I consider myself a competent baker and making your average cake is not too much trouble for me, but when it comes to cake decorating, this is the area I struggle in! I can pipe buttercream on a cupcake and drizzle chocolate on some brownies in my sleep, but when faced a with a block of fondant I freeze. Thankfully, there are lots of amazing and talented people out there to lead the way through the wonderful world of sugarcraft, and one of them is the Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School.
So, if you’re looking to hone your sugarcraft skills, learn new tricks and designs,
or start from scratch, it’s a great place to go to for detailed
tutorials and expert advice.
Paul has had a long career in the food industry. From working in a bakery, to starting his own cake business and then eventually setting up his cake decorating school. He’s made cakes for celebrities like the Bee Gees and even royalty too!
The Sugarcraft School is based in Edinburgh, but for those of us that can’t make it up to Scotland he also runs online decorating courses which you can take from the comfort of your own kitchen.
The Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School have kindly offered me a year’s premium membership to their online cake decorating school (worth over £95) to give away to one lucky reader! All you have to do is use the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to enter for your chance to win.
Premium Membership includes:
Over 150 Free Lessons
Step by Step video tutorials for all levels
Tuition from Paul Bradford
306 Cake Decorating Courses
New detailed course every week
No contract, cancel anytime
Access to private PBSS Members Facebook Group
15% discount on your first Cake-Stuff.com order
For more information on the membership and FAQs, check out their website by clicking here.
As you will know if you’ve been to my blog before, or if you follow me on social media, I am a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off and the Queen of Baking that is Mary Berry. Every year I ‘bake along’ to GBBO and it’s really expanded my baking skills and repertoire. I was beyond excited when I was offered the chance to host a competition that Mary Berry herself would be judging the winner of! In this post you can find out how to enter the competition to be in for a chance to win a set of Mary Berry Homeware and a signed book from Mary!
I first saw Mary Berry’s homeware range at The BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016 and I immediately fell in love with it’s pretty patterns and pastel hues. The range is beautifully packaged and presented and I wanted to make something that really complimented it. So I decided to use the colours in the range – pastel pink and teal to make these gorgeous layered mini cakes. And seen as it’s Easter, they just had to be topped with mini eggs!
I started by making the sponges. I had three mixing bowls and into each one I put 120g butter and 120g caster sugar. I then put drops of blue, pink and yellow food colourings into the mixtures, I made the colour slightly stronger than I wanted the final result to be as the eggs and flour would lighten it. I like to add food colouring at this stage as later on it can remove air from the mixture as you over mix to get the colour right.
I added 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to each bowl and whisked in. Finally I folded 120g self raising flour into each bowl.
I baked each sponge in a lined traybake tin on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for between 10-15 minutes. I inserted a skewer into them to make sure they were done. I don’t have three traybake tins, I only have two, so I baked two first and then the third. I made sure not to add the flour to the mixture of the one that was waiting to be baked as this would affect the texture of the final cake.
When the cakes were fully cooled I used a 3 inch cookie cutter to cut 6 circles out of each sponge. I didn’t throw away the leftovers, I whizzed them up in my food processor then put them in a freezer bag and froze them. I’ll use them to make cake truffles in the future (check my recipe finder page for all my cake truffle recipes if you’d like to do the same).
I made a vanilla buttercream by mixing 200g butter, 400g icing sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract. I used my Wilton Number 6B Open Star tip to pipe blobs of it on the blue bottom layer.
I did the same with the middle yellow layer, then topped with the final pink layer.
I then used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe rosettes on top of each cake and I placed three different coloured mini eggs carefully into the middle.
I was so pleased with these little cakes, they look so pretty and I though they really complimented Mary’s beautiful homeware range. They tasted pretty scrumptious too! The sponge was lovely and light and the delicate vanilla buttercream was the perfect finishing touch. I felt like I could almost have been at afternoon tea with Mary Berry herself – a girl can dream!
The Competition *NOW CLOSED*
Ok so onto the competition! What you need to do to enter is head over to my Facebook page by clicking here and commenting onto my post with a photo of your Easter bake.
