Knitters paradise cake – aka a ball of wool birthday cake

ball of wool cake 1 ball of wool cake for knitting 2ball of wool cake 3

When I decided to make this birthday ball of wool cake, I thought to myself “this won’t take long, just a few sausages of fondant” – I was yet to learn that there were plenty of sausages of fondant to make!

I baked two strawberry sponges using pyrex bowls and sandwiched these together with fresh strawberry buttercream. I then covered the cake with a layer of fondant in the same colour as the ‘wool’ and started making the sausages to lay vertically and horizontally, filling in the edges afterwards. Some five hours (or so) later the ball was covered.

The needles were made by covering two drinks straws in grey fondant and shaping the ends and stamped the size number into the top to resemble actual knitting needles. One dry I sprayed a little PME glaze spray over to give them a shine.

I made one last extra-long sausage of fondant to lay around the back and over the top of the cake, draping the end slightly over the message, and among the buttons to bring all of the elements together. For the buttons I used a silicon mould, greased with Trex, inserted the fondant and popped in the freezer for 20 minutes!

Birthday girl Louise was one surprised knitter! 🙂

Sally & Adam’s Wedding cakes (including a Groom’s cake)

What a complete honour to be asked to make my friends Sally & Adam’s wedding cakes! Not only that, but I was a guest at the big day too – and what a wonderful day it was 🙂

Their wedding cake was 3 tiers of belgian chocolate Sachertorte cake, covered in vanilla butter cream roses. With the wedding theme being ‘secret garden’ I also added belgian chocolate ivy leaves around the bottom. There are many Sachertorte recipes out there, but I used the Mary Berry recipe (from the Great British Bake Off) which was practised a few times before the real thing!

After a bit of deliberation, we decided on 3 flavours of cupcake; vanilla, strawberry and Malteaser. For the strawberry cupcakes I popped a spoonful of strawberry jam (from France) into the centre of each baked cake and piped strawberry butter cream over the top.

The Groom (Adam) has been working hard restoring a beautiful early 70’s bay VW Campervan which was the couple’s wedding car, it is stunning! So what better groom’s cake than a celebration of this gorgeous camper. The cake was a light fruit cake, covered in Anton Berg marzipan (which is super difficult to roll out by the way!). I did my best to model their cute little pooch ‘Lily’ to sit beside the van.

Sweet summer strawberry cupcakes

Despite a bit of a turn in the British weather recently, I was determined to banish the rainy blues and bake summery strawberry cupcakes! This is also my first go at doing domed cupcakes (fondant topped cupcakes with buttercream underneath).

I whizzed a punnet of short-dated strawberries and pushed the liquid through a sieve to remove the pips. I made up my usual cupcake batter and added approximately 1tbsp of strawberry ‘juice’. Shared between 12 silver foil PME cases, and into the over for about 20 mins.

I made up my buttercream, again, adding enough strawberry ‘juice’ to achieve a super-strawberry flavour (it naturally adds a subtle pink to the buttercream too). I cut 6 rounds of white fondant and used a stencil lightly rolled over to create an embossed effect.

Once the cakes were completely cool, I piped 6 with buttercream swirls as normal and decorated with sprinkles. I then piped 6 with just a small amount of butter cream in the centre, laying a fondant disc over the top and patting the sides down until sealed. While the cakes were cooking I also handmade a few fondant strawberries which I placed on top of the cakes – cute and ideal for any party come rain or shine.

To intensify the strawberry flavour in the sponge, you could add a strawberry jam centre 😉

1400 cupcakes for Wolfson College, Cambridge May Ball 2012

After a day’s recovery after a rather busy week I thought I’d post about my 1400 cupcake marathon! Wolfson College’s choice of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mocha, ginger, banana, red velvet, chocolate & hazelnut, Oreo cookie, lemon, orange, coffee & walnut and carrot cake cupcakes went down a storm. It was a pleasure working with the committee, and President Tamara on the order and I got to use both of my acrylic stands and mini board signs for the first time.

