While I was really excited when one of my friends from work asked me to make her daughter’s birthday cake, it’s safe to say I was also slightly apprehensive since I haven’t really made anything that requires any major decorative finesse in a while. And since it was also for her 18th birthday, I felt I really did need to pull out the stops.
In the last Sunday before my Tough Mudder, I admit defeat by breaking my no sugar streak in utter style. This, of course, could only be done by choosing something that is basically full of the stuff. To be honest, I think this is probably quite a good representation of my training levels in general; I started out with good intentions but, in the end, I’m not actually sure how much further along the fitness lines I really am! But think of it this way, this is at least the penultimate time you’ll have to hear about it; there is always a silver lining!
So now Christmas is almost officially upon us, I thought I had better go out of my Christmas themes posts with a bang. This, of course, leads to something that involves far too much thought, concentration, effort etc. in the week before Christmas. It is safe to say that my brain is already completely with anything festive, so I will apologise in advance for any Christmas dong related ‘puns’ that slip in. Fortunately for you I have already dodged the Leona Lewis ‘One More Sleep’ reference and I am not feeling creative or humorous enough to come up with many more. So you are relatively safe. But, you know, ‘All I want for Christmas’ is a chocolate orange gingerbread mountain (yes that’s the best I’ve got). Continue reading “Chocolate Orange Gingerbread Christmas Mountain”
Although I hate to tell you this, I have to admit that I lied slightly in my post for Mince Pie Swirls: I may have had all my blog posts planned, but not all of them were Christmas themed as I promised. However, I’m sure you’ll forgive me and be able to take this as some sort of respite from the festive season, especially if you have the same Grinch-like tendencies as I do.
Since a few of my previous posts have not gone exactly to plan, I decided to go for something a lot more simple this week. I think my parents were thankful for something a bit more familiar; although they have enjoyed some of my bakes, they are sticklers for a more traditional Victoria sponge and haven’t exactly relished in the amount of cardamom etc. flying around. So I’m hoping orange and blueberry is a safer bet. Continue reading “Orange and Blueberry Madeira Cake”
I never normally need an excuse for making cake, but when your best friend decides she’s moving half way across the world for at least a year I think I’ll take one this time! I’m not normally softie, nor do I normally post things like this on any kind of social media but I have to admit I will really miss her! Charlie is moving to Japan to teach English in Sasebo and I know she will have an amazing time. I’ve known her since we were 1 and we have been best friends pretty much ever since. She is so incredibly special to me and has always been there for me, so obviously I am so proud of her (and maybe just a little bit jealous)! But since I have just finished my face for her make up and pyjama party and don’t want to ruin it before I get there so I’ll move swiftly on! Instead I will take solace in the fact that, as inspired by her saving £2 coins for her whole time at Uni to buy a pair of Louboutins for graduation, I have started collecting mine to pay for some flights to visit next easter (the £26 I have so far will make a little scratch if nothing else!).
My thing when it comes to any kind of birthday is, unsurprisingly, making the cake. I always make an extra effort with Charlie and Lauren (the standard three musketeer style thing), so this time I decided to push myself. I was even scared of the icing! However, being modest as always, it actually turned out really well! I didn’t embark on anything really out there in terms of flavours: everything was pretty much vanilla apart from the raspberry jam I whacked in the middle layer. So this time I won’t bore you with any recipes as they were all pretty standard. Any basic Victoria sponge recipe will do and I bought the jam from the supermarket so I can’t give you any wizened knowledge there (not that I have any to begin with!). In the past I have always used the buttercream I’ve talked about in some of my previous blog posts including the turkish delight cupcakes (or anything similar), but have always found it never goes on that evenly when you are trying to create a smooth finish. I took my inspiration for the cake from The Bake Co’s Instagram page as I absolutely love the simplicity of their designs, so a flawless finish was pretty important. I chose Martha Stewart’s Recipe for Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it turned out really nicely. The texture was a lot lighter and more delicate, but still stiff enough to hold it’s shape if you get it right. I used this on the inside of the layers (of which I did 3 in a 20cm cake tin) and to both crumb coat the cake and finish it with a final layer. I only used one lot of the recipe and it managed to do all of this, fill the macarons and add a little extra decoration on the top, so it goes a long way too!
For the decorations I picked up some cafe curls, some white chocolate lindors and some flowers to arrange on the top with the vanilla macarons which I made in three different sizes for some variation. I also bought some sprayed roses and some gypsophila to use since cherry blossoms unfortunately weren’t an option.
I also made my own chocolate bark merely by melting some white chocolate, swirling through some pink food colouring and chucking on some edible pearl decorations. However, if you do the same I would recommend that colour some of the chocolate with the food colouring and swirl that through and that it is really firmly set before you break it into chunks. I’m taking the standard British approach and blaming the rare occasion of warm weather for it being slightly soft! I then built all these up around one edge of the cake, piped on some pink icing and chucked on a couple more pearls before deciding that I should call it quits before I ruined it!
And there you have it! The cake did cause me slightly less trauma than I expected so that was one thing that I was certainly happy about, but it went down really well! Charlie and the girls all seemed to absolutely love it and although it does look a bit like a wedding cake, I think it has a good balance of intricacy and simplicity. They could tell that I had put a lot of effort in, even though it was subtle. So, in my true nature, I am taking it as a compliment and rolling with it.
Luckily for me I managed to pinch a slice to take away before I left. The cake was really nice and moist and although the icing was quite sweet it was incredibly soft and delicate, so I would strongly recommend using it if you were ever trying to create a similar effect. I am still waiting to hear back from Charlie herself on if she likes it, but in fairness to her there was a lot of amazing food so even I wasn’t rushing to cut into it! On the plus side I did manage to get the cutest picture of her with the cake in her fabulous koala bear onesie, so I’ll post that instead to embarrass her as another ‘good luck’ from me!