Category: Birthday cakes

Anyone for tennis…..cake that is?

Last summer we were invited to our brother in-law John’s 50th birthday party. John and Jane live in Cambridge so we don’t get to see them as often as we would like to, so it was great to be able to be part of the celebrations

Tennis Racket cake

I offered to make John’s birthday cake as our gift to him and asked Jane what I should create. John is a tennis coach and is mad on the game, so to make a tennis racket was a no brainer! Jane sent me a shot of his raquet and then the fun began.

The cake had to be a little bit thicker than a regular racket (obviously) so there would be enough cake in the design to eat. I started by making  a paper template of the racket so I could see how I could make the whole design from one rectangular cake.  I cut the basic shape and then removed the parts that dipped in like where the strings are and at the top of the handle then I added all the layers of sugar paste. Icing the strings at the end was the scary part as if I slipped up it would affect all the straight lines I had already done. I just had to go for it.

The ball is also made of more cake but layered up. I literally had to cover the ball shape with sugar paste and then roll it in my hand to make it as smooth and round as possible. I then added the lines on the ball.

John was overwhelmed by the cake which made it a brilliant present to give and a fab surprise!

My Mum’s Madeira cake recipe is the best in the world

Madeira_cake_recipe

How to get great results with this Madeira cake recipe

When I was one years old, my mum made her first shaped birthday cake. It was a number one! I wish I had a photo of it to share with you. It started a long family tradition in shaped birthday cakes for many (let’s just say well over 30) years. She always made the cakes from her Madeira cake recipe then shaped them, covered the top with jam and covered the cake in marzipan and then with regular icing . To this day I still think this is the best taste combination -cake wise, it’s just a bit difficult novelty shaping wise.

The only Madeira cake recipe you’ll ever need.

This recipe will make a 8 inch round cake. Heat the oven to Gas mark 4 / 350.F/ 180.C

For a list of other size cake tins ingredients see this post here

You can bake one cake and cut it in half to fill the centre with buttercream and jam or you can split the ingredients between two separate tins.

Ingredients

6oz/ 150g butter
7oz / 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs
8oz /225 g plain flour
1 1/2 teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp hot water

The method to the cake madness!

1. Line and grease a 8 inch tin and set aside. Allow the oven to heat up to the correct temperature – Gas mark 4 / 350.F / 180.C. I measure out all the ingredients before I start as it saves time and I can concentrate on blending and not measurements. (Also a good idea if the kids want to distract… I mean help you!)Start by blending the butter and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can make this cake by mixing by hand but it will feel like you are running a marathon with all the physical exertion needed

2.Add the vanilla essence.

Mix it all up.
3. Add the eggs one at a time. To stop the mixture from curdling add a spoon of the flour as you add each egg.

 

4. Once all the eggs have been combined, add the rest of the flour with the baking powder and continue to mix.Ensure all the ingredients have been mixed to a smooth consistency then add the hot water-slowly- till it is completely blended.

What a nice smooth consistency!

 

5.Pour the cake mix to the tin and pop it in the oven for 55 minutes.

Fill those tins

6.Once you have removed the cake from the oven leave it to cool for 10-20 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Never leave the cake in the tin to cool completely as it will ‘sweat’ and go soggy rather than stay moist.
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7. To test if the cake is ready lightly press the top of the cake. If the surface springs back straight away it’s ready. If it slowly comes back it needs more time. Another way to test if a deep cake is cooked right through is to put a knife or skewer into the centre of the cake then pull it out. If it comes out clean then the cake is ready. If the knife is gloopy it probably needs another 5-10 minutes or so. If it’s only a little ‘wet’ give it another 2-3 minutes baking.

Mmmmmmm!

Remember that if you increase the size of the cake tin and ingredients then you need to increase the baking time. When I make a large 12 inch cake (round or square) I triple the ingredients and the cake always takes over 1 hour 45 minutes to be baked to perfection
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I have tried a number of other Madeira cake recipes but they never taste as good as my mum’s and are usually really heavy. She always bakes three times the amount and bakes it in a large rectangular tin then cuts out the shapes.

I use the same recipe but I split the mixture up into 2 or 3 tins. The cake comes out really light and cooks thoroughly – right through to the centre. If you are going to make it in one tin I suggest you do it the scoop and bake method.

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Scoop and bake

I read about this technique on a blog ages ago and was a bit dubious about it working – but it really does work! Ensure that the oven is at the right temperature before you start. Line the baking tin as usual and pour the Madeira mixture into the tin. Scoop the centre of the cake mix up to the sides so that you can see the bottom of the tin and then pop it in the oven. Avoid opening the door to peek! Don’t worry the cake will fill the hole, bake perfectly and be nice and flat. Don’t ask me how!

..Burnt on the outside, not cooked on the inside?

