Leopard Print Speedo Cake

leopard print speedos swimming trunks pants cake good luck hand made painted hidden design

Today is a sad day in our office, as one of our much loved colleagues is leaving to take up a new role. She is moving to a popular swimwear company, jokes about budgie smugglers have been rife since the news broke, and I wanted to bake something to send her off in style!

I stumbled across a video tutorial the other week from Woodland Bakery for a leopard print cake – inside, not just out, and my mind was firmly set.

Using a classic Madeira cake recipe for firm-ness, I split it into 1/3:2/3 to add the colours and the flavour. The large portion, two thirds, I flavoured with lemon (and left without colour), to the remaining third I added a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Dividing the now chocolate portion in half again, I added a second tablespoon of cocoa powder to one half, giving a darker brown. They all then went into piping bags ready to go into the cake tin.

piping bags filled with cake batter lemon and chocolate flavour tutorial making patterns in cake

I used my number and letter cake pan to create the shape of the trunks – using a paper template to block out the sections that weren’t needed, so I’d not have to carve too much off to create the final shape. First to go in was a whole layer of the base colour / lemon cake:

leopard print cake how to and tutorial lemon flavour madiera piped base shaped tin

Then the start of the leopard print – thick swirls and stripes of the dark brown chocolate batter, spread across the area of the cake, to give each slice a little bit of ‘leopard’!

leopard print inside cake tutorial pipping dark brown lines into light batter

Over the top of this, a smaller, thinner line of the lighter chocolate batter:

leopard print cake tutorial light brown and dark brown chocolate batter piped into swirls on lemon base

Sealing in the light brown with a layer of the dark chocolate:

tutorial to make cake with leopard print inside piping lines and swirls

Then filling in around the sides and in between the chocolate mixtures (so the whole cake was level at this point):

leopard print cake tutorial how to pipe shapes and pattern into the cake batter

Another complete layer of lemon:

leopard print cake tutorial pan tin filled with batter hidden pattern

Now the tutorial only had one layer of leopard spots, but I wanted mine to be vertical in the cake as well as horizontal. Plus I had quite a lot of batter left in the piping bags! So I added another layer of the chocolate mixtures:

leopard print swirls hidden baked into cake how to tutorial

And finally one last layer of lemon filling in the sides and across the top. Without a doubt the longest time it has ever taken me to fill a cake tin!

leopard print cake tutorial pan tin filled with batter hidden pattern

It only took about 40 minutes to bake as the pan is relatively shallow, coming out a lovely golden brown and nice and firm for carving.

freshly baked leopard print hidden design inside cake

Then onto the carving – and I was so happy to see the first signs of leopard print as I sliced down the sides. Success!

leopard print inside cake tutorial first cut into pattern hidden design

A little more carving around the sides and top (the irony of what I was carving was not lost on me!)…

speedo swimming trunks pants shaped cake

… before covering with a lemon buttercream and light orange fondant. A minor disaster occurred just after I’d finished – a rouge packet of fondant fell out of the cupboard, landing right in the middle of the cake and causing a huge dent! Screaming ensued, Rob helped me peel the damaged fondant off and I started again. Groan! Hence why the fondant looks a little dry and cracked – it didn’t really appreciate being worked and rolled twice (nor did I appreciate doing it!)

speedo shaped cake tutorial covered with sugar paste fondant icing in orange

The leopard print decoration was seemingly simple but a little time consuming. Using watered-down food colours, I painted abstract circle and round patterns all across the cake in a darker brown…

hand painting leopard print spots dark brown onto cake using food colouring

… before filling in the centres with a lighter, tan brown.

leopard print spots pattern hand painted onto cake using food colouring dark brown and tan on pastel base

Once this was dry I piped a (slightly shaky) speedo logo using plain white icing.

piped icing white speedo logo on personalised leopard print cake

The finished cake – a true pair of budgie smugglers if I’ve ever seen one!

speedo swimming trunks leopard print cake inside and out tutorial hand made

leopard print speedos swimming trunks pants hand made cake tutorial with hidden design

I added a final finishing touch with a piped chocolate message (shaky again, must practice my piping!):

hand piped in dark chocolate message on cake good luck toni

good luck toni personalised leopard print speedos cake hand painted hidden design

Cutting into the cake – not quite as leopard-y as I’d hoped? But still sticky and spotty, and as always in our office very quickly devoured.

inside leopard print hidden design cake spots pattern

Take care Toni, we really will miss you!

toni with speedo leopard print cake leaving day

Update – May 2014 – I’m so pleased to say that this cake came runner-up in Renshaw Baking’s Cake Catwalk Competition. A classic leopard print never goes out of fashion!

