Hippo Cake

This is my attempt to recreate a girl’s favorite toy in a cake form for her 3rd birthday. I don’t exactly know why this creature turned out looking so sad. Maybe the fact that I was making it at 2AM is the reason… I didn’t want to incorporate too much coloring into the cake itself. So instead I covered the cake board with green fondant grass and planted some bright flowers.

Inside is the rich chocolate pound cake filled with seedless raspberry jam and Swiss buttercream.

Happy Birthday, Isabella!

Valentino Cake as a Box of Chocolate

Behind the camouflage is this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge – flourless chocolate cake. I needed to put a batch of fondant to some use (I made the fondant earlier for another project that was cancelled). So, I turned the cake into a box full of chocolate. First, I spread the cake with a thin layer of strawberry jam, covered it with sour cream ganache, and then decorated with the fondant. By all means, don’t get me wrong – I’ve never believed that the fondant is a tasty addition.  It’s always been considered as a pretty and quite effective storing container (way more air-tight than a cake dome). The fondant was peeled off later and never eaten.

As for the cake, it was good; not great, not the best one I’ve had, but definitely – pretty good. I think, the cake would benefit from more delicate water-bath baking.

The optional part of this challenge was an ice cream to accompany the cake. And I did make a frozen dessert (not exactly the ice cream) to go with the cake. It was roasted strawberry and thyme sherbet. But I have to apologize here, since I’m not posting this recipe now. I’ll do it within a couple of days.

This challenge was hosted by Wendy at wmpesblog and Dharm at Dad – Baker and Chef and the recipe used is an adaptation of Chef Wan’s.

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Swedish Princess Cake

This classic Swedish cake was a birthday present to my very dear friend’s daughter. She liked it living back in Europe during her delicate childhood years (the girl is 17 now and what a beauty she is). Traditionally, the cake composed of three layers of génoise filled with a bit of strawberry (sometimes, raspberry) jam, pastry cream, and topped (more, than generously) with whipped cream. This quite loose construction is wrapped in pale-green marzipan (nobody knows why it’s green). The cake doesn’t last. The marzipan simply melts from the direct contact with cream. And I desperately needed this cake to spend a night in a fridge. Looking for the solution, I found Bo Friberg’s advice to spread a layer of buttercream over the rolled marzipan. How does it sound to you? I didn’t find his tip very much appealing. Instead, I baked an extra génoise sheet, cut it into wedges, and lined a bowl. Then I proceeded with an upside-down assembly. Once unmolded, the cake was covered with a thin layer of buttercream. And after a couple of hours in the fridge, it was ready to be covered with marzipan. This extra work might be unnecessary if you plan to serve the cake the same day you make it. If this is a case, assemble the cake as it’s usually done, freeze it briefly, then wrap in marzipan. Unfortunately, I can’t show you a slice. But I sketched some diagram below to explain my way of assembling this cake.

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Homemade Fondant

I promised to post the fondant recipe I used for my cake-decorating projects quite a while ago. Well, I guess it’s better late than never.

If you’ve ever sampled a store-bought, ready-to-roll fondant (I’m speaking about the most readily available “wonderful” Wilton product, in particular) you will understand why I decided to master a home-made version. Among other “cons” were the awful smell (intense shortening-like), and the long list of the preservatives and artificial ingredients on the package. It still would be probably acceptable if the molded decorations were considered as décor only. But, on contrary, kids prefer to start from the fondant-made stuff; they always eat the fondant first.

If you’ve never worked with the fondant before, then disregard my criticism above and buy a small package. Do not use it on your cake, but get a feeling of the right density and texture. The fondant should be “soft but firm”, if it makes any sense. I learned from my own mistakes, and don’t want you to repeat mine. First recipe I used called for the exact amount of icing sugar to be incorporated. So, I trustfully kneaded it all into my fondant. That fondant ended up in the garbage bin. It was too dry and stiff to work with. The icing sugar quantity should vary; it depends on the weather conditions. Sometimes, I have a couple of ounces of icing sugar left over; other days I use it all.

The recipe below is adapted from Toba Garrett.

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Princess Cake for a Little Girl

If a little girl wants a princess cake for Christmas, especially if this day happens to be her 4th birthday, she gets it.

I wish I had a bit more time for this project. I had an elaborate midcentury design for the princess’s dress in mind. But being pressed on time, I put this idea aside. There even was a moment when I thought I had to go with a store-bought doll cake-topper. While very nicely tanned and pretty, the Wilton’s Barbie was shamelessly shedding her hair. I tried to give her a haircut (I’m not much of a groom), but her bare scalp started to shine through. So, I decided to make my own princess. Maybe not as attractive as Barbie, at least my princess wasn’t suffering from a severe form of alopecia.

I’m not completely satisfied with the result. It’s advisable to let the head dry after it’s been formed and only then proceed with the body modeling and the head attachment. Initially, my princess’s face was better defined; she had nicely shaped cheek bones. But since I had to finish all in one day, her beauty suffered. It would be also better to paint-brush her face instead of using thick-tip edible markers (I suspect my little son snatched my thin brush for one of his art projects).

The cake itself was delicious (it was a chocolate cake of total 5 layers filled with whipped milk chocolate ganache and covered with Swiss vanilla buttercream). The girl was more than happy. She called me personally to say thank you. That made me happy, too.

Continue with more photos…

Not Quite a Fruitcake

I’m willing to admit that my opinion regarding the fruitcakes might be preconceived. I am planning to experiment next season; it is too late now. Now we are eating the moist pound cake where the part of the flour is replaced by ground almonds, studded with brandy-soaked dry fruits and glazed with marmalade/Grand Marnier glaze.

As for the decoration, I had some fun with home-made fondant, the recipe of which was adapted from Toba Garret. In my opinion, it’s the most precise and reliable fondant recipe available. I will be posting it later. Santas decorating idea belongs to Carol Deacon.

Merry Christmas once again!

The cake goes to Jugalbandi January CLICK event – RED.

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