Category Archives: Food

Skittles Rainbow

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I kept seeing this Skittles experiment popping up on my Facebook feed. It was pretty simple, cheap, and quite entertaining.

We just arranged Skittles around the edge of a small white plate and then added some water, until it was touching all of the Skittles. Over a period of a few minutes, the colours of the Skittles slowly bled towards the centre of the plate.

Colour starting to bleed.

Closer to the centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If left long enough, the colours began to mix together. Most of our attempts ended with T1 or T2 shaking the plate and making the colours swirl together, or knocking the plate over completely. Luckily we had plenty of Skittles.

You can see from the pictures that the centre of our colour wheel wasn’t quite at the centre of the plate. I think this happened because we were using a plastic plate and it didn’t sit completely flat.

Almost meeting at the centre.

Colourful wheel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was easily reproducible and the kids enjoyed doing it. They also ate the used Skittles once we were done!

Train Cake

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I remember as a young child, my mum made my brother a cool train cake for his birthday. I think it came from one of the Women’s Weekly cake books. There was a lot of that coloured, sweet popcorn involved in that cake!

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Anyway, I used what I remembered about that old cake, and made my own version of a train cake for the boys.

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Engine awaiting decoration.

I started with four loaf tin cakes (three cake mixes divided among four pans). I used the first to create the train’s engine, and the other two were divided into three carriages. For the engine, I cut off the top of the cake and shaped one end to a point, where the train’s grill would go. I cut up the top of the cake, and some of the second cake to create the engine’s cabin and barrel. These pieces were stacked up and attached using some butter cream.

I tried to make the carriages roughly equal in size, though the last one ended up slightly longer. I scooped a shallow hole in the top of each one, where we could place the ‘cargo’ once they were iced.

Licorice tracks.

Licorice tracks.

On the foil covered cake board, L helped me prepare the train tracks. We iced a section with green buttercream to represent the grass, and then carefully cut up a roll of licorice to make the tracks. I used one of the cakes to guide the width of the tracks.

Each of the kids picked a colour for part of the train, and they each had a go at decorating it. I covered the cake in buttercream, and placed them on the tracks. L joined each carriage to the engine and each other using pieces of licorice. She also added mint slice biscuits to the carriages as wheels while A added two mint slice biscuits for the engine’s front wheels, and two wagon wheel biscuits for the back wheels (these are a bit bigger than mint slice).

Train carriage.

Train carriage.

The first carriage got a load of jersey caramel lollies, the second had jellybeans, and the third carriage was filled with marshmallows. L used little pieces of marshmallows threaded onto a pipe cleaner (chenille stick) to mimic smoke emerging from the engine’s stack. I used licorice to make the engine’s grill, and we all helped to place jellybeans and choc chips to decorate the engine. The windows are flattened marshmallows. The boys helped by eating the excess lollies!

Train ready for eating.

Train ready for eating.

We had lots of fun making this cake, and we shared it with our neighbours and their kids, which made it even more fun!

 

Digger Cake

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IMG_5941Digger! Digger! Digger! is all I hear as we drive past a building site in town. Both boys are completely obsessed with diggers at the moment, with trucks running a close second. T2 is having trouble with the ‘d’ sound, so he actually says Gigger! Gigger! which is super cute.

To make our toddler boys extra happy on the weekend, we made an excavation cake with little plastic digger toys on it. When I brought it to the table after dinner, they both started yelling excitedly and bouncing in their chairs!

Cake cut and ready for decorating.

Cake cut and ready for decorating.

This is a super easy cake to make, and really doesn’t take very long to decorate at all. Cooking the cake is the most time consuming part of this cake. I used two Betty Crocker Devil’s Food cake mixes because this is the boys’ favourite type of cake. We cooked the two mixes together in one rectangular baking pan. Once it was cool, I cut part of the cake out to form the space for the excavation. I re-used some of the spare cake to create a ramp and road along one side of the cake.

Frosting the cake.

Frosting the cake.

