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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!

All Content, Blog, Review

Review: Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Paper by Natasha Collins

A few weeks back, you may recall that I visited the Squire’s Kitchen Exhibition for the first time and, while I was there, allowed Rhianydd Webb of Dragon’s and Daffodils Cakes to take me on a very resolve-testing walk around the show’s marketplace – resolve-testing because I had promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything. Luckily, I was able to stick to my guns – well at the show at least – but alas that didn’t stop me hitting the web when I got home…

One of the products that had really piqued my interest at the show was the new Cake Smoothies, from Sherry Hostler with Squires Kitchen and I must confess that these may have already have found their way into my cake tool box (You can pick them up here if you are interested and why not take advantage of my exclusive 10% discount at the same time – just enter code MRBAKER10 at checkout).

But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about today. No, today I want to discuss the other new product from Squires that had got me thinking. The new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Papers by Natasha Collins were designed by the British cake artist and cake-painting specialist behind Nevie Pie Cakes – ‘the home of the painted cake’. She teamed up with Squires Kitchen to produce a whole range of beautiful ‘painted’ designs on strong, flexible and ultra-fine wafer paper, making it suitable for all kinds of uses in baking and sugarcraft.

When I first mentioned them in my blog from the Squires Kitchen Exhibition, I explained that if you are not confident in your cake painting abilities or are looking for an easier alternative, the wafer paper designs by Natasha Collins would be perfect to add pretty painted effects in seconds.

This got me thinking and I wondered if it would be possible for a cake decorating novice to use the papers to create a show-stopping cake without the time and effort that professionals usually put in, and thus, my Painted Giftbox Tutorial was born.

In addition to ‘the cheat’s solution to a painted finish’ as one of my friends has dubbed it, I also used a purchased floral spray  to create this cake. Although a couple of the other techniques are not quite so noob-friendly, the tutorial will hopefully make it nice and easy to blend the slightly more-challenging techniques with some simple shortcuts to create a cake with real wow factor.

To find out how to create the full cake, you can find the tutorial via the menu at the top of the page, but today I want to talk about the part of the tutorial that concerns the wafer paper itself.

When it came to applying the wafer paper to a cake, I will admit that I initially struggled. There are no instructions on the packet and, having only used wafer paper a few times in the past, I wasn’t sure how best to attach it. Luckily, I had enough knowledge to know that water would not be my friend, so steaming the cake like one does to apply edible lace was not an option.

I decided to try using piping gel instead and heated a small amount up in the microwave for 45 seconds (stirring every 15) to reduce its viscosity. Around this time, I realised that I still haven’t yet replaced my large paintbrushes for cakes and instead applied the piping gel to the sides of the cake using a flexible smoother. This actually worked really well as it gave me a really smooth finish without any excess gel that could cause pockets when I applied the paper.

I measured the cake and, using a metal ruler and a scalpel, trimmed the top of the paper to just below the height of the cake.

Applying the paper to the cake was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be and I managed to do this fairly simply. Unfortunately, I did end up with some bubbling, but that could be because my cake wasn’t as perfectly flat as I had thought, so it’s worth spending some time with your smoothers and a spirit level to ensure this is as perfect as you can get it.

I also discovered, when applying the second piece of paper, that the patterns don’t join at the edges, like with wallpaper. I had been expecting this though and I figured that this would probably be the case with a real gift box too.

Because the bottom of the cake was the part that would be most visible when it was finished, I concentrated on getting that part looking the neatest and then used the giftbox lid and ‘stitched strips’ to cover the other edges of the paper. I had to spend some time with my smoothers to allow the sugarpaste to absorb and mask the lumps and bumps caused by the edge of the wafer paper, but I was mainly happy with the overall effect.

All in all, I pretty pleased with the finish that I was able to produce with the Squire Kitchen wafer papers. I don’t think anyone would immediately realise that the cake isn’t actually painted and, when used as part of an overall design, I think it looks incredibly effective – it also has a very subtle, sweet flavour that would complement all of your favourite recipes. The experienced cake artist could easily smarten up my beginner-level design, using some petal dust colours to add more depth to the sugarpaste embellishments and really pull out the other colours in the design, and, if the Squires Kitchen papers were used as part of a larger piece, such as a multi-tiered wedding cake, I could imagine the effect would be incredibly dramatic.

That said, applying the paper isn’t something that can be rushed and I would advise anyone wanting to have a go to ensure that they practice a few times before using it on a client cake. I’m now planning on using the rest of my paper to create a geometric design inspired by something I saw in a book recently – more on that later though.

The wafer paper comes in packets of two sheets, with different patterns on each, and the set I used for my tutorial was from the Big Blooms collection. Because there is only one of each sheet in a packet, I needed two packets for my cake. Thank you to Natalie in the Squires Kitchen press office for sending me plenty of packets to experiment with though!

