Mini Layered Easter Cakes & A Mary Berry Homeware Competition!

Mini Layered Easter Cakes & A Mary Berry Homeware Competition!

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.

Full details:
– 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

I can’t wait to see all of your Easter bakes!

 

Pin for later! 

 

     

I’m linking this recipe up with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation and I’m also linking up to Cook Blog Share hosted this week by Easy Peasy Foodie.

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Mini Layered Easter Cakes

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 560 g Baking spread
  • 360 g Caster sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 360 g Self raising flour
  • 5 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 bag of Mini eggs
  • Pink, blue & yellow Food colouring
  • 400 g Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Grease and line three traybake tins, or if you have one or two tins, grease and line them and then wash between batches

  2. 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
  3. Add 2 of the eggs and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract to each bowl and whisk in
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Cover with the yellow sponge layer and again pipe blobs of buttercream onto it, then top with the final pink layer
  9. 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
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BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016

It’s been a foodie filled month for me with The Cake & Bake Show a couple of weeks ago and then this weekend I headed to Birmingham for the BBC Good Food Show Winter. This place is foodie paradise with stalls filled with every type of food and drink you can think of, thankfully the show lasts for three days so you are rich with time to explore every inch and every food sample! There’s also lots of celebrity chef demos with the likes of Mary Berry, The Hairy Bikers and Michael Roux Jr. to name a few. I spent a Saturday there with my friend Sophie and this is what we got up to…

We got straight onto the gin when we arrived and Edinburgh Gin is a brand I’m familiar with as I’ve purchased their Raspberry Liquor for my boyfriend before so I wanted Sophie to try their wares as she is a gin lover. She was certainly impressed and left with a bottle of their Christmas Gin.

Next we spotted Seeds of Change‘s stand where they were giving out sample pots of their spinach pasta with tomato and basil sauce, it was really yummy and they gave me some vouchers to get money off my next purchase of their organic food. I also got a couple of packets of basil seeds from them which I am looking forward to growing!

Bahlsen make my favourite biscuits – Choco Leibniz – but I didn’t know about all of the other products they make such as Lebkuchen, the classic German Christmas biscuits which I’m also a huge fan of.

We must’ve walked past the Jazz Apples stand at least three times and couldn’t resist grabbing a slice of juicy crisp apple each time. On our final visit we finally bought some apples!

One of the great things about the BBC Good Food Show is all of the show bargains on offer. For example Wyke Farms were selling 4 different blocks of cheese along with a block of butter, and either the mug or the bag pictured, for only £10! Such a bargain considering one block of cheese is around £3 in the supermarket.

I love sweet potato crisps but I’ve only ever seen salted ones in the shops, so I was excited to see that Glen of Antrim have created mutiple flavours including the irish whiskey and salt & vinegar flavours pictured. They also had cheese & onion and chilli.

I tried some Salted Caramel Vodka from I Heart Vodka and it was deliciously sweet. Certainly one for any fellow sweet tooths out there!

Frobishers had some delicious cordials which they’ve just recently added to their range. I tried the Sloe & Raspberry and the Lemon & Mint and really enjoyed them both. They are available in Waitrose.

We went to watched Mary Berry do a Q&A on the Lakeland Good Food Stage. She was interviewed all about her Christmas food plans and she revealed that she is going to do a TV programme next year where she goes to stately homes around the country to look behind the scenes and meet the families that live there, I can’t wait to watch it!

Mary Berry has a new range of kitchenware which is absolutely gorgeous, I love the pastel colours and grey details. This is definitely going on my Christmas list!

We headed to the Super Theatre to watch Paul Hollywood do a demo of a dessert called kransekage, which is a tower of marzipan rings sandwiched together with chocolate. He was chatty and open with the audience about The Great British Bake Off and his other plans for TV shows next year.

An audience member got up on stage wearing this apron and the camera man wore one too! It was very funny but Paul was not impressed!

This was the final product!

