Category: Cake recipe

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

IMG_7679

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

Country Homes & Interiors and the Easter cake

Country Homes & Interiors cakeAs a part time cake decorator/blogger, full time interior stylist and full on mum I am always busy. This week has been mental!

  • To start with I have been organising a big, three day Christmas shoot for next week (Yes I did say the ‘C’ word and yes I know it’s March!!!)
  • I’ve been playing around with a Red velvet cupcake recipe for a friends, daughter’s birthday which were very chocolatey and not very red – but were delish and disappeared in record time! I didn’t even get a photo of them!
  • And I’ve been playing about with this white chocolate mud cake recipe – which on the first attempt came out really solid and very heavy (and yes I did still eat it!)
  • But the highlight of my week has to be the fact that one of my cakes has appeared in print!

Easter in November

Back in November when most people are thinking about Christmas I was in full on Easter mode -the world of magazines really is a crazy one! My friend Claire who is the Assistant Editor in Design at Country Homes and Interiors magazine asked if I would make a cake for one of their shoots. It was a no brainer really! I gladly made the cake for the stylist (the very talented Carol Wortley Bishop – check out her beautiful work here) so that it fitted in with her shoot perfectly.  It was to be pale blue, covered in flowers and have little eggs dotted around. Carol  already had a cute little nest to sit on the top of the cake. It looked really sweet and I was bowled over when I saw the feature in the current issue (Page 64 of the April 2013 issue if you’re interested?). At this point I have to say a big thank you to my Dad for delivering it into London for me- Thanks Poopah.x

Country Homes & Interiors

So, now for sharing the recipe and decorating tips. My plan was always to talk through how I decorated the cake for the magazine and have an alternative option for anyone who didn’t want the full on iced version. I wanted the cakes to look beautiful and pretty and I planned the flowers to the point of obsession. Then with my crazy, busy schedule I didn’t get round to decorating the smaller cake when the girls were at school. That means one thing and one thing only. I get to have some help in the form of a 6 year old Darcey. That’s where I had to let go of my perfectionism and I just let her go with the flow. I really can’t resist a “Can I help?”from a little person.

I had already topped the cake with a circle of yellow sugarpaste and the flowers (learn how to make them here) were all dried and ready to add to the cake. Darcey decided that she would make a Daisy circle and when she ran out of Daisy’s she carried on with pink and white blossoms. In all I think she did a really great job. Not quite what I had in mind but it made her so happy I was happy too.

slice of mud cake

 

Recipe for White Chocolate Mud cake

  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 300g good quality white chocolate (but you can swap it for milk or dark chocolate if you prefer)- broken up into small pieces
  • 270ml water
  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature and beaten
  • 1 tea spoon of vanilla essenceWhite Chocolate Mud cake

How to make the White Chocolate Mud cake

  1. Line a 9″ round baking tin (or 8″ square) and heat your oven to 160ºC ( 140ºC fan) 
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the chocolate. Once all melted add the water and stir away from the heat until it is all well combined. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl measure the flour and sugar then add the chocolate mix, eggs and vanilla essence and mix until just combined. Make sure you don’t over mix it.
  4. Place the batter into the cake tin and bake for 1½ hours. The cake is done when it is a light golden colour, domed in the middle and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin.
  6. Decorate to your taste and enjoy!
  7. For instructions on how to create the flowers please check out this postWhite Chocolate Mud cake recipe

EmmaMT

 

How to make a Minecraft birthday cake

 

Minecraft Birthday cake

Have you heard of Minecraft? I hadn’t until recently. It’s a computer game that the boys in Beau’s class are really into. I went from being completely clueless to having two Minecraft cakes to make in as many weeks! I really didn’t know where to start with this cake. It needed to have loads of slices. When I make cakes for friends (especially Beau’s little friends) I like to create enough cake for the party guests AND  for the family to have some at home. Tim had the great idea of creating layers after I showed him screen grabs of  what the game looked like. Genius I thought.

