Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Celebration, Christmas, Church Coffee Morning, Craft Fair, Family, Friends, Fundraising, Health, Pantomime, Therapy

And breathe…….

Hi everyone

I can’t believe that it’s been a month since I posted!

Preparations for the Christmas Fair went much slower than I anticipated, as my helper (Mum) ended up being ill for 2 weeks, so I just had to soldier on as best as I could.

Up to the week before, I concentrated on things that could be prepared in advance, and just took it slowly which was fine.

Of the things I had planned to make fresh…fudge, gingerbread, shortbread etc…..only the fudge got made and packaged. As I also had a Children in need cake to make, I just couldn’t find time for the others without making myself physically ill!

I had Mum to help package and label from a few days before when she had recovered, and Glen (hubby) to do the delivery and set up with me.

However, 2 days afterwards I received a call from the organiser asking for more fudge and Christmas cakes! This meant buying more supplies, making the fudge, allowing it to set, and packaging up another 6 batches to take over! And decorating another half dozen Christmas cakes!

In the end, I brought very little back home with me, which was a great result. However, it did mean making yet more fudge and reindeer hot chocolate cones for my local church Christmas fair last Saturday!

In amongst all this I also ‘tested’ 2 versions of a new Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing (cream cheese, mmmm yummy, more on that next time) made 2 birthday cakes, and cupcakes and scones for the Ladies fellowship Christmas lunch! And had an early ‘Christmas’ celebration with my son and daughter in law as they are away in New Zealand and Australia for most of December. Add Panto rehearsals into the mix, and my time management almost went out of the window!….almost.

I managed by scaling back and doing only what was essential. As mentioned earlier, that meant not taking some of the things I’d planned to take, but it was the only way I could make it work.

All was going to the ‘new’ plan, when more spanners were thrown into the works last week, with my poor hubby copping for it. Firstly by having a cluster of three migraines, and then by seriously hurting his back. Luckily family and friends rallied round to help, God bless them, but he is still in a lot of pain ☹️

My son and Mum helped set up and clear away at the Church Christmas Fair, and friends have been giving me lifts as hubby can’t even get into the car let alone drive it! My son also came to take the dog out for a proper walk, and picked up what was left of my Christmas fair stock to take to work.

I’m really hoping that Glen is well enough to attend the Panto Christmas meal on Friday evening, but will have to play that one by ear. At the moment it’s looking unlikely ☹️

Anyway, here are a few pictures of what I managed to do over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there aren’t many of the Christmas fair goodies, as the priority was just getting stuff done!

Harley Quinn birthday cake
Pudsey Bear cake for Children in Need Panto fundraising
Christmas cake for our early Christmas celebration
Made using the fabulous Patchwork Cutters ‘Igloo set’
Small selection of Christmas cakes
Cupcakes and mini scones for Ladies Fellowship
Fortnite Cake

That’s all for now folks

Until next time

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in this post:

Patchwork cutters Igloo Set

Renshaw premium cover paste

Select Ireland Supreme Silk sugarpaste

Renshaw emerald green sugarpaste

Renshaw red sugarpaste

Renshaw black sugarpaste

Renshaw purple sugarpaste

Renshaw Belgian chocolate white modelling paste

Renshaw flower and modelling paste

Sugarflair holly green airbrush colour

Wilton blue, pink, yellow, ivory food colour gels

Cakestar plunger cutters mini alphabet set

Sugarflair finishing sparkle silver

Sugarflair finishing sparkle gold

Faye Cahill lustre dust signature gold

Sugarflair lustre dust satin silver

Snowflake plunger cutter set

Baking for Therapy, Christmas, Craft Fair, Family, Health, Therapy

Time management!

Hi everyone,

For the next two weeks or so, I’m going to be micro managing my time as I prepare some of my goodies for a craft fair. Learning from my first experience last year, I am starting early, and have roped in my Mum to help.