Despite many, many, many hours of baking, frosting and decorating I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am very grateful to the guests for all of the wonderful comments and cake compliments I received throughout the night of the ball 🙂

Sadly there wasn’t time to take many photos but I managed to quickly snap my cakes on their beautiful stands… if anybody reading this was at the ball and took photos of the stands/cakes, it would be great to see them – email me!

30th birthday cupcakes!

An excellent opportunity to try out my new cupcake stand 🙂 My wonderful friend Leila turned 30 this month and along with some other friends, they held a joint birthday party and I provided the sweet treats in form of cupcakes!

Chocolate cupcakes – chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream and chocolate curls

Strawberry cupcakes – strawberry sponge using fresh strawberries whizzed in the mixer, then popped through a sieve. Topped with strawberry buttercream and a blushing red slice on top.

Vanilla cupcakes – can’t go wrong with a good old vanilla cupcake! Vanilla sponge with vanilla frosting, topped with a cocktail cherry. It’s amazing how much more flavour a good quality vanilla extract gives compared to an essence – this means you don’t need to use as much either 😉

The band ‘The Undercovers’ were really good too.

Baby’s 1st birthday cakes

In a previous post I was trialing building block cakes for a friend’s baby’s 1st birthday. We revised the idea to three cake presents instead – one chocolate, one strawberry and one vanilla. The brief was colourful with two polka dot, one plain and some butterflies landing on the cakes. Lucky for me, I’d attended a short cupcake decorating class the Saturday before where I learned how to make a fondant bow which came in super-handy here!

I used a 7inch square cake tin and stacked two sponge layers on each cake (sandwiched with butter cream). I cut down the sponges slightly to get rid of the outside and levelled off the top of the cake. I then covered the outside in a thin layer of butter cream (jam on the strawberry cake) before covering with fondant. We’d had a lot of snow and temperatures in my Dad’s catering kitchen were to say the least, chilly, so the fondant wasn’t playing ball and hard to tease into a pliable state.

I cut four 6 x 2inch strips for the side ribbons and a 12 x 2inch strip for the bow. Once I’d folded the sides of the bow to the centre (creating two bow loops), I rolled greaseproof paper and sat this inside each loop to stand them up and allowed to dry for about an hour (I would suggest leaving these a bit longer if the room temperature is above 10 degrees!).

I cut the polka dots out using the end of an icing nozzle and stuck them to the cakes with a tiny bit of water. The butterflies were cut out and sat inside the lid of an egg box to make the wings stand outwards (anything with a fold will do). I also sat a few upside down over the egg box prongs, made a little sausage of fondant, and stuck this one the butterflies under-bellies. I then stuck cocktail sticks into the fondant sausage so that these could be pushed into the cake once hardened.

Finally I make a gift tag out of fondant and piped ‘Happy 1st Birthday Lila’ onto it, threading a piece of ribbon into a hole for effect. Take a look at the photos to see how they turned out. The family were really pleased with them “…omg the cake was sooooooooooo cute and good!!!!!!! thank you so much for doing that!”

Baby’s 1st birthday cake – trial run

Anyone who knows that I love cake making (and decorating), also knows that I have a new found fascination with watching Ace of Cakes pretty much every evening! Ace of Cakes has inspired me to try 3D cakes and really challenge myself. When a friend asked me to make a 1st birthday cake for their daughter, one night just before falling asleep I had a eureka! moment to make a cake of baby building blocks – the are really cute and a way to spell a simple message.

Pretty colours and message agreed, I decided to do a trial run in my brand new 30cm square cake tin. I made 3 layers of strawberry sponge (colouring the middle layer in pink), sandwiched with buttercream and covered with fondant. My only worry was making sure the blocks were square and of similar proportion to each other (not as easy as you would think with cake).

Here’s my trial run with just white fondant icing and decoration. You’ll have to wait until the week after next to see how the real one looks 🙂