My Little Pony Party

So my baby is almost two years old. So what better time to post about her first birthday party!

Back in November we celebrated our last first birthday in our family (as there won’t be another baby joining us). My big girls chose the theme (with strong guidance from me) of My Little Pony.

We had a rainbow cake (rainbow inside and outside), rainbow decorations and little girls dressed as ponies.

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The main decoration behind the cake table was super simple to construct. A bunch of white balloons with rainbow tulle coming down. I used the six inch wide rolls of tulle, so no preparation was involved. My husband just looped them around two strings . It is the husband who got the rainbow backwards *eye roll* The other decorations involved placing all our pony figurines on the table!

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The pony costumes were super fun to put together, though I did have much grander plans the enthusiasm ran out! I did also intend to have little pony headbands for all the children attending but that never happened!

We had a wee Rainbow Dash for which I stitched some felt wing shapes onto the back of a plain blue t-shirt. Nine months later it’s still going strong! Rainbow ribbons on a headband with some little felt ears finished off her outfit (not that she wore it for long!)

Pinkie Pie was simple with a party dress bought on sale and her hair tied in in two pony tails, one high and one a bit lower to create a mane. I had a lot of fun curling these!

Apple Jack was much the same except I added a tiny cowboy hat between her ears (the hat was found in the teddy bear making section of Spotlight).img_3629

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We had such a fun time! Though it’s quite a relief having no milestone birthdays this year! Her second birthday will be a much quieter affair in the build up to the big fifth for the twins in February!

A wedding, news and excuses!

Hi everyone

I know it’s been a while, and I’m really sorry. There’s been a lot going on and writing is really at the bottom of the priority list. It’s also quite hard to write when you haven’t been doing anything to write about.

There have been three occasions where I’ve created quite fabulous cakes, but that’s been about the extent of my sewing and baking. The latest cake was a wedding cake, my very first, and the stress involved in that made any other form of baking entirely horrific. I couldn’t do anything! The cake was for a very good friend, and honestly I don’t know if that made it easier or harder. All I could think was what if she hated the cake and it ruined her whole wedding for her!

As it turns out, she was super happy and the cake was very well received with everyone at the wedding (or at least so I heard, no one’s told me otherwise!) It was three tiers (my first ever this big!) with chocolate mud cake on the bottom and top tiers and white chocolate mud cake in the middle. Raspberry coulis between each layer all covered with ganache then fondant.

Beach Themed Wedding CakeBride and Groom with Beach Themed Wedding CakeI used silver spray paint (edible, by Wilton, I just can’t remember the name) to paint each tier, fading it up towards the top. As it turns out my husband was much better at this than me, I only wish I’d known that before I’d already done two of the cakes! The shells were fondant, pressed into chocolate moulds, which worked really well, if you didn’t mind mostly destroying the moulds after a few batches. It was so hard to get them out! I dusted well with cornflour but to no avail. They are still kind of usable, but I’ve gone from a five starfish mould to a three, the rest is pretty broken and battered. One massively useful tip for this, put them in the freezer! Much easier to get out.

After the moulding and a while drying I dusted them with a selection of colour and lustre dusts. That was kinda of fun. I used a big poufy make up brush and kind of buffed it on. The dust went everywhere and my kitchen and I were blue for a while, but it cleared up eventually.

Beach Theme Wedding Cake - Detail

I’d done this cake (a smaller version) as a trial for my Mum’s best friend’s 60th a couple of months before and had used a silicon mould to make the frangipani flowers. But they just didn’t look that flash (photo below). So this time I used fake flowers, which were also used in the centrepieces on the tables (for continuity).

Beach Themed Cake - Moulded Flowers

In the end, the cake was a bit wonky in places and I wasn’t entirely happy with that wonkiness, but I was very happy overall. I was even happier when it was finally completed and delivered to the reception venue and it was no longer my concern. I could then go about normal bridesmaid duties and actually enjoy the occasion!

There was another rather big stressor in the lead up to that wedding (which was just two weeks ago). The worry of whether I’d fit into my bridesmaid dress, bought way back last year. At least when we chose the dresses I knew there was a chance I’d be 12 weeks pregnant and chose a suitable style. As it turns out I was only 10 weeks, but still quite large considering (I hear you pop out a lot faster the second time, especially after the twins). But in the end the dress did up on the day, morning sickness stayed away and I didn’t pass out at any point during the ceremony or reception or anything. I even managed to stay up until 1am! It was fabulous! (It wasn’t all just standing in line looking pretty like the photo shows either! I had to walk a really long way!)

