Category: Birthday cakes

My top 5 cake disaster tips!

Dahlia 2nd birthday cake Last weekend I made a birthday cake for little Dahlia. I can’t quite believe that she is two already! It seems like just yesterday that I made a rainbow cake for her first birthday. It was the first time that I had a cake disaster! I’ve heard many people talk about when they dropped cakes or the dog licked the buttercream when they turned their back for two seconds but luckily it hadn’t happened to me! Till Saturday!  I learnt a few things from my disaster. I will share all!

 

1. Listen to your intuition

What was I really thinking! I made a cake covered in pink buttercream which was decorated with sprinkles. I didn’t want to have to pick it up to place it on a cakestand (Theoda – Dahlia’s mum is probably the only person who really gets my obsession with cake stands!) so, I secured the cake on a white ceramic cake stand with a dab of royal icing. I then put the cake stand in a big cardboard box and wedged it in place. It felt a bit unstable but I thought as long as I drove the one mile to Theoda’s house it would be okay! My intuition was screaming “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING YOU. YOU’RE CRAZY. THIS WILL NEVER WORK” Tim, who was watching me  load up the car on what was the hottest day ever said “Oh it will be all right” which in all honesty is what I usually say! I knew it wouldn’t be but I didn’t want to be late so I gave it a go.

 

2. Don’t travel with a cake on a cakestand. EVER!

So, what happened?

I pulled off my driveway. Slowly. Carefully. I turned the first corner and I heard a ‘pfffwamp’ sound. My heart sank. I knew it was the cake. I hadn’t driven 200m. I got out and looked in the boot and this is what I saw!crushed!

No matter how well you think you have secured your cake and cakestand it’s way too stressful to travel this way. Next time the cake will be put on a very thin board and transferred onto the cakestand at the venue!

 

3. Don’t shout at your husband who is trying to help! 

Oh dear! Poor Tim. He tried to help and tell me how to salvage the cake and what did he get from his ever loving wife? “I KNOW what to do. Who’s the cake decorator around here?” Sorry Tim. I did apologise straight away but I was horrible!

 

3a. Don’t shout at your kids!!!

Oh dear, Oh dear! Beau came to see what all the commotion was about “Why are you back? What happened to the cake?”  she asked. It took all my strength not to shout at her. I said in a not so calm voice “If ever there was a time to stay away from me, NOW is that time!” And what did my highly sensitive nine year old do? She just shrugged her shoulders and walked off to find the nearest TV. Not a peep out of her! Sometimes she really does surprise me.

She got big kisses before I left for a second time to deliver the cake by the way. She just wanted to get to the party so she could see Dahlia and her dog!

 

4. Don’t Panic

This should probably have been tip number 1. I didn’t panic as much about the cake as I did about being late! I’m always late and I really hate that. I took the cake inside the house and lifted it out of the box to asses the damage. Not as bad as I expected. The top was dented on both sides but I was lucky. Had this cake been covered in sugarpaste I wouldn’t have been able to fix it. As it was I scraped off the damaged area and just piled a load of excess buttercream on top, smoothed it to hide the mis-shape and added a few more sprinkles.

I had originally spent quite a long time getting the cake all even – as Tim is always telling me they are wonky so I work really hard at perfecting that. This cake was far from perfectly flat!

Sprinkle birthday cake

5. Make a mess if it means getting the cake fixed

So, to fix the cake I had to add more sprinkles. Lots more! When I added sprinkles to the finished cake first time round I was slow and methodical. The cake was positioned over a tray which caught most of the stray strands. Now I was in such a rush that I just left all the mess behind. No tray, no method! Buttercream, big black mixing bowl full of sprinkles, sprinkles on the worktop, sprinkles in the fruitbowl, sprinkles on the floor. Mess EVERYWHERE!

Messy baker!Tim is so good. He just leaves me to it! I walked away leaving the kitchen like a bomb had gone off! A bright and colourful bomb, but a messy one no less! He really does have the patience of a saint. Tim I so love you!

 

All’s well that ends well. 

So, I fixed the cake. Put it on a plate NOT a cakestand and delivered it. I was only 20 minutes late! And did Dahlia like it? Well, put it like this. Before we even started to sing happy birthday and the cake was cut she was scooping up sprinkles and buttercream on her finger and eating it.  I think it was a winner!Happy birthday Dahlia x

Happy Birthday gorgeous Dahlia. We love you.

So tell me, what are your cake disasters then? I’m sure I’m not the only one! I’d love to hear your stories.

