Spring Flower Birthday Cake

March 19th, 2010 by Gilly
Spring Flower Birthday Cake

Spring Flower Birthday Cake

I made a quick birthday cake for my friend’s birthday last night and finished it off this morning. Lemon sponge, filled with lemon curd and cream and covered with lemon buttercream – I was tired when I baked it, so I managed to slightly burn the sponge! Then this morning when I assembled it I over whipped the cream. And then I didn’t make enough buttercream, so the cake slightly showed through the outer coating! Ooops… This is what happens when I bake when I’m tired. It turned out OK, but not one of my best… On the plus side I did get to reuse my spring flower decorations :)

Happy Mothers’ Day!

March 14th, 2010 by Gilly
Spring Mini Cakes

Spring Mini Cakes

So…. I didn’t actually make these cakes for Mothers’ Day, I made them for a UK Handmade magazine tutorial, but they have come in very handy! They’re mini rich fruit cakes covered in marzipan and fondant and decorated with little handmade pastel-coloured flowers.

The flowers were simple to make and I like the results, so I think they will be my Gillyflower Bakery flower-of-choice when I need to quickly decorate a batch of cupcakes :) They’d look great in an aqua and brown colour combination too! The only downside is the overnight drying of the sugarpaste, but that’s always the case no matter what decoration you make. I’ve tried popping my decorations in a low oven when I’ve been in a rush, but air drying overnight is really the best option, and a few days produces the best results.

Don’t you think that lots of these little cakes would look pretty stacked on a cake stand for a spring wedding or birthday? :) It’s my birthday in April so I might make an assortment of mini cakes for the first two tiers of my cake stand and a 6″ cake for the top tier, in spring green and cerise. That’s if I have time, otherwise I’ll just make a batch of lemon cupcakes, lol!

Spring Mini Cake

Spring Mini Cake

Spring Cookies

March 7th, 2010 by Gilly
Iced Spring Cookies

Iced Spring Cookies

I love making cookies, but they can be a bit time consuming… I think it’s worth the effort though – they look so pretty, and if you bake them with a hole you can add ribbon and hang them up as decorations! Yay. These biscuits were made for a tutorial for the spring edition of UK Handmade, so now that I’ve finished photographing them (and having eaten one or two!) I’m using them to decorate my house – I have some mini painted eggs and some little wooden hearts in pastel shades that will look gorgeous hung on a branch with the cookies.

To find out how to make your own iced cookies, check out UK Handmade Spring when it comes out in a few weeks…

Spring Cookies

Spring Cookies

Marzipan Truffle Yumminess

March 6th, 2010 by Gilly
Marzipan Truffles

Marzipan Truffles

Mmmm, I love marzipan! I think it’s one of those love or hate foods that divides opinion, but for me it’s delicious :D I made these simple and fun to make truffles for the soon-to-come-out Spring edition of UK Handmade magazine. Nom! They’ve all gone now….. so much for my diet! I did share them with my family though :)

Bagged up truffles

Bagged up truffles

Valentine’s Day Cookies

February 15th, 2010 by Gilly

Valentine's Cookies

Valentine's Cookies

I made some sugar cookies for my brother to give his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, and the ones we had left over we munched on my Dad’s belated birthday party! Some have a hole with ribbon attached for hanging as decorations :)

Happy Birthday Dad!

February 13th, 2010 by Gilly

Dad's 60th Birthday Cake

Dad's 60th Birthday Cake

This is the cake I made for Dad’s birthday! Yes, it’s a bit scary-looking, but I had fun making it :D It’s my second fondant cake, so it was good practice, lol. I much prefer making mini fondant cakes at this stage, but with time I think I’ll feel more confident about the big ones. Roll on Easter!

Valentine’s Chocolate Heart Cake

January 17th, 2010 by Gilly
Valentine Chocolate Heart Cake

Valentine Chocolate Heart Cake

I made this chocolate heart Valentine’s Day cake this weekend, although it doubled up as a birthday cake for my lovely friend Jules. It’s a chocolate layer cake with buttercream and ganache filling – I’ll be writing a tutorial nearer to Valentine’s Day to go on the UK Handmade MADE blog, including how to make the polka dot chocolate heart decorations :)

Happy New Year!

