home made cakes for special days and elevenses

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Cheesecake with Ginger and Cranberry

If, like me, you still haven't decided on your Christmas Day dessert then you might want to take a look at my Christmas cheesecake. This was one of the recipes that I recently developed for the Good Food Channel website, and I have made it several times since. In fact I have eaten so much of it lately that I think I fancy a change for Christmas Day!

This is a baked cheesecake with a lovely smooth texture on a ginger biscuit base. The cheesecake has some finely chopped glace ginger pieces sitting on top of the base, and some dried ginger to give it some extra flavour. A tangy cranberry and brandy coulis layer on top provides a lovely contrast to the rich, creamy cheesecake.

Photograph by Sharron Gibson, The Image Garden

Visit the Good Food Channel website to see the recipe in full.

Doc McStuffins Cupcakes

More and more frequently I am being asked to make cakes featuring popular children's characters that I have never heard of. This is a sure sign that my own children are growing up fast. No longer interested in CBeebies, they would much rather watch Strictly and Match of the Day. So when a friend asked me to make Doc McStuffins cupcakes for her daughter's birthday I had to do some research of my own.  Happy birthday Sophie, I hope you enjoyed sharing them with your friends!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Spiced cake recipes for chilly days

At this time of year, when the weather turns cold, I like to bake cakes with a bit of spice to warm us up. This ginger tray bake with cream cheese frosting has pieces of crystallised ginger throughout, to add a bit of texture and extra flavour. The spiced apple cupcakes are lovely and moist and were a big hit with my children, especially when still warm from the oven, before I could even decorate them.  

I developed both recipes for the Good Food Channel website, where they can be found in full.


 Photography by Sharron Gibson, The Image Garden

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Corporate Logos on a Biscuit

I made these branded vanilla cookies last week for a lovely lady who is launching her new business. Unlike cupcakes these are sturdy enough to post, allowing her to reach more potential customers than hand delivered cupcakes would. I love the colours on the new logo, and we used ribbon on the boxes to match the grey and pink in the logo. I'm really pleased with these and looking forward to trying them out with some other logos over the Christmas period.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Curly Wurly Cupcakes

I have written some new recipes for the Good Food Channel website. The first recipe I'd like to share with you is for these Curly Wurly cupcakes. Chocolate and vanilla marble cake is very popular in my house, but I have adapted it here to give the cupcakes a bit more of a toffee flavour. I also melted down some Curly Wurly and added cream and a little sugar to make a yummy toffee sauce, which I added to my buttercream, saving some to drizzle on top as well.

Please visit the Good Food Channel website to see the recipe in full.

Photographs by Sharron Gibson,  The Image Garden


Monday, 28 October 2013

Toy Story Birthday Cake

A few years ago I made a Toy Story birthday cake for my son. It featured a handmade Buzz Lightyear sitting on top of the cake. This one figure took me almost three hours to make and whilst he looked OK, he wasn't all that! Therefore when I was asked to make a Toy Story cake a few weeks ago I decided to keep it simple, and I'm so glad I did because I am really pleased with how it turned out. The figures are a pretty good likeness and although they took a little while to make, I did not lose three hours over each one!

I loved making Mr Potato Head. It was tempting to put all of his features in the wrong place but I left him pretty much intact. Hamm the pig was the trickiest as I had to get him to stand on his four little legs without toppling over due to the weight of his big head. I haven't worked out how to make Slinky yet, but I'm thinking about him for next time.

Happy birthday Kevin!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Sponge Bob Cookies for my Baby

My youngest child turned six a couple of weeks ago, which is far too grown up for my liking! He is a total sports freak and watches very little on television these days unless it is football or cricket. However one kids' programme that he does still love is Sponge Bob Square Pants. His birthday cake featured the little yellow fellow and his funny friend, and I made Sponge Bob cookies for the party bags.

Unfortunately I forgot that my kids have become fussy about sugarpaste icing and claim that the yellow and green taste disgusting! Thus they scraped all of my hard work off their biscuits before eating them. I hope their friends didn't do the same when they got them home. The birthday boy did love the look of them, so it was worth the effort.

Happy birthday my handsome boy x


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Vintage Style Birthday Cake

The children have been safely returned to school after a fun filled six weeks of summer holiday madness. Before the hot, sunny days of summer slip too far from the memory I would like to share a cake I made for a little girl's vintage birthday party.

Amelia was having a lovely vintage tea party to celebrate her sixth birthday and I was asked to come along and decorate cupcakes with the guests, and to make a birthday cake to fit the theme. I was given free reign on the design, which pleased me immensely, and decided on handmade pastel pink roses and ruffles, with some pretty ribbon, lace and pearls to match.

