Friday, 30 August 2013

Painted Roses on Fondant

Over the last few posts I have been showing you how I made the chocolate sponge and covered it with fondant icing for my little sister's birthday cake. I saw this really simple little trick of how to paint roses on fondant icing on pinterest ages ago and could not wait to give it a try. I went for a more Cath Kidston look for my cake (its more my sister's style) but check out the cake blog to see a sharper version.

To start with you will need a cake that has been covered with fondant, pink and green gel food colouring, elastic bands, kitchen towel and a bunch of celery that is still attached at the base (I know it sounds strange - bear with me). 

Begin by wrapping elastic bands around your bunch a celery and then using a sharp knife cut the bottom of the bunch off so that it looks like this:

Water your food colouring down as much as your like. The more watery it is the more vintagey your roses will turn out, if you go for a thicker food colouring the roses will come out sharper. Using your celery as a stamp, dip the end into the food colouring ensuring that all the stamp is covered in colouring. Then just briefly touch the stamp on some kitchen towel to remove some of the excess before stamping the cake. Rock the celery back and forth a bit to ensure that the whole pattern is transferred. 

Interlink two celery stalks and keep them together using an elastic band to make the leaf stamp and then stamp as above using green food colouring. You can then use a single celery stalk to add any extra petals or leaves.

Allow the food colouring to dry, before sticking your candles on and serving the cake up:

Happy baking xxx

Friday, 23 August 2013

Covering a Cake With Fondant Icing

So in my chocolate birthday cake post I promised I would show you how to cover a cake with fondant. I make my own fondant using marshmallows but you can buy roll out fondant really easily online if you would prefer. Remember when you are working with fondant that you need to keep it double wrapped in clingfilm when you are not using it or it goes all horrible and crusty.

To cover a cake in fondant you first need to cover it in two layers of butter cream. I literally just use a icing sugar and butter mixture for this as it is only being used to prepare the surface of the cake for the fondant. The first layer of butter cream is used to create a smooth surface and should be left to crust and dry before the second layer is applied. The second layer is to make the surface of the cake slightly tacky so the fondant sticks to the cake.

Next you need to measure the sides and top of the cake and add these amounts together to work out how large a piece of fondant icing you need to roll out. Knead your fondant icing until its a workable consistency. If its a bit sticky then knead a bit of icing powder into it. Roll out the fondant so its a few millimeters thick. Measure the fondant to ensure its the right kind of size in all directions. If the fondant is a lot bigger than required then trim it down to nearer the right size as this will make it easier to transfer to the cake. When it is evenly rolled out then fold you fondant over the rolling pin and transfer to the cake. 

Start smoothing the fondant down using a fondant smoother. Do not pull the fondant down on the sides as this will cause it to break, instead lift and tuck the fondant until it the surface is smooth. Once you are happy with the fondant then trim round the base and pop any air bubbles that have formed using a pin. 

Hopefully your cake should look like the one above. Covering a cake with fondant is definitely a skill that you perfect over time so don't have really high expectations for your first go. If you are covering a cake for an important occasion then maybe have a practice run first. If you are unhappy with the fondant then do not try taking it off and having another go; trust me it always looks worse on the second attempt. I am still learning to cover cakes so any tips that you might have would be wonderful.

You now essentially have a blank slate and you can decorate it however you would like. I used a really easy trick to paint roses onto my cake that I will share with you in my next post (here is a sneaky preview though:)

Happy baking xxx

Friday, 16 August 2013

Delicious Chocolate Birthday Cake

So recently I decided to take on the challenge of making a birthday cake for my sister's 20th. We normally buy shop bought cakes for birthday's so the goal was to make a cake that would be better than a bought one in both taste and looks. I decided to take a bit of a risk and try a recipe for a cake sponge that I hadn't used before. Luckily it turned out to be a great recipe and the chocolate cake was delicious, really moist but firm enough to cover with fondant icing.

To make this cake you will need: 
350g sugar (caster)
85g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
225g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
250 ml milk
125 ml vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
250ml boiling water

You will also need two 20cm sandwich tins (or you could make just one cake and halve the ingredients)

Prepare to make your cake by lining the sandwich tins with grease proof paper and preheating the oven to 180°c or gas mark 4. The actual cake is super easy to make. Start by mixing all the ingredients, except the boiling water, together. Make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated, it should look like this: 

Then mix in the boiling water little by little. The mixture should then become quite liquid. Divide it between the two sandwich tins and bake for between 25 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 

Turn the cakes out onto a cooling wire and wait until they are completely cool before attempting any decoration. From here there are so many decorating options (this cake is so wonderfully versatile!). I put chocolate butter cream between the layers of cake and then covered the cake with fondant icing and decorated the fondant. I will show you how to cover a cake with fondant and paint on roses in my next couple of posts. You could also cover the cake with butter cream or ganache or just fill the middle and leave the rest of the cake plain. I am always keen for new ideas so if you try this cake post some pictures of how you decorated it. 

Happy baking xxx

Friday, 9 August 2013


Hello lovely blog readers,

Just a little note to let you know that my lovely sister and I am making the most of our looong summer holidays and going travelling for the next six weeks around South East Asia (we are so so excited!). I have been reasonably organised and written quite a few blog posts in advanced so look out for them if I get enough internet to post. I will be back properly in September when I may even have some Vietnamese recipes to share.

 So for the next 6 weeks happy baking xxx

Friday, 2 August 2013

Nectarine Pistachio Tart

I am a massive fan of the sainsbury's magazine so when I saw this summery recipe in July's edition I wanted to give it a go. It is a super easy recipe to make because it uses ready roll pastry, though if you were feeling particularly ambitious you could make your own. Whilst it is not the prettiest tart in the world it is delicious, perfect for a sunny day or a day when you are wishing for sun. 

You will need:
1x375g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
flour (for rolling out)
oil (for greasing)
3 tbsp apricot jam
2-3 nectarines (stoned and sliced)
1 egg white (lightly whisked)
75g caster sugar
50g pistachio nuts (chopped)
150g mascapone 
1 lime 
50g ground almonds 

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4. Lighlty flour your work surface and roll out the short cut pastry. Cut a pastry circle that is 24cm across, don't worry about the circle being perfect as you will be folding in the edges.
2. Prepare your mascapone cream by mixing the mascapone, 2 tablespoons of sugar, ground almonds, the zest of one lime and the juice of half of the lime together. 

3. Transfer your pastry circle to an oiled and lined baking tray. Spread two tablespoons of apricot jam onto the circle leaving roughly a 5cm border. 
4. Spread your mascapone cream on top of the apricot jam.
5. Layer the nectarines on top of the mascapone cream. 
6. Fold the edges of the pastry circle in and brush the pastry with the whisked egg whites. Scatter the remaining sugar over the top of the whole tart (this prevents the nectarines from becoming bitter when baked). 

7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Once removed from the oven, warm the remaining apricot jam and brush over the tart, then scatter the chopped pistachio nuts over the top. Don't scatter the pistachio nuts before baking as they end up slightly chargrilled like mine did (it was still delicious though).

8. Serve with Greek yogurt and enjoy.

Happy baking xxx

For more fruity summery bakes check out this raspberry and lemon cake