Cupcake Catch Up

I noticed recently that a few cakes have slipped through the record keeping net so there are no recipes for you today – just cakey pictures for your voyeuristic pleasure.

passion fruit curd

This pot of deliciousness just had to be bought.  It led to the creation of…

orange cake with passion fruit curd centre

…these – orange sponge cake with a passion fruit curd centre, topped with fresh orange Italian meringue buttercream and finished with a drizzle of passion fruit and orange glaze.

passion fruit curd centre in an orange sponge

Gorgeous, golden, passion fruit curd in the centre of an orange sponge cupcake.

I’ve seen a few recipes for strawberry meringues using artificial strawberry flavourings, and one or two using freeze dried strawberries, but prefer to use fresh ingredients where possible; in the end I decided to do some experimenting using fresh strawberry purée for both flavour and colour (click on pics for full descriptions).

They tasted absolutely  divine but my word were they ever a faff to get baked!.

Basically I didn’t fully account for the extra moisture added by the fresh strawberries (albeit a mega reduced purée), took them out too soon and consequently had to spend hours in a cycle of reheating the oven, cooking the meringues for a few minutes, turning off the oven, letting everything cool, checking, reheating the oven…

This was not an ideal method of cooking them and resulted in slightly weepy meringues, BUT it truly was worth the effort in terms of taste.  The freshness of the strawberry flavour was exceptional and the light strawberry chocolate cream used in the ‘regular’ ones was a sublime compliment.  Having said that, the whipped white chocolate vanilla ganache in the cookie ones was pretty damned fabulous too!

So…more experimentation…longer initial cooking time…

Choc on choc on choc

Choc on choc on choc: chocolate fudge cupcake topped with milk chocolate buttercream under dark chocolate poured ganache. Decorated with whipped milk chocolate ganache, hand crafted marbled chocolate shards, dark chocolate shavings and a dark chocolate rolo.

Surely enough chocolate to satisfy even the most die-hard chocolate addict?!

Lemon Raspberry Ripple

Dreaming of summer with lemon raspberry ripple cupcakes: lemon sponge rippled through with fresh raspberry purée, topped with a swirl of fresh raspberry and white chocolate mousse, finished with a fresh, juicy raspberry.

Strawberry cupcakes with whipped strawberry chocolate ganache

Still bringing on the summer vibe with strawberry chocolate cupcakes: strawberry sponge with fluffy, whipped strawberry chocolate ganache, topped off with a chocolate dipped strawberry.

coffee with double choc

Coffee sponge cupcakes with a silky double chocolate topping (milk & white) of whipped ganache.

Ok, I think that’s the cupcakes all caught up now…there’s a couple of celebration cakes still to post but I’ll do those separately.

Goodness…I’ve just made myself very hungry…I’m off to see if Barn’s left anything in the cake tin…don’t know what you’re going to do…  😉

x

Chocolate & Orange Drip Cake

Chocolate orange drip cake

Drip cakes truly burst into the celebration scene last year and are set to be one of the bigger cake trends of 2016…so I thought I’d better get to grips with them.

Over the top decorations

I love this style of cake – there’s a cartoony visual appeal to the dripping ganache, and the over-the-top, pile it on approach to the decorations is so much fun.

choc orange and gold drip cake

Multi layers of sponge cake covered with chocolate Italian meringue buttercream and drip effect chocolate ganache; finished with orange chocolate cigarellos, gold tinted rolos, mini chocolate orange segments, orange, red and gold sprinkles, hand crafted chocolate shards and hand made chocolate lollipops

Inside

Inside we have alternating layers of chocolate and orange flavoured sponge, sandwiched together with orange curd and chocolate Italian meringue buttercream.

Choc orange drip cake

This was my first effort at a drip cake (which requires more skill than would be immediately apparent) and I’m quite  pleased with how it turned out – not 100% happy with it, but not ashamed either!

I’m really pleased with how my buttercream finish is improving and am now full of knowledge that will make the overall finish of the cake so much better next time around.  All in all, a good cake experience.

There most definitely will be a next time around for this type of cake; imagine it in multi colours for a kid’s party…or in pastels and tiered for a bridal shower…or…well, let’s just say it’s a very versatile cake style 🙂

What do you all think?  Do you like it?

x

Subway BMT Sandwich Cake

A cake to say thank you and farewell – after all, why buy someone lunch when you can get them a cake shaped like lunch instead?

A footlong honey oat
A footlong honey oat

A foot long chocolate vanilla marble cake, filled and frosted with milk chocolate Italian meringue buttercream, covered with caramel flavour fondant and topped with hand tinted coconut flakes and sugar sprinkles.

