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! 😆
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 🤞
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 ❤️
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!