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Review: Half-Sphere Multi Mould and Edible Transfers by The Old Piping Bag

The school holidays are finally here and do you know what that means? I can finally pay some attention to the mammoth, cakey ‘to-do list’ that I have been ignoring for the past few weeks. I actually have a dedicated shelf in my cake room that is purely for projects that I want to get to ‘at some point’ and, if I’m honest, lately it has been looking rather full.

I know some people think that blogging is all getting sent free stuff, but actually, for every product that you get sent for review, you need to come up with a creation to go with it and that’s before you even start putting pen to paper. It’s a lot of work.

And actually, many of the products or tools that I share with you are things that I have bought myself – either because I think that you would all be interested in seeing them in action or because I think they will be useful within my own cake artistry – and today, I finally got the chance to play with a product that fits into both of those categories.

The new Half Sphere Multi-Mould and Edible Transfers are some of the latest innovations to come out of the workshop of Rachel Wyatt-Brown of The-Old Piping Bag: Handmade Silicone Moulds for Cake & Craft and she told me they allow sugarcrafters to create realistic eyes, eyeballs and sports balls.

The combination of her isomalt mould and the pre-cut transfers ensure that even a complete isomalt-noob like me can achieve the sort of realistic eyes that used to be the exclusive purview of only the finest cake artists and sugar sculptors.

Now, if I’m honest, one of the main reasons that this project has been left languishing on my shelf (besides time) is because I have never used isomalt before and I’ve always been a little bit scared of it. Isomalt is an ‘inverted sugar’, which means that it is sweet like sugar, but it has a slower rate of crystallisation. This makes it ideal for modelling and moulding, because it doesn’t break down as quickly as regular sugar sculpting.

The other reason I had shelved this project for a while was due to the fact that Squires Kitchen Ready-Tempered Isomalt seemed to be out of stock absolutely everywhere. While there are other brands available, I had only heard good things about the Squires isomalt, so I was keen to use this during my first experience with the medium. However, it seemed that the rest of the world had had a similar idea and I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Luckily, my lovely friend Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co had a little bit left over from a previous project and she was generous enough to post it to me.

You also need a fair bit of kit to work with isomalt, it seems. Number one on your purchase list needs to be some silicone containers. Melted sugar is sticky – and hot! I bought a pack of silicone cupcake cases from Amazon and they seemed to do the trick perfectly.

If you want to achieve a perfect finish to your isomalt art, you will also need a blowtorch – I have this one by Andrew James – and some PME Clear Edible Glaze Spray. This will stop the sugar absorbing moisture from the air and breaking down over time.

Finally, I would advise that you wear some heat-proof gloves while you are working with your isomalt. Perhaps stupidly, I just used my usual food-safe vinyl gloves today, which of course do not offer any protection from the heat. However, I was able to whip mine off quick enough to ensure that I didn’t get badly burnt by the molten sugar when I inevitably shoved my finger into the discarded pot of leftover mix.

While I was using Rachel’s moulds for the first time, the thing I struggled with the most was patience. You need to let each step of the process cool before moving on to the next and I didn’t really do this. I won’t show you a picture of how my first attempts came out, but luckily I had just enough isomalt crystals left for one final go.

This time, I allowed myself to be distracted between each step so that I could allow sufficient cooling time and the results were much better, as you can see here.

Next up, I want to see how I can incorporate these realistic looking eyes into a chocolate sculpture like the one I made during my time with Carla Puig earlier this year.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed the similarities between Rachel’s new product and another, devised by Lizzo Marek with Simi Cakes, that also became available this year. It seems that both of them had them in development at the same time and, although she is aware that people may think she copied Lizzo, whose eye moulds and transfers came to market first, Rachel explained that she had already invested far too much time and money into her product to be able to discontinue her work on them.

I don’t know about you, but I think there is plenty of space on the market for both of them – particularly as one is US-based and one is here – and I was certainly thrilled with the results I was able to achieve on my initial play with Rachel’s kit.

So much so, that now it seems to be back in stock everywhere, I have ordered a load more isomalt so that I can carry on with my explorations – before tackling my chocolate bust of course!

If you fancy having a go at creating realistic isomalt eyes, then you can pick up Rachel’s Half Sphere Multi Mould and Edible Transfers via her website here.

