Monday, December 30, 2013

Oat and cinnamon pancakes {Recipe}

I am a fan of pancakes in general but I loove these pancakes.  I came across this recipe a few years ago on another blog,, and have made them almost every weekend since.  That's a lot of pancakes!

I know this blog is mostly about baking and decorating but I think these pancakes are worthy of a post here. Plus it does have the word cake in it so that must count right?

The original recipe is from Julie le Clerc, who is a well-known New Zealand chef and has written many fabulous books.  I have mentioned her before in my other posts when I make some of her fabulous cakes.  I have adapted this recipe slightly as I am experimenting with using spelt flour instead of plain flour.  Spelt flour is not gluten free, but it is more easily digestible than normal flour, so I have been trying to work this into our everyday food.  I have also added blueberries or bananas to the mixture if I have them on hand.  I have also topped them off with blueberry or strawberry compote if I have that too.  Very adaptable!

Recipe for Oat and cinnamon pancakes (Adapted from Julie le Clerc's Cafe@home)
Makes about 8-9 pancakes

1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup milk (may need a bit more if mixture is too dry)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white spelt flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
Blueberries/bananas (optional)

1.  Soak the oats and milk for 10-15 minutes.
2.  Add sugar, oil and egg to oat mixture and mix well.
3.  Add the flour, cinnamon and baking powder.  If the mixture is too thick or dry, add more milk.
4.  Ladle a large spoonful into a pan on medium heat.  At this point, you can add slices of bananas or
     blueberries if you like.  Turn over once you see bubbles forming. 
5.  Serve with butter and honey/maple syrup/berry compote.  Enjoy!

I hope you try them!  They are delish! :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas cakes

Merry Christmas!  How are your holidays going?  We had a nice, quiet Christmas with lots of food, eggnog and cake.  Yummy!

This was also my first year to try and perfect the fruitcake.  I have made fruitcake before, but usually it is the cheat's version where you heat the fruit with liquids to plump them up rather than soaking them in brandy for weeks.  Well this time, I decided to try and do a traditional fruitcake which required me to soak the mixed fruit for 3 weeks (I know some people soak theirs for months, but this was hard enough trying to remember to stir it everyday!).  The mixture smelled divine after 3 weeks of soaking in brandy.  I also managed to squeeze in doing a cheat's version to compare the two since I had leftover fruit mix.  The second fruitcake required me to heat the fruit with brandy and juice for 10 minutes and they plumped right up after that.   My verdict is both versions are equally good so you can always skip the 3 week or 3 month soak for the 10 minute one. :)

The round fruitcake is the cheat's version and it is very yummy and moist.  Best part is it contains no butter, only oil and is just as moist and tasty as the traditional one.  This recipe is from Julie le Clerc's Favourite Cakes.  She calls it her last minute Christmas cake.  Very appropriate!

The next fruitcake I made is one from Little and Friday treats by Kim Evans. 

This is from her first book and she has added chocolate to the recipe, but I could not taste it.  It makes for a lovely and rich cake as well.  I also made her marzipan, a first for me as I am not a fan of commercial marzipan.  I was very surprised at how easy it was to make the marzipan.  The only thing I may omit the next time I make the marzipan perhaps is the orange blossom water.  I am not a big fan of it.

I wasn't intending to decorate my cakes as I was focussed on getting them right but I used the leftover marzipan to make a simple decoration on it.  I think it turned out nice.  The marzipan was easy to colour too.

I hope your holidays went well.  Thanks for stopping by! :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rhubarb and plum cake

This is one delicious cake!  I have never tried a rhubarb and plum combination before and this cake works!  It is from the book The Caker by Jordan Rondel.  She has many interesting and unusual recipes in her book which are worth trying, if this cake is anything to go by!  The plum cream cheese icing is so yummy and pretty in pink and completes it perfectly!

So gooood I wish I had another slice now.  Perfect with a cup of tea.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Farmyard cake

This cake was for a friend's daughter whose only request was that it had farm animals on it.  It was a quick cake to make as I didn't have very long to do it, but I think she liked it in the end.  Everything is edible (except the candle!).  I textured the cake to make it look like grass by pressing over the fondant with a Wilton tip 233.   I made the animals out of fondant and let them set up a bit before placing them on the cake.  FMM cutters were used for her name.

Here is one side of the cake.  Little piggies having fun.

A lost, but happy sheep on another side of the cake.

 And more pigs on the top of the cake, playing in the mud.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chocolate covered Birthdays... {Recipe}

Growing up, I remember always having chocolate cake for my birthday.  It was the one day in the year that I got to decide what kind of cake I wanted, and as far as I remember, it always had to be CHOCOLATE.  (Yes I am a chocoholic and am proud of it!)  It was always store bought cake from a delicious bakery near where we lived, and even when we moved, mum would go down to get that Chocolate Etoile cake for me.  What was there not to love about light spongy layers of chocolate cake smothered in rich, creamy chocolate mousse.  Ah yes, those were the days.