The Renshaw Academy were also on site at the show holding classes to teach you how to work with sugarpaste and maybe even make a masterpiece like this one day!

 

I adore maple syrup and I grabbed two bottles of Pure Maple which is absolutely delicious as well as being completely pure and not mixed with anything else like some other maple syrups are.

We watched Lisa Faulkner, who is an actress that won Celebrity Masterchef in 2010, she made a strawberry milkshake cake and her latest book focuses on family recipes.

We ended the day watching John Whaite, the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2012, demo two recipes from his new book – Perfect Plates In 5 Ingredients. He made a Sweet Potato, Gruyere & Pecan Gratin and a Orange Self Saucing Pudding. Both recipes looked delicious and John really entertained the crowd, everyone was in fits of laughter including myself! We had a great day at The BBC Good Food Show and I’m already looking forward to next year! In the meantime there are the summer shows, check out the BBC Good Food Show website for dates and tickets.

I’m linking this post up with Brilliant Blog Posts hosted by Honest Mum.

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Chocolate Roulade with Baileys Cream

Chocolate Roulade with Baileys Cream
The Christmas season is here and I am loving it! Mostly because I could finally make this Chocolate Roulade with Baileys Cream… I saw the fabulous Mary Berry make this at the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show back in October and the whole audience was drooling. Although her original recipe doesn’t feature any Baileys, at the show she put a good glug of it into the cream and I thought it sounded delicious. I was recently invited over for dinner at a friend’s house and took this over for dessert, much to everyone’s delight!

I started by melting 175g dark chocolate in a glass bowl over water.

Meanwhile I whisked up 6 egg yolks (keep the whites!) and 175g caster sugar until thick and creamy.

I used my food processor to whisk up the 6 whites from the eggs until stiff.

I whisked the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Then I mixed in one tablespoon of the egg whites. I folded in the rest of the egg whites gently, and 2 tbsp of sieved cocoa powder.

I poured the mixture into a lined baking tray. If you have a swiss roll tin you can use that, but I just use a regular baking tray.

I baked it on 160C/320F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes. I left it to cool in the tin with a tea towel covering it.

When it was completely cool I whipped up 300ml of cream and a good glug of Baileys. I tasted it to make sure the amount of Baileys was enough for me, so put in however much you like. I tipped the sponge out onto a piece of baking paper dusted with icing sugar and scored it about 2cm from one end. I spread the cream over. I didn’t use all of the cream, I saved some for extra!

I gently rolled the sponge up. It will crack, this is meant to happen and also makes a nice effect!

I dusted it with extra icing sugar and served with the leftover Baileys cream. It’s so light and delicious, plus as no flour is used it’s a great dessert for anyone on a gluten free diet. The sponge has a great fudgey texture and the hit of Baileys in the cream adds festive decadence.

Print

Chocolate Roulade with Baileys Cream

Ingredients

  • 175 g Dark chocolate
  • 175 g Caster sugar
  • 6 Eggs
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa powder sieved
  • 300 ml Double cream
  • 3 tbsp Baileys
  • Icing sugar to dust

Instructions

  1. Melt the dark chocolate in a glass bowl over water
  2. Whisk up the yolks of the eggs and the caster sugar until thick and creamy
  3. Use a food mixer to whisk up the whites from the eggs until stiff peaks form
  4. Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Then mix in one tablespoon of the egg whites. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently, along with the cocoa powder
  5. Pour the mixture into a lined baking tray. Bake on 160C/320F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes then leave to cool in the tin
  6. Whip up the cream and the Baileys. Tip the sponge out onto a piece of baking paper dusted with icing sugar and score it 2cm from one end. Spread the cream over it
  7. Gently roll the sponge up. Dust it with icing sugar to finish
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BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show 2014

BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show 2014
Just over a week ago I made my way down to London for the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show. BBC Good Food are known for their seasonally themed food shows, I previously attended the BBC Good Food Show Winter last December and although I enjoyed it there just wasn’t enough baking related for a baking obsessed girl like me. So looks like the BBC were listening and they decided to do a show entirely devoted to Bakes & Cakes – thanks BBC!

