Monochrome to Paris with Love x

Here is another birthday cake made in the month of December for a 90th Birthday Celebration.  The cake is a very simple and stylistic monochrome two-tiered creation. 

The birthday boy…no, gentleman (probably more appropriate) has a love for the wonderful architecture in Paris and so the cake was themed around this.  The cake is a rich and delicious carrot cake spiced with cinnamon and frosted with a sugary vanilla cream cheese buttercream. 

It was finished with a hand drawn Eiffel Tower using edible ink – for which I cannot take the credit – The talented Gareth Thyer  bravely took on that task!  I think the finished cake was very elegant and appropriate for a 90th birthday, take a look…

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Frolicking in the meadow

During December I was set the task of creating a birthday cake that had a little old lady and a black labrador on top – descriptively I was told it should look just like my labrador friend Louie…I have to say I had so much fun making this cake!

I decided to sit the old lady in a green meadow picking flowers in the grass with her faithful friend sitting next to her, the final characters turned out so cutely!  I have since found out that the birthday girl who received this cake loved the little characters so much she wanted to keep them…but her actual doggy companion had other ideas and quickly devoured them whilst left alone for only a few moments! All I can say is typical labrador behaviour!

The cake hidden under the fondant icing is a rich dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache buttercream.

how did Justin Bieber end up atop my Christmas Cake?

Before we start strange blog topic I know.

It is now January 4th and hopefully everyone is well rested, stuffed to the brim with sweet goodies and ready to kick their New Year’s Resolutions into 2012 with a bang! A couple of weeks ago I posted a sneak peak of the choir boys that would sit atop my Christmas cake this year and without knowing it (and completly oblivious to it until my 15yr old sister pointed it out!) I had created the pint sized pop star Justin Bieber out of sugar….not sure realistically how I feel about this but I still think they are all super cute!

So below are the final pictures of my Christmas Cake for 2011 I hope you enjoy and it gives you something to think about when you attempt a Christmas Cake in 2012!

 

Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog – I hope 2012 brings much love, happiness and cakey goodness into your lives!

Claire x

Christmas Sugary Fun!

It has been a little while since I had chance to post, and at the moment I am in the middle of lots of projects so there will be loads to come in the next couple of weeks so keep your eyes peeled!

I am in the middle of making a beautiful Chrismas cake, it is currently in that stage of being fed lots of delicious rich spiced rum but this weekend I will be icing and decorating it.  I spent the previous weekend making some of the cutest sugarcraft figures to sit atop the cake…little choir boys singing their hearts out with songs of Christmas cheer.  Here is a little sneak peak…

Only 17 sleeps left until Christmas….

Claire x

Christmas Specialities – Frangipane Topped Mince Pies

As you can probably tell by now I love Christmas! Part of the reason for this (and its a large part!) is all of the festive baking and cooking that I get to do. 

Obviously Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the traditional favourite – mince pies.  However with the amount of food everyone is indulging in some times the poor old mince pie can be left to one side due to the fact it can be quite a ‘heavy’ treat.  That is why I decided to add Almond Frangipane to my mince pie recipe this year, keeping the sweet pastry base, and a generous dollop of freshly prepared mincemeat, the Frangipane spreads and swells over the top creating a sweet and light cake like topping that is a refreshing change to the traditional pastry, pastry, and more pastry! 

It is important when making these that the sweet pastry cases are rolled out as thin as possible so that a really lovely crunchy texture is achieved that blends well with the sweetness of the mincemeat and the soft light almost gooeyness of the frangipane. 

Only 2 more days until the official countdown to Christmas can begin – have you got your advent calendars ready?

Claire x

Who needs riches when you can eat millionnaires shortbread?

The weekend was a little wet and miserable and the winter blues were setting in so I decided to cheer up the troops with a moreish batch of Millionnaires Shortbread.  For anybody who hasn’t tried this before its a combination of rich butter shortbread, gooey caramel and a final layer of chunky milk chocolate, I think its the combination of textures that makes these so popular.  I decided to top them with some tinsy tiny golden edible stars to stay in the spirit of the upcoming Christmas events! Next post will be Almond Frangipane topped Mince Pies – for those of you who like traditional with a modern twist!

