Best for Baking: Silicone piping bag

 Silicone piping bags. Why I’m a new convert to after making these chocolate cupcakes

Silicon piping bag

Silicon piping bag

I must have walked past these silicone piping bags a ton of times. They sell them at Hobbycraft (a regular haunt of mine) and they’re available on Amazon too. I’ve always just used disposable piping bags in the past as I think they’re really easy to handle and just chuck away rather than clean up all that greasy butter cream when you’re done. But I figured at £5 it was worth a try. Good decision.

I had some cupcakes to make for Free Cakes For Kids so I thought that it was the perfect testing opportunity. When I make cupcakes for outside friends and family I measure the cake mix into each cupcake case. I know that sounds a bit OCD but it’s the only way I can get them almost even. I do try to be professional! The way I do this is by measuring each cupcake as I go. When using this piping bag it was a doddle.  The silicone piping bag has a smooth inside so the ingredients can be squirted out easily but it has a lightly textured outside so your sticky/wet hands can still grip it firmly. I have to admit I was surprised how easy it was to handle and control.

Silicon piping bag

When I fill a piping bag with cake mix I place it in a large jug, fold the edges over the top and then fill. If I’m filling a smaller bag I simply use a tall glass. This has been the easiest and cleanest way to fill a bag. Make sure that the bottom is folded up so no mixture can escape while you’re filling and if you need to stop half way through filling or decorating you can just pop it back in the jug or glass. Silicon piping bag

You can see how easy it is to fill cupcake cases using the silicone piping bag below. See? Not a drop out of place! Silicon piping bag

Once the cupcakes were baked and cool I added the buttercream topping. Test number 2. Again I made up the chocolate butter cream and filled the bag. This time I added a piping tip. As it’s a large tip I had to cut quite a bit off the end of the silicone piping bag so I think I would need to buy a second bag if I wanted to use it with some of my smaller royal icing tips but as I don’t use them that often I’ll see how I go.

Silicon piping bag

I was really happy with the end result. I think these are probably some of the most even looking cupcakes I’ve ever made and I put that down to using the silicone piping bag. So marks out of 10? I’d give it 8. Silicon piping bag

The end result was 24 pretty and yummy cupcakes boxed up and ready to deliver.

Super-flex silicone piping bag is available from Amazon.co.uk

Do you have and use a silicone piping bag? What do you think about them compared with disposable ones? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT

Cakes in Bloom: Peggy Porschen book review

Cakes in Bloom by Peggy Porschen Peggy Porschen - Cakes in BloomThis post has been a long time coming! I received this book ‘Cakes in Bloom Peggy Porschen‘ back in May when it was released and one thing and another (mainly a chance to take part in one of the Peggy Porschen flower master classes- which you can read about in the next post) it didn’t happen. It’s been on my to do list since then and it’s November! Where has the year gone?

About the book

So, this is a different kind of book to the others that Peggy has written. Yes, there are cake recipes – at the back (including Victoria sponge, rich dark chocolate cake and a luxury fruit cake) but it’s all about sugarpaste flowers. The flowers are so beautiful and shot so close up that when I showed my mum the book (I did get a bit over excited when I got my hands on it) she didn’t believe that the flowers weren’t real. They are the most realistic sugar flowers I have ever seen and I’ve seen these up close and in the flesh.

Peggy Porschen - Cakes in Bloom

So what’s the best thing about this book? Or rather why is it a winner in my eyes?  Well, apart from the stunning flower creations by Peggy – it has to be the photography. Georgia Glynn Smith you are a pro! The shots are sheer perfection for a complete sugar flower making beginner like myself. I’ve never really gone further in detail than with a simple rose or a rose bud and maybe a few blossoms cut out with a plunger cutter. These flowers look so complicated and like you need so much equipment but that isn’t the case. Now, I know that I have quite a lot of equipment and cutters are a big part of my collection but I found a ton of blooms I could make straight away without having to purchase anything else.

