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
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! 😂
The last month has been a bit bleurgh health wise, and before you ask, no it’s not about the dreaded Coronavirus!
No, I’ve just been trying to shake off an infection, that refused to go away! I ended up taking two courses of antibiotics over 3 weeks before I felt human again 😞 The culprit was a urinary tract infection and if you’ve ever suffered from this, you’ll know how painful and unpleasant it can be! It really knocked me off my feet for a while but after the first course of antibiotics, I did manage to make a little birthday cake for my sister in law before the darn thing came back again!
It was quite a simple little cake, lemon flavoured with Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar, but I was so pleased with the water colour effect buttercream I achieved. It was soooo pretty! I used purple, lemon and pink, but the effect can be achieved using any colours you like 😀
Here’s how you do it.
First bake your cakes and let them cool. I use PME cake strips for an even bake. You need to bake a little lower and slower, but the end result is a light, moist and fluffy sponge. I used my vanilla cake recipe, but swapped out the caster sugar for Sugar and Crumbs lemon drizzle flavour icing sugar. Anywhere you would use sugar, you can swap for a flavoured icing sugar, it’s so versatile and very yummy!
I also used it in my buttercream, lots of lemony goodness!
Stack your cakes using filling of your choice, I used buttercream and lemon curd, then use your buttercream to apply a thin coat all over the cake. This traps in any crumbs, and is called a crumbcoat (funny dat 😆) Let that firm up in the fridge for around 15 minutes, then apply a more generous coat of the buttercream, smoothing it out as best as you can using either a metal spatula or bench scraper. There’s a YouTube tutorial on how to do that here by Cupcake Jemma
Divide the remaining buttercream by however many colours you want to use for your watercolour effect. I used three, and I’ll leave the links to the colours I used below.
Then, using your spatula, swipe small amounts on to the sides of your cake at random intervals. Using a bench scraper or spatula, lightly blend the colours using the same technique you use for smoothing your buttercream (see above YouTube link)
To see a more in-depth description on how to achieve the water colour effect, click on the following link, also by Cupcake Jemma, where she shows a non baker ( Tom Daley) how to do it!
You can either smooth it all out completely, or leave it with a textured look. Both look beautiful in my opinion.
Finish off by piping some swirls on top, and adding sprinkles and a pretty border around the bottom of your cake. Et Voila!
I can’t tell you how delighted I was to be making this cake! It was for my niece, Amy and her partner Robb (who was in on the surprise) and it wasn’t a cake I expected to be making as Amy wasn’t supposed to be able to conceive! Needless to say she was absolutely gobsmacked at first, but fully embraced this miraculous chance to become a Mummy 👶
We knew the baby was a boy, and even his name, which gave me a head start on design. Then all the disposable tableware arrived and was elephant themed! So I decided to make a fault line cake with elephants, textured buttercream, and a large initial ‘Z’ for Zachary 😀
I’m delighted to say that baby Zachary James Ray arrived safe and sound on Sunday 8th March 2020 😍
Here he is with his beautiful Mummy 💕
And you know what that means? I’m a Great-Aunty! Correction, I’m going to be an Awesome Great-Aunty! 😆 Can’t wait for cuddles 😘