Category: Best for Baking

The Cake Decorating Bible – book review

The Cake Decorating Bible- book review

If you’re into baking and cake decorating then you’ve probably heard of Fancy Nancy. She (Juliet Sbear) is so amazing. Her cakes are simply stunning which is why  The Cake Decorating Bible: Simple steps to creating beautiful cupcakes, biscuits, birthday cakes and more, by Ebury Press is such a great book. She shares with us all her hints and tips and makes it all look soooo easy. After doing a short course at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Juliet went on to work at The Little Venice Cake Company. After 18 months she set up her own cake business from home and the rest, as they say is history.

” Above and beyond everything this book is full of practical know how on creating shop quality cakes in your own home” Juliet says and boy is she right.

 

So, what’s in the book?

The Contents

Introduction, Cake Jargon and supplies, Equipment and tools. Preparation: Cakes and cookie basics.

As you would expect these sections are bursting full of tips and advice from how to line a cake tin to what different terms are.

The Cake Decorating Bible- piping bag

Recipes

Juliet’s sponge recipes are devised so that the cakes are firm and can take the weight of marzipan and icing. Perfect for decorating.  They include Very Vanilla, (complete with measurements for different sized tins) Rich Belgian chocolate truffle cake, Lemon Drizzle sponge, Rich boozy fruit cake, Chocolate cup cakes, zesty orange cupcakes, and basic vanilla cookies (which I will be having a go at this weekend).

book review

Fillings and coverings

When you see a picture like this bowl of fresh raspberry and strawberry buttercream don’t you just want a spoon to lick? The recipes in this section are just mouth watering – lemon, orange and belgian chocolate ganache buttercreams. There are also tips and advice on using Royal icing and fondant icing, pouring ganache and chocolate paste.

Buttercream. Yum Yum

Layering and contructing cakes

I wish I had this book years ago as I had no idea how to slice a cake in two when I started. I had so many lopsided cakes! The detailed explanations and clear steps with the photos here would have made my life SO much easier back then.

These pages make this book worthwhile more than anything else. It’s one of the hardest things I find to do.

Cake decoration book

Icing cakes

Here you’ll find a really handy chart for how much marzipan or sugarpaste you’ll need for different sized cakes. Fab steps showing how to cover a cake with marzipan, buttercream, Royal icing, as well as how to cover cupcakes – whether smoothing or piping. There are also lots of clever hints and tips for when dealing with chocolate paste and ganache.

Decorating cakes and cookies

Whether you are making cookies covered in royal icing, a wedding cake covered in flowers or big celebration cake bursting with cookies, this is where you’ll find the right technique to use – not to mention the inspiration. There’s a section on moulding -including silicone push moulds (as seen below) embossing, how to make roses and other types of flowers as well as ideas for cookies, cupcakes, mini cakes, single tier cakes, modelling and multi-tier cakes

Moulded flowers

This is just one of the cookie inspirations that I have fallen in love with (below) in the book. These cute dress cookies use edible printed sheets. Such a simple idea – yet so effective. I’m dreaming up a design for in the future. I have to use them.

Printed icing

I love the simplicity of the stacked cake designs. I have a cake stand like this one below. I just wish I could get married again (to Tim of course!) so I could have another wedding cake to decorate just like this! Stacked cake

Roses cake

Caketastrophies

The last chapter that I have to mention is the Caketastrophies. As Juliet mentions, not many books like this give you advice on what to do when it all goes wrong. It happens to all of us at some point or another and the tips here are really useful. Like – do you know how to remove a rogue air bubble? Or what to do when your cake developes hairline cracks? Well Juliet shares all in this chapter.

 

So to sum up

This book is a great all rounder. It has plenty of advice for a novice and expert baker alike. The cakes and cookies are original as are the recipes. It’s very inspirational. I also really like the way the page headers have been shot. It’s the care and attention to detail that makes this book practical and beauful all in one.

