Rainbow Kitty Cake – Happy Birthday Ciara!

10/17

One of the best things about being a baker, I believe, is that you can make tasty treats for your friends and loved ones. Sometimes the best type of tasty treat is a surprise one. It was my friend Ciara’s birthday last week and she was popping over to see me for a chat and a takeaway on the Friday night. But I had a sneaky little surprise in store!

I’ve known Ciara since primary school and I couldn’t let a milestone birthday go by without something special. So on the days that preceded her visit I made a rainbow kitty cake I knew she would love. I made a bright coloured tie dye rainbow sponge with a pastel watercolour rainbow buttercream exterior, topped with rainbow roses and a handmade 3D white kitty (whom I named Winston).

In this blog I break down how I made it!

Firstly I made up the madeira recipe I always use which can be found here. Then I Split the mixture into six bowls and coloured them using Sugarflair concentrated food colouring.  You only need a little bit of colour as it’s very concentrated so it goes a long way and lasts ages! I’m using the following colours;

Sugarflair Red Extra, Sugarflair Egyptian Orange, Sugarflair Melon, Sugarflair Party Green, Sugarflair Ice Blue and Sugarflair Grape Violet.

Once the cake was baked I left it to cool on greaseproof paper upside down. I do this to get a nice flat top on the cake (which becomes my base). I then trimmed it a little to make it nice and even and to try some too. Bakers perk. Look at the lovely colours!!

I then used a cake leveller to split the cake into three sections. I made up a batch of white vanilla buttercream as I thought the white would be a lovely contrast to the rainbow colours once you cut into it. Once the cake was filled I chilled it for 10 minutes to firm up. Then I did a layer of buttercream around the outside to crumb coat it. Chilled again briefly and then a ‘tidy up’ layer of buttercream and left it out on the side.

The rest of the buttercream I split into six bowls and coloured rainbow but this time with the pastel versions of Sugarflair. I then spread different colours of the buttercream around the cake and using a large scraper, went around the cake over and over again until the colours blended together in a lovely watercolour pattern!

Then with the leftover rainbow buttercream, I spooned them into a piping bag fitted with a 2D nozzle and piped roses on the top of the cake. Added a few piped ‘stars’ and sprinkles and it was done! I put the cake onto a small pink iced board with a wash glitter tape edge.

For Winston the cat, I made him out of white, pink and black Karen Davies Sugarpaste (which I love for modelling). I even made him a tiny little pink bow. I was in my own little world modelling him so I don’t have any step by step photos but if you want to know how he was made, leave a comment below and I will endeavour to make a tutorial at some point!

Once Winston was dry I placed him on top of the cake and it was complete! Ciara absolutely loved it which made me so happy. Seeing the joy on someone face and knowing it’s you that has made that smile is one of the great joys of baking.

Happy birthday Ciara. I’m so pleased you liked you cake.

If you try any of these techniques let me know how you get on either on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Happy Baking!

Britt xo

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

Don’t Butter Me Up

10/17

Back in December 2015 the price of a 250g block of unsalted butter was 85p.

By October 2016 the same block of 250g had risen to £1.10

Today, October 2017 the price stands at £1.60 for 250g. That’s over a 50% increase in less than two years.

Similarly to butter, since November 2015, 100g basics milk chocolate has increased from 35p to 50p.

As a baker, the price of ingredients has to be reflected in the price of cakes. But what do you do when a staple ingredient has doubled in price? I have already this week seen two bakers I know post on their Facebook pages saying there will be an increase in their prices to reflect the rising cost of baking and fortunately their customers have all taken it well.

The increase in butter is due to a supply issue where there isn’t enough milk production to keep up with the demand for butter and cream. Because many dairy farmers have gone out of business in recent years, cream supplies are down.

So what does this mean for bakers?

No one is sure what will happen to the price of butter, wether it will continue to increase or eventually fall once production levels have been met. My advice is to re-asses your pricing structure (you can read more about that here) to make sure the increase in butter is included in your figures, buy when it’s on offer (and buy a lot if your fridge can handle it!) and to shop around. I have read updates from fellow bakers finding butter bargains in shops like Aldi and Lidl as well as offers in independent stores.

