Mixy’s Birthday Cake

A long time ago, each time I saw the Planet Cake book in the book shop, I would go through the pages and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ to myself at all the cake creations on it.  If I didn’t have enough time to flip through the book, I would just stop for a sec and admire the cake on the cover and quickly move on.

The cake on the cover is the designer handbag cake, usually called the ‘Chanel bag Cake’ and ever since I told Mixy I wanted the book, she said if you ever get the book, you have to make the Chanel handbag for my birthday.  A few months down the track, my birthday wishes came true and I received the book for my birthday.  Fast forward 10 months later, I finally make the Chanel Cake for Mixy’s birthday.  It was the second cake in my New Years Resolution and an easy next step up from doing round cakes.

I read and re-read the steps quite a few time making sure I gave myself plenty of time because I always find I’ll read the steps and it’s not until you get stuck in and decorating that you realise it takes you way longer than anticipated to do the steps that seem so easy-peasy in the book.  I made sure I had all the necessary tools, equipment such as boards and templates, enough fondant, gel food colours etc etc etc.  I gave myself a good week to make it as I was doing it either after work when I was on morning shift or before work when I was afternoon shift.

Here’s a quick version of what I did:

Day 1

  • Bake the cake
  • Allow to cool completely ie overnight
  • If using coloured fondant colour your fondant now so it has time to develop and you can adjust if necssary

Day 2

  • Cut the cake into the desired shape for the hand bag and position the cake on the decorating board (a piece of hard cardboard that is the same size as the base of the cake – makes it easy to pick up and move the cake)
  • Cut the cake into 3 layers and brush each layer with syrup (to keep moist)
  • Sandwich them back together with ganache. Use any cake off cuts to fill in any large holes and gaps
  • Apply the first covering of ganache around the sides and the top
  • Leave to set overnight
  • I also made the black handles at this stage as the black fondant I was using was very sticky and needed plenty of time to dry before I could handle it again to attach to the cake

Day 3

  • Hot knife the ganache to remove any large ‘jaggered’ bits
  • Apply another layer of ganache this time paying special attention to try and get it as smooth as possible
  • Leave to set this should take about 30 minutes, depending on how warm it is
  • While waiting knead your fondant so it’s nice and pliable
  • Once the ganache is set on the cake (dry to touch), brush the ganache all over with syrup so that the fonant can adhere to the cake
  • Roll out the fondant to the desired thickness (I usually try and do it about 5mm) and shape
  • Place the cake on the display board using either royal icing or ganache to hold it in place on the board
  • Cover the cake with the fondant, smoothing as you go with plastic smoothers of little pvc sheets to get it as smooth as possible.  Trim away any excess
  • Add the quilting pattern to the cake using a stitching tool (bought from a haberdashery shop).  This needs to be done while the fondant is still soft to touch.  If done once the fondant has hardened it will either not leave a ‘deep’ enough imprint or end up cracking the fondant

Day 4

  • Add the rest of the embellishments – zipper, handles, piping along the edges, key charm or monogram letters
  • Stand back and admire your handy work 🙂

Day 5

  • Should’ve been about taking photos of the finished cake.  But no.  I got side tracked doing this, that and the other, and before I realised, it was 5pm and I still needed to have a shower, get ready, and deliver the cake to the restaurant before heading to the cocktail bar for pre-dinner drinks!
  • So all I have is some lame-arse photos, most of them taken in my messy kitchen right before leaving home.

Handbag Cake sans handles and charm

Zip Detail

Zip after one coat of 'gold' paint

The Finished Product

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Hubby’s Birthday Cake

The first cake on the list for my New Years Cake Resolution was Hubby’s birthday cake.  I didn’t have any grand plans, just a round cake covered in fondant (plastic icing/ready to roll icing) with a few decorations stuck on the outside.

Using my trusty Bible – the Planet Cake book, I followed the recipe for the chocolate mud cake and then followed the directions on how to handle the fondant and how to cover the cake.

Here’s some photos from the process:

Cocoa and flour waiting to be sifted

Baked cake cut into 3 ready to be doused in syrup then sandwiched together with ganache.  Mmm, more chocolate 😀

The sandwiched cake on the board.  Next step is to trim any of the overhanging bits to make sure that the cake is the same size as the board

Ganache covered cake.  This is the first of many ganache steps and probably one of the most important (and possibly most time consuming) steps in making fondant covered cakes.  If the cake is not ganached smooth here, the covered cake won’t have a smooth finish.  The first time I put it on, it’s purely to cover and fill any holes and make the sides level.  I liken it to plastering or  filling wall holes with filler.  I put it on nice and thick, but smooth off any excess.  I then stick it in the freezer for no more than 20 minutes to set the ganache (or if you have time, you can leave it overnight to set).  In the meantime, I boil the kettle and pour a mug of boiling water.  Once the 20 minutes is up, I bring the cake out of the freezer and dip a cranked palette knife into the hot water and trim off any jaggered pieces of ganache off and smooth out the ganache.

Wait for the areas where the hot knife has touched to dry and add another layer of ganache, this time only a small thin layer, paying particular attention to areas that are not particularly smooth or level.

I realised early into kneading the fondant, it wasn’t as easy as it looks on the YouTube videos.  Fondant doesn’t like humidity much.  I just couldn’t get the balance right between warm sticky fondant and dry cracking fondant from adding too much cornflour to stop it sticking on the bench.  And trying to knead 1.5kg of fondant on the kitchen bench when you’re not very tall is not an easy task!  I have since put in the request to Hubby, that when we finally buy our own house and can afford to do it, I want an adjustable height bench top!!  It needs to be adjustable as Hubby is 6ft 4 and I’m only a measly 5ft (Waah!)

Edit: I’ve since learned that if you buy good quality fondant (like Bakels) it makes your life so much easier

So after maybe an hour of kneading and trying to roll out fondant, I got it as thin as I could and not too thin that I that I couldn’t lift it without it tearing off the bench or off the rolling pin and I was left with fondant that was nearly a centimetre thick in some places.  And because I wasn’t too confidant about placing the fondant on the cake, I just pretty much threw it on and was left with a few air pockets.  You can just see the pin-holes on the top of the cake where I pierced the fondant with a needle to try and release the pocket and smooth it out.

In the Planet Cakes book, their race car cake had black, yellow and red race cars decorating the sides of the cake, but I thought that was a little too intricate for me, for my first fondant cake, so I just used some cookie cutters of a car and a motorbike for car and bike mad Hubby.  Plus I didn’t have any gel colours to colour the icing the dark shades or red and yellow (I had bought some black icing), all I had was some liquid food colouring from the supermarket, hence all the pastel blue, green and orange.

And with some letters cut out with some alphabet cutter and following the Planet Cake decoration idea with the chequered flag, Hubby’s birthday cake is finished!

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