Friday, 22 November 2013

Alice in Wonderland Unbirthday Cake

I recently shared my eldest nieces Halloween themed birthday cake but I've not shared the one we made back in August for my other nieces birthday. When we first started making cakes for my nieces, we'd pick something they liked, like a favourite disney or cartoon character and it was pretty straightforward. I think what has now happened is that my sister leaves my nieces in front of google image search for a bit, and they look for the most difficult cake for us to replicate to see how far they can push us before we break. I never thought we'd be able to pull off the Alice in Wonderland cake for my youngest niece, especially as Ian was unable to help because he had lots of work to do. 

It was also tricky because we were attempting our very first topsy turvy cake. After much studying of you tube videos, I was confident I had an idea of the technique needed (you can get topsy turvy cake pans but we're always a bit last minute with these things!). Some careful carving and moulding of cake later, and we had the cake all covered (including a cheshire cat stripey bottom layer). 

Here's the finished cake in all it's topsy turvy glory. 


Again, the detail really made the cake - it's all there - the cheshire cats face (Ian took a break from his work to help with this one)...


...the tea set (non matching as I'd imagine all mad hatters tea sets are) along with the mad hatters hat itself....


...some playing card people (which we might have used non edible pen on because we only had a black icing pen - I don't think they were eaten but I'm sure it wouldn't have killed anyone if they were)


I'm really proud of my daffodil - the centre was really tricky to make and attach but I think it's clear what it's meant to be.


The daisy looks really happy to be part of the cake (and so it should!)


The eat me label on the entire cake was my favourite part (and one of the only things not on the cake picture we were working from).


Alice in Wonderland clearly isn't my nieces favourite movie as she was confused by the 'unbirthday' tag (this confirms my suspicion that she was just trying to test our cake skills!).


Friday, 1 November 2013

Halloween Birthday Cake

My niece was born very close to halloween. Consequently every birthday cake we make for her these days is halloween themed. This year we took inspiration from this cake here but she's now old enough to know what she likes so she made her own tweaks to the cake. Because we were working towards not just a picture, but her description of what she wanted, it was a bit daunting as we had to hope we'd understood the brief correctly.


She seemed pretty pleased with it - I wasn't there when she cut into it to reveal the colourful insides but I'm happy with how it turned out. 


Ian did a great job making all the skulls (he did get a bit bored because he had to make 8 of them all the same and that's not really his thing) - check out this close up of one.


The pumpkins were slightly more fun because we could give them each a personality of their own. I got to arrange them on the cake so of course my favourite ended up at the front.


He looks so shocked to be there - it makes me giggle. As does the goofy one.


But look at this poor one. I don't think he wanted to join the party!


It's definitely the little details that makes the cakes fun, and I think my nieces enjoy looking for them when the cake arrives. It turns a nice simple cake into something special. (Simple cake as it was, it still required 3 shopping trips and over a day of work!)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pinterest - not just for pinning!

Happy New Year all!

I've decided this year that I need to stop pinning things on pinterest and then forgetting about them - I need to actually make some of the things I pin.

It'll be hard, because all of the things look so yummy and full of butter/sugar/other naughtiness, and I'm currently committed to a healthier lifestyle in a bid to shift some weight. I'm 12.5lbs lighter than at the start of the year, so am still very much motivated to stick to it.

I decided that I'd make things I don't like but have pinned because I think Ian will like them. First up was coconut ice, something he says he's never had, but I find it hard to believe because he loves everything coconuty (and thankfully I don't!).

I'm not sure I measured everything correctly because the resulting coconut ice was a tad sticky, and I didn't quite split it half and half as my white layer is definitely thicker than the pink.

2013-01-20 15.52.22

I was quite generous with my squares, mainly because I wanted to get it cut quickly as it seemed to be getting stickier with every second out of the fridge! Apologies for the terrible quality photos, my camera was up the stairs and I'm still lazy!

2013-01-20 15.56.34

I've got plenty of coconut left (as I failed to check the recipe before going shopping) so I might try this again, or one of the many other coconut recipes I've got pinned! 

Thursday, 17 May 2012

There's Nothing More Fun Than A Cake Challenge


Ian may not agree with the fun part, but we'll ignore that because he's stuck with me forever and he'll just have to deal with it!

It was our second meeting of our Clandestine Cake Club last night, and the theme was 'Jubilant Jubilee'. I couldn't decide whether to go for something decadent and fit for a queen, or something that looked impressive. I like a good challenge so I decided to go down the impressive looking cake route.

I was inspired by the humble battenberg cake, and was really excited by the idea of having a cake where every slice was a union jack flag. All my friends thought it was a challenge too far (and it nearly was).