The cake mixes came with ready to spread chocolate frosting, which made icing the cake even quicker. I covered the whole cake with the frosting. L helped me to crush up several bars of Flake chocolate to create the dust and rocks at the excavation. We mixed this with some Coco Pops and spread it around the hole in the cake. We also used some finely crushed Flake chocolate along the path and ramp under the vehicles.

Cake from above.

Cake from above.

Then it was time to place the vehicles on top of the cake. The excavation toys I bought as a pack from Toys’R’Us. There were five CAT vehicles, including some diggers, dump truck and bulldozer. We put the diggers into the hole, added the bulldozer to the path, and had the excavator dumping its load into the dump truck. We placed some of the Flake and Coco Pops into the scoops and the back of the truck as if they were actually moving the dirt around.

Excavator dumping 'rocks' and 'dirt' into the dump truck.

Excavator dumping ‘rocks’ and ‘dirt’ into the dump truck.

Diggers digging out the ground.

Diggers digging out the ground.

 

Beach Cake

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The hardest part of making this cake was the figure on the beach. I made the girl, her towel and the tree from fondant the day before I needed them. The rest of the cake was decorated on the morning I needed it.

Fondant snakes before rolling out.

Fondant snakes before rolling out.

Finished beach towel.

Finished beach towel.

To make the girl’s towel, I started with two lumps of white fondant, one I coloured red, the other blue. I made little snakes in each colour, and carefully lined them up side by side, alternating colours. I sprinkled some icing sugar over the top and then carefully used my rolling pin to flatten the snakes. The two colour stripes joined together as they were rolled out. I then cut off the uneven ends, forming a rectangle to use as the beach towel.

Girl on towel.

Girl on towel.

I used a very small amount of pink food colouring added to the white fondant to make the girl. I shaped this into a basic body shape, with the arms folded under the head. I added some green coloured fondant to the body for her swimmers, and for her hat. Where required, I used a little bit of jam to stick the separate fondant pieces together.

Palm leaves.

Palm leaves.

Palm trunk.

Palm trunk.

The one palm tree was fairly easy to make, though I needed to use skewers and toothpicks to prevent it from drooping or falling over. First I coloured some fondant green, rolled it out flat and cut out some leaf shapes using a sharp knife. I used the side of a toothpick to make the marks on the leaves. For the trunk, I used Nutella to create a nice brown colour, which I then shaped into a trunk shape. I stuck a skewer longitudinally through the trunk to keep it upright on the cake, and two toothpicks perpendicularly through the top to support the leaves. I draped the leaves over the toothpicks, using a little bit of jam at the top of the trunk to stick them together.

Cake cut and ready for icing.

Cake cut and ready for icing.

The actual cake was two large rectangular cakes made in my baking pans (each takes a double cake mix). I placed the cakes side by side then used a sharp knife to cut out the ocean section. I left part of the cake for an island, and the edges prevent the jelly from falling off the cake. I skimmed some of the cake off from the island to create a sloping beach area.

Island and beach iced.

Island and beach iced.

Waiting for the jelly ocean.

Waiting for the jelly ocean.

I used a basic butter cream mixture colouring a portion of it green, and a portion of it yellow. I covered the island area with the green butter cream, and the beach area with the yellow butter cream. I made up another lot of butter cream and coloured it blue, which I used over the rest of the cake, down the sides and onto the cake board for the ocean. On top of the green butter cream I added green coloured desiccated coconut for grass. The beach was made using finely crushed plain sweet biscuits (I used Arnotts Nice), and the ocean was filled with blue jelly (berry flavoured, yum yum!). I added a little bit of blue butter cream to the top of the jelly for the waves.

Island grassed, beach sanded, ocean jellied.

Island grassed, beach sanded, ocean jellied.

Once all the icing was done and the jelly added, A helped me place the towel and girl onto the beach, and then the tree up on the grass. The skewer through the tree went right through to the base of the cake. As a final touch, A added a cocktail umbrella to shade the girl.

This is quite a large cake, but it could be made to a smaller scale. It went down very well with all the kids!

Girl lying on the beach.

Girl lying on the beach.

