Decorating Darryl and Sarah’s Wedding Cake

Back in June last year, I had an email out the blue from a friend & old work colleague asking if he could call me that evening to ask a favour… After eagerly waiting for the rest of the day, Darryl called me late that evening to ask if I would decorate his wedding cake! I was very surprised (as well as delighted!) as Darryl & his fiancée Sarah had only seen pictures of some of my cakes, & never seen any in the flesh! But I was so excited they had asked me, despite being a little nervous to be trusted with such a big task!! Darryl & Sarah reassured me however that they didn’t want anything too elaborate, & had a relaxed countryside theme in mind, with bunting & polka dots and other cute ideas which sounded within my capabilities. They didn’t want a bride and groom on the top of the cake, and said it was going to follow a much more relaxed theme than most traditional wedding cakes. So after a brief discussion on the phone that evening, we spoke several other times over the following months finalising the details and settling on a design they liked. I started to get a bit worried as their ideas got a bit bigger and harder, and included a bride and groom to top the cake!! But Darryl and Sarah were very good and didn’t place any pressure on me, and assured me whatever I could achieve would be great, even if it wasn’t at a professional standard. Luckily, I was able to get a little lesson in making the bride and groom, as they wanted them to resemble themselves, and this seemed a task I couldn’t handle without some help! So I had a lesson one evening in how to handle modelling paste (I hadn’t even heard of this before!), and made pages of notes of tips including how to create fingers & toes, and finished this session feeling more confident in creating the models. I aimed to make the cake toppers with hair colour to match theirs, with Darryl in a navy suit and his characteristic rosy cheeks! Sarah had requested her model be sitting down, wearing a white dress of particular material – something else I had to Google as I had never heard of broderie anglaise! She also asked for her hair to be in two plaits, and be barefoot with red toenails which I thought sounded really cute, but knew would require some skill to achieve! I allowed myself most of a whole Sunday to make Darryl, but had to wait for the cakes to be delivered the following week before I could make Sarah as I needed to make her and sit her in position on the cake to dry. Although they were by no means perfect, I was really pleased with what I achieved on my first attempt to model people Smiling face with smiling eyes

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The Bride and Groom topper

I spent the rest of my evenings after work that week making all the fondant decorations and building up the decoration on each of the four tiers of the cake. I wanted to deliver the cake to the venue on the Friday night, so took the day off work to ensure I was finished on time. Afterwards I was amazed when I calculated that I had spent about 35 hours working on it!! But this was my first big project – with a four tiered cake, and a separate gluten-free cake – with lots of small details and time-consuming elements. I think the part that felt like it took the longest was hand cutting & gluing on all the individual blades of grass! As the bottom tier was so large this took quite a while, but after adding a few little flowers to the grass, and piping along the tops of all the bunting, the bottom tier was complete and I felt I’d hit a milestone in the process!

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The bottom tier of fruit cake

When doing the bunting on the second tier I embossed a few of the pieces to help make it a bit more interesting as this smaller tier didn’t have any other decoration on it, and even used some pearlescent spray on a few of them to add a pretty shimmer.  I thought the swirly floral pattern really suited the cake and added some subtle detail.

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Bunting with some embossing and pearlescent spray

The third tier was just a stack of assorted buttons which I made using a mould and the various colours Darryl and Sarah had selected for the cake. However even this tested me, as it took some trial and error to get the consistency of the fondant right so that the buttons would hold their shape but still come out of the mould with ease!

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Tier three with buttons

So here is how all the pieces looked in my kitchen before I took them to the venue to assemble…

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The completed tiers ready to go to the venue to be stacked

And this is how it looked once assembled! Smiling face with open mouth

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The completed cake stacked at the venue

Although the individual cake had a sea-side theme which was different to the main tiered cake, I used the same colours to tie them in together, with beach huts standing on the top of the cake, with a bucket and spade alongside – complete with ‘sand’ inside the bucket! (All edible of course!)

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The seaside themed gluten-free cake with beach huts, bucket and spade

Once all the cake was finished and stacked on the table in the venue I felt really proud of it, and it matched perfectly with the decoration in the hall which Darryl and Sarah had worked so hard on, making decorations & favours to dress the room & the tables!

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The Wedding Reception Venue

Darryl and Sarah also sent me a few pictures from their professional photographer, and I wanted to finish this post with this one of the lovely couple cutting their cake at the end of a wonderful day.

