Edible Travel and a Fond Farewell

One of my most exciting kitchen challenges to date, came about by a bit of a sad event. Darcie, a lovely friend, her husband and three kids, are leaving Doha, for the bright skies and vast beaches of Australia. For their farewell  party, she asked if I was interested in a ‘project’, a celebration styled cake. I will admit to clammy hands and a rising sense of panic mixed with excitement. A pitch of a double tiered cake didn’t quite elicit any enthusiasm. The mention of a luggage cake did. Right then, time to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in fondant.

For this cake, I bought a large rectangular Wilton cake tin and baked two 8 egg based vanilla flavoured sponge cakes in it. I hate having to even out a cake and was relieved when it baked perfectly flat. The cake was really sturdy and flexible to a degree and so could withstand a fair beating at the hands of a novice. The most effort consuming part was the colouring of the fondant; that did take a while and a load of colour. The plain but yummy vanilla sponge was covered and sandwiched with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream. All in, this was a week’s worth of work in what is seemingly a simple cake.

And it was a steep, but good learning curve and I now, know what to look out for next time. I was tutored online, step by step, by my wonderful baker pal, Twinks. It would have turned out a dog’s dinner if it weren’t for her. Thanks babe. I really wondered whether I would enjoy the process of it, patience not being my strong suit. Turns out I did, it was very rewarding and the kind of work in which, you almost retreat into yourself, are quiet in the space in your head, concentrating deeply on getting the lustre onto the buckles, just so.

I don’t think I have ever taken a cake to someone’s house with more apprehension or excitement. I deliberately kept the look of it very simple and wondered if she would find it too simple. Turns out, no. She loved it, squealed and gave me a big hug. That, was all the reward I needed.

So to my dear Darcie, all the very best for you and your family’s future in Australia.  For my selfish part, I wish you were here longer, since it’s rare in life that people click so effortlessly. Also, who is going to give baby Seth all those big squeezes on his wee, chubby legs, like I do? I think I’ll miss him the most. However, I get the feeling that Perth and you will get along just fine. And since you have the enviable ability to make the most of what’s given to you, no doubt, you will thrive and love it there.

Darcie, we will always have Facebook!

Bon Voyage Hunters!

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53 thoughts on “Edible Travel and a Fond Farewell

  1. Hazzer

    Amazing Carrie. Looks like you have been doing this all your life. What a lovely thing to do for a lovely friend. So when you are planning your visit to Perth don’t forget NZ is not that far away 🙂

  2. jobakes

    Sigh, is there anything you can’t do Carrie? And you do know a simple design is always the most difficult to pull off – complexity hides a miriad of sins but this wee masterpiece has nowt to hide behind! It’s beautiful, realistic, elegant and cleanly executed but yet has a sense of fun to the style of it too! You are some closet cake decorating evil genius you are! Mwuahaha (there’s an evil laugh for you hehehe… 😉 )

      1. jobakes

        Well I never thought I’d see the day I’d hear you say sugarpasting was fun missus 😛 Though you have taken to it with effortless ease as I think everyone but you knew you would! As for saving lives, well I’m certainly not saving any trees lives this weekend as the paperwork when admitting a patient has several Brazilian redwoods holding a prayer vigil!!! Anyway back to the point – I could well go a slice of this beautiful cake right now with my coffee 🙂

  3. emmycooks

    That cake sure doesn’t LOOK like it was made by a novice! It’s amazing. What do you think you are going to accomplish NEXT time you have a week to spare?

