For those of you who don't know, I am from Argentina.
I was born in Buenos Aires and as a good south-american I grew up eating dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is a sweet made from cooking milk mixed with sugar over the heat until it darkens and thickens into one of the most delicious foods you'll ever taste.
We eat Dulce de leche with anything.
Bread, toast, cakes, desserts, fruit, water biscuits, pancakes, alfajores, cubanitos. Also, just licked off the tip of your finger is very good ;)
There are many, many different types and consistencies including the "repostero" which is widely used by bakers as its thick consistency makes it perfect for piping decorations as you'd do with buttercream. Some bakers even use it for the crumb-coat before covering the cake with fondant.
Instagrammers and Pinterestians may have you believe that banoffee pie is all you can do with dulce de leche, but having grown up with this delicious sweet as did a lot of my ancestors, I can tell you that there is so much more to the versatility of dulce de leche and it has not just been discovered, despite the trend is on a quest to make you believe that.
Also, I think it tastes heavenly on fresh and juicy sliced apples. Try it, you can thank me later.
Dulce de leche cake is the simplest cake I know.
My grandma Nani used to make it for us her grandchildren after school sometimes and on our birthdays. We didn't have a lot of time after school seeing as we got home at around 4.30/5pm so we used to go to the shop round the corner and get a box of Exquisita (cake mix), especially if it was a school day (though sometimes she would make it from scratch), we would add the eggs, mix it all together and bake it.
Once it was baked and cool, we would cut it in half, add the sugar syrup and then spread lashings of dulce de leche before adding the other sponge half on top.
My mum worked at a paraffin factory for several years so our candles were always the quirkiest, sometimes biggest candles we ever used on a cake! I distinctively remember a mushroom shaped one that, though beautiful like an amanita mushroom, it was so big and heavy it sunk into the cake! :D
One of the reasons I love making cakes so much is that they reflect all these happy moments with my family, when we were all together celebrating each other's birthdays and special occasions like Christmas. I find making "static" cakes a little boring at times; I much prefer to make cakes that look eaten and enjoyed as I can imagine everyone gathering around it having a good time.
I am turning 34 today. Thirty-four laps around the sun. Isn't that something?
As a way to celebrate this day and remember my grandma who transitioned into the next dimension recently, I wanted to make this cake in miniature and share it with you too.
I originally had the idea of making this cake for her birthday the night before she passed, her birthday would've been two weeks later on 20th February, but I didn't get a chance. I even remember thinking that night: "why haven't I made this for her before? I'm such an idiot!" I had started planning everything and coincidentally her birthday coincided with my 10th anniversary of living in England. So it was a very important day on so many levels.
Little did I know that the following morning, the world was not going to be the same again and that the 20th February I would've been arriving in Argentina instead. If you want to know a little more about my trip, you can read my blog post "Volver a Argentina" (also in English)
Now, let's talk about the cake and how I made it.
I didn't make this cake as I usally make cakes.
This one is particular was made like you would make a cake. I cut the sponges, textured them, then spread "dulce de leche" on one half, added the other half on top and cut it.
Crazy, right? ^_^
I would never really do that because there's a lot of mess involved with sticky, soft polymer clay with solid clay moving everywhere as you cut and texture it, which is no one's dream.
To avoid the cake moving as much as I could, I tried to keep the dulce de leche as thick as possible without it being too hard and dry-looking; I would have preferred it a little stiffer and I thought I had achieved the consistency I was looking for, but as I was cutting it, I thought a little more solid clay would've been nice.
The dulce de leche mix was already in my little pots of icing; in the sense that I had already made this caramel-like sauce at some point (can't remember when) but it was a lot runnier than I needed it to be. I can't remember what I used to make it; but I have a feeling it was FIMO Liquid and soft pastels in raw sienna with a little yellow mixed in. To this mix, I added translucent clay to stiffen the consistency and add more translucency.
I put all the parts of the cake together and cut a quarter or so of the cake.
Yes, it kind of moved and a little of the dulce de leche oozed out but I was happy with that, so I carried on!
It was hard cutting and sticking the slices on the plate though, as I couldn't push them down too much without damaging them and texturing them took a little longer than usual.
My favourite part when texturing the sponge was when I got to the area where it meets the dulce de leche; as I textured the cake and made it look fluffy I tried to make some of the loose crumbs get caught in the dulce de leche and I think it worked as I am dribbling just thinking about it.
What do you think?
To make dulce de leche-like icing from polymer clay, you can try mixing FIMO Liquid with:
raw sienna (light brown) + a little yellow polymer clay
soft pastels in raw sienna/terracotta + yellow (or oil paints in similar colours)
Using TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey) can work too, though TLS is not as translucent as FIMO Liquid so the result may be more opaque.
The ingredients you use and their ratios vary depending on the look and consistency you want to achieve, but for the different consistencies I recommend:
Thick Consistency = Solid polymer clay + FIMO Liquid combination (with a little soft pastel/oil paint added to adjust colour if needed) This combination can also be used later in time as a starting point for a runny consistency by simply adding more FIMO Liquid.
Runny Consistency = FIMO Liquid + soft pastels/oil paints. This works best for syrups and sauces and when you need a tiny amount here and there and you don't want to use up clay or don't have the right colour.
Remember that this is not the best way or the only way one can make polymer clay "icing-frosting-dulce de leche"; this is just my way and it doesn't mean you can't find your own way or product that replicates the look you're looking for.
One of the best things you can do for your yourself, your art and your creative journey is to have fun with different materials and experiment to see what works.
Not everything will work; but the way I see it it, at least you won't be left wondering about it anymore.
I didn't always know what things or ratios to mix to get buttercream-like polymer clay or how to make a cake sponge look realistic (and I still need more work!). It seems pretty obvious now but it took me months to figure it out. I had this idea of making a video about "The evolution of my cakes" to show you how my cakes evolved over time (especially the first year working with polymer clay) and that a lot of work is founded on hard work and perseverance, rather than talent.
I'm not always sure of what other people would like to know about my work, so please let know in the comments if this is something that you'd be interested in. I hope this post finds you well and if you have any questions do let know; only I'm not able to answer comments in the comment section of the blog (strange I know) but I can do so in another post or a Youtube video, whichever you prefer.
Thank you so much for reading and I'll catch you next time,