Sunday 17 April 2022

Strawberry Milkshake Easter Cake

Having guests over Easter is always a good excuse for baking and I find cakes easier than desserts to make in advance. So I made this after work in the evening and decorated it first thing in the morning, in  time for my sister and niece to arrive.

The cake is a strawberry milkshake cake, so called because of the secret ingredient - Nesquik! (For those not familiar with this childhood staple, Nesquik is a powdered flavouring to add to milk, which comes in strawberry or banana flavour. It has been around since I was a child in the 80s, if not even longer!).

I recently made an Oreo cake for my husband’s birthday which I haven’t blogged about yet - it was the most delicious moist chocolate cake, and I decided to create a cake along similar lines. That cake used cocoa powder - and boiling water, to which I attribute the moistness - so for this one, as I wanted a fruity spring flavour but with an ingredient of a similar texture to cocoa powder and suddenly remembered Nesquik!

 This is the recipe I adapted, using Nesquik in place of cocoa powder, though I only used the recipe for the sponge and not the buttercream or chocolate ganache.

For the buttercream I made a standard butter and icing sugar combination, adding in some strawberry syrup for flavour and colour. I filled the three layer cake and then piped some swirls on the top, before colouring some more buttercream purple and green, to pipe more flowers and little bits of green (foliage, I guess) in between. 

I then decorated the top with Easter marshmallows (you could also use mini eggs if young children aren’t going to eat it) and a little pink glimmer sugar. The ‘hoppy Easter’ cake topper is a plastic sign that my husband printed for me with his new 3D printer, which I love!

Friday 15 April 2022

Easter Imprint Plunger Cookies

I’m ever hopeful that one day I will develop the knack of decorating cookies so they don’t look like a child has done it, and have resigned myself to thinking I need to book a place on a Biscuiteers course.

But in the meantime I decided to have another go at making and decorating some Easter biscuits. I used a standard sugar cookie recipe like this one:

2800g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

170g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

1 egg

a few drops of vanilla flavouring

Cream together the butter and sugar and then beat in the egg and vanilla flavouring. Next fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Knead until you have a ball of dough and wrap in clingfilm. Ideally place in the fridge for at least an hour (though I often skip this part!).

When you are ready to use the dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out using cutters.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C - the baking time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies, but you don't want them to be overbaked, so I would recommend 10-12 minutes then checking if they look like they need longer.

For Christmas I got a set of Easter cookie cutters (which seemed odd to my sister who got them for me, but as I pointed out, my birthday is right after Easter so I would have had to wait a year before I could use them!).

I like these cutters because they have a design that imprints into the dough, and you use the little plunger to push the cookie out. When they are baked, the design did lose a little definition but could still be seen quite clearly.

I used the design as a guide for icing, piping royal icing in different colours and snipping the tiniest piece off the end of a piping bag rather than using a nozzle. Even then I found it really hard to decorate them neatly!

Sunday 3 April 2022

40th Birthday Card Exploding Box Card

As my school friends (and I) were turning 40 all in the same year, I wanted to make them each a special birthday card for the occasion, using a different type of card design for each one. I had made an exploding boxcard before and used the same template for this one.

You can use a different design on each of the four sides but I decided the card  would look more professional with the same design on each so I used a diamond-patterned paper in what I thought was a nice range of colours – primarily reds, purples and pinks with some other shades too. The base of the card was a purple and white polka dot design, again from a patterned paper, which worked well with the diamond design.

My pop-up elements of this card were a ‘Happy birthday’ die cut, a glittery ‘40’ sticker and a small die cut sentiment saying ‘Life begins at 40!’ mounted onto a small piece of card cut with pinking scissors. I actually bought that in a small pack from Ebay but it’s quite easy to make your own – if you have the time!