Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Kitchen Gadget Review: The Nutribullet 600 Series

Nutribullet review

Everyman and his wife seems to have a Nutribullet nowadays. My dad bought us one last October and I have to say that Tim and I are a little bit addicted to it (and those smoothies!) Every morning Tim’s up at the crack of dawn and whizzes up a green smoothie and leaves one in the fridge for me when I get back from my run. I don’t know how the girls don’t wake up with all that blending going on beneath them but they never do!

The Nutribullet: What’s the fuss all about?

Well, in truth the Nutribullet is just another blender but what makes it so much better than all the rest (and I’ve had a Kitchenaid blender!) is that it makes whatever you put in it really smooth. It’s simple to use and can be cleaned in less than a minute. Instant winner in our eyes. The price is also a real bargain. At around £99 it is a serious competition for all the big, expensive names out there.

It’s the simplicity of it that makes it so wantable. The Nutribullet is pretty small- so sits nicely on your kitchen worktop without taking up much space It’s quick and easy to use and therefore simple to add a daily, healthy smoothie to your diet without really impacting on your time; you can literally wash and slice up some fruit, add some water, blend, pour, drink and wash up in under 10 minutes and we can all find 10 minutes in our day to be healthier and that is why I think it’s been so popular.

What’s in the box?

We’ve got the Nutribullet 600 Series but there are other newer Nutribullet models out on the market. Ours has a 600w motor which is very powerful.

  • The power base. This is the base part which sits on your worktop. It’s easy to clean and heavy enough to sit still while your blending. The small size means that you can tuck it into a corner out of sight if you want to.
  • 1 x extraction blade (that’s the smoothie maker bit to me and you!) It’s made from high quality stainless steel that never needs sharpening. It’s pretty easy to clean and can be put in the dishwasher but it takes seconds to wash by hand so get yourself one of those bristle pan cleaners.
  • 1 x milling blade– super grinder. Also made from always sharp stainless steel, You can use this blade to grind up nuts, oats, grains or fresh herbs and even coffee beans.
  • 1 x tall cup. This is the one we use most mornings and it makes plenty for us to share. There is a ‘Max’ line on the side and this is the max for both fruit and/or veg and liquids.
  • 2 x short cups.These are really handy as you can take a smoothie to work or store some for later. I also use these when making the Naked bars – as seen in the recipe below. When storing smoothies for later on in the day remember that all that goodness found in preparing fresh drinks begins to deteriorate after 45 minutes so wherever possible try and drink your smoothie straight away. My thinking is that if I leave it a few hours at least I’m drinking fruit and not Dr Pepper!
  • 1 handled lip ring. Great for when you take your smoothie on the go. Ours hasn’t left the cupboard!
  • 1 regular lip ring. Again- hasn’t left the cupboard! I prefer to drink from glass.
  • 2 stay fresh resealable lids. Invaluable if you want to prepare ahead or store in the fridge. Or if you want to travel with one.
  • 1 x user manual Now when it comes to manuals and guide books I tend to give them a quick once over but this one is probably the best I have ever seen. It’s literally jam packed with information, loads of great recipes and facts and ideas. Tim and I both read it cover to cover as soon as the Nutribullet landed in our kitchen. It explains exactly how to build on basics of a healthy diet. How to make a nutritionally balanced smoothie. There’s even a “program’ (aka a diet) to follow. The recipe ideas include ‘protein powerhouse, the immune booster, toxin cleansing blast and vita berry blast.’ There’s even room at the back for notes and planner so you can record what you ate and when.
  • 1 x Pocket nutritionist. This is another great read especially if you don’t know what the benefits are to each fruit and vegetable. I thought I knew but I learnt a lot reading this. There’s also a guide on how to select the best produce.

5 Great facts about the Nutribullet

  1. You can crush ice in it.
  2. You can turn granulated sugar into caster or even icing sugar with the milling blade
  3. It makes great soups and sauces.
  4. You can blend vegetables and hide them in the kids foods without them noticing.
  5. You can use frozen fruits to make summer shakes all year long.

My favorite smoothie / milkshake recipe

(aka getting your kids to eat their greens)

Although I enjoy the traditional green smoothies, the milkshakes I make with the Nutribullet are a bit more kid friendly. To start with they don’t look too brown or green which in my house is a no-no to getting the kids interested in drinking them. But they just taste like milkshake so no-one really knows that they’re getting 3 of their 5 a day in one delicious hit.

Nutribullet: smoothieIngredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • ½ – 1 mango – make sure it’s ripe
  • 1 banana – the ones with brown spots are sweeter and blend the best
  • Almond milk up to the ‘max’ line. You could also mix this with water.
  1. Place all the ingredients in the Nutribullet starting with the spinach then screw on the lid tightly. Blend for 20-30 seconds until all the spinach is well incorporated and you can’t see any green specs.
  2. Pour into a tall glass add a straw and enjoy!

