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!
I know I know it’s been a while, two months to be exact, and for that I apologise but the positivity of that last post didn’t last, and I didn’t want to lower the mood!
So I’ve left it a while, but now feel able to catch you up on what’s been happening.
If you’ve been following for a while, you know that I have a spinal cord stimulator that helps mask the pain caused by OPLL. The spinal cord stimulator was fitted in 2014 and the battery powered leads were placed according to where my pain was worse at the time.
Recently however, the pain has spread, most embarrassingly to my buttocks. Any pressure in that area has become unbearable, meaning that I can’t sit down for any length of time. Because of pain in my legs, I also can’t stand or walk for long either! A no win situation 😔
I had hoped that the device could be reprogrammed to cover the new areas, but my neuro appointment turned out to be a dis-appointment! They tried their very best, but it wasn’t to be. So I’ve been left having a review of my pain meds instead, which has so far been unsuccessful.
And I’m spending more time in bed lying flat or on my side, which isn’t ideal from a social perspective! Although I am usually joined by the dog so I do have some company 😆
Then about 6 weeks ago, I started getting very acute pain in my neck whenever I tried to turn it from side to side. I’ve been referred to MSK as I’ve had trouble with a disc in that area in the past, but because of Covid, NHS appointments have long waiting lists at the moment.
I won’t lie, it’s really been getting me down, and I haven’t felt like doing much at all.
Then, my daughter’s hen party plans began which lifted my spirits a lot. We also had a ‘zoom’ wedding fitting session which was exciting, and I began to feel better, emotionally at least!
My family keep reminding me how strong I am, even when I don’t always feel it. Surprise visits from my niece and nephew, followed by my brother and sister in law helped enormously too. And I couldn’t do anything without my lovely hubby who bears the brunt of my ups and downs on a daily basis 💗
My Sugar and Crumbs family have kept me distracted with Facebook lives and classes, and a few cake requests have got me up off my backside and actually putting some of my cakey skills into practice. And of course, recent events in Afghanistan have reminded me that there are a lot of people going through much worse.
So, I have lots to think about, to look forward to, and to be grateful for, and I’m now in the right frame of mind to appreciate that.
I’ll end by showing you some photos of cake, because it wouldn’t be a Baking for Therapy post without them would it? And if my friends didn’t keep trusting me with their requests, I wouldn’t have the therapeutic value that creating them gives me!
As of last Monday, I have joined the ranks of the fully vaccinated 😁
My 2nd dose of Astra Zeneca caused me no problems other than a slightly sore arm, and I feel so much safer for it. I know it doesn’t 100 percent mean I can’t catch the virus, or pass it on if I do, but it’s a step in the right direction towards getting back to ‘normality’
We have to wait until tomorrow to find out if all restrictions will be lifted on 21st June here in the UK, but if we have to wait a few more weeks to make things safer for everyone, then so be it.
Last time I posted, I told you that my furbaby Charlie was awaiting major surgery. I’m very pleased and relieved to say, the operation seems to have been a success! Charlie is no longer struggling to get up or walk, and doesn’t seem to be in any pain.
He had a ‘blown’ disc removed, and the misaligned bones at L7 and sacrum were put back in place and pinned and cemented to keep them there. The biggest problem we have at the moment is keeping him still! He wasn’t allowed walks for 4 weeks (11/2 to go!) then he will be allowed 5 minutes, building up slowly to the 6 week mark, when he will have another CT scan to make sure his pins are still in the right place. As long as everything is ok, by 8 weeks we should be able to go back to his normal exercise routine. As you can see he’s quite happy 😃
Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing to learn new cake decorating skills in virtual online classes, and made a couple of cakes for friends this week.
I know I shouldn’t have taken on 2 cakes in one week, and believe me, my body knows it as I’ve practically slept for 2 days! But, as ever, the sense of satisfaction I get is a great boost to my mental health, and I know to block out at least 2 days of doing nothing to recover afterwards. My hubby is my carer and always gets the brunt of this, but is also incredibly supportive.
The first cake I knew would be tricky, as it involved 2 techniques that I’ve never done before. One is a ‘starburst’ or ‘explosion’ effect, and the other involves covering half the cake in one colour sugarpaste, and the other in a different colour! Who knew covering half a cake would be more difficult than a whole one?
I watched the following YouTube video for the starburst
I probably should have looked at a few tutorials on half and half cakes too……..but I winged it 😆
Luckily I had a good base for the cake, having used my Brigids cake room ganache kit. Oh those straight sides and flat top! Absolute game changer for me, as it cuts out the application of the ganache, and the constant scraping round the cake trying to get the perfect finish! Much easier on my painful hands. I’ve now got 3 of them in my most popular cake sizes.
I’m very proud of the cake I achieved, which was Spider-Man/Hulk themed. Although working with dark coloured sugarpaste on a hot day is yet another challenge!
The 2nd cake request I accepted was for twin girls who were 2. I mentioned to Mum that I could make a simple cake (as I had the tricky one also) and chose buttercream for the finish in a watercolour effect. Again, the hot weather was a bit of an issue, and at one point it was in the garage in a box as that was the coolest place (I really need a cake fridge!)
A rainbow and unicorns finished it off nicely 🥰
Recipes for the cakes can be found here. In both cases I used Sugar and Crumbs chocolate milkshake flavoured icing sugar in place of caster sugar in the batter.
See the full range of flavoured icing sugars here and a list of other products used below 😀
The last couple of months have flown by, with a mixed bag of events contributing to my lack of posting.
My health has been up and down, with several episodes of ‘fainting’ or inability to respond while still being aware of what is going on around me.
I have history of low blood pressure and of partial complex epilepsy, and it could be either or both! However it seems to have settled down for now 🤞
My gorgeous furbaby Charlie whippet has also been struggling 😢 In October last year, he had an accident and fractured his neck and displaced three discs. He was in ‘hospital’ for five days, but slowly recovered, albeit on a medication regime that seemed to be mirroring mine!
So when he started crying with pain when trying to stand we assumed he had exacerbated this prior injury. But on taking him back to the Small Animal Hospital, a CT scan revealed sacral lumbar stenosis which is so bad, his bones have been pushed out of alignment.
So today, we are taking him back so that they can prep him for surgery tomorrow. It’s very scary, but I know it’s the right option if he stands any chance of a pain free future. We won’t be allowed to visit because of Covid regulations, so it’s going to be a long week!
In amongst all this, I have of course had some welcome distraction by baking for some friends and family members ☺️
First up, I practiced with my new Brigids Cake Room ganaching kit. Instead of using ganache though I used buttercream with confetti sprinkles. Look at those straight sides and neat top! After a tidy up of the bottom edge, I was very impressed with the result, and gave it to my son and daughter in law for their wedding anniversary ❤️
This one was for my lovely mother in law’s birthday. A lemon sponge made by substituting Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle icing sugar for caster sugar in a basic Victoria sponge recipe. It was then filled with lemon buttercream and decorated with fresh fruit.
Then I made a Sticky Toffee pudding flavour birthday cake for hubby, using the same method, and topping with chocolate pearls 😋
For my son’s birthday, I decided to revisit a cake I made for him five years ago, before I began learning cake decorating! Looking at the photos, I think it’s safe to say I’ve improved! In case you’re wondering, it’s a Pokemon character called Bulbasaur. Again, I made chocolate cake using S&C chocolate milkshake flavour icing sugar in the batter. It was then baked in Molly Robbins laying style Creature Creator mould. His head needed to be wider so I used cake dough to do this before covering with milk chocolate ganache made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate Callets and double cream. Once that was smooth (ish!) and set, I covered the whole thing in Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste that I’d coloured blue with Coloursplash gel colour.
I made his ‘bulb’ out of Rice Krispie treats, then covered in Renshaw’s emerald green sugarpaste.
To add the ‘splotches’ I mixed a bit of the green into the blue sugarpaste, and for the other details I used Renshaw poppy red, and black. My son James provided the plush toy for comparison 😂
The next request, from my niece for her partner, really made me giggle 🤭 I mean, do we ever grow up really? For your information……it’s a guitar pedal 😆 Chocolate cake again, ganached and covered with Select Ireland Platinum and Renshaw Poppy red and black.
