Monday, 24 September 2012

BABY SHOWER CAKE - The Conclusion!

I had a lovely message from my customer who ordered the coloured sponge which I blogged about the other day. 

He was totally and utterly over the moon with the cake -

I just wanted to email to say that the cake was perfect.  It was absolutely delicious – most people wanted seconds!! 

It was a nice surprise – worked really well – as the colour didn’t transfer onto the knife, so the cuts came out clean – meaning we had to wait to actually pull the slice out to find out – which kept the surprise right up to the last moment.

We didn’t take pictures as we were cutting, but a few of my friends did – so if I see any really good ones, I will forward.  I attach one that I have seen already – but it’s not the best!!

Thanks for everything – obviously the cake was the main part of our party – and it was perfect.  I would defiantly recommend you again – and I will be in contact in about 6 months for the christening cake (and seeing the job you did on the Yoda cake – probably for many birthdays to come!!)

I think it's fair to say that this is a pretty good testimonial!

So, should you need to colour a sponge, make sure that you use the SugarFlair Paste.  It works wonderfully well.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Standing 3D T-Rex Cake....Ummmmmm

Amongst this weeks cakes are birthday cakes for my friend's twins who are turning 5 at the end of the week.

The little girl is easy, as she wants "Billy Bear" who is not too difficult to do.  However, the little boy has asked for a dinosaur cake, but it MUST have teeth and be scary....he'd really like a T-Rex, but I am a little indecisive about how to create this as, as my husband has told me "dinosaurs don't sit down!".

OK, so I'm left wondering how on earth I create a standing cake.  I've googled this, as I have been asked many times for a standing horse, etc, etc... but the physics of making cake stand on it's own just don't add up. 

It seems that this can be done, as some cake makers do it, but you need PVC plumbing parts and sometimes metal pipe which is bent into shape.  I'm not too sure about using metal pipes as support structures in my cakes, as it's not particularly hygienic and I don't think I'd want to eat cake which has been around a metal pipe!

Also, I have to bear in mind that my friend has to get these two cakes up to Marwell Activity Barn, down bumpy lanes, without the whole thing collapsing!  I live on my nerves enough when delivering normal cakes, without adding delicate cakes into the mix!

The other concern, is that the little boy is egg intolerant.  I've managed to find a recipe which I think will stand up to the job, so atleast that's the baking part sorted out.  I will post the egg free sponge recipe later on.

I'm never too keen on taking on cake for allergy sufferers, but it seems a shame, as so many children are now plighted with such intolerances or allergies, and why should they miss out on a lovely birthday cake because of that. 

So, my next venture, will be into sourcing and making gluten free, egg free, diary free cakes so that these little kids, and sometimes adults, don't miss out.

But, watch this space for what becomes of my T-Rex!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

YODA!!!! Et al from this week!

Well, it's been the end of a busy week here in Wish Cakes' kitchen.  With 5 cakes this week and only me doing it, plus a poorly daughter in tow, it's been a bit of busy one.

But, that said, I'm pretty pleased with the results of each cake. Yoda, A present with a sugar shoe and mirror compact, a cricket themed cake, a baby shower cake, and a cake to celebrate my Aunt and Uncle's 25th Wedding Anniversary.

I called up my Aunt a couple of days ago and can't believe that they have been married for 25 years!  It seems like yesterday that I was in a puff ball (very 80's) dress with my lovely Deidre Barlow glasses doing my duties as her bridesmaid, along with my cousin, her daughter.

She pointed out to me that she was the same age as I am now when she got married, and it just seems unbelievable and quite scary.  So, to celebrate such an occasion I have created her a lovely cake.  I can't post the photo on here yet, as she may well read this, but once Sunday has come and gone, it will be posted for all to see.

I'm hoping that I will have 5 very happy customers.......let's see when they collect them tomorrow!

Yoda's Head Close-up
Baby Shower Cake...but is the sponge inside pink or blue?

Full shot of Yoda
For a Cricket Fan
Sugar shoe, sugar compact and label
Close up of compact and hand painted label

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Colouring Sponge Cakes

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to create a baby shower cake for a new customer.

The whole idea is quite American, but seems to be hitting our shores with full force.  The idea is that, at your 20 week scan, you ask the doctor to write down the sex of the baby, put it in a sealed envelope and then deliver it to your baker asking them to bake a pink cake for a girl and a blue cake for a boy.  Now, whether or not you decide to know the contents of the envelope is up to you, but in this case, I am to be the only person, other than the doctor to find out the sex of the baby before everyone else.

At your baby shower, you then cut the cake and everyone finds out, at the same time, what sex your baby is going to be.

I was quite excited to be given the opportunity to make this cake.  However, my customer was a little concerned about the vibrancy of the colour of the sponge.  If it's a girl, it's not too bad, as pink is a pretty easy colour to work with.  Blue, however, is slightly different. 

