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Twins

Cake/ Twins

Blue Ombre Smash Cakes – Ethan and Harley’s First Birthday!

The big day has come and gone, and now I can finally sit back and relax ahhhhh…
A few days ago I posted the baking and freezing of the smash cakes: http://thermotwinning.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/baking-and-freezing-smash-cakes-ethan.html
This is the decorating (FUN) part of the SMASH CAKES!!
Smash Cakes!
The day before the boys birthday party, I took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost in the morning. Whilst defrosting, I made the buttercream icing.
I actually started making the buttercream icing in the Thermomix, but it couldn’t keep up with the huge amount  that I was making for both the smash cakes, and both the ‘main’ cakes which ended up being 9 KILOS OF BUTTERCREAM ICING!! (6kg Icing Sugar and 3kg butter). Sorry Thermie (I ended up getting error messages for overloading it lol!), but my old faithful Kitchenaid turned out to be my saviour for the day!! It was actually easier to spoon the buttercream right out of the bowl (rather than try and get it out from under the blades of the Thermomix) and make larger amounts.
I made the buttercream icing using a 1:2 ratio of butter to icing sugar. No need to measure/weigh anything – I just chucked in a 500gm block of butter (room temp. cut into cubes), beat for about 30 seconds, then interrupted the beating about 4 times to progressively add and beat in a 1kg packet of icing sugar. I then beat till light, fluffy and when you can see the ‘yellowy’ butter colour has turned white. I didn’t add any vanilla bean/flavouring to it since it would be a waste since the cake is meant to be ‘smashed’! …and the boys wouldn’t know any different lol!
Kitchenaid vs Thermomix
Whilst the buttercream icing was beating, I unwrapped the 4 layers of cake (x2) and cut the tops off to give it an even flat top (…the cake tops were great to snack on whilst I made the cake!!).
Defrosting and unwrapping the smash cake layers
Cutting the tops off the cakes
 I then started layering the cakes with from the darkest blue cake, blue, light blue then up to the white cake. I secured the bottom cake layer with melted white chocolate between the cake board and the cake. (FYI the cake boards are $10 round chopping boards from Kmart)!
Securing the bottom layer of cake to the board with white chocolate
I secured the cake layers with about a 1cm layer of buttercream.
Cake layers with buttercream icing
Then filled in the ‘gaps’ and covered the entire cake with a crumb layer then put in the fridge to set. The crumb layer is like a primer to ‘paint’ on the outer decorative layer of buttercream so you don’t get any stray crumbs with the finished product. 
Crumb Layer
Whilst the crumb layer set in the fridge, I piped out lettering of the boys names with candy melts (I put some in a ziplock bag, then microwaved in 20-30 second intervals, checked and squished it around in between, until it was all melted, then cut the tip of a corner to pipe out). I piped out the names many times and in upper case and lower case as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to use until the final product, and did several for ‘back ups’ and so I could choose the best looking out of them.
Lettering with melted Candy Melts
Once the crumb layer was set (just needs to be cold and not sticky when you touch it), I mixed up another batch of buttercream, and divided into 4 – white and 3 varying shades of blue. I used Royal Blue Wilton Gel food colouring and added the colour progressively with a dipped toothpick.
Mixing shades of blue buttercream icing
I started from the bottom of the cake, with the darkest blue colour to correspond with the darkest blue colour cake underneath. I then added the different shades of blue the topped with white and spread it together. I then used the tip of a small metal spatula and lightly run it around the whole cake to create a rounded indentation (forgot to take a photo!).
Outer buttercream ombre icing
 
Mixing/integrating the shades together
 
I then topped with a wooden cake topper, added my piped out candy melts red lettering and placed an iced sugar cookie that I made a few days ago: http://thermotwinning.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/iced-sugar-cookies-ethan-and-harley.html
Finished!
Ethan and Harley’s Smash Cakes
To further add to the Nautical Theme, I blitzed some Scotch Finger biscuits in the Thermomix (on turbo for a few times) to create ‘sand’ that I placed around the bottom of the cake.
Ethan and Harley’s Smash Cakes with the Smash cake backdrop
The smash cake setting consisted of the smash cake backdrop I made last week (http://thermotwinning.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/smash-cake-backdrop-decorations-ethan.html) and an artificial grass mat I bought from Bunnings. My husband attached the smash cake backdrop to chairs as it was too heavy to be taped up on the wall.

