Having been gone from my blog for goodness knows how long, I thought I would start uploading my recent works which I have been doing over the last few months!
I had the privilege in making a wedding cake for two lovely friends who I met through university whilst doing my Primary PGCE. Both extremely hard-working and dedicated individuals to their professions and I genuinely couldn’t be happier to see a more deserving couple!
They had decided on a rustic theme together with a touch of mint and had asked me to make them a cake which was covered in buttercream.
Having been shown a design that they liked I decided to give it a go using two colours, mint and cream.
As you can see, the buttercream has been worked with to create the rustic lines across the tiers. This was done using a small palette knife and simply swiping it across the tiers whilst the buttercream was still somewhat soft as I didn’t want to do it afterwards once the buttercream had hardened purely because the buttercream would crumble off and leave an untidy finish to the cake!
Have you ever made a cake similar to this? How did you find making it?
I know… ganaching is a completely new concept to many people. But let me tell you something!… You will NOT regret it!
It is the best thing ever I promise you!
Not only that. Chocolate Ganache is a million times easier to work with than buttercream when crumbcoating! Why? I will tell you…
Buttercream: First things first, it is lovely to work with (kinda), hardens in the fridge relatively quickly, and has a nice buttery taste although it can become rather sickly if eaten too much!
However, I have found that once you bring it to room temperature (and even if its still cold and hard) and try to cover it with fondant, it is a nightmare to work with if you end up smoothing the sides longer than you need to. I have done this on many occasions as I was trying to get a ‘sharp edge finish’!
I ended up ruining my cake and having to rip off the fondant to cover it again due to the buttercream oozing out from the layers of cake and the crumbcoating becoming too soft.
I cannot tell you how in love I am with this stuff! First time around I got it completely wrong. This was a few months ago when I attempted to make a Great Gatsby themed cake. I didn’t let the ganache rest overnight to harden and that was my biggest mistake as you NEED to let it sit overnight for at least 12- 24 hours. Yup, its annoying having to wait that long but it allows the sugar crystals in the chocolate to crystallise which helps it to form the hard outer shell. In turn this makes it so much easier to cover in fondant as it is far less likely to melt or ooze if you’re working to get super sharp edges.
Obviously, do NOT work too the fondant too much or else it will melt the chocolate underneath! But the thing is, you won’t even need to work too long with the fondant as the edges are so razor sharp from the chocolate ganache alone that it automatically helps to form a sharp edge on your fondant with some careful smoothing. By the way, I do highly recommend Bellissimo Flexi Smoothers to get the perfect edges which you can buy from here. You can also make your own and I will show you a tutorial on how to do that very soon!
Another positive is that the taste of the cake altogether is great as you have this wonderful chocolatey sensation as you bite into your cake. Chocolate is sweet, but not as overpoweringly sweet like buttercream is. It makes your cakes stand out a mile from the rest by far!
As I was saying, the main downside is the long waiting time but it just means you can ganache and leave it whilst you get on with your other work or decoration preparation!
I made this cake (pictured below) using ONLY chocolate ganache and did so by ganaching the cake UPSIDE DOWN! Woahhh! Yup, it was so scary but so worth it in the end as I doubt I could get that type of a finish on my first attempt using any other method!
It’s actually a lot simpler than you may think and it does also help you to get amazing sharp edges hence why it is now my chosen method of crumbcoating!
As you can see from my picture I didn’t cover the cake with fondant as it was a simple chocolate cake and I’m glad I didn’t cover it to be honest as it just looks stunning just as it is with the edible silver leaf!
Would you like to see a step-by step tutorial on how I ganached upside down? Have you ever made a cake using chocolate ganache and did so by using the upside down method?
Yup, that’s right, I’ve joined the duffin craze that’s been going around the Great British baking community!
The first time I heard of these strange little things were on a Facebook group that I am a part of called Cake Baking Chat. Now there’s a good 7,000+ of us on there and it’s a lovely place to find and meet new friends as I have done over the past few months. I just couldn’t believe it took me so long to find it!
During the times where the hubby is fast asleep snoring away together with the melody of my daughter’s snoring next to the kitchen, I’ll be up at silly hours of the night finishing off an order, there’s always someone on this brilliant Facebook Group to keep me going and provide somewhat of a presence if that makes any sense! I’ll be taking pictures and posting them up to ask if I need to change anything or add/takeaway something and there’s always a good handful of people offering me great tips and advice!
