Friday, January 20, 2017

Summer dungarees

Sprog and Widget loved their winter dungarees, but since I made them at the end of the winter, and we don't have much of a winter here, they didn't get a lot of wear out of them. I sized up so they should still be good for next winter. I had leftover digger fabric and plenty of it so Widget had another set of digger dungarees due, and Sprog chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 


I altered the pattern slightly changing the fastenings. 

For the shoulder straps I added a loop on each side of the front flap instead of the button, and fed the straps through before looping them back to button up. The boys have had dungarees with straps like this that were really secure. It's really easy to lengthen or shorten the straps by moving the button. The hips were a simple switch from button and buttonhole to a snap popper.

Next up: matching dungarees for the new baby cousin, Nickname still to be determined. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part Two - The preschool cake, a simple themed Thomas cake

It is common at our preschool to bring in cakes to celebrate birthdays. Despite having invited what felt like half the preschool to Widget's birthday and having most of his buds, and many of his brother's buds too (as siblings of Widget's buddies) over to the party it was back into cake mode for the preschool cake.

This cake was much simpler, but stuck to the same Thomas the Tank Engine theme. I used the same Bin Inn packet mixes for two 20cm round cakes. I cut the top off one of them and stacked the second cake on top with green buttercream in between, followed by green buttercream all over.

To get the Thomas theme in I raided the kids toys and found a diecast Thomas train. For this I made tracks using licorice for both the rails and the sleepers.  Most tracks have shingle and rocks around them, presumably for drainage and keeping weeds down or something. I made mine using white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips. Dropping them straight on didn't have the effect I was going for, so I put them in the food processor and whizzed them. This powdered them a bit, and all the rocks became coated in dust as well as being reduced in size. The chocolate rocks and shingle made a great backdrop to the track. For the remainder of the grassy hill I covered with 'grass' using up the rest of the green buttercream. For this I used a multi opening tip like this one.
It took a flick of the wrist and a quick pull away to get little fronds rather than long strings.


The train went on top and the cake was done. It was all gone by the time we picked Widget and Sprog up from preschool.

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part One - The party cake

Widget had a birthday. It was his second birthday, and like his brother Sprog at age two he is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. For Sprog's second birthday I made the first of my fancy cakes, a Thomas the Tank Engine.

It took two baked cakes to assemble. I didn't want to do the same thing again, and it took a lot of prep time, although much of that time was due to it being the first time I had done a fancy cake. It was a tall cake and awkward to cut.

This time I again did a Thomas the tank engine, but with his carriages Annie and Clarabel. A total of three cakes. Given that Widget's birthday is in December, and so many people have other commitments we invited a lot of kids, not everyone could come, but including bigger brothers and sisters there were still 20 under-5's and assorted adults at the party. We needed the extra cake!

For the cakes I used packet mixes from Bin Inn. Annie and Clarabel were chocolate cakes, baked in 22cm square tin, sliced in two and stacked on top of each other to create a basic rectangular carriage shape.  For Thomas I used a Buttercake recipe and added blue colouring so Thomas was blue inside and out. I cut the blue cake in half, using one half for the base of Thomas, then cut pieces from the other half to mould his shape. Two smaller rectangles, a circle, a half circle, and an edge bit as the buffer. I stacked them together to check the shape was right. All the cakes, Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel were wrapped in baking paper and frozen, both so I could make them ahead of time, but also to make the crumb coating easier.

 The night before the party I pulled all the cakes out of the freezer, using blue buttercream, or chocolate buttercream I crumbcoated all the cakes. I did a thick layer of chocolate buttercream between the two halves each of Annie and of Clarabel. This was followed by a top coat of chocolate buttercream smoothed carefully. The roof was a rectangle of black coloured chocolate fondant. To finish I put a strip of thin flat licorice around the base of each of the carriages, and stuck on a face I had made from fondant.

The faces for Annie and Clarabel all fondant. Squares of grey, with a pointed nose pressed on. The eyes and pupils were each small balls of white cut in half then gently pressed onto the grey, then even smaller balls of black cut in half and pressed into the white.

At the same time I made a fondant face for Thomas using instructions found on YouTube. which made a big difference to the look of the cake and gave me great pointers used for making the carriage faces too.

The basic shape for Thomas was made from the cake blocks, stuck together with buttercream icing. This was smoothed over using a top layer of blue buttercream. Thomas has a red base plate. In my original cake for Sprog I covered this completely with red fondant then plonked the blue on top. This time I saved a lot of effort by simply wrapping the base plate in red fondant. The roof and windows were all cut from fondant. For the coal store I used whatever was lying around, mostly a couple of skewers and fondant shaping tools to create an impression on the black fondant to look more like coal. To finish him up I added a chimney, fondant over a bit of skewer, and the face, along with Letters of Widget's initial instead of the number 1 or 2 (Thomas' number, or Widget's birthday respectively)

The final touch was cutting train track from licorice, and linking the engine and carriages together.  The cake was a hit, and was all gone by the end of the night.