Sunday, 8 December 2013

Cake Time: Every Little Helps - Tesco Van

One of my Mum's colleagues asked her if she could have a cake for her brother's 60th birthday. So with it being a special birthday we imagined that we would be doing something special for the cake.

But that's not quite how it went...

She asked for a Tesco van! The reason being he works at Tesco...and hates it! We though it was cruel and she thought it was hilarious. And it turns out it had been a family decision so the whole family also found it hilarious! So we got in on the hilarity and quite enjoyed it. 

But it got us thinking what would some one have to put on a cake that would really annoy us. For me, hands down, it would be a tin of baked bins. Oh man, how I hate beans!! :( 

I'd love to know what form your nightmarishly hilarious cake would take?


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Things I Love Thursday: Birthday Cocktails

One day, my Mum and I were in York, and over cocktails we decided that for her birthday we would have a dessert table/cocktail do (with a body shop party randomly thrown in there.) It was all very exciting and as we decided on this in October we really managed to convince ourselves that we would do some good planning and be super organised. Yeah, right...

I was still making scones at 2pm when the festivities were due to begin.

I was disappointed in us. No one else was surprised.

So typically, things didn't look how I wanted them to, the outlook didn't look like it did in my head (there was no beautiful dessert table set up) and we had no time to take pictures of anything. Thankfully my cousins and their iPhones did some snapping for me, which I am grateful for! 

But everyone enjoyed everything, there was a lot of laughter and love in the house, and my Mum had a lovely birthday, which, at the end of the day, is all that matters.

Spotty & Rudolf vanilla cookies

Mince Pies

Pavlova Wreath

Orange cake with cranberries & pistachios, peppermint mocha cupcakes
Things I love: My Mum! <3 iPhones <3 vanilla cookies covered in royal icing <3 my family - extended and otherwise <3 advent calendars <3  the strange satisfaction that comes from cleaning the oven <3 learning about, and watching, Japanese anime, no matter how bizarre, with Kurtis <3 watching how happy and proud of herself my Mum is using her new phone! <3 how actually cute my best friend is - adorable!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Dressember: Days 2, 3 & 4

Oh I am enjoying this... so far!

Day 2
What could be better than something lacey and glimmery for a day of cleaning? Oh yes, I adorned a dress for scrubbing the kitchen floor, scouring the oven and working my way through a gigantic basket full of washing. It certainly made the jobs feel a bit nicer! I tied a bit of ribbon in my hair just to spruce up my pony tail and, paired with the pale blue dress, I spent the day feeling like Wendy!

Dress: Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan: New Look
Bow: Random lace I found in my room.

Day 3

Wearing a summer dress in December. What craziness! It actually wasn't that cold so this worked well for wandering around the town getting out from the cold and in to the hot shops and back out again. Paired with a jumper and some woolly tights I felt practically snug!

Dress: Topshop
Jumper: M & S

Day 4

I think this is one of my favourite dresses - pretty and practical I do wear it quite a lot. A little gem found at Tesco!

Check out the royal icing smudge! A sure sign I'm working hard!

Must remember to put make up on for these pictures!

Dress: Tesco
Cardigan: H&M

Vicky xx

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Cake Time: Ben 10

Ben 10, Alien Force, Omniverse, Omnitrix, Ultimatrix, Nemetrix, Anodites, Osmosians... Stop me when you know what I'm talking about... Null Void, Techadon Robots, Ascalon... 

Children's cartoons have got complicated!

It's actually pretty terrifying when you have to do a cake that spans multiple universes and has multiple seasons - how do you know what bits to put on on which characters should be included?

So for this Ben 10 cake, that needed Ben as the focus and his alien alter egos surrounding him on the cake, my mantra was - 'oldies but goodies'. I Googled a list of original characters and went with those. 






If these are the protectors of good, I would hate to see what the baddies look like!

And here is the main man, ol' Ben himself in his human form:

Yup, that guy has it all under control.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Dressember: Day 1

Dressember started in 2009 and challenged women (and men) to wear a dress everyday in December. You can read all about the history of Dressember here but what started as a bit of a personal challenge has now taken on new meaning and is aiming to put a stop to global human trafficking.

I am looking on Dressember as a personal style challenge and a chance to bring a little femininity into my icing sugar coated existence. Call me ridiculous but there is a huge difference between baking in your scruffs and baking in a pretty dress, and this is something I have neglected of late. Also moving in to 2014 I would love to have a fully formed brand established and I think this might be a good way of really getting in tune with my own style.

I have, however, already hit upon a stumbling block: the camera. I do not have a good relationship with the camera, and, as I have had to send my phone off to be repaired, I am having to use my Mum's fancy smancy camera and that picks up everything!! So expect a bit of black and white and a lot of brightness going on until I have relaxed a bit more...

My first dress is my oh so beautiful Vivien of Holloway circle dress I bought in the summer to wear to the two weddings I attended. I have to admit that I do feel like a million dollars when I am wearing it. We were also celebrating my mum's birthday (happy birthday Mama Tallulah!) today so I made the effort.

I am looking forward to seeing what I can dig out of the darkest depths of my wardrobe for the rest of the month. Hopefully by the end of the month I can pull off a better photo. And maybe brush my hair...


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Things I Love Thursday: Let's Give 'em The Remix

Oh what a busy couple of weeks it has been and I have to say I have been loving it. Spending my days making cakes and creating is making my heart happy but it's hard work. 

But I had the most unexpected treat that gave me a night off on Monday night in the shape of (a very tiny) Bruno Mars.

In exchange for playing Chauffeur to my Auntie and two cousins, I got myself a ticket to see Bruno in Newcastle. I wasn't so bothered about going and I had been asked by a friend when the tickets came out and I'd turned her down. Although his stuff is catchy, I didn't think I liked him enough to want a ticket.

