Wednesday, 28 December 2011

5 little ducks went swimming one day

Even when your birthday is as close to Christmas as mini Upper Cut Cake gal, A's (24th December) there still has to be cake. Taking inspiration from a few of A's favourite things during her first year of life Upper Cut Cake gal, J created banana cupcakes with splashes of water for little yellow duckies to swim in.

So now she is officially 1 we can look forward to her half birthday celebrations in June and that sounds like the perfect excuse to have another birthday cake.

A very happy first birthday wee A!

(baby-friendly sugar-free banana and sultana cupcakes with (not so baby-friendly) buttercream icing and handmade fondant icing ducks)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

O Christmas tree

5 big sleeps till Christmas! This year's Christmas cake is extra special as it was baked by Upper Cut Cake gal, Jen's mum J to provide some welcome relief from cake baking in the festive/birthday season. However Jen just couldn't resist adding the finishing touches! An exciting year is reflected in a rather more colourful cake than last year's snowy effort. Heaps of presents laid out under a sparkly tinsel strewn tree under a twinkling starry sky.

Merry Christmas everyone!

(Rich fruit cake coated in homemade plum jam sticking a layer of marzipan plus a generous layer of royal icing. Christmas tree, presents, stars and holly all made from fondant icing and finished with piped royal icing detail and just a dash of raspberry sherbert for the tinsel on the tree)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Roses are red?

Upper Cut Cake gal, Jen couldn't resist trying this pretty little technique for colouring the edge of piped buttercream for her mum's birthday cakes this year. This effect is easy to achieve with just a stripe of food colouring in the piping bag before adding the icing. This completes two of the three December birthdays for Jen. Perhaps the best is yet to come with the all important first birthday on the 24th!

(almond sponge cupcakes with a generous helping of raspberry jam topped with vanilla buttercream and a sprinkling of raspberry sherbert)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Lego Mania

A birthday with two days of celebrations requires a cake with adaptability. With Upper Cut Cake gal, Jen's mind filled with toys these days, lego bricks seemed to provide the answer. One brightly coloured lego brick for each party (plus one extra to take home) did the trick. Happy birthday A!

(Sugar and dairy free pineapple and carrot cake sweetened with honey and flavoured with sweet cinnamon and mixed spice, covered in brightly coloured glace icing and matching fondant dots to complete the lego look)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Flying the flag

Upper Cut Cake gal Jen loves it when her day job coincides with her love of baking. Her graphic design business, designjr, has just completed the logo and branding for Airthrey Ltd. She was delighted when the new Learning Evaluation company asked her to produce branded cupcakes for a seminar.

Little flags with the logo seemed like an obvious choice for a company with a strong castle identity. Chocolate orange completed the sensory experience to ensure that potential clients left with the brand colour, orange, on their minds.

(left: chocolate orange cupcake in a black cupcake wrapper with orange coloured and flavoured buttercream and right: double chocolate orange cupcake in an orange cupcake wrapper with plain coloured orange flavoured buttercream)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

with love and cheerfulness

A piped orange Chrysanthemum (the November birth flower meaning "with love and cheerfulness") is an appropriate addition to a birthday cake for Jen's aunt (in-law) who celebrated her birthday this month. Happy birthday Aunt H!

(vanilla sponge layered with a double helping of homemade sticky damson jam topped with the frothiest meringue frosting and piped with orange flavoured butter icing encircled with a silk ribbon)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Let's raise a glass to that!

Strawberry daiquiri mini-cupcakes for a posh cocktail party - adults only, please!

(Mini sponge cakes moistened with strawberry-white rum syrup, filled with rum-soaked Scottish strawberries, top swirled with buttercream frosting that was just lightly tinted with even more strawberry-rum syrup, and decorated with a quarter strawberry and fresh lime zest.)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Caught in the web

Careful what you say around the Upper Cut Cakes gals, or you might get caught in their web of cakes! A few days before her birthday, “A” let slip that pumpkin cheesecake is a birthday favourite. So with “A”’s combined birthday and Halloween party planned for this past weekend, UCC gal “E” set her cauldron[1] on the open fire[2], consulted her book of spells[3], and summoned up a witch’s brew[4] to fortify her fellow creatures of the night before their midnight cemetery rambles: a creamy pumpkin cheesecake with sour cream topping layer and ginger-graham bottom crust, complete with a giant chocolate spider making its way towards an unfortunate insect that’s been ensnared in the spider’s web.

