Sunday, 26 February 2017

Genius Hour: Week 5

Cake Decorating 

This week I decided to put a bit of a different spin on my genius hour project as I put my cake decorating skills to the test. I found inspiration for my cake on my dessert Pinterest board. As the focus of this week was on my decorating skills rather than my ability to make a cake I allowed myself to 'cheat' a little and use a boxed cake mix as the canvas for my decorating. Not only did this save me time but it allowed me to focus on different decorating techniques that I wanted to try out. I decided on two main decorating ideas that I ended up using for my cake. The first being piped chocolate flowers, and the second being flower embellishments made from almond slices and berries. I chose these two techniques as they appeared to be manageable while still challenging for my skill set. 

What you'll need: 

- Cake mix
- Icing 
- Almond Slices
- Raspberries
- Blackberries
- Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
- Wax Paper
- Baking Tray 
- Ziplock Bag

I decided to bake two cakes in 8 inch round baking pans, as I wanted to stack my cakes on top of each other. Once my cakes had finished baking I let them cool. It is very important that you let your cakes fully cool before you attempt to ice or decorate them otherwise your icing and decorations will melt. The following pictures outline the process I used to stack and ice my cakes:

I let my cakes cool fully before starting to decorate. 
I sliced the rounded top off of one of the cakes creating a flat base to set the second cake on. 

I iced the top of the bottom cake so that the second layer would stick. 

I pressed the top cake on top of the base. 

Starting at the top I began to ice my cake
eventually smoothing the icing around the sides. 

Instructions: Piped Chocolate Flowers 

The inspiration for my piped chocolate flowers came from the following baking blog
After watching the video tutorial on the blog I came up with a set of instructions for making my own take on these flowers. 

1. Using paper and a marker create your own design that you would like to follow. This was an important first step as it allowed me to think out how I wanted my flowers to look as well as determine what sizes I wanted to make my flowers.

2. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. 
3. Place semi-sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt them. I melted 1 cup of chocolate chips and used the melt chocolate button on our microwave to ensure that I did not burn the chocolate. Make sure you stir around the melted chocolate to get rid of any clumps. 
4. Pour the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag and squeeze all the chocolate to the bottom corner. Using a pair of scissors cut a very small hole in the bottom corner of the bag. I decided to use a ziplock bag for this step as I did not have a piping bag. 
5. Gently squeeze the chocolate out of the bag in the design you have chosen. It is important that you pipe the chocolate in one fluid motion without stopping and ensure that each line connects. This will help to make your design stronger when you attempt to lift it from the wax paper.

6. Place the baking sheet in the fridge to let the chocolate flowers cool and set. Your chocolate flowers are ready when they are firm to the touch.

7. Very carefully try to lift the chocolate flowers from the wax paper. I realized that the thicker the piping of chocolate, the easier they were to remove from the wax paper. 
8. Your chocolate flowers are now ready to be placed on your cake!

Instructions: Almond and Berry Flower Embellishments 

I found my inspiration for this technique on the following blog. This technique proved to be relatively simple to complete!

1. Place a raspberry or a blueberry on the side of the cake, this will act as the centre of your flower. The icing will hold the berry in place.

2. Stick the end of the almond slices in the icing creating flower petals surrounding the berry.

3. I found that in order to make the cake look best I tried to evenly space out my flowers and make sure that there was a good mix of the red from the raspberries and the blue from the blueberries.


In order to finish decorating the top of the cake I used the remaining almond slices and berries to make a design.

It was now time to place my chocolate flowers on top of the cake! I had been nervous about this part from the beginning because the flowers looked so delicate and easy to break. This process required a lot of trial and error. At first, I had removed the chocolate flowers from the fridge and tried to peel them off the wax paper, the flowers started to get soft at room temperature and therefore were too fragile. Thankfully it was a cool day outside so I ended up having to remove the flowers and put them on my cake outside on our deck so that the chocolate stayed cool. After a few attempts I got them to stand up and I was very pleased with the result!

In this photo I had to hold the top flower to get
a picture. This is what I originally wanted to do
however, my flowers were too fragile. I would
have had to use a special melting chocolate in
order to make flowers strong enough to stand
this tall...maybe next time!! 
My finished product!!!

This is by far the most fun I have had during my genius hour project so far! This weeks project allowed me to be creative and instead of following a recipe more of the creation was left up to me. I am so proud of the end result and how well the decorating turned out. My genius hour project has definitely been encouraging me to push the boundaries and try out ideas I never thought I would be able to successfully complete. Baking is truly starting to become a passion of mine!!

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