home made cakes for special days and elevenses

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blackberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Last Saturday the kids and I jumped on our bikes and cycled through the local park, towards the canal, collecting blackberries as we went. We saw a lot of people out doing the same thing, but despite their overflowing bowls there plenty there for us to forage as well. We got stung by the stinging nettles, scratched by the brambles, and Noah took a tumble on his new bike, but we had a lovely afternoon.




After some deliberation we decided that we would bake with the blackberries, and that muffins were the way to go. I think that muffins are a great thing to bake when you have two little helpers, as one can take care of the bowl containing the dry ingredients, and one gets the other bowl with the wet ingredients, so they only really have to take it in turns when it all gets mixed together.







We came up with our own blackberry and white chocolate muffin recipe, which we were very happy with. I sense a return trip to the park with the tupperware before too long.




Blackberry and White Chocolate Muffins
Like most muffins , these are best eaten on the day they are made, and are especially tasty fresh from the oven. The tart berries are complimented beautifully by the sweet white chocolate, making for a moreish, tasty treat.

Makes: 15 muffins 

Ingredients:
275g self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
100g golden caster sugar
240ml milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
90g melted butter
 140g blackberries
100g white chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Line mini muffin tins with 15 paper cases.
2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar into a large bowl and stir.
3. Measure the milk into a jug or bowl, and add the beaten egg, vanilla and melted butter. Mix together.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Don’t worry if there are lumps.
5. Gently stir through the blackberries and white chocolate, taking care not to over mix.
6. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases, and bake for approximately 25 minutes.




Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Naked Cake for a Bush Hall wedding

This wedding cake commission was exciting for two reasons: it was my first naked cake and I got to have a peek around Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush for the first time.






Naked cakes are very popular this summer. With no form of icing to cover the outside of the cake they have a very simple, rustic appeal, and yet they can be quite spectacular, comprising several tiers and usually decorated with fresh flowers or fruit. Whilst it is quite liberating not to have to worry about achieving a super smooth sugarpaste covering, the naked cake does have nowhere to hide, meaning that the sponge itself has to look pretty perfect, with lovely even layers and neat, evenly spread filling.

Naked cakes will dry out a lot quicker than a covered cake, and so have to be cut and filled on the day, and then assembled on site. I got to assemble mine in the main hall at Bush Hall, whilst the band were carrying out their sound check for the reception. 





According to Wikipedia, Bush Hall was built in 1904, as a dance hall, but has seen many incarnations, including war time soup kitchen, bingo hall and a snooker club. Now a popular live music venue, Bush Hall retains a vintage charm and atmosphere that makes it a fantastic wedding venue too.


  

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pretty 70th Birthday Cakes

I wanted to share some pictures of a 70th birthday cake that I made recently, with matching cupcakes. The cakes travelled to Solihull for the party, and whilst they made it there in one piece, I gather that one box of cupcakes was dropped just as they were about to be put onto the cake stand. So close!










Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Lemon and Blueberry Ruffle Macaron Cake

My lovely friend Katie, who writes the fabulous Feeding Boys and a Firefighter blog, turned 40 a few weeks ago and I was flattered to be asked to make her birthday cake. Being the foodie that she is Katie had a few ideas and many millions of pictures pinned to a Pinterest board for inspiration! In the end she settled on a lemon and blueberry cake, decorated with ruffle piped buttercream in her favourite aqua blue colour, and finished off with some yellow and aqua macarons to match. 

Rather than making a tiered cake I made three separate cakes, each displayed on its own glass stand, with some extra macarons in a bowl. This made for a pretty display to go with all the lovely pom poms and bunting that decorated the party room.


 

I wish I had a picture of Katie in her party dress to show you as well, as she looked stunning. Happy birthday Katie!




Monday, 23 June 2014

A Macaron Tower for a Special Birthday

My husband, Pete, reached the grand old age of 40 a few weeks ago. Pete is a keen cricketer and still plays every Saturday (despite his old age and aching bones), so we celebrated with a cricket match. We hired a beautiful local cricket pitch, prepared a special tea and invited lots of friends and family. Luckily the rain held off and the although there was a last minute pitch inspection, the match did go ahead. Pete's Dad took on the role of umpire and two of his brothers were team captains. It was a fantastic afternoon.



The birthday boy.




Even the non-cricketers rustled up some whites, although
there was some questionable footwear on show.


Pete's mum largely took care of the tea, with some popular retro dishes on the menu, such as coronation chicken and poached salmon. Lots of us chipped in with different salads and plenty of sandwiches and sausage rolls for the kids. Another friend made a huge, delicious pavlova. My priority was the cakes of course, and we had plenty. There were brownies, cupcakes and scones with lashings of clotted cream.

The birthday cake was a bit more problematic. Pete is unfortunately not a huge fan of cake, so I didn't want to make him a traditional birthday cake. He loves macarons though, so thought I would have a go at a little macaron tower, and sit it on top of a cake for the rest of us to eat. I had to take extra care to try and get all the macarons pretty much the same size, and took some time trying to work out how many I would need. I went for chocolate and pistachio in the end as I know Pete likes these flavours, but actually I think that some brighter colours may have been better. 




I ordered a polystyrene cone from an an online florist supplier and covered this with dark brown paper. The macarons are secured with cocktail sticks. This worked well, with only one macaron falling off! I think that next time I will chill the macarons first to firm up the filling a little more, then this shouldn't be a problem. 


Monday, 16 June 2014

Minecraft - Cakes for the Latest Craze

It hasn't hit our house yet, but I think it's only a matter of time, as all the slightly older boys at school (and some of the girls too), seem to be obsessed with Minecraft. Dubbed 'virtual Lego' by many, Minecraft is now one of the biggest selling computer games in the world. It features various human characters as well as giant spiders, animals, zombies and plenty of building blocks. There was an interesting article in the Guardian magazine on Saturday about its enormous popularity.

Not surprisingly then, Minecraft birthday cakes have been very popular this year, and I have just made a batch of Minecraft cupcakes too. I'm sure my knowledge of the game and its many characters will increase if my children succumb to the Minecraft bug, but for now it's all about Steve, the Creeper and the animals.






Tuesday, 10 June 2014

World Cup Cupcakes

World Cup fever has set in at Vanilla Frost HQ. My son's first words when he opened his eyes this morning were "Only two days until the World Cup starts!". The wall chart is up, the Panini sticker albums are starting to look full and we are all getting excited. So it was lovely to have a World Cup themed cake commission last week. 

Premier Oil celebrated their 80th anniversary with a fabulous party at Kensington Roof Gardens. There were Brazilian singers and dancers, flags, footballs and fantastic food (and a couple of flamingoes!). I made this tower of cake and cupcakes, featuring flags from some of the competing nations.