Bring me Sunshine

Today is Mother’s Day, a really difficult for those, like me, whose mother is sadly no longer with us.

Today was my second Mother’s Day without my Mum around and I was finding it a particularly hard day. So I thought that today I would make a cake for my Mum.

My cake was by no means perfect or particularly beautiful but that aside it sums up my mum perfectly! Bring me Sunshine was one of our songs. Mum spoke the words at my wedding and we played it at her funeral. It’s one song that whenever I listen to it, no matter how I’m feeling, I can’t help but crack a smile! 

I made a classic Victoria sponge but added the zest of two lemons. I then glazed the cake with a mixture of lemon juice and caster sugar and spread this over the top of the cake while it was still warm. I find this a great tip for making a lemon cake juicy inside and crunch on top! I should add that I first attempted this cake at 7:30am today and was baffled when it sank and was effectively a flop! That’s when I realised I’d forgotten to add any eggs! Whoops!

When the cake had fully cooled I sandwiched it with lemon curd and then covered it in my buttercream. Again for a lemon cake I find the best buttercream is made by melting the butter with the zest and juice of a lemon before adding the icing sugar! I covered the cake with the icing (after letting it cool).

I then got my sugar paste out! I made a yellow portion, an orange portion and a black portion! Once my yellow was rolled out I had to cover the cake! This was the first time I’d covered a circular cake and I was pleased with my first time effort! It may be entirely wrong but I flipped the cake upside down and placed it on to the yellow and then folded the edges in to the bottom of the cake and removed the excess! It wasn’t perfect around the edges but the top was lovely and smooth! 

I ran over the cake with a cake smoother and around the sides. I then cut 10 triangular shapes out of the Orange sugar paste and used sugar glue to secure them around the edge of the cake. A little tip: I placed all my triangles in place before glueing to be sure they fit properly and looked ok! They did!

I then made a pair of sunglasses and a smile with my black paste and put them in place.

Finally I used an edible pen to finish it off! 



Voila! The finished result! As I said, it was by no means perfect but it made me smile and think of my Mum!

Happy Mother’s Day Mum x x 

Bring me Sunshine 

http://youtu.be/ZedhoqYdfTM

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Banoffee Pie

Last weekend I finally invested in my very own noisy mixer (stand mixer – it’s always been called a noisy mixer in my house!) as last time I tried to turn my mums 25 year old one on it set on fire!

I decided to try my hand at a Banoffee pie! I’d previously tried mini Banoffee’s and to be honest they were terrible! The previous recipe I’d used involved shop bought caramel, I was in a rush and it was frankly bad!

I opted for Banoffee as its my Husband’s favourite and I don’t like it so I thought I was safe from scoffing it all myself! I was wrong! This week is also national pie week, so I thought it would be rude not to! http://www.britishpieweek.co.uk

I used a Simon Rimmer recipe (see link below) but I did change it a little.

Simon Rimmer’s Banoffee Pie

I didn’t make the caramel sauce as I didn’t feel that the pie needed it and I substituted digestives with ginger nut biscuits! I think this is the key to a really Scrummy Banoffee pie! It just adds a touch more flavour and crunch!

I found this recipe really simple to make and the results were fab! As I said, I previously didn’t like Banoffee pie…I do now though! My biscuit base was a little inconsistent and for next time I need to make sure it is even as some parts of the pie were chunkier than others! I’d also add slightly more banana but other than this the recipe is perfect!

I decided to decorate the top of the pie with chocolate shavings which wasn’t in the recipe but I thought it just added a little extra to the appearance! I sprinkled them over after I had decorated the top with banana, in hindsight I’d reverse this and put the shavings on before the banana to get a more even coverage!

If you’re a Banoffee fan then try this recipe and try adding the ginger biscuits! If you’re not a Banoffee fan then try this recipe…you may soon find that you are! Ive got Banoffee on the brain now and am thinking of creating a Banoffee cake now!

Scrummy Sweetie House! My First ‘Showstopper’!!

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a ‘showstopper’ cake for a while and my Husband set me a challenge to do it! I looked through some designs and recipes and decided to try something relatively simply for my first attempt! The design I chose was a house which I thought would be a relatively straightforward shape to try! It was the first time I had ever worked with sugar paste so again I thought that this simple design would be a good place to start! Again, I haven’t worked with food colouring properly either, other than adding random splashes and making things look like they would make a child bounce of the walls! I chose some of my favourite colours for the design (so the colours do perhaps look a bit odd!) but I thought it was better to pick colours I will want to reuse again soon so I didn’t have to spend too much in one go! I have found baking equipment can be quite expensive…but that’s for another day!

So I picked my colours and design and off I went!

For the actual cake I made a madeira sponge and used vanilla flavouring for both the cake and the buttercream that I made!

I baked the cake the day prior so that it had time to cool down and I didn’t have to wait a couple of hours while it cooled, as otherwise the buttercream may have melted. The buttercream helps to stick the sugar paste in place so you don’t want it melted!

