In the 10 years I’ve been with him, I’ve never known Hubs to have a proper birthday cake. He’s one of the lucky or unlucky people (depending on your viewpoint) who arrived on this earth just in time to interrupt Christmas Dinner. As this year was a significant birthday I wanted to make him a special cake. I subtly asked him many months ago as to what his dream cake was and set about making it. His brief was:
Victoria sponge and chocolate sponge with buttercream and topped with sugarpaste
This project started a couple of months ago when I promised one of my evening classes I would teach them how to decorate Christmas cakes. Today I finally finished decorating them. I really enjoyed this project and plan to given them away as presents, but right now don’t know which one I’m going to keep for us as I love them all for different reasons.
I have so many other decorating ideas, but only made 6 cakes so the other techniques will have to wait. They may be small cakes, but they still take a while to decorate. The four cakes covered in sugarpaste all use the covering method you can find on The Pink Whisk’s blog. I also brush the cake lightly with freshly boiled water to help the icing adhere. Usually I cover the board then cover the cake, this is personal preference. You don’t have to cover the boards at all, but I find it looks neater and I have a particular aversion to the Christmas themed foil boards. To stick the sugarpaste/sugar florist paste decorations to the cake I use either gin or vodka as it’s quick drying, less likely to stain and sticks well. You can also use water, but I find gin/vodka works better. All of these designs are simple and can be easily replicated. No special equipment needed apart from maybe the odd length of ribbon and a piping bag. The cakes were made using one of my favourite recipes, steeped in Sloe Gin, then covered in marzipan over a week ago.
Christmas Present Cake
This is probably my favourite cake. It is simply covered in red sugarpaste then decorated with a bow made from sugar florist paste. This is a type of modelling icing that has a finer, stretchier texture and allows you to roll it a great deal thinner than sugarpaste. It also sets very hard. Icing flowers you see for sale are made from this and while yes it is edible it’s used more for decoration. I love working with sugar florist paste. Unless you are going to be using a lot just buy white florist paste and colour your own.
For those of you who watched the second series of Great British Bake Off will be familiar with finalist Holly Bell. I was a fan of hers from the first episode because she’s local to me, has a similar obsession with Bakewells and (according to insistent family & friends) we are very similar look wise and mannerisms. Yes, I’ve also been known to get the tape measure out while baking, don’t judge me. I’m a perfectionist.
Holly has recently started cupcake and bread making courses at the lovely Bridge 67 Cookery School in Smeeton Westerby near Market Harborough. She invited me along to try the course. The cookery school is based in cute little house on the farm with the kitchen downstairs and the dining room upstairs. It almost felt like we were in someone’s house. I liked that the ovens were (rather nice) domestic ovens proving if you could cook it there we would be able to cook it at home.
Your baked bean tin cakes should be nicely fed now so it’s time to get covering them in marzipan. You need to leave at least 24 hours between covering the cake marzipan and icing to allow the marzipan tp dry and stop the oils from the marzipan leaching and spoiling the white icing. One of the reasons for covering a fruit cake in marzipan is to act as a foundation for the icing. It’ll help to hide the major lumps and bumps of the cake beneath. Read the rest of this entry →
Those of you with entomophobia (fear of insects) may want to look away now. When I heard that the first Derby Clandestine Cake Club theme would be Trick or Treat I knew that last year’s Black Beetle Cakes would have to make a reappearance but in a slightly different form. The Clandestine Cake Club (CCC) has strict rules: no brownies, muffins, cookies pies or tarts and don’t even think of darkening the door with cupcakes. We’re talking big cakes that can serve 8-12 people. Derby’s first CCC was hosted by A Wannabe Foodie.
