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.
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.
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.
My friend was very happy with the result and that means a job well done!
I realise that I have been neglecting the blog in the last couple of weeks and one of the reasons for that was a visit from two of my nieces. Anna is 13 and lives in France and Isabel has just turned 12 and lives in Italy. As you can imagine I don’t get to see them very often and so this year I decided to book us into a cake making course as a birthday present. They both love baking, I wasn’t just thrusting it upon them!
I hatched the plan early this year, probably not long after Christmas and it only happened last weekend! Trying to get a free weekend that suited both families was the first hurdle, especially when they are in different countries. The other issue was finding a course that was suitable, easy to get to and reasonably priced. Both Anna and Isabel are not novices in baking so I wanted to make sure that they would learn something rather than just icing cakes and chucking sprinkles on them! After much trawling of the interwebulator I found Eat and Mess. It had many things in its favour: it is just up the road in Crystal Palace, the course were interesting and varied and the prices were reasonable, result. Kate was really helpful when I emailed about booking and it ended up with just the three of us doing a cupcake making and decorating course. I also had a last minute date change (Anna had to go to Germany to stay with her penfriend) and Kate was very accommodating and we found another date without much hassle.
The day arrived and the girls were very excited. We put the finishing touches to a malteser cake that morning (Anna had made the chocolate cake the day before so we iced it and decorated it with maltesers)
Then it was off to an American-style diner for lunch (burgers, of course!) before arriving at the class at 2pm. We found out that we would be making three types of cupcakes (rocky road, lemon meringue and red velvet) and three types of icings/toppings too so a packed three hours ahead of us. It was lots of fun, full of baking content and know-how and the girls really enjoyed it (so did I!). Kate was very good at explaining things to them and they got to make butter icing, cream cheese icing, a meringue, core out the lemon cupcakes and fill them with lemon curd and much more. Their side of the table was always a bit more messy than mine!!
We ended up with 15 cupcakes each and had a great afternoon learning and laughing. I would highly recommend Kate and Eat and Mess if you have children interested in baking, but she also does lots of other courses so it’s worth checking out the website (there’s a Christmas gifts baking course coming up soon!
Luckily we had invited friends over for afternoon tea to help us with our hoard of cakes.
But even still we were never far away from cupcake for the rest of the weekend. Anna even brought some home in her suitcase to share with her parents and brother. All in all a great weekend, as well as cakes we also went to Brixton, Camden, Oxford St., saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and visited the poppies at the Tower (amazing). Lovely to see Anna and Isabel and Isabel’s mum (Vicky had a day in London shopping for material), what a treat. And I learned a few things myself!