The price increases may not sound a lot, especially if you’re only making one or two cakes a month, but for those who are baking 5 or 6 cakes (or more) a week, it has really impacted their business. I hope there is a resolution soon and this isn’t a taste of what’s to come for other ingredients.

Has the increase in butter price affected you? Share your comments below.

Happy baking,

Britt xo

 

National Cake Week 2017

10/17

Happy National Cake Week! A week to celebrate all things cake. If you’re a baker, a cake eater or like me a nice mix of both, you’ll love these cake recipes. From your classic madeira to a delicious rich chocolate, traditional Christmas cake to a brightly coloured rainbow delight! Below I’ve listed my favourite cake recipes, simply click on the picture to be taken to the full recipe and method.

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

Give it a try and let me know how you get on either on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

Classic Madeira Cake in Vanilla, Lemon & Chocolate!

 

 

World Bread Awards 2017

10/17

Last week I was invited to London to be one of the judges for the World Bread Awards! Starting in 2013 and open to all – artisan bread makers, small high street bakers, home bread-makers, child bakers, everyone is welcome to submit their loaf in hopes of picking up a prize!

Bread is a huge industry in the UK – 12 million loaves are sold every day. The phenomenon of the artisan bakery has taken off in the last decade. Not only is commercially-made bread popular, but home-baking is massively on the rise too (pun).

I was so excited to take part in this judging event, held in the beautiful hall of Westminster Cathedral, I along with a plethora of other bakers made up the panel to choose the best between over 600 loaves of bread! I was in the Speciality Savoury category. There were four tables of Speciality Savoury split between eight of us in the whole category. I was partnered with Masterchef finalist, food writer and all round fabulous lady Saira Hamilton and I couldn’t have wished for a better foodie friend!

Together as a team we inspected all of the loaves on appearance then split up into our tables and teams to test the bake and the taste. I was in bread heaven.

Also throughout the day I saw some familiar friendly faces including The Great British Bake Off’s Paul Jagger, Chetna Makan, Luis Troyano, Frances Quinn, Kimberley Wilson and Martha Collinson as well as ITV Lorraine’s Cake Club Winner Suzy Pelta, fellow baking blogger Sarah Sibley and cake decorator extraordinaire Daisy Brydon. It was so good to catch up with people I’ve not seen in a little while over a cup of tea and a slice of bread!

The awards ceremony is in London on Tuesday 17th October. I sadly will be unable to attend as I’ll be down the road at the Royal Albert Hall that evening but I will update you here on who was announced the winner!!

I had an absolutely fantastic day trying bread from some amazingly talented bakers. It was so hard to choose a favourite in our category and I know my fellow judges had similar quandaries. The standard was just so good!!

Here are a few pictures from the day!

Britt xo

 

Engagement Party Cupcakes!

08/17

This weekend, Tim and I had our Engagement Party! 💍 You can read all about our evening over on my lifestyle blog; She Who Blogs

I wanted to do some baking for the party but I knew I didn’t have time to make a big cake with everything else we were organising, so instead I took my time over the days and made cupcake toppers in advance and made the cupcakes on the Friday afternoon.

I went with three different flavours; classic vanilla (one to please everyone!), salted caramel and dark chocolate chips and lemon and white chocolate chips (my favourite!). I made them in blue and white cases and topped them all with an aqua blue vanilla buttercream to match our colour scheme. Coloured with Sugarflair Aqua concentrated food colouring.

For all three flavours, I started with a classic vanilla cupcake recipe, (you can find the one I use here as well as the buttercream recipe I use) and I then added either lemon or salted caramel flavouring and 100g of dark or white chocolate chips. Nice and simple!