When I started cake decorating a few years ago, I decided that I would start making my own cakes, as well as my hubby's.  (He gets a chocolate cake every year too!)  This gave me the opportunity to experiment with different recipes (always chocolate!) and dress my cakes up the way I wanted.  Funnily enough, I love my cakes simple.  Just pure, decadent chocolate cake is what I want. 

This year, I decided, after much research, that I would use Julie le Clerc's recipe for her Valrhona chocolate pearl cake for my birthday cake.  This cake happens to be gluten free as well, so even better!  And oh boy oh boy, I think it is one of the best, most decadent chocolate cakes I have ever had!  Plus, on your birthday the calories don't count, right?

Since there is no flour in the cake, the bulk of it is almond meal, and you get that slightly nutty taste together with the chocolate, which I love. The cake is then smothered in dark chocolate ganache and covered in crunchy chocolate pearls.  Yuummmyyyy!!!   Julie le Clerc's recipe is available in her book, Favourite Cakes, available at Amazon.  (See website link on the right).

Another chocolate cake that I love by Kim Evans of Little and Friday.  She owns a couple of cafes here in Auckland and her chocolate cake is a must try for anyone who visits.  It is also available in her book, Treats from Little and Friday.  Try covering it in ganache and coconut as that how she makes her lamingtons.  Delish!

The third chocolate cake I love is this mud cake.  I found the recipe online and have used it several times to make my husband's cakes as I find it carves well and holds it shape for the 3D cakes I make for him.  If you have not tried mud cakes before, this is definitely one to try and it is rich and chocolatey, and it goes very well with the ganache.  Best of all you can put away your cake mixer, everything can be done by hand.  Always use the best quality chocolate you can afford because it does make a difference!  I have tweaked the recipe slightly.  (see changes in brackets below)

Recipe for Chocolate Mud Cake    (Recipe from

250g chocolate (125g dark chocolate and 125g milk chocolate)

250g butter (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt with the butter)

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules/powder

188ml (3/4 cup) water

325g (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) plain flour  (I changed it to 285g)

30g (1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

550g (2 1/2 cups) caster sugar (I changed it to 500g)

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons (40ml) oil (any mild-flavoured oil) (I used canola oil)

1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (not fan-forced).  Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Place chocolate, butter, coffee and water in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate and butter have melted, remove mixture from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl.
  4. Add the caster sugar to the bowl with the flour mixture, and mix well with a whisk.
  5. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.
  7. Now add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture in a three batches, stirring until combined after each addition.
  8. Pour mixture into your cake pan and bake for about 1 hr 30 min or until a skewer in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool in pan before removing.  Make and spread the ganache over the cake.

Recipe for Chocolate ganache

250g chocolate (equal mix of dark and milk), chopped

125ml cream

  1. Heat the cream in a pot til scalding.  Take off heat.
  2. Add chopped chocolate and whisk till smooth and creamy.   
  3. Set aside to cool until ready to use or use warm to pour over cake.

What is your favourite kind of birthday cake? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

24 hour Flash Sale!


Craftsy is having a 24 hour special on some of their classes!  Grab a class now!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

FREE cake decorating classes online!

free modern buttercream cake decorating class at

Have you been on Craftsy yet?  They are offering a few FREE courses on cake decorating (among other classes) and all you have to do is sign up for a free account.  Carftsy lets you watch these classes on your own schedule, anytime, anywhere, and your access never expires!

If you are new to cake decorating, try these classes out to build the foundation for all your cake decorating techniques.  These classes are taught by experienced and professional cake decorators from around the world, so they know what they are talking about! :)

There's also free cake decorating recipes available.  Check out these links for a FREE Craftsy cake decorating class:

Modern Buttercream:
Free Online Cake Decorating Class

The Hand Painted Cake (how to paint on cakes):
Free Online Cake Decorating Class

Free Online Class - Basic Fondant Techniques

Free Cake Decorating Recipes at Craftsy!

Check these and more classes out now!  Enjoy! :)


Saturday, October 19, 2013 to make a cute little fondant lamb {Tutorial}

I was clearing up my flash drives today when I found some old photos I had taken when I made this little lamb quite some time back.  It is amazing how much we accumulate in photos that we forget where we stored them.  It was a lot easier with film rolls I think.  Much harder to misplace a photo album than a flash drive!

Well, thanks to these old photos, a little lamb is born.  :)  I must have made him when I first started playing around with fondant figurines and he is such an easy thing to make.  I compiled what photos I had so have a look and I'll explain along the way.

1.  You will need some white, pink and black fondant.

2.  Roll the body into a tear drop shape.  The arms and legs are sausages that are tapered at one end (kinda like a long tear drop).

