Birthday Cake Planning – Writing 101, Day 15

Day 15 is all about taking a cue from our readers. I did a poll earlier on in the course and the majority of respondents chose that I should design and make hubby’s birthday cake. So I shall 😊

Hubby’s birthday is in just over 3 weeks. Sounds plenty of time? Nope! I have Maxi Mister’s homework to help him with (they have to create and make a new game), extra sessions at work on a Saturday, sewing to get done (majorly behind there), and homework marking done for my students. It is going to be a busy time again!

Step 1: Ask him what he wants

Step 2: Ask for for more information than “I don’t mind”

Step 3: Get fed up waiting for a more specific answer and look at ideas from previous years

Step 4: Check whether it is going into work with him

Step 5: Ask again what he would prefer, especially flavour-wise

Step 6: Give up and choose my own ideas!

Here are some I have done in the past for him (interestingly they are all cupcakes!):

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with chocolate flavour Guinness glass toppers




Writing 101 – Day 13 and 14 – Vignettes/Recreate a Single Day AND Photo Challenge: Change

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”

I have decided to complete 2 challenges in one, so this post meets the task for Writing 101 Day 14, to write through a series of vignettes about 1 day, and the Daily Post Photo Challenge: Change. In this case the photos are showing the development of 2 cakes I created for Mini Mister’s Christening and 1st Birthday Party. The day this covers is Saturday 26th September 2015.


Thankfully the cake is finally out of the oven and detinned. 4 hours cooking for 1 cake! And the mix didn’t fit in my Kenwood Chef. I ended up going through a bowl, killing my hand mixer, overflowing my Chef, and dumping it all in hubby’s maslin pan to finish mixing it. So much mess! Anyway, it looks fine. The recipe (in its original 8in round form) came from the lovely Janet at Quaint Cakes. Now to get some sleep…


101 questions from Maxi Mister. I can’t cope as I need all my limited (as not had enough sleep) brainpower to think through the plans for today. He is driving me crazy already! When does the cake shop open???? And why is it I have every lustre spray except gold?


Successful visit to the cake shop. I now have gold spray, 2 mini cake cards, a brown decorating pen and a pot of ready-to-use royal icing (thank the Lord for that, since I am rubbish at making royal icing, it is impossible to only make a small amount, and I need only a tiny amount). Thank you also cake fairies who decided that royal icing is deserving of a place in the ready-made aisle. Final cake stages can now commence.


Mmmmm! Dark chocolate ganache 😊



Blitzed up the rice pops to make smooth RKT.

birthday cake 1

Lots of butter on my gloves to stop it sticking. Squidge most of it into a hemisphere and plonk on smallest cake card. Hopefully it will set OK. The remainder tastes OK, but I think I am not a huge fan of RKT.

birthday cake 4

Now to get the rest of the Christening cake sorted – cover the cake, put cake on pre-covered board.

Make lots of 5g balls of sugarpaste for round the bottom.

Stick the balls on in a neat pattern (I have used 3 colours).

Make some a bit smaller so the pattern works properly.

Make a few more a bit smaller.

Oh for Pete’s sake, why won’t they fit? Squish a few up so they do.


christening cake 8


Hubby and Mini Mister are back from swimming, which is a good thing as Maxi is constantly asking for food, despite having had a big breakfast and a snack. And now the in-laws have arrived too.

Break out the royal icing to finish the cake. Will the letters stand up on their own? Add the train and its trucks to the cake. It is simple but I do like it. In fact, I nearly cried when I went to show it to Hubby. Not sure why. I am very tired though!

christening cake final

Lunch break! Yay!!


Well, I managed, with hubby’s help, to torte, fill and restack the cake. Into the fridge it goes to set. It is enormous! Now to work on the models. I sprayed the aerial gold (did it in the garden as that lustre stuff gets everywhere!) and am leaving it to dry stuck into the polystyrene dummy I am reusing. I got it originally for my Sugarcraft Diploma for my final presentation cake. This rather wonderful little company made it for me, to my specifications, and sent it out fast so I had it within a couple of days: Dummies Direct

Now I am going to use it for the back of the boat. Hopefully it won’t be too tall…


Quacky birds made, although they have no feet or wings or beaks (they are still drying). Twirlywoos now have appendages even though it is the only part I have made. Now back to the cake…

I have cut a template for the boat. I have a picture and I have Mini Mister’s little bath toy version as a guide. I am still terrified about cutting into this gargantuan cake. If it goes wrong, I can use ganache to stick some of it back together, but I don’t know if it will all work…


Done! I really didn’t need a cake that big (I turned an 8 inch recipe into a 10 in square one, so doubled the size of the mix). I have cut off a huge amount. I have built up the top using off-cuts and checked that the dummy fits. I am quite pleased with the shape, although it is difficult to see it with just a ganache covering. It is now back in the fridge chilling again. And breathe 😊



Tea break!


Checked that things are drying properly. Stuck the RKT dome to the top of the dummy. I really need to get on with these models. But first the children need tea and then me and hubby need to go to collect the food order and buy the rest.


Oh what a nightmare! The whole world and his wife were in Costco buying stuff. We queued for half an hour just to pay and then still had to go to Sainsbury’s to get mini sausage rolls and sausages as Costco was out of them. At least the sandwiches and wraps look good! The children are in bed, thanks to the in-laws, so I need to get on with covering the cake. I don’t have long as it has had to come out of the fridge so we can get all the perishable food for tomorrow in there. I wonder how long til the ganache gets too soft…


Break for dinner – Chinese take-away. Mmmmmm!

I got the board covered and then transferred the cake onto a fresh piece of baking parchment (ganache beginning to soften). Somehow the sugarpaste rolled out large enough to get it over the whole thing. A lot of smoothing and remoulding has taken place, as well as sticking the dummy on (had to chop a chunk off it as it was too tall). I have now marked the sides of the boat to make it look like planks, and added round blue patches for portholes. Using piping tubes, I have cut some rims for the portholes, added them and painted them gold using clear alcohol and edible dusting powder. It actually looks like the original boat, almost. Need to smooth the paste a bit more, so excuse the lumps and bumps.

birthday cake 4


Now I need to get the models finished. So much to do.


We can all go to bed. I have made 4 Twirlywoos, 1 Peekaboo, finished the Quackybirds and put the cake on the board. I wish I had the time to have made better models. I added some blue and white paste round the bottom to represent waves, as well as to hide the join. A bit of soft brown sugar looks sand-like enough, I think. A red ribbon will finish the board and I will just have the models to add when they are dry. Such a long day so far.

Not the best models I have ever made, and a lesson for me that I really need to begin things like this well in advance. Everyone else loves them. I just see the errors!

Not the best models I have ever made, and a lesson for me that I really need to begin things like this well in advance. Everyone else loves them. I just see the errors!

birthday cake 5

9am – Sunday 27th September 2015

And here they are. Mini Mister’s Christening and 1st Birthday cakes. What do you think?

Boys Christening Cake         Twirlywoo cake

Sort of Writing 101 Day 12 – What is this?

So, task-wise, I am a day behind. Busy with work, taking Maxi Mister to his first Beaver Scout meeting, and I’m very tired. Already!

What is this, in a snapshot of the work I have done this evening on Mini Mister’s Christening cake? It is all you are getting…

Sugar paste, flower paste, Christening cake, cake topper, train

(49 words – the task was ‘Have you tried experimenting with word count? Try restricting it to 50’)

Writing 101 – Day 11: Writing and not writing

Write every day, but don’t put your life on hold . . .

— Vincent Mars, “Writing as a Way of Life

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking? – From Writing 101, Day 11 Task

So, what do I do when I am not writing?

If you take a look at my pages or posts, they will give you a good idea. I *think* I am quite a creative person. I certainly aspire to be.

My current occupations other than writing obviously include being a Mama and doing my job as a teacher, being a wife and trying to be a good friend.

But other things I am doing at the moment? Well quite a few in a short space of time. I started a Lightning Quick Make last week, only it turned out to not be lightning quick as I haven’t had time to finish it (although total time spent doing it will be not much):

Cotton, rotary cutter, template, self-healing mat, quilting ruler

Ready to cut. I even have a template ready.