Witch-to-Human translation guide: [1] springform pan ; [2] oven ; [3] cookbook ; [4] pumpkin cheesecake

Happy Halloween!

(baked pumkin and spices cheesecake with vanilla and sour cream top layer and bottom crust of crushed ginger nut biscuits and graham crackers; melted chocolate web, spider, and insect; insect eyes with red and yellow writing icing)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Trio of firsts

With Upper Cut Cake gal Jen's invitation to her first 1st birthday party also came a request for a 1st birthday cake. As the cake was for three baby friends, Jen created a ONE so that they each had their own cake in the shape of a letter.

The party was a great success. Wee A really enjoyed sharing the toys with all the other babies and with a little bit of help from Jen, experienced her first ever bouncy castle. Very happy 1st birthdays to three lovely little ladies!

(Parsnip and golden syrup cake cut into a "one" using Meta Black letter forms (please excuse the kerning the cake board was not quite wide enough!) with cream cheese frosting decorated with dots of fondant icing in bright girl colours and "happy birthday" piped with royal icing using Kristen ITC. )

Monday, 26 September 2011

There's no place like home

The "M" family moved house recently and invited Upper Cut Cake gal "J" to their house warming party. Her first thought? Cake opportunity! Secondly, a sunshine cake should warm things up nicely.

With Mr "J" away for the weekend and the baby asleep upstairs "J" went crazy in the kitchen. The parsnip and maple syrup cake that she baked was not quite deep enough for her design idea so an extra vanilla sponge was an essential make. Friday evening was spent colouring and cutting tiny little shapes for flowers (heaven!)...

not forgetting the pretty little house in the midst of the rows of flowers growing in the sunshine...

(two layers of parsnip and maple syrup cake (recipe from the 2009 Good Food cake competition winner and maple syrup brought back from Maine) encasing a single vanilla sponge layered with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting. Decorated with two tone cream cheese frosting, coloured fondant cut out shapes and chocolate fondant house)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Better late than never

For her birthday last year Upper Cut Cake gal, "J" presented "E" with a paper cupcake book with the promise of a real cake to follow. This is it! As another birthday has now passed it had to be a pretty special cake.

"J" always puts her homegrown blueberries in the freezer to await the most special of occasions. This year is the exception as they turned blue just in time for the lower layer of this cake. E is a self confessed blueberry lover. In her own words "so many blueberries so little time!"

As a true Maine girl, "E" also loves lobster. So with the lobster cutter "J" bought while visiting "E" in Bar Harbor last year an idea was harvested. The cake became a table set with delicate lace tablecloth, plate and bib ready for the lobster to be served.

Happy birthday "E"!

(moist blueberry cake with freshest homegrown blueberries, with a top layer of the most complementary of lemon cakes sandwiched with a generous layer of lemon curd and topped with a lemony cream cheese frosting decorated with a light blue hand cut fondant icing tablecloth, pristine white lobster bib and bright yellow plate)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Peter (Rabbit) gets into the herb garden

This past Saturday, Upper Cut gal "E" found herself surveying the cupcake stall at the local farmer's market with mixed emotions. On the one hand, there was appreciation and delight at the array of delicious treats and flavours. On the other, a slight feeling of envy and as-yet-unfulfilled anticipation for the creative baking process. So armed with two selections from the stall (lemon curd-filled lemon cake and blueberry-topped white chocolate, both to be shared with "Mr. E"), she headed back home to add to the day's cupcake output.
For flavour inspiration, the amazing fresh mint ice cream enjoyed at a recent wedding. For practical elements, the pantry stash of dark chocolate plus a bundle of fresh mint left over from a 2-for-1 special - no extracts today. For purpose and theme, friend “P”’s birthday celebration that night.

