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A Surprise Delivery – version 2

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

A Surprise Delivery

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

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g self-raising flour

raspberry jam

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.

Christmas Fairy Cakes

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

sugarpaste

food colouring

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.

Percy Pig Cakes

Sometimes I have these mad ideas. Why not take something that I love and transform it in to cake form. If you didn’t know, Percy Pigs are fabulous jelly sweets available from Marks & Spencer. The biggest fan I know of Percy Pigs is Cam. Don’t come between him and his beloved Percy Pigs. I’m sure I’m not the only one to spot they have subtly changed the taste of these recently. They used to be raspberry flavoured, but now also have the addition of grape. While playing around with flavour combinations for the cakes I found out that raspberry liqueur topped up with grape juice makes a cocktail that tastes unsurprisingly like Percy Pigs. Ironically Percy Pigs do contain pigs in the form of gelatin so not veggie friendly in the slightest. Don’t waste money on Percy Pig imposters, sorry Eric the Elephant, nothing is the same as these glorious porcine confectionary.

Now I confess, I don’t really like cupcakes or those styled cakes as I often find them too sweet. While I enjoy making and styling them I don’t particularly enjoy eating them. I’d much rather a slice of banana bread or carrot cake. Now if only I could make these type of cakes prettier and more presentable. I made a batch of these experimental cakes a few weeks back and while I wasn’t totally happy with the icing I made, they still went down well. Take it from me, don’t try to put grape juice in the buttercream. It still tastes fine, but gives a slightly odd texture to the icing. Stick to grape flavouring (if you can find it)

Percy Pig Cakes
makes 12 fairycake sized cakes

100g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp raspberry extract/powder (raspberry liqueur will also work) or 1/2 tsp grape extract.

Packet of Percy Pigs

Buttercream icing

90g unsalted butter

180g icing sugar

Raspberry extract (again raspberry liqueur will also work)

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. Mix in the vanilla & raspberry extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour.

4) Fill each liner 2/3 with cake mix.

5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool before icing.

6) In a bowl beat together the butter, icing sugar and raspberry extract until light and fluffy. Pipe icing onto cakes.

7) Place a Percy Pig on top of each cake.

Black Velvet Beetle Cakes

We don’t celebrate Halloween as such in our household. Well we don’t trick or treat or encourage trick or treaters, but I do use it as an opportunity to take something and give it a gruesome twist. Last year was a Sweeney Todd Pie to accompany my Mrs Lovatt costume. This year as inspired by a copy of A Zombie Ate My Cupcake the publishers kindly sent me I used the instructions in the book on how to make black beetles and designed a cake around it. I used marzipan to make the beetles as I had some left from a cake decorating job. In amongst the marzipan beetles modelled on cockroaches and scarab beetles there is one little beetle with friendly eyes. This was the first beetle I made but decided the cakes would be too cute if he was on all of them.

Why have I called them Black Velvet cakes? well given Red Velvet cakes are essentially chocolate cakes with a bucketful of red food colouring (I duck as cake spatulas are hurled at me from Red Velvet Cake enthusiasts) added I decided to christen these Black Velvet cakes because they are simply chocolate cakes with black food colouring added to darken the colour. Weirdly although I used my usual chocolate cake recipe they tasted more chocolatey with the addition of the black food colouring. I’m sure this is purely psychological because the colouring makes the cakes look richer. I’ll admit cocked up slightly with the icing. My own fault for not adding the icing sugar gradually. I added too much icing sugar and it turned almost in to a paste, but I was able to spread it on to the cakes without too many problems. Thankfully in this case the icing was acting more like a glue and would be hidden under the edible dirt.

Gross fact: black marzipan when accidentally rolled the wrong way looks suspiciously like mouse/rat/bat droppings. While this could have given the cakes a rather disturbing twist I didn’t think the recipients of the cakes, Hubs’ workmates, would appreciate it or ever ask me to bake for them again! I’ve entered these cakes to English Mum’s Big Autumn Bakeoff.

Black Velvet Beetle Cakes

makes 12 fairycake sized cakes

80g self-raising flour

20g cocoa powder

100g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

black food colouring

Topping

90g unsalted butter

150g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

black food colouring

100g marzipan

edible lustre dust (I used antique gold and snowflake)

70g oreos, just the biscuits minus the cream filling

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. Mix in the vanilla extract.

3) Fill each liner 2/3 with cake mix. Bake for 15-20 min until risen and pass the cocktail stick test.

4) While the cakes are cooling make the beetles. First knead black food colouring into the marzipan until evenly coloured. Pinch off a Malteser sized piece of marzipan and roll into a rugby ball shape. Place on a piece of clingfilm and gently press to flatten. Shape into a beetle shape. Mark the head and wings using a teaspoon. Add additional detail with a knife and cocktail stick. Brush lightly with lustre dust. Roll six mini sausages out of the marzipan about 1.5 cm long. Attach two of the legs near the head and the other four to the rear. Leave on the clingfilm to dry for  few hours.

5) In a bowl beat together the butter, then gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa until light and fluffy. Slowly add the black food colouring until you have the desired colour. Adding a small amount of red dye can help it stop looking like something you may concrete bricks together with. Using a pallet knife use nearly all of the buttercream to coat the cakes.

6) In a blender blitz the Oreo biscuits (or similar chocolate biscuit) then coat the cakes with this edible dirt. Pat down slightly to help it stick.

7) Place a small blob of buttercream on the bottom of the beetle then stick on to the cake. It helps keep the beetle on the cake if you mould it slightly to the shape of the cake.

Blueberry & Lime Cupcakes

Yes, I’ve used the C word. Cupcakes, as these are what I think of as cupcakes due to the prolific swirls of buttercream on the top, though they are more of fairy cake proportions.There has been a slight delay on posting these as they were made for a secret 30th Birthday Party. The person in question reads my blog and follows me on twitter so I had to keep these under wraps. For the party I also made Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake that I topped with fresh strawberries.

For a while I’ve been meaning to buy a “Mr Whippy” style tip for piping icing with and the lovely Julie from Vintage & Cake recommended me the Wilton 1M open star tip along with the disposable piping bags. She also gave me tips on how to make certain patterns with the icing. Usually I’m not a huge fan of throw away things, but these bags I can highly recommend. Not only are they bigger than conventional piping bags but you don’t have the faff of cleaning them afterwards. So much easier to use and you don’t need to worry about a coupler.

These cakes were a bit of an experiment that worked surprisingly well. I used blueberries because I had some blue edible glitter that I decided HAD to be used on the birthday boy’s cake so blueberry was the natural choice. Icing wise I really liked using the 1M tip and the swirls it produces. For fantastic advice on how to pipe buttercream see Ruth’s guest post on A Thrifty Mrs. I need a bit more practice to get the swirls uniform but overall I was pleased with them.

Blueberry & Lime Cupcakes
makes 12 fairycake sized cakes

100g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

75g (1/2 punnet) of blueberries

zest of 1 lime

Buttercream icing

90g unsalted butter

180g icing sugar

1 tbsp lime juice

75g (1/2 punnet) of blueberries for decoration

blue edible glitter

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. Mix in the vanilla extract.

3) Carefully fold in the flour then lime zest and blueberries.

4) Fill each liner 2/3 with cake mix.

5) Bake for 15-20 min until risen and golden. Allow to cool before icing.

6) In a bowl beat together the butter, icing sugar and lime juice until light and fluffy. Pipe icing onto cakes.

7) Place the blueberries and a small pinch of edible glitter into a bowl then roll the blueberries around to coat them in the glitter. Then decorate the cakes with the glittered up blueberries.

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