Search Results for: Decorating

Peggy Porschen Cakes in Bloom Review

Peggy Porschen Cakes in Bloom

It’s no big secret that I’m a huge fan of Peggy Porschen.  She makes the most amazingly beautiful cakes with the most amazingly beautiful sugar flowers.

I used to spend ages carefully studying the gorgeous floral tiered wedding cakes that filled the large windows of her pastel pink parlour in Belgravia. Just take a peak at the stunning cakes displayed in her parlour windows, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. They’re breathtaking.

“If only I could make those one day” I thought.

So imagine my surprise when I received an email from the Peggy Porschen Academy inviting me attend an Anemone flower and cake decorating course!  Seriously! I could hardly contain myself.

Peggy Porschen Anemone Cake

My anemone cake that I made with Peggy during her course.

 

Over the course of the day Peggy taught our class everything we needed to know in order to make a picture perfect cake fit for a wedding or anniversary. I left the course with a gorgeous cake complete with three beautiful sugarpaste anemone flowers. I’ll tell you all about the course in another post, but for now lets focus on sugarpaste flowers.

I was so pleased with the way my anemone flowers turned out after Peggy’s course that I couldn’t’ wait to learn how to make other types of flowers.  I was thrilled to find out that Peggy Porschen was releasing a new book filled entirely with sugarpaste flowers, and instructions on how to make them!

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions was released last year (just about the same that time I put my blog on hiatus, hence the late review).  It’s a stunning book packed full of beautiful realistic looking sugar flowers, and detailed instructions on exactly how to make them. This is definitely Peggy’s most advanced and specialised book that she’s released. In addition to step by step instructions and photos showing you exactly how to make the flowers, there’s also several cake recipes as well. But the main focus of Cakes in Bloom is the sugar flowers.

Peggy Porschen Flowers

There’s a huge variety of flowers to learn in this book.  From tiny stephanotis blossoms, to large English roses and exotic orchids.  You’ll make the folks at Kew Gardens jealous by the time you finish making them all!

I love that this book has flowers and techniques suitable for all levels, and that you don’t have to be a professional cake decorator to make them. If you’re just starting to learn how to make sugar flowers, you can easily start off by making hand formed rose buds which are perfect for cupcakes and don’t require any specialty equipment like cutters and wire.

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions

Peggy Porschen Mini Rose Cakes

A selection of the flowers that Peggy has included in the book are:

Peonies
Roses
Anemones
Pansies
Sweetpeas
Orchids
Hydrangeas

Peggy Porschen David Austin Rose

To give you a better idea of what’s exactly in Peggy’s new book, and the level of detail included in it I’ve done a little video review to show you. I filmed this review over a year ago, and at the time Cakes in Bloom hadn’t come out yet, so just ignore that part.

Watch my Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions below:

Cakes in Bloom, Exquisite Sugarcraft Flowers for All Occasions is available to purchase from Amazon UK here, and Amazon US here.

If you sugar flowers aren’t really your thing, Peggy is releasing her newest book Love Layer Cakes next Month, and it’s sure to be filled with even more delicious recipes.

Thanks to Quadrille Publishing for sending me a review copy of Cakes in Bloom.

Peggy Porschen Roses

Triple Layer Chocolate Mud Cake

American chocolate mud cake

Nothing beats a good chocolate cake.  There’s just something so satisfying about slicing your fork through layers of fluffy chocolate sponge before hitting the gooey chocolate frosting centre, and then another layer of chocolate sponge.

For someone who loves chocolate so much, it’s actually been a remarkably long time since I’ve baked a chocolate cake. Probably because I order chocolate cake any chance I get when I’m out, so I try to bake something different when I’m home.

During my unintentionally long hiatus from blogging, I developed a bit of an obsession with layer cakes.  I’d go on late night pinning sprees (my layer cake board is here if you’re interested) where I came across a few different Australian Mud Cake recipes.

Before Pinterest mud cakes had always been somewhat of a myth to me.  The kind of thing you’d make in your back garden when you were a kid.  When I realised they were actually real, I just assumed it was another name for a chocolate cake. Kind of like a Devil’s Food Cake, or a chocolate fudge cake.

Chocolate mud cakes are actually a super dense and moist rich chocolate cake that’s perfect for carving. Some even say they’re similar in density to a brownie. Since they’re an Australian invention, most recipes I’ve found have Australian measurements which differ slightly from UK and American measurements.