Last year, I did way too much and made myself ill and exhausted. It was my first time at an event that ran over 9 – 10 days and basically, I had no idea what to take! This year, I’ve cut down my ‘menu’, concentrating on just a few items that are easy to prepare in advance. And of course I have the advantage of knowing what was popular last time too!

Using my usual ‘Pros and Cons’ list to decide whether the ‘consequences’ are worth the effort, I decided way back in May when I was invited back, that yes, it is.

One of the biggest things in its favour, is that it is manned by the organisers, who take a percentage, which in my case is completely worth it, as there’s no way I could do it otherwise! You take your stock, set up your area, and leave them to it! I’ll have my hubby to help with this, and collecting any remaining stock afterwards. During the week, the staff may contact you if anything needs restocking, but other than that, you leave them to it. Perfect for me 😀

So that just leaves the preparation beforehand. I’m taking lots of Christmas cakes, which were baked over the last few weeks and will be finished off over the next two weeks.

As for my other stuff, as a general rule, we start after lunch, and as Mum has osteo arthritis, it suits us both to ‘do a bit, rest a bit’……otherwise known as stop for a cuppa every 5 minutes! We do like our tea ☕️ I set everything up so that we can sit at the table, and if either of us needs to change position or get up and stretch, we just do it! Using my hands for more than a few minutes at a time is painful for me, and I don’t do well with anything ‘fiddly’, so we swap tasks out accordingly. Mum helped me package up my reindeer poop and snowman poop! (Kids find anything remotely poo related absolutely hilarious 😂) Chocolate raisins and mint imperials if you’re wondering 🤔

Today we’ve had a production line of ‘Cookies in a jar’ mix on the go

Tomorrow, we’re going to make a start on some Rudolph hot chocolate cones! And the day after, (if we’ve finished the cones!) Gifts in a Christmas mug! (Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Pud in a Mug!)

Wish me luck!

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Update: I forgot to post this last week, it was still sitting in my drafts! Oops! Anyway, as is apt to happen, a spanner hit the works ☹️ My poor Mum has been ill with a cold, so we actually got nothing done last week! (Apart from me designing and printing some labels)

You see? This is why I start early 😂 Hopefully, we’ll have better luck this week, 🤞

Baking for Therapy, Birthday, Cake decorating, Cakes, Bakes, and Me, Celebration, Family, Fun, Recipes, Therapy

Who wants to see a Dirt Bike Cake?

Hello again

This time, I’ve been baking for a friend’s grandson, who absolutely loves dirt bikes! And chocolate cake 😋

Happily, the bike ‘topper’ was provided, saving me trying to make it out of modelling paste!

The topper in its biscuit crumb ‘dirt’

The cake is four delicious layers of my go to chocolate cake recipe, sandwiched together with an easy chocolate fudge frosting. The whole thing was then crumb coated and final coated with ganache to give a firm base for the sugarpaste.

The board was covered in Renshaw’s Premium Coverpaste White, which I coloured with Wilton leaf green gel colour. It was then imprinted using Sweet Stamps ‘Vanilla’ letter set. Instead of painting the letters, I decided to try airbrushing them to see if it made the message stand out. It worked pretty well, but I think I could have been a bit more heavy handed with it! I still get a bit scared I’ll overdo it…more practice needed 😂

I find it hard to get a good orange colour by adding colour gel, so I used a ready made one from Renshaw for the logo. The badges and logo were cut out by hand, and a ganached top and drip added to the muddy effect I wanted. Whilst the ganache was still wet I added some crushed up chocolate biscuit to the top to represent soil. A simple green buttercream border covered where the cake met the board 😀

And there it is guys! My first ever ‘Dirt Bike Cake’

Many thanks to my friend Susan Tighe for asking me to make this, I had a lot of fun!

