Wednesday, 14 March 2007


Today is the first day I feel like I might actually be able to make 100 cup cakes for the wedding that I can be proud of!

This has come about because we have been thinking about what flowers we'll have at the wedding and have decided on a sunflower theme. This in turn made me think about some 'daisy' cupcakes I had seen in Peggy Porschen's book. The daisies are made with sugarpaste and a PME daisy cutter.

I read all the instructions and on Monday sent for all the equipment and supplies. The parcel arrived today and the photo below shows my very first attempt at making sunflowers. Up close in the photo, I can see they're not perfect, but they are not bad for a first attempt - miles better than anything else I've created so far.

Also in the parcel are 30 dark pink piped roses. These are for my 50th birthday party cakes. I am cheating! Well, as many of the guests will also be guests at the wedding, I don't want to make 50 sunflower cakes for the party; it would spoil the surprise on the wedding day. And I don't think I can perfect roses and sunflowers both in the same week!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Green & Gold

We have decided on the colour theme for the wedding: green and gold. So for the last couple of batches of cakes, we've been buying all the gold and green food colourings we could lay our hands on. We have found the perfect green - it's called Holly Green and is just what we want. Gold is more difficult, and often looks more yellow than green. But we have discovered that painting some gold food colouring on white royal icing creates a good effect. We didn't do that for those pictured here... the reason this particular batch is on display is because it's the first batch where all teh cakes were reasonably presentable! We still have a long way to go - and only 7 months left now!!

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Black Icing Doesn't Work

Since I last wrote, we've made 2 more batches of cakes. The first of these was unremarkable. The cake recipe worked. We used 55g in each cake - still a bit too much - and we used glace icing and various decorations. The best of these was a simple golden bow made from thin (1/2 cm) gold ribbon. We put a candle on one and gave it to Dave - my friend's husband - for his 50th birthday. Luckily, Jonathan came home from university and ate quite a few of the remaining cakes.

Last week, we decided to make a large batch for Charlotte's Christmas gathering. This time, we got more organised for the decorating. I bought some nozzles and some gold food colouring. And a packet of ready-made fondant icing from Sainsbury's in four colours - red, yellow, black and green.

This time, our first batch of cakes didn't turn out right. They were pale and sank in the middle. I put this down to using the wrong setting on the oven and opening the oven before they were ready. It took two more attempts before we got back to our previous standard of cake making. We now know that the cakes take 18 mins to cook and need to be done on the oven setting next to 'off'. And we decided to ice the 2nd and 3rd batches. Oh, and we have now settled on 45g as the correct amount of cake batter per cake.

This time, we used fondant icing to cover the cakes. I made this using a recipe in my M&S cake decorating book - and then made it runny enough to pour on the cakes following instructions in the Women's Weekly book. (More about the books in a separate post.) This was a great improvement on the glace icing. When we ate the cakes, the icing stayed on them, instead of coming off on the paper and making our fingers all sticky. But much more fiddly, so I don't know how we are going to make enough for the number of cakes we'll need to make for the 'big day'.

Then came the decorating. Charlotte mixed up some royal icing and added gold food colouring - but she didn't like the resultant colour and so began adding red food colouring - and we ended up with salmon pink icing.

We had covered about 2/3 of the cakes in white fondant and had a lot of fun writing and drawing different designs on the cakes. When we needed some fondant for the remaining cakes we thought we'd melt one of the packs from Sainsbury's - and C thought that the salmon pink would look best on a black background. So we ended up with about 6 or 7 cakes iced in black with salmon pink decoration. This didn't work. No one wanted to eat the black cakes. Not even Jonathan and his friends.

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

The Proof of the Pudding

The next problem we had? Too many cakes. We needed to find some people to eat them up. Charlotte took a few home for her fiance (John), and I took a few to my friend's house. It was when her husband bit into one, that I knew that the cakes, at least, were good. He looked like a four-year-old! Very happy and smiley. Could he have another? Absolutely.

So we now have our first cake tester!

The Icing on the Cake

We weren't sure about the icing, either. I had bought a pack of cream coloured fondant icing, a box of icing sugar, some glycerine, some cream colouring and some marzipan. We decided to cover the square cakes in marzipan and then glace icing. The cup cakes would simply have the glace icing. (I'm not sure why we didn't go for the fondant icing on the square cakes; we were thinking of 'fondant fancies' after all.)

Anyway, we made the icing and poured it over the cup cakes, which worked fine. Manipulating the marzipan to cover the square cakes was less straightforward, though and trying to get glace icing to stick to the sides of the square cakes was just not going to happen. I think it was during the icing-a-square-cake-fiasco that we decided on cup cakes for the wedding...

We topped the cup cakes with little lemon and orange slices and they looked sweet. Nowhere near 'wedding' standards yet, but a good first try.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Getting Started

The first thing we did was buy some cake tins. We went to Lakeland Plastics and bought a 12 portion muffin tin and a 16 x mini square cake tin. Charlotte liked the idea of the square cakes. Then we bought cake ingredients, and finally, this Wednesday, we actually made some cakes.

My friend Sarah suggested a recipe which is easy to remember: weigh the eggs and then use an equivalent amount of sugar, butter and self-raising flour. We used 4 eggs and they weighed 9 and one-eighth ounces. We also had a cake decorating book with lots of recipes in it so we added baking powder and vanilla essence, as it suggested.

We didn't really know how many cakes our mixture would make so decided to put half the mixture in the muffin tins and half in the mini square tins. This was a 'performance' as first we had to wash the tins up (the mini square cake tin had 33 separate parts!) and then measure 62.5g of mixture into each tin. Having done that and put 8 cakes worth in the oven we decided we may as well measure the cup cake mixture as well - and we used the same quantity.

The square cakes came out beautifully. We cut the tops off and had 8 perfect 2" cubes. We cut the top off the cup cakes too so they were flat and ready to be iced, but there wasn't much room left in the paper cake cases. Next time we'll cut down to 50g or 55g mixture. (I can't believe we are being so scientific about this!)

The Challenge

We are Marian and Charlotte, mother & daughter. Charlotte is getting married next September and we decided to make her cake. Except it'll be cakes as we are going to have loads of cup cakes. The challenge is - until this week we had no experience of making cup cakes, let alone dcorating them. So we have about 9 months to perfect our cup cake making-and-decorating... and we'll be recording our efforts and our progress on this blog.