3.  Flatten the bigger end of the arms and legs and stick a small piece of pink icing at the bottom.  I made the pink circle by pressing down on a small ball of pink, but if you want to be more exact, then use a small, round icing tip to cut out the circles.  I used the end of a dresden tool (at least that's what I think it is, to mark and texture the fondant on the body, arms and legs, but you can also roll or pipe tiny round balls and stick them on).

4.  Stick the arms and legs to the body with a little water or some edible glue and stick a piece of spaghetti or a toothpick down the middle of the body (not shown in picture).  If you are using a toothpick, make sure to tell the recipient about it as you don't want them biting down on it!

5-6.  Make the head by rolling a smaller ball of white into a tear drop.  Mark a smile using the end of a round icing tip.  I used the Wilton number 12 but use whatever you have.  Mark two dimples at the end of the smile with a toothpick.

7.  To make the ears, roll small pieces of white and pink fondant into tear drops.  Flatten them and stick the smaller pink onto the white.  Mark out the eyes with a toothpick.  Add a ball of pink for the nose.

8.  Glue the ears on and roll a couple of tiny black fondant balls for the eyes.  Roll some balls of white for the 'hair' on top of the head.  

 Baaaaaaa.....and your little lamb is done.

If you found this tutorial useful, I would appreciate some comments on it.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wanna get creative?

Craftsy Logo

Have you heard of Craftsy?  I am sure many of you have, but for those of you who haven't, let me tell you a little more.  Craftsy is a fabulous website that offers online classes on many different hobbies, one of which, of course, is Cake Decorating!  Each class can be viewed anytime, anywhere, through your own account, and you even get to print out the notes and materials on the classes that you've enrolled in.  Some of the classes are free too (yes FREE!), like the Modern Buttercream class (see link on right side of bar).  All you need to do is sign up and become a Craftsy member (and that's free too!).

If you've never been on Craftsy before, it is well worth the look.  I have learnt how to design a fabulously lifelike alligator handbag cake from the famous Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes, as well as make beautiful flowers from the amazing Nicholas Lodge.  Even Sharon Wee and Zoe Clark have lessons online too.  One of Sharon's classes shows you how to make an amazing castle cake and Zoe Clark has gorgeous lace cakes all figured out. Lindy Smith has just put up a new class on how to create a beautiful bird cage, which seems to be a very popular design now. Are you excited yet?!  I am!  You can view some of these classes here:

Vintage Cake Design: Sculpting and Stenciling with Lindy Smith

Elegant Lace Cakes with Zoë Clark 

Design Your Own Castle Cake

Classic Sugar Flowers Online Cake Decorating Class

Designer Handbag Cakes Online Cake Decorating Class

There are so many other classes to learn from too.  Go get creative! :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Elmo, Dorothy and Books I love

 A quick post to show you my finished Elmo and his pet goldfish Dorothy on her stand for a student of mine.  She wanted one done for her son's first birthday and I am very pleased with how it has turned out.  I added tylose to my fondant to make it stronger and dry hard.  I also textured Elmo's fur using a Wilton tip 233.  You can pipe fur using this tip too if you wish but since it was going to be moved around, I thought it was safer to texture it.  Didn't want Elmo losing his fur when he was moved!  Unfortunately, (as seems to be always the case), I forgot to take any photos of the process, but I will try to do a tutorial to show you how I did Elmo. 

Thinking about how I started off with my first figurine, which was little Harry Potter (see post here),  I have learned a lot along the way.  I get lots of useful information through Youtube and the web, but also through books.  One book that I have found really useful for stand-up fondant figures in particular is Squires Kitchen's Guide to making Sugar Figures by Jan Clement-May.  In this book, she shows you the basics of figure modelling before going on to more complex figures.  The book is divided into chapters for Occupations (like builder, nurse and fireman), Hobbies (like horse rider, ballerina and footballer) and Celebrations (like Santa, bride and groom).  A very useful book to read if you want to progress in making stand-up figures.  If you are keen on making fondant animals, another book I love is 100 Fondant Animals for Cake Decorators by Helen Penman.  Her animals are easy to do and look cute too (which is sooo important)! I made this cute little zebra for an upcoming cake with her book.

If you'd like more details on these and other books that I read and love, you can find them on my blog through the Amazon link.  If you have any questions or comments, I'd  love to hear from you.  Happy decorating!  :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Barney Cake

I made this cake for my friend's little boy who was turning two.  He loves Barney and it was so cute watching his expression when he saw Barney on the cake.  I am glad he liked it. :)  His mum wanted something simple, a square cake with an edible image.  Since I don't own an edible printer, and I couldn't find a suitable edible image online or in the shops, I decided to make one out of fondant. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to make a fire truck cake {Tutorial}

When I made this cake for my friend's daughter, I did so with a lot of inspiration from the web, but with a lot of guesswork along the way too.  If I had known earlier, I would have got my hands on Debbie Brown's Children's Character Cakes book as it has instructions on how to make Fireman Sam and Jupiter (the truck), as well as other brilliant and well-loved characters.  It is a fabulous book to read through but I only managed to get it after I had to make the cake.  So this post is just my way of making the truck.  It may or may not be the best way, but it came together pretty well in the end and I was quite happy with the results.

