I, along with several of my friends, am watching this year’s Great British Bake Off very carefully. Don’t get me wrong, I always watch it, but this year is different.
I put a call out on Facebook to see which of my friends would be interested in a GBBO challenge – baking our version of the contestant’s weekly contest in a mini competition of our own. I did exclude my lovely friend, Lenka, who is insanely talented on the baking front (check out her Facebook page), so she’s judging (albeit remotely), and showing us how it’s done. She’s basically a young, Slovakian, Mary Berry.
My friend Lenka (who makes the yummy cakes) and I have decided to go to a craft fair together at the end of this month. Well, not just go together. Exhibit together. Sell together!
They don’t usually allow you to share a table, but I begged very nicely as it was Baby Brain‘s first one, and they’ve let us do it if we mix up our stock, which is jolly nice of them (can you tell I’ve been reading Enid Blyton to Scarlett recently?).
I’ve got a bit of an advantage on Lenka in that my stock doesn’t spoil or go off, nor do I have to wait until the days before to start preparing, but I’m still struggling to find the time to add to my little stock collection. I’m also attempting to make some Baby Brain bunting (in the style of my logo!) to go on the front of our tablecloth! Barry’s going to Germany with work next week, which might be the opportunity I need to catch up on my sewing.
Dresses, bags and bibs is what I’ll be selling on the day, and I’m also taking along my baby birth details prints and an example of a button monogram for the table (but those are obviously made to bespoke requirements); Lenka has a list as long as your arm of delicious delights, including something I haven’t tried before: cake in a jar. Pinterest it. It’s going to be amazing!
I’ve already made Scarlett a little Baby Brain dress and nappy cover so she can run round like a mini advertising board! She models so well!
Come and say hello if you’re in the area, full event details are here. We’d love to see you!
I (among many people) made various bits for the wedding, including baking this collection of buns to look like a wedding dress for the hen do (it received good reviews from Charlie’s auntie) and sewing the tie for Charlie’s two-year old son for the big day.
I also made a couple of bits towards their wedding present, including a Mr and Mrs framed photographic print and Mr and Mrs bunting (notice a theme?). We gave them those (along with a picnic basket that I really wanted to keep!) the week before the wedding, but I didn’t realise they’d feature on the big day too!
Neil, the talented photographer from our own big day (who is also a friend) was also the photographer for our friends’ wedding (he’s the groom’s brother). His wife, Amy, helps him with the photography business and is aspiring to become a wedding planner – my bunting got a nod in her recent blog post! Click here if you would like to have a gander, and that beautiful cake at the end? My friend Lenka made that. What a lovely wedding!
I showed the preparation for Scarlett’s birthday cake in yesterday’s post. A week later, I defrosted the cake and the decorations were dry; a few broken, mostly because I’m clumsy.
Lenka suggested that I watch YouTube videos on icing a cake with ready rolled icing before I started it – this is what I really should have done before icing the Spiderman cake. That’s what I spent my lunch hour doing the day before I put it all together.
No idea what year this video was filmed, but this one with Pat Lock was the most useful one by far. I wrote myself a checklist of everything I had to do based mostly on this video!
I’ve put together a little gallery of the various stages – the photos explain better than I can! If you click on the first one, you can go through them in order (and captioned!).
What a lovely day, and the cake was enjoyed by all of us at the tea party, we took some to nursery and I took some to work. Now to buy a cake smoother…
What a year it’s been! To celebrate my daughter, Scarlett, turning a whole one year old, I thought I might make a cake for her birthday tea party. Fine. Then I started looking to Pinterest for a little inspiration. This is where it all blew up, because there are some AWESOME cakes out there! Up to now, my nephew’s Spiderman cake of ’12 was by far the best cake I’d made, and I really, really did not know what I was doing. Yeah, I can bake a cake, but I really have little clue when it comes to icing and decorating.
I drew out the little doodle above after all of my Pinterest madness. My bird actually ended up looking pretty much exactly like this! Yes, it looks a bit like a duck. As well as all the amazing cakes, I was inspired by the polka dot birds hanging in her room.
Luckily for me, I have a bona fide cake expert in my friend Lenka, who creates beautiful and yummy delights (check out her facebook page!) – she made Scarlett’s Christening cake. She repeatedly set me on the right track.
A week before Scarlett’s birthday, Lenka dropped into conversation that I needed to be making the decorations for the cake so that they’d dry in time. Cue panic stations! To combat said panic, Lenka provided me with:
- 2 x 12″ cake tins
- 2 sets of letters to spell out Scarlett
- The number 1
- The top of a piping bag to stamp out polka dots
- A cake smoother. I’ll get to this, it’s BRILLIANT!
So, if Lenka hadn’t been involved, I would have pretty much had a plain cake, with whatever Tesco’s Dr Oetker display had to offer thrown at it.
