Friday, 5 October 2018

Share the Love Birthday Cake


Never have I ever made such an important birthday cake at such short notice! This cake needed to represent the five-year-old recipient's loves and, whilst I was unable to complete them all, I managed most.

Here was my list of loves for this little dude:
  • Chocolate
  • Favourite colours are green and blue
  • Skateboarding
  • Ninja Swords
  • Dirtbikes
  • American YouTube Vlogger, Stephen Sharer and "Share The Love" 
I was unable to source a moto-x dirtbike topper for this cake, but I hope the little BMX bike will be a happy substitute. So, let's have a look at how this seriously last minute cake turned out ...

Chocolate ...  Check

This is my second chocolate cake this week, and mmmmm it looks, tastes and smells are good as the first one. Once more, my chocolate sponge recipe did not fail me and neither did the delicious chocolate buttercream.

Fave Colours ...  Check

Blue fondant with blue toppers, with a little bit of green colour on the skateboard.

Skateboarding ...  Check

Awesome skateboard cake topper

Ninja swords ...  Fail

OK, so I failed on this one, but I've pretty much got the rest sorted I think.

Dirt Bikes ...  Check, well, sort of

Finding a dirtbike cake topper was hard at such short notice, but I think this little BMX should be a pretty cool substitute. And, with it being a wonderful blue one, I think I just might be forgiven - I hope

'Share the Love' ...  Check and double check!

The young man's Dad sent me the 'Share The Love' logo but, as it was such poor quality and would have pixelated on printing, I got my 'digital enhancer' working on it to prevent this happening. The printed icing sheet topper was then cut to shape and affixed to the top of the cake.


Once that dried, following the scourge of all cakers, humidity, I made a few cupcakes for good measure. Chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate frosting. Yum!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Chelsea FC Birthday Cake


You know, considering I'm a rugby lass from a rugby family, I seem to make an awful lot of football cakes. Here's one more to add to my growing list. It might look like a plain cake but, just wait until you get inside!

In addition to the chocolatey sponge and the lashings of chocolatey buttercream, between each layer of yummy sponge and between the delicious buttercream lay a hidden layer of ... 

Oreo Thins!


If it wasn't for the fact that I hate Oreo biscuits, I'd say it looks like the ones on the edges have been nibbled on, but breaking bits off was the only way I could fit them all on the top of the cake. Trying to cut them just broke them in ways that wasted the whole biscuit.


The sides of the cake have been decorated in fondant shapes as a 'homage' to a football. You can find these cutters in most good cake decorating stores as well as eBay and Amazon. These pieces were individually cut and attached then each piece was decorated with a quilting tool to mimic the stitching. You can see this detail better on the finished piece as well as on the red and blue footballs (links below).


A thin line of extruded black fondant was then used to cover the raw edges of these pieces. That was 'stitched' too.


I also handmade a number of small half footballs and allowed to dry before using a food-colour pen to decorate. Some of these were then used to decorate the board along with the salutation.

The topper is a quality, printed icing sheet that was pre-purchased and affixed to the top with the smallest amount of water and edible glue - the crowning glory!

Once dried, the whole cake received a dusting of magic i.e. edible silver lustre dust and voila! Complete!

As I understand it, the recipient has never had a birthday cake so, let's hope this one makes up for it.

Whilst you're here, check out my previous footy cakes:

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Power Rangers Birthday Cake


This two-tier Mighty Morphin Power Ranger cake has been made for a fab five-year-old.  It morphed out of my classic vanilla cake mix, vanilla simple syrup, smashing vanilla buttercream into an amazing sponge then covered in Power Ranger red fondant.


I would usually have made toppers for a cake such as this, but, alas, it was short notice and it does take some time for toppers to dry out completely. 

The edible, printed icing sheet was ordered from one of my regular suppliers on eBay. All I had to do for these was cut them out and affix to cake.

