Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
I hope you’re having a splendid weekend? Mine has been gorgeous and full of festivities. It started Friday with DM’s and my wedding anniversary. DM has been at a conference in Dublin all week and only arrived home on Friday, so we didn’t do much on the actual day, we were both too tired. But we belatedly celebrated today when we went for a gorgeous brunch at one of our favourite hotels and then watched a Wes Andersen film whilst Munchkin napped.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
The festivities continued yesterday afternoon when we attended Munchkin’s friends first birthday party. His mother and I had arranged a skills swap, she decorated the amazing cookies for Munchkin’s birthday and in return, I decorated her little boys first birthday cake.

I made the decorations out of modelling chocolate and placed them on a buttercream frosting base. Both the cake and the buttercream were made by Nikki. I was unable to sample it as it contained gluten, but both DM and Munchkin thought it delicious! Munchkin loved it so much she polished off an entire piece and, only with extreme reluctance, shared with one of their cute but very eager dogs.
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Nikki had purchased a really cute suite of decorations called Animal Parade from Meri Meri, and made up really sweet cookies with the giraffe and zebra patterns. I took the designs of the animals and incorporated them into the cake.

I very rarely decorate cakes (though it appears I’ll be getting more and more practice in future! ;)) and so I’m pretty rusty. I’m really happy with how the animals turned out but not quite so happy with the top of the carousel, I made the panels smaller than the bunting surrounding it to allow the frosting to show through. But in hindsight I should have made larger panels and covered the top completely. I wanted to remake it but I ran out of time (and energy).
 

Meri Meri Animal Parade Carousel Cake

 
Finally, we’ve a little celebration for my birthday tomorrow. I’ve been banished from the studio and I’m blogging in the lounge whilst trying very hard not to listen to DM and Munchkin make me a birthday surprise. It sounds perfectly splendid. It seems to involve quite a lot of chatting from Munchkin, laughter from DM and a fair bit of bashing. I’m trying very hard not to guess at what it is! I kind of want to join in the fun, but it would mean spoiling the surprise.

After the long weekend of festivities, I’m preparing for a severe case of Tuesday-itis and so am planning on sewing up yet another cute birthday present for another of Munchkin’s friends celebrating her first birthday next week. November is a popular month!
 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

One of the most talked about parts of Munchkin’s birthday party were the cookies we gave away as gifts. My wonderfully talented friend Nikki from Toute Sweet took some time out with her friend Summer from The Sweet Life, who is also a very talented cookie decorator, to make these stunning cookies.

I adapted Nikki’s sugar cookie recipe (gifted to me at Christmas with a bottle of her delicious homemade vanilla essence) and baked a batch of cookies. She then took my gift box template design (more info on those in the next few weeks) and garnered inspiration from this amazing cookie design to come up with these!  They fit the theme, invitations and gift boxes perfectly.

 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

Unfortunately I couldn’t get them wrapped and into the boxes without damaging some of the wings as they sit up from the cookie; and so decided to wrap them loosely in cellophane bags and to gift them separately. But this worked splendidly as it gave everyone ample opportunity to have a good look at them. They’re just beautiful!

Here’s the adapted recipe, for those of you who like me, love sugar cookies but can’t eat them due to health reasons. The cookies are slightly more crumbly than a normal glutenous sugar cookie, but when they were fresh out of the oven had a lovely snap! Just keep them in an air tight container and they should maintain their crispness.

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Gluten-free Vanilla Sugar Cookies

 

Ingredients
  • 500 grams of unsalted butter
  • 40 grams of caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 15ml of vanilla essence
  • 700 grams of Schaer patisserie mix C or your preferred gluten-free flour mix
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

 

Method
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift all of the dry ingredients together.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, until well combined. But try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour.
  • Roll cooled dough between pieces of baking paper. I used 3mm rolling guides to ensure an even thickness.
  • Place in the freezer for half an hour, ensuring it’s flat.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  • Taking the rolled from the freezer, quickly cut out into the shapes you want, lying out on new pieces of baking paper. And place cookies back into the freezer for ten minutes.
  • Take cookies directly from the freezer and place in the oven. The baking of frozen cookies ensures that they keep their shape and don’t spread. The batch I didn’t freeze spread more than I was happy with.
  • Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown.
  • Take the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray, don’t try to remove them from the baking paper until cooled or they’ll crumble. The cookies become much firmer as they cool.
  • Decorate to your hearts desire!

 

 

Gift box photo by Hayley Hay

Gluten-free in and around Lausanne

gluten-free-celiac-disease

 

Hello all! Just a quick heads up. If you don’t live in (or have an intention to visit) Lausanne in Switzerland and have an intolerance to gluten this post is probably not going to be of any interest to you. So maybe go grab a coffee and I’ll see you soon! I’ve a cook cake box tutorial I’ll post just as soon as I can.

However if you do live in Canton Vaud and are intolerant to gluten, or have a loved one who is… this may be of interest.

One of the most common email requests I’ve been getting is from lovely ladies and gents in Lausanne asking where to find gluten-free products. I’ve sent out an email list of my favourite places more times than I can count! So I’ve decided to post it here on the blog.

 

Cully

Cafe Sonja

Quite possibly the best gluten-free cakes, tarts, biscuits, chocolate eclairs and quiches I have ever had. The tea room is fabulous and their biscuits are now being stocked in Globus in Lausanne. In Winter, their hot chocolate is by far and away the most delicious and decadent experience I’ve had in Switzerland. And that’s saying something coming from a country where the main dish is steaming bowls of rich, hot cheese followed by double cream smothered meringues for dessert!