Well let me tell you I am a convert! What an amazing show! He is such a good performer and his average pop songs seem to just come to life on stage. He is so slick at what he does and massively smooth - I even have to admit to swooning (just a bit though.) His band where incredible! They gelled together so well on stage and created the most fantastic '1930s New Orleans jammin' on the street corner vibe'. Loved it. My Auntie had been so excited about going for months and kept breaking out in to little squeals in the car but even she was silenced by him. And for someone whose alias is 'Loud Al' that is no mean feat!

So what else have I been loving this week: Rosie & Chloe - every time I see my younger cousins I think I adore them a little bit more <3 road trip picnics <3 Pringles (unfortunately) <3 Sailor Moon <3 30 minute cat cuddles <3 This <3 This <3 and this <3 it being cold enough to finally wear my Spirit Hood <3 tartan <3 royal icing <3 realising I still remember ALL the words to ALL the Busted songs <3 scouring the internet for new boots, loving them all then buying none.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Warming Pudding: Treacle Roly Poly

Many moons ago, for reasons I can't quite remember, my next door neighbour Oliver asked (using the word loosely here) if I could make him a treacle roly poly. I said I would and then got round to it about 3 months later. I have been rather busy but also I was putting it off because I'd never made one before and was slightly terrified at the prospect of it.

Also, there are very few recipes out there for treacle roly poly; there are loads for jam ones and I wasn't sure whether I could substitute treacle for jam and just proceed in the same way.

I decided I could and went with this recipe from the trusty ol' BBC Good Food website. 

It turns out this was quite a good thing for me to practice: not only have I never made suet pastry but I have also never rolled or steamed anything so I was experiencing a few new things here.

So the suet pastry - what a weird thing. I felt so wartime getting involved with it. Being a veggie, I opted to get the vegetarian suet because, even though I wasn't going to be eating any of it, I just couldn't get my head round the beef fat issue. It's gross. It's similar to how I now feel about gelatin (after previously being able to devour a bag of Haribo Fangtastics in one sitting.)

The actual putting together of the pastry went quite well but I was a bit unsure of how it should have looked; it was bit lumpy. After a bit of Googling I found out that suet has quite a high melting point and that those little lumps would only disappear during baking. Phew.

Next issue: rolling the pastry. Good Food suggest that you leave a gap at one end of your pastry so you can roll it up and seal it. Well I did that but I think I started rolling from the wrong end. I rolled from the gap end which meant that all the treacle I had blobbed in the middle squeezed right over to the other side and I was left with a very oozy meeting point. TREACLE EVERYWHERE!! That stuff is sticky. But I carried on and got it on to my greaseproof/foil blanket and managed to get it in the oven.

The steaming: oh my gosh, how exciting! I had to put a roasting tin full of boiling water on the lowest shelf and place my wrapped poly on the shelf above. This was a frightening experience and something I had to put a lot of trust in; I am so used to being able to tell by sight whether a cake is done or not that the foil armour on the pudding scared me a little. I basically baked it for the hour that was suggested and then another ten minutes just in case. I also don't know whether it should have risen a bit more. It doesn't look so appetising in the below pictures.

I should have tasted it really - it was definitely cooked but who knows whether it was too dry or a bit soggy. But I got no feedback on that front from the 3 boys who inhaled it but no one died so I think it was fine.

The verdict? According to Oliver it needed a load more treacle. I thought I'd put in loads but maybe it had seeped out because I didn't get my roll right. I also thought that maybe treacle sinks into the pastry more than jam does so some of it may have been lost that way. I'll just go crazy next time.

But other than that it went down well and tasted liked it should. But what wouldn't taste good fresh out of the oven and smothered in custard?

As well as being a first for suet pudding, this post is going to be my first entry into Calendar Cakes as hosted by Laura Loves Cake & Dollybakes. Hurrah! This month's challenge is 'Puddings' so I think this fits the brief nicely.

Do head on over to Laura's blog to see what other yummy puddings some talented bakers have been whipping up this month.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cake Time: Ruby Wedding Anniversaries

One day in September after work I met my family in the local pub where they had been having tea for my cousin’s birthday. No one thought to wait for me, by the way, or even order me a plate of chips. Or dessert. Rude.

Anyway, my Mum took along Rosie’s birthday cake and there it was sitting at the opposite end of the table minding its own business. Then there was a kerfuffle and the waitress who was clearing up, after much conspiring with my aunties, was making her way down to my end of the table. Apparently she was desperate for a cake and at this point any old cake baker would do.

She wanted a ruby anniversary cake for her parents at quite short notice and lucky for her I had just the thing!

Here's one I made earlier...

This might seem like being unimaginative but we'd already done this cake for a different anniversary and it worked really well. Keeping it simple but pretty and elegant. I think when we did this one we managed to get a nice balance: you don't want it to look like a wedding cake but it still needs to be something special.

And nice waitress lady loved the cake so we got to do it again!

My mum ended up making the sugar flowers for both of these cakes - I think the division of labour meant it just fell on her both times but she is the experienced pro and can do them twice as fast (and better) than me.

I love doing cakes likes this in amongst all the children's and character cakes and I would love to use sugar flowers more often. High up on my to do list is teaching myself how to more than just roses! Watch this space!

We made just a few changes to the designs when we did it the second time: we lost the hearts that had been a request the first time, used red ribbon on each tier instead of white, and changed the lettering on the board as per each request.

I still haven't quite got the technique for piping lettering round a board yet! It doesn't seem to flow round very well.(*adds to to do list*) but as the main focus was my mum's pretty sprays I tried not to get too upset about it.

Here's to many more years for the happy couples!

Vicky xx