Category Archives: Cakes

Baby Shower cake

A 3 tiered cake, hexagonal vanilla base, round middle and the little top was Chocolate and this was the stage for the main attraction – Barry the Bear!

This cake was for the lovely Sheelagh who was about to go on Maternity leave. As we already knew she was going to have a beautiful baby girl I was able to make the cake with a little pink. After trawling the internet I combined a few ideas as I wanted the cake to look classy, just like the mum to be whilst also being a little different. I stuck to the traditional white fondant for the base and top with a lovely pink ribbon about them but for the middle layer I wanted something a little different. I do think that piped roses really add to a cake and it makes it stand out a little more than a generic white cake.

Once the cake elements were all decorated I had to decide what exactly I was going to put on the top. Looking at all of the colours of icing I had, I did have a lovely chocolate colour so I decided that a cute little bear would be perfect. Although as I had never made one before I had to trawl the internet to find a video on how to do one. Got it right on my 1st attempt and it even resembled a little bear – I roughed it up a little to bring his fur to life and added the obligatory little patch to him, oh and named him Barry.

Was happy that the cake made it in one piece to the office – although Barry had to have his little ear stuck back on, poor little thing!!

Barry

 

 

 

 

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Catch up continues

40th Birthday cake

Poker cake

This cake was just a little one that I made for James’s friend as he was going to be the big 40 and loves a game of Poker so the design was a no brainer. I managed to get a playing card cutter which I thought would have been perfect, however when I decided on the cake, I realised that the cutter was a little large! But not to worry, I changed my idea to look like a poker table with some oversized cards and obviously with some poker chips. They were really easy to make, roughly measuring the size I needed for the chip I placed little white balls of fondant on the circle and lightly rolled over it with a rolling then Hey Presto we have some poker chips. Happy with the end cake, although if I have to make this theme again will definitely make the cake  bigger or the cards a little smaller!

A little bit of Gardening – Cake style!!

Over the past few months I haven’t been baking much, well the odd cake here and there but nothing to write about. That changed a few months ago when a work colleague asked if I could make her husband’s 60th Birthday Cake. As a keen Gardener she was looking for a Lemon cake that looked like an allotment. Looking for some inspiration I had a look for some ideas online and I had 2 options, decorate with Fondant icing or buttercream. It was decided to go with Fondant so that the cake wouldn’t be too sweet so I go t to work planning it all.

Basic things needed for any respected allotment –

* Shed

* Vegetable patch complete with Vegetables

* Flowers

* Wellies

* Flower boxes

* Lovely little picket fence

* Grass

Not a long list, but when you are contemplating making them from fondant it certainly feels like one. I made the decision to make the cake completely edible, which meant that the shed had to also be made out of cake. I would say that the cake was 99.9% edible, had to but some skewers in to hold up my tomato plants!

Part 1 of the plan – make some vegetables and Wellies.

VegetablesWhen it comes to vegetable patches I am far from an expert so I decided to keep it simple. The list consisted of Carrots, Parsnips, Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Beetroot, and Tomatoes. Obviously I knew what they all looked like but trying to produce miniature vegetables from icing did prove to be a challenge. Every two minutes I was asking James, ‘what does this look like?’

Thankfully they were all easily identified by James, so on to the Wellies. Stupidly I though these would easier than the vegetables, but that was certainly wasn’t the case. I had 3 attempts until I managed something that resembled some kind of footwear, there could be a plausible debate as to whether they could pass for Wellies.

Part 2 of the plan – make the cake (easiest part!!)

Onwards and upwards, it was time to make the cake, which is something I could do with my eyes closed. I used the zingy lemon cake recipe from the BBC food website as I have used it in the past and it was pretty fool proof. As well as the 9 inch main cake I had to also make a miniature cake that in my head would become the shed. Cake turned out well, as expected as did the miniature one. The bonus was that there was cake left over so I could ensure the cake tasted nice before I spent hours covering and finishing it.

A cake may look good but if it tastes awful then it becomes a waste of time.