I think they've worked rather brilliantly. I've added lights to this cake which will not be delivered as part of the birthday boy's packages, but I just fancied using lights for this picture. 

I just hope he loves it, you know what five-year-old critics are like hehehe.

Small Unicorn Cake


This is the second Unicorn Cake I have made this month! Although we are all aware that cakes of these mystical creatures are a 'thing', some may feel that they are a little difficult to create. I want to show you that, even if you do not feel confident enough to create a Unicorn cake, there is no need to be.

My previous Unicorn Cake, seen here, was a fondant-free buttercream bonanza with a golden 3D horn topper. This one is utterly simple and it's the topper that makes this special.

 Click here for the supplier website

The Unicorn Cake Decorating Mould from Katy Sue Designs is the perfect choice for creating a wonder out of simplicity. It is a sturdy mould and exceptionally good quality. The brilliant plus-point of the Katy Sue Designs website is, they have video tutorials for pretty much every mould that they manufacture and sell! I urge you to check it out!

It was made using Renshaw's white modeling paste, removed from the mould, then allowed to dry overnight before 'painting'.  To paint this I used edible white pearl paint and edible petal dust for the mane, the flowers and leaves, then edible gold for the horn and some highlights. Once done, it was sprinkled over with edible lustre dust.


This is a simple, vanilla sponge using three six-inch cake tins and a three egg mix for each tin. It was topped in simple vanilla syrup, then sandwiched together, crumbcoated and final coated using vanilla buttercream

Once suitably chilled, the cake was covered in marbled fondant using 3 x 250g packs of Renshaws ready to roll icing, two in Baby Pink and one in Fushia Pink pack.

The excess fondant was mixed together to make one colour and used for the rope at the bottom, where the cake met the coloured eight-inch board.


I picked out and added only a few tiny hearts and stars out of the cake sprinkles I had, painted the rope at the bottom with the edible pearl paint.

And, well, that's it really. A superb and very simple, elegant Unicorn Cake!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Unicorn Cake


This is my first ever try at a Unicorn cake. I'm happy with it but can see where I could improve.

It consists an 8" and topped with a 6" vanilla cake sandwiched together with vanilla buttercream and a covering to match.

In each layer is hidden a sprinkling of Dr Oetker Glamour and Sparkle Mix


The bottom layer was totally covered in Dr Ortker Unicorn Confetti


I had some left over which I will use to sprinkle over the top of the bottom layer and some around the sides of the top. But not before I get the top onto the bottom. Which I did struggle with because this is a fondant-free cake and the sides, no matter how much chilling or freezing you do, it will still be sticky. Doesn't help that I still have humidity issues here.

Here, in the UK, A/C is not standard, so I have the extractor fan on constant and dehumidifiers everywhere. But I did it, with a little help.


Not forgetting the bubble tea straws to hold up the top layer.

The horn and ears were made a few days before, I didn't manage to take pictures of this process, but I imagine there are plenty of YouTube videos out there on how to make them.  The best way to make the ears was with large and small heart-shaped cutters, they worked brilliantly

Once the ears and horn was in place, I used three different colours of buttercream to cover the top and sides, down to the base, leaving the front free for some closed eyes,


I hope the little six-year-old will be happy with it, I think she will be.

I know I haven't posted a blog for a while, I took the summer off to 'recover' after the wedding cake, the charity cupcake day and another cake. All these crammed in together, or so it felt. I'm also going to be taking it easy until Chrismas, but I shall still find things to bake and blog about I'm sure lol

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dairy Free Chocolate Cupcakes


This, small but mighty, batch of cupcakes is dairy free. Only six were needed for my friend's daughter for her birthday.   

I only used half of the recipe here for this project. I substituted the butter / margarine for sunflower margarine from the 'free from' range at my local supermarket.  I also used an egg substitute, which you can find in your local health shop.

As you can see, they look a little different. This is because they also had to be frosting / buttercream free. I could have substituted the butter / margarine for the same sunflower margarine, but the recipient does not like any buttercream.