I’d made too much chocolate sheet cake for the guitar pedal cake, so I decided to join the caterpillar cake club using the offcuts!
I cut them into circles and sandwiched them together with leftover Sticky Toffee pudding buttercream that I’d saved in the fridge from hubby’s cake. The whole thing was then covered in chocolate buttercream and melted white chocolate, drizzled with Callebaut strawberry flavoured chocolate, and decorated with smarties. I added a sugarpaste face and used marshmallows for the feet. The whole cake was made from leftovers and things I had in the kitchen already 😋 I named her Konnie and she was shared out via doorstep deliveries to family members ❤️
My friend then asked me to make a gluten free chocolate overload cake for her son’s 21st birthday. I’ve never made one before, so I was very cautious! I removed all my wheat based products from my work area (they were banished to the conservatory for a few days) and thoroughly cleaned my surfaces, Kitchenaid and any tools I needed…….twice!
The cake itself was relatively easy. My usual batter made with Doves farm gluten free self raising flour, and all three layers came out great. All S&C icing sugars are allergen free so the buttercream wasn’t a problem, and the sugarpaste used on the board was also gluten free.
For the decorations, I chose products based on a list provided by my friend Sam, or double checked the packaging to make sure! I gave Sam the packaging when she collected the cake too 😀 I made the chocolate shards myself from Callebaut chocolate.
I was so pleased with the feedback from Sam, who said it was the best gluten-free cake she’d ever had!
Last but not least, was this Silver wedding cake for Janet and Ken, who count as family as Janet is my niece’s grandma and a lovely lady she is too 🥰 The frog Prince was an unusual request, but apparently that’s what my nieces, Amy and Lucy used to call Ken!
The cake is vanilla, made with S&C velvet vanilla icing sugar, filled with raspberry jam and velvet vanilla buttercream. I then used white chocolate ganache (Callebaut white Belgian chocolate and double cream) to coat, before covering with Select Ireland Platinum white sugarpaste. I made the froggy with Renshaw emerald green mixed with some white and added tylo to make it firmer. For decoration, I used Karen Davies plaited border mould, a rose mould I’ve had for ages, and hand made the little church. I also used a Sugarflair silver sparkle lustre dust, and finishing sparkle pump spray.
And that’s about it! March to May cakes cover a lot of family birthdays including mine which was made for me by my lovely daughter in law Abigail and is pictured below ❤️
Well, back to reality now, please keep Charlie in your thoughts tomorrow 🤞
It’s been some time since I last posted, so I thought I would catch you up on what’s been happening over the last two months.
My mother in law was in hospital for 7 weeks (not Covid related) and we were all very worried for her. She’s home now but needing care. She’s not in our bubble so it’s very frustrating not to be able to help more, but hopefully will continue to recover.
I have seen an increase in my anxiety levels, partly I’m sure from worrying about her, but also in general. As you know, my distraction techniques include learning more about cake decorating in online live classes – Thank you Sugar and Crumbs – and I’ve also been trying some mindfulness exercises.
In a bid to distract myself as much as possible, I’ve been baking for my friends, which is great for my mental health, but does take a toll on my physical issues.
As always, it’s a precarious balancing act between the benefits and the outcome, and I don’t always get it right!
In my online class groups I’m the joker, (amongst others!) who always has a quip ready, and I love the camaraderie in there, it really lifts my mood. But each bake or class also takes a few days to recover from.
My poor husband bears the brunt of this as my carer, and has become used to the transition from ‘Joker’ to ‘Zombie’! He really is the only one who sees this side of me, but is so supportive as he knows it keeps me sane and feeling useful.
But with his Mum being ill, he’s had more than me to worry about obviously, and I’ve been doing my best to support him too. As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to be anxious about eh? 🤦🏻♀️
This past week, I’ve also been filling in my PIP award review. Although not as detailed as the original form 5 years ago, it does ask about any changes. This meant going over the answers from last time in order to ascertain if there had been any. Unfortunately, this brought back everything from my accident, diagnosis, surgeries, counselling and therapies from 2012 to present. All the things I try not to think about, suddenly rushing back to haunt me once again!
I know the review is necessary, but it took me a long time to be able to look forward instead of dwelling on the past, and it was a bit of a shock to the system to realise how close to the surface it still is. But it’s done now, so hopefully I can get back my positivity!
Mother in law home, hubby had his first vaccination (he’s older than me) and I have mine tomorrow. We’re moving in the right direction 😊
So rather than this post being about one cake, I’m going to thank you for letting me ramble on, and just show you some pictures of all the cakes I’ve made since January and end on a positive note!
I hope you are finding your own ways of dealing with this strange situation we’ve been in for the past 12 months. We’re only human and it’s normal to have some anxiety and stress, and not to beat ourselves up about it, so I’m sending positive vibes to each and every one of you.
I have to admit, I don’t get asked for Valentine’s treats so much, which is a shame as there are so many great ideas out there ❤️
I love the idea of these cake filled chocolate geometric hearts ♥️ They could be given as they are in some pretty packaging, or as part of a treat box with other items, like decorated cookies, cupcakes, fudge, marshmallow, brownies, home made truffles etc
A lovely soft Fudge can be made in the microwave, coloured red or pink and cut with a heart shaped cutter. You could even make it more decadent by covering it in chocolate! Make sure you use a chocolate friendly colouring medium though!
Home made marshmallow is nothing like shop bought, and can also be cut into a heart shape! See tutorial below for recipes for home made fudge AND marshmallow 😋
For cookies you can’t go wrong with a delicious shortbread recipe, which you can then decorate with royal icing, sugarpaste, glacé icing and sprinkles! If you’re good at piping you could even write a message!
Or what about melt in the mouth Viennese Whirls? The following tutorial uses moulds but there’s no reason you can’t use a heart shaped cutter ☺️
Macarons can be made in any shape you like and are always a favourite. Pretty them up with some edible lustre dust for extra bling!
Chocolate lollipops are easy to make if you follow the next tutorial from ‘Oli the Choc’
As are meringue lollipops, as shown here
How about delicious, squidgy in the middle chocolate brownies? Rich and decadent and oh so easy to make 😀
And we can’t leave out the humble cupcake can we? So easy to make and decorate with a Valentine’s themed sprinkle mix, or if your piping skills allow, give as a beautiful cupcake bouquet 💐
I learned how to make and put together cupcake bouquets in this class, which is still ongoing so amazing value! The next class starts on 17th February and is the first of this year’s series
A simple ganache truffle is absolutely delicious on its own, but can also be dipped in chocolate and decorated 😋
And did you know you can make boozy ganache? Check out Oli again below for vodka truffles, how to make a chocolate ‘Holy Grail’ bark, and some great tips on tempering your chocolate easily, just using the microwave!
Of course, you can always make your loved one a Valentine’s cake all for themselves. There are some lovely examples below ❤️
And if you have leftover cake, don’t let it go to waste, it can still be made into delicious treats!
So, there’s plenty here to give individually or to make up a delicious treat box. And I think we all need a treat don’t we? The option for a romantic evening out may not be there this year, so bring the romance to you!
I hope I’ve given you plenty to think about and that you’ll try a few of the ideas for yourself. If you do, please tag me on Facebook and Instagram, I’d love to see the results ❤️
Hi! Hope you are all doing well 😊 I have to admit that during these past 10 months ‘Baking for Therapy’ has never been more of a therapeutic tool for me!
In between taking online courses run by Sugar and Crumbs, and the odd cake request, it’s been a lifeline for my mental and physical health. I’m still struggling I have to admit, some days I find it really hard to motivate myself and end up spending the day in pjs. In the online class groups, we’ve nicknamed them ‘baking scrubs’ 😆
I know there’s lots to do round the house, but some of it I can’t physically do, so I just look at it and get frustrated! Other things I could do if I tackle it in bite size chunks but even the slightest exertion at the moment brings me out in a sweat. I think being confined to the house for so long has weakened my already admittedly poor physical health. I find myself in ‘CBA’ (can’t be arsed) mode because I know whatever I do is going to tire me out and, going off past experience, will lead to a couple of ‘recovery days’ when I will mostly sleep!