Peggy Porschen - Cakes in Bloom

I’m going to be completely honest here. I’m not much of a flower on a cake sort of a person. But I was so intrigued by the book I had to have a go and just as the book landed I had a cake request with loads of flowers on. Funny how that happens isn’t it? The first bloom I attempted from the book was a Dahlia. It looked okay. I used sugar paste instead of flower paste. Flower paste is much sturdier and can be rolled out so it’s see through and thin like paper. It makes really delicate flowers. Sugar paste still makes a good flower but no where near as realistic. Sugar paste also takes an age to dry out.

My Dahlia took me absolutely aaaages to make. I hadn’t planned this into my cake design and I was up all night because I was enjoying making the flowers so much I wanted to make three to five of them. But I loved every minute of it. Had I read the instructions before I attempted to make them for a cake I would have realised that I needed to make some parts the day before so they had time to dry out. Oh well- I knew for the next time.

So, back to the book….Cakes in bloom by Peggy Porschen

 

Contents include:-

Peggy Porschen - Cakes in BloomSugar flower basics

How to get started, the basic tool kit and specialist tools that are a bit new to me too. There’s also a whole section devoted to flower paste.

Peggy Porschen - Cakes in BloomFlower designs

Okay- deep breath. The flowers covered are Spring blossom, purple Pansies, Frangipani, Carnation Pomanders, Roses and Lily of the valley, Snowballs, Dahlias, Daisy wreath, tumbling hydrangeas, roses and violets, Iceland poppies, White rose and petals, Ombre petals, Sweetpea posy, English garden roses, Climbing Cosmos, Peonies, Chrysanthemum trees, white Orchids, Blush Anemones, Vintage blooms, cherry blossom, Camellia Lace and Floral cascade!!!

Peggy Porschen - Cakes in BloomBaking and icing basics

I really like the ‘planning ahead’ section on what you should do on each day. I need to adhere to this a bit more. There’s also details on baking tools, how to line a cake tin, the cake recipes including butter creams, how to layer cakes, covering cakes with marzipan and sugar paste. How to dowel a cake, ice a cake board, then there’s a whole section on royal icing.

Quantity guides

These pages show you how much ingredients you need for different cake tin sizes, how much sugar paste, marzipan, ganache etc you need for different cakes.

Sugar flower glossary

Just in case you don’t know how to do a technique Peggy explains it in full in this section. Dusting anyone?

Suppliers

Where to buy Peggy’s tools and equipment

The book is really beautifully laid out. Loads of space and load of amazing pictures. The step by step shots for each arrangement are really, really thorough. I’ve been sent quite a few ‘how to make flower’ books for review here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com but none of them have been good enough to feature. I have to say that EVERY step is covered in this book. There’s no guess work. Anyone can make these flowers – just make sure you leave yourself enough time!

So armed with all of this information don’t you just want to have a play at flowers? I reckon this book will be a good Christmas present so if you have a list (well it is November after all) then I would pop this on it. You won’t be disapointed!

Oh and just in case you wanted to see my cake with my first attempt at Peggy Porschen flowers on it. Here it is. Not bad for a first attempt.Flower cake

EmmaMT x

Cakes in Bloom: Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions by Peggy Porschen, £25 published by Quadrille

Disclaimer: The product in this post was provided by  Quadrille Publishing All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

Peggy Porschen Vintage Flower Masterclass

The only way to learn how to make sugar paste roses is at a Peggy Porschen vintage flower masterclassMe and Naomi

As a keen baker and a passionate cake blogger I don’t think you would be surprised to hear that a call from The Peggy Porschen Academy was enough to make my day. But when that call is asking if I would like to take part in one of their Peggy Porwchen Vintage flower  masterclasses you can imagine how big my grin was! Enormous!

At the time I was in the middle of trying to get an interview with Peggy for a feature I was writing for AchicaLiving, so I thought the call was about that. The lovely PR asked which course I might be interested in doing and as I was reviewing the new book Cakes in Bloom she suggested that I do a masterclass to create one of the arrangements from the book. Being cheeky I chose the two day Vintage Blooms class. It was a great choice!

