Month: May 2015

FAQ: How to measure the volume of a cake tin?

FAQ: How to measure the volume of a cake tin?How to measure the volume of a cake tin

How do I measure the volume of a cake tin?

This is one of those questions I get asked a lot…. or rather “How much ingredients do I need for my teddy bear / football shirt/ sphere size cake tin?” (please enter any obscure measurement or shape tin in here!) and I reply with the same answer each time…

“If you can measure the volume of water your cake tin can hold I can work it out for you”


The volume of a cake tin.

I use a formula that is calculated from the volume of a recipe and then I calculate up or down from there. The original cake is my base line. Mine is a 6″ Madeira cake for which the cake tin holds 1200ml of water. Once I know what the volume of the odd shaped tin is I can calculate the ingredients. I learnt how to do this from Ruth Clemens on The Pink Whisk. It’s very number-y. You can see how I learnt to do this on this post or check out Ruth’s post here. It took me a while to work it out – especially when the calculation said 1 ½ eggs. I mean how do you get half an egg? (Actually I know the answer to that. You weigh it and use half!)

I’ve been asked so many times that I thought I better show you how I measure the volume of a cake tin.How to measure the volume of a cake tin

  1. The first step is to line your tin if it has a loose bottom. I use bin bags – the ones with no holes in!
  2. Then I add 1 litre at a time till I am 1-2cm from the top of the cake tin.
  3. Write it down or do a tally chart as you go so you don’t loose count. When in doubt go less water than more. I have found that less cake mix results in a taller, lighter cake.
  4. Tip out the water and check the volume against this chart below.
  5. If you need the steps on how to make the madeira cake have a look at this post which goes through it step by step. 

Madeira cake chart - April 2015

It’s that simple.


How to make an Xbox cake

How to make an Xbox cake

How to make an easy XBOX CAKE

This is an Xbox cake I made for Free Cakes For Kids. I always love getting asked to make cakes for the charity because it gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside but this one was a bit of a concern. “Why?” I hear you ask. It’s just a black box. All kids love an XBox. It’s just a small cake. It shouldn’t be a problem for you oh cake obsessed Emma. Oh no, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that we don’t have one and I know absolutely nothing about them and when you google Xbox a ton of images appear and having no experience whatsoever meant that I literally didn’t know where to start. The request was for an Xbox cake for a 10 year old boy who loved the FIFA football game.


Then Tim said “Just make the box with a controller. Don’t make it too difficult” after I was trying to work out how to get a FIFA game incorporated. And as always, he was right (just don’t tell him okay!) So that’s what I did and I have to say it was a really lovely cake to make. Pretty straight forward, simple design, black sugarpaste with grooves cut into it. And although I don’t like to make black cakes – especially for kids, the mum was overwhelmed by it when she saw it. I don’t know what she was expecting but she was so thrilled with it. I totally welled up when I saw her response (to be honest I’m welling up now just thinking about it) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Giving something as simple as a cake to someone is the best feeling in the world. It says I care and I don’t even know you. I urge you to find your local group and give it a try.

How to make an XBox cake


I baked a rectangular cake and as it was so small I didn’t cut it in half to fill it with buttercream. I did a test and it turns out that plain old Madeira cake is just as yummy with just butter cream and sugarpaste on the outside.

The cake was covered with a crumb coat and then a second outer coating of buttercream making sure that the edges were as smooth and flat as possible.


The cake was then covered in black sugar paste. When using black paste it’s really important to make sure every surface is as clean as possible. Every little grain of icing sugar will look like massive spot on your cake. It’s difficult to do as the black sugarpaste is the stickiest of all the colours.


Smooth the sugarpaste till it’s nice and flat and remove the excess, then use side scrapers to get nice ‘pointed’ corners. I’m still working on this technique. It doesn’t really matter if they aren’t super sharp but the sharper the better. The way to do this is to hold one scraper flat on the top of the cake so it’s overhanging the cake and smooth from the side with the other scraper. The scrapers should meet at the edge. This gives the sharp edge. I’m getting there….slowly. Practice, practice, practice!


