Category: Baking equipment on test

Giveaway: Greenpan non stick bakeware

Greenpan giveaway

 

Happy Christmas bakers! Did you have a great time? Have you eaten your own weight in Quality Street like I have? I hope so.

I thought as we head into that funny time of year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve that it was the perfect time for a giveaway. I’m  sure you got lots of great baking gifts but no keen baker ever has enough do they? So I am thrilled to be able to share with you these great Greenpan baking tins which I have to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Greenpan giveaway

Have you heard of Greenpan? You’ve probably seen them in department stores and good kitchen shops around the country. They’re a really eco friendly company. I didn’t realise how bad the manufacturing processes of kitchen pots, pans and tins are until I discovered Greenpan. This new bakeware collection is called ‘Boston’ and has a supreme ceramic non-stick coating surface called Premium bake, which is PTFE, PFOA and lead cadmium free. This makes it completely safe even at really high temperatures. The collection is designed to distribute the heat evenly so any biscuit bakers out there will know how annoying it is when the front cookies aren’t done and the back ones are – this puts a stop to that. The coating also makes clean up a complete doddle! 

Built for durability and strength they’re  not lightweight due to their internal steel bodies so you know they are going to last a lifetime. I love a heavy baking tray. So, I bet you want them now don’t you?

To win this trio set worth £48 all you have to do is share this post on any social media platform then leave me a comment saying that you’ve done that and a winner will be selected at random on 1st January 2014 at midday.

Good luck

EmmaMT 

For full terms and conditions click here

 

How to make simple sugarpaste flowers

1. How to make sugarpaste flowers

I’ve been making these simple flowers for my cakes for years. In fact I am pretty sure these were the very first plunger cutters I ever bought. That was back at the start. Now I have tons of different shapes and styles of cutters and all because they are really easy to use and create the best effects. All you need is a little imagination and you can do all sorts of things with them.

These flowers are a doddle to make as I will show you below. I tend to make a ton in one go as they are quite brittle and I’m very good at breaking them, but also because they keep for ages in an air tight container (indefinitely really if you keep them dry) and they are great to have to hand when you make a cake in a hurry.

 

How to make sugarpaste flowers

2. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

These blossom cutters are the most commonly available. They come in a set of 4 and are available from Amazon (see them on this link Flower Blossom Cutter Plunger). I use this shape on it’s own and layer them up using really thin fondant. The tiny one makes very cute flowers that are really easy to break but look so cute on a cake. They are also perfect centres for other flower shapes.

 

3. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The daisy cutters are really good for lots of different looks. If you layer the same size flower up so the petals overlap eachother they look really pretty but you can also layer  up different sizes, add a small blossom flower in the centre or as I have done above, add small yellow circles (also done with a plunger cutter) to make them look like a traditional daisy. (See these cutters on Amazon on this link  Daisy Cutter Plunger)

 

4. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The first step is to roll out your sugarpaste on a hard surface. The reason for this is that once you have cut out the flower it will stick to the plunger. Before you lift the plunger up away from the surface, move it from side to side a little. This removes any burrs of sugarpaste that remain. Alternatively, you can gently wipe your finger across the bottom of the plunger to get the same result. The idea is to have nice sharp edges with no fuzzy bits.

 

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Press the plunger to release the flower. If it sticks give it a shake and next time very lightly dust the flower part of the cutter with icing sugar.

It’s a really good idea to get your hands on an artists palette. I’ve had loads of these over the years and my favorites are always the ones with deep recesses. This little 6 hole one is my latest addition. Just 79p from Hobbycraft. By placing the flower inside the recess of the palette you give the petals shape. You don’t have to shape the flowers though. They still look good when they are flat.

 

 

6. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

To layer up the flowers add a tiny amount of water to the centre of each flower. Sugarpaste is very sticky when wet so you really don’t need much.

 

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When adding the next flower position the plunger directly over the centre of the base flower and push gently into it to create a firm connection between the two layers. You can stop there or keep on going- adding more flowers. Remember that the thinner the sugarpaste the better the flower will look.

The flowers now need to be left overnight to harden up enough to handle. They will be fragile so use a dry paintbrush to dislodge one side of the flower when you are ready to remove them and they should just slide out of the palette easily.

 

8. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The end result…. but we’re not finished!

 

9. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

Once hardened the flower can be attached to cakes. You can add them as they are onto cupcakes but when I add them onto celebration cakes I add a small finishing touch. Add a small dab of royal icing onto the back of the flower. If you add too much it will squidge out and show from the front and it will also mean the flower is likely to slip slide down the cake.  Add just a tiny dot the size of the base of the back of the flower. Position the flower on the cake and hold it in place with your finger for around 30 seconds. That’s all it takes for it to stick.

 

10. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

The finishing touch is a tiny dab of royal icing in the centre of the flower. This can be any colour and it really finishes off the flowers.

 

11. How to make sugarpaste flowers.jpg

And there you have it. Simple yet effective sugarpaste flowers.

 

EmmaMT

 

p.s. I have used sugarpaste but you can also use modelling paste or flower paste in exactly the same way. The flowers will harden much quicker.

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

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