Halloween Cake Pops

Halloween cake pops 3 - victoria-sponge BLOG

Happy Halloween!

Now for quick Halloween post, before it’s time for a Christmas post!!  As usual, my friend Helen held a Halloween party, and I decided this was a good opportunity for me to try out cake pops again to take along to the party.  I made a batch of vanilla ones, and half a batch of chocolate ones ask hadn’t tried those before.  I spent quite a while melting the Candy Melts, trying again to get the right consistency.  I thought doing this in the microwave might give better results than over the hob, but I actually think this made it harder.  However, I didn’t want to spend too long on this, as figured I should be able to make up for any untidiness at this stage when I decorated them.  As getting the Candy Melts to a suitable consistency was so time consuming, I decided to only coat them in one colour – white.  This did restrict my options a little, but it was still pleased with the ideas I had and how they turned out.

Halloween cake pops 2 - victoria-sponge BLOG

Halloween cake pops

I began with some eyes balls, as I wanted something a little gruesome!  I used a red icing pen to make the eyes look blood shot, and coloured fondant discs for the irises and pupils.  Again I used coloured icing pens and strips of fondant to make the mummies, and circles of fondant draped over the pops to make the ghosts.  I was worried the ghosts might be too sweet with that much fondant on top of the Candy Melts, but everyone enjoyed them and commented they were their favourite looking pops!  I also decorated a few to look like Jack Skellington from the Nightmare before Christmas.

Halloween cake pops 1 - victoria-sponge BLOG

Spooky cake pops!

There’s still room for improvement so I’ll need to find another excuse to practice again….  I’m sure I won’t be short of volunteers to taste them!

Birthday cakes

As I finished up my last post with the cupcake bouquet, I thought I’d comment a little bit more on making fondant flowers.. I use little plunger cutters for these, which are really easy to use, and can be very quick.  The only problem I find is that they can leave slightly scruffy edges, which I spend quite a while smoothing if I want a really neat finish! Once I have cut the flowers out, I leave them to dry overnight, and then they can be dusted with edible petal powder.  Here you can see several rows of flowers drying in a shaped foam tray, which allows the flowers to dry in a more realistic cupped shape.

flowers drying - victoria sponge BLOG

Drying fondant flowers in a foam tray

Back in March I made a cake for James’ gran’s 92nd birthday.  Edna is amazing for her age, still living alone, and she is very independent.  James visits her every week, and takes her shopping when needed – he has told me that she loves cakes and frequently puts a few packs in the shopping basket!  So, when I was asked to make her a cake I was delighted as I knew she would enjoy and appreciate it!  James suggested a cherry blossom cake, so I went a few steps further than I normally would with my fondant flowers..  Once the first stages of cutting, drying and dusting were complete, I made up some royal icing to pipe a small dollop in the middle of each flower.  I then cut down tiny paper stamens and used tweezers to place them into the royal icing to create more realistic looking flowers.

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A finished flower – with edible petal powder and paper stamens

This all took me quite a while!  I covered a Victoria sponge with pink fondant icing, and used brown fondant to lay down some branches onto the cake.  I then took the flowers and added them along the branches, sticking them in place with a little more royal icing.

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Cherry blossom cake

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Cherry blossom flowers

Edna was really pleased with the cake, and here you can see her with it!

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Edna on her 92nd Birthday with her Cherry Blossom cake

I dry lots of fondant shapes in a similar way, including butterflies.  I recently made a cascading butterfly cake for a friend’s mum’s 60th birthday.  When Jamie asked me about this cake for his mum, I knew I had a wedding cake to do for the same day, so needed to be prepared and do as much in advance as possible, and not commit to too much of an elaborate design!  Obviously the cake needed to be as fresh as possible so I didn’t want to do this sooner then two days before the party, but I could prepare the fondant decorations in advance.  So one Sunday I sat down and punched out several butterflies in various sizes and colours, and left them to dry so their wings would be up as if they were ‘in flight’.  Here you can see them drying under a large pop-up food cover.

Drying butterflies - victoria-sponge BLOG

The fondant butterflies drying

The cake needed to feed about 14 people, so a regular 8″ round wouldn’t have been quite enough.  As Jamie liked the cascading idea, I suggested a taller cake made with three sponges, rather than the two of a normal sandwich cake, to help give height to the cascade.  I had to find a new recipe for a strong coffee cake, and after some browsing online I settled on one to try, and rather interestingly it suggested to use strawberry jam as well as a coffee buttercream!  Jamie and I thought this sounded a little mad but thought it might work really well!  After baking the first two I thought they looked a little flat (the recipe didn’t specify a size of tin, and I suspect it was probably better suited to a 7″ round tin) so decided if I’m doing a third I might as well just do a fourth at the same time!  So, after two rounds of baking, I made the coffee buttercream and layered in the jam too.  I covered the four layers of cake in pink fondant and used edible glue to stick the butterflies across and down the cake,  and finished it with some simple white text to read “Happy 60th”.

