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
Yes! My daughter got married to her partner of almost 9 years at the end of July ❤️ The wedding was postponed from last year, so we were so happy that it went ahead without a hitch.
Katie and Josh met while at university doing their teaching degrees in 2013. When they qualified, they lived and worked in and around Liverpool for 4 years, a city that became very dear to them. So, even though they are now located in Bucharest, when it came to a wedding venue, it had to be in Liverpool!
It was an absolutely wonderful day and evening, with both ceremony and reception held at The Racquet Club, who went out of the way to make sure everything went to plan. Even down to washing the fresh fruit so I could place it on the cakes at the last minute!
Katie wore a custom made 50’s style dress in Ivory silk and lace, with a maroon sash, underskirt and lacy tights. Doc Marten boots with red roses on them completed this non traditional, but very ‘Katie’ look. The bridesmaids were also 50’s themed in black and red, with the same boots.
They all had bouquets made of silk flowers 🌺
Hubby was a little wobbly walking her down the aisle, but recovered enough to make a beautiful speech at the reception. Our son, James was best man and his speech was a little more raucous!
At the end of the day, although exhausted, I was happy to have been able to enjoy it fully, without having to disappear back to our room and miss anything. I did have to rest for about 3 days afterwards though!
I’ll leave you with a few more images from the happy day ❤️
I know it’s been and gone, but we did celebrate the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Just a small gathering in the conservatory and garden, with myself and my daughter in law doing a bit of baking for the occasion 😊
As you can see, we had quite the selection! My daughter in law Abigail made the fabulous red, white and blue cake with chocolate shards, and the brownies.
I also made the Sticky toffee pudding cake and the multicoloured rainbow cake, which was finished with purple to represent the colour scheme of the Jubilee. I also made the cupcakes which were a request from a friend. (see previous post re colour pop)
Hubby Glen and myself were joined by my son James and his wife Abigail, my Mum, Glen’s Parents, and Abi’s Parents. Oh, and Charlie whippet of course ❤️
I hope you all enjoyed your own celebrations if you chose to do so, and the extra day off work if not! 😆
There’s a new way of colouring your cakes and bakes. This new product from Sugar and Crumbs is a water activated powder which produces colours so vibrant you’ll need your sunglasses! I tried it out on this rainbow cake, in both the cake batter and buttercream 🌈
They are aptly named ‘Colour Pop’ and can be activated in water, egg white, cream, anything with a liquid content. I’m really impressed with them!
I also used them on these Jubilee cupcakes. More on the Jubilee next time!
I have reasons, of course I do. But I’m not going to get into them now. Too much time has passed. I’ll just say they were health related and jump back in!
So, I think for this post, I’ll just catch you up on what I’ve been making for my friends and family over the last few months.
Here we go…….
I’ll start with the two most notable events ❤️
Firstly, Back in November, my brother finally got married after postponing twice because of the dreaded covid!
Rustic wedding cake for my brother and sister in law ❤️ Bottom tier chocolate and Irish cream, middle lemon and top carrot cake. Flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars from http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk All cakes ganache coated and covered with Renshaw coloured sugarpaste #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #renshawbaking #weddingcake #rusticwedding #treebarktexture
Then in April, my daughter and son in law came over from Bucharest for their stag and Hens!
Us girls went to York on a Viking themed weekend. It was great fun, exhausting but fun!
