New York cake

I mentioned my friends Katharine & Lewis recently in a post about their wedding cake, and as if their marriage wasn’t enough of a momentous occasion for them, they took the brave and exciting step to move to New York 6 months later!! This amazing opportunity resulted from an offer from Lewis’ company when they asked if he would help in the branch of the company based in the heart of New York City. After months of planning and arranging documentation they moved out at the end of March for this exciting adventure, not knowing exactly how long they would be gone for! A few weeks before they left the UK I made sure we managed to get all of our friend group together to see them off in a small surprise leaving party. I volunteered Paula’s house for this as she has the biggest kitchen, and she prepared two delicious chillies (one vegetarian and one meaty) while the others contributed red, white and blue decorations, and we all printed photos of us all to put in an album for Katharine and Lewis to take to NY with them. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bake a NYC themed cake! This was the same weekend as I was baking part of a wedding cake for Hannah & Bill which had been somewhat traumatic for me!! (Details to follow, I think it will make an amusing anecdote now I can look back & laugh!!) I think if I hadn’t have been so pleased with the NYC cake I might have given up baking for a while!! But I decided to attempt to colour the sponges so that when the cake was cut we would see layers of red, white and blue but was very unsure about how much colour paste to add, and was a little nervous about trying this out… I knew the colours faded during cooking, so tried to ensure the cake mix had a strong colour before baking – here you can see how they looked as I put them in the oven.

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The coloured sponges before cooking

After baking these two tiers and a normal layer of un-coloured sponge, I leveled all the tiers to make them stack better as it was going to be taller than normal with three sponge layers, but this also allowed me to see how the colour was, and I was really pleased. I didn’t have as much time as I hoped on the morning before the party to make as many decorations as I had hoped, but decided to make a New York skyline around the sides on the cake, with a Statue of Liberty at the front. Obviously I had to make a simplistic version of the statue, but lots of people commented on how much they liked it, which was lovely : ) I used red lettering on the top to write a ‘Good Luck’ message, and added an American flag and a red apple to represent ‘The Big Apple’, as well as a slice of pizza and a Macy’s shopping bag. Although I had grand ideas to make street signs and yellow taxis, I didn’t have time for it all and was pleased with the bits I did get on the cake.

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The NYC cake

After picking Katharine and Lewis up and getting on the M20, they soon guessed we were on our way to Paula’s and they were delighted that everyone was there to wish them well. After indulging in all the food Paula prepared, I watched excitedly as Katharine cut the cake, waiting for her and Lewis to see the colours inside!

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The surprise once cut!

Katharine and Lewis are now settling into their new apartment in NY after moving out from the work flat this weekend, and I am so excited that I shall be visiting them in a week to celebrate my 30th birthday!!!

Easter Cakes

In previous posts in December and January I mentioned the work competitions which sparked my cake-making craze, and that the first competition I baked for – and in fact the first occasion at all that I baked a cake! – was an Easter one. Now unfortunately this year I did not prepare a cake for the competition (the first work competition I have not been involved in!), but I wanted to show you my previous Easter cakes from the last three years. So it was during Easter of 2011 that I heard about the baking competition at work, and thought it sounded like fun, even though I had no baking experience.. As I had never made a cake before and no idea about the baking side of it, I didn’t dwell on this too much as I knew my friend would teach me, so I let my thoughts turn to the decoration which seemed like the most fun part to me, and I had a clear idea in my head of what I hoped to achieve as far as the decoration went. At this point I didn’t even consider using rolled fondant icing to cover a cake, and so I mixed up icing sugar with water and green food colouring, and used this to cover the cake very roughly, to represent grass. I then made a little vegetable patch with chocolate flavoured fondant icing, with tiny cabbages and carrots, and two cheeky rabbits stealing the carrots! I tried to incorporate other things which reminded me of Easter and spring, and made two little ducks, and some daffodils. I had so much fun making the decorations for this cake, and was eager to taste how my first baked had turned out. The following day at work I was so surprised to hear my cake had won the ‘best decorated’ category! And I was equally as pleased when I got to taste the cake, and was impressed with how it tasted too – I had been taught well! ;)

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My first cake

The following Easter, I had to think of a new idea… At this point I had a real soft spot for bunting, and was keen to use this in a cute Easter scene. I then had the idea of an Easter Egg Hunt & created a little scene based around this, with bunting hanging from trees & a sign pointing to the hunt. As I love cute cartoon-like animals on cakes, I again made a rabbit and an Easter chick, and a basket full of eggs, with other eggs hidden around the scene.

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My second Easter cake

Last Easter I tried to do something very different from my previous two cakes, and made an Easter bonnet! I baked a smaller cake than usual which formed the main part of the hat, and just used a strip of icing to create the brim of the bonnet. I tried to use colours that I associated with spring, and made a pink ribbon and bow to wrap around the hat, with stitch marks along the long edges of the ribbon. I added spring flowers and butterflies, and two rabbits heading under the brim of the bonnet. So far this is the only entry I have made for the work competitions which has not won ‘best decorated’!

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An Easter Bonnet