Naked bars

These are so easy to make and I totally love them. I’m sure they’re super fattening with all the nuts and seeds but they do contain the healthy oils so I’m not counting them! They’re great cut into little bars or small squares so you can pop  them into your mouth when you’re feeling peckish. As they’re so sweet they give you that 4pm sugar hit we all crave without the guilt!

Anything goes with these bars. As long as you stick to a 50/50 ratio. 50% soft dried fruit that will hold together the other 50% of dry nuts and seeds. Just weight them to check.

Nutribullet: naked barsIngredients

  • 45g (⅓ cup) almonds
  • 40g (¼ cup) mixed seeds – I use flax, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin
  • 60g (½ cup) pecans
  • 75g (½ cup) dried or fresh dates
  • 100g((½ cup) dried apricots
  1. Start by milling all the nuts and seeds together using the milling blade and one of the small cups. You may need to stop every 10 seconds to shake up the contents as the moisture in the nuts makes them clump and you want to ensure there aren’t too many large pieces (unless that’s the texture you’re looking for). The end result should be the consistency of ground almonds.
  2. Add the dried fruit to the milled nuts and seeds, screw the milling blade back onto the cup and mill again. This will take 2-3 grinds. Again you may need to shake the cup a little to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Line a bowl with cling film then press the ingredients into the bottom of it using the back of a spoon. Make the top as smooth and flat as possible. Cover the top with cling film then leave to chill in the fridge.
  4. When ready to eat cut into bar shapes or squares and serve. You can wrap individual ones up for packed lunches or do what I do and just snack straight from the fridge! Yummarge!

 

Tim’s Green smoothie recipe

So, this is what I’m greeted with each morning. An old Nutella glass (complete with those handy white lids) full of goodness. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You drink that!? It looks like pond water!” And you’re right. It does. The green nature of these smoothies mean that they look less than appetising but you have to trust me when I say they taste delicious.

Nutribullet:  green smoothie

 Ingredients

  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of strawberries
  • ½ apple – cored – the seeds are dangerous to eat
  • ½ pear – stalk removed
  • ½ banana
  1. Place the spinach in the large cup first then add the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Fill with water up to the max line and blend for 30 seconds.
  3. Pour and drink.

Some people who have seen me post my smoothies on Instagram  and twitter have asked how we get them smooth. It’s just a case of getting the balance right. There needs to be plenty of water in a smoothie for it to be really smooth. We keep the fruit/veg contents lower than the max line and make sure there’s enough water to blitz it to pieces. If you want a thicker consistency just add items like banana, mango or avocado.

The Video review

Here’s a short video review I shot with the lovely photographer Oliver Gordon back in February. It shows the Nutribullet in action. Take a look and let me know what you think.

So thanks for stopping by. Do you have a Nutribullet? I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are. Just share them below in the comments.

EmmaMT

x

Disclaimer: This review is completely my own thoughts and opinions. I was not sent the Nutribullet to test and would like to say a massive thank you to the Poopah for giving this one to us. We love it. 

 

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?

FAQ: Do you have a 10″ Madeira cake recipe?10" Madeira cake recipe

Yes I do, but boy do people seem to be having problems with it! It got to the point where I was starting to think there was something wrong with it. Readers were having cakes with soggy middles and deep dark crusts on the outside. There were massive domes and sunken middles. I was perplexed! So, I decided to double check the recipe. It came out perfectly. So here’s a post dedicated to exactly what I do to make my 10″ Madeira cake a success  – literally step by step.

Double check the size of your tin.

The first thing I did was measure the volume of water my 10″ cake could take. Previously I found it could hold 4000ml but I decided to try it with a little less – 3700ml. The reason for this is that when I make a larger cake the more mix in the tin the heavier the cake is. When I use a little less mix the cake seems to rise more. This was the case with this cake. Just removing 300ml of cake ingredients to this cake made all the difference.

Line and wrap your cake tin and chill it out!

I have always lined my cake tins using silicon paper and vegetable oil – to make it stick to the sides. Oil gives the cake a much softer finish. I know some people like a crust and if that’s the case keep using butter to grease your tins.

Once lined I wrap the cake tin with a strip of silicon paper tied with natural string. You can read more about this here. As you can see from the top photo, I use the same paper over and over and it still works well.

A new trick I recently read about was to chill the cake tin once it is lined. This further stops the outside of the cake from baking too quickly. I left mine in the fridge for 30 minutes before I filled it with cake mix and baked it.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe 10″ Madeira cake recipe

  • 235g butter at room temperature
  • 235g margarine at room temperature
  • 620g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
  • 9 eggs large eggs at room temperature
  • 700g plain flour sieved
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml hot water

Sugar syrup

  • 100ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

How to make the 10″ Madeira cake.