Everything else! From October to May 🤦🏻♀️
Baptism cake for a little girl. Both tiers chocolate cake, made using Sugar and Crumbs chocolate milkshake icing sugar instead of caster sugar, then using same icing sugar in the buttercream filling. Covered in Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste. Pink colour achieved with Coloursplash pink. FMM easy rose cutters used for flowers on top. Gold accents courtesy of Sugar and Crumbs bright gold Wonderdust mixed with rejuvenator. #sugarandcrumbs1 #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #wonderdust #chocolatecake #prettypinkcake #baptismcake #cakesofinstagram🎂🍰
Mr Blippi birthday cake! Flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs delicious lemon drizzle icing sugar and covered in Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste coloured with Coloursplash blue, navy and orange #spongecake #sugarandcrumbs1 #selectireland #coloursplash
Birthday cake for a construction mad 3 year old ❤️ Main cake flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs velvet vanilla icing sugar, cupcakes in lemon drizzle and chocolate milkshake flavour. Covered in Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste. Digger made with Rice Krispie treats and Renshaw yellow sugarpaste. Also used renshaw red and orange #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #selectirelandsugarpaste #renshawfondant #birthdaycake #vanillasponge #constructioncake #noveltycakes #cupcakesofinstagram #cakesofinstagram
Birthday cake made with Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle icing sugar in cake batter and buttercream. Coated in white chocolate ganache using Brigids ganache kit. Covered with Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste coloured with Coloursplash blue and navy. Nick’s children wanted daddy to have tools on his cake, which were painted with S&C Wonderdust silver mixed with rejuvenator spirit #sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #sugarandcrumbs1 #brigidscakeroom #selectirelandsugarpaste #coloursplash #wonderdust #birthdaycake #lemoncake #noveltycake #toolcake
I asked my lovely niece what theme 2nd birthday cake for my great nephew/grandson substitute! (My two refuse to give me grandchildren, so unfair 😆) Apparently he likes Elmo and Woody from Toy story, so I did both! Lemon drizzle flavour in the cake batter and buttercream, white chocolate ganache courtesy of Brigids Cake Room ganache kit, then covered in Select Ireland Platinum coloured yellow, and Mona Lisa red. I marbled what was left for the board and centre trim. I used Fractal red pen to do the check effect, and made a star shape for a sheriff badge painted with WonderDust silver. The toppers aren’t edible, just printed card on lollipop sticks!
Yummy chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream, coated with ganache and covered with sugarpaste. Tractor base is RKT and models all hand made from modelling paste 😊#sugarandcrumbsicingsugar #monalisasugarpaste #selectirelandsugarpasteplatinum #saracinomodelingpaste #coloursplashgelcolours #birthdaycake #farmyardcake
If you’re a Terry Pratchett/Discworld fan you’ll know how pleased I was with this cake for my son’s birthday. This year’s birthday cake challenge is based on the second image. I’m super happy with ‘The librarian’ orangutan! The desk is the cake part and is chocolate fudge filled and crumb coated with S&C chocolate milkshake buttercream. Covered in Renshaw brown sugarpaste. The orangutan is made from Saracino modelling paste coloured with orange Coloursplash. Couldn’t resist blinging up the desk handles and decorative features with bright gold wonderdust mixed with rejuvenator. I used the inside of the box to set the scene by sticking some images to the sides. The stone effect floor was achieved with crinkled up tin foil! We celebrated my son’s birthday today and guess what? He said it was my best one yet! ❤️❤️❤️
Here’s a few more bits and bobs and then I think I’m up to date!
This cake was for a 30th birthday celebration for a friend’s hubby, who I presume enjoys a tipple! 🍹
As their daughter is sensitive to lactose, it was a dairy free sponge, flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs salted caramel icing sugar as replacement for caster sugar in the cake batter, and also to make the dairy free ‘buttercream’
The recipe is my standard sponge made with dairy free spread (I use Tesco baking spread) and the butter in the ‘buttercream’ was substituted with Flora Plant butter block.
After carving the cake, it was filled and crumb coated then covered with Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste. I textured it with a Dresden tool, then made up a ‘paint’ using Coloursplash tree trunk and rejuvenator and got my paint brush out!
The stone effect was achieved by pressing lines into the paste with a ruler then texturing with a scrunched up piece of tin foil……very technical I know, but effective I think?
I made up a wash using Coloursplash black and rejuvenator and using my paintbrush, applied it by stippling rather than just brushing.
The bands around the barrel are strips of sugarpaste painted with WonderDust silver, as is the plaque, which was made using a PME cutter 🙂 The ‘ice cubes’ are Fox’s glacier mints, and the alcohol was added by my friend.
All ingredients are lactose free
Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars, Select Ireland sugarpaste, Coloursplash gel colours, rejuvenator spirit, PME plaque cutters, Cake Star letter cutters, Dresden tool, drum boards and lustre brushes were all purchased from