I started the day by wondering around, checking out the stalls and features. I spotted Baker And Maker’s stall right away. They sell an array of fun and quirky goods including baking accessories.

I was so excited to see that Barefoot Wine had a stall as their Zinfandel Rose is my favourite wine. I’m not much of a wine connoisseur and I really love sweet wine, so it’s perfect for me. They were offering samples of their new Moscato wine range. I made sure to try each one and can confirm they were all very delicious!

A great sign to have in the kitchen for any stressful baking moments!

The show had this fab idea board for guests to share their baking tips. Some of the celebrity bakers had already added their tips to the board, such as Francis Quinn who advised to always carry a pencil around to write down your baking ideas.

I’ve seen rice paper being used a lot more in baking decorations to make them edible. The decorations on the cupcakes above are all edible so you can eat everything. I even saw edible cupcake cases in a supermarket a couple of weeks ago!

Can’t forget the savoury stuff, and mayonnaise is one of my addictions. I love the stuff! Le Mesurier had lots of tasty varieties on offer such as Mayonnaise with Saffron & Garlic, and Sundried Tomato & Basil Mayonnaise.

How awesome are these?! So so funny too, I had a right giggle at the slogans on these hoodies and baby grows. You could also buy aprons too. It’s all for a good cause too as they are sold by disability charity the Papworth Trust.

Vandotsch Speculoos spice is a mix of nine organic spices. It is inspired by a family recipe handed down from the owner’s Dutch grandmother. It can be used in all sorts of recipes. I tried a biscuit and you really do taste the spices in layers. They come through one by one as you eat. It really is quite clever, and yummy too!

Simply Vintage is simply gorgeous. I love old teaware like this and I bought 4 beautiful cake plates from the stall. The first addition to my collection!

Meringue Girls have devoted a lot of time to meringues and making sure there’s are the best. It certainly seems to be working and they look so pretty too! They even have their own cook book out too.

The Queen’s Guard are an iconic British image, but have you ever seen one made from cake and covered in icing? Or with a Corgi relieving itself on his shoe?!

I watched Mary Berry get interviewed on stage by Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley. Mary told us that her biggest inspiration was her domestic science teacher, and she stayed in touch with her after school until she passed away. Mary would love to see more hands on cookery in schools and she also revealed a desire to cook with Hugh Jackman! After selling 5 million recipe books, she cites her favourite recipe as her Lemon Drizzle Cake. Her baking nemesis are Opera Cakes. If she could eat a bake from the Bake Off again it would be Ryan’s Key Lime Pie. Finally, she told us how she was looking forward to Christmas with her family, she makes a fish pie every Christmas Eve and her favourtie part of Christmas dinner is the stuffing. Me too Mary!

I stopped for a snack and enjoyed this park and sage sausage roll from Little Jack Horner.

 

There were some fabulous competition cakes on display including lots of Halloween themed offerings.

And some Christmas designs too!

I was really impressed by some of the cakes that had been entered into the competitions, especially the junior competitions. The cake on the right was made by a 14 year old!

The cake above was made with two bundt cake, one turned upside down on top of the other, then covered in fondant.

I did go and see Cat Dresser, Mary Berry and Mich Turner in the
Supertheatre section of the show, which you have to buy seperate tickets
for. I really enjoyed watching them all, but the lighting was very poor and photos were not a possibility. Mary Berry has fantastic stage prescence and I throughly enjoy watching her bake and tell stories. It was great to see Cat Dresser, she has recently opened her own bakery and released a cookbook.

I had a great day at the show and I took home these cannoli’s to have as dessert after dinner. I like trying new things and I had heard of these but never seen them before. Casa Cannoli import the shells from Sicily and fill them with their creamy filling. The flavours above are pistachio, chocolate and lemon. They are very tasty!

