Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Classes, Family, Friends, Learning, Mindfulness, Novelty Cakes, Sugar and Crumbs, Therapy

Telling it like it is…..

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.

https://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/shop.html?cat=144

Getting Started with Mindfulness

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 😊

My lovely mother in law shortly after she was allowed home from hospital 😊

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.

Keep doing whatever it is you do to keep sane!

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

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

Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve had a love filled day. Whether that’s with a loving partner, a friend or your family ❤️

My day started with a beautiful card (I nearly cried reading the verses!) flowers and chocolates 💕

I had tried unsuccessfully to find a card that said what I wanted to say, so I made one instead 😀

And then obviously I made a cake. And no sooner did I pronounce it finished, we cut into it…..it looked so yummy 😋

But I didn’t get a picture first! So I made do with an ‘after picture’. While I was cropping it on Photo Director, I found a sticker that probably sums us up…..greedy little piggies that we are……so I used it to cover up the sticky (but yummy) blob of ganache I had used to secure the cake to the board lol 😝

So, as you can see, it was a chocolate cake. It’s the most wonderful soft moist texture, and the recipe comes together really easily. It’s just two layers with ganache and sliced strawberries in between. Then a generous coating on the top and sides. I used a cake comb on the sides, and white chocolate shavings, milk chocolate curls, and halved strawberries to decorate. Simple but heavenly!

This weekend our daughter and her boyfriend who went to teach in Romania last August, are back for a few days 😍 so we are having a family get together on Sunday. I can’t wait to see them, and maybe make plans to visit them soon! I haven’t been outside the UK since my accident in 2012, but when Katie went to work in Romania last year, we renewed our passports. They plan to work abroad for at least three years, so a visit in the near future is top of my ‘to do’ list!

Well my lovelies, I shall leave you for now

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Chocolate cake recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, two – 9 inch (23 cm) cake pans*. Then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. * I used this mixture to make two – 6 inch layers, and two – 5 inch layers as I was making two smaller cakes.

Ingredients:

2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup (240 ml) warm water or coffee

1 cup (240 ml) milk

1/2 cup (120 ml) corn, vegetable, safflower or canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, water (or coffee), milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. (The batter will be quite thin.) Evenly divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about 27 – 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake just comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from their pans and cool completely on a greased wire rack before frosting.

Ganache:

400g milk chocolate

200g dark chocolate

25g Butter (optional)

250ml double cream (heavy cream)

Melt everything together over a double boiler. Leave to cool and thicken before using to fill and frost the cake. The strawberries are an optional addition, you can decorate the cake anyway you like, it’s very versatile.

Have fun!

Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Love, Valentines

Love is in the air ❤️

Hello lovelies,

It can’t have escaped your notice that it’s Valentine’s Day next week, with the shops full of all sorts of gifts. Candles, Teddy bears, Chocolates, Flowers and lots of jokey ones too. I saw men’s slippers with dusters on the bottom to clean the floor whilst walking round the room 😂

We don’t make a big thing out of it in my house after being married for 33 years, but I do always make a cake, hubby always buys me a little gift, and cards are exchanged.

Here’s a cake I made a few years ago before I changed my ‘name’

It’s a bit rough round the edges but I was just beginning my cake decorating journey back then!

Strangely, there doesn’t seem to be the usual plethora of Valentines cake tutorials flooding YouTube this year. There are some of course, but not as many as I expected.

So some of these aren’t from this year, but I hope you find them helpful

This lovely ombré effect cake is from Cupcake Jemma of Crumbs and Doilies

And this is from a YouTube channel new to me called Sweet Valley Creations, which looks quite easy to achieve

This next one by Yolanda Gampp of ‘How to Cake it‘ is inspired by conversation hearts (love hearts) and doesn’t even have to be for your other half. Because you can personalise them, you could give a Valentine treat to Mum, Dad, your best friend…anyone really 😀

Also from HTCI, is this fabulous heart shaped chocolate box ( much more advanced than my effort above) You would need chocolate moulds (See example below) but it could be made on a smaller scale and still look amazing!

And if you fancy trying something a bit different, how about these?

Sweet Otters Valentines Cake by The Lovely Baker

Love flows by Rosie’s Dessert Spot

Valentines Dog Cake by Koalipops

Happy baking, I’ll be back with my own Valentines creation soon!

Until then

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Chocolate moulds