Captain Hog

This little fella was created for our brother-in-law Steve, to celebrate his birthday. 

Why a hedgehog? Well if you know Steve you should know why.

I gave him a moustache because he is a distinguished gentlehog, and he likes to stand out amongst his hedgehog friends (Mr Chris thinks I'm crazy too).

This is the first time I have made the effort to also decorate the cake board. I'm starting to see how those finishing touches help to complete the cake and tie it all together.

Covering the cake board

I'm not sure if there is a correct way to cover a cake board but this is how I achieved it....

1. I rubbed a thin layer of Trex all over the board to give it something to stick to.
2. Rolled the fondant to the size needed, placed a rolling pin in the middle, then folded the fondant in half over the rolling pin.
3. Slid the board in to place up to the rolling pin, then lifted the fondant, placing the rolling pin in to the centre of the board.
4. Unfolded the fondant and smoothed the surface on to the board with a smoothing tool.
5. Carefully cut around the edge of the board with a sharp knife to remove the excess fondant.
I would recommend covering the cake board the night before so the fondant has time to harden and does not mark so easily.

Also, I used to place my cakes on to the final board before icing and decorating them, but when the board is covered it's not possible to do this. The cake will need to be iced and covered separately then transferred to the board. I can recommend the Wilton cake lifter which makes this process a little easier. Again if you cover a cake in fondant, leave it to harden before transferring it to the board to avoid marking it. I never leave myself enough time to do this so I'm just extra careful. If I do make a mark in the fondant I carefully place my decorations to hide it ;)

Carving the hedgehog

In future I'll try to get progress photos to accompany my cakes but for now I'll have to describe how to create Mr Hog as best as I can...

1. Start with an 8 inch round chocolate sandwich cake. The 2 layers help to give the hedgehogs body some height. 

2. Carve opposite sides off of the cake to create more of an oval shape that's fatter at one end. The fatter end will become the hedgehogs body, and the thinner end his head. Cut small pieces at a time to avoid cutting away too much.

3. At the thinner end, on the top of the cake approximately a third of the way in, start carving down to where the layers join to create a gradual slope. This will start to form the hedgehogs head.

4. Use the offcuts of cake from step 2 to shape a nose and attach this with some buttercream to the hedgehogs head. If you look at the picture, the cake past the hedgehogs eyes is created from offcuts. The cake above his eyes was shaped in steps 2 and 3.

Decorating the hedgehog

1. Cover the carved cake with a good layer of chocolate buttercream. 
Use brown or chocolate fondant to cover the head and nose. 

2. Use a sharp knife to cut chocolate flakes and push them in to the buttercream on the body to create spines. Note: This will use a lot of chocolate flakes, hence my spines are quite short. Also some flakes will simply crumble as you chop them so expect left overs. I kept these and used them to sprinkle on cupcakes another day. It may be easier to chill the flakes before attempting to cut them?

3. Use fondant to create your hedgehogs features and moustache if desired :) I used a small piece of spaghetti to help keep his nose attached.

I hope this helps if you want to create your own hedgehog cake and good luck!


    Cookie Date

    Following on from the Cake and Bake show, I met up with my sister and Verity for a cookie date to put our newly acquired knowledge in to practise. Not wanting to miss out on cookies, Mr Chris tagged along and even had a go himself.

    Rachel's recipe produced a huge number of cookies giving us plenty to practise on. 

    I can't take any credit for the baking as Verity was chief baker, but the cookies tasted great. They had a nice buttery flavour with a slight hint of vanilla, a nice crispy edge and a crumbly centre. I have a weakness for biccies so mine didn't last long at all. 

    We used the "flooding" technique to cover our cookies. With this technique you use a slightly firmer icing to pipe a dam around the outline of the cookie, and then a runnier consistency to fill it in.

    When piping the outline Rachel taught us to lift the icing bag away from the cookie and let the icing just fall on to it. This really helps but still requires some practise. We used a #1 tip for the outline but it was very fine. I'd probably try a #2 tip next time.

    After piping the outline wait at least 15 minutes for it to dry before "flooding" the cookie. For this we used a #4 tip. Fill the inside of the cookie, then give it a gentle shake to help smooth the surface. You can use a cocktail stick to help fill any gaps. 

    At this point you can add more colours if you want them to sit together, or wait for the surface to dry and then pipe on top.

    Can you spot Mr Chris' cookie? :)
    Rachel's cookie recipe:
    400g Flour
    200g Butter
    200g Sugar
    1 Egg
    1 tsp Vanilla Essence

    Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla essence and combine, then gradually add the flour. Chill the dough for 15 minutes before rolling it out and cutting shapes. Cook at 170 degrees for 10 minutes until lightly golden.

    Royal Icing recipe:
    250g Icing Sugar
    1 Egg White
    1 tsp lemon juice

    Whisk the egg white until it begins to froth, gradually add the icing sugar followed by the lemon juice.

    In the past I have struggled to get the right consistency with Royal Icing, switching back and forth between adding more water, then adding more icing sugar. Rachel gave us a few tips to help us get it right:

    • It is harder to thicken icing by adding more icing sugar then it is to thin it. It is also very easy to add too much water so add a light misting of water at a time by using a spray bottle.
    • The 10 second rule - To check the consistency of your icing, dip a spoon in to it and then lift it out allowing ribbons of icing to fall back in to the bowl. If the icing is the right consistency the surface of the icing should become smooth again in 5-10 seconds.
    • If the icing is too thick it will curl back over the icing tip when trying to pipe it.

    Take a look at this tutorial on Sweetopia for some excellent step by step instructions and techniques for decorating cookies. I love these beautiful butterfly cookies, I think I'll have to try them myself some time.


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