Category: How to…

How to make a sprinkle cake

Dahlia 2nd birthday cake

So following on from my My top 5 cake disaster tips! Here’s how I made the sprinkle cake before disaster struck!

I wanted the cake to be nice and tall. As it was for Dahlia’s 2nd birthday and she is a pretty, girly little thing,  it had to be pink.  I made four 8″ Madeira cakes to stack with raspberry jam and coloured buttercream. I also wanted it to be a sprinkle cake on the inside too, so I added some sprinkles to the cake mix just before they went into the oven. It didn’t really work out as I had planned. I put in 55g (which is one entire pot) but they didn’t really show up very well when the cake was cut. I think next time I will put in 110g so it’s super colourful inside. The good thing about adding sprinkles to the cake mix is that they are sugar so they just melt into the sponge.

 

The Madeira cake recipe 

(Makes four  8″ round cakes)

For the cakes

  • 150g butter – at room temperature
  • 150g margarine ( I use Flora)
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 6 eggs (large and at room temperature. Lightly whisked)
  • 450g Plain flour – sieved
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 5 tbsp hot water
  • 50-100g sprinkles
  1. Grease and line your baking tins. If you need to bake in two goes ( 2 cake layers at a time) only mix up enough ingredients to bake two cakes. Don’t have cake mix sitting around waiting for the first cake tins be become free. The cake mix will lose air and the cakes won’t rise as much as they should. 
  2. Heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC Fan)
  3. Mix the butter and margarine together well then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. This will take 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg a little at a time until it’s combined. If it starts to curdle add a spoonful of the flour.
  5. Add the vanilla essence.
  6. Add the flour (with the baking powder) in three batches alternating with the hot water. I’ve just discovered this neat little trick. It makes the cakes more moist and they will have fewer holes in the sponge compared to adding all the flour then all the water. Add sprinkles and mix.
  7. Pour cake mix into each cake tin. In order to keep the cakes the same depth once baked aim for 350g of cake mix in each tin.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake comes away from the sides and a light press in the centre of the cake springs back instantly.
  9. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. If storing overnight, once cool wrap your cakes in clingfilm but don’t stack them directly on top of each other as they may stick together.

 

For the buttercream decorations

  • ½ Jar of seedless raspberry jam
  • 500g butter- at room temperature (President butter tastes best)
  • 1kg icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • pink food colour
  • sprinkles to scatter – (I used around  100-150g)
  1. Place the butter in a mixing bowl then sieve the icing sugar over the top. I place a tea towel carefully over the mixer (make sure it is safe guys!) so that the puffs of icing sugar don’t coat my whole kitchen. Once it’s combined add the vanilla essence and mix again. If it’s too thick you can add a little milk to soften it. 
  2. Add a little pink food colouring at a time till you get the desired colour

Decorating the Sprinkle cake 

Sprinkle birthday cake

Heat up the raspberry jam in a microwaveable dish for a few seconds at a time until it is nice and runny.  Use a silicon pastry brush to cover the whole of the first layer of cake. Leave the cake to cool a bit – otherwise it will melt the buttercream and your next layer will slide off.

Take the second cake layer and smoother it with buttercream then position it buttercream side down over the jam. Repeat until you have done all layers.

Sprinkle birthday cake

Give the whole cake a crumb coat. This is the first coating of buttercream which seals in any crumbs in and hides any lines in the cake lauers. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the neater it is now the better your top coat will be. I didn’t cover the top as I was going to roll the cake in sprinkles if I didn’t like the initial effect and I would have needed to handle the top if that was the case.

Pop the cake in the fridge to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

 

Sprinkle birthday cake

Give the cake a second ‘top coat’ of buttercream. This is the one that you want to be as straight and smooth as possible. I use a spatula to add the buttercream then use a side scraper to make sure it’s straight.

 

Sprinkle birthday cake

A smoother is the perfect tool to drag around the cake to get a smooth finish.

 

Sprinkle birthday cake

I put the cake on a cakestand (because I am crazy- if you haven’t read why you can do so here!)  And prepared to add the sprinkles. You need to add them while the cake is still freshly buttercreamed so they stick well. The way this cake looks is how I imagined it turn out, but if it all went wrong then I planned to roll the whole cake in sprinkles to coat the whole thing. For that I would have needed to hold the top and bottom of the cake- hence I didn’t buttercream the top till the very end.