The first task, and probably the thing I struggled with the most, was cutting the cake in to shape. I really am not particularly good with my hands (perhaps I should be trying a different hobby…!) and I gave it a good go! I cut the sponge into 4 equal sized squares sandwiched two together (one on top of the other) with some buttercream. I then had to shape the roof! This is where I struggled somewhat! Herewith….IMG_3759

As you can see, this does not resemble a roof by any stretch of the imagination so I then had some fixing to do and eventually I did manage to create something which looked more like a house, even if the roof was ever so slightly out of proportion!

Once I had my shape I layered all the shapes together with buttercream and added a thin coating of buttercream all around the house to help the sugar paste stick.

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With the foundations made I then got to work with my sugar paste! I was surprised how tough sugar paste is when you first begin working with and it does take some kneading to make it pliable. Once it was ready I got the food colouring out. I was making a green paste to cover my cake board, to represent grass. For my other colours I was using food colour paste but for the green I only had a gel. I actually needed quite a lot of the gel to get the green of the base but I added this a little at a time as it was something I hadn’t done before so I wasn’t sure how much I would need. Once i had the desired colour I rolled the paste out to a thickness of about 1/2 a centimetre and proceeded to cover the board. The edges weren’t exactly perfect and this is certainly something to work on in the future! Saying that I could have used a ribbon around the edge of the cake board and then nobody would have known! I just didn’t have any ribbon!

After this I began with my mauve paste for the walls of my house. I repeated the same process of making the sugar paste pliable and adding the colour slowly. I found with the paste you needed far less than the gel to get the desired colour. Again I rolled the sugar paste out and then used a ruler to measure the size of the walls of the house and cut the relevant shapes out. I then transferred the cake onto the cake board and stuck the walls in place. This was rather fiddly and I used my cake smoother to get a smoother finish around the edges. The gaps did not quite line up as they probably should have, but again this is something to work on next time. I think perhaps using slightly larger pieces of sugar paste would assist with this.

Then for the roof…the tricky bit!! I’d opted for a brown roof and used teddy bear brown colour paste. Again I repeated the same process as above. Cutting the shapes here was probably the most difficult part of the whole cake. I am not particularly good with things like this and despite my best efforts and using a ruler to have the precise measurements….I didn’t get anything remotely right until about the 5th attempt. Eventually however I did end up with something resembling a roof!

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You can see here that the icing really is not the most precise and is a bit messy. I decided that given that this was the first attempt, one of the beauties of this design was that it was going to be covered in sweets anyway so nobody would see! I used sugar glue and a paintbrush to seal the edges of the cake and I then lightly brushed the roof (again having not used sugar glue before I was surprised at how little you need!) before the FUN part! Sticking (and eating) the sweeties to the roof! It really is up to you what sweets you use for this cake but I would say that more lightweight sweets would be preferable as they won’t fall off or knock others out of place. You can do whatever you fancy with these and eat half of them along the way! (I bought plenty in as I knew how many I would eat!)

I then cut a small door and windows for the front of the house and created a path leading up to the front door using sugar glue and hundreds and thousands. The finished product looked like this….

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I really was extremely proud of my efforts here! I know things went wrong and that the cake is far from perfect, but for a first attempt I felt like I had really achieved something! I have certainly learnt things I didn’t know about working with sugar paste, sugar glue and colouring and am now really excited for the next challenge! The question is, what next!? If anyone would like the recipe and/or instructions for this then just let me know!

A final note….I made this cake last weekend. It was my brother’s fiancee’s birthday on Tuesday and they were coming round for tea on Monday. I decided that when I am making these cakes I need a purpose or I will just sit and eat them all to myself! I decided that I would make the cake as a birthday cake! Monday night came, I gave the cake, we each had a slice (I won’t lie, it was slightly dry and I need to fix that for next time!) and all was fine. My brother’s fiancee forgot to take the cake home with her so I boxed it up. The next day off I went to work, cake boxed up and safe. I came home and found this….

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and a very guilty and full looking….IMG_1918

Needless to say my Scrummy Sweetie House was no more!

Welcome to my Bootiful Bakes

Hello there!

If you are reading this then perhaps you, like me, are a keen baker! Or perhaps you’re not and you’re wanting to learn or you’ve just stumbled across this page by accident! Either way, as this is my first post I thought I would introduce myself and my baking background!

I have always enjoyed baking since being a child. Usually that involved baking with my Grandma or my Mum  or midnight baking as a teenager with my friends making green cakes (they tasted better than they looked and my Mum had the patience of a saint with the noisy mixer whirring at all hours!!) Thankfully I have matured (a little) and gone up in the world of baking since then!

I became properly interested in baking around a year ago when I found it a therapeutic release from the stresses life throws! Some people find that being in the kitchen only compounds stress, but luckily for me I am not one of those people!

I have found that baking is not something which you can just automatically be good at, follow a recipe and bob’s your uncle and you’re a baker (if only!!). Baking is something which you have to learn and develop as a skill and I feel a lot of it is to do with familiarity with ingredients, equipment and some common sense!

I am by no means an accomplished baker (yet!!). I make mistakes as I am sure every baker does but what I try to do is to learn from those mistakes! This blog will include my recipes, efforts and failings and hopefully record my progress as I learn and evolve as a baker!

Whatever ‘baker category’ you fit in to then hopefully you may find something here of interest!