Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cake Decorating course

One of my birthday presents from my lovely boyfriend was a cake decorating course. I've been wanting to learn how to do this properly for ages now but I was really nervous as the decorating part is always something I've struggled with, so clearly some expert tuition was needed!

On 29th June Nicola and I spent the day being taught by Ruth Clemens of Great British Bake Off fame and author of one of my favourite baking blogs, The Pink Whisk! The course was run by Seasoned and was in a beautiful farmhouse where we were fed lots of tea and brownies and a very yummy lunch too.

We took our own cakes to decorate and even though I hate fruit cake with a fiery passion I thought it would be a good opportunity to try one out and would also stop me from stuffing my face too! I made this Easy Apple Fruit Cake from BBC Good Food. It was indeed easy and I am told it was very nice, although a few people were disappointed that the fruit was not alcohol soaked! They were reassured that the Christmas cake most definitely will be!

Anyway, we were taught everything we needed to know - marzipanning, covering the cake and board with sugarpaste, smoothing, crimping, piping - and also repairing disasters, as my sugarpaste tore around one side when I laid it on, Ruth showed me how to patch it up good as new.

Crimping and piping and ribbon

We were also shown crimping and piping and the bit we were probably all looking forward to the most: colouring sugarpaste and making flowers and decorations! I made some rolled up pink flowers, some purple roses and stamped out some green leaves. I didn't end up using the pink flowers as I thought I would keep it simple with my roses in the centre of the cake.

I was so amazed by the decorations that everybody else made and felt a bit embarrassed when all our cakes were on the table at the end - I was really proud of my cake until I saw everybody else's! The icing wasn't as smooth as I'd have liked, and I know my sugarpaste wasn't anywhere near thin enough for the flowers. However it was my first attempt and so I know I just need to practice, practice, practice myself now.

It was such a lovely day - you can also read about it and see photies on Nicola's blog here. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone wanting to learn how to decorate cakes, and even those who already know - I'm sure there would still be lots of tips to pick up, plus it was lovely to just be able to sit and play with the sugarpaste without having to worry about the phone ringing, or what time you had to be making tea, or the pile of washing growing in the basket... it was very therapeutic. You can find details of this and other courses on the Seasoned website.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Chocolate & Caramel Layer Cake (minus a layer)

After the Sausage Dog Cake I felt like I didn't want to bake again for about 6 months! But the week after it was Mike's birthday and so I couldn't not make him a birthday cake, and I had already selected this Chocolate & Caramel Layer Cake from BBC Good Food ages ago to make for his birthday - at just over 1,000 calories a slice I thought it really could only be justified on a special occasion! So I was doomed to spend another Friday night immersed in the sickly sweet smell of chocolate cake.

I had high hopes for this, and although I was happy with how it looked all assembled, but really, it just went a bit wrong. I was a bit skeptical about the recipe as I have tried cakes before that include yoghurt and somehow they just never seem to come out normal. Sadly this was no exception, after almost double the time in the oven the vanilla layer was burnt on the outside and wobbly in the middle, and in any case, collapsed completely when I tried to take it out of the tin! So that was one layer down and a quarter of the calories gone! I had a bit more luck with the caramel/caramel choc layers but I still wasn't completely convinced they were done properly even though they were on their way to burning, but with no time to make anything else I decided to assemble the cake so at least the birthday boy could blow out some candles and make a wish!

After much scrutiny and debate we did eat the cake although I only managed half a slice as I just couldn't really face any more chocolate cake! Everyone else seemed to enjoy it so I don't think it was as much of a disaster as I had feared, plus the chocolate icing was yummy and despite being one layer short it was still pretty big and pretty messy!

The recipe is here. Does anyone have any similar experiences with yoghurty recipes? I would love to hear any tips or ideas of things to do differently, as I see quite a few recipes including yoghurt and am quite put off trying them again. Looking at the reviews of this cake on the BBC Good Food website nobody else seems to have had a problem, and I'd love to try this again but as it's not a quick and easy bake I'm a bit apprehensive... and at 1,000 calories a slice it's difficult to justify making it for no reason!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A visit from the Fairy Hobmother!

I've watched green eyed with envy over the past couple of months as I've seen various bloggers have their kitchen-related wishes granted by the Fairy Hobmother from Appliances Online, and I'm pleased to say that after recently making a wish on The Glutton's blog, I've now had a visit, too!

I wished for a griddle pan, because it's something I've been after for a while now because I've been wanting to make some nice steaks - and if I've got money to spend on kitchen stuff, it normally goes on baking paraphernalia so I had a feeling this griddle pan was never going to get bought. My wish was granted and my griddle pan arrived today!

Thank you Fairy Hobmother for granting my wish!

I am told that if you leave a comment on this post and make a wish, that you might be lucky enough to get a visit too! Also, I would love to hear any of your griddle pan recipe ideas, as so far I haven't thought beyond steaks...
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