home made cakes for special days and elevenses

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. 



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Recipes for Good Food Channel

I recently developed some new recipes for the Good Food Channel website, including a couple especially for Easter. I am not a big fan of fruit cake and as such the traditional simnel cake doesn't often get made in my house. However I do like the idea of a big cake to share with the family over the Easter weekend, something that is especially for Easter. I came up with this zesty lemon simnel cake as a modern alternative, using cake pops coated in white chocolate to represent the apostles, instead of the traditional marzipan balls.

It does require a little effort but looks impressive and will appeal to kids and grown ups alike. I used a version of this as a birthday cake too. This worked well as the children ate the cake pops at the party and took their cake slices home with them.  




This cake was baked by my lovely friend Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter, and photograped by Sharron Gibson of The Image Garden, for the Good Food Channel website, where you can find the recipe.


I also came up with some chocolate ganache and coconut tartlets, topped with a Mini Egg to look like a little nest. These are very moreish, and I find it hard to stop at eating one, but I do love that dark chocolate and coconut pairing. These are quite simple to make, and again the recipe is over at the Good Food Channel website.




Katie also wrote a lovely Easter recipe for Good Food - these delicious and dainty simnel biscuits. Incorporating all the flavours of a simnel cake, these a lighter treat to have with a cup of tea, and as Katie says, they would make a great Easter gift alternative to chocolate. 




Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Minions Cupcakes

Minions is the name of a small Cornish village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, just a few miles from where I grew up. We still go there regularly, for Sunday lunch in the pub, Cornish ice cream with clotted cream on top in the tea room, or for a walk up to the Hurlers or the Cheesewring (ancient standing stones). However, this favourite place from home is not what springs to mind when I hear the word 'Minions' any more. It's these cheeky chaps:



I have made Minions cupcakes and Minions figures for cakes. We love the Despicable Me films in our house, and the little yellow guys are great characters to work with.


Monday, 17 March 2014

Passionfruit, Almond and Yoghurt Loaf Cake

This is a new recipe I have written for the Good Food Channel website. It is very easy to make, deliciously moist and full of fruity flavour.

Visit the website to see the recipe in full.




Photograph by Sharron Gibson, the Image Garden


Friday, 14 March 2014

Vintage Style Wedding Cake

Between Christmas and New Year I had the honour making a wedding cake for my tap dancing teacher. Alex has been teaching my daughter tap for a couple of years and she now has the dubious pleasure of teaching me as well. Generally speaking I don't 'do' wedding cakes, as I find it all rather stressful. The pressure of getting the cake absolutely perfectly right is magnified when the occasion is a wedding. I find this (and also some brides to be!) a little scary, however I couldn't possibly say no to the lovely Miss Alex, especially as she was planning a vintage theme for her wedding.

I met with Alex and Kevin a couple of times and between us we came up with a simple but elegant design, using lace from Alex's dress and some pretty vintage lace that I found at a fair. There were four tiers, each a different flavour, decorated with piped royal icing, a dusky pink ribbon and fresh flowers to match Alex's bouquet.

We had decided to have a layer of fresh flowers between cake tiers, which meant that I had to do some research as this was a new skill for me to learn. Luckily Jen from Jen's Cakery was kind enough to give me some advice on this, and I am very grateful to her. Jen lives near me and makes stunning wedding cakes, so she was the perfect person to consult.




The wedding was beautifully styled with lots of little vintage touches. I love the stack of books on the middle of each table, carefully chosen to suit the guests seated there. I have already asked to borrow a couple of things for a tea party photo shoot!




Congratulations on your marriage Alex and Kevin x