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Darryl and Sarah cutting their cake

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a great start to 2014 so far :)

I spent New Years Eve at a friend’s house for a small party, and after using my new cake pop machine for the first time, arrived with about 20 cake pops in my arms!! As this was a little bit of a trial run I wanted to keep things simple, so made vanilla sponge cakes & covered them with red Candy Melts and some very simple decoration. Making the cakes was easy enough – I used a recipe specifically for use in a cake pop machine, and was very impressed when after just 4 minutes of cooking time, I was able to easily remove 12 little round cakes from the machine…! The trouble came with the icing!! The instructions simply said to melt the Candy Melts, and then to dip the cake pops in, and remove the excess icing.. Unfortunately the icing was far too thick, and it took me quite a while to get the right consistency. The picture below shows my test runs – beginning on the right hand side – and it can be seen how the icing got progressively smoother & tidier on the pop as I got closer & closer to the right consistency. It was lucky I made so many extra pops!!

Practice runs covering cake pops

Practice runs covering cake pops

By the time I managed to get this right, I didn’t have a lot of time for decoration unfortunately. So for most of the cake pops, I just sprinkled them with coloured sugar sprinkles, and I kept a few pops back to ice ‘Happy New Year’ on to. Yet this wasn’t without problem either! I melted some different Candy Melts, which were white with coloured flecks in, and used this to fill my piping bag and set about pipping letters on top of the pops… Unfortunately the icing was too thick & after just a few letters my tip clogged & I had to give up! As a quick back up, I managed to use a white icing pen & just write ‘New Year 2014′ which did the job but it didn’t look as impressive as I had hoped.  Luckily I was given a wonderful stand as a Christmas present, so when I turned up to the party it looked quite a good display!

Vanilla Cake Pops

Vanilla Cake Pops

 

Toadstool house cake

Now that I have mentioned the work competitions, I thought it would be a good time to say a bit more about this.  It was actually these charity events that started my craze with cake making!!  I had never made a cake before, but when I heard about the Easter cake competition just a few months after I started working there, I knew I had a friend who made lovely sponge cakes for her family, and I asked her to tell me how to make one.  My friend Anne loved baking but wasn’t a big fan of modelling little decorations, so I told her my ideas and she instructed me on the basics of handling sugar paste, and away I went!  So in 2011 I baked my first sponge cake, and spent an evening making little fondant decorations to decorate it.  As this was an Easter cake I shall save my pictures to post next Easter, but I will tell you now that I was amazed to hear that this cake won the competition for the best decorated, and was delighted! And I think I have entered every competition at work since!  So I will share a picture with you now of another entry which was not an Easter themed cake…  During the summer this year the Social Committee held the first cake competition which didn’t have a theme… I found it really hard to know what to do with a completely free reign!! Eventually I decided to make a toadstool house, just because I thought it would look quite fun and I could use use bright and bold colours in the decoration.  I also practiced carving cake a little bit, to form the domed top of the toadstool.

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Toadstool house cake

I was really pleased with how it turned out, and thought the smaller details in the windows and flowers really completed the cake.  Coincidentally, I think it was during the following week that I saw Kimberley make a similar cake on The Great British Bake off this year!  The cake competitions at work tend to be great ways of raising money for our nominated charities, and this year all our proceeds have been raised in aid of MNDA – the Motor Neurone Disease association.

 

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Toadstool house in flowered garden

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have all enjoyed the festivities so far! Sorry my post is a little late, but there’s been so much going on! Obviously I couldn’t blog about anything other than Christmas cakes at this time of year! So…! I have a few Christmas cakes to share with you…

First up, I have a cake I made for a competition at work. Usually twice a year, the Social Committee for my site arrange baking competitions, and this Christmas the competition was just for a Christmas themed cake with prizes for the best tasting and the best decorated cakes. I wasn’t sure I had enough time, but succumbed to peer pressure from my colleagues and stayed up late on the two nights before the competition to work on a cake! For all the work competitions I have entered so far (I will post pictures on all of these at later dates!), I have always baked a standard Victoria Sponge and tried to come up with cute and interesting ways to decorate it. I thought that for a change this year, I would bake a chocolate cake. This was mostly so that I could cover it in brown chocolate icing which was better for the decoration I had in mind, but also so that I could try a different sponge recipe, and also try a rich chocolate ganache filling. I wanted to make a nativity scene to top the cake and after two nights of modelling figurines, I was able to assemble a brown stable with a star on the top, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, as well as a donkey and a sheep, all out of fondant!

