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.

Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

November 12th, 2012 by Clarabella

Pretty Pastels, and Cake International, Wow

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 Last week was a relatively quiet week for me. But still I managed to feel really busy. Go figure hey. I did a double height really pretty pastel birthday cake for the daughter of the owners of the coffee shop in Sale which I supply. I also did a boys birthday cake with a figure and a dog. Missing my favourite tools, it wasn’t quite the face I normally try to go for, but it turned out cute overall.

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 And then the highlight of the week. Cake International at the NEC in Birmingham. Wow. It was the first one I have ever been to, and boy was it an experience. A lot of ladies and a lot of cake stuff. A LOT. I have never seen so many cutters and moulds. Everywhere there were cutters and moulds. I had been warned of this but it was something to see. Don’t get me wrong. I do love a good cutter and a good mould. But I was looking something new. Different. Unusual. Hmmmm. However, I did become smitten by the airbrush though. The airbrush is a very cool tool. I am sure that some artistic talent and a lot of practice is required, and I think that I could meet one of those criteria. The effects with an airbrush are super cool and something that could not be replicated by a paintbrush (at least in my ham hand) very easily. And I guess I have to confess, I do like a good gadget. However, I refrained. At shows like that, where so many things are on sale, and appeal to the excited imagination of the cake decorator, one can go overboard and end up buying loads of things that will never be used. So all I bought were a couple of small items that I know I will use regularly. Boring huh? hehe.  

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The cakes on display in the competitions were unbelievable. I have never seen so many examples of real talent and skill. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. The details, like in Hagrid’s house, the construction like in the teetering Irish cake, and the awesome wow factor in the huge under-the-sea themed cake, were just spectacular. Everywhere I looked there were amazing cakes. It made me feel rather inadequate and like an impostor who should not really be there. Wow.  

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After many hours there my poor, patient husband was rather caked-out. As was I, I have to confess. Cake International comes to Manchester next March, and as I will be able to go without having to sit in traffic for 3 hours (for a usually 1 hour journey) to get home, I will certainly be there! 

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July 16th, 2012 by Clarabella

Almost, with cake on the side

So, things have been hectic. Every time I tell myself that I need to do a blog post (a thought which normally occurs to me when I’m in the shower, or running through muddy puddles in the woods, or trying to find a delivery location in a part of Manchester I’ve never seen before). Even now, I’m looking at the clock thinking I have to go deliver a cake in half an hour, but I’m gonna try squeeze this in before I go, as afterwards I’ll be tired, hungry and desperate to relax after a busy day.

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So, it was my hen party a couple of weeks ago. Which means I’m almost married. And it was awesome. It still doesn’t seem real, MY hen party. I was the HEN. Weird, even now. It was organised by a dear friend who did an AWESOME job, and a fun evening was had my all. I think I would have another one if it didn’t mean I’d have to cancel this wedding and find someone else to marry. Honey, if you’re reading this, I am not being serious.

So, the engagement figurine cake. Theres a story there. One I still can’t really believe and I shake my head every time I think about it. The customer called up wanting an engagement for a family member, but only had not-much-money to spend, and wanting a 12″ cake with figurines. So i explain politely that a cake that size, with figurines that take a few days to make, costs a lot more than that. So after some discussion, and discovering that she only needed the cake to feed 20 people (when a 12″ cake feeds like 60 people), she opted for a 10″ cake, with figures, for a VERY good price.

Later that day she text me to ask to put the order on hold as it ‘may need to be cancelled’, which I agreed to. The following day the order was re-instated, but for a 12″ cake, at also a very very good price. So I made the cake, made the figures, and on the collection day at the collection time of 5pm, waited for the customer to collect. By 6:45 there was no news, so I called the lady to check she was still coming. She was not he way but a bit lost. When she arrived I discovered that she had been walking. To pick up a HEAVY, LARGE cake. She’d taken the train from where she lived into Manchester, and then the bus from Manchester to me, and then walked from the bus station. So I could not let her walk with this cake so I offered to drop her off at the bus station with the cake. So with the lady and the cake loaded into my car, we drove to the bus station, and on the way there, she asks me for a discount. While in MY car, driving with MY petrol. She wants money off an already very cheap cake. Holy moly I almost drove into a tree.