Island Cupcake Tower

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IMG_5701Recently we held a birthday party with a beach theme. As the centrepiece of the food table, I made cupcakes to place on my cupcake stand. My stand has three levels for holding cupcakes, plus a place for one right at the top. I used this design to make the cupcake stand into an island cupcake tower.

Freshly baked cupcakes.

Freshly baked cupcakes.

First, we baked the cupcakes using a basic butter cake mix. A helped me set out the paper cases (she chose ones with Disney Fairies on them!), and spoon the mixture into the cases. We only filled each one about half way so that they didn’t rise too much.

Once the cupcakes were completely cool, A and I divided the cupcakes into piles for each level on the stand. The lowest level held the most cupcakes, and was to represent the water of our island. A helped me mix up the butter (vienna) cream to ice them. I like to use a simple recipe for butter cream that I found on Taste.com. We added some blue food colouring to the butter cream until it was the blue we wanted, and then we generously covered the cupcakes with it. We used the flat edge of a knife to create the “waves” by tapping the top of each iced cupcake, pulling some of the butter cream up in peaks.

A sea cupcake.

A sea cupcake.

Adding coconut to the top of the cupcake.

Adding coconut to the top of the cupcake.

We made a second batch of butter cream, this time colouring it yellow for our layer of sand cupcakes. We had previously coloured coconut to use as the sand on these cupcakes. We covered each cupcake with butter cream, and then dipped them into the yellow coconut until the tops were completely covered. I made the butter cream thick on these cupcakes to help hold the plastic toy palm trees we then placed on each one.

Beach cupcake.

Beach cupcake.

Grassy cupcake.

Grassy cupcake.

The final layer of cupcakes was to be the heart of the island, with green butter cream and green coconut for the grass. Again, we applied the butter cream generously to help secure the plastic ferns we added for foliage. These cupcakes were the pinnacle of the cupcake stand. The cupcake on the very top was the centre of the island, which sloped down to the sea at the bottom. I think it looked quite effective on the table!

Island cupcakes.

Island cupcakes.

Colouring Coconut

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Ingredients.

Ingredients.

Desiccated coconut can be used in many different cooking dishes, but lately we have been using it to decorate cakes. I once made a rabbit cake that I covered with plain white coconut for the rabbit’s fur, but sometimes I want to use coconut for something that isn’t white, so I have to colour it.

Coconut and food colouring in the bag.

Coconut and food colouring in the bag.

Post mixing.

Post mixing.

Colouring desiccated coconut is a very easy process and only takes a few minutes. I prefer to use a zip-lock sandwich bag to mix the coconut and the food colouring together. I add some coconut, just roughly how much I think I will need, and then the food colouring to the bag. I make sure that the bag is securely shut prior to shaking it up to move the colour around. Usually I worked the colour around the bag with my fingers to make sure all of the coconut is exposed to the food colouring.

Ready to decorate with.

Ready to decorate with.

Because I wanted to use the coconut for grass, I coloured it green. The kids also helped me colour some yellow to be used as sand. They like to shake the bags up and squeeze it all over to spread the colour.

Minion Cake

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IMG_5554After watching Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 many, many times, when the Minion Movie came out, my kids were keen to see it. They loved it, and have been a little minion crazy ever since. This minion love has even extended to cakes now!

Cake base.

Cake base.

The cake base was made from two butter cakes, one square and one round. I cut the round one in half to make the head of the minion. I also leveled the top of the cakes to make it easier to decorate.

I used a basic butter cream recipe to make the yellow icing, which I applied to the entire cake. This provided me with a base on which to stick the fondant icing I used for making the cake into a minion. To make sure I was making the cake look like an actual minion, I kept a picture of a minion nearby to check on throughout the decoration process.

Grey snake ready to make the goggles edges.

Grey snake ready to make the goggles edges.