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC) It’s really important to get the oven to the right temperature. The rising domes are usually caused by the oven being too hot. Sunken cakes are from when the oven temperature is too low – or the oven door is opened too early. My oven fluctuates (especially with cakes that are in the oven for a long time like this one!) so I tend to let it drop a little to 175ºC to allow for the differences during the bake. I still get a dome but I don’t mind. It means I can see how well the cake is baked and get to eat a bit too. Who doesn’t love off cuts? The biggest problems with baking this cake seem to come from using a fan oven. It just doesn’t bake as well. I tested the recipe out using my fan and the cake tasted completely different and was really heavy. My mum who has a gas oven always has the lightest, fluffiest Madeira cake known to man – I am very jealous! So if oyu can use a non fan oven do. If you can use gas – even better. One last word on temperatures is to invest in an Oven Thermometer . I trust mine way more than I trust the dial on my oven – which has lied to me from day one!
  2. Start teh cake mix by creaming the butter and margarine together. Make sure they are seamlessly blended before adding the sugar. Beat till it’s pale and fluffy. This will take at least 3-4 minutes. The whiter it looks the fluffier it is which makes a lighter cake. 
  3. Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. The slower you add the eggs the less chance there is of the mixture curdling. I have found that I have a much better mix if I use my very fast hand held whisk rather than my beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer. The hand held is much faster and whips it all up into a frenzy catching every last bit of cake mix whereas the stand mixer gets most of it most of the time. There’s no comparison. If the mixture does start curdling (separating and looking a bit yuck) add a spoonful of flour during mixing to stop it.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and mix again till it’s well incorporated.
  5. When it comes to adding the dry ingredients I tend to sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water in three goes. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake rather than adding all the flour then all the water. Fold them in gently and slowly. Fold until the flour is just incorporated. The less mixing and folding the more air bubbles you’ll have to make a light and fluffy cake. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Using the back of a spoon spread the mix throughout the tin pushing it up the sides of the tin slightly leaving a well in the middle. I leave quite a deep well and still get a dome so be brave.
  7. I have been loosely covering my cakes as soon as they go into the oven with a piece of silicon paper with a hole in the middle. If I think the paper is going to touch the cake as it rises I grease it first. The hole is to allow the steam to escape. The paper keeps the cake more flat on top. I tend to remove the paper for the last 30 minutes so it can brown up.
  8. Bake for two hours in the centre of your oven. If you have the choice place your cake on a wire rack in the oven rather than a tray. A tray will stop the heat from circulating. I remove all the unused racks from the oven when I bake. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
  9. To test if your cake is fully baked insert a skewer into the centre of the cake – always the centre as this is the last area to bake. If it comes out clean without any cake mix residue it’s ready. If there is some moist mix on the end you need to pop it back in for a few minutes more. You can also press lightly on the top of the cake with a finger. If the cake bounces back instantly you know it’s done. If it takes more than 2-3 seconds then you know it needs more.

    When a cake bakes the outer edge bakes first (as it’s against the hot metal cake tin.) For this reason when the middle of your cake is baked the sides will shrink away from the cake tin. This is another good indicator that the cake is baked.

10" Madeira cake recipeThe sugar syrup

  1. To make the sugar syrup heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup as soon as the cake goes into the oven then I leave it .
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5-10 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most. Some people worry that the cake will be overly sweet by adding the sugar syrup but it actually seals the cake and stops it from baking once it’s out of the oven. Don’t feel you need to use the whole amount. You will have some left over.
  3. Leave the cake to cool for a further 10-20 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Madeira cake slice - recipe

I made this cake and decided not to cover it or cut it in half and fill with butter cream. One of my favorite ways to enjoy Madeira cake is by the slice with a lovely dollop of raspberry jam. I cut this one in half and froze one side while we ate the rest. This is a pretty big cake so it was a good test of how long it tasted good for. I always advise to have eaten a cake that has been decorated (and therefore sealed) within a week of baking. This cake sat on a plate in my kitchen loosely covered with a piece of silver foil for 10 days – slowly getting smaller and smaller. On the 10th day it was getting a bit stale but right up till then a spread of jam and it was great with a cup of tea!

Why Sugar syrup works

Another benefit to adding sugar syrup to a cake – which I hadn’t realised before is that it gives the cake crust a lovely sweet flavoured crunch. Not a hard crunch – just a gentle one. I actually looked forward to eating that part as much as I did the soft sponge. Nice surprise!

I think a lovely thin slice is perfect. Beau does not! After asking if she could have a slice this is what she cut and filled for herself! I could have made four servings from that giant slice. And before you ask- yes she ate the lot! Growing girl! Beau's big slice!!!

I hope this helps with some of your Madeira cake queries.

Happy baking

EmmaMT

x

Darcey’s Easter nests

Darcey’s Easter Nests

Easter nests - CAkesBakesAndCookies.com

Last week Darcey came home from Cubs having made these really cute Easter Nests. They take literally 10 minutes to make, twenty minutes to harden up and just seconds to devour.

