Sunday, November 17, 2013

1950's Vintage Dress Cake

A few weeks ago I attended a course at the Cake Parlour with owner Zoe Clark. Zoe produces the most beautiful cakes for weddings and other occasions and also supplies Fortnum and Mason. Her latest book is Chic and Unique Vintage Cakes and this vintage dress cake is from the book along with other designs such as a Singer sewing machine.
One of the reasons I wanted to go on this course is due to the gravity-defying design. The cake is suspended on a dress makers dummy. The design is also so chic, any lady would love this cake for a birthday or special occasion. This cake requires some construction including cutting foam board, attaching a threaded rod and nuts and using a glue gun but the finished product is worth the effort. The principle can also be applied to other designs such as a Christmas tree or bird house.
The dress I made is quite 'poufy', Zoe's original is a bit more slim line which is a little more elegant. However, the more poufy, the more cake! The body for the mannequin is made in advance with lots of CMC added which allows it to set hard. The cake is carved out of three different layers of cake to give the shape and some folds were also carved in.
The skirt part of the cake is covered in sugarpaste and then the body is added on top before adding the bodice in flowerpaste. I had a little bit of a problem with the sugarpaste as it buffed up to a really shiny finish and then it didn't dry and set as you would expect, it seemed a lot stickier than normal so I ended up with a bit of a wonky hemline but it was just about rescued!
The finishing touches were the necklace which was made using a First Impressions pearl mould, the bow around the waist to cover the join and the top of the dummy with the wooden handle. I particularly like the floor boards on the cake board, they were made using the edge of a ruler to mark out the boards and then a Dresden tool to mark the grain. Finally, to give the colour, a little paste colour was mixed with water and brushed on.

This is a lovely idea for a cake from Zoe. If you want to see more of her designs, check out her books.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ghoulish Graveyard Halloween Cake

With Halloween and All Souls' Day this week I made this Ghoulish Graveyard Halloween Cake. It was fun to make and would be great to bake and decorate with kids. It would also be perfect for a Halloween party.
The recipe for this cake is from BBC GoodFood and you can find it here. It is easy to make as it's just a basic chocolate sponge cake recipe made in a 20 x 30cm tin. The resultant sponge was light and tasty. Once cool, the whole cake is covered in chocolate buttercream. I put my cake on a rectangular cake board and then covered the board in buttercream too and put a black ribbon around the edge. Alternatively if you have an appropriately sized slate or granite board this would look good too, or you could cover your cake board in black sugarpaste.
The gravestone biscuit recipe is also included on the BBC website. They are made with soft light brown sugar and lots of golden syrup. You can cut your shapes out freehand or you can also cut them out in cardboard first and use this as a template. I used a cereal box to make my templates. To add the details I used royal icing piped with a size 2 nozzle.

To construct the cake you just need some Matchmakers, Oreo cookies and some Halloween jelly sweets. The jelly sweets are usually available in supermarkets and Haribo make good ones around Halloween time. The Matchmakers should be snapped at various lengths and then pushed into the buttercream around the edge of the cake. To make the soil on top whizz the Oreos in a food processor (or you can bash them with a rolling pin in a plastic bag), when it's a fairly fine crumb, sprinkle them on top.

Finally, push the gravestones gently into the cake and add the jelly sweets for a bit of colour and to complete the ghoulish graveyard look.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Calendar Cakes - November

Welcome to this month's Calendar Cakes Challenge. So what do we have in store for you this month? The answer:
On November 9th it's British Pudding Day! Now the nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder who can resist the institution that is the Great British pud? Do you have a great pudding recipe to share, be it a steamed sponge or a bread and butter pudding we'd love to see it.

