Connie Ballerina

Happy 4th Birthday to Mr Chris' niece, Connie.

A cake that represents two of Connie's likes, ballet and the colour yellow. Underneath that yellow fondant is a scrummy chocolate cake and definitely no jam!

When asked who was sitting on top of the cake Connie replied "me", so I think it's safe to say my models are improving.


Chocolate Birthday Cake

Stepping away from the usual madeira sponge, I decided a chocolate feast would be a nice birthday treat for Mr Chris' sister, Ruth.

As a chocolate lover I thought this would be delicious... a light chocolate sponge with a chocolate buttercream filling, and covered in a thin layer of chocolate fondant. 

It was yummy - even if I do say so myself :)

I also want to highlight the success of my letter cutters. These are called "funky" letters and are known for being a bit tricky as they are large and loose their shape easily. For me the letter would stay inside the cutter and when I tried to tap it out only part of the letter would release. Eventually it would stretch or break as I tried to remove the rest.

On this occasion I put my success down to a newly purchased non-stick mat. Ironically, when I pulled the letter cutter away, the letter would remain on the mat and not in the cutter. This works for me. 

I also discovered it's better to leave the letter to harden for a minute before transferring it to the cake so it doesn't loose it's shape. Don't leave it to dry completely though, as it'll become brittle and very delicate.


Lottie Mercy Thorn-Pointer

This cake was to celebrate the long awaited arrival of my beautiful niece Lottie, born on 6th December 2011, and to celebrate her life although it was much shorter then any of us wanted and prayed for.
To my brave little niece Lottie, you are always in my thoughts. 

You held on long enough to give me a cuddle and I kept my promise to make you the best cake I possibly could, with all your little friends around you.

Everyday I wish things could have been different but I find comfort knowing you are safe with Nanny Thorn and your great "Little Nan", and we'll all be together again one day.

Love you always, 

Your Aunty Chel xxx

Flollie the Elephant      Vert the Penguin          Mrs Bear

The moment when I held my niece for the very first time. Although I was full of sadness it was briefly pushed aside as this was, and will always be, the most precious moment of my life. I hope she felt nothing but love and comfort in my arms.



The answer to all my problems: THE MAT.

After all my struggles covering cakes with fondant, I started looking for tips online and stumbled upon "THE MAT". With a very important cake due next month to celebrate the long awaited arrival of my niece, it has to be perfect so the pressure is on to prefect the icing.

Some pros may refer to this as cheating but I'm happy to be called a cheat if this mat works as good as the video suggests:

Of course I'm sceptical, it wouldn't be the first product I've bought that looks great but in real life doesn't work. However, for £24.99 I think it's worth a try. I also like the hygiene aspect of it and not being left with a table covered in icing sugar to clean up at the end.



A Primus cake for a Primus fan and Mr Chris to the rescue again, what would I do without him!

This cake was going well until I fell ill mid creation with suspected food poisoning (not my own cooking I'd like to add!). Fortunately I had baked the cake and made the models the previous evening, but I had to leave Mr Chris to cover the cake and put it all together the next day. I think he did an amazing job and he still managed to take care of me at the same time.

The fondant astronauts are based on the huge inflatable ones from their tour and t-shirts. I like to think they show an improvement in my modelling skills thanks to the magic ingredient, Tylo powder, and a nice set of modelling tools from Mr Chris.


How to make Modelling Paste

After making a few fondant models and finding it quite difficult to work with, I have discovered the fondant needs a little something extra in order to turn it in to modelling paste, or gum-paste as some refer to it.

This YouTube video gives a really good demo on how to create modelling paste by adding Tylo powder:

I picked up a little tub (85g) of Tylo powder for £3.65 from my local cake decorators shop. I consider that a bargain as it'll last a considerable time and I now have a little stash of modelling paste ready for when I need it.


Spiral Cake

Firstly, I have to confess I stole this idea from CakeCentral, but it was the perfect cake for Mr Chris' Dad who is a very keen walker.

The cake consists of two Victoria sponges, one on top of the other, and the spiral path has been carved as detailed in the link above.
Cutting in to the cake was a little frightening but actually went quite smoothly. 

The icing as usual was a nightmare, especially as the cake was so large, but Mr Chris stepped in to lend a hand and we got there eventually.

The final result with all its trimmings... 

Not my best modelling work as it was a warm evening and with the added food colouring my fondant was too sticky, but I did find a nifty tutorial on YouTube for creating the trees (even if they did turn out to be the same size as Mr Fred).


Rainbow Icing

A little treat to congratulate my colleague, Azra, on her well deserved promotion.

There are a few ways to achieve the rainbow icing but this is how I do it:
1. I make a regular batch of non-coloured buttercream icing.

2. Separate the icing in to two or three bowls (depending on how many colours I want).

3. Colour the icing in each bowl by adding a couple of drops of food colouring.

4. Place my piping bag inside a glass and open it out over the top of the glass.

5. Load the different colours in stripes in to the piping bag e.g. add one colour down the left of the bag, another down the right, and maybe one down the middle. It can be a bit tricky to add all of one colour in one go so I do each gradually until the bag is full.

