What a fantastic weekend it’s been – lots of celebrating the Queen’s amazing diamond jubilee. Of course I couldn’t let it go past without occasion, so this afternoon we had a barbecue in our garden for a few of our friends.
My baking of course had to be jubilee themed – and my fab cake decorating magazine had published a great special edition for the occasion, with some great free gifts including a crown cookie cutter, edible jewels and of course cute little flags!
To be truly British I wanted my biscuits to be either red, white or blue – one is nearly impossible, the other had the potential to look like some truly inedible alien food, so I happily settled on some red velvet biscuits. There are plenty of recipes out there, and mine was adapted from this one – omitting the chocolate chips and sour cream so I’d have a nice firm dough to roll out.
A word of warning – this recipe makes a LOT of biscuits – I was cutting and baking for well over an hour!
Next step was to ice them all a crisp white. I stuck with my tried and rested method of infill icing. Pipe a stiff line carefully around the edges, then water down the icing and ‘flood’ the middle. It gives a perfect smooth finish and no drips of icing running down the side of your biscuits.
For the decoration I just had one colour left! Royal blue is sadly not very easy to make from basic food colours, and I’d not had the foresight to get some in specially. Nonetheless, I mixed a few colours to get a rich blue with a hint of silver shimmer, and set to work with a paintbrush, making spots, swirls and of course sixty’s all over the biscuits.For a final touch I also dusted the edges with some red edible glitter, to bring out the colour of the velvet recipe.
It’s at this point that I feel I should admit that I think I have some form of baking OCD. Do you have any idea how long it took to ice and decorate all these biscuits? No, neither do I, I completely lost track! A normal person would have probably stopped halfway through, happy with a decent sized batch of biscuits. Not I….
Our cats, Chilli and Pepper, came for a visit at this point. They thought all their Christmas’s had come at once, all these biscuits laid out on a red carpet!
The jewel decorations weren’t quite as amazing as I’d hoped – they are basically just boiled sweets, and didn’t really sparkle or add much to the biscuits. I coated them in some silver lustre for a bit of extra shimmer, but have to say I don’t think I’ll be using these again.
Nevertheless, I was really happy with all the biscuits. The decorating really paid off, they looked (and tasted), great!
Next stop – I wanted CAKE! Again, red was easier to get into the base, but this time I went for strawberries and white chocolate. I used both some tinned strawberries (drained and mashed a little), for colour and flavour, and some chopped dried strawberries for a nice chunky texture and sweet chew to the cake. Chocolate needs no explanation! It’s much cheaper buying in a bar and breaking into chunks (bashing with a rolling pin) is oddly therapeutic 😉 If I’d had the time (and maybe the money) to buy endless ingredients, blueberries would have been nice to complete the theme. Maybe next time. Do you think she’ll make it to 70 years…?
I added the strawberries and chocolate to a basic muffin mix, and decided to stick with the heart shape for the cakes as well. A special occasion calls for something special!
The butter icing is difficult to get bright white unless you use pure vegetable fat (like Trex), which I hate the taste of, yuk, or you can buy some tippex-looking colouring from Wilton – this may be next on my shopping list… For today I just beat my butter to high heaven – this makes it super light in both taste and colour, and also took on a tip I’d found online of adding a few pin pricks of purple food colouring, to get that ‘ultra-violet’ kind of whiteness.
The decorations were red and blue to stick with the theme – a mix of red rolled fondant, piped blue butter cream, and various matching red and blue sprinkles.
I tried for about half an hour to decide on one design, but there were so many things I wanted to use and techniques to try, that I decided to go for the whole lot! The results were great – 14 themed but individual cakes, all brilliantly British colours!
Baking done, we were all set to barbecue! The brilliant British tradition that is bank holiday weather meant that I spent the whole morning looking gloomily out the window at the rain, but about half an hour before our guests arrived the clouds parted and we rushed outside to set up the garden – including decorations in the form of homemade union jack bunting:
A couple of good hours of beer, burgers, cider, crisps, salad and snacks later, and we were very quickly rained off by some more of the wet stuff. A perfect opportunity to dash in for tea and cake!
Happy Jubilee weekend!