5 September 2012

Dancesation Expo! Baking up a storm!

An amazing, inspiring day of selfless, talented people coming together for a great cause in Danceaid ! Showcasing talent beyond words, through creativity, hard work and a need to do more than just ask to be heard.
I was honoured to have been asked to be a part of Dancesation Expo 2012, a fantastic dance extravaganza organised by my friends, Yvonne Chan and Candice Doogan de Rosales in aid of Danceaid.  As official sponsor, there was no way I was just going to do a plain run of the mill cake stand... I hope my small contribution helped to bring awareness to this wonderful cause!  Please do have a look at the website, and see the amazing work these guys do on a daily basis for the kids who need it most, both here in the UK as well as abroad.
If you are inspired yourself and still want to be a part of it, you can pledge a donation right here, whether big or small, every penny helps!  Thank you in advance from Dancesation for Danceaid!!!

Congratulations Dat on winning the raffle cake!   

17 June 2012

Happy BEElated...

Truth be told, I am still undecided about whether I like novelty cakes... Am I allowed to say that...?  I love and appreciate the craft and skills that go into making them, though am not sure that is where I want to be.  Though didn't I say that about sugarcraft before I had my first taste of it... Alright then... I am a sucker for the evolution my cake designs... :)

That's probably why I have yet to turn down any requests for cakes of this nature!  I think as
I am still very much learning and I love the challenge - so am always intrigued to see where these projects will take me and if I can deliver.

This time, it brought me to Bobbi - I didn't name her, her owner did!  Bobbi was a belated birthday cake for a friend, who is also a BEE by name... despite her innocent appearance, Bobbi is stacked with all things sweetly sinful, a moist chocolatey, pillowy soft chocolate sponge, sandwiched between chocolate fudge frosting and cream cheese frosting, and dark cherry jam... !

The wind changed.. Bobbi's face cracked
Though the biggest lesson of this cake was actually not in the making... I think it's important, as I write the blog and chart my cake journey, not to just showcase the cakes in all their apparent effortless  glory, though to show you what goes wrong when you are careless too!  So, as you can see, Bobbi, when finished, was a happy, beautiful Bee queen... though fresh out of the oven on Friday night, filled and covered and decorated by Saturday morning and ready to go by the afternoon.  So what went wrong? 

I think there were a combination factors that contributed to the downfall...  Maybe the jam "botox" injections into the dome ends of the cake, compromised the structure of the already moist cake before I frosted and covered it with the sugar paste. It could have been because it was finished not long before it made it's journey, the sugarpaste was still fresh and soft, and hadn't had much time to breathe and air dry a bit to set into shape. Or maybe the sugarpaste itself was a little thin (as you know how I feel about thick sugary icing!) ... or most likely SPEED BUMPS.  Too fast, too bumpy... Poor Bobbi... LESSON: Bumps do not like cakes.  

Smooth smooth pert BEEhind...
Quote of the night "Bees, chocolate cake.. it's the best"


10 June 2012


My Biggest Project to date... 4 tier wedding cake, to feed 450 people...

After a quick practice a few weeks back, and much to-ing and fro-ing with the flower choice, this was it, the big one.

This was a mammoth cake... the largest tier was 14", weighed around 9kgs, was covered with 2.5kgs of sugarpaste...The whole 4 tiers of cake itself need over 20 blocks of butter, 60 eggs, all tiers plus the extra 14" square cutting cake took 10kgs of sugarpaste... Epic, to say the least.

Having experienced this all first hand, I now I truly appreciate why there are typically large price tags that accompany beautiful wedding cakes. I started 3 days in advance of the wedding, baking on the Wednesday, and filling, stacking and covering on Thursday, Friday was a leisurely pace to finally finish and bling up and box the cakes ready for a 100mile trek to Birmingham delivery.  No kidding, wedding cakes take a lot of time, and love, to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for that one special day.

A true evolution of cake... from tin, to covered and finished
The tilting Turntable
As this was my first wedding cake, I decided NOT to risk it, and deliver the cakes individually boxed, and setup in situ. Definitely recommended for a cake this size, weight, and the distance that was needed to get there... it did mean another hour to finish once I got to Brummyland, though for peace of mind and a smoother, less stressful journey up, it was worth it!