My mini chef

She’s becoming a bit of a whiz in the Kitchen of late. A few weekends ago she asked if she could make lunch for everyone. I said yes – thinking that a round of sandwiches were on their way and told her that I would be down to the kitchen in five minutes. By the time I arrived she had already boiled water ready for noodles and had made her favorite “red sauce” (Sweet and Sour – made by mixing tomato puree and soy sauce in heated up honey). I need to get to that kitchen a lot quicker!

So, when she asked on the first day of the Easter holidays if she could make some more Easter nests I knew what was coming.

Mum, where’s that glass bowl” was the first question by which time the white chocolate had already been broken into tiny pieces – I’m sure a few were missing! She loves cooking and baking and is really confident in the kitchen. I’m just glad that when she now want’s to make me a cup of mint tea she uses the kettle and not the hot tap for water! EAster Nest

Easter Nests

The main keys to baking with kids is to let them have fun. Let them make a mess and most importantly in my case- let go of perfectionism. I just let her go for it. I think she had fun. Just look at that super cheesy grin. Happiness personified!

Ingredients

Makes 6 nests

  • 125g white /milk/dark chocolate broken up into small pieces- the choice is yours
  • 2 shredded wheat
  • mini eggs – ours were from M&S

EAster Nest

  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl over a  saucepan of simmering water until completely melted.
  2. In another bowl crunch and crush the shredded wheat into small twig like pieces.
  3. Pour the chocolate over the shredded wheat and stir until the Shredded wheat is completely covered.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cupcake cases. We placed ours in a cupcake baking tin so they would keep their shape. Make a well in the middle.
  5. Position the mini eggs in the centre and leave to harden for twenty minutes.
  6. Munch through them. Nom, Nom, Nommmmm!

Darcey wanted white chocolate nests; as that’s her favorite, but really anything goes. I think using Shredded Wheat is ingenious. Not only do they look more twiggy but they taste great. Move over cornflake cakes. You have officially been replaced!

EAster Nest

All that’s left to say is I hope you have a fantastic Easter with tons of chocolate and masses of family fun time.

Bye for now

EmmaMT

x

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

FAQ: How to use Sugar Syrup on Cakes?

Sugar Syrup

Ahhh Sugar Syrup. My new and most amazing discovery! It’s the small things that seem to make the biggest difference in my baking. I hadn’t even heard of sugar syrup until I went to the Peggy Porschen sugar roses class last year. I mean I had heard of it but I just thought it was something people added to give a cake more taste – like with lemon cakes and the like, but no. I was wrong.

What sugar syrup does

One of the ladies at the sugar roses class had also been to one of the Peggy Porschen cake baking classes and she mentioned how sugar syrup had completely changed her cakes. They’re now super moist. The trick – as she told me, is to brush sugar syrup directly onto a warm cake once it comes out of the oven. This basically stops the cake from continuing to bake in it’s very hot tin once it’s removed from the oven – preventing it from drying out. The added water keeps the cake super moist.

So armed with this information I gave it a go and do you know what? It’s worked on every single cake I’ve made so far! Madeira cake, chocolate cake, Victoria sponge cake and even cupcakes – actually especially cupcakes!

The Ingredients

I’ve tried out a few different recipes but the general rule of thumb is to use the same amount in grams of sugar as millilitres in water then add a dash of flavour. The following quantity is suitable for an 8″ cake. You will have some left over though. Don’t be tempted to use it all.

  • 100g sugar – granulated/ caster/ golden – anything goes
  • 100ml water
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence / lemon juice / almond/ orange essence
  1. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes then add the flavour and leave to cool. I make my sugar syrup when the cake goes into the oven.
  2. Once your cake is removed from the oven let it sit for 5 minutes then use a pastry brush to brush the sugar syrup over the entire cake. You only need to cover each area of the cake once and avoid soaking the cake or you will end up with a big soggy mess not a nice moist cake. Make sure you get the edges of the cake covered as they tend to dry out the most.
  3. Leave for a further 10 minutes before turning your cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Top tip: I use a bristle brush as it is easier to control the sugar syrup than with a silicon one. It also stops you adding too much in one go.

SUGAR SYRUP recipe

Another sugar syrup tip.

Another time I saw sugar syrup being used was at the Squires Kitchen cake show. During her workshop Helen Mansey brushed her cake (which was baked the day before) with sugar syrup when she was stacking the layers. She added a light coating of syrup to the top of each cake using a pastry brush in exactly the same way as described above before she covered each cake layer with chocolate ganache. I’ve never seen that done before but she said that it keeps the cake moist as she bakes a cake on a Monday and decorates it ready for delivery on Friday/Saturday. She said the cake would still be okay to eat a week after the wedding. I’m not sure cake would last that long in my house but it’s good to know.

So, do you use sugar syrup? What flavours do you use? I’d love to know. Just leave a comment below and share your tried and tested recipes with the whole baking gang.

