home made cakes for special days and elevenses

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


Friday, 7 March 2014

Vintage Tea Party Offer

Vanilla Frost Cakes is now able to offer a range of specially bended teas from the Clocktower Cafe in Hanwell, as part of our pop up vintage tea party service. To celebrate we are offering a free selection of teas along with a 50% discount for the host, with any tea party booked between now and 31st May. The tea party can be held later but the booking must be confirmed by this date to qualify for the offer.

Please visit the Vintage Tea Parties page for more details, or email lucy@vanillafrostcakes.com.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Nigella's Custard Creams for Valentine's Day

My sister picked up a charity shop bargain a couple of weeks ago, a very cheap copy of Nigella's 'Feast'. Unfortunately it was too heavy for her to take back on the train to Cornwall so it is temporarily residing next to my bed. I had a flick through the other night and came across the recipe for custard creams, in the Valentine's Day section of the book. I thought this would be a good recipe for my daughter and I to try together, but she had other ideas and wandered off as soon as I got started. She was, however, quite happy to eat the finished goods.

The custard flavour buttercream filling in these biscuits is essential as they are rather boring without it, but once filled they make for a tasty little treat with a cup of tea. Much as you would expect from a custard cream really, but heart shaped and pretty for Valentine's Day, as well as being extremely easy to make. They would take no time at all without the little dots around the edge, but they do finish them off very nicely.

I haven't made any decorated cookies for Valentine's this year, but will take this opportunity to show you the ones I made two years ago. I used a recipe resembling the Biscuiteers' chocolate biscuit one from their book, which is a great reference for tips on decorating with royal icing.

Monday, 10 February 2014

My first painted cake

This Harry Potter cake very nearly went horribly wrong, as I almost made a cake with the wrong book cover. I'm glad I went back and double checked the email before I started. When I looked at the correct book cover I realised that the only way to get a reasonable representation of it would be to paint it myself. I spend a lot of time admiring Nevie-Pie's painted cakes and had fancied having a go myself for some time. I had imagined something flowery and pretty, but Harry Potter is as good a place to start as any.  

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Caramelised red onion and feta tartlets

I often make these delicious little tartlets for my vintage tea parties. They look pretty, they're full of flavour and are dainty enough to be served alongside finger sandwiches. Cooked slowly with a little brown sugar and some balsamic vinegar, the red onions take on a lovely caramelised flavour as they soften. I usually make these as a gluten free option, swapping the plain flour for some Doves Farm gluten free plain white flour. I find that it is best to leave this pastry to chill a while longer in the fridge though, maybe for an hour or so, before rolling out.

Caramelised Red Onion and Feta Tartlets
You will need two 12 hole fairy cake or mini muffin tins for this recipe, and a round cutter a little bigger than the holes in your tins.

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
150g cold butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:
2 large or 3 medium red onions
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
175ml milk
2 eggs
200g feta cheese
Few sprigs of fresh thyme

1. Slice the red onions into thin slivers and fry in the olive oil on a very low heat for 20 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar to the onions and fry gently for another 10-15 minutes, until soft and caramelised. At this point taste the onions and add a little more sugar or balsamic vinegar if required. Leave to cool.
2. If making the pastry by hand, sift the flour into a large bowl and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. When you reach the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs, add the beaten egg and water and mix with a fork or rounded knife. Bring the last of the mixture together by hand, taking care not to over handle.
The pastry can also be made in a food processor by mixing the flour and butter together until you reach the breadcrumb stage (the pulse setting works well for this), then adding the egg and water and mixing until the mixture just begins to form a ball. Take care not to over mix.
Shape the pastry into a disc, cover in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
3. Remove your pastry from the fridge and roll out a little thinner than a £1 coin. If possible, roll the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper, to avoid adding extra flour. Otherwise, roll on to a floured surface.  Cut 24 rounds from the pastry and line your tins with them, pressing down gently. Place the tins into the fridge for another 20 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5.
5. Place a spoonful of cooled onions into each pastry case, taking care not to over fill. There may be onions left over (great with sausages!). Divide the egg and milk mixture between the 24 tarts, ensuring that it does not reach the top edge of the pastry case.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and add crumbled feta and some fresh thyme to the top of each tart. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the pastry and feta are starting to brown.
7. Allow to cool a little before removing carefully from the tins.

These tartlets can be served warm or cold.