The boys were very cute with the smash cake session. They are usually very destructive boys who love to eat everything and anything, however they had stage fright on the day and ‘picked’ at the cake. I had to come in and stick their hands and feet into it!!
 Smash Cake Session
Showing the boys how to destroy their cake
My very neat and tidy boys more interested in their cake toppers than the cake!
As they didn’t SMASH their cake, their big cousins later came in and smashed it for them! 🙂 🙂
 Their big cousins smashing their cakes!
Success! The cakes are ‘smashed’!!!
Cake/ Thermomix/ Twins

Baking and Freezing the Smash Cakes – Ethan and Harley Turn 1! (4 day party countdown)

Today I baked Ethan and Harley’s smash cakes to freeze, to defrost and decorate the day before the party.

Smash cakes are generally a colourful layered cake covered in buttercream, and usually in pastel colours, as when the babies ‘smash’ into the cake it looks so cute with the pastel coloured cake and buttercream all over their face, hands and clothes.

To go with the theme and my cute 2 boys, I decided to do a 4 layer blue ombre cake. I have made many pink ombre cakes as I’ve posted earlier, http://www.thermotwinning.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/pink-ombre-cake.html but have never made it in other colours, and I have only made them with a 20cm round baking tin. As I am making one for each of my boys, a 20cm cake to ‘smash’ into is way too big, so I used 13cm round baking tins which is a ‘cuter’ size for a 1 year old!

Blue Ombre Cake layers ready to freeze
(to decorate the day before the party)

With my previously baked pink ombre cakes, I used a butter cake recipe as the mixture is a great base to colour with the different shades of pink, and it is nice and dense to hold the buttercream. However, I wanted a cake which is lighter/fluffier for my boys little hands to get into and as the cake is much smaller than usual, it would not be so much of a worry with holding the buttercream if it was a lighter mixture.

Puritans Vanilla Cake by Serena:

http://cantstopbaking.com/tag/cant-stop-baking-vanilla-cake/

It is the first cake I have tried making with vegetable shortening (instead of butter/oil) and apparently that is the secret to getting a light and fluffy cake!

I need a total of 8 layers – 2 x white, 2 x baby blue, 2 x light blue, 2 x blue to create the 2 x blue ombre cakes. It is a pretty specific recipe so I made 1 x batch at a time (to divide into 4 cake layers).

It is no doubt one of the more complicated cake recipes I’ve ever read but she’s made it very simply to make with the instructions recommending you pre weigh the ingredients in 7 separate bowls, so with each step you just add in whatever is in the pre prepared bowls:

 

Ingredients pre-prepared into 7 bowls

Once the cake mixture is made, I distributed the batter between 4 bowls and weighed them so it was evenly distributed 4 ways.

 

Cake batter weighed into 4 equal portions

I then coloured 3 of the bowls of batter into 3 varying shades of blue. I used Wiltons Gel Food Colour in Sky Blue. I just dipped a toothpick into the gel colouring bottle and mixed through the batter, adding a toothpick of gel colouring at a time to build up the colour.

 

Colouring 3 x batches of batter in varying shades of blue
(leaving 1 batch white)

I only have 2 x 13cm round cake tins, so I just baked 2 x colour batches of batter at a time.

Bake 1 x colour batch per 13cm tin
I baked the 2 x 13cm tins for 25 minutes at 180 degrees. Once the cakes were all baked, I let them cool and wrapped them to freeze like I did with my ‘main cake’ cakes I made a few days ago – http://www.thermotwinning.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/baking-and-freezing-cakes-ethan-and.html
Cakes to be cooled, and wrapped, to freeze in preparation for decorating

 

Sweets/ Thermomix/ Twins

Iced Sugar Cookies – Ethan and Harley Turn 1! (6 day party countdown)

To go with the theme, I thought that iced sugar cookies would be perfect, and I always wanted to personalise it by using Ethan and Harley’s first letters of their names and the No. 1 for their first birthday.
Iced Sugar Cookies
I started off by making the sugar cookie dough.
I used the cookie recipe as follows:
Sugar Cookie Dough

 

Roll into a ball

 

Cling wrap and put in the fridge to harden
After about an hour or 2, I rolled the dough between 2 pieces of baking paper and cut out the biscuits with my cookie cutters. I bought the nautical cookie cutters off Ebay, and the E, H and 1 from my local cake shop.

