Category: Cake decorating

Buttercream recipe

buttercream for cake decoratingButtercream is one of those parts of cake decorating that I do without really thinking about it, which is why it’s never really occurred to me to share my recipe with you all. That is until I was asked to by a reader. I mean I have included the recipe in the past but when it comes to searching blogs for anything specific you do tend to get all sorts of other random stuff mixed in with it and actually the reader wanted to know how much to use for different sized cakes. So anyway, here it is. Nice and easy to find.

 

My buttercream recipe

My recipe is pretty basic and easy to remember. These ingredients will fill and cover an 9″cake. Some people find that this is too sweet so you can always try it with 50-100g less icing sugar. Taste it till you get it how you like it. I personally think this is a good taste- especially with the vanilla essence.Butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.
  1.  Start by beating the butter so it becomes light and fluffy.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar over the top of the butter then mix until well blended. I place a tea towel over my Kitchenaid and hold it carefully in place whilst mixing to prevent the dust from the icing sugar from going everywhere (and I mean everywhere! It will look like you haven’t cleaned your kitchen in a year otherwise!)
  3. Once combined add the vanilla essence and mix for 2-3 minutes so it becomes really light and fluffy. This consistency is good for a filling between two layers of cake as it’s thick. I’ve been piping buttercream between layers recently as it stays thicker than when I used a palette knife. It’s also easier to control and get flat.
  4. When covering a cake with a buttercream crumb coat before adding sugarpaste or for a decorative finish you need the buttercream to be more fluid. You can get this consistency by adding a drop or two of milk and mixing it in well. Do this slowly as once it’s too soft it’s a pain in the bum to get it to firm up again. How soft you want your buttercream is a personal choice. I like to be able to smooth the buttercream on with a palette knife easily and have it come off the sides with a side scraper without breaking the cake, but I don’t want it too soft.  You get a feel quite quickly on how you like it to be.

Chocolate buttercream 

For a chocolate version simply add the cocoa powder when you add the icing sugar but make sure you sieve it or you’ll have lumps.chocolate butter cream recipe

  • 250g butter – at room temperature
  • 500g sieved icing sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • milk as required.

Buttercream will last for two weeks in a sealed container in the fridge but remember to take it out and let it get to room temperature a good few hours before you want to pipe it.

 

Buttercream quantities for different sized cakes

And for that lovely reader who asked for quantities of buttercream for different sized cakes. Here you go…

Buttercream quantities

EmmaMT

5 things I learnt making this 40th Birthday Rainbow cake

Emma B

This is my friend Emma. Have I mentioned that in my adult life I am surrounded by Emmas? This Emma is a mum from Beau’s year but in Darcey there are three of us Emma Mums. When I used to work at Woman and Home magazine there were 6 working in the office at one time – with freelancers! That’s where the EmmaMT comes from. How else do you distinguish between us all!

Anyway back to the cake! This is probably one of the biggest cakes I’ve made. I mean, I’ve stacked cakes before but for one cake this is the biggest. I learnt quite a few lessons making it too, so I thought I would share my top tips with you.

1. Bake one cake at a time

Rainbow cake

Making up one 8″ Madeira cake mix for a 10″ tin will give a really great depth to each layer. I also discovered that if I bake each cake with a sheet of silicon paper loosely placed over the top of the tin the cake comes out completely flat. And I mean completely! No raised, cracked, doming and no excess to cut off.

I’ve since covered all my Madeira cakes with silicon paper whilst baking and they have all come out nice and flat. This makes me very happy!

2. Use a cake ruler to get the sides straight

rainbow cake tips

Remember the side scraper I talked about last year? Well, that has become one of my most valuable tools. When it came to covering this cake in buttercream I did it in two stages so that I was sure it was straight. I used the side scraper on each 3/4 layers when I did the crumb coating but when it came to stacking all the cakes together the scraper wasn’t tall enough so, I used a pink cake ruler.

The cake ruler has one straight side and one serated (I must use that serated side for something one day!) It’s pretty sturdy for a piece of plastic and did a great job of making sure the whole cake was smooth and the sides were at a 90º angle. I simply added a thin layer of buttercream to the crumb coating then stood the ruler along the side of the cake and carefully scraped around the side and voila! One tall covered cake!

n.b. I had to remove a shelf in my fridge to get the cake in to chill the buttercream! 

3. You can have any colour cake 

Rainbow cake

I played around with getting the icing for this cake the right colour. Emma showed me her colour scheme and I had a drop of her nail varnish for the big night to match it to. That was a first! Teal is a pretty difficult color to match and I had nightmares that when I delivered the cake I was going to find that it was too dark/ too green/ or just plain wrong – but in the end it was perfect!  I mixed food colours in turquoise and mint green to get the end result.