EmmaMT

x

Wedding cake Inspiration at the Squires Kitchen Cake show

Last Friday I went to the Squires Kitchen cake show in Surrey and I have to say that it never disappoints. This is the third time I’ve been to this show and it’s my favorite. The venue is really higgledy, piggldy with rooms and halls all over the place on different levels and the competitions are in another part of the building all-together but I think that’s why it works so well. It’s like you’re going on a treasure hunt and around every corner there’s something new to discover.

I went to two workshops on the day. One was how to make succulents with Paddi Clark and the other was how to make a double barrel cake with Helen Mansey who has a new book coming out in a couple of weeks. (It looks beautiful!) I learnt so much in those short 45 minute workshops which I am hoping to share with you when I get round to trying the techniques out. I am pretty sure that they made it all look very easy. We’ll see!

The Cakes on Show

One of the highlights for me is always checking out the wedding cakes. They are just fantastic so I thought I’d share just a few with you.

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

How incredible are the flowers on this cake by Cake Creations by Jill Fisher. How on earth did she make them? Are they sugar paper? They’re just so delicate and unbelievably realistic. Ranunculus are one of my favorite flowers so I may be a bit biased with this one!

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

Cake Creations by Jill Fisher

These roses look just exquisite in the flesh. I wish I could take better photos to share with you guys.

Cakes by Elizabeth Finch

Cakes by Elizabeth Finch

There were lots of chalk board cakes at the show like this one by Elizabeth Finch. The roses on this cake are exactly like the ones by David Austin Roses.

Cake House

Cake House

The cakes by Sherry Hostler of The Cake House were also fantastic. I love this green one inspired by the art of quilling.

Authenticake

Authenticake

Authenticake’s modern twist on a classic is the kind of cake you have to look at twice before you realise that the tea cup is all made from sugarpaste.

Authenticake

Authenticake

I really love the colour combo here. Another cake trend I spotted at the show was metallics. We’ve seen it in fashion and home wares and now they’ve reached the cake world. Hoorah!

Sylvia's Kitchen

Sylvia’s Kitchen

Sylvia's Kitchen

Sylvia’s Kitchen

I really loved the cakes by Sylvia’s Kitchen. They were timeless elegance personified. I’d love to make a cake like this – Just give me a year to make all those flowers!

Sylvia's Kitchen

Sylvia’s Kitchen

Sylvia's Kitchen

Sylvia’s Kitchen

This is another design I would love to try out. I haven’t mastered the art of piping at 90º yet without it making a whole lot of mess but as soon as I can I want to make this cake- but maybe in a one tier birthday version. Just stunning!

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Just look at all the pearls on this wedding cake by Scrum Diddly. This was one of my favorite cakes.

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Scrum Diddly

Another cake that must have taken ages to create. The clean and crisp colour combo with the textured sugarpaste and roses and strawberries make this a perfect summer wedding cake.

Jelly cake

Jelly cake

This was my favorite gold cake (of which there were quite a few!) by Jelly Cake. The colour just pops out as you look at the table. I also really like the colour of the other cakes in this trio. Really elegant on their wooden stands.

Jelly cake

Jelly cake

Another tea cup and saucer filled with floral paste flowers. Do I need to learn how to do this too?

Simply Alpa

Simply Alpa

Simply Alpa shows the amazing effect you can get with a paint brush and a little talent ( make that a lot of talent!)

Iced Innovations

Iced Innovations

This is another cake with a really pretty colour palette by Iced Innovations . Soft and delicate with cute pin wheels on the front. I can’t tell what they’re made of. Any guesses?

Lou's amazing cakes

Lou’s amazing cakes

Lou's amazing cakes

Lou’s amazing cakes

Lou’s amazing cakes really are just AMAZING. They’re the cakes I remember every year. This one is just a riot of colour! I showed it to Beau and it was her favorite.

Lou's amazing cakes

Lou’s amazing cakes

This is another painted cake but just look at that shape. Where do you start when it’s time to cover it in sugarpaste? All those ins and outs!!! Rather Lou than me!

Helen Mansey - Squires tutor

Helen Mansey – Squires tutor

Helen Mansey - Squires tutor

Helen Mansey – Squires tutor

This is one of the cakes by the tutor Helen Mansey in the Squires main hall. It was huge and so beautiful. Even the buttons on the back were perfect.

Helen Mansey - Squires tutor

Helen Mansey – Squires tutor

I can’t tell you how amazing the piping on this cake waa. What isn’t totally clear in the picture is that it’s white writing with black writing on top. It’s so delicate and fine. I was blown away by it.

Natasha Collins - Squires tutor

Natasha Collins – Squires tutor

Natasha Collins - Squires tutor

Natasha Collins – Squires tutor

I didn’t know that Natasha Collins does a class for Squires on how to paint cakes. I’m a bit of a fan of hers. Her cakes are totally original don’t you think?

 

So that’s my short round up of just a few of the wedding cakes on show at this year’s event. Amazing aren’t they? Which one’s your favourite? I’d love to know….

