Pastel Layer Cake

This pastel layer cake was for the Easter table this year at a family gathering.

Pastel cake

Last year, immediately after Easter I saw a beautiful cake from yuppiechef and was very sad I hadn’t seen it before my well documented easter cake crisis.

The yuppiechef cake stuck with me all year which meant I had roughly 360 days to mull over the idea and put my own twist on it.  I love pastel colours and spent quite a lot of time in the run up to Easter finding different sizes of sugar coated pastel coloured chocolate eggs for the cake:

EggsTo make this cake, I made four simple vanilla sponges and mixed some sweetened cream to go between the layers.  I then dyed the cream into four shades of pastels and layered the cake.

Pastel cream

The final touch was to add the eggs on top, between the layers and at the base.  I have to admit, it was a slightly precarious cake and certainly couldn’t have travelled further than the few feet from the kitchen to the dining room.

Pastel cake cut

My brother was home for Easter and has a fancy camera and a talent for good pictures, thus I have a rather lovely collection of snaps of this one:

Pastel cake close upsThe cake was quick to disappear – a good job really as the fresh cream layers wouldn’t have lasted long.

Pastel cake slice 2

 

 

Flapjack Cake

This flapjack cake was for a colleague on her leaving day. Lisa had introduced ‘Flapjack Friday’ to the office and was leaving on a Friday so it seemed fitting that her cake included flapjack.IMG_0445

Originally I thought about making a normal vanilla sponge and put a layer of flapjack in the middle tier.  I also toyed with the idea of decorating using only flapjack but neither idea seemed right.  The former too dense/weird and the latter too messy.  I then did a bit of googling of ‘flapjack cake’ and found this interesting looking recipe from The Caked Crusader and decided to use it as the basis for a tiered cake.

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Instead of making one cake as the recipe suggests, I made one and a half times the mixture recipe (with added baking powder) and split it between three tins.  I then made the flapjack topping and only put it on one cake.  As the cakes were thinner than the original recipe, they only took 20 minutes to bake. After they were cool I constructed the cake with layers of butter cream and jam in between the tiers.

The final touches were the white chocolate splashes and the sugar butterflies, on which I wrote little thank you messages using edible ink.  If I hadn’t gone down the flapjack route as a theme I would have made Lisa’s cake butterfly themed as I know she likes butterflies, so it was nice to be able to combine to two.

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This was a deviation for me as I don’t often branch out into new cake recipes, preferring my tried and tested fail-safe sponge.  However, the recipe worked really well and having oatmeal in the cake really gave it a flapjack flavour, combined with the delicious buttery and honeyed oats on top.

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

Comic Book Cake

This comic book inspired cake was for a friend’s boyfriend.  I’d never met Patrick, but I was told that he loves comics, especially Marvel comics and if I was up for the challenge, Holly, his other half, wanted a surprise cake for his birthday.

I can’t resist a cake challenge and decided that a comic book inspired cake was too good an opportunity to pass up.  My one other brief was to include his name… here is how I responded:

Comic cake

I’d originality set out to make the cake Marvel themed by drawing Marvel characters onto sugar paper in edible ink to use round the edge with PATRICK in the white Marvel font sitting in the centre of a red cake. However, half way through drawing Batman, my other half came into the kitchen and informed me that Batman wasn’t a Marvel character.  So I swore, and changed my plans.

Holly had told me that Patrick’s favourite character was (unknown to me, pictured in the centre below) Invincible, who isn’t a Marvel character, so my mistake proved quite fortuitous in the end.

Comic sides

I enjoyed drawing the comics too much (a mixture of tracing and freehand) and I ended up with an excess of pictures, so I spent quite a long time trying to figure out how to arrange them and which to feature on top.

ComicsComicbook line up

It was at this point I decided to scrap the name idea in the middle of the cake and instead to stand up some of the characters.  I was able to slot the sugar paper into the icing so the pictures were undamaged. Unfortunately the edible glue reacted with the sugar paper which I had used to stick the drawings to the side of the cake, leaving slight blemishes on the sides of some of the drawings which was a shame, and not a mistake I’ll repeat.

Comic side

The cake went down well despite being a complete fire hazard when teamed with candles!

Day of the Dead cake

A skull cake for a 30th birthday.  There aren’t many people who I could have made this cake for.  Certainly a few eyebrows were raised when I said I was spending my evenings making chocolate skulls for a birthday – I got knowing looks of ‘but it’s January, not Halloween’ but decided to ignore them and plough on with my plan.

Skull cake 1

From embarking on this cake mission, I learnt that it’s incredibly difficult to source a skull mould out of Halloween season.  Initially I wanted a little 3D mould but had to settle for what I could get. I wanted as grizzly as possible, no cartoon skull and crossbones, so I could make the cake Day of the Dead themed.  Eventually I got my hands on a mould that allowed me to make 11 skulls at once.

Why skulls? Well I’ve already written about a the narwhal and Russian doll cakes – previous gifts for Clê – so her eccentricities and love of the slightly abnormal are well documented. This year I decided to focus on her fascination with skulls.  Thanks to Clê we have a few skulls round the house and one Halloween, while we were drinking wine and painting (our own) faces, she did this:

Day of the dead Cle

Thus introducing me to the Day of the Dead Festival (this was a few years ago now) and getting my cake brain ticking.

I started the prep for this cake almost a week in advance as I needed to leave the skulls to set overnight and knew I wanted lots of skulls in different colours but could only make 11 at a time.  There were lots of midnight baking sessions for this cake.

Once I had all the set skulls in different colours, a day before her birthday, I set about decorating them with what I had in my baking cupboard (yes I have one, it’s overflowing).  Edible glitter, paint and ‘sparkle flakes’ were the main decorating materials and I enlisted my other (very brave) housemate to help.  It took us about 2 hours to paint all the skulls differently.  I’m kicking myself because I didn’t count how many there were on the cake, but I can make an educated guess at nearly 50 and honestly, for aesthetic purposes, there could have been more.

Close up skulls

The side panels were also made from white chocolate with coloured chocolate swirls set into the panel.  I made these a couple of days in advance to give them time to dry and was worried about how they would hold up, but they proved pretty stable.  I added the edible copper paint to the panels as a final touch.  For me, this was a bit of an experiment into working with chocolate, I was playing around with what you can do, and I was a little disappointed with how the colours smudged slightly in the side panels.

Side of cake

This cake ended up being a lot bigger than I originally intended.  It was hugely impractical to transport and massively over the top – all perfect for Clê.  We ended up cutting it in the morning before any of us went to work, she took half to her office and the other half lasted the weekend and managed to feed about 15 hungry mouths after a video shoot.

I don’t think I’ve ever had someone in my life who it is so easy to make cakes for. I should re-phrase that; most people seem pleased to receive cake year on year but the beauty of baking for Clê is that thinking of different and interesting themes is never too difficult.

Back of cake

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!

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:

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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.

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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!