A Cupcake Decorating Party & Go Jetters Cake

Our little Lissie enjoys a spot of baking, just like her Aunty Chel, and for her 3rd birthday requested a cupcake decorating party.

In all honesty I thought this would be ciaos, sprinkles everywhere, but it was quite the opposite. This little group of 3 year old girls sat down at the table and very attentively decorated their cupcakes. They certainly showed more restraint then me as they carefully placed decorations on to their cupcakes and not in their mouths, and I don't think a single sprinkle even hit the floor. It was lovely. 

Lissie invited 5 friends to her party so I baked 24 cupcakes giving them 4 to decorate each. I made a batch of icing, bought a ton of decorations and we set a workstation for each little girl.

At each workstation we placed:

•  An apron, hanging on the chair that they got to keep

•  Decorations separated in to muffin cases - to ensure they all got the same and avoid any squabbles

•  A paper bowl to catch any sprinkles that missed the cupcakes - very wise after Lissie emptied a entire pot of sprinkles on to her first cupcake :D

•  And a small piece of rolled out fondant placed in a sandwich bag to keep it from drying out - and I placed some cutters and plungers in the middle

As they're only little I iced the cupcakes for them but with older children you could let them pipe the icing and roll out the fondant themselves. I thought they might be a little young for the fondant but with a little help from the adults it was nice to see they all had a go at cutting some shapes.

When they were finished, we placed the cupcakes in to cupcake boxes so they could take their creations home, and they decorated the boxes with stickers.

For her birthday cake, Lissie requested a Go Jetters cake. This meant nothing to me but after some research and learning some funky facts this is what I came up with.

I have to admit, I got quite attached to Ubercorn, I think he's pretty cool! 

In hindsight not so cool to put his dance floor on to a black background. In fact I should have incorporated some lights to make his dance floor flash - I wish I'd thought of that sooner!

As for the Go Jetters, I knew I wouldn't have enough time to make models of them all so I 
followed a Cakey Cake tutorial to make 2D cut outs instead.

As you can see I may have mastered sharp edges but not those corners - clearly I need more practice on square cakes. Thankfully my customer was blissfully unaware :)

And inside? Well you can't go wrong with a vanilla sponge and vanilla buttercream - it's a crowd pleaser.

And those 2D cut outs turned out to be a nice keepsake after Lissie had grown pretty fond of them.

Lick a pineapple, it tastes like a pineapple!

A pineapple cake inspired by my Sister's pineapple wall. Yes, pineapple wall. She has a wall in her house covered with pineapple decals because she loves Charlie & the Chocolate factory and it reminds her of the lickable wallpaper. Her wall is not lickable though - at least not to my knowledge, I haven't tried.

Would you believe a pineapple cake tutorial already exists and a very entertaining one at that! Thank you Yolanda at How to Cake It

I largely followed the tutorial but I made my own pineapple mould using a silicone plastique putty kit. First time I've tried this stuff but I'll be making moulds of everything from now on. You get two putties in the kit, a white one and a blue one, and all you do is knead together equal parts and cover your object with it. It takes about an hour to cure and ta-da, you've got your mould :)

As per the tutorial I covered my cake in a thin layer of fondant, then used my mould to texture smaller pieces and stick them together like a jigsaw on to the cake. I should have paid more attention during this part! The real pineapple is fairly uniform in its pattern but my cake version, not so much. No time to do it again, I pressed on hoping it would look better once it had some colour. 

I used a pair of nail scissors (reserved for cakes only, never used on nails!) to bring out the spiky bit, whatever that's called. Then I used food colouring to paint my pineapple. Sadly the colour was also a rush job after I realised we were seeing my sister a day earlier then I thought, doh!  