How to make a Minecraft Birthday cake

Minecraft cake

 I started off by baking two Chocolate Madeira cakes (the large one was an 8″ and the small one was a 6″- I made double the recipe here and split it between the two tins)

Minecraft Birthday cake

The smaller cake was cut up so that I had two ‘L’ shaped cakes to create the steps. I think it’s probably a bit obvious where the two left over cake pieces went – yep straight onto my hips!

 

 

Minecraft Birthday cake

Check that the cakes sit nicely on top of each other. Too small and it will be hard to cover them, too big and the cake won’t be stepped enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Hopefully you will have covered your cake board with sugarpaste a week (or at least a few days) in advance.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Slice the large cake in two and fill with chocolate buttercream (the recipe for which is on this post). Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream then position the green rolled out sugarpaste over the cake. Smooth until as flat as is possible. Remove the excess sugarpaste and secure the cake on the cake board with a little royal icing.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Cover both the ‘L’ shaped pieces of cake by coating first in buttercream then sugarpaste. Don’t try and slice it in half to put buttercream in the centre. It’s very fiddly and messy and doesn’t work on such a small piece. The buttercream used to coat the cake and make the sugarpaste stick will moisten the cake enough.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Smooth the sugarpaste with a cake smoother and use a spoon to get into those awkward internal corners.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Position the larger of the ‘L’s onto the cake with Royal icing. Then repeat with the second ‘L’ shape.

Minecraft Birthday cake

To make the individual pixels squares – roll out the three shades of sugarpaste. If you do all three at the same time they will be relatively the same thickness.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a square cutter to press out lots and lots of squares all the same size. These are going to be the floor.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Secure each square pixel to the floor by dampening it with a paintbrush. Don’t use too much water as it will stain the cake. Dry off the excess water from the brush on the side of the pot first.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Add pixels on each level where there is a floor till you have done all three.

Minecraft Birthday cake

I tried to make the model of Mini Josh for the cake look like him and also look pixelated at the same time. I cut out cubes and rectangles in sugarpaste with the relevant cutters and used tooth picks in his legs and into his body to hold him secure. This also meant that once he had been made I could stand him up and push the tooth picks into a polystyrene fake cake and left him there leaning against box to dry for a while. (A couple of days- it’s a good idea to make the model when you cover the cake board) Minecraft Birthday cake

Use a little royal icing to secure the model to the cake. The toothpicks can only do so much.

Minecraft Birthday cake

Finally add your wording .

Minecraft Birthday cakeHey, Presto! One Minecraft cake!

enjoy! 

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

Chocolate Madeira Cake Recipe

Chocolate Madeira cake

 

I love Madeira cake. I mean REALLY love it. It’s part of my past. So when I was asked recently “How do you convert your Madeira cake recipe into a chocolate cake?” I thought it would be a great recipe to share with you all. I also still had the Morello Cherry and William Pear compote and Belgium chocolate ganache from Tesco’s to try out so they were a perfect fit!

Chocolate Madeira cake

This cake is really easy to make and is slightly firmer than my previous chocolate recipes, yet it’s still moist – making it a perfect foundation cake (as my mum would say). In other words it’s perfect for covering in sugarpaste for a celebration cake and the best thing is the fact that it doesn’t crumble like other chocolate cakes do. I do hate a crumbly cake, especially when you’re trying to get a crumb coating of buttercream on it!

Madeira cake recipe 

(Makes an 8″ cake – 1 ½” deep) 

75g butter at room temperature
75g margarine (Flora is best) at room temperature
 200g caster sugar
1 tea spoon vanilla essence
3 eggs (large) 
175 g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
 1 ½ teasp of baking powder
3 tbsp milk
 
  1. Line an 8″ cake tin with silicon paper and pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan).
  2. Blend the butter, margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs slowly until they’re really well mixed in.
  3. In a separate bowl weigh out the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Mix them so that you have a light brown dry mixture. This will prevent you having any cocoa lumps in the mix. Sieve into the butter and sugar mix and blend.
  4. Add the vanilla essence and milk and mix well.
  5. Pour the cake mix into the tin and smooth with the back of a metal spoon.  Bake for 45 minutes in the centre of the oven. The cake is ready when you can smell that delicious chocolate cake aroma filling your kitchen. The cake will come away from the sides of the tin and a skewer will come out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack Chocolate Madeira cake
  7. When completely cool cut into two halves and fill with compote/ buttercream /jam. I loved the Tesco’s compote. It would be great for making a black forest gateau.

