Is It Christmas Already?

If the shops are anything to go by then yes, the build up to Christmas has begun. Sainsburys had a selection of Christmas goodies on display when I was there last week, I’m guessing that after Halloween they will ramp up the tinsel and carols. But there are two Christmas traditions that we need to start thinking about now, Christmas cakes and puddings, so that they can mature and be ready to adorn your table on Christmas day.

So, its time to order your cakes and puddings from Cakes & Cardies now. I will be baking them the first week of November so I need to have your orders by Wednesday 29th October.

6in Christmas cake with marzipan and fondant icing £45.00

8in Christmas cake with marzipan and fondant icing £50.00

6in Christmas cake with marzipan and royal icing £40.00

8in Christmas cake with marzipan and royal icing £45.00

Prices include feeding your cake with whiskey all through November and December until it is iced, boxed and delivered!

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Above is one of last years’ cakes with royal icing, obviously the fondant will be a smoother affair. If you want particular decorations on the cake that can be accommodated (last year one of my commissioned cakes had sheep and trees on it!) otherwise I will be decorating with snowflakes and sparkly dust! Check out the reviews for last years’ cakes here.

The recipe is my mother’s, she has been using it for many years (too many to name!) and I have been using it for the last five years. It is a traditional fruit cake that benefits from feeding with whiskey once baked, you end up with a rich, moist cake that will make a wonderful centrepiece for your festive table.

1 pint (or in new money 500ml) Christmas pudding £10.00

2 pint (or in new money 1ltr) Christmas pudding £15.00

Again the recipe is my mothers’ and has an abundance of fruit, guinness, whiskey and Christmas spices. Steamed for about 7 hours this will come in a plastic lidded pudding bowl with instructions for cooking and serving attached.

If you have any other festive needs then please get in contact and we will do what we can to meet them. Call us on 07905152948 or email on cakesandcardies@gmail.com.

P.S. Don’t forget to order your Halloween barmbrack by 26th October

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A Lemony 60th Birthday Cake

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My second official order was from a very good friend (thanks to all my friends for their support in this endeavour, couldn’t do it without you!), Bec, a celebration cake for her mother’s 60th birthday. After a phone consultation we came up with a plan: a lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd buttercream and “happy 60th birthday” on top.

As there were several elements to the cake I started the prep a few days before the cake was due for delivery. The first thing to do was to make the lemon curd. I have made this a few times before using a Rachel Allen’s recipe from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home. Although I have been successful every time I still worry about ending up with scrambled lemon eggs! No scrambled lemon eggs this time.

Next was the lettering. I need to practise freehand icing writing (memo to self, practise freehand icing writing) it is a skill that I need to develop but until then I elect to use fondant and my letter and number cutters. As the cake was a lemon cake and will have pale lemon icing I decided on a bright lemon for the writing. I made up some lemon fondant and cut out the required letters and number (a bit fiddly, I had to do the A’s at least three times each!) and left them to dry over the next couple of days.

The final flourish was some candied lemon peel to decorate the edges of the cake. I found this simple recipe online. Very easy and you end up with a lovely sweet lemon treat. I need to work up batches of lemon, orange and lime candied peel, useful for have around! Now that the embellishments were ready I was all set to make the cake.

I used a basic sponge recipe with the addition of lemon zest at the creaming stage and made a lemon syrup to spoon over the sponges as they came out of the oven. Earlier in the week I was looking up buttercream “designs”, ways to make the top of my cakes a bit more interesting, and came across a youtube video on how to ice a cake with buttercream. Of course I know how to do this already but what was interesting about this was the sponges. She baked two sponges, but rather than halving the batter she put two thirds in one and one third in the other. Then she halved the bigger sponge to give three layers! Handier than baking three separate sponges and so I thought I would give it a go. It all worked swimmingly until it came to slice the bigger one in half, I hadn’t factored in the syrup and the sogginess of the sponge because of it! There was a moment of held breath but it all worked out, with a bit of shoring up!

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Ta da! Very pleased with the finished cake and the use of my new Wilton icing combs although the videos make it look easier than it was but practise makes perfect. It was enjoyed at the birthday celebration too, read the review here.

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First Four Weeks in Business

It took a while but on the 8th September Cakes & Cardies officially opened for business and four weeks later I have many things to be excited about. It’s been a busy four weeks, not with baking but with lots of costings, ingredients hunting down and buying, website tweaking and much more. And I thought I was pretty organised before I started! But it has been interesting, never two days the same, everyday a school day!

But there has been some baking and if you have been following me on the Twitter and Facebook machines then you will know that I have supplied cakes to a local café. This happened quite randomly. The day before the official launch my husband and I went for lunch at a local café in Nunhead called Bambuni. This is a wonderful café/deli that does lovely lunches and sell cakes. As I was paying for lunch I asked the guy where they got their cakes from and explained that I was starting a cake making business. He was very nice, helpful and encouraging. He suggested that I bring in a sample cake and they would try it out! I left my card and we wandered home.

Being me I spent most of the week talking myself out of going back with a cake, he didn’t mean it, he was just humouring me…..But I had a word with myself and on the following Friday I made a rosewater sandwich cake with pistachio buttercream and hopped on the P12 to Nunhead. I was nervous and didn’t think he would remember me but he did. He asked about costings/sizes etc and said that he would be in touch.

A week went by and I hadn’t heard anything, but the owner was away so I didn’t expect to here anything that week. On the following Tuesday I took my courage in my hands and called them, they had lost my card! Simon said that he would call me back in a while once he had sorted out what he needed, sounded promising. And it was, 20 minutes later I had an order for a 10inch rosewater cake and a 10inch chocolate potato cake to be delivered Thursday morning! I was elated, they liked my cake and then I started worrying.

After a fairly sleepless night on Wednesday I was up at 5am (might as well be doing something rather than lying awake thinking!) and four hours later I delivered my first order.

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I got a bit creative with my palate knife here but I think it worked!

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And guess what? I got a call this Tuesday from Simon ordering the same for this Thursday! He said that they had sold them both by the end of the weekend and had had good feedback from the customers. Happy doesn’t describe how I felt. What a great start. And it is only the start but suddenly I feel like it all might have been worth it, this might just work!!

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