6. Squeeze a little of the icing in to a bowl until all of the colours start to show, then it's ready to go :)

I found the butterflies at a county fair but I've not seen them anywhere since, which is a shame as I think they look really pretty.


Book Worm Cupcakes

These were a birthday treat for my friend Lou. We've known each other since we were little kids and she lived just around the corner from me. She still does in fact!

As usual I was short on time (I seem to live in a different time zone to everyone else) so I needed to make something quick that still had that personal touch.

Always engrossed in a book, Lou has been a keen reader as far back as I can remember, so I decided to reflect that in her cakes.

These are chocolate cupcakes, with chocolate frosting and little book worm toppers made out of fondant.


A New Arrival

A third niece for Mr Chris! 

Congratulations to Steve, Ruth and Connie on the newest member of 
their family, Kitty May.

My second attempt to cover a cake with fondant icing - still a very frustrating experience but a better result then the first attempt.

Again I had trouble with the icing sticking to the surface but in addition to this I failed to roll it thin enough to cover the whole cake, hence the piping along the bottom and decorations around the edge hiding the gaps and bodged bits :/

I also cheated with the decorations on this one. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to make my own so I bought these.


Cupcakes - Susannah Blake

Mr Chris surprised me with a little gift... a cupcake recipe book by Susannah Blake. 

After working my way through some of the recipes it has definitely become one of my favourite books. The recipes are easy to follow and the results are scrummy.

Here are some of the ones I have tried so far....

The cupcake version of my favourite dessert. These have banana and chunks of toffee in the sponge, then whipped cream, sliced banana and a drizzle of dulce de leche on top. They go down well!

Orange and Almond
I think these should have risen more but unfortunately I couldn't get my hands on one of the ingredients, potato flour, and as a substitute I used grounded potato flakes used for instant mash. They may not look impressive but they were still very tasty. 

Coffee and Hazelnut Praline
My first time making praline, which is actually a lot easier than I thought and fills the kitchen with a very nice aroma.

Rose Water
I didn't know what to expect from these as I hadn't come across Rose Water before. I thought they might taste like the sweets, Parma Violets (most people would think that's a bad thing as they taste a bit perfumey but I like them).

They were actually very similar to vanilla cupcakes with just a slight hint at the Rose Water flavour.


My Neighbour Totoro

I'm a big fan of the Studio Ghibli films and my favourite has to be 'My Neighbour Totoro'. They're not to everyone's taste as they can be a little "out there" so imagine my joy when Mr Chris also fell in love with Totoro and instantly went online to find me some Totoro friends. 

I've lost track of how many times we've watched the film but it seemed like the obvious choice of cake for Mr Chris' 25th birthday.

This was my first ever attempt at covering a cake with fondant and making fondant models, so although it has its flaws I am very pleased with the result.
I used a white ready to roll fondant and tried to colour it myself. After several hours of kneading it was eventually green, not the green I was hoping for but green enough. One frustrating hour later it was eventually on the cake.

Prior to making this cake You Tube tutorials led me in to a false sense of security that fondant icing is easy peasey. Despite the amount of icing sugar I threw down my fondant didn't want to leave the kitchen surface, and the times it did I'd roll it too thin and it would tear. Nevertheless, I am persistent so I got there in the end.

As for the modelling, I seemed to be a natural at this which I can only assume is thanks to my child hood days playing with plasticine, and I guess Totoro's aren't particularly tricky.

Mr Chris loved it, and I think our friends approved too. I'm also very pleased to say this led to Totoro becoming a favourite of Chris' niece.

Spreading the Totoro love :)


In the beginning

So this is the first entry in my blog and I'm not sure how to start. 

I've been a busy baker over the last year and I'd like to include a number of those cakes in this blog, so I'll probably back date my posts until I'm up to the present day. For now here is where it all began :) 

These are some of the earliest pictures I have of my baking.

From September 2010 -

Spread a little colour with rainbow cupcakes - well maybe not these ones as I didn't quite get the vibrant colours I was hoping for. 
Bakergal shows us how it should be done.

Ignoring the above, rainbow cupcakes are incredibly easy to make. Just separate your cake mixture in to bowls, add a drop of food colour to each bowl, and place a dollop of each colour in to your cupcake cases. 
To get the bright colours, make sure you use the right type of food colouring. It took me some time to trigger this but gel paste colours are the way forward! A tiny drop goes a long way and gives a fantastic colour which you'll see in my later posts.

18th March 2011
Given the same recipe (a vanilla sponge with orange flavoured icing) my colleague and fellow baker went head to head to raise money for Comic Relief. We had to stick to the recipe but could add our own creative flare to it. For £2 buyers got one of each cupcake and were asked to vote for their favourite.
Sadly I failed to get a picture of the competition but this is what I went in to battle with.
Two-tone icing always seems to impress and what goes better with orange then chocolate? 
I was champion by 4 votes but more importantly we added £48 towards the money raised for comic relief.

2nd May 2011
A very quick batch of cakes whipped together for my friend... yep you guessed it... Erin. 
Erin was my partner in crime at Uni. We don't see each other much these days but there's usually an annual reunion with one due again soon. 


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