Category: Cake decorating

Summer holiday baking:Jammie Dodgers and Iced ring biscuits with The Great Little Trading Company.

Jammie Dodgers and Iced ring biscuits

Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers

When it comes to baking during the summer holidays I have to say I’m well up for it- sometimes more than my kids are. So, when I was approached by The Great Little Trading Company to do a guest post for their blog I instantly jumped at the chance. Then I realised that I have a pre-teen who likes to stay in her room and watch Netflix or play Minecraft all day long and after having a baking mad mum is kind of a bit over it and a nine year old who has been baking all on her own all summer long – making up her own recipes- some delicious. Some not so much! So, plan B. Borrow someone else’s kid!

Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers

The plan

I was asked to come up with a new recipe to bake with kids in order to keep them entertained during the school holidays. I decided that iced rings were a great idea. Kids love to cut out biscuits and to play around with ‘wet icing’ and I thought I could teach the older ones how to do a more difficult technique. Great for all ages I thought.

What actually happened?

Well, once I had borrowed my friend’s gorgeous four year old daughter Dahlia we got down to it. The GLTC named aprons were put on (they came in cute cotton bags which Dahlia’s dog Rusty was put to bed in- as it made the perfect sleeping bag), hands were washed and we were ready to go.

Ice rings and Jammie DodgersI made the dough ahead to save time and let them cut out the ring biscuits. The thing is, I have a ton of cookie cutters- a whole drawer full in fact, which Darcey decided to open up and share with Dahlia. Cutting out circles and rings is no fun when there are cats and fairies, butterflies, hands and bunnies to be had.  Plan abandoned… kind of.

Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers

I made some ring and circle biscuits and so did Beau. Dahlia and Darcey made everything else they could get their hands on. Beau decided that she wanted to make Jammie Dodgers which was great as this recipe works equally well for dodgers as it does for iced rings.

summer baking 1Too blue

I made up the Royal icing ready for the kids to add their own colours to. I have these new Wilton colours from Lakeland which are brilliant. They come with a colour chart and you add a certain amount of drops of colour to get the specific colour you’re after. A drop is all you need. Each girl was given a bowl of white royal icing to colour and before I could turn around and grab a mini spatula Darcey had squirted a ton of the turquoise into her bowl. “Nooooo!!” was my instant reaction and I was right.Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers recipe For the rest of the day there were blue hands, VERY blue tongues and blue t-shirts. Even once the biscuits were iced and left to harden a day later the blue was still staining tongues when you ate them!Jammie Dodgers and Iced ring biscuits1

I used sandwich bags tied with rubber bands as piping bags. They’re easy to hold and control and cheap as chips. Just snip off the corner and away they went. And they really did love the icing. One squirt for the biscuit. One for the mouth. Dahlia told me that she had to stop the icing dribbling out at the end! She had so much sugar that day I think she could have flown home! (Sorry Fou!)

I decided to still make the pattern on the iced fingers and both Beau and Darcey had a good go at itIced rings biscuits

Click here to print this recipe 

Jammie Dodgers and Iced ring biscuits

Biscuits ingredients

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 20g cornflour

Royal icing to decorate

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white (from a medium egg)
  • food colours

To make the biscuits

  1. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until just combined. I use a stand mixer till it’s all incorporated and then use my hands to really work the butter into the flour. Be careful not to over work the dough as this will give you tough biscuits that spread during baking.
  2. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC) and line baking trays with silicon paper.
  4. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface so it’s around the thickness of a £1 coin. Let the kids have a go and cut out shapes to their hearts content.
  5. Place the biscuits on a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to brown.
  6. Leave to cool on a rack for 10-20 minutes while you make the royal icing.

To make the royal icing

  1. Sieve the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a hand held mixer too but it makes a bit of a dust cloud in your kitchen!) Add the egg white and mix by hand until completely blended.
  2. Place the bowl in the mixer and mix for 4-5 minutes. If the icing looks too dry add a little water at a time so it is softer and more fluid.
  3. Place the royal icing in a few bowls then add a drop or two of food colouring to each and mix.
  4. Place the icing into piping bags (or sandwich bags tied with elastic bands) and snip off the tip.
  5. Let the kids have some icing fun. Leave the decorated biscuits to harden for an hour or more before eating or storing.