This photo is just funny, looks like my hands are working 
at a frantic pace... hahaha!


Wasn't the Jubiliee weekend fantastic, so much regalia and the flying flags and celebrations! Loved ALL the street partying and general good feeling everywhere... Congratulations to the Queen, a truly remarkable lady!
Here was my efforts to join in the fun, actually, not too much, as I also had the wedding cake that weekend, though this was my contribution to a fantastic street party in Clapham!

This cake was baked for the same weekend as my BIGGEST project to date... THE wedding cake... Post to come...  

(I really need to find out how to upload these pictures properly, so they go where i want!!)


Cakes For Boys!

Trial Run to test the firey breath... :)
Yes, it's true... I am reallly getting all sugarcrafty... 

Well, this year has been all about cakes for girls, though what about the boys???  Of course we can't forget them either!!!   And what a fantastic project this one was, C was turning 4, and wanted a proper boy's cake, with some sort of dragon theme... Dragons... not TOO scary though... 

What's more exicting than a dragon cake that really breathes FIRE !!!! :)

A little pearlescence too... :)

Special Cakes (Part 2)

I am so poor at this blogging... I am so behind in logging all these new cake adventures I have been on this year!

Well, following on from part 1 of the cakes for lovely girls, I had another birthday cake in March that I need to tell you about. This one, was again more work with icing, though it was a happy medium, as I used my usual sponge recipe, and filled it with Rose and Vanilla cream, and fresh strawberries... then topped with multi coloured macarons! The birthday girl's favourite !!! Her other half dubbed it the best gracie cake he has had yet... The birthday girl was also very happy with it... :)

Hubby thought the concept was very cute, he liked the colours of the multi sized macarons, said they reminded him of the LV colours he had seen on one of their wallet designs! What do you think?

21 April 2012

Special cakes for special girls...

Well, there have been a few new developments in my cake baking journey. Following on from MIsty's cake, and my first proper dabble with sugarcraft, I got another commission for another birthday cake!  

This one was for a beautiful little girl, she was turning 3 and is the most girlie of girls. She wanted an Angelina Ballerina cake.. TWO tiers!  My first tiered cake... Ooo, I was so excited! For days before the event, I woke up in the middle of the night, just thinking about how I was going to do it, what I wanted to do...  It would be pink, very pink, frilly - it is a ballerina cake afterall.  FIlled with her favourites, strawberries and vanilla !

11 January 2012

For the love of Macarons...!

OK.. I have been meaning to post about macarons for a while now.  I am finally happy with a recipe and technique that seems to be less temperamental, and has worked pretty well for me… so am going to share it with you now... :)

When I first started on the journey of macarons, I followed the rules of Helene and Aran who’s blogs I absolutely love. The food and photography, both equally amazing… so effortlessly stylish, how do they do it…! Anyway, I digress... Even though I patiently planned ahead (something you KNOW I never do) and aged the whites, tried both the French and Italian meringue method… I was still getting mixed results each time,usually with a few cracked tops... or not the right texture, too crispy without chew... hollow tops... Arg!

It was only one day when I had one of my last minute decisions to make them for my cousin before he left the country the next day, that I stumbled across my now favourite recipe/technique!  NO aged whites ! Not one… and you know what, I am never that good at remember weights or measuring them precisely either…  but they still seem to work even with my less than refined attention to the detail. Much less wastage!

So here it is – my recipe and method using the French method (so much easier and less washing up!):
3 egg whites, room temperature (I have weighed them, and sometimes it’s around 90g, sometimes 100g depending on the size of your eggs, though it hasn’t affected the results)
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds (buy them ground, and then whizz them up again in the food processor to make them even finer for a smoother finish!)
50g caster sugar
Gel food colouring if using

+ Measure out the almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and whizz them up till they are thorough blended and you have a lovely fine almond dust. Not too long, just a few whizzes in the machine

+ Sift the mixture out in a clean bowl

+ In a separate bowl, start whisking the egg whites up, when they start to turn white and foamy, start adding the caster sugar, keep whisking till glossy, stiff, though not dry. If it looks like cloud, you have gone too far. It should look like shaving foam, glossy and smooth, though holding it’s shape too.  Add your colouring if you are using at this stage too.  Gel colouring works best, as you get good colour without too much trouble. Steer away from liquid colour, as this will alter the balance of liquid in the mixture.

