Aug 20, 2016

The Moon Lately. Baking. Cake Decorating.

An astronomer would be able to tell you the science behind why our moon has been looking so shiny and new recently.  

All I can tell you as a layperson is that I've found the night and early morning skies especially beautiful to look up at of late due to said moon.

It was a special start to Saturday morning having the moon light the way on my run this morning.

It always does my soul a great deal of good filling it with some Rushcutter's love.  With a bonus dollop of Harbour Bridge and imposing naval vessel, I couldn't help but greet the rest of the day with open arms

and a stomach to match.

It was my Sydney nephew's first birthday party today and I was responsible for some of the catering.  Or perhaps that should be in charge of outsourcing some of the catering.  Three cheers for the lady at the sushi counter at Woolies for accepting my 8am order of a platter for 12 noon on the same day.

I've heard worrying things about the state of Barbecue Shapes in 2016 so even the promises of 'New and Improved... More Flavour' shapes could not tempt me to put a bag into my trolley.  Have you given Arnott's a second chance with their Barbecue Shapes recently?  Were they okay or even remotely close to the way they tasted back in that fine vintage year of 1992 (Year 12 swot vac, say no more)?

It's been that long, I can't even remember what one year olds eat at parties anymore so I played it safe with a few snacks from the baby aisle and loaded the rest of the trolley with some high end potato chips.  Those Parmesan and Garlic chips are a desert island pick, by the way.

Besides the bought snacks, I brought along a few baked goods.

I've been cubing and creaming butter like it's going out of fashion.

I've been watching my caramel like a hawk on the gas top, looking for that precise moment the pale yellow turns to a golden brown.

If something's home made and contains both rolled oats and love, it's got to be good for you.

Goes without saying that a lot of Lindt has graced the benchtops of the Manor's kitchen too.

The butter and the chocolate even worked together to create things like the topping for my caramel slice.

The birthday cake was Smitten Kitchen's Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake.

The recipe for the cake is relatively simple but trying to follow it with a preschool aged sous chef and his trains that 'want to bake too, mummy' complicates things somewhat.  I will say at this point though, those splatter guards on KitchenAid stand mixers do their job incredibly well.  Even in conditions I'm sure the KitchenAid test kitchens probably didn't anticipate.

We got there in the end yesterday afternoon and here are my two trays of cake batter to prove it.

Lucky I got started on the baking early because the whole street lost our power for a few hours last night.  I'm glad, in a bittersweet kind of way, that my stockpiling of batteries and LED torches at Costco earlier this year wasn't in vain.  One of my little LED pen torches managed to provide enough light for the dining table last night.

Part two of birthday cake prep involved making the fudge buttercream filling.  Here's Preschooler SSG gently persuading the melted chocolate to cool down enough for the food processor.

Buttercream in a food processor!  How cool is that?  No sifting of the icing sugar required at all.

Fortunately neither of my chocolate cake halves domed too much in the oven.

They sandwiched together pretty easily on either side of that fudge buttercream.

Onwards to the final and most nervewracking (for me, at least) stage of the birthday cake.  Frosting and decorating.

I took break from YouTubing makeup tutorials last week and boned up on cake decorating techniques instead.  Quite a few videos showed how to make sturdy frosting bags using nothing more than some sticky tape and zip lock bags.  This idea appealed to me because I've never had much luck keeping reusable bags clean in between the rare times that I use them.  The secret to using zip lock bags is to reinforce the corner you're going to cut for the tip with a piece of tape on both sides of the  bag.  This prevents the bags from bursting as you pipe.

Other useful tips include remembering to not overfill your piping bags and also to fill them using a cup as a stand.  Much appreciated, YouTube gurus.

I splashed out on food colour gels that were so easy to use and produced such beautiful colours with my frosting.

A couple of drops of blue gave me just enough colour for the sky blue I needed to frost the whole cake.

While I droppered with abandon to get the bright red I needed to pipe my birthday salutation.  Because of the gel consistency of the colour, my frosting didn't get runny at all.

And now for the part I was most nervous about.  Piping 'Happy Birthday' onto the cake.  For the first time in my life and for someone else's birthday party.  Textbook definition of pressure right there.

Again, the internet and social media came to the rescue.  Writing in cursive and first using a toothpick to trace what you wish to write across your cake before using your piping bag.  They're my take home messages from everything I'd read and seen.  With the toothpick trick, placing a dot where you wish to start and end a word also helps with spacing and sizing.

I follwed Smitten Kitchen's lead in the cake she decorated for the recipe post and piped a few white clouds onto my cake.  Flowers or similar fancy things would've been pushing it...

The party was fabulous.

Our collective catering was 11/10.

And the birthday cake?  I'm a bit biased (and tired) but I loved it.  The chocolate cake wasn't too rich or sweet which made it the perfect base for the fudge filling and the frosting.  I will probably increase the amount of  both filling and frosting the next time I bake this cake because I'm firmly in the too much is never enough camp when it comes to frosting.

What's something you've taught yourself from YouTube videos recently?

Do you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeve for the novice cake decorator?

Do you have an explanation for that super radiant moon of ours?


  1. I am with you re the frosting. Frosting to cake ratio should be 1 or more :1.

  2. The cake looks sensational! You did well to get it made before the power went out.

  3. The cake looks wonderful. You can buy Multix disposable piping bags in the baking section at the supermarket.


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