Christmas Cupcakes – Bake of the Week

christmas tree cupcakes with a hidden surprise inside

I’ve enjoyed having a play with some Christmas Cupcakes this week. I’d forgotten how time consuming they can be though – and how quickly they get demolished in our house. These are batch 2 – The first lot got eaten before having their pictures taken, when I was out. Cardinal sin in the world of food blogging but amazing that it hasn’t happened before now with 3 kids!

I wanted to make something a little more challenging than ordinary Christmas cupcakes so made secret hidden stars inside of them – I did start with hidden Christmas Trees but didn’t fancy a green inside to my cupcakes and didn’t like that the Christmas design wasn’t really clear enough. I’m quite happy with the stars though – I used one of the kids old star cutters that isn’t that sharp on the edges so reckon that if you used a better cutter, the design would be even sharper.

How to bake a surprise star inside cupcakes

I was set a challenge by the Cake Decorating Store to come up with a Christmas cupcake design. Me being me, couldn’t leave it at just one design – after all, who wants just plain old trees? You must have a Santa too!(Santa cake toppers supplied by the Cake Decorating Store)

santa cupcakes

And so onto how to make the Christmas Tree Cupcakes with a surprise hidden inside.

I used my usual vanilla cupcake recipe. Line cupcake trays with cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 180C.

I took approximately 1/4 of the mix out and coloured it red with gel food colour.

Spread it out on a lined baking tray to a depth of about 5mm and bake at 180C for 3-4 minutes.

how to bake shapes inside cupcakes

AS soon as it comes out of the oven, cut out stars using a cutter. Press 2 stars together for the correct depth.

Spoon 1tsp of the plain cake mix into the bottom of each case then add the star.

Spoon the rest of the plain cake mix around and on top of the stars – make sure the star doesn’t fall over.

Bake at 180C for 18-20 minutes.

When cool, spread a thin layer of white frosting over the cupcake. (I used ready made frosting from the Cake Decorating Store)

Roll out a cone of marzipan and stick on top of the cupcake.

marzipan christmas trees

Colour some more frosting a pale green colour, and put in a piping bag. It doesn’t really matter what nozzle you use as long as it is fairly thin with a serrated edge.

Pipe little peaks from the top of the cone down, working evenly and leaving some peaks sticking quite proud.

Sprinkle over with tiny Christmas coloured sugar balls immediately before the frosting sets.

Ta-Dah!

Bake of the Week Round UP

I know I’ve said it before, but I am absolutely gob smacked by how many wonderful bakers take part in Bake of the Week – I am so grateful for each and every one of you. We are almost up to 300 posts on our Pinterest board which is phenomenal. Thank You!

Because there were so many entries over the 2 weeks, I am stretching my own rules and choosing 3 featured bakes.

Olive, tomato & Herb Bread tree

My first is carrying on the Tree theme and is this wonderful Olive, Tomato & Herb Christmas Tree from Tales from the Kitchen Shed. What a fantastic idea for arranging and baking bread. On the blog, there is also a sweet version of this tree. Just wow!

choux cygnets

My next featured bake is from a baker that has 5 bakes entered into this week’s Bake of the Week, ET Speaks From Home – This lady knows how to work hard! Her Choux Cygnets are beautiful and so delicate. I’m also very jealous that she has been baking with Brendan of GNNO fame recently!

And I couldn’t leave this cute Owl Cake out. So simple yet really effective from Green Gourmet Giraffe

owl birthday cake

The linky is now open for your next Bakes of the Week – I’m catching up on all the comments and sharing of the posts at last! Please place the badge somewhere on your post to let people know you are one of the B of the W team. I comment, Pin, Tweet and Share on Google+ all entries. There is no theme, anything that you bake can be included.

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christmas tree cupcakes

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Mini Marzipan Birds’ Nests Tutorial – Center Parcs Family Blogger April Challenge

how to make mini marzipan birds' nests

Even I think these are cute! Tiny mouthfuls of marzipan with a mini egg all disguised as Birds’ Nests. For people that are rather fond of grammar, I’ve had massive arguments with myself about where the apostrophe goes!

I’ve was set the task of designing (and making) a Bird’s Nest as part of my involvement with the Center Parcs Family Blogger club. There’s all sorts of tips for having a go and making your own on their website – why not have a go? CP suggested using liquorice laces which gave me the inspiration to use marzipan strands – and I could nibble it as I went along!

Here’s how to make your own Mini Marzipan Easter Birds’ Nests:

how to make edible bird's nests

You will need:

  • Marzipan (about 100g makes loads!)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Knife
  • Small Mould/Mini cake tins – I used a tray for making chocolates
  • Petit Four cases
  • Brown Food Colouring
  • Sugar Glue (or cooled boiled water)
  • Mini Eggs

1. Colour most of your marzipan brown leaving a small amount for making the ‘straw’

2. Line the tray/mould with the cases shaping them to fit – mine were rectangles

3. Place a small flattened circle of brown marzipan in the base of each case

  how to roll out marzipan

4. Glue around the edge of the circle with the sugar glue (try not to touch the cases with the glue but its not the end of the world if you do)

5. Roll out the brown marzipan until quite thin and cut into thin strips

6. Wrap the strips inside the petit four cases, building up and sometimes overlapping the edges

7. Leave to dry/harden for approx 2 hours

8. Roll tiny sausages of natural marzipan to look like straw and drop into the nests

9. Unpeel the cases away from the nests and plop in a mini egg (or a furry chicken)

HAPPY EASTER!

edible bird's nests tutorial

‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and visited Whinfell village with my family. If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1okzxJv

Tractor Cake & Rice Krispie Treats Tutorial

tractorcake

I’ve come out of retirement AGAIN! My brother-in-law was 40 last week so out came the sugarcraft equipment. Since I last did a ‘proper’ cake, our one and only sugarcraft shop in St Helens has closed so it was a bit of a challenge to get the stuff. (Obviously if I was properly organised I would have ordered online!).

My brother-in-law is tractor mad – collects them in fact! My brief from my sister-in-law was pretty specific to the tractor but everything else was left to me – A Ford 7810. I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I was doing his cake and she produced the little ornament (pictured) that was used on his christening cake nearly 40 years ago. So that is why it is there! I’ve forgotten to ask what they thought when they saw it on the board.

tractorCollage

I knew that I wanted the tractor to be edible as the kiddies would be likely to want a bit so I used Rice Krispie Treats. I’m not sure how many UK cake makers use these but I love them. They are so malleable and cheap and easy to make – plus they are a lot more delicious that pure icing. The recipe I use for making RK Treats is:

RICE KRISPIE TREATS:

50g butter
200g Marshmallows (I use really cheap ones that are pink and white so that is why the picture is a little dark)
150g Rice Krispies (any brand)
Oil for covering your hands.

  1. I melt the butter in a large pan and add the marshmallows to it.
  2. Keep stirring REALLY well until melted.
  3. Take off the heat and add the Rice Krispies.
  4. Stir quickly to ensure that the RK are equally covered.

I tend to be a little impatient and want to start modelling before the RK Treats have cooled enough but it is best to wait for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you cover your palms in oil and squeeze together REALLY hard!! I cannot stress how hard you want to get the model.

I allow to set fully in shape and then brush with edible glue before covering with sugar paste. I have never managed yet to get away with only covering once so be prepared for double layers.

how to make models with rice kris pies

Ombre Ruffle Cake Tutorial

[col3][/col3] ombre ruffle cake

This is the best Ombre Ruffle Cake I’ve ever made – Ok, I’ll be honest – Its the first Ombre Ruffle Cake I’ve ever made. (I need to do a tutorial so I remember it too!)

I’ve had my eye on Ombre cakes for a while. I love that buttercream ruffle cakes are so ‘in’ – much as I love sugarcraft, fondant isn’t always the most appropriate.

My lovely niece, Becky was 18 yesterday and was having a small gathering. I was tempted to do a novelty scene taking into account all her skills and hobbies but thought a slightly trendier, simple-looking cake was maybe more appropriate. What do you think? Should significant birthday cakes always be fondant/sugarpaste?

I say ‘simple-looking’ when I describe making this cake as I think it is quite deceiving. I thought it would be quicker than it was. I have followed various You Tube videos of how to make an Ombre cake and all of them have said have your different colours of buttercream all ready made up.

I didn’t want to be left with loads of buttercream leftover in various shades of pink or even worse, run out of a certain colour half way through and have to try and match some up. I did each colour one at a time then, starting with the darkest colour (bottom).

how to smooth buttercream professionally

My first job, though, was to decide which tool to spread the ball of icing with. I tried my small pallet knife (too pointy & thin), then my spatula’s handle (too wide & clumsy) then came across my 2yo’s princess knife (just right). See? Specialist, expensive tools are not always necessary.

how to make a buttercream ombre cake

To pipe, I cut the disposable piping bag in a straight line – about a 8mm wide hole should be plenty. (I had first covered the cake in a thin layer of buttercream to straighten up the edges and allowed it to harden slightly) I piped one blob side on, so you get a vertical blob, and then flattened and spread one side to the right using the princess knife. It is very important to scrape the knife clean AFTER EVERY BLOB!

The whole Cake!

You soon get in the swing of judging how far apart to pipe each blob. The tricky bit is the last blob of each colour. I always made sure I finished at the same place at the back of the cake of if it wasn’t so neat it didn’t matter so much. I also angled the last blob in to the centre slightly for lack of anywhere else to go really.

Top View

Top View

I have seen some Ombre cakes where 2 or 3 layers/lines are in the same colour. I know this probably makes life a lot simpler and the cake quicker to make but I thought if I’m going to do an ombre cake, I might aswell do it properly and make the colour different every time – why make things easy for myself??

Marzipan Apples Tutorial

I’ve been making apple cakes today (Post to go up tomorrow about them). I could have left them alone and enjoyed them as simply apple cakes that were delicious. Me being me though, resulted in rows of marzipan apples being created for that added interest.

I thought I would post a tutorial of how to make the marzipan apples in case you fancied a go …

Makes 6 marzipan apples:

  • Tangerine sized piece of marzipan (the paler the better as it will hold the colour better)
  • one thin chocolate stick – I used Mikado but Matchmakers do just as well

Instructions

  1. Colour the marzipan pale green – I used Sugar Flair Gooseberry 
  2. Remove a large grape sized blob of marzipan from the main piece and colour this slightly darker.
  3. Divide the main pale gooseberry piece of marzipan into 6 identical sized balls – will be about the size of maltesers. Roll into smooth balls. 
  4. Break the chocolate stick into 6 small sticks – you might not need to use all the stick – enjoy eating the rest. Insert these into the tops of the balls – these are your stalks.
  5. Using the dark gooseberry green piece, divide into 6 small balls. Roll into cone shapes. Using a veining tool, cocktail stick or end of a thin paintbrush make a small indentation about half way – this will flatten the leaves. Attach to the main balls next to the stalks. No glue needed. 
  6. Lightly dust with red dusting colour and Ta-Dah!

How to make a Peppa Pig Cake Topper – Tutorial

I’ve made thousands of Peppa Pig cakes over the years (maybe a teeny exaggeration but not much!) so now it’s your turn. Here’s how to have a go at making your own Peppa Pig Cake Topper using our good old friend, the Walnut Whip (walnut gets removed and eaten!)

Equipment Needed: 1 x Walnut Whip, Red fondant icing, Pale Pink Fondant Icing, 2 small balls of white icing, Just under a malteser size ball of black icing, small rolling pin (or end of a paintbrush), sugar glue, small knife, paintbrush.

  

Step 1: Take Walnut Whip out of packet, Remove Walnut and eat – Take ball of red icing (for approx size needed see pic next to a walnut whip).

 

 

 

Step 2: Roll out red icing and cut a straight edge down one side. Paint around and on top of the walnut whip with the sugar glue.

 

 

 

  

Step 3: Wrap the red paste around the walnut whip and cut the bottom edge with knife to make neat.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: Pinch the top edges of the red icing together and cut with scissors or a knife. Flatten to make as neat and flat as possible. This will be covered by the head though so don’t worry too much what it looks like. If it is not going to be eaten you could insert a skewer or cocktail stick to make sure that the head stays on.

 

 

 

Step 5: Roll out the pale pink fondant icing. Use the side edge of your hand to make a tear drop shape with the top end being the fatter end. Press in the thin end to make a slightly flat nose shape. Keep messing about with it until you are happy with the shape. I sometimes like to have my nose facing upwards slightly as if Peppa is looking up.

 

 

Step 6: Use the pointed end of the rolling pin to make eye sockets – go quite deep with these (you will be filling them with white later)

 

 

 

Step 7: Roll two white balls of icing into pointed tear drops and insert into the eye sockets. Only paint the sockets with glue once you are sure they are the right size. Roll 2 very small balls of pink icing (slightly darker then Peppa’s skintone is best) and stick onto the cheeks with sugar glue.

 

 

Step 8: Stick the end of the small rolling pin into Peppa’s nose twice to make the nostrils (Do pigs have nostrils?) If you have a smile tool go under the snout and insert to make a smile – if not, cut a straw into a smile shape and push under the nose (slightly to the side is best) – Your Peppa will now be smiling.

 

 

Step 9: Stick your 2 tiny balls of black icing on top of the white eyes – at an angle is best. Looking straight on always looks a bit strange.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 10: Roll 2 small sausages of pale pink and flatten down halfway with the end of the paintbrush – stick to the top of the head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 11: Roll 2 thin sausages of pink and attach to the cake (My Peppa is sitting on a dark blue puddle) Paint with sugar glue and stick your model on the top.

 

 

Step 12: Your model sitting in place – Nearly done! 2 balls of black with the bottom cut off makes the feet – always best done in situ as I always knock them.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 13: Roll 2 sausage shapes again and attach to the body. Make 4 more teeny weeny sausages and attach Peppa’s fingers. See there’s the smile!

Good Luck – Feel free to show me your homemade Peppas – You can start getting all creative and add bows and flowers on her head too!

Chocolate Roses Wedding Cake – Cake of the Week

Happy Easter Everyone. Hope you are having a wonderful day. We have unexpectedly come home early from our second caravan trip of the year – Violet became unwell yesterday and we didn’t want to chance her spending the night vomiting in the caravan – Of course, as soon as we got home, Violet was right as rain. We don’t mind really as we got a couple of days to spend at home relaxing. We have been to church this morning which was lovely (Tara wasn’t quite so impressed) and now we are home to carry on eating chocolate.

Our house was slightly more full than usual of chocolate this week due to a massive 4 tier chocolate wedding cake for a couple that got married on Good Friday.

They wanted the same style cake as this one but slightly different so chose it to have the corners covered by the moulded roses. Each rose was dusted with gold lustre and each tier was chocolate fudge cake. I’d completely forgotten how long it takes to do the roses (especially the white chocolate ones that melt as soon as you look at them)

For those who would like to have a go at making moulded fondant chocolate roses, heres how:

We’ve not had a Cake of the Week link up for a while, so here’s the link – don’t forget to spread the word and invite new members – I love seeing your creations!

Edible Ghost Halloween Gift – A 10 minute make using a Walnut Whip

This really does only take 10 minutes – its a good gift if you are going to a Halloween party.

I made some of these a couple of years ago for the first time and couldn’t make enough – people went mad for them. The icing was really dried up on mine therefore why it is quite cracked.

What you will need:

  • Walnut Whip
  • Small silver board
  • Approx a small apple sized amount of white icing
  • 2 tiny blobs of black icing
  • Black food colouring or black edible pen
  • Teeny amount of melted choc
  • Teeny amount of edible glue or cooled boiled water

Firstly, melt a teeny bit of chocolate and stick the bottom of the walnut whip to the silver board.

Roll a large malteser sized ball of white icing and attach to the head with either cool boiled water or sugar glue. Mould it down so you can’t see the join to the walnut whip.

Roll out the rest of the white icing and cut out using a scalloped cutter – I used a Garrett Frill cutter but if you haven’t got one, try a large scone cutter.

Paint a little more edible glue on top of the head and place the frilled cut out icing on top. Make bits stick out a bit to make it a bit more interesting.


Cut out black letters to say BOO!

Roll 2 small dots of black icing to make eyes and 2 even smaller blobs of white icing to make the middles of the eyes.

Draw on a mouth with either edible black pen or a paint brush with food dye on.