8/10

 

EmmaMT

Excited about sprinkles. And sauces. And ganache!

Tesco Sprinkles

Just before Christmas I received one of those emails that makes you feel like the pounds instantly go from your Mac straight onto your hips! Tesco’s are launching a great new range of ice cream accessories and Finest* desserts and they wanted to know if I would like to ‘test them’? I mean it would be rude not to, don’t you think? So I carefully made a small selection from the fantastic range which will be instore from next week (14th January to be precise)

Mr Nice Cream

The ‘Mr Nice Cream’ Ice cream range includes cones, sponge cookies -now they sound fab and fan wafers (I love those things. When I was little I used to make sandwiches out of them with jam and cream).

I requested to test the squeezy sauces. Strawberry -which tastes like jam without the annoying lumps of fruit (I’ve been putting it on my toast!), Chocolate sauce which is made with Belgian milk chocolate and British cream (deelish) and Toffee sauce which is made with British double cream, British butter and golden syrup (Sorry but I can’t do the toffee sauce but that didn’t stop Beau and Darcey demolishing it on their ice cream. Are you supposed to squeeze it directly onto a spoon before you put it on your gob? No, I didn’t think so, but that’s what I found them doing one afternoon during the Christmas holidays- I hope our dentist isn’t reading this!)

There’s also a mango and passionfruit sauce. How did I miss that off my list?

To top it all off.

Don’t you just love these cell sprinkles with the 3-4 compartments with different colours and designs? They’re the perfect store cupboard essential. I tested the Princess ice cream sprinkles with pink hearts and dots sprinkles (my fav) and the mixed sprinkles with mini chocolate sweets and 100’s and thousands. Although they are ice cream toppers, they obviously make perfect cupcake and cookie toppers too.

I tested just two types of sprinkles but there are tons in the range, including the mini pots of toppers (see below). This is where you can really go to town. There’s micro marshmallows, jelly beans (in cherry, lemon & lime, banana, raspberry, strawberry and orange flavours), mini meringues, chocolate orange fudge, shortcake balls, caramel fudge…..shall I go on? There’s more! The world is your ice cream oyster.

Chocolate heaven

The only things I haven’t tried out yet are the Morello Cherry & William pear compote and the Belgian chocolate ganache sauce. I’m saving them for a cake I am making next week. I can’t wait. They look so good.

Tesco Sprinkles

Sprinkle trouble

Now, when these arrived Beau helped me open the package up. That’s where I went wrong. Letting a 9 year old see a small tub of jelly beans and chocolate covered shortbread would be pester power out of control enough, but when it came to the micro marshmallows I was in big trouble. You see I had lots of baking to do for Christmas and I wasn’t going to have five minutes to do any additional blogging, so the whole collection just sat on the kitchen worktop (accidentally) teasing her. Every single day she asked if she could have them. “Not until I have taken shots of them and done some baking with them” I would say. To which I was greeted with a lot of huffing and puffiing!  Then on Christmas day I broke my camera! More delay!

Beau had to wait a WHOLE WEEK! to eat them!!! I think it’s a new form of kiddie torture!  Just look at what happened the day we were due to bake with them. I borrowed my sisters camera (thanks Shell) and her son and we made biscuits. The shot below was taken before any biscuits went into the oven. Beau just couldn’t wait any longer! What a cruel Mamma I am.

Needless to say I used about 5 micro marshmallows on one cookie and she ate the rest! I think they were a hit!

Tesco sprinkles

We made vanilla cookies and chocolate cookies and I let Beau, Darcey and my nephew Asher go to town with the icing. Then the toppers came out to play. This is when the fun really started. Here are just a few that they made. (there were over 50) A good time was had by all, but I think I shall ‘play’ with the chocolate ganache and compote when the kids are in bed. I’m not sharing that!

Beau's cookies

Ice cream sauces are £ 1.49 each, Ice cream sprinkles from £ 2.19, Mini topper tubs 89p each, Chocolate ganache £ 2, Compote, £2, all available from Tesco.com from January 14th. 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

IMG_2725

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.

