Saturday, 27 April 2013

Cake Time - Bravest Warriors to the cake zone!

My name is Victoria, I am 27, and I like to watch cartoons. I’m not sorry.

I would like to hold my boyfriend responsible for this. It started with Spongebob Squarepants, followed by Adventure Time, a brief stint into Regular Show, then, most recently, Bravest Warriors. 

Bravest Warriors is a cartoon by Pendleton Ward, and can be seen on the Cartoon Hangover channel on Youtube. It’s about a group of friends whose hero parents have disappeared, and so have been given the task of defending the justice of the world, while also battling the war that is being a teenager. It’s awesome.

What I love about it, apart from the fantastically silly humour, and the surreal and quirky stories, are the drawings themselves. For me, it’s just so visually pleasing to watch. I guess that’s the child in me – the block colours are bright and engaging, and create a world that is fun and fantastic. If I were ever to become a cartoonist (not gonna lie, would love that) I think this would be my style.

Adventure Time is made by the same man and it’s not surprising I feel the same about that.

Undoubtedly, the best character in Bravest Warriors is Catbug. You just need to watch this video to know why…

Too cute!

And what better way to wish my boyfriend a happy birthday than to put the cutie on a cake! The Catbug, not the boyfriend.

What a joy he was to make – my own little Catbug. Sadly, he is now slowly losing his sweet, sugary limbs one by one. Maybe I should make another and just keep him on a shelf and feed him sugar peas.

During a bit of Bravest Warriors googling, I came across The Bravest Warriors/Cartoon Hangover website and spent ages looking at the fantastic fan art submissions on there. There are so many talented and inspirational people in the world. 

Clockwise from top: Chris, Peanut butter squares, Chris & Beth, Catbug hoop

On a whim, I decided to send in my cake and was over the moon when boyfriend sent me the link to tell me they’d uploaded it! It is pretty exciting to see it up there amongst the fantastic drawings and crafts, and to see people enjoying it.

This simple little cake has prompted a wealth of ideas of things I want to create! Now, just to get me some extra spare time…

Vicky xx

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Go Purple – World Kidney Day – Thursday 14th March 2013

Last month I took part in World Kidney Day’s Go Purple in order to raise some money from Kidney Research UK through baking lots of goodies. I’m not full of my usual excuses as to why it has taken me so long to write about it; I have simply just been putting it off and not quite able to find the words.

At the end of 2005 on a family holiday to visit family in South Africa, my dad was diagnosed with kidney problems. After being fixed up, getting home, then going back to work in Qatar, we received a phone call telling us his kidneys had started to fail, he needed to start dialysis and he was coming home.

After three years of tri-weekly dialysis, numerous hospital visits, endless medical discussions, and talks of transplants, he lost his fight and passed away.

I don’t think there is a better word for what he did than ‘fight’; he was a silent warrior who just got on with everything, dealt with things as they came, never complained, and was the one who supported everyone else around him. There were so many occasions when I would be worrying about what was happening and he would comfort me; don’t worry, what will be will be, we have to do these things if I’m going to get better. I don’t think I could have coped if he hadn’t been so strong, and he, in turn, took strength from my mum. I know I will never be prouder of anyone. 

He was a character! Quiet until he really got to know you and then after that you were subjected to his ridiculous jokes! (“I used to be a tap dancer…but I kept falling in the sink”, “I like kids but I couldn’t eat a whole one”!!) He loved music, his PC, and technology in general. His sense of humour was a cross between Monty Python and Naked Gun, he was kind, and he was caring. Family meant the world to him. 

One of my earliest baking memories is baking shortbread with my dad in our kitchen at home. I also remember him trying to make sorbet once, maybe it was lemon, but definitely it was a disaster. I think it was in the freezer for ages! He also thought he was the best cook – everything he cooked was, according to him, perfect! He was pretty good but there was no fun in letting him know that!

Nothing could have prepared us for what happened those 7 years ago. And I imagine it is the same for many others who have been plunged into a similar situation. I hadn’t realised until now that Kidney Research UK took part in national fundraising schemes (it was a tweet from Stephen Fry that alerted me to it) but as soon as I found out I knew I wanted to be a part of helping raise money towards vital research.

The statistics relating to kidney problems are scary, particularly those relating to transplant: 90% of the people on the transplant list are waiting for a kidney, less than 3000 transplants are carried out per year, and 350 people die while waiting.[1] We were unbelievably lucky (and eternally grateful) that one of my dad’s brothers was able to give a kidney to my dad (my brother & I weren’t allowed, and my mum wasn’t a match,) but not everyone gets that opportunity. Knowing that the money I raised is being used to try and find a way to prevent this is rewarding but I know there is still a long way to go.

