The Cake Maker’s Apprentice

8 May

Well, after having to read about my journey along the road to ‘cake maker extraordinaire’ for these countless months, Pieces of Cake are bringing you a bit of light relied – a guest blog to introduce the baking talents of Claudine Bisson, so over to her…

Hi everyone! – I’m Claudine, I did some science with Beki at Sheffield, where she also taught me how to decorate cakes in anticipation of my boyfriend’s mum’s 60th birthday bonanza last June.

Spots and Stripes 

Cake number one was a practice cake to learn how to work with fondant icing and how to tier sponges. It was a basic two-tier sponge cake (jam-filled and butter-creaned) with white icing with blue stripes and spots.

We used the famous ‘Delia all-in-one’ but I’ve never been very good at baking sponge and unfortunately (but not unexpectantly) the middle of the cakes sunk – I blame my oven but it also may have been my over-keen beating. Not to worry, bread was there to save the day and we wedged a bit underneath to support the sunken part (Beki’s idea).

The most crucial thing when making a tiered cake is to make sure the weight of the top cakes doesn’t squash the bottom ones. This can happen if you don’t use internal support, so in this case we pushed some paper dowels in the cakes but with bigger cakes plastic dowels are required. Continue reading


Cheese Cake

7 May

Mice in your cake! Normally the sort of thing that would make you shudder, but in this case, knowing my friend Rachel, something that would make her smile.

As with all the best cakes of mine, I began with the standard Delia all-in-one sponge cake and poured the mix into a round tin. Then I cut out a wedge (who knows what happened to that? It may or may not have been eaten during the cooling process!) and proceeded to ice the rest in a pre-coloured yellow icing.

I iced a board in red icing and used a square cutter (or the lid of a cocktail stick container!) to cut out white icing, then stuck them down in the most logical manner I could manage. I think that turned out quite well, all things considered! Then I placed the yellow cake atop the board and added a yellow sausage to it.

But that’s the boring part, and we all know it. The good bit is my friends the mice. With the aid of the same book that gave me the alligator cake, I found a recipe for rodents. Continue reading

Pop-up cake, fancy tablecloths and sparkles

5 May

This was the scene that greeted myself and a good friend as we wandered toward Castle Gibson on Stoke Newington Road one fine Sunday afternoon. That, and this:

It was a quite splendid mixture of Lily Vanilli cakes (albeit models) and House of Hackney‘s original and exciting fabrics, featuring, to name just one design theme, a range of animals in unusual situations… Continue reading

Swamped by cakes!

8 Apr

Here’s a blast from the past: about this time last year, in fact. It’s Alice’s birthday cake for her Hill Billy themed party, so obviously it only seemed right that I make a swamp cake with an alligator. Plus it meant I got to use my new animal Cake Character book, which is amazing and really helpful.

Continue reading

Where have the cakes gone?

20 Mar

Calm down everyone, I know you’ve been worried – a  flurry of baking and a sudden influx of cakey blogs followed by an unprecedented lull? Well, this is a serious one. I’ve given up sweet things for Lent and I’m not brave enough to bake and try and not eat so the baking part of the blog is on hiatus until then.

Luckily for you though I’ve still got a few old classics up my sleeve, so you’ll be seeing some mice, a swamp and possibly even George Michael in the near future. And even better than that, I’ll be practising even more once the trauma of my going cold turkey on the sugar front is over, because I’m baking cupcakes for my friend’s wedding! So I’ll need all the hints and tips I can get – recipes, piping ideas, beautiful designs you’ve seen… all are very welcome.

So I’ll be baking again in just under a month and in the meantime enjoy the coming blogs and also the return of the Cake-O-Graph!


The return of the mint chocolate brownie

6 Mar

With demand for the After Eight chocolate brownie cupcakes reaching an all time high (for me at least, I wouldn’t like to speak to the recipe’s inventor Martha Stewart) I decided it was time to take it to the next level. And what better time to do it than on a science-free night (these are entirely necessary when you spend all your days and most nights writing, thinking or reading about science) with my fellow science journalists?

So we headed off to Mike’s, stopping at the shops to pick up the necessary equipment…

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Valentine’s cake bonanza

21 Feb

So, as mentioned in earlier posts, I made some more cupcakes (again from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book) for Valentine’s Day and my fellow science journalists – we were all in need of a bit of a cheer-up so what better way than with cake?

By popular demand I made the mint-filled brownies again.

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A journey into the world of cupcakes

20 Feb

Cupcakes, ready for their birthday celebrations!

Yes, I was planning to make cupcakes. With my trusty Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book in hand, I tried to decide from the wealth of choice which would be the tastiest and which would be most likely to survive the journey to Sheffield.

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News flash! Cakes to be made tomorrow…

12 Feb
Valentine's Candy

Valentine's Candy - will mine be as good as this? Image courtesy of Amanda (posted on WikiCommons)

I’m unawares as to whether the majority of my readers know I’m on a science journalism course at City University, but I am. And on Valentine’s Day, yes that happy holiday that polarises debate regardless of your ‘marital’ status, I’m planning to cheer everyone up (we have some absolutely horrendous work to be getting on with. If you don’t believe me take a look yourself!) by making a nice lot of cakes, biscuits and other tasty, sweet treats.

The options seem to be coming down to a reprise of the After Eight Brownies I made for Andy’s birthday (blog coming soon),Guinness cakes (which sound amazing but might not be a crowd pleaser), various flavours of biscuits (ginger, orange, chocolate…) and the idea of a foray into the world of muffins (it would be my first attempt).

As I’m not shopping until tomorrow – as ever I am thoroughly unprepared – I thought I’d canvass some opinions. That’s right, I appear to be crowd-sourcing. So, what do you think? Give me some cakey ideas and I’ll get bakey!

Look out for Andy’s birthday cupcake blog and the Valentine’s Day baking special!

The 19th hole

26 Jan

pub golf cake

Rob Paramore, King of Sheffield Pub Golf, was turning 25 and having the by now standard Crookes Open to celebrate. What better way than with a cake of the same aim? This one was made with much help and advice from Claudine as she was thinking of turning to cake decorating (she has, by the way, and with much success!)

So, back to the cake…

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