As always, until next time,

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Products used in the making of this cake: Note, some links may be affiliate links, which means I may get a small commission if you buy via that link

12” Round Cake Drum

Renshaw’s Premium Coverpaste White

Sweet Stamps ‘Vanilla’ letter set

Wilton gel colours

Renshaw Tiger Orange sugarpaste

Cassie Brown Airbrush Kit

Sugarflair Dark green airbrush colour

Baking for Therapy

A Cake with ‘That Friday Feeling’!

Hi everyone,

As promised in my last post, I have recreated the chocolate honeycomb cake I made to say thank you to the Cardiac Unit at Torbay hospital, for the excellent care of my brother after his recent heart attack. Before I continue, a quick update. Mark is continuing to make slow but steady improvement. The ‘slow’ part is driving him crackers with frustration mind you! But he’s following all the rehabilitation advice and trying to be a patient patient 😀

So, on to the cake! It’s based on the Cadbury Crunchie Bar, which was famously advertised (in the UK at least) as giving you ‘that Friday Feeling’, and also by the chocolate honeycomb flavoured icing sugar from the Sugar and Crumbs range. I used it in place of some of the caster sugar in the cake batter as well as the buttercream, and oh my! It was delicious!

I started by making 3 x 6” round cakes (recipe below) Once cooled, I levelled the tops and split them all in two, making 6 layers in all

I then added a layer of buttercream, and sprinkled on some chopped ‘Crunchie’ for extra….well….crunch!

I continued stacking and layering, and by the time I’d used 5 cake layers, it was pretty tall, so I didn’t use the 6th one in the end. I gave it a light layer of buttercream on the sides and top, and stuck more pieces of Crunchie randomly all round the cake.

To finish, I used a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip to add a border round the top, and more Crunchie bits in the middle.

I used some cake offcuts, buttercream and leftover Crunchie bits to make cake pop balls too! Waste not, want not!

And the finished product came with me on Sunday evening to the first read through of ‘Treasure Island’, my Panto Society’s January 2020 production! Reading the script for the first time is always exciting, but when I found out my character name is ‘Mad Dog Maghee’ (in pirate guise at least) I knew it was going to be a hoot!

The rest of my week is also quite exciting. Tomorrow, my niece, her fiancé and dog Ellie are coming to stay until Sunday. It’s my Mums birthday on Thursday, so we’re going for lunch, then I’ll be baking in the afternoon, and down to Panto again in the evening for the chorus registration. Friday will be spent cake decorating, then Saturday morning I have a baby cake being collected, and in the afternoon a family get together to officially celebrate Mums birthday. After that I shall sleep through the next 3 days! (You think I’m joking. I’m not, that’s how long it will take me to recover!)

However, I will have had a lovely few days with my family, and the ‘payback’ is the other side of the balance sheet. The enjoyment is worth the consequences!

More on birthday cake, baby cake and Panto next time

Until then

Stay safe and healthy

Debbie ❤️

Chocolate honeycomb cake recipe:

375g Self Raising Flour

25g Cocoa

375g Baking spread

187g Caster Sugar

6 large free range eggs

187g Sugar and Crumbs Chocolate Honeycomb Icing sugar

60g Greek Yoghurt

10ml Vanilla Extract

1 tsp salt

Method: Preheat oven to 160 Celsius

Mix the baking spread and sugars together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until pale and creamy.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together in a separate bowl

Add the eggs to the creamed mixture, one at a time whilst the mixer is running, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next. Add a tablespoon of the dry mix with eggs after the 2nd one has been added to prevent curdling. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add vanilla and half the remaining dry mix, just until incorporated. Add yoghurt and rest of the dry mix, then scrape down the bowl a final time.

Using a spatula, finish mixing by hand to ensure everything is well incorporated.

Divide batter between the 3 tins, which should be greased and have a circle of parchment paper in the bottom.

Optional step: Add baking strips to ensure even baking. I use PME

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto cake rack to cool completely. Level and split each cake into two layers.

