Mr Chris dons the apron

It's my birthday and someone else gets to bake the cake.
I loaned Mr Chris my recipe for chocolate cake and look what he whipped up while I was at work...

I was chuffed to bits :D

Why a bird's nest? Because I love our little feathered friends.

I hang food out for them almost every day and we get plenty of visitors.

It's a love I've inherited from my Nan from days when we used to sit together and break up the birds bread. I would get her shopping every week and there would always be two loafs on the list, one for my Nan and one for the birds. I know she would have loved some of these pics Mr Chris has captured...

And that's not all! As a birthday gift Mr Chris is treating me to a weekend away (more on that later) and bought me a nifty little bread maker. 

It's the Daily Loaf Breadmaker by Morphy Richards and can make a little 1lb loaf in an hour. It's the perfect amount for us and tastes great, especially when it's still warm and smothered with butter. 

This was my first loaf using the "fast bake" setting. The fast bake takes about an hour and gives a fluffy loaf with a soft crust. It also has a "basic" setting which is a little heavier and has a crustier edge but takes around three hours.

Mmmm, time to start enjoying fresh bread every day :)

And there's more...

Mr Chris' sister, Ruth, bought me a fab selection of cupcake sprinkles:

I love the little gingerbread men. I foresee some gingerbread cupcakes in the future :)



... The German Friendship Cake.

My sister gave me a bubbling pot of goo, told me his name was Herman and that I had to care for him for 10 days. I thought she'd lost the plot until she explained he was a sour dough cake, and like a chain letter he gets passed on to friends and family.

My little pot of bubbling goo was the starter mix and these were the instructions I had to follow:
  1. "Hello, my name is Herman. I am a sour dough cake. I'm supposed to be on a worktop for 10 days without a lid. Do not put me in the fridge.

  2. Day 1: You get Herman. Put him in to a large mixing bowl and cover loosely with a tea towel.

  3. Day 2: Stir well

  4. Day 3: Stir well

  5. Day 4: Herman is hungry! Add 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk. Stir well.

  6. Day 5: Stir well

  7. Day 6: Stir well

  8. Day 7: Stir well

  9. Day 8: Stir well

  10. Day 9: Hungry again. Add 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Stir well. Divide in to 4 equal amounts and give 3 away to friends with a copy of these instructions. Herman 4 stays with you.

  11. Day 10: Herman is very hungry. Stir well and add: 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup cooking oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 heaped tsp baking powder, 2 tsp vanilla essence, 2 chopped cooking apples (or other fruit). 

  12. Mix together and put in to a large greased roasting tin. Sprinkle the surface with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes at 170-180°C(check after 35 mins)."
At first I wasn't sure about Herman, he smelt a bit funky and hogged precious space in my little kitchen, however I proceeded to care for him on my sisters word that he was tasty. On day 10 I was not disappointed. Herman was so delicious he didn't stay whole long enough for me to get a picture, but Mr Chris did get a snap of this slice before it disappeared with my cup of tea.

On day 9 I gave three Hermans away to Louise, Darren & Steph and John. Surprisingly they were all rather enthusiastic about him. From what I've heard Lou's didn't end well but I don't think anyone was surprised (sorry Lou). I believe the other two were enjoyed. Darren and Steph's certainly looked tasty:

If you don't want to wait for a Herman, you can start your own with the following:

5oz plain flour
8oz caster sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast
Half a pint of warm milk
2 fl oz of warm water
  1. 1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water for 10 minutes then stir
  2. 2. Add the flour and sugar and mix thoroughly
  3. 3. Slowly stir in the warm milk
  4. 4. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth
  5. 5. Leave in a cool dry place for 24 hours
  6. 6. Now start from day one of the 10 day instructions

Give him a go, he is a little stinky but friendly :)


The Boys

For Carole's birthday (my Dad's wife), my dad asked if I could make a cake with "The Boys" on it. 

The boys are their two dogs, two Shih tzu's, one named Qin and one named Jayger. They are a quirky pair. I'm pretty sure Jayger thinks he is a cat and Qin is a big eating machine, totally led by his stomach but a real softy. I miss them since I stopped living at home several years ago so I really enjoyed making this.

Jayger and Qin in fondant
"The Boys" - Jayger on the left and Qin on the right.

Creating a fondant dog is easy when you know how. I found a tutorial and then altered it slightly to suit my needs. They're not an exact likeness but I tried to capture their features as much as possible, especially Qin's big belly and Jayger's unimpressed expression.


Cake Disaster (a long story)

Mr Chris has so many hobbies I could incorporate any of them in to his birthday cake, but I decided to make something he wouldn't be expecting, something a little bit random that would make him chuckle.

The current EDF Energy adverts feature a little dancing orange blob. According to Mr Chris he has my dance moves. Anyway we love him so I decided to make him in to a cake.

Due to a lack of time and general ignorance on my part this cake quickly became a disaster. 

The problem when you live with someone and your home is open plan, it is very hard to make a cake without them seeing it. I told Mr Chris I wasn't doing his cake and then took a secret day off work. It was a real rush to complete it before he got home which led to my first problem. 

Because I was rushing I didn't leave the cake long enough to cool before 
applying my crumb coat of butter cream. It was a hot day which also didn't help. This meant my crumb coat was runny and ended up being only a thin layer. It wasn't a major disaster but it meant you could see the layers between my sponges when the fondant was on. 

I used a
ball tin purchased from Lindy's Cakes to form the little guys body. Lindy's FAQs give some good tips and guidance for using this tin but I should have paid more attention to them.

I baked two ball cakes and stacked them one on top of the other. To do this Lindy's FAQs advise to flatten the top of the bottom tier and add support dowels to prevent it losing its shape. The support dowels are crucial! 

As his body is squashed when he is dancing I decided it wouldn't matter too much if the bottom tier was squashed from the weight of the top one, so I didn't add any support :O

Yes, I'm a complete newb when it comes to stacking cakes.

The result was the bottom tier began to crumble and collapse, and the top tier started to slide backwards where the bottom one was giving way. I had to prop him up with a biscuit tin. He lasted long enough for Mr Chris to see what he should have looked like and get this photo. Eventually (about a week later) I was able to laugh about at his head falling off.

So long story short....

I'm glad I tried something new because that is how you learn and get better but lessons learnt here:

  • Give yourself plenty of time
  • Always allow your cakes to cool completely before icing
  • When stacking cakes add plenty of support to the lower tiers
  • When trying something new do not ignore advice from the professionals
  • Stay calm and don't take it out on your sister when she is only trying to help :)


Blogger Template by Clairvo