I made two tray bake sponges, using a standard mix (the blue 4 eggs, the red only 2). I tried to find dark blue colouring to try and get a truer match to the flag, but I already had the darkest one my shop offered, so I mixed in a tiny bit of black to try and darken it.
You'll see that when you bake a blue cake, instead of going golden, it goes green! 
I tried to cut each length of blue cake into two, on the diagonal, which is not an easy task at all, and was one of the trickiest parts of the cake creation.
Once you cut into the cake, you realise just how blue it is - the green on the outside definitely fools you.
I measured up a bit of red cake to sandwich between the two bits of blue cake that I'd just cut, and was going to join all the bits with buttercream, but this was a fragile job, as every time I tried to spread the buttercream, it tried to pull the cake into bits.
The only way to get it to work was to use my hands, which was a bit weird, and involved a lot of hand washing because buttercream is pretty greasy stuff!
With all four corners of the cake made, it was time for bed, so it all got cling filmed at put in the fridge to harden the buttercream (yes, there's only three bits in this picture but trust me, I did make four!).
Making the cross to go in the middle of the union jack involved a lot of joining of cakes, and it definitely turned a bit jigsaw puzzley, but I was running out of time before cake club, and was a bit panicked so had to hope it would work.
Here's the cake all stacked and assembled - all it needed now was a nice fondant icing blanket to hide some of the joins. 
I cut off a small amount from both ends to give it a clean finish.

The cake was a lot larger than I was expecting it to be, but I achieved my goal of a flag in every slice (even if each slice had to be shared between two people because of the size!). 
I've got ideas for improvement of the process but I'm not sure I'll have much call to make another one!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Blog Break - BGT is to blame!

Sorry for the unexpected blog break last week - I'm afraid my only excuse is that I was sat watching Britains Got Talent - I know it's fun to have a whole week of semi-finals, but I'd really rather it was only on once a week so I can do something else instead of watch it! (The dog was impressive though!)


So... seeing as that's all I've been doing, I don't have anything fun to blog about. Except my wonderful husband bought me a present, and I'm finally jumping on the Nigella bandwagon (my blog friend Lisa raves about Nigella all the time so I'm hoping she's right about her! Talking of Lisa, she's also gone AWOL from the blogisphere so hopefully this mention here might bring her back because I miss her comments!).

This is apparently Nigella's third book - Ian selected it because it had several chapters with recipes to make on lazy weekends - which sounds like the perfect use of weekend to me.

I like order - so if this book works out, I'll probably buy her first and second books so I have the starters of a set, instead of one randomly from the middle - although if any of you think I should shun the order and go for your Nigella favourite, let me know which it is and  I'll consider a departure from my world of OCD.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pinterest is a Dangerous Thing

I waste a lot of time on pinterest - but it's a great way of bookmarking for me - I can see why I pinned things instantly and I don't have to open lots of bookmarks to find the one I'm looking for. 

I saw this clever way of storing cupcake cases on pinterest and have been wanting to do the same ever since. I saw some similar glass jars on amazon and was trying to work out which size to buy - I asked Ian for his opinion and he asked where I planned on putting this jar. I figured it'd look pretty just on the side but he didn't seem pleased.

So, I decided to do it anyway! But on a trial basis for starters. I've not spent any money on a jar (I found this one in a cupboard - although I don't think it's big enough).  And I'm going to sneak it into the kitchen (although Ian now reads my blog so he might  realise I've done it!).


Do you think it's pretty? Would you allow it to take up some of your kitchen real estate?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

This time last year....


I'd been up for hours making food ready for our Royal Wedding tea party.  I'd been struggling to make trays of uniform looking sandwiches (the bread wasn't square!).  I'd made shortbread myself for the first time, but I'd cheated and bought the scones. I'd made two types of sausage rolls (one with onion, one without).

2011-04-28 22.50.10

I'd spent the evening before making last minute bunting as all our local shops were out - it was simple but effective and added a nice splash of colour to the room. 

2011-04-28 22.50.03

I'd also made little union flags to adorn the cupcakes to make up for not piping the icing in a pretty manner (time was too short and I'd run out of disposal icing bags).

2011-04-27 20.38.12

I'd not made enough flags so used skittles to decorate the remaining cupcakes. I'd also realised that my cupcake holder was too big, as there was only 6 people coming to the tea party yet we had 23 cupcakes!

I'd roped Ian in to help chop fruit for the Pimm's.

We had a nice afternoon in front of the telly watching it all, and even though my friends aren't really very royalist, we enjoyed the day because it was an excuse to get together and drink Pimms!