When mixing up a strong shade like this it’s a good idea to colour your sugarpaste ahead. Not only will you know you’re happy with the colour, but if you colour the sugarpaste the day before you cover your cake it will be less sticky and more steadfast- or in other words your hands won’t go teal!

Another top tip is to make sure your sugarpaste is pretty thick when you roll it out so when you lift it over the cake any stretching will be hidden and won’t result in a tear. It also means that you’ll be able to smooth it really easily.

Rainbow cake

4. You can make really gold flowers

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These were the first gold flowers I had ever made and I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get such a shiny, lustre result. The way I did it was by colouring my white modeling paste in Autumn leaf food colouring paste. I then made the flowers and used a gold lustre powder mixed with a little rejeunvanator liquid and painted them all over. I also painted my fingers and most of my kitchen table! Once dry the roses were just as I wanted them. When wet they were a sticky mess that makes everything go gold! So you have been warned. Put the flowers somewhere where you can paint them and move them without actually having to touch them.

I left them to dry overnight.

5. Don’t overstack the cakes!

IMG_3178

I made these layers individually, colouring the cake mix before it went into the oven. Then I made sure that each layer was the same depth. The trouble is that cakes are quite heavy and sugarpaste is REALLY heavy so the cakes on the bottom levels became a little compacted. It didn’t effect the taste – just the look.

Next time I will add a thin board inbetween the middle layers with dowels to hold the weight of the top layers. That way they won’t get squished!

Rainbow cake

So that’s my top tips with this tall rainbow cake. If you have any tips then please leave me a comment below and let me know how you decorate cake. Every little tip makes the decorating so much more fun. and it’s great to share the knowledge, don’t you think?

EmmaMT

My stash from Cake International

My Cake International purchases

 

How to you approach an exhibition where you are bombarded with new ideas and great looking products that you just have to have all around you?

I tend to have an allocated budget (that quite often goes out of the window when I see that last great thing!) For Cake International I tried to stick to around £50. I tend to find that if I spend more than that the chances of actually using my new tool goes out the window. It also means that I have to really want it to part with my cash.

So what did I splash my cash on? I’ll show you….

 

The Silicon Mat

£7.99, www.bakeandcreate.co.uk

This mat although made from Silicon actually feels more like rubber. It’s got a bit more give in it and is super slippy when it comes to rolling out pastry. I can’t wait to give it a go on sugarpaste.

It’s easy to wash (and dry as it’s a bit smaller than my Ikea one)  and it also seems to stick to the work surface a lot better. I am going to make a big effort not to cut out any sugarpaste decorations on this one as that’s the number one way I cut holes my mats!

Cake International buys

 

The Polka Dotter

£7.75, www.fmmsugarcraft.com

These are a really new tool (or at least I haven’t seen them before) that you use to mark out dots in sugarpaste evenly around the edge of a cake. The top one marks out the spacing so you can have a thin or thick ribbon underneath your dots- depending on which way up you use it.  The bottom one allows you to have loads of dots. All you have to do is add a pearl of piped royal icing to each indent or a flower- anything! I can’t wait to have a play with these.

Cake International buys

 

The acrylic rolling pin

£7.99, www.bakeandcreate.co.uk

I love my white silicon rolling pin but when I saw these acrylic ones I was intrigued. The man on the stand was telling us that the demonstrators had seen them when he was setting up, bought them and they were everywhere at the show due to their non stick abilities and the fact that they just look so good!  And he was right. Everyone demonstrating did seem to have one! What a sales pitch! I resisted buying the 20″ one and went for the 13″ instead. It’s excellent and really doesn’t stick as much as my other pins. I may be going back for the larger size!

Cake International buys

 

The Palette knife

£4.60 Rounded cranked palette knife, Amazon

One of the demonstrators used a palette knife to scrape along the back of a patchwork cutter and the modelling paste just seemed to pop out. I have never seen that done before.

I already have a few palette knives but I am of the opinion that you can never have too many so here’s my latest. If you haven’t got one I would highly recommend them. They’re really useful for picking up thin and fragile pieces of sugarpaste- even when they’re stuck to the surface. They’re super thin and bendy at the tip which makes them so versatile. The stand at the show where I bought this one doesn’t sell on line but you can get similar from Amazon.

Cake International buys

 

Feeding my ribbon obsession

£1 per meter, www.craftyribbons.com

I love ribbons. I have a ton so this was a real indulgence for me but I couldn’t walk past this ribbon stand without buying the rulers ribbons at least. I collect wooden rulers – especially folding ones so I was drawn to these designs. I don’t know where I am going to use them. It won’t be on a cake as that is just too much of a waste. Beau has already told me that the pink one would look good on her Monster High doll! Cute aren’t they?

