A Ganaching of Teeth

Friday, July 31, 2009

What to do when half your team leaves for a better offer? Celebrate graciously with cake of course.

farewell boat cake
Mr. Kitchen Hand had commissioned a cake to farewell a couple of colleagues who were moving to a different department. We decided on the idea of “jumping ship”, with the guys being left on a dry, boring island (new dept), as the rest of the group sailed away on the party boat (old department). Nothing like sticking the knife in ☺

To save time, I decided to build a diorama rather than a proper ship. I used one square cake, two loaf cakes and a sheet cake to complete the whole scene. The cakes were just simple pound cakes (vanilla and chocolate) baked from recipes in The Cake Bible. I use these cakes because they’re quick and easy to bake, store well, hold their shape under the weight of the icing, and most importantly – taste good!

Here’s a bit of a peek into how I went about making the cake.

I used modelling paste to make all the figures, the palm tree and the “railings” on the boat. Everything else is covered in RTR (ready to roll) icing, also known as “plastic” icing - doesn’t sound very appetising does it? Truthfully, the taste of the icing is too sweet and I always urge folks to peel it off before eating the cake but most people eat it anyway (probably for the sugar rush).

making sugarpaste people

The starting point for the figures, and my tools

sugarpaste figuresThe figures get clothed

painting on hairWill you cheer up if I paint on some hair? (Paste colour mixed with royal icing)

sugarpaste treeThe making of the tree. Lots of leaves in case of breakage

Usually, I just cover the cake with the RTR icing, but recently, I came across the fabulous book by Paris Cutler – Planet Cake. In the book, Cutler reveals the secret of achieving a supersmooth finish is a ganache layer first under the icing. So I gave that a try.

cake scaffoldingScaffolding technique (as suggested in The Cake Bible)

ganache covered cake
I made the "sea and sky" separately from the "boat" shape. These have been covered in ganache and left to set

After covering each part separately, I put them together with more drinking straws to hold them in place

more sugarpaste boat

I do think I should have put on a thicker ganache layer, but it certainly helped with the smoothness. The only drama I had was when I accidentally rested my hand on one part of the cake, melted the ganache underneath and took away a chunk of icing (yeah, I’m hot stuff). And it was a bit of a pain trying to keep the chocolate from marking any white icing, but I’d definitely use the technique again.

sugarpaste people

Once I was satisfied with the overall cake, I used royal icing to pipe on the finishing touches.
top view boat
Pa-Dah! One farewell cake. We ended up calling it the “Paradise Lost” cake. Yes, it’s wonky and my piping skills need work, but I had lots of fun, and the recipients were very pleased with it!

marooned figuresThe lonesome twosome...


Julia @ Mélanger said...

This is amazing. Such a huge amount of work. I have done nothing so time consuming. I made a carousel cake for my niece a few years ago. That was hard enough. Great job!!

shaz said...

Thanks Julia, I love cake decorating but don't do it as often as I would like because of the time involved!

Hungry Dog said...

Wow, this is incredible--looks professional! I am completely impressed.

shaz said...

Thanks Hungry Dog - I took a short six-week course last year to learn the basics, and I've been bitten by the bug since!:)

Grace said...

just astounding. i'm blown away by your talents here--it's something i could never accomplish.
and your title is pure brilliance. :)

shaz said...

Thanks Grace - I have to credit hubby for the title though, he fancies himself a bit of a comedian (tell him to keep the day job, please!)

Leslie said...

whhoooaaaa, that is a lot of work. Wonderful job!
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