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Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Health

Too hot to bake?

Hi!

Here in the UK, we’re a bit unfamiliar with the concept of ‘Summer’. Oh, we know it’s a season that follows spring and precedes autumn, but more often than not the lines between are somewhat ‘blurry’. But not at the moment. At the moment it’s 32 Celsius 🌞 and because we’re not used to it, we’re not very well prepared. Trains have been cancelled because the overhead lines are overheating for goodness sake 🥵

For me, it’s both a bonus and a burden. Because I have nerve damage from my spinal cord injury, my skin is hypersensitive. This means that any extremes in temperature cause pain. So although I love the sunshine, I don’t cope well unless I can cool down.

Hence my hubby buying an inflatable paddling pool and blowing it up in the back garden this afternoon bless him. It’s funny but if I can keep my feet cool it helps the rest of me feel cool too!

Anyway, I haven’t felt like being in a warm kitchen this week, so no baking! Fortunately I haven’t had anyone to bake for, so I could allow myself a break 😀

This Sunday though, I am making a cake for a baby shower, which I will be starting tomorrow (thankfully, it is forecast to be a bit cooler 🙏 ) and I have a portable electric fan I can take into the kitchen just in case too…..I just had an image pop into my head involving a fan, flour and icing sugar 😂 …..better be careful where I situate it!

So, seeing as I haven’t any cake to show you for a few days, I’ve spent some of my spare time putting together a couple of ‘movies’ to showcase some of my past cakey creations.

Hope you like them 😍 I’ll be back in a few days with a ‘real’ cake 🍰

Until then,

Stay safe and healthy (especially in the sun!)

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy

Girl fanning on Molly Robbins!

If you’ve ever watched Extreme Cake Makers on channel 4, you’ll know exactly who Molly Robbins is, but for the less cake obsessed of you I’ll explain.

The series showcases lots of very talented cake makers, creating stunning and challenging cakes. One of these is Molly. She has a background in special effects and worked in the film industry before getting the baking bug. If you’ve ever seen her cakes, there’s no doubt that she’s brought the skills she learned in her previous career.

Molly specialises in carved cakes which are a wonder to behold! Just take a look at her Facebook page to see what I mean https://m.facebook.com/mollyscreativecakes/community/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=0

Last Saturday I had the chance to meet her in person when me, my Mum and my daughter in law Abigail went along to a Sugar and Crumbs Social morning. Molly was there as a guest host and demonstrated her new product ‘The Creature Creator’

There are two very well made, sturdy silicone moulds that enable you to bake a basic shape, then use it to create any cake you want without carving a thing! It means less wasted cake, needs no internal support, and saves hours of painstakingly shaving off bits of cake trying to get the perfect base. It’s a definite game changer for hobbyists and professionals alike. As a bonus, it’s dishwasher safe too 😀

There are two moulds. One is for a laying down figure, and one a sitting up figure. Amazingly, Molly demonstrated how to decorate them both in under an hour! All whilst chatting to her audience, and the whole thing being filmed and going out on Facebook live!

Molly in action and my fangirl pic!

It was my first time at one of the Sugar and Crumbs Social Mornings, but it certainly won’t be my last. We had such a fun time 😀 On arrival, we were all given a free raffle ticket and the opportunity to buy more. The prizes included both cakes that Molly had just decorated, more beautiful cakes that had been made by Carol, the founder of Sugar and Crumbs, and her team (including a very on trend fault line cake)

The most beautiful raffle prizes ever!

There was also a raffle for ten bags of the innovative S&C flavoured icing sugars, which my daughter in law was lucky enough to win, and generously shared with me and Mum. It was all very informal, and the S&C team were so friendly and welcoming that it would be rude not to go back to be honest 😂

After the demo, we were treated to cake (of course) and a cuppa, got time to chat, and then let loose in the S&C warehouse to do some shopping! I bought a mould (I already had one 😍) and some other bits and pieces (they have a fantastic range of products!) and when we were leaving, we all got a free bag of chocolate honeycomb flavoured icing sugar. Then because I’d spent over £20, I got another free bag! Rose and Mint flavour which sounds very interesting. Sugar and Crumbs is an online shop and this offer is still on by the way 😉

When I got home, I couldn’t wait to try out one of my moulds, and we just happened to be having a family get together on Sunday, which was excuse enough for me (like I need an excuse 😂)

I decided to use the laying down style, and make a unicorn 🦄 You get a recipe and full instructions for a couple of designs in the box. Neither of these was a unicorn however, but Molly was selling the instruction booklet for it at the demo, so we bought one. Unfortunately it was in Abi’s handbag, but undeterred, I remembered that Molly had demonstrated it on a previous S&C Facebook live. So with the help of my very good friend Youtube, I was all set!