To get your hands on some of the elusive Squires Kitchen Ready-Tempered Isomalt, you can head to my other online home, Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd. And don’t forget to take advantage of my exclusive discount code MRBAKER10 while you’re there, to save 10% on all of your essential cake decorating needs.

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Review: The Sharp Edge Smoother by Cakes by Carol

I always follow new product releases with great interest, but none have piqued my interest quite so much recently as the one that I was playing with last week.

The Sharp Edge Smoother by Carol Smith of Cakes by Carol is a food safe acrylic cake smoother, designed to help you achieve sharp edges and smooth vertical sides on your cakes.

Like most of you, I always strive to achieve a perfect sharp edge on my more traditionally-shaped cakes and have sworn by my acetate smoothers for years now. However, I do have a tendency to be rather heavy-handed with them and I have lost count of the number of times that I have given myself the dreaded bulge around the top rim of my cakes!

As a result, Carol’s smoother had been something that I had been umming and ahing over purchasing for quite some time, so when she got in touch to ask me if I would like to have a play with her exciting new tool, I was eager to have a go.

I guess my initial hesitation was based on the fact that I have previously bought ‘short cut’ gadgets and been disappointed with them. I have discussed this in a previous post, saying something along the lines of, “if my three (now four) years of cake artistry have taught me anything, it’s that for the most part, a lot of practice and mastery of the essential cake decorating techniques cannot be replaced by a gadget.”

That was before I tried Carol’s Sharp Edge Smoother.

Honestly, I was expecting it to be another faddy tool, like – well, I suppose it would be a bit controversial to name specifics, but I’m sure you can all think of one – but these often throw up their own complications and usually require mastery of a whole new set of skills. This wasn’t the case with Carol’s Sharp Edge Smoother and I was so very pleasantly surprised.

I decided to crack open my Sharp Edge Smoother while I was working on the cake for last week’s Love Reading Festival. I was absolutely against the clock on this one and, when I got home from work at 6.30pm the night before it was due, it still looked like this:

Yeah, panic stations. I hadn’t even made ANY of the decorations, so I really didn’t have any time to waste on trying to create a perfect sharp edge with my usual acetate smoothers.

Every purchase of the Sharp Edge Smoother comes with the Sharp Edge Smoother demonstration video and a Square Cake pdf tutorial. As my cakes were round (let’s not run before we can walk!), I started by watching the video to learn how to use my new tools. You’ll notice that I say tools plural – to use the smoother, you also need acrylic plates that are 6” bigger than the cake itself.

Battling the heat, I covered my cake with a 50/50 blend of my favourite sugarpaste, white Renshaw Extra and Renshaw’s Ready to Roll Icing in Poppy Red. I was planning on painting and airbrushing my top tier to achieve a deep red colour, but I wanted to start from a reddish base. Of course, Renshaw Ready to Roll Icing can be tricky to work with, particularly in the heat, so I was really putting the Sharp Edge Smoother through its paces right from the off.

If you take a look at the cake as it looked before I started using the smoother and compare it to the finished cake, you will see that, in spite of using a rather tricky sugarpaste, I have managed to achieve a super sharp edge and some perfectly straight sides – and it only took a couple of minutes. Yes, MINUTES! I would usually spend AGES trying to achieve this sort of finish – and this my FIRST go!

Ignore the shoddy painting – it was also my first go at mesh stencilling and I didn‘t read the instructions first…!

If I can be completely frank and honest with you right now, I genuinely love this tool. In fact, I love it so much that I think I might have to do my first ever Facebook Live demonstration, just to show you how quick and easy it is to use. If you’d be up for watching that, then let me know in the comments below – it’ll help psych me up for the challenge!

Check out this incredible before and after! *swoons*

I’ve also persuaded Carol to offer all of my readers, who would like to try the Sharp Edge Smoother for themselves, an awesome 10% off their purchase.

As I mentioned above, to use the Sharp Edge Smoother by Cakes by Carol, you will also need acrylic plates and these should ideally be 6” larger the cake itself, otherwise your precious smoother will get scratched. Now, I know some of you will have these already, so you can pick up your smoother right here for 10% off, using the discount code: MRBAKER18.