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Christmas Nativity Cake

I must say that the donkey was my favourite part of the cake, and most people who saw the cake or saw the photos said that the animals were their favourite parts :)

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The cute donkey

I was also relieved that the stable withstood the journey to work which involves several speed bumps!! It has given me strong faith in edible glue!!

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Christmas Nativity Scene

Despite the busy baking month I have had, I couldn’t resist making a few Christmas cupcakes to take to my boyfriends family on Boxing Day!

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Christmas Cupcakes

I was very pleased with the lovely cupcake cases and accessories I used for these, which were just from the pound shop! I even bought a few of these lovely boxes to give some cupcakes away in.

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The wonderful Pound Store accessories!

I baked simple vanilla cupcakes, and topped them with a delicious white chocolate and cream frosting, which I thought was perfect for the Christmas theme. And despite not knowing I was bringing cupcakes, one of my presents from James’ family was a brilliant cupcake stand, which I immediately assembled and put to use!!

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In my new cupcake stand

I would also like to include some Christmas cakes from previous years in this post. For the Christmas cake competition in 2012, I wanted to make a festive fireplace scene, which involved carving up a square cake and stacking it, and without any sort of support (I considered adding dowling rods to help keep the cake pieces stacked but wanted to avoid this) it was a little wobbly! Once the cake was complete, I thought the uneven lines of the brickwork gave it a bit more character and again, it was still standing after the journey to work and was another winner in the competition for the best decorated cake ; ) After spending much longer then expected adding a brickwork pattern to the fondant icing covering the cake, I added a few festive elements, including some holly on top of the mantle piece, and a red stocking hanging from it. Finally next to the fireplace I laid a littler letter to Santa!

Christmas fireplace cake

Christmas fireplace cake

In 2011 I made my first Christmas bake for a work competition. With a recipe and guidelines from a friend, I made my first Swiss roll, and decorated it like a large Christmas cracker! I made a Father Christmas and several penguins, including two on top of the cake having a snow ball fight! Again, the animals on this cake were the most popular part, and I even had an email from a colleague asking how I made the penguins a she loved them so much and she wanted to make some for a cake she was doing the following weekend!

Christmas cracker cake

Christmas cracker cake

And now as a final note I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to thank everyone who has been following my blog the past 6 months or so and showing an interest – so THANK YOU!

Happy Halloween!

Now for a little break from birthday cakes, this next post is a more timely one for a Halloween cake!
Last night my friend Helen threw a Halloween party, & I was volunteered to make a themed cake for it!! I was really pleased I got the opportunity to do this, as Helen’s invite asked for guests to bring a savoury food dish for the buffet, which disappointed me!! However, Helen had decided to ask just a few people to bring a sweet dish, and a friend suggested I could do a cake! So, as soon as I was asked I excitedly started gathering ideas & planning what to do!
I chose a bright orange fondant to use as the base colour, which I thought was great for Halloween and really bold & eye-catching. I cut a few spooky shapes out of black modelling paste, & placed them around the edge of the cake to look like silhouettes against the orange back ground. I sketched my ideas on paper first, & then used a sharp knife to cut them out of the paste, which took much longer than I expected. The shapes included a creepy old house, pumpkins with scary faces, a witch’s cat and a headstone.
I had an idea for the top focal point of the cake, which also allowed me to test out freezing and defrosting my sponge cakes… Early in October, I made a cake for work to help raise funds for our charity of the year (blog post on this to follow!!) and I didn’t use all the sponges I had baked. So, I thought I could do a bit of a trial and freeze one, in order to assess how this affected the quality of the sponge. I thawed it a little yesterday afternoon, & then cut it and carved it into the shape I required… As it was still cold from the freezer, it made it easier to carve as it was less crumbly, and I was able to make a sphere shape, which I covered and decorated as a witch’s cauldron. To add a little humour, a made two witches legs to stick out of the bubbling cauldron, and left her hat & broom beside it! It was great to hear everyone’s surprise that the cauldron was cake too when I cut it up at the party, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the texture, lightness & moistness of the cake can not been spoiled by the freezing.
I wanted to get some atmospheric & creepy pictures to post here, so asked my friend Rich to help out as he’s a good photographer. He turned out to be a great help – even kneeling on the floor shining a torch at different angles to create the right lighting! And I’m really pleased with the pictures we got :-)

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Halloween cake

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The witch after toppling into her bubbling cauldron!