American chocolate mud cake

After planning on making a chocolate mud cake for weeks, I’d settled on trying one from one of my favourite cake books – Australian Woman’s Weekly Decorating Cakes, but then I’d read somewhere online that mud cakes can be quite tricky to master.  My fear of failure kicked in, and I ended up switching the recipe I was going to use with one that I’d found on Pinterest which claimed to be an Americanised fail proof recipe.

There’s a serious amount of chocolate in this cake, and it’s gooooood.  I’m not able to compare it to an authentic Australian mud cake, so I can’t say for sure whether this is as good or better than the original, but it was definitely good.  So good that when I bought the leftover cake into the office the next day three different people asked me for the recipe.

The original recipe calls for this cake to be baked in two 8 inch pans, but I baked them in three 6 inch rounds instead and the amount of batter was just right.  The only word of advice I’d give is that if you’re baking these in 6 inch pans, then you’ll need to adjust your baking time and temperature slightly since the cakes will be thicker and take a little longer to cook.  Admittedly I wasn’t paying attention, and forgot my cakes were in the oven so I think the texture ended up being dryer and crumblier than they were supposed to be, but they were still good, and definitely not dry.

This recipe calls for a rich chocolately sour cream frosting, but I opted to go with a chocolate butter cream that I whipped up myself without a recipe, purely because I didn’t have sour cream and I was too lazy to go out and buy some.

American chocolate mud cake

I can’t wait to try baking an authentic Australian mud cake next to see how it compares to this “American” version. If you know a good Australian mud cake recipe, or any tips on baking them feel free to leave me a comment and let me know!

American Mud Cake with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

via Cake Paper Party

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks, or 8 ounces, or 227 grams) each halved
7 ounces (198 grams) 72% cacao or more dark chocolate, chopped or broken coarsely (I used Ghiradelli Twilight Delight)
2 cups (14 ounces, or 397 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (2 ounces, or 57 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder (I recommend Cacao Barry Extra Brute or Pernigotti)
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) strong hot coffee or hot water plus 1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups (10 ounces, or 284 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 grams) baking powder
1 ½ tsp (9 grams) baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
½ tsp (4 grams) salt

For the Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

½ cup (4 ½ ounces, or 128 grams by weight) sour cream
½ cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) granulated sugar
½ cup (5 ¼ ounces by weight, or 150 grams) corn syrup
1 Tbsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (12 ounces, or 3 sticks, or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (3 ½ ounces, or 100 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder
4 cups (16 ounces, or 454 grams) powdered sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans* with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
2. In an 8-cup microwave safe container, melt butter and chocolate. Heat butter and chocolate for 1 minute followed with 30 second intervals, whisking until completely melted.
3. Whisk in sugar and then cocoa powder until fully incorporated. Slowly add hot coffee in 3 increments whisking until smooth. Add vanilla and then the eggs one at a time.
4. In a mixer bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix with the wire beater until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Once it is all added, beat on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and beat for 30 seconds more until smooth.
5. Pour into cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester just comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out to a cooling rack to cool completely or wrap in plastic wrap until needed. Frost and fill with Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting or other icing and filling. Enjoy! *This makes 2 thick layers that can be torted but could also be baked in 3 8-inch pans.

For the Frosting

6. Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds to aid dissolving of sugar. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.
7. In a mixer bowl beat butter with a paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in cocoa powder on low speed until smooth and creamy. With mixer on low gradually add in sour cream mixture; beat for 30 seconds to incorporate. Add powdered sugar and mix on low speed until smooth and blended. Note: beating the mixture at a higher speed with result in a lighter, fluffier frosting.
8. Use to frost and fill American Mud Cake or cake or cupcakes of your choice.

American chocolate mud cake

I’m submitting my cake to this month’s Chocolate themed Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen from Lavendar and Lovage, and Jane from the Hedgecombers

teatime treats

My triple layer chocolate mud cake also uses free range eggs which you can read about in my post here, so I’m submitting it to Simply Eggcellent hosted by Dom over at Belleau Kitchen

Simply eggcellent

Valentine’s Day Quilted Heart Cookies

Over the past few years I’ve acquired a fair amount of baking and decorating paraphernalia.  OK, quite a lot may be an understatement.  It’s actually case loads. I’ve got good intentions to use it all, but the reality is I rarely have time to sit down anymore and have a play around with all my decorating tools.

Fondant heart cookies

Luckily for me there was a day this week when the stars aligned and what seemed like the impossible was actually possible. I’ve wanted to make fondant topped sugar cookies for ages now, so Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse to make some pretty heart cookies.