Bridesmaid Bridesmaids
So that’s my big news, in a really roundabout kind of way. Baby number three (and just number three, not number four) is on the way! And the exhaustion and sickness is also my excuse for not baking, sewing or writing. So I dare say there’ll be a few baby related things popping up on this blog in the near future 🙂

So back to the cakes. As well as the wedding cake we had a momentous occasion in our household when my baby girls turned two. We had a small party for friends and family and as it wasn’t a really big one I didn’t want to use a fantastic theme up for it, so I went for a low key ladybug theme, which in honesty was a great theme and really easy and fun to work with.

I did a ladybug cake with white chocolate mudcake for the base (it was a practise for the wedding cake!) and a chocolate cake ladybug. I loved it and it’s one of my all time favourites! (Mind you I have only been doing this a year, with their first birthday cake my first properly decorated masterpiece!)

Ladybug Birthday Cake

I also made a cute Happy Birthday banner using printed letters off the computer, cut out in circles and stuck to red flower shapes. Ladybug cookies and crackers (crackers with cream cheese, half a cherry tomato and a piece of olive – no photos unfortunately), red cake pops (disaster in the hot weather, and just all round failure!) and some red and white spotted balloons for good measure.

Ladybug Happy Birthday Banner Ladybug Cookies

Regardless of all of the above, the girl’s loved it and had a great time with their friends (and Mum and Dad of course!)

Family So until next time, and hopefully it wont be that far away now I”m starting to feel a fraction better! I hope you enjoyed reading and maybe got something useful out of it. Or maybe you just liked the cute picture of my kids, either way, please remember to comment, like and follow me on Facebook!

x x x

 

Christmas Baking

As promised, just a little bit later than promised, a post about my Christmas baking!

Four recipes today, two that are pure Christmas and the other two ideal to make anytime!

The first is the basic Christmas Cake. A warning on this recipe, you need a BIG tin, or two smaller ones. It makes A LOT anyway! You’ll also need to line the tin with a few layers of newspaper or something before your baking paper lining to help protect it. I make this cake in my soup pot because it’s the only thing I have big enough to hold all the fruit. The best thing about this recipe is its all over with in less than a day, you don’t have to stew the fruit for weeks beforehand like some Christmas cake recipes I’ve seen.

Christmas Cake

Recipe:

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup hot water
250g (1/2 pound) butter
1 tab golden syrup
1.5kg (3 pound) mixed fruit

Boil this for 10 minutes and then cool.

Add,
4 beaten eggs and essences like almond, brandy, vanilla and mix all together

Then add,
500g (1 pound) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 small teaspoon curry powder

Bake at 3 ½ hours at approx. 130°c. Test with a knife. When cake has cooled pour over a couple of spoons of whiskey or sherry. Leave in the tin until quite cool.

Next up, probably my husband’s favourite of my baking recipes. The Christmas Mince Pie.

Christmas Mince Pie

To make the fruit mince:
40g raisins
60g soft brown sugar
30g sultanas
50g mixed peel
1 tablespoon currants
1 tablespoon chopped almonds
1 small apple, grated
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp mixed spice
25g butter
1 tbsp brandy

Throw it all into a pot (I make several quantities at once and again I use the soup pot), melt the butter down, mix it up. It’s that easy. I then put it into hot sterilised jars and seal (because I make it way in advance). If you wanted to use straight away you can just melt the butter separately and mix that into the fruit (it doesn’t all need heating).

For the pastry:
250g plain flour
150g chilled butter, cubed
85g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons iced water

Throw the flour and butter into the food processor and whizz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the icing sugar and give a quick whizz. Add the water gradually, whizzing until it starts coming together. (*Yes, whizz appears to be the word of the day). This step can be done by hand if you have the patience or no food processor (though I don’t know how you’d live without one!)

Turn out onto floured bench, gather into a ball. Roll out two thirds of the pastry and cut rounds (x24) larger than the holes in a mini muffin tin.

At some point prior to now you should have also greased two 12-hole mini muffin tins and preheated the oven to 180°C. (sorry about that)

Fit the pastry into the tins, spoon in some mince. Roll out remaining pastry to make tops. I make little stars (as you’ll see in the picture. You can do whole tops if you’d like, or maybe you have another Christmas themed cutter you can use).

Bake approx 20 minutes (I notice where I have the recipe written it says 25 minutes, but in honesty I only do mine for 18 minutes – but then I have an often cranky oven).

These pies freeze really well also, so you can make them well in advance. Or you can be like me and have three jars of mince (equal to 180 little pies) left to use in the week before Christmas. Clearly I’m not as organised as last year. Oh and 180 pies isn’t that many, not when you see how fast they get eaten!

Now, the next two recipes are truffles and as I said earlier, these make great anytime recipes! I tend to make them when I’m going to someone’s house for dinner. They are quick and easy and most importantly, delicious!

