Major apologies for leaving it so long since the last post - I was so knackered by the end of last week, I decided to take a week off from the thesis and also the computer. I was up in Liverpool for a beautiful wedding at the weekend (numero 3 of 5 this year), and then decided to pay my family a visit having not seen them for a good 2 months (which is a bit of a record considering I usually see them every fortnight or so). However, having time off meant that I was able to get up to quite a bit of...baking. Oh yeah, there was some pretty epic baking going on.
First of all was the celebratory cake for the inaugural meeting of the Centre for West Midlands History Research Group (that I am helping to organise). I thought I'd push the boat out and try a bit of the old roll-out icing - may I stress that this was my first attempt, hence the massive crevice in the middle of the cake where I didn't fill it in/slice it off. It was strangely theraputic as I embarked upon the cake making at approx midnight the evening I finished my chapter and was up til about 3am. There was also a batch of cupcakes to accompany but I didn't get the chance to photograph them unfortunately. The icing part was fairly simple - I covered the Victoria Sandwich (complete with jam and buttercream) with yet more buttercream before laying the icing on top. All fine until I realised how bumpy it could get. There was quite a bit of spreading and smoothing, but generally, the cake was sort of okay.
I made some little flags for the cake with the CWMH Research Group name too! I didn't put these on until the evening when the cake was in situ for the fear of damage!
The wedding in Liverpool also involved cake, of the cheese kind:
Since the bride is extremely fond of bread and cheese, they decided to get a 3 tier cake made from solid Lancashire cheese in three different varieties! It was accompanied by artisan breads and also homemade oatcakes which were divine!
I also had some friends visit this weekend - they are getting married later this year (numero 4 of 5) and I have been given position of bridesmaid and cake provider. So, since I was taking the week off, I decided to get some practice in. The groom cannot have milk, which meant no buttercream so I got a little creative with this one:
Excuse the rubbish lighting, it was night time and I have crappy lighting in my flat! A friend gave me those gorgeous-looking rose petals for Christmas last year and now I have found the perfect use for them! Although they are edible, I am yet to be brave enough to actually eat one. The cake itself is Nigella's Madeira Cake (or rather her mother in law's) with a filling of buttercream and boysenberry jam. For the buttercream I used sunflower spread and added some vanilla extract to make it taste less sunflower-spready. It seemed to do the trick. Instead of using just icing, this time I also put a layer of marzipan underneath thinking it would help with the smoothing - which it did, but only a bit. This time I had problems with air bubbles between the marzipan and icing! Boo! I hid most of these bubbles under the petals! After layering it with marzipan and icing, I decorated the lower edge with American frosting as directed by Rachel Allen in Bake. I do have one major qualm with her recipe though - the caster sugar never seems to dissolve fully and leaves the frosting gritty. Next time I'm trying the Italian meringue frosting method where the sugar is melted before being poured into the egg white mixture (recipe also available in Bake).
The cupcakes were blueberry with the same frosting on top. I must admit I wasn't 100% happy with their results and may try some piping next time!