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25% Off BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show Tickets!

25% Off BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show Tickets!
*DISCOUNT HAS NOW EXPIRED*
 

Hello Explorers! So I am all moved into the new flat with my boyfriend, and everything is going great, except for the fact we have had no internet connection yet which means I have been unable to blog and generally roam the internet as much as usual. I am terribly addicted to the internet and do feel quite lost without it, especially when it stops me from sharing delicious treats with you! Well I have not come back empty handed, I come bearing a great gift for all of you!

You may remember my review of the BBC Good Food Show Winter, although I had a great time at the show, it was more for foodies as opposed to bakers. The baking section just wasnt big enough for me. Well it looks like my wish has been granted as this year BBC Good Food are launching their Bakes & Cakes Show on 25 – 27 October at BDC, Islington! And it’s totally dedicated to baking!

Tickets for the show are now ON SALE! To receive 25% off as a Baking Explorer reader, head to the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cake Show website by clicking here  and enter the promotional
code EBPAR1.
 

Here’s a bit more info about the show to get you in the mood…

The BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show, sponsored by Lexus, launches
at the beautiful Business Design Centre in Islington, London from 25-27
October 2014.   Bringing the popular BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes
title to life, the show will be packed with baking, bread-making
and cake-crafting demonstrations, free master classes, and hundreds of
products to get you baking like a pro.

PLUS!  Don’t miss out on seeing your favourite baking stars, LIVE at the show!  Every full day adult ticket includes a seat for the Bakes & Cakes Theatre, where you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite,
Paul Hollywood, and other expert bakers in LIVE 30 minute baking and technique demos.

 

Whether you’re new to baking or a seasoned baking veteran, the BBC Good Food Bakes & Cakes Show is the perfect place to meet bakers, cake-crafters and confectioners, learn new skills, and pick up all the essentials you need to develop your home baking hobby.

I’ll be there and I am so excited to attend and see my baking heroes in action as well as sample some of the delicious treats! I hope to see you there too!

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Mary Berry at Cake International

At the weekend I visited Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show – at EventCity
in Manchester. For the second year the show, the largest of its kind in the world, came to Manchester after a successful first year in the city in 2013. See my review on last year’s show here. I didn’t have as much time to spend at the show as I did last year so I had to prioritise, and of course seeing Mary Berry came out on top!

Mich Turner and Mary Berry were this year’s star guests and the opened the show at 10am in front of an eager crowd! Mich Turner MBE is the founder of Little Venice Cake Company, a successful author, an award winning cake designed and has a host of celebrity clients from Cheryl Cole to Her Majesty the Queen.

I watched Mary’s demonstration on the Cake International Theatre Stage where she started by making a Tirimasu Cake. The sponge layers were soaked with a coffee and it was filled and covered in cream and mascarpone cheese. She said that she likes to show people cakes that they can go home and make themselves, and she keeps in mind that you don’t always have another person in the kitchen to help you so keeps things simple.

While she was making the cake she talked about The Great British Bake Off. While Mary doesn’t bother to weight out the cake batter for every sponge layer, all of the contestants on GBBO do! She hoped that we thought her and Paul were fair judges and confirmed that no one else is involved in the judging decision. It is just her and Paul, without any interference from the BBC.

Mary does not like half fat or low fat products. She insisted that if you make the Tirimasu you must use full fat mascarpone cheese! She thinks that it is better to have a small slice of something perfect. However, she is giving up chocolate for lent. Although, she said, she could never give up alcohol!

Mary is fiercely passionate about getting children involved in baking and believes it is part of their education. The photo above is Mary and her three children. The second recipe she made were some Granola Bars. She smiled as she told us how she gets sent lots of photos around Christmas time of gingerbread houses that children have made. She often bakes with her grandchildren and thinks it is important to teach kids to bake and make things that they will enjoy eating.

