Harry Potter-inspired Cauldron Cake

A little while ago, my friend asked me to bake a Harry Potter themed cake for her sister Harriet’s birthday. 

“Sure,” I said. Then she asked if it could be a cauldron.

“Oh,” I said.

For awhile, I debated how to execute the rounded shape of a cauldron. For some reason the idea of a round cake tin was really daunting to me, particularly having a round cake as the base underneath a bunch of other layers of cake. Baking a regular cake and carving out the rounded shape crossed my mind too.

In the end, I rent with hiring a spherical cake tin from Cake Tinz ‘n’ Thingz in Balcatta. I’d forgotten you can hire cake tins there, which is way easier/lighter on the purse than buying cake tins you may only use a handful of times in your life. I used an 8″ spherical tin, then stacked two 8″ cakes on top of it to make the basic body of the cauldron. I goofed the first time and used baking paper around the sides of the spherical tin, but the paper kinda folded into the cake and actually caused the cake to fall apart when I tried to remove it. So I had to bake a second time and actually trust the cake would come out on its own with just a spray of oil.

The second cake came out fine, by the way.

I hollowed out the top of the topmost cake by carving out maybe a third of it, then frosted the whole cake with some store-bought black buttercream. I then filled out the hollowed out section with red and yellow M&Ms (Gyffindor colours were requested), plus red and yellow giant round chocolates that I happened upon that were really cool. 

Finally, I rolled out a handle out of black fondant (which sagged in the middle by the end, but oh well), and piped ‘Happee Birthdae Harry’ on the side, in a homage to the cake Hagrid makes for Harry when they first meet.

Despite my cake dramas, I had a lot of fun making it! I definitely went outside of my comfort zone for this but I feel like it went pretty well in the end. Can’t wait for the next Harry Potter cake! 

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Totally Unicorn Cupcakes

I’m really bad at updating this. Sorry. But also, not really that sorry. I mean, I’m doing life shit, you know? Those entire bags of chips aren’t going to eat themselves.

Nah but seriously, I do need to work on posting stuff at least in a relatively timely fashion. This blog entry refers to cakes I made about a month ago. Eep. Anyway, I made some unicorn cupcakes, to coincide with seeing a great band from out of Sydney, Totally Unicorn.

If you’re not familiar with them, they kinda look a bit like this:

Pic credit: themusic.com.au

They also sound a bit like this.

So yeah, have to make adequately fabulous cakes for such a fabulous band. Unicorn cakes are all the rage at the moment, just look up any baking social media account and you’ll see truckloads of unicorn nonsense. It made my job of finding a unicorn horn tutorial pretty easy though, so that’s cool. I made the horns a couple nights in advance, by winding two long bits of fondant around a toothpick, then rolling in glitter, letting it harden slightly, before gently taking the toothpick out and letting them set completely. You can keep the toothpick in, but I wanted things to be edible without worrying about chomping down on tiny wooden sticks of death.

These are just simple vanilla vegan cupcakes with vegan icing. To make the icing rainbow, I separated a batch of icing into 3 bowls, coloured them with different pastel colours (pink, blue and green), before spooning different colours into a single piping bag. A lot of them turned out more green than I liked, so I added more pink and blue for the last few. Easssyyyy. Topped them with a horny horn, and they were good to go!

They went a bit thin and limpy after awhile, so I don’t recommend taking unicorn cakes to a music festival in the hot Australian sun. But still tasty!

 Oh and uh… made a little cheeky cake, for the ladies.

   Hehe.

Christmas Baking 2016

I was a little bit ambitious for Christmas this year, and wanted to showcase a variety of cakey snack things for my friends. I like to give cake because it’s relatively cheap while still being something people can appreciate and not be some tacky knick-knack that will eventually contribute to landfill. With that in mind, everything I made I packaged either in takeaway containers that I’d washed and reused, or paper bags that could be recycled. It really bums me out that candy canes have to be individually wrapped in plastic, but I’m hoping since Coles supermarkets recycle soft plastics, they can recycle tiny bits of candy cane wrappers.

I think if I had more time or thought about it a bit sooner, I’d look into pretty jars/Tupperware to put treats in. 

Anyway, this year I made a few things for my family and friends that have really looked out for me this year. Everything was vegan since I have many vegan friends/friends allergic to dairy. I made blondies using a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra, and topped with peppermint candy canes and Sweet William white chocolate.

I also made chocolate truffles dipped in dark chocolate. They were originally going to be rum balls, until I remembered a lot of my friends are parents. Haha.

Finally, I also made some gingerbread, using a recipe from the same Isa Chandra book. I think of all the cookbooks I have, I use hers the most! I did my baking over a couple of days rather than all at once. Well worth the effort! This is probably the last baking I’ll do for the year, so looking forward to more baking in 2017!

Halloween Harry Potter Cakes

It’s Christmas Eve, so I thought I better post what I did for Halloween, haha. My friend Jordan asked me to make cakes for her Harry Potter themed 25th. I had a blast coming up with different cake ideas! Everything was vegan which added that extra level of challenging, but it was worth it. Sorry for the dark photos, I took a lot of them at night time. Many thanks to my friend Gerry for lightening them up so they were somewhat usable!

The centrepiece cake was vanilla with a coconut caramel sauce layer. The icing was a bit sloppy but it kind of works on this cake. I topped with popcorn, pretzels, Oreos, and shards of chocolate bark I made from dark and vegan white chocolate.

I also made sorting hat cakes, and filled with vegan hard candy, so when you bit into the cake coloured candy would spill out, revealing your house! I used fondant for the sorting hats. Really chuffed with how these turned out!

Last but not least, I made pumpkin spice cupcakes, topped with a glace cherry painted in orange dust to look like a miniature pumpkin. I wanted to use glitter but orange glitter was not available. Still, pretty pleased with the result.