White Chocolate and Chocolate Coconut Truffles

White Chocolate Truffles
1/4 C cream
250g white chocolate
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
lemon and almond essences
1/4 C desiccated coconut
1/4 ground almonds
Coating: coconut, icing sugar or white chocolate

Place cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has metled. Remove bowl from heat and stir in lemon zest and essences, then coconut and almonds. Chill until mixture is firm enough to handle (45-60 minutes). Roll into small balls (small is good because they are SO rich!), then roll in coconut, icing sugar or white chocolate to coat. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Easy as pie (or truffles as the case may be!)

The next truffle is a Chocolate Coconut Truffle.
125g wine biscuits
100g butter, softened
1/4 C cocoa
1 C icing sugar
1/2 C desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp orange juice
coconut for coating

Put the biscuits in that trusty food processor and whizz until crumbs (you could smash them with a rolling pin while they are safely encased in a plastic bag if you need the therapy, but to be honest its hard work and I’m lazy). Add the remaining ingredients, except the extra coconut and whizz some more. Put in the fridge for a little while (10 minutes or so) then roll into balls and coat with coconut. Store in the fridge or freezer.

I’m just going to note here, that normally I don’t like coconut in things, but I do love these chocolate coconut truffles. How very strange!

Anyway, this will likely be my last post before Christmas and I probably won’t be posting again before mid January at the earliest, so I hope you have a FANTASTIC Christmas and New Year. I’ll have all sorts of exciting things to post about in the new year with my Christmas present round up, plus I’ll be tackling my first ever wedding cake for a very close friend (eeek!)

Enjoy the holidays!

Rugby Themed 50th Birthday Cake

Hello all

How are you? Busy, busy in the lead up to Christmas I bet! We sure are.

Today I am bringing you my latest cake. I was asked months ago to create a masterpiece for a 50th birthday party. It was actually my life coach and owner of my gym that asked me to make the cake. She’s the one tasked with keeping me sane (poor woman! No really, she is fantastic and I attribute all of my dealing with depression to her). The party was for the gym’s floor manager, Neal, and it was all about rugby (at a rugby club, everyone dressed up etc).

I’ll be honest here, I’m not much of a rugby person. This cake was going to be hard! I had many ideas in my head and as the day got closer I narrowed it down, but then came the actual execution and that wasn’t so successful. In the end, the cake looked great, just nothing at all like I’d originally pictured.

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One thing I wanted to do, because I’d never done it before, and of course this is all about personal development and growth, was to make a person. It actually turned out awesome, except for the fact that he was seriously out of proportion. Whoops!

Rugby Birthday Cake

The end result I was really happy with. The cake also got a very good reception at the party.  A lot of the people there were members of the gym that I’ve known for several years now and they were full of praise (seriously good for the ego) One of them even sent an email to my coach saying how amazing it was 🙂 After a long, very stressful and quite upsetting week, it was nice to have the compliments (and a few parties to go too, all without the kids!!)

I’ve since launched straight back into Christmas preparations with my first Christmas cake and batch of Christmas mince pies baked on Tuesday and a couple more presents in the works or completed. I can’t believe it’s only three weeks to go! I’m hoping to have some delicious Christmas recipes to you very shortly (why has it not occurred to me previously to post them? Why wait until three weeks out?). Then in the New Year I’ll recap all the cool prezzies I made and gave 🙂

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day 🙂

Apple Custard Tea Cakes – Recipe

Hello everyone, hope you are well.

I’ve being doing a bit of work today on getting my Pinterest up to speed and setting up a Facebook page etc for this blog. So please have a look at those and give me some likes 🙂

Recently my mummy friend (as in we met when we became mummy’s and have daughters four days different in age) invited me to meet her brother and his wife who had recently moved to New Zealand. I think she wanted me to meet them because not only do they have a daughter the same age as ours they also have wee baby twins. She also asked if I would bake something to take along. And being the baking addict I am, I agreed (as she knew I would).

The day before the visit I had some trouble on my hands. I hadn’t been supermarket shopping in a really long time and therefore was a bit sparse on the ingredients. But then I found something that blew my mind and changed everything!  In a small and seemingly inconsequential little cupcake book I found a recipe for Apple Custard Tea Cakes. (Link to info on the book is here. It was really cheap and full of great, simple and gorgeous cupcake recipes and ideas)

With ingredients I consider pantry staples and those which I had, this was going to have to be my recipe of choice. The other awesome thing about this recipe was aside from the custard, you throw everything in the mixer and let it go. Couldn’t be easier! There is a little more work involved in the custard and assembling the cakes, but I’ll tell you this: IT IS SO WORTH IT!

I found these little beauties are best while still warm from the oven and would be delicious with ice cream (but then what wouldn’t be??) That said, they were still pretty awesome the next day. So awesome in fact a whole batch was eaten before I had a chance to take any photos. Much to everyone’s dismay I had to make more!