EmmaMT x

Spy Cake for Agent Asher

Spy Cake

Agent Asher’s Spy Cake
IMG_3195 Agent Asher (aka the other little man in my life) was 7 in January. He and Darcey are mad on playing Spy games. Asher creates alarms that go off when you walk past a beam (YES! at 7!!) and Darcey has been practicing sneaking around, hiding, then jumping out on me to see if I knew she was there. She’s getting very good at it. So, it was no surprise that Asher asked for a spy cake for his birthday. Actually when I asked him what cake he wanted he said “A pair of spy sunglasses!” There isn’t a lot of cake in a pair of sunglasses and that’s where the suitcase idea came from.

How to make a Spy cake

The Sunglasses on the Spy cake CAKE 1

First I kneaded a little Tylo Powder into the black sugar paste. This makes it into a modelling paste so it will get harder quicker. I drew a template of sunglasses and then rolled out the sugar paste. I then carefully cut out around the shape. I used a sharp knife to do this and then marked the outline with a pointed tool. Then I cut out the arms of the sunglasses and placed all the pieces onto a piece of kitchen paper and left it to harden up over night but leaving it for 24 hours is better.

I wanted to position the glasses open onto of the cake but when it came doing that I fiddled with them so much I broke them! Next time I would make two pairs just in case and not fiddle so much!

The Walkie Talkie

SPY CAKE 2

I wanted the walkie talkie to be a bit brighter as I knew nearly everything on the cake was going to be either grey or black. I chose a yellow and red design randomly from a google search of what they look like and it turned out that I chose the exact model that Asher already had! Funny how that happens.

To make the walkie talkie I made a large rectangular cube and curved it in the middle. I then rolled out some yellow sugar paste and shaped it so it would fit over the top of the block. The grey knobs and dials were positioned on the top and front with a little edible glue and a small piece of spaghetti to keep them in position.

The dials were added to the front with the red info panel using edible glue then I used a bulbous cone tool  to make holes for the speaker area. I painted the 007 onto the panel with black food colour then left the whole thing to harden up.

The Camera and binocularsSPY CAKE 3

The camera was pretty easy to make. It’s just some flat cylinder shapes glued onto of a rectangular cube.

 

The binoculars took a long time to dry out as there was so much thick sugar paste in them. I wish I had made them a week earlier so they could have dried up a bit more.

I rolled out two long cylinders which I tapered slightly at one end. I then made two smaller cylinders for the eye holes. I used a circle cutter to imprint circles on the ends then cut out thin white circles and placed these over the ends and stuck these onto the narrow end of the binoculars. To hold the binoculars together (or at least to give that illusion) I rolled out a ball and then squished it between my fingers so there was a pointed line down the centre. I then turned this over and repeated on the other side. I then sat it between the two long cylinders. It was then left to harden up a bit.

How to make a suitcase cakeSPY CAKE 4

The actual cake was only for around 10-15 kids so I made a flat-ish Madeira cake and didn’t fill it with buttercream as I wanted it to stay flat so it looked like a briefcase rather than a suitcase. I covered it how my mum covers her Madeira cakes – with raspberry jam and then marzipan followed by sugar paste. This is without a doubt the most delicious combo! What’s more we all love marzipan so the four thick strips which were placed over the cake to give the case some shape were always going to go down well.

SPY CAKE 5

The whole cake was covered in grey sugar paste and the shape was flattened and smoothed by hand which was quite tricky to get completely smooth with the ridges in the way!  SPY CAKE 6

To make the spy case look like metal I covered the whole cake with metallic lustre. I placed a piece of kitchen paper over the cake board as I moved around the cake with a soft paint brush as that stuff is so fine and powdery it gets everywhere.

I made a lock for the front with two rectangles and a small latch then poked holes for rivets at each corner. I painted the rivets and lock black.

The Top secret files SPY CAKE 7

The ‘TOP SECRET’ files were cut out of layers of white modelling paste which I made as thin as I possibly could without them tearing. I cut them into a backwards ‘L’ shape that would slot right up against the cake and look like it was sitting underneath the cake. I did a test run with a piece of paper first to get the angles right. I layered the pages up then covered them with a thin brown modelling paste. I used a thin paint brush and edible food colours to paint on the words “TOP SECRET: AGENT ASHER” then positioned the file on the cake board- sticking into place with edible glue.

To give the pages a bit of a ruffled look I placed folded pieces of kitchen paper in between each page and left them to harden.

Once the file was in place the handle was added to the front of the case. Edible food glue was used to stick it in position.

The finished Spy cake

Spy cake To finish off I positioned all the elements on the cake. I used a little royal icing to keep them all in place and piped the birthday message on the top.Spy cake

I was pretty happy with this cake. I didn’t like the fact that my little nephew had an almost grey cake as if feels wrong for a bubbly seven year old not to have something with a bit more colour but I think he was thrilled with it. I didn’t tell him what I was doing so he thought he was just getting sunglasses! I think Agent Asher was happy with the result.

