Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Health, Learning, Therapy

How are you coping with lockdown fever?

Hey everyone

Here in the UK, we’ve now had 2 months of ‘lockdown’, and I must say that for the most part, it has been rigorously observed. Community spirit has never been better, with heartwarming stories everywhere about what people are doing to help others cope with being isolated.

My hobby is being supported brilliantly by frequent Sugar and Crumbs Facebook ‘lives’ broadcast several times a week, either by Carol McFarland or Karen Griffith from S&C itself, or guest tutors filming in their own homes. Each time, we are shown how to achieve a different recipe. These are absolutely free to access, and you can do so via the Facebook page ‘Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles’. All you need to do is like the page and you’ll be notified every time there’s a tutorial 😀 You can also find all their past ‘lives’ there or on their YouTube channel, so there’s no excuse to get bored anytime soon!

Carol has also featured on ‘Cakeflix’ another cake community run by Paul Bradford. He and his partner have set up ‘Caking all over the World’ and have got lots of renowned ‘Cakers’ doing guest slots for them.

If Cake isn’t your ‘thing’ try searching for something that is! Crafters TV (Crafters Companion) is also providing ‘lives’ for its followers. This company is owned by Sara Davies of ‘Dragon’s Den’ fame, and they have lots of different activities to join in with. Whatever your hobby, I’m willing to bet there’s something out there to keep you from lockdown fever!

Since my last post, there has been another Cupcake bouquet class too. Sadly I wasn’t able to do it along with Carol and my fellow ‘bouqueteers’ on the day, as I wasn’t feeling too well, but I watched it all and managed to produce my bouquets a few days later. The great thing is that I can rewatch both previous classes anytime I like, and any others going forward 😀 There’s a mini nozzles class already set up for 26th May, and another full class scheduled for June 13th. Although this is a paid class, it’s extremely good value for money, as it’s a one off payment giving you access to every previous and subsequent broadcasts! At £50, it’s an absolute bargain, and as it’s online it can be watched from anywhere in the world! If you’d like to join the merry band of ‘bouqueteers’, click the link here: Cupcake Bouquet Class

Along with my new bouquets, I’ve also made another Pokemon themed cake since I last saw you. This one is ‘Gengar’ and was made for Robb, my niece’s fella who had his birthday last week. You might recall that my niece, Amy, had a beautiful baby boy two months ago. Lockdown has prevented any of the family having a cuddle yet, but we are being kept well provided with daily photos. He’s way too young to appreciate Pokemon cake, but Robb has two girls from a previous relationship, and they waited to cut it until they were there ❤️

Gengar ……bit of a Cheshire Cat vibe going on
My gorgeous Great Nephew, Zach
The girls enjoying a slice of the Gandar cake

Gengar was made from purple velvet cake (red velvet with purple food colour instead of red!) with purple tinted white chocolate buttercream. The whole cake was then covered in sugarpaste* I also got the opportunity to try out a new gadget ‘the lil’ rolly’ by the company ‘Evil Cake Genious’ and I must say, I’m impressed! It is for smoothing out ridges and bumps in buttercream, ganache and Royal Icing, and resembles a tiny paint roller** Evil Cake Genius is an American company but Sugar and Crumbs is their uk supplier, and does currently have stock. There’s a brief video tutorial by Evil Cake Genius on YouTube here: and a more in depth one by Sugar and Crumbs where Carol tries it out for the first time here:

Before and after using the lil’ rolly!

*I used Select Ireland Supreme Silk White, and Renshaw Deep Purple Renshaw Tiger Orange, Renshaw Jet Black, Renshaw Emerald Green (mixed with white) Gandar has one support dowel (milkshake straw) right down the centre and is sitting on a.10” round cake drum

**This product is food safe. Please do not use any similar items from a diy store!

Well, that’s all for now, keep caking, crafting, sewing or whatever is keeping you sane!

Most of all

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Health, Love, Therapy

Cupcake bouquets and strange birthday cake!

Hi everyone, hope you are all still keeping safe and well as we reach week 6 of lockdown!