The rest of the decoration was done using fondant icing. I started with the eye, rolling out some white fondant until a few millimetres thick. I used a cup to make a neat circle, and then lifted this carefully onto the cake. I coloured the white fondant with a little bit of black food colouring to make the silver edge of the goggles. I rolled out a thin snake of the grey fondant, and shaped it around the edge of the eye, carefully smoothing it down to cover the white edge. I used a little bit of the left-over butter cream to stick the grey fondant down to the white fondant.

Working on the eye.

Working on the eye.

To get fondant that was really black, I used a pre-coloured fondant. From this, I made the goggles straps and the pupil of the eye. To make the goggles more realistic, I used the back of a knife to press a line down the centre of the straps, and I fashioned a hinge on one side from some of the left over grey fondant.

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Adding the overalls, section by section.

To make the minion’s overalls, I coloured the white fondant with blue gel food colouring. I prefer the gels to liquid, as I’ve found them to produce a more vibrant colour in the fondant. Once I was happy with the colour for the overalls, I rolled out the blue fondant. I made the overalls in sections, first the centre piece, using a rectangle of blue fondant, then the sides of the overalls, and finally the straps. Each piece was then fitted carefully against each other and then trimmed at the base of the cake. I added little black fondant buttons to the straps, and an extra blue patch for the centre pocket. The side pockets were created by pressing a line into the fondant using the back of a knife. Again, I used left-over butter cream to stick the fondant pieces down.

Minion arms.

Minion arms.

The arms and legs were pure fondant. Fondant is easy to use and shape, a lot like plasticine. I just made the shapes I wanted and added them to the rest of the cake.

The mouth is a thin line of black fondant, while the minion’s hair is pieces of cut up black pipe cleaners (chenille sticks). The symbol on the front of the overalls I made using cake decorating writing fudge.

This cake took me a couple of hours to make, but I was very happy with the results. My kids thought it was pretty awesome too!

Eggs and Soldiers

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Eggs and soldiers made by L.

Eggs and soldiers made by L.

It’s been a busy year for us with a lot going on, including moving to a bigger house! When we purchased our new house, we inherited five lovely chickens who do a very good job of keeping us in an abundance of eggs. The kids love collecting the eggs, playing with the chooks, and feeding them, they are a wonderful addition to our family. The only problem is that my kids claim that they don’t like eggs (unless they are cooked in a cake, of course!). So I’ve been trying different methods of cooking with eggs in the hope of winning them over to the “eggs are yumtastic” camp. I have so far won over the younger three with scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs and quiche, but my eldest is still reluctant to even try eating eggs. In an attempt to remedy this, I got her involved in cooking eggs and soldiers this morning.

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Placing the eggs into the water.

I helped her get out a saucepan and start heating the water on the stove-top. Our eggs had been sitting on the bench and were at room temperature, so we brought the water up to boiling before adding the eggs to it. L used a dessert spoon to carefully place each egg into the saucepan without cracking them or burning herself.

Since these eggs were homegrown, they varied in size (one of our chooks is smaller than the others and lays smaller eggs), so even though we only boiled the eggs for around five minutes, the smallest of the eggs had already hard-boiled. The larger eggs were nicely soft-boiled.

Making buttered soldiers to dip in the eggs.

Making buttered soldiers to dip in the eggs.

L had a go at cracking the tops off the eggs using a spoon. As the eggs were very hot, she held the egg gently using a tea-towel to prevent burning her fingers while she removed the top. She also cooked the toast and cut it up into soldiers.

A took one look at the runny egg and refused to try it, while the toddlers hooked right in. L sort of gave the eggs a sniff then told me she didn’t want to try it after all. Oh well…. I had a lovely meal of eggs and soldiers prepared mostly by L, and now I’m back on my quest to convince her to eat eggs soon!

Chocolate Shop Cake

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We wanted to make Big L a special cake for his birthday this year, but none of us had any good ideas. I remembered seeing a cake with lots of different chocolates on it ages back on Facebook, so I went looking for it online. I’m not sure that I found the exact one, as there were quite a number, but the one on BakingMad.com was pretty close. It said to use chocolate cake, but I thought that would be a bit over-the-top chocolate, so we used butter cake instead.

Cakes with the tops cut off.

Cakes with the tops cut off.

