Category: Baking equipment on test

Cake kit: The Side Scraper

I’ve decided to start a series of posts on my essential cake decorating kit. When I first started decorating cakes I only had a few tools of the trade, but as time goes on, and you get chatting to other decorators and helpful shop assistants  and you learn about these clever little gadgets that make a job much easier and your cakes look more professional. Over the coming months I’ll be sharing my favorites with you with the hope that they will make your life easier too!

The Side Scraper

side scraper

Have you ever tried to do a buttercream coating on a cake and wanted to get it perfectly straight? By straight I mean at a 90º angle.  I am totally useless at seeing if things are straight – you should see the shelves I put up at home! So I find it really hard to see when a cake looks right. Well ,this nifty tool does it for you. What’s more it’s less than a fiver. Money seriously well spent.

I hadn’t seen one of these before. I always used my Plain Edge Side Scraper  but never really got the hang of getting the cakes to be really straight. There’s far too much room for error! My local cake shop(Cake Craft World)  has a You Tube channel which I found out about in their newsletter. I checked out the video on ‘How to cut and fill a sponge cake on YouTube and saw Louise using this metal edged side scraper and knew I had to have one.  It took me about 5 trips to the cake shop to remember to buy it as usually I go into the shop with a list for boxes, boards, icing and cutters for whatever cake I am about to make and I kept on forgetting to buy the scraper. Then by luck I was chatting to Sue and I remembered and I haven’t looked back since. Sue also showed me a taller scraper for the really big cakes. I really wished I had bought it as I had a 7 tier cake to decorate last weekend and it would have been really useful.

Anyway, the way the scraper works is simple.

Side scraper

Give your filled cake a layer of buttercream on the outside edge.

Press the side scraper against the cake and drag it around the circumference, ensuring the bottom angle is flat on the surface the entire time.

Side scraper

Look how easy that is!
Side scraper

Et Voila! A nice and straight edged cake without any fuss.

Side scraperI mean really. This is as 90ºs as it gets!

You can get a ‘Perfect Angle side scraper’ from your nearest cake decorating shop or check out my fav cake shop for theirs. Here’s the link to it on their website!

enjoy.

EmmaMT

How to make Bauble cookie decorations

Bauble cookies

I love these Christmas Tree bauble Cutters from Eddingtons. Apart from the fact that the set comes with 5 sizes (way more than I could need in one go) but it also comes with ribbon and a little punch for making the holes! It’s available from Amazon.com and I think I’m going to be using them for years to come.

I used the three smaller sizes for gift cookies for our family. I wanted to use all kinds of toppings. I made some with pre-bought sprinkles then started playing with the coloured sugar and decided that was the best and most uniformed look.

How to make bauble cookies.

I made up a batch of Vanilla dough for these cookies and using spacers rolled out the dough so each cookie would be the same thickness.

When you take them out of the oven it’s really important to stamp out the hole in each cookie to hang the ribbon from before you remove them from the baking tray and place them to cool on a rack. If you wait till the cookies are cold to try and make the holes the biscuit will break.

Bauble cookies

Once the cookies are completely cooled, use the same cutter to cut out some rolled out sugarpaste . Make the edges on the reverse slightly damp. Position the bauble shaped sugarpaste over the cookie then rub the top gently with the palm of your hand to smooth it firmly onto the cookie. If you can’t see where the hole is use a toothpick from the back to mark the hole. Use the little punch to create a neat hole (from the front). Leave to dry for around 20 minutes.

How to make bauble cookie decoration

Pipe some royal icing  lines/dots/ stars etc onto each cookie then dip or sprinkle your toppings over it while it is still wet. Leave to dry over night.

Once they are firm enough to handle place the ribbon through the hole and knot it. You can store these cookies in an air tight container for a week or hang them from your tree. They look really cute.

bauble biscuits

Christmas tree bauble cookies

EmmaMT

Fail safe Donut recipe for Channuka

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Last week my sister asked me if I was making donuts for Channuka. They’re the traditional cake for this festival and I’ve not got a good track record with them. But, this year is different. I’m not frying them -which means the batter isn’t getting welded onto my hob and they aren’t going to end up so hard that you need a drill to break them up! That’s all in the past.

This year I have gone to my reliable friends at Lakeland and used not only their fantastic mini donut mould but their recipe too! Just look at the results. Mouth watering aren’t they?

donut recipe
Such a bargain at £4.99

Donut ingredients

FOR 12 DOUGHNUTS

  • 75g (2½oz) plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 55g (2oz) caster sugar
  • 60ml (2¼fl oz) milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil (If preferred 10g (½oz) melted butter may be added in place of the olive oil)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra sugar for dusting

How to make donuts

IMG_2699Pre-heat the oven to 325°F/160°C/Gas 3. Lightly brush the doughnut pan with cooking oil.

IMG_2703Take a large roomy bowl, and sift the flour, baking powder and salt into it. Add the sugar and give it a stir round to combine.

IMG_2704In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, beaten egg, olive oil and vanilla extract together and add this to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly.

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Mix till it looks like a smooth batter

IMG_2711Using a teaspoon carefully fill each of the doughnut cups around ¾ full with the batter. I used an icing bag because I make a lot of mess!

IMG_2712 IMG_2713Place in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until firm, but springy to the touch. Cool slightly.