5 things I learnt making this 40th Birthday Rainbow cake

Emma B

This is my friend Emma. Have I mentioned that in my adult life I am surrounded by Emmas? This Emma is a mum from Beau’s year but in Darcey there are three of us Emma Mums. When I used to work at Woman and Home magazine there were 6 working in the office at one time – with freelancers! That’s where the EmmaMT comes from. How else do you distinguish between us all!

Anyway back to the cake! This is probably one of the biggest cakes I’ve made. I mean, I’ve stacked cakes before but for one cake this is the biggest. I learnt quite a few lessons making it too, so I thought I would share my top tips with you.

1. Bake one cake at a time

Rainbow cake

Making up one 8″ Madeira cake mix for a 10″ tin will give a really great depth to each layer. I also discovered that if I bake each cake with a sheet of silicon paper loosely placed over the top of the tin the cake comes out completely flat. And I mean completely! No raised, cracked, doming and no excess to cut off.

I’ve since covered all my Madeira cakes with silicon paper whilst baking and they have all come out nice and flat. This makes me very happy!

2. Use a cake ruler to get the sides straight

rainbow cake tips

Remember the side scraper I talked about last year? Well, that has become one of my most valuable tools. When it came to covering this cake in buttercream I did it in two stages so that I was sure it was straight. I used the side scraper on each 3/4 layers when I did the crumb coating but when it came to stacking all the cakes together the scraper wasn’t tall enough so, I used a pink cake ruler.

The cake ruler has one straight side and one serated (I must use that serated side for something one day!) It’s pretty sturdy for a piece of plastic and did a great job of making sure the whole cake was smooth and the sides were at a 90º angle. I simply added a thin layer of buttercream to the crumb coating then stood the ruler along the side of the cake and carefully scraped around the side and voila! One tall covered cake!

n.b. I had to remove a shelf in my fridge to get the cake in to chill the buttercream! 

3. You can have any colour cake 

Rainbow cake

I played around with getting the icing for this cake the right colour. Emma showed me her colour scheme and I had a drop of her nail varnish for the big night to match it to. That was a first! Teal is a pretty difficult color to match and I had nightmares that when I delivered the cake I was going to find that it was too dark/ too green/ or just plain wrong – but in the end it was perfect!  I mixed food colours in turquoise and mint green to get the end result.

When mixing up a strong shade like this it’s a good idea to colour your sugarpaste ahead. Not only will you know you’re happy with the colour, but if you colour the sugarpaste the day before you cover your cake it will be less sticky and more steadfast- or in other words your hands won’t go teal!

Another top tip is to make sure your sugarpaste is pretty thick when you roll it out so when you lift it over the cake any stretching will be hidden and won’t result in a tear. It also means that you’ll be able to smooth it really easily.

Rainbow cake

4. You can make really gold flowers

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These were the first gold flowers I had ever made and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get such a shiny, lustre result. The way I did it was by colouring my white modeling paste in Autumn leaf food colouring paste. I then made the flowers and used a gold lustre powder mixed with a little rejeunvanator liquid and painted them all over. I also painted my fingers and most of my kitchen table! Once dry the roses were just as I wanted them. When wet they were a sticky mess that makes everything go gold! So you have been warned. Put the flowers somewhere where you can paint them and move them without actually having to touch them.

I left them to dry overnight.

5. Don’t overstack the cakes!

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I made these layers individually, colouring the cake mix before it went into the oven. Then I made sure that each layer was the same depth. The trouble is that cakes are quite heavy and sugarpaste is REALLY heavy so the cakes on the bottom levels became a little compacted. It didn’t effect the taste – just the look.

Next time I will add a thin board inbetween the middle layers with dowels to hold the weight of the top layers. That way they won’t get squished!

Rainbow cake

So that’s my top tips with this tall rainbow cake. If you have any tips then please leave me a comment below and let me know how you decorate cake. Every little tip makes the decorating so much more fun. and it’s great to share the knowledge, don’t you think?

EmmaMT

Cake International 2013

Yesterday I went to the second ever Cake International show at Excel in London. I have it on good authority that the show has had a 70% increase on last years attendance proving that the baking bug is still alive and strong. And as you walk around the show you can see why.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood opened the show and when my mum and I arrived they were busy doing demonstrations and a Q and A session in the Bakery theatre. Mary looked her lovely self and Paul had a constant cheeky grin on his face. He does make me laugh. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry open Cake International at Excel, London

 

 

 

The show has over 80 exhibitors offering all the latest in sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking supplies, but it’s the very talented cake decorators on these stalls showing how to get different techniques that makes this such a valuable show to attend.  I loved how this decorator showed us ruffles. She also had some cakes entered into the competitions. She’s one talented lady! Cake International 2013

 

 

The first area we headed for were the competition cakes. The judges were all in action- as it was the first day and the tables were sectioned off which meant we couldn’t get too close to all the cakes.  There are loads of categories and the criteria is very seriously looked at. If you do one thing incorrectly you can get disqualified. Some must be made of all edible ingredients – no supports or ‘props’, some are allowed to be fake cakes as the judging is on the sugarcrafting talent. The bakers dozen cupcakes are cut open and tasted and judged on that as well as how they look. One judge told us that the children’s cakes are looked at with a sympathetic eye. If a cake made by someone under 12 has a little crack in the sugarpaste “we might turn a blind eye”. To be honest these kids cakes were amazing! I mean they are under 12!!