Cake International buys

 

The biggest benefit of buying at a show is that most of the stands are selling at lower prices than they do on their websites so it balances out the cost of your entry ticket. My only regret is not going back for the litre bottle of Madagascar vanilla extract which was just £20. It’s around £5 for a tiny bottle in the supermarkets but I didn’t want to lug it around the whole show and then I forgot!  Also Mum went back to buy a silicon piping bag which I thought was fab. Oh well, there’s always next year!

 

EmmaMT

Cake International 2013

Yesterday I went to the second ever Cake International show at Excel in London. I have it on good authority that the show has had a 70% increase on last years attendance proving that the baking bug is still alive and strong. And as you walk around the show you can see why.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood opened the show and when my mum and I arrived they were busy doing demonstrations and a Q and A session in the Bakery theatre. Mary looked her lovely self and Paul had a constant cheeky grin on his face. He does make me laugh. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry open Cake International at Excel, London

 

 

 

The show has over 80 exhibitors offering all the latest in sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking supplies, but it’s the very talented cake decorators on these stalls showing how to get different techniques that makes this such a valuable show to attend.  I loved how this decorator showed us ruffles. She also had some cakes entered into the competitions. She’s one talented lady! Cake International 2013

 

 

The first area we headed for were the competition cakes. The judges were all in action- as it was the first day and the tables were sectioned off which meant we couldn’t get too close to all the cakes.  There are loads of categories and the criteria is very seriously looked at. If you do one thing incorrectly you can get disqualified. Some must be made of all edible ingredients – no supports or ‘props’, some are allowed to be fake cakes as the judging is on the sugarcrafting talent. The bakers dozen cupcakes are cut open and tasted and judged on that as well as how they look. One judge told us that the children’s cakes are looked at with a sympathetic eye. If a cake made by someone under 12 has a little crack in the sugarpaste “we might turn a blind eye”. To be honest these kids cakes were amazing! I mean they are under 12!!

Cake International 2013
The judges in action

 

While we were looking at some of the novelty cakes a full size head from a Terminator cake came toppling off it’s shoulders. Someone must have knocked the table it was on to get a closer look. Mum and I have never been so pleased to have been so far away that we knew it wasn’t us who wobbled that table!  A judge had to come over and pick the head up off the floor. Poor Arnie’s sugarpaste nose was all squashed in and dented. We felt so bad for the cake decorator. It must have been devastating to see that your cake had been damaged before it had even been judged.

Cake International 2013
One of the under 12’s cakes

 

The Cupcakes

The cupcakes in the competition were beautiful and displayed in the most amazing ways.

Cake International 2013

This is the cupcake entry by the ruffle cake decorator lady (I wish I got her name!) She incorporated her cupcakes into this face design which she told us only took 6 hours to do the day before! Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Mmmmm maggots in your cupcake!

 

Cake International 2013

The display for this Magic Roundabout cupcake entry was brilliant, but why did the judges have to cut poor Dougal in half to taste test… especially with that jam filling in the centre!

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

These tiny models on these cupcakes were amazingly intricate

IMG_8188

Cake International 2013

We loved the birds and flowers on these cupcakesCake International 2013

 

Novelty cakes

The novelty cakes were just amazing. The details that people can achieve is just awe inspiring.

Cake International 2013

I would love to be able to do airbrushing like this!Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

I love the simplicity on the side of this cake.Cake International 2013

Beau asked if this Rocking horse cake actually rocked. It looked so real I almost think it could!

Cake International 2013

That apple is sugarpaste! Amazing!Cake International 2013

 

 

Cake International 2013

The detail in this house was outstanding. Just look at the bottles in the room below. Not only is this an amazing thing to make, but the fact that it could be transported without getting broken – like so many others is a feat in itself!

 

Cake International 2013

 

 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

 

Tiered cakes

The tiered cakes were really beautiful. Some had such simple designs that were so effective, some had really garish colour combinations but in all they were fantastic. 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

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Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

 

 

So, in all it is a pretty great show with tons of interactive workshops, demonstration theatres and lots to buy! The show is on till Sunday 14th April. Visit www.cakeinternational.co.ukfor more information.

Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show

ExCeL, London
12-14 April 2013


Ticket Prices:
Adult £14.00
Senior £13.00
Children free if accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, otherwise £5.00

EmmaMT

Disco birthday cake

Jo's 18th Birthday disco cakeThis is the cake I made for the lovely Jo’s 18th birthday last month.

When we sat down to chat about the design we talked about what she’s into. She’s really musical and likes to go out clubbing and her party had a black, white and red theme so this is the design I came up with.

 

18th Birthday cake

Jo wanted the cake to be stacked with music notes on the top layer with dancers on the bottom tier. I decided that the best way to get uniformed notes was to get a patchwork cutter. Luckily I found this disco themed one with both dancers and music notes in the set. Result!