 

Sliced meats
BMT

Layered slices of hand crafted fondant pepperoni and salami (both vanilla flavour), and modelling chocolate ham (strawberry flavour)…

 

cheese, but not toasted
cheese, but not toasted

…with fondant cheese slices (orange flavour) on top.

 

BMT
and plenty of salad.

Hand crafted fondant tomato (tutti frutti flavour), cucumber (apple flavour), green pepper (kiwi flavour) and red onion slices (vanilla flavour); liquorice olives and modelling chocolate lettuce (lime flavour).

 

and three chocolate chunk cookies
I’ll have three cookies* as well please.
*Not real cookies

Cookies shaped from caramel fudge flavoured fondant, hand tinted and studded with real chocolate chunks.

 

That's perfect, thank you
That’s perfect.  Thank you.

Lunch set out on a printed sugar sheet tablecloth, completed with a message of thanks written in edible ink on a gumpaste napkin with an edible printed logo.

x

Rock Chic Roses & Vodka Themed Cake

Cake & CupcakesMy darling friend LL, who quite frankly should know better regarding timing ( 😉 ), made a last minute request for cakes for her sister’s 30th birthday.

Roses and Vodka Cake with Coordinating CupcakesWith insufficient time to create the desired vodka bottle cake (damn!  I’d have loved to do it), the spec then became very loose: a small cutting cake, with 30 cupcakes, the design somehow involving Absolut vodka.
I have no wish to cast aspersions here, but if at age 30 the ONLY thing people thought of in relation to you was Absolut vodka, would you not have a quick assessment of your lifestyle?! 😀

Red Roses and Absolut VodkaThe lack of time also explains why there are real miniature bottles of vodka on top of the cutting cake, rather than gumpaste ones.

Rock Chic Roses and Vodka Cakes6″ dense, moist, chocolate fudge cake, filled and frosted with chocolate Italian meringue buttercream, covered with fondant, decorated with hand crafted fondant roses and real (miniature!) bottles of Absolut vodka.

Cupcakes in two flavours: vanilla confetti with strawberry Italian meringue buttercream (silver cases) and chocolate sponge topped with white chocolate Italian meringue buttercream (black & white cases).

I think with under a week’s notice, this cake design worked out rather well 🙂

x

Butterfly Birthday Cake, made by Minions

The whole thingFrozen Themed Cake

 

 

 

 

 

When I’ve previously made birthday cakes for Barn’s niece she’s been a little young to grasp the concept of ‘you can have anything you like for your cake’ and there’s been a lot of parental input in terms of theme.

This year she was in full on imagination mode when she asked for, “A butterfly cake…with Minion eyes!”

Despite loving the concept I reckoned the end result might be a little scary looking so we agreed that she would have a butterfly cake with Minions involved somehow.

Butterfly cake from aboveAnd so this three layer vanilla and strawberry sponge cake was created – a butterfly cake being crafted by Minions.

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Steampunk Meets Burlesque Top Hat Cake

I was asked to create a cake for my friend LL’s partner and the commission came in my favourite form – vague and mostly up to me.  To be precise, the spec was: “A hat, involving purple, with some kind of burlesque-ish touch.”

I know a little about the lady in question and her tastes, so this is what I came up with:

Steampunk meets Burlesque

I have to be honest with you…I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out 🙂  I’m also really pleased to know that LL was over the moon and her lady absolutely loved it.

Chequerboard design inside the hat cake

This four layer cake is a heavenly combination of purple velvet cake and caramel sponge cake, baked to form a chequerboard pattern when cut.

Filled with whipped white chocolate ganache, frosted with dark chocolate ganache, covered with caramel flavoured fondant, finished with hand crafted chocolate buttons, gumpaste flowers, fondant detailing and non-edible feathers.

Label in the hatband

A fondant label tucked into the fondant ‘leather’ hat band, with hand crafted, edible ‘antique’ chocolate buttons.

Buttons & Flowers detail

Hand crafted chocolate buttons and gumpaste flower detail.

Purple hat cake with button, flower and feather trim

I think this might be my favourite cake to date, hope you like it too 🙂

x

3D Elegant Corset Cake

Ever since my early days of cake making, when Busty Bertha was created, I’ve wanted to try my hand at the infinitely more elegant 3D corset cake.

Corset Cake 1With complete free rein on the design of Big Sis’s birthday cake, an opportunity was clearly presenting itself and the time had quite obviously finally come.

