Thursday, 30 September 2010

Wedding: DIY Cake Pops

This week the lovely Kat from Rock n Roll Bride asked me to guest blog her a tutorial on how to make your own cake pops. I said of course

Everyone LOVES these little cakes on sticks. I displayed them bunched up in jam jars for my wedding but you could pile them up like sweets in a big glass jar or use them as favours for your place settings too. They take a little while to make but they’re worth it!

You need...

  • A cake (I've used a double batch of this red velvet recipe spilt across 2 x 20cm sandwich tins)
  • Icing (I've used one batch of this cream cheese one)
  • 800g chocolate coating
  • Sunflower oil
  • 50 x 15cm paper lollipop sticks
  • Sprinkles or sugar roses to decorate
  • Polystyrene block (or something to stand your pops in as they dry)
  • Cellophane bags (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)

1. Crumble up your cooled cake into a large bowl (this feels very wrong but fun!)

 2. Mix in the icing until well combined

3. Roll into balls that are about 3cm across (or 30g on some electronic scales if you want them to be completely uniform in size) - this is the messy bit! Place on 2 lined baking sheets and cover with foil or cling film before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. Melt your chocolate coating in a bowl by following the instructions on the packet - I use the microwave on defrost setting and stir after every 30 seconds. Stir in about 1/2 tsp sunflower oil per 200g if it's too thick - this will give you a nice smooth finish.

5. Dip each lollipop stick about 1cm into the melted chocolate coating and push half way into each cake ball - this helps the cake ball to stay on its stick

6. Once set, dip each of your pops all the way into the chocolate coating including about 1 cm of the stick, tap off the excesses chocolate, add your decoration and stand in your polystyrene block to dry

7. That's it! They only take 30mins or so to dry and then you can wrap them with lollipop style cellophane bags or store them in a tin lined with greaseproof paper. They keep for about 7 days in a cool place.

Makes about 50

My top pop tips:

1. You can try other flavours of cake - chocolate cake with chocolate icing works well and lemon and poppy seed cake with lemon icing is next on my list to try
2. Make sure that your cake balls are properly chilled before you dip them (otherwise they fall off of their sticks!)
3. I use Wilton Candy Melts for my chocolate coating as they come in different colours and are easy to melt
4. Get in there quickly with your sprinkles or decorations as the candy coating dries pretty quickly
5. Make lots as they'll all get eaten!

Original concept from Bakerella.
Wilton Candy Melts, sticks, decorations and bags from Cakes, Cookies and Crafts Shop.
The polystyrene block is a cake dummy from eBay.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

My Goodness My Guinness Cake

I love contrasts of this cake - the black and white colours and the intensity of the chocolate and sweetness of the cream cheese icing. With the white chocolate roses I can imagine this making a smart alternative to a wedding cake. I made the roses myself with my new chocolate mould - it was surprisingly easy, I'll definately try different colours next time too.


110g butter (at room temperature)
275g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
50g cocoa powder
200ml Guinness
175g plain flour
1/4tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

600g icing sugar (sifted)
100g butter (at room temperature)
250g cream cheese (chilled)

You also need 2 lined 20cm round cake tins.


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. cream the butter and sugar together, beating thoroughly for 3 or 4 minutes until pale and fluffy.
3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
4. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together.
5. In another bowl mix the cocoa and Guinness.
6. Fold the flour and cocoa mixtures gradually into the butter mixture until well combined.
7. Divide the cake mixture equally between the 2 tins and level it out.
8. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes. The cakes should be flat on top and feel springy and will have shrunk slightly from the side of the tin.
9. Make the icing by beating together the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy before beating in the cream cheese.
10. Once the cake has cooled, ice with a third of the icing in the centre and two thirds on the top.

Serves 8-10.

Adapted from a Delia recipe.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

This red velvet recipe is delicious - a nice change from chocolate and vanilla and a great excuse to use my red heart sprinkles...


60g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10 g cocoa powder
20 ml red food colouring (preferably Dr. Oetker Red Food Colouring)
½ tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp white wine vinegar

300g icing sugar, sifted
50g butter at room temperature
125g cream cheese, chilled

You also need a 12-hole cupcake tray lined with paper cases

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.
2. Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed.
3. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). 
5. Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. 
6. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes. 
7. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Cream Cheese Frosting on top.