I had a blast making these for Jordan and I can’t wait to make more magical cakes in the future!

Rolo Tomassi // Cosmology Cupcakes

Anyone who knows me semi-vaguely knows that I generally prioritise two things in my life: music and baked goods. Being in a position where I can combine the two makes me feel real good! I’ve done a couple music-themed cupcakes now, including Blink 182 cupcakes for my friend’s 23rd birthday, and these cupcakes that I baked for one of my favourite bands, The Dillinger Escape Plan. I think most people can identify with having music that resonates with them, and taking the opportunity to thank/feed my favourite musicians and give something back to them is one of the things that make me honestly happy.

When I heard that Rolo Tomassi were coming back to Australia, I knew I wanted to bake them treats, and I wanted them to be unique to the band. I’ve been a fan of these guys for about seven years now, and they’re not only on my favourite UK label Holy Roar Records, but their US distributor for their latest album is another favourite of mine, Ipecac Records. They’re one of the most hard-working yet super chill bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The cupcakes are based on their band logo from their 2015 release Grievances, and one of their earlier records Cosmology. I’d been wanting to try make galaxy cupcakes for awhile, so this was a good chance to give it a go! It took a bit of planning to get the effect I wanted, but I think I’ve got it – tutorial will be posted below.

Since some of the members are vegan, I made the cupcakes completely vegan-friendly. I used a basic vanilla recipe for the cakes and frosting, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, a book that Eva had given me for Christmas a few years ago. It is one of my most used cookbooks (if you could tell from going back through my blog), and is just super versatile. I did a bit of a hunt around for black fondant, and found Fondtastic brand (who confirmed through Facebook message that their products are vegan).

To make the logo cupcake toppers, I rolled out the black fondant, cut out circles using a round cookie cutter, and painted the logo on by hand using silver edible paint. The galaxy ones were a bit trickier. To do those, start off with some black fondant, then colour small amounts white fondant using vegan food colouring (I used Wilton gel colouring). Make them the galaxy colour of your choice (I used white, pink and purple).

Tack random small blobs of colour onto your large black fondant ball, then press them in gently. You don’t want to mix the colours too much though, or you’ll just get a grey blobby mess. Then grab a rolling pin and roll it out to get a rough marbled paint effect.

Cut out circles using a round cutter. At this point, I added extra effects by painting blobs of colour using metallic purple paint, spraying and adding various types of glitter, and finally using a brush to fleck white drops of Wilton colouring to make ‘stars’.

The effect is pretty cool, if I do say so myself! I think overall including baking time this took maybe an hour and a half of my time. It’s actually pretty simple, but super impressive if you do it right!

FYI I wouldn’t normally recommend carting cupcakes around to pubs on a rainy night in Melbourne, but I managed to lug these ones around safely! Or safe enough to get into everyone’s bellies, heh heh.

Cookies and Cream Cake Bars

About a month ago it was my friend Jess’s birthday. Jess has recently had her second child, and needless to say with two boys under the age of three it has sounded like a very sleepless experience! I’d been meaning to drop off some meals and stuff to help her out but hadn’t gotten around to it, so by the time her birthday came around I thought it’d be a good idea then to make her and her partner some dinner and cake so they could relax for the night (or as best as you can under those sorts of circumstances).

Lately I’ve been really admiring cake decorating styles that use multiple textures and interesting ways of topping cakes. I recently bought some silicone cake moulds in the shape of bars from Kmart, so decided to try them out and see how they went (also a low-key way of reducing paper waste from cupcake wrappers!). Since Jess is allergic to dairy, I decided to make these completely vegan. I used a vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and added some crushed Oreo biscuits (I scraped off the icing from the Oreos and used it in the frosting for the cakes – no wastage!). 

Getting the cakes bars out of the moulds was an interesting experience – I have now learnt that you should let them cool a bit before getting them out so they don’t completely break apart, haha. The frosting is a combination of Nuttelex and icing sugar – I put about a quarter of the mix in a separate bowl and dyed it pink, and mixed crushed Oreo biscuit in the remaining frosting. I then experimented with a couple different piping nozzles to get the different textures, then dusted leftover Oreo dust over the icing, and topped with a mini Oreo (be careful as apparently not all the different Oreo flavours are vegan – I checked the ingredients of the mini ones and they seemed to be okay).

Myself, our friend Ness had afternoon tea with Jess for her birthday and enjoyed scoffing these down – although I think Jess’s two year old may have enjoyed his share of sugar a little too much! Probably a good thing I also dropped off a healthy chickpea tahini salad for dinner, haha.

 

Aquafaba Meringues

I’ve been super intrigued by aquafaba for over a year now, but always been too chicken to try it out. I just couldn’t translate salty chickpea brine into a sweet dessert. But after I had a friend request some cheap and easy vegan and gluten free desserts for a party, I agreed to give them a try! 

The recipe I used was by Meringue Girls. I’ve also heard that a ratio of 1:1 aquafaba to caster sugar works as well, but I’ve not tried it. The trick is to find a brand of chickpeas that has a thick brine – I used Annalisa brand.

I stayed away from food colouring since I’m unsure which are gluten free, plus I wasn’t sure about how it would affect the consistency or how these would turn out. Obviously they turned out really well! I’m really pleased at the shape since I wasn’t sure that the rose would hold.

The only thing I found is that they’re a bit salty – obviously since they’re made from a brine! I think the only way to avoid that is to try and make your own aquafaba from soaking dried chickpeas, rather than use brine from a can. Otherwise I think if you paired them with a sweet dessert or a rich chocolate, or even a tart citrus flavour, I think that would be enough to mask the taste.

Now that I’ve tried it, I’m very excited to be able to make vegan lemon meringue pies for my friends!