Bottom to top: 5" cake - 2 layer 4" cake - 3 layer 5" cake - 3 layer I'd started to carve at the bottom before I remembered to take the picture!
I’d started to carve at the bottom before I remembered to take the picture – this was 5″,4″,5″ tiers

Why was a corset cake appropriate for Big Sis? Well, we’d had the fine dining experience and to complete things, I felt a little tasteful burlesque would be just the thing to have with coffee and cognac.
Ok, a little tenuous, but I really wanted to make this cake 😉

Carved cakesThe cake was made up of eight layers of vanilla Madeira, filled with lemon buttercream, stacked and carved into shape.

The ease with which the shaping took place was incredible…I thought I’d be there for at least an hour shaving bits off and trying to get the curves right…in the event, it took about 20 minutes.  A very pleasant surprise.

Cake pop breastsThe curve of the breasts was made using crumbled cake off-cuts mixed with frosting to make a mouldable paste (like cake pop mix).

A fresh, zingy lemon Italian meringue buttercream was used to fill and frost.
Crumb coatedFirst the rough, crumb coat…

Second coat…then the much smoother second layer.  And then a third, finishing layer which filled in and smoothed out all the little dimples you can see in this picture.  I forgot to photograph the final buttercream finish but it was smooooth!

The whole cake was then wrapped in fondant and detailing added.

Embossed front panelThe front panel was embossed then hand tinted with edible silver dust.

Silver painted back panelThe panel underneath the lacing was hand painted with silver before the lacing detail was added.

Corset cake - backThe back lacing detail and bow were my favourite part of this cake…so dainty and effective.

Corset cake - frontThe ‘fabric’ top and draping details were created from thinly rolled fondant, which was then folded, tinted and lustred with various grey, silver and pearl dusts.

Corset cakeThe flowers were made using a simple rolling technique to create a fabric roses type effect.  These were the only non-edible part of the cake, and only because I’d used the diamanté embellishments.

Presented on a simple white cake stand with slender, curved, silver candles to give a pretty finish.

This cake gave me a real indication of the progress I’ve made and the increased proficiency that is coming with experience.  It felt really good to know my skills are continuing to improve.

What do you think?  Do you like it?
x

Nancy and the Scarlet Slipper

Hot on the heels (sorry) of the dragon slaying shoe, I was asked to do another shoe cake – this time a friend of mine wanted to surprise one of his friend’s on her 50th birthday.  He said she likes shoes and her favourite colour is red…apart from that, the design was left to me. Shoe cakeTaking a huge amount of inspiration from the extremely talented Iris Rezoagli of Cake Dreams by Iris, I created this high heeled shoe cake.

The shoe box cake is a four layer vanilla Madeira cake, filled with strawberry jam and vanilla Italian meringue buttercream.High heeled shoeThe gumpaste shoe was made using the heel mould and sole cutter from the kit I used last time.  However, because I decided to go with a platform sole, it was necessary to create my own toe and heel strap templates.  There was some cursing involved.  And maybe a little bit of pencil throwing.  Got there in the end though.

The upper of the shoe was created using two layers of gumpaste; I made the lacy detail with a heart shaped cutter and two broderie anglaise cutters.  I was initially planing to use Cake Lace but the lace mat I’d purchased wasn’t big enough, and patching bits together wasn’t going to work.  Not to worry, Plan B came out just fine.

(As it happens, I have a future cake planned that will utilise the cake lace, and allows me time to buy a larger lace mat!  That’s assuming I can make it work.  General consensus is that it’s a doddle to use, but I reserve judgement until actual usage has occurred 😉 )

The bow on the shoe and the black flowers (of undetermined species) are both embellished with non-edible diamanté.

PoppyHand modelled gumpaste poppy(ish) flower set against black satin ribbon.

ImprovementsThere are a few key areas for improvement, as detailed above, plus the top of the cake was still sloping at the edges – dammit I will get a straight finish!

That said, I’m really, really pleased with how the shoe came together and the over all look of the cake.  I had fun making it.

The recipient was reported to be delighted and amazed and so all is well in my little corner of the universe.

x

Never mind Valentine’s Day, it’s Medieval’s Birthday!

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, Barn and I tend towards an attitude of: “We will not be forced by commercialism into a faux display of demonstrating our love for each other, on a specific day, through the purchasing of unimaginative items such as flowers, chocolates and cards .”