So I’m very thankful to my friends who have asked me to make cakes, as it means I have to plan my days, and once I start, I do enjoy the process. My lovely hubby makes sure I rest in between each process, to minimise the after effects, and when I hand over the finished cake, I feel a brilliant sense of achievement, which is a great boost to my mental health too ❤️
This pretty Minnie Mouse inspired 1st birthday cake was for my friend’s granddaughter and the last cake before Christmas, Christmas Eve in fact!
It’s a simple Vanilla cake, made using Velvet Vanilla icing sugar instead of caster sugar in the batter. Covered mostly in buttercream with sugarpaste elements like the ears, spots, bow and frill. I added CMC/Tylo powder to the sugarpaste for the ears and bow, so that they would stand up on their own! (See tutorial below) I then set it on a marbled sugarpaste 12” drum board, and used PME fun fonts and Faye Cahill signature gold lustre for the lettering. A pretty cerise pink ribbon finished it off nicely 😁
And this is how it turned out! What do you think? Check out below for the recipe. I’ll also leave links to the products and tools I used.
Tools and Ingredients:
Preheat oven to 150C Fan
Prepare 3×6” round cake pans. I grease mine and use a parchment circle in the base.
You will need:
250g baking margerine
250g Sugar and Crumbs Velvet Vanilla icing sugar
4 large free range eggs
250g sifted Self Raising Flour
Whip the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment until light, pale and creamy.
Add the Velvet Vanilla icing sugar and chop it in by hand until mostly incorporated, then beat on medium speed until fully mixed. Scrape down the bowl to make sure.
Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture curdles slightly, add a tablespoon of flour with each egg.
Mix the flour into the batter by hand, then beat for about 20 seconds on med – high speed.
Transfer the batter to the 3 x 6” prepared round cake pans.
Bake at 150 C fan for approximately 30 minutes. Every oven is different so keep an eye on it and check with a skewer in the middle of the cake if you’re unsure. If it comes out clean, it’s ready!
Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool fully
250 g butter, softened
500g Velvet Vanilla icing sugar
Coloursplash pink gel
Warm pre boiled water – optional
Whip the butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment until increased in volume, very pale and creamy – about 6 minutes
Add the icing sugar and mix or ‘chop in’ with spatula before beating until it comes together. Add colouring if using. Scrape down, then beat on med-high speed for 20 seconds. Add water a tablespoon at a time if consistency needs loosening up.
It’s been a strange 2020, and so far 2021 isn’t looking much different!
Despite that, my friend’s daughter Freya decided to get married on New Year’s Eve, and her mum, Elaine asked me for some cupcakes for a very cosy family hen party just before Christmas. It was so lovely to find some joy in the middle of the COVID-19 chaos, and I wish the happy couple a long and happy life together ❤️
At the same time, Freya requested 40 macarons. I’d previously used some as decorations on her birthday cake ‘Pretty in Pink’. I’d used Sugar and Crumbs cherry flavour Whipping it Up to make them, and she liked them so much, she wanted more!
As I said, I used Sugar and Crumbs Whipping it Up to make the macarons. It’s basically flavoured icing sugar with pasteurised egg white powder added, and is a multi use product that makes Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Mousse, Pavlova, Meringue, Shortbread, Macarons, Marshmallow fluff, Roulade and lots of other yummy recipes! It comes in lots of different flavours too! Much easier than separating eggs, then having to find a use for the yolks! Here’s the recipe for the macarons I used half the 500g bag and got about 50 macarons! Coloursplash pink was used to colour them ❤️
This was almost my last request of 2020, almost! There’s just one more cute cake to tell you about in my next post!
After chilling in the fridge for half an hour, I final coated with milk chocolate ganache, made with Callebaut 823 callets, smoothing it as much as I could with a heated tall metal scraper. (To do this I had a tall jug of hot water that I dipped the scraper in, wiping off any excess water on kitchen towel before using)
I made the antlers out of Callebaut milk chocolate callets and free handed piping the shape on baking parchment. I inserted lollipop sticks whilst the chocolate was still wet, attaching them once they were good and set! The rest of the features were made from Renshaw sugarpaste in poppy red, chocolate brown, white and black.
I placed the cake on a 10” round cake drum covered with Renshaw poppy red and Lincoln green sugarpaste, partially kneaded together to create a slightly marbled effect, then finished off with a red ribbon.
The recipient of this cake, my friend Steph from Panto, won a cake from me in a charity prize draw earlier this year, and this is what she chose. I had great fun making it and it smelled amazing!
I used 2 x 8” round 4” deep PME pans and cut each cake in half to make 4 layers (double recipe) While the cakes were cooling, I took the remaining liquid from the cherry pie filling and thinned it out with a little boiling water. I brushed this over each cake layer to add flavour and keep it lovely and moist.
For the filling I made buttercream with more Black Forest icing sugar, but to crumb coat the cake I used Black Cherry icing sugar as this remains white in colour.
Once the crumb coat had set in the fridge for 20 minutes, I added Coloursplash pink to a small amount of the white buttercream and set it aside.
I then covered the cake with the remaining white (Black Cherry) buttercream and smoothed it out with my tall metal bench scraper. I wasn’t too bothered about it being perfect at this stage!
I then added random ‘blobs’ (technical term 😆) all around the cake, and kept going round it with my smoother to achieve a sort of watercolour blended finish. For the final few swipes I heated the metal smoother by dipping it in hot water. I find this really helps get a nicer finish 😃 Check out the video below for an in depth tutorial on getting smooth buttercream!
I lightly blended the rest of the buttercream (pink and white) and transferred it into a piping bag with a Wilton 1M star tip that I bought in this set of three but you can also buy it separately It’s easily my most used piping tip for cupcakes so I have several!
Whipping it up was developed by Sugar and Crumbs as a sister product to its flavoured icing sugars and has pasteurised dried egg white added. It is a multi use product that you can use to make meringue, Swiss Meringue buttercream, pavlova, marshmallow fluff, roulade, macarons, shortbread, mousse and……. oh there’s so much I’ll just leave you a link to all the yummy recipes!
Back to the cake! I made a white chocolate water ganache drip and applied that before popping on my kisses and macarons whilst it was still wet. This helped everything to stick nicely!
I had covered a 12” round drum board with Renshaw Premium Coverpaste white marbled with pink, and after transferring the cake to this, I took the piping bag and made a border at the bottom. Waste not want not, I used the rest of the buttercream to add more detail to the top and sides still using the 1M tip.
To finish it off I made white chocolate number lollipops with Callebaut Belgian chocolate in a 3 and an 0!
I was very pleased with the result, what do you think? It also gave my baking mojo a boost as I’d been feeling a bit down with all this Covid-19 rubbish! Feeling useful is something I’ve been missing lately, and being cooped up doesn’t do much for anyone’s mental health does it? 😞
I hope you are all keeping well….. and reasonably sane!
This cake was the third in a series of classes with the lovely Georgie Godbold…..online of course, but a live class nevertheless.
Unfortunately, Georgie had an unavoidable family situation so was unable to take the class herself. Rather than cancel, Gerry Chiu from Studio8Cakes very kindly stepped in 😁
Because this was a paid class, I can’t reveal the techniques we were taught, but I can show you the finished cake!
I made this back in September and it was my Mum’s birthday cake. Mum loves sewing so it came just at the right time!
I used my vanilla cake recipe but substituted the caster sugar with Sugar and Crumbs raspberry ripple icing sugar. For the buttercream crumbcoat I used lemon drizzle flavour. I love the raspberry/lemon combination, it’s so refreshing…..like pink lemonade 🥤
All the participants, whether watching to do later or taking part on the day had an absolute blast! These online classes are so much more than just tuition. It’s a chance to ‘get together’ with my online friends from Sugar and Crumbs and share some much needed light hearted banter too.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Carol McFarland from Sugar and Crumbs for setting up these online classes with some extremely talented tutors including Molly Robbins, Gerry Chiu, Georgie Godbold, Oli the Choc, Dawn Butler, Do Griffin, Hannah the ‘Cake Illusionist’ and not forgetting the Cupcake bouquet, Buttercream Flowers, and Nifty Nozzles Classes that Carol herself hosts!
