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.
Published on September 28th, 2011
by Clarabella

A good excuse..? You tell me

Ok, so I’ve been away for a while. Not away away. I’ve been here. Home. But I have neglected my poor blog horribly. This has sat on my conscience as though I were neglecting a child. A good child who was sitting patiently and quietly waiting for me to remember he/she is there. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

It may be a small consolation, but I have been busy, and not idle. I have done many many bakery hours. Iced countless cupcakes, and done my first ever wedding cake. Wedding cake, now that was an experience. I had been worried about this cake since I first got the order like 2 months ago. Thats a lot of worrying. So when the big day finally came and all the tiers sat all shiny and pearly, waiting to be assembled, I started having cold sweats. It did not help that when I had visited my local cake decorating shop that morning, the sales lady had regaled me with horror stories about pillared cakes and told me how now, even though she has like 0 years cake decorating experience, she WILL NOT make pillared cakes. Period. No negotiations will be entered into. Eiiiiiishhhh. But with the engineering/construction help from my dear other half, the cake was successfully stacked, and as nobody called me to tell me that it had fallen over, I assume that it stood proudly, all day and all night. So here’s a picture. Note: I did not invent the design, it was requested ok.

What else have I been doing? Oh yes, I made 200 cupcakes on Sunday. A lovely order for Virgin Mobile, with mini mobile phones and Virgin Media logos on the cupcakes. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Today… I made and decorated a vegan chocolate/avocado cake for a friend’s family who are vegan-ish, and asian, hence the asian-inspired design. I think it looks pretty spiffy, especially since I had to hand cut all the shapes as I could not bring myself to spend £35 on the cutters (yet). Pretty. Now just to wait and hear what they think of the taste…

Last night was my first experience of the new Manchester Clandestine Cake Club (or CCC). Its a monthly meeting of cake bakers and their lucky partners, held at an undisclosed until the day before location. All attendees bring a cake, and you all sit around for a couple of hours and eat at least your own body weight in all the cakes that have been made along the allocated theme. Awesome. Like my idea of heaven. Although we did all go home more than overstuffed with cake and had cake sweats for at least 12 hours afterwards. But it was fabulous, and I can’t wait for the next one. I also got a good business lead from the event so double yay 🙂

The cakes, all pretty and whole… (mine’s the round one back middle with the walnuts on top and the lacey cake stand)


The carnage…

Burp! Which was which again?

And now I’m tired. Been up since 6am cake-ing and its been a long day and I”m feeling like a zombie. I still need to stay conscious long enough to eat dinner (thankfully being made for me as my feet will no longer hold me up after having been on them for the last 13 hours) and do some ‘paper’work. I love what I do but man I need some sleep!

Here is my parting thought for the day and a recipe. I can’t post without a recipe. I think everyone who loves baking should know a basic sponge recipe. It is SO useful to just know what to chuck in a bowl so that you can go from ingredients to in the oven in like 5 minutes flat. And once you know vanilla just add what you like to make other flavours. Lemon, raspberry, blueberry, cinnamon pumpkin, whatever your imagination requires. So bakers, just remember these little numbers (And if you can’t, something with the same proportions is printed on the side of the Stork Margarine tubs 🙂



Basic sponge recipe

What you will need:

300g butter or margarine
300g caster sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
300g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

What to do: 

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand beater), cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (5 minutes or so)
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each addition
Add the vanilla extract and mix well
Add the flour ad baking powder and mix well. Make sure there are no pockets of butter left or your cake/cupcakes will explode.

Use this to make cupcakes (bake for 18 minutes), sponge cakes (any size, just up the ingredients proportionally), tiered celebration cakes. Substitute 60g cocoa powder for 60g flour to make a chocolate version. Add whatever you like to play with flavours. They say that when baking don’t experiment as you may get a flop. But I say experiment away. How else will you discover that gorgeous new flavour combination. (I learned yesterday that butternut and orange are great in a cheesecake and courgette and cinnamon makes an awesome sponge).



x Happy Baking, and check out my website