The two day course was small and friendly. Just five students, some of whom travelled from Germany and Switzerland to take part. The Vintage blooms we were learning to make included one rose bud, one medium rose and one big open rose complete with leaves and some hydrangea petals. It doesn’t sound a lot but trust me- these are very delicate and detailed blooms. 

How to make roses

The tutor – Naomi took us through each step needed to make each petal and leaf from kneading and rolling out to veining and securing with wire.

1. the buds

 Rolled out petals: Peggy Porschen

As you cut out the petals keep them soft in a plastic sleeve.

We started with a polystyrene bud which we covered with one petal. To make the petals for the rose we used two size cutters. Each petal was stretched and frilled with the end of a curved rolling pin. This makes it look realistic. We used edible glue to secure the petals onto the bud. I found this really difficult to begin with. I wasn’t used to working with flower paste and it kept cracking or I rolled it too thin. 

3. cut out and frilled petals

Two petals. The one on the right has been frilled

4. Naomi demonstrating

Each rose starts in the same way. One petal to cover the polystyrene bud then three petals- with their edges curled over, wrapped around. If you stop there you have a rose bud.

Rose bud: Peggy Porschen

To continue making a medium rose you roll out and cut seven more petals. The flower paste dries really quickly so you only roll out what you need and keep the rest wrapped up in a zip lock bag. The petals are kept in a plastic sleeve (the kind used for paper documents) till they’re ready to be used. Each petal is thinned and frilled with the rolling pin and the edges are rolled over a cocktail stick then set in a palette to firm up a bit. Rose petals taking shapeAfter half an hour you add edible glue to the base of the petals and then position them around the rose bud. This was tricky as most of the students had them going in different directions (an easy mistake to make!) The idea is to have the petals running in the same direction throughout. So left side under the previous petal and so on.Adding the petals to a sugar rose Naomi showed us how to assemble the petal and hold the rose up and look at it from underneath to check it looked right. Easier said than done! Once you’re happy the petals are pressed firmly into place and the rose is rested upside down on some foam to dry. At this stage you leave it overnight to harden so you can handle it the next day without pieces breaking off.Checking the petals on the rose are in the right order

To make the large open rose you continue adding petals (nine for the last layer) if not you have the medium rose. Once the nine large petals are cut and frilled they are set in the palette again, this time they are only just in the palette so the bottom edge takes the curved shape of the wells – this is what gives the open petal shape on the rose. Leave for half an hour and secure onto the rose as for the middle layer. Leave to harden.Petals just in the palette

The large roseOnce dry each rose is given a touch of pink coloured powder. We used more powder throughout the buds and inner petals than on the rest of the rose. This is what brings the rose to life making each one look different.

Leaves

To complete the roses a calyx is cut out in pale green for each rose. It too is thinned and then little cuts are made in the sides to make it look realistic. These are added onto the bottom of each rose and secured neatly so no edges are sticking out. Green coloured powders are used to add definition to the calyx.

To make the leaves we cut out the shapes then pressed them between two veiners to give them definition. Wires were inserted into the spines and they were left to dry. Once dry coloured powders were applied with small paintbrushes. You only need the tiniest amount of powder and each leaf is brushed from the outside in with green and then pink powder. The pink is what gives that vintage tone. 

The Hydrangeas

Hydrangea kitThe hydrangeas were made in the same way as the leaves only the wires were threaded through the middle of each flower and were then set over some foam to dry. Hydrangeas set over foam to dryThe flower paste was green and we dusted them with pink powders once dry. To hide the wire going through the centre of each flower a dot of royal icing was added.

hydrangea petals

The end result: a box full of beautiful blooms.

My blooms- I was very proud!

To say I was proud of my vintage blooms would be an understatement! I showed them to anyone who happened to come to my house. So that they were on show and not hidden away in a cupboard I placed them in a vintage tea cup and saucer and now display them in a (dust free) terrarium in my living room where they are on show to this day.

