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

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)

 

Christmas Jumper Cake

It has become standard for my mum to bake a fruitcake at Christmas time and leave the decoration for me to do when I go home.  I’m quite glad of this arrangement as I’m not sure I have the patience or the organisation to prepare a fruitcake properly – you know, with oozing boozy fruit, soaked for weeks in advance.  Luckily, she is a dab hand at this and so, this year as normal, a lovely square fruitcake was waiting for me on my return home.

photo (11)

I was thinking on what to do for the decoration and was struggling for inspiration. I wanted it to be massively different from the previous years’ snowman cake and still be original.  It seems fancy cakes are more popular than ever, and as I was searching the shops for last minute Christmas gifts was disheartened by the volume of pretty pre-decorated cakes you can buy. I wondered why I was bothering when I couldn’t think of anything unique.

It wasn’t until Christmas Eve when I really had to get the cake finished that this idea came to me.  I had been on a pub crawl with some friends the weekend before Christmas and the dress code was bad Christmas jumpers.  We were a group of over 20 and everyone made a splendid effort with the knitwear; we ended up being a plenty a-patterned Christmassy group singing festively down London streets.

I was musing about how popular Christmas jumpers have become this year and how easy it is to come across one without searching the back of your parent’s cupboards for a relic from the 80s when it struck me – an icing Christmas jumper draped over the cake. I rushed to the shops to buy the last few bits I needed – I wasn’t quite sure what pattern the jumper would have on it, but I knew I wanted it to be red. I managed to find icicle cutters at the last minute and after the traditional layers of marzipan and white icing, I came up with this design.

Image

It went down well with the family on Christmas Day and through some chance cutting became a V-neck jumper on Boxing Day.

ImageMy poor mother – one day I’ll make a nice conventional snow scene or flowers or something traditional to go on her cake, but in the meantime I’m happy for this icing jumper to join the festive knitwear craze.