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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Easter Festivities

I'm one of those people who if their going to attend a fancy dress/ costume party they go all out!!
This is the same for making and baking. I blame my university tutors for my least admired trait: Perfection. In fact I strive so much for it that it causes a lot more stress than needed!

So with the idea of an Easter themed party on the horizon I took to Pinterest- my new love- pinning cake ideas with so much enthusiasm forgetting the fact that I am not Nigella Lawson nor do 50% of Pins actually work... Lets also point out here, I don't really cook, I'm still stuck in student attempts are to the standard my grandma would be proud of- with my repertoire of Rock Cakes (or rotton buns- new post maybe?) and banana bread. BUT I am a trained prop maker and so therefore INVINCIBLE! *brandishes scroll of proof, mounts trusty steed and gallops off towards mission*

Here are a selection of 3 treats I made using ideas found on Pinterest- The Partiologist's Blog, Woman's Weekly and Stork Margarine and served at my first Mary Kay Makeup and Skincare party this Easter weekend.

Hidden Design 'Carrot Patch' Cake

Full Credit and Kudos go to The Partiologist ! Please click the link for the original! 

The image below is my own attempt with a homemade batter.

I have made a hidden heart cake before and felt ready to up my game! I didn't have any fancy tools and I wanted to make my own cake batter: I used 2 different recipes: Delia Smith's All-In-One Sponge for the orange carrots and Good Food's Double Chocolate Loaf Cake (Delia's chocolate cake was too pale and too small) so here's my attempt at this great cake! And...IT WORKED *chorus of angels sing Hallelujah* 

Shopping List (for both cake batters):
  • 9oz self raising flour (4oz for orange, 5 oz for chocolate)
  • 10oz margarine (4oz for orange, 6 oz for chocolate) plus more for greasing
  • 4oz white caster sugar (for orange)
  • 6oz golden caster sugar (for chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (1 for orange, 1/2 for chocolate)
  • 5 eggs (2 for orange, 3 for chocolate)
  • Grease-proof paper
  • 2lb loaf tin (for both)
  • 100ml milk (chocolate) 
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 85g ground almonds (for chocolate) 
  • bar of dark chocolate (to melt)
  • green ready-to-roll icing 
  • Icing sugar for dusting (leaves)
Hidden Design Creation: In order Left to Right.
  • Grease loaf tin and line with grease proof paper.
  • Follow link for Delia Smith's cake recipe. Mix in many drops of orange food colouring to desired colour. 
  • Pour batter into loaf tin and bake in preheated oven for about 30mins at 170 degrees C.   
  • Turn out sponge onto cooling rack. Only when it is fully cooled. Cut loaf into 2cm wide slices. I turned the cake on its side. Using a knife cut out triangular 'carrot' shapes. Put to one side.
'Clean' out bowl for your next sponge.
 *Disclaimer: Obviously wash bowls/utensils properly!!!*

  • Grease loaf tin and line with new grease-proof paper.
  • Follow link for Good Food's Chocolate Loaf cake recipe. 
  • Pour a little mixture to coat the bottom of loaf tin. 
  • Place orange sponge carrots point upwards in a row into the chocolate batter. Push down and try and avoid gaps. Its a little fiddly! 
  • Pour the remaining chocolate batter around the carrots and around the edge, smooth out the batter to ensure its in the corners of the tin. remember the batter will rise so allow space in the tin for this! The carrot sponge will not burn if they are covered in batter (and will get covered in batter when it rises). As you can see my carrots poked out the mixture and the tin- I just removed the burnt ends once cake was cooled! 
  •  Bake in preheated oven for about 45-50mins (but keep checking!) at 160 degrees C. Place foil over the top if the edges have cooked but the middle hasn't.  Cool on wire-rack

  •  Turn loaf over, pour over melted dark chocolate and let it drizzle down sides.
  • Leave for chocolate to set at room temperature- wrapped in foil (with space above surface).
  • Roll out green ready-to-roll icing onto grease-proof paper dusted with icing sugar. 
  • Cut out leave shapes and indent 'veins'
  • Attach leaves with dabs of melted chocolate. 
  • Serve and cross fingers all your efforts have worked!


