My Great Aussie Gingerbread Bar!

A breakdown of my first ever gingerbread house bar! 😀

Its a beautiful rainy weekend, so I thought I would take this opportunity to post a bit of a breakdown of the bar from my Australia Day post.

My ideas for the bar... yep, I have really limited sketching skills ! 😉

When I’m putting together something that I haven’t done before, I always try and get my ideas onto paper.  My sketches are pretty crude, but by scribbling it down, I get all my ideas out & start to work out the individual aspects of the project.  I try and put as much detail into my plans as possible, even though it may not be physically possible to achieve the things I imagine.  I won’t post pics of these cringe worthy sketches generally, but for this project I was doing something completely new to me, so I wanted to show what I was thinking, and how close I got to creating it.

Instead of making a cake or cupcakes this year, I thought I would do something a bit different. I took this opportunity to work with gingerbread for the first time. Knowing my own limitations, I decided on a basic design for the structure, and took a general gingerbread house template, adjusting it to suit an outdoor bar shape.

The basic bar on the board, starting to get decorated....

In hindsight I stuffed up the thickness of the gingerbread. It was a bit too thick and bulky, so the finish wasn’t as nice as I wanted. In saying that, it was super easy to work with. I got it all stuck together with royal icing without any dramas. Once it had dried, I melted some dark chocolate and painted the walls, trying to give it the texture and look of very rough wood. The roof I covered with a thin layer of grey royal icing, which I then scrapped off with a little zester, creating great tin roof looking ridges. Once that had dried I roughly painted over the top of the ridges with silver paint, to finish.

A side view of the bar, with the completed windmill... mounted on a pin so that I could spin it (very very gently), YAY!

There was a week spent  making decorations out of gum paste to bring this together. I previously posted the frustration of trying to create a windmill. I also made up some little crabs,  a water tank, some bunting for the sides of the roof, a radio (necessary for listening to the hottest 100), the bartender & his dog, and some other little bits and pieces to bring it together.

Rusty the cattle dog!

To cover the cake board, I really wanted to get a red dirt look.  Its one of those spectacular things about the outback, although I have to admit, the most I have seen it is in Childers. Its such a gorgeous colour! To replicate this I covered the board in fondant coloured with red & purple to a really dark hue. I then dusted the whole board with cocoa powder & crumbled some extra gingerbread over it.

With the bar done & the board ready, it was just time for assembly. 😀

Bazza the bartender welcomes you to the outdoor bar!

This was a  wonderfully challenging project. With heaps of little things to make that were all new to me, and fiddly in there own right. I had so much fun figuring out the little pieces. And in the end, I was pretty happy with the result. I wonder what kind of theme I can use for my next gingerbread creation? But that’s enough of my rambling for now.

 Thanks for stopping by, I’m off to pick mangos in the rain ~ fun, fun!! Hope your enjoying your weekend too!

A view from the back of the bar.

Happy Australia Day – Hottest 100!!

Just a quick post to celebrate Australia Day! In our home celebrating means tuning into Triple J and listening to the Hottest 100. Its been a great day, listening to some awesome tunes, and working on something special just for today. Instead of an Australia Day Cake, I thought I would do something a little different. Here are a few pictures of my Great Aussie Ginger Bread Bar! Its been a huge day and I’m just about ready for bed. Here are a few pics of the bar. I will go into a bit more detail in another post. 🙂

Aussie Ginger Bread Bar

Not what I had in mind….

Just a short frustrated post… Here is a  pic of what happens when I have an idea of what I want to make in my mind, which does not translate to what I’m realistically able to create.

This is not the windmill in my mind... 😦

What I am trying to do is make an aussie windmill for a little project (will post more on that later).  I thought I had worked out how to make it. I had sketched out my idea, and broken it down into smaller steps. But this is one of those times that I just don’t know enough to achieve what I want.

The first stages were so promising!

Suffice to say, it has been a frustrating afternoon. But this is the point of practicing & trying new things I guess.  I started so organised today, with all my painted dried pieces of gum paste & some fresh royal icing.  I piped onto my base to mark where I wanted the blades positioned, then started gently putting it together. First the blades didn’t sit up angled enough, then they slid out of place… soon I had royal all over my workbench, all over my pieces, all over me… and just when I started to really lose my cool… the blades started breaking. Back to the drawing board for this little idea. Usually I would pack it up at this point. Because the more I try to do, the more mistakes I make in my frazzled state. But today, I put it aside, and worked on another little part of my project.

Meet Mr Pinchy, Bruce & Dave.. my little crabbie friends! 🙂

So I will leave tonight on a happier note.  For my first go at crabs, I am pretty happy with these little guys. Now to cut my losses, clean up & start fresh tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed the pics & story. Thanks for dropping by! 😀

First cake of the year!

Starting January with a bang!

Eager to start on my journey to becoming a better cake decorator, I started the year with a cake well outside my skill level!

Fondant you say? Topsy turvy you say? Panic you say???!

You see, one of the biggest problems I face when I decorate, is self inflicted. I have no idea why, but for some reason when faced with a request for a complicated cake I have never ever attempted, I say….

“Sure! I can do that! :)”

I skip merrily away, and hours later realize that I have most probably bitten off more than I can chew.  My experience runs to light sponge cakes, with soft piped decorations (and for a while in my youth – generic ice cream cakes for the local Baskins).  Fondant is the great unknown for me. It scares me. I don’t really get how it behaves, or how to work with it. I’m much more at home with meringue and soft icings. In my head though, I can work out how to do things. In theory, I know how. I can see it in my mind, and break it down, so whatever it is that I haven’t done before seems very achievable.  But theory doesn’t always translate to reality.  The cake doesn’t always do what my brain thought it would.

So when asked by a co-worker if I could do a 30th Birthday cake for him & his wife, I happily said “Sure!”….. His lovely wife emailed me a couple of pictures of exactly what she wanted… A topsy turvy mudcake, covered with fondant, with ribbon decorations, in bright colours matching her party invitations. I was still confident… but somewhere, at the very back of my brain, I started thinking… “oh gawd… I am so totally boned”

The finished cake. A 30th celebration cake for a lovely couple!

In this case, I was really happy with the final result.  I got super organised, and planned, planned, planned! I did not want to get to the day of the party, and have a topsy turvy train wreck on my hands! I researched a gorgeous moist mudcake recipe, and went through my kit to make sure I had all the right tools on hand.

The cake toppers - Modelling paste 30 & twisty ribbons.

A quick breakdown of the cake:

  • Base: 3  x 10″ Dark Chocolate Mudcakes
  • Top Tier: 2  x 6″ Vanilla & Jam Cakes
  • Covered & filled with vanilla bean buttercream.
  • Rolled fondant with sugar decorations.

The finished cake weighed close to 10kgs. It was an absolute monster. I have to mention that on the really big cakes, I am lucky enough to enlist the help of my long suffering boyfriend.  Lucky for me, he is a retired chef, so his help is always invaluable.  It is so great to be able to get someone to do the grunt work when trying to carve an angle on 4kgs of mudcake. 😉

As you can see, there is a pic of the final cake above, and some pics of the details. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pics of the steps involved or the assembly. I was too wrapped up in getting it right.  At the end of the day, it was a huge learning curve! But I did fill the request of the birthday girl, and she was so happy with it!

So it seems that I have set the bar high for myself for the first cake of the year. Good thing I’m a pretty laid back chick, and wont be trying to outdo myself for the next one. Though I will be having fun trying out something new!

Until the next post, thanks for dropping by! 🙂

Wrapping it up with a lime green bow!

Hello!

Chiffon cake, Filipino styled frosting, multi coloured Flower Wedding Cake - By my mother & me.

Hello! I would like to introduce my new blog, a kitty & her cakes.

For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in cake decorating. From the time I was old enough to see over the kitchen table top, I watched my mother decorating cakes. She would make traditional Filipino cakes for friends, creating pretty, fluffy masterpieces, that fascinated me. She learnt from her mother, who learnt from hers,  relying on cakes to make money to share with the family – growing up in the Philippines. When mum moved to Australia she kept on cooking. So for as long as I can remember there has been cakes. I guess any little girl would fall in love with sweet fluffy frosting, feather light ruffles & rainbow colored, delicate sugary flowers.

So I watched and I learnt, and I grew older.

Chiffon Cake, with fluffy frosting & fantasy sugar flowers - A garden wedding cake by my mother & me.

For 20 years now, I have decorated as a hobby. Tinkering with decorations for cakes with my mum, doing the odd cake for a friend.  Its something I always go back to, a gift passed from mother to daughter.

I’m 31 now, and this year I have made the commitment to myself to learn more. I have never called myself a cake decorator. I don’t have the confidence.  But I want to get better, I want to practice & learn.  I’m going to push myself to create something new each month, to learn a new technique, to move away from my comfort zones. This blog will document my projects, my successes & my failures.  I’m excited to start, because even the most stressful flop will teach me something I didn’t know before.

A blue themed anniversary cake. Chiffon cake, fluffy icing & sugar flowers - By my mother & me.

Well, that’s a little about me. I look forward to the rest of the year, and the projects to come.

Thanks for dropping by!

Miss Cat 🙂