Sprinkle birthday cake

To add the sprinkles I placed the cakestand over a tray and poured the sprinkles onto the bottom edge. I then threw small handfuls at the sides so there were just a few all over the cake. When I was happy with the look – and I had forced Darcey to stop throwing sprinkles all over the place and at my cake) I coated the top.

 

Sprinkle birthday cake

To make a clear number 2 I placed the largest cookie cutter I had in the centre then carefully poured some sprinkles inside. I used a decorators paintbrush to press them down so they stuck in place when the cutter was lifted off.

 

SPRINKLE BIRTHDAY CAKE

 

The last thing to do was to remove any loose sprinkles from the cakestand and try to deliver it. Try being the word!

 

EmmaMT 

 

How to stack a square cake


Square stacked cake

I wish I had a £1 for every time Tim walked into the kitchen and told me that my cake wasn’t straight! It’s one of those things that I just can’t see. You should see the shelves in my house! If left to me they would all be wonky. I can’t even put the oven shelves back into the oven horizontally! So stacking a cake doesn’t come easily to me! There I said it.

Over the years I have learnt how to improve my technique and get a good result but it’s still work in progress. I kind of go with the thinking that once the cake is finished and decorated a few degrees off (as that is all it usually is) won’t show. What do you think? This is the last stacked cake I made. It was for my lovely friends daughters birthday. More on that in the next post.

 

How to stack a square cakeStacking a square cake

Start with your cakes leveled, buttercreamed and covered in sugarpaste. This is the trick. If you start with a straight cake your stacking will be a doddle! I use the side scraper (as shown in this post) to get the buttercream sides straight and at 90º angles which helps a lot. Then use spacers to get the sugarpaste rolled out to the same thickness.

 

Stacking a square cake

Use a small amount of Royal icing in the centre of your cake board to secure the first cake in place.

 

measure the cake in place

Once the cake is in place check that it is central using a tape measure or ruler. Give it a gentle push till you are happy.

 

Stacking a square cake

If you need to move the cake to reposition it do so soon after covering it as the sugarpaste will still be soft and any pushing and prodding can be removed with a cake smoother.

 

Stacking a square cake

Insert dowling posts (I use Plastic Cake Dowels  but you can still get wooden Dowels too) Try to push them in as vertically as possible making sure you leave enough space between them to give support to the cake to be stacked but not so far that they will be outside of the size of the next layer.

 

Stacking a square cake

Mark each dowel where it hits the sugarpaste then carefully remove it. Cut the dowel at that mark. I use scissors and work my way around the post. Be careful that the last snip doesn’t send your dowel careering off in the direction of the cake! Been there. Done that!

 

 

How to stack a square cake

Re- insert the dowels into the cake. They should be just visible from the top, so the next cake can sit comfortably on them without squishing the base cake. It’s okay if they sit in the sugarpaste a little.  The dowels are really important when stacking heavy cakes or lots of tiers. Not only does it give you a secure stack but it prevents the base cake from becoming squished down and solid. I’ve had that happen before when I  made a 6 layer rainbow cake from Madeira cake. The bottom two layers were only about 1″ thick at the start and by the time the cake was cut they were half that size! Sugarpaste is heavy! I should have put a thin cake board in between layers 3 and 4 and used dowels.

 

How to stack a square cake

Add a small amount of Royal icing over each dowel and add your next cake.

 

How to stack a square cake

As with the first tier, check that the cake is central using a measuring tape then smooth out any finger prints. The Royal icing will hold the cake in position.

 

gap cake

Sometimes there is a little gap between the layers if the cake isn’t perfectly flat or the dowels stick out too much at one point. You can correct and hide this with small rolls of sugarpaste or you can pipe Royal icing into the gap. If you are adding ribbon and it will be hidden then I wouldn’t do anything. A ribbon the same colour as the icing will hide a multitude of sins.

