Sunday, 16 June 2013

Colour Me Pretty Instagram Swap

Catching up with my long list of blog posts to write - A few weeks (maybe months!) ago I took part in another Instagram swap.  This time the theme was 'Colour Me Pretty' and you had to stipulate what colours you would like your swap presents to be in.  This was a circle swap, so I put together a parcel for one person and received from another.

I was given the details of Natasha (who has this fab wooden toys website and blogs here) and colours of turquoise, light pink and light purple.  After a bit of poking around on her blog and stalking her instgram feed I decided to make some items she could use when quilting (one day I will make a quilt).  I made a cupcake pin cushion, which was simple to put togther and a 'how to' blog post is in construction, also I made a matching needle/pin booklet.  As everyone love a cup of tea I knitted a tea cosy, rather proud of my crochet edging, I may just have begun to crack it.  As well as these home made goodies, I added a packet of mini love hearts, a punch and post it set and then some packets of seeds.  They were well received and I will have to make a cupcake pin cushion for myself as I was sad to see it go!

My parcel came from Laura of Sparkle Accessories and I think if memory serves me correctly I had colours of turquoise and pink.  I got some hand made jewellery and a brooch which now lives on my summer coat.  The glass vase went straight on the mantle-piece and currently has a snap dragon in it.  The tin is the perfect size for keeping my sewing thread in, with plenty of room for further collection.  Still yet to decide what to use the note book for, but I'm sure I will find a use for it before too long.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Two Birthday Cakes!

So, the first week in June is birthday week, as it is both my fiancĂ©'s mum and my mum's birthdays seven days apart (just as mine and his birthdays are seven days apart!).  I had two spectacular cakes to find and make. I'd bought the Easter copy of BBC GoodFood Magazine as I was seduced by the rainbow cake on the cover:

However, when I looked up the recipe on the website to say there were mixed reviews would be an understatement. The comments at the bottom were overwhelmingly negative, from issues about using gel food dyes to complaints that the cake looked amazing, but tasted like play doh.  Now, although my fiancĂ© often teases me and says that I only bake to take photographs of the cake - I did want the cake to taste good, especially as it was going to be eaten by lots of people at a birthday BBQ.  I did a bit of research and asked the lovely ladies of Instagram for opinions - one tweaked recipe suggestion from Debbie was to use a Mary Berry sponge or this recipe from Emily Quinton's blog 'the start up wife'.  However, it was my brother who sent me a blog of favourite cake recipes that I found this recipe for an almond rainbow cake with white chocolate icing on a blog called 'love and olive oil'.
Amazing colouring!

Be warned this is not a recipe to make with the healthy option in mind - I used a humongous amount of butter.  The cake recipe is light, although next time I think I would only used one teaspoon of almond extract rather than two, as I felt it was a little overpowering. Also, dig out your recipes using egg yolks only, as there will be rather a few left over from this cake. I used professional Wilton food colouring bought especially for the cake (expensive initially, but will last for ages) and they give the vivid colour that I was after.  I added the colouring with a cocktail stick - so you get an idea of how little I actually added.  I baked the cakes in seven inch sandwich tins - I don't think I would have had enough cake mixture to go up to eight inch.

I had a huge amount of icing and nearly had a disaster when making it as my initial bowl was too small.  If making again I would half the icing, as I more than double the amount needed.  I also don't have a mixer, so made this with a hand held whisk - I was making icing for over two hours!!!
Almost overflowing - instagramming whilst baking!

However, I did put the remaining icing in the freezer and used for the second birthday cake of the week.  First, though some photos of the finished Rainbow cake (I will get round to blogging about the cake bunting soon).

One iced cake - and tonnes of left-over icing, plus enough to test as I went along.
One unassuming Birthday Cake 
Ta-Dah! One Rainbow Cake
The second cake I made was a Bunny Surprise Carrot cake, using the tried and tested 'yummy scrummy carrot cake' on the BBC GoodFood website. A recipe I would definitely recommend. Although I wouldn't recommend trying to bake and tidy the house/eat tea/watch a film (Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, which I really enjoyed!) as I undercooked the cake and it sunk rather spectacularly. After having a grump - debating whether to bake the cake again - I decided I should try and save it.  So began 'Operation Save the Carrot Cake'.
Carrot Cake with a raw middle!
I first cut out the (hangs head in shame) raw middle - not even cooked enough to eat. Covered the ring with a tub of the leftover white chocolate icing. The icing is fine after freezing, just defrost in the fridge and then whisk up again.  Although don't leave in the warm, as the butter melts and turns the icing from a lovely white to a soft yellow.  Then began the fun part of crafting some carrots and a bunny out of royal icing (using my new Wilton orange - fabulous).

Middle removed and binned - not even good enough to eat!
Iced cake with some of the leftover White Choc icing from the Rainbow cake.
Bunny and carrot decoration
Birthday Bunting in use again!

The best part was cutting into the cake to reveal the bunny - my favourite photo of this cake!
Even bunny thinks it's a Yummy Scrummy Carrot Cake :)

Now in my fourth week at my new job in Regional Services at the Birmingham brand of the Open University, I hope to be blogging rather more regularly - I have a blog to do list that is over two pages in the back of my diary . . .