I’m even more thankful for all the free Facebook live sessions that Sugar and Crumbs have been doing throughout the Pandemic 😷 This is in addition to the regular sessions, so there’s barely a day goes by that I don’t look forward to checking in with Karen Griffiths, Carol McFarland or a guest tutor to learn how to make something yummy 😋 With so many people struggling with their mental health at the moment, I can honestly say they’ve been an absolute lifeline, and I know that the rest of the S&C family will concur 🥰
Note to family: There’s plenty of edible Christmas gifts coming your way!
This Fortnite cake is for the same young man I made the last one for, I can’t believe a year flew by so fast!
It seems that as the game evolves, different elements become popular. This time a ‘battle bus’ needed to be incorporated into the design, so off I went to good old google images!
For my cake I just needed a topper as it was to be one of a few elements.
After trying unsuccessfully to use a kinder egg as the balloon (too heavy) I eventually raided my cake stash for a polystyrene egg instead. It was probably a bit small scale wise, but otherwise worked perfectly. Note to self: buy bigger polystyrene eggs!
It’s not an exact copy of the actual bus, more a representation! I think to get all the details right I would need to make an actual ‘Battle Bus’ cake! Maybe next year Josh? 😉
Josh looks really pleased with his cake, and apparently when he saw it he said ‘that’s definitely a Debbie cake’ bless him. Josh is one of the kids from Panto and even though I’d decided when I resigned the chairmanship this year, that I wasn’t going to be involved, I’m really missing the rehearsals and get togethers which usually start in September, and I can imagine the frustration and disappointment that the pandemic has brought to the society, and lots of amateur theatre groups this year. Let’s hope we can all get back to normal soon and live theatre, both amateur and professional will be back in our lives sooner rather than later!🤞
I recently had another request for a ‘chocolate overload’ cake, but this time the recipient was a big fan of ‘kinder bueno’, so most of the chocolate decorations were to be along this theme.
The week before I was due to make the cake, I dutifully added kinder bueno bars (and a selection of other chocolates) to my grocery delivery, but I must have had a twitchy clicky finger, and accidentally ordered 2 packs of 20 bars! Oops! 😋
Now, I could have put them away in my baking cupboard for the next cake, but hubby spotted them first! I wasn’t aware that he even liked Kinder Bueno, but the ones I didn’t use soon disappeared 😝 I may even have had one myself 😉
Of course it also went in the buttercream, along with some melted and cooled Callebaut Belgian Milk Chocolate for extra stability and chocolatiness! I buy this in callet form as my hands can’t handle chopping chocolate anymore, plus the Callebaut is just gorgeous chocolate 😋
This cake was for a 16 year old boy’s birthday so I tried not to make it too ‘girly’ by cutting back on the bling, but couldn’t resist adding a bit to the board to highlight his name 😁
As always, I bake for therapy not profit. It’s a great hobby for me, helping with my mental health, especially now! It also gets me off my backside when it would be so easy to sit around all day. I may have to factor in a rest period afterwards, but It gives me such a great sense of satisfaction whenever I finish a cake for someone, that it’s totally worth it 😁
A month or so ago, I was asked to make a very special 90th birthday cake………in the shape of a cruise ship!
Never one to shy away from a challenge, I found a reasonably simple design that the family was happy with, made myself a template and set sail!
I started by making vanilla Madeira cake using my large rectangular roasting tins, so that I could carve the shapes of the different layers. Once happy with that, I sandwiched them together with buttercream before (very) roughly coating the whole thing with white chocolate ganache
Once that was set, I applied a second coat and smoothed it out ready for the sugarpaste. After applying a base of white, I then started making all the little details that would make what looked a bit like a wonky shoe look more like a ship!
I covered the cake directly on the board as it was so big, and decided to finish it off in situ.
After adding the finishing touches, this is what it looked like 👀
I’m happy to report that the recipient was delighted with it! 😁
Much to my disappointment, I’m rarely asked to make Halloween goodies, and especially not this year!
But it got me wondering…..what’s your go to Halloween theme? Do you prefer ‘Trick’ (scary)
or ‘Treat’ (cute)?
As I haven’t had the opportunity to bake anything this Halloween, I thought I’d give you a few examples from each category 🎃
From the ‘Trick’ section, take a look at these terrifyingly realistic creations from ‘Epic Confections’, ‘How to Cake it’ and ‘The Lovely Baker’
For ‘Treats’ try these from ‘Cakes by Lynz’, ‘The Icing Artist’, and ‘Sugar and Crumbs’
And for a bit of both, how about these clever two sided cakes from Koalipops?
I hope you find something you like in there! There are so many to choose from the talented cake artists I follow 👻 🎃 🧙♀️
Like I said, I haven’t done many, but I dug through my photo archive and found these to show you 😀
I hope you have fun with your boys and ghouls today. I have my pic n mix ready just in case any local kiddies and their parents decide to do some social distanced ‘Trick or Treating’! (If not, I’ll just have sweeties for me 😀)
But this year, she’s into ‘Frozen’, probably prompted by the release of the film sequel earlier this year ❄️
The request was for chocolate cake, and although I was sent some photo suggestions, I was given free rein to interpret them in my own way, which is good because it’s not good form to copy another cake decorators design!
I had a little rummage on Pinterest etc, and ended up going with a fairly simple design ❄️
I used milk chocolate ganache to coat the cake and give it a firm base for the sugarpaste.
Making cake batter and buttercream is fairly easy for me because the Kitchenaid mixer does it for me, but I’ve always made ganache with blocks of chocolate, which I break into small chunks.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that because of the pain in my hands, it’s getting really difficult. It hurts to break it up, but also sets off tremors a few hours later! So I’ve decided to swap to Callets which are like little wafers or buttons. They’re more expensive, but if it means avoiding pain it’s a no brainer! It’s Belgian chocolate too, and is absolutely yummy!
I did an online course with ‘Oli The Choc’ a chocolatier based in Manchester recently. He filmed in the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen for the day, and recommended Callebaut brand Belgian chocolate, so that’s what I’ll be using from now on!
Then I applied my favourite Finishing Sparkle from Sugarflair to give the whole thing that frosty glittery finish ❄️ I loved the final look of this cake 🥰 Let me know what you think in the comments, I’d love to hear from you 😀
I can’t finish this post without mentioning that this month has highlighted the importance of Breast Cancer screening, and World Mental Health Day.
Baking for Therapy includes looking after my mental well being, as well as the Chronic pain caused by my OPLL, and I support Breast Cancer Now by fundraising in memory of my late Grandma Molly.
If you would like to donate to this charity, I have a Just Giving page, or you can go directly to their website if you prefer. Amongst many others, I haven’t been able to use my baking skills to host a bake sale this year because of social distancing rules, so any donation would be doubly welcome 🙏
Until next time
Stay safe and healthy
Disclaimer: Sugar and Crumbs is my preferred supplier of all things Cake. I am not sponsored by them and do not receive payment for recommending their products.
As this was a paid class, I can’t divulge the individual processes that went into the making of the cake. What I can tell you is that I did it over 3 days (more if you count the baking which I did the week before and froze!) I followed along for a while on the day, then just watched, finishing off at my own pace over the next two days 😀
I’m really pleased with the result. Gerry is a fabulous tutor, and as always whenever we’re ‘in’ the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen, we have so much fun!
Viki Shaw was the lucky winner! Viki has very special twin girls, Summer Violet and Isabella Rose, for whom I made the rainbow cake to celebrate their first birthday 🌈
As the colours are already perfect, I will be making the cake as it is shown in the picture…..or as close as I can! Gerry Chiu is a brilliant tutor and as always, factoring in my pain coping mechanisms, I intend taking my time with it!
I’ll be back soon with more details and to show you how I got on!
Access to the class is via a private Facebook group, and the best thing is it’s then yours forever. So, if like me you’re unable to tackle it all in one day, you can do some of it, do none of it and watch first or any combination of the two!
Anyhoo, the point of this post is that I’ve decided to offer my version of the cake to one of you! You will have to be local I’m afraid, as it will need to be collected, but apart from that, all you need to do is follow my blog and leave a comment and your name.
I will then use this handy dandy spinny wheel thingamajig from wheelofnames.com to input everyone’s names, give it a whirl and whoever it lands on will win 😀🥳😀🥳
I’m going to run this until Thursday 17th at 6pm to give the winner the option of choosing the colours.