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Oh thankyou Emma! If I had a week to spare? You think I had a week to spare doing this cake!! My family didn’t even get properly fed and I was dreaming this cake, and actually doing it in my sleep, so a good rest wasn’t an option. I do wind myself up though, so hoping that when another opportunity presents itself, I can actually do it without getting into knots about it. Totally worth it in the end :-))

  4. Candy

    Hey Carrie!!Happy Easter to you Brad and the babies!! Amazing to wake up to pictures of such a yummy looking cake early in the morning, its so beautiful and don’t think I’d ever be able to cut slices out of something so beautifully crafted, it should just be put up on display like a work of art!!!fabulous stuff!!! the whole site is so gorgeous and delicious!!!will try some of those recipes once I’m back home…:)

  5. Susan

    Carrie! It’s fabulous!! You are way too talented!! I’m looking forward to some lessons when we are “neighbours”!! Bahrain to qatar is nice and close!! Xxx

    1. thePatternedPlate

      HA! I’ve seen your creations Missus! But doing something like this together would be fun. You must make it over here sometime! Lil Miss keeps asking about Lucca and declares that he is the cutest baby she has ever seen! Truly, she does!

  6. Darcie Hunter

    I’m crying now! I love you sweet friend and will miss you and your family so very much. You have helped me out so much here and I have learned much and expanded my palate too! My kids will miss yours and Seth will definitely miss his Carrie cuddles. Our doors are always open for you guys, be it Perth, the US- wherever. It’s a small expat world…

  7. Sarvani @ baker in disguise

    Wow.. am spellbound!! This is beyond fabulous.. you’re like a closet cake decorator.. who is slowly coming out of the closet!!! cant wait to see more… this is really fabulous… like someone said earlier.. the elegance of this cake lies in its simplicity!! though can i ask you one question… have never really worked with fondant… with its scarce availability and the heat and humidity of India… is it really like a kind of play dough??? and how does it taste… best left to just dressing up the cake???

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Lol thanks Sarvani 😀

      Regarding sugarpaste. It is like play dough, a wee bit stiffer. It’s quite easy to work with really. I YouTube-d a lot prior to this and there are some excellent tutorials on there. I used a ready made fondant block and yeah, doesn’t taste great, though a lot depends on the brand. I could only get Dr. Oetker here and it is very chemical tasting. You get others which, though tasting better, are higher in price for it.

      You can make your own, and marshmallow fondant is another choice, if you want to make your own from scratch. Certainly tastes better and you can add flavourings too.

      For this, I just went with the packaged stuff as this was enough of a challenge and I didn’t want to add yet another level of complexity to it.

      Regarding the weather. As far as I have read, sugarpaste/fondant, doesn’t do too well in the heat. Sugar is difficult that way, as it has the tendency to absorb moisture, so your fondant will become sorta wet and sticky. And yet, its the same when put into the fridge. Tricky.

  8. Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

    If I didn’t already, not I reeeeeally wish you were my neighbor! 🙂 This is so fantastic! I have never attempted a cake so professional… have never wrestled fondant or gum paste, and you make it look effortless! I lack both your patience and skill, so I think I’ll just be content to ogle your photos. You are super!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Oh Heather you do make me laugh! I’d love to be your neighbour! The beer in coffee is the first thing, I would broadly hint at! And you should give fondant a try. It isn’t as impossible as it seems! Trust me! Those who know me, know that patience isn’t one of my virtues. But when your interest is engaged, then anyone can become patient 🙂 Give it a go…seriously!

  9. Amy

    What a great cake. No wonder your friend was pleased. Could I ask a cheeky question?! Did you freeze the sponge cakes (I noticed you said it was a week’s work), then fill with buttercream and jam and cover with fondant on the day? Without defrosting? Does it alter the taste of the sponge? I too want to expand my skills and venture into covering sponge cakes (not just rich fruit cakes) with fondant but when I read on other sites about freezing the cakes to make it easier I worry about the taste as for me, taste is the most important thing about a cake. Maybe just a half hour freeze is different to a few days? But then again, making the sponge a few days in advance and freezing would be very handy, hence my question to you! Thank you.

