New addition

I am so excited to announce a brand new addition to our family! Her name is Gracie- 13 weeks old.  She moved in with us on April 6th and we love her to bits!

Gracie

Gracie

Gracie is a Bichon Frise and is great for our family as Yanis and myself suffer from asthma.

Gracie loves to play and explore especially in our back garden.

Bicho Frise Puppy

There will be many puppy pictures over the next few months… years  🙂

IMG_9239

Isn’t she adorable?

IMG_9180

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It’s Christmas

Hello, I am back! I have had my craziest, busiest year yet. Since my last post, close to a year ago (how time flies!), I have opened a Retail Shop. This, and the online shop have taken up a lot of my time and have not had much time to write or bake.   My year can be summarised by one word… TOUGH! I cannot believe Christmas is just 6 days away.

As it’s Christmas I thought I’d share a current favourite in our home- Mincemeat Muffins.

mincemeat muffins

Mincemeat Muffins (makes 12-15)

280g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice or cinamon

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

80g soft brown sugar

90ml vegetable oil

240ml buttermilk

300g mincemeat

1 egg

 

Method

  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees C Fan/ 190 C conventional. Line muffin tray with muffin cases or grease tin if not useing liners
  • Sift together the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  • In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, oil, mincemeat, sugar and milk
  • Stir liquid mixture into the dry, taking care not to over mix
  • Fill each muffin case 2/3 full with mixture. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until
    a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean

Have a great Christmas!!!

Fi x

 

 

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I cannot believe it has been 3 months since my last blog post! Glad to be back and sharing my favourite Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, just in time for Valentine’s day

I have messed around with a few recipes for a while now and this is one I’m happy with. I also use the same recipe for large cakes. It is adapted from Magnolia Bakery’s recipe

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 18 cupcakes)

120g unsalted butter at room temperature

300g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 level teaspoon Sugarflair red extra (or other red paste food colouring)

5 teaspoons water

1 level tablespoon cocoa powder (about 7g)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

300g plain flour

1 level teaspoon salt

220ml buttermilk

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

 

Method

 

  • Preheat oven to 160°C Fan/ 180°C Conventional
  • Sift flour together with salt and set aside
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mix well
  • In a small bowl, mix together red food colouring, water, vanilla extract and cocoa powder into a smooth paste. Add to butter mixture and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed so colour is evenly distributed
  • Turn mixer down to low and add about a third of the flour, then half the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the rest of the buttermilk and flour. Mix well (but do not overbeat)
  • In a small bowl mix together vinegar and soda then pour into batter. Mix well and divide into prepared muffin pans
  • Bake for around 25 minutes/ until skewer comes out clean

Have a Happy Valentine’s day and happy baking!

 

 

 

6 Great Tips for Taking Simple Cake Photographs

Hello, it’s been a while since I last blogged. There’s been a lot of exciting things happen which have kept me super busy. A lot of them are still at early stages so cannot share just yet. You will be the first to know as soon as they come to fruition.

A few highlights of what has gone on in the past couple of months:

  • I converted my garage into my workspace so my house is slowly starting to feel like a home, here is a before and after picture

Garage Conversion

  • Shelves now packed with goodies. I am carrying on sourcing lots of new cake goodies

 The Cake Decorating Shop

  • I took the Wilton Instructor’s course- Yay! I am now a Certified Instructor. That’s me with the cake I made fr my final (Course 4)

Wokingham Wilton Instructor

  • After months of intense physiotherapy (following my injury during my 10K race at She Runs, Windsor) I am now getting myself slowly back to running

Now, onto photography- I am still works in progress when it comes to photography, I am still figuring what all the numerous buttons do BUT I thought I’d share my handy “photobooth”  and some handy tips I’ve learnt. My friend Jen of Jen’s Just Desserts called me out once on my bad photography several months ago and gave me a little tutorial on staging photographs. I am still to go fancy in that department but one change I implemented after our little session was to stop photographing my cakes in their boxes or with cake tools lurking in the background! She suggested I find a spot in the house I could use, I cold not find any that ether did not have a radiator or involving shifting furniture around.

One day as I was clearing out my garage I had a eureka moment. I came across a couple of doors left over from when we installed our kitchen. These worked perfectly!