– Bloggers and non-bloggers can enter
– The winner’s prize is a Mary Berry Homeware set which includes: a cake stand, mug set, cake plates, cake forks and a cake slice
– The overall winner from all five blogs will win a signed book from Mary
– You use any recipe you like to make your Easter bake
– The entries will be shortlisted to two finalists and Mary Berry will be choosing the winning entry to receive the homeware set and then the overall winner for the signed book
– The competition closes on 2nd May, and Mary will begin judging in the week commencing 8th May
– If you have any questions please comment on this post and I will answer you
Grease and line three 12" x 9" traybake tins, or if you have one or two tins, grease and line them and then wash between batches
To make the sponges you need three mixing bowls. Into each one put 120g of the butter and 120g of the caster sugar. Cream them all together, then in the first bowl put a drop of blue food colouring, in the second bowl a drop of pink food colouring and in the third bowl a drop of yellow food colouring. Mix in well and add more if needed. Make the colour slightly stronger than you want as the final result will be lightened by the addition of the eggs and flour
Add 2 of the eggs and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract to each bowl and whisk in
Fold 120g of the self raising flour into each bowl. Tip: If you have three traybake tins then add the flour to all of the batters, if not, wait to add the flour until you're ready to bake
Pour and smooth out the batter into the traybake tin(s) and bake them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 10-15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean
Cool the sponges fully on cooling racks. When they are cool use 3 inch round cookie cutter to cut 6 circles out of each sponge
Make a vanilla buttercream by mixing together 200g of the butter, the icing sugar and 2 tsp of the vanilla extract. Put half of it into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton Number 6B Open Star tip and pipe blobs of it on the blue bottom layer of sponge
Cover with the yellow sponge layer and again pipe blobs of buttercream onto it, then top with the final pink layer
Put the other half of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip and pipe rosettes onto the top of each mini cake, then place 3 different coloured Mini Eggs into the middle
I recently received three exciting new recipe books from Ryland Peter & Small, who publish books about the greatest pleasures in life such as art, food and crafts – as mine is all things baking I was happy to receive three books all about cakes and desserts! I’ve reviewed the books and tried recipes from each one, and at the end of this post I am running a giveaway so one lucky reader can win a copy of each book!
Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta is all about that moment late at night when you just need cake! The recipes are easy to whip up in minutes, satisfy a variety of cravings from chocolate to cookies, and many of them don’t even need a set of scales. You might know the author, Suzy Pelta as she was the winner of ITV1’s Lorraine’s Cake Club Competition in 2012. She’s a regular at The Cake & Bake Show and BBC Good Food Shows.
I made this Peanut Butter & Nutella Cake (apologies for the bad lighting but I was having one of those late night cake craving moments I mentioned earlier, so there was no time to wait for natural light!) and it took a few minutes to throw together and less than two minutes to bake in the microwave. I had all the ingredients already in my cupboard so I could get that cake craving I needed with minimum effort involved. The sponge was soft and tasty, and there was a pool of warm Nutella and peanut butter at the bottom, it was also massive and very filling.
My favourite of the three books and the one most suited to my style of baking is Lola’s A Cake Journey Around The World. The book is separated by continent and then there are recipes for each country. There’s such a huge variety of cakes in here, some I had heard of and some I hadn’t. This would be a great book to read before a Great British Bake Off technical challenge!
I was immediately drawn to this Sticky Orange & Almond Cake from Spain, it involved boiling whole oranges and the pureeing them – which smelt amazing! The cake was gluten free too as ground almonds were used instead of flour. The recipe was so easy to follow with a yummy result.
I also made this Amarula Cake from South Africa. Amarula is a spirit made from the fruit of the African marula tree, then it’s mixed with cream and sugar. If you like Baileys you will most likely enjoy this drink! The cake was a fabulous chocolate sponge, soaked in Amarula and decorated with caramel and whipped cream. I was in cake heaven!
The third book is called Japanese Patisserie and the author is James Campbell who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and now works for Marks & Spencer product development. The creations in this book are very high end and absolutely stunning to look at. It’s definitely one for those people that are interested in experimenting with their baking and challenging themselves. Although there are lots of more complex and impressive recipes, there are also simpler yet still impressive options to start you off such as madelines and scones.
If you enjoy Asian cuisine you will have heard of most of the ingredients in the book, such as yuzu, miso and matcha, but they have been fused with western recipes to create elegant and stunning desserts. I always wanted to try yuzu so I tracked some down at the Chinese supermarket, you can also get it in Waitrose and online. I made a yuzu and lemon meringue tart recipe from the book which was absolutely delicious.
If you would like to be in with the chance to win a copy of each of the books I’ve reviewed in this post, enter by using the Rafflecopter below – good luck!
NB. I received the books to review free of charge, all opinions are my own. Competition is open to UK residents only. The winner of the competition will receive one copy of each recipe book featured in this blog post.
The BBC Good Food Shows are a food and drink lover’s dream day out. I’ve been to the Winter show in Birmingham twice in past years and I’ll be heading to it again this year. They last for 3 days (usually Friday – Sunday) and you really could spend all three days there! There are lots of celebrity chefs at the show, for example Mary Berry, Nadiya Hussain, The Hairy Bikers and James Martin, they do recipe demos that you can go and watch and they talk about their careers and tell stories. One of my favourite things to do there is watch the demos as I love to see The Great British Bake Off stars and celebrity chefs baking live on stage and giving me in insight into their world.
