Category: Cake decorating

Top 10 ways to give a cake WOW factor

Top 10 ways to give a cake WOW factor

Do you ever want to bake a really simple cake that tastes delicious and then just add a ton decorative flare? Well us bakers at Free Cakes For Kids do all the time. So, I decided to do a little research (after a little prompting – thanks Cristina) and here’s my top 10 wow factor cake ideas courtesy of Pinterest – where else?

1. Just add pearls

How cute are the multicoloured pearls on this cake?  Great for adults and kids alike. You can always pipe the pearls on if your feeling brave! I love the colour combination but you could always use just one colour.

Pearl and dots cake

2. Go Sprinkles mad

I made a similar cake to this one for Beau’s birthday last year. Although the kitchen was trashed after I did the sprinkles at speed the cake looked fab. What do you think?

Easy Sprinkle number cake

3. Model some cars… and a track from sugarpaste.

This cake is pure simplicity at it’s best. The racing cars are practically cartoons – very much my kind of cake. I think this is a winner as you can literally make any number the track on a regular rectangle cake. Brilliant!

Racing car Cake

4. Dribble that chocolate

Oh my word! How totally delicious does this cake look? It’s fluffy chocolate cake inside, dripping with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate dipped strawberries. What’s not to love!

Wowzers Strawberry cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Add some ribbons and a bow

Although this cake is technically quite difficult – have you ever tried to get sugarpaste to stay neat when in a horizontal direction? the actual design is gorgeous. I would re-create this look in one colour and on one layer. It would still be just as effective.

Gorgeous horizontal stripes | Black and White Wedding Cake

6. Get the paintbrushes out

For a quick and easy design these flowers and butterflies are perfect, but what gives this cake the WOW factor is the way the leaves have been painted on. Have you ever painted on a cake before? it’s so much fun!

Tinkerbell Cake!!! - This is more along what I was thinking.... except no painting!!

7. Make a house

Just the colours on this cake alone make this cake dreamy and every girls first choice. I’m sure it took hours and hours to make but a few simple adaptations would make this possible for even a beginner.

House cake via Pinterest

8. Everyone loves an owl…

and a fox and a hedgehog. The cakes on this pinterest board are so cute and relatively easy to make. I love the pretty colours used and the simple design.  Click on the pic to see the other cakes.

Owl cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Just add tons of M&M’s

I don’t think I could resist picking at this cake; especially if those are peanut M&M’s! I love them and I bet kids would too! Such a clever idea.

M&M birthday cake

10. Pipe some flowers

This cake is decorated using a grass piping nozzle (No. 233 if you’re interested?) They look like hundreds of iced gems don’t you think? I love the colour combinations used. So effective.
Fun and easy cake decorating idea!

So, there you have it. What do you think? Which one is your favorite? Or do you have any great ideas for creating wow factor in a cake? I’d love to know. Just join the conversation and leave a comment below.

EmmaMT

 

How to make an Elsa Frozen cake

Elsa Frozen cake

Last summer I was asked to make a cake for my friends little daughter Belle. I was sure she was going to be two but she was to be three! Where do the years go? It feels like only yesterday she was a tiny baby.

As I am sure you’re aware, if you are a little three year old girl your birthday/Christmas/life is going to be all about Frozen. Whether you’re in the Elsa camp or Anna that’s what all the little girls want. Did you see the program about Frozen that was on over Christmas? It’s the most successful cartoon of all time. The queue’s outside the Bromley Disney store with mum’s waiting to get their hands on the latest delivery of Elsa dresses went round the block and started from 8am and that was back in October! I can’t imagine what it was like in December.

My girls loved the film and I have to say that we have had a sing-along or two in the car (ahem- led by me and under protests of suffering daughters!) I’ve admitted to singing ‘Let it go’ on the way to shoots when the girls aren’t even in the car. I’m sure I’m not alone – am I?

So, I was pretty happy when I was finally asked to make an Elsa cake. I had been waiting !!!! The mum was happy to have a doll in the cake but I don’t really do that. It takes away the creativity and fun for me. So here’s how I did it.

How to make an Elsa Frozen cake

Start with the skirt

Elsa Frozen cake - skirtI started off with two Madeira cakes. One was baked in a Christmas pudding cake tin which gave the top the cake the skirt/waisted look. I matched the bottom of that tin to the closest size round tin – mine was a 7″.