Amelia's mum made all the food for the tea party and set up a beautiful table under a marquee. So Gorgeous were on hand to help with the styling, and provided some of the props.

The guests dressed up in lovely flapper dresses, complete with all the accessories. One guest was a little disappointed that she had to remove her white gloves in order to decorate her cupcakes! The girls had a great time, and produced some beautiful cupcakes to take home.

I hope you had a lovely birthday Amelia!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Make Up Birthday Cake

We are now three weeks into the school holidays and so far it has been a very busy and tiring flurry of activities. We have already had dancing, gymnastics, tennis and cricket with the occasional picnic and trip to the cinema thrown in. The kids are having a great time but we are all looking forward to relaxing in our tent next week when we head off to France.

I hadn't expected to get many cake orders during August and so hadn't left much time free for working, but last week was a busy one, and so a few late nights were had in the Vanilla Frost kitchen.

I have now got a few pictures to share with you, the first being this birthday cake for a lovely lady celebrating her 25th birthday. Happy birthday Eva, hope you had a great day!


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Owl Cookies

I have been very good recently and managed not to buy any new bits of cake decorating kit for some time now. However when I saw these cute owl cutters on the Purple Cupcakes site I thought it was time for a treat and ordered myself a set. These are part of a range by Cakes by Bien, who are based in the Netherlands and have come up with some very pretty and unusual cutters. Purple Cupcakes now stock a good selection.

I made my cookies to sell at last weekend's inaugural Northfields Night Market, which was a fantastic event showcasing lots of great local businesses and organised by Ealing Mums in Business. My owls were very popular, and will definitely be making another appearance before too long. I would love to use the cutters to make a big birthday cake too, and I have my eye on a few more of Bien's lovely cutters.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Banana Cakes for the Good Food Channel Website

These two recipes are a great way of using up the left over, brown bananas that always seem to be lurking in my fruit bowl. One is a very simple banana loaf, perfect for a picnic or an after school treat for the kids, and very quick to make. The other makes use of that delicious pairing of Nutella and banana; so good in a pancake and just as tempting in a cake.


Photographs by Sharron Gibson

I developed these recipes for the Good Food Channel web site. Please do visit the site to see them in full.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Gibson Les Paul Guitar Cake

We have a fantastic community Facebook group in my area, providing locals with all sorts of useful information and advice. Occasionally people ask for cake makers' details and I have been lucky enough to see Vanilla Frost Cakes recommended several times. When a lady recently asked for someone who could make a cake to resemble her husband's Gibson Les Paul I was more than a little nervous to see my name popping up. I had never attempted a guitar before and was not sure where to start.

I went to see the guitar and took a few pictures, then ordered the biggest cake board I could find. I used this to determine the size of the cake and drew an outline of the shape on to greaseproof paper. Then I then baked two enormous rectangular cakes in my biggest roasting pan, and used my paper templates to cut out the shapes.

I tried to create a wood grain effect by painting the light brown sugarpaste I had covered the cake with. I was pleased with how this turned out but would have liked a shiny finish really. All the knobs and twiddly bits (I'm not particularly musical!), are hand made from sugarpaste and painted with gold and silver lustre dust.

I really enjoyed making this cake, and had a great time listening to 6 Music's coverage of Glastonbury whilst I worked on it. A perfect pairing.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Brentford Food Market

Recently we have becme regular visitors to the Chiswick Farmers Market, mainly because the kids love the big fat meaty burgers they sell. My kids are burger snobs and will only eat top quality meat in their buns, which is no bad thing as far as I'm concerned. Chiswick is not far away but it's not exactly down the road, and the market seems to have the same stalls each week. Keen to try something new, we were delighted to hear that Brentford was going to be welcoming the return of its food market. Brentford is only a couple of miles away from us, and can easily be reached by bicycle, along the Grand Union Canal.

According to the website, Brentford market was first established in 1306, but has not been running for some years now. Just two weeks ago it began again, giving local producers a chance to rent affordable pitches from which to sell their wares, and local residents a place to gather to share quality food and drink. We cycled down there last Sunday to see what we could find for lunch. With a vegetarian, two fussy kids and a very hungry man amongst us, I wasn't sure we would all be satisfied, but was pleased to be proven wrong.

