Everything other than a nasal flushing thing isn't something I can have. Blergh! Blergh everywhere! :)