 

Cutting E, H and 1 cookies

 

E, H and 1 cookies ready to bake

 

Cutting the nautical themed cookies

 

Nautical cookies ready to bake
I baked them at 180 degrees for about 12 minutes.
Baked E, H and 1 cookies
Baked Nautical Themed cookies
It was pretty easy to cut the cookies, but the nautical themed ones were a bit fiddly with the smaller parts of the cookie shapes – like the anchor and the wheel shapes.
The next day I iced the cookies.

I used a ready to go pre-mixed Royal Icing mixture. I have made Royal Icing the normal way before using egg whites, but I didn’t want to be left with heaps of leftover egg yolks, so bought this mixture instead! For a 500gm mixture you just need to mix in 75ml of water.
I mixed the mixture up in my Kitchenaid (the instructions say not to use a food processer, so I figured a Thermomix was in that category!), and split the mixture into 3. One to keep white, and the other 2 to colour with blue and red gel food colourings. Gel colours make the colours more vibrant than the liquid ones and you use a tiny bit so it doesn’t affect the texture of the icing.
Royal Icing ready to colour

 

White, Blue and Red Royal Icing

Once mixed, I spooned them into disposable piping bags sitting inside large glass cups. I used disposable ones as I only have 1 small frosting tip so I didn’t want to have to keep interchanging and washing it between the colours.

Spoon icing into piping bags

Once the icing is all in the piping bags, snip a small hole at the end, and start by outlining the cookies, then filling them in. The royal icing mixture should spread out and give a smooth surface.

Outline cookies with icing

 

Fill in cookies with icing
Depending on the shape, once adding a base colour, I iced further patterns etc on top layering on the colours.
Nautical Themed Sugar Cookies
These are just a few of the cookies, I still have 1 more batch to go – it is super fiddly and does take some time but it is certainly worth the effort!!

 

Craft/ Twins

DIY Nautical Themed Party Food Labels – Ethan and Harley Turn 1! (6 day party countdown)

To fit in with the boy’s nautical themed party, I decided to make labels using the old school origami paper boats!
Paper Boat Party Labels
I used A5 sized brown paper, and cupcake toppers, both from the local party shop.
A5 sized paper and cupcake toppers
Despite it being such a simple origami task, probably one of the first ones I learnt as a kid, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve made them and had to look it up! For those who have also forgotten, here’s a step by step tutorial:
Step by step tutorial – Paper Boats
To get the flag in, use the ‘toothpick’ end of the cupcake topper to pierce the paper from the bottom to create a small hole, then slide the cupcake topper on the top!
Putting the cupcake topper flag in
You could use them for any sort of party (kids/adults) and just swap up the cupcake topper flag to suit the party! It’s so cheap and easy to do! You could even just keep the paper boats and reuse for future parties with the different cupcake topper flags/labelling.
You could also get anyone in the family to help, and could be a craft session for the kids to get involved in the party preps!
Enjoy! 🙂
Craft/ Twins

DIY Smash Cake Backdrop Decorations – Ethan and Harley Turn 1 (8 day party countdown)