The stacked cake ready for icing.

The stacked cake ready for icing.

I baked two round butter cakes and let them cool. Then I cut the tops off each cake to make them flat. I spread some plain frosting over the top of the first cake, and then up-ended the second cake onto the first. This provided a flat top to work with, without the crumbiness of the cut surface. I covered the whole cake in plain frosting, and then it was time to decorate!

Placing the chocolate finger biscuits around the edge.

Placing the chocolate finger biscuits around the edge.

The divided top.

The divided top.

Adding Maltesers to the top of the cake.

Adding Maltesers to the top of the cake.

I started by pressing the chocolate finger biscuits carefully around the edge of the cake, as if I was making a fence. On the top, we divided the space into sixths using the chocolate finger biscuits as dividers. The biscuits didn’t meet at the centre, so we placed a single Ferrero Rocher chocolate in the middle of the biscuit spokes. Then the kids filled each section with a different type of chocolate. We used Mini M&Ms, mini caramel milkshake eggs, Freddo faces, M&Ms, Cadbury Flake pieces, and Maltesers. Any kind of little chocolates or lollies could have worked for this part.

We added a special birthday candle and it was ready!

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Octonauts Cake

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All my kids are Octonauts crazy and have been for ages, so when T’s birthday came around, it made sense for us to make an Octonauts cake. L suggested that I somehow sculpt a whole 3D octopod, she even drew me some plans! I thought this would be way too difficult and time consuming to manage, so I attempted something rather more simple using Octonaut figures (which I bought from Toys’r’Us)

This cake was still a little time consuming, but it was fairly easy to make. The cake base used a double quantity of butter cake mix (I had some Greens mixes in the cupboard that I used). The ocean used two packets of blue Aeroplane Jelly (berry flavoured, yum!), and the rest was butter cream and crushed Nice biscuits for the beach sand.

The cut-out section of the cake.

The cut-out section of the cake.

The cake was baked in a rectangular baking dish. Once it was cool, I cut out a section on the top where I wanted the ocean to be. I cut into the cake to a depth of roughly 1-2cm, leaving an edge to contain the jelly. At one corner, I left a larger section to make into a beach.

Nice biscuits.

Nice biscuits.

I made up the butter cream, keeping some of it white to use on the beach. I spread the white butter cream over the beach section and down the sides of the cake, then I made the ‘sand’. For this I used three Nice biscuits (any sweet light coloured biscuits could work), and laid them on some baking paper. I folded the baking paper over the biscuits, and then used my rolling pin to crush them. Once I was happy with the consistency of the ‘sand’ I transferred it from the baking paper to a bowl, and began spreading it over the white butter cream, gently pressing it down across the top of the beach and down the sides of the cake.

Crushed biscuit.

Crushed biscuit.

The sandy beach.

The sandy beach.

The rest of the butter cream, I coloured using blue food colouring with a dash of green to make it closer to the colour of the jelly. The colour was quite intense, and did stain my fingers a little while I was icing the cake. I covered the edges of the cake in blue butter cream, down the sides and around the edge of the cake directly onto the foiled cake board. I iced the blue part of the cake roughly to make it appear more like waves.

I smooshed the jelly with a spoon and added it to the cut-out section in the centre of the cake. I spread it out carefully to the edges, making sure that the cake was covered, but not overflowing. Then it was time to add the figures.

The cake ready for the figures.

The cake ready for the figures.

A and L helped me to place the figures onto the cake. Captain Barnacles went in the Gup E in the water with the fish rescuing net and some fish. Peso went directly into the water, while Professor Inkling was up on the beach. We raided our stash of animal figurines and found a palm tree and some funny flat bushes that A thought looked like seaweed. The palm tree went onto the beach, and A placed the seaweed around the edge of the cake on the icing on the cake board. All the figures were washed before and after use on the cake.

Just before the seaweed was added.

Just before the seaweed was added.

I was happy with how the cake looked, and it tasted delicious. T was also thrilled to get the Octonaut figures to play with afterwards. He asked to blow out the candles three times too!