Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tiki cake

Our street party was a few weeks ago & it had a Hawaiian theme. Usually everyone makes a cake of their house but of course I wanted to wow them since I'm new here. I came up with the idea for an island cake, primarily so I could make the ocean a cupcake cake. I'm usually not a huge fan of those, but they are unheard of here. Also I figured mini (blue) cupcakes would be fun for the kids to pull off & eat.

Here's the final project:

Setting the scene:

I thought about what would make a thatched type tiki bar and came up with the genius idea of shredded wheat! I was cutting up those biscuits trying to find the right sizes (without breaking) in my kitchen til late. The sand is smashed malted milk cookies. I should say the end product was so pretty, everyone was afraid to cut it up.

The full visual. Surfboards are sour strips (mounted on cardboard so they would stay up). Tiki details are melted candy melts. The shark fins are marshmallows I painted with food color. The flowers are made from a candy called Winders (fruit rollups), I brushed edible glitter on them and added a white decor ball center.

The tea & cake table (impressive!):

Aloha! I got the chance to bust out my $1 vintage Hawaiian jumpsuit. This beauty used to be worn regularly when I lived in Los Angeles. Forgot I had it. Everyone loved it.

England baking and adapting to ingredients here

I mentioned before about getting used to ingredients here in England. One is butter, it's yellower (not ideal for vanilla frostings), and has a higher fat content.

I also just found out egg sizes here are bigger than America. I feel like I had an epiphany when I read this post on Nigella's site. Makes sense, the large eggs here are equal to US extra large - all my recipes seem to respond differently here. At least I can make sure my eggs are medium from now on, we'll see how far that gets me.

I'm still working on getting an adapter for my KitchenAid. I've broken 2 hand mixers in 2 months. And I wasn't even mixing that much. But hand mixers don't have a low and my kitchen gets covered in either confectioners sugar or flour every time I bake. I really miss my precious mixer. I didn't want to spend the money on the converter, but after breaking 2 mixers, it's time to spend the £70 and get it.

I've done a lot of baking, even without my big mixer. Much to my father-in-law's delight, I make something new every time we go for Sunday lunch.

Blackberry pie using local berries we picked. For the crust I used half butter, half Trex (UK equivalent of Crisco, but all natural). It's very flaky. Almost too flaky, if that's possible?

Cinnamon sugar pinwheels using leftover crust. I swear I preferred these to the pie, mostly because they remind me of my childhood, my mom used to use these same pans to make hers.

Mini apple pies using my father-in-law's neighbor(u)r's 'fallers' from her apple tree. I saw these on pinterest and wanted to try it. Very fussy for apple pie but appealing to people I suppose. I prefer a normal pie.

Le Creuset bread (tasty!) and a treacle tart. Also a request from father-in-law.

Plum frangipane tart using my father-in-law's neighbor(u)r's plums. Delicious. Also, another bread test, not as good as the above bread though. I used 1/3 whole wheat flour, not sure if that made a difference.

My neighbo(u)r gifted me a (marrow/zucchini/courgette), so I made my recipe for double chocolate zucchini bread. This recipe makes 2 loaves and uses 4 cups of zucchini. Very rich & delicious - gave some to 2 neighbors plus my father in law and saved some for us.

Mille Crepe cake. I've always wanted to do one, they look so pretty, but man what a chore. As you can see, the final product is gorgeous.

In process, I screwed up the first crepe, so I only had 19 to layer. That annoyed me, only because 20 crepes sounds more impressive. I started writing on my wax paper so I could see progress. See how tiny my kitchen is?

I made a vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache. If I were to ever repeat this tedious dessert, I'd use chocolate ganache inside because it would be richer I think. It kinda tasted like a soggy eggy thing. I suppose that's how it's supposed too, but for all that effort I'd rather make a real cake.

The inside!

Zombie themed cupcakes for my first real Bristol commission (a city council leaving do). They were a hit I hear. Hoping I can get more work out of it. Red velvet, chocolate and vanilla cakes. The vampire one has sour cherry jam inside too, wish I could've seen people's faces when they bit into it.

Details on my prize winning cake next...