How Do I Get Better at Piping?

Watch some YouTube videos and practise, practise, practise. That seems to be the answer. So after watching the videos I decided to do just that. First, I printed out some templates to use as guidance for my practise session, both script and non, letters and numbers. I just chose a couple of fonts I liked on Word and made the font big enough to fill an A4 sheet and then printed these out.

I made a small quantity of buttercream to the right consistency. This is one of the most important parts, getting the consistency right. When writing you use a piping tip that is very small (either a 2 or 3) so making sure you can squeeze the icing through these small apertures is crucial to getting a good result. The icing was more a dropping consistency, less thick than I would use to ice a cake. I used both a 2 and a 3 tip and filled two piping bags with the icing, covered my templates with greaseproof paper and I was ready to start.

Prepped and ready to go
Prepped and ready to go

One of the things I learned from the videos I watched was not to touch the surface with the tip, you hover above. This way you have more control. All of the videos were by right handed people so being a leftie I had to find my own way, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. I used the templates first, scrapping off the icing after each attempt and going again.

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Then I tried some freehand writing, both joined up and stand alone letters. I found that after the couple of hours practise that I was really getting the hang of it. Of course, this wasn’t on a cake but it gave me the confidence to have a go the next time I am doing a cake that needs lettering. I would practise on a surface other than the cake first and then have a go. The practise really helped increase my confidence in my piping skills so I will repeat the exercise with other tips in the near future and see what designs I can achieve with those to use on future cakes.

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Retro Cassette Cake

A friend of mine recently turned 40 and as a surprise her husband commissioned a cake. He wanted to celebrate her love of music and the mixed tape was his inspiration. Those of you who are under 30 will need to do a bit of googling now to get up to speed on the cassette tape, the pre-cursor to the CD. The first album I bought back in 1982 (it was bought with my first paycheck!) was on cassette, I wish I could remember the name of the band but the cassette I remember! And then there was the mixed tape, a tape put together for a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend of all the great music you loved and wanted to share with the world. These were always great fun to make and I remember taping songs from the radio and trying to cut it off before the DJ began talking! Ah, memories. Anyway, that was my starting point, the cassette.

I remember cassettes but brought up some images online just to refresh the memory and get some inpiration, my husband also owns some still so I could look at one in real too.

cassette

This Sony cassette was my starting point, fairly simple design, just a few colours, should be easy to replicate. The cake itself was chocolate, 9in x 7in, covered in black fondant and detailing in red and white. In a way, a fairly easy one to do.

Using my Silverwood Multisize cake tin I baked two 9 x 7 chocolate sponges and allowed them to cool completely before putting them in the freezer for 30 minutes. This just helps with icing the cake making it easier to handle and doesn’t effect the cake at all. Using chocolate buttercream I sandwiched the layers together and added a crumb coat of icing to seal in the cake and help to give a smooth finish when the fondant is added. The cake goes in the fridge for about 30 minutes and then it is ready for it’s full buttercreaming.

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Now the cake was ready for it’s fondant. To get the white central part of the tape I cut out a piece of white fondant to size and put this in place on the cake. I then rolled out the black fondant large enough to cover the whole cake and put it in place. Using the white fondant as a guide I cut around it and pulled off the black fondant to expose the white window. Then it was just a matter of adding the details and lettering. I was having a clumsy day so suffice it to say it wasn’t the neatest cake that I have made but I was happy in the end.

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My friend was very happy with the result and that means a job well done!

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Happy 2015!

Hello all and welcome to 2015. The beginning of a new year is a chance for reflection on the old and looking forward to the new. 2014 was a year of change and new starts and saw the early steps of Cakes & Cardies into the world of selling cakes to the general public. Although the start has been slow it has also been heartening and encouraging. The highlights being selling cakes to local Cafe/Deli Bambuni and participating the the £3Bazaar in Nunhead before Christmas.

Looking forward to 2015 means a lot of work to get the business known in wider circles, more cafes selling our cakes and selling at markets. And so the work begins today with along list to get through: research into local markets, how to reach more customers, samples to cafes, new cakes and therefore recipe testing and much more. Here’s hoping 2015 will see C&C reach new customers, new heights and new cakes!

And finally, the last cake of 2014, a Buche de Noel/Yule log that went to a very good home!

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Look out for the first cake of 2015, a retro cassette cake……

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