Monday, April 30, 2012

My new mascots! Noah's Ark Cake

On my last two days of work at Cakes 4 Fun in London, I had the chance to do a course with the very talented, cake decorator extraodinaire Debbie Brown - she of sugarpaste modelling fame.

Bear in mind this was my last two days of work. This meant, last chance to farewell my favourite customers, last chance to be overly diligent with the gorgeous Zoe and last chance to be one half of the control freak duo that we were, tidying corners of the shop in silence until we realised that we were taking it way too seriously, fell into fits of giggles and stopped to contemplate what we were doing with our lives over a cup of tea (and cake).

I was torn, do I spend my last two days of work officially 'working' with my pals or do I spend it playing with sugarpaste? After much umming and ahhing (which Zoe can attest to) I chose sugarpaste and even though I missed all the fun with Zoe and the gang I'm glad (sorry guys) I did because I got to make this!

Hello little Noah's Ark animals.

Debbie Brown is the equivalent of a rock star in the cake world. She is seriously talented and over the past two decades has built up a successful career publishing over 20 cake decorating books and teaching students worldwide. The Noah's Ark Cake comes from her latest 'Baby Cakes' book. 

Debbie is naturally artistic and has some crazy skills when it comes to sugarpaste modelling. She started her career at home, where her natural ingenuity led her to find ways of using common household items to help shape and create her cute characters. This skill became clear during the two day class - very few actual modelling tools were used and we relied heavily on our hands and other common items like toothpicks, knives and brushes to create affects.

It was a full on two days. At times I tormented myself with fears of half created animals and a solo bear on a boat filled with animal couples (how awful would that be!?) but in the end it all worked out.

Even though modelling isn't my passion when it comes to cake this class really helped me to appreciate the skill involved. It was tough! Fingers get in the way! The tiniest change in angle can make a cute face look angry. I have a new found respect for sugarpaste modellers. They are a patient, persistent, dexterous lot.

Here are some work in progress shots - on the left are some blind hippo's, they look so weird without pupils! He's blind but toothy. And on the right is me hard at work adding the finishing touches, wearing an odd brown top. What colour is that...? Terracotta?

And here are my new mascots. My giraffes. They flew all the way home with me via Hong Kong, safely tucked into a Laduree macaron box. Their ears and little antlers have broken off but I have all the parts so will fix them up good as new! These guys make me happy so when I am feeling doubt, when I am freaking out about how to finish a cake, I will look to them and know it's going to be okay.

Thanks Debbie for bringing these little guys to my life.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Home and a big, fun PROJECT

There's a storm outside. Lightning and all. All this is happening over the Hong Kong harbour while I watch from my 29th floor window. That's right, I'm in Hong Kong! I've come to visit a friend who is happy to put up with me dossing at her place for a week while I break up my move home. Home.


When I get back home there is something very exciting on the agenda. A WEDDING! More specifically my MUM'S WEDDING! Woop! And of course weddings mean wedding cake. And not just wedding cake, wedding dessert table. And who has offered to create this all? is I. In a moment of Amy Atlas confidence and quite possibly madness (my own, not Amy's), I convinced myself that I should and indeed could design, plan, create, bake and decorate an entire dessert table. Pulled off in two weeks between the time that I arrive in New Zealand to the time of my mum's wedding, April 28th.

I first started this 'challenge' last year - months ago - and I had the very best of intentions to be uber-organised. I read up on all the advice from the best dessert table creators I know and had plans to write all sorts of awesome and super helpful lists, schedules, recipes etc that they recommended I do. All this started with a roar. Images were collected, sites were scoured for recipes and designs, a menu was drafted, but then things got in the way. Things like my mind, all its thoughts and its amazing propensity for distraction.

So here I am. Three weeks out and only so much (so little) planning done. But in between not physically writing lists and not officially planning, my mind has been using what down time it has had to mentally do these things and because of this I'm confident I can pull this dessert table off. Hopefully with style, grace, calm and flair - and my siblings (including one of the new ones I'm gaining via the wedding!) to help.

As I'm attempting to keep the full details of the table as a surprise for mum and her new hubby I can't go into too much detail just yet. But you will get a full run down of the table once it's complete...providing I manage to pull it off! If not you'll just get a picture of a wedding cake. Possibly one entirely unrelated to my mum's wedding that I will use to distract both you and I from my own disappointment in myself. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

What I can show you is this. A collection of images I am using as inspiration for colour, texture, design and feel.

If you couldn't tell, there is a breezy, ocean theme happening here. I love the colours of blue and beige together. Images are from:
  1. Celebrations at Home (styling via Events by Sarah Elizabeth)
  2. Heather Equitz Design (found via Amy Atlas)
  3. The Candy Tree's Sweet Little Parties
  4. Green Wedding Shoes
  5. Jay's Catering
  6. The Inspired Bride (and Bake It Pretty)
  7. I can't find it! If you know please tell me and I'll update this post.
  8. Amy Atlas
I can also show you these. My first ever cake pop attempts! These little pearly babies will be included in the menu.

Now to simply...
  • Finalise the menu
  • Put together a work schedule/timing plan
  • Write the ingredients list
  • Write the props list
  • Write the equipment/decorating list
  • Order props
  • Test the recipes
  • Bake the desserts
  • And so on...

I'll be fine. No, honestly, I'll be fine. Wish me luck! x