Monday, December 31, 2012

The girls have fun with leftovers

After the decorating party (see previous post) there were the odd cupcake or two leftover, and a bit of icing so The Team decided that they'd like a go!  No problem girls, have a blast!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Zoe's birthday part 2 - cupcake decorating party

Zoe's mum had read my post about the last decorating party I'd done, and kept me in mind for her daughter's upcoming birthday.  I duly arrived at the house, having prepared my naked cupcakes and tons of icing and carrying lots of different sprinkles, nozzles, piping bags and so on.
And a more attractively arty one by a photographer who was at the party.  She took lots of great pics, thankfully.
Here we see the gang,  having coloured their icing as they chose, getting it into the icing bags.
And then get right on with the task of getting the icing onto the cupcakes, and the all important task of choosing which sprinkle to place where on each cupcake.

This lovely lady was really concentrating, and had some great ideas on how to do things - you could tell she'd had some practice.
 Even boys can enjoy the decorating side of things - with blue icing, naturally 
 Here's a collage of the finished products - they all had such fun!
And the girls all proudly displaying their skill, in take-home boxes to show their parents.
Now here's a photo from an angle that I simply couldn't take - it's me, wearing my attractively large white Becca Bakes tee-shirt.
 Thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of your birthday celebrations Zoe!!

Zoe's 10th birthday, part 1 - giant cupcake

I love repeat business.  It feels so good to be included in a families celebrations, and thought of when they have a special occasion.  In this case, I was asked to do a cupcake decorating party for the lovely Zoe for her 10th birthday.  And also to provide the birthday cake.  She's a fan of chocolate, so it was to be a naked chocolate giant cupcake and the guests were to decorate it themselves.  But then she saw and enjoyed the Carrot Cake I made them for Christmas (which looked similar to the Red Velvet one I blogged about recently), and decided she'd like me to decorate her birthday cake after all.  
As it was to be a chocolate cake, she chose chocolate icing too, and pink and blue decorations.  Here's another lovely way to use the plaque cutter from my last post - I really like it.  And I'm loving the new bow cutters I bought, I feel like I'm getting the hang of them.  The little name plates are for the party (see next post)...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Petal technique ombre birthday cake

It was M's mums birthday and they'd loved the Rainbow cake I'd made them recently, so wanted something in lilac for this family occasion.  No problem I said, there was something I'd been wanting to try out for a little while now, and this seemed like the perfect chance.
Like the petal cake I'd done as Mini-2's party cake, this was also going to utilise that lovely effect.  But this time, I wanted to try shading the colours of icing.  Hence the 'ombre' in the title, meaning shadow (or something similar at least).  I used the same recipe as for the rainbow cake, but only split the mix into 3 bowls, and made 3 shades of purple for the sponge.
They look good, right?  I wanted to achieve the same shades with the buttercream too, and think I nearly got it...
Then it was a case of icing the cake, after its crumb-coating.  I had previously not continued the design onto the top of the cake, and was quite pleased with how prettily this worked out this time.
Then it was a case of adding on the little plaque to say Happy Birthday Grandma on top - I love these plaque cutters.  I bought them online from Karen's cookies and will use them for cookies soon too.
 I couldn't decide which picture looked prettier, I think the latter - what do you think?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Truffle-style balls for Santa

Last year we made a wee treat for Santa, to go with his cheese and chutney sandwich (well, everyone else leaves out mince pies, and we thought he might fancy something different).  We decorated them with red glitter and sugar, and had lots of fun.  So this year, we did likewise using a recipe from Morrison's supermarket magazine (really sorry but I can't find the link for the recipe at all I'm afraid.  And I didn't keep it because I didn't like it much.  Serves me right for not keeping up to date with the blogging, if I was doing htis post in December I would have probably still had the recipe lying about somewhere for you) and decorated them with line sprinkles - I didn't like the taste much, but The Team did!  As did Santa  ;)

Despite their best efforts, the sprinkles didn't stick all the way around the balls - do you know why?  Is it just bad luck?  Not a big deal, as you can see they quite enjoyed cleaning up at the end.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Red Velvet is perfect for Christmas

Remember P and B who ordered the Red Velvet and Banoffee cupcakes?  Well, B's sister liked P's birthday cake back in the autumn so much that she ordered one for Christmas Day.  It was to be with cream cheese icing, and that needs to be refrigerated, so I couldn't do sugarpaste accents or decorations because they shouldn't be kept in the fridge.  So I went for those fabulous rosette swirls that make a cake look as inviting as a plump pillow (or is it just me who thinks it looks like you could dive right in??), with just a few white snowflakes and a sprinkle of silver glitter...  Merry Christmas gang!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas-time, but not a Christmas party

S was recommended to try some Becca Bakes goodies by her friend L (woo hoo!!  a customer recommendation), so got in touch to ask for party cupcakes for her daughter.  They were not to be Christmas-sy at all, but rather girly and in the favoured colours of purple and green.  Flavours were the perennial favourites of chocolate and vanilla.  No problem I said, and gave her these beauties - with just a touch of sparkle, to make sure the party went well.  Enjoy!