For the toppers, there were two designs. One of white shells made from Karen Davies Marshmallow Sugarpaste, which is my favourite thing to model with, in a silicone shell mould from Iced Jems sprayed with a pearl lustre spray. The second was a heart, also cut out from the Karen Davies paste, ‘B&T’ letters made from Mexican paste and Tappit cutters (read my blog on these beauties here) and little shell and pearl sprinkles also from Iced Jems. The mermaid tail cupcakes were made using a mould from Iced Jems and Karen Davies sugarpaste, coloured with Sugarflair Aqua and sprayed with pearl lustre spray.

I was super pleased with the end result! They were delicious and fit the beach theme perfectly! I showed them off on a square perspex stand I hired from The Unique Cake Company in Rainham.

Hope you like them as much as we did!

Happy baking,

Britt xo

 

New SundayGirl Company Apron!

08/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New blue apron to go with my new blue tipped hair! By The SundayGirl Company!

The SundayGirl Company are a creative award winning British design brand who take an innovative approach into breathing new life into the glamour of yesteryear with our beautiful Pinnies for Pin ups and Little Misses. Based on original mid century apron styling, we design our own fabrics which are screen printed on hard wearing durable cotton drill. We’re inspired by all things feminine, beautifully vibrant and engagingly kitsch. 

They have a wide range of gorgeous aprons in lots of colours and styles, all made here in the UK. The fabric feels amazing! If you want to feel like a kitchen goddess when you’re baking up a storm, go check these lovely ladies out here!

Have you got one of these beautiful aprons? I’d love to see! Send me a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Happy baking!

Britt xo

Essential Tools For Icing A Cake

08/17

No matter where I am, in my kitchen, teaching or demonstrating, if I’m icing a cake there a few essential tools I have got to have with me so I know I’m going to get the best results. These tools are so well used when I am decorating that I can get them out of the drawer and lay them out like this, pretty much without looking!

I know everyone will have different ways they get the best results, but these tools have never failed me and I recommend them to anyone looking to up their icing game.

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

You can buy the tools below from Iced Jems.

essential tools numbered

  1. A large non-stick rolling pin. I recommend using these kind of rolling pins over wooden ones or a few reasons. Wooden rolling pins can sometimes leave a grain effect on your icing (which is great if that’s part of the design!) and they can be tricky to keep clean. With one like this, it’s non-stick, so perfect for sugarpaste/icing and by having a large one it’s easier to roll out the sugarpaste and get it on to your cake, as I generally use the rolling pin to lift the icing off the surface.
  2. Spacers. These little beauties have been a life saver in my career as a cake decorator. They ensure you roll out your sugarpaste to the optimum thickness, ¼”. Years on from when I started, I can roll out sugarpaste to ¼” thick without too much bother but I still use these as a back up. They are also brilliant for rolling out marzipan and cookie dough.
  3. Cornflour. I use cornflour in a shaker to stop my sugarpaste from sticking to the side. I know using icing sugar may be the standard in kitchens but I much prefer using cornflour. I find it doesn’t make my sugarpaste grainy, I don’t have to use as much, it’s easier to dust off once I’m finished, easier to clean up (sticky surfaces anyone!) and it’s cheaper. Win.
  4. Smoothers. You can buy these individually but I recommend using two. They are for smoothing the sugarpaste onto and around your cake and board. I use two so that I can hold the cake in place with one and smooth with the other, that way eliminating any fingerprints or hand marks.
  5. Cake leveller. If you’ve ever tried cutting the top off a cake with a knife, you will know it’s seemingly impossible to cut in a straight line, I can’t do it to save my life! So, by using a cake leveller, you can level the top with ease and also split your cake into as many layers as you like knowing they will be nice and even!
  6. Cranked pallet knife. With the cranked shape of the knife, it makes spreading buttercream in and on your cakes so much easier and gives a nice, smooth finish and is easier on your wrist!
  7. Cake! It seems obvious I know. But what I mean by this is a good quality, sturdy cake for decorating. Whenever I ice a cake, I use my Madeira cake recipe. It bakes at 3″ deep which is great for splitting into layers, it’s nice and even and has a great crumb structure which lends well to carving, too. Something like a Victoria sponge is really light and I wouldn’t recommend icing it. You will get a better finish with a stronger cake, like a Madeira.

