The Simpsons Cupcakes for Father’s Day

father's day the simpsons cupcakes present gift made from coloyred fondant icing

Happy Father’s day to all the dads out there! I couldn’t let the occasion pass without baking something for my lovely dad, and this year I decided to create one of his favourite TV programs in fondant-form – The Simpsons!

My mum gets a lot of brownie points for asking if I had some new stencils to make the characters – but no! I printed an image off and used the outlines as templates, from there on in everything was created with just a sharp knife, a cocktail stick, and some edible glue.  I used a vanilla cupcake with a big cloud of vanilla frosting to create a blank canvas for the characters to sit on.

First up – the brat of the bunch! Bart Simpson – his extra spiky hair proved a bit of a challenge as my fondant wasn’t happy in such tiny points, but a bit of coaxing with the cocktail stick and it got there in the end.

bart simpson cupcake fondant work had cut no stencil

The first of the sisters – Lisa Simpson. The pearl necklace was so simple to create but I love how perfect it looks! Her eyelashes were painted on using the end of a cocktail stick dipped in black gel food colouring. My only gripe is that she looks a little grumpy though…

lisa simpson cupcake with pearls necklace black eyelashes painted on

The baby of the bunch, little Maggie Simpson. I had a lot of fun making her blue bow and red dummy (or pacifier if you will!) Although a bit fiddly as it was so small, I think the results are super-cute:

maggie simpson cupcake pacifier dummy red and blue bow in hair

Next up – Marge Simpson. I’m not going to lie, that big blue perm was somewhat of a challenge! I made the fondant quite thick on this part, so it wouldn’t crack up too much.

marge simpson hand crafted fondant cupcake on white icing background red pearl necklace

And last but certainly not least, the dad himself! I am thankful to Matt Groening for designing Homer Simpson as such the simple character that he is and therefore very easy to make – a big oval head, 5 o’clock shadow, and then a few sprigs of hair painted on with edible food colouring.

homer simpson cupcake hand cut father day dad

I’m impressed myself with the way they turned out – although very surprised that I couldn’t find any Simpsons cupcake cases to put them. There’s clearly a gap in the market!

the simpsons family cupcakes gift cartoon for fathers day hand crafted from fondant icing

Happy Father’s Day dad! x

Christmas Spiced Santa Cupcakes

santa claus christmas cupcakes easy made out of coloured fondant

Last weekend I went to a Santa fancy dress party… was there really any choice about what to make?

I wanted to add a little twist to some simple vanilla cupcakes – so added 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg to the batter, to give them a lovely warm festive spice.

Would you believe the one time I don’t want them too – they actually over-rose, so I had to trim the tops slightly to give a flat base for the fondant (great excuse for taste testing though!)

christmas spiced cupcakes red metallic cases cutting off the tops

To add some extra flavour, moisture and general stickiness to the cakes, I brushed them with a sticky spice glaze. This was made simple by boiling 3 tbsp water, 75g brown sugar, a splash of vanilla essence and pinch of nutmeg. Boiled (in a non stick pan) for about a minute and then left to cool, it cooled to a thick, syrupy glaze which I brushed onto the still-warm cupcakes.

christmas spiced cupcake glaze pastry brush cinnamon sugar

Having found some fondant-confidence from my cupcake decorating class a few weeks ago, I decided to top the cupcakes entirely with fondant.  One of the things I learnt about in the class was tylo(tylose) powder. Adding it to fondant makes gumpaste, which is a bit more pliable and easy to work with, but the real benefit is that it makes the icing set harder and firmer, so your shapes stay put, colours don’t merge, etc. I bought this big tub online for about £5, it will last a long time. For about 250g of fondant you need perhaps a teaspoon of tylo powder and just need it in. You can get granules but this fine stuff is better for adding to fondant.

tylo powder for making fondant shapes harden and use in edible glue

And as if that’s not useful enough – you can also use the tylo to make edible glue, to stick different bits of fondant (or gumpaste) together. Simply mix about 1/4 teaspoon of tylo with 2 tablespoons of water in a small pot, and mix well. And tada, glue!

edible glue made from tylo powder used for fondant cupcakes

For these santa cupcakes I shaped all the fondant with these 3 concentric pastry circle cutters. You can see each has a smooth-sided edge  and a fluted side of the same size.

round pastry cutters concentric different sizes for making santa christmas cupcakes

To start, for the face base, a simple of circle of pink icing the same size as the cupcake. The sugar glaze on the cake was more than sticky enough to hold in place. (While wracking my cupboards for a good skin-coloured mix, I came across the leftover ready-made pink fondant from my Nanny’s 80th cake. Hurrah! It pays to have endless cupboards of cake decorating items…)

santa cupcakes making the face base using light pink fondant

Next up – the moustache. I brushed the bottom of the pink fondant with a little edible glue. A little goes a long way, and it works well to put it on before you cut out your shapes so it can get a little tacky. If you forget, it still works to stick things straight on top!

edible glue on fondant for sticking details onto cupcakes made from tylo powder

To cut the beard, I used white fondant and the middle cutters fluted edge, then cut across to fit the face with the smooth side of the largest circle.

santa cupcakes recipe instructions making the beard using round pastry cutters

Next up, moustache – a combination of the smallest and largest fluted circles.

santa cupcakes moustache using pastry cutters white fondant

For some reason I didn’t take a photo of the hats. It took a fair amount of working in the colour paste to get the vibrant red but well worth it  – they were cut with just a triangle (I used a paper template so they’d all be the same angle) rounded at the bottom with one of  smooth edges.

