Cupcake and Tea Party

January 10, 2013

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We had a small party for Martha’s 6th birthday this year, as she had a big party for her 5th, and with her birthday so close to Christmas I felt we had enough to do.
So with numbers limited to six of her closest school friends, we made a plan to amuse them in our house. So I came up with the idea of a cupcake/afternoon tea party. I made them a quick half apron each (out of a charity shop double duvet set) and they each had a little rolling pin (90p each from Wilkos) laid out on the dining table, so that we would all decorate a pre-made cupcake (or two) with pre-made buttercream, smarties, jelly tots and I showed them how to make simple roses with moulding icing. A liberal sprinkling of cake glitter and their cakes were done, one for the tea party and one to take home. I was surprised how much of the icing and sweets actually made if onto the cakes and were left over!
Then the girls played the required game of pass the parcel, while I cleaned up a bit and set the table for kid friendly afternoon tea. I made cheese staws and tomato pesto wheels, with half z pack off ready made puff pastry, and cheese, ham and tuna finger sandwiches, scones with homemade stawberry jam and clotted cream and arranged them all, along with the wonderful cupcakes on a cake stand.
I dipped into my collection of vintage (charity shop) tea sets for some floral patterned cups and saucers and cake plates and filled the teapots with pink milk and pink lemonade.
We put candles in Martha’s cupcake to sing ‘happy birthday’ to. A few more games of musical cushions and statues, and it was hometime.
In the party bags were the girls’ aprons and rolling pins and a couple of cookie cutters (big box from Wilkos) some sweets and their cupcake creation (cupcake boxes came from poundland!)
I think it was very successful, the girls all seemed to enjoy themselves, the whole think didn’t break the bank and they made some fabulous cakes!

Christmas Cake Pops

December 23, 2011

A couple of my lovely friends have mastered the art of the cake pop and I have looked upon their creations with envy, so with festive treats in mind I thought I would give them a go. My (limited) understanding of the methods of cake poppery has been gleaned from these friends and I may have completely misunderstood them or completly invented the shortfalls in my experience so I apologise to them and any other cake poppers who come across this post, this is probably not the correct or easiest method, but I am very pleased with the results.

Chrismas this year is a gluten free one as Martha and Alice’s cousins are coeliacs, so these are made with sainsburys free from ginger cake slices. If I was making these for gluten glutons like myself I think I would have liked to use a Mcvities Jamaican Ginger Cake, (I think of ginger and gingerbread as a festive flavor  along with mincemeat, tangerines, cranberry, peppermint and booze). I made a small batch of cream cheese icing, (25g butter, 60g cream cheese and 150g icing sugar) and mixed 3 packs of the ginger cakes in all crumbled up. This makes a kind of dough that you can shape into balls and pop in the fridge to set a bit. I bought the lolly sticks from Hobbycraft and when the balls were quite firm I inserted the sticks, melted some dark chocolate cake covering (unlike real choc you can melt it easily in the microwave as its less likely to burn) and dipped each pop into the chocolate, Learning on the job I realised that you need to have worked out a lolly stick holding device before dipping, I had planned to insert each pop into a hole cut in a small box, but this kept tipping over so in desperation I ended up using a potato cut in half, I also learned it’s easier to re-melt the chocolate then try to work with it as its solidifying – so one of the pops is a bit lumpy looking! After dipping they were returned to the fridge. The planned design for the pops were christmas puddings, so for decoration I melted some more chocolate cake covering this time white chocolate flavor and dribbled this onto the top of the pop to look like brandy custard and with coloured fondant icing left over from Martha’s birthday party cake (I promise to post about this soon!) I made two small green leaves and a couple of red berries to suggest holly, (which Martha helped me with along with sampling the various icings and chocolates). I stuck these onto the cake pops with a small blob of the melted white chocolate. I popped them still on their potatoes back in the fridge to set and have since transfered them into freezer bags to continue keeping them cool without the potatoes or the risk of them developing ‘fridge’ flavor.

