Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cake and cookie decorating

I am an absolute sucker for baking books, and I have branched out in the last year to acquire a range of beautiful baking books, where the presentation is (I blame Hayley from Desperate Reader partly for this, for her post last year about Susannah Blake's Afternoon Tea Parties, an absolutely exquisite book, and posts about other books such as this lovely book by Fiona Cairns which I just had to own after reading about) as important as the content. I love the pictures, the ideas and the potential inspiration for having fun in the kitchen.

Baking as you all know is one of my passions - I love to make yummy edibles for my fiance, but baking has proved somewhat frustrating in 2010 as due to being on a diet that excludes both dairy and gluten. So, I have decided to embark on a cake/cookie decorating project so I can get pleasure from what the things look like as much as the taste (plus I can make dairy free icing and marzipan!). Ultimately I hope to go to a day school or evening class, as I'd love to learn how to ice a celebration cake (wouldn't it be amazing to do my own wedding cake?) but time and money has put this on hold for now.
Instead, I've been having some fun at home. I've acquired a few books to inspire me of late. Bake me I'm yours is full of beautifully decorated cookies, but far too hard for me to imitate. The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook came from the library, as still very expensive, and annoyed me slightly, but provided the recipe for making some wonderful cupcakes (see below). Cupcakes (Susannah Blake), Cakes and bakes from my mother's kitchen (Linda Collister) , Bake and decorate (Fiona Cairns) are all lovely lovely books to browse through and drool over. I've also got a couple of sugarcraft/cake decorating magazines and a goodhousekeeping book. In the end I didn't really follow any of them, but they got me in the mood for having a play around.

Here are some recent creations:
Hummingbird bakery cupcakes - very disappointed by these actually, as neither the icing nor the cake were a patch on my traditional recipes.
Sugar biscuits decorated with water icing and sprinkles.

Sugar biscuits decorated with sugar paste - I enjoyed using mini plunger cutters to cut out the mini hearts, flowers and stars.

I've got a lot of bookmarks in the Fiona Cairns book, and I am sure that I will be posting some results of my experiments with it in due course!


  1. These look marvellous Verity - i am most impressed. It think that it would be very admirable of you to make your own wedding cake.... although you will want to do it a long way in advance, the weeks before our wedding were chaos!
    Happy reading

  2. Those look beautiful, and very professional! I'll be looking forward to someday seeing what you do with cakes. :)

  3. I might have to come to you for a new blog pictures of cupcakes. I have The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook on my Christmas list. I have about five cupcake books, but I usually just look at the pictures rather than make tem. YOu have inspired me to get the books out and have a go.

  4. Shame you didn't get on with the Hummingbird book! I got it for Christmas and was thinking that you'd be in for a treat, as I've really enjoyed it (although I've never been able to get a decent red velvet going with that recipe) - especially the yummy cream cheese frosting.

    Where have your other recipes come from? Would definitely be up for trying something that is potentially better :)

  5. Hannah - at least wedding cakes can be made a while in advance.

    Vivienne - I agree that sometimes looking at the picture is just as good!

    Jenny - I have a cake post planned for next week :) I've got a long list of things that I want to make over the next few weeks from a variety of books.

  6. Your biscuits look absolutely delicious. Re The Hummingbird have you tried some of their other non cupcake recipes? mmmmm

  7. I haven't Joan - which ones have worked for you? I've heard the pecan pie is good but mostly they don't appeal. Or are just weird (the pound cake is definitely not a pound cake in the obvious sense!)

  8. You must have the patience of a saint Verity, I couldnt believe you had made those, I would have given up. They are stunning.

  9. These all look so good, you are very talented and it's great that you enjoy it so much!

  10. Simon - I found it quite relaxing actually!

    Dot - thanks - Ken is enjoying eating them :)

  11. I'm tempted by the sound of Bake Me I'm Yours, and want some plunger cutting things now. I'm a total sucker for a good cookbook, and just as bad over a pretty one, and very pleased to be in such good company:)

  12. Hayley - the plunger cutting things are wonderful! Bake me I'm yours is ok - but only if you're prepared to spend hours fiddling with sugarpaste. I'd borrow it from the library first...

  13. Hey Verity, after this post I just wondered if you'd seen Cake Wrecks' feature on children's books that have been made into cakes?

    It's given me a massive cake-craving!


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