Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Foot Locker Art Prize entry 2011

'Organic'                                                                      Click image to enlarge
I know that this is not a cake but I did warn you that I would be blogging about art and photoshop as well as all things cake!

This is my entry for the Foot Locker Art Prize and you can visit the competition website here.

I started by painting in watercolour on an A4 sheet of watercolour paper and once it was totally dry I went back over the painting with pen and ink with some of my usual kind of doodles.

Next, I scanned my image into photoshop and played around with the doodled areas in the liquify filter using the 'Bloat' tool. I was looking for an organic look, of say, intestines or varicose veins or the arteries around the heart or other interesting internal body parts!

Then I started playing with filters and effects such as Invert, Colourise and Neon glow.

Neon Glow
Too much fun!

As you can see I duplicated the background layer and rotated it by 180 degrees then reduced the opacity to 50% and rubbed out any bits that were crossing over each other. Lots of other little tweaks took place till I was happy with this.

Finished art work
Nike Air Template

I used the selection tool to select each area of the sneaker in turn, filling in the heel and ankle areas with desaturated panels from the edge of my original art work and used the 'Fresco' filter on the patterned bottom edge. I dodged and burned the edges of each area and added a shadow around the lace holes

Once I had flattened the layers making up the sneaker, I used layer style / blending options / bevel and emboss to give the sneaker a 3D look and Outer Glow / dark purple to help pick out the sneaker from the patterned background.

Too easy!
You can view more of my digital art and photography here

Below is another of my crazy entries to the competition called 'Fractal Foot Fetish' and was produced using fractal-generating software. A fractal is based on a mathematical equation that undergoes iteration.

Please leave a comment if you would like me to explain anything further.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Simple Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes 
(adapted from the Planet Cake recipe)

175g unsalted butter, softened
160g caster sugar
1/2 pod of real vanilla seeds
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs
160g self-raising flour
100g plain flour
200ml milk

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with paper cases.

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and a pinch of salt with electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

sift the flours together. Using a wooden spoon, fold the flour and milk alternately into the creamed mixture.

Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake.

Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Storage: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Cute Sweet Things Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
( This recipe is a combination of my two favourite recipes.)
This all-purpose buttercream has an ultra-silky, stable texture that spreads beautifully over cakes and cupcakes, and can be piped into perfect peaks and patterns.
This recipe makes enough SMB for 12  cupcakes but as you can see from my pictures that I have not used a lot of SMB. For a full high topping you can double the recipe.

2 large egg whites
125g Caster Sugar
125g Unsalted butter/ softened
few drops of essence of your choice (I like to use vanilla)

Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes

To tint buttercream reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color using a toothpick. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved.
Chocolate variation: Using a flexible spatula, fold 65g semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled, into buttercream mixture at the same time as you add the vanilla extract

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Easter Cookies

I made these cookies with my new Vanilla Cookie Recipe (below). This recipe differs from my usual Buttery Sugar Cookie Recipe as it is a little firmer and uses the seeds from real vanilla pods. This is now my favourite cookie recipe!

Vanilla Cookies
Makes 25 medium-sized cookies

200g unsalted soft butter
200g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
400g plain flour
The seeds from one vanilla pod

In the mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds till well mixed and just creamy in texture. Do not overwork or cookies will spread during baking.

Beat in the egg till well combined. 
Add the  flour and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Cover with cling and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Place dough on floured surface and knead briefly.
Roll out to 5mm thick.
Cut out your shapes, then, using a palette knife, lay them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill again for about 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan and bake for 8-10 mins, depending on size, until golden brown at the edges.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool before decorating.

Other flavourings 
For lemon cookies, replace the vanilla with the finely grated zest of 1 lemon.
For chocolate cookies, replace 50g of the plain flour with 50g cocoa powder. Omit the vanilla!

To find out how to decorate the cookies with Royal Icing check out my Pretty Butterfly Cookies Tutorial.

Royal Icing
Traditional royal icing is made with real egg white, however, because of the slight chance of salmonella poisoning, I now prefer to use dried egg white instead.
20g (3/4 oz) dried egg white
90ml (2.5fl oz) cold water
500g (1lb 2 0z) icing sugar

Mix egg white and water in a bowl until smooth.
Sieve the icing sugar into a grease free bowl.
Tip in the egg mixture and beat on the slowest speed for 5 mins until the icing stands up in peaks.