Today I made the backdrop decorations for the boys smash cake set.
Smash cakes are a recent trend for 1st birthday parties where the birthday boy/girl is sat in front of a cake (usually layered with a pastel buttercream) and ‘smashes’ into it. Sometimes it’s when they are sitting in their high chair, and sometimes it’s on the ground with a colourful backdrop which is great for photos.
I have no idea what this backdrop is specifically called (let me know if you know?), but it’s a whole lot of material knotted around a rope to form a colourful backdrop.
Smash Cake Backdrop
The boys are having a nautical theme for their party so I chose 5 different types of fabrics, with the 3 nautical colours (blue/white/red). You could choose any types of fabric, even just 1 type, but I think it creates a lot of texture and colour with a selection of fabrics with a coordinated colour palette. I had 1 metre of each type of material cut so that when it is tied onto the rope it would have a height of 50cm. 
You could use any rope to tie them onto, but I chose a rope I got from Bunnings (like the anchor rope), and I also found wooden anchors from Spotlight to add to it too. I cut the piece of rope about 3 -4 metres, so that the fabric could cover a length of about 1.5 – 2 metres with excess rope to attach to the wall. I made it really wide as it has to fit 2 babies in front of it, however if it was just for 1 baby, I would make it narrower with a width of about 1 metre.
Rope, fabric and wooden shapes
With each piece of fabric, I cut it into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide. You could either cut the length with scissors. However, some cotton fabrics you can snip about 1cm from the edge and tear the rest of the way, so I tore it – sooo much easier and faster than cutting every single piece! AND it’s fun!
Snip approx. 1cm from the edge
When tearing, there will be some loose threads on the edge, so you will need to smoothen the piece of material and pull off the excess bits of thread.
After tearing the fabric with excess thread
 Smoothen fabric and pull off excess thread
Repeat with all the material, and order the fabric prints in order of how you want to place them (I put them on the back of a chair).
Place lengths of fabric in order
With your pre cut rope/string, loop the length of fabric by folding in half, and looping the ends around the rope through the middle loop as illustrated:
 
Fold fabric in half

Loop ends of fabric around the rope and in between the middle loop of fabric


Pull fabric through and tighten
Repeat with all pieces of fabric and push together so it sits tightly together on the rope. I then knotted the ends of the rope to finish the ends off.
Loop all the fabric around the rope and tie a knot at the ends
I then tied the wooden anchors onto the fabric to go with the nautical theme.
Add wooden anchors
Finished product – ready for the smash cake session!
This was the first time I’ve made something like this and was inspired by all the creative backdrops on Pinterest. I wanted something really ‘rugged’ and boyish but still suitable for my little baaabies (which are growing up so quickly!!) as I feel like I have overdone the bunting and tissue flower decorations.
It was sooo easy to do, and I started and finished it in one day with a lot of errands and running around in between. Skill level: Beginner! 🙂 🙂
Cake/ Thermomix/ Twins

Baking and Freezing Cakes – Ethan and Harley Turn 1! (9 day party countdown)

My boys are turning a big ONE in 8 days so thought I better start cracking with their main cakes to freeze now, so they are all ready to defrost and start decorating the day before the party.
Making cakes to freeze
(PS – sorry my pics are bad, the cakes look blackened and burnt! They are cooked perfectly, but the tops always get a tad crispy as my oven is a furnace! I’ll be chopping the tops off anyway when I assemble the cakes.)
Twins are double the love, double the fun, double the trouble and DOUBLE THE CAKES!! And with the new smash cake trend for 1 year old birthdays, it’s not 2 cakes, but 4 cakes that I have to make! (I don’t want them to share one as I think it’s important that they have their own every year!…though that would be easier!)
Today I thought I’d tackle their ‘main cakes’. I want them to be huge and impressive, and ‘healthy’ so each cake will consist of 4 layers alternating with the Magic Bean Cake and Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake (= 8 cakes!).