 

 

I also, coincidentally, came across a picture of some cupcakes I made for Helen’s last Halloween party so thought I could include this in the post! As you can see, I had fun decorating many cupcakes as pumpkins, vampires, spider webs and mummies!

Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween Cupcakes

Minnie Mouse & Hollywood Cakes

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Another happy customer!

 

My next door neighbours Jamie & Hilary both have their birthdays in August, and I was asked to make cakes for both of them! At the beginning of the month, Jamie contacted me and asked for a sponge cake for Hilary’s birthday, and suggested Disney as a theme as she was a big fan. Knowing that Hilary likes mini mouse in particular, I realised I had two small cake tins which would be a great size for ears, with an 8″ sponge cake as Minnie’s head,  and I made the cake based around this idea…!  Using all three tins was going to make a lot of cake, but I knew Hilary was having a party to celebrate her birthday, was felt happy it would all get eaten in time! Luckily I picked up more tips from a YouTube video to help me to make a fondant bow, and I spent hours cutting out all the facial details to try & make a Mini Mouse cake which looked just like the Disney character! I was really pleased with how it looked, and Hills was delighted when she saw it!

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Minnie Mouse Cake

This year was Jamie’s 30th birthday, and he threw a party with a glamorous, black & silver Hollywood theme. He asked for a cake to fit the black & silver theme, but the most important aspect of it was that it was square so it was easier to cut up for the party guests! So Jamie ordered a new tin for me to borrow for this cake, and I calculated how much mix I needed to make for this tin – & it was double my normal quantities! I just about managed to make it without it overflowing my largest mixing bowl! Knowing how much I preferred using my normal white icing to cover cakes, I asked Jamie if it was OK as a white cake with black & silver accessories, & designed a few ideas around this… As part of the Hollywood theme, I made a film strip to wrap around the cake, & trail off on one side, and made a film reel to sit on the top of the cake.  I bought a silver spray which worked brilliantly to give the film reel a great silver colour, & also used it to spray white & grey stars to give them some extra colour & sparkle! I also bought edible silver beads to make a ’30′ from, and made a clapper board on which I piped ‘Jamie’s birthday’. The cake went down really well & I was pleased to hear people telling me they had taken 2nd & 3rd pieces because they enjoyed it so much!!  ; )

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Jamie’s 30th Birthday Cake

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Hollywood themed cake

Birthday Cakes!

Well it’s been a while since I posted on here and I have SEVERAL birthday cakes to share with you, so I’m going to start with the oldest one & work my way through..!

So first up, I have a cute little cake I made for a 4th birthday… The brief was something pink & girly, & not too elaborate as there was a budget to be adhered to!  This cake was my standard vanilla Victoria sponge, with a jam and buttercream filling, and I covered the whole cake with bold fushcia pink icing!  The decoration was kept quite simple, but I made sure to include the birthday girl’s name – Chloe – with lots of ’4′s, hearts and flowers which Chloe likes, and I added some sparkle using a some edible dusting powder.

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Chloe’s Pink Birthday Cake

The next birthday cake is a slightly more unusual one..! My friend Paula was holding a Science Party for her daughter Elizabeth’s 10th birthday, and they asked me if I could do a themed cake.  I knew the goodie bags were going to be wrapped in biohazard tape, and I thought the black & yellow biohazard symbol would make a striking focal point for a cake! So after replicating the large biohazard triangle out of fondant icing for the top of the cake, I made some ‘tape’ to wrap around the side of the cake, again with the bold black and yellow colour scheme.  I added a little bit of ‘gore’ to the cake by adding a knife cutting into it, and using small bits of red icing to look like blood trickling out of the wound! I also sat some molecules on the top to add to the Science theme, which were balls of various colours of icing, held together with pieces of uncooked spaghetti.  Elizabeth was really pleased with the cake, and had a great time doing exciting science experiments at her party! And I was pleased to get a party bag from her, which contained Toxic Waste & eyeballs in test tubes amongst other things which looked too disgusting to eat!!

