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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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:

photo 4 (11)

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:

photo 2 (20)

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!

Snowflake Cake

The Christmas Jumper cake had left me slightly stumped this year.  I loved the design from last year but was determined not to repeat it, plus I felt a little bit jumpered out after producing 20 Christmas Jumper cupcakes for colleagues and wearing my own festive knitwear for most of December. So I was back to square one, asking myself what to do for the Christmas cake this year.

I was home in time  to be given a choice for the shape of the cake and decided that I’d attempt a little tiered cake, so picked out three circular tins of different sizes.  My mum also wanted me to decorate a cake for a gift so baked the remaining mix in a square, as per usual.

We had a festive baking fest - my mums fruitcakes pictured next to my mince pies.

We had a festive baking fest – my mums fruitcakes pictured next to my mince pies.

As seems to be my style, I decided to focus on texture for this cake and to use the little snowflake cutters that had made the Christmas Jumper cake so successful. This was also my first foray into using royal icing as a covering.  I love it.

First I covered the three cakes in marzipan and then cut out A LOT of snowflakes from white fondant icing:

photo 2 (18)

I wanted the snowflakes to dry slightly so I could place them at different angles on the cake.  When I was satisfied with my snowflake collection, I stacked the cakes (they were small and dense enough not to use dowels) and covered them in royal icing.  I didn’t worry too much about how smooth it was as I knew I was going to cover it in snowflakes, but did concentrate on getting a smooth swirl on the top.

photo 3 (14)

Moving quickly as royal icing dries very fast, I put the snowflakes all over the cake. Although in reality the cake was very pretty, it was hard to get a good picture of it because I had made white snowflakes on white icing (and I don’t own a fancy camera), but here it is, the snowflake cake:

photo 4 (11)I did a similar thing with the square cake, but with less snowflakes and swirled the royal icing to look like snow and the recipient was very pleased!

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:

photo 3 (15)

 

Snowman Cake

Ah, the classic snowman cake. A cliché I’ll admit, but fun none the less. This is going back into the archives slightly; the family Christmas cake from 2011. I’ve already written about my 2012 Christmas Creation (which is one of my favourite cakes ever) and how it has become somewhat of a tradition for my mum to bake a lovely fruitcake for me to decorate it however I fancy.

I only have poor quality pictures as this is pre good camera but in 2011 I decided on a snowman:

Snowman cakeI think I was quite limited on what decorations we had, this was a use what you can find jobby – his hat and scarf are coloured marzipan, left over from the layer beneath the icing – while I’m allowed to freestyle on top of the cake, there would be a family riot if I were to stray from tradition under the icing…

The Snowman was a little bit Tim Burton-esque in that he was a little sinister but I quite liked that:

Snowman close upYou can’t quite see in these pictures but he sat atop iridescent shavings.

So there you have it, a little blog of Christmas cakes past – now I’ve just got to think about what to do this year…

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.

Easter Cupcakes

These little cakes were for Easter 2012.

Easter Cupcakes 2012

I found the little Easter bunnies, chicks and egg chocolates in Aldi and set about thinking how to use them in a cake design. I ended up making cupcakes rather than a large cake as they are easier to divide in an office and can be left about as if from the Easter Bunny!

One of my pet hates with this sort of design is when people pick off the wrapped chocolates and leave the cake, but there was something really pleasing about the green grass cupcakes before I put on the Easter chocolate.

photo 1 (11)

I’m sure there are plenty of other designs in my future that start with this lawn of cupcake… Golf! Horses! Gardening! (you get the idea)

The only thing about this Easter design is that I’m at a bit of a loss on how to out do it this year. I’m always on the look out for interesting sweets and chocolates to use in decorating and have found something new but I don’t know if I can think of a design to beat these. Watch this space…

Last Easter my mum asked me to decorate her traditional simnel cake for the family. I wasn’t allowed to freestyle (as I am with the family Christmas cake) so had to stick with the traditional 11 marzipan balls to represent the Disciples of Christ (minus Judas). I didn’t have a blowtorch so stood there for ages browning the marzipan with a hob lighter(!) I wouldn’t recommend it as a technique, but here is the result, to prove I can be traditional… with extreme duress.

photo (14)