And often when I'm at the table drawing I have a few budding artists beside me:
Sorry about the lack of posts here but we were having too much fun over the summer to be on the computer writing blog posts! One of the pieces of advice I would give to people about making cakes is to sketch them.
Sometimes I go all out and get really into it:
Other times its just a quick sketch to give someone a visual:
But I find it so helpful to put on paper what is in my head. It gives me an idea as to whether my design idea will work and whether there are any adjustments to be made. Its the 'thinking' aspect for me and once its on the paper and I'm happy with the design then I can just start working towards it.
I know some people are going to scream at me that they can't draw. But, as you can see from the pictures above, neither can I. But who cares? Nobody gets to see them apart from me (except now). It's not about producing a masterpiece, its about getting on to paper what is in your head so you know what you're doing and can be organised for it. I can look at my sketches in advance and notice if there is anything I need to order or get made in advance to dry.
And often when I'm at the table drawing I have a few budding artists beside me:
Recently I seem to have been making lots of pretty ruffle flowers. They featured here......
so I thought I'd share a little tutorial with you on how they were made. When I set about to make them I was trying to create something that looked similar to a carnation so I started with a tutorial on making sugar carnations which you can find here:
This is an excellent tutorial and I would simply follow it exactly if you are wanting to make wired sugar carnations. However, I was actually trying to create an unwired ruffle flower and this is how I went about it.....
Using a small fluted round cutter (like a scone cutter) and some sugar flower paste, cut out four circles. Cover them with some cling film or plastic to keep them from drying out.
Using a toothpick, ruffle the edges of each circle by pressing on the sugar flower paste with the cocktail stick and rolling it along.
If you find your paste is sticking to the board you can dust it with some cornflour. If your paste is tearing you are probably pressing too hard.
When you've done the first one leave it to dry in a cupped position. I use dimpled foam but empty egg boxes work well too.
Frill another circle in the same way. This time apply a little bit of edible glue to one half and fold the circle in half.
Apply a little bit more glue to 1/3 of the semi-circle and fold over 1/3 of the semi-circle.
Apply a final bit of glue to the other side of the semi circle and fold over that 1/3. These folds are clearly demonstrated on the video link if I've confused you!
Trim the bottom of the cone so that it has a flat base.
Set in a former to firm up slightly while you work on the remaing two. Repeat for the other two circles.
Once you have frilled and folded all your circles put a tiny bit of edible glue into the centre of the large open one.
Gently lift the other three into the well in the centre and nudge into place with a cocktail stick. Leave to dry overnight.
They can then be applied easily to a cake with some royal icing. You can vary the size of the flower by using different sized cutters but if you use a large cutter you made need more petals in the centre to fill it i.e. cut 5 or 6 petals instead of 4.
I hope some of you will be able to give this a shot.
Cake/Dessert Tables are currently really popular in the US an Australia and, of course, they're starting to feature in weddings over here. I was delighted when Sarah came to me with the idea of creating a rustic looking one as I've been wanting to do one for a while. Since I posted it a couple of months ago, lots of people have asked me about it so I thought I'd give you some close-up shots and tell you what the different components were.
First up is the main cake. It consisted of vanilla and lemon sponges and a carrot cake all finished with a rough buttercream finish. It was topped off with a some cute little cake bunting which said, "Just married." The fabulous tree trunk stand was lovingly made by Sarahs dad and the flowers were added by McGarry Flowers.
Sarah is a big fan of Terrys chocolate orange so she opted for my Orange Truffle Cake as one of her cakes. I decorated the top with mini Terrys Chocolate Orange to finish it off.
Another chocolate cake, this time my Rich Chocolate Cake, finished with belgium chocolate truffles. Sarah and her family had tasted this at her brothers wedding last year and loved it so she opted for this to be one of her own cakes.
Cute mini white chocolate and raspberry cupcakes with little cupcakes picks. Once again, Sarah's Dad did a fine job with the tree trunk slices for lower level stands.
Vanilla cake pops. I was particularly pleased with how these turned out as I don't do a lot of cake pops. I tied a bit of twine to each of these for a rustic look.
I left the caike table without any flowers, ready for Mrs McGarry to come and work her magic and magic she did! I think anyone will agree from the first photo that she did a fabulous job. A huge thank-you also goes to 'The Lous' for the fantastic photo of the whole setup - I can always rely on these guys to get me a great photo.
I was recently asked to recreate one of my christening designs so I took the opportunity to take a few progress shots for those of you who like to know about the process behind the cake.
Here are the cakes sitting iced and ready to be decorated.
Here I am cutting sugarflower paste to look like lace.
I have now wrapped the cake in two layers of 'lace' and have added a sugar ribbon.
Now for the fun bit - the piping! Every scallop and hole was hand-piped around using a no.1 tip!!
Nearly there! The piping is finished and I have stacked them and added a name plaque and sugar bow.
With the ribbon round the board it's now complete!
And in case you didn't figure it out this cake took a lot of hours to complete but I hope you'll agree it's very pretty. (The design was an adaption of a Zoe Clark design)
Ever wondered the about the process of designing and making a truly bespoke cake? I've recorded some of the steps involved when I was doing just that this week.
I've got to know Carina over the last few years and I was delighted when she asked me to make her wedding cake. Her amazing Yolan Cris wedding gown was taking centre stage and I was inspired by all the different aspects of it.
Carina had just the right mix of knowing what she wanted and giving me a bit of artistic licence. Despite being all the same colour (a really rich cream) the dress was loaded with texture and detail so at our consultation we came up with a cake which had two tiers covered in a 'checkerboard' pattern to match her dress overlay, leaves replicating those on her dress and a ruffle flower to top it off.
I began the process a week in advance by making the leaves and the ruffle flower. Carina was able to provide me with some spare leaves to work from and I called out to the dressmakers to see the dress and take close-up photos.
Once baked and iced it was time to start the process of decoration.
I planned a pattern for my 'checkerboard' design.
Once I had decided the pattern I wanted and dimensions I was happy with I got to work cutting hundreds of small squares of sugarpaste.
I then applied these individually and painted each one with lustre. This took about 5 hours!
Next I wanted to pipe lines between the squares to replicate the overlay on her dress. I used a fine tip and tried not to get the lines too straight - they would be more like the dress with a slight sag. Another couple of hours work!
Finally I applied the leaves and the ruffle flower. I added a few 'stems' to the leaves so they were more like those on her dress.
A lot of time and effort goes into creating a truly bespoke cake. I hope you'll agree it was worth it!