Rice Crispy and Marshmallow House

christmas present gift rice crispy and marshmallow house decorated with royal icing and sweets snowman and penguin

So Twelfth night has passed and the decorations are all down – but that doesn’t stop us playing with our Christmas presents! Of all the lovely things I was lucky to get this is definitely one of my favourites. It’s actually for Rob and I to share – me to make and him to eat!

chocolate crispy house kit christmas present john  lewis baking gift

Inside it had everything needed to make a big sticky house:

ingredients in chocolate crispy kit marshmallows rice crispies royal icing

And instructions on the back! (And if you read the small print you can also see the kit came from John Lewis)

instructions reverse of box chocolate crispy house rice crispies marshmallow

First step was to melt the marshmallows (with a couple of tablespoons of butter, then only thing not included in the kit). At this stage I very nearly dug out a spoon and didn’t go any further!

melting marshmallows gooey pan

The melted marshmallows were not quite what I’d expected, very thick, sticky and gooey. It took a good bit of elbow grease to get the rice crispies mixed in.

melted marshmallows sticky and thick

Then it was a simple case of pressing the rice crispies into the plastic mould. I covered the back with a piece of greaseproof paper to press the mixture down firmly and evenly.

rice crispie marshmallow house firming and flattening pieces in mould

With the mixture so firmly together the pieces came out of the mould easily, with a little pushing through from the back.

crispy house walls coming out of mould marshmallows sticky

After repeating the marshmallow melting and adding cocoa for the roof pieces, I put everything on a baking tray and into the fridge to set firmly.

Next step was to stick everything together. The supplied sachet of royal icing was a good thickness and plentiful for everything I needed to do. Sticking bits together not so easy! I had to employ a few heavy kitchen items to support the sides while they set.

constructing a marshmallow crispy house for christmas using heavy supports to stick the walls together

Likewise when it came to the roof pieces – lucky I had another great present that was a perfect size to sit underneath and hold them up. Cupcake spoons I’m sure will feature again soon!

marshmallow crispy house chocolate roof holding up supporting while royal icing sets

While the house was drying I used up the remaining rice crispies to make up some occupants – a big, round snowman, and cute little penguin. Decorating the with the royal icing and suites supplied, I used an edible-ink pen to dot the penguins eyes as there were no more chocolate crispies left!

penguin and snowman made out of rice crispy and marshmallows decorated with royal icing and sweets jelly beans

And finally onto the most fun part – adoring the house with the rest of the sweets and royal icing.

I piped tiles and a sweet design onto the roof:

roof piece royal icing tiled with sweets jelly beans chocolate rice crispies and marshmallows

And topped the two roof pieces with some jelly hearts:

icing sweetie tiles on the roof of crispy house chocolate

For the front, I’d moulded a chocolate front door, decorated with yet more sweets!

decoration on the front of rice crispy marshmallow house front door jelly beans royal icing chocolate

The finished product! It was actually quite simple to assemble, as long as you have enough space in the fridge to chill the pieces first. And a lot quicker than baking all the pieces for my previous Christmas Gingerbread House!

rice crispy house marshmallows with chocolate sweets and royal icing penguin and snowman

The new occupants seemed very pleased with their new house :-):

rice crispy snowman and penguin chocolate outside christmas marshmallow house

The only downside I could find; the marshmallow never really sets firm so you have to work in a very cold environment. It wasn’t even warm in our house and 15 minutes of decorating was more than the construction could handle…

collapsing marshmallow and rice crispy house too warm

Rob was quite happy with this result as it meant eating the house straight away – if needs must!

A great afternoons entertainment and eating from a brilliant Christmas present, plus I’ll definitely be keeping the mould to use again next (this) year. Chocolate houses maybe…?