Having said that, they still wanted a topping.  For this, I used standard icing sugar (not the Royal Icing sugar, because this has egg white in it).  I have no recipe to follow for this topping, I just added the same cocoa powder, I used for the cakes, to the icing sugar and mixed it together with a warm water - a little at a time.

If the cupcakes hadn't risen so well, I could have made it runnier, but the cupcakes rose to the occasion, meaning I had to make it spreadable and ensured it was thick enough not to run.

The cocoa powder and icing sugar makes a pale brown mix, nothing like what you see above. To make sure it was the right colour, I added some chocolate food colour gel - again, dairy free.

Topped off with a little gold lustre dust, which is generally considered suitable for vegans, and the job was complete. I think they look quite yummy too!

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Cupcake Medley


Following the amazing success of my recent Cupcake Day fundraiser, I was asked to make a repeat performance for the personal pleasure of the recipient.

Today's cupcakes included:
  • Lemon
  • Gin and Tonic 
  • Salted Caramel
Check out the link above to see how I made these

Hopefully, they are well received and I look forward to the feedback.



Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes


These delightful looking, yet very simple, vanilla cupcakes were made for a vegan friend of mine as a gift.

I used my standard sponge mix, but substituted the butter/margarine for a vegan alternative and also used egg substitute purchased from a local health store.

I'm getting better at these dairy free cupcakes, but I still have some perfecting to complete.


Thursday, 21 June 2018

Apple Pie for a Birthday Cake


Nowhere does it say that you can't have an apple pie for your birthday cake!  I asked my daughter what cake she'd like for her birthday this year and the only reply I had was "Can I have an apple pie instead." 

Check out her last year's cake here

Now, this is why I stick to cake! As you can see, it doesn't look the best, a few dark bits here and there. However, I did make this after all, and I know for a fact it's going to taste delicious.  I have a number of toppings: custard, evaporated milk, fresh cream or clotted cream. So she has a choice.


Two generous sized Bramley Apples and, wait for it ... Frozen pastry! Yes, I know, I could have made my own, but why bother when you can buy frozen. It's quick, easy, less messy, sometimes it costs less and tastes just as good.

Peel, core and slice the apples and lay them around in the baking dish that you have already placed some pastry in, then sprinkle with some sugar or a sweetener of your choice. I don't trim the sides until I place the pastry topper on.  Before placing the pastry top on, brush the edges with water to seal the top to the bottom layer.

I can't decorate this so the 'Happy Birthday' letters were cut out from the spare pastry and a few stars with her name.

Brush the top with milk or egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at Gas #6 for 15 minutes then reduce the gas down to #4 for a further 30 to 45 minutes.

Allow to cool and serve. Serve with:
  • Fresh cream
  • Ice cream
  • Condensed milk
  • Custard
  • Clotted cream
Now, my daughter's birthday is not until tomorrow, so she can sit and stare at it for the rest of today.

All that's left for me to say is:
Happy Birthday Yve
Have an awesome birthday


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Lemon & Elderflower Half Naked Cake


This deliciously fresh scented half naked cake was created for a "Guess the weight on the cake" competition I always run when hosting a Cupcake Day fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Society.  

This one is a six inch, five-layered cake which contains a total of three whole lemons. The zest and the juice were divided between each of the layers. Extra lemons and zest were used to flavour the buttercream that sandwiched the layers together as well as half cover the outside.


I foraged for the elderflowers on a walk with my daughter and then, two days later, turned it into elderflower cordial and used some, with addidional sugar, to make elderflower simple syrup.

My fantastic floral cake topper maker did me proud with this complimenting topper.

The cake was won and, hopefully, enjoyed by one of my regular supporters who guessed the weight with less than 75g out.

To find out how the fundraiser went or to make a donation, please click the image below.


Thank you to all my faithful suporters again this year ... you did awesomely!