I cut the half sphere cake in half then added butter cream and jam in between each layer then cut the outside of the cake into a more skirt shape. Next the cake was given two coats of butter cream – a crumb coat and a top coat.

The skirt was covered in sugar paste, smoothed and neatened and placed on the cake board; which I had covered in white sugar paste a few days earlier. I set the cake to the back of the board so I had room for wording and a few snowflakes.

How to make Elsa’s face

Elsa Frozen cake -face

It’s a good idea to make the head ahead of time. The more time it has to harden the easier it is to handle and position it when you need to add the hair later on.

I coloured plenty of white sugar paste with Paprika coloured food gel (enough for the head, body and arms) so it was a really pale flesh colour then made the shape of the head. I used my fingers to make dents in the eye sockets and created a nose. I did make nostrils but they looked terrible so I rubbed them out.

I used a flower and Leaf Shaper Tool (the pointed one) to make a slight indent for the mouth and the outline of the eyes. I then filled in the eyes with white shimmer powder. To make the shimmer into a paint I used a little vodka mixed with the powder. You only need a tiny amount of each. This white paint is really easy to apply if you go slow and don’t have too much on your brush. If you have lots of liquid on your brush it really runs into every crevice and beyond your outline. You’re better off doing two to three light layers rather than one thicker one.

To make the cheeks rosy I applied a small amount of pink powder. To do this sprinkle some powder onto a piece of kitchen paper then use a dry paint brush to apply it. Dab off as much colour as you can so it looks like there’s hardly any on it then brush it onto Elsa’s cheeks in a  gentle round action. I also added a little bit to above her eyes to give her more of a glowy eye shadow.

Once the whites of her eyes are completely dry I painted on two circles in ‘baby blue’ food gel colour. The next step was to add the black eye liner. I used the ‘black’ food gel colour and a really tiny paint brush and went really, REALLY slowly. Paint on largish pupils in the centre of the blue of the eyes at the same time. Again leave it to dry completely between each layer. Paint on the bottom eye liner and add a white dot of shimmer on each pupil.

Use a small amount of the paprika gel colour – watered down to draw on the eye brows and the freckles.

For the ears add two tiny balls of the flesh colour, squished into ovals then pressed into place with a little bit of edible glue.

Finish off the face with a ruby-red colour for the lips.

I place the head on skewer to dry. The hole made by the skewer will make it easier to position later on.

How to make Elsa’s body

Elsa Frozen cake - arms

Take some of the flesh coloured sugar paste and mould it into the body shape. Position the body on the skirt, securing with some royal icing. Place a long skewer through both so that the body can set in place in a completely upright position.

 

Roll out some of the blue dress coloured sugar paste and shape it so it has a dip at the neckline and a point at the bottom on the front. Wrap this piece around the body. Where the sugar paste overlaps at the back cut away the excess and smooth the join line.Roll out a long strip of pale blue icing and position it over the join line bringing it to a point at the front.

To make the arms: Roll out two pieces of flesh coloured sugar paste . Cut them to the desired length. At the elbow and wrists use your finger to roll the length and make it a tiny bit thinner. Flatten the ends so that the shoulder is more natural and the hand is the right size. Use a knife to cut the fingers and thumbs and a small ball tool  to make indents where the nails are. Attach the arms with royal icing or food glue.

I cut out a large ‘3’ for Elsa to hold to personalise the cake a little more and glued this into place on the skirt before gluing the hand in place. This helps the arms to stay in place (glueing the hands) and lets you add a piece of rolled up kitchen paper under the elbow to keep the shape until it’s dry – which will take a good few hours.

The final step is to paint the arms with a glittery blue paint – I mixed a little food colour with white shimmer powder  and vodka and let it get quite runny. This gives the effect of a sheer sleeve. This took a few hours to dry.

How to make Elsa’s cape
Elsa Frozen cake - train

The cape was made out of pale blue sugar paste rolled quite thin. I cut it to shape then held it up against the cake to make sure it was a good fit. Once I was happy that the top would sit nicely at the shoulders and the base would just sit on the cake board I gave the edges a frill by rolling it with a Bulbulous Cone Modelling Tool. The cape was stuck onto the cake with royal icing. A piece of kitchen paper was positioned under the base of the cape and a layer of shimmer food colour – the same as used for the sleeves, was used to coat the whole cape to make it shimmer and shine.

 How to finish Elsa’s body
Elsa Frozen cake - shimmer

The last step for the body was to add a layer of glitter. I used a paint brush to coat the bodice with edible glue then used the tiniest amount of glitter on a dry brush. Too much glitter on your brush and it will go everywhere! Very slowly dab the glitter over the bodice then leave to dry before you touch it again.