Cake International 2013
The judges in action

 

While we were looking at some of the novelty cakes a full size head from a Terminator cake came toppling off it’s shoulders. Someone must have knocked the table it was on to get a closer look. Mum and I have never been so pleased to have been so far away that we knew it wasn’t us who wobbled that table!  A judge had to come over and pick the head up off the floor. Poor Arnie’s sugarpaste nose was all squashed in and dented. We felt so bad for the cake decorator. It must have been devastating to see that your cake had been damaged before it had even been judged.

Cake International 2013
One of the under 12’s cakes

 

The Cupcakes

The cupcakes in the competition were beautiful and displayed in the most amazing ways.

Cake International 2013

This is the cupcake entry by the ruffle cake decorator lady (I wish I got her name!) She incorporated her cupcakes into this face design which she told us only took 6 hours to do the day before! Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Mmmmm maggots in your cupcake!

 

Cake International 2013

The display for this Magic Roundabout cupcake entry was brilliant, but why did the judges have to cut poor Dougal in half to taste test… especially with that jam filling in the centre!

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

These tiny models on these cupcakes were amazingly intricate

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Cake International 2013

We loved the birds and flowers on these cupcakesCake International 2013

 

Novelty cakes

The novelty cakes were just amazing. The details that people can achieve is just awe inspiring.

Cake International 2013

I would love to be able to do airbrushing like this!Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

I love the simplicity on the side of this cake.Cake International 2013

Beau asked if this Rocking horse cake actually rocked. It looked so real I almost think it could!

Cake International 2013

That apple is sugarpaste! Amazing!Cake International 2013

 

 

Cake International 2013

The detail in this house was outstanding. Just look at the bottles in the room below. Not only is this an amazing thing to make, but the fact that it could be transported without getting broken – like so many others is a feat in itself!

 

Cake International 2013

 

 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

 

Tiered cakes

The tiered cakes were really beautiful. Some had such simple designs that were so effective, some had really garish colour combinations but in all they were fantastic. 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

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Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

 

 

So, in all it is a pretty great show with tons of interactive workshops, demonstration theatres and lots to buy! The show is on till Sunday 14th April. Visit www.cakeinternational.co.ukfor more information.

Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show

ExCeL, London
12-14 April 2013


Ticket Prices:
Adult £14.00
Senior £13.00
Children free if accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, otherwise £5.00

EmmaMT

Disco birthday cake

Jo's 18th Birthday disco cakeThis is the cake I made for the lovely Jo’s 18th birthday last month.

When we sat down to chat about the design we talked about what she’s into. She’s really musical and likes to go out clubbing and her party had a black, white and red theme so this is the design I came up with.

 

18th Birthday cake

Jo wanted the cake to be stacked with music notes on the top layer with dancers on the bottom tier. I decided that the best way to get uniformed notes was to get a patchwork cutter. Luckily I found this disco themed one with both dancers and music notes in the set. Result!

These Disco Dancers –Patchwork Cutters are  available from Amazon 

 

18th Birthday cake

The ’18’ on the top was easy to position. The rest… not so much!
18th Birthday cake

I used sugarpaste to cut out the decorations but really should have used flower paste as it’s firmer and easier to handle. I had to cut out the notes and dancers and leave them for 10 minutes to dry and harden up enough to be handled.

18th Birthday cake

The dancers! Well, let’s just say they tried to dance right off the cake! I found that every time I tried to pick them up they moved in a different direction or broke. In the end I cut them out onto small sheets of silicon paper and dampened them a little on the back then positioned the bottom of the paper against the cake and gently stood the dancers up, pressing from the bottom up. That did the trick!

I know from experience that once you mark a white cake with a black decoration it’s really hard to clean it up. For some reason black sugarpaste is just super sticky – way more than any other pre-coloured sugarpaste.

 

I was really happy with how this cake turned out. I like the way the silhouette of the dancers sits over the thick ribbon. I will definitely be using that technique again.