 

Morges

Laurent et Magalie

This recently opened health food store has a great selection of GF foods and cake/ biscuit mixes. Whilst not cheap, their Marlette cake mixes are the only ones I’ll use. They’re organic and delicious. They also stock Sonja-Sante breads and cookies. So definitely worth visiting if you’re in the neighbourhood.

  Read more

Gluten-free Raspberry Friands

Gluten-free raspberry friands

 

I had an itch. I needed to bake. It had been so long that my Kitchen Aid had a light coating of dust!

The cover of What Katie Ate has been giving me cravings for friands for quite some time. They don’t exist here and certainly not in gluten-free form. The delicious raspberries in season provided me with the perfect excuse.

As I don’t have a friand tin I decided to use a cupcake pan and they worked fine. I adapted two recipes to be gluten-free. One from What Katie Ate and another from online aptly named “The Perfect Friand”. And then decided I liked a mix of both! They’re light and delicious. Not to mention really easy and quick to make!

My husband has requested I make them again, and as I’ve just collected the piece to make my ice-cream maker work, I have plenty of use for spare egg yolks. I think next time I’ll use plums on the top…

 

Gluten-free raspberry friands
GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY FRIANDS

Makes about a dozen

Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 60 grams of almond meal
  • 60 grams of gluten-free flour of your choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of guar gum
  • 120 grams of icing sugar (not icing mixture)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100 grams of melted unsalted butter
  • Butter to grease pan
  • 125 grams of fresh raspberries

 

Gluten-free raspberry friands

 

Method
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees celsius fan forced)
  • Grease tin with butter (I used a cupcake tin as I don’t own a friand tin)
  • Whisk egg whites until frothy.
  • In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, sieved icing sugar and the pinch of salt together.
  • Add egg whites and fold in until well combined.
  • Gradually stir in butter.
  • Pour into tin, Filling each mould three-quarters full.
  • Place a raspberry in the top of each.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool slightly before removing from the mould. I needed to run a knife around the edge of mine to loosen them.

 

Woodland Creatures Cookies and Tree Trunk Packaging

A couple of months ago, my friend Nikki asked me to come up with a concept. She wanted to make gifts to give to her children’s teachers at the end of the year as a thank you gift. What made this request really interesting is that Nikki is a genius with biscuits, royal icing, cake and fondant and I’ve been dying for an opportunity to pick her brains and to work on a project together, so this was the perfect excuse!

We also both have little ones very similar in age, so with this project we had crafternoons and play-dates all rolled into one! Admittedly it wasn’t easy, Munchkin and her friend O liked to keep us on our toes! But after quite a few catch ups and some work alone once the little ones went to bed of an evening, we got them done.

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies

When it comes to icing and piping work, I’ve not touched a piping bag in… years! And so when coming up with concepts my mind instantly went to things I felt I could help with. Then I remembered these amazing cookies I’d pinned a few years ago. I love the idea of using the cookie dough to create the image and then adding just a little icing for the details.

Detailed cutting and splicing I can do!

This is what I came up with. A series of woodland creatures including a fox, owl, hedgehog, squirrel and bear. All to be packaged up peeking out of a ‘tree trunk’.

Layout

Nikki mixed up a batch of each her (I’m told) delicious chocolate and vanilla doughs at home so as to avoid accidentally poisoning me with gluten, I was just very careful to wash my hands after handling the dough and definitely didn’t taste test it!

To make the cookies, we rolled the dough out using rolling pin guide strips so as to ensure all the dough was the same thickness, then put the dough in the freezer to harden up. Using templates created out of wax proof paper we’d traced, we then cut the hardened dough using a scalpel to get a nice clean finish (an X-acto knife would work just as well, just make sure you’ve given it a good clean first).

As fate would have it, we made these on the hottest days we’ve had this Summer! So we had dough cycling in and out of of my freezer making sure it all kept hard enough to assemble. We then spliced the pieces together, gently used our fingers to join the edges and baked them.

Unfortunately I had my hands so full of dough and babies that I didn’t get many photos taken during this process. But I’m going to re-create it with some gluten-free recipes and another template I’ve made to create a tutorial in the coming weeks.

This is what the owls looked like just before we baked them.

Woodland animal cookies

And this is what they looked like afterwards

Woodland animal cookies

Flash forward a few days, after we’d both completed cookies on our own (once the little ones had gone to bed) and we were ready to add the icing details! Nikki, whipped up some royal icing and after laying the templates underneath wax paper, traced the features in royal icing. It is a fabulous method I can’t wait to try myself, particularly as it allows you to keep going until you’ve created one you’re happy with before you apply it to the biscuit! Here’s some information on royal icing transfers.

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies

We glued the eyes, beaks and noses down with some more royal icing.

Woodland animal cookies

The limit of my piping on this project consisted of using royal icing to glue toasted slivered almonds onto the hedgehog to give him spikes, and piping on the hedgehogs noses.

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies

I think they turned out really cute.

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies

Then I got to work making the packaging! I wanted to display them standing up and so made a box within a box. I glued the biscuits in using royal icing which allowed them to be transported without fear of them falling out of their peepholes. But if you wanted to you could add some acetate or clear plastic to the inside of the box to ensure your cookie is safe.

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies

I’ve included all the templates in a PDF file at the bottom of the post if you want to try and make your own!

Here are the steps to put the packaging together.
You’ll need an x-acto knife, adhesive (I used a Pritt Stick) and 3 pieces of A3 card stock about 160 gsm or as thick as you can get through your printer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I then used a little bit of tape to hold the lid in place. But a clear sticker or double sided tape works well too.

Here’s the finished packaging.

And here they all are just before they went to school to be given to some lovely teachers!

I had a fantastic time working with Nikki on this project. I can’t wait until we get to do another one

Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies
Woodland animal cookies
Download
T&Cs