Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Gherkin - the big build

After discovering that the cakes had defrosted and squished down on the broom handle we decided that we should trim it, so that it didn't poke out of the top of the cake.

Rather than cutting it, and covering the cake in sawdust, we carefully unscrewed the wooden post (from underneath the board), and Mr Lisa went into the gargage to cut it. I then began replying to someone on twitter when i noticed the cake lean, and again, and again. I put my phone down and grabbed the cake stack.

Mr Lisa came back and we tried to stick the pole back down the pile of cakes and screw it back in.  BUT this didn't work, the clingfilm which was on the pole had slid off into a big pile at the bottom.

We HAD to dismantle the stack (in blocks of 7), slide the clingfilm out, wrap the pole in tin foil (which works so much better than clingfilm), screw the pole on, and restack the cakes.

This took about 20mins, and made me all slightly panicky and worried that we'd nearly lost him (the gherkin).

Recreating the twisty windows & icing the cake
The next job was to cut strips of greaseproof, pin them to the cake (with cocktail sticks) recreating that quirky twist.  Once that was done all I had to do was take a piece of greaseproof off and replace with a strip of icing (freshly rolled from the pasta machine).

Mr Lisa laid out the strips and got them twisted around the cake, in the correct formation, overlapping evenly and getting it ready for me to take over with the icing (and so he could go out).

That was fine, the icing through the pasta machine, trimmed to the size of my greaseproof strip worked a treat until about 3/4 of the way round when I realised that there were 16 strips of greaseproof.  I was working to 15, grey-grey-black, grey-grey-black.

So rather than start again (which I could have done,  because I bought far too much icing), I carried on, but made the strips wider.  When I got to the beginning again, I replaced some of the first strips with wider strips.

The top-bit was done by Mr Lisa when he came back, I was losing patience with rolling a piece out for the top, cutting the V-shaped notches and getting it to hang, without me making a pigs ear of it, and fortunately Mr Lisa got it to work.

We also noticed that the cakes had sunk even more.

Piping icing
The last bit of the cake involved piping the icing for the diamond windows, in one direction (following the joins of the icing) and then in the other direction, taking the lead from the top of the building and trying to swirl around evenly.  This really showed off my amateurish skills, with my wobbly lines and uneven windows, but to be honest, I loved doing it - it felt so relaxing and I actually heard myself whisper to the cake "I love you"

Mr Gherkin was completed at around 7pm
I have 4 x 250g of grey icing left and 4x250g of black icing left.

I also had my phone camera set up, taking a photo every minute, I'm trying to find a way of putting them all together into some kind of animated show (I need to ask some geeky people about this first).

It weighs an absolute tonne.
But it is the gherkin!!


Monday, 16 July 2012

Cracker 1997-2012

We got you from a farm just outside Stokesley (North Yorks), I say we, you was my brother's dog (& responsibility). My brother had proved that he could look after a couple of pigeons, so a dog wouldn't be much more work. And the main intention would be thatyou would be a farm-dog, living in the pigeon sheds (the ones without pigeons living in them) and keeping guard.

For the first few months you lived in the house, getting used to people and eventually moved to the garden to stand guard and look after the pigeons.

You were never a yappy dog.

Everyone said that of Jack Russell's - they're right yappy dogs. But you never were.

I remember when you came in the house, pre-walk you'd have a daft moment when you'd run round the living room jump on the sofa, run to the end and jump off to finish your lap - it was hilarious to watch.

You did the same when we bumped into that old lady on the fields, she brought her 2 Jack Russells, one was old and stayed on a lead in her hand, every time you went close to it it would growl at you, but the other dog would tease you, and you'd both go off for a mad-run around the field.

Another time I took you for a walk there, in the field behind the old people's home, you went off on a run. Each time you'd come back, but then you didn't. I called your name out loads, and loads and loads. I went home without you, worried sick. Mum asked if I'd lost you, she said she heard me shouting.

We rang one of the nearby farms, and you were there. My brother was friends with one of the lads at the farm, and often took you ratting at the farm, so you knew your way there - you worried me sick!  You left me in that field, running across another 3 fields to get to that farm.

You were a good rat catcher, "shek it Cracks" we'd say, and you'd roll and flip your head to shake (shek) the rat and break its neck dead. If we annoyed you with a soft toy you'd do the same to the toy.

You liked people.
You never growled at people.
You weren't a licky or jumpy dog either, you'd just sniff for any scraps you could scrounge.

