Five fun ways to decorate your cake!

The Artistry of Baking

Five fun ways to decorate your cake

If you ask a stranger if they rather like cooking or baking, his answer is most likely going to be cooking. People who prefer cooking will all agree with food writer Danielle Oteri that following directions and exact measurements is a pain. Although both are forms of culinary arts, it’s cooking that’s more so an art and baking as a science. The artistry of baking really comes after the cake is out of the oven. And for all those bakers, both aspiring and professional, decorating the cakes is the best part of the whole process.
Just like M&S ’s head of cake development Helen Brennan is “always on the lookout for new icing and decorating techniques,” you should be too. There are plenty of ways to personalise cakes, and no baker should just limit themselves with buttercream frosting as the finishing touch to their final product.
Here are some simple yet imaginative ways to decorate your cake:

Add fondant shapes

Use cookie cutters on already rolled out fondant icing to create shapes for your cake or even cupcakes. Fondant dries out pretty quickly so it’s best to seal the leftovers with plastic wrap.

Make a polka dot cake

To make add charm to your layered cake, try adding polka dots! Not only are they fun but they also do a nice job of hiding whatever flaws there are in the cake’s icing. To keep those dots neat, remember to hold the pastry bag in both hands. The tip should be at a slight angle just above the cake’s surface. Then squeeze gently, release, and pull back.

Sprinkle sanding sugar

Place a stencil of your cake and dust away with the colours of your choice using a spoon. Remember, before placing the stencil, the cake should have already been frosted and refrigerated for a couple of hours.

Instead of any additional icing…

Fruits, nuts, and some store bought cookies are great, inventive, and easier ways to decorate a cake. Nuts can be crushed and sprinkled on top or even line the edges of the cake. Sliced berries and cream filled sandwich cookies could serve as embellishments.

Or if you’re looking to just frost the cake after baking…

Try using the teaspoon technique on the cake frosting. All you have to do is make “S” shapes with a teaspoon. If you mess up, simply start over by smoothening out the frosting.

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Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes are deliciously moist and chocolatey! The topping is made with soft cheese and chocolate which gives a lightness and ensures that the whole thing isn’t too rich. They are perfect for an Easter treat and could, of course, have added decorations for extra scrumptiousness :)

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Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

90g Butter, softened

150g Caster Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs, beaten

150g Self Raising Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

45g Cocoa Powder

140 ml Whole Milk

12 Squares Milk Chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 160c

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together. Fold the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together. Slowly add the eggs to the butter, sugar and vanilla, and then fold in the dry ingredients. Carefully mix in the milk.

Pour into cupcake cases in a 12 whole tin. Place one piece of chocolate carefully just into the top of each cupcake and then bake for about twenty minutes.

Topping

200g Soft Cheese

50g Butter, softened

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

400g Icing Sugar

50g Dark Chocolate

Beat the soft cheese and butter together well with the vanilla. Carefully fold in the icing sugar and then beat well for a few minutes until completely combined. Melt the chocolate and then cool a little. Fold in the chocolate. It can be mixed in completely or just swirled in. Make sure the topping is completely cool and then pipe onto the top of the cooked and cooled cupcakes.

Decorate as you wish or just devour as they are!

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Lovely Lemony Layer Cake for Mothers’ Day

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This is a lovely lemony drizzle layer cake filled with fresh cream and lemon curd and then covered with buttercream and decorated.

Find the recipe for the cake here

To make the buttercream beat 200g soft cheese, 50g butter and a tiny dot of your chosen food colouring. To make lemon buttercream, add the zest of two lemons. Slowly add 400g icing sugar and when it’s all folded in beat well for a few minutes until really smooth. Using a palette knife spread the buttercream all over the cake.

This cake is covered with petals made from sugar-paste using a hydrangea petal cutter. The sugar-paste was coloured with tiny dots of pink to make different shades. They were rolled out a little on the edges and dusted with some rose food powder colouring to enhance the shading.

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Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

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Recipe for Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Ingredients:

200g Crushed Digestive Biscuits

75g Cocoa Powder

150g Unsalted Butter

900g Cream Cheese

4 Eggs

200g Dark Chocolate

Zest and Juice of Two Oranges

Method:

Preheat the oven to 160 c.

For the base, melt the butter in a pan and add the cocoa powder, blending well. Stir in the finely crushed biscuits then press the mixture into a greased 8″ loose bottom cake tin. Press down well and place in the fridge to cool.

Beat the four eggs, cream cheese and caster sugar together well with the zest and juice of the two oranges. Pour this mixture over the cooled base and place in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The cheesecake should be still very slightly wobbly in the middle and will set when cool.

This would make a lovely Easter bake and could be decorated with grated chocolate swirls or even mini chocolate eggs.

This recipe was adapted from one in the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. The Hummingbird Bakery was opened by Tarek Malouf in Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill in 2004. He wanted to replicate the delicious cakes and desserts found in the USA, particularly New York. The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook is packed full of mouth-watering recipes from this unique bakery. I love the Carrot Cake and the absolutely scrumptious Hummingbird Cake. Packed with mashed bananas, pecans and pineapple, it’s a moist and delicious family favourite. Another of my favourites is the Brooklyn Blackout Cake made with three layers of chocolate sponge, filled and covered with a chocolate custard and finished with a fine topping of chocolate cake crumbs.

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Recipe for Hummingbird Cake:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tropical_fruit_cake_01471

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Cupcakes

SAM_4104For a Valentine’s Day treat take an ordinary chocolate cupcake and make it extraordinary with some simple decorations!