The fur trim for the hat was simply 2 concentric smooth-edged rounds, trimmed at the sides so they’d fit neatly around the base of the hat.

santa cupcakes hat trim using concentric pastry cutter circles

To get the furry effect on Santa’s hat trim, I simply used a cocktail stick to mottle little dots all the way across the white piece.

santa cupcakes mottled effect using a cocktail stick to look like fur white fondant pink round nose

A small ball of pink for the nose, and a white ball for the hat pom-pom; again I mottled this with a cocktail stick so it would look furry.

santa cupcakes recipe instructions hat pom pom from white fondant mottled effect to look like fur

Some little black eyes and a good brush of edible glitter later (I kept it just on the fur so Santa looked extra polished) – and Mr Claus was ready to go!

finished fondant santa cupcake edible glitter christmas sparkle baking

Which is the real Santa? Well, that’d be telling… and I do want him to bring my presents in a couple of days time!

christmas spiced santa cupcakes red metallic wrappers fondant decoration face

santa christmas sparkle cupcakes beard moustache and hat all made of fondant

They went down a treat – and what a fantastic party it was too!

santa fancy dress party fur trim hood christmas

King of the Castle Chocolate Cake

Another week, another birthday. I don’t know what it is about July (9 months before April)… but babies and birthdays seem to be all over the place at the moment!

This one was for my lovely friend Matt, and to tie in with a joint party themed “When I grow up”. I had been racking my brains for a while when inspiration suddenly sprung up in the middle of the supermarket, and this wonderful silicon castle mould somehow fell into my shopping trolley 🙂

Baking the cake was more of a challenge – there was an awful lot of mould to fill with cake mix! A quick google on how best to use it bought me to this rather lovely blog, and some very hand tips on what kind of cake to use (muffin, good call!), greasing etc.

In the end I probably ended up using about 2 1/2 times a normal cake mix. It was very loosely based on this recipe, which I really have to advise should be taken with a pinch of salt. There is definitely not enough sugar in it, and too much bicarb / baking soda. I had to really call on my baking skills to get the lovely chocolate-y taste back from it being too acidic from these two!

Still, mix made, it went in the oven for the arduous task of cooking. I gave it about 40 minutes, then checked again every 10 minutes by inserting a skewer. Honestly I couldn’t say how long it ended up taking – definitely over an hour altogether.

Next step was a little tricky – getting it out the mould! I wish I had taken some of the advice I’d seen online and invested in some Wilton Cake Release. There was a lot of prodding with knives, shaking the mould, tugging, poking, easing… and finally it came out!

Overall pretty impressive – although sadly one of the back turrets stayed firmly in the mould. Not to be too disappointed though, this gave me a chance to taste the immense muffin mixture!

I was incredibly impressed with the detail that came out of the mould; having seen some other photos online I’d consider using it again and not covering the whole cake, just highlighting details with writing icing etc.

The more observant among you will notice these details don’t show up on the finished cake – it was a bit of a buttercream free-for-all!

The buttercream was a simple milk/icing sugar combination, with a splash of milk, good shake of cocoa powder, and some drops of black food colouring.
Covering the whole cake was no mean feat, so I started off on the principle of just getting everything covered, with detail and neatness to come later!

The missing turret I replaced with a big blob of fondant icing – I pressed it into the silicon mould to get the right shape, then “glued” it in place with plenty of buttercream, making a mental note to be a bit more delicate when decorating this side.

It took about an hour to buttercream the whole cake… and thankfully Rob was out, because the whole kitchen was a bit of a chocolate-y mess! I let it set for about an hour, before using a serrated-edge cake tool to mark lines around the cake to form bricks.

With the bricks done, there were just a few finishing touches to add: a castle door, made out of brown fondant, with lines for a wooden plank effect; a date stamp, for the year of Matt’s “construction” (!)…

…and finally – because it was really a big kids party – some lego characters battling it out for control of the castle.

The birthday boy was of course delighted – as was I when I finally got to taste a piece of chocolate-y castle 🙂 What do you think…?

Baby’s Toy Box Cake

Recently some friends of ours had a beautiful little baby girl. What better way to welcome her than with a tasty toy box cake!

Rob, a painter and decorator by trade, wanted to try out his painting skills and make a wood-effect cake, so the choice was made – baby + wood + cake = one giant toy box…

The cake itself was a vanilla sponge with vanilla butter cream. I used a standard square tin, cut this in half for the main cake, and made a second, thinner cake to be sliced and stacked for the rim of the toy box.

With the basic shape of the cake made, we covered it in a layer of yellow fondant, and Rob got to work with his wood effect. Using normal food colouring, he layered up the colour to get the grained look, before adding a few dark lines to make the plank details.

Whilst Rob was hard at work, I made the toys and the blocks for the top. They are all made out of fondant, again simply coloured with food colouring. There is a great tutorial on making fondant teddy bears here, and I modified this ever so slightly for the rabbit.

For a personal touch I wanted to put the baby’s name on the cake, and what better way than pretty pastel building blocks. I used a couple of square edges to shape the fondant into cubes, before imprinting with a letter stencil, and drawing over with some glitter writing icing.
To put them on the cake I used some cocktail sticks to get them on different levels, and made sure to warn the recipients before they tucked in!

The finishing touch was a little chocolate fondant to spell out “TOYS” on the front of the box, a sprinkling of glitter later and we were all done!

I think Rob has decided as much as he likes the look (and taste!) of fondant, it’s definitely not the same to work with as walls! That might be the last I see of him in the kitchen for a while…