To make the pattern on the iced rings

Cover the biscuit in white icing. Immediately afterwards pipe horizontal lines across. Using a toothpick drag the lines in one direction at regular intervals. Then repeat in the other direction in between the first lines. Hey presto! Cool iced rings.

Jammie Dodgers and Iced ring biscuits2To make the Jammie Dodgers

Take one circle biscuit and one ring which are the same size. In a heat proof bowl add a tablespoon of jam. We used strawberry but anything goes. Heat the jam in the microwave for 30 seconds. You want it to be warm and runny but not bubbling. Use a silicon pastry brush to brush jam across the circle biscuit then place the ring on top. Leave to cool. Hey presto Jammie dodgers.

Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers

I think a great time was had by all – especially once the biscuits were made and devoured! Ice rings and Jammie DodgersHope you had fun this summer holiday. What have you been baking with the kids? I’d love to know.

EmmaMT

Disclaimer: No child was harmed in the eating of too much royal icing in this post! Thanks to The Great Little Trading Company for asking me to write a guest post over on their blog – which you can see here. Thanks also to Theoda for letting Dahlia come and play ‘how much icing can I eat before dinner!” Love you guys. x

Ice rings and Jammie Dodgers recipe

 

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Add a little glitz to your cakes with these stunning cake toppers

Talking Tables cake Toppers 2

The moment I saw these cake toppers I knew I had to share them with you. I mean how cool are they? The font, the colours, the style! They’ll look great on any cake and what’s more when you’re in a rush a plain and simple cake can instantly become divine!
Talking Tables cake Toppers 5

I received the Talking Tables newsletter about them just last night when I was actually sitting down to write up a post on Rhubarb jam but I just couldn’t wait to share them.

I’ve been shooting for Talking Tables for a few years now so I’m no stranger to their fantastic and top end products (just head on over to their website  and loads of the shots you’ll see there are styled by me – the silver bath is one of my favourites. Actually this is my all time favorite styled shot which is happens to be a TT shot and is bouncing around Pinterest like mad at the mo) But this is the first time I’ve seen these cake toppers and I know that I’ll be putting an order in soon.

Talking Tables Cake Toppers post

Alice, the product developer has a really good eye for detail. I love it that this range has something for everyone whether you’re getting married, baking something special for your partner or just want to add a bit of ‘Sparkle‘ to your day. Talking Tables cake Toppers 3

You can choose the gold ‘Love’ heart and cover the cake in gold! How amazing does this cake look? I’ve been seeing gold cakes everywhere since I went to The Squires Cake Show back in March. Maybe Silver is catching up with the metallics cake trends too!

Talking Tables Toppers 1The toppers are really easy to insert. I’ve used many of Talking Tables’ other cake toppers on shoots in the past – just check out the ponies! These ones can be wiped clean ready for the next big celebration.

TT LEt's party topper

So which is your favorite? I think mine is the ‘Let’s Party’! It has so many uses.

EmmaMT x

Disclaimer: I did not receive any product for this post and these are not my styled shots or cakes so I can’t take the credit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Talking Tables didn’t even know I was going to write this post so that will be a nice surprise for them won’t it? 

 

How to make easy butterfly cookies that look fantastic!

Easy butterfly cookies How to make butterfly biscuits

I made these butterfly cookies for a local charity event a few months ago. As a volunteer at Free Cakes For Kids we’re always being asked to support local charities and this time it was for The Maypole project. Oh I do love a charity bake, don’t you?

I’ve baked a few cakes in the past for The Maypole project charity but this time it was for a summer fete where they were going to be selling bakes to raise funds. I thought 20 odd cookies would make some money so I set about making the biscuits a few days before.

I’d been looking for an opportunity to make butterfly cookies on lollipop sticks for ages. They always looked a bit daunting so I set about decorating them slowly. I painted one stage at a time on all the biscuits so they had time to dry in-between layers and I was really happy with the end result. They looked pretty good on their own but it was when I put them all together that they looked really great.