It’s been taking its toll on everyone I think. As someone with chronic pain issues I can honestly say that physically it hasn’t made much difference, but mentally and emotionally, I have to admit I’ve had a few ‘moments’

Who knows what triggers them? A few nights of not sleeping well added to the stress of isolation and speaking with my family on ‘Zoom’ as welcome as that was, seemed to do it for me. I was just lying on my bed after a shower and burst into tears! Then immediately felt guilty for doing so, as I know people are in much worse situations than me 😔

However, after my ‘venting session’ I did feel better, so don’t feel guilty, just allow yourselves a bit of the kindness you show to others, and let it out. Your feelings are just as important as anyone else’s, whatever the source, and putting on a brave face in public doesn’t mean you can’t have a damn good cry in private if it eases the stress. None of us have ever faced this kind of situation before, so there are no rules for coping mechanisms! Let that good old British stiff upper lip wobble a bit if it helps 😂

Anyway, moving on! On 29th April I ‘attended’ a class with a difference! For the first time ever, Carol McFarland from Sugar and Crumbs hosted an all day online class using Facebook live. She was teaching us how to make cupcake bouquets from 10am to 7pm! (With breaks)

Prepping the day before!

It was an absolutely fantastic experience with a lovely bunch of people, and in amongst the learning, we had lots of banter and laughs.

I had intended following along as far as I could ‘live’ and then watching it back later if I needed to catch up, but I made it through the whole session! Much to my surprise I might add!

A big thank you to my hubby for keeping me supplied with tea and food throughout, and for coping with my exhaustion the day after, but it was one of those times when the benefits, especially the emotional ones, outweighed the consequences. I had such a great sense of achievement that it was a fantastic boost to my system, and it definitely broke the monotony of lockdown, that’s for sure!

Some of my cupcakes before assembly!

The class cost just £50 and that admitted me into Carol’s Cupcake Bouquet Facebook Group and access to the ‘live’. The great thing is, that once you’re in the group, you also have access to any subsequent bouquet classes and regular updates on new techniques that Carol has promised to add going forward. The first class was such a success that there is already another planned for May 13th, so I get to do it all again, or just watch and learn. Carol has said that she will be showing us how to do something different every time she does a new class so I’m excited to see what is in store! Plus, I’m a little more confident having already done it once!

7 cupcake bouquet
3 x7 cupcake bouquets and 1×3

Above is what I achieved on the day. I decided to split my 24 cupcakes into 3×7 bouquets and 1×3 as I had recipients in mind. My mother and father in law, sister in law and partner, and my son and daughter in law each got a 7 cupcake bouquet and the little one went to my Mum 😍 They were all highly delighted with them, as was I 😀

If you would like to join next weeks class, there’s still time, but there will also be another one running in June! The link is below 😍

https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/beautiful-cupcake-bouquets-online-read-product-info.html

So, now on to the ‘strange’ Cake! Well it was a mystery to me! If you are familiar with Pokemon characters, maybe not so strange for you 😂

My son was 34 on May 3rd, and although my daughter in law is an excellent baker, I have more of an interest in novelty cakes, so traditionally I make one for him every year. Lockdown made delivery a slightly different process but we managed!

So this year my daughter in law Abi suggested I make this little fella

Cute isn’t he?

He’s a ‘Grookey’ Pokemon and I immediately thought of using Molly Robbins creature creator mould as the base for the shape. I used the standing style mould for this and widened the head with cake pop dough.

The standing mould is the darker colour

I made the cake using Sugar and Crumbs chocolate honeycomb flavour icing sugar in place of caster sugar. Added the cake pop dough and galaxy cake bars for the front legs and covered the whole thing with milk chocolate ganache.

Once the ganache had set I covered the cake with sugarpaste. I wasn’t brave enough to do it all in one go, so I did the front and back separately. Molly recommends Renshaw Premium Cover Paste for 3D cakes as it’s softer and easier to blend. I coloured it with Wilton leaf green gel colour. I used a large ball tool to indent two spaces for the eyes to sit in 👀

I then spent a little time smoothing out the icing as best I could before adding the details. I made the ears and the pieces for the top of the head the day before to allow them to harden up a bit!

After covering the board, this was the final result!

So there he is, my first ‘Grookey’ Cake 😀

For the delivery, I rang James, my son, to tell him we were on our way and he let us into the back garden to say happy birthday and hand over the cake. It was a bit strange all sitting in garden chairs 2 metres apart but the weather was fine and Abi had made a pot of tea and home baked croissants for us to have while we chatted.