Homemade Elderflower Cordial


This sweet, little flower grows in hedgerows and woodland and flowers at the beginning of the summer. It also makes a wonderful, refreshing cordial.  The best time to forage for these is on a warm day when the flowers are dry, never when they're wet from the rain or any other water.  They are also best collected when some of the flowers haven't quite opened fully.

Always remember! Only take what you need and leave some for insects and to mature into berries later on. 
You will need:
  • About 20-25 Elderflower heads
  • 1.5 litres of water (boiled when needed)
  • The zest of three unwaxed lemons
  • 150 ml of lemons juice
  • 1kg sugar
How to:
  1. Make sure you shake the heads to remove any little insects.
  2. Trim as much of the green stalks away as you can.
  3. Place in a large pan / bowl with the lemon juice
  4. Bring the water to the boil and pour over the flower heads and lemon juice.
  5. Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  6. The following day, strain the mixture into a clean pan (preferably through a muslin cloth.  But, if you don't have any muslin, strain through a very fine sieve.
  7. Heat the liquid up gently and stir in the sugar.
  8. Once dissolved, allow to simmer for a few minutes further.
  9. Pour into sterilised bottles. I've used a flip-top bottle, but you can also use a corked bottle or a screw cap
Serving suggestions:
  1. As a refreshing drink: Dilute 50 / 50 and add a slice of lemon (optional)
  2. As simple syrup for cakes: For every one, boiling cup full, add a further half a cup full of sugar - It would usually be a 50/50 mix, but there is already 50% of the sugar in the liquid when made into a cordial
  3. Fruit salad dressing: Add a dash of undiluted liquid to your fruit salads
  4. Don't forget, Ice Lollies! Dilute 50 / 50 then freeze

Cupcake Day Fundraiser - 12 Different Cupcakes


Twelve different flavours of cupcakes made for Alzheimer's Society fundraising Cupcake Day this month. This was my third, annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Society and, for the third year in a row, my supporters helped me beat my target. Check out how much I have raised so far this year here.


This cause is one of only a few I regularly support and I hold it in memory of my dear friend's husband, Alan, who passed away with the disease a few years ago. 

Now, I could have written 12 separate blog entries here, one for each cupcake, but I'm not going to. I want to include them all in one entry because each one, without the other, would not have made the day so special.

I'm going to write a short piece about each cupcake, starting at the top left and working clockwise around the image above. The centrepiece will be written in a separate blog entry though. This is not going to be a short entry, but at least it will be punctuated by pictures ...

Classic Vanilla

What self-respecting cupcake fundraising day would be seen without the classic, crisp attire of the classic vanilla cupcake? Well, not mine, that's for sure. Adding quality, pure vanilla extract is always the key to success for any good cupcake. I use Nielson Massey brand which is, by far, the best I have found to date. Not the cheapest, but certainly the best. 

Topped off with equally good vanilla flavoured, and uncoloured classic frosting, some multicoloured candy sprinkles and the outfit is complete.

Lemon

Almost like the classic vanilla, this simple lemon flavoured cupcake is always a welcome and refreshing guest. Made using the same brand extract as the vanilla, just to add a little extra something. The zest and some of the juice of the lemon was added to the mix but, to prevent the mix from becoming too watery, the extract was added to give that punch of lemon.  

The topping of frosting was flavoured with the same zest, juice and a little extract plus a complimenting pale lemon colour. Topped with golden sugar sprinkles, this cupcake was the quiet, unassuming guest that shone throughout the day.

Gin and Tonic - 0% Alcohol 

These naughty little beauties were a last minute decision. I saw G&T flavouring in the supermarket and, not far away was G&T flavour frosting!

So I baked the cupcakes with the flavouring, that worked great, but the frosting was something else. When I opened the tub of shop produced frosting, I knew it was going to need a little 'watering down' and re-whisking in order to be able to pipe it.  Little did I realise how awful the frosting would taste!  With that in mind, I added the juice of a freshly squeezed lime to it and whisked it up. Oh boy! That frosting 'bit' me right back! Perfect! Decorated with zest strands and they were ready to go!

