With Royal Wedding fever now in full swing, and only 4 days left until the big day I thought I’d share a few cupcakes decorating ideas I put together. Here in the UK we’ve been lucky enough to be given the day off as a national holiday (thanks Will & Kate!), so there will be thousands of viewing parties and the occasional street party going on so we can all help share in the celebrations. But – those parties just don’t apply to the people living in the UK. That’s right, all across the world friends will be getting together to watch the Royal Wedding and share in the festivities. And what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes!
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I don’t know of a cake that’s any more British than the Victoria Sponge cake. When I first moved to the UK and started visiting cute little coffee shops I noticed the Victoria Sponge cake everywhere. It jumped out at me for 2 reasons. Firstly, because I’d never seen it before, and secondly, becasue it wasn’t covered in a thick layer of rich buttercream icing like all the cakes were back home. When I started talking to people about my love of baking I’d often ask them what their favourite cake or dessert was, and Victoria Sponge was the one mentioned most often. I didn’t really get it. I mean, the Victoria Sponge cake looked rather plain and unimpressive, and I’d seen plenty of other cakes that were more rich and decadent that I’d rather try. But then I realised something – UK tastes are totally different than North American tastes. Overly sweet things just aren’t as popular here. Sure, they have loads of sweet and delicious desserts here, but the Victoria Sponge cake is considered more of a lighter option. Something that you could enjoy with a cup of afternoon tea, and that wouldn’t leave you feeling overly heavy after you’ve eaten it.
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.
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.
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
A selection of the flowers that Peggy has included in the book are:
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:
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.
These days we all lead pretty busy lives. It seems like the topic of every conversation I have with friends and co-workers some how involves just how busy we all are. Even finding a suitable date in the calendar for two friends to get together for a cup of coffee can seem like a challenge. And don’t even get me started on trying to find the time to purchase a birthday gift, or flowers to celebrate the birth of a new baby. If you’re like me, you can often find yourself scrambling a few days after the big event, and then trying to come up with some excuse as to why the present is so late.
By now it’s no secret the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is coming up next week. Over here in the UK we’re in full BBQ and street party planning mode.
My street party snacks are the perfect addition to your Jubilee table – they’re patriotic, three out of the four are quick and easy, you can make them all ahead of time, they’re all very transportable, and best of all they taste great!!!
I’ve decided to split the recipes for my Jubilee treats into two separate posts, otherwise you’d be reading this post forever!
Ready to Roll Fondant – I used Renshaw Regal Ice White Chocolate flavour
Liquid Fondant – (I used the Silver Spoon powdered version that you mix with water)
Red and Blue gel colouring
1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Line two* square 8″x8″ cake pans with parchment paper and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 5-8 minutes).
*I divided my batter up, and made 6 cupcakes for another project and used the rest in a 9″x9″ pan which made 16 petit fours approx 1.5″x1.5″
2. Add in the eggs 1 at a time to ensure they don’t curdle the butter and sugar mixture. Beat well before adding each following egg. Beat in the vanilla extract.
3. Gently fold the self raising flour and baking powder into the butter, sugar and egg mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix. Divide the batter equally between the two pans, making sure that the batter is as flat and even as possible. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.
4. Let the cakes cool in their pans at before lifting them out by the parchment paper. Leave the parchment paper on your cake, and wrap it in cling film before placing it in the freezer for about an hour to firm up slightly.
5. While your cake is chilling in the freezer make your buttercream icing according to your favourite recipe. (I don’t have a recipe for my buttercream – I just cream a block of butter and keep on adding icing sugar (with a nit of milk and vanilla) until it tastes right.
*The instructions below are for one 9×9 cake (as I mentioned above). If you’ve made two 8×8 cakes, follow the instructions below twice.
6. Take your cake out of the freezer ensuring that the bottom of the cake is facing upwards (this ensures you’ll have a perfectly flat top) and slice it in half so you end up with two layers. I used a Wilton cake slicer, but a steady hand and knife should do the trick. Open your cake so that the freshly cut sides are facing up. Spread a thin layer of the balckcurrant jam on one half of the cake (remove any large currents), and a layer of buttercream on the other half (make sure it’s as smooth as possible).
Sandwich the two layers together so the fillings are in the middle, making sure that the edges are aligned. Next, trim the edges of your cake to ensure it’s perfectly square with nice sharp edges. Spread another layer of buttercream on the top (which was once the bottom) of your cake, making sure it’s as smooth ad level as possible.
Roll out your fondant so it’s about 3mm in thickness. Cut a square of fondant out the same size as your cake (you can use the bottom of your cake pan as a guide, and trim the edges later). Place the fondant over your buttercream covered cake top and smooth it out, ensuring you don’t have any trapped air under the fondant. Trim off any excess fondant so that the edges are flush, and it’s exactly the same size as the cake.
Cut your fondant covered cake into small squares – once trimmed, my 9×9 cake made 16 squares.
7. Prepare your liquid pouring fondant according to directions on the package – I added in about a teaspoon of glucose to mine to help make it spread easier. I used Silver Spoon brand which is available in most supermarkets, but you can also buy other bands at speciality cake stores. One 500g box was just enough to cover my 16 petit fours.
Place a 1/3 of your cake squares on a wire rack that’s been placed over a baking dish. Start by pouring a tablespoon or two of the uncoloured white fondant on the top of one of your cake squares. Using an offset pallete knife, spread the fondant to the edges so it starts to flow down the sides of the cake. Using the back of the knife, scoop out a bit more fondant from the bowl and spread it down each side, starting from the top. Let the fondant run down the sides until all of the cake is covered.
Once the cakes are covered, place a sugar decoration in the middle of each one and let the icing dry for at least half an hour.
I hope you like these petit fours – I loved them – especially with the addition of the blackcurrant jam! I can’t wait to make more of them. Don’t let all the steps detour you, because although they do take a bit of time to make them, the final results are not only pretty, but also delicious!
Check back later for my other Diamond Jubilee street party recipes!
Thanks to Lakeland for the Jubilee products (cake stand, napkins, cupcake cases and jam jar covers are featured), and to Waitrose for the Jubilee sugar decorations.