Category: Cakes gone by….

Twitter and the horse birthday cake

Horse birthday cake
Sometimes when I  look back at the cakes I’ve done, I can’t believe how many I’ve made. Today when I was looking through my cake pictures trying to decide which one to write about I found this horse cake I did for the Editor of Elle magazine.

I should back track a little first.  I first got into Twitter after a much needed lesson from the Web team at Woman and Home magazine! I sat directly behind the lovely web girls and would listen to them all day talking about who was saying what and I got hooked. I followed who they followed and one day, just as I was about to start planning my Christmas interior features – which was my craziest time, we saw that the editor of Elle magazine (the only non home interest title I subscribed to and completely love I might add) had put out a tweet asking where she could get a cake made for her daughter’s birthday in the shape of a horse. Now although I was getting quite confident at decorating and shaping a cake, a horse really would be a huge challenge. I mean the head would have to stand up and stick out without toppling over! And I had already said that I wouldn’t do anymore cakes till after the Christmas issue was finished.

 A friend, who is also a huge Elle magazine fan said “You can’t pass up an opportunity like this” and messaged the editor directly saying how I made cakes and to see my Flickr pics. The editor got in touch and the rest as they say is history. Lorraine Candy told me about her daughter’s love of the horse she rode at her riding lessons called Megastar and we arranged a date for delivery.

Around this time there were back to back episodes of ‘Ace of Cakes‘ on TV, which I was totally hooked on. One of the cakes they made had to be top heavy and to overcome the problem they used a combination of Rice Krispies and melted Mars bars. You simply mix the two together and they become a mouldable and edible shape. So I had my answer to the horse’s head problem. I only wish I had taken step photos of it to show you, but this was before I started blogging.

Once the head was shaped and had set hard in the fridge I covered it with brown sugarpaste icing and smoothed it all over. The cake was cut into a horses body shape and the head was  secured into position then the whole thing was covered in the tan coloured icing. Megastar is a Palomino so the cake would be a lovely light colour. I would have hated to make a black horse. People in general don’t like to eat a black cake!

The legs were shaped from solid sugarpaste and were secured to the body with a little royal icing. The mane and tail were also made of thin strips of sugarpaste.

For the cake board I decided to make it a green field, complete with pretty flowers so  Megastar looked like she was resting.

In all I was pretty pleased with this cake. I could imagine being very happy to have it as an eight year old girl. The horse looked friendly and was just the right size. When I delivered it I found out that Megastar belonged to Noel Gallagher! Which was just the icing on the cake! (sorry- I couldn’t help myself)

EmmaMT

How to cover a cake in sugarpaste, and make it really smooth!

Last week I made this really big (and really heavy) wedding cake. I have been asked a few times now how I cover cakes with sugarpaste and get it looking so smooth, so,  I took some snaps as I went. My poor camera is now covered in icing sugar! I started with each cake covered in marzipan. It gives a really smooth base coat. (To cover a cake in marzipan you do the same proceedure as with the icing-  you just use jam or buttercream to attach it, not alchohol) I found out whilst making this cake that if you buy a 5kg box of sugarpaste you get 1kg free. It’s so much cheaper to buy in bulk! I buy from here by the way. Just look at the size of that sugarpaste! It’s massive and really heavy. I break off big chunks and knead them until soft and pliable, then add the next chunk of sugarpaste, till I have enough to cover the whole cake. I use spacers when rolling to make sure that the icing is level throughout. This was a 12″ Madeira cake so the sugarpaste needed to be rolled out to a really big circle. In order for the sugarpaste to stick to the marzipan you need to make it damp. For this use either cooled boiled water or brandy. You can guess which one I used! Well, it was a wedding cake! Use a damp pastry brush and cover the whole cake especially around the base.

 

If you are sugarpasting directly onto a cake  (ie with no marzipan) add a thin layer of buttercream to the top and side of the cake for the sugarpaste to stick to. The smoother you can get teh buttercream the better the sugarpaste will look.  Carefully lift the rolled  out sugarpaste over the cake. Support it from underneath as much as you can as it will stretch very easily- making it very thin in some areas. Use a cake smoother to gently force any trapped air bubbles out and smooth the top layer of the cake. I have this pink spirit leveller just for using with cakes. It’s an essential tool when stacking cakes, as if you get the bottom two tiers wonky it will throw the whole cake off. Most of the time you can keep using the smoother to get the level as good as perfect. Keep smoothing in a circular action and checking the flatness till it’s good. Once the top is nice and flat gently use the palm of your hand to smooth down the sides. Avoid creases at the bottom by holding the lower piece of sugarpaste out away from the cake while you smooth it gently towards the bottom with your other hand. (It’s impossible to take a photo of this action when you are home alone on a Tuesday afternoon!) Hope it makes sence. Once the whole cake is covered use the palm of your hand to smooth the edges of the icing securely onto the cake. There is always some excess to cut off. I use a pizza wheel to cut away the extra sugarpaste. Don’t lean the cutter in towards the bottom of the cake. Keep it at a right angle and leave about 2mm sticking out. Use a flat smoother to tuck in the excess 2mm of sugarpaste all the way around the cake.  Use the inside part of your palm- between your thumb and first finger, and smooth the top corner until it’s really soft and there are no bumps. The last action is to finish off with a cake smoother all over the top and around the sides till it’s perfectly smooth.

enjoy!