I sometimes wrap up with cellophane and tie with a bit of ribbon. Ta-Da!

I’m entering this into English Mum’s round up of Halloween goodies – Head on over there to find out more … If you enter you could win a hamper (but be quick the comp closes at midnight!)

How to make mini cake and icing cups: Tutorial – NaBloPoMo 12

Day 12 of the National Blog posting month and I think its time for a tutorial.

I had never made these coffee cups until last week but wanted to challenge myself to something that little bit different. I knew that I could use solid icing but really who wants to eat that? So what better than mini coffee cakes? I also used marzipan to wrap around them to help them hold their shape. And they did, this cake has travelled from my house to Liverpool and back and then to my sister’s and Chris’ where is will spend its final days. Nom!

I baked some tiny coffee cakes in my mini cupcake tin – diameter approx 3-4cm but a circle cake could just be cut out of a shallow one tier cake. I only wanted the cake to be about 2cm high but I suppose it depends how tall you want the ‘cup’ to be – I wanted espresso size.

I cut out a round of marzipan using a circle cutter and then wrapped a layer of marzipan around the sides. It felt stronger straightaway.

Then, I put a really thin layer of modelling chocolate on the top – brown fondant is just as good. This is for the coffee effect so you want it right to the edges of the marzipan.

Next, I rolled out a piece of fondant/icing that was as tall as I wanted the cup to be – it had to be at least 4mm thick to be able to stand up as the top didn’t have anything to support it, and wrapped it around the marzipan covered cake.

I moulded a handle using white fondant icing mixed with a pinch of Tylo powder and stuck to the ‘cup’. I also swirled a small amount of piping gel on the top of the chocolate fondant to make it look ‘wet’.
Here are the finished articles!

Cake Topper Tutorial – How to make an icing Hello Kitty – Cake of the Week

After the success of the gruffalo tutorial, I wish to present another ‘How to’ tutorial – How to make a fondant Hello Kitty cake topper again using a creme egg middle.

I have had a few people asking what to use if creme eggs are not available (normally between August-January) – I would use a mini Milky Way or Mars Bar.

Firstly cover the creme egg in sugar glue then wrap around with a thin layer of white icing – this is going to be covered in a dress later so it doesn’t have to be too neat. Try to make the seam either underneath or at the back though. Sit the covered body on a flattened blob of white icing to steady it.
Hello Kitty's body

Roll 2 large malteser size into short sausages and flatten down one end to make a foot and leg shape.

Roll a really large oval shape and attach to the body for the head – at this point your model might look a bit like one of those Alessi characters.

Small yellow dot for nose. 2 slightly larger oval dots for eyes. I used a black squeezy icing tube for the whiskers but a black icing pen or very thin black sausages would do just as well. I added a pink bow to her head but some Hello Kitties have a flower or even a heart.

For the dress I used 2 layers of pink icing, one darker than the other. I used a scalloped circle cutter to cut out the round dress (a large scone cutter would do too) Cut a circle out of the middle of the dress (makes it easier to wrap around – I used a small carnation cutter but a small plain circle is just fine). I made the top dress layer slightly paler but experiment with whatever colours you like.

For the arms, I made 2 small sausages of white fondant with one end flattened and rounded to make a hand shape – I then cut a small triangle out to make the thumb.

The ears are made by rolling 2 small malteser sized balls into flattened triangles – press the end of a paintbrush sideways into each ear and roll slightly to flatten out. Cut the ends so there is a flat surface to attach to the head.

At this stage, the topper is finished but I always think a cake topper is slightly better if they are doing something – reading a book, holding something, eating cake. I was really short of time so made an icing balloon for her to hold.

Get a really strong florist wire (I used an 18 gauge) – Bend the end over into a loop (pliers probably needed for this)

Roll a large malteser ball and mould into a blunt point at one end. Roll a tiny ball and flatten then indent markings into it with a cocktail stick. Dip the wire in sugar glue and push in from the top of the balloon. Smooth over the top where the wire has left a mark and attach something to pretty it up – I used a little flower but you could use a heart, number or initial. Insert into the cake topper going through the leg to steady it.


This is my entry for Cake of the Week – Link attached for anyone who wants to join in – tutorials/recipes welcome