+ Sieve the dry mixture into the egg whites… I think this double sieving gives a finer finish too, don’t be tempted to add the almond clumps that are left in your sieve to the mixture!

+ Now to mix the wet and dry... be firm for the first 4-5 strokes, use a strong folding action to blend the 2 mixtures and knock some of the air out of the egg whites. When the ingredients begin to meld together, slow down and be gentle at this point. You have come this far, you do NOT want to over mix your batter at this stage. 

+  Keep folding, till the mixture turns from a stiff batter to one that flows like a silky rice pudding, or oaty porridge! It's better to undermix at this stage than over mix. When you lift out your spatula, the peak of batter that is left behind should slowly fall back into the mix without trace...if it flows back too quickly, you have probably gone too far, if it holds it shape, then give it another fold or two...

+  Once you are happy with your mixture, pop it in a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe out your macarons onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment. The size is completely up to you, I like smaller ones, about the size of a £2 coin, though the ones you buy are usually a bit bigger... whatever you fancy!

+  Preheat the oven to around 180 degrees

+  Now, here is the bit that I think makes all the difference. Rest your piped macarons. You have to leave them out until they develop a skin, you know it is done when, when you can gently touch it with the soft pad of your finger, and it doesn't stick! This can take anything from 10mins to half an hour+ .  Depending on where you leave them, if it's a dry sunny day, or a cold, wet wintery one... though be patient, by allowing the skin to develop, my theory is that this is the key to giving them their signature frilly feet and shine, and preventing them from cracking when in the oven.

+ When ready, pop them in the oven, (I use the bottom shelf), as soon as you have put them in, turn the heat right down to around 150 degrees. Too warm, and the macarons will colour before they are cooked through, my oven does not have even heat, it's hotter on the left, so I tend to bring the heat down to 130 degrees... You should start seeing feet after about 5 minutes... don't open the oven before this. At around 8 minutes, have another look, you should have good rise of the frilly feet at this point, and the shells will be firmed up, check that they aren't colouring, and depending on the size you piped them, give them another 4 minutes if they are small, or anything up to 20minutes total baking time if they are bigger. Sorry, can't be more specific on this, I usually bake for 14 minutes if they are £2 size, and around 18 minutes for standard shop size - though it does depend on your oven. 

When out of the oven, let them cool completely, and they should lift clean off the baking tray...

Pair them up and sandwich with your favourite filling. 

The ones here are white ganache, one flavoured with rose extract, the other with matcha.  Be adventurous, and try flavours that you like... Ganache bases work best, as it gives you a firmer set filling that doesn't squidge out when you bite into it, though you can also try buttercreams, marscapone based frosting, jams, spreads... experiment... have fun!

8 January 2012

New Year, New Resolutions... New ideas...?

So.. the new year is upon us? What resolutions are out there ? There is always the usual weightloss one that everyone has... 1 stone... 2 stone... ? Why oh why is it soooOooOOo easy to put on, though so difficult to work off ???  Despite this, am determined to do it properly this time, with noticeable difference... hahaha ... !  We'll see... 

Other things to consider for the new year... More cakes ? New style of cakes... !

Yes, It is balanced on a mixing bowl... :P
Here is the birthday cake that I made yesterday for a very special little girl... The brief was pretty simple, just simple flavours, colour scheme - maybe pinks... it is her First birthday cake afterall... something suitably girlie :)  So armed with pretty much free license... I set upon a spring themed Butterflies and Blossoms cake. The 4 layers of vanilla sponge, and originally, I was thinking strawberries and cream filling, though with 3 layers of filling required, why not go Neopolitan, so one layer of Strawberry Cream with Bananas (her favourite) one layer with vanilla cream with fresh strawberries, and a thin layer of chocolate cream to finish it off.... Should be quite pretty when cut open?   

I am not usually very keen on sugarcraft, as I think icing cakes are a bit clawingly sweet... though I surprised myself with just how much fun it was to make! I think I may just have to experiment further... :P  In my defence, I used a whipped white chocolate ganache instead of the usual rolled fondant icing to cover and act as a base, so that it would be less sugary sweet. It did make it a bit less stable, and does need refrigeration before serving... though I think it will make it tastier in the long run...