From experience I can say that it is one of the most difficult colours to match.  Now, I'm not an artist and I don't know much about the "Chemistry" of colours, but I do know that when a bride has come to me asking for a certain shade of blue, matching it up can be a complete nightmare.  I usually get there in the end, but can be sure to have added all other colours to achieve the matched result.

So, the blue sponge may have proved to be a little difficult to reach.  However, I always work with paste colours.  There are infinitely better than the liquid colours.  They deliver a higher pigment, so usually only a small amount on the end of a cocktail stick with be required, and they don't taste.  Perfect!

My customer was concerned, as he had made coloured cakes before, and I think had probably used liquid colouring, and had never managed to achieve the right colour or the right taste.  Leaving me feeling a little uneasy and slightly unnerving my judgment, I decided to call up one of the Distributors of my lovely little pots of SugarFlair Paste colouring . They were able to reassure me that the sponge would colour beautifully and that there would be no taste. 

As customer satisfaction is paramount, I then whipped into the kitchen, and knocked up a batch of both pink and blue cupcakes.  I then split the cakes in half and photographed the finished article and popped it through in an email for him to see.  A message came through a few minutes later to say that he was really pleased.  Good news.

All I have to do now is wait until tomorrow to find out the sex and bake the corresponding cake.  I feel privileged to be able to create such an element of  surprise and suspense for a customer!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Big Board - Mayflower Theatre Cake


The week before last I had a call from the PA to the CEO at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.  Their CEO was retiring and they were holding a big party for him on Sunday, and they needed  a cake!

I've made cakes for the Mayflower in the past, the last being a Mayflower Van cake, but this one was to be bigger and better.  They asked me to create the front of the Mayflower on the top of the cake - it had to be for over 100 people!

Never one to turn down a challenge, I accepted and then went about planning how on earth I was going to make this as the largest cake I bake is a 12" square.

I spent the weekend re-creating Blue Peter with lots of paper, pencils and sellotape, working out proportions, how many cakes I would need and how to cut them to create the finished article.

In the end, I fashioned it out of 2 x 12" square cakes.  Using 26 eggs, approx 2kgs of flour, butter and sugar and around 6kgs of icing,  I barely managed to carry it through my kitchen and on to the dining room table between each icing session!  

Luckily, my husband was on hand Friday morning, when it was collected, to carry it to the car.  It's just amazing how heavy even the smallest of cakes can be, let alone one of this magnitude!  

I am pretty pleased with the finished result.  I had a lovely email this morning to say how happy they were with it.  The daily echo had also been present, but I didn't manage to get a picture of it in the paper :(  However, I understand that their photographer may well have taken a picture of the CEO with his cake, and I am hoping that I might well be able to get a hold of a picture.  

I hope that you like it too!

Oaty Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Bars!

Over the last couple of weeks I've been craving the oaty sticky taste of cake bars!  No, I'm not pregnant, but I do tend to go through "phases" with my cooking.  Once I find a decent recipe, I usually bake it to death until I find another one to suit my ever-changing taste buds!
Red faced I make this admission....I've never been very good at flapjack, which has always proved rock-hard or too soft to stay together.   I can't seem to find a decent recipe, and the one I did think was decent, has let me down, by coming out like house bricks!  So, in pursuit of another way of feeding my craving, I came across the recipe for Oaty Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Bars.  It was an American Recipe, so I had to convert it to Llbs and Ozs, which is what, I'm afraid I generally work in.  Although I am from the metric age, I was taught by my mum to work in imperial, so grammes and kilos don't mean much to me.

I would like to share with you my lovely recipe.  It's not too much hard work and relatively quick to make up, which is always a big bonus to any time restrained mum!

Oaty Chocolate Caramel and Pecan Bars
9 ozs Flour (I used Plain, but I guess SR would be OK too)
6 ozs  Oats
6 ozs  Brown Sugar
1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
12 ozs Margarine
6 ozs  Chocolate (chips or chopped from a bar)
4 ozs Pecan nuts (roughly chopped)
Tin of Carnation Caramel  
13" x 9" tin (or smaller if you want it thicker)  The tin must be atleast 2" deep.
Place the flour, Oats, Brown Sugar, Bicarbonate of Soda and Margarine in to a bowl and "rub" fork the mixture together as though you were making a crumble mix.  It will look a bit gloopy and it won't be as fine as crumble mix, but don't worry.  You do need to break it down as much as you can, and if that means cutting it with a knife, then do that.

Line your tin and take HALF of the "crumble" mix and press really, really firmly into the base of the tin.  This is really important as it needs to stay together when baked

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes on 180C

After the 10 minutes are up, take out of the oven and spread over the chocolate chips and pecans (or indeed any other fruit you'd like to add at this stage).  Then, mix the caramel in the tin and tip over the top of the whole lot. 