Image Source

She asked if we’d been watching her new show Mary Cooks and told us that the focus of the show was family baking and things that you can prepare ahead of time. The show is part of an exciting year for Mary which has included an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing. She told us how she would never appear as a dancer on the show, but she did have a dance with Anton Du Beke in the make up room!

 

Mary also appeared on Piers Morgan which she really enjoyed as she had a ‘new frock’ and very high heels. She thinks that Piers was nice to her and kept the show clean as his mum was there and she is a GBBO fan.

And finally, Mary’s advice for being a good baker was that you need two things. Passion, and digital scales!

If you missed Cake International Manchester you can catch it again in London 10th – 12th April, and in Birmingham 7th – 9th November 2014.

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Review: Cake International – Part #1

 

 

Last weekend I attended the 18th Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show – at EventCity in Manchester. It is the first time that the show, the largest of its kind in the world, has come to Manchester and there are over 70,000 people expected to attend it this year across four venues in the UK.

I have a lot to tell you and show you about my Cake International experience, so I am going to have to divide it into two posts!

Review Part #1
Stalls
Competition Cakes
Mary Berry

 

 Review Part #2 (Click to read)

John Whaite

Demonstrations
Overview

Stalls

There was a vast variety of exhibitors selling their cake, chocolate and sugarpaste goods at Cake International. There were some amazing new products that I had never seen before and some definite product trends throughout the stalls.
 
 
 
The first stall I noticed was a familiar face – Sugar & Crumbs. I did a review on their flavoured icing sugar, which you can read here, and it was great to see the full range of their products such as chocolate orange cocoa powder, chocolate cherry cocoa powder, and lemon drizzle icing sugar.
  

I thought these cute mini glass domes at the Cake Decorating Company‘s stand were so gorgeous and cute!

 

They also sold LorAnn Oils, which are super strength flavourings. Three to four times stronger than the extracts you find in the supermarket. They withstand heat and can be added to chocolate, sponges, icing and fudge. They come in a massive range of flavours including Cola, Key Lime, Peanut Butter and Butterscotch.

 

Sugarveil is an amazing product that creates an edible lace which can be used to add texture when decorating cakes. The effects it can create are absolutely stunning and despite looking very fragile it is quite sturdy and flexible.

 

Tracey’s Cakes sell this chocolate paste, which can be used to cover cakes, or moulded and shaped into cake decorations. It is made purely of chocolate and is not sugarpaste, so tastes like chocolate too!

 
 

 As you can see above, it can be made into beautiful flowers!

 
 

Tracey’s Cakes made all of the decorations on this 4 1/2 foot ‘Under The Sea’ cake out of chocolate paste! It was moulded with white chocolate paste and then airbrushed to add colour. Airbrushing was a popular trend and I saw exhibitors demonstrating it on a few stalls
 

 

Cake Stand Solutions had some gorgeous and unique cake stands on display. They have created some very detailed and pretty ways of displaying cakes.

 

I really liked the carousel cake stand!

 

D G Films Ltd edible printing absolutely amazed me. They print images from photos, to logos and cartoons onto edible wafer paper using ink which is essentially made from similar ingredients to food colourings. Just imagine what you could do with this!

 

The image above is an example of what can be achieved with these printers.

 

The edible inks used in the printers. I purchased some Red Nose Day logos to stick on my Comic Relief cake sale cupcakes from them!

 

Another popular trend I noticed at Cake International were ready made fruit cakes. The picture above are the offerings from Sugar and Spice, who supply rich rum fruit cake bases ready for decorating with sugarpaste. These cakes are definitely aimed at dedicated cake decorators who perhaps don’t have time to make the cake as well as do their intricate sugarpaste designs.

 

Cake pops have increased in popularity over recent months and Cake Pop Heaven‘s Starter Kit contains all you need to make 15 cake pops and is a great way to try out the trend.