So like I was saying, I was on my Facebook App on my mobile when I just kept seeing posts about duffins coming up on my news feed.
I was sooooo confused. What on earth is a DUFFFFFINNN? Initially I thought the first few posts had made a spelling mistake. But 8 posts stating the word duffin surely can’t be wrong?
This called for some research. I discovered that these duffins were a cross-breed of a doughnut and a muffin. Makes sense. I also found out that the infamous Nigella Lawson first plated up this wondrous doughy goodie. Click here to see her recipe.
However, it was the Beas of Bloomsbury who brought the duffins to light. The Guardian even did an article on how Starbucks started selling them as duffins whereby Beas hadn’t copywritten their recipe and name. Anyway, if you’d like to visit one of their three beautiful tea rooms and order a said duffin you will need to pre-order these as they don’t sell them anymore. They sell two flavours, Nutella filled duffin and raspberry jam filled duffin. At £2.70 each or 12 for £30, I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting your money’s worth as they have been well recognised as one of the best tea places in the UK.
So, there I was, with all this duffin knowledge floating around in my brain, and then I decided to give it a go. I wish I hadn’t as I really didn’t do them justice 😦
I clearly over baked them and I knew I should have gone with my gut instinct and baked at 180 degrees instead of the suggested 190, but no. I just had to follow the instructions exactly as it said. Which of course is always recommended but seeing as my bakes never turn out right when a cakey recipe instructs to be baked at 160 or 190 arghh!!
I baked them anyway and I made them especially for my hubby as he loves jam doughnuts, and like me he loves the conserve pictured above! I thought that seeing that he was poorly and hadn’t gone into work, I would be the domesticated wife and bake him some fresh duffins for breakfast with this delicious conserve YUM! Oh how he would love to bite into one of those soft delicious fluffy duffins once I made them. I couldn’t wait!
However, like I had said earlier, I baked at 190 degrees and i ended up over-baking. Most recipes call for them to be left in for 25 minutes but by about 15 minutes I could tell they looked perfect but I thought to myself “NO Nel, don’t take them out, it clearly cant be ready with 10 minutes still to go?” So I left them in until at 20 minutes, they started to look extra brown and a little overcooked smell was coming out the oven. You know, the one where it doesn’t smell burnt yet but almost there kinda smell? Yea, that smell.
They were as hard as rock and I even ‘trialled’ it’s rock-hardedness (if that’s even a word?) on my head haha. Yup, that sure was rock hard!
I let them cool and eagerly waited for the hubby to wake up.
I heard footsteps coming up the hallway into the living room. Excitement was brewing so fast I felt like I would burst with pride as soon as he walked through the door.
“I MADE YOU DUFFINS!!! EAT IT NOW!”
“But I need to wash my face first, I still feel ill!”
“These will make you feel better I promise”…. Really regret saying that now!
“Ok, but why do they look like that and hang on a sec what on earth are duffins?”
“They’re a ermmm a cross-breed of doughnut and muffin, they are unique and they look like that because they are special in their own right.”
Hubby looks at me with his eyebrows raised.
He eventually tried them and as I was fasting that day I couldn’t really try them but All I can say is that whilst he ate them he made no such effort to make them look tasty at all despite making all the effort to ‘dress them up’ as pictured above hahahaha!! Couldn’t help but laugh as I had a feeling they would not taste right seeing as the one I hit on my forehead almost left a bruise!
After all that, his response was:
“Nel, thank you for making these, the thought was really nice, BUT, and this is a big BUT… Please do not ever mix a doughnut and a muffin together. A doughnut is perfect just the way it is, don’t ruin it for me!!!”
When I opened my fast in the evening I tried it and they didn’t taste too bad to be honest. I liked them. But you must also remember that I hadn’t eaten the whole day! Anything will taste nice when you’ve not eaten. Was a little dry but the jam inside helped bring in some moisture!
I will be trying these again but at my mum’s AND on a lower heat setting as I know if hubby sees me making these again he will be in complete shock and just confused lol!
Here’s the what you need to know: Equipment 2 bowls. One for wet ingredients and one for dry.
Sieve – For the Self Raising Flour
Muffin Cases (if you would like… I would highly recommend it!)