Buttercream:

250g soft unsalted butter

500g Sugar and Crumbs Chocolate Honeycomb Icing Sugar

Pinch salt

2 – 4 tablespoons milk

Method:

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar in small amounts while the mixer is running. Add the salt during this stage too. Add enough milk to achieve the texture desired. Use to fill and cover the cake as described or anyway you please 😀 Add Crunchie bits if desired.

My favourite products:

Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer

Kitchenaid flex edge paddle beater

PME Straight Spatula 6”

PME Offset Spatula 8”

Wilton piping tips 1M, 2D, 2A

Queen of Hearts Disposable Piping Bags THICK Pack of 100

Metal bench Scraper 6”

Pme round cake tin 6×3” , Pme cake tin 8×3” round, Pme cake tin 10×3” round, Pme cake tin 12×3” round

PME baking belt 3” high

Cake Star Push Easy Cutters MINI ALPHABET UPPERCASE

Cake Star Push Easy Cutters MINI NUMBERS Set of 10

PME Tall Scraper Stripes

Baking for Therapy

If baking is my happy place…where have I been?

Well….. not in a very happy place!

On the evening of Saturday 3rd of August, I received a phone call from my sister, whose first words were ‘Don’t panic, but….’ Not what you want to hear at the beginning of any conversation!

My brother Mark, who lives in Devon with his fiancée, Denise, had been rushed to hospital suffering from a major heart attack. He’s just 54 years old.

He’d been complaining of ‘indigestion’ all day, and being a health worker himself, didn’t want to waste NHS time! Thankfully, he was overruled and persuaded to call 111…..not 999 mind you! Anyway, I gather things moved rather quickly from then on, resulting in a blue light ride in the ambulance and surgery to put in 6 stents. (Apparently, the first thing Denise said to him after surgery was ‘indigestion my arse!’)

Even so, on Sunday morning, just as we were preparing to make the journey from Lancashire to Devon, she was advised to get to the hospital as he was in critical condition. Thankfully the crisis was averted, but he spent a further 10 days in hospital trying to stabilise his liver and kidney functions before he was finally allowed home. The consultant said that there were no lifestyle indicators for why he’d had a heart attack, and after taking family history into consideration (our Dads 3 siblings and his father all had heart problems) he advised us all to have regular cholesterol checks.

He’s recovering very slowly now, but it’s going to be a long road. But slow and steady wins the race. Absolutely no ‘haring’ about, he’s the tortoise in this scenario! As long as he’s fit enough to walk down the aisle next May, there’s no rush! The wedding plans are in full swing, and if he thinks he’s doing me out of making his wedding cake, he’d better think again!

The day he had his heart attack was actually my daughter’s birthday. We didn’t tell her until 2 days afterwards, but Mark has said he will now be sharing his rebirth-day with her!

But all joking aside, he’s been very lucky considering the extent of the blockages they found. The cardiac unit at Torbay hospital were absolutely wonderful, there aren’t words to describe how grateful the whole family is for their care. They are a shining example of how amazing our NHS really is.

We had to come home for a week, but whilst we were at home, my Mum, who stayed in Devon had been shopping and presented us with some rather special T shirts. Fans of ‘Game of Thrones’ will also appreciate the sentiment on the shirt modelled by Mark in the second photo!

Also, on our second trip I made sure I took some prebaked cake, and my decorating tools, and made the staff a chocolate honeycomb cake to share (not with the patients obviously!) I was a bit worried that it was an inappropriate gift for a cardiac unit, but Mark approved, and the staff were delighted 😀 Taking photos wasn’t high on my priority list though, so I’m going to recreate it in my next post, and make it into a tutorial.

A return to my happy place is imminent! Panto rehearsals start shortly too – my other happy place – and I’m sure they won’t object to eating the results!

Please keep my brother in your thoughts and prayers, and, as always

Stay safe and healthy,

Debbie ❤️