 

How to stack a square cake

To check if your cake is straight use a spirit level (one just for cake decorating- I have this pink one as I know Tim won’t nick it!) I place a scraper on the top of the cake to prevent it leaving too many marks. If it’s way off being straight then you can carefully lift the cake- as long as the Royal icing underneath it is still wet, and place a small ball off sugarpaste underneath the board until it is level. Again, you can pipe white icing into the gap between the base cake and the cake board of the next tier.

 

How to stack a square cakeFinally add ribbon to the cake securing it in place at the back with a small amount of Royal icing. Try not to touch it while that Royal icing is drying as it is a bit temperamental!

To add ribbon to the cake board I use a Pritt stick all the way around the board.

 

EmmaMT

 

 

Strawberry Tarts from ‘Cook It, step by step’

Strawberry tarts- 'Cook it'Yesterday I reviewed the kids cook book Cook It , Step by Step by Dk  and today I am thrilled to be able to share a recipe extract straight from the book with you all.  How good do these Strawberry tarts look? Kids will love to make them.

 

Strawberry tarts recipe

These pretty pastries taste as good as they look! You can also make them with other types of soft fruit.

Ingredients

• 225g (8oz) ready-made shortcrust pastry

• 150g (51/2 oz) mascarpone cheese

• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract •

2 tbsp icing sugar

• 175g (6oz) strawberries or other soft fruit

• 4 tbsp redcurrant jelly •

15ml (1 tbsp) water

 

Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C (400 ̊F/Gas 6). Thinly roll out the pastry, then using the fluted cutter, cut out 8 circles. Press the pastry circles into a bun tin.

Strawberry tarts- 'Cook it'

Line the cases with baking parchment and fill them with dried beans. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the beans. Return to the oven for 3 minutes. Cool in the tin

Strawberry tarts

Transfer the cases to a cooling rack. Place the cheese and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Sift over the icing sugar, then beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Strawberry tarts- 'Cook it'

Place the strawberries on a chopping board. Remove the green stalks from the strawberries. Then use a knife to cut them in half or quarters if they are large.

Strawberry tarts- 'Cook it'

When the pastry cases are completely cool, use a teaspoon to fill them with the mascarpone and vanilla mixture. Arrange the strawberries over the top.

Strawberry tarts

Place the redcurrant jelly in a small pan with the water and cook over a low heat, stirring until the jelly has dissolved. Brush this over the strawberries.

Strawberry tarts

 

enjoy!

How to make simple sugarpaste flowers

1. How to make sugarpaste flowers

I’ve been making these simple flowers for my cakes for years. In fact I am pretty sure these were the very first plunger cutters I ever bought. That was back at the start. Now I have tons of different shapes and styles of cutters and all because they are really easy to use and create the best effects. All you need is a little imagination and you can do all sorts of things with them.

These flowers are a doddle to make as I will show you below. I tend to make a ton in one go as they are quite brittle and I’m very good at breaking them, but also because they keep for ages in an air tight container (indefinitely really if you keep them dry) and they are great to have to hand when you make a cake in a hurry.

 

How to make sugarpaste flowers

2. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

These blossom cutters are the most commonly available. They come in a set of 4 and are available from Amazon (see them on this link Flower Blossom Cutter Plunger). I use this shape on it’s own and layer them up using really thin fondant. The tiny one makes very cute flowers that are really easy to break but look so cute on a cake. They are also perfect centres for other flower shapes.

 

3. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The daisy cutters are really good for lots of different looks. If you layer the same size flower up so the petals overlap eachother they look really pretty but you can also layer  up different sizes, add a small blossom flower in the centre or as I have done above, add small yellow circles (also done with a plunger cutter) to make them look like a traditional daisy. (See these cutters on Amazon on this link  Daisy Cutter Plunger)

 

4. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The first step is to roll out your sugarpaste on a hard surface. The reason for this is that once you have cut out the flower it will stick to the plunger. Before you lift the plunger up away from the surface, move it from side to side a little. This removes any burrs of sugarpaste that remain. Alternatively, you can gently wipe your finger across the bottom of the plunger to get the same result. The idea is to have nice sharp edges with no fuzzy bits.

