An Interlude

It has been a shameful 4 months since I last blogged. As always, I have excuses and reasons for the absence but needless to say, despite my lack of words, the rolling pin and oven have been as busy as ever.

I’ve made Christmas cakes based on my Christmas Jumper Cake:

Jumpers 2014

I’ve been experimenting with different flavoured cakes (cashew, coconut and chilli, salted caramel and apple, coffee):

flavour

I’ve been baking things other than cake, turning my hand to shortbread, biscuits, meringues and even bread:

Different bakes

And you can’t try other baking without experimenting with pie:

Pie

Despite my foray into other types of baking, I’ve still been as busy as ever with cakes and have many a cake related story waiting to be blogged.  Watch this space.  Be true

Eggs

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David Bowie Cupcakes

David Bowie inspired cupcakes for a David Bowie themed party.

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In terms of party themes, it doesn’t get much better than David Bowie.  Glitter, make-up, sequins, fake fur, lycra, neons, hair gel – anything goes.  I thought, as a guest to such a party, I should take along suitable cupcakes.  Also I had been given some neon cake dust by my housemate and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to road test it.

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The cakes, like my attendance to the party, were a very last minute decision so I hadn’t had time to plan the design. I was pleased with how they came out and the neon dust is brilliant but I’m sure, given a little more time, a David Bowie cake could be pretty spectacular.

Sadly I don’t have many pictures of the cakes or the evening, only a few delightful(!) snaps of my housemate and I eating a cake… Yes that is me holding a cake up to the wrong eye.

eating DB cakes

Unblogged cakes – 2013

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe that this little blog has been going for a year. My 2013 resolution was to get it on the road, and low and behold, here it is!

Self congratulations over, I wanted to do a round up blog about the year and a write up for all the bakes that never get mentioned. It is common knowledge amongst my friends that I take a lot of pictures. My phone memory groans under the strain of 2000+ photos that often don’t go any further than my little handset. It would be fair to say that about a third of the photos that I take are of cakes or baking activity and for every cake I write about, there are probably at least two others made around the same time that I don’t mention on the blog. This can be for many reasons – time, being the main one, or maybe they are repeat designs, or just plain cakes that aren’t worth blogging about (sorry plain cakes).

But now is their moment – a moment for some of the unmentioned and unseen cakes to be celebrated!

2013 roundup

From left to right, top to bottom:

One of 4 impromptu name cakes make from spare cupcakes and icing; A set of chocolate orange cakes for my Mum’s birthday; Cheesy cupcakes before baking for Tash (read about her arms here); Birthday cakes for Mike whipped up in an hour and a half; Birthday cakes for Nikki including a ukulele playing rabbit (she plays ukulele and has a rabbit); General cakes for my parent’s Bed and Breakfast guests; My name cake as part of a set of name cakes for my friend’s hen party, I then went on to make her wedding cake; An icing music stand that never made it to a cake, I will write a blog about the cake this was intended for; A slice of trial wedding cake that I doodled on in edible ink; All the little powder pots before they went on cupcakes for the Victorian Medicine cakes; A Victoria sponge, whipped up at the whim of Felix Hagan; A lonely Christmas cupcake on a tiny single-cake stand; An impromptu batch of cakes made from all I could find in a friend’s cupboard; A 60th birthday cake shaped like a pyramid; Wedding cupcakes with white chocolate leaves; A chocolate beetroot cake pre-decoration (blog to follow about this one).

This year I was also sent a picture of a cake that was made by Serafina, inspired by my Easter Cupcakes, a lovely surprise:

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This made me incredibly happy; any other cake pictures inspired by mine would be most welcome!

There was also this cake that I made to practise smooth icing for the wedding cake. I then took it to work for everyone to doodle on for the recipient, Simon. I love this graffiti cake with about 12 contributors to the artwork:

Simon's cake

A picture that should have made it into the blog post about the wedding cake is this beauty of Duncan, the groom, “helping” during its creation:

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And lastly, a couple of photos of what it took to make the aged posters for the Victorian cupcakes – help from my very lovely, very tolerant house mates:

Poster making

There are many more photos from 2013, but that is probably enough for the moment. Now is the time to look forward to what baking adventures 2014 will bring… watch this space and Happy New Year!

Christmas Jumper Cupcakes

These little cupcakes for my colleagues were inspired by my Christmas Jumper Cake.  I wanted to make everyone in the office a gift and since we’d been sporting a lot of festive knitwear in December, I thought named jumper cakes might go down well.

photo 2 (19)Although they were all red and white, the jumper designs were all different and disappeared quite quickly!  I managed to get a few pictures of people with their jumpers before eating:

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Pills, Powders, Lotions and Potions

Victorian medicine cupcakes – yes, I’ll admit, it’s a fairly niche theme, even by my standards, but this Halloween I found myself furiously researching Victorian medicine aesthetics to come up with designs for Kill the Beast‘s Halloween party.

My first foray into dramatic baking is documented here where I created a Victorian wedding cake for their last immersive theatre party. Well, this year I was challenged to come up with something fitting for the ‘Black Market Ball’ where guests were told to dress up as Victorian aristocratic plague victims and to come to the ball to try and find the cure from the mysterious Talismen… With that in mind, I set up shop as ‘Patisserie Pharmacie’ offering an array of delicious cupcake-cures available exclusively at the ball.