In the instructions, Molly recommended greasing and flouring the mould. I’d definitely stick to that. I used cake release, and had a bit of bother getting it out, but a bit of gentle persuasion, and it thankfully came out without any damage. I baked it on Saturday afternoon, crumb coated and covered with a white sugarpaste base (I used Renshaw Premium) then did all the fun stuff, adding all the details, on Sunday morning.

Lemon Madeira baked in the laying down mould, with lemon buttercream, white sugarpaste, coloured sugarpaste, gold edible lustre

I used Molly’s lemon madeira recipe, and S&C lemon drizzle icing sugar in the buttercream. On a side note, I also got 12 cupcakes out of the remaining batter! I must admit, I’m quite pleased with my first attempt 😀 Can’t wait to try the sitting up one next!

I’ll keep you posted when I try it, but until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used:

Renshaw White Premium Coverpaste

Renshaw black ready to roll icing

Faye Cahill signature gold edible lustre

Wilton primary gel colours set (mixed with the white to make the pastels)

Baking for Therapy, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration

The long awaited pictorial!

You may remember that back when I made the ‘Zelda Cake’, I promised to document it photographically and produce a pictorial. Here’s a reminder of the finished cake……

And I shall now attempt to get all the pictures in the right order! Here goes…

I made 2 cakes separately as I only have one 9″ Cake pan! So you’ll need to double the ingredients if you want a taller cake 🍰

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 3-5 minutes until smooth and pale in colour. Add the sifted icing sugar in 3 or 4 additions, scraping the bowl down frequently. Add the vanilla and beat for a further 5 minutes on low to medium setting.I found a template for the emblem on google images and used it to cut it out of yellow fondant, rolled to about 3mm. I also found pictures of various items associated with Zelda, and just copied them the best that I could. I made the sword, stone, chest and winged ball thingy (it has a name but I’ve forgotten it 🙁) by adding some tylose powder to coloured fondant. This makes it dry harder and quicker. I added guide holes with cocktail sticks where needed while it was still soft. Once the main pieces of the sword and chest were dry, I added the extra decorations to them with normal fondant. I rolled out green fondant to cover the 12″ drum, and top of the cake, and used a marbled grey round the sides. I rolled this a bit thicker, about 5mm, so that I could use a PME cobblestone impression mat to create the ‘wall’ effect. I used Renshaw’s premium Coverpaste coloured with Wilton gel colours throughout.

A large ‘Z’ on the front, and a few more additions, and the requested ‘Dungeon Master’ reference, and the cake was finished!

I also made a little video. Now go easy on me, I’m not the most technology minded person in the world!

I hope you liked this tutorial, if you did, let me know and I’ll do some more 😀 I mean, I can only get better at it, right?

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

See below for more in-depth tips on preparing and covering a cake 😀

How to Crumb coat a cake

How to cover a cake with sugarpaste (fondant)

Baking for Therapy, Breast Cancer Care, Fundraising

Breast Cancer Care fundraiser

Hi, Well, only I could choose the hottest day of the year to hold an afternoon tea/bake sale! Oh for the gift of clairvoyance! 🌞 🌞 🌞

So there I am, with most of my cakes containing buttercream or ganache, desperately trying to keep them cool (I ended up putting them in the garage) red faced and swapping out tea cups for tumblers of soft drinks! I don’t cope well with heat at the best of times, but thankfully all went well. We opened all the windows and the door in the conservatory, dug out the fan, and spilled out into the garden.

I was so busy that I totally forgot to take pictures of the cakes before we started, so you’ll just have to imagine what they looked like before they were cut into 😋

Mint chocolate cake, strawberry cake

Mint chocolate cake

Strawberry cake

Fruit scones, Red Velvet cake, (remains of) Lemon sponge

Raspberry and Prosecco cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes

Cookies and Cream Cake

All in all, we raised £150! I am so pleased to support this charity. My grandma had breast cancer, and recently someone very close to me had a bit of a ‘scare’, a lump which was thankfully benign, and has now been removed. It just highlights how much has improved in the intervening years. Early detection and treatment is so much better now, and our support of charities like Breast Cancer Care plays an important part of that.

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who donated on the day.

If you’re unsure how to check your breasts, please follow the link below for more information

https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/have-i-got-breast-cancer/checking-your-breasts

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Baking for Therapy

Oink Oink! Farmyard Cake Alert!

Hey there,

A few weeks ago I managed to have 2 cakes due on the same day. Not a big deal for all you professional cakers out there, but for me it required careful planning, so that I didn’t overdo it and tire myself out too much!

I’ve already posted about the ‘Pirate’ themed cake, so this is the other ‘Farmyard’ themed cake for my friend Elaine’s grandson Oliver.