Brentford plays host to many of the lovely stalls seen at Chiswick and other West London markets and events, such as Thee Olive Tree and Marsh Farm meats. Also available to buy and take home were fresh fish and seafood from Poisson in Northfields Avenue, cheese from Norbiton Fine Cheeses and some lovely bread from Ruben's Bakehouse in Twickenham. However the main difference for me was the presence of several street food traders and a central area for people to sit and eat. This was great as it encouraged visitors to stay and enjoy the market rather than just making their purchases and moving on.

Amongst the traders last week were The Bowler, selling his huge handmade meatballs and Dosa Deli with their vegetarian paneer dosas.

The crepe stall was proving to be very popular, for both sweet crepes and savoury galettes. Unfortunately I didn't get the trader's name but it was a fabulous stall.

After a quick look around we all made our choices and sat down to enjoy our lunch. Evie went for meatballs and pasta, Noah and Pete chose ham and cheese galettes and I went for a paneer dosa. I was hoping to check out some local cake producers whilst I was there, but aside from the well known Maids of Honour, there were no cakes available. Cintra & Cake, a baker from Isleworth, did have a stall but had sold out very early. I guess the cakes must have been good! We were all pleasantly full after our lunch but managed to share a couple of crepes for pudding instead of cake. The Cheeky Monkey, filled with banana, chocolate sauce and broken biscuits, was particularly delicious.


All in all, our visit to Brentford Market was thoroughly enjoyable. I will definitely be back as a customer and maybe even to sell my cakes, if ever there is a space to fill. I know a couple of cheeky monkeys who will be keen to return as well.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sarah and Duck Cupcakes

Sarah and Duck is another new kids' TV program that has passed me by. My two consider themselves far too grown up to watch CBeebies now, which means I have to do my own research when someone books a character cake for a little one's birthday. These cupcakes were for Sofia, who was celebrating her 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Sofia!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Coffee, Almond and Blackcurrant Cake

This is my take on a simple coffee sponge cake. I have swapped the traditional walnuts for ground almonds, and added a layer of blackcurrant jam alongside the coffee buttercream. Almonds and coffee are a great pairing, and the ground almonds help to give this cake a lovely moist texture. The blackcurrant jam gives an extra, fruity flavour and adds a bit of colour to the cake as well.

Photograph by Sharron Gibson

This is one of the recipes I wrote for the Good Food Channel website. You can click here to see the recipe in full.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Oreo Cupcakes

These chocolate cupcakes are a big hit with kids and grown ups alike. Baked with half an Oreo in the bottom of the cupcake case and decorated with another miniature version on top, these are perfect for fans of the popular cookie. The cream cheese frosting is made a bit more special by stirring through some smashed up Oreo crumbs.

Photograph by Sharron Gibson

I developed this recipe, along with five more, for the Good Food Channel website. The recipes were then baked by my good friend Katie of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter, for a photo shoot that took place in her kitchen. I went along to watch for a while, and it was great fun seeing all the action. I am very excited to see my recipes on the web site, and will be posting more of Sharron's lovely photos in due course.

In the meantime, click here to get the Oreo cupcake recipe.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Ben and Holly Birthday Cake

I have just realised that I didn't publish a single blog post during April. I think that is my first month without posting anything since I started two years ago. I have some exciting posts coming up soon as I have been busy writing recipes, but for now I will leave you with a picture of my latest birthday cake, featuring Ben Elf, Princess Holly and their pet ladybird, Gaston. As well as the cake I made lots of cupcakes featuring some of the characters' faces. These were a bit fiddly, but fun to do. Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom is a lovely kids' programme with some entertaining characters and storylines. It's a shame that my two have moved on to slightly less charming things!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Jungle Cakes and a Fabulous Bag

I had a busy couple of days recently, working on cakes for a joint first birthday party. I made two three tiered cakes, each with six handmade jungle animals. I also made some jungle cupcakes and cake pops to match. I'm afraid that the photos are a bit dark as the weather has just been so awful it has been hard to find a good time to take some snaps, particularly with my limited skills. The fact that I finished these cakes at some ungodly hour doesn't help much either!


I have better pictures of the cupcakes, because my friend Jane took them rather than me! Jane is a whizz with a sewing machine, and writes a fantastic blog about the clothes she makes. She also makes fabulous bags, cushions and all sorts of other bits and pieces. I recently asked Jane to make me a new bag to hold the square cardboard boxes I use to transport cupcakes, and she has produced two fantastic bags that are perfect for the job. They have proved invaluable over the last couple of weeks as I have been delivering cakes here, there and everywhere.
Do pop over to Handmade Jane to read more about the bag and Jane's lovely handmade clothes.

