Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lego Millennium Falcon Cake

This cake is built around an 8" round dark chocolate mud cake but you will also need a 6" round dark chocolate mud cake to make the Cockpit and Forward Mandibles not to mention the Concussion - Missile Tubes!!!!!! I have given instructions on how to make a 10" round cake and this will fill the 6" and 8" pans.
white card
Mud cake
375g unsalted butter
300g dark chocolate
1.5 tablespoon instant coffee
2 cups warm water
1.5 cup caster sugar
2.25 cups self raising flour
3/8 cup cocoa
3 eggs
1.5 teaspoon vanilla
1200g dark chocolate
600ml pure cream
2kg grey sugar-paste
a small amount of black sugar-paste

1.  Making the set up board

Print out this picture of the Millennium Falcon onto an A4 sheet of paper so that the image fills the page and this will give you the actual size of your finished ship (i.e. 8" diameter of the large round part of the ship) . You will need two prints as you will be cutting one of them up.
Cut out the shape of the ship in white card or add the extra bits to an 8" round board as I have done in the picture. This set up board (as it is called) will help you to cut out your pieces of cake and also help when applying the ganache to the sides of your cake. More of that later.

2. Covering the cake board

Use the underside of a Lego base board to give you the brick impression.
Press down firmly and evenly to get the best results
Although some bits of my cake board are a little flat, the ship will cover them.

3. Making the Lego shapes

Use the plan view of the Millennium Falcon to plan and cut out the shapes that you need.

I decided on making mostly triangular shapes and as I cut each one out I placed it on top of the plan view to see how they would all fit together. Once each shape had been cut out, press the Lego board on top to make it look like Lego bricks then neaten up the edges if they have spread a little due to the pressure.
To make the satellite dish, cut out a circle of grey sugar-paste and leave it to harden on the back of a tablespoon to give it a beautiful spherical look. Attach a thick triangle of sugar-paste to its base with edible glue or egg white.

4. Bake the cake

1. Grease and line base and sides of cake pans with one thickness of baking paper, bringing paper 5cm above side of pan.
2. Combine chopped butter, chopped chocolate, coffee, and water in a saucepan.
Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Cool 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl of mixer.
3. Add caster sugar to mixture and beat well until dissolved. Add sifted flour and cocoa, lightly beaten eggs and vanilla.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pans. Use a skewer to check that both pans have the same depth of batter. This will ensure that both cakes end up the same height.
5. Bake at 150C for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Test with skewer. Cool cake in pan.

5.  Making the ganache

Heat the cream until it just starts to bubble, pour over chocolate (which you have blitzed in the food processor to coffee granules size) and let it sit for about a minute to melt. Use a hand whisk to blend it all together then set aside to cool.
Your ganache at this point will be thin. You will have to let it set overnight until it thickens to a slightly thicker peanut butter consistency. Since I don’t have the patience to wait, I just let it cool to room temperature and then pop it in the fridge (don’t cover because you might get condensation). It would  usually set in the fridge in about an hour or two. If it sets too hard, just microwave it in 10 second intervals (keep mixing it whenever you take it out). Click here to find out all you need to know about making and applying ganache to your cake.

6.  Putting the cake together

Use the smaller cake to cut out the cockpit and Mandibles. Lay the templates on top of the cake and cut around them with a sharp knife. Now cut all your pieces in half ready for the ganache filling.
Use a non-slip mat under your set-up board then stick your pieces to the board with some ganache.

Use ganache to stick all the pieces to each other.

Now add a nice thick layer of ganache across the top as the filling for your cake.
Place the top half of the cake on top of the ganache remembering to stick the pieces together with ganache.
Cover the top and sides of the cake with remaining ganache.

7. Icing the cake

Roll out a large oval of grey sugar-paste making sure it is large enough to cover the cake plus a few centimetres more.
 Getting the sugar-paste neatly in and around the Millennium Falcon shape is probably the most difficult part of making this cake. It might be simpler to make the cockpit and mandibles serarately and attach them to the body of the cake after you apply the sugar-paste. Anyway, it doesn't have to be mega neat as most of the ship will be covered in Lego shapes!

8. Candles

Insert sparkles or candles at the back to resemble thrusters and your done!

Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Pops

Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Pops

Cake pops have without a doubt become one of the most popular sweet treat trends in years.  

While cake pops are certainly a fun treat to share and eat, they can be a challenge to create. I will start this tutorial with the recipes and method I used to make these Bride and Groom Cake Pops then I will expand the tutorial with a troubleshooting section that applies to all kinds of cake pops.
Cake Pops
Makes 20 pops
What you will need:
600g dark chocolate mudcake made from scratch or 600g of mudcake made from a box cake mix
115g cream cheese
160g sifted icing sugar
40g butter
0.5 tbsp milk
620g white candy melts
350g black candy melts
Lollipop sticks ( 7" if possible )
Matching ribbon

1.   Make the frosting by mixing together the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter and milk.
2.   Crumble the cake into a large bowl or process in the food processor to fine crumbs then place in a large bowl and stir in half of the frosting. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined and thick like a truffle center. Mix in additional frosting if necessary.  You just want enough to get the crumbs to stick together when you roll them into balls.  Do not add so much that the mixture becomes soft and mushy!
3.   Roll mixture into balls weighing 30g and place on a cookie sheet. Place in freezer for 15 minutes then allow them to almost return to room temperature.
4.   Meanwhile melt chocolate in the microwave at 70% for 1 minute then stir well. Return to microwave for 30 seconds and stir well. If the chocolate has still not melted then repeat in 30 second bursts until fully melted and smooth ( always stir well before returning the chocolate to the microwave to avoid overheating). Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the the top of the cake ball.  Insert a little more than halfway.
5.   Place in freezer again for 15 minutes then allow them to almost return to room temperature before dipping them. Pops will crack if the temperature difference between the cake and the coating is too great. Carefully dip the cake pop into the candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and submerging in the chocolate till fully covered. Once covered, remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don’t tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off too.
You want the chocolate to come over the platform you created when inserting the chocolate-dipped stick, but you don't have to cover it all the way to the stick.
Tap off the excess chocolate. 
Once half the cake pops are on sticks that have been dipped in chocolate, I then put them in my freezer for 15 minutes and by the time they are ready to come out the freezer the remaining cake pops will be ready to go in. Chilling them helps set the chocolate and make the stick, chocolate and cake all come together firmly.
6.   Melt the black chocolate as before and dip half of the cake pops to make the 'Grooms'. Dip at an angle and rotate a little to create the jacket. Fit a no. 2 tip to a piping bag and fill with a little of the black chocolate. Pipe on the bow tie and buttons. If the chocolate hardens in the bag or tip just 'neuk' the piping bag in the microwave at 70% for 5 - 10 seconds.
7. Fill a similar bag with a little white chocolate and pipe the 'Brides' as per the picture.