The things he does for me unprompted, day to day, throughout the year, mean far, far more to me than any calendar decreed gesture.  Putting my clean PJs to warm on the radiator ready for when I get home from a late shift, looking in charity shops for books by my favourite authors, quietly changing the bed linen while I’m in the bath, and slipping a hot water bottle between the sheets on my side of the bed – this sort of gesture whispers sweet nothings to me in a way that a bunch of roses never could.

However, we’re fully aware that not everyone feels as we do, particularly when they are younger and fairly recently ‘coupled up’.  Medieval’s birthday falls on Valentine’s Day so, based on the assumption that he’d prefer his celebration to be à deux with Mme. H, I’ve never really considered organising anything for him.  While having a planning meeting for the upcoming celebrations for Big Sis and Mum, I discovered that this base assumption was erroneous.

“Hang on a minute,” he said, with a big old grin on his face, “I know of at least one birthday that comes before either of these two…”

“Ach, you mean yours?”, sayeth I with an airy wave of my hand.  “Don’t be daft, that’s not going to happen.  You know we don’t bother with yours.  It’s tradition.”

“Hahaha!” said everyone in the room, including Medieval, and we pressed on with our planning session.

Of course, the minute everyone left I phoned Big Sis, Mum and Mme. H, and together we hatched a plan to surprise him.

For a variety of reasons going for a ‘proper’ night out was not a viable option so it was decided I would cook a meal, which would be hosted at Mum’s house.  I find cooking in a kitchen other than my own to be a ridiculously difficult thing to do and rarely achieve the results I would at home, so I figured I’d make most of it in advance in my own kitchen, then ferry everything over for finishing off at Mum’s.  Logistics be damned!

If you’ve read the VIPs info page of this blog, you’ll already be aware that Medieval has something of a penchant for meat and chillies, which made Tex-Mex the obvious route to go.  However, when it comes to home cooking Tex-Mex , my experience to that point had been limited the occasional chilli con carne or tacos, fajitas and enchiladas made using those everything-included kits you can buy from the supermarket.

After wading around the internet amongst some fairly horrid sounding recipes (lots and lots of pre-processed ingredients), a superb tip-off from Baby Bro led me to The Homesick Texan.  What a flipping great site it is!  Most of the dishes I eventually made were inspired by recipes found on there.  I say ‘inspired by’ as quite a few ingredients were not readily available to me in the UK, thus forcing an English twist on things…Tex-Mex-En, if you will.

In the course of researching recipes for this meal I discovered two things:

Firstly, the paucity of my chilli knowledge – I need to learn about the heats, flavours and nuances of different types so that I can make better substitutions where necessary.

Secondly – I have no desire whatsoever to try this thing called Velveeta.  I do not feel the slightest bit deprived that it’s not available here.  Surely it’s not really cheese?  Does it actually qualify as a dairy product?  I believe that unopened it can sit on a shelf, unrefrigerated, for months.  Dear gods people…why would you eat that when real cheese exists? 😉

 

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Hog Roast & Hoopla

INVITATION Posted on blogAs chief party planner and celebration organiser within my family I get plenty of opportunities to play with ideas and indulge my creative whims.  As years have gone by a ‘How’re you going to top that?’ mentality has arisen within me.  This can sometimes lead to me getting a bit carried away.  I may have done that with my plan for Mum’s birthday party in June.

See, the thing is, this party isn’t only for Mum, it’s going to be a joint celebration with Little M, who will be visiting from New Zealand with Baby Bro and Lady S.  Much excitement!  There’s only a couple of days between Little M’s and Mum’s birthdays but until this year, physical distance has prevented the presence of either at the other’s celebration.  Of course this means I want to make this an extra special day.

On top of that, assuming Big Bro and Lady J can get down from Scotland (keeping all things crossed as we await their respective employers’ confirmation of authorised holiday time), it will mean that this will be the first time my entire family have been together for several years.  This calls for a extra, extra special party!

So, I’ve decided to throw a village fete themed party in my Mum’s garden.  There will be a suckling pig roast and BBQ, a beer tent, tea and cakes, games like hook-a-duck, hoopla and name the bear…and please, please, please, there will be good weather too.  All plans are being made with wet weather plan Bs in place, but it would be much better not to have to use them, so let’s keep things crossed.  I should probably point out at this stage that my Mum doesn’t live in a place with ‘grounds’ or anything…just your average suburban semi!

Getting this one right will involve a lot of crafting, pre-planning and organising…as well as some assistance from the ever helpful Petit Man and Medieval.

I’ve already designed the invitations (see edited version above) and have started creating lists of things I need to source…and sourcing them!  I’m going to have so much fun with this 🙂

Further posts as things progress.

x