I whipped up a batch of cookies using my favourite recipe (here), and tinted my fondant while I waited for them to bake. After rooting around for a few minutes in one of my decorating boxes, I pulled out a quilted patchwork cutter, and a set of fondant crimpers.  I hadn’t used either of these before so was a bit unsure how to actually use each of them but they were pretty easy to figure out.

Fondant heart cookies
The patchwork cutter (here) is really simple to use, and produced a really pretty effect.  I can see it quickly becoming one of my favourite tolls to use with fondant. Simply press the cutter firmly in the fondant, making sure to to press evenly all over the cutter and then gently lift up. Cut out a piece of the patterned fondant using the same (but clean) cookie cutter as you did with the cookies.
 

Once your cookies are out of the oven and cooled, brush a little water on the back of your fondant shapes (this acts just like glue) and gently press them on top of your cookies.  Leave them aside for an hour or so for the fondant to stiffen up. 

Fondant heart cookies

The fondant crimpers took a bit of getting used to. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to use them, so tested them on a piece of rolled fondant first, and was pleasantly surprised with the results.  The crimpers (similar to these) produced a really delicate frilly design, so I used them to work my way around the outer edge of the fondant heart, and then back around the inside to add a second frilly row.

It was my first time making fondant topped cookies, and using the tools too create the different effects. As is the case with most of the things I bake, I’m taking these into the office so they’re not staring me in the face every moment of the day waiting for me to gobble them up.  But I did save a few of them so I could make a special batch of blue hearts for my two Valentines that will be home today.

Happy Valentine’s Day

 Fondant heart cookies

A Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

 A very hungry caterpillar dessert table

When you’re a kid the day of your birthday party is pretty much the most important day of the year (ok, maybe aside from Christmas, and Halloween).  There’s always such a build up of anticipation leading up to the big day.   What presents will you get?  What will your birthday cake look like?  And worst of all, what if you’re friends forget to come?

My favourite thing to do in the days leading up to my birthday party was going to the cake decorating store with my mom to pick out a Wilton character cake pan.  There were dozens of pans to choose from, and they lined the walls of the shop.  I’d stare at the walls for ages choosing my pan, carefully studying the designs over and over.  I’d choose a different pan each year, and over the course of my childhood I had cakes that ranged from disney characters, to dinosaurs, to a big orange Garfield.  
 
The pans would come with a full sized colour decorating guide that my mom would carefully follow, ensuring that the final cake looked equally as perfect as the one in the guide.  When it came time to make the icing I’d sit in the kitchen while she’d whip up a big batch of buttercream.  Mom would hand me a beater to lick while she divided the icing into tupperware bowls so she could mix up all of the individual colours that were required for the cake. 
 
The decorating technique for these cakes was simple but effective, and consisted of piping hundreds of little stars in various colours all over the cake.  Thinking about it now, this technique is actually quite similar to following a cross stitch pattern. Nothing could beat the taste of those birthday cakes, with their crusted buttercream icing and a scoop of ice cream on the side.
 
Even after all the years that have past since my childhood birthday parties a level of excitement still remains whenever a birthday cake is brought out and presented to everyone at a party – no matter what their age.    

A very hungry caterpillar cake

And it’s that level of excitement that I love to re-create when I decorate cakes for other people – especially my little boy.  He turned two this year, and although he’s not quite old enough to choose the design for his cake, I was pretty sure a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake would make him a very happy boy indeed.  And a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed dessert table would make me even happier!  Instead of only featuring a variety of shades of green, I also opted for a rainbow theme to tie all my desserts  together.  

A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
The decorations were just as fun to put together as the desserts were.  I made good use of my elementary school craft skills by making an ombre green tissue paper “2”, and accordion fan circles which I turned into a Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I also made some little menu cards to label all of the yummy desserts which included:

– Rainbow Birthday Cake with a Very Hungry Caterpillar on top
– Chocolate Cupcakes with matching fruit and leaves from the book
– Vanilla Cupcakes
– Rainbow Jello
– “Caterpillar Food” aka mixed fruit candy
– Lemonade 

A very hungry caterpillar birthday party

One of my favourite little details were something I didn’t even make!  The folks over at DotComGiftShop were nice enough to send me some red and white paper straws, and some adorable little vintage style 1/2 pint milk bottles to display my drinks in.  The bottles were the perfect size for little hands to hold.

In the coming days I’ll be posting the recipes and tutorials for some of the desserts I made, but for now I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the party. Enjoy! 

 12142797583_8c4f4bf605_c
 cake dessert table
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
 A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar birthday party
A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
 A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
A very hungry caterpillar dessert table
That’s the end of the party.  Time to clean up!
12142445165_f2e26b728f_c