And ta da, we have a loose culinary interpretation of the famous but mischievous rabbit who snuck into the kitchen garden: a single chocolate fondant bunny amidst moist chocolate cupcakes, each filled with a mint and chocolate ganache and topped with mint cream frosting.

May Beatrix Potter be honoured and both Peters (literary rabbit and real-life birthday guy) feel full and happy!
(Cake: chocolate. Filling and secondary piping: chocolate and fresh mint ganache. Primary piping: cream frosting whipped with fresh mint. Peter cutout: chocolate fondant.)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly...

Feeling like a true earth mother, Upper Cut Cake gal J, harvested the lavender in her garden this month.

Having never baked with it before, she started with a simple little cupcake. Pairing the lavender with zesty lemon made for a delicately fresh treat for the other mummies at baby A's play date.

In fact, J was so pleased with the combination she has a little bundle of lavender hanging up to dry in her kitchen and has made some rather refreshing lemon and lavender yoghurt ice cream (experimentation with yoghurt ice cream is becoming so intense there may be a need for a new blog!)

(lavender cupcake with fresh lemon drizzle icing blended with shards of lemon zest decorated with a hand-crafted fondant lilac flower with a dab of vibrant yellow)

Monday, 8 August 2011

What's in a cake?

The wedding cake in the previous post may have looked very simple but actually there's a lot going on. As an artistic exercise while baking each cake Jen photographed every single ingredient.

These are just some of the many elements (and photographs) required for an 11in fruit cake, 9in chocolate cake and a 7in carrot cake. From top: brown sugar, carrots, coconut, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coffee, butter, brandy, dried fruit and orange zest.

Before icing, each cake had to be prepared in its own particular way. Fruit cake is smothered in jam and then covered in marzipan, chocolate cake needs a chocolate buttercream filling as well as two thin covering layers and carrot cake needs a vanilla buttercream filling as well as two thin covering layers.

Only then can the cakes be iced with a single layer of smoothest white fondant icing and decorated with purple ribbon held in place with a pearl topped pin.

The recipes for the cakes were taken from the book Sweet & Simple Party Cakes by Mary Clee-Cadman of Maisie Fantaisie. They must have been pretty good as apparently there wasn't a single slice left at the end of the wedding!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Icing In The Name (of Love)

It was love not rage that was present at G&V's wedding last week. A music inspired wedding led to their choice of "love" cake topper (by BlueButterflyDesign and available on Etsy).

Such a stunning topper deserved pride of place atop a simple three tiered cake wrapped in purple ribbon. Each tier of the cake was different to suit all tastes although Jen can't believe she's the only one who sampled a bite of every one!

A huge congratulations to the happy couple!

(details and photos of the individual cakes will follow in a further post)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

un petit amuse-bouche

It's all go in upper cut cake gal Jen's kitchen this week. She's delighted to have been asked to bake the wedding cake for her cousin G and bride V. The wedding is this Friday so the oven's on, there's icing sugar atop every work surface along with tools for the structural engineering that she's finding out is part and parcel of a three tiered cake.

It would, of course, be bad form to reveal the cake before the big day so more details will follow but here's a little taster of what's involved...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Not just any graduation cake

...but a graduation gateau to celebrate the big one as Mr became Dr and four years worth of thesis was finally complete. Congratulations Dr. A!

And, of course, not forgetting Drs P, C and D!

Recently inspired by the acquistion of a (well-used) Be-ro baking book, Upper cut cake gal, Jen lovingly prepared this super sweet chocolate gateau to celebrate the occasion with friends and family.

(Watch this space for more variations on a theme.)

(chocolate fudge cake decorated with schmeared white chocolate buttercream rolled in chocolate vermicelli with extra swirls of piped white chocolate buttercream and a finishing touch of milk chocolate buttons)