 

5. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

Press the plunger to release the flower. If it sticks give it a shake and next time very lightly dust the flower part of the cutter with icing sugar.

It’s a really good idea to get your hands on an artists palette. I’ve had loads of these over the years and my favorites are always the ones with deep recesses. This little 6 hole one is my latest addition. Just 79p from Hobbycraft. By placing the flower inside the recess of the palette you give the petals shape. You don’t have to shape the flowers though. They still look good when they are flat.

 

 

6. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

To layer up the flowers add a tiny amount of water to the centre of each flower. Sugarpaste is very sticky when wet so you really don’t need much.

 

7. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

When adding the next flower position the plunger directly over the centre of the base flower and push gently into it to create a firm connection between the two layers. You can stop there or keep on going- adding more flowers. Remember that the thinner the sugarpaste the better the flower will look.

The flowers now need to be left overnight to harden up enough to handle. They will be fragile so use a dry paintbrush to dislodge one side of the flower when you are ready to remove them and they should just slide out of the palette easily.

 

8. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The end result…. but we’re not finished!

 

9. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

Once hardened the flower can be attached to cakes. You can add them as they are onto cupcakes but when I add them onto celebration cakes I add a small finishing touch. Add a small dab of royal icing onto the back of the flower. If you add too much it will squidge out and show from the front and it will also mean the flower is likely to slip slide down the cake.  Add just a tiny dot the size of the base of the back of the flower. Position the flower on the cake and hold it in place with your finger for around 30 seconds. That’s all it takes for it to stick.

 

10. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The finishing touch is a tiny dab of royal icing in the centre of the flower. This can be any colour and it really finishes off the flowers.

 

11. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

And there you have it. Simple yet effective sugarpaste flowers.

 

EmmaMT

 

p.s. I have used sugarpaste but you can also use modelling paste or flower paste in exactly the same way. The flowers will harden much quicker.

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! 

Easy Almond Biscuits – a.k.a my mum’s fabulous Kirchals.

Almond cookie recipeMy mum has a famous Kichal recipe- well, it’s famous in our family anyway. Whenever she needs to make some biscuits to take to someones house these are what she takes. She cuts them in a crinkly circle and adds either a slither of chopped almond or a tiny piece of cherry on the top and she keeps them nice and thin. That’s the secret. To bake them long enough to be cooked right through but not so long as they go too brown. If truth be told I am the first to eat the ‘burnt’ ones as they are just as tasty- they’re just the wrong colour! Then she piles them high. They never last very long!

When my mum gave me this recipe I wrote it on the inside cover of the red book. The back cover has a pancake recipe on it. (I have had this book for a very long time!) I was talking to my sister about it and it turns out she has mum’s recipe written inside her red book too. I think I feel a family tradition coming on!

Almond biscuit recipe

 

Almond biscuit recipe

Makes around 50 biscuits

  • 226g (1 cup or 2 sticks)  butter at room temperature
  • 460g (3 ½ cups)  Self raising Flour
  • 226g (1 ¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ½ tea spoon almond essence/ extract

How to make Almond biscuits

  1. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature- especially the butter and eggs.
  2. Pre- heat your oven to 160ºC (140ºC Fan) and line your baking sheet with silicon paper
  3. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a ball of dough. You can use a food processor or stand mixer but the best way to mix is with your hands as their warmth will combine the ingredients in a way that makes them taste the best. I’ve tried it all ways and by hand always wins- hands down!
  4. This makes quite a lot of dough so I will often knead two balls and freeze one. It will defrost in about 30 mins and it’s always great to have some ready to go. Whether you want to chill or freeze, wrap the dough in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  5. Once you are ready to roll out, lightly dust your surface and knead the dough. If it’s really sticky add just a little flour. The dough will soften quickly as you handle it so handle it as little as possible.
  6. For really thin biscuits roll out the dough to a depth of around the size of a coin then cut out your shapes and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes then turn the baking sheet around inside the oven so the biscuits bake evenly. Bake for a further 5 minutes. You know they are done when the edges start to brown ever so slightly. Watch them like a hawk if you don’t want them to burn.
  7. Place the cookies on a cooling rack and try to resist eating them hot!

Almond biscuit

 enjoy!

 

 

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