The first step is

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fireman Sam cake

This cake was a lot of fun to do!  It was a HUGE cake as well, measuring 11 inches in length and 5 inches wide.  My friend's daughter loves watching Fireman Sam so mum thought it would be great if she could have it for her second birthday.  I have to say it did come with a few challenges.  I have not covered such an unusual shaped cake before so it took a couple of attempts to cover the whole truck in the red fondant smoothly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Horse cake

I made this cake for a friend's daughter who loves horse riding.  She didn't want any too complicated so I made a simple horse topper for the cake and added some fondant flowers, butterflies and buttercream grass to finish the effect.  The horse is made out of gumpaste.  The cake is covered in green buttercream and I made some swirling effects with the end of the spatula.

The birthday girl loved it and so did I. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Purple ombre cake {Tutorial}

I have been wanting to do an ombre cake for a while now, and when my dear friend's birthday came round, I decided it would be a perfect opprtunity.  I have to say though that it is a LOT of work, most of which comes from making all the frills for the cake and making sure they line up properly.  That was the most time consuming bit for me, but well-worth it in the end.  The cake looked so pretty and frilly and I was really pleased with it.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time and did not get a chance to take any good photos of the cake.  So remember, if you are planning to attempt this, give yourself a lot of time!

For those of you keen to try this,

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hobbit Hole 'Bag End' Cake

This cake was made for my hubby who is a huge LOTR (Lord of the Rings) fan.  Every year, he comes up with a different themed cake.  Last year was Stargate (see cake here) and the year before that was Star Wars (see cake here).

So this year, of course, it had to be Lord of the Rings.  :)


The cake is a dark chocolate mud cake layered with dark chocolate ganache and covered in fondant details as well as Swiss Meringue buttercream icing (SMBC).  If you have not tried SMBC, you should definitely give it a go!  It is not overly sweet like normal buttercream icing and has a very smooth and satiny finish.  More on that in another post!

Here are a few more close ups...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stiletto heel and shoe box cake

I am really pleased with how this cake turned out! This is a model for a class I want to teach.  The gumpaste shoe took a lot of patience to do.  There was a lot of waiting in between, waiting for each part to hurry up and dry before another layer could be applied, but I am really pleased with how it turned out.  The shoe box is a dummy cake, which I covered in fondant.  The letters were cut out of the alphabet set from Patchwork cutters.  All in all, I am really happy with it. :)

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Orange cranberry butter cake {Recipe}

As promised, here is the recipe for the orange cranberry butter cake I made for a friend.  I also made extra as cupcakes as they were really yummy.  I decorated a couple to give away to a friend at work. I used a new Patchwork quilt pattern for the background

Kokeshi Japanese doll cake

I wanted to make a cake for a dear friend who has been really wonderful and helpful to me, especially in the last couple of months when I've had to juggle a few things.  I really don't think I could have managed without her and this was a way to say thank you to her for being such a wonderful person.

Christmas cake and cookies gift

It's been so long since I have blogged I can't believe it's March already!  Our computer decided to have a meltdown at the end of last year and so I haven't been able to put up any pictures of what I've been up to. 
Well I decided to switch it on again today and lo and behold it is up and running again!  Maybe it just needed a holiday too!

Well this post is either very late or very early but I thought I should post some pictures of a Christmas cake and cookie tree stack I did.  The cake is fruit cake and the cookies are lemon based shortbread.

The fondant striped bow was really easy and fun to do and I really must put together a simple tutorial on it soon.  Fingers crossed the computer works next time I start it up!  But just in case, here is a quick run down on how I did the stripes.

Roll a sheet of white fondant as your base.  Then overlap with strips of red at even intervals.  Gently roll over the strips with your rolling pin so the red fondant merges with the white.  Cut out strips for your bow and ribbon and you have your striped ribbon.  I used a new set of cutters from Patchwork for the letters.   A bit fiddly but I am sure I will get the hang of it soon.  I then painted the letters with edible gold paint.

The cookie stack was a lot of fun to do.  I baked lots of star shaped cookies in various sizes using the Wilton star cookie cutter set, decorated them with royal icing and silver dragees and then stacked them together, criss crossing the cookies along the way to get the effect you see in the picture below. 

Very effective don't you think?  It would look really nice in green too of course.  You could even pipe little icicles on the edges of each cookie to make it look like snow.

Thanks for looking!