Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
November 25th, 2013 by Clarabella

A Simple and Sweet Snowflake Wedding Cake

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Snowflake Wedding
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I am not a fan of the fussy wedding cake. I have made wedding cakes that have been covered with embossed cut outs and hundreds of roses, but the ones that I simply love the look of, are the simpler cakes. I think that it is a real test of one’s cake making skill to make a cake that is plain and does not have hundreds of adornments that can be used to cover u any imperfections. When the lines are clean and plain, it is only the fundamental skill of the creator that is on show. I’m not saying that making sugar flowers etc is not a skill. Of course it is. A wonderful skill certainly, but personally, I want to be able to get the basics perfect before I move on to the ‘fluff’. Straight sides, level, nice corners. All mercilessly on display with nowhere to hide. And I like it :) What do you think?

 

November 11th, 2013 by Clarabella

Variety is the Spice of Life

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Part of the reason that I love what I do, is the variety. No two cakes are exactly alike, and that keeps me from getting bored. I like how every day is a new challenge and new problem to solve. How to make a tree, how to make a lily, how to make sugarpaste legs look sexy and not chunky, how to make even stripes (thats harder than you might think!). In the last couple of weeks I’ve been challenged a lot, and finding a solution never fails to put a smile on my face :)
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I chose a lily for this birthday cake as I am trying to get better at sugar flowers, or trying to learn how to make sugar flowers other than roses and little ones from cutters. And thanks to the excellent tutorials on Paul Bradford Sugarcraft, I have now got the hang of the lily, and I love it. Its such a big bold flower and one you don’t see very often on cakes. And I do like to be different!

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I LOVED making the bunny girl cake last week. It takes some thinking when someone gives you a whole list of a person’s likes/history and asks you to bring them together in a cake. Sometimes there is just no way to make them not look messy, and like a bunch of random objects that have just been flung onto a cake at random. But that may just be my eyes which do not see the personal relevance for the birthday girl/boy. This one however, came together, and did not look like randomly flung together pieces on a cake, and the black and white theme allow it to still be elegant. I hope the birthday girl loved it as much as I did :)

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On the To Do list this week, chocolate truffles for Christmas presents. Watch this space! :)

 

October 22nd, 2013 by Clarabella

Christmas is coming

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Its inevitable, and the shops will certainly not let us forget it, Christmas is coming. Last year I planned my Christmas a little a-la-last-minute, and this year I have decided that I should plan better. So I am already thinking of presents, and listening closely to conversations to pick up on any hints or possibilities for what my loved ones might like for Christmas. This year we will be in Holland for Christmas for the first time so the present-buying list is a bit longer and I am looking forward to finding some gifts for the extended family. I do love Christmas shopping, although I do loathe the Christmas-shopping-crowds, so I am a firm believer in online shopping. No crowds, no queues, no aching feet. Just me, my little mac laptop, and a nice cup of coffee, and a scrummy flapjack from my hamper :)

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I have often bought a Christmas food hamper for my Mum for Christmas when it is a year that I won’t be with her for Christmas day. I think its a really nice way to add some lovely treats to the Christmas table that will be great for munching on Christmas day, or, if everyone is already overfed, that will last the rest of Christmas week. There is nothing wrong with having Christmas pudding on Boxing Day as well. And why not New Years too?

If you are going to be doing online shopping like me, then there is a lovely website called Hampergifts, who have a fantastic selection of Christmas hampers for all Christmas budgets. With everything from wines, to fruit and nuts, biscuits, pâté and puddings, the selection looks delicious and its hard to choose just one!

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I have had the pleasure of trying out the Christmas Ruby hamper, and my Mum and I enjoyed the lovely bottle of Red while she was visiting over the weekend. I also really enjoyed the unusual vanilla nuts, and the cherry and chocolate liqueurs went beautifully with the red wine, yum :) Chocolate and cherry and red wine is a match made in heaven. I think I should incorporate that into a cake somehow. I think it would make a lovely Christmas flavour. Dark Chocolate and cherry cake. Mmmmmm. Feeling inspired now, time to head to the kitchen :)
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(This post is in association with Hampergifts)
September 30th, 2013 by Clarabella

Loving The Ruffle

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I don’t often do buttercream cakes. People tend to like the clean lines and smooth finish of sugarpaste, but there are some cakes that are beautiful in buttercream, and unusually I had two last week. One of them was buttercream ruffles. Like any other technique and medium, the more practice you get, the better you get at piping buttercream and getting the effect you want, so I did a practice cake earlier in the week. I have done a buttercream ruffle cake before, waaaaay back when when I was a hobby cake maker novice, and I was going for a slightly more polished effect than that early stumbling-around-in-the-dark effort. So I did a practice cake. I was glad I did, as I got to figure out my technique, how to hold the bag, which direction to pipe in, how to move the bag to get the ruffles ruffley (yes, that’s a word), and it was a good warm up for the muscles. Piping uses muscles. You find hand and forearm muscles that you never knew existed once you have ruffle-piped your way around a 10″ cake. But its worth it. And it looked awesome, so I’m smiling :)

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Number two was a buttercream swirl cake, in shades of yellow, for a golden wedding anniversary. I was alightly worried that the effect would be a bit garish, having only done the piped graduated swirls in pink before, but the yellow worked really well. It wasn’t glaringly, hurting-your-eyes bright and the recipient was all smiles when I dropped it off so it was a good day, despite the 2nd good hand/forearm workout :)

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I also did a photo 50th cake this week. I don’t normally warm to photos on cakes. I know they make a cake completely personal, but sometimes they can look a bit… simple…cheap… I don’t know. I’m not a huge fan. But this one was a bit different. It was a cake for a lady’s 50th, and the photo was of her as a baby with who I assume are siblings. I printed off the photo in the original sepia-type colouring, and framed the corners with peach flowers. I don’t know why I chose peach, I just thought it would work, and it did, really well :) And peach made a wonderful change from pink. Sometimes I get pinked out. This time I was peachy-keen :) hehehehehe I crack me up :) Its late. Humour me ok?

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Happy Monday, have an awesome week, and happy baking xxx
September 16th, 2013 by Clarabella

The Challenge of Urdu

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I have not done hundreds of wedding cakes (yet!) but I do love doing them. Weddings are occasions when everyone is happy and the lovely bride I did a cake for this weekend was no exception. I made this lady’s engagement party cake last year, and when she got in touch to talk about her wedding cake I was delighted, especially seeing that she wanted something a bit different, but was happy to give me free reign on the design. Yay! I did have to include an Urdu poem around one of the tiers, which was challenging as I cannot read it and was worried with all the printing out, mirroring, tracing and transferring to the cake, would cause some mix up with the words (which are also read right to left), but I was veeeery careful and all was well.
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I was very pleased with how the cake turned out and once it was all set up at the venue, it fit into the setting perfectly (yes, that is a sword on the table, a sword to cut the wedding cake. Of course. Why use a knife when you can use a sword!?!?). The colour scheme was maroon and ivory and I was thankful that in the huuuuge room that is the Dome in Buxton, the cake was not lost. I received a lovely message from the bride today telling me that she loved the cake and so I close the chapter on this cake with a smile. Another happy bride.

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As wedding season winds down for those in the wedding industry, I sit at night and plan how to get myself a bigger piece of the pie that is the wedding cake market. And I have a cunning plan, so we will wait and see if it works. It does require some (in my opinion) significant investment, so I have to grit my teeth and take that, but as they say, you have to spend money to make money, so hey ho. Here we go.