Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, chocolate, Family, Friends, Health, Inspiration, Learning, Novelty Cakes, Pets, Recipes, Silver Wedding, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

It’s been a while………

Hi,

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!

Charlie in happier circumstances

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.

Lemon sponge

Then I made a Sticky Toffee pudding flavour birthday cake for hubby, using the same method, and topping with chocolate pearls 😋

Semi naked Sticky Toffee pudding flavoured cake

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 😂

Before and after…..what a difference!
Side view
Top view

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.

Gluten-free chocolate overload cake

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 ❤️

My birthday cake 😋

Well, back to reality now, please keep Charlie in your thoughts tomorrow 🤞

Until next time, stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in the cakes in this post:

Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugars

Callebaut Belgian chocolate Callets

Select Ireland Platinum sugarpaste

Renshaw coloured sugarpaste

Coloursplash gel colours

Fractal Calligra edible pens

Sugarflair silver sparkle lustre dust

Doves farm gluten free self raising flour

Karen Davies plaited border mould

Rainbow dust Tylo powder

Sprinkleicious chocolate pearls

Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, chocolate, Inspiration, Learning, Love, Recipes, Sugar and Crumbs, Valentines

Valentine’s Day Ideas

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!

https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/sugarflair-edible-chocolate-paint-pink-35g.html

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

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

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 ❤️

You might find the following links useful too:

Whipping it up multimix: https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop-by-brand/whipping-it-up-by-sugar-and-crumbs.html

Cookie moulds: https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop-by-brand/karen-davies-silicone-moulds.html

Lollipop sticks: https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop.html?cat=44&type=189

Cupcake cases: https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop.html?cat=298

Cupcake, cake, macaron boxes etc: https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop.html?cat=48&p=2

Have fun, love and take care of each other, and, as always

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

My favourite products

Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Friends, Fun, Hen party, Love, My Favourite Products, Recipes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

Lockdown Hen Party Cupcakes

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!

Pretty in pink birthday cake

Freya loves chocolate cherry flavours, so to make the cupcakes, I swapped caster sugar for Sugar and Crumbs Black Forest icing sugar in my cupcake recipe, then Black Cherry icing sugar in the buttercream. I used a Sprinkleicious blend called ‘Starry Night’ for decoration and some custom edible toppers from an eBay seller to finish off ❤️

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 ❤️

40 Black Cherry macarons sandwiched together with Black Cherry buttercream

This was almost my last request of 2020, almost! There’s just one more cute cake to tell you about in my next post!

Until then

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, chocolate, Christmas, Friends, My Favourite Products, Novelty Cakes, Recipes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

🎼 Rudolph the red nosed reindeer 🎼

Ok, I know that technically Christmas is behind us already, but I couldn’t resist sharing this cutie!

A very chocolatey ‘alternative’ Christmas cake!

This yummy cake is 6” round, 3 deep layers of chocolate cake, made using my vanilla cake recipe but substituting Sugar and Crumbs chocolate milkshake flavour icing sugar for the caster sugar. I made buttercream with the same flavour icing sugar and used it to fill and crumb coat the cake.

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 had some ganache and buttercream left over so I mixed them together and piped some decorative swirls and stars with a Wilton 1M piping tip, adding Sprinklelicious Christmassy sprinkles whilst it was still soft. A liberal dusting of Sugarflair Gold Finishing Sparkle was practically obligatory……I mean it was Christmas!

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.

Et Voila!

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!

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cake decorating products, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, chocolate, Classes, Friends, Frozen, Fun, Fundraising, Health, Learning, Novelty Cakes, Recipes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

Baby it’s cold outside ❄️

It’s mid October and decidedly chilly today. There’s a biting wind making it feel even colder. Winter is definitely in the air!

Which reminded me of a cake I made recently for a lovely little girl, who is the granddaughter of one of my son’s work colleagues.

Last year I was asked to make her a unicorn birthday cake

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 a double batch of my chocolate cake recipe to make 4 layers of sponge and filled and crumb coated with chocolate buttercream.

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!

Anyway, I digress! Back to the cake!

Once the ganache had firmed up, I covered the whole cake with Select Ireland platinum strawberry flavoured sugarpaste. I coloured it with Coloursplash blue until it was a light ‘Frozen’ colour leaving some white for the decorations.

If the yummy flavour of this sugarpaste doesn’t tempt you, the elasticity in this product makes light work of covering tall cakes! I’m a serious convert!

However, as with the chocolate, the kneading in of the gel colour really hurts my hands, so I’ve also decided to swap to precoloured sugarpaste in future, at least for large batches!

Luckily, Renshaw have a very extensive range of ready made coloured sugarpaste 🌈

I used Renshaw flower and modelling paste for the stars on the wires, and the shards on top of the cake, just so they would be firmer. The wires are Culpitt white covered 18g

I made simple little balls to go around the base of the cake, which gave it a nice neat finish, and pressed silver crispy balls into the snow drift effect on top.

Lots of snowflakes covered the board and the rest of the cake. I used PME plunger cutters for this. The lettering and number are from Cake Star. I also used an 8” and a 12” Drum board for this project.

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

Debbie ❤️

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.