However, if, like me, you are new to acrylic plates and need to grab some of those along with your smoother, then Carol also offers a Smoother Bundle – which contains the smoother itself and a whole set of acrylic plates in 12″, 16″ and 20″. You can find the bundle here, again taking advantage of a 10% discount, using the code: MRBAKER18.

The code will be valid until the 9th August 2018 – so get in there quick!

If you’d like to see the Sharp Edge Smoother in action before you decide, keep an eye on my Facebook Page – I’ll be announcing the date and time of my Facebook Live demonstration soon!

Carol Smith is the award-winning cake artist behind Cakes by Carol, based in Peterborough. If you’d like to learn more about Carol and her fantastic tool, you can visit her website or why not like her page on Facebook?

On a personal note, I’d like to congratulate Carol on achieving the impossible and designing a tool that has made a fairly tricky cake skill super simple. It really is fabulous Carol and you should be so proud of yourself.

Thank you for inviting me to have a play with it and I can’t wait to use it again on my next cake!

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Review: The Celtic Cakers Tutorial Book

In the most recent issue of Something Sweet, I was most excited that I was finally getting to tell you about a truly remarkable book that was coming very soon – however that’s nothing compared to how excited I am to say that The Celtic Cakers is now available!!

Compiled by Corinna Maguire of Lovin’ from the Oven, The Celtic Cakers has brought together a team of some of Ireland’s top cake designers to produce a huge array of step-by-step pictorial guides to creating fantastic cakes of all skill levels.

Paired with the fabulous tutorials, The Celtic Cakers also take you on a journey around the stunning Emerald Isle itself, introducing themselves and their cake stories, alongside beautiful photographs of their local regions.

It offers readers the chance to learn techniques such as hand-modelling, creating stunning sugar flowers, crafting wired figures, carving cakes, structuring cakes, working with gelatin and much, much more.

From the adorable Big Brown Bear by Paul Redmond of Purple Feather Cake Design to the stunning cover cake, A Seaside Wedding by Corinna herself, there really is something in the book for everyone. But don’t just take my word for it! The cover quotes, from some of the cake world’s greats, speak volumes about how fabulous the book is:

I love this book! Such cute ideas with such detailed instruction from the basics to the advanced … enough to get the casual Cake admirer to jump in and test the waters. And some new ideas as well for those who have already dabbled a bit. A definite must!

Shawna McGreevy
Cakeheads – McGreevy Cakes

 

A fantastic collection of tutorials from a group of the best cake decorators! From simple
techniques to more challenging projects, a fantastic book.

Rosie Mazumder
Editor at Cake Masters Magazine

 

This book covers so many useful tips and techniques, a truly great resource for any decorator at any experience level.

Avalon Yarnes
Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art

When I first received the advance copy of the book, I literally spent about two hours just reading it from cover to cover – I genuinely couldn’t put it down and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it is quite simply breathtaking. Corinna and her team of talented cakers have managed to capture the beauty and well… almost the very essence of Ireland and combine it with some truly stunning tutorials from some of the greatest talents their little corner of paradise has to offer.

If you’re looking to try something new or to really challenge yourself, I would highly recommend you grab a copy from Amazon (you can find it here).

In fact, I’m so convinced you’ll love it, to celebrate the book’s official launch weekend on 28-29 April, I’ve bought an extra one to give away to one of my lucky subscribers.

Yes, you heard that right! I’m giving away a copy of The Celtic Cakers right here!

To be in with a chance of getting your hands on this fabulous book, you just need to ensure you have subscribed to Mr Baker’s Blog before the competition closes on 29th April 2018.

To subscribe, simply scroll to the subscribe button in the sidebar on the right (or at the bottom of the page if on mobile) and pop in your email address. Not only will this enter you into my Celtic Cakers giveaway, but you’ll never have to worry about missing a Mr Baker’s Blog post again!

Regretfully, after having to shell out almost £80 to ship my last giveaway prize to the states (Yes, really!), I am going to have to limit this one to UK-only entries, I’m afraid. But don’t panic, further-afield subscribers can still grab your copy direct from Amazon.

Congratulations again to Corinna and the Celtic Cakers team on an absolute masterpiece and good luck for your launch next weekend!