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.
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 🙁 ok.

January 19th, 2013 by Clarabella

I don’t know how its been so long!




Sorry blog, you have been neglected. I really, really don’t know how its been so long since I’ve posted on here. I am going to blame Christmas ok? Christmas, its all your fault.

Seriously, I did take some time off over Christmas, but now things are back in full swing, and are they swinging! Its busy! Which is great, but leaves blogging time for late on a Saturday afternoon when I’m in between mopping the floor & washing the cloths, and thinking about cooking dinner.

So this isn’t going to be a long post, but it will be a promise to post more. I promise. Don’t give up on me.

The big news this week is my cupcake photoshoot with the excellent Mark Williamson. He is the camera genius behind my gorgeous wedding photos, and was the only person I thought of when I first considered getting professional pics for my website. It was about time the pics got an upgrade, so this week the cupcakes put their best side forward, and smiled for the camera. The results should be visible on my site in the next day or two, so come back soon! But here’s a sneak preview…



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.
November 12th, 2012 by Clarabella

Pretty Pastels, and Cake International, Wow


 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.


 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.  


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.  


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! 

November 5th, 2012 by Clarabella

Hell and Heaven, which is which?


What a week. A ‘Hell’ of a week. Teeheehee, I crack me up 🙂 This weekend was Hellrunner. An annual test of the body and mind. A vague 10-12 miles of trail, through puddles, mud and in some parts, neck deep, ice cold water. All in name of fun, and a challenge. Some people think we are crazy. Certifiable even. But even while hating it, we secretly love it. And you never know what you are made of until you push yourself past what you thought were your limits. And try to smile while you do it 🙂

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Cake-wise I had a great day today. Made a cake for a friend of a friend, which was not for the money but for the favour to someone I care about. The birthday girl is from Zimbabwe and I had to do a cake themed for her. I didn’t know what I was going to do design-wise ahead of time really. I just sat down and Google-imaged Zimbabwe and browsed. And thought of African sunsets, and African horizons. And then thought I’d go with that. I have never hand-painted a cake before, and hey. Today was as good a day as any. I;m not as scared as I used to be of trying new things like that. Techniques I have never used before. And I think that confidence is half the struggle. I used to be scared of piping. And piping laced with fear tends to shake and wobble. Painting with no fear, leads to a great cake. Or at least I think its great. I had good fun doing it. Loved doing it even. I think I have an inner artist that enjoys playing with paintbrushes. Brilliant fun 🙂 Bring on the next painted cake 🙂

This week was also the week of the cuptail. Mojito cuptails, complete with umbrellas and straws. Too cute I think 🙂 But don’t try to eat the straw. Its plastic. Sorry.