On the day, I will be doing 2-3 hours, then following along from the comfort of my recliner for the rest of the class. I know from experience that it’s better for me to break it down into 3 or 4 sessions, otherwise I won’t be able to function for a week! So, I’m hoping to get some prep done on Thursday and have the cake finished by Sunday 🤞
So, please leave your names/comments as instructed and Good Luck!
Hi, when my friend asked me to make this cake for her Mum’s 80th birthday, I got very excited!
Believe it or not I’ve never made a ‘Chocolate Overload’ cake before, so this was a first for me, but great fun!
I started out with 4 x8” round layers of my Chocolate cake recipe, and filled and crumb coated it with chocolate buttercream. As it was another hot spell, I made ganache for the final coat as it sets firmer, and despite being made from chocolate and cream, it is actually more heat stable than buttercream! I applied the filling and coatings with my trusty palette knife, and smoothed the final coat with my metal bench scraper. *Tip: Dip metal knives and scrapers in hot water before smoothing for a great finish!
After that, it was really just play time! My friend had said her Mum was a serious chocoholic (a woman after my own heart ❤️) so I’d bought a variety of different chocolates and just went to town!
I used a mix of chopped chocolate bars, biscuit bars, truffles, buttons, etc and added them around and on top of the cake somewhat ‘artistically’ 😂 I made the chocolate shards myself to give the cake a bit of extra height and interest. How many different chocolate goodies can you identify?
And then of course, I couldn’t resist adding a bit of bling by dry dusting with Faye Cahill edible gold lustre 🤩
I was really pleased with how it turned out, and, more importantly my friend’s Mum was too!
As you know I’ve been keeping myself sane during the restrictions imposed by the a Coronavirus pandemic by taking lots of online cake ‘classes’
These have been offered by Sugar and Crumbs at really affordable prices, and have been very well received by everyone who has participated.
Carol McFarland, the owner of the company has 3 of her own classes, the Cupcake bouquet class, Nifty Nozzles (Russian piping tips) and the Buttercream flowers class, and there is a whole host of guest tutors including Molly Robbins, Georgie Godbold, Claire Corbett, Hector Rocha, Gerry Chiu, Hannah the Cake Illusionist, and Do Griffin!
In this class, Molly showed us how to make pupcakes 🐶 and oh my word, they were soooo cute!
I was amazed at how quickly they came together, aren’t they adorable? We used Renshaw premium Coverpaste in white, Renshaw precoloured ready to roll sugarpastes, and some Coloursplash gel colours to create the puppers. Like real dogs, they came in all shades of fur!
We started at 10am and did everything in real time, following Molly’s excellent tutoring. Unfortunately, I had a doctors appointment right in the middle of the day, so missed some of it, but when I got back I watched the rest and joined in with the comments and banter! Oh the banter! We have such a giggle in all the groups, and I’ve ‘met’ so many new friends 😀
When you sign up, you’re given access to a private Facebook group where the live sessions are aired, and you can chat with your fellow ‘students’. If you miss any classes for any reason, as I did with my appointment, the class is always there for you to rewatch at your leisure.
This is great for me, as I usually manage to do half the session then watch the rest and finish the next day, or even over 2 days! My body dictates how much I do at any one time nowadays, but this way I don’t feel like I’m missing out!
In Molly’s next class we will be making a standing dog 🐕 This was chosen by a group vote…very democratic…..and we will be using Molly’s Creature Creator mould which she devised to help bakers make novelty cakes with no carving or wasted cake. I’ve used it before and it’s brilliant. I also managed to attend a real class with Molly in the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen just before lockdown, so I feel like I have a bit of a head start 😀 I’m going to try and recreate my own dog this time though….eeeek!
Well, I’m off now to do some baking in readiness for next week when I have 3 classes!
When my old school friend asked me to make a golden wedding anniversary cake for her neighbours, I was very honoured to be entrusted with the task. Especially as all she knew about my cake making skills was the cake I made for our school reunion event in February!
But any opportunity I get for playing with sugar flowers and liberal use of bling is good with me!
So, I sent her a picture of a golden wedding cake I made for another friend, and she sent me an image, and between us we came up with a design 😀
Little did I know that the timing of this cake was going to coincide with one of the hottest days of the year! 🥵
I started by baking the vanilla sponges, two 8” rounds to be layered into 4. Disaster number one – they sank! I don’t know if it was the heat, the fact that I was using a different baking spread, or I just opened the oven door too soon, but there was no saving them, or so I thought, so in the bin they went 😔
They looked something like this:
If I’d seen this article, I might have been able to make use of some of the cake for cake pops or just with custard as a dessert! If you want to know the various causes of a sunken cake, and some ‘fixes’ I recommend having a read.
The next day I tried again, used my usual baking spread and resisted the urge to peek in the oven too soon and voila! Two perfect sponges! Phew 😅
So, a day later than scheduled, I divided the cakes into 4 layers and decided to use white chocolate ganache to fill and coat the cake as it sets firmer than buttercream – or at least it usually does! It was so hot, I had to leave it overnight, losing another half day! This is why I need a dedicated cake fridge!
Thinking I was going to have a (literal) meltdown, I contacted my friend only to be extremely relieved to find that although we’d arranged collection on a Friday, the cake wasn’t actually needed until Saturday evening – another phew 😅
Luckily I had pre-made all the flowers using Renshaw flower and modelling paste, and covered the board already, so early Saturday morning I started covering the cake with sugarpaste and adding the quilted effect. I used Select Ireland platinum sugarpaste which is great quality and behaves very well in hot and humid conditions. Renshaw Extra is also good in similar conditions 😀
I have learned most of the techniques needed to put a cake together using ganache from good old YouTube! Here are a couple that I found very helpful 😀
For the recipes I used for the cake and ganache click here
I used two PME 3” deep 8” round cake tins and doubled the recipe. I greased and floured the tins and put a parchment paper circle in the bottom. I also used my PME baking belts (see My favourite products at the end of the post)
For the ganache I used 900g white chocolate to 300ml double (heavy) cream
And finally! I applied the decorations and lettering, then got busy with my Faye Cahill gold lustre dust! This can be dry brushed on to your embellishments or mixed with food grade alcohol to make a paint. There are lots of lustre dust brands out there, and they’re all good, but I must admit, I really like Faye’s range.
I used Sugarflair rejuvenator spirit to mix my paint. I’ve used vodka in the past, but find this works much better. Don’t worry, all the alcohol evaporates as the ‘paint’ dries!
Right at the end I liberally ‘twinkled’ the cake with Sugarflair finishing sparkle in gold. I love this stuff as a finishing touch ❤️ It comes in silver, gold and rose gold in a pump spray, but there are lots of other sparkly colours available in pots too 🌈
Finished and happy, I messaged my friend with a couple of photos, boxed it up and it was collected – socially distanced of course – in plenty of time for the party 🥳 (or whatever passes for a party at the moment!)
I received some wonderful feedback from my friend Joanne, and her neighbours loved the cake, so all’s well that ends well 😀
The moral of the story? Although I already have to give myself plenty of time to tackle a cake project, you can never account for the weather chucking a spanner in the works!
If that happens, take a breath, walk away for a while and think about what ‘fixes’ you can utilise. Most of all, remember why you do it. For me, it’s therapy, so getting stressed kind of defeats the object! When I contacted my friend to say I was behind schedule, she reminded me of that! Thank you Joanne 🥰
That’s all from me for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and that the ‘how to’ links are helpful.
You might be forgiven for thinking this post is all about ABBA’s greatest hits, but you’d be wrong! (Wonderful though they are!)
I’m a bit of a muso though, and I often find songs popping into my head that are related to what I’m doing, in this case a gorgeous beehive cake I recently made on a live online class.
Remember the Teapot cake? Well the Beehive is the 2nd of 3 classes I’ve signed up for with the very talented Georgie Godbold.
Georgie is well known for decorating her cakes with what she calls ‘Sugar Wobblies’. These are cute figures like the bees 🐝 and the little mice on the Teapot. Adorable aren’t they? 🥰
All the classes I’ve been ‘attending’ have been organised by, and run from The Sugar and Crumbs kitchen, which is large enough for social distancing to be observed between the tutors and the camera operator, and have been broadcast live on Facebook on given dates.
