Sunday 22 May 2022

3D Dinosaur Cake - Children's Birthday Cakes

The lockdown in 2020 meant I didn’t post anything on my blog for several months, as I tried to juggle a full-time job with a toddler at home every day for nearly three months while nursery was shut. So I’ve only just realised that I never posted anything about her birthday cake in spring of 2020 – better late than never!

Sophie is a big fan of dinosaurs, and from a young age has been able to correctly identify dinosaurs to the extent that I think she already knows more types than I do! We have encouraged her love of dinosaurs through toys and books and also a green dinosaur-patterned beanbag for her room to counteract some of the pink! If I recall correctly, she actually asked for a dinosaur cake for her second birthday, and I was happy to oblige!

We held her birthday party at My Gym, where we go to a class every week – it’s a cross between gymnastics, exercise, games and play, and they do brilliant birthday parties where you get an hour of gym-based games and half an hour in the party room with food and drink, and of course cake. I had the option of providing my own cake so of course that’s what I did.

I wanted a cake that would actually look like a dinosaur – I saw some lovely ideas online of round cakes with dinosaurs on top (either made from icing or plastic toys), where the cake itself was decorated to look like the dinosaur habitat. But I wanted instant recognition and wow factor, and decided it had to be a three-dimensional dinosaur. Luckily, it was easier to make one than I thought, thanks to this brilliant tutorial on WikiHow!

I baked a round vanilla sponge cake and then cut it up according to the tutorial instructions, then covered it in green roll-out fondant. I used yellow fondant to add some spots, and a darker green modelling paste – a kind of icing that is stiffer, so better to use when you are making something that needs to stand up – to make the spines along the dinosaur back. It wasn’t difficult or even massively time-consuming at all and I was really pleased with the finished cake, and I think the kids at the party all enjoyed it!

Sunday 15 May 2022

Passion Fruit Curd Mother's Day Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for Mother’s Day for my mum, my mother-in-law - and me!

I’ve developed quite a taste for passion fruit recently - Passoa passion fruit liqueur is delicious and could definitely be used in baking, but since my four year old daughter was going to have these cupcakes as well I wasn’t going to use alcohol. Instead, I got the passionfruit flavour from a combination of yogurt - papaya, passion fruit and mango flavour, from Morrisons - and passion fruit curd (The Cherry Tree brand, from Ocado).

I wanted a light cupcake using yogurt in the cake mix and these were so light and airy, they probably aren’t robust enough to put a spoonful of curd into the middle but I did anyway (it just makes them a bit messy when you eat them!).

Here is the recipe I used:

125g margarine or butter, softened

150g sugar

2 eggs

150ml yogurt - I used papaya, passion fruit and mango flavour from Morrison's 

225g self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

For the filling:

Passionfruit curd - I used the Cherry Tree brand from Ocado

For the icing:

500g icing sugar

250g butter, softened

Passionfruit flavouring to taste - for example you could add a spoonful of the passionfruit curd, or passionfruit liqueur if the cakes are for adults.

Preheat oven to 180C. Cream the butter and the sugar then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the yogurt, then fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for around 15-20 minutes depending on the size until the tops are golden brown.

Allow to cool, then using a teaspoon make a small well in each cupcake and add a spoonful of passionfruit curd.

To make the buttercream, cream together the butter and icing sugar and add a spoonful of passionfruit curd, or a few drops of passionfruit liqueur if for adults only - you may need to adjust the quantity of icing sugar if the mixture is too runny.

Using a piping bag and a nozzle, pipe swirls onto the top of the cupcakes. 

I decorated these cupcakes in different ways:

SuckUK customisable cookie stamp - this is a wooden stamp that comes with a plastic disc and little letters, that you insert into the disc to make the message of your choice. You can stamp this onto a cookie before it has baked, or stamp onto a circle of fondant icing, as I did here. I've had this piece of equipment for ages but this was the first time I had used it.

It was quite fiddly to get the letters into the right places, and took a bit of trial and error to work out if they were all the right way around; there isn't a huge amount of space for a message but I managed to get 'happy' across the top, 'mothers' day along the bottom and 'day' in the middle. However, there was only one of most letters and not enough to spell out 'happy' for instance as there was only one 'p', so I had to stamp the missing letter separately. It didn't quite look the same and I was surprised given that 'happy birthday' would be, to me, the most obvious message to use on the cookie stamp that there weren't enough letters to make it! Then I piped some small buttercream flowers around the edge.

Wilton Make Any Message Letterpress Set - this was also something I received as a gift several years ago. The letters are bigger than on the SukUK stamp so I just pressed 'mum' into a circle of fondant icing and placed it on top of each cupcake with a little buttercream. Then I piped some buttercream flowers along the top and bottom.

Piped flowers: I used two different colours of buttercream (pink and purple, though the latter looks a bit grey in this photo), and two different nozzles to pipe a swirl and some smaller flowers onto each cupcake and added some edible silver balls on top.