Christmas Cake Traditions

I am a very traditional type of girlie when it comes to making the much loved Christmas favourites, but traditional doesn’t mean little modern touches cannot be added that give the baking in question a beautiful extra something that makes it really special.

I have already posted about the finished Christmas Cake but this post is all about those things that make the cake TASTE great.  I opted for an Orange and Spiced Rum Christmas Fruit Cake this year.

I have 4 key tips for anybody out there tackling this Christmas tradition (and please do, its so satisfying!)

1. Do not skimp on fruit! – Pile it all in there…raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, apricots, cranberries, mixed candied fruit – as much as you can cram.  Make sure you add your liquids to the fruit at least 12 hours before you plan to start baking the cake, this will give it chance to become deliciously plump and full of soaked up loveliness!

2.  Add something extra special – for me this year – Morgan’s Spiced Rum.  Christmas is all about indulgence and this just adds such a warm, rich flavour to the fruit.

3. Protect your cake from the elements – This is a very important part of making the cake extraordinarily moist and is something that has been passed down from my grandparents generation and their grandparents generation…Once you have lined your cake tin with baking parchment wrap the entire outside of the cake with newspaper and tie with string, your cake is going to be in the oven for at least 4 hours so it makes sense to protect it!  This stops the outside of the cake from cooking too quickly and becoming dry…and in my book there is nothing worse than a dry fruit cake.

4.  My final tip…it’s Christmas so there is one last thing that is a must have add to your traditional cake…Love!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…(well nearly!)

Have I gone mad you say?  Its only the 13th of November…

It is only 42 sleeps until Christmas Day is upon us…and the truth be known I LOVE Christmas!

The festive season seems incomplete without traditional Christmas Cake so this is something I have been working on for a few months now so that the cakes have time to be ‘fed’ properly.  I like to make a very rich Christmas Cake with lots of fruit – raisins, sultanas, cranberries, apricots and cherries combined with a divine splash (when I say splash I mean pour!) of a good oak whisky and freshly squeezed orange juice…all in all it creates a beautifully moist, sweet cake – perfect for the most important day of the year!

I  wanted to achieve a more vintage elegance with the finish of the Christmas cakes so decided to opt for beautiful pure white snow flakes (something we all wish for at Christmas!) that shimmer and shine when the light catches the sparkling irridescent powder the cake is lavishly covered in.  To finish I added a vintage lace ribbon.

More Wedding Bells…

I seem to be asked more often than not to create wedding cupcake towers over traditional wedding cakes lately…not that I am complaining!  As this time the bride was family, and so obviously the bride’s family were my family without trying to sound too much like the mafia – this time it was personal!

Kelly wanted cupcakes that would match the burgundy and cream theme of the wedding with a little golden sparkle to finish.  We decided upon two different flavours – Caramel Crunch and a simple but delicious Vanilla sponge.  Each individual cupcake was tied in a burgundy ribbon and finished with tiny little gold stars as well as a hand-made sugar roses. Kelly wanted a traditional cake on the top tier so that she could still have that moment as the bride to cut the cake with her new husband.  This was made to resemble the smaller cupcakes finished with a large burgundy rose with stars shooting out of the top.

When I agreed to make this cake (or these cakes being that there were over 100 of them!) I didn’t exactly consider the logistics of transporting from Cornwall 300 miles into the Midlands. With a little bit of careful packing and some very careful driving they all arrived safely – phew!

I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning the incredible dance moves that took place later on at the evening reception and decided to include a few anonymous pic’s – you know who you are!

A Shining Birthday Star…

I was recently asked to make a birthday cake for a little boy called Bradley and the only specifications were that he loves the stars and his favourite colour is Orange.

I decided to cover the sides of the cake in teeny tiny stars, the end result was really striking but I sure did think twice about my design choices at around the 20th star…