How to make Elsa’s hair

Elsa Frozen cake -hair

Now it’s time to position the head. Cut the skewer down so the skewer won’t stick out the top of Elsa’s head and place the head in place. Use a little royal icing to secure her.

For the hair; roll out strands of pale yellow sugar paste and use three thicker ones to make a long plait. Secure the plait to the back of the head so it comes down over her shoulder. Add more strands from the top of her head so that they cover up the top for the plait. Use smaller strands to create Elsa’s fringe. Add a little glitter to the ends. Elsa Frozen cake - Belle

As Belle is a short name I was able to add it to the ‘3’. I thought a touch of glitter was needed here. All three year old girls love a touch of glitter!

Adding snowflakesElsa Frozen cake - back

To decorate the cake board I cut out some snowflakes with snowflake plunger cutters and added yet more glitter to them using edible glue. I cut some in half so they could be placed right up against the skirt so it looked like Elsa was walking on snow.

Before glueing the snowflakes in place I piped the birthday message then used royal icing to position the snowflakes.

Elsa Frozen cake - side view

This cake although looks quite complicated and time-consuming, actually didn’t take that long to make. The longest part is having to wait for the head and arms to harden- and the eyes to dry between each layer.

I was pretty happy with the end result but if I do it again I would make her neck a bit longer. Also as I was typing this up Darcey peered over my shoulder and said she looks a bit fat! I didn’t see that till she mentioned it so next time I’ll make her slimmer.Elsa Frozen cake

I really enjoyed making it though. Anyone need an Anna cake? She’s next on my want list!

EmmaMT

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Peggy Porschen Vintage Flower Masterclass

The only way to learn how to make sugar paste roses is at a Peggy Porschen vintage flower masterclassMe and Naomi

As a keen baker and a passionate cake blogger I don’t think you would be surprised to hear that a call from The Peggy Porschen Academy was enough to make my day. But when that call is asking if I would like to take part in one of their Peggy Porwchen Vintage flower  masterclasses you can imagine how big my grin was! Enormous!

At the time I was in the middle of trying to get an interview with Peggy for a feature I was writing for AchicaLiving, so I thought the call was about that. The lovely PR asked which course I might be interested in doing and as I was reviewing the new book Cakes in Bloom she suggested that I do a masterclass to create one of the arrangements from the book. Being cheeky I chose the two day Vintage Blooms class. It was a great choice!

The two day course was small and friendly. Just five students, some of whom travelled from Germany and Switzerland to take part. The Vintage blooms we were learning to make included one rose bud, one medium rose and one big open rose complete with leaves and some hydrangea petals. It doesn’t sound a lot but trust me- these are very delicate and detailed blooms. 

How to make roses

The tutor – Naomi took us through each step needed to make each petal and leaf from kneading and rolling out to veining and securing with wire.

1. the buds

 Rolled out petals: Peggy Porschen
As you cut out the petals keep them soft in a plastic sleeve.

We started with a polystyrene bud which we covered with one petal. To make the petals for the rose we used two size cutters. Each petal was stretched and frilled with the end of a curved rolling pin. This makes it look realistic. We used edible glue to secure the petals onto the bud. I found this really difficult to begin with. I wasn’t used to working with flower paste and it kept cracking or I rolled it too thin. 

3. cut out and frilled petals
Two petals. The one on the right has been frilled

4. Naomi demonstrating

Each rose starts in the same way. One petal to cover the polystyrene bud then three petals- with their edges curled over, wrapped around. If you stop there you have a rose bud.

Rose bud: Peggy Porschen

To continue making a medium rose you roll out and cut seven more petals. The flower paste dries really quickly so you only roll out what you need and keep the rest wrapped up in a zip lock bag. The petals are kept in a plastic sleeve (the kind used for paper documents) till they’re ready to be used. Each petal is thinned and frilled with the rolling pin and the edges are rolled over a cocktail stick then set in a palette to firm up a bit. Rose petals taking shapeAfter half an hour you add edible glue to the base of the petals and then position them around the rose bud. This was tricky as most of the students had them going in different directions (an easy mistake to make!) The idea is to have the petals running in the same direction throughout. So left side under the previous petal and so on.Adding the petals to a sugar rose Naomi showed us how to assemble the petal and hold the rose up and look at it from underneath to check it looked right. Easier said than done! Once you’re happy the petals are pressed firmly into place and the rose is rested upside down on some foam to dry. At this stage you leave it overnight to harden so you can handle it the next day without pieces breaking off.Checking the petals on the rose are in the right order

