Tag Archives: cake decorating

Forest Fox – Christmas Cake 2017

Padding softly through the snowy woodland
the Forest Fox searches for somewhere safe and cosy to sleep…
and he becomes this year’s Christmas cake theme.

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I decorated my cake with some of my favourite things: woodland animals, acorns, snow, autumn/winter leaves, and trees.

Forest Fox Sleepy Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I relate to the aloneness of foxes (not loneliness), so right now it is the most appropriate creature to decorate my cake. I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke a language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.’ ― Patricia A. McKillip, Winter Rose.

 

Forest Fox Trio - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook 2017

© Lisa Shambrook

I covered the cake with smooth fondant icing, concealing a mound that my fox can find shelter beneath. I made chocolate fondant logs (sadly, the chocolate fondant I found is not vegan, so is the only bit Bekah won’t be able to eat!) and a tree trunk, and filled it with fondant snowballs, sugar snowflakes, and silver and pearl sugar balls. He sleeps on a bed of winter fallen oak leaves. Acorns and holly leaves are strewn across the den and paw prints show you how he got there!

Forest Fox Acorns Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned in my last post that the cake is vegan. I used dairy-free margarine/butter (vegetable or sunflower oil based spread) and instead of eggs I used chickpea water. This worked really well. The chickpea water (aquafaba – bean water) has a strong smell of beans, so I added a few drops of vanilla essence as I whisked it. 3 tablespoons of chickpea water replaces one egg, and needs to be whisked for a few minutes until foamy then added as you would each egg. The resultant cake is lovely. The smell of beans fades with baking and the cake is firm and looks no different to an ordinary Christmas cake. Smells gorgeous while baking and tastes no different!

Next time I make a sponge cake for my vegan daughter, I will definitely be using chickpea water.

Forest Fox Woodland Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

CaptureSo, when it came to guessing how I’d decorate my cake many people looked back at my love of dragons and thought a variety of dragons could adorn my cake for a second year, but not so. Nobody except almost my husband guessed this one. If he’d switched his guess of squirrel with fox he’d have got it outright! My daughter, Cait, did guess woodland animals… But without a correct answer online I put all the names of those who’ve made a guess into a Random Name Selector and Julia came up as the winner! Julia, you’ll be getting a signed copy of A Symphony of Dragons!

Forest Fox Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas is only a few days away – and I wish you all the joy it can bring!

Enjoy your Christmas Cake!

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Let Sleeping Dragons Lie – Christmas Cake 2016

It’s an exhausting business protecting your castle ruins…
but it’s good to keep a hoard of snowballs at the ready while you take a nap…

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It wasn’t difficult to choose a theme for my Christmas cake this year – I’d spent November writing a first draft of my next novel dragon post-apocalypse fantasy, and over the past few months I’ve been making dragons and castle turrets in pottery, plus a secret piece of art involving dragons, and putting together my book of dragon short stories… It’s funny, really, that I chose dragons, lol.

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© Lisa Shambrook

I made a vegan cake, as Bekah’s been vegan for about a year now. It meant using vegetable fat and switching eggs for an egg substitute. Last time I used the egg supplement, I made a chocolate cake which tasted amazing, but crumbled straight away. This time, it worked better, the fruit cake held together, but I didn’t risk moving it around too much before covering with marzipan and fondant. It may still be a bit crumbly when we cut into it!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I had to slightly alter my design when I realised I’d thrown out my deep 7” cake tin, and only had a shallow 9” tin. I had wanted to create a turret all the way round the sides of the cake with a door in the side, but I think I prefer the ruins my dragon’s ended up with.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My dragon is based on the sleeping dragon I made in pottery class, and I added the ruined wall, a broken wooden door, a log and snowballs. After all, defending with flames will just melt the snow and my ice dragon enjoys the fun of winter, so it’s snowball ammunition!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I’m hoping for snow this Christmas, not really had any for a few years, and I’m looking forward to my feet crunching through the white stuff, building snowmen, and breathing dragon smoke in the frost…

What’s decorating your Christmas cake this year?

I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Rudolph on Ice – Christmas Cake 2015

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer – won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

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Rudolph found his way onto my cake this year, though it looks like he’s got more grace in flight than on ice…

I found some great ideas on Pinterest and amalgamated a few to make my own design, but Rudolph came from this brilliant You Tube tutorial. My sugar-paste (fondant) skills are basic, but after a wonky Rudolph, I produced this one and was quite happy with him.

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Rudolph © Lisa Shambrook

I made small hills and covered the whole cake in smooth fondant, then placed Rudolph on top and shattered ice behind him. If you place Fox’s Glacier Mints on baking paper you can melt them at a low temperature (about 100C) for ten minutes and create ice. If you smash the mints first you get broken ice. (My mint/ice always bubbles, so if you know how to get smooth ice, please let me know!)

