Novelty Duck Pond and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

I’m super excited about this cake, even after the event has been and gone… For my nephew’s 3rd Birthday my sister and I decided to try and make a ‘duck pond and farm animals’ cake as he is obsessed with ducks and farms animals!

A quick Google and scout around Pintrest and the ideas were flowing! I’m not a huge fan of icing and marzipan or buttercream on cakes, as I prefer ream cakes that are a lot less sugary. You may have already seen from my previous cake posts that I tend to reduce the sugar in cake recipes so they aren’t so sweet and the flavours of the cake itself are allowed to shine through.

With no children of my own, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands to bake and decorate birthday celebration cakes. However I have to admit that I have no artistic bone in my body! So my cakes are quite plain and have simple (of very messy) decoration. Obviously with children’s birthday cakes it’s all about the ‘wow factor’ as they are usually much more interested in the way it looks than the taste of it! Store bough party cakes tend to be fairly plain inside, going for a jam or buttercream filling…

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

With this cake I made a stand and decided that it needed to taste really good as well as look good! So using my mum’s Victoria Sponge recipe I made the lightest of lightest cakes, making a salted caramel cream for the filling. The outside of the cake was decorated using KitKat fingers (for the fence) and coloured whipped cream for the ‘grass’ and ‘water’. The pebbles, ducks and farm animals were all made from ready made sugar pastes.

Farm Animals

Farm Animals

I’m particularly impressed by these farm animals made by my cousin, they are so cute! The sheep especially as she rolled out each tiny ball individually to get the ‘woolly’ effect.

Ducks swimming and diving

Ducks swimming and diving

My sister made these little ducks, I especially love the baby ducks and the ones that have dunked their heads in the ‘water’ so only their feet and bums are showing!

For the cake recipe, see my previous post ‘Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake‘ but skip the matcha powder and black sesame powder for a plain cake, or if you want flavoured sponge just follow the recipe as is!

For the salted caramel cream I used a made a basic caramel recipe (melted sugar in a pan and added cream once melted and a pinch of sea salt) then added it to whipped cream once it has cooled.

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

I’m very proud of our team effort on this cake. Although I have no patience and vision for modelling and crafting for novelty cakes, I know who to go to if I ever need to decorate novelty cakes again!

My nephew absolutely loved his birthday cake so all of the effort was well worth it. The adults also enjoyed eating the cake itself, leaving all the sugar paste animals to one side. Mission accomplished! 🙂

Advertisements

Profiterole Topped Black Sesame Mousse Cake

Black Sesame Mousse Cake with Matcha Cream Profiteroles

Black Sesame Mousse Cake with Matcha Cream Profiteroles

The month of November is a busy one. Full of birthday celebrations for both my friends and family so plenty of reasons to bake, and eat, lots of birthday cake!

This cake was for my cousin who can EAT! It is her 25th birthday and she loves black sesame as much as me. I’ve been thinking of new ways of incorporating the delicious taste of black sesame into other desserts after successfully trying out the Green Tea and Black Sesame Swiss Roll. Trawling the internet I was able to find a few recipes, and settled for this recipe for Black Sesame Yoghurt Mousse Cake as the photos looked particularly inviting.

I have mentioned in previous posts that ‘Chinese’ style cakes tend to have very light sponge and a less sugar than typical British cakes. Before we started making our own birthday cakes my family would often go to the Chinese bakery in China Town and buy one of the cream and fresh fruit cakes. They are deliciously light and always look amazing!

25th Birthday Cake with my name miss-spelt!

Birthday Cake with my name miss-spelt!

 

I think my 25th birthday was the last time I got a shop bought cake, since then my mum has been making them every year instead. I’m not sure if I noticed this at the time, but the baker spelt my name using the wrong Chinese character! As you can see, lots of cream and decorated with fresh fruit.

When baking this Black Sesame Yoghurt Mousse Cake I wasn’t too keen on the idea of yoghurt so decided to use mascarpone cheese instead. This meant that the filling would be similar to that of a no-bake cheesecake, which was I found a little confusing as this wouldn’t really give the light airy mousse texture that you would expect from a ‘mousse cake’. So I had a quick look for other recipes and found this Green Tea Mousse Cake recipe which looked a lot closer to what I’m wanting to achieve. However the filling is made from raw egg yolks (as expected for a mousse) and with my sister currently pregnant with my future niece, this was a no go area!

So I settled for using the cake batter recipe in the Green Tea Mousse Cake (substituting the green tea powder for black sesame powder) and the cream filling recipe from the Black Sesame Mousse Cake recipe (substituting the yoghurt for mascarpone) . However this was only the beginning of many challenges!