Troubleshooting Cake Pops

Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Pops
Cake Pops Cracking
The challenge I find with chilling the cake pops is that there seems to be a fine line as to how long to chill them – as having them too cold often results in the chocolate cracking after dipping.   I try and make sure my chocolate isn’t too hot, and that my cake pop isn’t too cold – letting it warm up a bit after taking it out of the freezer, even just a few minutes.
Another way I deal with this issue is that I do a “first dip” into chocolate. I then redip them in a second layer of chocolate, and decorate.  Kind of like a crumb coat in frosting a cake.   This sort of seals the crack into the first layer, leaving the second and outer layer looking nice and pretty, and yay – more chocolate!   This is also an option if you make your cake pop and the chocolate hardens before you get the sprinkles on it.  Just dip it again!
Here are some other sites that you can check out for more tips and advice on the chocolate on the cake pop cracking issue…
 Prevent Cracks In Cake Pop Shells from Honeycomb Events & Design
Why Do Cake Pops Crack from Beki Cook’s Cake Blog
Cake Pops, Balls & Truffles: Troubleshooting & FAQ from Veronica’s Cornucopia
Tricks Of The Trade from The Cake Pop Connection
Chocolate Coating Cracking from Chocolate Candy Mall
Cake Pops Falling Off The Stick
Dipping my cake pop sticks into the chocolate, then putting them into the cake pops and letting the chocolate set should avoid these problems.   I do have a few other things that help with this issue.
1.  Don’t make the cake pop too big. Keep cake pops on the smaller side between 27g - 32g as too much weight on that tiny stick has the potential to create problems.
2.   When dipping the cake pop into the chocolate, dip it in and get it out – don’t twirl it around. Twirling it in the chocolate increases the chances of the cake pop falling off the stick or chunks of the cake pop falling off.
3.  Never tap the stick on the side of the bowl too hard when trying to get the excess chocolate off.   Too hard of a tap and bam, cake pop in bowl. Do a very gentle tap or two on the side of my bowl, and then twirl cake pop, slowly and constantly, over the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip off.
4.  Holding on to the cake pop until the chocolate is close to set.   Once the chocolate sets, usually the cake pop and stick are pretty good friends then you can confidently set it down.
Here are some other sites you can check out with information about preventing your cake pops from falling off of the sticks…
Common Cake Pop Issues & Tutorials from Miss Candiquik
Cake Pop Tutorials and Q & A from Not Rachel Ray
How To Get The Sticks To Stay In The Cake Pops from Babycakes
FAQ from My Little Cupcake
 Cake Pops Tutorial from Mandy Walls Photography
Getting the Chocolate Smooth and the Sprinkles To Stick
Keep the cake pops moving, slowly twirling the cake pop until the chocolate sets.   It’s a bit of a balancing act to find when to add the sprinkles and when to put the cake pop down.   If you put the sprinkles on too soon, they can slide off and take the chocolate with them.   Wait too long and they won’t stick.   There is definitely  a sweet spot time wise to adding the crystals, and I think a lot of it just takes some practice and patience to find what works.
Stick to lighter sprinkles, the ones that weigh the least, such as sanding sugar, sugar crystals, jimmies and the like.   The sanding sugar and sugar crystals are the easiest.
Do not submerge my cake pops in sprinkles. Hold the cake pop over a bowl, and sprinkle over it, catching the excess sprinkles.
Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Pops

Saturday, June 9, 2012

80s Theme Cake

This 80s Theme Cake was made for Jessica's 30th Birthday Bash in Brisbane. It is made from white chocolate and dark chocolate marbled mudcake, filled with dark chocolate ganache and covered with sugarpaste. The Rubik's Cube is a really delicious truffle.
The birthday girl wanted hot pink, turquoise and yellow as her colours but you could use whatever colours you wish. To celebrate her 1980s themed birthday the cake incorporates the MTV logo, Pacman arcade game, Rubik Cube, Boogie box, fluorescent colours and animal print fondant, not to mention the giant number '30'.

Baking Diary
DAY 1 
Colour sugar-paste. Hint - You can buy ready coloured black sugarpaste which saves a big mess. Also I used Wilton's Rose edible gel colour for the hot pink.
Make ganache click here for detailed ganaching info
Bake cakes
Wrap cakes in foil and place in fridge overnight. 
Cut finger nails. There is nothing worse than making a mark with your long nails on your completed cake.  
DAY 2 
Take cake out of fridge first thing in the morning and allow to come to room temp. 
Torte and ganache cake then leave it to set. click here for detailed ganaching info 
Once set cover with sugar-paste. 
DAY 3 
Decorate and complete the job.
DAY 4 
'Stuff up' day. You never know what might happen when making a cake so always pencil in a 'stuff up' day (I had a day with my feet up when making this cake as I had a toenail removed, ouch!)
DAY 5  The day of the party

Marbled Mudcake
The three tiers are made up of a 7" round, a 5" round and a 4.5" square. The rubik cube (1.25" / 3 cm) is made from the cut offs from the Boogie box mixed with left over ganache formed into a large truffle cube and covered on all sides with a thin layer of ganache.

Make the light and dark mudcake batter in separate bowls then pour the dark in first filling your pans to half the usual height then fill each with the white choc mud batter and gently stir round a little to mix and bake for 1.5 hrs at 150C

Dark Chocolate Mud Cake (Pam's recipe)
187g butter
150g dk choc
1 tbsp coffee, powder or granules
1 cup water
1 cup SR flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Dark Chocolate Mud Cake Method 
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. Grease and line base and sides of cake pans with one thickness of baking paper, bringing paper 5cm above side of pan.
  3. Combine chopped butter, chopped chocolate, coffee, and water in a saucepan.
  4. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Cool 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl of mixer.
  5. Add caster sugar to mixture and beat well until dissolved. Add sifted flour and cocoa, lightly beaten eggs and vanilla.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared pans stopping at half the height you normally fill to.