IMG_2709

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.

IMG_2718

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.
IMG_2729

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! 

Cake Pops – Christmas. Book review

 

 

Hands up who wants to make festive cake pops this Christmas?  Once you take a look at the cute designs in this book you’re certainly going to want to.

Bakerella is an American blogger (aka the lovely Angie Dudley). She’s the original cake pop developer.  She’s written books including Cake Pops and Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for Irresistible Mini Treats
….but her latest one Cake Pops: Christmas (Bakerella), Chronicle books, couldn’t have been better timed.


So what’s in the book?

Getting started with cake pops

If you’ve never made cake pops before then this is the chapter for you. It shows you step by steps on how to go about it. There’s a handy trouble shooting section (which I really need)

The recipes in this chapter are exactly what you want to get started including yellow cake, chocolate cake and red velvet cake. The frosting flavour recipes are Buttercream and cream cheese frosting (my fave)

The ‘Tools and techniques’ section is full of tips on how to create the shapes you need for each project in the book. There’s also a large section on working with Candy Melts. The first time I used candy melts I was surprised by how thick they were. I thought they would be just be like melted chocolate or floppy buttercream. In fact they are somewhere in between. That’s why the low down on how to use them is really handy.  I didn’t know where to start when it came to colouring them or thinning them out. I just did it by trial and error.

Cake Pops Bakerella
Easy to follow steps

There are all sorts of extras you can use to decorate your cake pops. You probably have lots already in your baking cupboard. Sprinkles, pearls, cookie cutters etc but Angie shows two pages of cute edibles you can use like Polos, mini cookies, pretzel sticks, small sweets like TicTacs or M&M’s. The list is as endless as your imagination..

Displaying and gifting

Knowing how to display your masterpieces is a bit of a mare when you first start out. They are top-heavy and wet when you make them so keeping them from not getting damaged at the initial stages is the most important bit for me, but making them look fantastic to give as a gift is the next step. As Angie says “Plan ahead” if you need to travel with your cake pops I would suggest using a polystyrene block but if they are staying home then there are all sorts of other ideas she has from glassware to wood displays. There are other really cute gifting ideas here too, but I’m not going to give the game away!

Christmas cake pop projects

There are so many cute and very, clever ideas in this book that I can’t mention them all. I’ll just share a few of my faves with you. There’s a ….

    • The wreath
    • Stuffed stockings
    • Jingle bells

      Cake pops - Christmas
      These look so real that they don’t look edible, but they are!
    • Pretty presents
    • Red nosed reindeer

      Cake pops, by Bakerella, Christmas
      Such cute and clever reindeer pops
  • Ornaments

    Christmas cake pops
    Simplicity is the key here.
  • Gingerbread houses
  • Snow globes
  • And just for good measure and because it’s Chanukah – Driedles (how cool are these?)

    Channuka cake pops
    I have to make these!

……..and that’s just a few! In total there are 22  winters themed pops.

Resources

This section is mainly recommending places in the US where you can buy the equipment for making cake pops, but alternatives are available here  in the UK. My local cake shop stocks most of these things. You can check out their website at www.cakecraftshop.co.uk

Cake pop image index

I think this is a really great idea. Have mini pics of all the recipes/ shapes/ designs on one page with their page number on it so you can instantly see where you need to be. Genius!

 

I love books like this. There are endless inspiring designs and hints and tips throughout, my favorite of which are…..

“Don’t push the lollipop sticks in more than half way into the cake pops” – Been there. Done that. They just go all the way through and make a big mess.

“Don’t dip frozen cake pops”. Yuck

So what Cake pops are you making this year? Do any of these designs grab your fancy?  I’d love to know.

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.

IMG_2603

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.
IMG_2593

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.

IMG_2600

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!

IMG_2597

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
%d bloggers like this: