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Sweetie Jar cake

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Time for another outrageous cake! I’m starting to love doing these. They’re so much fun. This was made for my special bud Sam for her birthday. My thinking behind it was quite simply: Sam loves sweets. Sam loves cake. Lets get those two together and create something truly disgusting! There were a few drafts before I came up with the final idea. Firstly I was going to make one big sponge in the shape of a sweet. Which then turned into me wanting to hide sweets inside the cake. Like a piñata cake. Which then turned into a cake covered in sweets but just a normal round sponge. Which then turned into shaping the sponge into a sweet jar. And voila! The sweetie jar cake was born. And then eaten. It had a short life poor thing.

IMG_3205Inside it’s a normal sponge peppered with hundreds and thousands to give it some colour. It seemed a shame to have just normal sponge under something so colourful.

The proper term is Funfetti cake I believe. It wasn’t that easy. The recipes all say to mix in your hundreds and thousands carefully so they don’t bleed into the batter. But I found they bled so quickly even one stir ruined them to smears. Not attractive. So I found the best way was to add a thin layer of batter to the tin, sprinkle on the H&Ts, then add another layer, sprinkle and so on until all the batter is gone. You will get some spreadage of colour but the majority will be ok.

Also, I couldn’t find bright hundreds and thousands in the shops. I had to go online. Look for their proper name of ‘Non-Pariels’. Who knew? Don’t use the bland coloured ones you’ll find in your supermarket, they will make your cake look like swampy sludge. You need the old school full of e-numbers stuff. This is cake people. No health here please. As I’ve harped on before, you need the bad stuff to make good cake! OK I’m off my soapbox now. See below for how I made it.

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Rectangular cake tin. Mine was 25cm X 17.5cm

Icing

  • 200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk

Decoration

  • Hundreds and thousands
  • Sweets – lots of

Method

  • Preheat over to 180′C/Gas Mark 4 and line your baking tin with baking paper.
  • Mix all your cake batter ingredients together by hand (good luck), electric hand whisk (better) or food mixer (now you’re talking!)
  • IMG_3198Get a small palette knife and spread a thin layer of batter in the cake tin. Liberally sprinkle a layer of hundreds and thousands. Add more batter in small dollops, then spread out flat with your knife. And another layer of hundreds and thousands. Repeat until batter has gone. Top layer should be batter. I think I only managed about three layers.
  • Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

For the buttercream:

Beat the icing sugar and butter together for at least 3 minutes. Add the milk to loosen it if it’s too thick.

IMG_3200Once the cake is cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 20 mins. Then remove from the tin and leave to cool fully on a wire rack. Whilst cooling make a sweet jar template on a piece of paper. I got one off the net and cut it out to fit the tin. Place it on top of the cooled cake and cut out your jar. Now its time to add the buttercream. Spread a thin layer on first. It’ll be very crumby but that’s OK. Leave it in the fridge for 30 mins to harden. Then add another layer, a bit thicker and it should be pretty crumb free. It doesn’t have to look perfect as you’ll be covering it in sweets. It’s merely acting as a glue.

Then its the fun part. Get your sweets and start sticking! There was no pattern, I just went for it. Leave the smaller sweets to fill in the holes. For the lid I had some orange royal icing which I simply rolled and cut to look as much like a lid as possible. I attempted to spray it silver but that failed miserably. In the end the orange stood out far better anyway.

I was anxious to see if the inside had really worked but obviously had to wait until the birthday girl had seen it. Not sure turning up with a cake cut into is the done thing. Success!

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So pwetty…..

I was very pleased with this cake. It was impossible to eat and smelt revolting (I’ve never smelt anything so sickly sweet). But it looked fab and Sam loved it. Job done!

Sarah

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Cupcake decorating

If you’re looking for some inspiration for decorating cupcakes then look no further. Well, look to the end of this post at least!

A star nozzle can give you piping like this:

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You can create different effects depending on whether you pipe from the outside of the cake in, or from the middle of the cake out to the edges.

The rope nozzle gives piping that looks like…wait for it…a rope:

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A two-tone piping bag has two bags (which you fill with different coloured butter icing) that feed into one nozzle. Ooooohhh:

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For extra two-toneness I made a vanilla and chocolate cake mixture and swirled them together before spooning it into the cases:

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I think I made these ones using a petal nozzle. I piped two layers, but the butter icing was a bit runny and so the petals weren’t as defined as they could have been:

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Glace icing is very easy to make and gives a smooth finish to bakes. It’s just icing sugar and warm water and you can adjust the consistency and add flavourings just the same as butter icing. Recipes for glace and butter icing can usually be found on the back of the icing sugar packets. I added a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice to these ones:

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At the Earls Court Cake and Bake Event last year I bought a stencil and made these:

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It’s very easy to do and the result is pretty impressive *looks smug*. Basically I bought some ready to roll icing in blue. Rolled it out. Laid the stencil over the top. Shook over some edible glitter. Cut out circles using a glass. Then placed the pieces over the cakes. Easy peasey. The glitter was from the ‘Rainbow Dust Edible Silk Range’ in Metallic Gold Treasure and Metallic Fire Cracker.

So there you go. Hope that’s given you a few ideas for future baking. There’s a whole variety of nozzles and decorations out there so go for it!

Decorations

Nozzles

Claire

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Rose cake

IMG_2018Here is my first attempt at real snazz and pizazz. It was a friends birthday and I thought ‘A-ha! Here is the perfect opportunity to practice my decorating skills, which have sometimes been shoddy to say the least.