A Junk Food Birthday Cake

Some girls love chocolates, some love cake, others love burgers and crisps! This cake was a for a lady with a penchant for junk food, and was a present from her cousin. I made all of the toppers from sugarpaste, and used a little royal icing for some of the details. The burger is my favourite as it was easy to make with lots of simple layers, but it looks good too. I just hope for the sake of her teeth that the birthday girl didn't take a big bite of it. I know a few children who would be tempted. Happy birthday N'chicka.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Baking with Kids - Dairy Free Muffins

I am making a conscious effort to increase the number of cakes I make that cater for those with allergies. Several of my children's friends have dairy free or egg free diets, and even more of mine can't tolerate gluten. My repetoire is currently limited, but I am working on it!

One of the most used baking books in our house is one called 'Muffins Fast and Fantastic'. At less than £5 a copy on Amazon it is an absoloute bargain, as thus far all of the recipes I have tried have turned out brilliantly. It is also a great book for baking with kids. There all kinds of flavours that the kids will warm to, and the recipes are all simple. It works particularly well when baking with two little helpers, as one can prepare the bowl full of dry ingredients and one can take care of the wet stuff. There is the potential for arguing when the two are combined, but careful management (and the threat of not getting to eat a muffin) should take care of that.


Our two favourite recipes to date are the orange and poppyseed, and the banana and walnut. The latter is perfect for using up those brown bananas that always linger in the fruit bowl and for those that do eat eat dairy, chocolate chunks can take the place of walnuts if preferred. Both of these recipes can easily be made as dairy free, as the recipe gives the option to use either melted butter or vegetable oil, and either milk or water. I have always opted for milk in the past but tried the banana recipe with water today and really couldn't notice the difference.


The only drawback as far as I'm concerned is that the banana muffins really need to be eaten the same day, although they can also be frozen. The orange muffins seem to have a longer shelf life though, and are my favourite anyway. The orange icing on top really finishes them off nicely.


We still have lots of recipes to try, and I think that the ginger or the peach and almond may be next on the list.

Branded Cupcakes for Hotpot Pictures

I had a busy couple of days last week, making almost 300 cupcakes for Hotpot Pictures. Hotpot make fabulous films about food, showcasing some of the country's top names and businesses with slick, stylish films for tv and online.


Take a look at the Hotpot Pictures website to see some of their exciting projects.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Fab at Forty

I think it's fair to say that a 40th birthday party deserves a good cake. I made this one for a party in the beautiful Reading Room, upstairs in The Grange, which is a lovely pub overlooking Ealing Common.

The birthday girl had attended one of my cupcake decorating classes just before Christmas, and I was delighted when she got in touch with her cake request. The design features a hand crafted model of Victoria in her party dress, along with a few of her favourite things, including her prized scooter.

The scooter would have been tricky had I not previously made a Vespa and picked up a few tricks along the way. There are several cocktails sticks invoved in its construction, but it felt quite sturdy in the end.
I wasn't sure I could manage high heels without an appropriate tool, so bought the small JEM cutter and mould set from Cake Craft World. This was fiddly but only actually took a couple of attempts to master. Plenty of lustre dust was required to extract the heels form the mould!

I love the striking purple lace on this cake, and I have only used half of what I bought, so expect to see it again.

Happy birthday Victoria!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Octonauts Birthday Cake Revisited

I know I have posted pictures of my Octonauts cakes before, but I have just been sent some new photos by a lovely customer and wanted to show them off. Rebecca's photographs are so much better than mine, and I love the one of her little daughter blowing out her candles.


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

A Wedding Cake for my Baby Brother

Happy New Year to all Vanilla Frost readers! So sorry for the delay, things have gone a little awry in the last couple of weeks. We returned from a lovely Chritsmas in Cornwall to find that the builders had completely flooded our house and we were temporarily homeless. It is not sorted yet, but with the help of some lovely friends and family we have been muddling through. Thankfully the kitchen was one of only two rooms in the house not to be damaged by the water and so baking can continue!
In recent years we have stayed in London for the Christmas period, but as my little brother was getting married in Cornwall we headed home for the holidays. We were not without water in Cornwall either and had to get through some very large puddles to reach our holiday house in Port Isaac. We had large numbers of family come to visit us on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, which was great fun, and two days later was the wedding. I managed to find time in between all the get togethers to make Sam and Nic's wedding cake. Luckily they wanted something simple, although the handmade roses did prove something of a challenge in the very damp atmosphere that prevailed almost everywhere we went.


My seven year old daughter took this second photograph, and many more besides! She also made a beautiful bridesmaid, and her brother was a very handsome little pageboy.

Happy memories of a lovely day.