As well as this I use good sugarpaste/icing, buttercream, a thin cake card for underneath the cake and a 12mm thick cake drum (iced too, of course!).

For more information on the different types of icing available and what they are best for, check out my article Which Icing Should I Use?

Also, check out my ebook How To Start A Cake Business From Home for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

It’s My Birthday!

06/17

Today is my birthday and once again I’ve made my own cake!

I’ve made my own birthday cake since I first started baking back in 2011 and I have loved every one of them! It’s always something I look forward to.

This year, I was busy making my friends wedding cake most of the week as well as prepping for my birthday holiday, by the time you read this, I will be sitting on the beach with a cocktail in hand!

As I wasn’t having a party this year, just a few friends over for some nibbles, and I was flying early (5am!) the next morning, I made a simpler cake this year, one that could be easily sliced and popped into some foil for my nearest and dearest to take away with them!

I still love it though. Five layers of coloured vanilla sponge, soft velvety buttercream and coated in aqua buttercream ‘scales’. Topped with edible handmade shells, sprinkles and a Little Mermaid keepsake topper.

Here are a few pictures while I was making it and to answer a few questions;
The cake and buttercream recipes can be found on my classic madeira cake recipe page.
The sprinkles by Scrumptious Sprinkles.
The buttercream and sponge was coloured using concentrated Sugarflair colours.
The buttercream ‘scales’ on the outside of the cake was made by piping dots and using a palette knife to create the pattern.
The board was made using a marbelling technique I talk about here.

Happy baking!

Britt xo

 

How To Make Icing Rose Petals

05/17

Edible icing rose petals are a gorgeous addition to any cake, and the great thing is they are relatively quick and easy to make.

I’ve used a pink colour for my petals on this wedding cake but you can use any you like.

 

You will need;

Roll out the flower paste very thinly onto a surface duster with cornflour.

Cut out a petal using the chosen size cutter.

Place this petal into the silicone veiner.

Press firmly and evenly down onto the petal veiner, open and remove the petal carefully onto the shaping pad.

Using a ball tool, go around the petal with half of the tool on the pad and half on the petal, use enough force to bend the petal into shape.

You need to press quite firmly to manipulate the petal but not so hard that it tears.

Once shaped, leave to dry completely (preferable overnight) on drying foam.

Once your petals are dry, use a large dusting brush to gently brush your chosen colour onto the edges of the petal, adding as much or as little as you like.

When you’re finished, your petals are ready for use! If you’re sticking to the side of a cake, like I’ve done in the wedding cake above, I advise to use royal icing. If adding to cupcakes, push into the buttercream. If you’ve allowed the petals to dry overnight, they shouldn’t go soft in the buttercream.

Once the petals are made, they will last for ages.  Pop them in a cake box or a tupperware box with the lid off covered in a single layer of kitchen roll (to keep any dust off) for safe storage. Make sure air can get to them otherwise they may go soft. They will be relatively fragile so be careful when handling.

To find out more about how to make this tiered petal wedding cake, check out my online course here. Currently half price!

Come find me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

Happy Baking!

Britt xo

If you want to turn your baking hobby into a career, check out my book Cakes, Bakes & Business for everything you need to know about running a successful baking business, including pricing, marketing, insurance and much more!

Renshaw Baking’s Recipe of the Month

04/17

This month I’m pleased to announce I’m judging Renshaw Baking’s Recipe of the Month competition. Enter your Easter or Spring themed recipes and cake decorating guides by Wednesday 12th April on the Renshaw website and you could win a Spa Break for 2! I can’t wait to see your entries! Click here to enter!

For a bit of inspiration, check out my below recipe and tutorial video ‘Four Ways To Decorate An Easter Egg Cookie with Renshaw Baking​’ including my best no-spread sugar cookie recipe!

Happy baking!

Britt xo

 

 

 

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