Part 3 of the plan – cover the cake and make it resemble an allotment

As the cake was going to be covered in fondant I decided on colouring some white fondant a lovely green colour, although not a dark grass green as I didn’t think that would look edible. I was more than happy with the outcome of the icing, the colouring was really easy and several hours of kneading later I had a lovely shade of green to cover my cake. Once the main cake was done, I turned my attention to covering the shed. Using some brown fondant I covered the mini cake and scored it slightly to make it look like wood. Then added a little window and a flat roof. I did want to do a proper roof, but the icing just wouldn’t sit properly so I had to go with the flat one, and it didn’t look too bad. I also made some little flower boxes, and also the beds for the vegetables.

With all the elements ready all I had to do was put it all together. Once it all came together I was really pleased with how it looked, I added the little fence and a gate, as helped to hide a few little imperfections.

Big Bucks Bake Off 2015

Each year the Eden Shopping centre hosts a food festival and there is a Big Bucks Bake Off which is judged by a celebrity chef/baker. The first year I entered it was Mary Berry but I wasn’t a winner with my lemon and coconut cake. Last year it was Jean Christophe Novelli and again I was unsuccessful with my lemon and blueberry cake. Although I did get some positive feedback from him so that was good enough for me.

For the competition this year the judge was Gregg Wallace and I decided to give it another go. Trying to come up with a cake was easy, after watching a few episodes on Masterchef it was clear that Gregg has an incredibly sweet tooth. I combined a few recipes and came up with a Sticky Toffee Cake with homemade Salted Caramel buttercream. That however was the easy part as I then had to perfect the cake and caramel, both of which I have never made before!

I did a practice run and it went well apart from the cake burning around the edge, and this could not happen to my actual entry as all you could taste was the burnt bits!

First Attempt, a little burnt

First Attempt, a little burnt. Next stop the real one!!

I managed to get the flavours right and apart from the burnt edge, I was happy with the cake itself so on Thursday it was time to bite the bullet and make the one that would become my entry for the competition. I have never really used this method of making a cake before, working with date ‘pulp’ and melted butter but the recipe itself did come together quite easily and the raw mixture was rather tasty.

After over an hour we have Salted caramel!

After over an hour we have Salted caramel!

Flour all sieved and ready to fold!

Flour all sieved and ready to fold!

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Eggs, Muscovado sugar and Golden Syrup whisking away

Dates mashed within an inch of their life.

Dates mashed within an inch of their life .

To ensure that the cakes baked evenly I put a tray of steaming water at the bottom of the oven which worked and I was really happy with the sponges as they came out level and not burnt!! After a little rest and a coffee I had to make the Salted Caramel which was another challenge as the method was not one that I have heard of before. I always believed that when making caramel, the one thing that you shouldn’t do is stir the sugar as it will crystalise but the recipe I was following stated that you had to stir the sugar constantly until it eventually becomes an amber liquid. After about an hour and with help from James the sugar finally melted and kind of resembled caramel, so in went the butter, cream and the all important salt.

The easiest part of the recipe was to make the buttercream as it was a basic mixture until I added the salted caramel. This turned it into something so delicious that I could have easily eaten it all but sadly I had to put it on the cake. I decided to pipe the buttercream in the middle of the cake and on the top just to make it look a little fancy, using my large plain piping nozzle. I managed to keep a little of the salted caramel so I piped little droplets between the peaks and finished the cake off with some Thorntons vanilla fudge which I cut up into little squares.

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The entries this year were really good and when I dropped my cake off I didn’t think I would have any chance of getting a place. So I was really happy when I managed to get 3rd Place, I was so surprised and Gregg said lovely things about my cake.

Comments about my cake!    FullSizeRender

The winner of the competition was a lovely lady from Cake Club which was also good, although Alison should have won a trophy as her mint humbug cake looked amazing and I know it would have tasted lovely!!

We are going for a clean sweep next year – Fellow Bucks bakers look out!!

Mini Baker Grace- Treacle Scones

Hi I am mini baker Grace and I am going to be telling you all about my baking tales, the first of these tales are about my treacle scones I made for a Father’s Day tea.