I then made a template to fit on my cake so I could mark where the grooves needed to go. You can download/print my template here. Enlarge or reduce it to fit your cake. XBOX CAKE

To make the marks I use a pin which has been sterilised in alcohol. Just pierce the paper into the sugarpaste.


I did the marks slowly – one at a time rather than all in one go. I was worried the paper would move or it wouldn’t look right. I had more control this way.

I used a thin palette knife to create the groove lines.


The lines weren’t as straight as I hoped but once they were all done I think I got away with it. Next time I’ll mark each line and create grooves between them.


Then came the tricky part. I cut out the circle in the centre )that’s the hard bit- working out where the centre is!) I made sure I went right through the sugarpaste so that when I removed the cutter I could just stick the pallette knife in the centre and lever it out. It works every time!


Use the same size circle cutter to cut out a green circle and place it in the hole using a little buttercream to ‘stick it down’. Try to roll out the green sugarpaste to the same thickness as the black so the top of the cake is flat.

I covered the cake board in the same green a week before and left it to harden so there wouldn’t be any finger prints in it. The cake was secured onto the board with a little royal icing.


To make the controller I used the paper template and cut out a block of black sugarpaste then curved and shaped  it.


I used tiny circle plunger cutters to make the buttons and controllers and made them stick by dampening the underneath of them with cooled boiled water. I used the same technique to add buttons to the front of the box. I also made big dents/holes in the front using a bulbous cone tool.


To finish a black length of sugarpaste which had been rolled into a string was added to the box and controller and the writing was added.

In all a really fun cake to make.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Bye for now


Chocolate peanut cookie recipe

Chocolate peanut cookie recipe

Chocolate and peanut cookie recipeEvery now and again I come across a cake or cookie and I simply have to have more of! That was the case with these chocolate peanut cookies. I was on a photo shoot in April and the client bought some of these in with her. She’s bought them at some trendy bakers and I kept sneaking back into the kitchen to eat a few more crumbs in between shots. I couldn’t get enough of them. So, I decided to try and recreate them.

Cookies are a funny thing. They need to be moist and chewy in my mind to be a success and these weren’t as chewy as I’d hoped for. They were deep and almost fluffy inside and the combination of chocolate chips with all those peanuts just worked. I’ve tried a few flavour variations on this recipe and this is definitely my favorite.

They’re great for making in a hurry as they are a success whether you chill the dough before baking or not (I couldn’t tell the difference between the ones I baked straight away and the ones that had sat in the fridge for an hour first) They also work well straight from the freezer- just give them a few extra minutes in the oven.

So, with the end result being more biscuit than cookie we still managed to polish them off in record time. Whatever you’d call them they were totally moreish and completely deeelish. Whats more, they took less than an hour from start to munch!

Chocolate and peanut cookie recipeChocolate peanut cookie recipe

Makes around 20

  • 150g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 100g peanuts
  1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to180ºC (Fan oven 160ºC).
  2.  Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla essence. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mix and stir until just combined.
  3.  Lastly, add the chocolate chips and peanuts. Be careful not to over mix the ingredients as it makes the cookies tough.
  4.  Place dollops of cookie dough onto the tray leaving space for them to spread a little and bake for 12-15 minutes until they start to turn brown at the edges.
  5.  Leave on the tray for a few minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack.
  6.  These chocolate peanut cookies will keep for a few days in an air tight container.

Chocolate and peanut cookie recipe


EmmaMT x

Book review: The Painted cake by Natasha Collins

The Painted cake by Natasha CollinsNatasha Collins

If you’re anything like me you love a new cake book. There’s something very appealing about finding a new technique, tip, recipe or design to add to your repertoire and The Painted Cake by Natasha Collins (above)is bursting full of great ideas.The painted cake

Natasha Collins was an illustrator and turned her talents from paint and paper to sugarpaste and cakes. She has a beautiful style or ‘hand’ as she puts it and transforms the plainest of cakes into something really unique. The owner of the ever popular Nevie-Pie Cakes she has written this book as if she’s talking to a friend who has no idea where to start ; and let’s face it not many of us would know where to start when painting a cake!