Peggy Porschen Vintage Flower Masterclass

The course ran from 11.30am – 4pm on both days and it took that long to make all these flowers. If anyone asks why wedding cakes are so expensive this would be why. The amount of time, care, attention and detail taken over each and every flower, petal and leaf is amazing. The course was so much fun. Some of the students were on their second and third masterclass and you can see why. Peggy Porschen’s academy is just that little bid addictive!

Classes run throughout the year covering all aspects of baking, cake decorating, piping and sugar crafting. For more information and inspiration visit  www.peggyporschenacademy.com

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Peggy Porschen Academy for inviting me to take part in their masterclass. I loved it. All opinions here are my own.

Raspberry tray bake recipe with extra zing! And it’s dairy free.

Raspberry tray bakeI’m a big fan of using dried fruits in cakes – just look at all the sultanas and apricots I’ve featured before- namely with a touch of alcohol! but it’s only just recently that I have discovered freeze dried fruits. Have you tried them? They’re available all over the place but most often as a cake topper in the 100’s & 1000’s aisle.

Once you try them you kind of want to nosh on them all the time. They have this really intense burst of flavour. I think it’s due to the way they are made. Fresh fruit is frozen and placed in a chamber where it’s vacuum sealed and heat is applied. I don’t really understand the finer details. All I know is that they taste mighty fine when 80-90% of the water is removed. You can read all about it on Paradisefruits website.

So that’s when I thought they’d be perfect in a cake. So I decided to come up with a  raspberry cake recipe to be exact.  And they do taste great. One big reason they work so well in baking is because they’re so light they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake like heavier fruits can.

Raspberry tray bake recipe

Raspberry cake recipe

Ingredients

  • 200ml (1 cup)sunflower oil – or any other flavourless oil like vegetable
  • 210g (1cup) Caster sugar
  • 210g(1 ½ cups) Self Raising flour
  • 6 eggs- separated
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp vanilla essence (or raspberry essence)
  • 5 tbsp Freeze dried raspberries + more for topping
  • 100g icing sugar
  • pink food colouring

How to make the cake

  1. Grease and line a baking tray with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  2. Place the sugar, oil, egg yolks and vanilla essence in a bowl and stir.
  3. Sieve the flour and baking powder over the mix and combine thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form peaks or they don’t fall out when you turn the bowl upside down.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the mix until no white is visible then lastly add the freeze dried raspberries and combine.
  6. Pour the mix into the baking tray and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cake bounces back when you press it lightly with your finger.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
  8. Make up some runny icing and add pink colouring then pour it over the completely cool cake. Sprinkle a few more freeze dried raspberries on top and leave to set.

Freeze dried Raspberry tray bake recipe

We took this cake with us this week during half term when we visited some friends in Hertfordshire. It’s always good to have friends that understand why a chunk of the cake is missing when you arrive (well I have to take shots before it all gets eaten don’t I?) The general consensus was it was a moreish cake- especially where the icing was thickest and when you have a dollop of ice cream on the side. It’s also exceptionally light as it has oil in place of butter. Even Beau – who never lets me take her photo couldn’t wait to get in on the action! cheeky Beau

EmmaMT x

 

* Posted in partnership with Paradisefruits.co.uk, all views are my own.

Dairy free Pear Tart recipe

Pear tart recipe

I love a good tart. They may take a lot of time and effort to prepare and peel and chop and blind bake but they are SO worth the effort. This is the Pear tart recipe I used when I took dessert to my sister’s house on Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New year) after synagogue a couple of weeks ago. I knew she was making a meat meal which meant pud had to be dairy free. I used Tomar which is a kosher, dairy free alternative to butter. It’s actually a vegetable fat and makes a pretty good pastry – if I do say so myself.  We had a slice or two with a dairy free ice cream made with soya – have you ever tried soya ice-cream? It’s seriously creamy!

All that’s left to say is that with a slither of marzipan in this Pear pie and a tummy full of delish Chollent (thanks Shell)our New Year got off to a really good start!