You were a master of cunning and escapology.
You went through a spurt of escaping from the garden, and turn up at the pub around the corner or my sisters house. My mum and dad stuck a video camera up in the greenhouse and filmed one night, it didn't take long for you to go to the bottom of the garden, shimmy up the brick wall and drop down a good 10ft into the local primary school playground.  You must have done it a good half a dozen times before dad put a stop to it.

You ended up on a lead with an aerial wire running from the pigeon loft to the greenhouse, there was a huge space in the middle for you to run around.  And when I came to see you I'd let you run loose.  But your escaping days were over.

That didn't stop you doing things like wrapping yourself around a tree, you didn't realise that you could untangle yourself if we went around it in the opposite direction.  Daft dog.

When you stretched out, you sounded like you were saying "hello"

One of your first tricks was to bark, as if to say "please" generally when there was food around.
We'd say, "what do you say?"
And you'd say "woof"
And we'd say "good boy" and give you the food.

You were called Cracker, but you often responded to anything beginning with "Cr" at the start, like Cricket, Crapper, and Cracky.

You were a great footballer, when you had a full sized football to play with you'd nose it around the garden, barking & wagging your tail at it as if to say, come and get it then.  And when you stopped with the ball you'd get your long filmy tongue and try and lick the entire side of the ball. You had a long tongue for a little dog.

You liked tennis balls too, and do a version of 'fetch' which involved getting the ball (usually a tennis ball) and stopping about a metre away, you'd sit with it, and as soon as we approached to get it off you, you'd leggit to a safe distance, stop and wait again. 

You didn't really like water, bath time (used to happen in the house) but we found that we spent that much time picking you up and putting you back IN the bath it was easier doing it outside in a baby bath in the yard.

You were a big softy really, I once took you for a walk and we walked past Boris a local cat who lived nearby.  Boris curved his back up, hissed at you and then went for you, you just fell onto your back in to submission, it was very embarrassing, I had to pick you up and walk aoof with you tucked under my arm, until we were a safe distance away.

My brother once had a couple of ferrets, they were good fun. If you let them loose on the lawn you'd have to watch that they didn't run off. Normally they'd catch you and annoy you, when they got too boisterous and you'd put them in their place.

You were a lovely calm, quiet dog. Not jumpy, not yappy.

Just a lovely, stinky, friendly dog.

You loved a good belly rub and whatever goodies we could pinch from the fridge for you.

You were old, you weren't well, it was better going to a vets than anything else.

We loved you Cracks xx


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Cakebook 2012 - The big event

Today was Cakebook 2012, at Gateshead Stadium (a change of venue due to the amount of rain we've had recently), the change of venue didn't put the bakers off, and didn't put the visitors off either.  It turned out very well actually.

The Gherkin was carefully wrapped in clingfilm, loaded into the footwell of the car (and I sat beside it in the back, keeping it steady as we made the journey from NE25 to NE10.

I felt kind of sad, knowing that he wouldn't be coming home...A bit like when you take a pet to the vets to be put down...

But then I thought about how much joy he would bring by being at Cakebook and being EATEN at cakebook and told myself that he would be fulfilling his destiny.

The event was organised superbly (as always): cakes arrived, booked in, had their photos done and were then positioned on a giant map of the UK, when the regions were 'complete' they were finished with icing roads, bourbon biscuit pavements, icing cars and hundreds and thousands 'space'.

There were various entertainers: men with knitted beards, live music, cooking demonstrations for kids, and a variety of food stalls.  The food sellers probably did a cracking trade, I had a great tasty burger from The Feathers Inn, but waiting 20mins for a coffee wasn't fun, especially as the coffee wasn't great.

The cakebook map taking shape, this is 'down south'

Cake bakers voted for their favourites, won by Shakespeare's The Globe, followed by Ambleside (decorated by Lindsey (who bakes at my CCC events) and her friend),  followed by Glastonbury Festival.

Let them eat CAKE

IMAG0338 Bakers were invited onto the map to serve their cakes to the attendees.  This is where Mr Gherkin took centre stage...I took the first slice, from top to bottom....Gently wiggled the knife to let the slice fall out, and slowly there was a hushed "wow" going around the venue, Mr Gherkin's rainbow cakes fell out - for all to see, and everyone wanted a piece of him!!

Lots of people came over for a slice of the stripy cake, It surprised quite a few people, and it was nice to hear that they thought the cake was tasty too.  It had the same effect as the 'practice' cake I did for my niece's 4th birthday, her Belle Cake. This made me all warm and happy inside.