  7. No need to be delicate with this one - just make sure that the chocolate mixture has cooled sufficiently so as to not create a thickening reaction when the flour is added.

White Chocolate Mud Cake (Planet Cake recipe)
185g butter
185g white chocolate
170ml water
95g SR flour
185g plain flour
250g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence

White Chocolate Mud Cake Method 
  1. Preheat the oven to 150C.
  2. Grease and line base and sides of cake pans with one thickness of baking paper, bringing paper 5cm above side of pan.
  3. Combine chopped butter and water in a saucepan.
  4. Stir over low heat until butter is melted. Turn off heat, then add the chocolate and stir until it has melted and is well combined.
  5. Sift flours into a bowl. Add sugar, a pinch of salt and make a well in the centre.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture, egg and vanilla into the well then stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
  7. Add the white batter to the already half full pans and fill to their normal height.
To create the marbling effect simply gently stir round a little to mix (Do not overdo) and bake for 1.5 hrs at 150C. Check the small cakes before their time is up. 

 Dark Chocolate Ganache click here for detailed ganaching info
1600g dark chocolate, finely chopped
800ml pure cream
  1. Grind the chocolate to fine granules in a processor.
  2. Put the chocolate in a large bowl
  3. Put the cream in a saucepan and bring to boiling point. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and mix with a hand whisk until the ganache is smooth. (Do not use an electric whisk, as you will create too many air bubbles in the ganache.)
  4. Allow to cool completely and then leave to set overnight.
Templates can be found on my Free Stuff page click here
I used a whole lot of edible glue on this cake. I even stuck the tiers together with glue as it wasn't a big heavy cake and the glue would survive the 200km round trip delivery.

Edible Glue
Also called Gum Glue
Add 2 tablespoons of warm water to a quarter teaspoon of Tylose Powder and allow the Tylose powder to melt. Don’t worry if at this stage the glue appears not to be blending. Put a lid on the container and leave it in the refrigerator overnight and in the morning you will have a perfectly clear and ready to use glue.

The glue should be a dripping consistency. If it is too thick, just add a little more water and stir with a toothpick .

The edible glue should be stored in the refrigerator when not in use.

To apply the glue, use a good quality paintbrush and brush on to the area where you are going to be working. Leave until it begins to dry a little so that the area is just tacky to touch.
The animal print is made up of thin strips of black sugarpaste.
Some sugarpaste shapes for the Boogie box, Rubik's Cube and Pacman

Pattern pieces for the more complicated shapes can be found on my Free Stuff page. Flat pieces such as the '30' and the 'MTV' logo should be made early and left flat. Curved pieces such as Pacman should be stuck to the cake soonish so that they can mould themselves to the shape of the cake. Add Tylose powder to any parts that need to be very stiff such as the MTV logo. I added just a quarter of a tsp of Tylose to a lump of pink which I used for the '30' and the 'MTV'. Knead the powder into the sugarpste till well combined.
To make the handle for the Boogie box use some plastic tubing with cocktail sticks pushed in at the ends. Stick the sugarpaste on with edible glue.
You will need 45 coloured squares in total (none on the bottom) and stick them on with edible glue. Each square is 1cm x 1cm. Secure to the cake using two short wooden skewers and edible glue. 
I used this image in the background of my cake picture. I made the image a couple of years ago with camper vans and surf board, typical of the Gold Coast and reminiscent of the '80s. I changed the colours to suit the colour scheme of the cake.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Cookie Tutorial

These cookies are iced using the 'Outlining and Flooding' technique which is simple to learn. The outline works as a dam or wall to hold the runny icing which you use to fill in the main parts of the cookie.

I made these cookies in 3 delightful flavours: chocolate, vanilla and gingerbread.