Dairy Free Pear Tart

Pastry

  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g butter/Tomar vegetable margarine
  • 1 egg yolk (large)
  • 1 tbsp water

Filling

  • 75g marzipan
  • 2-3 apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 25g butter/Tomar
  • 4 tbsp Apricot jam
  • 25g golden caster sugar
  • 4 pears, sliced with the core removed

To Glaze

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  1. Heat oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)
  2. To make the pastry: Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with your hands. Be careful not to over mix as this will end in a really tough pastry. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the fridge and roll out the pastry so it’s nice and thin. Place it in the pie dish (Mine was a 23cm Pyrex dish). Scrunch up a piece of baking paper and place it over the pastry then add baking beans on top (you can use rice or dried beans if you don’t have ceramic baking beans but the ceramic ones do add more heat) Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove any excess pastry from the edge of the dish.
  4. To make the filling peel, core and chop the apples and place in a large frying pan with the butter and sugar until they become soft. Drain any excess liquid away then press through a sieve so you get a puree. Place back in the saucepan and add the jam till it is all combined. Leave to simmer till some of the liquid has evaporated and the puree is nice and thick. Set aside to cool a little.
  5. Roll out the marzipan so it’s very thin then place it over the bottom of the pastry case.
  6. Spread the puree over the marzipan then add the thinly sliced pear in a decorative pattern.
  7. Once filled bake for 25 minutes until the pear is golden brown.
  8. Heat up the apricot jam so it is nice and runny then as soon as you take the pie out of the oven spread the jam over the top of the whole pie while it’s still hot using a silicon pastry brush. Leave to cool a little before serving with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Pear tart recipe - Dairy free

enjoy!

EmmaMT x

How to make Pumpkin Cake Pops

Halloween pumpkin cake pops

Pumpkin cake pops

I love cake pops. They may be a bit fiddly to make but the look on peoples faces (and when I say people I mean Beau and Darcey) when they see them is worth every minute. We have a bit of an obsession with Halloween in our house and the only reason for this is that it’s my birthday on Halloween. This means anything pumpkin/bat/ghost or witch related is a real draw for us. 

These cute little pumpkin cake pops for Halloween aren’t hard to make when you know the little tricks(or treats) which I’ll share with you now.

You will need:

  • A cake
  • buttercream (enough to make the crumbs stick so only around 50g butter/50g icing sugar) 
  • orange candy melts
  • black food colour (professional pastes work best)
  • cake pop sticks
  • Green sugarpaste

How to make pumpkin cake pops

  1. Take a cake and turn it into crumbs in a food processor. A cake that has been sitting around a day or two is fine (not that we ever have cake sitting around!)
  2. Add a small amount of buttercream. 
  3. Mix the crumbs and buttercream in the food processor until the mixture forms a large ball.
  4. Roll out little balls then make a hole in the top. This is where the stalk of the pumpkin will sit.
  5. To create ridges in the side of the cake pops use a spoon to create dents all around the pumpkin shape.pumpkin cake pop 1
  6. Heat a few candy melts then coat the end of each stick in turn. Place that end in the bottom of the cake pop. Chill the cake pops in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so that they set hard and can be handled without falling apart. This is essential otherwise the balls fall off the sticks into the candy melts.
  7. Make pumpkin stalks from the green sugarpaste. Set aside to harden while you dip the cake pops.
  8. Heat the rest of the candy melts in a glass bowl set over saucepan of boiling water till they are runny like melted chocolate. You can add a small amount of sunflower oil to candy melts to make the liquid thinner and easier to apply to the cake pops. Don’t ever add water as it will make the candy melts sieze up and you have to start all over again. Dip each cake pop in until the whole pumpkin is covered.
  9. Place the cake pops in a glass full of sugar making sure you allow enough space that they won’t touch each other while setting. Add the green stalks while the candy melts are still wet.cake pop 2
  10. Leave the pops to dry and harden completely (at least an hour).
  11. Using a food only paint brush paint on a pumpkin face in black food colouring. Professional food colours come in a paste form and are much easier to use than supermarket bought colours.
  12. Once ready display in a bowl of sugar (so they stand up) ready for your trick or treaters.