Displaying the cookies

I used a fake cake made from polystyrene to hold all the biscuits. First I pushed a spare lollipop stick all over the base so the actual biscuits would go in -facing the front, with little need for pushing.

Once they were all in place I wrapped a thick piece of ribbon around the fake cake and wrapped the lot in cellophane. I then insisted on Tim driving us to the fete so I could hold them on my lap for the journey. I didn’t trust them to stay upright anywhere else for the journey.

I dropped them off at The Maypole Project table then we had a look around the rest of the fete. It’s hard not to resist going back and having a peek to see if your baked goods are selling throughout the afternoon. I only looked twice and they seemed to go down pretty well.

So now it’s your turn. They’re easy to do. Why don’t you have a go?

Easy butterfly cookies                                                                          

  (Print this recipe) 

(Makes around 20 biscuits)

  • 200g unsalted butter- at room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 egg (medium) – at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • White sugar paste
  • food gel colours

To make the cookies

  1. Place the butter in a bowl. Add the sugar, flour, egg and vanilla essence.
  2. Mix all the ingredients by hand. I always mix biscuits by hand as the warmth from your hands means that it’s all being blended really well and for some reason they taste much better than when mixed with a machine. You can always start the mixing with a wooden spoon if you don’t like gloopy hands.
  3. Be careful not to over mix biscuit dough. It will not only become tough, but the biscuits will spread more when baked and we want them to keep their shape perfectly.
  4. Once it is nearly all blended I turn the dough out onto the worktop and knead it till it all holds together nicely.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This allows the gluten in the flour to do it’s stuff. Without chilling the cookie shapes will definitely contort when baked.
  6. Remove from the fridge and knead a little on a lightly floured surface. Roll out using spacing sticks to ensure that your biscuits are all the same thickness.
  7. Cut out the cookies then remove the excess first. This way you can pick up the biscuit without denting it.
  8. Place a lolipop stick in each cookie making sure you don’t poke it through the front. It’s okay if it pokes through the back as the baking will keep it in place.
  9. Place on a baking tray lined with silicon paper and pop them back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. This ensures the cookies bake slowly and don’t spread. It’s the easiest way to make sure each design is exactly the same.
  10. Pre-heat your oven to 160°C then bake for 12 minutes or until the biscuits start to brown on the edges
  11. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Avoid handling the cookies till they are cool. If you pick up a hot cookie by the lollipop stick it’s likely to fall out!

To decorate the cookiesbutterfly cookie decorating steps

  1. Roll out the white sugar paste so it is nice and thin then use the same butterfly cutter to cut the shape. Carefully pick up the sugar paste butterfly and dampen it on the reverse then ‘stick’ it down onto the butterfly cookie. Smooth it onto the cookie with the palm of your hand. Smooth the edges so they don’t stick out – or the sugar paste will snap off.
  2. Use a little yellow food gel colour – watered down with clear alcohol, to paint the edges of the wings
  3. Continue till half the wings are painted
  4. Use a dark brown or black colour to paint the centre of the butterfly
  5. Use jagged brush strokes for the tips of the wings
  6. Paint a thin line around the rest of the wings
  7. Paint across the lower wings and give the tips some detail
  8. Draw veins across the top wings
  9. and the bottom
  10. Make shiny white paint with a white lustre powder and some clear alcohol and paint tiny dots all around the outside edge of the wings on the black area.
  11. Leave to dry overnight.How to make butterfly cookies

enjoy!

EmmaMT x

Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy : Book review and giveaway

Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

I love doing book reviews – well, actually I love reading new cakey books and getting inspired and being desperate to share what I’ve found with you guys, but when it comes to the actual writing of these posts I always find myself waffling on and on and making them way too long. And that was the case with Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy, by David and Charles. There was just so much to share.

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy I’ve Interviewed and reviewed a Lindy Smith book in the past and there’s one thing you should know about her. She works REALLY hard and is really creative. She has a new book coming out in what feels like every five minutes and they are all so different and totally inspirational. How does she do it?

 Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy

The latest book is just the same. Jam packed with clever hints and tips on how to get different effects, some of them basic for the beginner and some of them more challenging but all inspirational. Sometimes you just need to be shown a new tool or colour combination to give you a whole new idea for a cake. One piece of inspiration and the book’s a winner – don’t you think?

What I love about this book are the simple ideas executed to perfection. Whether it’s the stunning colour combinations of the Rosette cake or the cute washboard sides on the beach hut cakes. The way some simple plunger cutters have been used to make an elegant Christmas tree cake look fabulous or the clever use of a flower and some piping to make the cutest diddy wedding cake. Also, there’s buttons. I love a sugarpaste button on a cake!

Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy Why I think Lindy’s books are so great is that no matter what level you’re at there are plenty of photos to describe the techniques so you can understand the way to make every element of decorating. Some books only have one step shot and explain the rest with words and you just can’t get a handle on what they’re on about. Here Lindy explains everything in clear detail and shows you too. You can’t go wrong.Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

What else is in the book?

As well as seeing where the inspiration for each cake comes from there are templates and recipes (for the main size cake tins when making small cakes) and the sticky toffee cake sounds really deelish. There’s even a vegan chocolate cake in there. There are recipes to make your own sugarpaste, pastillage, flowerpaste and of course buttercreams and ganaches.

If you aren’t sure where to start when covering a fiddly mini cake there are steps to show you how with buttercream, marzipan and sugarpaste.Lindy Smith Mini cakes Academy

Whether you want to paint your cake design, create beautiful flowers, go for modern or vintage there’s something for everyone. With 30 fabulous designs you’ll be spoilt for choice.

And what’s more you can win a copy right here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com. I bet you want to don’t you?

The Mini Cakes Academy Giveaway

The lovely Lindy herself emailed me offering this book giveaway to you lovely people. How honoured and excited am I by that! All you have to do is leave a comment below answering the question AND enter via the rafflecopter site (just click below to be taken straight through to the competition) A winner will be randomly selected on 12th August.

” What cake decorating question would you ask Lindy” leave a comment below and enter the rafflecopter widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

EmmaMT 

Disclaimer: The book in this post was sent to me by Lindy Smith and David and Charles publishers  (Thanks you guys- it’s fantastic).  All thoughts and opinions and entirely my own.

CakesBakesAndCookies.com Giveaway Terms & Conditions

This giveaway will close at 12:00am on 12th August 2015. Leaving a blog post comment is a mandatory entry option. This prize is offered by Lindy Smith. I am hosting it on behalf of Lindy Smith. Please note, I am not responsible for posting the prize out or providing it. Lindy Smith or her representative will send out the prize, the winner must provide their name, address once contacted. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by the Rafflecopter widget. The winner will be notified within 3 days of the closing date. The prize is one copy of the ‘Lindy Smith’s Mini Cakes Academy’ book, no cash alternatives are available. This giveaway is open only to residents in mainland UK (excluding Northern Ireland and Scottish Highlands and Islands) and entrants must be over 18.

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cake

Evie and Lois’ Go Ape birthday cakeGo Ape birthday cake

Have you ever had an idea in your head for a birthday cake and then it all went horribly wrong? Well that’s kind of what happened with this cake.

The Go Ape Birthday cake.

I’ve made cakes for Evie and Lois before. They’re at school with Darcey and Evie is the reason I have such a keen interest in gluten free baking. I wanted her to have a cake that was every bit as delish as any gluten filled one. As the girls were having a shared Go Ape birthday I wanted their cake to be fitting for a load of kids swinging from ropes in trees.

Beau came up with the original design. I was trying to work out how to have monkeys, trees and models of the girls as well as the cakes needing to be completely separate when she said “Just make two cakes and two trees” and there the idea was born.

The plan

Originally, I wanted to make ball like trees and bushes and have Evie hanging down from a branch on her cake and Lois doing a zip wire from a tree on hers. I dilly dallied as to how to actually do this. I made the trees first and left them to dry then a few days later I made the models of the girls. Then delivery day came.