Now, I’m lucky enough to be able to join in on the day, but I’ve usually followed along for the morning and watched the rest to finish off over a couple more days. I do it that way because of my pain and mobility issues, but lots of participants do it at a later date because of work or other commitments.
The format works because although every class is filmed live, it’s then yours to keep going back to forever! It came about because of lockdown, but is actually a brilliant way to teach. It means classes can be offered at a very affordable price because more people can actually take part than would physically fit in the Sugar and Crumbs kitchen, big as it is! (Even without the current situation) Plus no travelling arrangements to make as you do it all in your own home 😄
It’s actually become a standing joke that most of us do them in our pjs! I know I do!
Anyway….to the cake! Now the bad news is….I can’t actually tell you how to make it, it is a paid class after all! But the good news is….you can still join in the fun! Yay! 😁 This particular series of 3 full day classes costs just £60…..yes that’s right £20 per full day class! Amazing value!
Click the link to find out more…. and remember, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, because you do it in your own home 🙂 The next ‘live’ class is on the 8th September, but you will also get access to the Teapot and Beehive to do at your leisure ❤️
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:
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 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:
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)
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!
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!
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 😍
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
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.
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! 😂
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.
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!
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 🥰
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 💕
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!
It all started when a couple of old school friends came to my Breast Cancer fundraiser (bake sale naturally!)
We were chatting away and decided it might be nice to have a reunion as it was 40 years since we sat our what were then ‘O levels‘
So I said I’d put out some feelers and see if anyone was interested. I was absolutely amazed and delighted with the response! And so the planning began, I booked a small private function room at a local venue, and in February this year, around 40 of us met up!
We were missing a few people because the weekend we chose just happened to be when ‘Storm Dennis’ struck, and a couple of ladies were ill, but it was a brilliant evening chatting, laughing and catching up with everyone. Speaking of laughing, this is my old class photo from the year I left aged 16!
We enjoyed it so much, we decided to do it again in 3 years, which is when we all turn 60! Oh my word! Where did all the time go?
In the above photo, I’m with Marcia, who was my partner in crime at the back of the class! And Tracy who I’ve known since primary school! In fact there were quite a few there that I’ve known since primary school! Maybe that can be my next project 😂
As you can see, a great time was had by all…and I don’t think we look 56/7 do we? Anyway, I know what you’re all thinking 🤔 This is Baking For Therapy…where’s the cake? Truth is, organising this event was amazing therapy for me, and the feedback from everyone who attended has been wonderful. And those of us who still live locally are going to meet up for regular catch ups which is fantastic 😀
Oh…..ok then…..here’s the cake 🎂
Until next time
Stay safe and healthy
Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle flavour icing sugar and prosecco flavoured icing sugar
Oh my, where to start? At its conception I suppose!
So, last year, I was asked to make a wedding cake for Rebecca and Danny. I’ve known Rebecca and her parents for a long time as they are all part of the Pantomime Society I am currently Chair of. Her Dad, Edward was our Director until recently, as well as designing and helping to build the set, writing the scripts, choreographing and performing, and Mum Bev was our props lady, as well as being Edward’s right hand woman! Rebecca has been performing in the Pantomime since she was young, recently helping with choreography as well, and when she met Danny, he became part of the backstage team.
I was pleased to be asked to make their engagement cake, a very ‘sweet’ affair, a few years ago.
So when they asked me to make their wedding cake I was very excited! Especially when I learned that they wanted a peacock theme!
I arranged a cake testing session for them, and provided four flavours as per their request. Lemon, red velvet, vanilla, and mint chocolate. On the day they liked them all! Whilst discussing the design, I realised that because they wanted peacock ‘feathers’ trailing down the side of the cake from the topper, and cupcakes carrying on the theme around the bottom of the cake, there was no reason that they couldn’t have them all!
So, this is what we went with. A 10” round bottom tier in lemon, an 8” round top tier in red velvet, and a mix of vanilla and mint chocolate cupcakes to finish. I used Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars in lemon drizzle, cream cheese, velvet vanilla and mint chocolate for filling the layers/topping the cupcakes.
The topper was made using Renshaw flower and modelling paste coloured with Coloursplash Jade gel colour, then I added some Wilton leaf green to make a brighter shade, and precoloured Renshaw deep purple to layer the feathers. Gold accents were added using Faye Cahill shimmer gold lustre dust, which doesn’t show up much on the pictures, but had a lovely effect in real life!
I was so relieved when this cake came out well, I definitely started to feel the weight of responsibility the nearer it got to the wedding!
As usual, I made all the elements in stages. The two large cakes were baked and frozen 2 weeks before, and the feathers I tackled by just doing a few a day over a couple of weeks. I covered the 20” round cake drum a week in advance, crumb coated with white chocolate ganache 3 days before, covered with Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste 2 days before, when I also baked and frosted the cupcakes. After dowelling and using royal icing to put the two cakes together, I added the ribbons, attached the topper and the feathers down the side with royal icing and boxed it up the day before, but I took the round ‘feathers’ with me on the day, and placed them on the cupcakes in situ.
All in all, it was a great, if a little scary experience but I’m now more confident in my abilities and looking forward to the next time!
I’m ashamed to say that it’s been a month since I last posted!
I’m guessing that, like me, you were all busy busy busy with the run up to Christmas?
Personally, I had other issues to deal with as well, with my husband, who is also my carer, being put ‘out of action’ with a suspected slipped disc 😣
Glen helps me with my personal care, keeps the house clean and tidy, does the laundry, is my ‘chauffeur’, and our little dog’s playmate.
I bake cakes and Chair a Panto Society only because he enables me to do so. Actually that’s not fair, close family and friends also have to take some credit for that! But my husband is there 24/7. He sees both sides. He sees my pure elation when I’ve successfully finished a cakey creation, or come back from a particularly good Panto rehearsal, but he also sees how long it takes for me to recover, and is there to wait on me hand and foot whilst I do! (Or just let me sleep 💤 )
Thank goodness for those aforementioned friends and family! They’ve been amazingly supportive, whilst Glen was frustrated by the slow recovery process. He’s ok now, but unlike me, he’s wasn’t used to limitations on his mobility, so it was hard on both of us. But you have to manage don’t you?
Anyway, back to just before Christmas, and actually even further back to September when at my Macmillan coffee morning, I offered a custom cake as a raffle prize. One of my elderly neighbours won and wanted to give it back because ‘they didn’t have anyone to gift a birthday cake to’. Glen, who had gone round to let her know she’d won, suggested a Christmas Cake, which I was more than happy to do.
Here’s what I came up with, a mix of traditional and contemporary, all liberally ‘twinkled’ with glitter dust!
On top of that the general busy-ness of Christmas and New Year has been partly responsible for my neglect, and Panto rehearsals became more intense too, the nearer we got to opening night, (Oh! and I had a couple of cake requests in there too! )
As you know, because of my condition, I have to factor in rest and recovery times from all of the above. Much as I love my therapeutic hobbies, they do incur ‘repercussions’. It’s my responsibility before I undertake any ‘activities’ to decide whether the benefits to my emotional health outweigh the physical after effects. If I think they do, I make sure I’ve allotted a few days to just rest.
Of course, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t just affect me. I’m well aware that without the support of my wonderful family and friends, I couldn’t do it, for which I’m extremely thankful and blessed.
At home, where I do my baking, it’s usually hubby cleaning up after me then waiting on me hand and foot for a few days, (when he’s not out of action) and at rehearsals I have my Panto family making sure I’m not overdoing anything. I’m a very lucky lady!
Shortly before Christmas we had our annual Panto Christmas party. This was held at Northern Relish, a local venue, and they really did us proud. I go there every week with my Mum to have lunch with my son James who works nearby, so I knew the food was good, but they really exceeded all my expectations. We had a fabulous night, and to say thank you, I took them a cake, Rudolph, pictured below was a rich chocolate cake, with solid chocolate antlers. In fact I used almost a kilo of chocolate altogether!