Halloween pumpkin cake pops

EmmaMT

x

Apple Strudel recipe for Succot

apple strudel recipe for succot

This week it’s the Jewish festival of Succot. You can tell it’s Succot because we sit in a open building in the garden with fruit hanging from the roof and it ALWAYS rains!  It’s kind of a Harvest festival with a lot of fruit taking centre stage. It will come as no surprise then that the traditional cake for this festival is Apple Strudel. I love an apple strudel. We used to have it all the time when we went to Tim’s mum for Sunday lunch so I thought I’d give it a go.

For all of two seconds I thought about making myown puff pastry. Then I came to my senses and used a spare pre-rolled pastry I had as ‘back up’ in the freezer. My excuse to Tim was that it was taking up valuable freezer space (I don’t think he bought it!)

Strudel is a little time consuming and fiddly to make but it’s well worth the effort. I love the cinnamony, appley, nuttyness in a strudel so it was good that I could design it to my exact tastes. Tim loved it and as my harshest critic I took that to mean it’s a winner in the MT household and will be making a re-appearance again soon. Winter warmer anyone?Apple Strudel recipe for Succot

Apple Strudel Recipe

(serves 8)
  • Puff pastry
  • 700g cooking apples
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon (according to taste. I like a lot)
  • 50g sultanas- soaked in boiled water for 10 minutes to soften them
  • 50g walnuts -cut into chunks
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam
  • flaked almonds to top
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 230C. The oven needs to be hot so the butter is absorbed into the flour rather than melts and leaks out all over the place!
  2. To prepare the filling peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. I use cooking apples for a strudel as they have a more sour taste and work perfectly. Place in a  large frying pan with the butter and sugar and cook for around 10 minutes till the apple starts to soften but not fall apart.
  3. While still in the frying pan sprinkle the cinnamon over the top of the apples and add the drained sultanas and walnuts. Stir for a minute to combine then place in a sieve to allow the excess liquid to drain away and cool down a little. We don’t want a soggy bottom now do we?
  4. The pastry needs to be rolled out into a large square or rectangle. Cut diagonal lines away from the centre area then place the filling over the centre. Tuck the top and bottom of the pastry over the filling then lift each diagonal strand of pastry over the filling in turn left then right then left and so on. Try to keep each strand close the the last so you have most of the strudel closed up. A little gap or two is fine as that will allow steam to escape but too many gaps and the whole thing will collapse!
  5. Carefully move the strudel onto a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and pop it in the centre of the oven for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
  6. A few minutes before the strudel is ready to come out of the oven heat up the apricot jam. I do this in the microwave in 30 second bursts. You want it to be runny.
  7. As soon as the strudel is out of the oven brush the apricot jam over the whole thing with a silicon pastry brush and sprinkle the chopped almonds liberally over the top.
  8. Enjoy with a big dollop of cream.

See you in the Succot

EmmaMTApple Strudel yumminess

 

 

Sleeping Beauty Birthday cake for FCFK

I got to make another cake for Free Cakes For Kids Bromley last week. It was a really good one. Sleeping Beauty for a 6 year old girl called Abigail.

Sleeping Beauty

I had been shooting cookies and cakes earlier in the week and as part of the step shots I needed to make up a cake mix. Never one to waste cake mix I quickly used what I didn’t need for the shoot for Abigail’s cake. But it was only a loaf tin size so I decided that a quick tray bake was needed to ensure there was enough cake to go around.

How to make a Sleeping Beauty cake

I used the loaf tin to create a bed, covering the cake in a crumb coating of buttercream and then a layer of white sugarpaste. I then made a pillow and valance using a shaping tool. To finish the bed I made a thin yellow blanket which I curved on the bottom edges so it looked softer.

The tray bake was also covered in a crumb coating and then that cake and the cake board were covered in a layer of green sugarpaste. This is a really good way to use less sugarpaste and get the cake covered quickly but if you’re anything like me it’s also a great way to get fingerprints and dents in the covered cake board! Still, I wanted a seamless look for this cake so I just smoothed those knocks out. I set the cakes towards the back of the board so there was room for the name. I like doing this as it looks different and more personal than shop bought cakes and leaves plenty of room for names and messages.

