Saturday, November 15, 2008


What a terrible week - my laptop did not want to start on Monday and had to send it in for repairs -only received it back on Friday afternoon.  Suddenly you can nothing - can you believe how computers have taken over our lifes?

At last I am able to blog again - will only be a short blog today as I unfortunately will have to work full out this weekend as I have not been able to process any work during the week without a computer.  

Re the birthday cake - I made all the little decorations for the birthday cake beforehand and on Friday afternoon we went to my daughter and son-in-law's game farm for the weekend for the birthday party for my granddaughter.  I had instructions from my little angel to please decorate the cake at the farm as she wanted to help me.  On arriving at the farm she immediately wanted
 to start on the cake, but after a while trying to convince her that Saturday will be better she came up with a plan............."I have a plan, the cake Saturday but then I want my birthday present tonight".  Naturally granny decided it was a good plan.

Saturday morning we went for a walk and then seriously started with the decorating of the cake.
I had to bake two cakes, one for the party for the family on Sunday and one for the party at the nursery school.  The best option was to make a dummy cake for the top layer with the main decorations on it.  The decorations for the bottom layers was easier to make and thus in double quantity.  When the cake had to be cut on Sunday the top layer was removed and again used on the cake for Monday.

The start of Ratatouille - my husband and other children at this stage was joking that it looks like a dragon or ET - much to the disgust of my granddaughter. 

Ratatouille was made from pastillage.  I found making the body seperate from the head easier.  I formed the body, inserted a wooden skewer for support and long enough to be inserted into the head for attachment to the body.  The arms was then attached and I used a plastic straw to keep the one arm away from the body as to be able to insert the wooden spoon on finalisation.

Somehow I could not upload more photos now - will try later on again - will then show more photos of the other decorations in making.

The wooden spoon, rolling pin, miniature cupcakes, gingerbread men etc were all made from pastillage or gum paste.

Herewith the finished cake - which was done with the help of little Alicia:

I will try again later and will add photos of the birthday party and the smaller decorations.

Have a lovely blessed weekend.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


It is my granddaughter's birthday on the 11th and as usual it is granny's task to decorate a birthday cake.  Cake decorating has been one of hobbies for years - at one stage when my children were small I did cake decorating and later gave classes in cake decorating for extra income.  Now it is mostly birthday, wedding and christening cakes for my family.

It is her 5th birthday this year and the theme a baking party.  With her mom working full time we are fortunate to have a childrens birthday party franchise who does everything.  They have a variety of themes to chose from. Their website for ideas

At first it was going to be a little chef with some baking items on the cake, but then I was told that my granddaughter has decided to have "Ratatouille" as her theme for the baking party.  I asked my "laundrybasket" daughter to design a cake and below is her design.

Naturally she thinks that I am a super granny - well I started on the decorations and will show photos as I progress.

I then thought it a good idea to share some of my easy recipes for cake decorating items.

Easy pastillage recipe

Pastillage is used to make decorations such as houses, the cano on the photo below, wooden logs, etc .

Pastillage is a sugar-based dough used for decorating and creating decorations for pastry, showpiece work and decorative molded forms. The dough is much like clay or play-dough where you can knead it and roll it out. Pastillage is worked then allowed to dry, setting up to a hard, sugar-based decoration.

There are many recipes and mostly very involved recipes.  This pastillage recipe is easy to make and works wonderfully.

Royal icing prepared from 1 egg :
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1,5 cups Icing sugar / confectioners sugar
Beat the egg white lightly with a fork, add spoonfulls of sugar to the consistency of a smooth paste. Add the lemon juice.

To this add 1,5 teaspoon  of  either Gum Tragacanth (if available) 
or Petal powder (in South Africa Jem Petal Powder is available - a thickener for sugar paste consisting of Sodium carboxymethylcellulose)
I see another powder used is Tylose powder.

Add more Icing sugar / confectioners sugar until a mouldable consistency.

This pastillage must be kept in a plastic bag and an airtight container at all times.

The pastillage can be coloured as needed and rolled out eg for the walls of a house, moulded into any shape - there are many uses for this.

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Gum paste  

This is a soft moulding paste which is used to make flowers, clothing for dolls, etc.
I used it to mould the head and legs of the turtle and the tipi.

There are also very involved recipes - but this is a very quick and easy recipe and works very well.

250 grams ready made fondant icing
2 teaspoons gum tragacanth / Petal powder
2 teaspoons egg white
White vegetable fat / shortening

Mix the gum or petal powder and the egg white into the fondant until well mixed.  Rub your hands with vegetable fat or shortening.  Mix together until pliable.  Store in a plastic bag in an airtight container. 
This paste actually works better after leaving it to stand for a few days.

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Below are photos of other cakes that I have made this year:

A turtle cake for my youngest grandson's 2nd birthday.

An American Indian cake for my other grandson's 3rd birthday.