Another tip I picked up from a blog is that if your cakes bake too fast on the outside and not in the centre you can wrap the outside of the tin with folded newspaper. There should be about 4-5 layers of newspaper. It should sit just below the top of the tin and you can hold it in place with plain string. Make sure the string is plain/ natural as any plastic coating will melt and ruin – not to mention probably poison, your cake.

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I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I have. Let me know what your favourite combinations for Madeira cake recipe are. I always use raspberry jam but have recently used black cherry which is good too. My mum uses apricot. The choices are just endless.

 EmmaMT

N.B.

A little note about other size cake tins 

Since writing this post I have been asked loads of times for different ingredient quantities for different sized cake tins for this Madeira cake recipe. I finally did a post with an easy to follow chart which you can see here. I hope that helps all you keen bakers out there. EmmaMT (15th September 2013)

Another note….

I have had so many comments on this post I thought I would just take a second to explain that I wrote this post in May 2011 and have had so much more experience and success with another version of this cake since then. If you have read through all the comments you may end up a bit confused! My advice would be to go to my other Madeira cake recipe post here where you will have a ton of success! I hope that clears things up a bit. EmmaMT ( 25th April 2014)

My New Kitchen

Up until now I have only been dreaming of making cakes for a living. There are so many hoops to jump through, insurances, legal documents, learning the trade to a high enough level, but at last we have got the ball rolling.

The practice cakes

I’ve been making cakes for friends and family for over two years now  just for practice. Tim said that if I really wanted to do this for a living then I’d have to practice and make a cake every weekend. Now, I’m not sure if that would have been a good idea for our waistlines, but he did have a great idea. He said I should put myself out there a bit. Every time Beau or Darcey get invited to a birthday party I should offer to make the cake. I thought it was a great, yet daunting idea, but that’s exactly what I did. I made loads. Then I started to make for all our family’s birthdays and anniversaries and also I helped to celebrate big birthdays, weddings, babies and leaving do cakes at work.

Experience

It’s funny how the time passes by and all of a sudden you have been practicing making cakes for over two years. I daren’t add up how much I have spent on these free cakes. I think Tim would freak out. But when I look back on some of my early creations I can see how I would improve on them today and I know that it would take a lot less time to make them and I would know exactly how much ingredients/ icing/ what size cake board I would need as I have that experience under my belt. I’m also a lot more confident with icing. I know how to make it do what I want it to.

Here are the very first cakes I made…

Spiderman cake
Power Ranger cake
Batman Cake
Dinosaur cake

Getting the ball rolling.

So where to start? I think in order to have a cake decorating business the first thing I need is a kitchen that works. With my original kitchen the layout was all wrong. When we moved into this house 4 years ago it was the first room we wanted to do, but as it is also the most expensive it is also one of the last to be attacked. The last few months have been a baking nightmare as the oven was seriously on its last legs and making cakes in an oven that just gets hotter and hotter as it bakes (whatever temperature you put it at) really doesn’t inspire confidence! So we have finally got our act together and got the ball rolling.

The new kitchen

As our kitchen and dining room are open plan we only need the patio doors in the dining area. We still had the original back door in the kitchen so we have just had that removed and a new window put in place. It’s funny what a difference it makes to how the room feels. Our builders Malcom and Steve (I would highly recommend these guys. Fast friendly and the work is impeccable)  got to our house at 7am and by 1pm we had a cosier kitchen. The old double glazed window and door obviously weren’t good at keeping the drafts out as the warmth in the room now is amazing!

The flat pack mountain

The Ikea kitchen has been delivered and is piled up high in the living room. Tim couldn’t wait to rip out the old units. I hadn’t finished emptying them before he started pulling them off the wall! Any excuse to get the tools out! We also couldn’t get Beau out of the room. She had just returned from her first ever sleepover party and was very handy with a hammer (in her best party dress!) She spent the whole morning pulling out all the old screws from the units we were putting in the garden.

Beau and the hammer
Tim supervising
And then there was none!
The old kitchen ..in the garden!

Now we need to do the decorating before the kitchen is fitted. It’s got grey gloss units. Very modern and I can’t wait! Once it’s all in (new oven ! yay ! and all) and we are tiled up I can get health and safety round to check out the standard of the kitchen and then The Classy Cake Company will really have lift off!

Then let the orders come rolling in!

Mabel’s cute froggie cake.

A baby’s first birthday cake is so special.

I was asked by the lovely Julia at Woman & Home (Fashion Editor and all round style guru) to make a cake for her beautiful niece Mabel.

I’d heard alot about Mabel. We were a close knit group at W&H and when there is a baby on the way in someone’s family we all get to live the experience. So I knew all about Mabel and had seen all the baby blue eyed pictures, but I’d never actually met her. And I love a baby!

She was coming up to her 1st birthday and Julia and Mabel’s mum Faye wanted something really personal. Mabel has one of those wooden frog toys on a wire spring that bounces around and it is one of her favourite toys. So they decided that the cake should be based around the froggie.