These Disco Dancers –Patchwork Cutters are  available from Amazon 

 

18th Birthday cake

The ’18’ on the top was easy to position. The rest… not so much!
18th Birthday cake

I used sugarpaste to cut out the decorations but really should have used flower paste as it’s firmer and easier to handle. I had to cut out the notes and dancers and leave them for 10 minutes to dry and harden up enough to be handled.

18th Birthday cake

The dancers! Well, let’s just say they tried to dance right off the cake! I found that every time I tried to pick them up they moved in a different direction or broke. In the end I cut them out onto small sheets of silicon paper and dampened them a little on the back then positioned the bottom of the paper against the cake and gently stood the dancers up, pressing from the bottom up. That did the trick!

I know from experience that once you mark a white cake with a black decoration it’s really hard to clean it up. For some reason black sugarpaste is just super sticky – way more than any other pre-coloured sugarpaste.

 

I was really happy with how this cake turned out. I like the way the silhouette of the dancers sits over the thick ribbon. I will definitely be using that technique again.

 

EmmaMT

How to stack a square cake


Square stacked cake

I wish I had a £1 for every time Tim walked into the kitchen and told me that my cake wasn’t straight! It’s one of those things that I just can’t see. You should see the shelves in my house! If left to me they would all be wonky. I can’t even put the oven shelves back into the oven horizontally! So stacking a cake doesn’t come easily to me! There I said it.

Over the years I have learnt how to improve my technique and get a good result but it’s still work in progress. I kind of go with the thinking that once the cake is finished and decorated a few degrees off (as that is all it usually is) won’t show. What do you think? This is the last stacked cake I made. It was for my lovely friends daughters birthday. More on that in the next post.

 

How to stack a square cakeStacking a square cake

Start with your cakes leveled, buttercreamed and covered in sugarpaste. This is the trick. If you start with a straight cake your stacking will be a doddle! I use the side scraper (as shown in this post) to get the buttercream sides straight and at 90º angles which helps a lot. Then use spacers to get the sugarpaste rolled out to the same thickness.

 

Stacking a square cake

Use a small amount of Royal icing in the centre of your cake board to secure the first cake in place.

 

measure the cake in place

Once the cake is in place check that it is central using a tape measure or ruler. Give it a gentle push till you are happy.

 

Stacking a square cake

If you need to move the cake to reposition it do so soon after covering it as the sugarpaste will still be soft and any pushing and prodding can be removed with a cake smoother.

 

Stacking a square cake

Insert dowling posts (I use Plastic Cake Dowels  but you can still get wooden Dowels too) Try to push them in as vertically as possible making sure you leave enough space between them to give support to the cake to be stacked but not so far that they will be outside of the size of the next layer.

 

Stacking a square cake

Mark each dowel where it hits the sugarpaste then carefully remove it. Cut the dowel at that mark. I use scissors and work my way around the post. Be careful that the last snip doesn’t send your dowel careering off in the direction of the cake! Been there. Done that!

 

 

How to stack a square cake

Re- insert the dowels into the cake. They should be just visible from the top, so the next cake can sit comfortably on them without squishing the base cake. It’s okay if they sit in the sugarpaste a little.  The dowels are really important when stacking heavy cakes or lots of tiers. Not only does it give you a secure stack but it prevents the base cake from becoming squished down and solid. I’ve had that happen before when I  made a 6 layer rainbow cake from Madeira cake. The bottom two layers were only about 1″ thick at the start and by the time the cake was cut they were half that size! Sugarpaste is heavy! I should have put a thin cake board in between layers 3 and 4 and used dowels.

 

How to stack a square cake

Add a small amount of Royal icing over each dowel and add your next cake.

 

How to stack a square cake

As with the first tier, check that the cake is central using a measuring tape then smooth out any finger prints. The Royal icing will hold the cake in position.

 

gap cake

Sometimes there is a little gap between the layers if the cake isn’t perfectly flat or the dowels stick out too much at one point. You can correct and hide this with small rolls of sugarpaste or you can pipe Royal icing into the gap. If you are adding ribbon and it will be hidden then I wouldn’t do anything. A ribbon the same colour as the icing will hide a multitude of sins.

 

How to stack a square cake

To check if your cake is straight use a spirit level (one just for cake decorating- I have this pink one as I know Tim won’t nick it!) I place a scraper on the top of the cake to prevent it leaving too many marks. If it’s way off being straight then you can carefully lift the cake- as long as the Royal icing underneath it is still wet, and place a small ball off sugarpaste underneath the board until it is level. Again, you can pipe white icing into the gap between the base cake and the cake board of the next tier.

 

How to stack a square cakeFinally add ribbon to the cake securing it in place at the back with a small amount of Royal icing. Try not to touch it while that Royal icing is drying as it is a bit temperamental!

To add ribbon to the cake board I use a Pritt stick all the way around the board.

 

EmmaMT

 

 

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