To make the large open rose you continue adding petals (nine for the last layer) if not you have the medium rose. Once the nine large petals are cut and frilled they are set in the palette again, this time they are only just in the palette so the bottom edge takes the curved shape of the wells – this is what gives the open petal shape on the rose. Leave for half an hour and secure onto the rose as for the middle layer. Leave to harden.Petals just in the palette

The large roseOnce dry each rose is given a touch of pink coloured powder. We used more powder throughout the buds and inner petals than on the rest of the rose. This is what brings the rose to life making each one look different.

Leaves

To complete the roses a calyx is cut out in pale green for each rose. It too is thinned and then little cuts are made in the sides to make it look realistic. These are added onto the bottom of each rose and secured neatly so no edges are sticking out. Green coloured powders are used to add definition to the calyx.

To make the leaves we cut out the shapes then pressed them between two veiners to give them definition. Wires were inserted into the spines and they were left to dry. Once dry coloured powders were applied with small paintbrushes. You only need the tiniest amount of powder and each leaf is brushed from the outside in with green and then pink powder. The pink is what gives that vintage tone. 

The Hydrangeas

Hydrangea kitThe hydrangeas were made in the same way as the leaves only the wires were threaded through the middle of each flower and were then set over some foam to dry. Hydrangeas set over foam to dryThe flower paste was green and we dusted them with pink powders once dry. To hide the wire going through the centre of each flower a dot of royal icing was added.

hydrangea petals

The end result: a box full of beautiful blooms.

My blooms- I was very proud!

To say I was proud of my vintage blooms would be an understatement! I showed them to anyone who happened to come to my house. So that they were on show and not hidden away in a cupboard I placed them in a vintage tea cup and saucer and now display them in a (dust free) terrarium in my living room where they are on show to this day.

Peggy Porschen Vintage Flower Masterclass

The course ran from 11.30am – 4pm on both days and it took that long to make all these flowers. If anyone asks why wedding cakes are so expensive this would be why. The amount of time, care, attention and detail taken over each and every flower, petal and leaf is amazing. The course was so much fun. Some of the students were on their second and third masterclass and you can see why. Peggy Porschen’s academy is just that little bid addictive!

Classes run throughout the year covering all aspects of baking, cake decorating, piping and sugar crafting. For more information and inspiration visit  www.peggyporschenacademy.com

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Peggy Porschen Academy for inviting me to take part in their masterclass. I loved it. All opinions here are my own.

My very first ‘Free Cake For Kids’ cake

I was really excited earlier this week to be able to make my very first ‘Free Cakes For Kids‘ birthday cake. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages but the requests have all come in when I was either shooting or away or had another cake on the go – and let’s face it one cake at a time is probably best when you work elsewhere full time!

The cake request came in and the details I were given were that the little girl likes pink, butterflies and would love a heart shaped cake. So I set to!

I covered the cake board in light pink icing then cut out a piece of paper that mimiced the shape of the board. I have a heart shaped tin but it isn’t a great shape so I used it anyway and cut a better heart shape out of it. I did toy with the idea of making a square and round cake and cutting the round in half to make a heart shape but whatever way I tried it it just wouldn’t work out. It was either too big or had too much waste. My old heart shaped tin was perfect in the end and only gave a few off cuts (much to Beau’s disgust!) I then gave it a crumb coating.

FCFK1Now, all I needed to do was a second coat of buttercream to get a really good smooth base and then cover it in sugarpaste. I made the hearts and butterfly decorations the day before I made the cake so they had time to firm up enough to be handled without breaking.

FCFK4Once the cake was smooth and I had positioned it on the cake board I stuck on the heart shapes around the outer edge with Royal Icing. I then added the mini hearts and butterflies to the hearts and voila!

FCFK5

How cool is this ribbon that the head of Free Cakes For Kids Bromley had made up to go around our cake boards? Gives them a really professional look don’t you think? FCFK Ribbon

I delivered the cake on Monday and the feedback has been great but I have to say that whenever I deliver a cake and there’s a big smile it just makes my day!

If you want to join ‘Free Cakes For Kids‘ check out the website for your closest branch – they’re everywhere now.

EmmaMT

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How to make silver sugarpaste numbers… or letters.

