Sunday, 17 February 2013

60th Birthday Cupcakes

It's been a manic few weeks and we've finally settled into our new house, we still have some unpacking to do - in particular my baking stuff! But I managed to find all the bits I needed for a cupcake order I had this week. I feel like it's all been packed away for weeks (which it has) so it was nice to get some of it out and do some baking again. I do feel like I make a lot of fondant covered birthday cakes, which I do, but it was nice to be asked to do some cupcakes again as I can't remember the last time I did some for a birthday.

The order in question was for a batch of 30, 10 carrot cake, 10 vanilla and 10 chocolate. Cream cheese icing for the carrot cake, lemon for the vanilla and of course chocolate for the chocolate. I always use the Hummingbird Bakery recipes for my cupcakes, it's foolproof - perfect every time.

For all of the cupcakes I decided to ice them with the Wilton 1M piping nozzle for the rose swirl effect, it wins every time in my opinion and always makes them look that extra bit special. Each batch was to have its own design, the carrot cake cupcakes were easy, cream cheese icing and of course tiny carrot decorations. I got a pack of 12 chocolate ones from Sainsbury's which I thought was a nice alternative to fondant can't really go wrong with chocolate can you? I kinda thought it was best to keep these ones clean, simple and classic.

For the vanilla ones we decided on lemon buttercream, vanilla on vanilla can be a bit bland so a small kick of lemon really lifts it. Flowers had been requested so I made some thin fondant daisies and to give it that bit extra I cut out some rice paper butterflies, along with the lemon yellow icing they looked really cute and summery, my favourite by far.

Right now, the chocolate ones, I decided to go all out on the chocolate for these with chocolate patterned hearts on top of the chocolate buttercream. I bought some transfers at Cake International in November and loved the vintage rose one I finally got to use for this order. Using white chocolate for a nice contrast to the dark, the rose patterned hearts ended up looking really pretty against the buttercream, perfect for a 60th I think.

Placing all of my little cupcakes in their box they all looked so cute and professional and each batch had one cupcake with a pink fondant '60' on it. All lined up in order they really looked the business. I think it's fair to say I've got the cupcake buzz again, can't wait to see what I cook up next!

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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Old Hunstanton Weekend & The Lodge (photo post)

Picture from their website

This weekend we were invited to go away for the weekend with some of our extended family for their birthday to Hunstanton and staying in Old Hunstanton. I've only ever been once before so it was nice to go back, even though it was cooooold it was still sunny and a nice weekend away. We stayed in The Lodge which was amaaaaaazing, great hotel, great food, great location - win, win and win. I also have to say the staff were lovely and helpful too which really makes somewhere stand out, no complaints at all.

My Instagram soon filled up with pictures of the seaside, food and more food. The night we got there we sat by an open fire drinking wine before going into the gorgeous dining room for dinner. The whole place kept a great balance between a Victorian hotel but with modern touches, high ceilings, big windows, log fires and modern and sleek bedrooms and contemporary interiors. We were going to explore other places to eat but decided to eat in as it was fully booked all the time but as we were staying we got a big table reserved for us, and we're glad we did as the food was brilliant.

After our wine by the log fire we moved into the dining room for our first dinner. We all decided to go for starters and mains. This was my downfall, considering I chose ribs for main...a starter was a bad choice for me as they were both good portions so I really struggled! I had nachos to start which can be a bit hit and miss but the plate was full and covered in cheese, salsa, jalapenos and pots of soured cream and guacamole, best I've had.  So I then wished I had chosen something lighter...but the full rack of baby back ribs covered in sauce was really good, but far too much for me with a starter but impressive anyway, fell off the bone. Needless to say we didn't make it to dessert. Which is a shame as they looked yummy too.

Breakfast was just as impressive, normally you just get a choice between full English and cereal etc, but here we got unlimited toast, tea, coffee, juice etc. Then cereal, fruit, croissaints and then a choice of lovely breakfasts. I always judge a place by their poached eggs, some don't even offer this choice but I prefer them above all other kinds of eggs - you get it - I like poached eggs. I chose smoked salmon and poached eggs, you also get a huge portion of salmon compared to most places and it tasted beautifully too, not too salty but lovely and soft and almost pink - loved it!

We then spent a few hours walking down to Hunstanton beach, buying sweets, wasting money on the arcades and taking yet more pictures. All the sea air and hours of walking (can you tell I'm not used to it) really made us tired so we headed back to the hotel for some birthday cake.


 Unfortunately I don't really like coffee and walnut cake so I treated myself to a scone with cream and jam...look at the cream, it's like a Mr. Whippy!! Yes I just got excited by clotted cream.

Ok so after all the food and walking we went back to the room to sleep/play Temple Run 2 on the iPad and prepare for yet more food later. Learning from my previous mistake...sort of. I still had the nacho starter (it was that good), but I chose a smaller main. This time I opted for the gnocchi with cream and tomato pesto sauce which does sound heavy but it actually wasn't - it was delicious. Our table also ordered fish and chips and I thought it was a great touch that they served it with a piece of printed newspaper. I still couldn't face any dessert, I went to Hunstanton and not once did I have ANY icecream, what wizardry is this??

The next day after breakfast we went back down to get some bits from the town and decided to go to The Gin Trap for lunch as we heard it was nice. The truth however was a cold and empty pub with a barmaid that just stared at you constantly until you felt so uncomfortable that you eventually leave and go to the much friendlier 'The White Horse' in Holme-next-the-Sea. Which was warm, friendly and actually had other customers in it that even looked happy, so we decided to stay. I wish I'd taken a picture of the roast dinner as it looked epic and the yorkshire was the size of my head. I, however had fish and chips which was again huge! But so good, not greasy or oily but crisp batter, soft and flakey fish and it didn't make me feel sick after which is always a bonus! Enough to keep us going for the journey home anyway, I know it may have been ice cold and you couldn't exactly go sunbathing, but a trip to the seaside was just what I needed :)

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Zebra Robot Cake....yep - that's what I said

So as some of you know, I always make a cake for my guys at work, we LOVE birthdays so we always make a big deal out of them because work can be hard, everyone needs a nice birthday. It reminds me of The Office (US) when Jim decides to roll all of the office birthdays into one and everyone revolts...because everyone loves their birthday!

This particular cake was for Laura, and Laura has two main loves - robots...and zebras. So of course this is what her cake had to feature. I've seen a few zebra print cakes online and thought they looked brilliant and not too difficult which was a bonus.

I covered the cake in white fondant as a base for the print and I used black fondant for the stripes. To get the look I rolled out the black fondant fairly thinly and cut it up with a pizza slice to get irregular stripes to look more realistic. Layering these on I again used irregular spacing and shapes so it didn't look too manufactured. This process was really easy and effective - has anyone else tried zebra print before? I was worried it would look a little plain but it actually turned out quite funky.

Now for the robots, I picked up a really great robot silicone mould from Sew White - one of my favourite online baking shops. Much easier than attempting to mould them and the detail is brilliant. I melted white chocolate into the mould and left it to cool which didn't take long. Then I painted the chocolate robots with edible silver paint I bought for Christmas baking, these gave them a great metallic look which made them look super cute!

I really wasn't sure how else to decorate the cake, it started to get a very mechanical and quirky feel so I decided on decorating the rest of the cake with liquorice all sorts which went really well with the theme. I really love the robot cake and can't wait to use the mould for more little goodies, robot cake pops perhaps?? Pin It Now!
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