Monday, 10 December 2012

'Twas Brillig (part two)

The saga continues... The cupcakes which were made were a big cheat - yes, it is okay to cut corners where you can. These are the Macro brand vanilla cupcake mix which are, except for excessive vanilla, failsafe. Plus I knew they worked with egg replacer for our allergic guest. Two batches of these were made in different sized and coloured papers and with a few different coloured frostings (Hoppers natural colours) to give the illusion of more variety. You could also add some carob powder or golden syrup to some of them to give flavour variety without having to make separate batches of cake. They were also used as a party favour.

The cakes for taking home were placed in plastic tumblers which were bought from a cheap shop and then put into cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon.

There was also fairy bread with natural sprinkles - some was gluten free and some made with Baker's Delight bread. My friend brought the gluten-filled type and used cookie cutters to achieve the teapot and teacup shapes.

There were also gluten free bread-and-butterflies; these were made using my bread recipe that was sliced, spread with nuttelex and then cut with butterfly cookie cutters.

Pink milk was served as the main drink - a sugar syrup made from two cups of sugar and 2 cups of boiling water was made with vanilla essence and cochineal added. This was mixed into both rice milk and dairy milk and put into teapots on the table. You tend to need a bit more cochineal than you think and as it is diluted again into the milk.

The lolly table had most of the usual failsafe lollies, plus a few that I had made.

The last picture was a recipe I found for conversation hearts (does anyone remember these?). The recipe needed tweaking and in my rush I didn't measure or write anything down. So, unfortunately, a recipe for that will have to wait.

Activities were kept minimal. The kids played croquet and had a great time doing so. I had planned to have a caucus race, but the ground was uneven ad covered with lots of sticks, so I abandoned the idea as I didn't want any injuries. I tried to think of a way to paint roses red without getting paint on party clothes too. They could have coloured with pencils, but in the end they had too much fun playing amongst the trees, eating party food and playing croquet.

The birthday girl - Making the dress also filled a lot of my party prep time

There were party favours other than the cakes. I chose to keep these non-food items. There had been plenty of lollies and sweets consumed at the party, so I felt that the the kids  didn't really need to take more home. We had a variety of different Alice in Wonderland books that the kids received depending on their age. The older children got a paperback version of the stories, the younger ones got a few different colouring books, and the older boys who I knew would not be into these at all got a pack of jumbo playing cards. They also all got a bubble wand (I mean who doesn't like bubbles).

The wrapped book and bubble wands ready to be taken home.

I'll put the cake in it's very own post, in order to make it easier to find.

Friday, 7 December 2012

'Twas Brillig

Birthday, birthday, birthday, Christmas, birthday. That's how it goes in this family and all quite close together. This time of year is a test of my sanity and my stamina in the kitchen. Sometimes I think I'm going to fail the test, but I usually manage a flukey pass. The most recent birthday was no exception.

I have been mentally planning this birthday for quite some time, buying bits and pieces when I saw them and gathering ideas. Although in keeping with my standard form, most of the actual work is left until the last minute.

This party was as much about the decorations and setting as it was about the food and since I'm a bit over the top I wanted everything to be fabulous; it was passable. I didn't have as much time to set up as was really needed and, well if I let them, these things can just get bigger and bigger.

The lolly table

Cups laid out on the adult table

Unfortunately, due to the nature of gluten free food, a lot of food needs to be prepared as close to the party as possible, so the afternoon tea setting was really quite perfect. It also meant that everything was finger food and nothing needed to be heated which was very handy. There was also a child with an egg allergy, so most of the food needed to be egg free. Some allowances were made on our intolerances in order to keep things eggless.

The favourite food item of the day was the toadstools. They were made a few days before and are very easy. I used a small amount of dairy in them, but if you are able to eat eggs please use royal icing instead of the white melts.

  • Marshmallows - standard sized, cylindrical.
  • Marshmallows - larger domed.
  • White melts (or royal icing)
  • natural food colours
  1. Gently melt the white chocolate melts using the microwave on short bursts or a double boiler.
  2. Spread a small amount of melted chocolate on the end of a cylindrical marshmallow and stick it to the middle of the flat side of the larger ones. You can use an ice cube tray or an egg carton to help you keep them straight while they set.
  3. Add a small amount of colouring to chocolate and use a skewer or toothpick to make spots on the cap. 
  4. Leave to set.

There were a variety of biscuits mostly my standard recipes that were presented differently. The iced biscuits were used with fondant so I could could make egg free biscuits and use the same topping. The egg free version was from Kersten's book and the recipe for the fondant was found on the Domestic Diva's blog. The fondant was coloured with Hoppers Natural colours and stamped with a clean stamp. If you like this idea, I would suggest you have separate stamps for craft and food so you don't get any contamination.

The Diva's Marshmallow Fondant Icing

  • 600g icing sugar
  • 225g marshmallows 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons water 
  • Extra icing sugar for rolling 
  1.  Place marshmallows and water into a microwave bowl and nuke for 30seconds on high.
  2. Stir until smooth (cook for another 30 seconds of necessary)
  3. Add icing sugar and stir until combined (I did it by hand)
  4. If necessary add extra sugar until no longer sticky, but not so stiff as to be unrollable.
  5. Wrap very tightly with cling wrap and rest until needed.
  6. Can be made several days in advance, put wrapped fondant into a ziplock bag or airtight container to prevent any drying.    

Make sure you use a lightly oiled surface to roll the fondant. I thought that rolling it between baking paper would be enough. It wasn't. The tiniest amount of oil sprayed onto the paper made it so much easier. Cut the fondant using the same cutter you used on the biscuit and then press the stamp firmly into it (without completely squashing it) before laying on your biscuit that has been lightly spread with Vienna cream frosting.

I tried to use sprinkles to make patterns. Don't bother trying that. Aside from it being ridiculously time consuming they don't stick to the fondant.

You could use any natural colour you want for these to match your theme or use none at all. The white is very pretty and you can get a great decoration from the stamp alone.

The other biscuits were made using the melting moment dough.

Chess Board Cookies

  1. Take a quantity of melting moment dough. Halve it and add a tablespoon of carob to a portion of the dough. 
  2. Use a lined swiss roll tin (or similar) and pressed and rolled half of the dough into it (I didn't use the full length of the tin).
  3. Repeat this with the other portion of dough (making sure to use the same portion of tin as the previous piece). Then lay one on top of the other and freeze until very firm.
  4.  Cut the dough into four, lengthways and lay two on top of each other making sure your colours are alternated and press them together gently (you will have two logs with four layers each). Freeze again.
  5. Now cut lengthways slices about 1cm thick and stack them with alternating colours, four layers thick. Freeze again.
  6. Cut slices crossways from the end and lay on a lined baking tray and bake for about 12mins at 160°C.
  7. Cool on racks.

Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Biscuits

  1. Beat 2 Tablespoons of rice milk into one quantity of melting moment dough.
  2. Fill a piping bag that has a large round tip fitted to it with the dough.
  3. Roughly pipe the dough into tear drop/oyster shell shapes. Try not to make them too thick. Ridges, bumps and texture are desirable!
  4. Bake at 160°C for about 12 mins or until cooked (this depends on the thickness of the dough)
  5. Tinge some vienna cream icing pink with cochineal and pipe onto half of the biscuits. Place a Hoppers silver pearl on each and top with another biscuit.

Since this post is becoming a bit too long I'll split this between a few so that things don't get too hard to find.

See you in the next one!