They went down a real treat with both the adults and children enjoying them 🙂

So here is the recipe so you can make your own delicious Apple Custard Tea Cakes:

Apple Custard Tea Cakes

 Apple Custard Tea Cakes

Cakes:
90g butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup (110g) self raising flour (or plain flour with ¾ teaspoon baking powder included in the 110g, which is how I do it)
¼ cup custard powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 large (200g) apple (or some smaller ones), unpeeled, cored and sliced
30g butter, extra, melted
1 tablespoon caster sugar, extra
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Custard:
1 tablespoon custard powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ cup (125ml) milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Make custard:
    Blend custard powder and sugar with milk and extract in a small saucepan; stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat; cover surface with cling film; cool.
  2. Preheat oven to moderate (180°C/160°C fan assisted). Line 6-hole large or 12-hole standard muffin tray with paper cases.
  3. Beat butter, extract, sugar, eggs, flour, custard powder and milk in a small bowl with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler colour.
  4. Divide half the mixture among cases. Top with custard, then remaining cake mixture; spread mixture to cover custard. Top with apple slices, pressing slightly onto cake.
  5. Bake large cakes about 40 minutes, small cakes about 30 minutes.
  6. Brush hot cakes with extra butter, then sprinkle with combined extra sugar and cinnamon. Turn cakes onto wire rack. Serve warm or cold.
Just a wee disclaimer, because I need to keep a clear and uncluttered consciense: If you click on the link to the book and purchase a copy, apparently I get a fraction of the sale price through the Book Depository’s Affiliates thing. I hope that doesn’t make you feel funny about my blog, or about me 🙂

Other Baking and My Wee (read MASSIVE) Accomplishment

Hey all. Hope you’re all doing fantastically today 🙂

Today I had a wee revelation. It’s now October, which means winter is well out of the way. And this year, for the first time in many, many years (probably, might not be quite so many, memory ain’t what it used to be!) I made it through those cold, miserable, wet months without having a major bout of depression (or any depression at all really). It wasn’t easy. In fact it was really hard work, but I made it. And I’m so excited about it!

So with that, I present to you a beautiful gallery of images 🙂

(First, a snippet of explanation): Since a lot of the baking I do is just experimenting (and I do a lot of it) I can’t do a full on post for every thing I do. Also, I have a lot of ‘back issue’ things I’ve tried, that I’d like to share… So without further ado, here is a lovely little gallery of some of my past baking accomplishments, ranging from just a little while ago to years ago 🙂 Enjoy!

John Deere Tractor Cake

Hi all!

I’m so excited to share this cake with you! I can’t believe its taken me a whole week from making it to posting! (Didn’t want to over-do things with two posts too close together then have nothing to post for a while!)

I was asked by a little boy recently to make his fifth birthday cake. He’s mad keen on tractors, but not just any old tractor. It has to be John Deere.

The cake also had to work for two parties, one with a whole tribe of little boys and another family event. So it had to be fairly sizeable…

And here’s the end result:

Alex's Birthday Cake!

I love it. But to be honest, probably never, ever want to make green buttercream again… or fondant.

So it’s base is four batches of Mum’s chocolate cake recipe baked in a square tin and place side by side (couldn’t afford a new big tin!) Lots of buttercream later we created a mown hay paddock and a grass paddock, piped with the Wilton grass tip number 233. It was the first time I’ve used the tip, but it was fairly easy to get the hang of and I’m pretty happy with my grass.

Next up, my husband (who’s nephew the cake was for) took on the challenge of creating the tractor. I think he thought this fondant modelling business was easy. Ha, he soon learnt. After four nights work he had a pretty good representation of a John Deere tractor and baler. Overall I think he did a better job than I could have, though he did have a few cracks and flaws in the final product (he failed to realise just how quickly fondant dries out). My contribution was the yellow stripes, because his fingers were too big and clumsy to work with the tiny pieces.

Fondant grass was stuck around the sides of the cake and finished with white fondant daisies made with the smallest blossom plunger cutter in the Wilton Flower Cutter set. I brushed the centres with a bit of gold lustre (even in a boys cake I include lustre… It’s like my favourite cake decorating thing!)

Some fondant lettering and grass piped onto the board and all finished off with some chocolate cows, fondant hay bales and green and yellow candles. Oh, and I almost forgot: the fence. I’d made a beautiful white rail fence from fondant, but as I was assembling the cake on the morning of the party I snapped it! Disaster! Lucky my husband arrived with some pliers and quickly whipped up a great little fence from florist wire. Phew!

And without further ado, to the photos!

If I’ve missed any details you’d like to know about let me know.

I’ve got some more cool stuff coming up, including some cute party desserts I’m working on at the moment. My new craft room is also a few steps closer to completion so I’ll give you a peek at that shortly too, Can’t wait 🙂

Lynda