Makes 12

From the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Wedding: DIY Favours

These are one of my favorite and most personal details of our wedding. We made up bags of our favourite penny sweets, tied them with ribbon and used Moo MiniCards to create thank you tags with a sepia wedding photo of either mine or Alex's parents. They really added some colour to the place settings and were placed in vintage china cups for the top table. They were also a nice surprise for our parents (my Mum didn't notice that she was in the photos until half way through dinner!)

Grosgrain RibbonCalico Laine
Tags: Moo

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Apple Green Cake Pops

More birthday cake pops! I'm really pleased with this shade of green made from equal amounts of blue and yellow candy melts. Yum.

Wedding: Sneak Peek

I'm so excited that we've been featured on Rock n Roll Bride! Here is a sneaky peek of some of my favorite photos of the day so far. I did loads of DIY projects for the wedding and will be blogging some of the details and tutorials over the next few weeks. Lots more lovely photos here thanks to our wonderful photographer Tom.

Photos: Tom Weller
(table plan, typewritter and teacup photos from Jeffrey at Silver Pear Weddings)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ibiza Inspired Peach Macarons

Childhood summer memories is the latest Mactweets Mac Attack challenge (Mactweets is a really fun blog round up of all things macaron) and the one that inspired my peach recipe is of family beach holidays in Ibiza. Evening walks through Old Ibiza Town, the flamboyant party outfits that people wore, being allowed to stay up later than bedtime, and eating enormous ice-cream sundaes topped with cocktail umbrellas, sparklers and colourful paper parrot decorations which I would take home and proudly add to my holiday scrapbook.

The ice cream pastel colour and summery flavour of these peach macaroons reminds me of happy times and glam holiday fashion in 80s Ibiza...


175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 large egg whites
75g caster sugar
A drop or two of peachy food colouring

100g unsalted butter at room temperature
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp peach jam
A drop or two of peachy food colouring


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor to a very fine mixture, then sift into a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until thick and glossy and finally the peach food colouring.

3. Fold half the almond and icing sugar mixture into the meringue and mix well. Add the remaining half, making sure you use a spatula to cut and fold the mixture until it is shiny and has a thick, ribbon-like consistency as it falls from the spatula. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.

4. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Pipe small rounds of the macaroon mixture, about 3cm across, onto the baking sheets. Give the baking sheets a sharp tap on the work surface to ensure a good ‘foot’. Leave to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to form a slight skin. This is important – you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

5. Meanwhile, make the peach filling. In a bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the peach jam and food colouring then beat in the icing sugar. Use to sandwich pairs of macaroons together.

Makes about 20.

Recipe adapted from Delicious Magazine.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Violet Cupcakes

I wanted to make some mini cupcakes for a party and couldn't resist trying out my new violet syrup. It wasn't as strong as I was expecting so I used quite a lot. The vanilla sponge base is the same recipe as I used for the wedding cupcakes post.

Violet butter icing:

120g (4oz) unsalted butter
240g (8oz) icing sugar
2 tbsp violet syrup
A drop of red and a drop of blue colouring (or purple if you have it)

Beat the butter until pale using an electric whisk or freestanding mixer.

Add the icing sugar and violet syrup and beat for at least 5 minutes (this makes the icing light and fluffy).

Beat in your food colouring until even and pipe.

Makes enough for about 30 mini cup cakes.

Sugar violets for decorating from Cakes, Cookies & Crafts Shop.

Apple and Walnut Loaf

I collected these apples from my Mum's garden at the weekend to make a crumble and remembered to try out this recipe...

