Lise and Sam Engagement Cakes

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When your two life skills are baking and eating, you tend to try to use the former in a way that at least benefits people other than yourself. I like to surprise my friends with birthday cakes (and help eat them), and as gifts and for my partner and I’s anniversary every year (aw yiss). But it’s always a real pleasure when your mates ask to make something for a special event. I have done cakes for two of my friends’ weddings now, and for quite a few of my friends’ children’s birthdays. I love being able to be involved in special days and to be able to do nice things for people I care about! And I love planning things, doing things to a theme, and doing things I know my friends will really like.

(If someone figures out how my other skill of eating stuff could make the world a better place, let me know.)

When my buddy Lise asked me to make two vegan cakes for her and her partner Sam’s engagement party, it was no different. I got pretty excited – I mean I get pretty excited by cake in general, but anyway – like I said, I love planning, and I had all this inspiration and ideas for fancy cakes that I was kind of just waiting for the right occasion to use them. And engagements are exciting! The cakes were to be a part of a dessert table along with other treats, so I didn’t want to go too overboard and make them too big or overbearing.

They’re still fab af.

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The only criteria for the cakes was that they had to be vegan, and incorporate the colours Tiffany blue/teal and gold. So for the first cake, I made a vanilla layer cake with teal ‘buttercream’ frosting, topped with a cascade of vanilla roses and flecked with gold paint and detailing. I took a lot of inspiration from Unbirthday Bakery, one of my cake heroes. I was most nervous about this cake, as my smooth frosting skills are not the best, and neither are my layering skills. I also wasn’t sure if the flowers would stay put, or slide off into sloppy oblivion and make me cry forever. To avoid this drama, being patient is your friend, and taking the time to refrigerate the cake between crumb coat and final layer, and before applying the flowers makes a big difference. I think the cascade was a bit chunky and could’ve been a bit more intricate and delicate, but overall I’m pretty stoked with how this turned out.

The second cake was a single layer chai flavoured cake covered in vanilla ‘buttercream’ roses and gold dust and edible pearls. I did similar for my friends’ Hannah and Anthin’s wedding, and at a much larger scale, so I was pretty chill about this one. I’m glad I went with something relatively simple but still super pretty; I don’t think I could have handled two overly complicated and stressful cakes.

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All the photos in this post are from the engagement party and taken by Luke Baker Photography, by the way. The difference professional photography makes. Whoo! Thanks to Lise for sending me the pics to use for my blog, and congrats to you and Sam on your engagement!

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Ant Birthday Cake for Ollie

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Work has been so busy lately that I’ve not been able to invest in blogging or even much baking! This is from early April but with fieldwork and office work and face painting and regular life nonsense, I’ve not had a chance until now to bring myself to sit and write this up. Anyway. Last month, my friend from work asked me to make the birthday cake for her son’s second birthday. As you might expect from the son of a freshwater biologist, it was a bug themed birthday, and the request was for no dairy and as little sugar as possible. I decided to try a beetroot and avocado vegan cake recipe by Bunny Kitchen, using a mix of maple syrup, rice malt syrup and agave nectar for the sweetener.

Since I knew I’d be slathering this with frosting, I halved the amount of sweetener in the cake recipe. I also used wholemeal flour, which combined with the lack of sweetener, turned the cake a bit more ‘bready’, which I’m not sure I liked. You could also taste the avocado a lot more, so I wouldn’t recommend reducing the amount of sweetener unless you’re frosting it like I did.

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The cake was flipping huge! The abdomen was made up of two 20cm cakes, the thorax was an 18cm cake, and the head a 10cm cake. I boiled 2kg of beetroot for it, and had to go to a specialty cake store for a cake board and box big enough! The frosting is margarine and icing sugar with a bit of cacao, the antennae and legs are licorice straps, and the eyes are halved Oreos with M&M pupils. I also covered the body with chocolate sprinkles, which along with the M&Ms are the only non-vegan element to this cake.

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Easily the most daunting part of this cake was getting it down two flights of stairs from my apartment to my car, and driving it to the party without crushing anything! Overall I’m really pleased with how it turned out, even if the cake kinda tasted more like bread than cake. Yay bugs!