Cake trends: the drip cake

It seems like the only type of birthday cake that will do at the moment is a drip-topped birthday cake! These are technically tricky to do at first (I had some spectacularly bad attempts!), but now I’ve got the hang of it, I’ve got drips going down and up my cakes!

More and more people are asking for this show-stopping cake for any occasion. The best thing about the drip-cake is that you can put whatever you like on top of the drippy, glossy, chocolatey topping. Kids love loads of sweets, or you could go for more sophisticated dipped strawberries, or just indulge your love of chocolate!

Which one would you choose? The fruity or Ferraro-Rocher option? Sweets or truffles?

Here are some of my favourite cakes from the last few months to inspire you!


Cake trends: ombre icing and OTT treats

We’re halfway through the year, and some definite trends are coming through in cakes people are asking for! So, in these next few blog posts, I’ll put up some examples of designs that have proved popular in 2016.

First on the list…  well, I couldn’t think of a one-word way to describe these cakes, but they all have these features in common: round, tall (with more than 3 layers), often with a water-colour swirly buttercream frosting, and VERY over the top decorations.

More is definitely more with these cakes! Decorations should be fighting for space and spilling over the edges. These cakes are very popular for older teenage birthdays, and for anyone who loves luxury and opulence. Lashings of cream, mini-meringues, chocolate, fruits, and sweeties are all sure to grab attention and get everyone’s mouths watering!

Here are four of my favourite examples of these cakes from 2016 so far. We’ve got a gin and tonic cake with fresh fruits, mini meringes, and nuts and shards of chocolate; a Chocolate Orange cake with Terry’s and Matchmakers, and plenty of candied orange; a bold blue mojito cake loaded with huge fresh flowers and berries; and some wild hundreds and thousands! And of course, three of these cakes are showing off another key trend – the ombre icing, which looks gorgeous in so many colour combinations.

Which one would you have? And do you prefer these OTT cakes or a more traditional royal icing top?


Little Pixies Market at Hungerford Town Hall – 23rd May 2015

I’m really happy to have been invited to provide a cafe for the coming Little Pixies Market next weekend 🙂

Come along to Hungerford Town Hall on the 23 May!
Come along to Hungerford Town Hall on the 23 May!

I’ve been busy putting together my menu of take away lunches, snacks, teas, and coffee, and I’m looking forward to having a little browse around all the great stalls myself (leaving the sous chefs in charge – haha!).

Some of these cupcakes might make an appearance alongside the lunch goodies!
Some of these cupcakes might make an appearance alongside the lunch goodies!

Check out Little Pixies Markets facebook page for more information on the market, and on future events.

See you on Saturday!


Summer jam making begins

Most people traditionally associate jam making with the later stages of summer when fruits such as plums and blackberries are ripe. Of course you can always start with making strawberry jam around June, but it seems a shame not to eat the early crop fresh, or just with sugar or cream.

However, the Gooseberry is a perfect fruit to kick off the jam making early with. It’s a pretty ugly fruit, with a horrible texture and something of an acquired taste. But it makes probably the best jam out of all the fruit: tangy, sweet with a tang, and a runnier set.

This is an easy jam for first-time preservers to make and usually sets nicely. If you’re lucky, the jam will turn from green to pink as it nears it’s jammy readiness! Put into jars as soon as the heating process is over. I use a glass measuring jug (which has been sterilised too) to fill the jars. Wipe off any spills (be careful, the jars will be hot!), add wax circles and jam pot covers, then screw lid on tightly. Enjoy on fresh bread and butter but equally good on toast.

Gooseberry Jam

Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam

2lb Gooseberries
3/4 pint water
3lb Sugar (preserving if you have but ordinary will do)
Elderflowers 5-6 ‘bunches’
A piece of clean (sterilised) muslin

A preserving pan or saucepan with a heavy bottom!

Have ready 5/6 1lb jam jars that have been properly cleaned and sterilised. I run mine through the dishwasher then dry them upside down in a low oven. Wax circles are good if you have them and transparent jam pot covers seal in the freshness and protect the lids until you are ready to use. I also have a funnel which makes pouring the jam into jars so much easier. (All readily available in high street or online – just search for jam making equipment).

* Wash your elderflowers and make a bag with the muslin to put the flowers into.
* Bring gooseberries to the boil and let them simmer until soft.
* Take off the heat, then add sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved (if you use a wooden spoon, you can feel if there is any undissolved).
* Put back on to heat and bring to boil. Hang the muslin bag from the saucepan handle so that it is submerged in the jam.
* Simmer until you get to the jam setting point on your thermometer! If you don’t have one, use a saucer which has been in the freezer for a few minutes. Carefully, take a teaspoonful of your mix and put it onto the saucer. If, after a couple of minutes, you get ripples when you drag a spoon through, it should be ready. I always do this, even with the thermometer as sometimes it’s still a bit watery and may not set very well. You’ll notice that it starts to cling to the spoon and reduces down quite a bit once it’s ready. Remove the muslin and discard the flowers.
* Get that jam into jars!

I added my elderflowers when the jam was nearly ready as I didn’t have any muslin, so I plucked off all the tiny flowers and threw them in right at the end. I always add less sugar as well but if you are not confident follow the recipe so that the jam sets nicely, then if you find it too sweet you can adjust the sugar next time.
Most recipes say add a knob of butter at the end to disperse the scum but I find that this disappears on its own, so I don’t add any …

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to taste the jam when hot as it this will not have a very pleasant outcome!

Happy preserving!