January 3rd, 2010 by Gilly
Anemone Chocolate Cupcakes

Anemone Chocolate Cupcakes

Yay for the sale! I got this lovely cream wire cake stand from Homebase for £5.99 last week, so today I whipped up a batch of chocolate cupcakes and decorated them with little fondant anemone flowers in pale blue, pink and cream. I had some stamens left over from making butterflies in the summer, so I poked a little bunch into the centre of each flower ….

The cupcakes actually are going to be multi-tasking, as I’m going to remove the flowers (to keep for another occasion) and replace them with sparkly fondant snowflakes with edible glitter, for our church’s carol service tonight (it was postponed just before Christmas due to the snow so we’re having it tonight instead!)

Snowflake Cupcakes

Snowflake Cupcakes

Tutorial: How to Make a Present Cake

December 31st, 2009 by Gilly
Christmas Present Cake Tutorial

Christmas Present Cake Tutorial

Well… I really should have got this post up before Christmas but now it’s nearly New Year! Hopefully it will still be useful, as a present cake can easily be used for birthdays and other celebrations, just without the snowflakes!

This is the cake we had for Christmas this year and it easily fed family and friends with plenty left over. It’s quite an easy cake to make as long as you give yourself plenty of time to form the bow and let it dry….

To make the fruit cake…

This is my Mum’s favourite fruit cake recipe, and I love it! It’s from a very well used and dog-eared Be-Ro cookbook, although we like to use brown sugar instead of caster sugar for a deeper flavour.

Ingredients / Equipment

12oz self-rasing flour

1 tsp mixed spice

8oz butter

4oz ground almonds

8oz brown dark brown sugar

4 eggs

4T milk

4T brandy

8oz currants, picked through to remove any tiny bits of stalk

8oz sultanas, picked through to remove any tiny bits of stalk

8 oz raisins, picked through to remove any tiny bits of stalk

4oz glace cherries, halved

4oz mixed peel

8″ square baking tin, brown paper and string

Method

1) Preheat the oven to gas mark 2

2) Sieve together the flour, spice and ground almonds

3) Cream the butter and sugar

4) Beat the eggs together with the milk and brandy

5) Add the egg mixture and the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, a little at a time

6) Stir in the dried fruits and mix well

7) Spoon mixture into the greased and lined 8″ square tin, then wrap a thick strip of brown paper around the outside of the tin and tie it with string to protect the cake while baking. The paper should be a couple of inches taller than the tin

8) Bake in the oven for about 4 1/2 hours (yes, really!) until the top is lightly browned and the cake top is springy to the touch

9) Cool in the tin, then wrap in foil

10) If you have time to wait, “feed” the cake with brandy for a month to make it more moist and boozy. Simply poke a few holes in the top of the cake with a skewer and pour a tablespoon or two of brandy over the top and then cover it with foil and store in a cool dark place. The following week turn the cake over and repeat the process. Do this a few more times before using the cake

To decorate the cake…

Ingredients / Equipment

500g marzipan – you can use more than this for a thicker layer

1500g white fondant icing

50g white flower paste

Purple food colouring – I used grape violet by Sugarflair

A few tablespoons of apricot jam

2 Fondant cake smoothers, or just use your hands!

9″ silver cake board

Small, medium and large snowflake plunger cutters by PME

Rolling pin

Ruler

Kitchen roll or tissue

Method

1) Plug any holes in the cake with little bits of marzipan – yes, mine had quite a few uneven places, lol :)

Plugging holes with marzipan

Plugging holes with marzipan

2) Boil the apricot jam to kill off any bacteria, then brush over the cake to help the marzipan stick