To top things off (literally) I couldn't create the leaves in the time I had left so I cheated. I chopped the top off my real pineapple and used a wooden skewer to attach it to the cake. Is that cheating or using my initiative? ;)

I also experimented with the flavour on this cake. I soaked the sponge with a pineapple simple syrup and added pineapple juice to the buttercream. Obviously not enough as neither tasted very much of pineapple but maybe that was a good thing, I'm not sure if this little one is a fan of pineapple yet. She's definitely a fan of cake!

I placed the cake on to a plate instead of a cake board to see if I could trick my sister. I think for a brief second she wondered why I'd brought her a pineapple on a plate but a closer inspection gave it away.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Quite possibly one of a kind this is a vision mixer cake. This was for Julie's 50th birthday (Mr Chris' sister's, sister-in-law).

This was a tricky one for me. I struggled with the design because a vision mixer is basically a box with hundreds of buttons. The original idea was to make the vision mixer itself but in my opinion, if you're trying to recreate something realistic in cake, the key to it's success is in the detail. Although Julie's husband was kind enough to sneak me some pictures of the one Julie uses at work, I wasn't confident I could do a good enough job of it. I didn't want to let them down but you've got to know your limitations and also know what you can do with the time you have.

So I opted for a miniature model of a vision mixer where the detail wouldn't matter as much. Credit to Mr Chris as it was his idea to cut away half of the top cake to create a desk. I then asked Julies Mum, Jean, what shows Julie had worked on through her career and I got a bunch of them printed on to edible paper to represent TV screens, and personalise the cake.

I have to admit, even though I know Jean and Paul, I was very nervous delivering this cake. I did my best but it didn't quite match the vision I'd had in my head and I just hoped they wouldn't be disappointed with it. Fortunately I'm my biggest critic and their reactions were exactly what I was hoping for. They were really pleased with it and Julie too..
"Well, where do I start? Yet again your cake making skills have blown me away! And this time the cake was for ME! I can't thank you enough! It was amazing Cheryl. You have got the desk spot on and I can only imagine how long it took you to cut out all the buttons, knobs & levers. And I shall never know how you got the icing through the printer to make all the pictures!! Hehe! Again, as per the Minion, I didn't want to cut it up. Eventually we took a huge slice off the back and we all had a piece of scrummy chocolate cake at our dinner party last night."
I'm so glad you liked it Julie. I'm certain cutting all those little buttons must be easier then remembering what they all do!

Woodland Christening Cake

Again I was given free reign on my nieces Christening cake and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I'd been looking for an excuse to recreate this wonderful woodland cake ever since it popped up on my facebook feed and I fell in love with it.

The original design is by Little Cherry Cake Company. If you haven't heard of them check them out immediately, their cakes are incredible!! 

I love how this cake turned out but it doesn't compare to the pro. I tried my hardest but I just couldn't match those adorable woodland creatures.

My bunnies were almost there, if you don't count my first attempt... also known as Reggie.

Poor Reggie never made it on to the cake but he's found a home in my kitchen :D

And here's the girl of the day with what I like to think is her best fox impression. Or she's wondering when Aunty Chel is going to put a bit of that cake on her plate?

Some stencilling for my Nan

I had two cakes to make in the same week, one for my Nan's birthday, the other for my nieces Christening - so no elaborate carousels this time!

If this cake looks familiar it's because I took inspiration from the middle tier of Ad & Iona's wedding cake.

I needed something quick but pretty and as the the stencilling worked out so well for the wedding cake, I thought this would be ideal for my Nan's cake. Well it wasn't so straight forward this time. I'd bought a new stencil and with its fancy design I struggled to get it flush to the cake. My icing bled underneath and I had to spend quite a bit of time fixing it with a teeny tiny paintbrush. 

It's fair to say my cake mojo abandoned me on this one. I'd also created several white roses to fill the top but only one little bud survived. I don't know what I did wrong, the others just fell apart. Frustrating as I was intending to use them to cover the flaws in my fondant - hence the randomly placed petals. 

As Duff would say "Cake decorating is smoke and mirrors". It looked alright in the end and the main thing is we all enjoyed eating it!