Immy & Cam are the voice here when it comes to road testing products that are geared towards the kids market. On the same day we made My Daddy Cooks Sloppy Joes and Chocolate Salami we made some basic fairy cakes and spent an afternoon decorating them using products I had been sent to trial. The ingredients that passed the test went on to be used by pupils in my cookery school over the summer. Read the rest of this entry →
Back in April I made a surprise delivery of cakes to my cousin for her Baby Shower. They went down so well I felt I had to make them again. The designs I used on the cakes came from the Planet Cake book which I was given by the couple who I made the cakes for this time. Their gorgeous little girl was born at 32 weeks and finally came home around 10 days ago so on Saturday we made a drive down south to deliver these cakes and a red gooseberry bush because of course all babies are found under the gooseberry bush. Read the rest of this entry →
Nearly every family or friend parties I’ve been to recently have been surprise parties. A good friend’s 30th back in September, a great uncle’s 90th last weekend and a cousin’s baby shower yesterday. Family & friends reading this just remember although I have a significant birthday coming up I don’t like surprises as it means I’m not given the opportunity to go clothes shopping for the event! Before yesterday I hadn’t been to a Baby Shower so wasn’t quite sure what to expect but decided I couldn’t go wrong if I turned up with cake and this was a perfect opportunity to try out a cake I’d seen in Planet Cake.
I was given a copy of Planet Cake at Christmas and fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I love the way it is set out and the designs that feature in it. I’m not a total beginner in cake making and decorating but wanted a bit of professional guidance and have found this book perfect for that. I like that this book tells you the exact quantities of icing you’ll need. Something before I wouldn’t have had a clue about. The tip about using piping nozzles for marking the icing, in this case the eyes and mouth, was brilliant. Why I hadn’t thought about that myself I don’t know.
I first set about colouring the icing. I love colouring icing as in an odd way I find it quite therapeutic. Though I need a bit of practice with getting a light skin tone, this one turned out a slightly more Germolene pink, but I counteracted this by making the little hats on the cake a stronger colour. I’ve learnt my lesson in the past about letting the icing settle before using it as the colours intensify. Last time I used fondant I used a generic brand from the local cake decorating shop and found it dried out really quickly and putting me off working with fondant for a bit. This time I used a block of Silver Spoon ready to roll icing and found it really easy to colour and good to use. Even though it was a warm day when decorating these cakes the icing didn’t dry out at all.
To decorate these cakes I just used a cutter that would provide a circle big enough to cover the top of the cake, No. 2 round decorating tip, couple of cocktail sticks, pallet knife and small piece of kitchen roll. I don’t own the ball tool they recommend to make the ear indentations so just used a piece of kitchen roll wrapped around a cocktail stick. The fondant was secured in place with a small amount of buttercream. I also put a blob of raspberry jam in the cake that seemed to work well. Just a note, these cakes are fairy cake sized unlike the cupcake ones featured in the book to the quantities below are for the fairy cake sized ones.
I think they have a slight Pocoyo element to them and who can argue with the amazing Pocoyo!
Baby Shower Fairy Cakes
Makes 12 cakes
Adapted from Planet Cake
100g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour
120g butter cream (40g unsalted butter beaten with 80g icing sugar)
250g skin coloured fondant
100g blue fondant
100g pink fondant
Black colouring icing pen (you could use a small amount of black fondant instead)
small amount of cornflour mixed with red petal dust
1) Preheat oven to 180°c and line a bun tin with fairy cake liners.
2) In a bowl beat together the butter and caster sugar until it is light and fluffy then one at a time stir in the eggs. Don’t worry if it begins to look curdled add a small amount of the flour. Mix in the vanilla extract.
3) Carefully fold in the flour.
4) Fill each liner 2/3 with cake mix. Dollop a tsp of jam on the cake batter just before the cakes go in the oven.
5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool completely before icing.
6) In a bowl beat together the butter, icing sugar and lime juice until light and fluffy. Spread a small amount of the buttercream on top of each cake.
7) Roll out the skin coloured icing until around 3mm thick. Cut out rounds and smooth on to the top of the cakes. Then mark the eyes and mouth then using a small amount of water attach the nose and ears.
8 ) Roll out the blue/pink icing and using the same round cutter cut out rounds. Cut these circles in half then cut a 5mm edge off the semicircle (this will be the ridge on the hat). Stick the semicircle on the head using a small amount of water then attach the rim. Use a cocktail stick along the rim to give the detail.
9) Using a small amount of cornflour and red petal dust mixed together, brush on the cheeks to give babies a rosy glow.
When deciding what to do for a Royal Weddings bake I wanted to combine my desire to bake something a bit kitsch and the fact that the Royal Wedding means we get a Bank Holiday. What’s the activity Brits stereotypically do on a Bank Holiday, apart from catching up with the DIY and watching Sound of Music? Head to the coast, no matter the weather, and eat Mr Whippys on a wind-whipped beach.
The last made I made Ice Cream Cupcakes was for my Birthday a few years back. Now I own a Wilton1M tip I decided to give these cakes another go. I’m still getting there with my piping technique. What you can’t see is the gaps at the back between the cone and the icing! By the time I make them again at the end of the month I’ll be better. I need to keep remembering to hold the tip at a 90° angle to the cake. Thank you to the people who have also given me the tip to add a small amount of milk to get the buttercream smoother when being piped. I think I got a bit overenthusiastic when beating the butter and sugar.
The best types of colours I find are the gel/paste colours as they don’t water down the icing and allow you to get the intense colours. The colour also intensifies once the icing is left to rest so be aware of this when your mixing it. Since I took the photos for this blog 2 hours ago the colours on the cakes are now very much vivid! The best tips I can give for the buttercream is to please use butter (products like Stork, Trex etc taste awful in buttercream) and whip it more that you think you need to. The more you whip it the whiter and fluffier it will become but don’t go too mad or, as you can see in the photos, while you have super fluffy icing the bubbles in the buttercream give rougher edges.
So what are you making and baking for the Royal Wedding?
Royal Wedding Mr Whippy Cakes
Makes 8-10 cakes
For the cakes
125g plain flour
125g caster sugar
125g softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp baking powder
8 flat bottomed ice cream cones
for the icing
120g unsalted butter, softened
240g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
red & blue food colouring
2 Flakes, cut in 1/4
1) Preheat the oven to 180oc. Beat together the sugar, butter and eggs, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
2) Line up the cones on a baking sheet. It does make it slightly easier if you put the cones in the cups of a bun pan or individual silicone cupcake liners.
3) Fill up the cones about 2/3 with cake mix. Don’t overfill or they erupt over the top. Bake in the oven for 15 min, or until they are golden and pass the skewer test. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.
4) Once the cakes have cooled beat together the butter and vanilla extract then gradually add the icing sugar. Beat until desired consistency. Split the icing in ¼. Colour one ¼ blue, another red and the remaining icing stays white. Spoon into a piping bag. You can either put all the icing in the bag together (like above) or make 4 individual piping bags and put them inside a bigger bag. Pipe the swirls on the cakes. Decorate with a flake. Leave for a few hours to allow the icing to set.
I can’t believe the first term of the academic school year is drawing to an end and I’ve survived my first term in business. Would I change anything? I’ve certainly learnt some lessons, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Let’s just hope in 2011 my success continues to grow.
One of the schools I’ve worked in this term hosted an Afternoon Tea Party yesterday to raise money for a school in Ghana. I baked them some Gingerbread Men, Eccles Mince Pies (these always go down well!) along with Christmas Fairy Cakes. This was a perfect opportunity to use up ingredients that were left from this term of cookery along with experimenting with a technique I saw on Kirsty & Phil’s Perfect Christmas.
I coloured the sugar paste Wednesday evening and wrapped it up in clingfilm ready to use Thursday morning. What I didn’t anticipate was the colours in the icing becoming more intense. I’ve never noticed icing doing that before, hence the quite bright, borderline garish colours. You can find the instructions for making the bows here. Although I could do with a bit more practice, I enjoyed making them. Next time I would roll the top stripes a bit thinner so they don’t stick out as much from the bottom layer when the fondant is bent to make the bows.
Christmas Fairy Cakes
Makes 12 fairy cakes
100g caster sugar
100g butter, softened
100g self-raising flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g icing sugar
freshly boiled water
1) Preheat oven to 180oc. Arrange cake cases in fairy cake tin. Beat together butter and sugar then one by one beat in the eggs.
2) Stir in flour until ingredients are well combined. Half fill each fairy case with the batter. Don’t over fill or you won’t have room for the icing to puddle.
3) Bake for 15 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
4) Add boiling water to the icing sugar until you have a smooth icing that pours off the spoon. Using a teaspoon slowly pour the icing on top of the cakes. You can guide the icing somewhat as to where you want it to go and it almost acts like self-levelling concrete. Once you have finished icing place your fondant decorations on the icing and leave to set.