My sister Shelley put on a fantastic spy party with tons and tons of spy games – including an obstacle course with laser beams – of course! so I think the cake was just right!

Spy Cake

EmmaMT

x

Madeleine cakes by Tim

Madeleine cakes Madeleine cakes Yep, that’s right Mr MT did the baking this weekend and it was goooood!

A few weeks ago he announced that he wanted to make some Madeleine cakes but we didn’t have the right tin and let’s face it Madeleine cakes don’t taste right if they’re not the right shape do they now? So, I got in touch with Eddingtons. You may not know Eddington’s by name but as a keen baker you have definitely seen their baking goodies on the shelves. They’re sold all over the place and now I’ve mentioned them to you you’ll be spotting their cake tinsCookie cutters and kitchen gadgets all over the place.

Madeleine cakes

I have always found their bake-wares to be really top notch quality which is why I approached them. The Madeleine cake tin is really tough, thick and completely non-stick which if you’ve ever looked at my shortbread fiasco I mean post, you’ll know why this is essential! It’s also dishwasher safe – another bonus. Tim hunted around my baking book shelf for a recipe but once the tin arrived he decided to follow the recipe on the packaging.  Orange Madeleines. Who wouldn’t?

So armed with his tin and a recipe he embarked on making as much mess as possible in our little kitchen which he did with much success!!!
Madeleine cakes

 Orange Madeleine cake recipe

Makes 24 cakes

  • 110g  (2/3 cup) flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 113g (1/2 cup) melted butter – cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 130g (1 cup) icing sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 170ºC). Spray the pan with a non stick spray or brush a little melted butter into each well like Tim did. Then dust a little flour over the top. This is the trick to the Madeleines literally falling out of the tin once they’re baked.
  2. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. In another bowl use an electric whisk to beat the eggs, orange zest and extract on a high speed for five minutes. Gradually beat in the icing sugar. Whisk until it becomes thicker – another five minutes.
  4. Gently fold in the flour mixture then the melted butter until smooth.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the tins filling to 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Loosen the cakes with a knife then invert the pan on a rack and watch them pop out.
  7. Once completely cool sprinkle with icing sugar

Madeleine cakes

I couldn’t leave them alone. The whole house smelt amazing. The Madeleine’s were so light in texture and the hint of orange flavour was really just perfect. Tim made them in two batches and we’d eaten half the first lot before they had even cooled down! I had to be really strong willed not to eat more before I had taken the photos to share with you guys.

Fingers crossed he makes some more this weekend. I could get used to him baking!

Enjoy!

EmmaMT

Eddingtons Non-Stick Madeleine Pan RRP £24.95 available from http://www.PoshRosh.co.uk

 

Disclaimer: Eddingtons sent me this Madeleine cake tin (thanks you guys!) All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

Cake and Bake show: Ticket offer

C&B_composite_logo_NEFF

 

Have you ever been to the Cake & Bake show? It’s one of the biggies. There’s tons to see, do, learn and let’s face it – what we all want to do – shop for new baking gadgets and gizmos! And this year I am really excited to be teaming up with them to give you a discount off adult ticket prices. Yaaaay!

The Cake & Bake Show will be an experience to behold. There are now four new shows taking place in Harrogate, London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Each show will be the perfect mix of live demonstrations, expert classes, market stands, live competitions and so much more to develop your home baking talents! Purses (and wallets) at the ready!

PLUS! You can also see and meet renowned baking stars, patisserie experts and the industry’s best cake decorators. From demonstrations on the Super Cake & Bake Theatre in association with NEFF, to do-along classroom sessions and book signings – there’ll be lots of opportunities for you to learn from the best!

So, if you’re planning on visiting one of the Cake & Bake shows this year you can get £3 off the price of an adult ticket just quote CAKE35 when purchasing before 30th March 2015  to receive the offer!* Tickets are on sale NOW!!!

CAKE35

 

See you there!

EmmaMT

T&C’s: *Offer valid on Adult full price advance tickets only. Offer ends 30.03.15. Ticket terms and conditions apply. Information correct at time of print.
Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 17.14.44

Disclaimer: This is a CakesBakesAndCookies.com affiliate. Every ticket sold will put a few pennies in the sugar paste buying purse! 

Lemon and Blueberry tray bake recipe

Lemon and Blueberry tray bake recipe

Lemon and Blueberry tray bake recipeMost Friday’s my dad pops round to my house with a delivery of fruit and veg that would rival a Sainsbury’s delivery truck. He gets it for us (that’s me and my sister – as she gets a delivery too) to share as he bought us both a Nutribullet last November and we’re all mad keen on smoothies now – especially Tim. I got told off for not drinking my smoothie earlier this week. Tim makes Nutribullet smoothies first thing in the morning and then that’s it.  Six AM and we’ve already had our 5 a day! So we really go through a lot of fruit and veg. How cool is that? My Poopah is the best. (Thanks Poopah)

Last week he bought some blueberries. There were loads and loads of them;  more than we could blend in a week – so you know what I wanted to do don’t you? Yep. Bake!