Christmas cupcakes in winter-fun flavours

P and B fancied an end-of-school/Christmas treat, so asked for a dozen cupcakes in Red Velvet and Banoffee (spiced banana cupcakes with toffee buttercream icing).  I had bought some gorgeous icing toppers from Jade at The Cupcake Company, and was only too keen to use them and make decorations to coordinate.  You'll recognise them from the Teacher treats post, as they were done soon after.  
I had just recently visited my local TK Maxx store, here in Dundee, and bought myself some Jem bow cutters.  I've tried in vain to make bows free-hand, based upon watching a selection of YouTube videos, and despaired of ever doing them well.  Then I spotted the small bow cutter set at the store, and didn't think twice.  I was able to follow the instructions, and was really pleased with the result.
These decorations were really fun to make, and coordinated well with the vintage style toppers I planned to use on the Red Velvet cupcakes.  

The banoffee ones I did a little bit differently this time, as I had some toffee sauce leftover. 

They look pretty luscious, right??!  They got great reviews too  :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A strangely busy afternoon - the savoury side

This latter half of the day's food adventures were less successful.  Not a total failure, mind, but just less successful.  The plan was, in my mind at least, to make these cheese straws as an accompaniment to the girls' steak sausages for dinner, just for something a little bit different.  
They didn't exactly work out that way.    
I forgot to add the extra brush of butter once they'd been rolled (to the first batch), and generally found them a bit too dry.  

I had hoped for them to taste more buttery and rich than they did...  But after posting similar on our Facebook page, a few friends have suggested other recipes to try next time, so all is not lost :)
And the final thing I made today?  Vegetable soup, with loads of 10-hour soaked peas, barley and beans.  It's just finished now.  Yes, I know, it's very late.  No biggie, it'll be lunch for me and dinner for the girls tomorrow.  

A strangely busy afternoon - the sweet side

We've had a little run of ill health at Becca Towers for some reason.  I had a very sore stomach for no real reason all day Sunday so lay on the couch or took a nap or two during the day.  The rest of the Team were fine, so they went off ice-skating without me.  Then whilst there, Mr Becca fell over and twisted his ankle.  And had to take a day off work, and nearly made us visit A&E (Casualty) but felt it was more likely to be sprained than fractured.  Then last night the girls had trouble sleeping due to head colds, with Mini-1 also waking up crying with ear pain.  I kept them both off school today and got an early morning doctor's appointment for her, and she was duly prescribed banana-tasting (but horrible regardless) anti-biotics for the suspected infection.  Nice, not.  So a sofa, dressing gowns and dvd's day for them.
Preferring to a) keep out of their way so I didn't get ill and b) having housework to get on with, I spent some alone time in the Kitchen.  And instead of making mini cupcakes for their end-of-term class parties, I opted for chocolate dipped pretzels (again).  Though this time, I went for sticks rather than twirls, and a variation on the colouring so it looked less Italian.
The Jackson Pollock-esqe throwing about of melted candy melts was fun.  Do you think these ones look a bit more Christmas-sy??
I had more of the red and green chocolate leftover, so whipped up a quick batch of peppermint bark, in milk chocolate this time.  More Jackson Pollock type manoeuvres, then the girls loved eating the little bit of leftover vanilla-flavoured coloured chocolate at the end.

This time I not only included the crushed candy canes, but also some red sanding sugar and some red and green little cupcake sprinkles.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tim Tam truffles

Tim Tam truffles.  Tim Tam truffles.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Kinda rolls off the tongue, don'tcha think?  Kinda like Becca Bakes, one might say... Only in the UK, these chocolate, chocolate sandwiched and covered biscuits aren't called Tim Tams.  Oh no, they're not as mighty, not as tasty (to me anyway) and  not called Tim Tams.  They're called Penguins.  Yep, seriously.  And Penguin truffles just sounds a little bit wrong to me.
I found the recipe on an Australian site called Best Recipes, along with the one I used for the first school bake class, for Anzac biscuits.  It's here, and it's wrong.  Mind you, that's rather blunt, and disrespectful.  Most unlike me.  I should be more polite, and say that I couldn't get it to work at the quantities specified.  That may well be because Penguins aren't the same as Tim Tams.  But either way, I had to modify the recipe along the way.
I had to use 18 Penguins (360g worth) in the end, and 8 digestive biscuits too, to get the right consistency for rolling once the sweetened, condensed milk had been added.
And I didn't fancy grating chocolate, when I had chocolate line sprinkles to hand.  They were ready in time for the girls getting in from school (or technically, they were ready in time for me to clean up and refrigerate them before walking to collect the girls from school).  So they were super easy, super quick and super sickly tasty.  A three-way win, a trifecta even!  Ha ha