 

The Fudge Factory had an amazing range of flavours available including classics like Rum & Raisin, Chocolate and Vanilla. And some more interesting flavours like Jammie Dodger, Vimto, Iron Bru and Jack Daniels. I purchased three boxes for £5, which I thought was a great bargain!

 

I just had to show you these gorgeous cupcakes that were on FPC Sugarcrafts‘ stand. So pretty!

 

I was immediately sold on the Whizzy Whisk after seeing the demonstration of how it makes milk super frothy (see above photo!) with only manual use, no batteries included. You just push the top and in only a couple of minutes, milk froths up ready for a hot chocolate or a cappuccino. It also works on pancake batter, cream and eggs. I tested it when I got home and loved it!

 

Competition Cakes

 

Cake International holds competitions at each show. There were fifteen categories at the Manchester event, including Floral Sugarcraft, Yeast Cookery, Novelty Cake, Wedding Cake, Cupcakes and Decorated Celebration Cake. All the beautifully decorated and designed cakes were displayed for visitors to view. This was definitely one of the popular parts of the show, there were so many cakes to see and be amazed at! I hope you enjoy the following photos of some of my favourites….

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes these are not real flowers, they are made from sugarcraft!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
   
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

And finally, a simple yet stunning design that I really loved…

 

Mary Berry

 

Without a doubt my personal highlight of the show. It is the first time I have seen Mary in person, and she exudes warmth and kindness. She started her time on the Bakery Theatre stage by talking about a little girl who had won gold in one of the cake competitions, and she wanted to know if the girl was in the crowd so she could invite her up on stage. Unfortunately the girl wasn’t there but it was such a thoughtful gesture. She then went on to make a joke about how her and Paul have been named some of TV’s best presenters and “Simon Cowell better watch out!”

 

Mary really interacted with the audience throughout her demonstration, asking about what we thought of Paul Hollywood and his blue eyes. She said he was funny and also talked about Mel and Sue’s great ability to calm all the GBBO contestants nerves. She gave Sue’s new sitcom, Heading Out, a plug too!

Mary showed us how to make three dishes; A pear tart, mini banoffee pies and a Simnel cake. Although I was in awe the whole way through, I felt like the recipes took back stage somewhat to her anecdotes, tips and stories. She used tinned pears for the tart, and said she likes using shortcuts where possible. The filling for the pear tart consisted of cream cheese, lemon curd and lemon zest. Mary always uses full fat cream cheese, and full fat everything else. She told us she would rather have one small slice that tastes really good, than more and it not be as nice.

 

Mary talked about her appearance on The Graham Norton Show, she said Graham was “quite saucy” and she had trouble deciding what to wear. She found a cardigan that her husband said was over the top, but she decided that Graham was over the top too, so it would be ok! Hugh Jackman was on the show as well, and put his hand on Mary’s knee, which was a highlight for her! It would be for me too! However, as you can see from the photo I found below, it seems Mary was the one with both her hands on Hugh’s knee!

I as mentioned, Mary really likes using shortcuts and making things easier when baking. She said that there was a lot to learn at Cake International from all the new products on offer. For the banoffee pies Mary used another shortcut, the tinned Carnation caramel, she added butter and muscovado sugar to it and heated them together. She also had a handy tip about freezing bananas if they were starting to go brown.

 

When Mary featured on Desert Island Discs, she told us that the presenter Kirsty Young brought along some biscuits that her 10 year old daughter had made and wanted Mary’s appraisal on. Mary said they were over baked, but tasted delicious. She said she can always find something nice to say, as you have probably noticed on GBBO!

The last thing Mary made was a Simnel Cake. She had a few tips, such as making sure your butter is always at room temperature, greasing the cake tin with butter so the greaseproof paper don’t slip, and microwaving a cut lemon to make juicing it easier. She asked the audience to give her stage assistant Georgia a round of applause which was really nice. Georgia had sieved the apricot jam for the Simnel Cake, but Mary said she wouldn’t do this at home, as she quite likes the bits! She commented on the different styles that her and Paul have. He likes everything to be perfect, whereas she doesn’t mind.