So I figured that I had plenty of time to bake this cake on Sunday afternoon, so I wandered down to the supermarket after a leisurely breakfast (of more emergency breakfast muffins) and bought all the ingredients for this cake. I bought extra cream and mascarpone thinking that I could make a cheesecake later on in the week.

When I got home I started baking the cake. I have used an extra large cake tin, so needed to bake another cake in order to get two layers. No surprises there…

Then I started making the cream filling… this is where things went very wrong! I’m not very experienced in using gelatine in baking and this was a major hurdle to overcome for this recipe.  The first attempt at adding the cooked gelatine to the cream and mascarpone mixture it seized, solidifying and creating jellied lumps throughout the mix! DISASTER! All the filling had to be thrown into the bin. I absolutely loathe wasting food, so this was not good for my baking stress levels!

By this time it was 4pm and being a Sunday the supermarkets were closing so I couldn’t go and pick up any more ingredients. Luckily I had bought enough extra to carry on with the recipe and attempt it one more time but not enough gelatine powder left. After making a strong cup of tea and stepping away from the kitchen for half an hour to de-stress, I made a desperate phone call to my mum. She makes amazing cheesecake that contains gelatine, so advised me where I’d gone wrong (not allowing the gelatine mix to cool down enough first). I decided to go ahead with what I had left and hope for the best…

Thankfully the second time all went well, that is until I realised that I’d used up all my Black Sesame Powder! I managed to find a packet of whole black sesame seeds and ground them up in the spice mill into a powder but the results weren’t as fine as I needed it to be.

Experimenting with Designs using Black Sesame Powder

Experimenting with Designs using Black Sesame Powder

For the profiteroles on top:

I’ve made profiteroles on several occasions before so there were no major issues there. Expect that it’s been a long time since I made them and I had forgotten how much they poof up during the bake, so ended up with HUGE profiteroles that could have passed off as Choux buns! So again, I made a second batch…

Large and Small Profiteroles

Large and Small Profiteroles

I was planning on filling these profiteroles with the black sesame custard cream from the green tea and black sesame swiss roll recipe, but having run out of black sesame powder I opted for a contrasting flavour by using green tea (matcha) powder instead! Green tea and black sesame seem to be a very common and pairing, so the flavours should go perfectly well together. To make my life easier, I have just used whipped cream flavoured with a little sugar and matcha powder.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t work with gelatine! But if you need to, then follow packet instructions without defaulting in any way!
  2. Make sure you stock up on double, no triple, the amount of ingredients needs in case of baking disasters.
  3. Do not bake profiteroles when you are also baking ciabatta bread. This results in ALL the plain flour being used up…
  4. You can make profiteroles with bread flour too! Yay!
  5. Don’t try a recipe out for the first time for someone’s birthday cake. Practice it first or go for a tried and tested recipe. This will save you from another 8 hour baking marathon…
Black Sesame Mousse Cake with Profiteroles

Black Sesame Mousse Cake with Matcha Cream Profiteroles

Judging by the empty plates and the small left over piece of cake, I think all that hard work was worth it in the end! The sponge was light and soft. The cream was not too sweet and the black sesame taste was not too strong. I’ll definitely make this cake again, but maybe once I’ve forgotten the initial drama of the first time round!

Coconut Cake

Birthdays are the perfect excuse to eat cake, forget about the presents! As long as cake is part of the (usually week long) celebrations then I’m happy.

Growing up in a household where both parents worked in the restaurant business, there was little time for baking birthday cakes. Our staple birthday cake was a ‘Sara Lee’ frozen Black Forest Gateaux or the Strawberry version, depending on which was your favourite!

To this day my favourite cake is Black Forest Cake. It brings back those feelings of joy and happiness from childhood innocence when your birthday was that day you got your favourite foods and all the family gathered to celebrate together . Now that my mum has more time on her hands, she loves to bake. For my birthday each year, she’ll ask what cake I want. And most of the time it’s the same as it’s always been!

 

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

This week it was my foodie cousin’s birthday. We planned a couple of nights out and I offered to bake the cake. This cousin is obsessed with anything coconut. Be it in a cake, a drink, coconut macaroons… So I did a quick search for recipes and found this Coconut Cake recipe.

This recipe uses coconut in four ways; toasted dessicated coconut, coconut syrup, and a coconut custard that flavours the cream filling and butter cream topping. So I wasn’t too worried about the flavours not coming through! However I was terribly confused by the measurements as it’s an American recipe and I struggled to convert the ingredients accurately. There were quite a few parts of the recipe that required some advanced preparation too so its not a cake you can just whip up in a couple of hours, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

Last Slice of Cake

Last Slice of Cake

In the end the cake was HUGE! But was well received by all. Second helpings were had and the cake was distributed across three households. All in all, another successful birthday week!