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The best thing about these silicon moulds is how easy it is to make your donuts pop out effortlessly! Just a gentle press from beneath et Voila! IMG_2720

Leave to cool if you are adding chocolate ganache or dip in a mix of sugar and cinnamon straight away. IMG_2722

I made a lot of the chocolate ones…..

Make sure you put some greaseproof paper underneath your cooling rack to catch the dribbles.
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But the cinnamon ones were pretty delish too!

You don’t have to use a silicon mould. I did a trial run in a small cupcake tin and they popped up really well too. Just make sure you oil the tin really well.  I’m going to attempt to put some jam in these later on today when there are no kids that I have to share with! donut recipe

Happy Channuka everyone! 

It’s the simple things that make me happy… like a tidy baking cupboard.

Last week at my dress making class the ladies thought I was a little bit funny.  You see I had just bought a brand new pair of dress making scissors, (you know the kind that the kids aren’t allowed to use on paper!) and I was saying how…. “these new, extra sharp, oh so much better than my old pair are going to make cutting out my latest creation a complete doddle. These scissors make me happy!”  I said.

It really is the simple things in life that make me happy.  If it’s a practical kind of buy, the kind that makes your everyday life so much easier then I am going to love it.

Insert shelf here.

Yesterday I went to Ikea with my mum. I only had one thing on my shopping list. The Variera shelf insert. I have become addicted to these things. We have an Ikea kitchen which I chose because they have very tall units – which means plenty of baking storage space. I already have a few of these shelf inserts to raise up cups and jam jars and wanted a few more for my armoire which houses all of my baking tins, cutters, rolling pins etc. As soon as I got home I built each shelf ( I bought five) and before dinner was even on the table I had decided to sort out the other baking cupboard. The one with all the food in.

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The food cupboard- BEFORE

As you can see, this cupboard had become pretty cluttered. I hadn’t had a clear out in a while and as I do more and more baking I have more and more equipment and half used packages piling up. Time to get organised and stop the constant avalanche every time I reach for the scales.
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I already had a ton of Lock & Lock Stackable Airtight Containers (another addiction of mine) and I decided it was time to re-label them with my BROTHER Label Printer .  I’ve had this thing for years. It’s great for labeling the kids stuff for school. I use it to show me which container has which sugar or flour in it. I hate to leave opened packages of flour and sugar around. I like them to be wrapped up and air tight so these are perfect.

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The food cupboard – AFTER

Once all the labelling was done I popped one of the larger shelves into the bottom of my cupboard and just slotted everything into place. I have a neat box for sprinkles that fits perfectly on top of  the shelf and a plastic basket that holds odds and ends – like yeast, cup cake cases and essences etc under the shelf. No more balancing act.

I re-filled all the Lock and Lock containers with flour and sugar and chucked out a few forgotten packets of currants and pine kernels.  I also found some chopped almonds that need to be used up so I shall be baking something with them this week.  There were also few odd balls of left over marzipan in zip lock bags too, but they have gone straight onto my hips… I mean I ate them. ALL of them! Thanks Mum!

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I am now the proud owner of a clean and easy to access baking cupboard which has made me very happy indeed. Time to get the baking books out I think.

So what’s your simple baking pleasure? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT

Peggy Porschen knows how to make a Christmas cookie…or two!

Look what just arrived for my Christmas tree shoot for tomorrow! Two bags of Peggy Porschen goodies. To say I was excited was an understatement.

Bauble cookies

Amongst all the boxes of Christmas trees, fairy lights and mountains of baubles sit these two pretty bags. I couldn’t resist having a quick peek at what was inside. They truly are the most beautifully iced biscuits. I just had to share them with you!

You can only  buy the cookies in the Parlour, unfortunately they aren’t sold on line so you’ll have to make your own.

Luckily, Peggy does sell the cutters. How cute are these? They start at just £3.25 for the drop bauble cutter and go up to £14.95 for the giant snowflake cookie cutter. They’d make great gifts for the girls teachers for Christmas! If only they didn’t have to go back to the shop after the shoot.

Visit www.peggyporschen.com to see all the other gorgeous gifts ideas and cookie cutters they sell as well as the classes you can take. If anyone wants to tell Tim about the beautiful pink Milk Glass cake stand that I have my eye on for Channuka I would be very grateful!

Peggy Porschen cookie cuttersEmmaMT

Mini measures

Have you ever tried to measure really small amounts of liquid, sugar, almond essence or alcohol before? It can be tricky can’t it? Measuring jugs nearly always start at 50ml or 100ml. What if you need 30ml of brandy?  Or you have tripled a recipe and need 6 teaspoons of vanilla essence? I know you can just measure it out individually, but wouldn’t it be easier to just pour and measure in one go? Well now you can.

Eddingtons

Last night I was on a cake propping mission at Sainsburys for a photo shoot I am doing this week and I seemed to wander away from the flour and eggs and found myself in the kitchenware department. I had popped into the Savercentre in Sydenham which is their flagship store so this section is pretty large and there is a lot to whet your appetite. It took all my will power not to buy another sieve/spatula/cookie cutter!

No sooner did I see this shot glass than it was in my basket. It’s by Eddingtons. It has four measurements on the sides (as you can see in the photos)  teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces and millilitres. It’s a steal at just £3! I bought one for my mum at the same time as we have often discussed this mini measuring dilemma. I used to use the girls baby bottles when they were little and no longer needed them as they had small measures on the side, but they’re long gone now.

This little glass made me very happy. What’s the saying” Simple things amuse simple people!” I rest my case!

EmmaMT 

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