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It’s been a while … hope this cake was worth the wait

I’ve been very slack lately and my blogging seems to have fallen by the wayside… tut tut, bad blogger!

I haven’t been as slack with the cake-baking though, so I’ve got some catching up to do on here.

So I’ll start with the latest one as it’s my biggest achievement so far – a two-tiered cake for my best friend’s baby shower this weekend.

It was chocolate cake – I used buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda for the first time in this one.  And the recipe also had boiling water in it…very strange, but worked very well and they were the tallest cakes I’d ever made.

I forgot to take a picture before the icing went on, but there was a heck of a lot of butter cream between the 7 layers (there were meant to be 8 layers but the top cake was so tall I left one off!).

Here’s the bottom section:

 

I am still not very good at getting the icing to go straight at the bottom – I always end up with creases, lumps and bumps.  Also the cake is never perfectly smooth, as you’ll see when I put the lines on the bottom, they are a bit ‘in and out’!

The next layer’s on and the stripes are going on too…

 

I tried to cover up the creases at the bottom with thick stripes!

I used colours to match the paper plates/napkins I’d bought for the shower – and turquoise is my best friend’s favourite colour so I just had to use this of course!

Here’s the finished article with a pretty bow on top, and my best friend’s name imprinted too:

and on the back, another imprint just to finish it off…

 

My friend loved the cake – as did the guests.  It was maybe a bit too rich for the hottest day of the year so far in the UK!!  I think strawberries and cream might have been a better option, but it was delicious nevertheless!

I’ll post more cakes again soon…sooner than it’s been since my last post that’s for sure 🙂

 

 

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Perfecting cupcakes – it’s all in the nozzle!

Over the last few weeks I’ve made many a cupcake.  I love making them (and eating them!).

My daughter’s birthday ones were a fail in regards to the swirls, as the weather was too hot and the butter cream too runny.  As I use dairy free margarine it just doesn’t work as well as full blown butter sometimes! And I didn’t have the correct nozzle   I still believe it’s just as tasty though.  Luckily I rescued the cupcakes with some pretty butterfly, flower and edible crystal decorations.  The rescue must have been good because one of my (male – therefore won’t lie to save my feelings!) friends thought we’d bought them from a shop.  Ultimate praise I thought 🙂  Here they are:

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Next it was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee so I decided to make some blue coloured cupcakes.  This time, my friend at Canterbury Cakes had advised me to buy a Wilton 1M nozzle for the optimum swirl, so I was all set!  Now, I wanted a real ‘royal’ blue as it was for the jubilee BBQ we were having – I’m guessing it’s given that name for a reason.  However, I couldn’t get my blue colouring to get anywhere near a dark blue, so I was left with some very lovely looking turquoise cupcakes!!

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They tasted lovely and the children at the BBQ all had turquoise faces by the end!  I hope you’ll agree the swirls worked really well this time – how I love the Wilton 1M nozzle 🙂

I made some gluten and dairy free chocolate cupcakes to take to my team meeting for work as one of my colleagues has a strict diet – however I could not make the meeting in the end so took them to a Pampered Chef event instead.  They were very well received and no one could tell they were free of so many things!

My husband was keen to take some cakes into work this week for his colleagues, so I also made chocolate cupcakes for him – just dairy free this time.  He took them in today and there are only 2 left (out of 18) for a friend who was off today and another one for himself tomorrow!  Cheeky!  The recipe for these was the Hummingbird recipe from a previous post: Party Cupcakes.  It’s a very dense cupcake with lovely smooth butter icing.  And of course my new best friend Mr Wilton 1M was close at hand!

I’m going on another cake decorating course in July to learn other cupcake swirl techniques at Sweetie Darling near Canterbury.  I wish I could afford to do every course there!

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I learned to make a pretty parcel cake

For my birthday back in March my lovely husband and daughter bought me a voucher for a cake decorating course at Sweetie Darling.  

With my 2012 mission of baking all close friends and family cakes this year for every occasion, I feel I can bake fairly tasty cakes so now it’s time to step things up a level and learn how to confidently use the many different types of icing there is out there!  So the Pretty Parcel course looked a great way to do this.  My glamourous friend Michelle (who made our wedding cake) also came along so we had a great day learning brilliant skills!

Here we are with our finished masterpieces:

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We learned how to slice a large madeira cake using a snazzy device like a cheese cutter, then filled it with jam and butter icing.

Then covered the whole cake (apart from the bottom) with a thin layer of butter icing to stop the crumbs from escaping and ruining the lovely regal icing we were to drape over the top.

The cake board was also covered in regal icing in a contrasting colour – and we used a rolling pin with a decorative stencil embossed all over which gave the bubble effect (got to get myself one of those!!).

We learned how to knead and roll regal icing with so many little tips – it was brilliant!   The draping over the top of the large cake and positioning over the cube shaped cakewas quite hard to get right – I kept getting folds and creases and air bubbles but got there in the end.

We used modelling paste to make the bow and ribbons, and royal icing for the label and stars.  

We just added C2C powder to the regal icing to make it into modelling paste – which I never knew existed before!  This makes it set really hard quite fast so we had to keep the icing moving in our hands until we needed it to set.  But it made the bow stay looking like it was made of silk rather than hard icing, a beautiful effect.  Sugar glue kept everything in place – whoever invented that deserves a medal 🙂  It’s like superglue but edible!

The stars were white and we painted them with edible sparkly powder mixed with alcohol.  That part was fun but messy for my fingers.

Here’s a close up of my cake:

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I wrote ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ in royal icing as my daughter loves singing that nursery rhyme!

Here is the back of the cake to prove I didn’t just make the front look pretty and forget about the rest!

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The course has given me so much confidence to use the 3 different types of icing.  I can’t wait to start trying it out by myself at home!!

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American themed birthday cupcakes

As I mentioned in my last post, it was 2 of my best friends’ birthdays this week.  For Sasha’s birthday she had an American themed party at her house (as her and her husband have recently been to New York).  I dressed up as Sandy from Grease!  Here I am with Sasha (I’m on the left!) eating a slice of cheeseburger flavoured pizza (I didn’t even know that existed!!):

I wanted to make cupcakes as they’re very ‘New York’ – after watching Sex and the City.  So I was trying to think how to make them even more ‘American’ so I thought red, white and blue and stars.  So I spent ages cutting out all these stars from regal icing:

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The Hummingbird Bakery cupcake recipe is by far the best tasting cupcake I’ve ever had.  Here is the recipe:

4½oz/120g plain flour

5oz/140g caster sugar

1½ tsp baking powder

A pinch of salt (I left this out but used slightly salted butter)

1½oz/40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

4½floz/120ml whole milk

1 egg

¼ tsp vanilla extract

1 quantity vanilla frosting – see below

Stars to decorate!

A 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with paper cases

  • Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3.
  • Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
  • Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  • Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
  • Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched.
  • A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the vanilla frosting (see next recipe) on top and decorate.

And here is recipe for the tastiest frosting

Vanilla frosting

Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes.

9oz/250g icing sugar, sifted

3oz/80g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1fl oz/25ml whole milk

A couple of drops of vanilla extract

Food colouring to suit (optional)

  • Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a free-standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  • Turn the mixer down to slow speed. Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  • Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  • Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
 Here they are pre-star decoration:
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The frosting tastes divine!!  And here they are all glammed up:
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Thank goodness for my little star plunger cutter!!
These went down so well at the party, I think everyone had one in the end, and Sasha was sad there wasn’t many left over at the end of the night for her to eat!
I actually find the cakes themselves are very moist and so satisfying 🙂
Give them a try, you won’t regret it.
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