So I’ll start with the inside. The sponge. A simple vanilla sponge that I coloured pink.

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Ingredients:
Batter
250g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra to grease
250g golden caster sugar
5 eggs
250g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Red food colouring paste (I used ‘Sugarflair Paste Concentrated Food Colour’. It’s intense. Use sparingly! You can always use the normal more watery dye too, just add more to the cake batter.)

Buttercream icing
225g unsalted butter at room temperature
525g icing sugar
6 tbsp milk

Methods:

  • Grease and line the base of two 8in sandwich tins with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one, then fold in the flour using a large metal spoon.
  • Split the mixture into two bowls. Add a smidge of red food colouring to each, one more in the other just for change. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the mixtures into a tin each. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30mins until the cakes are well risen and spring back when you press lightly in the centre. (I had to cook for quite a bit longer than the recipe said, so do keep checking by inserting a skewer or knife all the way through the cake. If wet mixture comes out, which mine did repeatedly (grr), then keep on baking)
  • Turn out, remove the lining paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile mix all the buttercream ingredients together. I do this in the food processor to save the icing sugar poofing all over the place. Add a small drop of red dye. So small it looks pale pink.

The construction:
I don’t have one of those rotating cake stands to make icing easier, so I made one! I placed the cake on a circular board and placed that on top of a large tin. Worked perfectly. First job before the fun decorating part was the crumb coating. This is done by spreading a fine layer of buttercream all over the cake to seal in the crumbs. Use a palette knife to do this. It’s not supposed to look pretty or perfect and it is supposed to look crumby. Literally. Remember to also put a thick layer of buttercream between the two layers of sponge. Once done place it in the fridge for 20 mins or so to harden. This seals the crumbs to the buttercream and makes sure none of the little blighters pop up in the pretty decorating later. Check out youtube tutorials to see how its done properly.
Next, the fun part. I’d say that technically this wasn’t that hard. Once you’ve practiced a few roses and got those right, it’s really just a repetitive job. I actually had intended to create the ruffle effect. But I failed. Dismally. I knew how to make roses from the countless cupcakes I have made. And if you have the trusty Wilton 1M nozzle, the jobs a good’un. I found youtube videos to give me some tips. A good one is, when doing the outside top edge make sure the rose goes over the edge a bit, onto the top flat surface. Otherwise you’ll see masses of cake edge. Always work your roses from the inside out and GO SLOW. I don’t know how to do a neat finish, I just gently pull the piping bag away and hope for the best. Sometimes it looks messy, sometimes it looks neat. It doesn’t really matter in the end. The darker flowers I did were to fill in the holes. Once all the large roses were completed I added more dye to the buttercream. Using a new bag but the same nozzle and simply pushed the nozzle into the holes, giving the bag a squeeze and lifting it out. No circular movements needed. You do need to press quite hard or the icing can drop off. They look like those iced gem sweets of yesteryear. Can you still get those? I digress…  So there you have it! A very lovely looking cake that’s really not that hard to do. Oh yes and as usual, I finished off the cake with lots of glitter.

IMG_2020Ok so I have a confession. Originally I planned to have a layer of pink sponge, and a layer of purple. Well, I don’t have purple so I tried to make it by mixing red and blue. I was certain I had done it before with success. Perhaps I was wrong. Because it went a truly nasty brown sludgy colour! It was hideous. But I didn’t want to have to make yet more buttercream. So I added lots of red paste and it made that dark dusky pink colour, Which I thought was acceptable. Just not what it was supposed to be.

This cake was one of my biggest challenges. It wasn’t perfect and there were hiccups and physical pain (hand cramps from continuous piping). But it was worth it in the end. The birthday girl loved it and that was the main thing. Happy Birthday Amelia!

Sasa x

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Cherry chocolate cupcakes

Yes a cupcake. They’re everywhere. I know. Taking over the world crumb by crumb. But there you go. That’s what is happening and who I am to stand in their way.

Choc cherry cupcakes

These ones are fluffy chocolate sponge covered with light vanilla buttercream and topped off with a cherry. I used golden icing sugar in this recipe, which gave the buttercream a slight caramel-like taste and an off-white colour (although the more I beat it the lighter it became), but if you don’t fancy that then ordinary icing sugar would be fine. Here’s how to bake them…

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 100g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs

Buttercream:

  • 80g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 250g golden icing sugar
  • 25ml semi-skimmed milk
  • A couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • Fresh cherries

How to bake them:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/gas mark 6 and place 12 large cupcake cases into a 12 hole cake tin
  • To make the cakes, cream together the butter and sugar
  • Beat in the eggs a bit at a time
  • Add the flour, cocoa and baking powder and fold it all in – the mixture should be well-blended and smooth
  • Spoon the mixture into the cases
  • Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until the cakes are well risen and spring back when pressed lightly
  • Once they’ve cooled slightly, take them out of the tin and let them cool completely on a wire rack
  • To make the buttercream, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract together adding the milk a bit at a time if the mixture is too dry
  • Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy
  • Once the cakes are completely cool decorate with the buttercream, whichever way you choose. I used a 9mm round nozzle for these ones
  • Top with a fresh cherry – I trimmed the tops of the stalks to make them all the same size

Next time, for extra cherry goodness, I might try chopping up some fresh cherries and adding them to the cake mixture before baking.

Claire