I did weigh the ingredients before putting the house together  so could easily recreate the recipe – 2x rice crispies at 85g each, 2x marshmallows at 100g each, and 10g of cocoa powder for the chocolate roof pieces. Melt the marshmallows 1 pack at a time with 25g of butter, stir in 1 pack of rice crispies, cool slightly and press into the mould. Repeat adding cocoa powder for the chocolate pieces).

Cake-Pop-Aloola

I don’t really think this one needs much introduction; after my previous dalliance with cake pops, it was pretty clear I was to continue my quest into teeny balls of cake!

These were actually made a while back – before I’d been able to source some proper Wilton candy melts and lollipop sticks on my shopping trip. Making cake pops on cocktail sticks adds to the already challenging process, but if it’s all you’ve got, then they do work!

My finally excuse for some slightly dodgy photos – I am literally begging Rob to make me a proper cake stand, but it still has yet to appear. Short of picking up a drill myself (I’m really not allowed near power tools!), I have to make do with what boxes etc I have around for the meantime. And threaten not to make any more cakes until he pulls his weight 😉

My inspiration for finally getting round to this post, is this these stunning little beauties that one of our suppliers bought in last week (we have a lot of suppliers who bring in a lot of treats. I do like my job):

A quick google of the label led me to pop bakery, a lovely looking little shop down in London.  Mental note firmly made to pay a visit next time i’m in the capital, if I don’t cave in and order a batch beforehand! Needless to say they were super yummy and didn’t last long in the office!

Back to my baking – hopefully the reason you’re all here reading.

For these cake pops, I baked up a batch of chocolate cake, just in a flat tin so it was easier to crumble. It always seems a shame to crumb up such nice cake, but at least it’s a good excuse for a taste test!

The crumbed cake was mixed with some vanilla buttercream, and rolled into pop-sized balls (I tried all kinds of editing to make this photo look less like…well…and more like chocolate, but still seem to have failed, very sorry! Just look at it and think of a big bar of dairy milk….)

Next step – more chocolate – this time white, melted, and also taste-tested:

The end of the sticks were well-swirled into the chocolate before being firmly pushed into the cake balls. I think this yep is probably my favourite,easy and aesthetically pleasing!

After a good 10 minutes in the freezer (it helps keep everything ball-shaped at this stage), I covered the cake pops one at a time in more white chocolate, before embarking on my decoration experiments.

Number one: polka dots. Starting off easy; the coloured sugar discs were simply pressed into the chocolate coating, or stuck on with a dab of extra chocolate where it had started to set.

Number two: honeycomb. I crushed up a bar of honeycomb to crumbs, then rolled the pop in it as soon as it had had its chocolate coating. The plus side: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, yummy. The down side: they look like chicken nuggets!

Number three: graffiti glitter icing. Quite simply, I took two of my favourite colours of writing icing and freestyled designs over the white chocolate cost. Very pretty, but writing icing does not dry quickly, so very difficult to eat/store/have in the vicinity of anything else!

Number four, five, and six. Pink glitter, blue food colouring, yellow insanity.

Let’s start with the pink. How could I make any kind of cake without using some edible glitter! It looked amazing, bit messy to eat (glitter all over your face is not a great look), and probably not that great for you – if you haven’t seen the recent hoo-ha on edible glitter then don’t worry your pretty little self. There’s plenty more to be read if you google it, mostly from bakers like me saying they don’t actually know what the fuss is about, it’s all a bit political-correctness gone too far in my opinion. I certainly will keep using it, although am quite sadden that my beloved Hobbycraft have decided this will stop them stocking it.
Rant over. Number five. I wasn’t sure how food colouring would mix with white chocolate, but this blue actually came up quite well. Just an experiment really.
Number six was my last and a complete free for all. The inner cake layer was covered in white chocolate, then yellow fondant (I found a spare piece while I was rooting through my decorating equipment for inspiration), finished off with some matching mini yellow chocolate beans. Looks like something out an alien movie but impressively funky!

So my second batch of cake pops, and I’d chalk it up as another success. Need to brush up on my neatness and roundness (a proper cake pop stand would really help, hint hint!), but there is definitely scope for a lot of fun with these balls of yumminess.
Rob couldn’t believe how much mess I’d made in the kitchen for 12 little pops – still he ate them without complaining so it can’t have been too bad 😉
Which is your favourite…?