Ingredients: Sunflower Oil
Self Raising Flour
Jam of any kind.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius
Mix the following ingredients together in one bowl:
85ml Sunflower Oil
1 large Egg
Quarter Tsp Vanilla
In your second bowl, mix the following:
200g Self Raising Flour
100g Caster Sugar
Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix until all has been incorporated.
Place your muffin cases into your muffin tray and fill the cases with HALF of the mixture.
Now place roughly half a tsp of jam into the centre of each of your muffin cases which are filled with duffin batter.
Cover the jam with the left over batter. See Picture below…
Place into oven for 25 minutes OR until risen and springy
Leave to cool and then either dust them with icing sugar as I did, or melt some butter and dip the tops of each duffin into the butter and then into a small bowl of caster sugar to give a sugared doughnut effect!
Remember to keep an eye on them as you don’t want to overcook them like I did!
Have you ever tried to make these duffins? How did they turn out? I would love to hear your duffin stories!
Recently I’ve been looking through many beautiful cake pictures on both Pinterest and Instagram. For some silly reason I could feel my insecurities surfacing. I couldn’t understand why… and then I realised when I asked myself “arghhhh why can’t I make flowers like they do? Why can’t I do stunning masterpieces like these amazing cake designers?”
I realised then and there that I was becoming very aware of the fact that I thought I couldn’t do these grand cakes. But of course, such things are not impossible if we set our minds to it, it’s all a matter of setting your goals and taking the steps to achieve them.
After soothing these silly insecurities, I reminded myself of where I started. A bit of buttercream here, a few fanned strawberries plopped on there there and there, a little dusting of icing sugar and VOILA my masterpiece is finished. Always felt ecstatic and beamed with pride at how stunning I thought my finished piece was!
Now I can’t stop finding flaws in every single one of my cakes.
I. Just. Want. Them. To. Be. PERFECT arghhhh!!! There’s no such thing as perfect I do know that yes, but I just want to achieve the best finish for my customers.
When you find yourself doing what I tend to do. Just take a step back, have a nap, go for a walk, play with your kids, eat the leftovers (lol!), watch some TV. Anything really, just something that will help to take your mind off it for a while. I happened to do this the other day when decorating but instead of doing any of the suggestions listed above, I started looking through my old photos on Facebook. My cupcakes and cakes were far from perfect but at the time I made them I was dead proud!… Bless, it’s quite cute actually considering some of my piping work looked like white cow pat as pictured above! That day I made so many different frostings, buttercreams, and sponge flavours in such a short space of time I just rushed with the piping work as we had to leave but I was bursting with excitement and was looking forward to showing them off! They were for family members and I can confirm that they were chuffed to bits upon receiving these!
Here, I was invited to do an exclusive stall at a Bollywood Night event in Cambridgeshire. I really don’t know what I was thinking when I decorated these to be honest but I just remember sitting at my mum’s and throwing the glitter on top then ‘neatly’ chucking a few silver dragees over!
The miniature cakes in the middle were inspired by Mich Turner and I remember looking in the book thinking, “WOW, these are so pretty and they look so easy to make!”. Boy was I in for a shock that weekend. After downing countless energy drinks, I was buzzing around the kitchen and dining room where I had laid out all my cake equipment like a lunatic… or so my mum said! Never again I told myself, never again! But I’m actually quite up for the challenge now that I know how to go about doing it and after doing so many cakes I’m pretty sure I can get the ribbon to stay at the bottom and avoid the fondant cracking!
Now this baby really was my baby as this was what I started off with when I first started baking.
The day my husband and his family came over to my parents house for the first time to bring forth their proposal, I baked this but not as neatly. It was this very cake that started Nel’s Cake Boutique!
4.5″ tall and I used to sell this piece for £15!!! I thought I was really rolling in the big bucks not realising I was making a huge loss as I never bothered to check my finances properly back then lol!
Unfortunately, I do not sell at this price any more (sorry guys!) and nor do I sell fresh cream cakes or use fresh cream to cover my cakes.
Can you see the difference?
Other than the photography as I’ve started to use a DSLR (no, I’m not a pro despite trying to ‘act’ like one when taking pictures!), but the difference in covering and the finish is much cleaner.
My first picture at the top of this post were some cupcakes made during the summer just gone.and I’m pretty sure you can see the difference in design and uniformity from my Bollywood Night cupcakes!
