Chocolate Piñata Cake

piñata birthday cake

EDIT: The story behind the Chocolate Piñata Cake …Maybe not the neatest or best decorated cake I’ve ever made but certainly one of the quickest. I’d made the cakes on Friday morning (2 shallow and one deep in case you are interested) then I had 15 minutes to decorate on the Friday afternoon before we went out to celebrate Millie turning 12. It was at this point I discovered I had no icing-sugar – so I used powdered Fondant Icing (I’m thinking its nearly the same) to make the buttercream.

I cut out a circle in the middle of the deep middle tier and poured the chocolates in – Warning! This type of cake used LOADS of sweets. I used 2 packs of Mint Aero Bubbles, 2 packs of maltesers, 1 pack of Chocolate M& Ms and 2 packs of White Chocolate Buttons. To decorate around the outside I used Maltesers, More White Chocolate Buttons and a packet of Jelly Babies. This is not the cake for dieters!

Next time I make a Piñata cake, I will think more about the outside decoration but for such a quick cake, I’m rather chuffed!

There’s still some left in the fridge – want some?

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??

Tatty Teddy/Me to You Birthday Cake: Cake of the Week and a rare family photo

Tatty Teddy Me to You Birthday Cake

Please excuse the look and layout of the blog. It is sick. Very sick. A new flashy blog look will be up soon!

We had a lovely day yesterday. We held Violet’s 7th birthday party. We were brave and invited the whole class plus extra friend’s children. If everyone could have made it, we would have ended up with 55+ children but in the end, 40+ could come. (Still enough!)

As usual, time was of the essence this week. We only got back from being in London where Mil was at her last England Talent Squad, on Wednesday night. Obviously, I hadn’t started any party preparations or THE CAKE before we went – that would be far too sensible! So, all systems go and 2 very late nights, here’s what we ended up with.

A brave Dermot delivering the cake!

A brave Dermot delivering the cake!

My instructions were to make a 3 tier cake with mostly chocolate cake and a Tatty Teddy theme. I saw the ribbon in John Lewis’ on Oxford Street earlier in the week and thought immediately of the cake. When I got it home, I discovered it was Washi Tape though but decided to go with it anyway. Think I just about got away with it, although the ribbon isn’t as neat as I normally prefer. It was pointed out that I had only made 6 stars (never thought to put 7!) and Violet told me this morning that I should have put ‘Violet IS 7’! What a failure as a mother ;-)

We took a moment at the end of the party to have our picture taken by our lovely friend, Cara. Amazingly, we are all looking the same way and smiling – what a professional!

The Costello Family

Scooby Doo Cake – Cake of the Week

Why did no-one tell me about the joys of plastic figures earlier? I spent years of my life that I will never get back making teeny sugar figures and now I discover how brilliant pre bought figurines are.

I temporarily came out of retirement to make little Hugo’s cake – He’s special enough to me that it was worth it! Actually I really enjoyed having a potter and Cara (Hugo’s mum) is a dream to cake for (its a verb you know!) – She gives me complete freedom and even went and bought the figures to put on the cake.

Cake purists among you are probably shouting at the screen about a non-edible medium being used – Sterilise the figures with alcohol (vodka or gin). It will evaporate. Also if you are using sugarpaste to stick the figure to the cake, the blob with come off on the feet of the character so the plastic won’t ever touch the cake.

I think I may start the odd session of pottering about with marzipan/sugarpaste but am definitely not about to start the business up again. The thought of taking orders and being responsible for wedding cakes still makes me quiver slightly. Could be something to do with how busy I am being Mum’s taxi.

For info, the Scooby Doo Characters are currently £6.99 at B&M – now try to convince me that homemade sugar figures are better!

Hope you like!

Ice Age Cake – Cake of the Week

I’ve got a confession – I’ve never seen Ice Age. In fact, there’s tons of children’s films I have never watched. I’ve never seen Shrek either but I can more or less repeat the script word for word thanks to my girls watching it on the iPad in the car behind my head.

Anyway, back to the cake. A joint cake for my niece, Phoebe (4) and nephew, Milo (1). Phoebe more than makes up for me not watching Ice Age – she loves it. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t approaching triple figures of the amount of times she’s watched them.

Phoebe and Milo have birthdays on 27th and 28th December so maybe consigned to a few more years of joint cakes. I will always stick by my promise never to get them joint birthday/Christmas presents though.

We had a busy week for Cake of the Week entries last week. Sadly Jackie who has been so loyal about posting pictures of her cakes isn’t able to join in for the time being – Changes to Facebook mean that she cannot share her pics (or we can’t look at them) We’ll miss you Jackie and hope you still visit often.

 

I have to draw your attention to some magnificent football cupcakes courtesy of ChouxChouxbedoo. Mr P, the creator reckons he isn’t creative! As an aside, does subbuteo remind anyone else of Joey from Friends?