Ad & Iona's Wedding Cake

It's flattering to be asked to make a wedding cake but I usually decline as my baking skills can be a little hit or miss. I made an exception for our friends Ad & Iona because they are lovely and I was confident they wouldn't disown me if it all went horribly wrong and I turned up with a Battenberg.  

Surprisingly I was pretty relaxed on this one (at least that's how I remember it). There were no dramas, no meltdowns and it came together perfectly. Maybe it helped booking a week off work and planning every little detail - or maybe I just got lucky!

I tried my best to give Ad & Iona the wedding cake experience. We talked about ideas, had a cake tasting and I even managed a sketch despite the fact I can't draw. 

So the bottom tier was always going to be a vanilla sponge. The other flavours we tried were coffee, chocolate with a dark chocolate ganache and carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting. My first ever carrot cake!

My smallest tin is a 6 inch round, so I baked a fairly rustic 6 inch cake for each knowing they have plenty of friends and family to share them with. 

With the flavours picked Iona got busy pinning cakes and highlighting what she liked most about each one. I took all those favourite bits and came up with a design (complete with spelling mistakes)...
and here's how it turned out...
In Ad's words "exactly like the drawing" - I'm not sure if that's a compliment?!

Chuffed with my sharp edges! Ironically, I was most worried about stencilling the middle tier and this turned out to be the quickest and easiest job. On the other hand the silver leaf should have taken 5 minutes but required a lot of patience. It was
McGreevy Cake's tutorial that led me in to a false sense of security. She made it look so easy but no matter what I did the leaf just didn't want to stick. I wouldn't say I mastered it in the end, I just persevered and tiny tiny bits at a time, I eventually got the effect I wanted/settled for. Good thing I was going for a vintage patchy look.

The beautiful cake topper almost didn't make it. It literally turned up as Ad was leaving on the day of the wedding. I'm so glad it did because it completes the cake, although I'm certain the reserve made by Iona's mum would have looked just as lovely.

The bottom tier took several years to complete - at least that's what it felt like it. Those petal ruffles seemed to go on forever but I love how they turned out. Originally I had baked three layers for the bottom tier so I was glad I'd only opted to use two of them by the time I got to those ruffles!

Unfortunately my second ever carrot cake wasn't quite as good as my first. For some reason it didn't rise as much as it did for the taster so I had to bake another and make the top tier 4 layers to get the height I wanted. I also replaced the cream cheese frosting with an orange flavoured buttercream. The more I thought about it, the more I didn't want to risk the cream cheese knowing it would be out of the fridge all day in June weather.

Thanks to Kara Couture Cakes for her wonderful sugar rose tutorial. My petal veiner is a bit rubbish but I was really pleased with how they turned out. The centres were beautifully delicate and spiralled but my fat fingers squashed them as I attached them to the cake. They might have been easier to handle if they were wired but I wanted to avoid poking posy picks in to the cake.

There are no progress pictures for this one because I decided to capture it all in a time lapse video - I thought Ad and Iona might like to see their cake in the making. Despite being an IT bod I had no idea how to go about this. Lucky for me the Go Pro has a time lapse setting and Movie Maker is easy peasy. 
So here it is, 5 days in 12 minutes!

Chris is 30!

As Chris was about to turn 30 I was super super busy in my new job (still finding my feet and all) and starting to worry I wouldn't have time to make him a cake. Then out of the blue he said he didn't want one... 

WHAT :O?! 

He said he didn't want me getting stressed and tired because I'd spent hours on a cake, and he'd rather we just spent the day together... awww 😍 ... but who doesn't have cake on their birthday, especially the big 3 0! So I came to a compromise...

My original plan was to have a cake with all of Chris' hobbies around it, but as he is a man of many talents (astronomy, astrophotography, guitar, running, snowboarding, basketball, pro lego builder - just to name a few) this would have taken an age!