I decided that I would make a tray bake- as I’ve just made a load for other people recently and there was no cake in the house! Well, with all that healthy smoothie making I needed to address the sugar/healthy eating imbalance. This tray bake is adapted from a Mary Berry recipe that I have used time and again from her Baking Bible book.

When Tim tasted it he said “I’m not sure about the lemon and blueberry combination”. I thought it tasted great. I then went off for a bit and when I came back the three slices of cake I had just cut were gone. Errrrr? Not such a bad combination after all is it Tim?

Lemon and Blueberry tray bakeLemon and Blueberry tray bake recipe

  • 225g butter at room temperature
  • 225g Golden caster sugar
  • 275 Self Raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs – at room temperature
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 150g blueberries for the cake plus some extras for decoration.
  • 100g icing sugar
  • juice of one lemon
  1. Line an 8 x 10″ tray with silicon paper. Pre-heat your oven to 180C (160C for fan ovens)
  2. Mix the butter and sugar together until well blended. Break up the eggs in a bowl then add slowly to the cake mix so that it doesn’t curdle.
  3.  In a separate bowl sieve the flour and baking powder then add to the butter/sugar mix. Add the lemon zest and juice and water. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
  4. Gently fold in the blueberries then pour the mix into the tray. Level it with the back of a large tablespoon and bake for 34-45 minutes until the cake comes away from the side of the cake tin and the cake bounces back instantly when pressed in the centre with your finger.
  5. Set on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from the tin to cool completely.
  6. Once cool make the icing by sieving the icing sugar into a bowl then adding the lemon juice and mixing until smooth. You can add lemon zest to the icing too if you want. Add the blueberries to the top then leave for 30 minutes and allow it to set.

 

This is a great cake to share. What do you think? Lemon and blueberry a winning combination or not?

EmmaMT

Top 10 ways to give a cake WOW factor

Top 10 ways to give a cake WOW factor

Do you ever want to bake a really simple cake that tastes delicious and then just add a ton decorative flare? Well us bakers at Free Cakes For Kids do all the time. So, I decided to do a little research (after a little prompting – thanks Cristina) and here’s my top 10 wow factor cake ideas courtesy of Pinterest – where else?

1. Just add pearls

How cute are the multicoloured pearls on this cake?  Great for adults and kids alike. You can always pipe the pearls on if your feeling brave! I love the colour combination but you could always use just one colour.

Pearl and dots cake

2. Go Sprinkles mad

I made a similar cake to this one for Beau’s birthday last year. Although the kitchen was trashed after I did the sprinkles at speed the cake looked fab. What do you think?

Easy Sprinkle number cake

3. Model some cars… and a track from sugarpaste.

This cake is pure simplicity at it’s best. The racing cars are practically cartoons – very much my kind of cake. I think this is a winner as you can literally make any number the track on a regular rectangle cake. Brilliant!

Racing car Cake

4. Dribble that chocolate

Oh my word! How totally delicious does this cake look? It’s fluffy chocolate cake inside, dripping with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate dipped strawberries. What’s not to love!

Wowzers Strawberry cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Add some ribbons and a bow

Although this cake is technically quite difficult – have you ever tried to get sugarpaste to stay neat when in a horizontal direction? the actual design is gorgeous. I would re-create this look in one colour and on one layer. It would still be just as effective.

Gorgeous horizontal stripes | Black and White Wedding Cake

6. Get the paintbrushes out

For a quick and easy design these flowers and butterflies are perfect, but what gives this cake the WOW factor is the way the leaves have been painted on. Have you ever painted on a cake before? it’s so much fun!

Tinkerbell Cake!!! - This is more along what I was thinking.... except no painting!!

7. Make a house

Just the colours on this cake alone make this cake dreamy and every girls first choice. I’m sure it took hours and hours to make but a few simple adaptations would make this possible for even a beginner.

House cake via Pinterest

8. Everyone loves an owl…

and a fox and a hedgehog. The cakes on this pinterest board are so cute and relatively easy to make. I love the pretty colours used and the simple design.  Click on the pic to see the other cakes.

Owl cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Just add tons of M&M’s

I don’t think I could resist picking at this cake; especially if those are peanut M&M’s! I love them and I bet kids would too! Such a clever idea.

M&M birthday cake

10. Pipe some flowers

This cake is decorated using a grass piping nozzle (No. 233 if you’re interested?) They look like hundreds of iced gems don’t you think? I love the colour combinations used. So effective.
Fun and easy cake decorating idea!

So, there you have it. What do you think? Which one is your favorite? Or do you have any great ideas for creating wow factor in a cake? I’d love to know. Just join the conversation and leave a comment below.

EmmaMT

 

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