Using Baking and Cake decorating as a therapeutic tool to help me along my personal journey with a disability
Author: Debbie, Baking for Therapy
Hi, I’m Debbie and in 2012 an accident damaged my spinal cord leaving me unable to work. This was a life changing event that I found difficult to cope with, both physically and emotionally. During therapy, I was advised to find a couple of things I enjoyed and focus on how I could still manage to do them.
At the time I was Chair of, and an active performer in a local Panto Society. Thanks to their support, I eventually made it back on stage, using a variety of sticks as props, and indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, singing, and passing on my skills to our younger members. As a wonderful bonus, both my children were actively involved also, and my son met his future wife during rehearsals of ‘Puss in Boots’!
I also decided, with the aid of probably every kitchen gadget known to man, to try my hand at baking and cake decorating. I discovered a treasure chest of free tutorials on YouTube which have enabled me to master new techniques, and as I improved, I created a Facebook page where I posted pictures of my cakey creations. To my surprise (and delight) friends started asking me to make cakes for them, and I get a fantastic sense of achievement from doing so. I've always loved baking but my two 'kids' had been the only recipients of my efforts up till then. My ‘babies’ now like to challenge me to make a different novelty cake every year! (Do they ever grow up? I hope not 😀)
My baking and involvement in the Panto Society have become very important therapeutic outlets for me, but I couldn’t do either of them without the support of my very special family and friends, who have helped me through some tough times.
Because of Children in Entertainment regulations, I have focused this blog mainly on the baking side of my ‘therapy’, but you may still get a few Panto related posts now and then.
And if reading any of my posts helps you to find your own therapeutic outlet, I hope you will share your journey with me too.
Stay safe and healthy
Hi, I hope everyone is continuing to stay safe as the coronavirus situation rumbles on!
I have been stopping myself going stir crazy by attending online live cake classes organised by my favourite stockists of all things cake related ‘Sugar and Crumbs’ (www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk)
This one was taught by the lovely Georgie Godbold, who is doing 3 full day classes for just £60! Fantastic value 😮
This is the first of the three, featuring Georgie’s trademark ‘Sugar Wobblies’ made with modelling paste and pipe cleaners! Aren’t they cute?
The next in the series is this cute beehive:
Followed by this beautiful cotton reel:
To make the Teapot cake I used 2 x 6” hemisphere pans filled with a vanilla cake batter. But if you don’t have hemisphere pans, Georgie shows you how to carve it in to shape during the class. If you want to know exactly how to create this pretty cake, you can buy this and the following two classes here:
Now that’s worth £60 of anyone’s money in my opinion!
This is what I achieved and I’m so very pleased with it! I’ve never successfully covered a sphere cake before! And the little mice make a lovely keepsake ❤️
The great thing about this live online format is that you do it in your own home from anywhere in the world! The private group in which it takes place is full of fun, friendly and encouraging people too!
And don’t worry about keeping up! The class is filmed and is yours to keep forever, so if like me, it’s too much to do all in one go, just stop, watch the rest and go back to it the next day. I have to pace myself and took 3 days to finish mine!
I have to say, I’m absolutely loving the classes I’ve joined. They have really helped me get through lockdown by giving me something to do without leaving the house, and I’ve learned lots of new skills along the way 😀
There is a list of all my favourite products here if you’re looking for good quality cakey equipment!
I made this cake a few weeks ago for a friend of my son. It’s the first time I’ve made any kind of footwear out of cake!
I was very apprehensive about this, but I was given a photo and managed to find the brand online and download a template which was very helpful!
I had to use a bit of artistic license as the original was quite a flat running shoe rather than a trainer, and there simply wouldn’t have been enough cake!
As per the request, this was a chocolate cake, and for stability I used a yummy chocolate ganache for the filling and coating. You can find the recipes for both here.
I used the same cake for the box, and googled the ‘tick’ for images to use as a stencil. Before covering the box, I inserted five bubble tea/milkshake straws. This adds stability and makes sure it can hold the weight of the shoe cake. The shoe cake is also on its own cake card which I custom cut from a large square 12” card. It’s always handy to have one of these for odd shaped cakes!
The shoe is covered in my favourite sugarpaste Select Ireland platinum, which has amazing stretch and is really easy to work with when you need a smooth finish.
For novelty cakes that need texture like this one for example
For the the box I used Renshaw Poppy red and Renshaw Jet black. I find for deep colours it’s always better to use a precoloured paste as you would have to use a shed load of colouring to get the right shade! There would also be a heck of a lot of kneading involved, which my poor hands wouldn’t be able to cope with! For small quantities of pastel colours, I mix myself with my preferred brand of gels from Coloursplash. For the writing I used a black Fractal Calligra brush pen. This is by far the easiest edible pen to use in my opinion!
All in all, this cake took me three days to make, but I was really pleased with the result for a first attempt 😀
I hope I’ve inspired you to ‘have a go’ at something that is outside your comfort zone? In these strange times, I’m finding my baking even more therapeutic than usual I must admit. It gives me a reason to get off my backside when it would be so easy to wallow! And if you’re going to try new things, whether it’s being creative with cake or something entirely different, then now is your perfect opportunity! 😀
Whatever you choose to do, I’d be delighted to hear about it, so feel free to drop a message in the comments box 📦
I’d like to begin this post by saying a big thank you to Viki Shaw and her partner for allowing me to share their story today.
I met Viki as she was part of my children’s group of friends, we are a generation apart, but hers is a story that sadly resonates with parents of any age.
I will let Viki tell you in her own words of the journey to becoming Mummy to her two beautiful girls. It’s a narrative of great loss and grief, but also immense joy and happiness, and is testament to the resilience and strength of the human psyche.
I made the rainbow by adding Rainbow dust tylo powder to the sugarpaste and used Coloursplash in purple, pink, blue, pistachio and sunflower yellow to make some pretty pastels. These were rolled into long sausages and attached with PME piping gel to a cake board cut to size.
Hope you are all keeping safe and well in these strange times. What sort of lockdown changes are happening where you are?
I have to admit I’m a little uneasy about some of the lockdown measures being eased so soon, what do you think?
Although we obviously have to take care of ourselves physically, the statistics show that more people are suffering with their mental health whilst coping with the pandemic. As someone who deals with this on a daily basis, I know how important it is to look after this aspect of my life. For me, it’s baking, which I manage to do by carefully planning a schedule that isn’t going to ‘break me’. Sometimes though, you just have to decide which is more important. Doing something you love releases pain relieving endorphins at the time, but you have to be prepared for the ‘crash’ on the following days. Don’t give up doing what you love – whatever it is – but allow yourself time time to rest and recuperate afterwards is the advice I was given 😍
One of the things keeping me sane at the moment is ‘attending’ some online cake classes. The most recent one has been with the lovely Molly Robbins of channel 4’s ‘Extreme Cake Makers’ (UK)
I showed you in my last post what I would be making, and promised to show you the results, so here I am fulfilling that promise!
I made the cakes about 3 days before and froze them. I used Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle flavour icing sugar in place of caster sugar and vanilla in my go to vanilla cake recipe. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours! 🍋 I made a traybake while I was at it too 😋
The shortbread for the ‘fries’ was done the day before, so I was as prepared as I possibly could be!
The days running up to the online class (Friday) had been a bit fraught to say the least. On Monday I had one of those horrible headaches behind the eyes and felt a bit nauseous. I had been taking advantage of the beautiful weather, so maybe I’d got too much sun in the garden 🥵 On Tuesday I was fine, and got my baking done, but on Wednesday I was really ill and stayed in bed all day 😔 By Thursday I was ok again (shortbread day) but was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up in the class the following day.
Luckily, once you’re in the private Facebook group where the class is streamed, you have permanent access to it, so I had the option to just watch it and do it later, or try and follow it ‘live’
In the end, I did a bit of both! I managed the morning session and watched in the afternoon. That way I could still ask questions and interact with my fellow class members.
The group has been named ‘Molly’s Cake Club online’ and let me tell you, we have so much fun in there! The banter between us all is hilarious and everyone is so friendly and helpful 😀
I finally finished my project, and here’s the result guys!
From start to finish, including prep it took me four days, but I’m so proud of it! Everything is edible apart from the straw and the box lid!
The only problem I had was what to do with it! It’s far too much for hubby and me, so a quick look at my Facebook friends list and voila! One of my friends has a birthday this weekend and was absolutely delighted when I offered it to her 😀 Happy Birthday Marcia 🥳 and thank you so much for the flowers, they are beautiful 💐
Click the link below to learn how you could achieve this and have access and a sneak peek at the future classes that are planned (next month it’s cute doggy cupcakes)
And remember, it’s online so you can be anywhere in the world and still join in the fun! And you only pay once for multiple projects. That’s my sanity saved, and worth every penny!
Just so you know, I’m not sponsored in any way by Sugar and Crumbs! I just love the ethics of the company and the way they really look after their customers 💕 and if you are looking for a supplier of all things baking related, you won’t go wrong!
Well, I think you’ve probably had enough of my waffling by now, so I’ll sign off
Who doesn’t love receiving a beautiful bouquet? And what if that bouquet was edible?!
Well, as you know I’ve been on an online cupcake bouquet course run by Sugar and Crumbs, and it’s safe to say that I’ve been getting my money’s worth! I’ve just done my 3rd class and I just love the results I’ve been achieving 😍
It’s been a wonderful way to cheer up my family during lockdown too. Delivery has been socially distanced obviously, but everyone has been so happy to receive them 😀 They’ve even been giving back the empty structure for refills 😂
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying making them, and looking forward to the next class on 13th June 😀
Before that though I’ll be doing Molly Robbins course! I’m just a bit excited!
Molly is renowned for her novelty cake creations, and in the first class we are going to be making a platter of burger, fries, chicken nuggets and even a drink in the style of a popular fast food company that sounds a bit Scottish 😂 I’ve had a preview today and it looks amazing!
Whether mine looks anything like that remains to be seen, but having attended one of Molly’s classes pre lockdown, I know she is a great tutor. However it turns out, I will be back to tell you all about it 😀
Meanwhile, if you would like to take either online course yourself, here are the relevant links: