Something Sweet – Issue 25

Welcome along to the latest issue of Something Sweet, my weekly online magazine with all the latest news from the world of cake.

It seems the warm weather has returned, so rather than getting hot under the collar, pull up a chair, grab a cuppa (or something cold, of course) and settle down for a break…

What’s new on the blog this week?

What isn’t?! I’ve been keeping myself mega busy this week, ticking off some of the projects that have been languishing on my cakey to do list for an absolute age.

I started on Monday, by finally getting around to having a play with the Half-Sphere Multi Mould and Edible Transfers by The Old Piping Bag. Designed to allow us all to create incredibly realistic looking eyes for our sculpted cakes, using a combination of isomalt and Rachel’s fabulous pre-cut transfers, I had been reluctant to get cracking with this review because I had never used isomalt before – and if I’m honest, I’d always been a little bit scared of it.

You can find out how I got on with my first brush with the molten sugar substitute by reading the full post here.

 

I also had my first dalliance with Cake Dutchess Modelling Paste to create a piece for the ongoing collaboration: Animals Around the World. Hosted by the Cake Dutchess herself, Etty van Urk, this collaboration is a chance to shine a spotlight on creatures from around the world, which are endangered or vulnerable.

I chose to highlight the rockhopper penguin, which are categorised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a vulnerable species. In the last 30 years, it is estimated that the population of rockhoppers has fallen by nearly 25% – and now climate change could place them at even greater risk.

I was really impressed by Cake Dutchess modelling paste too. As many of you know, I tend to work exclusively with Renshaw – simply because I always have – so it was fun to try something new. The paste smelled lovely and it held up well in the warm weather that seems to be back with us again. I was also impressed by how well the paste took colour. On Etty’s advice, I used Rainbow Dust’s Progel Range and, even when colouring black (from white), the paste remained just as firm and workable as it was when left uncoloured. I’ll definitely be using Cake Dutchess Modelling Paste again.

 

Like many of you, I also completed my nominations for this year’s Cake Masters Magazine Awards (AKA the Cake Oscars) this week and the theme for my nominations this year has been to recognise up-and-coming talents – those that I haven’t seen recognised at the awards previously. I’ll be crossing my fingers that at least some of them make it into the finalist line up.

I only wish that we could celebrate all of the incredible talents out there in the cake world, but I think Natalie Portman summed things up nicely in a Vogue interview a few years ago:

“I think it’s a great honour to win an Oscar but I think if you aim to be rewarded in your life you’ll get nowhere. I think that the biggest reward is the work itself and what you get out of it and the connections you make with other people.”

Read the full post here

 

As promised, I also braved my first ever Facebook Live demonstration, during which I shared how you can use last week’s ‘This week I am mostly loving…’ tool, the Sharp Edge Smoother by Cakes by Carol, to create sharp edges on your cakes.

It was actually pretty fun and nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be – in spite of rolling my sugar paste far too thin and making a bit of a botch of the whole thing really. I just learnt to always have ‘one I prepared earlier’ ready at hand.

If you fancy watching me be very self-deprecating and saying ‘errrrm’ a lot, you can head to this link. And who knows, now I’ve broken the seal, I might even be prepared to do it again sometime…

 

Have you heard…?

I think the hot weather has gone to some of our cake buddies’ heads recently, because there are some pretty MEGA cake-themed giveaways happening right about now. If you haven’t already heard, I think it’s only fair that you all have the chance to get involved too.

I mean, you REALLY don’t want to be missing out on these!

First up, you need to head to Instagram, where some of the biggest names in cake have teamed up to offer you all the chance to win the most immense prize bundle of awesome cake gear that I have EVER seen.

Featuring prizes from Shawna McGreevy of McGreevy Cakes and Cakeheads, Avalon Yarnes of Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art, Karen Reeves of Caking It Up, Miranda Piotrovska of Sweet Sticks, Faye Cahill of Faye Cahill Cake Design, Stevi Auble of Hey There, Cupcake! and Bets Gee of Magnolia Kitchen, this one really needs to be seen to be believed.

The prize pot includes:

  • Two giant metal Cakeheads bench scrapers and an official McGreevy Cakes Face Mould from McGreevy Cakes.
  • The original and best Cake and Cookie Planner, a full set of Cake Sketching Templates, a Cake More Worry Less tank top, a roll-up denim tool pouch and a Cake Is Kinda My Thing limited edition drink bottle from Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art.
  • A set of ten (yes, TEN) Caking It Up stencils and a set of the new strip cutters from Caking It Up.
  • The new Edibleart Metallics Palette from Sweet Sticks
  • Six edible lustre dusts from the Faye Cahill Line
  • A signed copy of the Wafer Paper Cakes book and a selection of edible printed wafer paper from Hey There, Cupcake!
  • A set of Sharp Scrapers, an Magnolia Kitchen Keep It Cup, some of their very own Classic Russian Fudge and an MK Addict Stonewashed Shirt from Magnolia Kitchen.

“BUT WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET MY HANDS ON THIS AWESOME PRIZE?!!” I hear you shout!

Well, you need to head over to Instagram and make sure you are following all of these super-awesome and super-generous ladies. Then you need to find one of the giveaway posts and ‘like’ it, before commenting with what you love the most about cake decorating – tagging one of your bestest cake chums in the process.

Good luck!

 

Oh, and that isn’t all by the way. When you are done entering the above giveaway, you might want to head over to the Fabricake website, where they are also giving away a once-in-a-lifetime kinda prize…

It’s only a class with legendary cake artist Karen Portaleo – normally valued at £550!

Throughout August, every time you place an order on the Fabricake website, you will receive one entry into the prize draw to win a place on the Emperor Panda two-day masterclass with Karen Portaleo – absolutely free!

Places in this incredible class are strictly limited so you will be one of only a small group of people in Europe to actually get to take part.

To enter, simply place an order through the Fabricake website throughout August and remember that every order will count as an entry – meaning the more orders you place, the more tickets you will have in the draw.

And don’t forget, you can also take advantage of my exclusive discount code MRBAKER10 while you are there – saving 10% on all of your purchases! I think it might be time to stock up on all those essentials, don’t you?

Good luck again!

 

Have you also heard…?

I’m SO excited to say this: The Great British Bake Off is back!

While we are still waiting to know exactly when the show will return to its new home on Channel 4, if last year was anything to go by, then the end of August seems likely.

Just like last year, I am planning on baking along with the show – attempting all of the technical bakes, while following the same rules and time constraints that the contestants in the tent are facing – and of course blogging about it all right here you for you guys.

If you fancy joining me, it’s a brilliant way to get involved with the show and it’s a great way to expand your baking repertoire too! While we wait for the new series to start, why not head over to this link to see how I got on with last year’s technical challenges?

 

Cake Show Showcase:

If, like me, you are looking forward to visiting the Northern Ireland Sugar Expo, but were a bit reluctant to commit to exhibiting at the show – or entering the competitions, of course – before you knew how you were getting there and where you would be staying, the latest few updates from the team should be a massive help.

Emma and Alessandra have scoured their local area to find only the very best accommodation available AND have even managed to negotiate some special discounts for NISE attendees.

For the full list of local hotels and to check out the deals available, head to the NISE Facebook Page now!

 

This week I am mostly loving…

Isomalt!

Yes, as I mentioned above, this week, I finally faced my fears and had a go at working with isomalt! Squires Kitchen Ready-tempered Isomalt to be precise.

With my silicone containers, blow torch and edible glaze spray, I felt very prepared to attempt to use the molten sugar in moulds for the first time and it’s like a whole new world of creativity is opening up to me! However, I got to wondering, just how do people use it to freeform decorative elements on their cakes?!

I see people using it as water dripping from sculpted dog’s mouths, as waves breaking against the bows of ships and as goodness knows what else besides. How are they doing this?!

A fabulous piece, finished with isomalt, by Gadget Cakes

So that is my call to arms this week: How have you used isomalt on your cakes? I’m going to host a week-long share event during which you can show off the results of your own experimentation with isomalt. And if you are feeling generous enough to offer us all your top tips, well then that would be even better!

Some fabulous isomalt accents by Sweet Passion Cakery

To join in, simply post your favourite cakes that include an isomalt element to the wall over at my Facebook page and I’ll share as many as I can across the week!

I’m already excited to see what you have all been creating with this tricky lil’ ingredient!

 

The hottest ticket in town!

Tickets for this year’s Bolton Food and Drink Festival are selling like hot cakes and the 13th annual event, which takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend – from Friday August 24 to Monday August 27 – looks set to be an amazing experience!

Organised by Bolton Council in association with Aldi, the Bolton Food and Drink Festival holds the reputation of being the biggest and best food festival in the north, with more than 267,000 visitors last year.

Picture by Paul Heyes.

Across the weekend, celebrity chefs like Ainsley Harriot, James Martin and everyone’s favourite GBBO winner, Nadiya Hussain, will host a series of live demos and events.

Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, said: “Our celebrity chef demos usually sell out quickly, so I would advise people to get their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

“Nadiya is great with families, Ainsley is an energetic performer and James has a solid following, so there will be something for all tastes at this year’s event.

“Bolton Food and Drink Festival is such a popular event and we are now in our 13th year. We are constantly building and improving the attractions on offer to keep it fresh for our thousands of visitors, and this year is no exception. It’s going to be a bumper weekend once again.”

Last year saw Kay Gajra of Kaykes create a stunning showpiece display to celebrate the weekend and a little bird tells me that this year another of our favourite cakers will be cooking up something special for this year’s event. Someone decidedly… Diva-y?

Kay will also be back judging the Festival Cake Off, so whether you’re a budding baker or experienced pro, she would love to see your fantastic show-stopping celebration cakes that represent the fun of the festival! To enter the Cake Off, you can head here – but be quick, the deadline to submit your entry design is this Wednesday!

I’m hoping to head up to the festival for part of the weekend and would love to see some of you there. For more information on the event and to get your tickets, head to the official website or check out the festival page on Facebook.

 

I wanna make that!

There is nothing better than a couple of really striking anemones to add some real drama to a floral arrangement and they are a great choice for both wedding and celebration cakes throughout the year.

They are one bloom that I have never got around to trying, so I was thrilled when I saw that the Squires Kitchen Shop Blog had posted a free tutorial to allow us all to have a got at making them.

You can learn how to create your own cream and navy flowers – or have fun experimenting with your own colour combinations, of course – by heading to this link.

 

Cake of the Week!

With all this hot weather we have been having and the awful straw-like grass that seems to be covering the ground everywhere at the moment, I find myself being drawn towards lush, healthy-looking greenery. Only yesterday, I picked up a new china tea set decorated with bright, luscious, green ivy and I think it is the same desire for greenery that attracted me to this week’s Cake of the Week.

The combination of Joanna Pyda of Joanna Pyda Cake Studio’s pristinely-finished bright white tiers, coupled with colourful blooms and an abundance of leafy greens really caught my attention this week and I bet the lucky couple were thrilled with Joanna’s wonderful creation.

Joanna’s Facebook page was a new discovery for me this week and it is well worth a visit – you can find it here. Congratulations on a wonderful Cake of the Week, Joanna and I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful designs.

 

Honourable mention…

Allison Price of Let’s Eat Cupcakes was a significant presence on the cake scene for a considerable period of time, until she decided that going to work and then coming home and making cakes into the wee small hours just wasn’t working for her anymore. Of course, she has maintained many wonderful friendships within the cake community and they turned out in force this week to help her celebrate her marriage to husband, Steven.

The couple celebrated their special day on Tuesday – the 31st July, which for those who do not know, is Harry Potter’s birthday. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Harry turned 38 this year…

As huge fans of Harry’s wizarding world, Allison and Steven had worked hard to create a beautifully-detailed Harry Potter-themed wedding (I must admit to a bit of rifling through Allison’s Facebook at the many incredible handmade elements Allison had either been able to source or, in many cases, craft herself.

Of course, for such a special day, a truly special cake was needed – but fortunately, Calli Hopper of Calli’s Creations was on hand with one of her magnificently jaw-dropping creations.

To bring her incredible creation to live, Calli’s tiers were royal iced before being hand-painted with Saracino cocoa butter and edible dusts. She used modelling chocolate and modelling paste to craft the frames, elder wand, potion bottle and snitch. Her roses were made from cold porcelain and the whole piece comes together to create an incredibly awesome display that I’m sure was one of the many highlights of a truly beautiful day.

Congratulations to Allison and Steven on their wedding day and I wish them many years of happiness together.

 

And finally…

Don’t forget to get in touch this week to tell me all about what your corner of the cake world is talking about; to share which tools or products you are loving this week; to tell me about any exciting events or classes you have coming up; to share any recipes or tutorials you have discovered this week and are dying to try; and about anything else that has grabbed your attention on Planet Cake.

And of course, don’t forget to nominate your suggestions for the Cake of the Week. Maybe it’s one you have seen or perhaps it’s one of your own!

You can submit your contributions by messaging my Facebook page, by posting in the dedicated Mr Baker’s Blog from Mr Baker’s Cakes Facebook group or by emailing me directly.

I look forward to hearing from you!