Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2nd Birthday Elephant Cake

The only thing is with making your own cakes for your childrens' birthdays is that there is a certain pressure for the cake to be better and better with each year and each party. So the pressure was on to go one better with Harvey's second birthday cake after the success of his first birthday cake.

I wanted to go with a theme cake that would appeal to him as well as be realitively easy to make. He loves his elephant toys and my elephant paintings and repeatedly demands renditions of 'Heidi Ho' so Elephant it was!

Here is the end result:

A quick summary of the steps involved in making the Elephant cake (I won't go as far as to call it a tutorial) are:

1. Bake cake - I have found a very basic butter cake to be economical and easy to cut to size once cooked.
2. While cake is cooling prepare your fondant icing. I highly recommend White Orchards white icing. It is ready made, easy to use and tastes great (as a lot of ready made fondant icings often don't). If you make your own and have a good recipe I would love if you could share it with us:

3. Icing needs to be kneaded with sifted icing sugar
4. Add food coloring of choice. If you want bright colors you need to either order colored fondant, or get the quality coloring (use too much of the supermarket stuff and your icing goes sticky) so pastels it is!
5. Once the fondant is prepared, keep it in an airtight container while you prepare your cake (not in the fridge)
6. If you are joining cakes together it is best to cut the tops off and cut them to size for a good match up. Use a quality bread knife for cutting and don't go too fast so you don't get too much crumbling.
**I drew my design in advance and placed it over the cake, then cut around it. I still have the template somewhere and will share it here once I find it.

7. Using butter icing (frosting) spread over your cake to fill in any gaps, joins or crumbly bits, let this set. (I have previously used a jelly spread or sugar paste under the fondant so that it sticks, but didn't this time and it was ok.
8.Roll your fondant out with a roller (using the sifted confection sugar) on Baking Paper (or greaseproof paper). Once it is even and to thickness you can pick up the paper and turn it over onto the cake. Once positioned on the cake you peel the paper off and you have a smooth, shiny surface with no white spots or dry bits. This is the best tip I have!
9. Cut or roll your other fondant embellishments to size and place over (use a bit of butter icing to secure them in place)

10. Take a photo of your cake now! Don't wait until the party or you will forget or run out of time or something equally frustrating. It is important to have a record of your hardwork and creativity!

And the main thing:

Harvey absolutely loved it 'Phant, Phant!' he shouted delightedly when he saw it (his word for 'elephant' of course) then waved his arm in the air and gave a two year old trumpet 'Bruauauurrrr'. He even blew his candle out all by himself.

It made it all worth it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Playroom decor - as easy as ABC!

So, the playroom is looking really good and has been very very functional for a while now. It is a small success in the overall streamlining of storage, space and efficiency and just making the place look darn cool!

But lurking next to one of the windows was a thin vertical wall space just screaming out to be decorated! Ta Da! ABC ("... it's easy as...:") sorry, song stuck in my head:

I love these block letters made from papier mache. A few months ago I introduced them into my WallFry store as a new product line, but with personalized names on the face, like these here:

To make these, I paint a papier mache block letter, adhere patteren to the sides of the letter and then attach the name in a dense foam letter cut-out.

I had already made personalized letters for my boys, so wanted something more generic in the playroom. To make sure that the colors in the ABC letters coordinated with the rest of the playroom, I digitally picked the colors from the baskets in this photo:

then recreated those colors in  the designs on the sides and of the face of the three letters. I also found that they attach easily to the wall with blu-tak as they are very light. This makes it easy to move them around as the boys grow.

They look so bright, colorful and let's face it - awesome!

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