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© Lisa Shambrook

I bought a little set of small star stamp cutters, (I love TKMaxx) and made Christmas trees with them. Four of the large stars placed on top of each other overlapping ‘branches’ then four more smaller and finally four more tiny stars and a point on top. Very effective!

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© Lisa Shambrook

A shimmer of royal icing snow and edible glitter and we’re done.

When I asked here and on Facebook for guesses, we had some great ones, including some left of centre Star Wars and Dr Who themed ideas – maybe I’ve been posting about Star Wars on Facebook a little too often 😉 We had starry nights, angels, Narnia (that would be pretty), reindeer, Santa and Rudolph, penguins, robins and Christmas Trees, and I’m not beyond trying something twice…and poinsettia…

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© Lisa Shambrook

The idea had been cemented and my plan printed out before I posted my last blog post, so the guesses were fun to watch and Eilís Phillips mentioned reindeer so she wins a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, but it’s Christmas and I decided to send copies out to those who also mentioned Rudolph or reindeer, so both Carly Sewell and Nick Johns win copies too.

At home Caitlin guessed reindeer on an icy road, which was right, and in Canada via emails Dan finally chose reindeer too, though he commented: I am probably completely wrong because I can’t read your face, ha ha… So that’s how he guesses!

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© Lisa Shambrook

So here’s to the most famous reindeer of all!

How are you decorating your Christmas Cake this year?

Decorating Christmas Cakes…and a Competition

Christmas cake – are you enticed by taste or decoration?
In our family, Vince and the children make the cake
and I decorate it – and we get the best of both worlds!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Decorating the cake has become a bit
of an event in our household

and this year you can join in…

So, gifts have been bought, nativities visited, carols are being sung, my frosted icicles are up, and the tree is clothed with an eclectic assortment of baubles. Steampunk, glass, and wood ornaments, Santa and reindeer, snowmen and frost, stars and angels…and much more. I love arty trimmings and my tree is pretty much a mix of shop bought and homemade. And this year we even invested in a real potted tree, which I adore!

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© Lisa Shambrook

But now for the cake. Several years ago I watched Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas where they made polar bears for the Christmas cake. I made notes and sketches, and disappeared the next day into the kitchen with fondant icing… A few squashed bears later, I had my cake. I revealed it to the family to much delight, as the most I’d ever done on our cake before was rough royal icing with a couple of shop decorations placed on top, maybe a sprig of holly if I wanted it to look posh!

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© Lisa Shambrook

The next year I upped the stakes, shut myself away, and created penguins. Let’s just say several penguins got thrown across the kitchen amid tantrums, as black food colouring in white fondant seemed not to be the easiest icing to work with. The family were refused entry into the kitchen, purely because I wasn’t sure it would work – and I’m sure they wondered what on earth I was doing! In the end the penguins sat enchanted beside a melted glacier mint pond.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Then I decided to learn how to cover a cake in smooth fondant icing and we got cute, fat robins atop a winter tree.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My most favourite cake came next, and Pinterest was pretty influential. Wow, the ideas! I saw melted snowmen cookies and took it another step, placing three on my cake. This time the cake was covered with smooth fondant and topped with rough royal for snow. The actual snowmen were marshmallows melted for a few seconds in the microwave and decorated with eyes, nose, twig arms and silver sugar balls for buttons! This one was so effective!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Not sure how to top my melted snowmen, I was inspired by creative Christmas card designs on Pinterest using buttons. I made a classy Button Christmas tree with chocolate fondant and green sugar strands and added fondant buttons and silver balls.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I took the traditional Yule log idea and covered the cake with smooth chocolate fondant, then it snowed with rough royal icing and I twined fondant ivy all around, adding sprinkles of glitter powder for frost and crushed, melted glacier mints for ice

Each time I decorated the cake, my family were kicked out of the kitchen with not a peek at the cake until I was done. They were soon offering furtive observations and asking crafty questions to discover clues, but I jealously guarded the secrets until the reveals. Now they put in official guesses and we see if anyone comes up with the same idea as me!

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So, this year I’m opening up the question… What will I put on my Christmas cake? If you can guess how I’ll decorate the cake, you could win a signed copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’.

You’ll have to trust me that I won’t be swayed by guesses that appear here or on Facebook or Twitter…I am a woman of integrity, and I already know exactly how I’ll be decorating the cake this year!

I’ll put all the correct answers into the proverbial hat and pull out a winner when I reveal the decorated cake. Until I post the photographs of this year’s cake, you can keep guessing…

So, how do you think I’ll decorate our Christmas cake?

Beneath the Rainbow AD with SynopsisLeave your guess in the comments below, or on my Facebook post, and I’ll contact the winner in a post or message once the cake is decorated. I’ll post here and on FB, and the winner will get a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ just before or just after Christmas!
This contest is open internationally
.

If I can’t contact the winner, or there is no reply to my winner’s post within a week, I will choose the next correct or closest answer as winner.