Here is a picture of my booth (please excuse the mess in the background)

How to take cake photographs

The cake after cropping

SONY DSC

Now for the handy tips:

  1. Try and take your pictures when it is daylight- it will give the most natural looking pictures
  2. Avoid direct sunlight if possible, it gives a harsh shadow
  3. Settings- Learn the settings of your camera. I still refer to the manual of my DSLR every now and then. I take most of my cake pictures on Aperture priority mode following Jen’s advice. A lower number means the aperture is wider so the background is blurred out. This makes the cake stand out against a blurry background. The opposite is true (ie if you want the whole image to be sharp  you want a higher number)
  4. Try changing the angles you shoot from, while it may appear to make more sense to be perfectly in line with the cake, photographing from above or below can create a more interesting perspective
  5. Hold the camera steady. I literally take a breath in, hold my breath and shoot  (I have shaky hands!) I have also invested in a little tripod which I use when there is low light conditions
  6. Lastly the rule of thirds- this took me a while to get my head round but basically you take better photographs if you do not have the focal point dead on the centre. In this classic rule, the focal point of the picture should be placed on one of the intersections of imaginary horizontal and vertical lines dividing the area you are taking a photograph of into thirds. An example is shown below of some pies I made not too long ago.

rule of thirds

Have you got any other tips for taking great picture of your baked goods?

Holy Communion Cake and Wired Fondant Grapes Topper Tutorial

Been going through my hundreds of photographs this morning and came across this pictorial tutorial I made a little while ago so i thought I would go ahead and share it in this week’s blog post.

I made this 2 tier cake for Gianluca’s first Holy communion. The top tier as a Chocolate fudge cake with dark chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream. Bottom tier was a Vanilla sponge cake filled with Jam and Vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.

The customer sent me an image of a cake she’d found online and liked which had grapes that looked like they had been made in a silicone mould. I did not own a grape mould and did not feel it was necessary  to buy one for this cake especially. I try and only ever buy tools I am likely to use again in the future. Not only does this reduce what could essentially end up as clutter,but keeps costs down, benefiting the customer ultimately. I also quite fancied a challenge so I decided to have a go at making a bunch of grapes that looked as realistic as possible. I searched online for a tutorial but could not find one. I decided to photograph the stages as i attempted them so I could share with you.

Here is how to make them

wired grapes tutorial

  • Using florist tape , tape around the hook.This step is not essential but helps the flower paste cling better onto the wire

wired grape tutorial

  • Brush a small amount of edible glue on the taped end of the florist wire. Insert wire about 2/3 of the way up your rolled “grape”

wired grape tutorial

  • Leave to dry overnight. You may need to leave it longer if the weather is humid

wired grape tutorial

  • To get the high shine brush with a little confectioners glaze

wired grape tutorial

  • Finish by wiring the grapes

first communion cup tutorial

To make the Chalice I used a tutorial from Sugar Sweet Cakes and Treats 

Customer frequently asked questions

I thought I would share in this week’s post some of the most popular questions asked by customers in my cake business and my answers to them. I have also uploaded them on my website to make it easy for the customers.

faq

How much are your cakes

Where are you located

Do you do character cakes

Can you price match/ why do your cake cost more than shop bought ones?

How do I store my cake?

How long will my cake keep fresh for?

I have a picture of a cake I want, can you replicate it?

Do you offer tasting sessions

Do you hire out cake stands?

Can I alter my order?

Can I cancel my order?

Do you deliver?

What happens if my cake is damaged in transit?

Can I provide my own topper/ decorations?

Can I bake my own cake and have you decorate

Do you cater for people with allergies/ special dietary requirements?

Can I use fresh flowers on my wedding cake?

Do you take card payments?

Are You a licenced business?

I would like to start my own business, do you offer classes?

Do you sell cake decorating supplies?

How much are your cakes
The cost of cakes varies according to complexity of design and number of servings. In order to accurately price your cake we will need to know the flavour, design and number of people you hope to feed.

Where are you located
We are located in Wokingham, Berkshire

Do you do character cakes
No. We do not do copyrighted character cakes.   We can make the cakes such that the general background for the cake is made to match a character theme. You are welcome to use toys you already own or wish to present at the party as toppers.  We cannot make the character toppers on some items due to copyright laws.

Can you price match/ why do your cake cost more than shop bought ones?
Unfortunately we cannot price match. We carefully source the highest quality ingredients and charge for the amount and skill applied to each individual order.  We hand make all details on our cakes. Celebration cakes typically take 4 to 12 hours to design; wedding cakes take an average of 2 days, occasionally more.

How do I store my cake?

Decorated cakes should not normally be stored in a refrigerator unless fresh cream has been used.  If the cake is not to be displayed straight away, it should be stored in the box in a cool room, somewhere where it will not be moved or knocked.