Go Ape birthday cake Delivery day was a busy one. Not only did I need to finish the cake but it was also the girls school summer fayre – which I was helping at,  and my brother who lives in Oz was coming home for a holiday that night with his wife and three daughters and I was going to help pick them up from the airport. This is where my regrets of not following my normal cake rule of ‘don’t go to bed till the cake is completely finished even if that means staying up till 2am to do so’ kicked in.

Go Ape birthday cake I went to the school fayre and headed home with two hours left to assemble the girls in the trees and put the trees in the cake- then I could do the writing just before dropping the cake off on the way to the airport. As I walked through the front door my dad phoned. “Their plane is getting in early. We’re leaving in half an hour!” OMG! I just lost 90 minutes! And that’s when Lois legs fell off and Evie’s hands weren’t staying in the right position! Panic. Well nearly. I had to change tact. I decided to remake the models and have them literally in the trees – pulling a few ball leaves off the bigger trees to fit them in. I tried to position the arms so they looked really chilled out.

I delivered the cake just in time and then headed straight to the airport where I met my niece for the first time and got to hug my brother and his family for the first time in three years. With the cake delivered without anything else falling off I’d say it ended up a successful day after all!

5 lessons learnt making this Go Ape Birthday cake

  1. ALWAYS finish the cake the night before delivery even if that means staying up till stupid O’clock! Always!!!
  2. Make models a week before delivery date so they have plenty of time to dry and legs don’t fall off. When will I learn this lesson????
  3. You can be a bit brave with design. I loved the ball leaves and bold topiary style tree. They look really cartoony.
  4. Gluten free chocolate cake made with almonds is amazing and doesn’t have that grainy texture most GF cakes have.
  5. Planes will always land early when you’re not expecting it!

EmmaMT

xGo Ape birthday cake

Colin’s painted cake

Colin’s Painted Cake Grandad Colin's Painted cake

This was my first attempt at paining a cake. It was one of those ‘I have a great idea for a cake for grandad Colin but I don’t have lots of time to do it’ cakes! I always knew I wanted to paint the decorations on the outside and I wanted it to be a sailing cake but in the end I had literally one hour to cover the cake in sugarpaste and have it painted and in a box ready to take to lunch. Where do those hours go? Ideally I wanted to roll out the sugarpaste and have a little practice so I could plan my design. In the end I just went for it!

Once covered the painting part is pretty easy. I wished I had covered the cake in sugarpaste the day before so it had a little more time to harden up a little, but as long as I was gentle it wasn’t too bad.
Colin's Painted cake

I started by painting the boats. I used gel food colour watered down with alcohol in a paint palette (the one I usually use to shape flowers). It goes without saying that you should only use paint brushes and palettes saved specifically for cake decorating!  In her book  The Painted Cake Natasha Collins teaches that she uses water not alcohol to blend her colours so I would try that next time. I think it would produce a softer effect. The alcohol dries really fast and using water would give more time to work on the design.

Once I had all the boats, sails and little people (can you see them?) I painted waves.

Colin's Painted cake

That’s when I got help. Darcey wanted to help make Grandad’s cake so I let her. Inhale! Deep breath in. It will be all right!!! And it was. I had to just let her go with it and she did a really good job. I showed her how I painted the waves and she did more around the base of the cake.

We started with a turquoise colour then watered that down with a few drops of alcohol and added waves in between. It looked a bit flat so we created darker navy waves at the bottom of the cake  then added a few highlights of dark waves (or should that be low lights?) around the lighter areas. I wanted to give a bit of definition to the sea.

Once that was all done we stood back and looked at the cake and it still felt a bit empty so we left the waves to dry for a few minutes then used a really watered down turquoise colour to fill in the background of the sea. Colin's Painted cake

The last step was to add a ‘Happy Birthday Grandad’ onto the top – which was harder than it looked! and stick some ricrac ribbon around the base- more waves in my eyes. Colin's Painted cake

The cake was a surprise and after our lovely lunch out no-one had room for cake. We did sing Happy Birthday and then Grandad Colin took the cake home – which I think was his plan all along!

Happy Birthday Colin.

EmmaMT x

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