Thursday, 29 November 2012

Recipe - Christmas Tree Cakes

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree how
lovely is your icing
Christmas Tree Cakes - these came about by way of a happy baking accident. Remember those lovely mini Snowball cakes I blogged. Well these unusual Christmas Tree cakes came about when I'd experimented in baking some of the mini cakes in the baking tins but without their paper cases. They were very pyramid in shape and not at all snowball shape as I'd hoped. So what to do with them? They lent themselves to being stacked, so whilst I was playing building cake bricks that's when the Christmas Tree cake idea popped into my head. 

Now to transform them into Christmas trees, which of course needed to be green. I'd realised that runny icing (icing sugar and water) would not work to cover them and I did not have any royal icing in the house.  However, I did have were a few packets of white sugar paste in the cupboard, and I knew this could be melted back to it's liquid state - although it's not something I had previously done.

What you will need

  • I used approximately 70g of sugar paste which I heated in the microwave on high, checking every 20 seconds or so. As it softens add a little water to get the right consistency for coating the cakes. Take care the icing can get very warm.
  • Add a small amount of Christmas green gel food colouring and mix well.
  • Using a fork to hold the cake, dip it into the icing (see photo).
  • You may need to pop the icing back into the microwave for a few seconds, to keep it the right consistency.
  • Leave the iced cakes to set on a cooling rack.
Assembling the Christmas Tree Cakes
  • Place a cocktail stick in the bottom cake and carefully spear the next cake on top. Depending on how big your cakes are you will probably need another cocktails stick to add the third cake.
  • Decorate with a sparkly fondant star.
Building your Christmas tree


*Warning* remember there are sharp cocktail sticks in these cakes, so children may need help with eating them.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Recipe - Mini Snowball Cakes

Snowball Cakes

These simple but effective miniature Snowball Cakes are a great idea for Christmas, and would look wonderful presented on a Christmas plate. They are really easy to make and perfect for a Christmas treat, with minimum effort.

You need
  • Fairy cakes
  • Butter cream
  • White non pareils (hundreds and thousands)
  • Edible pearl lustre pray
  • Spatula / knife

mini cake and standard fairy cake
To make 14 miniature Snowball cakes I used my Fairy Cake recipe changing the quantities to a one egg mix (2 oz butter, sugar, self raising flour, a touch of baking powder). 

Tip - add sufficient mixture into your cake cases so they rise when baking to give a domed effect to add to the snowball shape.

Butter cream recipe
2 oz butter (not too soft)
4 oz icing sugar (sifted)


  • Mix the butter and icing sugar together using a whisk until smooth and well combined. This will help its appearance of a paler white colour, more snow like.
  • Butter cream the tops of the cakes with a thick layer of butter cream creating a domed effect. Smooth over the butter cream by first dipping the spatula into hot water.
  • Pour the white non pareils into a small bowl then dip the cakes into them so that they cover the butter cream.  
  • Spray with pearlised lustre to give that sparkly snowy effect.
Snowball Cakes

Tip - Remember any extra butter cream can be put into the freezer until you next bake.

I'm entering these cakes into November's Tea Time Treats Birthday  Challenge What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Loveage who is this months host.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas Wish List - Part 1

For the past few weeks I've been browsing the Internet making a concerted effort to complete my Christmas shopping, and with just a few presents left on my shopping list I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. 

As a result of all this browsing quite a few items that have taken my fancy, and I'm having no trouble seeing them well placed in my garden. Some of which I don't really need such as the garden labels and seed savers as already have something that suffices, just not so pretty. As for some of the other items, well let's just say that's what makes this a rather extreme Christmas wish list.

Dear Santa

Do you have any room on your sleigh for the following...