I am quite pleased with the results, I have no idea how they taste, we will have to wait for teatime on christmas day to get the verdict from the kiddies, but they look good enough to eat anyway. If I do them again I will make sure I have some recycled polystyrene blocks to hold my pops for me  as the potatoes were a bit off putting, but are, at least, gluten free!

Peppa Pig Cake

August 31, 2011

This was the cake I made for Alice’s birthday (almost a month ago!), I wasn’t sure it was a particularly interesting post, but as I have posted about all the other birthday cakes I have made I thought I would write it up in the spirit of consistency.

The cake itself was  a double ‘Betty Croker devils food cake’ mix, one mix for the top layer and one for the bottom with pink buttercream in between. I made the Peppa figure out of coloured packet fondant icing the big pack of the dr oetker stuff. I coloured all the required colours first, pink for her head, arms and legs, red for her dress/body and black for her shoes. The large blob of dark pink I coloured up for the number 2 for the cake at the same time and used it for the detail on her face, her smile and her cheeks. I actually covered the top bit of an icecream cone for her body as this icing is not ideal for modeling it is a bit soft until you pop it in the fridge it has a tendency to slump a bit. Basically I made all the pieces got them nice and cold then assembled them. I coloured some more icing blue and green and covered the cake in the blue (the blue ribbon round the edge hides the pigs ear – see what i did there! – I made of the sides of the cake). I cut a wobbly shape out of the green (in the style of peppa’s logo) then popped her on top, with a few bought icing flowers (sainsbury’s own – in the cake stuff isle) that Martha helped me to stick on with leftover buttercream.

I think it came out ok, if my cake covering had been better it would have almost looked bakery made. Anyway it tasted good and got eaten up by her friends and family at her party with leftovers going to her nursery.

I always seem to have past their best bananas in the house, they seem to be green and crunchy for ages then suddenly as soon as your back is turned they go black! So I am always on the look out for banana recipes to use them up in. I am also getting a bit bored of our breakfast rut, Martha will only eat toast at the moment either with homemade strawberry jam (I made another batch a few weeks ago -see previous post) or peanut butter. Alice is still pretty much happy with anything as long as it happens quickly in the morning, so she usually gets what Martha wants.  I hoped that this reciepe would provide us with a quick breakfast alternative and help to reduce the pile of black bananas currently turning all the fruit in the fruit bowl (yes I know I shouldn’t keep my banana in there!)

The recipe is a tweaked hummingbird bakery one, I use 200g of plain flour and 150g of wholegrain spelt (this is to add some fibre to the breakfast procedings) 3/4 tsp salt, 1and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarb, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and 160g caster sugar. Pop all this into a bowl and apply the hand mixer until its all the same colour. Then in a seperate mixing jug measure out 375ml of whole milk and add an egg and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, whizz this up a bit too then add it to the dry mix. Melt 70g of butter in the microwave (I use the dirty measuring jug for this!) and add to the mixture and then add 400g (roughly 4 medium sizede bananas) mashed up with a fork. whiz it all up till its an even consistency and then fill your muffin cases 3/4 full with the mixture. I usually end up with 18 or 20 muffins but they are not monster huge ones, you could fill them higher and get starbucks sized ones if you like. Mix 2 tsps of sugar with a pinch on cinnamon and sprinke on the top before popping them into a pre-heated over at 170 degrees C. They should cook in 20-30 mins but my antique oven takes more like 45, they are cooked when they spring back when you press on the tops. If in doubt sacrifice one by opening it up and seeing if its still mush in the middle – this is usually my taster one anyway.

They are quite tasty, but unfortunatly have not been the breakfast changer I was hoping for as Martha decided that she didn’t like them on seeing them appear from the oven, so is still sticking with toast! Now if I could only remember to bake a loaf for the morning in the breadmaker…

Hot Cross Buns

April 20, 2011

We are off to my mum’s for Easter Weekend and to contribute to the festivities I thought we could take along some homemade Hot cross Buns. I have made them before but this year I tried a new receipe, its in Nigella’s Feast book. It starts off with melting 150g butter with 150ml milk (I popped this in the microwave for 1 and half mins) with a clove (I used 4) 2 cardamom pods (I didn’t have any) and zest of one orange (I didn’t have any oranges in either so substituted this for a few dried orange peels – my aunt made these and gave them to me ages ago, I usually use them in paella) When this has cooled to blood temp, I popped it in my breadmaker with 400g bread flour a sachet of dried yeast, a tsp cinnamon, some grated nutmeg (probably another tsp), a pinch of ground ginger, 125g sultanas and an egg and set the whole lot off on a dough mix. Nigella mixes hers by hand and leaves it to rise in the fridge overnight.