Christmas brought my daughter and her boyfriend home from Bucharest for 5 days. As if that wasn’t enough of a treat, they also insisted on cooking on Christmas Day, and a brilliant job they did too. They actually ended up cooking on Boxing Day too which was an added bonus, but it was just a really lovely family time – minus my son and daughter in law who were in New Zealand and Australia! But that’s ok because we had an early Christmas celebration with them before they went, and spoke to them on the day. We hosted my Mum, Glen’s parents, and my niece and her boyfriend too, so it was still a houseful!
It all flew past in no time at all and then there was Panto! We’ve just had our last night, after a very successful run, and it was a very emotional finale, as our very talented Director, script writer, set designer, performer and my Vice Chairman, not to mention a very dear friend, Edward Munday resigned. His involvement over the past years has seen the Society grow enormously and he will be very sadly missed. I will still see him, his lovely wife Bev and family socially, but Greenbrook Pantomime Society will not be the same without him. There were tears from everyone on Saturday night 😔 showing just how highly he is thought of by those who matter, the adult cast, the children, the parents and everyone who has helped out in any of his fantastic productions 💕
So – the other cakes I’ve made recently included this Golden Wedding Cake for a friend’s parents. I sparkled it up with gold cake lace, flowers and lettering and was really pleased with the result.
And more recently a lady my hubby used to work with asked me to make this pretty white chocolate and raspberry confection for her daughter’s 21st. I do love a bit of glam!
My next cake is a wedding cake…eek! My friends Edward and Bev, who I mentioned earlier, have a lovely daughter Rebecca who is trusting me with her design. I’m definitely feeling the responsibility of delivering something she and her fiancé Danny will love 💓 but that will be a whole separate post I think!
Well, I think I’ve caught you up with everything now, so I’ll stop waffling!
In my last post I mentioned that I’d been involved in testing a new flavour for Sugar and Crumbs fantastic flavoured icing sugar range.
Before I tell you more about that, here’s some background about the Sugar and Crumbs company.
I can’t explain it any better than Carol McFarland, the company’s founder, who says:
“It all started back in 2013 with a chat around the kitchen table. I had recently got back into baking and cake decorating after getting a new kitchen to play in. I was frustrated to find that adding different natural flavours to my bakes wasn’t as simple as it ought to be. Out of the desire to find a simple way of bringing a natural boost to my bakes the recipe for Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar was born. Sugar and Crumbs has now grown into a fantastic company and community with over 20 employees selling 4000+ cake decorating and baking related products all over the world. Our social community is a fantastic place to learn about all things “cake” and we have over 100,000 followers across our social platforms”
As a member of the Facebook group ‘Sugar and Crumbs All About Cake’ community, I can wholeheartedly agree that it’s a brilliantly supportive and friendly group to be part of.
I can’t remember how I first came across Sugar and Crumbs icing sugars, but once I tried them I was amazed. Weirdly, I’d tried adding milkshake powder to plain icing sugar to flavour it myself, but it just wasn’t fine enough!
So, back to the testing. Carol explained that for some time they had been trying to develop a cream cheese flavoured icing sugar, and that they had narrowed it down to 2 recipes, which they wanted bloggers to ‘test’.
The parameters (after using it to make a buttercream) were:
Taste from the bowl
Taste with your choice of cake (Red Velvet in my case)
Taste after 4 hours
Taste after 6 hours
Taste after 8 hours
Taste the following day, from the bowl and on the cake
Provide results from both samples!
I have to say I would (and did!) eat either one, so whichever one ‘wins’ I’ll be a happy bunny! If I had to choose I would go for sample B as it was a little less sweet. But both complimented the red velvet cupcakes I put them on. Interestingly, my hubby preferred sample A, but also said he’d happily eat either one!
As mentioned earlier, Sugar and Crumbs has grown into a company that supplies not just natural flavoured icing sugars, but somewhere you can get all your cake decorating supplies from. In my opinion, at very competitive prices too. More than that, Carol refuses to stock copies of original products (such as you might find on cheap online websites, such as Wish for example)
Original creators spend a lot of time and money making sure their products are good quality, conform to all necessary food standards, paying for product licensing and patents etc, and their businesses and reputation can be seriously affected by this. Imagine getting a negative review or complaint from a customer who thinks they have bought your carefully researched product. These reviews are readily available for anyone to read on the internet. The consumer suffers too, as they don’t always know that they are buying an inferior copy.
A good example are the original Russian piping tips. Carol worked exclusively with the inventor of these marvellously innovative tips, and if they’re not called ‘Nifty Nozzles’, they’re not the original Russian piping tips! How do I know? Because I was taken in myself!
So when you visit the Sugar and Crumbs website (which I strongly encourage you to do!) you can be assured that you will be buying quality products, and that you are supporting original creators, inventors and producers.
In addition to this, if you follow the Sugar and Crumbs Facebook page ‘Sugar and Crumbs with Nifty Nozzles’, every Monday and most Thursday evenings at 8pm, there is a 2 hour Facebook live tutorial session with guest tutors on every aspect of cake decorating you can think of! You can ask questions in real time, and the ‘banter’ is hilarious 😂
Phew! Well that’s my test results (and a bit of a Sugar and Crumbs love in 😂)
Disclaimer: This post isn’t sponsored by, nor have I received payment from Sugar and Crumbs. I just genuinely have the utmost respect for the company and its ethics.
But don’t take my word for it, have a look and make up your own mind 😀
I can’t believe that it’s been a month since I posted!
Preparations for the Christmas Fair went much slower than I anticipated, as my helper (Mum) ended up being ill for 2 weeks, so I just had to soldier on as best as I could.
Up to the week before, I concentrated on things that could be prepared in advance, and just took it slowly which was fine.
Of the things I had planned to make fresh…fudge, gingerbread, shortbread etc…..only the fudge got made and packaged. As I also had a Children in need cake to make, I just couldn’t find time for the others without making myself physically ill!
I had Mum to help package and label from a few days before when she had recovered, and Glen (hubby) to do the delivery and set up with me.
However, 2 days afterwards I received a call from the organiser asking for more fudge and Christmas cakes! This meant buying more supplies, making the fudge, allowing it to set, and packaging up another 6 batches to take over! And decorating another half dozen Christmas cakes!
In the end, I brought very little back home with me, which was a great result. However, it did mean making yet more fudge and reindeer hot chocolate cones for my local church Christmas fair last Saturday!
In amongst all this I also ‘tested’ 2 versions of a new Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing (cream cheese, mmmm yummy, more on that next time) made 2 birthday cakes, and cupcakes and scones for the Ladies fellowship Christmas lunch! And had an early ‘Christmas’ celebration with my son and daughter in law as they are away in New Zealand and Australia for most of December. Add Panto rehearsals into the mix, and my time management almost went out of the window!….almost.
I managed by scaling back and doing only what was essential. As mentioned earlier, that meant not taking some of the things I’d planned to take, but it was the only way I could make it work.
All was going to the ‘new’ plan, when more spanners were thrown into the works last week, with my poor hubby copping for it. Firstly by having a cluster of three migraines, and then by seriously hurting his back. Luckily family and friends rallied round to help, God bless them, but he is still in a lot of pain ☹️
My son and Mum helped set up and clear away at the Church Christmas Fair, and friends have been giving me lifts as hubby can’t even get into the car let alone drive it! My son also came to take the dog out for a proper walk, and picked up what was left of my Christmas fair stock to take to work.
I’m really hoping that Glen is well enough to attend the Panto Christmas meal on Friday evening, but will have to play that one by ear. At the moment it’s looking unlikely ☹️
Anyway, here are a few pictures of what I managed to do over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of the Christmas fair goodies, as the priority was just getting stuff done!
This cake is the second of three cake requests from my friend Sue, who seems to have an unlimited supply of grandchildren with birthdays close together!
The first one was this ‘Dirt Bike’ Cake
And the second one, which was for yesterday is this Jurassic World Cake
The cake itself is 4 layers of my go to chocolate cake, sandwiched together with fudge frosting, and crumb coated with ganache. Once that was set, I applied a second coat of ganache, and smoothed it out as best as I could, ready for applying the sugarpaste.
I started off with white sugarpaste and added some black to make it a sort of marbled grey, then took a smaller piece and made it slightly darker. I added some Tylo powder to this smaller piece so that it would be firm enough to ‘stand’ on its own. I took some Renshaw brown and mixed some white into that to make it lighter, then made the gates and the triangular-ish stones at the side. I used this diagram from a google image search as my guide.
I used a wood grain impression mat and my dresden tool to mark the gates. I also covered a 12” cake drum with green sugarpaste.
The bulk of the grey sugarpaste was then rolled out and used to cover the whole cake. I was a bit concerned about doing this, as I prefer either Renshaw Extra, The Sugarpaste or Select Ireland for covering deeper cakes. I’d almost run out, and ended up mixing what was left with some Renshaw Premium which is a little softer. It actually worked really well 😀 And wasn’t too hard on my hands for kneading!
For the logo, I took the remaining darker grey, and attached an icing image, before cutting around it. I left it draped over the tin I baked in, so it would have the right ‘curve’
I only paid £1.79 for two images, so it was well worth it to get the perfect look, which would have been difficult to achieve in sugarpaste! I’ll leave a link below for where I got it. The seller does lots of different images, not just Jurassic World!
I added the covered cake to the board, and while I was waiting for the sugarpaste elements to dry a little, the airbrush came out to play 😀
I started with the board and gave it a light spray of green, just to add some shading, then did the same with the cake but using black this time. Finally, I airbrushed the top in blue.
Going back to my now dry-ish sugarpaste gate etc, I applied them to the cake with some edible glue. As a finishing touch I used my nifty nozzles large grass tip to make a semi circle at the front of the cake. This gave me something to put the lettering on 😀
I also piped some ‘grass’ on top for something to keep the three toy dinosaurs in place. Et Voila!
I’m really pleased with how this one turned out, and as an added bonus, Sue and Mick stopped for a cuppa and a catch up when they came to collect it 😀
This time, I’ve been baking for a friend’s grandson, who absolutely loves dirt bikes! And chocolate cake 😋
Happily, the bike ‘topper’ was provided, saving me trying to make it out of modelling paste!
The cake is four delicious layers of my go to chocolate cake recipe, sandwiched together with an easy chocolate fudge frosting. The whole thing was then crumb coated and final coated with ganache to give a firm base for the sugarpaste.
The board was covered in Renshaw’s Premium Coverpaste White, which I coloured with Wilton leaf green gel colour. It was then imprinted using Sweet Stamps ‘Vanilla’ letter set. Instead of painting the letters, I decided to try airbrushing them to see if it made the message stand out. It worked pretty well, but I think I could have been a bit more heavy handed with it! I still get a bit scared I’ll overdo it…more practice needed 😂
I find it hard to get a good orange colour by adding colour gel, so I used a ready made one from Renshaw for the logo. The badges and logo were cut out by hand, and a ganached top and drip added to the muddy effect I wanted. Whilst the ganache was still wet I added some crushed up chocolate biscuit to the top to represent soil. A simple green buttercream border covered where the cake met the board 😀
And there it is guys! My first ever ‘Dirt Bike Cake’
Many thanks to my friend Susan Tighe for asking me to make this, I had a lot of fun!
As always, until next time,
Stay safe and healthy
Products used in the making of this cake: Note, some links may be affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission if you buy via that link
In this post, I thought I would give you an insight into how I manage my baking with my particular mobility and pain issues.
Before I begin, here’s a reminder of my condition, OPLL
As you can see, it’s a debilitating chronic condition, with a whole host of possible symptoms. Mine is the mixed type, and was picked up after a fall in 2012 pushed the ossification into my spinal cord causing severe multilevel compression from C2-C7. Up to that point, I was blissfully unaware of it, although I now know that it would have caught up with me eventually. The difference being that the symptoms would have manifested gradually, possibly giving me more options for treatment. Because of my injury, my options were limited. It didn’t help that even after my fall, it was a good five months before I was given the mri scan that eventually provided the diagnosis. By that time my options were surgery, or be in a wheelchair within 12 months. Not much of a choice huh? Needless to say, I had the surgery (cervical laminoplasty) to create space around my spinal cord. Unfortunately, there was some atrophy and irreversible damage. My current symptoms are chronic pain in my legs, buttocks, hands and feet resembling a burning sensation (think sunburn!) weakness in my arms, hands and neck, myelopathy, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms, difficulty with balance, problems with grip, difficulty urinating, anxiety and depression. In 2014, I had further surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator. Along with my array of medications, this helps with the pain in my lower body.
So now you have the background! As you can imagine, it took me a good few years to come to terms with the lifestyle changes this necessitated, but that’s a whole different post! For now, I’m just going to concentrate on the physical limitations, except to say that it was during counselling that I was advised to find a hobby that was (a) doable, and (b) something I actually enjoyed!
Which brings us to the baking! (At last, I hear you cry!)
Baking was something I had always enjoyed from when my kids were small and started having birthday parties. I would try to create their favourite toys or cartoon characters out of cake, with varying degrees of success! For more adult family birthdays, I had a go to chocolate fudge cake, but that was the extent of my repertoire really. I made everything by hand with just a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. The availability of ready to roll icing in every colour under the sun in the 1980s was a game changer for children’s cakes though! I think that was when I started experimenting with character cakes for the kids birthdays! Nowadays, I take photos of every cake I make, but mobile phones didn’t have cameras then. I’m sure we must have taken photos at birthday parties, but they’ll be in a box in the attic somewhere….and maybe that’s a good thing!
Here’s a few more recent ones:
It was after my second surgery in 2014, that I finally felt able to revisit the advice I’d been given about focusing on a hobby. Up until then, I hadn’t really accepted my new ‘reality’, and wasn’t ready to listen. That’s the thing about advice. It doesn’t matter how good it is if you’re not in the right place on your journey to accept it. But I was reminded of it during a later counselling session, and this time, it was the right time, if that makes sense?
So, how did I go about it? Well, I discovered this magical place called YouTube, where experienced Cake Artists were miraculously willing to share their skills! You can find a list of recommended channels on my homepage if you want to take a look yourself 😀 I became obsessed with watching tutorials and trying them out. But it was difficult, because I could no longer rely on my wooden spoon and mixing bowl. My hands just didn’t work like that anymore. I couldn’t stand for long either, or sit for long periods without supporting my neck for that matter.
However, my lovely husband could see that my interest was piqued, and that it was having a positive effect on my mental health. I knew there were appliances that could help me, but financially, we weren’t in a position to go on a spending spree! But he did buy me a stand mixer for my birthday. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen 😀 It was a Morphy Richards Stand Mixer similar to this one, in a gorgeous ruby red colour, and it was wonderful!
I could mix up a cake batter in no time, and without hurting my hands. The house that we lived in at the time had a very long kitchen which also had a small dining table in there, so rather than stand at the worktop, I set up a baking station there so I could sit down.
The actual decorating part was a bit more tricky, but I found that if I took things at my own pace, and kept it reasonably simple, I managed. There is a ‘cost’ involved of course. Even having a timetable of 3 days didn’t leave me totally unscathed. Day 1, I would bake, Day 2, fill and first coat of buttercream, Day 3, final buttercream or fondant covering, and add any decorations. Day 4, sleep or rest all day! (Sometimes Day 5 too) Part of the advice I was given was to weigh up the benefits and the consequences. And of course, plan for those consequences. The pleasure I get from completing a cake, whether it’s a family birthday, a friend’s grandchild or just a treat, also releases pain relieving endorphins, which means I often don’t feel as uncomfortable whilst I’m ‘in the moment’, but I’ve learned to factor in my ‘rest days’ afterwards, by making sure I have no other plans for at least 2 days. Hubby knows that he’ll be practically babysitting me during that time too. But, you can’t beat the satisfaction of a job well done, the happiness on the face of the recipient, and the joy of doing something you love. There’s also the feeling that you are ‘contributing’ in some way too, which is something I struggled with when I had to give up work.
So basically, you weigh up the pros and cons, and if you think the former outweighs the latter, go for it! And of course, every day is different. Anyone who suffers from chronic pain from whatever cause, knows that there are ‘bad days’. At those times, you have to be sensible and honest with yourself, which is sometimes harder than it sounds.
A few years later, and I’ve moved on from ‘Ruby’ my first mixer. She served me well, but I wanted something a little more powerful. So when the chance to buy a Kitchenaid stand mixer cropped up, along came ‘Luther’