Burgon and Ball - Seed Savers
my garden needs you

Burgon and Ball - Tyre Pot
Plants recycled

Monty's Vintage Shop  - Blackboard
Garden Labels

Burgon and Ball - Greenhouse Caddy
Plant Theatre - Wood Plant Theatre
oh how my Aricula's would look
lovely in a theatre

Sparrow & Finch - Metropolitan
bird house



The Oak & Rope Company - Rope Swing

Country Greenhouses - Victorian style
greenhouse complete with cold frame

Hot Tub


Walled Garden



Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fairy Cake Recipe a Baking Essential

A Fairy Cake recipe is a simple but essential cake recipe for every baker. This humble plain cake can be transformed into a perfect masterpiece adorned with butter cream and sculptured sugar paste creations. Or an hour of messy fun for children and adults alike. Below is my favourite basic essential fairy cake recipe.   
Fairy Cake Recipe

Fairy Cake recipe (makes 24-36 depending on cake case size)

heat the oven to 180 degrees C / Gas 4

    Ingredients

    3 eggs (beaten)

    6oz golden caster sugar
    6oz butter or baking margarine (softened)
    6oz self raising flour (sifted)
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    • place the butter and sugar into a bowl, and cream together with a hand whisk until pale and fluffy.
    • add a third of the beaten egg and whisk on high until combined
    • add a spoonful of flour (this will help prevent the mixture from curdling) and mix.
    • add some more of the egg and beat together, add a spoonful of flour and mix.
    • add the remaining egg and mix, then add the remaining flour and gently fold in using a spatula or wooden spoon until combine together.
    • spoon the mixture into your cake cases, filling to half way if you want a level cake or to three quarters full for a larger cake
    • bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes approx, test with a skewer which should come out clean
    • remove from tray and place on a wire rack to cool
    Add decorations of your choice or eat as they are, even better still warm from the oven.

    Thursday, 15 November 2012

    Recipe - Chocolate American Pancakes


    I've got a great recipe for American style breakfast pancakes that I've used for the last five years. Sadly I can't credit the magazine the recipe is from as there is no mention on the cutout, but I can share it with you all.

    Chocolate American Pancakes Recipe

    Makes 8-9 pancakes (serves 4)

    Ingredients 
    125g plain flour
    3 tbsp caster sugar
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    125ml natural yogurt
    2 tbsp milk
    2 eggs
    25g  butter, plus a little extra
    1 tsp sunflower oil
    75g chocolate chips (milk or dark)


    • Into a bowl sift the flour then add the sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
    • Pour in the yogurt, milk and break in the eggs. Whisk together.
    • Melt 25g butter and add to the bowl together with the chocolate chips and stir.


    • Heat a little butter and sunflower oil in a frying pan or flat griddle pan, over a low/medium flame until hot.
    • Add a ladle/large spoonful of mixture to the pan, repeating with the remaining mixture. After about 2 minutes flip over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

    I love serving these Chocolate American Pancakes with warm maple syrup accompanied with a glass of orange juice a fabulous weekend breakfast.

    Tip - replace the chocolate chips with soft fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, chopped strawberries or I also like sultanas.


    I'm posting this breakfast pancake recipe for the Breakfast Club, this months blog hop is being hosted by Chocolate Log Blog  with a chocolate theme.  For more information you can visit The Breakfast Club at Fuss Free Flavours. 

    Sunday, 11 November 2012

    A Great Day at Cake International 2012


    Wow, what a fabulous day I had at the Cake International - The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating and Baking Show 2012, held at Birmingham this week. 

    Here's what ended up buying during the day.

    4 Edible ink pens
    10" board and box
    Pearl lustre dust
    5 sheets of chocolate transfer sheets
    3 packs of chocolate
    Heart shaped piping nozzle
    Snowflake cutters
    Simple Things magazine

    There were a few items I had planned to buy at the show but once I had seen them I realised they were not what I was expecting, something you can not always tell before purchasing online. Next year I hope to do less shopping and participate in more of the demonstrations at the show.



    I'm looking forward to trying out the chocolate transfer sheets I picked up from The Cake Decorating Company stand. They had an amazing selection and it was difficult to choose just five. Can you see those big bags of chocolate drops, well one of those is peanut butter flavoured and I've got something special planned for Christmas.