There are also lots of exhibitors selling their wares and it’s great wandering around and coming across lots of fantastic new products that may become your favourites. It’s also a fantastic place to pick up Christmas gifts for fellow food and drink loving friends and family.
The tickets gives you admission to any one of the upcoming BBC Good Food Shows listed below, on any day of the event except Saturday. I will contact the winner by email once the giveaway ends on 6th November, and as soon as I receive the winner’s address I will post the ticket out by first class post. If you are the lucky winner please make sure to respond immediately if you want to attend the London show, so I can get the tickets to you on time.
11 – 13 November 2016, London Olympia
24 – 27 November 2016, Birmingham NEC (Winter)
9 – 11 December 2016, Festival Fayre at Hampton Court Palace
If I Knew You Were Coming Baking Kits are a subscription service that deliver a delicious recipe and the required dry ingredients by post. You can sign up for 3, 6 or 12 months and they will send you sweet treats to make at home like muffins, cookies and brownies. The name of the company comes from the song ‘If I Knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked A Cake’ by Eileen Barton and I think these boxes are very handy to have around for a sudden sweet craving, or an unexpected visitor as you can whip up the tasty treats in no time! I was sent the White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies kit to try out.
When the box arrived I opened it up and found inside a recipe card for the cookies, a full list of ingredients and allergens, the dry ingredients for the cookies – sugar, flour, white chocolate chips and dried cranberries – and some vanilla extract.
The only fresh ingredients I had to add was some butter and egg. I started by combining the sugar mix with butter. The muscovado sugar smelt really nice and I could tell it was good quality.
I added the egg. The recipe only called for 1/2 an egg which was probably my only dislike as I hate wasting things, although it did say you could use a whole egg, but the cookies would have a more cakey texture. So that was good to know.
I added the flour then the white choc chips and cranberries. All of the ingredient sachets were really easy to open and I was impressed with the amount of choc chips and cranberries, it was a very generous amount.
I seperated the dough into eight and put the balls onto lined baking trays.
I baked them on 170C for around 15 mins until they were golden brown around the edges. I left them to cool.
The cookies were really delicious and packed with tasty cranberries and white chocolate chips. I really enjoyed them and they were an easy and quick tasty treat to make.
If you’d like to win a 3 month subscription of your choice from I Knew You Were Coming, enter my giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!
If you haven’t heard of Bake Box yet then you are missing out! It’s a bi-monthly subscription service for all the baking lovers out there. Once you sign up, every two months you receive a themed box filled with bakeware items, a specialist decorative item and 6 recipe cards to inspire you. I’m such a huge fan of this subscription service as I love the surprise element of it. Every time I’ve received a box I’ve been so excited to see what the theme was and really impressed by what I’ve found inside. If you’d like to check out what I got in box 1, read my previous Bake Box post here.
I’m very excited to announce that I am now a Brand Ambassador for Bake Box, this means I get to share with you what’s inside each new Bake Box as I get them, and what I make using the items inside. I’m combining the unboxing of Boxes 2 & 3 into this blog post and I can’t wait to share with you all the goodies that were inside and the treats that I’ve baked with them so far! There is also a giveaway at the end of this post to win a 6 month subscription of Bake Box so keep reading!
The theme for Box 2 was Springtime In Paris, which I think is such a fantastic theme as I love the French style of baking. Inside the box was:
A madeline tray
A silicone brush
Eiffel tower and cat shaped and embossed cookie cutters
A heart shaped macaron mat
2 flower presses
3 tear drop shaped cookie cutters
A black decorating pen with edible ink
The Eiffel Tower and cat shaped cookie cutters were so unique and pretty, I was particulary excited to try them out. I thought the silicone brush was especially useful as it can be used for so many different things, and the madeline tray looked like it would create beautifully shell shaped cakes.
There were also 6 Parisian themed recipes inside. Each card has full details on how to make each recipe, step by step instructions and expert tips. The cards also correspond to a different item in the Bake Box, so you immediately have some inspiration to help you use each of your new baking toys.
From Box 2 I made Parisienne Biscuits. The cookie cutters and embossers were really easy to use, the recipe was simple to follow, and I love how pretty the final results are. However I definitely need more practice with the decorating pen!
The theme for box 3 was Decorate With Flowers, such a pretty a feminine theme, and inside the box was:
A rose shaped silicone cake mould
Flower jelly moulds
Flower shaped cookie cutters
4 flower shaped plungers
A flower decorating template
A pie top pastry cut out
Pink blush rainbow dust
The rose cake mould immediately stood out for me, I thought it was gorgeous. I also loved the pie top pastry cutter, which I thought could also be used as a template to dust icing sugar over a cake with, and the flower jelly moulds are so beautiful too.
The recipe cards were are floral themed in both flavour and apperance. And just like the box before, each card corresponds to an item in the Bake Box. The recipes are all very detailed, simple to follow, and some of them include expert tips to help you get the best results. They are also all hole punched so you can collect them in a binder.
