Thursday 7 October 2010

Dalmation Birthday Cake

I cooked this cake for Grace's 6th birthday.

First cook 4 cakes.  Two with a 6in square tin and two with an 8in square tin. Use a madeira cake recipe, with 3 eggs for the smaller ones, and 5 eggs for the 8in.

When cool, trim all the crust off the cakes, making the top of the larger cakes pretty much flat.  You then need to cut the cakes to make the right shape. Put the two larger cakes on the cake board (I used a 12x18 board) next to each other, and the two smaller ones at the top.  The front one a few inches from the front, and the back one quite close to the back of the cake.  The cake at the back at the bottom, cut the corners off and put them on top, just in front of the smaller back cake.

Shape the back legs, cutting into the front of the cake to make the body narrower than the legs.  You end up cutting off a bit of the cake to make the paws lower, which can then be put upside down to make the top of the back legs.

The front of the dog can be shaped into the two front legs, and a rounded bit in the middle for the head.  The top cake at the front loses the most, cutting it lower at the front and rounded to make the nose of the dog.  In front of this top cake I added an off-cut of cake to help make the front of the nose. This stage took a bit over an hour for me, and I ended up with something that looked like this:

I took apart the cakes, and cut them each in half so there were 4 layers top to bottom, so I could get more butter icing in.  I make 2kg of butter icing (500g butter, 1.5kg of icing sugar) in two batches, and had some left over.  Starting at the bottom I covered the bottom layer, then moved up.

I rolled out 1.5kg of white fondant icing, and then placed it over the cake.  I didn't quite get it wide enough, so had to patch up a few bits later.  The spots can cover up small mistakes though...

Now start arranging it so that it tucks into all the corners that you cut in the original cake.  Near the bottom cut the excess away, then work the rest together so that it doesn't bunch up so much.  I find a proper icing smoother (a bit like a plasterers float, but much smaller) really good for getting all the finger marks off the icing.

Now get some black fondant, and roll out and cut spots out of it.  I stuck them on using some edible glue from a proper cake shop, together with a really small child's paintbrush to paint the side of the icing you want to stick on. The paws have more small strips of black icing stuck on, same for the mouth and whiskers. The ears and nose are just larger spots.  The eyes could be done by piping icing, but I cut out some rolled out white icing, and stuck it onto a slighter larger circle of black icing. I rolled out some red icing for the tongue and collar, and a lump of white icing made the tail.

Friday 7 May 2010

Jewellery box birthday cake

This was for Isabelle's 8th birthday.  I can't remember any real details, apart from that the malteasers were individually stuck onto the side of the cake with edible glue, to make the appearance of a necklace.  The basic cake was rectangular, with the top section of roll out icing slightly overhanging the front.

Saturday 10 April 2010

A day on Coniston Water

Another day with no walk but some beautiful views over Coniston.

Early in the morning, walking down from Bank Ground to the shore.

The view looking back up towards Bank Ground,

Evie, putting her wellies to good use.

The view to 'Holly Howe' boatshed, where they launched on the voyage to Wild Cat Island.

On a boat ride on Consiton Water, Isabelle, Grace, me and Evie.

From the boat, looking at where we had been staying.

Friday 9 April 2010

Grace is too ill for the Old Man

I had somehow persuaded Caroline to steal Isabelle and Grace away for the day to climb the Old Man, since Evie was too little and we hadn't got to the stage of just carrying the youngest up to the top.

This was in the days before everyone had a phone and a camera, so no photos, but an approximate route map.

Difficulty: 4
Walkers: Tim, Isabelle (7)
0.0km 0m, Start (45)
11.8km 761m, End (45)

So the three of us bravely set out, even though Grace was a little under par.  From the house there was a shortish drive to Coniston village, then we set off up the typical path from the Sun pub.  We got a fair way up, probably a couple of miles, but it was becoming obvious that Grace just wasn't going to be able to manage the walk all the way.  So we took the decision to turn back, very frustrating but definitely the right thing to do.  Back to the car park, back to the house, and delivering Grace to Caroline and Evie, 

Isabelle and I were still keen, so we turned straight back again, drove to Coniston, parked in the car park (ticket was valid all day...) and headed up the path, now just the two.  The initial enthusiasm was wearing a little thin for Isabelle, and I had to really encourage her to make it up to the tarn, telling her that we could always turn back at that point.  From there, you can virtually see the route up to the top, so with more encouragement and sugary bribery we make it finally to the top.

From the top we took the route back via Goats Water, most of which is fairly gentle downhill.  I was very proud of Isabelle for making it to the top, and very grateful to the rest of the family for letting the two of us take the car for the day!

Thursday 8 April 2010

Grisedale Forest

A day out in Grisedale Forest was the plan, no great heights, and lots of things to motivate getting that extra way down the track.  So no Wainwrights or map from today, just a few indulgent pictures of my kids

Daffodils and Grace (right).

Evie and Grace

All three investigating the mini house.

Evie and Isabelle, 

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Hill Top

We were aiming for a more restful day, after the wind on Wansfell the day before, so we aimed to look around Hill Top.  We stopped somewhere on the way for a quick wander around, but I've not got any record of where that was.

The weather always looks the nicest when you're not going up high...

Now at Hill Top, 

No sign of any hungry rabbits.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Wansfell in the Wind

So the plan for this day was to start from Ambleside, parking in our favourite car park, and then head up the waterfalls, popping out the other end to climb up to Wansfell.  We bought some provisions from the Apple Pie in Ambleside.

Difficulty: 2
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (7), Grace (5 1/2)
0.0km 0m, Start (72)
3.8km 396m, End (81)

Yes, there were waterfalls!

Evie did some walking.

All were very keen that the provisions were shared out fairly.  Well, actually I think they were more interested that they got what they wanted, but sharing sounds better...

Leaving the waterfalls at the top end, just about managing to get them to stop going around the revolving gate.

We were quite amazed at how high Evie walked - not all the way to the top, but still quite a fair way up for 2 1/2.

The top was very windy, like really really windy.  Time spent posing for the photo was minimal... 

Still, reasonable view across to Lake Windermere.  We weren't that organised with looking for Wainwrights, so didn't carry on along the ridge to get to the Baystones, saving that walk for another day.

And back home, to yet more chocolate - we love easter week!

Monday 5 April 2010

Tarn Howes

After the excitement of Cat Bells the previous day, we decided on a much more straight forward walk, a lot closer to where we were staying on Coniston Water.  Evie did do a fair amount of walking, but also spent time in the pushchair.

Difficulty: 1
Walkers: Tim, Caroline, Isabelle (7), Grace (5)
0.0km 0m, Start (212)
2.6km 32m, End (201)

I say time 'in' the pushchair, well, she was only trying to be helpful.

Isabelle and Grace, contemplating ducks, water, who know...

It wasn't much after this that one of these three delightful children 'accidentally' pushed one of their siblings off this hillock.