Archives for posts with tag: Celebration

Wow, summer is going by very quickly so far! In the midst of wedding season, and as I am preparing to make a cross-channel wedding cake, I thought I would share some pictures of cakes that I have made to date for dear friends to celebrate their amazing weddings.

According to Wikipedia, one of the first traditions relating to wedding cakes began in Ancient Rome where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. In medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over, if they successfully kissed over the stack they were guaranteed a prosperous life together.

It is such an honour to be part of a good friend’s wedding by making their wedding cake, and following a drunken conversation at a hen do I received a call the next day from Kiren, one of my best friends, just to check that I was still OK to make her wedding cake. Hours of practice and many carrot cakes later, there we had it. Sufficient wedding cake for 300 people at her and Raj’s beautiful, colourful and joyous wedding.

Cutting cake

At the bride’s request, I made everything as carrot cake, including three lots of two-tired cakes with cream cheese frosting and a pile of rose-topped cupcakes. I had some ornate sugarcraft flowers and a lovely plaque and personalised cake knife to commemorate the day.

Cakes

I also made lots of back up cakes for the caterers to cut up, but after an all-day eating extravaganza there was so still much cake left!

There was so much cake left after all the delicious food, that the bride wandered amongst her guests encouraging them to eat more!

Beautiful bride enjoying her cake!

I was so excited when some other great friends Vic and Ro wanted me to make their wedding cake for their summer garden party – themed wedding. They are such creative, fun people themselves that I knew their wedding would be great fun – and it was!

 

Happy couple

They wanted a relaxed, colourful feel which is why we used fresh flowers for the cake decorations. I knew that I was on to a good thing when, the morning before the wedding, I went to a florist in Thame, Buckinghamshire to collect the flowers that I had planned to use on the cakes, and there was a collection of flowers waiting there for Mary Berry! Talk about a good baking omen!

Coconut ice and biscuits BrowniesChocolate cake Love is sweet

I really enjoyed making the different cakes, including chocolate orange and Victoria sponge, as well as the other treats such as coconut ice, chocolate brownies and jammy dodger biscuits.

There was a slight issue in the 30 degrees heatwave that came from nowhere, but still we managed to keep the flowers looking fresh by not assembling the cakes until just before the meal. Luckily Vic’s mum who was hosting the wedding in her wonderful garden had a huge kitchen. I did have to demand that the caterers moved their 80+ creme brulees out of my cake fridge in order to store the cream-cheese frosted carrot cake centre piece, but all’s well that ends well, right?!

Carrot cake
I think my favourite decoration though was the miniature teaset that I stumbled upon whilst browsing eBay for teapot necklaces. It was too sweet not to use and I thought the perfect decoration for such a classic cake as Victoria sponge.
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Right, I’d best get back to finishing off the icing of my Dutch cousin Niek’s wedding cake ahead of his marriage to the lovely Ismay. I’m excited about hearing them say Ja (“I do!) and celebrating Dutch style!

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Due to the “storm” that was about to hit London (even Barry the Thames Barrier has gone down) on Thursday, my train to the gym was severely delayed, therefore I abandoned exercise and was able to come home from work at a decent time.

My Mum and Dad were coming late last Sunday night, determined that we would fit in a Lebanese at a newly opened local establishment down the road upon arrival. The purpose of their visit was some minor DIY, and I needed to give them energy whilst tiling my kitchen windowsill the following morning.

So I recreated one of Mum’s favourite biscuits, if that is indeed the culinary category in which this treat falls. Millionaire’s shortbread. What better tea time (or any time) treat?

Sparkly shortbread

Crunchy shortbread biscuit, a large amount of soft, sweet, caramel, and a definitive dense chocolate topping, The chocolate and biscuit are working together to hold in that caramel, and the ratio of biscuit to caramel in this recipe is far more generous than most shop bought equivalents (and of course contains no nasty preservatives).

As has been a feature of several recent(ish) posts, I have borrowed someone else’s recipe (in this case Carnation’s, of condensed milk fame) and adapted it a little.

http://www.carnation.co.uk/recipes/60/Millionaires-Shortbread

This is a rather simple recipe, and you don’t even need a sugar thermometer to get the caramel right (see reference to disastrous macarons in previous post I am still holding out for one for Christmas).

I have made this recipe several times, and feel that I am close to perfecting it. I find the base works best when you blitz the shortbread in the food processor, finer crumbs = sturdier biscuit base. This is the cheat’s shortbread base, you can also make your own from scratch which is straight forwards but more time-consuming.

Stirring up shortbread

Next, you make the caramel. Gently stir together the butter and sugar until fully melted, and then drizzle in the condensed milk, stirring continuously as you don’t want it to burn. I don’t know why but I find a wooden spoon helps this process. And you can smack away any fingers trying to get an early dip of the sweet nectar!

Keep stirring even though you don’t want to, for fear of burning. I also have a fear of the caramel not setting, so I do stir it until notably thicker. Then pour on to the cooled shortbread and leave to chill out for a while.

Caramel

Leave the caramel to cool in the fridge and melt two bars of chocolate (200g in total) over a bain-marie, which is easier to control the temperature than melting in a saucepan directly. Dark, milk and white chocolate toppings are all delicious, or even a combination of them together.

To get a celebration-like finish to the shortbread, I then melted white chocolate and flicked it across the top, then scattered tiny edible gold stars over the tray.

Mini shortbreads

I am experimenting with finger-sized treats that I can parcel up as presents, and so made some tiny shortbreads in silicone petit-four cases.

Petit fours

My biggest tip for making shortbread is to score the chocolate topping before it has entirely set, otherwise it is a nightmare to cut in to straight lines.

Scoring the chocolate topping

There are loads of sweet (terrible pun – sorry!) recipes on this site. I want to try the fudge recipe next time, but not until I have my sugar thermometer…

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