    As always there were an amazing collection of very skilled cake decorators exhibiting at the show, here are just a few that caught my eye.

    one for all you crafters

    Thanks to Cake International for
    the use of this photo

    Madagascar - thanks to Cake International
    for the use of this photo




    Not a gingerbread house but
    a chocolate house

    These little cupcakes were part of a display at one of the stands. I was particularly taken with the Tulips, which are simple but very effective. 

    Next time I go to the show I will try to remember to check that I don't have my camera setting on 'food' for all the photographs! 

    I would like to thank Lizzie at Cake International for providing me free entry to the show and the use of the Madagascar and Harry Potter photographs.

    Saturday, 10 November 2012

    Poppy Cakes for Remembrance


    You may recall that last year I made cakes to raise money for The Royal British Legion to mark Remembrance Day. I've made more Remembrance Day cakes this year, again using the poppy design. I sold the cakes earlier this week to family and friends, on average I received £1 for each little cake thanks to everyone's generosity. 

    I made the toppers using a stencil and template I had created. Some poppies were made cutting out the shape of the poppy in red sugar paste, with a black sugar paste circle for the centre.

    For others I used a biscuit cutter to cut a circle of white sugar paste, then using the stencil I then applied the red lustre dust with a brush. 

    Add the black centre of the flower, or if like me you had some spare Union Jack cake toppers you could cut them down in size to create a patriotic alternative to the poppy centre.

    Fix the poppies to your cakes using a little simple icing sugar and water mixture, you can also use this to secure the black centre of the poppy to the flower.

    HMS Vanguard
    I continue to research the maternal side of my family tree. This remembrance day post is dedicated to Frank Gaines born 16 Sept 1893 who died aged 23. A Stoker in the Royal Navy on board the HMS Vanguard Dreadnought battleship, when on the 9 July 1917 the battleship was destroyed by an internal explosion whilst at Scarpa Flow, Orkneys. Over 800 men lost their lives.

    Saturday, 3 November 2012

    My Cake International Wish List



    One of may wonderful cakes exhibited
    It's just a few days away until Cake International at Birmingham's NEC, which for me has become an annual pilgrimage. It's a chance to ooh and ahh at some amazing cakes and to also stock up of all things cake making related.

    With so many stalls and demonstrations available at the show, it's easy to get carried away and buy anything that takes your fancy. Only for you to then get home and realise that the one thing you really needed was forgotten. For this reason and not for the fact that I love lists, I like to go prepared with a list.

    If you have a favourite on line shop it's also worth checking their website or Facebook or Twitter feeds to see if they will be at the show. Or check the list of exhibitors on the Cake International website, I've already discovered that there will be a stall dedicated to selling everything you need for Cake Pops.

    Cake Pop Heaven (stand C35)

    • mini melting bottles
    • Cake Pops wraps
    • candy eyeballs
    • Dark chocolate couverture
    • Milk chocolate couverture

    Cake Crafting

    • Food pens red , blue, green, yellow £2.75 hope they have their 3 for 2 offer at the show
    • Non stick board
    Other items
    • PME snowflake cutter - so I can stop borrowing my friends!
    • 10 inch Round Drum Board and Box
    • Chocolate/sugar paste mould, always get tempted at the Aphabet Moulds stall

    It also looks like I need to buy a new non stick board, I bought one at last year's Cake International but some how I've mislaid it. Unless of course I'm lucky enough to find it in the next week.

    I will also be on the look out for any competitions to win a new kitchen mixer or electric hand mixer, as mine is on it's last legs.

    Also making an appearance at this year's show is Anthea Turner, who will be bringing cake gifting craft inspiration at The Bakery Theatre. I so loved her show The Perfect Housewife on BBC Three, so I'm hoping she will have lots of tips for presenting foodie gifts  for Christmas. 

    I'll let you know just how badly I deviate from my list, if there is one thing you can be sure of it's that I will.