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I made this cake as one of my contributions to a collaborative art project called Losing Altitude. It's an art book featuring the works of over 50 artists, all depicting endangered birds. 

For my culinary art contribution I picked the Tasmanian masked owl (Tyto novaehollandiae spp. castanops). This species is the largest of our four species of masked owl. Habitat loss is of particular concern for these guys as they den in tree hollows. It can take 150-400 years for a tree to form a hollow large enough for the owl (and all large species of raptors and arboreal mammals) meaning the conservation of old growth forest is critical. If you've had your eye on Australia lately, you'll know our government is trying to delist some of Tasmanians old growth forest from its World Heritage Listing so they can log it. Head on over to my blog to read an extended rant about this, and how you can do something about it. 

As for the cake, I usually don't include anything inedible in my cakes, but birds kind of necessitate it. It's comprised of a base cake, a wire frame, a rice crispy platform near the base of the tail and carved chocolate cake above. That was all slathered in chocolate ganache before applying the feathers.

The feathers were weeks of work. Each feather was hand cut, embossed then painted by hand. I don't know how many hundreds [maybe thousands] of feathers are in it, but making them all consumed my life. I made them as anatomically correct as possible, ensuring the flight feathers were appropriately asymmetrical. 

Loads more photos and details at my blog

Here's the other piece I contributed to Losing Altitude: Helmeted Honeyeater by cakecrumbs

Check out the group :iconlosingaltitude: to see what the other artists made for the book. 

Other cakeys:

Blue-ringed Octopus Cake by cakecrumbs Ocarina of Time :: Mad [Deku] Scrub by cakecrumbs Jupiter Structural Layer Cake by cakecrumbs Skyward Sword :: Furnix Cake by cakecrumbs

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Having pumpkin in sweet things is pretty much frowned upon here in Aus. Pumpkin is seen as a savoury thing exclusively. So with Halloween approaching I thought I'd channel all that American influence into a weekend of pumpkin baking.

This was the first result.

These are spiced pumpkin cupcakes, which by themselves hot out of the oven are insanely good. But I can't leave well enough alone so I topped them with a dual-coloured cinnamon buttercream. I then decorated them with floaty ghosts made from choc-cinnamon truffles.

The recipe, as well as a tute for getting the two tone piping effect, is over at the blog: cakecrumbs.me/2013/10/29/ghost…

Moar Halloween:




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This is a 8x5.5 inch leather journal with a hand carved and hand-painted design.
Hand sewn headbands and handmade marbled paper for the end sheets.
White high grade drawing paper for the text block and buffed out to a low sheen.
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made for the October Artisan Crafts contest by #CRArtisanCrafts maytel.deviantart.com/journal/…

I found a nice candlestick in a thrifth store some time ago and planned to stick a pringles can on it to make a base for a castle. But I never found the inspiration and left them lying in a drawer. Then I saw the CRArtisanCrafts autumn colours challenge and found my inspiration and got to work. Finished just in time :-)
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Scuse the bodgy picture. Can't seem to get it to come out clear.

So, Project Educate were holding a craft contest where you had to try an artisan craft you've never done before. Half the challenge was finding something I've never tried. As a kid I delved into everything I could, and in high school I took every artisan elective available, so even ceramics and woodwork were out. Up until last year, I worked at Spotlight (a massive craft/habby/furnishings/etc store here in Australia) and was the only crafty person in the craft department. So everyone came to me with questions and it became my business to learn anything I didn't already know. When I say I'm a jack of all trades, master of none, I really mean it.

So I had to get really specific. Then, when browsing Pinterest, I saw a quilling piece and it dawned on me that I've never tried that before. I caught the flu and had some time off Uni, so I thought I could knock this project off on one of my sick days. Two weeks later, I finally finished it.

This took so ridiculously long to finish, and I'm still not entirely sure it doesn't need to be filled in a little more. But it's due today so I'll stop obsessing.

I wanted to do a rainbow monogram, but instead of it just being the same shaped pieces filling the space, I also wanted each colour to have its own theme or "thing". I tried a huge range of different techniques because I wanted it to be so full of detail that there's something new everywhere you look.

I chose the word "inspire" both because this contest inspired me to try something I have never tried before, and also because I wanted it to have the dual purpose of providing motivation for us around the house once it was done.

I'm a kinaesthetic learner, so I didn't really follow any tutorials. I googled a few images and got the basic gist of it and just dove in. That doesn't really help you guys at all, but it is so easy to pick up if you guys want to try this I'm sure there are dozens of tutes out there to help.