If you want to donate to Kidney Research UK, you can find all the information here:

And if you decide you want to join the organ donors list, all the details you need are here: 

My baking raised a lovely £241, which was both overwhelming and wonderfully generous. I would like to say a mega huge thank you to everyone who bought a cake and helped towards a cause that is so close to my heart. And I will be coming for your pennies again next year!

I will end this on a lighter note with a few pictures of what I created; safe in knowledge that my dad would have much rather had some cheese!! 

Thank you for reading,
Vicky xx

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

*New Feature* - All The Pretty Pins

How many of you use Pintrest? I love it! So much pretty and loads of inspiration all in one place. Although you do have to be careful or you end up saying good bye to a huge chunk of your day. I tend to keep away if I know I have stuff to do! Or try anyway...

My one problem with it is that there is so much stuff on there, it's so easy to forget about the things that have caught your eye, even if you have pinned them to a board or liked them.

So I wanted to start a new (weekly?) feature on collections of things I've found and loved on there, just so I can remind myself of what I've seen and share them with the world!

First up, with it supposedly being Spring and all, I have chosen a collection of pretty pastel images. Pastel colours are charming and delicate, and I love that you can use 4 or 5 different pastel colours together and still come out with something that works.

Clockwise from top: chalk, cake, hair, bottles, macarons, flowers, cookies, cakes with stands, necklace, dress

Beautiful :)

Vicky xx

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

This Month – No April Showers, please

At the risk of sounding very old… Is it April already? Seriously!

As usual, my March plan didn’t quite go as expected. Although the important things got done: wedding cake, fundraising, lots of dancing to 70s tunes…, I am still feeling a bit disappointed with my slow progress with this blog. I have a few things I know I want to do for definite this month but, with even less time than before, it’s going to be a bit of a task. (And I still need to catch up with what I did last month! Eeek!)

So what’s going on this month?

In my non-baking life, I am a mere civil servant. I say ‘mere’ but I actually adore my proper job nearly as much as I adore cake. I consider myself to be very lucky to work for English Heritage and to spend my working life in the most fascinating places.

My current work home is Mount Grace Priory in North Yorkshire. It offers the best preserved ruins of a Carthusian monastery, a beautiful 17th century commonwealth house with 19th century Arts & Crafts interiors, beautiful gardens, and an angry goose. It’s my spiritual home; the place where I can actually feel my soul being in a state of complete peace. Really.

If you are ever in the Yorkshire area, I urge you to go there, not just because I work there and we need the visitors, but because it is a truly fascinating place and immensely underrated. A hidden gem, if  you like. 

Due to budget cuts a couple of years ago, for 6 months of the year I work a measly total of 14 hours a week. This Easter weekend, however, marked the beginning of our summer season and will see me back at work 5 days a week like a proper person. This means that I now have to fit in cakes on my evenings. I have a feeling I will be pining for 14 hours weeks very soon…

I’ve got a few cakes to do this month and I’m looking forward to them. There’s a Paris themed one for a 50th birthday, giant cupcakes, my VW Campervan one (which was moved to this month,) golden anniversary cakes, and a cake for my boyfriend’s birthday which I can’t wait to do!

Left to right: cake my own, Paris hearts, Eiffel cake topper
I also hope I find some time to do some baking and hopefully bake something a little different compared to the masses of sponge cakes I have been doing lately!

Practice Makes Perfect

In August I am doing a wedding cake for a friend of a friend. I am very much looking forward to it because if I were to have a wedding cake it would be just like this one. That means, however, that in the next few months I need to get really good at royal icing! So, in order to take on this quest, I have bought Eddie Spence’s The Art of Royal Icing. This guy is a royal icing guru; MBEs don’t lie. 

Left to right: black icing, white wedding
Aside from needing it for the cake, whenever I use royal icing, I always dream of being an expert in its ways, so hopefully this will help me towards that and I will find the time to document my progress on here!

I wish you all the very best of sunny Aprils! Happy caking! J
Vicky xx

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Happy (I know it was 2 days ago) Easter: Cute Easter Cake

Yes, yes, I realise I am a little late...Again! But it's never to late to share something sweet.

I've never been asked to do an Easter cake before and loved doing my very first one for a friend who was having a bit of an Easter family gathering.

I was left pretty much to my own devices with this one, which I enjoy, and came up with this cake topped with spring animals, Easter chicks and some chocolate eggs for full Easter effect!

To be honest, when it was finished, I quite wanted to keep it. I've never had an Easter cake before. *Tear*

It was a simple sponge cake filled with raspberry jam and white chocolate buttercream: a combination that always works well together.

This Easter has been a learning curve, I think people are now more open to alternatives to chocolate eggs, or perhaps want to have their cake and eat their chocolate eggs too. Either way, I need to find time to come up with quirky Easter treats and put them out there to the world for next year.

For now, however, my Easter Victoria sponge did the job :)

Vicky xx