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Elizabeth’s Science Party Cake

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Biohazard symbol on top of the cake

A few months ago I had a request from a family friend called Claire for a fruit cake, which I had never made before. She was celebrating her 50th birthday & just requested a fruit cake, & left all the decorating up to me.  I asked around for some recommended recipes, & decided to go with the recipe which had the clearest, step-by-step instructions as fruit cake was very new to me! So, I began about a month before Claire’s birthday, and spent hours following the detailed & somewhat complicated instructions! I ‘fed’ the cooked cake brandy over a week, and then left it to mature for 3 weeks.  Then a couple of days before her party I set to covering it in marzipan and rolled fondant icing.  As it was a fruit cake & I thought it would be better without a mass of icing decoration, I decided to simply make a present bow & some curled ribbons in subtle colours, & also used cutters to add lots of ’50′s randomly over the cake too.  Luckily I had done a little research & found a good video on YouTube which showed me how to make the bow, & highlighted the need to make these decorations the day before so they can dry overnight before being stuck on to the cake!  Claire was delighted with her cake, and I was also really pleased with my first attempt at a fruit cake.

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50th Birthday cake with bow and ribbons

Victoria Sponge Blog Bow and ribbon cake

My First fruit cake!

Sue’s 60th Birthday

I am very excited to share with you a picture I was sent of the happy recipient of my latest cake!! My dear friend Hollie asked me to make a cake for a surprise birthday party she was arranging for her mum’s 60th, and I was delighted when Hollie sent me this picture of her mum Sue with the cake.

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Sue at her surprise party!

Hollie & her sister Charlotte asked for a cake to match the colour theme of the party, & asked me to incorporate some stripes, polka dots & a big present bow into the design. This cake was a two tier vanilla sponge with jam & buttercream filling, & lots of fondant icing decoration! I was delighted with how this cake looked, but definitely learnt some valuable lessons while making it! I think the most important thing I must remember in future is to add the stripes to the cake once it’s in it’s final position, as moving it after this can distort the lines a little. However, despite the little troubles i had decorating it, Sue was pleased with the cake, & her friends and family had a great day celebrating!!

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Two tier birthday cake

Happy Birthday James!

This time last week was my boyfriend James’ birthday, and although he asked me to bake two cakes for him to take into work during the week, I also wanted to bake a surprise cake for him to have with friends and family the day he celebrated his birthday. So, as part of his celebrations involves a big five-a-side football tournament, I wanted to make a football themed cake! I decided to bake two normal victoria sponges – one of which I covered with green fondant icing as a base on which to sit the second sponge which I carved and covered to look like a football boot!

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James’ Football Cake

 

Thankfully James didn’t want anything as time-consuming as that to take into work! After asking his colleagues what they wanted, James asked me to make a victoria sponge with a fresh fruit and fresh cream filling, which is one of my most popular cakes! This time I used strawberry jam with fresh juicy strawberries and blueberries, but raspberries are also great in this cake. I have even made this cake with pineapple at a friend’s request, and am sure it works great with many other variations. The second cake James requested for work was a chocolate orange sponge cake, and for this I used a recipe from a friend of mine who is a great cake maker – Tom. So thank you Tom! :-) Although I didn’t take a picture of these cakes, I made another fresh fruit and cream cake on Wednesday, so made sure to photograph that to share with you.

Strawberries and Fresh Cream Sponge Cake

Blueberries were also hidden inside this cake!

Strawberries and Fresh Cream Sponge Cake

Strawberries and Fresh Cream Sponge Cake

 

Joseph’s Christening

Well this past week has been a very busy baking week for me!! But before showing you any of the Birthday cakes I have done this week and since my last post, I’d like to share with you a cake I made for the Christening of a special little boy today! My good friends Lowri and Neil had their son Joseph Christened today, and I was honoured that they asked me to make a cake to help celebrate. They wanted a two-tier vanilla sponge cake to feed all the family and friends they had invited, and had a clear idea of colours, wording and items that they wanted to see on the cake. It was the first time I had stacked a second tier, and it was also my first attempt at piping any wording onto a cake. I was pleased with what I achieved, and got lots of positive feedback from the guests so would like to thank everyone for being so supportive and encouraging :-) And thank you to Lowri and Neil for an enjoyable day – it was lovely to share Joseph’s day and it brought back loads of great memories of your wedding day in that church!

Christening Cake

Joseph’s Christening Cake