That being said, I will leave you on this note. I’ve been doing cakes for roughly 4 years now but I would say most of my time and effort has been invested in my cake making and decorating in the past 2 years even whilst doing my PGCE! It has taken a lot of hard work, love, dedication, time, support, perseverance, practice, and of course patience to get to where I am today! There’s still a VERY long way for me to go and I intend to keep learning new skills to make great things for you all!
On the days where you just want to throw in the towel… don’t! Don’t ever give up if it’s something you are really passionate about and remind yourself to keep reaching for your goals. Keep practising and you will automatically see that you are getting better!
Do you decorate cakes or do any other craft? Do you feel that you too have come a long way?
My goodness, I have been telling myself to get back on track, sit down with a cuppa…even though I REALLY do NOT like hot drinks! Yup, that’s right, I hate em’! I wish I could fit in with all you ‘hot drink drinkers’ but I’ve always struggled to drink warm things unless I am absolutely freezing! With that in mind, I do actually have a great tutorial for you on how to make a delicious home-made hot chocolate! Hypocrite I hear you say? No, no, no! Home-made is always different, I’m sure we’ve established that hence why I bake lol!!
My youngest sister loves it so that is sufficient enough for me to conclude that it is delicious heh heh!
Anywhooooo, I did mention that I like to waffle don’t I? Well if you didn’t know, you know now!
I’ve been meaning to sit down to show you all my recent works and to tell you what I have been doing for the past say… ohhhh… 2-3 months? Wow it really has been a long time!
Well, to give you a quick brief, I’ve had the mountain task of looking after my (now) 7 month old bubba, whilst house-sitting for my wonderful mother in law for a full month whilst she, hubby, and my little sister in law went away for Hajj!!!
When they came back I had an amazing rustic wedding cake to make with a mint green theme, as well as making sure to fall extremely poorly throughout the whole half-term leaving me more or less bed-ridden for the whole holiday! Once God blessed me with good health again, I was able to make roughly 100 cupcakes for a charity event held at Holiday Inn to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital!
Guess what… I forgot to take pictures of the cupcakes *slaps forehead* arghhh!!! I managed to take some of the chocolate cuppies, but not of the rest!
Anyways, once that was over with, I had great pleasure in baking some duffins for my hubby… he didn’t like them!! I’m not sure I did either to be honest, but that day I was fasting so anything tasted like heaven to me lol!! Pictures to come don’t worry!
I’m contemplating whether to reveal my vanilla sponge recipe as I do have a lot of people constantly asking me to give the recipe… plus, I have changed it since I first started out too!
Would you like to know my recipe? If so, make sure to leave a comment below!
Just a sec….. before I go, I will be giving you my Hazelnut Banoffee Pie recipe soon as well as a glimpse into my first attempt at making lace using Sugarveil and Claire Bowen. Which one do you think I liked? I won’t give anything away just yet! Just keep your eyes peeled to find out on my blog!
But for now, I need to dash as bubba has woken up!
Ok, so, its 01:12 GMT and I am absolutely shattered after making one huge momma of a cake! Alright, alright, so it wasn’t really THAT big! It was the cake board which was big. 20 inches by 14 inches to be exact. But who cares about the cake board when you’re making a new cake design for the first time hey? I forgot to take a picture before placing the buttercream on it to place the green cake on lol!
I had a mighty task of baking 2 cakes for a henna party for today. The only element which made it a difficult task was that I needed to decorate it in henna decor. Sheeesh! I used to love adorning my hands with the dark brown sludgy mud for it to then leave a beautiful dark orange to brown stain which would last for up to a week if the hands were looked after well. But that was over 10 years ago! Since then I have had very little time to myself let alone sit for a few hours to be decorating my hands… you know with finishing my degree, deciding that it wasn’t the career I really wanted so changed career plans, getting married, having kids, finishing my PGCE, and then teaching myself to decorate cakes in between… I’m pretty sure trying to fit in henna art would’ve pushed me over the edge as I just didn’t enjoy it like I used to.
ANYWAYS – I seriously need to remind myself not to waffle too much as I might just end up telling my whole life story haha! As I was saying… I sat down with my brand new Paisley Wilton Cake Pans, Cake Stuff Couture Icing, and a bunch of nerves to set me off!
I thought I would document the whole process so you could see how I made this cake and maybe try and attempt it yourself so I can see your wonderful creations too!
Here is the finished product. Once I have finished cutting and cropping and all the other bits and bobs that need doing to all the pictures I will upload the steps asap!
Anyways, gotta go catch some sleep before bubba wakes up!