Mr Gherkin defintitely fulfilled his destiny, to look like the gherkin, and WOW the crowds with his amazing technicolour interior....I'd like to think that the walls inside the real building are painted in similar rainbow colours.

All in all, a great event and I'm still smiling...

IMAG0283 1342205600765 1342288548810
Plans Production The Gherkin

A few thank yous...
My contribution to the day wouldn't have been possible without the following:
  • My oven (for baking all of those cakes)
  • My garden (for producing the strawberries, which made the jam that filled the cakes)
  • The pasta machine (for rolling the icing)
  • The rotating cheeseboard (which made icing the cake so much easier)
  • Mr Lisa (for cake engineering & maths)
  • Kate ( for advice on using the spray-glaze
  • My dad (for constructing the cakeboard & broom-handle)
  • EAT Festival people for organising the event
  • Everyone who came to the event

My photos from this years event are in my flickr account: The Gherkin Cakebook 2012
And you can read up on all of my tweets about #CakebookGherkin here:!/search/realtime/%23cakebookgherkin

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sunkist orange (TV advert - remembered in the supermarket last week)

I was quite suprised when I saw this in Sainsburys, I'd not seen it for years.  And to celebrate, I sang the TV advert to Mr Lisa....

"The sun comes up - day begins
And it won't be long
'til we're drinking it in...
Drink it in the su-u-u-n, Sunkist is the one.."

That was the TV advert for Sunkist, circa 1990-something.

And now that I'm writing this post, I've actually looked the original one up, and I was right (word for word!!)  Here it is - enjoy xx

Who's nibbled my gherkin????

who's eaten my cake
I came downstairs this morning and saw this....

I thought I'd had a visit from a small brown furry creature (ot Mr Lisa with the midnight munchies), but after counting the layers, I still had 28 cakes.

It's just that when they've defrosted and settled they've squished right down.

To fix this, I need to trim my wooden spike, by carefully removing it from the cake. It's screwed in from the bottom of the wooden board.

We could just get a dremmel & slice off the top, bit then you'd get a load of sawdust in your cake and it wouldn't taste great.

Good job I hadn't started the icing bit.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Things that parents say..."I'm babysitting tonight"

A colleague said "I'm babysitting tonight" - he was talking about his own child.
When I asked, "babysitting? your own child? are you getting paid?"
He said yeh, "I get pizza and whatever I can drink from the drinks cabinet"

Cakebook Gherkin construction (day1)

Construction began this evening....
After wrapping the cake stand in clingfilm, I began the fun part, threading the cakes on in blocks of seven...The first block


Then the next layer, fourteen


Another block, and another! That's 28 there - count them if you don't believe me.

Then the cakes were carved (by Mr Lisa) to create that gherkin-top


And the final job for the night was covering the entire cake in buttercream.


There we go, all done!

Tools down, beer open....

Also available via: Cakebook

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The gherkin & the pasta machine

Pasta MachineIt's only 1 week until Cakebook 2012 and although I've got my cakes baked, my icing bought and my cakeboard, I wanted to have a practise/try of the icing for the cake.

I have grey icing and black icing for the windows and black icing for the pointy top.
I have light grey icing for the pavement (my cakeboard) and some lego people to stand around the base of my cake.

What I haven't had a practise with is rolling/laying the icing on the windows.
As you can see, the windows seem to look like they twist around the building, and I want to try and recreate this.

I decided early on that I was not going to make individual windows, because it would probably drive me round the bend and make my eyes bleed. So I've been experimenting with strips of icing.

IMAG0596The Pasta Machine Experiment...
My other issue is that my icing needs to be rolled the same thickness all the way around - so I've been playing with the pasta machine for this - which actually works quite well.
Although each piece needs trimming along the edges, it does give quite a good effect.  The pasta machine also gives me a really good long strip too.

Wrapped around a bottle it actually looks quite good.

I've scored the other windows in and will probably finish (on the day) with piped white icing.

I need to have the same width strips of icing too - a simple calculation based on the circumference of cake will tell me how wide they need to be, and I'll make myself a template to use for consistency.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Last night I dreamt about Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson is a guy from work, I've not seen him for a while since our team moved from ISS to Computing Science (& relocated offices at the same time).

Last night I dreamt that Paul Thompson had an evening job as a chef in a local restaurant, which also offered takeaway.

I rang up for tagine and lamb shank (takeaway). They were cooked beautifully, Paul was a great chef.