 

EmmaMT

How to make a Minecraft birthday cake

 

Minecraft Birthday cake

Have you heard of Minecraft? I hadn’t until recently. It’s a computer game that the boys in Beau’s class are really into. I went from being completely clueless to having two Minecraft cakes to make in as many weeks! I really didn’t know where to start with this cake. It needed to have loads of slices. When I make cakes for friends (especially Beau’s little friends) I like to create enough cake for the party guests AND  for the family to have some at home. Tim had the great idea of creating layers after I showed him screen grabs of  what the game looked like. Genius I thought.

How to make a Minecraft Birthday cake

Minecraft cake

 I started off by baking two Chocolate Madeira cakes (the large one was an 8″ and the small one was a 6″- I made double the recipe here and split it between the two tins)

Minecraft Birthday cake

The smaller cake was cut up so that I had two ‘L’ shaped cakes to create the steps. I think it’s probably a bit obvious where the two left over cake pieces went – yep straight onto my hips!

 

 

Minecraft Birthday cake

Check that the cakes sit nicely on top of each other. Too small and it will be hard to cover them, too big and the cake won’t be stepped enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Hopefully you will have covered your cake board with sugarpaste a week (or at least a few days) in advance.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Slice the large cake in two and fill with chocolate buttercream (the recipe for which is on this post). Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream then position the green rolled out sugarpaste over the cake. Smooth until as flat as is possible. Remove the excess sugarpaste and secure the cake on the cake board with a little royal icing.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Cover both the ‘L’ shaped pieces of cake by coating first in buttercream then sugarpaste. Don’t try and slice it in half to put buttercream in the centre. It’s very fiddly and messy and doesn’t work on such a small piece. The buttercream used to coat the cake and make the sugarpaste stick will moisten the cake enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Smooth the sugarpaste with a cake smoother and use a spoon to get into those awkward internal corners.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Position the larger of the ‘L’s onto the cake with Royal icing. Then repeat with the second ‘L’ shape.

Minecraft Birthday cake

To make the individual pixels squares – roll out the three shades of sugarpaste. If you do all three at the same time they will be relatively the same thickness.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a square cutter to press out lots and lots of squares all the same size. These are going to be the floor.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Secure each square pixel to the floor by dampening it with a paintbrush. Don’t use too much water as it will stain the cake. Dry off the excess water from the brush on the side of the pot first.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Add pixels on each level where there is a floor till you have done all three.

Minecraft Birthday cake

I tried to make the model of Mini Josh for the cake look like him and also look pixelated at the same time. I cut out cubes and rectangles in sugarpaste with the relevant cutters and used tooth picks in his legs and into his body to hold him secure. This also meant that once he had been made I could stand him up and push the tooth picks into a polystyrene fake cake and left him there leaning against box to dry for a while. (A couple of days- it’s a good idea to make the model when you cover the cake board) Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a little royal icing to secure the model to the cake. The toothpicks can only do so much.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Finally add your wording .

Minecraft Birthday cakeHey, Presto! One Minecraft cake!

enjoy! 

Amelia’s Brightly coloured birthday cake

bright birthday cake

This is a cake I made for Amelia who is in Darcey’s class. It was for her sleepover party and we (the mum’s of the party goers) were all informed that Amelia wanted everyone to wear bright colours, so it stands to reason that the cake was going to be nice and bright as well.

Amelia is a proper cutie. I actually thought she was going to be 6 as she is so weeny next to Darcey. Good job I checked! She has this super cute voice and wears her hair in bunches all the time and that’s where the idea for the little Amelia model came from. It was also the picture on her birthday invite which made things a little easier for me!

girls bright birthday cake

I wanted to keep things pretty simple for this cake and let the bold colours stand out, so, I made up loads of little square presents in sugarpaste then added ribbons in a contrasting colour. The bows on top were made using a silicoln mould. You can get them on Amazon. I just did a search for my one which is a Karen Davies Ballerina Ballet Mould and found a load of others that would be perfect. I really like the   Three piece JEM Bows Cutter Set . I think that would come in very handy!

named cake

To finish off the bottom I wrote Amelia’s name in thick sugarpaste and left it to dry for about 30 minutes. I like letters to still be quite malleable when I attach them to the cake so that they can bend with any curves. But they need to be firm enough to stand up. I use a little royal icing to hold them onto the cake.

edging a birthday cake

Rather than using ribbon along the base of the cake I made little balls of coloured sugarpaste.

To make sure each ball was the same size I rolled out the sugarpaste – using spacer bars, then used a circle cutter to cut out however many balls I needed in each colour. Because it’s a measured roll out I know that each ball uses the same amount of sugarpaste and therefore once rolled in my hands they’ll all be the same size. All that’s left is to attach each one to the cake board with a little royal icing.

EmmaMT

P.S. Sorry all you love birds. This is a Valentine free zone! But I still love you all. x

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