After much googling of Victorian medicine, I wanted to offer four ‘cures’ in different forms – pills, powder, lotions and potions and to use blue and white as a colour theme to make sure the cakes looked good together. This was the result:

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Medicine cupcakes

Pills

Yes, I did make the man in the sweet shop count out all the blue Smarties from the jar…

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These were my favourite to look at and the most time consuming to make – you try sticking on little pill sweets to 25 cupcakes, making each one different and see how long it takes! I think perhaps they were the most obvious cakes but pleasing none the less. I should add that I also made the posters for the ‘Pharmacie’, inspired by ridiculous posters from that era where one dose of anything often claimed to cure all your ills.

Powders

Half way through making these, adding the bubblegum sherbet, I did think ‘it’s all gone a bit Breaking Bad…’ unintentional, I assure you.

PowderThe powder holders were teacakes wrapped in icing coated in blue sherbet.

Lotions

I was inspired by Neil’s Yard products for these ones:

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These were my favourite flavour wise – the ‘cream’ was cream cheese frosting atop a vanilla sponge.

Potions

You must take the dose all in one, appreciating the refreshing solution but do not consume the vessel with which it is contained.

black market-0737I agonised long and hard about these ones – I really wanted to make potion cakes and to put a shot on the cake (they contained sherry, if I was being all Heston I could refer to them as ‘deconstructed trifle’…!) but I fretted about putting the inedible bottles on the cakes. I did quite a lot of research into edible glass bottles and sugar sculptures but didn’t have the time or skills to make what I wanted. I decided to use the little plastic bottles, to put a warning on my signs, and to tell people not to eat the bottles (but the bottle tops were edible). These turned out to be the most popular cakes – it seems the unmarked potion is irresistible to the curious mind.

I’ve certainly never made so many cakes at once; it was exhausting but I really enjoyed the challenge. My favourite part was researching Victorian medicine, reading about all the weird and wonderful ‘cures’ and coming up with the designs that could be translated to cake.

Here are selection of cake related photos from the evening, but I should add that the cakes really were a very small part of a much bigger, delightfully gruesome and theatrically decadent affair, which I was very happy to be a part of.

Black market ball

With thanks to Andrew AB for the fantastic photos.

Ghost Cupcakes

With Halloween just round the corner I thought it was about time I dug up these little guys to write about them:photo 1 (1)It isn’t the best photo as I made these for Halloween a couple of years ago, but you get the idea.  To create the ghosts, I used white fondant over marshmallows and drew on their expressions with writing icing.  They were as simple as a clichéd white-sheet-ghost costume is to make but I really like how they look.  The writing icing I used wasn’t great quality and started to run – you can see some of their eyes are dropping – and whereas usually this would have annoyed me, I thought it added to their spooky appeal.

Anyone looking for a simple Halloween cupcake design that kids can easily make – these are perfect.  

Not that you should have favourites, but this guy was mine:

photo 2 (1)This year I am planning Halloween cakes on a much larger scale.  Last year I made the Victorian Wedding Cake  for a Halloween Party, and this year I will be baking for a similar event… I’ve said enough already, watch this space.

Airfix Cakes

It was a couple of days before Father’s Day this year when I walked past this poster on the London underground:

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I was suddenly struck by memories that hadn’t crossed my mind in years, those of my father and my brother and their endless dedication to Airfix models when I was young.  From seeing that poster I was hit with all kinds of imagery and thoughts; the smell of the turps to get the brushes clean, the drips down the side of the little metal paint pots and the endless, tiny, fiddly plastic parts that they used to spend hours agonising over at the kitchen table.  I never took part in the Airfix painting, it was something for my brother and my dad, plus I was the youngest and as such had little time or patience for such delicate matters.  My brother used to take part, but really, it was my dad’s hobby, something he did as a child and would probably still love to do given half a chance.

My brother and I were going home to surprise my dad on Father’s Day, so, inspired by the poster, I decided to make my dad Airfix cakes.  Actually, my first idea was to get him to the exhibition, which proved impossible as he is not London based, my second idea was to get him a book about the exhibition, but I didn’t get a chance to visit before I went home, so I settled on cake.

I was in a rush (when am I not in a rush?) to complete these, but decide to make a fully assembled plane, parts of the model before it had been assembled and, of course, a little paint pot.

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The paint pot was my favourite part:

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I used glycerine to make it look shiny like the paint.  I’m sure the plane isn’t anatomically correct (in fact I know it isn’t, my dad told me as such and explained why, but I’ve forgotten!), but I went for ease rather than true to form as I was so pushed for time.  I was also working in marzipan as it is my dad’s favourite but I find it is a bit trickier to get as neat as fondant icing.

I then had to carry these across London on a very hot day, home to Stratford-upon-Avon and by the time my dad got to open them, they were a little worse for wear.  He liked the sentiment though and had fun crash landing his plane before eating it:

photo 4 (11)The best part is that the exhibition is on till the May 2014, so we’ve still time to go.