Oliver’s Farmyard themed cake

The cake itself is my go to Vanilla Sponge, with jam and buttercream. A tractor was a must, so I shaped it out of Rice Krispie treats, covered it in ganache, then sugarpaste in various colours. The cake was coated in buttercream then covered with green sugarpaste, and the fencing was made by blending Renshaw’s chocolate flavour brown sugarpaste with Renshaw’s White Belgian chocolate modelling paste (see below for details) The ‘mud’ is a pool of ganache, and all the animals were made from modelling paste with sugarpaste details.

I had lots of fun making both cakes, even though I slept most of the day after! But for me, the pleasure I get is worth the consequences, in fact I allow for it, and I’m lucky enough to have a supportive husband, who understands that. He is so thoughtful and predicting my need to rest afterwards, will often line up a film or two for me to watch while I’m having my ‘pyjama days’ 🥰

In other news, my cataract operation went well, and my distance vision is now pretty much perfect. I just need a new prescription for my reading glasses now 😂

Last Sunday, we had a belated Father’s Day Meal (eldest was visiting youngest in Bucharest on the actual day!) So James, my son, and my daughter in law Abi, made us a gorgeous roast lamb dinner, inviting us, her parents, and grandparents too. They really did us proud. I contributed a cake, (see below) and a cheesecake (sorry no pic) and Abi also made a beautiful pavlova filled with whipped cream and lovely summer berries….we really were spoilt!

Lemon sponge with mascarpone cream cheese and lemon curd frosting, strawberries and raspberries

On Monday, I had Rebecca and Danny round for a cake tasting and planning session. They’re getting married in January and I’m so excited that they have asked me to make their cake 🍰 I know Rebecca from Panto, as her parents are our good friends Edward and Bev. Edward writes, directs and takes part in our productions (who says men can’t multitask?) and Bev is his right hand woman! Rebecca has been in every Panto I can remember and she and Danny really are a lovely couple ❤️

Oh! And the other day I found out that my daughter Katie and her boyfriend Josh have planned a flying visit next weekend! They’re flying into Liverpool (where they lived before going to Bucharest) on Friday night, seeing friends in Liverpool on Saturday, coming to us on Sunday, then flying back on Monday…phew, sounds exhausting to me, but they’re young and fit! Anyway, I can’t wait to see them, and have a family gathering planned already 😀

Before that though, there’s this weekend, which is my Breast Cancer Care fundraiser. All my invites have been sent out, and I’m hoping for a good turn out for a good cause.

My mum is helping me out with some of the baking, and on the day (Saturday) and it will be another ‘pyjama day’ for me on Sunday 💤 😴 💤 Hmmmm, wonder what films hubby will have lined up for me this time? After that, it will be ‘operation spare bedroom’ ready for our Bucharest visitors. It’s become a bit of a dumping ground recently, so it’s a good excuse for a bit of tidying up!

Well, I’d better go and get my bake on again!

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in the Farmyard cake included:

Renshaw White Premium Coverpaste

Renshaw Lincoln green sugarpaste

Renshaw White Belgian Chocolate modelling paste

Renshaw chocolate flavour sugarpaste

Wilton green gel food colour

Wilton pink gel food colour

Wilton lemon yellow gel food colour

Baking for Therapy

Zelda, Coffee Morning, and Breasts

That got your attention didn’t it?

So, to start off with Zelda. The winner of the Easter Competition asked me to make a ‘Legends of Zelda’ inspired cake for a friend’s birthday last week. Being of a certain age *ahem*, I knew very little about Zelda. My 30 something children were more into Sonic and Mario, so after getting some help from Evie, (the customer) and a bit of google image searching, I set off on my quest! The finished result is below, but I did photograph the process in order to produce a pictorial too. I’m still editing that, but as soon as it’s done, I’ll post it I promise 😀 (the Dungeon Master reference was also requested)

So, on to the Coffee Morning.

A couple of times a year, the Panto Society I’m a member of hosts the monthly Coffee Morning held at Greenbrook Methodist Church, which is where we rehearse and perform. I have to admit, I thought it might be quieter than usual as it was a Bank Holiday Weekend, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was a great turn out and raised much needed funds for the Church.

The Whole Table

What a feast for the eyes eh?

Many thanks to Sandra, Wendy, and Sue who contributed cake and their time, and to all who attended 😀

So, now to talk about breasts. Every year, I fundraise for ‘Breast Cancer Care’, by hosting an afternoon tea event. I first started to do this in memory of my Grandma Molly, but in more recent years other people I know have also been diagnosed and treated.

Yesterday, I went for my mammogram as part of the 3 yearly check offered to all women over 50. Three years ago, when I had my first one, I found it really quite painful, so I was a bit apprehensive. I’m delighted to say that I needn’t have worried. The equipment was definitely different from last time, and the process was much quicker. Although a little uncomfortable, it was all over so quickly that I was in and out of the clinic in under 15 minutes. So please please please, if you are eligible, don’t put it off. Because the sooner the first signs are found, the more likely it is that you will get treated successfully. And in between mammograms, check your breasts regularly. Once you get familiar with how your breasts feel normally, it’s much easier to spot any changes.