Needless to say I would not budge on the price, and after telling me that I’m a hard lady to deal with, I left her with the large heavy cake at the bus station. Knowing full well the cake and particularly the figurines would probably not make it all the way back in one piece. It was sad for me knowing my work was in danger of being dropped. But I have never been so affronted in my life before. The blatant disrespect for my work and my skill and my fair pricing was appalling to me. But it happens all too often in the cake business, it seems to be commonplace rather than rare, which is disappointing. Good cake isn’t cheap, and cheap cake isn’t good. How do I explain that??

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Also in the last couple of weeks have been some other cake projects, both for me and for the shop,in various shapes, sizes and flavours. I also enjoyed the revelation which was peanut butter buttercream that I made for an order last week. Paired with Coca-Cola cake and salted peanuts, it was pretty much my idea of heaven on a plate. Nyum! The only problem is that I don’t get to try a slice, and it would just be weird to deliver a cake, and then buy a slice. Couldn’t do it, it’d be wrong. So I just lick the icing bowl and that does me fine.

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So here’s a little blog post, and more to come soon I hope.

May 1st, 2012 by Clarabella

un-a-MUSE-ing

So, I seem to have lost my blogging muse. I have sat here, in front of the New Post page, for ages, many times. And nothing. No inspiration. No drive. No muse to fuel my word-fire. I can’t remember the last time I had a word-rich conversation that tickled my internal dictionary. So today, in there interest of starting, rather than looking blankly at the screen for half an hour before closing my laptop and giving up. Again.

So instead of words, here are some photos of this some work from the last couple of weeks.

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Virgin Media Corporate Cupcakes

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Pink & White Wedding Cake

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Hello cutie Kitty

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Making Tiramisu cupcakes, and the Kahlua needed testing 🙂

November 4th, 2011 by Clarabella

A Big Responsibility, and a Castle Cake

This week, I have a dog. We have got a dog. Haven’t bought a dog, as he was ‘free to a good home’, but he has been brought home, and now is a member of the household. A permanent fixture. A responsibility. It feels weird. I haven’t been responsible for another living thing, well, ever. And here he is. Living, breathing, eating, farting, doing all the things that a dog does, and at this very moment, I am responsible for him. Just me. Weird. I guess this is a very watered down version of what having a baby feels like.

Its funny. You look at people picking up dog poop, and you think, yuck. Gross. How can they do that. Then you have your own dog, and its just part of the package. YOu just take it in your stride. And how he was when I came home from work today, he was overjoyed to see me. He jumped up and down and looked so excited he could barley contain himself. He then lavishes love on me in every way a dog knows how. That. That unconditional, uncontrolled love, when he’s only known me 7 days, that is why I love dogs. And this one, Toby, in particular.

So, I haven’t baked anything, at home at least, this week. But I have done lots of baking at the bakery, and lots of decorating too. Today – it was the castle cake. Never having made a castle out of cake before, I was not completely sure where to start. So I started at the beginning. Grey. and the rest just flowed really. I was in the ‘zone’. Cake decorators will know what I mean. That place you go, that switch that flicks in your brain when you start decorating. You are focused, and everything around you goes out of focus. All you can see is the cake, and you just start. And you only stop when you are happy that you are done. That the cake is complete. Then you step back, smile, and the rest of the world comes back into focus and you move on to the next one.

I do plan to make something blog-worthy this weekend. At the moment I am torn between Salted Butter Caramels and White Chocolate and Ginger Ice Cream. What should I make??

 

October 14th, 2011 by Clarabella

Courgette Pumpkin Spiced Breakfast Bread

I love a good banana bread. Who doesn’t? But I also like to shake things up a bit. Move away from the traditional bananas and walnuts, and throw in some more random ingredients and see what happens.

 

So I came across the ‘Zucchini’ aka Courgette Breakfast Bread on dear Joy the Baker, and I wanted to try it immediately. Coincidentally I had a huge courgette in the house, and some pumpkin in the fridge that was asking to be included. It wanted in on the bread, and I thought that was a great idea. Better than the poor pumpkin leftovers being forgotten in the back of the fridge only to be discovered a few weeks later once they have started to grow their own little mold colony to keep them company. Read the rest of this entry »