Then, add the remaining "crumble" mix to the top and press down a bit.  You won't be able to press too firmly else the mixture from underneath will squirt through.  

Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden.

Et voila, your cake bar is cooked.  Allow to cool and slice into bars.
QUICK TIP -  If the Caramel sauce is too runny, try mixing it with a tablespoon of flour to thicken it up before cooking.

My daughters and one of their friends were my guinea pigs for this recipe.  They loved it!  However, it is quite sweet, so bear that in mind when cutting the bars.  
Perfect for lunchboxes or in the evening if you need a sneaky nibble.....and, if you pack in enough fruit you'll get atleast one of your five a day!
Happy Baking

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Copy Cakes

I've been quite busy in my kitchen today, baking cakes ready for the end of the week.  I've also baked some chocolate baileys cupcakes for my neighbour and lamp work extraordinaire at Blue Fairy Designs.  Heavily pregnant at the moment, I'm not really sure that she should be scoffing down too many of these alcohol heavy cupcakes, but I guess a couple or three won't hurt!

Whilst busying myself about these cakes it got me thinking about the issues of "copying" other people's cakes.  Now, it seems to me that this is somewhat of a "bone of contention" between different cake makers.

Some people get incredibly annoyed when their designs are taken and copied, or changed slightly.   I know of an occurance with a cake maker within my area, who sent a very snotty email because her cake had been "copied".  There was no reference on the photo as to where it had originated from and so this makes it very difficult for cake makers, when customers turn up with a photo, to locate the source of the cake design. 

In the instance of the email from the fed up cake maker, I understand that she is now giving sugarcraft lessons.  What I find hard to get my head around is the fact that she complained about her cakes being copied and yet she is now freely giving these ideas and techniques away in lessons!  Albeit that the customers are paying for this knowledge, but this doesn't stop them being copied and sold on by her pupils!

My thoughts on it are pretty clear and I have never waived from these since I  began my business a few years ago.  If I want to try to limit others copying my designs then I should watermark my photos in the vain hope that any potential copiers would contact me before they made the same cake  Just because I watermark does not mean that I can copyright that idea/technique or theme.  All I have done is said that this is my picture, of my cake.  After all, I can't copyright "Glee" or "Thomas the Tank Engine" because it's already been Copyrighted!  (Please correct me if I'm wrong on this!)

I do not have a problem with people copying my's quite flattering actually.  However, I WOULD have a problem if someone stole my own photo and used it on their website.  Although, saying that, if they felt they were capable of creating the cake to my standard and exactly the same, then be it on their own head to achieve this.

Although I thoroughly enjoy my work, I do feel that there is a very high degree of competitiveness within this industry.  There's no harm in a bit of friendly banter, but when it becomes vicious and cruel, that's when I don't like it much  Cakes should be celebrated as they make up a happy part of our lives and are used to mark and celebrate special people within our lives.

No matter how good or bad you are at cake baking and decorating, whether professional or amateur , your children and family always appreciate your efforts when baking and presenting a cake.

Happy Baking x

Monday, 10 September 2012



This afternoon, I have been making Yoda's head, ready for my 3D Yoda Cake next week.

Fashioned from Rice Krispie treats, this seems the best way to make it light enough to sit on top of his body.  The "up" side to this too, is that it can be made up front, wrapped and kept until his body is baked next week.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it's looking.  There's still some work to do on it.  I'm not sure he's quite the right colour green and he needs some highlighting etc.

Take a look and see what you think.......

So, after a busy summer holiday, balanced between baking and looking after the two kids, it's back to reality this week and some peace and quiet!

My diary is pretty booked up for the next few weeks.  I have some exciting projects to work on and some more challenging cakes to really get my teeth into!

This week, I have been asked to create a cake for the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.  This is the second time that they have asked me to make an occasion cake for them, so I am pretty excited!

It's not a particularly difficult cake, but this one does require a bit of planning.  They would like the top of the cake to look like the front of the theatre.  So, I've had to do a bit of "Blue Peter" planning and use some baking paper, ruler and pencil to create a template, so I know just how large to cut the windows and doors.

I am also starting work on some flowers and sugar shoes for next week's cakes.  More about that later....

But, the big and exciting cake for next week is the 3D Yoda Cake.  I've been aching to make a cake like this for some time.  It's really lovely when I'm asked to do something different from the run of the mill other cakes I get asked for.

This one is going to require some rice-krispie mallow mix too!  So, I will be moulding, icing and sculpting Yoda's head ready for next week.  Pictures to follow!

In the meantime, above are a couple of pictures of last week's cakes......  The top of is a cake I made for one of my existing customers, and the second, was for a company on the local industrial estate.  I had a last minute call from a very lovely lady who needed the cake within a couple of days.  The company deals with number plate recognition technology, which is why I made the little car to go n the board.  There were two companies merging together to make "3M" and so the cake was a celebration of their collaboration.  They were really pleased!