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Class two of my sugar craft flowers course was mostly finishing off our roses.
(Class one can be found here)

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I spent as much time as I could with my head burrowed down, furiously thinning and curls the petals to get them looking as “natural” as I could muster.

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We made closed bud roses, half roses and roses in full bloom.

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It was much more fiddly than the previous class as the roses are so delicate and you have to work the sugar paste out to be much thinner.

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Thanks to a fab teacher, I now have a bunch of gorgeous roses I could use just as they are on a cake already.

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Sugar roses require fast finger work so the paste doesn’t get too warm or wet and then they need another week to dry out before you can colour them up. Once dried out though, they can be stored and kept for long periods of time.

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I chose to make these practice roses all yellow so that I could use them as a reference going forwards – you can easily spot the folds and joins so that when I make them again I know what I am doing.

As soon as I find some free time, I am going to make up a bunch more so that I have them on hand for cakes going forwards. They are simple, but could be so effective as a cake decoration – and they can just be grabbed out of a box and will be ready to go whenever you need them.

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I’m super keen for these to all dry out so I can start to play with colours!

What do you think? Do you like them?

I am definitely going to try some in a deeper red colour soon, and maybe a soft pink base as well so I can play with colouring those up afterwards with highlights too.

We are 6 months out from getting married this year and I have made the decision to bake our wedding cake.

!!!

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I am not sure at this point if I have made really stupid decision and it is going to cause me undue stress in the run up to what is meant to be a fun and enjoyable day… or… (and I hope it is the latter) it is going to be fine and give me an opportunity to push myself to try a few new things and work on my presentation.

Either way, it’s too late now. I’ve committed.

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My plan in order to avoid a catastrophe is… practice, practice, practice.

As such, on top of my irregular baking spurts that I blog about, I am baking Rob a cake each month in the run up to the wedding to try out a bake that might make it to the big day.

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This one is a mango and passionfruit layer cake.

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Four layers of vanilla sponge, lined with passionfruit puree, and sandwiched together with mango and passionfruit buttercream.

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After I had beat the buttercream edges into submission, I topped it with a mango chunk “6”.

The first cake option on the board.

Thoughts?

I have enrolled on my first baking-related course!

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Sugar flower making to be exact.

Told you I was looking to up my cake-finishing game! (here)

Class one was learning the basic techniques when working with sugar paste and getting used to sugar craft tools, which are much finer and more delicate than cake spatulas and food mixers.

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I may have a new favourite thing to do. It is SO satisfying working the paste into delicate little shapes. I could have literally sat there for days on end creating these filler flowers.

I have come away with a box full of chrysanthemums, tiny filler flowers and starter buds that need to dry out for roses (next week).

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I am so pleased with my little edible flower garden! Aren’t they cute?!

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Can’t wait for next week…

Over flowing muffin cases filled with raspberries, little chunks of apple and white chocolate pieces.

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No recipe today, and hardly any photo’s because these were knocked out after work and eaten before I had a chance to snap a decent shot of them.

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I still wanted to share them though. A note to self to remember the flavour combo. Nothing special to look at but they were just right for a little after work pick me up.

I’ve really started trying to get better at dressing my bakes recently.

Swiss meringue buttercream

As a result I have been spending my Sundays playing around with different types of meringue buttercream’s, which has been slow, steady but fun progress.

I’ve been using Pinterest and Craftsy to locate recipes and practice which has been great. I’m hoping soon I’ll be able to hone a go-to recipe of my own (fingers crossed!)

If you know of any recipes that you would recommend I try, I am all ears!! Send me the links…

 

There is an abundance of birthday’s in February at the office so I thought I would made a nice plump lemon drizzle cake to celebrate.

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I know that lemon drizzle cakes are typically baked in loaf tins… but… it was meant to be a birthday cake and receiving a loaf cake for your birthday would just be a bit deflating. Wouldn’t it?

After doubling my recipe for a nice big lemon drizzle cake and adding plenty of grated rind to the cake batter, I then gave the cooled cake a good soak with a lemon juice syrup before topping with vanilla Swiss Meringue buttercream.

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In all honesty, I was just going to do a normal buttercream icing for this cake, flavoured with some lemon juice and then tint it yellow with some food dye so I could practice my smooth icing. When I got around to make the icing though, I realised I was entirely out of icing sugar.

Ugh.

It was late on Sunday night and I was already half way through cooking dinner so there was no way Iw as heading out to buy some more. A Swiss Meringue buttercream, needing caster sugar instead (which I always have in abundance), was my only option.

By the time I had heated the egg whites and sugar over the bain marie, cooled, whipped, added butter, vanilla etc etc etc, whilst attempting not to ruin dinner at the same time, all I could muster was blobbing it on top in the end.

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They still enjoyed it in the office though, with a suitable cacophony of “mmmmmms” and “ahhhhhhhhs” whilst they ate, so I was content with the outcome- even if I hadn’t managed to squeeze in tad more decorating practice.  I don’t think this is too bad for a Sunday night, not-so-well-thought-through-bake. What do you think?

Notes for next time:
I think I would go hell for leather on the lemon juice syrup next time – I only used the juice of one lemon and I think, with the size of this cake, it could definitely have done with a bit more “Ooomph” on the drizzle front. The lemon flavour in the cake was there but it was very subtle. It would have been better to have a punchier flavour coming through to balance the rich vanilla swiss meringue buttercream in the end.

Have you come across the Butter Baking blog before? It’s proper baking inspiration.

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Natasha bakes and blogs about the most beautiful desserts.

Honestly. My mouth waters EVERY TIME I visit her sight. I follow her on Instagram and the photos of her food are perfection. I mean – the cake edges are UNREAL.