The piece measures 60x20cm. I had no quilling tools and my local craft store didn't sell them, so I cut strips of paper out of card stock and used a needle that I cut the top of the eye off to twist the strands. For a quilling comb, I found an old nit comb in that bathroom that served a similar purpose. For shaping things like the blossoms and bodies of the butterfly, I used some of my fondant tools.

WIP here: [link]
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The heatwaves we're experiencing here in Aus have not only stopped my baking in its tracks, but basically all forms of cooking. Which is one of a few reasons why the blog's on extended hiatus. 

But the week before the last major heatwave, my cousin asked me to make a Mike Wazowski cake for her son's 3rd birthday. The forecast showed a promising run of weather so I said yes. Then, the day of fondant working, the forecast skipped a few days ahead and the hot weather suddenly arrived. It turned what shouldn't have been a difficult cake into a minefield of issues. Limp, stretchy cracking fondant over a melting and shifting layer of ganache is hard enough on a regular cake, but worse on a carved cake. I ended up sticking to a very simple design and still struggled achieving just that. It reminded me of what it was like to be an amateur at this. 

The only part that wasn't painful was painting the eye. I've been experimenting with painting with food dye and am starting to get better at getting the colours how I want. Now I just need to leech someone's actual painting skills from them so I can paint all the things -- any volunteers?

Specs: Cake is stacks of chocolate mudcake, carved and covered in chocolate ganache then whipped chocolate ganache. That's all covered in marshmallow fondant. The eye was painted using gel paste food colouring.

See more at the blog post

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Art project
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This is a cake I made for a kid's birthday party. Grug is a character from a series of Australian illustrated children's books by Ted Prior.

Cake is 4 mudcakes stacked, carved, then covered in whipped chocolate ganache and decorated with fondant. Grug is a furry haystack-looking creature and I wanted to make him really fuzzy, so I used a sugar gun to pipe strands of fondant which I then attached to the cake. Very time consuming work, but I think the effect was worth it

More photos and deets at the blog: cakecrumbs.me/2013/12/12/grug-…
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Every time the contestants on MasterChef get to do some crazy dessert by a world-class pastry chef, I decide I'm gonna make it. Then I look at the ingredients list and decide I either can't afford to or would need a professional kitchen to attempt it. When Bernard Chu brought along his Lolly Bag Cake this year, I knew I'd stop at nothing to make it. I saved the cake for my sister's birthday last weekend and was so excited when the day finally rolled around.

The cake is a celebration of the typical Australian mixed lolly bag. A lot of the lollies were things we grew up with, buying from milkbars or the school canteen. Each invokes a thousand different childhood memories.

From top to bottom the layers are:
:bulletpink: Spearmint Leaves Buttercream: made using the soft jelly spearmint leaf lollies
:bulletpink: Bananas Joconde: a joconde sponge soaked in a syrup made from banana lollies
:bulletpink: Musk-mallow: Marshmallow made from musk sticks
:bulletpink: Chocolate Jaffa Ganache: ganache infused with a mandarin concentrate
:bulletpink: Freckles Crunch: a choc hazelnut layer with 100s & 1000s, popping candy and pailleté feuilletine
:bulletpink: Another bananas joconde layer, coated with dark chocolate
The whole thing is then glazed with a ganache made from Redskin lollies. I then chose to decorate it with white chocolate spirals and jaffa lollies.


I made a few changes from the Bernard Chu recipe. Biggest change is making it round rather than rectangle. I opted to use dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate as I thought it didn't need the extra sweetness. The Masterchef version has two mint layers and a different order, however the version Bernard Chu sells at his restaurant, LuxBite, has one mint layer and the same order I have here. I decided to mirror the original as I thought it would be better balanced in flavour than the TV version.

I changed a few things about the recipe to make it more home-kitchen friendly. I also ended up making 4 of the ingredients as they were nigh impossible to get, or at least get at a reasonable price.

You'll find my version of Bernard Chu's recipe, as well as step by step photos and loads more over at my blog. I've also provided a link to the original recipe and links to where you can get/import all the ingredients, or how to make some yourself.

This cake also marks exactly 4 years since my first cake decorating attempt. I almost didn't want to do this cake for that event as I tend to use the milestone as a measurement of how far I've come and thought I should do an original recipe. But given how technical Bernard's recipe is and how I was able to alter it and troubleshoot with no problems the whole way along, it's still a nice indication of progress.

Here's the previous three years worth of cake progression:

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