So instead I focused on one hobby. I picked astronomy because I thought it'd be fairly straight forward to paint some star constellations on to a black cake. Then I remembered Chris sitting in the garden for hours on a chilly winter night taking pictures of a nebula. Searching for more pictures, I stumbled across this tutorial: http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2016/04/black-velvet-nebula-cake.html.

So mine didn't turn out quite as good but it was really fun to make, armed with a little sea sponge splodging food colour here and there, flicking the paint brush to make lots of little stars, and it took no time at all! I think the trick with this is to step back often and know when to stop. I got a little carried away and it probably looked better several splodges earlier. At least Chris recognised what it was.

Taste wise, this is my favourite cake to date. Almond sponge with amaretto chocolate flavoured buttercream. These are the same flavours I used for Chris' basketball cake but on that occasion the cake was a tad dry. This time it was perfect, even if I do say so myself :)

The sparklers did not live up to their warning label but added a little bit of fun....


BB8 in 24 hours!

The time leading up to my nephews birthday was manic. The organisation I worked for was closing down, I had two job interviews to prep for (both wanting a 10 minute presentation) and a trip to Chicago looming. Nevertheless, Louis had stressed on more then one occasion his desire for a BB8 birthday cake and I didn't want to disappoint, even if it was a couple of weeks late. In the end I only had one day available to make this and I delivered... eventually.

For any perfectionist one day is not nearly enough! I had zero time to be my usual indecisive self, faff about or fixate on all those tiny little details. I could look at this cake and focus on BB8's missing aerials or question if his head is out of proportion, but on this occasion I'm going to let it go. I made this cake in less then 24 hours and I couldn't have done anymore in that time.

BB8s body was baked in a ball tin and his head in a small pyrex bowl. I used the CakeFrame I bought for my standing minion cake to help keep him steady. The CakeFrame goes through the centre of his body and protrudes out the top, then his head sits on a 4 inch board and is slotted on. The head is so small I don't think he really needs an internal structure but it's an hours drive to my Brother's and I wanted that stability... I can cope with an aerial-less BB8 but not a headless one! I'm pleased to say he didn't budge on route and we all got to enjoy the journey with no fears of him rolling away.

BB8 made his appearance after a tasty Sunday Roast and he was well received... brownie points for Aunty Chel :)

Inside he is a yummy chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream icing. I removed his head to slice up his body and Louis wasted no time tucking in! :D

Rainbow Cake

A rainbow cake inside and out to welcome another gorgeous niece to our family :)

My sister wanted to make a rainbow cake herself for Lissie's first birthday but couldn't find the time, hence a rainbow cake to welcome little Florence instead.

A couple of mistakes on this one but no major tantrums :D

The rainbow topper was super easy to make, there is a Krazy Kool Cakes tutorial to show you how. Squashing a flower cutter to make a cloud cutter... genius!


A few people have asked how I baked the sponges and if I have a special set of tins for rainbow cakes. Er... no. I have two tins and this is all I can fit in my oven, so I baked two layers at a time. I usually divide my cake mix in two but as the layers could be thinner, I divided it in to three. I then coloured two parts and got them straight in to the oven to bake while I coloured the third. As the layers were thinner, they only took 20 minutes to bake and the third mix was fine covered with some cling film until it could go in. While the third layer was baking, I then made another batch of cake mix and repeated the process. 

If you're making a rainbow cake, you'll need to use gel paste food colouring. These are highly concentrated to give that rich colour and a little goes a long way. The set I have is by Rainbow Dust and I got them from The Cake Decorating Company.

The filling is a white chocolate ganache. This was actually my second attempt at a white ganache, my first was on Fred's 70th cake and it ended up in the bin after it split. The same almost happened to me again; I guess it's easier to do with white chocolate because its fat content is high? Anyway, I must have had my calm head on this time because I decided I'd try to save it. All those people that say you can't recover ganache once it's split... you lie! I managed to save mine by warming up some left over cream, adding a little at a time, and mixing continually until hey presto, it was back! I caught mine quick so maybe that helped. Some say to drain any excess oil first and and if you're out of cream, apparently warm milk also does the trick.