Turkish Delight

I've made these every year I've been baking for this cause and they never last long! Once again, using good quality essences,  Nielson and Massey rose water essence.  This was used in the cupcake with a little good quality pink colouring, plus some milk chocolate chips.

The basic buttercream frosting had some essence added and also had the delicate pink colouring added. Topped off with grated milk chocolate and some pink sugar sprinkles - as I said, they never last long! They're gone before I even have one!

Banana

Made using my banana bread recipe, these cupcakes were different from last year. Last year they had a fondant disk on top. This year I made the banana frosting.

Using the frosting recipe, I used half the amount, in weight, of banana compared to the butter or margarine that would usually be used. Mash them us exceptionally well and mix just like you would if it was frosting. I added no flavourings at all. The frosting was not pipeable so I just drizzled it on a spread it about and topped it off with half a walnut.

Tripple Choc-Chip

Made using a quality cocoa in the mix, and some quality dark chocolate chips. Before frosting, I scooped out the centre and filled it with rich chocolate sauce and then frosted with chocolate frosting, then added a few chocolate sprinkles on top.

Total chocolate overload!

Red Velvet

I made so many mistakes with these this year! I made my own red velvet mix, without any issues, but ended up making 24 instead of the 12 I wanted to bake! But no one was worried!

The frosting was my next mistake! I purchased ready-made cream cheese frosting! Compared to my own, it was terrible. But I had to use it as I had not prepared to make my own from scratch.

I didn't pipe the frosting on, I swirled it on and added some chewy red sprinkles. They looked the part, but I wasn't happy with the flavour!

Carrot Cake

What cupcake day at my house would be good without these? Well, none!  I used my carrot cake recipe, which can be found in my 'recipe book' under 'index'.

The frosting ... Well, as I was not at all happy with the cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cakes, I used a plain vanilla and topped them off with some chopped walnuts.

Jaffa Cake / Chocolate Orange

Yet another one of those flavours that never stay long on cupcake day! Chocolate sponge, using quality cocoa with orange extract, once more by Neilson and Massey. Once baked and cooled, the centre was scooped out and filled with orange jelly/jello - suitable for vegetarians.

The frosting was also made with cocoa and the orange extract. Dusted off with some gold lustre dust and some gold candy balls for sprinkles.

Strawberry and Raspberry

Another new cupcake this year. For these, I added a good quality strawberry extract to the mix, not a lot though, because I added a handful of fresh raspberries to it during the whisking period.

The frosting also had a delicate amount of strawberry extract added to one half, and fresh raspberries added to the other half. Don't make the same mistake as I did though! I didn't crush the raspberry seeds out and they made a mess when trying to pipe them.  I'm guessing that piping these at gone midnight and not thinking straight just didn't help me either!

Salted Caramel

Time to 'come clean' ... whilst these were baked by me, they were also 'faked' by me! There's absolutely no shame in buying packet mixes for your cupcakes. This mix came as a 'kit'. It included the batter mix, the frosting, the drizzle and fudge pieces. All I added was the salted caramel disk on the top once they were complete.

Mint Choc-Chip

I've saved the best until last! Well, I think they're the best.  Into the mix, I added quality peppermint extract, some pale green food colouring with dark chocolate chips.

The same extract and colouring were used in the frosting then they were topped off with grated dark chocolate and After Eight chocolate thin mints, which were cut in half from corner to corner and placed on top. Yumm, but, alas, I didn't get to eat one - again. They all went far too quickly




Check out my fundraiser here, where, if you wish
it's never too late to make a donation

Before I sign off on this blog entry, I want to say Thank You to all the amazing people that made Alzheimer's Society Cupcake Day an amazing success again this year!
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