How long will my cake keep fresh for?
We hand make all our cakes for scratch. Our cakes do not contain any preservatives so they are best eaten within 5 days of delivery and cupcakes are best eaten within 2 days

I have a picture of a cake I want, can you replicate it
We try and avoid replicating cakes wherever possible. We are happy to source inspiration and put our personal stamp on the design. We will of course work with you to make sure you are happy with our interpretation of the design. We do on occasion have customers who do really like the original design. In these instances we will try and contact the original designer for permission to replicate their design before we can go ahead

Do you offer tasting sessions
Yes we do offer free tasting sessions for orders above £200. It is free for a maximum of 2 flavours. For orders under £200 the taster box fee is £10.

If you need to reschedule or cancel your tasting session, we ask that you contact us no later than 3 days in advance. We make your tasters in advance and this helps us avoid wastage.

Do you hire out cake stands?
Yes we do hire stands (subject to availability). The fee is £5/ night plus a deposit of £20. This is refundable upon return of stand in good order

Can I alter my order?
Yes you can alter your order up to 2 weeks before collection/ delivery date. Please note some changes may incur change in price.

Can I cancel my order?
Yes you can cancel up to 4 weeks before collection date. We can only refund deposit if order is cancelled no less than 4 weeks. Please refer to our terms and conditions for full cancellation policy

Do you deliver?
Yes we do deliver. Delivery is free within a 5 mile radius of RG411NX. Beyond 5 miles is 90p per mile. You will need to book a delivery slot should you require it

What happens if my cake is damaged in transit?
If your cake is damaged in our possession we will be responsible for it. Depending on degree of damage/ time available before event we may be able to make good of the damage. If we are unable to make good we will give a full refund of purchase price. We are not responsible for any damage to the cake after setup is complete. You are responsible for providing an appropriate and secure table and environment for the cake(s). If you or your representative elects to pick up and set up the cake, you assume all liability and responsibility for the condition of the cake once it leaves Wokingham Cakes’ possession.

Can I provide my own topper/ decorations?
Yes, you can. We will need to receive these a week before collection date at the latest.

Can I make my own cake and have you decorate
Unfortunately not as our insurance will not cover us for cakes baked outside of our premises

Do you cater for people with allergies/ special dietary requirements?
Yes we do. Please be aware nuts, wheat and dairy products are all used in our kitchen, but every care is taken to keep them separate when making special diet cakes or standard cakes which are meant to be nut free. Please speak to us for any reassurance. A list of ingredients will be provided on collection of the order or on delivery

Can I use fresh flowers on my wedding cake?
Yes, you can. By doing so you acknowledge that fresh flowers are not a food product, and may contain pesticides, insects, dirt, or other contaminants. Please check if your florist would like to arrange the flowers themselves. We are happy to so for you at no extra cost.

Do you take card payments
Yes we do take card payments. We Accept Visa/ Visa Debit/ Mastercard. You can also pay via cash/ paypal or bank transfer

Are You a licenced business?
Yes we are. Wokingham Cakes is a registered business, a subsidiary of The Cake decorating Shop LTD. We are also registered with Wokingham Borough council environmental health authority and fully insured. Our kitchen has been inspected and holds a 5 star rating

wokingham cakes 5 star rating

I would like to start my own business, do you offer classes?
I currently offer 1 to 1 tutoring. I can be contacted on fiso@btinternet.com.

Do you sell cake decorating supplies?
Yes, we do. We have an online shop, The Cake Decorating Shop Ltd. If you are local you can collect from our home by appointment

Have you got questions you’d like answered. Please comment below and I will do my best to answer them

The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

This has to be the my absolute favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, and happens to be my most request cupcake too. I have gone back and forth trying different chocolate cupcake recipes. Reason I fell out with most recipes was I was searching for one with an intense chocolate flavour, but still light, moist but not dense like a brownie

How to get the dark almost black colour

Chocolate cupcake

It’s in the brand of cocoa powder! I find Cadburys cocoa powder will not give this intense colour. My personal favourite of the fairtrade varieties is the  Green and Blacks Cocoa Powder

Other brands i’ve tried and will give intense colour are:

  • Morrisons own cocoa powder
  • Marks and Spencers
  • Tescos own
  • Asdas own
  • Waitrose own but seems to have been discontinued as I’ve not seen it in store for a while

Ultimate Chocolate fudge cupcake

Ingredients

  • 115g plain flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 120ml freshly brewed coffee

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150°C Fan/ 170°C Conventional
  • Sift flour together with salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into stand mixer bowl. Add sugar and mix well (I use my stand mixer with paddle attachment for this.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, egg and vegetable oil. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well on low speed.
  •  Add the hot coffee to batter keeping the mixer speed on low. It will be quite a runny batter (almost like the consistency of double cream) but don’t despair
  • Pour into into prepared muffin pans and bake for around 25 minutes/ until skewer comes out clean