The bed was secured onto the tray bake with royal icing and then I made Sleeping Beauty. I used a little pink sugarpaste mixed with natural marzipan for the body parts (yes I ate more than I modelled!) and used sugarpaste for the rest. A flower embosser was used to decorate the dress and her shoes were adorned with pearls (aka decorative balls). For the hair I just rolled strands of yellow sugarpaste and stuck them in place with edible glue.

Abigail is disabled and is only able to eat through a feeding tube and I knew that the cake was going to be taken into school to celebrate her birthday with her class mates. She is however able to eat (and hopefully enjoy) buttercream so I had to find a way to ensure there was plenty of buttercream for the birthday girl. I came up with all sorts of ideas – make a hollow bed side cabinet that I could fill with buttercream, make grass using a piping bag and nozzle – which was my initial plan but once I had the rose nozzle in the bag I decided that roses all over the grass base was going to look prettiest.

Sleeping Beauty birthday cake

Luckily, the name ‘Abigail’ just fitted onto the cake board perfectly so she was bedded into the buttercream roses with a few extras just for fun.  Finally I added a few flowers and I finished just in time to collect the kids from school. I find it really difficult to decorate with sticky fingers scooping up buttercream and random sugarpaste flowers!

I was really happy with this cake. I delivered it as arranged to whom I thought was Abigail’s mum but it turned out to be a relative. (I thought she looked a bit confused by some random lady delivering a cake!) About an hour later I got a very enthusiastic phone call from Abigail’s mum to say a massive thank you for the cake.  She absolutely loved it and I have to say that her phone call made my day. I’ve made cakes for lots of friends and family since I started decorating but the ones I make as a volunteer that are so well received just give me that warm and fuzzy feeling.

If you would like to volunteer and get that warm and fuzzy feeling then get in touch with your local group. Check out the Free Cakes For Kids website for more details.

EmmaMT x

Nectarine and rhubarb crumble with oaty marzipan topping recipe

Nectarine and rhubarb crumbleI love rhubarb and I’m lucky enough to have a lovely next door neighbour who shares her crop with us. It’s always big and pink and delicious (thanks Liz). A few weeks ago we were invited round to Tim’s parents for lunch and armed with a bunch of the pretty pink stuff I decided that I would make a crumble to take with us. It was a good decision.

When thinking about what to make with rhubarb, a crumble always seems like such an obvious choice don’t you think? That’s why after a few years of coming up with recipes for this blog I have avoided it. (apart from here!) But let’s face it. Rhubarb is damn good. So I decided that I would glam it up a bit – if you can call nectarines glam. We really enjoyed the crumble after our main meal. There’s something about all that crunch with a hint of marzipan that just works.

I liked this crumble so much that a few days after the meal I discovered one lone, slightly sad looking stick of rhubarb lurking at the bottom of my fridge with the peppers and onions. I decided to make a mini crumble just for me (yeah right – with Darcey in the house!) It was soooo good. This crumble translates for any amount of settings whether it’s one or 32! And if you don’t like any of these fruits just swap them in for something else. As long as you keep the weight of the fruit the same it will still work perfectly.

Nectarine and rhubarb crumble recipe

Nectarine and rhubarb crumble with oaty marzipan topping recipe

(serves 8-10)

For the crumble topping

  • 75g plain flour
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 75g oats
  • 75g butter- at room temperature
  • 30g marzipan cut up into really little pieces

For the filling

  • 10g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 450g rhubarb – chopped into small pieces
  • 350g nectarines – cut into slices.
  1. Heat your oven to 180ºC (Fan 160ºC)
  2. In a bowl cut the butter up into small pieces and add the sugar, flour and oats. Rub together with your fingers until completely combined but still crumbly. Add the marzipan and make sure it’s well coated. I like to squeeze a few handfuls of the mix in my fists to make larger clumps. It browns up nicely and adds to the crumbly effect. Place the crumble topping in a sandwich bag in the fridge till the filling is ready.
  3. Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a deep frying pan (don’t let it get too hot- you don’t want the butter to burn). Add the sugar until it’s dissolved and then add the rhubarb and cook for 5 minutes. Set to one side to cool slightly.
  4. In a separate bowl mix the rhubarb and nectarine pieces together then place in the pie dish and layer the crumble on top. Bake immediately in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes or until the crumble starts to brown around the edges.
  5. Serve with a generous helping of custard and enjoy.