When it was done, I knocked back the dough and by halfing the mixture again and again made 16 roughly equal balls and laid them on greasproof paper in baking tins. In retrospect they stuck pretty badly to the paper and when I have done these before I have just greased and floured the tins and they came out fine! Then  I cut crosses into the tops of the buns and left them to rise again – they didnt do much. But after 45mins I brushed them with egg yolk and made a paste with plain flour, water and sugar and ‘drizzled’ the paste into the cross shape grooves in the buns.

I baked them at 220 degrees C, then took them out – spending some time prizing them off the paper, then brushed them with a 50/50 mix of vanilla sugar and boiling water, Nigella doesn’t specify vanilla sugar but I popped an empty vanilla pod (after you have scraped out the seeds for another receipe) into a jar of golden sugar, a couple of weeks ago.

I have had a taste and they are pretty good, but a bit dense, I think I preferred the recipe I used last year but I’ll wait another year before making them again and will probably forget. Martha did try and help me with these, her job was rolling the little balls, but she remembered that she doesn’t like Hot Cross Buns and disappeared leaving me to do them on my own.

Happy Easter!

Butterfly Cakes

January 20, 2011

Martha saw Mr Tumble had a butterfly cake on cbeebies this morning and I was asked if we could make them, here they are. Complete cheat, of course. I had a pack of sainsbury’s basics sponge mix, in the cupboard (22p!) we followed the instructions on the packet, adding the water and the egg, then we put them into my new silicone cake cases (thank- you Father Christmas) and baked them for 15mins.

When they were cool, we mixed some cream cheese icing – New Year healthy lifestyle means I didn’t have any butter for buttercream, but did have a tub of light Philadelphia. We mixed this with icing sugar, a couple of drops of vanilla and  some pink food colouring (my other colours are starting to get a bit dusty!). The we cut small discs out of the top of the cakes and filled the hole with the cream cheese icing, cut the cake disc in half and put the 2 pieces back in as butterfly wings and then sprinkled the icing with some pink glitter sugar. Much more girly than Mr Tumble’s, but properly tasty!

Princess Birthday Cake

January 12, 2011

It was Martha’s birthday at the end of last year, 4 years old, its unbelievable how quick its gone! So it was birthday cake time – just what we needed 3 days after christmas. The doll came from a charity shop for the purpose of becoming a cake decoration so I didn’t feel too bad about snapping her legs off and giving her a good wash. I made a good old ‘Betty Crocker’ Devils Food Cake in two different size cake tins, one was 15cm cake tin and the other 23cm, when cool I sandwiched them onto of one another, with vanilla buttercream and carved it into a dome/crinoline skirt shape (although to get the skirt shape you could always use the flower pot trick from my ‘sandcastle cake’ post and trim off the sharp edges). I covered this in more buttercream then cut a small hole to sit my doll torso into the cake. I rolled out some sainsbury’s ‘ready to roll’ icing, dyed pink (of course) with some pink food colouring, into a large circle and cut a hole in the middle and sliced the icing from the hole to the edge to allow me to wrap the icing round the skirt with the hole for the doll to stick out and neatened up the seam of the skirt at the back. I trimmed the icing from the hem of her skirt, and with the trimmings covered the dolls chest to make a little strapless bodice for her dress. Then using a piping bag an nozzle decorated the dress with the buttercream coloured slightly darker pink. I gave her a bracelet and necklace with the buttercream too, and 4 blobs of icing on the cake plate stuck the candles down.

Martha was very pleased with her pink princess cake and even though we ate loads of it we still had so much food left over from Christmas that the leftovers were given to the staff at her nursery for a teatime treat.