Beautiful Butterfly Biscuits

Spring has definitely sprung this week, and the sunshine is putting big smiles on everyone’s faces!

A new cake decorating magazine has come out in the UK, and as a treat to myself I decided to subscribe – at least it won’t take up space in the already-groaning wardrobe like my normal “treats”.

The first issue came with these super cute butterfly cutters, so obviously I wanted to put them to good use straight away…

The biscuits themselves were a simple recipe from Be-Ro (search for rich biscuits). My parents have the Be-Ro recipe book and we always used to use it for cakes and biscuits when I was younger. They were always really easy and straightforward to make, so when I bought a place of my own this was one of the first baking books to grace my shelves. The recipes are simple, generally with every day ingredients (no pinches of 7 different kinds of spice that you’ll never use again…”), with easy to follow instructions and clear photos of what the finished product is supposed to look like.

For the icing I actually used a tip from my new magazine (hurray, subscription is paying off already!) I made up the coloured icing, quite thick to start with, and put a spoonful in a piping bag, which I used to outline the biscuits. Then I mixed a little water into the icing to make it runny, and spooned it into the middle of the biscuits. With only a little encouragement it spreads out, filling up to the piped outline. I’m so impressed with the result, beautiful smooth iced biscuits, neatly outlined with no drips running down the side or patches in the icing!

For the decoration I used my glitter icing tubes and just made a few free-hand swirls one each, simple but effective.

Sparkles, Swirls, Pearls and CHOCOLATE!

The last of my birthday – this one was to take into my office, and following the epic afternoon tea, I wanted to keep this one quite simple.

The cake itself was wonderfully simple – a rich chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with withe sickly-sweet white chocolate buttercream, and topped with a layer of chocolate fondant icing.

For the decoration I wanted to make use of some of the icing kit I’d been given for Christmas.

The idea behind these stencils is to imprint them lightly, then go over in one smooth line with icing, to create a neat swirl.

However once I’d imprinted them into the cake, I decided to do something a little different. Using white glitter piping icing, I carefully went around putting little dots into each of the imprint marks.

A not-so-steady hand and several swirls later, the results looked great. The writing icing sat very well inside the imprints, creating tiny, shiny, little balls, which looked like the cake was adorned with little pearls all over.

Another cake I’m really proud of; simple, quite quick, and impressively effective.

Needless to say it went down very well in the office, and definitely tasted as good as it looked!

Tempting Tea – Amazing Birthday Afternoon

For my birthday this year I wanted to go back to the little girl world of tea parties – only this time with real tea, real people, and REAL CAKES!

Here are just a few pictures from a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon in our house. There were 8 of us for tea altogether which worked out perfectly in every way – number of tea cups, amount of space around the table…

Aside from the sandwiches (and tea!) the only cake I had to make was some sweet little cupcakes, and that they were! Moist chocolate cake, delectable white chocolate buttercream, finished off with a chocolate star and a few swirls of glitter icing.

Saying I didn’t have much to make – there was plenty more to set up! China tea cups borrow from my mum, jam and fresh clotted cream for the scones, and the cutest paper plates I think I’ve ever seen! The range is rather fabulously titled “Utterly Scrumptious”, I can’t find where it is made but they are widely available, from Amazon etc, mine came from here, and it was very hard to stop at just the plates!

A few extra touches included a teacup shaped candle – perfect for the occasion. And of course we had to have some bubbles, pink champagne no less to match the rest of the decor.

Cake had arrived from around Nottingham thanks to some amazing friends 🙂

And with sandwiches made – smoked salmon and cream cheese, roast ham and cucumber, mixed cheese and seasonal salad – all that was left to do was get everything laid out on the table – and EAT!

(The photographer in me wishes I’d taken more photos at this point. Mine and everyone elses stomachs took priority though, we simply had to tuck in!)

The final touch – a simply stunning and wonderfully gooey red velvet birthday cake with cream cheese icing. If you can make out the candle numbers I’ll leave you to guess whether I’m 72 or 27…!