Butterfly cake 1 - victoria-sponge BLOG

Butterfly cake

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The tall butterfly cake

You can see how tall the cake was with all four layers of sponge in the second picture.  I really like this next picture as you can clearly see the detail on the butterflies, which is just from the plunger cutter, but it really helps add detail and dimension to the decoration.

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The detail on the fondant butterflies

I was pleased when Jamie text me to say how pleased his mum was, and that the jam and coffee buttercream were a successful combination!

I have found it quite surprising how much can be made from fondant if it has enough time to dry.  I’m less keen to use modelling paste, as although it dries really hard and solidly, this can make it inedible! I will use modelling paste in small quantities, but really aim to do as much as possible in fondant so it’s still enjoyable to eat.  With this in mind, I used a mix of modelling paste and fondant for a cake which I wanted to make with some parts sticking out of the cake!  This cake was a request from one of my best friends, Hollie, for her new husband Darren (they got married earlier this year, details of their wedding cake to follow at some point…!)  Darren is a Transformers fan, so Hollie asked if could make a themed cake, possibly with Bumble Bee or Optimus Prime on it.  I looked at some images and decided Bumble Bee’s face was quite complicated!  But I had seen some Optimus Prime cakes that I really liked, so worked around that.  I made four layers of cake (it needed to feed quite a few people at Darren’s birthday meal) and covered it all in blue fondant.  Here you can see the four layers of sponge and how tall the stack appears, which seems to get lost once it’s covered and decorated, and the cake looks much shorter and wider!

Stack of sponges - victoria-sponge BLOG

Stack of Victoria Sponges

I found some modelling paste in the same shade of blue, and used this mixed into the blue fondant, in hope it would dry harder and stronger, but still be enjoyable to eat.  So, I made several strips of this, which I wanted to use to make part of his head – I have no idea what to call these bits, so I shall just refer to them as the ‘sticky-up bits’!!  You’ll know what I mean when you see the pictures ;-)   I made these a few days in advance and thought they’d dry pretty quickly.  Unfortunately they didn’t…  So I had to try and find a way to dry them quicker, and after a google search I decided the easiest way was with a hair drier!  As comical as it seemed, it did help dry them out after several sessions of applying the heat and letting them cool, and repeating.  After all the other decoration, these were the last things to do, and I left it till late on the Saturday night to fix them to the cake.  And now, you’ve guess it….what I came down to Sunday morning….one bit had snapped off and two had bent over!  I was so disappointed!  So, as I had got up early enough to make sure I could do any necessary repairs, I got the spare ‘sticky-up bits’ and gave these an extra dry with the hair drier before putting them on the top of the cake.  Fortunately, I could just repair and not replace the one on the side, and I glued the snapped off bit back on to the side of the cake, and covered the join with some extra fondant!  As I did this I smiled to myself, as at a friends party the night before she told me even the best cake-makers have errors they have to cover up!  After this, the cake was looking good again, and it survived the day to be enjoyed by Darren and his family.

Optimus Prime- victoria-sponge BLOG

Optimus Prime!

The last cake in this post was one I was very excited about when I was asked – a My Little Pony cake!  As I loved these as a child, I was looking forward to doing this one.  My friend at work Lucy asked if I could make it for her daughter Amber’s 3rd birthday.  Lucy had contemplated decorating the cake herself and had bought little pony figurines to use, but decided she had enough to prepare for the party already and it would be easier to ask me to see to the cake!  Amber liked pictures of cakes Lucy had shown her which had rainbows and waterfalls, so these were the main things I had to get in to the design.  Last Christmas James bought me what appeared to be a crazy tool for cake decorating, but after using it I have realised just how useful it is!  I used it to make long, thin, sausage-shaped pieces of coloured fondant, which I could then stick together to make the rainbow.  As you can see in the picture, it has a handle you squeeze to push the fondant out through a shaped plate at the end.

Fondant tool - victoria-sponge BLOG

My crazy fondant tool!

I used a round cutter to wrap the coloured pieces around, and used edible glue to stick them together.  I made sure to allow plenty of time for the rainbow to dry, and after a week I was ready to put it on the cake.  I added clouds around the base, plenty of flowers and a few butterflies, and the final touch was the three pony figurines.  Lucy and Amber were both really pleased with the cake and I loved making such a colourful and fun cake!

My little pony 1 - victoria-sponge BLOG

My Little Pony cake

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My Little Pony cake with fondant rainbow