If you are local to me (Burnley, Lancashire, England) please feel free to drop in to my afternoon tea event next month. The details are below.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2322309581161857/?ti=ia

If you aren’t local, or can’t make it, but would like to donate, you can do so here

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/debbie-hargreaves3

Hope to see you soon

Until then

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Birthday, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Love

Happy Birthday to me!

My mummy made me a birthday cake!

Yummy chocolate orange sponge, fresh cream filled, and ganache frosting with edible flowers

Blowing out my candles

I have to admit, I was slightly confused as to who was making me a cake this year. Hubby had asked if he needed to buy one, and as my daughter in law made it last year, I asked my son if Abi was doing the honours again….to which he replied ‘Dad doesn’t need to buy one’. With hindsight, he didn’t actually say Abi was making it…..but that was the assumption I made 😉

My birthday also fell on Mother’s Day (UK), so I had also made a simple buttercream watercolour effect cake…

Top view

Vanilla sponge with raspberry buttercream and watercolour effect decorations

So when my Mum turned up at my house to help me prepare the buffet, and brought 2 layers of chocolate orange cake with her ‘to finish off’, I was thinking ‘Oh no, we’re going to have 3 cakes!’ And said so…to Mum! I nearly suggested that she freeze it for a future birthday as we have lots at this time of the year, but instead I decided to ditch my plans to make a strawberry cheesecake instead. More than enough dessert with 3 cakes on the table right? Well…..almost. Unbeknownst to me, Mum and Abi had sorted out who was making the cake earlier in the week 🤫😂🤫

What made it even funnier was that I had to teach Mum how to make ganache so that she could cover the cake, and before that, when she was using my hand mixer to whip the cream, she accidentally pressed the ‘boost’ button instead of the one that ejects the beaters, and we ended up with cream all over the walls! All this whilst not knowing that she was actually working on my birthday cake!

I have to say though, the finished result was absolutely yummy. And it was the first time she’d ever covered a cake! Or made ganache (albeit with *cough* ‘expert’ instructions 😂)

We had decided to celebrate on the Saturday (my birthday was actually Sunday) and we had a lovely evening, just a few family members, a FaceTime call with my daughter in Romania, a couple of games…..lovely 🎉💕🎉

The following day was spent resting up in my jim jams, having a longer conversation with Katie and Josh via FaceTime, and sharing the leftovers from the buffet with James and Abi…..oh! and opening my pressies of course 😀❤️

I’m also trying not to focus on the fact that I’m now nearer 60 than 50! It’s just a number after all 😂

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in the ‘watercolour’ cake

Wilton gel colours

Silver Spoon Icing Sugar

Baking for Therapy

A change from blue……

Hi,

So I finally got to make a baby cake in pink! This one was for my friend’s daughter’s baby shower last weekend.

Although it’s a different design, the elephant theme continued, but ‘she’ at least had a pretty pink bow.

I got to try out a new recipe too. Chocolate and cherry cake. I used fresh sweet cherries and adjusted my chocolate cake recipe to allow for the extra moisture. I also made a cherry jam using this recipe. It was yummy, but wasn’t the best for a layer cake, (it was a bit crumbly!) but I made it work by slathering it liberally with ganache. Once that had set I had a nice base for the sugarpaste.

Two tier baby shower cake
Elephant cake topper

After that I marbled grey and white for the bottom tier and made pink ruffles for the top tier. One cute baby elephant later….et viola 😀

I used ‘The Sugarpaste’ recommended by Rachel’s Enchanting Cakes after I couldn’t get my usual Renshaw’s Extra. It’s a similar quality and covered the cake really well, despite it being a really hot day! I got ‘The Sugarpaste’ from The Cake Decorating Company, and I get the ‘Renshaw Extra White’ from Sugar and Crumbs, which is where I now buy all my supplies (except when they were temporarily out of stock!) I’ve noticed that they are also stocking a new brand of sugarpaste ‘Select Ireland’ which looks like it works in a similar way, so I’ll definitely be giving that a try when I need to restock 😀

While I’m mentioning it, I’d like to chuck my twopennorth in and highly recommend Sugar and Crumbs as a stockist of all things cake.

It’s not just that they have a fantastic range of products, it’s the personal touch they bring to their customer service which is second to none. They also have a really friendly Facebook Group where bakers of all abilities can share their cakes, and pick up hints and tips, and they regularly do ‘Facebook lives’ with guest tutors doing tutorials in real time, and it’s all free! Why not give them a try?

Well, that’s it from me

Stay safe and healthy,

Debbie ❤️

Disclaimer: I have not been asked to promote Sugar and Crumbs. All opinions are my own, and based on personal experience with the company 😀