Sugarpaste letters

 

Sometimes you want to scream and shout “I’m 60. Yaayyyy!” and when that happens you want your ’60’ to stand to attention. Don’t you? I know I would. So that’s what I planned for this cake. Robert was going to be given an electric guitar for his birthday so the cake was themed around that. His wife sent me a picture of the  guitar and told me that the colour scheme for the party was purple and silver. She had some really great ideas for the cake and after I sent her a sketch of my design she made a few tweeks and the look was set.

I really wanted the ’60’ to be standing up so I made it a few days before I baked the cake – so it had time to dry and would be able to be handled. This is how I made it…

 

How to make a silver sugarpaste number

how to make silver sugarpaste numbers

If you want silver letters and numbers you should mix up some grey sugarpaste. If you want gold use a pale yellow colour paste. Cut out the Numbers and letters.

how to make silver Sugarpaste letters

Place the cut out’s onto baking paper so they can dry without sticking to the surface they’re on. I left these for three days and turned them over at the end of each day so the back could dry too.

Sugarpaste letters

To make them stand up I use a little royal icing underneath each number to make them ‘stick’ to the cake, but just to be on the safe side (especially when you have to drive a long way to deliver the cake) I use cocktail sticks in the larger numbers and really thin food standard Sugarcraft Wire (the kind you use to have stars on like these) in the tiny ‘th’ to give you something to stick them in with. Gently push these into each digit soon after you cut them out so they can dry in place. If you try to add them once the digits are dry they tend to crack and break.

Silver Sugarpaste letters

Use some edible Metallic Silver Liquid food colour to get a really good shine. This tiny pot goes a really, really long way! Make sure you stir it really well as the silver pigments sink to the bottom of the pot and that’s where the sparkle comes from!

IMG_9949

Give the numbers a coat. Work quickly as it dries practically instantly. Avoid going over areas more than once as it mottles and goes a bit bumpy. If you aren’t happy with the finish you can always wait for it to dry then do a second coat. No-one will know!
Silver Sugarpaste letters

 

And there you have it. One rocking 60th birthday cake- complete with silver 60 and an electric guitar !

enjoy!

EmmaMT

x

Buttercream recipe

buttercream for cake decoratingButtercream is one of those parts of cake decorating that I do without really thinking about it, which is why it’s never really occurred to me to share my recipe with you all. That is until I was asked to by a reader. I mean I have included the recipe in the past but when it comes to searching blogs for anything specific you do tend to get all sorts of other random stuff mixed in with it and actually the reader wanted to know how much to use for different sized cakes. So anyway, here it is. Nice and easy to find.

 

My buttercream recipe

My recipe is pretty basic and easy to remember. These ingredients will fill and cover an 9″cake. Some people find that this is too sweet so you can always try it with 50-100g less icing sugar. Taste it till you get it how you like it. I personally think this is a good taste- especially with the vanilla essence.Butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.
  1.  Start by beating the butter so it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar over the top of the butter then mix until well blended. I place a tea towel over my Kitchenaid and hold it carefully in place whilst mixing to prevent the dust from the icing sugar from going everywhere (and I mean everywhere! It will look like you haven’t cleaned your kitchen in a year otherwise!)
  3. Once combined add the vanilla essence and mix for 2-3 minutes so it becomes really light and fluffy. This consistency is good for a filling between two layers of cake as it’s thick. I’ve been piping buttercream between layers recently as it stays thicker than when I used a palette knife. It’s also easier to control and get flat.
  4. When covering a cake with a buttercream crumb coat before adding sugarpaste or for a decorative finish you need the buttercream to be more fluid. You can get this consistency by adding a drop or two of milk and mixing it in well. Do this slowly as once it’s too soft it’s a pain in the bum to get it to firm up again. How soft you want your buttercream is a personal choice. I like to be able to smooth the buttercream on with a palette knife easily and have it come off the sides with a side scraper without breaking the cake, but I don’t want it too soft.  You get a feel quite quickly on how you like it to be.

Chocolate buttercream 

For a chocolate version simply add the cocoa powder when you add the icing sugar but make sure you sieve it or you’ll have lumps.chocolate butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.

Buttercream will last for two weeks in a sealed container in the fridge but remember to take it out and let it get to room temperature a good few hours before you want to pipe it.

 

Buttercream quantities for different sized cakes

And for that lovely reader who asked for quantities of buttercream for different sized cakes. Here you go…

Buttercream quantities

EmmaMT

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