 

Anyhoo, back to cakes. The lovely Jen from the Madhouse joined in for the first time this week with some delicious looking English summer cupcakes. I defy you to look at these and not fancy delving into some strawberries and buttercream!

And last but not least, I give you Angie from CakesPhotoLife with 2 amazing entries. I’ve had a passion for autumn cakes and autumnal colours for ages, so this cake is just up my street. Sadly, I can’t show a pic due to security settings but please hop on over there and look for yourself. Amazeballs! Angie’s other entry is just as tempting – a Millionaire Shortbread Chocolate Cake.

The link is now open for this week’s Cake of the Week. Fantastic to see so many new people joining in with us. Don’t know about you but the end of the Great British Bake Off has given me the urge to get my ovens on. I’m on holiday this week but look forward to seeing what you come up with and I’m raring to go as soon as I’m back!

The End of Aardvark Cakes – Part 2 inc the story of the first ever Cake

Well we are finally here, the last day of Aardvark Cakes. I’ve been working flat out for weeks now on orders that were placed before I made the decision to change my life (yep, a teeny bit dramatic!) Now I have finished, I’m having a reminisce about some of the cakes and invite you along for the ride. Its pretty safe to say I’ve been pants about photographing the cakes at points (notably during my 3 pregnancies) so there may be some gaps. I’ve done tons more cakes than I thought so this might end up being a 2 parter post.

It would be good to start with my first ever cake – I can’t find a picture though. There is one in existence so I will carry on the search but I will tell you a bit about it anyway…

The client was a friend of my Auntie’s and the cake was for her 18 year old daughter. I decided on silver stars on a white cake (fruit!) with star explosions. Sounds simple enough? Bear in mind, at this point I had never even covered a cake! It was 2001 and Youtube wasn’t as good as it is now so I had to make up how to stick the stars on wires.

My first hurdle was marzipanning the cake. I panicked so much (and cried and swore a bit too) so my husband (of only 5 months ended up covering it for me – no, I’m not sure why he stayed with me either!)

I never thought to measure the stars so they were equal so the lines were slightly wonky but all in all the cake was passable. I was beside myself with excitement about getting rid of/  delivering the cake but fairly pleased with the result. My Auntie’s friend knew that I was very new to cake decorating (and to be fair paid hardly anything) but even so I was surprised by her reaction to it … there was NO REACTION! She just sort of sniffed at it, took it off me and went in. Deflated isn’t the word. I later found out that was the sort of person she was and it was no reflection on my cake but it took a while to recover!

So what sort of customer reactions have you had? Good/bad/indifferent? If there is one thing I have learnt over the years its to expect the unexpected – even close friends who know the hours and effort that will have gone into their cake have sometimes disappointed with their minimal reactions. On the other hand, sometimes the cakes that I am not sure about have received fantastic praise. The delivery still isn’t my favourite bit of cake decorating – I’m certainly not in it for the glory (good job!) and have managed to talk Dermot into doing deliveries on many occasions over the years!

Numberjack 4 Cake – Cake of the Week

A bold coloured cake can either be a complete success or a complete disaster in my experience. I had major doubts about this cake before I made it. The shade of blue and the shape of the 4 had to be spot on to do the number 4 justice.

There is nothing like a client under the age of 8 to tell you if the cake isn’t right either so added pressure there. Luke, the recipient of this cake is one of my favourite 4 year olds in the world – he lives right next door to us and I foresee many years of him popping in to play and just say Hi. My girls think he is great too and quite often pop into next door before entering our house, just to say hello to Luke. Apart from being a generally nice 4 year old, Luke is amazing with numbers. His favourite programme is Numberjacks and his 2nd birthday cake was Numberjack themed too.

I just had to go for it when carving the cake – I first baked a 10″ square cake and used near enough all of it to make the 4 shape. I didn’t want to hire a number tin as I didn’t think the shape would be right.

Luke had requested some other numbers around the side (which I believe he had great fun eating!) but I forgot to add my favourite character, Spooky Spoon! I wanted to make the board a bit more exciting than just a plain one, so added the stripes – Every time I do stripes I am reminded how difficult it is to get them neat.

What a fantastic week we had last week for Cake of the Week – some of your creations are amazing and I’m loving finding new people.

Our first entry, Rachel presented us with such a neat Ice Lolly Cake (For Liverpool readers, a Lolly Ice Cake! ;-)) Rachel says that she wants to try a Fab Lolly Cake next – can’t wait to see the sprinkles!


The blog post that accompanies Susan’s magnificent cake was epic and must have took forever but I urge you to have a read – there’s a recipe, a cake and even a comp in there. I have completely fallen in love with the bunting (well, hasn’t the whole country fallen in love with bunting?) and will be purchasing some soon.


