This weekend just gone was largely centred around (another!) rather amazing theme party. This time – Musicals and Theatre. I have another bake to share with you but as time is tight I had to get the shorter one up first!
I’d been itching to try out the new cake pop stand that Secret Santa bought me for Christmas, and this was my first real opportunity.
First up – a quick lemon sponge cake, using 100g butter, 100g sugar, 2 eggs, 110g SR flour, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
It seemed a shame to break it up and put it into the blender but, as soon as the cake was cool, its fate was set!
I picked up a surprisingly amount of tips during my quick cake pop session at the April Delights course back in December. It seems to me cake pops are a combination of luck, practice, patience and general confidence, but these tips certainly helped me get better results that previous attempts.
Tip 1 – ensure your cake is a very fine breadcrumb. A blender definitely helps with this, you can do it by hand but just be very thorough.
Tip 2 – go easy on the buttercream. You can see below it only really took a spoonful, again the blender is useful here. You want the mixture to just be at the balling up stage (second picture below) – i.e. the buttercream only just sticks the cake, it’s not too sticky or mushy. Clearly I made far too much buttercream, you can see the remnants on the Chocolate & Lemon Hearts post from last week.
Next up – dividing the mixture into equally sized balls, laid out ready for their sticks and coating.
Tip 3 – try to avoid refrigerating your cake mix. It will be too cold once it gets smothered in the candy melts/chocolate, and the combination of heat differences and contracting on cooling can cause your precious cake pops to crack. If your mixture has a good buttercream to cake ratio, it shouldn’t be sticky so shouldn’t really need to go in the fridge anyway.
Next up, prepare your chocolate or candy melt coating. Although I’m still a little unsure about them (what exactly ARE they?!), I can’t deny that candy melts work wonders when it comes to cake pops.
Tip 4 – prepare your chocolate/candy coating in a thin, tall mug. This will give you a good depth for dipping without having to prepare a lot of excess coating. (I found this one online but cannot remember the site at all, apologies).
I find that candy melts need a good teaspoon or two of vegetable fat (I use trex) to get them to a good dipping consistency. It makes the cooling/setting process a little slower but definitely helps them coat the cake pops better.
Have your sticks and cake balls all ready to go so you can attach them together quickly and easily.
Tip 5 – dip your stick well into the candy melts, 2-3 inches at least. Let the excess drip off, and when you push into the cake ball this should create a good, firm base to hold the two together. Push the stick carefully but firmly in, to about 2/3 of the way into the cake ball (you don’t want it to reappear out the top!)
I love taking photos at this stage – they still look so uniform and perfectly cute!
Now, onto my least favourite part, dipping. Make sure the bases on the sticks are set firmly (you shouldn’t get chocolatey fingers if you touch them), and if not, wait! They will only fall off… If you’ve added oil or vegetable fat to candy melts, or are using chocolate, you may find this takes a good few minutes.
I don’t really want to give tips on dipping as I’ve not quite perfected it yet. The cake obviously needs to be completely coated, followed by a combination of rolling and tapping lightly on the side of the mug to help the excess drip off.
The one big Tip 6 is that it makes life SO much easier having a cake pop stand! Not having to fiddle around trying to balance your chocolatey sticks in polystyrene, mugs, or whatever else you may have to hand, means that you can keep the pop perfectly upright straight away, and has plenty of room to set whilst you make the others.
As I said – not as perfect as I’d like…
With my basic cake pops finished I went onto decorations. To fit in with the party’s musical theme I was originally just going to do a combination of different notes, treble clefs, etc. But once the idea of the infamous “do, re, mi” song got into my head, I was decided!
Under close supervision from Chilli (cats do like chocolate, don’t you know), I piped some letters and notes onto greaseproof paper. These were made out of normal milk chocolate, I’d have liked some black candy melts but wasn’t going to buy a whole pack just for these little details!
After letting the chocolate set in the fridge, I carefully ‘glued’ the decorations to the top of the cake pops using a little more white candy melt, applied with a cocktail stick.
And to finish – a good spritz of gold shimmer spray, and black edible glitter carefully applied to the chocolate detail.
Hey presto- fabulous musical cake pops! Not perfect but I’m quite pleased how they turned out, and they certainly went down a storm at the party!