A week before the big day, I baked four cakes. Yes, you read that right. I had a dream of a graduating pink creation. We’ll brush straight past that one, because it didn’t work. I didn’t put enough food colouring in. I then stacked the cakes in colour order (I was still crossing my fingers at that point) and froze them. With Barry’s family coming to stay, I thought I wouldn’t have time to bake, ice, and decorate a cake as well as clean, etc.
The following day, I started making the decorations in two shades of pink. Here are the polka dots, along with birds, letters, numbers and I iced the cake board for good measure.
For the birds, I drew around the ones in her room onto greaseproof paper and cut them out to draw around. I made so many decorations because I thought some may crack and break, which they did. I do wish I’d had a bit more patience with the letter R, because it was very stubborn and ended up looking, erm, full of character. My friend Jemima said I’m not allowed to say it was crap.
I then waited a week to put it all together, but I won’t make you wait that long…
I decided to buy a big notebook when I was at university and write and/or stick my favourite recipes in it, to keep them all in one place. Fast forward ten or eleven years, and this battered book (pun intended) now contains a good few yummy recipes for starters, mains, and especially desserts and baking. Along with a huge pile of printouts and pages quickly torn from magazines from newspapers and supermarkets, the shelf in our kitchen was creaking under the weight of paper I needed to sort out.
Meaning business, I got my guillotine out (no, I’m not joking, I have a stationery problem), and started trimming recipes into little stick-able squares. It took me about six hours (whilst watching my daughter. And TV.) and my book is now as fat as can be. But it’s so satisfying to have sorted it all out and have all my recipes in one place, really cathartic.
I got so inspired I had to stop halfway through to make microwave brownie in a mug – yum! I did share it with Barry, in my defence. I’m not sure what the rules are on sharing other people’s recipes on blogs, so, instead, here’s my mum’s foolproof recipe for buns that I don’t even need to look at any more…
My mum’s always told me (this does about 18 buns or a cake): weigh 3 medium eggs with the shells on, then weigh out the same in sugar, SR flour and butter. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add in the flour and eggs bit by bit. Add a dash of vanilla essence if you’re feeling fancy. Always use a wooden spoon, not a metal one. Pop them in the oven at around 180C for 20/25 mins until golden brown and try not to open the door while they’re in there. Ice them when they’ve cooled. Delicious, and so simple!
Barry mistakenly thought he was going to get a mini hog roast for the princely sum of £2.99 recently. When the leg of a pig arrived (£2.99/kg), we were surprised. Not as surprised as our fridge, which is usually just full of Diet Coke.
We thought this may be a tad too much eating for two, so Charlie and Jaime came over with Finley again (hint, hint, Charlie, it’s your turn to cook!), and we had the most amazing roast dinner! I’m not usually one for pork, but this was gorgeous. I can take no praise for this one – I was at the hairdresser all morning.
We also had pepper pot cake for pudding (not sure why it’s called that, it’s got apples in it). I was so full you could have rolled me down a hill and I couldn’t have stopped myself.
We went to see Tenacious D in Manchester last night, they were absolutely fantastic! Great show.
Also popped some stuff on eBay this week, including our red drawers. Hopefully they’ll go to a good home (one that will give us lots of money for them, as they’re discontinued!).
To finish, Barry thinks the empty wine bottles in the kitchen look nice. I think they look a bit like a recycling plant, but there you go. Anyway, I tarted them up a bit with some sage from the garden. How pretty!
As promised, I have now completed my nephew’s Spiderman cake! It’s not perfect, but I’ve had a good crack at it.
I baked two cakes on Thursday night, and was really stressing because neither of them had risen properly, and we’ve somehow got these stupid cake tins with bobbly bottoms that ruin the underside of your cake when you try and take them out. Solution: put these two cakes together to form a supercake!
I made buttercream and put this and jam betwixt the two and then followed the video I mentioned before. I’ve had an issue with the black bleeding a little bit, but I think the only thing I could have done to stop that would be to wait for the red to dry completely, but I don’t have time to do that unfortunately (and didn’t know at the time).
Anyway, here’s photos along the way…
Nothing like sticking with a theme, but superheroes seem to be in at our house. I’ve promised my brother that I’ll have a go at making a Spiderman cake for my nephew Sonny’s 5th birthday in a couple of weeks’ time. Sonny absolutely loves Spiderman and dresses in his little Spiderman outfit whenever he can.
I had a search online and found a few different Spiderman cakes with various designs. I found one I liked, and even though I’ll be seriously stretching my icing skills, if I can pull it off, it will look brilliant! I think I’ve been bolstered by the boot tops – I’ve somehow got the impression that enthusiasm and will can overcome lack of skill or knowledge.
At least this one has a step-by-step on YouTube. I’ve already bought the icing and the food colouring, just need to get a paintbrush and some toothpicks (seriously).
His birthday’s in a couple of weeks, so I’ll put up a photo of the result, whether it’s worthy or not.