After returning home, we got ready for James’s birthday party, which took the form of a family ‘Zoom’ quiz! All in all, it was a lovely day considering the restrictions. Thank goodness for technology eh?

Today is VE Day, so I’m going to end this post to go and bake some goodies for my neighbours. There may not be a street party, but there will definitely be cake! 😂

So, until next time,

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fundraising, Health, Love, Pantomime, Therapy

Lockdown!

Hello friends

How are you all coping with the restrictions currently placed on our lives?

Here in the uk, we are into our 4th week of the special measures put into place to try and halt this terrible virus. Covid-19 has turned the world into a very strange place hasn’t it?

Because some of my medication lowers my immune system, I am in social isolation. My husband who has asthma also falls into this category. He is also my carer, so we are being very careful.

Food is being delivered to us, either by the supermarket (when we can get a delivery slot!) or by our son and daughter in law. Modern technology has been a boon for keeping in touch with family and friends, especially our daughter and her fiancé who live and work in Romania. They are currently teaching virtual classes to their pupils from their home!

What are you doing to fill your time? Are you working from home? Or are you part of the army of people on the frontline working to keep us all safe?

If you are, then I applaud you. You are all heroes in my eyes. I really hope that when this is all over, the world has a new found and lasting respect for all that you do. And that the community spirit that has arisen stays within us all.

For Carers in all aspects of society

Checking in on our neighbours should be something that we all do, virus or not, and speaking to the older generation, it’s how it used to be. When did we stop? When did most of us become so self absorbed that we forgot the simple actions that make us a community?

If anything positive has come out of this crazy situation, it is that while we have had to become more distant from each other physically, we’ve become much closer emotionally.

At this time of year, I would normally be baking up a storm, as our family has lots of celebrations between March and May. Starting with my daughter in law Abi’s birthday at the beginning of March, there’s also my brother in law, myself, mother in law, husband (60th!) and son. In amongst that there has been Mother’s Day, a 65th wedding anniversary and Easter, all times when we would have been together as a family. A young couple I was making a wedding cake for have had to cancel their plans, as have my brother and his partner.

But these are small sacrifices in order to stay as safe as possible.

My birthday wasn’t a complete wash out though 😃

Back in February, my lovely hubby bought both Abi and I a cake decorating experience at the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen with the wonderful Molly Robbins. It took place on Sunday 15th March, and I did wonder whether to go I must admit. At the time, the government were advising us not to go anywhere there was likely to be a lot of people in close proximity to each other. I had already backed out of attending the Awards Evening for the Pantomime Society after taking advice from my GP, but the cake class was small, and I was reassured by the precautionary measures that were being taken, so off we went.

I’m so glad we did! It turned out to be the last time I went anywhere other than the doctors!

Abi and I had a brilliant day decorating 3D cake doggies under the expert guidance of Molly. It was our first time in the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen, and a fantastic experience. Carol McFarland and her husband John made everyone feel very welcome in what is essentially their home, and the other ladies in the class were all really friendly. It’s definitely an experience I would like to repeat once things get back to ‘normal’

We decorated cakes baked in Molly’s amazing Creature Creator mould, with the addition of her new product, the ‘standing legs’

I have previously used the mould to make a laying down Unicorn cake (see below) so was already a fan, and was very excited to try something new.

What we all achieved on the day is testament to Molly’s expert tuition! The innovative design of her Creature Creator moulds and now the Creature Feet, are truly a game changer for making 3D cakes. Look what I made! Isn’t he adorable?

Here’s Molly to explain what we got up to!

Molly’s moulds come either as ‘laying down’ style, which you can then add the four leg Creature Feet to, or the ‘standing’ style with two legs!

Standing style mould in the foreground and laying down style in the back.
Four legged Creature Feet
Two legged Creature Feet

Molly’s products can be bought at Sugar and Crumbs or directly from her own website, www.mollyscreaturecreator.com😃

However, mine and Abi’s cakey creations pale into insignificance compared to what my eldest niece produced just before that on March 8th! My first great nephew 🥰

Zachary James Ray
Congratulations Amy and Robb on the safe arrival of your beautiful son ❤️

Unfortunately, because of the lockdown, I haven’t been able to go for a cuddle yet, but Amy is sending daily photos to our family chat group, so I’m building up quite an album! And as a bonus, I can tease my brother Mark about being a Grandad!

