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 25th, 2013 by Clarabella

A Simple and Sweet Snowflake Wedding Cake

Snowflake Wedding
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 ๐Ÿ™‚ What do you think?


October 22nd, 2013 by Clarabella

Christmas is coming


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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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, pรขtรฉ and puddings, the selection looks delicious and its hard to choose just one!

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
(This post is in association with Hampergifts)
September 30th, 2013 by Clarabella

Loving The Ruffle


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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ And peach made a wonderful change from pink. Sometimes I get pinked out. This time I was peachy-keen ๐Ÿ™‚ hehehehehe I crack me up ๐Ÿ™‚ Its late. Humour me ok?

Happy Monday, have an awesome week, and happy baking xxx
March 24th, 2013 by Clarabella

Red Velvet Cake & Sunflower Cupcakes

Sunflower Cupcakes

The sun and the warmth have gone from Manchester this week. it is COLD and WINDY and rather unpleasant outdoors. And I like the outdoors. So thats saying something. So It is quite nice to have a little brightness in the world on those days when you feel like the spring will never come, and this weeks sunflower cupcakes brought just that. Bright, cheerful and they make me smile every time I look at them. With these cupcakes in the room, and the smell of fresh Earl Grey and Red Velvet Cupcakes just out of the oven, even on s drab day, there is metaphorical sunshine.
Red Velvet Buttercream

I do like sugarpaste as a medium, but as variety is the spice of life, sometimes its nice to do a non-sugarpaste cake for a change. Last night I delivered this large red velvet cake, which was covered with piped rose swirls and just decorated with some simple flowers. Simple, elegant, and I bet it tasted good! Frosted with fluffy vanilla buttercream, and filled with 3 fillings between the 4 layers. Chocolate ganache, strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, and vanilla fluffy buttercream. Can I stay for the party and have a piece of the cake? No? Darn ๐Ÿ™ ok.

November 20th, 2012 by Clarabella

All about the dinosaurs

Its funny how things happen in clusters sometimes. Like last week, which was the week of dinosaurs. No dinosaur cakes for months, then 3 dinosaur cakes in 1 week. Funny. So, I have now had a lot of practice at making dinosaurs. And I have decided that I like them. They can be made with a certain degree of ‘artistic license’. They do not need to be exact replicas of certain breeds or have specially distinguishing features to make them look like a family pet or a famous animal. When you do a dinosaur cake for a child, it just needs to look like a dinosaur. And thats a vague description with a wide spectrum of possibilities. Awesome. Children do not normally mind that there are over 700 different species of dinosaur that have been identified to date, and that the ones I make probably are not anatomically correct to any one of those species, but rather a melee of features of dinosaur generalisation. They look cool, and I like them.
While we are on the subject of children’s cakes, I had to wonder last week, while making a cake which had 2 of the characters from ‘In the Night Garden’, who comes up with these characters. They are odd, and look rather senseless to me. But hey, who am I to judge. I remember one of my favourite childhood tv shows starring a talking donkey that lived in a giant apple. You surely have to be on some kind of hallucinogenic substance to come up with this stuff.
I made an unusual cupcake box last week. I always find it fascinating when asked to bring together in one box of cupcakes, a lot of seemingly unrelated subjects. I have to wonder about the connections and meaning behind each element, which must be relevant to the customer and the receiver of the gift. Relevant to them but seemingly nonsense and mixed up to me. How things can change depending on one’s perspective, and the background information which we possess. True in many aspects of life I think.
It is autumn here in the UK. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with autumn. I love it for its beauty. its colours, which awe me every time I get out into the woods. The colours which nature produces just in death and sleep, the human imagination could barely fathom. Such beauty in creation and in its yearly destruction. So as I ran around last week I unusually burdened myself with my phone so that I could take some photos. And I’m glad I did. They turned out rather well and will serve to remind me of the beauty once we are in the full grip of winter and the colour had been stripped from the land. It is amazing how such beauty can be a by product of death and sleep. The winter brings the start of the end for much of nature but in its dying days it sends up a last hurrah in the form of a pallet of colours to numerous to be counted, and too vivid to be appreciated by any lens as much as it is appreciated by the human eye.