The apple make this really moist, a great autumnal accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Apple and Walnut Loaf:

175g unsalted butter at room temperature
140g soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp strawberry jam
2 eggs
140g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g chopped walnuts
50g raisins
2 apples peeled, cored and chopped

A 23 x 13cm loaf tin, greased and lined

Makes 8-10 slices

Cream the butter, sugar and strawberry jam until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the butter mixture. Stir in the apples, walnuts and raisins. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F) Gas 3.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Monday, 13 September 2010

DIY Wedding Cupcakes

I've always loved baking for other people but when I told friends that I was making my own wedding cake most sounded horrified! I knew it might be a bit stressful but with my back up plan of buying lots of fondant fancies and a lot of help from a expert baker bridesmaid it all came together...

I went for a basic vanilla sponge from the Primrose Bakery book and a sturdy butter icing made from unsalted butter and icing sugar. I made all of the cakes in the morning two days before the wedding and had great fun icing them in the evening. We both couldn't believe quite how well they turned out!

It was also a great excuse to book myself in for the wedding cupcake course at Cakes 4 Fun in Putney where I learned some sugar craft tips and simple things like using an icing bag to divide the cake mix between their cases.
I really liked the eclectic trend of going for a cake 'buffet' rather than one big trad cake and really think it gave a fun and not too formal feel to the tea and cake part of the day as everyone could just help themselves. My new husband and I fed each other little cakes rather than having a ‘cutting the cake’ moment.

I also made cake pops (inspired by Bakerella) and brownies and we had macarons from Paul in Holland Park.

I tried out lots of different recipes for the cupcakes but here's the one I went with...

Vanilla Cupcakes:


110g (4oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g (8oz) caster sugar, preferably golden
2 large eggs, free-range or organic
150g (5½oz) self-raising flour, sifted
125g (4½oz) plain flour, sifted
120ml (4fl oz) semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1tsp good-quality vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan)/gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray or 3 x 12-hole mini muffin trays with cupcake cases.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine the two flours. Put the milk into a jug and add the vanilla extract. Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes (regular size) or 15 minutes (mini size) until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes  -  it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool. 

(Recipe from the Primrose Bakery Cupcakes book)

Vanilla Butter Icing:


110g (4oz) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
225g (8oz) icing sugar
1tsp good quality vanilla extract
A couple of drops of food colouring


Beat the butter until pale using an electric whisk or freestanding mixer.

Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for at least 5 minutes (this makes the icing light and fluffy).

Add the food colouring drop at a time until you achieve the right shade. I went for a mixture of peaches, pinks and creams.

Pipe using a large star nozzle. I like this one from Cakes, Cookies & Crafts Shop. I also really like these easy to grip icing bags from Lakeland.

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes or about 30 mini cupcakes.

There are lots of sprinkles and sugar roses at Cake Craft Shop.

Photos: Rebecca Murdoch

Sunday, 12 September 2010

DIY Floral Bunting

I wanted lots of floral bunting for our wedding so the most cost effective way was to make it. This is a straight forward sewing project (although time consuming for the 110m I made!). The nice thing about it is that you can work on it bit by bit until you have enough. You can also get people to help (my Mum made lots of mine!).

I wanted double sided bunting but you can save time and fabric by doing a one sided version cut with pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying.

You need...

  • A few different fabrics
  • Some card to make your triangle template
  • Scissors
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • Bias binding
  • Some Pins
  • A sewing machine (mine is one of those mini John Lewis ones)

1. Chose your fabric.
I love the shops on Goldhawk Rd, W12 for good value, John Lewis if I'm feeling flush.

2. Make up your template.
You can use any size you like but I went for 19cm for the top and 26cm for the sides (this makes the finished triangles 15cm x 20cm once they're sewn).

3. Cut out your triangles

4. Pin two triangles front side to front side

5. Sew down the sides (no need to sew along the top)

6. Fold the bias binding in half and start sewing to create your end tabs (I allowed 30cm for mine)

7. Turn your triangles inside out and sandwich them between the bias binding leaving a 15cm gap between each one.  For a 5m length you'll need about 17 triangles.

8. That's it, happy sewing!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Violet treats

I popped into La Fromagerie for lunch today and treated myself to this violet syrup and also some crystalised petals.

Now I just need a recipe to use them in... the excellent Tartlette's Violet Macarons perhaps? Or maybe a violet version of one of these jellies.

Marina's new baby pops

A new baby pressie for the proud parents of Marina...


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