You can enter any pudding you like, it doesn't have to be British but extra brownie points for a classic. It doesn't have to be fancy either, anything you and your family enjoy. It could be for example a cake that you enjoy warm with a dollop of custard, a pavlova, a crumble, a pie or a tart etc...anyway, you get the gist. I'm a bit of a pudding fiend so whether it's hot, cold, baked, unbaked, traditional, untraditional, simple or complex, bring it on! :-)
To see the October entries head on over to Dolly Bakes where the theme was Halloween.

Entry Guidelines:
  • Post your entry on your blog and include the ‘Calendar Cakes’ logo
  • Add 'Calendar Cakes' as a label on your post.
  • Follow Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes blogs using the Google Join this Site button.
  • Add links on your post to your hosts Dolly Bakes and Laura Loves Cakes.
  • Link to your blog from here using the Linky tool below. It's dead easy...
  • If you don’t have a blog you can still join in, just email us a picture and a bit of information about your bake. Email to
  • If you're on Twitter, tweet us a link to your post @dollybakes and @lauralovesbakes - otherwise we won't see it! Use the handle #CalendarCakes.   

Calendar Cakes Challenge Rules:
  1. You can enter as many times as you like.
  2. It can be your own recipe or one you found elsewhere (please just state where you found it). 
  3. You can use old posts as long as you update them with the 'Calendar Cakes' logo and link back (see above).
  4. If you want to enter your bake into other challenges too then please feel free.
  5.  You must submit by the 30th November. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate, Red Wine and Blackberry Cupcakes

Blackberries are in abundance at this time of year and I always make sure that I head out to scour the hedgerows in order to ensure that my freezer is well stocked for the winter ahead. It was reported in the news that this year was a bumper year for blackberries due to favourable weather conditions.

This is an interesting cupcake recipe as it contains red wine!!! You can't really taste it but it does add a depth of flavour. The method in general is rather unusual and the mixture is quite runny but it did yield success. There are also blackberries baked into the batter which are lovely and soft after baking and they definitely make for a moist cupcake. This batch was second time lucky as the first time I made these cupcakes I got distracted and forgot to add the sugar and also accidentally used cream of tartar rather than bicarb of soda...bit of a disaster...whoops!
The buttercream is made using the normal method but it gets its colour and flavour from the addition of 6 tablespoons of blackberry puree. I've actually made two batches of these cupcakes now and it's interesting the difference in the colour of the icing both times, the first time it was a darker purple which must just be dependant on the batch of blackberries you use. Smooshing fruit into buttercream icing is a great way to add natural colour, I particularly like using raspberries for this.
I followed the recipe as it was but also found the second time I made these that the icing was quite loose, I therefore added quite a lot more icing sugar until a good piping consistency was reached. I then used a star nozzle to decorate the cupcakes.
I'm entering these cupcakes into this month's AlphaBakes challenge where the letter for October is 'C'. The challenge is hosted by Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker and on alternate months by Caroline Makes. I'm sure Ros will be receiving a deluge of chocolate recipes!


175g butter
100g dark chocolate (72% or above - Peruvian is recommended)
300g plain flour
375g golden caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs
200ml red wine
200-300g punnet blackberries


200g punnet blackberries (as above)
150g soft butter
300g icing sugar

Makes 12. Start by preheating the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4.

Place the butter and chocolate in a saucepan and melt gently on the hob until entirely melted and smooth. Meanwhile mix the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarb of soda with a pinch of salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl or jug whisk the eggs and wine together. Then add the chocolate and egg mixes to the dry ingredients along with 100ml boiling water and whisk until completely smooth with no lumps.

Divide the mixture between 12 large muffin cases. The mixture is quite runny so I used a ladle! Then place 2-3 blackberries on the top of each one. Bake for 35 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the buttercream whizz the remaining blackberries to a pulp and then sieve to give a smooth puree. Beat the butter until it is extremely soft and then add half the icing sugar and mix. Add around 6tbsp of the blackberry puree and the remaining icing sugar and beat together thoroughly. This is then ready to pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. You may also want additional blackberries to top each cupcake.

* Recipe adapted from Olive Magazine - October 2013