Fondant Aussie animals

Fondant Aussie animals

In August we got invited to a friendly Bake Off at a friends place in the Blue Mountains. This was their fourth one, but the first for us. They needed people to bake, and judge. Seeing as I love making and eating cake, I was totally in!

I’ve never done a bake off before, but having watched a lot of Great British Bake Off (which happened to have started again about the time of this bake off), I wanted to do something exciting. A few people I know have made some pretty impressive decorated cakes before. I’ve made a lot of cakes, but had never done sugar work before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to give it a try. Conveniently I also had a few days off from work, so had some time to research and practice my new skill.

I decided to go with a Great Aussie bake off theme. I particularly like animals, so decided to decorate the cake with fondant animals. I drew a very bad design on some paper, with a round cake, map of Australia and 5 Aussie animals I like around it. I planned to do them sort of to scale, with a big kangaroo as the centrepiece, along with a koala, wombat, snake (becasue its easy) and of course a penguin! I went to a local cake shop and bought some fondant, gel colouring (which doesn’t make the icing runny like liquid colour does) and tools.

I found some guidance about doing a kangaroo and a penguin on the internet which was helpful as I had no idea what to do! I started with the snake as it was basically a sausage! I made it a red bellied black snake, so two sausages stuck together. I bought black and white icing and coloured the white with the gels. Its better to buy black as its hard to get a true back colour with the gel apparently. After the snake I went for the penguin, and was really pleased with how well he came out.

Icing penguin

Icing penguin

The other animals were bigger, so I used something called tylose powder. This is basically plant cellulose, so totally edible. you mix a small bit into the fondant and it makes it harder and easier to work with. It holds it shape better, but also makes the fondant prone to cracking, so you have to be careful not to use too much. The wombat, kangaroo and koala were all made in a lot of stages, and left to harden up over night in various stages of creation. The koala and roo each had a cocktail stick in them to hold the heads on. I also used various things to keep them in shape overnight like little magnets, nail varnish pots and pots of herbs! I used edible glue for some of the limbs too on these ones too. You can use water or alcohol, but I was nervous about how well that would work. Seeing as I’d not done it before I decided to play it safe and use the glue.

Having opted for doing sugar work the outside of the cake was going to look pretty cool, but I knew it had to taste good too. I thought about doing chocolate, but decided this might be a bit obvious. I’ve only made one other cake in our new oven, and it is viscous so I decided to go for a recipe I’d made before. I went for a 4 layer cake, with vanilla, caramel, choc caramel and chocolate layers. I covered it in a chocolate butter cream which I left to harden a bit overnight before covering it with the fondant. The cake has ground almonds in which make it quite robust, so I thought it could cope well with the weight of the animals. You can read about when I made it before, and get the original recipie, here.

 

Sharks!

Sharks!

 

Originally I thought about making the top of the cake green for land, and the sides blue for sea, but I thought the join might be tricky. In the end I went for a blue marbled covering to represent the sea, and made the map of Australia light green. I don’t like really bright dyed cakes as they seem quite artificial, so I kept them pastel tones. I printed a map of Australia out and made a template for it with baking paper, complete with Tasmania.The cake itself was pretty tall, so I thought the sides needed some decoration. I through about ribbon, but then decided it would be better to make more animals! I didn’t want to go much more complicated with many different sea animals, so went for three big sharks circling the cake.

We transported the cake up to the mountains carefully wedged in the car foot well. I kept the animals separate, wrapped up in another tin and put them on when we got there. The bake off was really good. We started with roast lamb and pumpkin pie (also entered into the bake off), with lots of other yummy savoury things including a very nice pasta with yoghurt, pea and mint. The bake off then had EIGHT cakes. They were: my cake, chocolate brioche, lemon cupcakes, peanut butter brownies, sticky date pudding, pear and ginger cake, chocolate chip cookies and ginger cake. Matt made the penut butter brownies which came a respectable fifth out of ten. I had two lots of four cake, which was a lot even for me.

 

Winning cake

Winning cake

I loved the chocolate brioche which came second. My cake won by a pretty big margin – woo! There were actual prizes as well. I got a card with makes clapping noises, a lovely sparkly tiarra (which will be passed on next year) and a $50 Bunnings voucher! I was just happy to get to eat a lot of cake really.

I have a lot of blue icing left so need to think of something else to try next. I think I’ll try and make smaller decorations next time as they’re a bit big to be easily edible. Matt is gradually making his way through them now, part from the penguin which I’ve hidden!

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