The RG’s engagement cake

My brother is leaving me today :0(

He’s emigrating to Australia with his wife and two daughters and we are all going to miss them tons and tons and tons.

Whilst finishing off a little surprise photo album I was making them last night as a Bon Voyage gift, I came across the photos from their engagement party. It was back in 2007 which seems like a lifetime ago now!  Darcey had only just turned one, my sister was pregnant with Asher and I didn’t have a cake blog so I was at least a stone lighter! I had completely forgotten that I had made them an engagement cake.

The RG’s

My brother’s name is Robert and his wife is Roni and they both had the same initials when they met and Roni was still an RG when they got married. They call each other ‘RG’ so that was where the idea behind the cake came from.

The cake

I remember being really pleased with this cake. It must have been one of the first ones I ever did as I didn’t really start making cakes till Beau’s fourth birthday shortly after the engagement party.  I printed out large ‘R & G’ letters in paper to use as a pattern and layered up icing in pink and blue then placed the pattern on top before cutting out each letter with a sharp kitchen knife. I finished with a pink set for Roni and a Blue set for Robert. I think if I made this cake now I would have cut away the area where the letters overlap so that they sit more flat on the top of the cake. I would also know that if you get icing wet it will always look shiny unless you use a dry paintbrush and brush over some icing sugar till all the shininess disappears! I would also cover the cake board (or upturned tray in this instance!) with a strong colour icing.

Oh well, it’s good to see that I’ve improoved a little since 2007 and have learnt so much!

EmmaMT

P.S. RG’s & S & L we miss you so much already and love you lots. XXXX °<>° XXXX

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The Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One bowl chocolate cake

This is a cake I made to take around to my mother-in-law’s for her birthday back in June. We were all invited for a family afternoon tea at her house. She always makes the most amazing Cherry Amours (I must get the recipe from her some time!) and she had also made scones too, so taking my chocolate cake on top of all that sugar may have been a step too far!

I’m Tim’s biggest nightmare!

I’m not very good at time management. In fact I’m hopeless. I’m late for everything and as Tim always says I have “add ons”, meaning that when we plan to do anything I always want to add on something. When I decided to make this cake I only had an hour and half to bake/decorate the cake, shower & dress and get Darcey ready to go to her friends party, wrap the present and get her to write the card! One serious ‘add on’! I originally wanted to make a cheesecake but Tim had to stop me. I really couldn’t do that in the time and chill it!

Chocolate cake in a hurry.

Needless to say this is the perfect recipe to bash out a quick cake when you’re in a hurry. As the title suggests, all the ingredients are put in the bowl at the same time, mixed up, popped in a tin (or for real speed a silicon pan- no lining or oiling necessary!) and throw it in the oven. Twenty five minutes later it’s done!

One Bowl Chocolate cake Ingredients

125g butter – at room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g self raising flour

2 eggs – at room temperature

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 teasp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

1 tea sp vanilla extract

Raspberries to decorate

Buttercream

250g butter – at room temperature

450g icing sugar

2 drops of vanilla essence

2 tbsp cocoa powder. (I like my buttercream to be very chocolatey, so if you want a more subtle taste – or your cake is for kids, use just 1 tbsp of cocoa powder, then taste test the buttercream and add more as desired.

How to make the one bowl chocolate cake

Heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan) and line and oil two 8″ sandwich tins.

Place all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Sieve all the dry ingredients into the bowl then mix until well blended. Avoid over mixing.

Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes. This is a really light cake so you will see that it’s done by the edges shrinking away from the sides of the tin or a finger print bounces back instantly when touched.

While the cake is baking make the buttercream. Start by sieving the sugar and cocoa powder together. Add the butter and vanilla essence and mix well. If the mixture is too stiff add one small splash of milk at a time and keep mixing until it is just right.

Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out of the tin and placing it on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Add the buttercream to the centre of the cake then using a large pallet knife cover the outside top and sides. Use an upwards motion to cover it easily. Finish off with fresh raspberries.

This cake went down pretty well but then again so did Nanny Ali’s scones and cherry amours!

enjoy!

p.s. I am aware that there have been a lot of chocolate recipes on here lately! Anyone would think that I like chocolate!!!!!!

A Rainbow cake for Dahlia (a.k.a. the tallest cake I’ve ever made!)

Rainbow cakeAs I write this post (now last Saturday night) I have absolutely no internet connection. Nothing! Nada! Zip! Not a squat! And it’s not just my router that’s not working at home, my mobile is kerput too! So I have been web free for 5days. It’s at times like this that you realise how much you use the web, sit on facebook and miss your cake blog. Luckily, I have had plenty to keep me busy and away from my Mac.

Firstly I have made two life size snowmen for a Christmas press launch. They took hours and hours of paper mache, painting, covering in wadding and then covering in fake snow! Needless to say that when I got to the part of the week where I got to do baking I was happy!

