Friday, April 24, 2015

Sugar cookies part 2 - birthday

Those sugar cookies I made the other day were originally meant to be for this event - a couple of work colleague birthdays.  I have a few different styles of plaque cookie cutter, and love to use them. The birthday recipients were all female, so I could have fun with the icing colours - I really like bright, happy colours and hoped they would too.  
I used a number of different embossers, to change up the fonts a little, and the ladies all loved their little birthday package.  One even took a photo, in case it got damaged in transit to her house to show her children, awww.....

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sugar cookies part 1 - birds

There were some more work birthdays coming up, and I was wondering how I could mark those occasions too.  I wanted something that would suit more than one person, and could be personalised. I follow a fair few cookie pages on Facebook and thought - aha, cookies!  
I have made roll-out sugar cookies before, and tweak the recipe slightly regarding bake times each time.  I haven't tasted anyone else's to compare, but wonder always if mine are the right crunch/soft ratio, or the right colour and so on.  Nonetheless, I went with my tried and true recipe (flavoured with a drop of caramel) and baked up a large batch of birds, circles and plaques (more about them to come).

The birds and circles were spares really, just done for fun - and then Mr Becca mentioned that he had a meeting to attend and did I have any spares for him to share with the participants?  Uh, yup.

As you can see, I had a few chocolate chunk ones, however they didn't bake up as well, because the chunks were a bit large I felt.  (the children ate those ones, and declared them perfect)  I decorated them in gorgeous shades of bright pink and green, and think they looked lovely.  He asked for them to be personalised with an initial, and the participants were all very impressed :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Super Lemon cake

One of my colleagues has a name starting with S.  She's fairly unassuming, doesn't like to blow her own trumpet, and likes lemon flavoured cake most of all.  So when I noticed it was her birthday coming up, well... I couldn't let it pass without a little bit of fanfare!

I bought some of Lakeland's fantastic PushPans a year or two ago and love using them.  They give a great shape and bake up well every time. I own some in 6" and some in super-tiny and cute 4", and it was the latter I decided to use this time - as some of the senior students had said they planned to buy her a cake for her birthday.
I used my normal sponge cake recipe and instead of adding vanilla extract for flavour, I added Star Kay White lemon plus the zest of a lemon.  I'm really impressed with their extracts, as the flavour is authentic without tasting artificial, and a few drops give lots of flavour - so the icing consistency isn't ruined.  Perfect.
I joined the two layers of cake with the buttercream and some extra delicious lemon curd, and added both the lemon extract and some yellow colouring to achieve the perfect taste and colour for my buttercream.  With the addition of a little fondant sugarpaste decoration of a Superman style capital letter S in bright pink, we were good to go.
And I'm thrilled to say that S loved her cake, and it was just the right size to last her and a friend a couple of days.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

Golf and a 70th, how do you combine the two?

One of the school mums got in touch via the Facebook page to enquire about a cake for her father's 70th birthday.  He really enjoys playing golf and gardening, so whe wanted them included somehow.  And the grandchildren would be present to eat it, so the flavour was to be chocolate.  Fair enough, i said, and got my thinking cap on.  I Googled golf cakes and there were some stunning design ideas to be seen - there are some seriously talented cake makers out there in internet land!
I baked up my go to chocolate sponge recipe, and layered the two large cakes with lashings of luscious and thick green vanilla buttercream icing, to act as the background.  I knew I wanted grass on there too, as the customer had decided on an all buttercream cake.  I went to our wonderful local cake shop, The Cake Guru, and described the shade of green I had, and what else I had in mind.  I'm so pleased with Wendy's recommendation, as the grass tones in perfectly, don't you think?

As the cake flavour was chocolate, and the buttercream vanilla, I didn't feel that the usual strawberry jam filling would be suitable really.  I hadn't been warned of any allergies, so I slathered Nutella in btetween the layers - perfect choice with those flavours, don't you think?
Careful and prolonged use of the grass nozzle tip created the top layer and the decoration at the base edge, a little crushed biscuit for the sand bank and we were good to go.
I'm so pleased to say that the customer feedback was very positive - not only did they love how it looked, it was totally devoured on the day.  A very happy 70th birthday indeed.