Cold hands help!!

Cold hands help!!

I enjoyed making the Treacle Scones because they are different and challenging too. My tip would be to be quick making the mixture but take care with the dough, not handling it too much. Next time I am thinking about making plain scones so I can try them with Jam! I am also going to make a birthday cake for Grandpa Bill, not sure what it will be but at least I will have had some practice for Amanda’s birthday in February( I just hope Dad can help me as well as Amanda does)

Once the heated treacle is added the dough is nice and warm!!

Once the heated treacle is added the dough is nice and warm!!

I hope it is just as much fun on my next baking project, will keep you posted!! I hope you will all enjoy reading my posts and I will try to give you some tips as I learn them.

All ready for my assistant Amanda to put in the oven

All ready for my assistant Amanda to put in the oven

Write to you next time,

Mini Baker Grace

All baked, smell amazing and cant wait to try them

All baked, smell amazing and cant wait to try them

Afternoon tea all ready for a Fathers day treat

Afternoon tea all ready for a Fathers day treat

Teddy Bears Picnic

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With a theme of a Teddy Bears picnic and the prospect of cake club in the sunshine I really had to think about what to make. I think every kind of summery fruit went through my head, and the more recipes I looked at the more confused my little brain got. As we were all praying for sunshine I had to make sure I picked a cake that was robust enough to withstand being sat in the blistering sunshine whilst remaining edible! My first thought was to make a teddy bear shaped cake, which would have been a good excuse to use my ‘grass’ piping nozzle but quickly talked myself out of that, it would be like watching a Snowman melt in the winter – and there is nothing more depressing than that. So several hundred Google searches later I decided on a Raspberry and Lemon Polenta Cake. This was the recipe from the Good Food website and was tagged a ‘summery’ cake so ideal for a day in the sunshine. Another deciding factor was that I had some fine cornmeal in the cupboard that I needed to use and I have the right amount so killed two birds with one idea.

Cakecake1cake2

That is all from me for now but I am hoping that the next post is going to be from Mini Baker Grace

So watch this space everyone.

Cherry Cookies and Butterfly Buns

It is amazing how time flies; it’s been 2 weeks since I updated my tales of baking!!

The two things I have made recently are White Chocolate and Cherry Cookies and some vanilla Butterfly Buns.

For the cookies, I was using French glace cherries and some bake stable white chocolate chips which I eventually found in Tesco. I got a recipe for vanilla cookies and added my extra ingredients and hoped for the best. They looked promising before going into the oven, but I forgot about how much cookies spread in the oven and 15 minutes later I was left with a slab of cooked cookie dough. Although that isn’t a bad thing really, they did taste nice and that’s the main thing!

cookie              cookies           cookies1

Last Saturday I didn’t know what to make, but as usual I had the urge to bake. This was also the day I decided to try a new product, Stork with Butter. I had read a few things in the world of social media about how good it was, and as shown in the advert on TV the cakes were supposed to bake better, evenly and higher and when has an advert ever promoted a bad product!! So I had to test this out for myself and I decided to make some butterfly buns.

I made the mixture with part self-raising flour and part cornmeal flour as I do like the flavour and texture of the cake it makes. This was a 2 egg mixture and it made 12 good-sized buns, although I did fill them a little unevenly so there were a couple of butterflies with chunky wings, but nothing wrong with that!!

I made the buttercream with Stork with Butter too and I would always just use butter but since I was trying a new thing I had to go the whole hog! Whilst my mixer was beating away I was impressed how quickly it went light, white and fluffy and it passed the Grace test. Once I cut off the tops, that would later become the slightly misshaped wings, I decided to hide a little strawberry jam under the buttercream so everyone got a little surprise. As with all good butterfly buns I finished them with a little dusting of icing sugar and just to add a little or colour I added some hundreds and thousands.

Butterfly 2 Butterfly

Butterfly Buns have been around for a long time and always be, they are a classic and I urge everyone to not forget about these little treasures.

 

 

Cake club on Sunday so need to get my thinking cap on as to what to make, theme is teddy bears picnic and its outside. What to make??????

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