Tote bag, quilting ruler, rotary cutter

3 bags ready to sew












I am also planning and organising Mini Mister’s Christening and 1st birthday party. This includes making his cakes. I am doing a Christmas cake for his Christening cake, as I decided that it would keep better if we didn’t get round to eating it immediately. And I am doing a carved Madeira for his birthday cake. I will post pictures as I do the decorations for that one during the week but you will have to wait until Sunday to see it completely.

I wrote a list last night of all the things I need to do for the 2 cakes. There is quite a lot, but I have already started by baking and marzipanning the Christening cake. Tonight’s job is to colour up the sugarpaste and flower paste I need for both cakes. If I have the time and inclination, I may even begin the models for the Christening cake…

Rich fruit cake


Rich fruit cake


marzipan, rich fruit cake

Marzipanned cake



















Other than the cakes, most of the other stuff for the party is sorted or under way. I have a couple of deliveries to arrive, and a few bits for party bags to buy, but we are actually organised for once! I hope it stays like that.


Actually, this post gives me the opportunity to complete an extra Writing 101 task. Last week we were asked to produce a poll or create a contact form to gather ideas. I have decided to go with a poll, so here it is! What creative thing or skill would you like to see me tackle next? I will pop this in the sidebar tomorrow as well.

Writing 101 – Day 2: Write a list

I mentioned last week that I was going to do this assignment from last Tuesday in a different format. It is one I can add to over time, but it also fulfils my plans for pictures on most if not all posts. Here is my list. What do you think?

Things I like

Inspiration – The DP Photo Challenge

mum embroidery

Embroidery, beading and appliqué pictures created by Mum

I enjoyed completing the photo challenge last week, so thought I would have a go at another. This week The Daily Post have gone with the following:

Inspiration : This week we want you to show us what inspiration means to you.

mum cakes

Cakes created by Mum in the 1970s, with no amazing sugarcraft tools or ingredients, no formal training, and definitely no internet tutorials. The chocolate owl is mine and I have never forgotten it!

Last night I wrote a very long, meandering post that was trying to be clever. I thought better of it and will just leave you with these collages of a tiny proportion of the wonderful things my Mum made when we were very young. They inspired me and my sisters to have a go, and continue to do so.

Here’s to you, Mum. I hope we make you proud!

Cake experiment

I haven’t made a cake for a while, despite having planned to try this particular one for a while:

Chocolate cake with Marmite Caramel Buttercream

It intrigued me. I love Marmite. I love chocolate cake. Would they go together?

The cake went well, although more long-winded than most cakes I tend to make, and reminded me of a chocolate brownie when I took the tins out of the oven. The smell was yummy!

The problems started when I tried to make the buttercream. It is not a standard recipe, although the creator has based it on a Primrose Bakery recipe (which I probably have somewhere). I really thought I had followed the instructions properly, but it just wouldn’t thicken. I am not sure if I boiled the initial mixture too long or not long enough, whether I should have got it much cooler before I added the final lot of icing sugar, or whether I just can’t make icing like that in this weather. If I had time and unending supplies of ingredients, I would experiment further to work out how to get it right (I hate failing!). In the end, I put it in the fridge. It was better, but still didn’t work well on the cake and produced a bit of a mess, to be honest.

At least I had finished it. We didn’t try it until tonight as it took me so long to sort out the buttercream. I left the whole cake in the fridge as the icing softened again outside, and that made the cake far too solid. It tasted nice but I didn’t like the texture (note, this is my fault for putting it in the fridge, not the fault of the original recipe). However, I had put a bit too much Marmite in the icing and I also found it too sweet.

Slice of my cake attempt

Slice of my cake attempt

I don’t think we will be doing this one again. It just didn’t work enough for me to want to correct the mistakes I made.

Chalk that up to experience – Note to self: Marmite and sweet things DO NOT WORK!

P.S. I think I am going to explore more of Lay the Table’s recipes as there are some lovely looking things on there: Lay The Table