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As you may know, The Great British Bake Off won a BAFTA award. As the cast were sat in Row H, Sue told Mary they had no chance of winning as they were two far away from the stage. But to their surprise, they did! It is clear that Mary has an interest in fashion as she talked about how excited she was to see what everyone was wearing at the award ceremony. I just had to post the below picture of Mary looking absolutely gorgeous and glamorous at the National Television Awards as soon as I saw it!

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The final touches to the Simnel cake were using a blowtorch to brown the marzipan on top. Mary said she never had a blowtorch as her naughty children would have ended up chasing each other with it! She also used crystallised primroses to decorate the top. Which you can make by coating the primroses in some beaten egg, sprinkling with sugar and then leaving in a warm place to harden.

 

As Mary’s time on the Bakery Theatre stage drew to an end, she answered several questions from the audience. She told us that he favourite thing to bake was her mother’s ginger cake with stem ginger, and that for Mother’s Day she would like a Simnel Cake or a Sherry Trifle. She advised us to use good quality cupcake cases, to pre-cook pastry before filling it to avoid soggy bottoms, to cook large cakes for longer on lower temperatures, and finally when a little girl asked for advice on how to make chocolate teacakes, she said “get your mum and dad to help”. At the end Mary signed some autographs and it was children first. Just another example of what a nice lady she is!

If you missed Cake International in Manchester you can catch it again at the ExCeL in London (April 2013) and the NEC, Birmingham (November 2013). Check out the website for more details and to buy tickets!

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Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

After watching the Great British Bake Off Christmas Special with Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood showing us some of their favourite Christmas bakes, I just had to make Mary Berry’s Bûche de Noël! They also made Christmas cake and pudding – unfortunately I stand in the camp of not liking Christmas pudding – so the Bûche de Noël was a great alternative idea.

I made the ganache topping first because it has to cool down and set in the fridge for a few hours. I heated 300ml of double cream on the hob until it was quite warm. Mary says for it to be just hot enough that you can still hold your finger it in.

I mixed in 300g dark chocolate until it was smooth and glossy. I left it on the window sill to cool to room temperature, then popped it in the fridge for a few hours while I made the rest of the Bûche de Noël.

I missed the boat on taking photos during this point, apologies! I used my food mixer to whisk up 4 eggs with 100g caster sugar until it was frothy. Then sifted in 65g self-raising flour and 40g cocoa powder and folded it into the egg mixture gently so as not to lose the frothiness.

I put it into a lined baking tray (I don’t have a swiss roll tin, but this works just as well) and baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 8-10 minutes. It sprang back up when I pressed it with a fingertip.

I prepared a sheet of baking paper dusted generously with icing sugar, I tipped the sponge out onto this while it was still hot, peeled off the baking paper it was baked in, and used a knife to make a grove along one end about 2cm from the end. Then I rolled the sponge up as tight as I could, taking the paper with it. I left it to cool fully still wrapped in the paper.

Once it was cold, I whipped up 300ml of cream, I’d say to use less as I had a lot left over. Unless you want extra cream to serve with the Bûche de Noël!

I unrolled the sponge and spread out the cream onto it using a palette knife.

Then I rolled it up again, I was pretty happy with the neatness of my roll!

I cut the roll diagonally at one end and positioned on a serving board to look like a branch.

The ganache was nice and thick by now. You want it to be as thick as a butter cream. I used a star nozzle and piping bag to pipe the ganache in lines along the roll, and swirls at each of the three ends.

A dusting of icing sugar and it was ready to eat! Sadly I didn’t have a faux holly sprig to decorate with, but I still think it looks pretty good! This is the first time I’ve followed a Mary Berry recipe exactly, and it worked perfectly with all her instructions and tips, she really is a genius!

I have also entered this into Blue Kitchen Bakes Classic French Challenge!

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