Magic Bean Cake Recipe:
I doubled each batch of this recipe then distributed between 2 x 20cm cake tins and baked 2 at a time. I can still smell the whiff of red kidney beans up my nose, but by the end of mixing it up it’s just like a good old chocolate cake!
If you don’t have a Thermomix you could make this up with a food processor and hand held/electric beater. The first part of the recipe is to blitz the red kidney beans mixture and set aside to add later. the rest of the recipe is just like a normal cake recipe with beating the eggs, sugar etc.
I did not use coffee in this, just water, since it’ll be eaten by kids.
Magic Bean Cake ready for the oven
Magic Bean Cake out of the oven
Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake Recipe:
This recipe is very specific with the temperatures to cook the sweet potato/caramel mixture), so I made one at a time, making 2 before putting 2 in the oven at the same time. After cooking the sweet potato, the recipe indicates to blitz twice and scrape down. I got lazy on my last 2 cakes and didn’t do this, but it looked pretty much the same when I was pouring it in the tins, but I’ll have to wait for the boys birthday party to see if the taste/texture is ok!
Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake ready for the oven
Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake out of the oven
Cleaning the bowl
I find that the Sweet Potato Caramel cake with all the heating up of the caramel mixture always leaves the bottom of the bowl really dirty and hard to clean, so luckily after making my 8 cakes, I had used 28 eggs = 28 eggshells to use with freshly picked lemons from the backyard, to do the lemon and eggshell wash:
1. Place lemons and eggshells in bowl and blitz 5 seconds/Speed 7.
2. Pour water to cover blade.
3. Set – 30 minutes/60 degrees/Speed 1.
Result = Sparkly brand new bowl!
Dirty bowl
Lemon and Eggshells
Brand New Bowl!
Freezing the cakes
To freeze cakes in preparation to be decorated:
1. Wait for each cake to completely cool.
2. Double wrap with plastic cling wrap.
3. Double wrap with foil.
4. Place in a large zip lock bag and label.
5. Place flat in the freezer.
Cling wrap, foil then ziplock bag
The day before the party, I plan to defrost the cakes first thing in the morning (takes a few hours), then start decorating.
With 8 cakes made before midday with all my mummy duties, I just loooove my Thermomix!!!!!!
Craft/ Twins

Home made scarves – Loom Knitting Kits

My ID twin boys, Ethan and Harley were 11 months old yesterday!

 Ethan and Harley – 11 months
I’ve taken weekly shots of them since they were born, this week they are wearing scarves that I made with a loom knitting kit.
I bought this kit at Lincraft for around $30 which includes 4 diff sized looms, a needle and metal hook. I used the small pink loom for the boys baby scarves, and I made a matching one for Daddy with the slightly wider green loom.
It is super easy, I made the 2 small scarves for the boys in just ONE day!
The instructions that come with the pack are sketchy so I just youtubed how to start and finish the scarves. I have so far made 4 scarves and 2 place mats (1 half done as pictured in the middle of the pink loom).
There’s something satisfying making things for your precious ones!
If you’re into DIY stuff, I totally recommend these loom kits!!
Ethan and Harley – 11 months
 Loom Knitting Kit
Loom Knitting Kit with Ethan, Harley and 1/2 of Daddy’s Scarves
Baby Food/ Non Thermomix/ Thermomix/ Twins

Baby Purees as Sandwich Spreads

My twin boys, Ethan and Harley are now 11 months old.
They first started purees at 4 months old. One of the main reasons I got a Thermomix was to make our babies delicious and nutritious food. Luckily I received my Thermomix in time for the boys eating solids so I have been able to make all of their food from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Like any organised twin mum, I always made and stockpiled a huge amount of purees, always doubling the recipes and freezing them in the Heinz Baby pots.
Just when I made my latest lot a few weeks ago, my boys refused to open their mouths to be spoon fed their purees and decided they only wanted finger foods that they could self feed. So I have a huuuuuge amount of purees in the freezer: Beef and 3 veg, lamb prune couscous, chicken and sweetcorn risotto, red lentils and veg, beef eggplant and mushroom ragu, coconut fish and veg to name a few. The boys refuse to eat them with pasta, so I now use them as a sandwich spreads! Makes it even better with homemade Thermomix bread and dinosaur sandwich cutters I bought from Ebay!
The baby puree recipes are from the Thermomix Cooking for your Baby and Toddler by Louise Fulton Keats, and Jumbo White Bread Loaf recipe by Thermomumma in the following link:
Sandwiches, Dinosaur Cutters and Frozen Purees
Homemade Thermomix Bread
Ethan and Harley Digging into their Dinosaur Sandwiches
Twins

How do I get the time with twins?

One of the common questions I get when I make a cake (or knit…or even wash my hair…) is, how do you get the time with twins???
I owe it to:
1. My very hands on husband who is a super daddy and spends all his non working/non sleeping time doting on our sons, and
2. My mother who encouraged me to start blogging my creations, is super Por Por and never fails to be the 2nd set of hands when my husband is working, and
3. To my Thermomix which my husband bought me for my 30th present, making it so much faster and easier to make nutritious home made baby food, home cooked meals and sweet treats!
NOTE:
I looooooove making cakes, however, my 2 biggest supporters, my husband and mother, HATE EATING CAKE!!! Hahaha