Nectarine and rhubarb crumble yumminess

EmmaMT x

An Extra slice. The filming

 

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Last Sunday I was lucky enough to be invited to the filming of The Great British Bake Off’s ‘An Extra Slice’. Cristina the chief organiser behind the Bromley ‘Free Cakes For Kids’ charity requested six tickets and invited some of the team to go with her. Do you think we were happy about it ?(enter cheesy, blurry selfie! below!) photo 2

Yes, we were excited. We had to arrive at The London Studios for 3pm (which I did by the skin of my teeth – sorry ladies) and get wrist bands. We had priority bands due to Cristina’s tickets but I think that just meant that we would definitely get in. Waiting, waiting, waiting

The queue was pretty long by 3.05pm. That pic is just a fraction of the line of bakers waiting to get in.

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So what happens during filming?

We were directed into a main room and were asked to sit and wait. The producer came and spoke to us explaining what was going to happen for the rest of the day. We were given timings and told that it would take until around 8.30pm to complete the filming. It was 3.30pm. The hall had a wall of glass windows and it was really sunny making the room super hot. We were glad there were refreshments available to buy. Ice cold Sprite (whilst on a water only 30 day challenge!) Don’t mind if I do – Ooops!

Last weeks episode of the GBBO was put on the big screens at the front of the room. There were a few groans because let’s face it- if you’re there you’ve probably already seen last weeks show! But that was just for background noise. Then we were asked to sign a rather long and detailed confidentiality form swearing that we wouldn’t say who went out. We were going to get to see next weeks (yesterday’s) episode a whole four days early. Yep. We were really happy about that too!

It was during this hour that the production runners came and looked at all the bakes everyone had brought in. Kim had made a cake in the shape of our charity’s badge (which you can see us all wearing- just for Jo Brand. Unfortunately the cake wasn’t selected. We were competing with a naked Paul Hollywood and a carrot Mary Berry and Jo was “very busy” and basically not accepting cakes so Lucy took it into work the next day and sold slices for charity instead. It did look mighty good. Jo missed out there! Us in our badgesFCFK cake

Then it was time to take our seats (second row in the middle in case you’re looking). We all removed our wrist bands and sat in the audience seats. Those whose cakes were selected sat at the front at the tables and while the next episode was screened the runners went about making sure each bake had a plate or cake stand to display it on.

It was really great to be watching an episode in secret like that with a whole load of bakers. I mean it’s great to watch with Tim at home but this was a real experience. We all oohed and ahhed at the same time and picked up things that non-bakers just wouldn’t see. It felt like an exclusive club.

There was a great warm up guy who was really funny. He introduced Jo Brand and then the filming began. It was now around 5.15pm. The guests this week are really funny- (I don’t think I can say who they are but you haven’t got long to wait) We saw loads of funny bakes which were emailed in. The audience bakes were really funny and Jo Brand is just so down to earth and natural you just feel like you know her. She really made me laugh.

Watching the lighting and cameras was really interesting. Also the set is fab. The paintings either side of the main kitchen area are amazing and the propping is excellent. Not to mention the furniture mix.

At 8.30pm, starving hungry having just watched cake for nearly five hours it was all over. It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again. All that’s left to say is thanks Cristina for inviting us. We had a chance to have a really catch up and shared a really great experience.

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An Extra Slice is a Love Films production. Tickets are still available for future shows. Visit their Facebook page for contact details.

 

EmmaMT

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