The Rainbow cake

This cake was my birthday present for a very special little girl. She’s the daughter of my good friend Theoda and she’s too scrumptious for words! Theoda and I worked together on Woman and Home magazine and we shared one too many cupcakes, so I know how much she likes cake! She is also one of my biggest supporters of everything I do. ( Love you Fou!)

Theoda, Peter and the birthday girl. X

Anyway, when Theoda asked if I would make Dahlia’s 1st birthday cake I was honored. I mean I really wanted to make it but sometimes you have to wait to be asked – so that you don’t step on anyone’s toes. Theoda knew exactly what she wanted… Dahlia's on the Rainbow cake It had to have Dahlia’s on the top- obviously as that’s her daughters name. I made these with small circle cutters and then squidged each piece into place with my finger, adding more and more petals in a circle, layering up as I went. I wished that I had seen the flowers from Theoda’s garden (below) as I would have created this style flower instead. How beautiful are these? You can see why Dahlia was given such a beautiful name. Dahlias

A few years ago I made a mini wedding cake inspired by a Mich Turner cake with a bow on the front, which Theoda really liked, I recreated that on the front of the cake with ‘modern’ swags. At each swag was a button, holding it in place.Sugarpaste buttons and swags

As you can see the cake board was a strong pink colour and was dotted with more buttons made from sugarpaste and it was finished off with a cute spot ribbon. Jane Means ribbons are my favorite. They’re the best around and she has such a great selection.Buttons on cake

The pièce de résistance came when Theoda cut the first slice. Inside the tall cake were six layers of Madeira cake, each layer in a darker pink colour than the one below it. There was tons of buttercream inside, to keep it straight and in between each layer. It looked great when cut and whats more each slice could feed a small army. The cake was huge!

Pink Rainbow cake

Things I learnt making this cake…

  1. Don’t add the food colouring to the cake mix and keep stirring it as you colour each layer. By the time you get to the strongest colour you’ll have bashed all the air out of the mix (which is what makes it rise) and it will end up being a heavy biscuit of a cake. Instead mix up all the ingredients apart from the flour and separate it into bowls for each layer. Then colour each bowl. Fold in the flour and bake straight away. That way you can see the exact colour difference in each cake and they will all rise and be light and fluffy and delicious.
  2. I did a crumb coating on this cake and used a cake ruler to ensure the sides were as straight and level as I could get them. I then did a top coat of buttercream and again leveled the sides and top with the straight edge. Pop the cake in the fridge in between each buttercream covering so it sets and is easier to handle.
  3. When covering a cake this tall keep your rolled out icing thicker than usual so it has enough give. I left mine at around 1cm thick. Take your time when covering the cake. Smooth the top first, then gently manipulate the sides, working your way down with your hands and then with a smoother. If you start to get a crease at the bottom gently lift the sugarpaste away from the bottom of the cake and smooth it down from the top again. If you do end up with creases use ribbon, flowers or button decorations to hide them. No one will ever know!
  4. I didn’t put a thin cake board in between the cake layers because I made this cake out of Madeira sponge which is a pretty ‘strong’ cake. If I had done more layers, or had used a softer more crumbly sponge I would have popped one under the middle layer with cake supports in the cakes underneath. This will stop the cake from sinking into itself or toppling over.
  5. Make the decorations a week in advance so that they set hard and can be handled. The bow was quite heavy once dry and was attached to the cake with royal icing. It had to be held in place for a minute or so till it was stuck.

EmmaMT

Mr Men Birthday cake

When Beau was 6 she was really into Mr Men and Little Misses books. She couldn’t decide which character to have for her cake so we decided that we would have a Mr Men and Little Misses picnic cake. Mr Strong and Mr Bump were made of cake and the smaller ones, Mr Small, Little Miss Tiny and Little Miss Twins were solid sugarpaste.

All the characters were sitting on a picnic blanket, which was on grass. Of course any cake board that has grass has to have flowers, so I filled the green space with loads of pretty blossom flowers in different colours.
Mr Men picnic cake - Mr Bump birthday cake
Mr Bump was really good fun to do. I had a job sticking the arms on. In the end I used cocktail sticks and edible glue. His arm fell off just as the party guests were arriving. I quickly applied a bit of royal icing and that did the trick!

Mr Men picnic cake

Mr Strong was the first tall squarish cake I ever made. It was a job to get the sides even and flat before the sugarpaste was applied. I’m not very good at seeing when things aren’t straight or even. You should see the shelves I’ve put up in the house in the past! If I had a £1 for every cake Tim looked at and said “It’s not straight!” I’d be a rich girl right now!

Mr Men picnic cake

I must have been in a reall hurry (or just plain inexperienced) when I made Mr Small. Look at all those lines! He’d never look like that if I made him now! I’ve learnt that you need to work the sugarpaste to get it to roll nice and smooth. Then leave it alone!!!

Mr Men picnic cake

I had loads of fun making the plates and sandwiches. I think the Little Miss Twins are eating a tomato and cucumber sandwich. What do you think?

Mr Men picnic cake

How cute is Little Miss Tiny? I love adding loads of extra details to a cake or cake board. I could have gone on for ever with this design. It was so much fun to do.

enjoy! 

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