PAW Patrol is on a roll!

So, we finally made it! Pickle’s birthday party, take two. Which means; cake, take two.

The cake has spent the last two weeks in the freezer, carefully wrapped in several layers of cling film. I got it out on Wednesday evening and left it in the fridge overnight. On Thursday I left it on the kitchen worktop during the daytime to ensure it was fully defrosted, then back in the fridge overnight to keep it fresh until I needed it on Friday. I was a little concerned that the fondant icing might have gone a little sticky, but I carefully cut the wrapping off once it was at room temperature and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was as smooth and dry to the touch as it had been before freezing.

My next concern was the taste and consistency of the actual cake. Of course there was nothing I could do about that until the cake was cut. Fortunately, it smelt and tasted delicious and the texture was just what it should have been so I needn’t have worried at all. I would certainly freeze a cake again in future. It would help enormously when timings were difficult.

So, on to the decoration. Pickle has recently become a big fan of Paw Patrol, so thats what we went with.

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The mini figurines were bought from a local supermarket. I used a printout of the Paw Patrol logo as a template for cutting out fondant and built it up in sections.

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I used a food colouring pen to do the lettering and fill in details.

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The pups were a big hit once they climbed down off the cake too.

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Don’t they fly!?

The years, I mean. WordPress kindly informed me yesterday that it was my 3 year anniversary here. That would have totally passed me by!

I celebrated by picking up my knitting for the first time in about a week. I only managed a couple of rows but something’s better than nothing.

I also went to a rehearsal last night. I’m itching to get back to rehearsing a show. But this one was for a show I’m crewing in a couple of weeks time. Backstage work is something I enjoy, and you still get the buzz of being in a theatre, but it’s not the same as being part of the cast who’ve been rehearsing for months and going out on the stage in front of an audience. So I’m keeping my eye out for other opportunities.

In other news, the cake is safely in the freezer and it remains to be seen whether it survives on the other side.

Brakes On!

Today is Pickle’s birthday party.

We booked a soft play party and invited his friends. From his point of view, it’s that same kind of party his brother has, so he’s happy. From my point of view, it’s easy peasy. Activity is provided, food is included. I just have to do party bags and the cake.

Now, I admit I haven’t been particularly organised about it, but a couple of last minute evening activities this week really threw my timings off. I had an insanely busy day yesterday, but managed to get the cake baked and a chocolate ganache prepared, leaving me about 4 hours to crumb-coat it, fondant cover it and decorate it today.

It took me a while to successfully cover it in fondant. In fact, I wasn’t totally happy with it, but was pressed for time so accepted that was how it was going to be. I was just moving on to the more interesting stages of decorating, when I received a phone call from school saying that Pumpkin had been sick and I needed to collect him immediately. Oh.

Brakes on.

I spent the afternoon calling and texting round all the guests to reschedule the party for two weeks time. And then I crashed out. Shattered!

Now I have a half decorated cake sitting on the side and two weeks before the party. I have googled and I am going to attempt to freeze the cake whole and hope it’s ok to be defrosted and decorated fully in two weeks time.

Just hope none of the rest of us get the bug in the meantime.

All change!

We’ve been in the new house for around a month now, and loving it! Boxes are mostly unpacked, homes still need to be found for various things, but we have so much more space, it’s wonderful!

Pumpkin had his birthday party last week. He’s very into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the moment; he got a Chitty book as a gift from his godmother, and we’d arranged to take him to see the touring stage production too, but having googled for inspiration, I thought a Chitty cake was a step too far, so I left her in the theatre and had a rethink. Fortunately, he’s also very into Minecraft, so I went very meta and made him a Minecraft Cake cake.

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Simple, but effective. Appreciated and totally yummy!

The area we’ve moved to has a lot more trees around us, so the autumn colours have been spectacular, but it also creates a lot more work for us as we have to keep raking the leaves up regularly. It’s a new challenge, but it’s nice to be out in the garden, appreciating the fresh air and extra space.

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These leaves have got me thinking about the grad yarn I bought at Unravel this year, but I’ve got far too many projects under way already that I need to finish.

The needle tips I was using for my Stripes Gone Crazy were pilfered back to their former project  – a pair of fingerless gloves for the hubby. His hands suffer in the cold, so he’s in desperate need of them, since he lost his last pair on a train at the end of last winter. Unfortunately, my hands also suffer in the cold, so knitting hasn’t always been possible, despite having it tucked in my handbag ready for any opportunity! Still, slow progress is better than no progress, right!?

Meet Toothless

Work on the Clanger has stalled, and it’s currently looking like a rather strange pink penguin.

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Instead, I have been working on the annual cake-creation for the Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s been very into ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk’ on CBBC recently, which is part of the same franchise as the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ films, so he decided a couple of months ago that he wanted his party to be themed along those lines, including and especially, his cake.

I thought I could get away with the easy option of just stacking a couple of cakes to make the Island of Berk, and buying a couple of figurines or toys of Hiccup and Toothless to stick on the top, which he could then keep to play with afterward, but I scoured the shops for something suitable and couldn’t find what I wanted. So that left me with the not-so-easy option of attempting to make an actual Toothless Cake! For those of you not familiar with him, this is Toothless:

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A quick scan of google images and Pinterest showed me many rather impressive creations, and some less successful ones! Fortunately, some kind person has made an excellent Youtube tutorial, demonstrating exactly how to go about making Toothless in cake form.

I started with two large chocolate mud cakes (recipe here) and glued them together with chocolate ganache (recipe here). I’ve never carved a cake before, but once I got started, and with the tutorial for reference, it was actually alot easier than I expected it to be, and really quite satisfying seeing the dragon shape emerge.

IMG_3731 IMG_3733 IMG_3737Once the basic shape was there he was covered in ganache and left to chill out in the fridge overnight.

Covering him in fondant was more of a challenge. I started out trying to cover him using as few pieces of fondant as possible, but it was really hard to roll out a 2D shape that was the right size and shape to cover a 3D cake. I tried to cover the whole tail in one piece a couple of times, but ended up doing it in 2 pieces. Once I realised that actually it was possible to blend the two pieces so you couldn’t even see where the join was, the whole thing became much easier  and far less daunting to do. I think I used 3 pieces to cover the body in the end, and did most of the legs separately. The head was all done in one go though, including his ears and horns at the back of his head. Once the black icing was on, he only needed a few small extra details – eyes, claws, spines, tail fins and wings, and he was all done!

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I would have liked him to have a bit more texture to his skin, but there was no easy way to do it, so he stayed smooth-skinned. I also made some cupcakes with printed toppers of other characters from the show, which complemented the cake nicely.

IMAG2857 IMAG2860I received some lovely compliments from the grown-ups at the party, including a near-commission. The cupcakes went down well with kids and adults alike, and the kids mostly knew who the cake was meant to be! But the best moment was seeing the look on Pumpkin’s face when I held his hand and brought him to see the cake laid out on the table. He happily went round telling everyone that ‘Mummy said she couldn’t make a cake like that, but she did it!’  If that’s not the best kind of encouragement for trying something new and challenging, I don’t know what is!?