What’s in the book?

Your kit

This book is just beautifully illustrated (as you would expect) and the equipment page is no different. Just look at this page!The painted cake

You don’t actually need a whole load of new equipment to start painting cakes. In fact Natasha recommends only three sizes of brush to start with. She also uses water not alcohol to use for watering down her paints. I was surprised by this but when you think of the amount of cakes she must do it makes financial sense. Water allows the paint to be used in a slightly different way. Alcohol dries much faster- too fast for some painting techniques.

Design and painting techniques

I love these pages. They’re like an art lesson and they make the whole experience look like so much fun. Natasha shows how she plans her designs, marking out the initial flower and then how she layers up the colours. There are tips on mixing tones, how to add high lights and low lights and when to leave an area unpainted.

There are really good detailed guides on how to paint flowers so even the novice can get a beautiful cake first time round. The troubleshooting pages are also very informative you can even remove paint from a cake if you know how!The painted cake


No cake decorating book is complete without a load of yummy recipes and as Natasha says “There’s no point in spending hours (or days) perfecting a design if it’s not worth eating”. The recipes included in the book are sponge cake, fruit cake, cookies and gingerbread cookies. I have to say that this is the only part of the book that is let down by the layout. The recipes are a bit scrunched up and whereas normally ingredients and their weights are listed clearly one under another here they are in one long paragraph – which I find a bit hard to read when baking. Still it wouldn’t put me off the book.

Preparing your canvas

This is all about layering up your cakes with buttercream and jam and covering them in sugarpaste. How to get smooth finishes and how to place sugar paste on cupcakes ready to paint.

Painting projects

There are five levels of difficulty to the cake and cookie designs in this book, but even the easiest one gives you scope to add your own twist on it. Each design is clearly shown in small achievable steps and this is what makes this book so good. Whether you’re an avid painter or haven’t touched a paintbrush since your school days you’ll be able to do any one of these projects by following the steps. The projects include painting actual cakes, painting pieces of sugarpaste to stick on top or on the side, there’s butterflies made to look colourful and like they’re flying, chick cupcakes, cookies for every occasion and so much more- thirty projects in total!The painted cake


You’ve guessed it! There’s no guess work here to get- just copy these for ease of use.


Why this book’s a winner

Once I knew I was getting this book I couldn’t wait!  I was really excited about it. So excited that when I had a cake to do I painted it. (I’ll share that with you soon) before the book was even delivered!. Painting again was really good fun and felt quicker to design than traditional decorating methods but I would do that cake differently now I’ve read this book. I’ve picked up so many better practices.

The preparation and painting techniques are so clear that I really want to make a cake with flowers on it now. Natasha’s roses are so beautiful and in a style all of her own – the way a Cath Kidston rose is recognisable. I feel I have learnt a lot from this book. It is truly inspirational.

If I had to choose a favorite project I would say that I love the woodland cake with it’s separate painted elements. Great for getting kids involved. The bunting cake is really cute and would be a quick and easy cake to make.  I also really love the numbers painted onto sugarpaste ready to stand up as a cake topper. So clever!

The whole book is beautiful whether that’s in the illustrations, photography or the little details like forks full of yummy cake. There are loads of pieces of painted sugarpaste just creeping onto the page. Such a nice touch.

The painted cake

 The Painted Cake by Natasha Collins, published by Murdoch books available on Amazon

So how about you? Do you fancy painting your next cake? Have you ever painted a cake? I’d love to see. Why not post your painted cakes over on the CakesBakesAndCookies Facebook page and share the painted love?

Happy baking

EmmaMT x


The painted cake

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Murdoch books. (Thanks you guys)  All thoughts and opinions are my own and are honest and true.


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