On my actual birthday, I was going to bake myself a cake, but was persuaded not to by my hubby. He had a good reason though, as that evening my son and daughter in law arrived and sang happy birthday to me from the end of our drive, complete with a gorgeous cake baked by Abi 💕

Happy Birthday from a safe distance!
My lovely birthday cake 😀😋

I also set up a fundraiser on Facebook for my birthday, and thanks to my generous friends and family, raised £150 for the NHS in my area 😀

Well, I think that’s all for now

I know I always say it, but more than ever, please stay safe and healthy!

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Health, Love, Therapy

Where have I been?

Hi everyone,

Sorry it’s been a while!

The last month has been a bit bleurgh health wise, and before you ask, no it’s not about the dreaded Coronavirus!

No, I’ve just been trying to shake off an infection, that refused to go away! I ended up taking two courses of antibiotics over 3 weeks before I felt human again 😞 The culprit was a urinary tract infection and if you’ve ever suffered from this, you’ll know how painful and unpleasant it can be! It really knocked me off my feet for a while but after the first course of antibiotics, I did manage to make a little birthday cake for my sister in law before the darn thing came back again!

It was quite a simple little cake, lemon flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar, but I was so pleased with the water colour effect buttercream I achieved. It was soooo pretty! I used purple, lemon and pink, but the effect can be achieved using any colours you like 😀

So pretty!

Here’s how you do it.

First bake your cakes and let them cool. I use PME cake strips for an even bake. You need to bake a little lower and slower, but the end result is a light, moist and fluffy sponge. I used my vanilla cake recipe, but swapped out the caster sugar for Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle flavour icing sugar. Anywhere you would use sugar, you can swap for a flavoured icing sugar, it’s so versatile and very yummy!

Check out the whole range of flavours here

I also used it in my buttercream, lots of lemony goodness!

Stack your cakes using filling of your choice, I used buttercream and lemon curd, then use your buttercream to apply a thin coat all over the cake. This traps in any crumbs, and is called a crumbcoat (funny dat 😆) Let that firm up in the fridge for around 15 minutes, then apply a more generous coat of the buttercream, smoothing it out as best as you can using either a metal spatula or bench scraper. There’s a YouTube tutorial on how to do that here by Cupcake Jemma

Divide the remaining buttercream by however many colours you want to use for your watercolour effect. I used three, and I’ll leave the links to the colours I used below.

Then, using your spatula, swipe small amounts on to the sides of your cake at random intervals. Using a bench scraper or spatula, lightly blend the colours using the same technique you use for smoothing your buttercream (see above YouTube link)

To see a more in-depth description on how to achieve the water colour effect, click on the following link, also by Cupcake Jemma, where she shows a non baker ( Tom Daley) how to do it!

You can either smooth it all out completely, or leave it with a textured look. Both look beautiful in my opinion.

Finish off by piping some swirls on top, and adding sprinkles and a pretty border around the bottom of your cake. Et Voila!

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baby Cakes, Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Health, Love, Therapy

Surprise baby shower!

Hi everyone,

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to be making this cake! It was for my niece, Amy and her partner Robb (who was in on the surprise) and it wasn’t a cake I expected to be making as Amy wasn’t supposed to be able to conceive! Needless to say she was absolutely gobsmacked at first, but fully embraced this miraculous chance to become a Mummy 👶

We knew the baby was a boy, and even his name, which gave me a head start on design. Then all the disposable tableware arrived and was elephant themed! So I decided to make a fault line cake with elephants, textured buttercream, and a large initial ‘Z’ for Zachary 😀

I’m delighted to say that baby Zachary James Ray arrived safe and sound on Sunday 8th March 2020 😍

Here he is with his beautiful Mummy 💕

Gorgeous baby Zac with my lovely niece Amy
Proud Daddy

And you know what that means? I’m a Great-Aunty! Correction, I’m going to be an Awesome Great-Aunty! 😆 Can’t wait for cuddles 😘

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️