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Hi Amy…to answer your questions :-
      I baked the sponges well in advance. Then wrapped it up really well in cling film and froze it. Apparently, it gives the cake better texture for having been frozen. . As I couldn’t really sample a piece, I cannot be absolutely sure. It does not ruin the taste or the texture of a cake when its frozen, particularly in the case of a sponge cake. I just froze it to get ahead
      Then I defrosted it a day before the party. And yes, layered and crumb coated it with buttercream, left it to set in a cool place and then proceeded with the fondant work. I have been told that you can’t work with a frozen cake as the condensation that arises from defrosting will ruin the fondant. Makes sense. You can put the cake in the fridge for a bit to firm up and make it easier to work with, but this cake was quite sturdy.
      Hope this helps :-))

  10. bettybobkin

    It’s beautiful ! Such attention to detail *and* it’s obvious that it’s a quality cake that tastes delicious too rather than just a show piece.

  11. Mom

    Amazing. Down to the minute details. Liked the evenly placed stitches. You were always amazing with colours.

  12. carolanneskitchen

    Wow Caroline, this cake is stunning! It’s so impressive. You’re so talented. Do I see a future career looming? Cake baker extraordinaire!! Your friend will love Perth, we’re currently welcoming in the beautiful cool Autumn weather!!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Shucks, thanks Carol-Anne :-)) Darcie won’t be getting there until closer to Christmas and is home in the States at the moment, so she’ll be getting the lovely sunshine when she gets there! As for a future in cake decorating…never say never!

  13. Rushi!

    Oh my Carrie, you’ve been quite busy during the weekend, haven’t you? That’s one gawjus cake and I wish I could tuck into a slice (or two….) Maybe you and your friend Twinks should start a workshop with the title ‘working with fondant for dummies’. He he. I’ve tried my hand at fondant, the last time it cracked and the previous time the cake looked like the moon with craters so I’m still trying to muster up some courage to create a cake that’s passable. 🙂 Why weren’t you my neighbour…..(sigh). Anyway great work and love love the cake.

    PS: Bon voyage Darcie!

    1. thePatternedPlate

      Hhhaha! Oh Thankyou! I’ve had my fair share of fondant disasters worry not! If it cracks (might be a touch dry), knead in a stingy amount of shortening, and it should be no thinner than 5mm rolled out, from what I understand. Give it another go Rushi :-))

  14. Sandra

    Wow! This is amazingly detailed. What an awesome job and sweet friend you are (a week to make this?!) One day I’ll attempt using fondant 🙂

  15. Katy

    Wow Carrie – you are really talented – forget the Wilton course – there is no need for it! Haven’t had a chance to read through your recipes yet but am loving the website/blog design and photography.

  16. Pingback: Rose Cake « The Patterned Plate

  17. artistkanika

    Hi Caroline…stumbled upon your blog since I changed my blog theme to Imbalance & found my way to your blog in the list of Imbalance users. First of all the picture in the header is fantastically designed.Did you do that?Its brilliant. Secondly, Wow for the suitcase shaped cake. I love cakes. and this ones tempting, makes me wanna try it myself. Your friend is so lucky to have you as a friend, this cake not only shows your culinary skills but also your thoughtfulness. 🙂

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Oh thanks Kanika, it’s very kind of you to say so. Yup, I designed the header, great fun! Give the suitcase design a go. It just takes time and quiet to get on with it and it was a great feeling when I looked at the finished result 🙂

  18. Mary B.

    Attempting this cake next week….I’ve worked with fondant before, although I am a nurse/novice cake maker!! Lol can’t wait to see how it turns out! One of our long time nurses is moving to Oregon. I make homemade fondant with marshmallows, you must try it…..so much tastier than store bought!! And super easy to whip up!! Thanks for posting your picture, and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments! You may be on to something my dear!! Lol

  19. nutsfortreasure

    Never had a store bought cake as my Mom did this on the side and taught also she will love seeing this pretty post! What a nice friend you are I never took after Mom but always offered to CLEAN UP 🙂

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