I made this gorgeous rose cake using the silicone mould from the Decorate With Flowers theme in Box 3. It was easy to make, tasted delicious, and I greased and floured the mould as the recipe card instructed and it came out easily and looked beautiful!
-The giveaway has ended-
To win a 6 month subscription to Bake Box, enter using the Rafflecopter below:
To celebrate the opening of Co-operative Food’s newly refitted food stores on High Street and Corporation Street in the city centre of Manchester, I’m giving away two £25 vouchers that can be spent at any Co-operative Food stores!
The stores will be the first to return to The Co-op’s iconic blue logo, which was first used in the late 1960’s and you may remember it being referred to as the ‘clover leaf’. The use of the logo is intended to highlight the Co-op’s heritage, and also provide a fresh look to signify a radical overhaul to its membership offer.
As a member of The Co-op from Autumn this year you will receive a 5% reward for any purchases you make of Co-op own brand products and services. The Co-op will also give a further 1% to benefit local causes. They’ve estimated that this will mean £13 million will go to members and local communities by 2018. I think this is fantastic news, it is great to see a big company doing what they can to help their loyal customers and worthy causes.
I am so excited about this giveaway! You may have noticed that subscription boxes are all the rage at the moment, I’ve seen them for beauty products, geeky gadgets, weeknight dinners, snacks, alcohol… the list goes on! And now finally I am so pleased that Bake Box has come along for all the bakers out there. And I’m even more pleased that I am offering you the chance to win a 6 month subscription!
Each box has a surprise theme, which I found so fun as I had no idea what to expect when I opened it. It was so exciting discovering what was inside.
As well as the theme, you get 6 recipe cards with each box, 6-8 baking gadgets or tools, 1 decorative ingredient such as food colouring and access to the Bake Box Bake Club!
From the box I chose to make the Fashonista Biscuits. The recipe card was so easy to follow and all the baking gadgets I needed to create the biscuits were included in the box. I used the dress shaped cookie cutter, the circular plunger, and the fondant wheel cutter to shape and decorate the biscuits.
It was perfect timing as I was hosting a clothes swap party that weekend and these colourful dress biscuits went down so well! I used some Renshaw ready to roll fondant that I already had in the cupboard too so I got creative with my dress colours and designs!
I really love Bake Box and I honestly wish I could win this giveaway myself! Well I can’t win it, but you could! Enter using the Raffecopter below…
If you are a fan of beautiful kitchenware, then you are going to love Create Serve Keep! They are an online kitchenware shop where specially chosen kitchen products have been brought together for you to browse through. All of the products are very sleek and have a modern feel, with many of them coming from Scandinavian design. Some of the products were designed over 50 years ago, but still have a very modern feel – which just shows you how well the Scandinavians design kitchenware!
Their website is split into three sections; one for creating food, one for serving food and one for storing food. They only feature products which are of a high quality, and this is evident when you are browsing the website. Everything on there is gorgeously well designed, built for looks just as much as purpose.
One of my favourite products from the website is the glassware by Oiva Toikka, particularly the cake stand. It’s so pretty! To be honest I feel in love with a lot of the stuff on there! If you are like me, and love looking at kitchenware, the same will happen to you! I think that cake stand is going on my Christmas list…
Create Serve Keep are giving readers of my blog the chance to win some of their fabulous products. The products in the giveaway are all pictured above and listed below, together they are worth over £100!
I am so excited about this giveaway as it’s for some really awesome products that I’ve really enjoyed trying out. I’m assuming most people have heard of Renshaw already, but if not… they are the leading British manufacturer of cake decorating products like frosting, ready to roll icing and marzipan. They have been going for over 100 years and have a royal warrant which means they supply products to the Queen and royal family. Essentially, they are icing pros and produce quality products!
I was sent 12 different Renshaw products to both try out and also give away (don’t worry you get new ones not my leftovers!)
I gave the Decor-Pan coloured marzipan a try when I made Raspberry Mille Feuille. It was really easy to use, the colour was so pretty, and it tasted delicious! I think this product would be fantastic for making a fun coloured battenberg, and it’s a great way to make marzipan the star of the show, rather than being hidden under fondant.
For the candy melts I made some cake truffles, which are a big favourite of mine. (I’ll be sharing the full recipe next week!) I melted the white Colour Melts quickly in the microwave in the tub they came in, and I also dipped the truffles straight into the tub – saved on washing up! The truffles were a bright white colour, and I dipped them twice to get a nice thick coating.
For for the ready to roll icing I had a go at decorating some cupcakes. I am by no means an expert at using this type of icing! But I found it to be a fun experience, a chance to be creative, and it was also really easy to use. I like that you get a small selection of colours in each pack as it is a good way to try it out if you are new to this type of cake decorating.