BAKING: A FABULOUS flowerpot cake (trial run)

SO, being the *amazing* daughter I am, I decided I wanted to make my mum a really fancy cake for mother’s day. This was the first 3D cake I have ever made and the first cake I have ever used fondant icing with…so it was a pretty big challenge.

I’m not going to bore you with a lengthy step by step but instead, I’m going to highlight a few fundamental errors I made (hurrah!)…

1. I stupidly (or really cleverly?) chose a ‘rich chocolate cake mix’ which was REALLY tasty but at the same time so so rich – like make-your-face-sweat rich.

2. The was so heavy…the density of the cake was unbelievable and it was literally like a brick making it difficult to move around/eat.

3. I got over excited and crumb coated it before I should have. In hindsight I should have turned it upside down (in a bowl) and crumb coated it so I could then put the fondant icing on properly. Because I did not do that, I had to kind of drape the fondant around the edge, leaving it all wrinkly and gathered and stuff. Definitely not a professional look.

4. I didn’t have enough fondant icing – I thought 250g would be enough, but it was not. Too thin = very wrinkly.

See below for a clever little photo montage of each stage…

Cake montage

After I had assembled my cake, I realised I had  I ran out of icing sugar (SO ANNOYING WHEN THIS HAPPENS) so my cream cheese frosting was slightly runnier than it should have been – well  I think that’s why it was runny.

Also N.B. cake and fridges don’t really go well together (cue mega crumbles), so I won’t be using a cream cheese frosting again as I like to keep this in the fridge, and with it being such a MASSIVE cake it’s hard to eat in one day.

Apart from all of the abouve…I was VERY pleased/proud for my first attempt at a ‘proper’ cake.

Flower pot final

I am going to re-make this cake this weekend but instead will make a madeira cake and a fresh strawberry buttercream. Should be much lighter and yummier!

I am happy to share my recipes if anyone wants them 🙂

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BAKING: Sugar free & dairy free BANANANA Muffins

SF DF BM

In light of my lent commitments and house FAJITA night we were having, I decided to make some dairy free & sugar free banana muffins

After hunting around I settled on a great recipe from HERE – in Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries

Ingredients & Method (in case you can’t be bothered to follow the link..)

  • 125 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 175 g wholemeal flour
  • 3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 ml sunflower oil
  • 150 g honey
  • 175 g almonds, skin still on, chopped

    Method:
    1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases.
    2. Sift the plain flour into a large bowl with the baking powder and salt. Mix in the wholemeal flour. Place the bananas in a separate bowl with the eggs, sunflower oil and honey and whisk to combine. Tip into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, adding the almonds just as the mixture is coming together.
    3. Divide the batter between the muffin cases so that they are about three-quarters full. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden on top and springy to the touch.
    4. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes, then take them from the tray and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.  

I followed the recipie as per the instructions but added 100g of chopped walnuts and 70g of saltanas instead of the 175g of almonds (I don’t think they would go to well with banana?) I also used 4 bananas (recipe says 3 or 4). I weighed out 90g of batter per muffin case.

I cooked said muffins at 160 degrees Celsius (in a fan assisted oven) for 25 minutes and then turned it down to 150 Celsius for a further 3 minutes.

Notes: Make sure the bananas you use are so ripe they almost are off, you get the sweetest and richest banana flavour that way. 

The muffins turned out so well in the end… they were moist, sweet, spongy and more.
There was only 3 of the 12 left by the morning (well, there is 5 of us in the house!)
I was so pleased! And they are (processed) sugar free and dairy free. What more could you want! 
ban2ban1

A Beautifully Brilliant Baking Class

Well, Cupcake Course…The “Original Cupcake Course” by The Gourmet Cupcake Company to be precise! 

WHEN: Saturday 1st March 
WHERE: The Gourmet Cupcake Company, Chelmsford, Essex (The bakery is a handy 5 min walk from the train station/town centre)
WHY: Because I wanted to learn some TOP SECRET industry tips for baking cupcakes & decoration 
The Gourment Cupcake Company

The day started out with a short intro into what we would be learning…
– How to bake our own 12 perfect cupcakes (6 ‘low’ for fondant and 6 ‘high’ for butter cream icing)
– How to create beautiful florist/flower paste decorations
– How to ice our cupcakes with fondant icing and butter cream icing

We measured out the ingredients in two groups and weighed out the batter into our cases (by this point I had already learnt about 4 things I shamefully didn’t already know) The cupcakes were *carefully* placed into the oven and we then dived into the wonderful world of florist paste.

We created 12 lovely little decorations each. The decorations were not the style I would have personally chosen (I actually hate anything decorative to do with butterflies) but still looked pretty.

After lunch we cracked on with the fondant and butter cream icing. We were offered a large selection of food colouring’s and flavours for our butter cream although I annoyingly ended up with a weird purple/grey colour after panicking 

All in all I had a GREAT day and ended up with some bloody lovely cupcakes! We were sent home with recipe cards we had been encouraged to make notes on throughout the day, which was great.

Free tea & coffee was on offer all day and we were treated to an amazing cake pop in the afternoon that was made in house (Free coffee & cake pop = winning!)

If you would like to know any of this top secret information, just drop me a note – I’ll be happy to share : )  

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos throughout the day but the website has lots of photos (and info!) on of the different classes they offer… http://www.gourmetcupcakes.co.uk/courses/the-original-cupcake-course/

Below you can see my achievements – HORRAH!

FONDANTButter 2