Category: Cake decorating

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Talking Tables cake Toppers 2

The moment I saw these cake toppers I knew I had to share them with you. I mean how cool are they? The font, the colours, the style! They’ll look great on any cake and what’s more when you’re in a rush a plain and simple cake can instantly become divine!
Talking Tables cake Toppers 5

I received the Talking Tables newsletter about them just last night when I was actually sitting down to write up a post on Rhubarb jam but I just couldn’t wait to share them.

I’ve been shooting for Talking Tables for a few years now so I’m no stranger to their fantastic and top end products (just head on over to their website  and loads of the shots you’ll see there are styled by me – the silver bath is one of my favourites. Actually this is my all time favorite styled shot which is happens to be a TT shot and is bouncing around Pinterest like mad at the mo) But this is the first time I’ve seen these cake toppers and I know that I’ll be putting an order in soon.

Talking Tables Cake Toppers post

Alice, the product developer has a really good eye for detail. I love it that this range has something for everyone whether you’re getting married, baking something special for your partner or just want to add a bit of ‘Sparkle‘ to your day. Talking Tables cake Toppers 3

You can choose the gold ‘Love’ heart and cover the cake in gold! How amazing does this cake look? I’ve been seeing gold cakes everywhere since I went to The Squires Cake Show back in March. Maybe Silver is catching up with the metallics cake trends too!

Talking Tables Toppers 1The toppers are really easy to insert. I’ve used many of Talking Tables’ other cake toppers on shoots in the past – just check out the ponies! These ones can be wiped clean ready for the next big celebration.

TT LEt's party topper

So which is your favorite? I think mine is the ‘Let’s Party’! It has so many uses.

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: I did not receive any product for this post and these are not my styled shots or cakes so I can’t take the credit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Talking Tables didn’t even know I was going to write this post so that will be a nice surprise for them won’t it? 

 

How to make easy butterfly cookies that look fantastic!

Easy butterfly cookies How to make butterfly biscuits

I made these butterfly cookies for a local charity event a few months ago. As a volunteer at Free Cakes For Kids we’re always being asked to support local charities and this time it was for The Maypole project. Oh I do love a charity bake, don’t you?

I’ve baked a few cakes in the past for The Maypole project charity but this time it was for a summer fete where they were going to be selling bakes to raise funds. I thought 20 odd cookies would make some money so I set about making the biscuits a few days before.

I’d been looking for an opportunity to make butterfly cookies on lollipop sticks for ages. They always looked a bit daunting so I set about decorating them slowly. I painted one stage at a time on all the biscuits so they had time to dry in-between layers and I was really happy with the end result. They looked pretty good on their own but it was when I put them all together that they looked really great.

Displaying the cookies

I used a fake cake made from polystyrene to hold all the biscuits. First I pushed a spare lollipop stick all over the base so the actual biscuits would go in -facing the front, with little need for pushing.

Once they were all in place I wrapped a thick piece of ribbon around the fake cake and wrapped the lot in cellophane. I then insisted on Tim driving us to the fete so I could hold them on my lap for the journey. I didn’t trust them to stay upright anywhere else for the journey.

I dropped them off at The Maypole Project table then we had a look around the rest of the fete. It’s hard not to resist going back and having a peek to see if your baked goods are selling throughout the afternoon. I only looked twice and they seemed to go down pretty well.

So now it’s your turn. They’re easy to do. Why don’t you have a go?

Easy butterfly cookies                                                                          

  (Print this recipe) 

(Makes around 20 biscuits)

  • 200g unsalted butter- at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 egg (medium) – at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • White sugar paste
  • food gel colours

To make the cookies

  1. Place the butter in a bowl. Add the sugar, flour, egg and vanilla essence.
  2. Mix all the ingredients by hand. I always mix biscuits by hand as the warmth from your hands means that it’s all being blended really well and for some reason they taste much better than when mixed with a machine. You can always start the mixing with a wooden spoon if you don’t like gloopy hands.
  3. Be careful not to over mix biscuit dough. It will not only become tough, but the biscuits will spread more when baked and we want them to keep their shape perfectly.
  4. Once it is nearly all blended I turn the dough out onto the worktop and knead it till it all holds together nicely.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the flour to do it’s stuff. Without chilling the cookie shapes will definitely contort when baked.
  6. Remove from the fridge and knead a little on a lightly floured surface. Roll out using spacing sticks to ensure that your biscuits are all the same thickness.
  7. Cut out the cookies then remove the excess first. This way you can pick up the biscuit without denting it.
  8. Place a lolipop stick in each cookie making sure you don’t poke it through the front. It’s okay if it pokes through the back as the baking will keep it in place.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with silicon paper and pop them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. This ensures the cookies bake slowly and don’t spread. It’s the easiest way to make sure each design is exactly the same.
  10. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C then bake for 12 minutes or until the biscuits start to brown on the edges
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Avoid handling the cookies till they are cool. If you pick up a hot cookie by the lollipop stick it’s likely to fall out!

