Saturday, 24 October 2009

Hallowe'en fever

Crumbs, what a week. And an even busier one looming.

Who'd have thought Hallowe'en was such a big deal here now? I'm all for it; Hallowe'en in Canada was one of my favourite bits growing up. And of course the desire for Hallowe'en cakes is great news for my fledgling business. However, I am a little surprised just how successful it looks like being.

First up - my Hallowe'en cake as part of my course:

I think it's pretty cool. The black glitter on the bat wings doesn't really show up on the photo, but it did look good. The lads were delighted with the web, spider and bat.

Miss B, however, gasped in delight. "It's for me! It's got a B for my name! And the other letter! That's my name on my cake you made for me. I will share it with all of us. It is my beautiful scary cake!"
She did indeed share it - I fed 8 kids their dinner last night with this cake for dessert. A big hit.

I'm really pleased with it. It's covered completely and properly with no cracks, creases or patch jobs. Smoothly covering a cake had giving me almost as much trouble in the past as making piping bags did earlier this month. It feels good to have acquired both skills.

So, I've 4 assorted Hallowe'en cakes to do - one a pumpkin, one a spider, 2 however I feel like making them, all due Friday and Saturday next week. And also a Neopolitan traybake, same time.
The Hallowe'en cupcakes have been really popular too. First interest was in the jack-o-lanterns. Then I did spiders made from M&Ms, and my fickle public (well, my kids and their pals) dropped pumpkins in favour of sweetie creepy crawlies. Not sure i can blame them, although Spider webs are a bit more of a faff to do.

The deli will be stocking them by the dozen from Monday, plus 3 private orders for, inevitably, Saturday.

If anyone fancied doing these themselves, it's pretty straightforward.

Start with a basic recipe by tipping -

125g sugar

125g soft butter

125 g self raising flour

2 eggs

splash of vanilla

into a mixer and whizzing it about until it's a nice smooth batter. A food processor would also be grand, or you could do it 'properly' by creaming the butter and sugar together by hand and adding the eggs and vanilla then flour and beating until smooth. Bake in paper cases in at 190 degrees for about 18 minutes or so. It's important not to overfill the paper cases, because you need to have space at the top of the case to fill with glace icing.

When the cakes are cool, whack off any inconvenient dome bits to give you a level surface. Eat these as you go, stick them in a bag in the freezer and use them in trifles, or sandwich them together with a blob of icing and give them to your incredibly appreciative kids. This is L's favourite part of having a mum who bakes.
Mix up some glace icing by sifting about 200g icing sugar into bowl and adding very small amounts of water or lemon juice and stirring well. Add orange food colouring (or red and yellow, as your primary school will have taught you) if you want to make jack-o-lanterns, but only add a tiny bit at a time. I split it onto 2 bowls and do a white bunch and an orange bunch, but do what suits you.

When the icing is smooth but not runny, spoon enough into each cake case to fill it to the top and leave it to set for as long as you can (makes the next bit easier.)

I'm assuming that you are doing this as a novice (you) or lazy bones (me) really, so I'm not going down the "make your royal icing, make your piping bag" route.

Using ready bought black writing icing pipe triangular faces on the orange topped cakes. On the white ones, pipe 4 curving lines close together and pop an M&M in the centre (with the letter m facing down, of course) and then touch it gently to dot two little eyes on it. You can pipe a web or a pair of spiders or a thread the spider is dangling from, or whatever you imagination suggests.

Pendant bit - yes, I do know spiders have 8 eyes not 2. But they just didn't look as appealing that way. Plus M&Ms are pretty small, so it would be rather crowded. Oh that reminds me, you can use Smarties or Minstrels or whatever if you prefer; I just like the size and shape and colour of M&Ms for this job.

Further Pendant bit - Despite what this spellchecker thinks, Hallowe'en has an apostrophe in it. Well, it did when I was taught to spell by Mrs McGugan in Central Park Primary School, and I see no reason to doubt her. She's been right about most stuff so far. It's because it was Hallow's E'en, short for Even, itself a shortened form of Evening. So there you go.

But if you spell it Halloween I will still love you.

Did I mention we are hosting a party on Saturday? We are. I arranged it with help from L before any cake orders had come in at all. I'm trying not to panic. Actually, I'm trying not to think about it at all. Heigh ho!

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