To be honest, I thought the white chocolate ganache was disgusting and I don't think that has anything to do with the fact it split. I don't know what I was expecting considering I don't like white chocolate but for me it was horribly sickly sweet. I know ganache is only as good as the quality of the chocolate you put in it but I didn't skimp there so I think it's just yuk. My sister said it was fine, and Lissie still wanted seconds but I don't think I'll be making it again.

I love the little hands in this photo waiting patiently for her slice of cake
The biggest mistake I made with this cake, and I'm not sure how I haven't experienced this sooner, was to cover it with fondant right after it had been in the fridge overnight. I believe as the cake warmed up it caused condensation to form on the fondant and this made it impossibly sticky, so I struggled to smooth it. Apparently this problem is amplified with marshmallow fondant which explains why mine was so bad. I've read the trick is to chill the cake long enough to harden the frosting/ganache, but not chill the cake all the way through so I'll be more aware of this next time. Fortunately the clouds managed to disguise most of the imperfections.

The clouds are airbrushed on. I'm really enjoying my airbrush now I'm getting the hang of it. This was a really easy affect. I just cut a cloud shape out of some paper and held it against the cake, moving it around as I sprayed. My practise run on some paper actually looked better but I'm still pleased with the result. I should have worn some gloves as I had nice blue fingers after.

So I've probably waffled on long enough. I think that's about all I have to say on this one :D

Fred's 70th Walkers Cake

Just as I'm thinking I've got the the hang of this cake malarkey I'm put back in my place. This cake was a nightmare from start to finish, one disaster after another... fondant tearing, arms falling off (not mine), ganache splitting and so on.

I'll admit it was too much for me this time, I had a meltdown and Mr Chris came running because he thought the world was ending. When he realised it was just my cake, he sorted me out with a little pep talk and I was back on my feet refusing to be defeated! What would I do without him?! 

 Fortunately it came together in the end...

I can't take credit for the design of this cake as it was a Cakey Cake creation. I always search the web for inspiration before starting a cake but I'm determined to start coming up with my own designs - searching for inspiration on the theme as opposed to other cakes that match the theme.

The hills are airbrushed following Cakey Cake's tutorial. This was the part I was most expecting to go wrong but it was the only part that went well. The only mistake I made was creating too much variation in the height of my hills, so when I raised my template to spray again, I couldn't position it without overlapping what I'd already done. The solution was simple, although it took Chris and I an embarrassingly long time to realise it. I made a mark on my template above the highest hill so I would be able to line it up again. Then I drew a new set of hills just slightly above the first ones and running in to the highest one, cut the template again, and placed it back on to the cake. I think it worked well as it makes the hills in the background disappear behind the ones in the front.

Inside is a vanilla sponge and my first attempt at a strawberry swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) filling.  This is a lot lighter, fluffier and not as sweet as normal buttercream icing. It passed the taste test but my recipe made a very small amount. It was only just enough for the filling so I ended up making a dark chocolate ganache to frost the cake, which I think overpowered the SMBC. Not to mention I overheated my first batch of ganache and it ended up in the bin. At least I know to increase the quantities for my SMBC next time.

Again this cake is covered with my home made marshmallow fondant. I think I made a mistake this time as the fondant was quite dry before I'd finished adding all the icing sugar. I probably didn't melt my marshmallows enough but I was able to save it by kneading in some store bought fondant to give it more stretch.

As you've probably worked out, I did not enjoy every minute of this cake but the reaction it got made it all worthwhile. I get frustrated when a cake is not going to plan because I want it to be perfect, but when you see how much someone appreciates it, that is what makes it perfect. 

When Fred, my father-in-law to be, "got something in his eye" and the rest of us struggled from a similar affliction, I forgot all the disasters and mishaps with this cake and in that moment it became one of my favourites. 

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