To decorate the cookiesbutterfly cookie decorating steps

  1. Roll out the white sugar paste so it is nice and thin then use the same butterfly cutter to cut the shape. Carefully pick up the sugar paste butterfly and dampen it on the reverse then ‘stick’ it down onto the butterfly cookie. Smooth it onto the cookie with the palm of your hand. Smooth the edges so they don’t stick out – or the sugar paste will snap off.
  2. Use a little yellow food gel colour – watered down with clear alcohol, to paint the edges of the wings
  3. Continue till half the wings are painted
  4. Use a dark brown or black colour to paint the centre of the butterfly
  5. Use jagged brush strokes for the tips of the wings
  6. Paint a thin line around the rest of the wings
  7. Paint across the lower wings and give the tips some detail
  8. Draw veins across the top wings
  9. and the bottom
  10. Make shiny white paint with a white lustre powder and some clear alcohol and paint tiny dots all around the outside edge of the wings on the black area.
  11. Leave to dry overnight.How to make butterfly cookies

enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy : Book review and giveaway

Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

I love doing book reviews – well, actually I love reading new cakey books and getting inspired and being desperate to share what I’ve found with you guys, but when it comes to the actual writing of these posts I always find myself waffling on and on and making them way too long. And that was the case with Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy, by David and Charles. There was just so much to share.

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy I’ve Interviewed and reviewed a Lindy Smith book in the past and there’s one thing you should know about her. She works REALLY hard and is really creative. She has a new book coming out in what feels like every five minutes and they are all so different and totally inspirational. How does she do it?

 Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy

The latest book is just the same. Jam packed with clever hints and tips on how to get different effects, some of them basic for the beginner and some of them more challenging but all inspirational. Sometimes you just need to be shown a new tool or colour combination to give you a whole new idea for a cake. One piece of inspiration and the book’s a winner – don’t you think?

What I love about this book are the simple ideas executed to perfection. Whether it’s the stunning colour combinations of the Rosette cake or the cute washboard sides on the beach hut cakes. The way some simple plunger cutters have been used to make an elegant Christmas tree cake look fabulous or the clever use of a flower and some piping to make the cutest diddy wedding cake. Also, there’s buttons. I love a sugarpaste button on a cake!

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy Why I think Lindy’s books are so great is that no matter what level you’re at there are plenty of photos to describe the techniques so you can understand the way to make every element of decorating. Some books only have one step shot and explain the rest with words and you just can’t get a handle on what they’re on about. Here Lindy explains everything in clear detail and shows you too. You can’t go wrong.Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

What else is in the book?

As well as seeing where the inspiration for each cake comes from there are templates and recipes (for the main size cake tins when making small cakes) and the sticky toffee cake sounds really deelish. There’s even a vegan chocolate cake in there. There are recipes to make your own sugarpaste, pastillage, flowerpaste and of course buttercreams and ganaches.

If you aren’t sure where to start when covering a fiddly mini cake there are steps to show you how with buttercream, marzipan and sugarpaste.Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

Whether you want to paint your cake design, create beautiful flowers, go for modern or vintage there’s something for everyone. With 30 fabulous designs you’ll be spoilt for choice.

And what’s more you can win a copy right here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. I bet you want to don’t you?

The Mini Cakes Academy Giveaway

The lovely Lindy herself emailed me offering this book giveaway to you lovely people. How honoured and excited am I by that! All you have to do is leave a comment below answering the question AND enter via the rafflecopter site (just click below to be taken straight through to the competition) A winner will be randomly selected on 12th August.

” What cake decorating question would you ask Lindy” leave a comment below and enter the rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

EmmaMT 

Disclaimer: The book in this post was sent to me by Lindy Smith and David and Charles publishers  (Thanks you guys- it’s fantastic).  All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

CakesBakesAndCookies.com Giveaway Terms & Conditions

This giveaway will close at 12:00am on 12th August 2015. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Lindy Smith. I am hosting it on behalf of Lindy Smith. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. Lindy Smith or her representative will send out the prize, the winner must provide their name, address once contacted. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 3 days of the closing date. The prize is one copy of the ‘Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy’ book, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open only to residents in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and entrants must be over 18.

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cake

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cakeGo Ape birthday cake

Have you ever had an idea in your head for a birthday cake and then it all went horribly wrong? Well that’s kind of what happened with this cake.

The Go Ape Birthday cake.

I’ve made cakes for Evie and Lois before. They’re at school with Darcey and Evie is the reason I have such a keen interest in gluten free baking. I wanted her to have a cake that was every bit as delish as any gluten filled one. As the girls were having a shared Go Ape birthday I wanted their cake to be fitting for a load of kids swinging from ropes in trees.