Mabel's toy frog
My sugar paste frog

After emailing back and forth about the cake with Faye, she came up with the brilliant idea to have the frog sitting on a lily pad in a pond. I thought that was genius as it was a really easy way to make the cake super pretty. Nothing beats a pale blue pond with pretty pink lily pads to make a cake gorgeous!

I delivered the cake on Sunday morning in time for the family party and I think the cake went down pretty well. Julia texted me the next day to say that her brother said that it was the best lemon cake he had ever tasted! What a huge compliment!

When I was making the frog model my daughter Beau who is seven, wanted to play with the sugar paste and make her own  frog for her own cake. She did it all by herself. She made all the frog and I made all the cake! Beau’s frog and her cake didn’t actually get together as the cake was eaten up before they had a chance to meet! And Julia’s brother was right. It was a pretty delicious cake if I do say so my self. But Beau’s frog is pretty cute too!

Beau's Frog

It’s Melissa and Luke’s birthdays!

Baking birthday cakes is the most fun!

Melissa is my lovely sister in law (you honestly will never meet a more generous person in your life – (and she’s a nurse too!) and it’s her birthday. It just so happens to be her fiancé, Luke’s birthday just a few days earlier and as it was his 30th Melissa asked me to make a cake for him. How could I refuse?  Milly asked me to make him a star themed cake (as he’s a star) which was really cute. But I couldn’t make a cake for Luke and not for Melissa, so I did a mini one for her too!

Luke’s cake

For starters, Luke is a West Ham football supporter, so the colours of the cake are the team’s colours.

I think it works really well. Milly originally asked me to make a chocolate cake but after a random comment about his favourite cake the week before his birthday, she quickly asked me to change it so under all that icing is a really moist Carrot cake and the frosting is cream cheese frosting which is just perfect! Jane Curran the Food Editor on Woman & Home always said that the only way to get cream cheese frosting just right is to use full fat Philadelphia. Use anything else and it will be too runny! So that’s what I did! I couldn’t leave the off cuts alone. Don’t you just love it when you have to level a domed cake once it’s been baked and can eat it all up?

Melissa’s cake

For Milly, I knew it had to be a chocolate cake. I wanted to do something different so I made my favourite devils chocolate cake, but filled it with a raspberry butter cream. The flavouring came from a raspberry flavoured icing sugar from Squires.co.uk. It worked well with the chocolate cake, but I think it could have done with being a little bit pinker, but as the flavouring was all natural there was no point in adding food colourings, and it tasted great!

The design was simple. It was a cake in the shape of a err well cake!, complete with candles made from icing. I wish I had made the candles a few days earlier as they were a bit difficult to make and handle on the same day. The icing loosely covered the top of the cake to look like a dripping butter cream then the wording was added. The candles were then inserted and that was that.

Both Melissa and Luke loved their cakes. And I loved making them!

Peter’s doggie cake

The Story of Peter’s cake is quite a funny one!

Peter is the husband of my good friend Theoda. I thought it would be a great idea to surprise him with a birthday cake for his 40th Birthday. Peter and Theoda have a flat coat retriever called Pepsi. He is the most energetic, bouncy dog you could ever meet and he is the love of their lives. They are both dog mad! When I made Theoda ‘Pepsi’ shaped biscuits for her birthday she wouldn’t eat them. She kept them so she could just look at them! For months!

Anyway, Theoda wanted the cake to be a surprise, so we planned it so I could deliver it on the Friday before they got home from work, Theoda arranged for me to have the keys to her house so I could sneak it in, but on the day I got visited by my sister and her husband along with my nephew Asher. It was also the last day of half term so I had my two girls at home too! Needless to say the quick and easy cake had so many interruptions that I didn’t actually finish it till 4pm. I gave Theoda a call to say that I was just leaving to deliver the cake and check that Peter wasn’t going to be home yet. He works all over the country and sometimes finishes early and I didn’t want to get caught in his house without Theoda being there. Even I couldn’t talk my way out of that one!

Anyway, Theoda answered her phone and said “I finished work early. Peter is just picking me up from the station.” The station is literally five minutes from both of our houses !!!!!

I decided the best thing to do was to leave there and then. I arrived two minutes after they did. Peter was sorting out something in the garage and I had taken a basket I needed to return to Theoda with as cover. I said “I’m just returning this as I was coming past your road” To which she replied “Yes thanks for bringing that back for me” in a very loud and comical voice, so that Peter would here and not suspect.  As soon as Peter was out of sight I quickly grabbed the cake from the boot of my car and Theoda beckoned me into the house and directed me up to the spare room where I hid it.

It was so funny and he must have thought we were being really weird. I didn’t even wish him happy birthday as I thought that would give the game away.

Anyway, later that evening, Peter and Theoda had dinner at home with some close friends and Theoda pulled out the cake as a surprise at the end of the meal. He didn’t suspect a thing!

A few days later I got a text from Theoda “I’m just eating the last of the chocolate cake for breakfast. It’s delicious” Which did make me laugh.

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