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If you haven’t before, check it out here. I dream of having this level of skill one day.

‘Til then, I’ll keep at it.

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So a little while ago there was a ray of sunshine shining through on a Sunday afternoon which caused a Spring-y bake to occur. I had raspberries in the freezer and this is what happened…

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A couple of layers of vanilla sponge (Mary Berry’s all in one recipe this time round), sandwiched together with Raspberry jam made the foundations for some sharp buttercream edging practice.

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I used a basic buttercream ingredients of icing sugar and butter to make a slightly too thick mix. I then defrosted some frozen raspberries and used the thawed fruit and the juice to loosen the buttercream and give it some texture.

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As you can see, I still have some work to do on getting that top edge straight, but I’d say the sides are coming along nicely, don’t you think?

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I didn’t have time to crumb coat properly as we were headed out to lunch with friends (with this being dessert) so it ended up as a sort-of-naked cake.

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Having more time to faff over the finished product, I think I would have liked to top it with more raspberries. Looking back on it now, it seems a tad bare.

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Very fresh, don’t you think? C’mon Spring… catch up!

Today I am mostly day-dreaming of Spring.

This Sunday just gone, the sun was shining in through the windows for the first time in what felt like forever, and had given me hope that Spring is on it’s way. We were off out to friends for dinner so that morning I baked a bright Spring-esque cake to take with us for dessert.

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A little bit of Spring (in cake form) to brighten up the cold, dark, wet days of current.

More photos of the whole cake to follow!

 

Most of my bakes are just for fun and get gifted to friends/work so if they go wrong and never appear, there’s no comeuppance. No pressure. They are added extras – an edible bonus if you will.

When someone requests something though. Well. That’s when the pressure starts. I had been specifically requested to create this Guinness shaped birthday cake for my uncles 60th birthday.

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He loves Guinness, and the party needed a cake.
Simple.

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Ha.

No.

It was not simple. Not for my limited kitchen surface space anyway.

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I mean, normally when I bake I occasionally finish it off with a bit of “proper” cake decoration… y’know, actually thinking a design through and planning it out… but I mean o-c-c-a-s-i-o-n-a-l-l-y (…like once a year at Christmas occasionally). So when I finally got through with this project, I was kinda impressed with myself *ego boost*.

My first attempt almost ended in tears though.

Plan A – make an upstanding Guinness pint glass cake. Four chocolate guinness cakes later, I had split and levelled them into eight. I had my dowls and buttercream at the ready and began stacking. Then… everything crumbled to pieces.

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Like. Literally. Picture cake Armageddon in my kitchen.

Delicious crumbs of chocolate Guinness cake, everywhere. The sponge was too moist (but very tasty I might add!) and so when I went in to carve it, it entirely fell apart.

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Plan B was an alteration to design. I didn’t want to change the texture or taste of the sponge (I did say it was tasty – I meant it), so I changed the way I would display the cake instead. If I created a flat lay pint glass, the layers of cake wouldn’t need to support each other. Second time lucky. So when the day came, all I had to worry about was my ganache and finishes.

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This Guinness sponge cake was carved into a pint glass shape, sandwiched together with cream cheese icing, and then encased in a slightly-to-huge layer of milk chocolate ganache (which was darkened with a little black/brown food dye). After the ganache set, I topped it with some swiss meringue buttercream for the foam and piped on the emblem and lettering.

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Cake recipe: 
(From April Carter’s blog Rhubarb and Rose, My Goodness My Guinness)

110g butter
275g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
50g cocoa powder
200ml Guinness
175g plain flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream butter and sugar until pale. Add and beat eggs one by one.
Sift flour, baking powder and bicarb into a separate bowl.
Mix the cocoa and Guinness in a third bowl.
Pour a third of the flour mix into the butter and egg mixture and combine, followed by a third of the chocolate and guinness mix and combine. Repeat process until all the flour and guinness mixes are combined into one bowl.
Divide mix into two 8inch tins and bake for approx 30-40mins (dependent on ovens here so keep an eye it!)

For the cake above, I made this recipe twice so I had 4 even layers. I cooled them, cut them in half (so they were semi-circles) and carved away at the edges so when placed together standing on their cut edge, they resembled a pint glass shape. I then sandwiched them on a cake board with cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese filling:
(Adapated from Nigella.com)

300cream cheese
500g icing sugar
125ml whipping cream

Whip up the cream until thick in one bowl. Cream together the icing sugar and cream cheese and then fold into the whipped cream. Use this to “stick” your cake slices together and crumb coat. Once crumb coated, stick it in the fridge until the filling stiffens.

Chocolate Ganache: 

500g milk chocolate, chopped
200g double cream
black food colouring gel

Heat the cream in a pan until it comes to a rolling boil. Immediately take off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir continuously until all the chocolate has melted and the mix is smooth. This took me a good 5 minutes or more. Add in a small bit of black food colouring and stir well. Let the mix cool a little so it thickens. Take the cold cake out of the fridge and pour a quarter of the ganache over the cake. Because the cake is cold, the ganache will start to set so move quickly to fix it into position. Pour a little more at a time until you have the shape you want. This should set by itself anyway but I popped it back in the fridge whilst I made the buttercream.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

Full instructions for the Swiss Meringue Buttercream can be found over on Craftsy. I love this site. Has so many how-to’s for baking! I used this just at the top of the cake for the “foam”.

The writing and emblem, I just piped with melted milk chocolate.

Improvements for next time:
In hindsight, I would have not put quite such a thick layer of ganache on the outside. I got carried away with design and had forgotten to keep ratios of buttercream/ganache/sponge in mind.

Also next time, I will pre-pipe the lettering on some greaseproof paper and freeze. It would be much easier that piping directly on to the cake itself.

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