Beau came up with the original design. I was trying to work out how to have monkeys, trees and models of the girls as well as the cakes needing to be completely separate when she said “Just make two cakes and two trees” and there the idea was born.

The plan

Originally, I wanted to make ball like trees and bushes and have Evie hanging down from a branch on her cake and Lois doing a zip wire from a tree on hers. I dilly dallied as to how to actually do this. I made the trees first and left them to dry then a few days later I made the models of the girls. Then delivery day came.

Go Ape birthday cake Delivery day was a busy one. Not only did I need to finish the cake but it was also the girls school summer fayre – which I was helping at,  and my brother who lives in Oz was coming home for a holiday that night with his wife and three daughters and I was going to help pick them up from the airport. This is where my regrets of not following my normal cake rule of ‘don’t go to bed till the cake is completely finished even if that means staying up till 2am to do so’ kicked in.

Go Ape birthday cake I went to the school fayre and headed home with two hours left to assemble the girls in the trees and put the trees in the cake- then I could do the writing just before dropping the cake off on the way to the airport. As I walked through the front door my dad phoned. “Their plane is getting in early. We’re leaving in half an hour!” OMG! I just lost 90 minutes! And that’s when Lois legs fell off and Evie’s hands weren’t staying in the right position! Panic. Well nearly. I had to change tact. I decided to remake the models and have them literally in the trees – pulling a few ball leaves off the bigger trees to fit them in. I tried to position the arms so they looked really chilled out.

I delivered the cake just in time and then headed straight to the airport where I met my niece for the first time and got to hug my brother and his family for the first time in three years. With the cake delivered without anything else falling off I’d say it ended up a successful day after all!

5 lessons learnt making this Go Ape Birthday cake

  1. ALWAYS finish the cake the night before delivery even if that means staying up till stupid O’clock! Always!!!
  2. Make models a week before delivery date so they have plenty of time to dry and legs don’t fall off. When will I learn this lesson????
  3. You can be a bit brave with design. I loved the ball leaves and bold topiary style tree. They look really cartoony.
  4. Gluten free chocolate cake made with almonds is amazing and doesn’t have that grainy texture most GF cakes have.
  5. Planes will always land early when you’re not expecting it!

EmmaMT

xGo Ape birthday cake

Colin’s painted cake

Colin’s Painted Cake Grandad Colin's Painted cake

This was my first attempt at paining a cake. It was one of those ‘I have a great idea for a cake for grandad Colin but I don’t have lots of time to do it’ cakes! I always knew I wanted to paint the decorations on the outside and I wanted it to be a sailing cake but in the end I had literally one hour to cover the cake in sugarpaste and have it painted and in a box ready to take to lunch. Where do those hours go? Ideally I wanted to roll out the sugarpaste and have a little practice so I could plan my design. In the end I just went for it!

Once covered the painting part is pretty easy. I wished I had covered the cake in sugarpaste the day before so it had a little more time to harden up a little, but as long as I was gentle it wasn’t too bad.
Colin's Painted cake

I started by painting the boats. I used gel food colour watered down with alcohol in a paint palette (the one I usually use to shape flowers). It goes without saying that you should only use paint brushes and palettes saved specifically for cake decorating!  In her book  The Painted Cake Natasha Collins teaches that she uses water not alcohol to blend her colours so I would try that next time. I think it would produce a softer effect. The alcohol dries really fast and using water would give more time to work on the design.

Once I had all the boats, sails and little people (can you see them?) I painted waves.

Colin's Painted cake

That’s when I got help. Darcey wanted to help make Grandad’s cake so I let her. Inhale! Deep breath in. It will be all right!!! And it was. I had to just let her go with it and she did a really good job. I showed her how I painted the waves and she did more around the base of the cake.

We started with a turquoise colour then watered that down with a few drops of alcohol and added waves in between. It looked a bit flat so we created darker navy waves at the bottom of the cake  then added a few highlights of dark waves (or should that be low lights?) around the lighter areas. I wanted to give a bit of definition to the sea.

Once that was all done we stood back and looked at the cake and it still felt a bit empty so we left the waves to dry for a few minutes then used a really watered down turquoise colour to fill in the background of the sea. Colin's Painted cake

The last step was to add a ‘Happy Birthday Grandad’ onto the top – which was harder than it looked! and stick some ricrac ribbon around the base- more waves in my eyes. Colin's Painted cake

The cake was a surprise and after our lovely lunch out no-one had room for cake. We did sing Happy Birthday and then Grandad Colin took the cake home – which I think was his plan all along!

Happy Birthday Colin.

EmmaMT x

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.

Stumped!

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

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.

XBOX CAKE

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.

XBOX CAKE

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!

XBOX CAKE

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.

XBOX CAKE

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.

XBOX CAKE

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.

XBOX CAKE

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!

XBOX CAKE 7

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.

XBOX CAKE

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

XBOX CAKE

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.

XBOX CAKE

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

EmmaMT

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