3) Roll out the marzipan and lie it over the rolling pin to help you get it to the cake without tearing. Smooth the marzipan across the top of the cake using your hands or the fondant smoothers and ease it down over the sides, little by little, easing the folds out, so that the marzipan fits the cake. Sharpen up the edges a little with your hands or smoothers. Trim away the excess at the bottom

Leave to dry overnight…

4) Transfer the cake to the silver board and brush the cake with more of the glaze

Brushing the marzipanned cake with apricot glaze

Brushing the marzipanned cake with apricot glaze

6) Roll out 1000g of the fondant to 1/4 inch thick, wrap around the rolling pin, transfer to the cake and smooth out over the cake as you did with the marzipan

7) Colour half the remaining fondant a deep purple and roll into a long sausage shape. Then flatten this out and roll it until thin. This long strip should then be cut to the width of the ruler (just place the ruler over the fondant and cut along each side) and should be about 16″ long

Making a fondant ribbon

Making a fondant ribbon

8) Roll the fondant strip up to help you transfer it to the cake without tearing, and lay over the centre of the cake and down 2 sides. Attach using a little water and trim the excess ribbon off at the bottom of the cake

9) Repeat this step again, lying the second ribbon at a right angle to the other, so that the ribbons cross over the cake. Pinch the top ribbon in the centre

Fondant ribbon on cake

Fondant ribbon on cake

10) To make the bow, colour the flower paste a deep purple to match the fondant. Roll out the paste to the same thickness as the fondant ribbon and 2 3/4″ wide and 8″ long. Roll up some tissue or kitchen roll and fold the strip of paste around it and pinch the ends together to make a loop. Style the loop to make it look like a real ribbon, with soft folds. Repeat this again to make the other side of the bow. Allow the paste loops to dry over night and then remove the tissue from the centre. They will now be hard and stand up on their own

11) Roll out a fat sausage of purple fondant to the same thickeness of the fondant ribbon strips on the cake, but this time make it 2″ wide and 6″ long – you are making one of the ends of the ribbon that will lie on the top of the cake. Cut a V shape into one end, and pinch the other end together so that it will fit neatly into the bow loops. Repeat this so that you have two strips of ribbon

12) Cut a small strip of purple fondant the same thickness as the ribbon on the cake,  2″ wide and 4″ long – this will form the knot

Making a purple fondant bow

Making a purple fondant bow

13) Now place the strips of fondant with V ends on the cake, with the pinched ends in the centre of the cake. Fold the fondant loosely so that it forms soft folds to look like real ribbon

14) Place the bow loops on the cake, and fold the small strip of purple fondant over the middle to look like the knot

15) If you are decorating with fondant snowflakes, roll out the half of the fondant that was not coloured purple, and cut out snowflakes of varying sizes and attach to the white fondant parts of the cake using a little water

Fondant snowflakes

Fondant snowflakes

You’re done! Stand back and enjoy your hard work ;)

The cake should be stored out of the fridge in a cool, dry place as fondant melts when it is stored in the fridge. Once you have cut into your cake (if you can bear to!) and removed the bow, you can store the cake in the fridge to preserve it’s freshness as the layer of fondant covering the cake will fare OK in the fridge – but never store a newly decorated cake in the fridge or all your hard work will be ruined! I learnt this to my cost when I put a batch of fondant flower decorated cupcakes in the fridge overnight and in the morning found that they had absorbed too much moisture and melted all over the butter icing! Sob.

Christmas Present Cake

Christmas Present Cake

Chocolate Cheesecake

December 6th, 2009 by Gilly

IMG_8161

We’re having this for Sunday lunch with Grandad today! I used the Nigella recipe from her website to make the chocolate cheesecake, and then decorated it with white chocolate curls and shards of dark chocolate that I’d studded with pistachios. I’m really disappointed with the dark chocolate topping, I wanted it to sit very neatly on top, but it has glooped at the sides a bit! Next time I’ll allow it to drip down the sides as she suggests, that should look so much better :)

….I’m a bit nervous, this is my first ever cheesecake as I was vegan for years and cheesecakes have taken a long time to grow on me…. eeek, I hope it tastes nice!