The expression on the couple’s face on Jackie’s 40th wedding anniversary cake is lovely and the man’s watch is delightful! I know how long those details will have taken but they are so worth it.


And last but not least, a brilliant way to get the kids involved with cake making and celebrate Father’s Day. This made me ashamed that we barely did anything to celebrate Father’s Day in our house – sorry Derm!Mama OWL tells a fantastic tale of what each child wrote on the cake – Oh Jennifer will have you howling!

Casa Costello

Don’t forget, you are welcome to add the Cake of the Week badge when you have taken part (or even if you are just thinking about it!)

Thanks everyone for joining in – looking forward to seeing next week’s creations – better get on with one myself!

Cake of the Week – Birthday Cakes

The cakes for this week may not be the biggest or the most elaborate but they are definitely no less special.

I’m giving you two cakes for the price of one this week. The first cake is a 21st cake for Daniel. Daniel is the son of a good friend of mine, Donna. I met Donna when our daughters started school together and I’m so glad I did. Just one of those people and families that you are glad to have in your life (and she’s good at drinking wine too!) Daniel has complex special needs and is unable to actually eat any of his cake but that really made me want to make it even neater than normal. They were having 50 million people round to their house yesterday to celebrate with Daniel – Hope it all went well!

The second cake for this week is sadly a very quick cake (and another Hello Kitty). Our lovely Violet is 6 today but still wanted a cake to take with us on our holidays. She has requested a Hello Kitty for this week and a Moshi Monsters for her party the day after we get back – Help! The cake has travelled all the way to Abersoch intact and stands a good chance of being dished out at the Jubilee party on Tuesday. There’s no way us 5 can make our way through it all on our own.


Violet has had a lovely day. We realise now that she genuinely doesn’t need much to make her happy – a few presents and being stuck in the van as it is blowing a gale outside has made for a perfect day. She got to choose her tea (chippy) which we enjoyed on Hello Kitty paper plates and cups – complete with paper umbrellas. You can take the girl out of St Helens … Can’t believe V has been with us for 6 years – they’ve been brilliant. She has so much energy and enthusiasm – long may it continue.

How the Costellos celebrate birthdays in the van!


I’ll try to put up the linky for Cake of the week but the internet is a bit dodgy on the campsite – If you want to join in but can’t link up just put the url of your post/picture in the comments and I’ll find them when I get back from my hols.

There will be news of Aardvark Cakes next week – its too long to include in this post. Watch this space! For now, enjoy the bank holidays and your parties is you are having them. I’m off to eat more of Violet’s cake!

Harley Davidson/JCB Cake – Cake of the Week

Another crazily busy week but am so much chirpier than last week’s Cake of the Week post. A lot of smaller cakes this week (including some Jubilee cupcakes that I forgot to take pictures of! Gasp!)

It seemed that each of the cakes from this week, had a story behind them. Sometimes this makes it easier, but sometimes it takes a bit of thought to work out where each element will go.

For the Harley Davidson cake, I knew that the colour scheme had to be black, silver and white and that the Harley had to go most prominent. Kevin is building his own bike, therefore all the extra parts hanging around. Kevin also spent most of his childhood digging holes and I think he now works for JCB so that had to go somewhere. I’ve never made a teeny JCB before and absolutely loved the finished product – the picture doesn’t really show how cute it was. The ‘soil’ was made with soft, dark brown sugar. As a massive Widnes Rugby League fan, there were rugby balls dotted around the outside of the cake too – a bit of everything!

Another cake from the Costello kitchen this week, was a 50th wedding anniversary cake. Now here was a brief … a fun couple so not a traditional cake. To incorporate the tartan of the band that Homer plays with, to include some bagipes (I have since become obsessed with mini sugar bagpipes) and to show Glenys’ love of shopping – therefore the Selfridges bag, shoe box and a bag of pearls. Homer also collects war memorabilia so I made a teeny rifle.

Lovely to see so many entries for Cake of the Week, last week and even nicer to see everyone visiting each other and commenting on the cakes.

I know Kim through the WI but until now did not know what a superstar she is with icing – I couldn’t comment on her actual facebook page but keep going back to the picture as I am just amazed. That cake is sooo neat.

I defy you not to fall in love with the cute little sheep on Elaine from LittleSheep Learning’s cake – the cake was to celebrate 7 years of Littesheep Learning being in existence.

 

 

Jackie was back with a comical 50th birthday cake as was Angie from Cakesphotoslife with a wonderfully bright flower cake – just perfect for a cheery summers day.

 

 

Thank you lovely ladies for taking part – can’t wait to see what you all come up with next week. Maybe we might even get a male participant. Remember, its not a competition – just a chance to show off!