You can find a chocolate cupcake recipe here:-

Fearne’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Topping by @FoodNetwork_UK

To decorate your cupcakes roll out some coloured sugar-paste – I used red and white. I used three different sized heart shaped cutters and embossed them with a pattern pressed onto them. I piped ‘love’ onto some and sprinkled with edible glitter.

 

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Gorgeous Giant Cupcakes

Giant cupcakes are fabulous for a tea party celebration – they are fairly easy to bake and decorate and can look and taste simply amazing. Ruth Clemens, at the Pink Whisk has a great Vanilla Giant Cupcake Recipe and shows how to bake the two halves of the cake.

To decorate you will need to allow the cakes to cool completely. First you will need to cover the bottom half with sugar-paste while it is upside down. Cover it completely with a layer of buttercream and smooth this as much as possible. Put the cake in the fridge for about half an hour or until the buttercream has set quite hard. The sugar-paste can then be rolled out, laid over the cake (upside down) and cut round the bottom edge.

This will need to set firmly and is best left for 24 hours. In order to retain moisture, I brush my sponges with syrup while they are still warm. The top one will be best stored in an airtight container while the bottom one will need to be stored in a dry place so it the sugar-paste can dry out. (A syrup can be made with sugar and water or flavourings can be added)

To complete the cake, the bottom half will be turned carefully up the right way. A layer of buttercream is then layered on to the top of this cake and the top cake then sits on top of that. The top can be decorated with swirls of buttercream to look just like a cupcake.

To make a chocolate sponge giant cupcake use the above recipe but substitute 75g of the flour with cocoa powder.

Here are three giant cupcakes I’ve made and decorated…

This is a giant cupcake made from vanilla sponge, filled with peach and apricot preserve and covered with vanilla buttercream and white chocolate sprinkles. The decorations were made from sugar-paste and royal icing. It was made to celebrate ‘prom’ night.

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This is a vanilla and white chocolate birthday giant cupcake…

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This is a chocolate giant cupcake with chocolate buttercream decorated with hot pink gerbera flowers. It had 50 matching cupcakes.

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Here is the tin you’ll need to bake a giant cupcake …

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Here is another great giant cupcake blog post by Laura at Laura Loves Cakes.

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Banana, Walnut and Chocolate Cake

I love eating cake and I know if I try to impose a limit on eating I will simply crave it more! Having nice things to eat that we enjoy is very often good for us on an emotional and social level. It’s all about finding a balance and eating healthily doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of flavour and enjoyment.

So today I am posting a healthy recipe that is packed with both nutrition and flavour.

 Banana, Walnut and Chocolate Loaf

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Ingredients:-

125g wholemeal spelt flour

50g fine oatmeal

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder

50g sunflower oil

50g almond oil

1 tablespoon light muscovado sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons natural, low fat yoghurt

2 large bananas, mashed

50g walnut pieces, broken up a little

Method:-

Prepare a 1lb loaf tin and set the oven to 180c / Gas 4

Mix the flour, oatmeal, baking powder and cocoa powder in a bowl. Mix the oils, sugar, eggs, yoghurt together in another bowl and beat until creamy. Add the two mixtures together, stirring gently, then add the banana and walnuts. Bake for approx. 35 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

This recipe is a very healthy option as it contains good dietary fibre. Healthy fats such as almond oil are essential for the metabolism and absorption of vitamins – it is also packed with vitamin E. It also contains very little sugar but is big on flavour!

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Fruity Scones

Scones are popular for afternoon tea in England and with fruit added they make a great quick and easy, healthy option. They are really light and tasty too.

These scones include a good source of fibre and the fruit will count as one of your ‘five-a-day’. They are delicious buttered or served warm with some natural yoghurt (healthier than cream!)

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The recipe makes six to eight scones, depending on how big you make them, and they can be kept for a few days in an airtight tin or frozen on the day of baking once cooled.

Ingredients:

100g brown spelt flour

100g rice flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

50g low fat spread (suitable for baking)

150g grated apple (peeled)

50g chopped dried prunes

50g sultanas

Milk to mix (about 6 tablespoons)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200c and prepare a baking tray. Mix together all the dried ingredients then rub in the spread with your fingertips. Add the fruit and then mix to a soft consistency by adding as much milk as needed. Roll into balls (6-8) then flatten the top a little when you put them onto the baking tray. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.

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Sweet Table Bakes

This sweet table was filled with pretty cupcakes, macarons, meringues and cookies decorated to match the two birthday cakes. A mini dresser top was decorated to match the theme and filled with sweet jars to create a ‘sweet shop’. The table was the perfect complement to party tables set with vintage china and dainty sandwiches on cake stands.

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Healthy Tea Time Treats

Well, it’s that time of the year again – I’ve eaten far too much and my jeans are feeling tight. It’s a real struggle for a girl who just loves a tea time treat so I was especially happy when I received a Christmas / New Year selection box of Nakd treats….

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With so many healthy snacks to choose from I can continue to indulge in an afternoon treat with my cuppa while feeling very virtuous! Nakd Bars are basically just 100% raw fruits and nuts ‘smooshed’ together. These Natural Bars have no added sugars and are wheat, dairy and gluten free so are great as part of a healthy diet.

There are so many flavours but my favourites are the Berry Delight bar, the Cashew Cookie bar and their Tangy Lime Infused Raisins are irresistible. My grandchildren enjoyed them so much we’ve had to buy lots more for their lunch boxes!

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