Chocolate Cookie Recipe

makes about 24 medium-sized cookies
275g plain flour
100g self raising flour
75g cocoa powder
125g granulated sugar
125g salted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten

Sift flours and cocoa, add sugar and mix well.
Add butter and using finger tips rub till mix resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well and add syrup and egg.
Stop as soon as a ball has formed.
Cover and chill till ready to use or roll and use immediately.
170C for 14-18 mins

Vanilla Cookie Recipe

makes about 24 medium-sized cookies
200g unsalted soft butter
200g caster sugar
seeds from one vanilla pod or 2 tsp of best vanilla essence 
1 egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour

In the mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla till well mixed and just creamy in texture. Do not overwork or cookies will spread during baking.
Beat in the egg till well combined.
Add the  flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. 
Cover with cling and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.
Place dough on floured surface and knead briefly. 
Roll out to 5mm thick.

Cut out your shapes, then, using a palette knife, lay them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. 
Chill again for about 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 180C/170C fan and bake for about 10 mins, depending on size, until golden brown at the edges.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool before decorating.

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

makes about 24 medium-sized cookies

90g butter
150g soft brown sugar
90g golden/corn syrup
425g Plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2tsp ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice
1 medium egg (beaten)

Gently heat butter, sugar and syrup until dissolved. 
Cool slightly for five mins.
Pre-heat oven 180C and lightly grease baking trays.
Sift flour, baking powder and spices tog into mixing bowl and make a well in centre.
Add melted mixture and egg into the centre. Bind tog with knife then use hands to form soft dough.
Sprinkle work surface with flour and roll out the gingerbread to 3mm (1/8")
Bake in centre of oven for 13 mins.

Transfer cooked gingerbread to a cooling rack.

I have been using a homemade Cookie Leveller to roll out my cookie dough. I have all the instructions if you would like to make one.
Cookie Leveller click here

Royal Icing Recipe click here

A thicker consistancy icing is used to outline the cookie shape and then a thinner one (like custard) to fill in. 


Outline your cookies first and leave at least 15 minutes before you flood the inside of the 'dam' (outline). If the outline is a dark colour, it is best to wait 24 hours so that the colours don't bleed into each other.
Outlining the egg

To outline the cookie hold the bag at 45 degrees and position the tip on your cookie. Put enough pressure on the bag so that the icing comes out and you can start moving in the direction that you want your icing to go. Start lifting the pipping bag till it is a few centimetres above your cookie and the icing just falls in a continuous line onto the cookie below. Come back closer to the cookie at corners and when finishing also reduce or stop pressure on the bag to go more slowly or to stop.


Use a number 3,4 or 5 sized piping tip depending on the size of your cookie. Fill in one area at a time quickly zig zagging back and forth. Don't worry if you haven't filled in every spot: speed is more important at this point. To fill in these little missed bits just use your piping tip, toothpick or small paintbrush (used only for food), to push the icing into your missed bits.
Using a squeezy bottle to fill in with icing
Using a toothpick to fill in the missing bits


Bunnies with White Tummies
Outline and flood your bunny with your chosen colour and immediately add a circle of white icing for the tummy. The icing will quickly sink down till a smooth or slightly domed tummy area remains.
Once completely dry add cheeks and front paws.
Add nose and eyes once cheeks are dry or almost dry.

Bunnies with Spots 
Outline and flood your bunny with your chosen colour and immediately add little blobs of white icing to make the dots.
Once completely dry add the bow using a No.00 piping nozzle.  

Pretty Little Easter Eggs
Outline and flood your eggs with your chosen colour and immediately add little blobs of white icing to make the dots.
Once completely dry add the bow using a No.00 piping nozzle.

Yellow Chicks
Outline and flood your chicks with yellow and when completely dry add little feather details, a pink beak and an eye. 
Bunny Faces
Outline and flood each face with your chosen colour leaving the centre of the ears icing free.
Once dry add the cheeks in the same colour.
Once completely dry use a contrasting colour to make the nose, whiskers and middle ear. While still wet sprinkle the ears with coloured sugar sand or similar. If you are worried about the sprinkles sticking to the nose and whiskers you can add the nose and whiskers after the sprinkles have been added.
Finnish by making the eyes.


Let the cookies dry for 24 hours before you package them.
Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place out of the sun (sunlight can fade the colours). The cookies can keep for up to 2 months but I prefer to use them up within a month.