Meringue Chicks 

Result: 'Fat bottomed Ducks'

Inspired by a recipe in Women's Weekly April 2015.

Shopping List: 
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 6oz caster (white) sugar
  • large piping bag + star nozzle
  • grease-proof paper lined baking tray
  • chocolate drops
  • yellow + orange food colouring
  • yellow ready to roll icing

I 'recruited' motherly guidance for this bake-if you haven't made meringue before be prepared with a large hen house of eggs! I went through 10 eggs before realizing using the printed recipe was not going to work. I finally used Delia Smith's Meringue recipe.

I stirred in yellow food colouring - I would recommend putting a good amount in, my chicks came out anemic.

Teardrop shapes with 'blob' on top
Out of the Oven
Next spoon the yellow meringue into a large piping bag with a star nozzle. I prepared a baking tray lined with grease proof paper (attached with butter). Then pipe the meringue into a filled-in medium tear drop shape. If you want chicks, pipe meringue on top of the rounded edge of the tear drop create a blob for the head.

                                 Bake in the oven at 140 degrees C for 45minutes.

Now the fun tedious part!  

For the wings: Roll out the yellow icing on to grease proof paper dusted with icing sugar. I have no fancy tools so I used a knife to cut out a large petal shape, used a cocktail stick to indent lines and then cut it in half. Use yellow coloured 'stiff' glace (icing sugar + water + yellow food colouring) icing to stick onto the meringues.

For the beaks: Colour a small ball of yellow icing with orange food colouring. Take a tiny bit off and make a tiny cone shape. Using scissors cut down the cone at the point half way towards the base. Splay each half of the beak out using a cocktail stick and secure to chick with glace icing.

To finish: Paint on yellow food colouring to add some depth (or 'iron') to your anemic chicks.
Using glace icing 'glue' on some eyes using chocolate drops. Present on a plate.

The final product: A great Eastery treat- especially for your gluten-free guests! Inside was a lot more yellow too- they made a great centre piece.

Fairy Cake selection: 

Fairy Cake selection
3 varieties 

All cakes are made using a simple Mary Berry recipe with the exception of using 5oz self-raising flour to bulk it out.

Flower Power

  • Mix up a 'stiff' glace icing and colour using red (or pink) food colouring to desired shade. 
  • Smooth over tops of cakes using a teaspoon. 
  •  Sprinkle freeze-dried strawberries and edible shimmer.
  • Place flower decoration on top. Alternatively you could pipe on a flower or use mini marshmallows to create flower shape. 


Cornflake Nests (Credit to Stork Margarine Advert 2015)

  •  Gauge out the top of the cake using a knife to make a 'well'.
  • Melt 100g of dark chocolate
    and 50g butter and mix.
  • Add 3 tbsp of golden syrup.
  • Pour chocolate mixture onto cornflakes and combine.
  • Using 2 teaspoons scoop the mixture on top of the cakes 
  • Place 2 mini eggs on top.

For the Gluten-free among you- Make the basic nests using Gluten-Free Cornflakes found in the Free From aisle.  I added white chocolate drops and mini marshmallows to bulk them out.


'Rabbit Poo' with decorative Strawberry

Using the Mary Berry recipe except use the suggested 4oz (75g) self-raising flour and add 1oz (25g) cocoa powder.
Before placing in the oven, add chocolate chips to the mixture. Dollop into individual cake cases in a muffin tin and sprinkle on more choc chip.

  • Melt milk chocolate in microwave for 20 secs.
  • Smooth over tops of cakes.
  • Place half a strawberry on top.
  • Keep in the fridge wrapped in foil.