Natasha and Squires Kitchen have come up with a whole range of fabulous patterns and finishes, including more child-friendly designs such as the Kawaii Hearts and the Dinosaurs collections and a whole selection of Christmas-themed papers too.

To check out the whole range and to buy, you can find them at Squires Kitchen Shop or you can take advantage of my exclusive 10% discount at Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd by entering code MRBAKER10 at checkout.

And if anyone else has already had a play with the new Squires Kitchen Edible Wafer Paper by Natasha Collins, do let me know what you thought!

And until next time, happy caking! x

All Content, Blog, Review

Could I be Britain’s Next Top Model-ler?

The short answer is no, but after Vicky Turner of The Yellow Bee Cake Company went Live! on Facebook to reveal that she had been beavering away behind the scenes with the lovely Rachel Wyatt-Brown of The-Old Piping Bag to create a line of exclusive food-safe silicone moulds, cast from her very own models, I must admit that I was itching to have a play with them.

Well-known for her cute and adorable modelling, I have often wished that I was able to model adorable figures like Vicky’s (not to mention work as cleanly as she does!) and when I realised that Vicky and Rachel had made it possible for us all to emulate Vicky’s stunning work for ourselves, I was genuinely excited! As a result, I featured the new moulds in that week’s Something Sweet and, on seeing my comments, Rachel very kindly sent me some to try.

Thank you again, Rachel! 😍

Now, of course I have already posted my Easter offerings for this year’s big day, but I still wanted to give the new moulds a go as soon as I could, so I decided to whip up a batch of Easter-themed cupcakes for us to enjoy at home over the bank holiday weekend.

To give me a base to build my models on, I used the leftover sugarpaste that I had used for the boards of my Easter Buddies and replicated the same scrubbing brush technique to create a grass effect for my cupcake toppers. Once I had done this, I used a fluted cutter to cut out a selection of shapes – way more than I needed, of course, but it never hurts to be prepared for the worst!

When using the moulds themselves, Rachel recommends washing them in hot soapy water and allowing them to air dry before the first use. She also advises that one uses modelling paste or flower paste to get the best results. Luckily, I had a packet of Renshaw Modelling Paste tucked away, so I was good to go.

To mould the bunnies themselves, I used my white paste as it comes and I was watching Vicky’s Live! video religiously on playback to ensure that I did it right. I left them in for a few minutes to firm back up, but I did struggle to remove the more delicate parts (the arms) from the mould first time. I decided to pop them into the freezer briefly and that worked like a charm.

However, the smaller parts on the accessories moulds were much easier to use, even with freshly coloured paste, and I found myself making oodles of each accessory – way more than I needed – simply because they were so quick and simple to do. I even started to experiment by adding multiple colours to one accessory – like the patterned Easter egg and the daisies – and I loved the results that that produced.

I did have one sticky moment (literally) when I tried to handle the just-out-of-the-freezer bunnies a bit too prematurely, so if you do resort to a bit of chilling, remember to let any condensation dry first, but other than that, I found the moulds incredibly easy to use – and I should clarify that I don’t really use moulds, so those that are used to working with them should find these a dream.

Assembling the pieces together is best done with edible glue and do allow your models time to dry before handling them too much. Running around the house to show them to people just after you have put them together is not advisable – unless you want a trail of ears, tongues and feet littering the ground behind you. *ahem*

Available in two different poses and with a choice of accessories, each of the sets of bunnies come with two moulds – one Cute Rabbit mould and one Accessory mould.  You can also mix and match, by purchasing the extra Accessory mould or take advantage of the special launch offer for all four of the unique moulds – for the bargain price of just £27.50! They are all available directly from Rachel’s website, The Old Piping Bag NOW!

The cupcakes I made used all four of the moulds and I can already see many ways that they could be used for other projects too. The bunnies themselves could easily be adapted to other animals with the substitution of some different ears and accessories (and a little bird tells me that some extra moulds might be on the way to do just that), the carrots are perfect for decorating a garden cake or even to top a miniature carrot cake and the daisy is so adorable, I think I’ll be put them on everything I make from now on!

A quick preview, from my ‘little bird’ friend, of how the new accessory kits can completely change the look of your mould.

Annoyingly, I took my photos before it occurred to me to dust my bunnies ears, cheeks and belly with a little blush pink to add some additional colour (like Vicky suggests in her video), so learn from my mistake and ensure you allow time for that. It really helps bring your creations to life.

And while I don’t think my modelling, even with the help of her wonderful moulds, will be vying for Vicky’s modelling crown anytime soon, I’m sure you’ll agree that my tasty Easter treats would brighten up any special celebration.

Thanks again to Rachel for sending me these lovely moulds and to Vicky for her oh-so-helpful video (and for answering all my annoying questions). And if anyone else has had a play with the new moulds from The Old Piping Bag with The Yellow Bee Cake Company, do let me know what you thought!

And until next time, happy caking! x