    Chocolate Madeira Cake
    This compote is delish!
  8. Cover the top of the cake with a dusting of icing sugar or a really decadent chocolate ganache (if you want a ganache recipe you can find mine on this post)

Chocolate Madeira cake

 

I re-heated the Tesco ganache in a saucepan and poured it all over the cake till it just dribbled down. There was a little left over which Tim said could not be wasted! He scooped it up with a spoon.   I then placed the finished cake on the kitchen table to cool. Actually, it was to bribe the girls to do their homework before the Sunday evening witching hour! No homework. No cake!

It worked!

 Chocolate Madeira cake

Enjoy!

How to make a Mario and Yoshie Birthday Cake

Mario cake

When my friend Nicole asked me if I would make her son Oliver a Mario and Yoshi birthday cake I of course said “yes”. Then I quickly scoured Google images to find out exactly who Yoshi was!  I’ve had a few cake requests recently for computer games I’ve never heard of ( I know who Mario is) but Yoshi? Minecraft? If it’s not Rock stars or dressing up games (both proper girly ones) the chances are I won’t have heard of it.

Nicole told me what Oliver liked about the game and I got to work doing some drawings so she could choose which design was best. She liked the giant toadstool which I have to admit was my favorite of all the styles I had in mind too.

How to make the toadstool cake

I baked two round madeira cakes – a 7″ -for the base and a 10″ for the domed top.

For the dome

Mario birthday cake

This cake (the 10″) came out of the oven very domed but for this design that was just fine! I evened out the lumps and bumps with a bread knife to create as smooth a dome as possible, then cut it in half and filled it with raspberry jam and buttercream. Give the whole cake a thin crumb coating of buttercream. Pop it in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.

Mario and Yoshi cake

Once the crumb coating is firm add another slightly thicker buttercream coating and smooth it as much as possible. Place the cake on a thin 10″ cake board and secure in place with a small amount of royal icing.

Knead the red sugarpaste till it is nice and malleable. When ready place the cake on a tin which is smaller than the 10″ cake board so that the rolled out icing will hang over the edge.  That way you can cut off the excess and tuck the bottom bits of sugarpaste under and the cake board  won’t show at all.

To make the baseMario cake


Take the 7″ cake and cut it in half so you can add the buttercream and jam filling.  Level the top off so that is it VERY flat. Use a spirit level to check that it is otherwise you will either have a) a lopsided toadstool, b) it will fall over or c)your husband will walk in while you’re finishing off your iced cake and say “You know it’s not level, don’t you?” like Tim always does! Either way this is the time to make sure it’s really level. My cake was level – it’s just on a slanted plate! 

Give the cake a crumb coating and then a nice smooth buttercream coating before you cover it with white sugarpaste. Cut off the excess sugarpaste then get the sides as smooth as possible.

Position the base cake on your cake board, securing with some royal icing.

How to decorate the Toadstool cake mario birthday cake

To stack the dome on top of the base cake first insert some dowels. I use Plastic Cake Dowels  like these ones from Amazon. You only need around 3 to support the top cake. Before I added the dome I decorated the side of the cake so that I could do all the fiddly bits without it being in the way, like adding the blades of grass, eyes and flowers. Only then did I add a little royal icing to the top of the base cake and then positioned the dome on top.

I usually make the models when I cover the cake boards  – a week before the cake needs to be finished, but if I am completely honest I really avoided this one as I had no idea how I was going to make Mario actually look like Mario! but once I got started I was off and really enjoyed it. The little toadstools and stars were also fun to make.

The last job was to add the circles to the top of the toadstool which I did by dampening the white sugarpaste circles I had cut out.

Sugarpaste Mario and Yoshi

Yoshi, Mario and the mini toadstools were all secured in place with a little sugarpaste. Then the wording was iced and the ribbon was added to the cake board.

Mario birthday cakeThe cake was a big surprise for Oliver and I think he was chuffed to bits when Nicole presented it to him.

EmmaMT

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